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Author Topic: First HF Radio...  (Read 1013 times)
KC2LWB
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Posts: 1




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« on: November 19, 2003, 11:29:12 PM »

I have just passed my general class test and am now ready to get my first HF rig. I am currently using a Kenwood TS-140S that I borrowed from a close friend (who got me started in Ham radio) but I need to get my own radio.

As with all things I have performed hours of exhaustive research into the new and old (used) radios currently available. I've read reviews of transceivers and scoured lists of used equipment until I couldn't stand it anymore.

Now I wish I had never heard of amateur radio. All I wanted was a good radio that fit in my budget (~$1500). It would appear that there are no good radios left anymore (according to the reviews). ICOM, Kenwood, Yeasu, Ten-Tec... seems everyone has a problem with all.

I was ready to buy an ICOM 746PRO ($1300) until I read all the bad reviews about the no Tx problem. Is it truely fixed? Who knows. Since this is the only rig I will have, for now, I don't need a radio that would have a better than average probability of failing  after a few months. Sad because it seems to be the perfect fit. Right price, features and performance.

So what to do ... buy new (which one?) or buy an older used rig? Good ones seem to be hard to come by.

New radios I have considered are ICOM 718, ICOM 746PRO, Kenwood TS-870S, Kenwood TS-570D, and the Yeasu FT-920.

Used radios considered are TS-450S and the ICOM 746.

Any opinions on these? What about Ten-Tec? The Jupitor looks interesting... any others worth considering that I missed?

My friend says buy the ICOM 746PRO and take the risk. I simply don't now what to do. I just want a simple, good performing, cost effective rig. New or used...

Any help here would be GREATLY appreciated.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20565




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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2003, 01:01:45 PM »

Don't be scared off by reviews.  Remember, 99% of the perfectly happy users will never write anything about their equipment, but 99% of the dissatisfied ones will write volumes.

As you're a new ham (congrats on the upgrade!), I hope you understand the antenna system and operator do almost all the work, and the station equipment is almost unimportant.  That's truly the way it is.  As such, remember that whatever your total system budget, allocate enough of it for antennas that really work.  A 30 year-old rig with few features will work the world easily when connected to a good antenna; but, the world's best, brand new $3000 rig connected to a poor antenna won't do much.

The IC-718 is, right now, the "most bang for the buck" HF rig on the market.  It's extremely popular and works well, especially for its price.  However, it offers no VHF coverage and has no internal antenna tuner.  If you're afraid of the IC-746PRO, you might buy a used IC-746.  The '746 was robust and reliable, thousands are in use, they're very affordable on the used market, and include 6m and 2m as well as HF -- and, it has a built-in autotuner, which can be very handy.  Rather than spending $1500 on a rig, I'd buy a used '746 for $700, and spend the remaining $800 on antennas!

WB2WIK/6
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N8FVJ
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Posts: 692




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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2003, 11:10:26 AM »

WB2WIK always has good advice. I have owned about 50 different HF radios due to having to try about everything.

I sold my IC-746PRO after hearing about the reliability issue. The previous IC-746 is a good radio and many filter options are available. I consider it the best bargain when 160-2 meters is wanted in a base station package. This radio does not have display problems like the IC-756.

My other pick is the Yaesu FT-920 with operation up to 6 meters. The radio is a good performer however filter options are limited compared to the IC-746. The 6 meter receive is very hot & the HF receiver is good.

The other option is the new Kenwood TS-480. I have not viewed performance specs yet. Kenwood states the front end has a dynamic range equal to the TS-950 series. The TS-950 series varied per ARRL measurements. The TS-950SD has a 100kHz blocking dynamic range of 140dBm.

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WA1RNE
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Posts: 825




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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2003, 07:31:08 PM »

If you can find an IC746 in good shape, buy it!

(not the 746II Pro, just from the perspective of cost and your budget)

The IC746 is like the big brother to the IC740. The major difference is the 746 has a general coverage receiver, a nice feature for SWLing.
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WA1RNE
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Posts: 825




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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2003, 07:34:30 PM »

Sorry, right after I hit POST I realized my memory was a little bit off.

The IC745 is the rig I was referring to and is probably even less expensive.......
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KG4PZZ
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Posts: 61




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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2003, 10:45:29 PM »

I guess I'll be a bit late on this one.  Looking at some of the technical data, you'll find the recievers on most any rig today are very similar.  Price doesn't always equal better recieve performance, either.

I opted for an FT-920.  Enough features to keep me busy, a hot reciever, DSP, thisthatandtheother, and to be honest, after operating an FT-1000MP Mk5 Field (what a name!), the differences are few and far between.  The Mk 5 seemed to be a little quieter (better S:N ratio?), but it could just be my ears.

As a first HF rig, I had an FT-747GXII.  Trust me, the first few months (I'd say up to 2 or 3 years), you'll still be in "wow" mode long enough where anything with a few knobs and buttons is good enough.  746, 920, whatever kenwood's offering is (I'm just not a big kenwood fan), it's all ergonomics and little things.

Fred
KG4PZZ
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K9FE
Member

Posts: 8




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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2003, 09:53:12 AM »

Currently I run 4 HF radios, all different.  An Icom 746, used; an FT-840 bought new in 95; a TS-430s, Great receiver!; and an Icom 706 Mk II G in the car.  All good radios, and most were reasonable in price.  The most used radio...the FT-840.  No bells, no whistles, and no toys.  Why is it the favorite?  Just feels like a pair of worn in bluejeans.  It is a very comfortable and easy radio to operate.  It was also the cheapest, new in 95 I paid $699, now new they are closer to $500 and used around $350.  Bells and whistles don't communicate, you do...if it isn't fun you won't do it often.  The 140 you are borrowing is a fine radio, few toys, but basic.  


Try to borrow or sit with someone who has a high end radio.  It will not be that much better and certainly not that much more fun to operate.

73 de K9FE  Mike
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N8TEV
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2003, 06:58:48 PM »

I have been using my yaesu ft-920 for about year now with no problems and enjoying every minute that I am one it. Another very good radio with good review is the Ft-840 I have had one of these for about 8 years now and have not had any problem with.
 

Eric N8tev
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K9KJM
Member

Posts: 2416




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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2003, 02:56:40 AM »

Congratulations on the upgrade!!
PROVEN good HF rigs include the Icom 735 (best buy for low bucks) Icom 706 (nice for mobil?) Icom 761 and 765
"Muscle" rigs (Now selling used 500-950 buck area)
But if I had 1,500 to spend, NO QUESTION, Get a good used Icom 756PRO!!!!      Neatest rig for the money around. Read the reviews here on Eham!  WAY too many
HORROR stories on the 746 for me!.........  Maybe some work OK, I would not take the chance!
They say there are better rigs out there than the 756PRO.....  BUT you would have to spend a LOT more to
beat one!!!
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K9KJM
Member

Posts: 2416




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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2003, 03:14:43 AM »

Here's one, Beat this deal!  
12/11/03
 W4KBM
    HF Radios
 
Icom IC-756PRO

Mint IC-756PRO. Works perfectly and comes with the original carton and foam, mobile mic, power cord and manual. Non-smoker and very low air-time. Will accept payment by money order or PayPal. $1300 shipped conus via FedEx Ground.

 
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K0ABE
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Posts: 69




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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2003, 11:05:17 PM »

Hi,

The Kenwood TS-570D(G) is a nice starter rig.  I've had one for several years and have not had any problems with it.  The 570 has a built in autotuner, DSP, and some other bells and whistles.  The buttons and knobs aren't too small and the radio itself can fit on most desks with room to spare for computer and homework.

Another nice starter rig would be the Icom IC-706MKIIG.  Of course I would get one of the available autotuners that go with this rig.  The 706 can go from base to mobile without much fuss.  If you are living in an apartment, college dorm, or any place where space is at a premium then the 706 will fit nicely.  The 706 does HF, 6 meters, 2 meters, and 70 cm.

Then comes the atenna system.  Like choosing a radio, choosing the right antenna for your situation can be a very personal thing.  Some elmers will tell you to spend as much money on the antenna as you do on the radio, if not spend more.  But, you can only spend so much money on that multi band fan dipole.

Anyway, good luck to you.  Let us know what radio you end up with.

73 Mike K0ABE
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WB4QNG
Member

Posts: 362




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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2004, 11:21:58 PM »

Buy yourself a new Icom IC-718. $500 radio that will do everything that you need to do.  It will keep you interested for a long time.  You will also want to buy a two meter rig of some kind.  Save the other $600 for the rest of your ham goodies. After you been a ham for a while you might want to upgrade.  I have been a ham for 27 years and had my Icom for about three years and it does everything I need.
Terry
WB4QNG
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N2TXV
Member

Posts: 1


WWW

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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2004, 09:34:25 AM »

My advice is to make up a list of what you would like see as features and try to buy a radio thats meets your needs. Since the prices are very good for some new gear and used gear, I would suggest buying a mid-range rig such as a used Kenwood TS-850, 450/690. Having an ATU is a must if you want to experiement with antennas and don't always have a resonant antenna handy. The IC746 is an excellent choice as well as the Icom 745 as I think its called or Alinco's HF rig (base model escapes me at moment. The IC706MK2G is also a good rig but I would buy a base rig and get used to operating first and see what you like and dislike about features ane performance before you get into mobile work.

The Kenwood 570 is a great starter rig as well as a used TS850 as well as the 746. If I was doing it all over again I woulde look into those three rigs as their prices are good and they provide very good reliable performance. Good luck. If you desire to use CW, get a rig with a keyer for sure.
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M0AFJ
Member

Posts: 37




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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2004, 09:25:28 AM »

Congrats on the new call,
I've had the European version of the IC746PRO now for a year without a problem, and it is excellent, If the shouting in the reviews puts you off the FT920 is a good buy, over here they are on closeout and going for a very good price. I would not recommend getting one of the small rigs (IC706/FT100D) as the receivers on these cannot be as good as a full sized box and the receiver is where the differences are.

Good Luck and hope to work you sometime  Tim M0AFJ
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