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Author Topic: What should my first HF rig be?  (Read 1965 times)

Posts: 34


« on: January 28, 2007, 06:38:42 PM »

your rig should have CW and SSB modes . if you want to be on the real cheap side , a CW only rig is your best bet.

Posts: 19

« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2007, 05:24:35 PM »

I am currently a Technician, working on my General as I speak.  

I have been doing a bit of shopping for a nice HF rig. I would appreciate any ideas as to what rigs to avoid and what ones to look at. I have read the product reviews, but that has made me more confused as to what to buy or look for in a HF rig.

Ideally I would like to buy new, but my budget may force me to buy used. I have looked at everything from an IC-746pro, to a FT-1000MPV. I would like to stay under the $2,000 mark.

Unfortunately I have zero experience in HF rigs, so any help would be greatly appreciated!



Posts: 691

« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2007, 09:28:05 AM »

Hello Chris....

First, let me say, no one can tell you what rig is right for you.  That's something you have to decide for yourself.  

But, you can cut down the field a bit by making a few decisiions before you go shopping.

Set a price limit!  I mean a real, hard and fast limit on what you REALLY can afford to spend.  And don't forget that the new radio will need a few bits to make it work.  Power supply, antenna/cables, headphones,etc.
Include those costs in the total you can manage.

Okay, next decide what you want the radio to do, and where it will be doing it.  Will it be strictly in the "shack", or do you want it for mobile, or maybe both.  AND, do you only want a HF radio, or one that will also cover some VHF/UHF as well....  Not all radios do all things, and you really have to consider what/where you will use it, and what you will want it to do.

New or used?  We all would like nice shinny new stuff, but many of us (me included) have more than a few items that were bought as used gear.  There are some good things available on the used market, but here again, you have to consider the cost of a used item, with no warranty, against the cost of a new item that has factory warranty coverage.  And, well, to be blunt, you can also get stiffed on buying used if you don't personally know the seller.

Once you have made these decisions, spend some time reading the ads, and checking out the web sites of dealers such as HRO, AES, and others.  While you're there, check out their "used/consignment" lists as well.  Some dealers offer some kind of gearantee (2 weeks, 30 days...)on their used stuff, so check that as well.

Once you've narrowed it down to a couple of radios, then come back here and ask for opions again.  No lack of those for sure!

73 Chris!



Posts: 1190

« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2007, 09:49:32 AM »

Borrowed!      If possible till you get a feel for what you want to do.

Posts: 553


« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 03:33:30 AM »

Take a look at the Kenwood TS570S  HF-6M for around $1100 and use the rest for a good antenna system

Posts: 2415

« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2007, 10:24:12 PM »

Proven good all around rigs:
Icom 735  $300-350 used
Icom 718  $500 dollar area brand new
Icom 756PRO $900-1100 bucks used
Kenwood TS-2000 $1100 area used
Icom 756PRO II  $1200-1400 used
Icom 756PRO III $1500-2000 used

For casual use to start with the TS-2000 might be a good rig if you can afford that much. DONT FORGET to
save money for antennas and feedline! The most important part!
Belden RG-213 for HF, Times LMR-400 for VHF/UHF

There ARE other good rigs in that price range, (Icom 706 series etc) but they are not as user friendly as the ones listed.

Posts: 181

« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2007, 03:33:03 PM »

Lowball prices but good recommendations. Expect to pay more than what he's listed. (735 and 718 prices ok)

Posts: 175

« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2007, 10:02:35 PM »

You can also get a Pre-Loved K2 100 watt rig with the SSB module installed for 900 to 1200 if you look around.  I bought a pristine unit about 6 months ago, and all the hype about the rig is basically true.  I've also owned a TS-2000 and I regret having sold it to purchase my IC-7000.  The IC-7000 is a better radio in terms of receiver performance.  However, the TS-2000 is one of the most functional all-in-one radios I've ever seen. It has all the antenna connectors on the rear you'll ever need, you'll never have to switch cabling around to use a different antenna for a different band.  It has true dual watch between Hf and uhf/vhf.  It's uhf/vhf performance is terrific.  It's a very good HF radio as well.  The DSP filtering is nice and really ads to the value of the rig.

Posts: 104

« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2007, 01:25:10 PM »

I upgraded back in November, and in December I went a-hunting for my first HF station.  In my case, I had a self-imposed cap of $1000 for the initial setup.  The XYL placed two constraints on my purchase:
- No used gear. She wanted me to get one with a full warranty (I think she wanted to keep me from going into a drawn-out "I think I can fix this" geek mode).
- Low-visibility. Stealth wasn't a requirement, but she didn't want wires stretching across the yard where they can be seen from the street, and nothing that would be an eyesore when we try to sell the house in a couple of years - she didn't want to count on being able to sell to a ham who'd pay more for having antennas in-place (this also placed constraints on cable runs).

Long story short - I ended up buying an IC-718.  I seriously considered an FT-897D - which has some features the IC-718 doesn't have, such as 60m, 6m, 2m, 70cm (I can live without 60m, but the thought of weak-signal VHF or satellite work is appealing) and a mini-spectrum scope.  My wife asked me if all these extra features were worth the extra $300 over the IC-718; all else being equal, I'd say yes.  But there was something about the appearance of the FT-897D's front panel that just didn't feel as "right" to me as the IC-718's - I decided that if I'm going to be staring at the radio for hours at a time for years, then it'd better be a radio I'm comfortable staring at.

So, as I said, I got the IC-718.  Throw-in a power supply and a tuner, and I hit about $750 after rebates.  I originally loaded up my rain gutter as an antenna, and it worked but not spectacularly.  So I bought a Hustler 6BTV, and I have a marked improvement - and I still came in under my $1000 cap.  Of course, with the 6BTV, I don't need the tuner, so I might've saved some money there.

Incidentally, don't forget an antenna analyzer (borrow or buy) if your antenna is going to be anything other than a long-wire.  I was able to set the tuner for the gutter by momentarily keying the radio and adjusting the knobs - but if I hadn't been able to borrow an analyzer, getting that 6BTV up-and-going would not have been pretty.

Posts: 181

« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2007, 06:16:46 PM »

I think you made good choices!

Posts: 50

« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2007, 06:28:54 AM »

I also own the 718 after using tube rigs for some time.  I have to say I like it, easy to operate and a few nice features.  I use a seperate rig for 6 meters and I do like having a dedicated rig for that band.  As far as wire goes I personally think wire is much more stealthy than a verticle, performs very well, and is inexpensive, not that I don't have a few verticles myself though.

Posts: 21

« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2007, 05:49:57 AM »

Kenwood TS-480SAT

Take a look at the eham reviews. You won't be disappointed...

73 John K7FD
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