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Author Topic: Best Starter HF Rig  (Read 4299 times)
N9WIV
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Posts: 13




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« on: December 26, 2001, 03:51:39 AM »

Hello,
   I have recently been searching for a good starter rig for HF, and was curious which models would be best to work with.  I am limited budget wise, so older equipment is of interest, including tube-based.  Any suggestions would be helpful!

73,
N9WIV
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KA4WJA
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Posts: 692




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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2001, 09:59:27 PM »

Chris,
I (and many others) answered this same question on the "elmers" forum just a week or so ago...
Please look at
www.eham.net/forums/Elmers/11874
"Best First HF Transceiver Recommendation?"

and
www.eham.net/forums/Elmers/11492
"Best Used Rig for CW?"

You may also want to look at some eham "articles"..
"Best HF Transceivers - Used Bragins" by N8FVJ  7-23-2001
and  "High-End HF Transceiver Bargins" by N8FVJ 8-20-2001

I think you'll find ALL the info you need!!!

Good luck.
73,
John,  KA4WJA
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K5AF
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2002, 10:33:00 AM »

I did a considerable amount of research here, as I wanted a no-frills rig to take with me when I travel.  I also wanted to keep the price under $500.  My search took me to the Icom 718.  It had the highest rating of almost any transceiver in the eHam reviews, and seems to have an amazing amount of sophistication for its cost.

I am still waiting for the radio to be shipped, so I will give a more thorough review after I have time to use it on the air for a while, but here is a summary of what the reviews seem to say:

The front firing speaker seems to provide better receive audio than most radios have from a top-mounted internal speaker.  The size is a bit bigger than the IC-706 or the FT-100, but the controls are easy to use.  Display is very good.  Seems well-built, well-suited to travel.  Needs the extra filtering for contesting, but OK stock for most general operating.  Very good, intuitive menu system.  Good power output on all bands.

I will keep you posted, my expectations are high for this radio.

Paul, K5AF
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KC8OWL
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2002, 12:32:50 PM »

I was faced with the same question a few months ago after my upgrade to General.  I spent a lot of time looking at the reviews here on eHam and then decided that I would go with the Icom 718.

The features the radio offered for the price (sub $600.00 )seemed great and all of the reviews from 718 owners here on eHam have been very strong.  

In the 2 months I have been on the air with the 718 I have found the radio to be very easy to operate and have had good signal reports from contacts with in the United States (even with my less than perfect slinky antenna in the attic).

God luck, and in my opinion it would hard to go wrong with the Icom 718 as a first HF rig.

73's

de KC8OWL
Mike ...

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KC7ZIF
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2002, 05:38:28 AM »

I selected the ICOM IC-718 as my first HF rig after doing a lot of research and hands on looking at Ham radio dealers.  ICOM did a great job designing this unit for easy operation.  The front panel speaker, function keys, and keyboard for direct frequency input make the radio a pleasure to operate.  I looked for a radio that would be great for a base station as well a mobile rig.  I figured that eventually I would upgrade to a more expensive HF rig for home and keep the IC-718 as a mobile unit.  Using a 20-meter Hamstick mounted on my back bumper, I get super signal reports from distant stations.  Many of my contacts say the audio is exceptional.  Another feature I like is the variable power output from 1 watt up to 100 watts. After operating the unit for about a week, I purchased and installed the optional DSP filter.  I think this is a must for any owner of the rig.  The unit does not have FM capability to operate in the high end of the 10-meter band.  This was not significant to me at all.  I would recommend this unit to anyone looking for a low cost HF unit.  I also think it is a great mobile HF for hams who have already invested in VHF/UHF mobile radios and don't need the more expensive VHF/UHF/HF combo units like the IC-706 MkII-G and Yaesu FT-100D.  Good luck.
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K1TWH
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2002, 08:02:38 PM »

N9WIV,     I been hamming for about 30+ years and I've used the Yaesu FT747, the Icom IC-735 and now am using the Icom IC-718.  If you are shopping a used radio, either the 747, 735 or the 718 would be good choices.  I have to agree with the others, its hard to go wrong with the IC-718.  Icom did a really good job of packing useful features into the radio.  I've installed a #712 300 Hz  CW Collins filter from International Radio into mine.  It has worked very well and costs less than the Icom filter.  Get an experienced eletronics technician to help you put it in if you feel shakey about taking the rig apart and fitting the much smaller Collins into it (or by all means by one of the filters from Icom).  
____The built in features are all easy to learn and I've received a number of good audio reports while using the rig with its built in audio compressor and stock hand held microphone.
____ 73,    Tom  WB1FPA   (@arrl.net)
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WD8OKN
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WWW

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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2002, 11:56:07 PM »

Icom 718.  I have one and LOVE it!!!!
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KC8PIA
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2002, 04:17:43 PM »

Another vote for the IC-718.  Easy to use, but plenty of features to keep you from outgrowing it in a few months.  It has a 100% duty cycle, so I can use digital modes as long as I want.  I also get great audio reports with the stock mic and built-in speech compressor.

Get the UT-106 DSP unit if you can afford it.  (Icom was running a special where you got one for free, but I don't know if that's still true.)  The DSP makes a real difference in reducing noise and blocking heterodynes...gets rid of those pesky tune-ups in the middle of pile-ups.
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W8KQE
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2002, 08:45:35 AM »

The 718 is a phenomenal 'starter' radio.  Actually, the word 'starter' should be a misnomer here because this radio performs so well, and has so many excellent features, to many seasoned hams, it is more than just a beginner's rig.  I've had mine for a few months and absolutely love it!  The receiver is hot as well, often hearing the same DX as well as my original model IC-756!  It also has a built-in SWR meter and electronic keyer, and the menu driven system is well laid out and very intuitive.  The audio quality from the internal front firing speaker (kudos to Icom for placing the speaker up front) provides very good audio quality as well.  If you still have doubts, check out the reviews here on the radio thus far.  At present count, this radio has had 32 reviews by users, and it has a solid "5" rating.  Incredible!
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N1ICL
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2002, 07:03:49 PM »

Ok now that we heard from all of the Icom employees I respectfully throw the Kenwood TS-430S in the ring. A very nice HF Rig for well under $400.00. I am not taking away from the Icom people but I have had very nice experiences with the Kenwood and I think this is an excellent choice.
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KG8ZH
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2002, 12:13:21 PM »

I have had a 718 for about six months now and love it.
The 718 comes pretty basic, but you can really add on to it as money allows. In my case I added a internal DSP, a 500hz digital/cw filter, an LDG autotuner with a Icom interface to make it operate from the buttons on the rig. an SM-6 desk mike. An external DSP timewave DSP to supplement the internal one, a PSK interface. I plan to add a computer interface too. Once you get the rig set up the want you want, it is no longer really all that basic anymore.

I would vote for the 718 too.

Chuck
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KG4OHE
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2002, 01:12:42 PM »

My starter rig was an ICOM IC-725 and I was as pleased with it the day I sold it as I was the first day I put it on the air after getting my /AG and making my first HF QSO.

As a "new" General on a tight budget, I went to a couple of local hamFests whilst still a Tech and also researched the product reviews here on eHam.net for what people had good and bad to say about used equipment.

It was narrowed down to whatever solid state rig I could find for between $3-400 and it's condition.  Most of the Xcrvrs in this price range are all HF band capable and put out a solid 100 watts on SSB & CW.  Sure there are lots of other "goodies" that can be had but for inexpensive and basic capability it's hard to beat an ICOM 725/Yaesu 747GX or comparable Kenwood rig.

The ICOM 718 is a nifty box, but when you're "financially challenged" a used solid state rig in good condition is what I've found to be the "best" entry level HF equipment.
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N4ASX
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2003, 10:34:57 AM »

I have to agree. My station started out with an HW-101 and I still think the best first radio should be a simle strong unit.  I moved up to the Kenwood TS-430S and it is a great radio.  If you can find one in good shape.  An alternative is the TS-440S which was the same unit with a better filter layout and finals.  I replaced my TS-430 with an IC-706MkIIG, but I do miss the ole 430.
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