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Author Topic: Which rig for stealthy Ham on a budget?  (Read 875 times)
KC0TQX
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Posts: 12




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« on: April 02, 2005, 07:41:06 PM »

I currently am looking for an HF rig that is not too expensive and I can use with an antenna tuner to tune a concealable (is that a word?) random-wire antenna. I currently have my search narrowed to two options:

ICOM IC-706 MKIIG -- this way I would also have 6M and 440, all mode.

or

ICOM IC-718 -- no 6M or 440; initially cheaper, but sometime I would want another inexpensive rig (preferably an HT) to cover those bands. Also, here I may not have as much flexibility (such as using SSB and FSK) on those bands.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me as to which of these will be the most economical and flexible, or maybe of something different than listed above? Any and all suggestions will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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KC0TQX
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2005, 07:42:39 PM »

BTW, this will be a first HF rig for me, if that influences your suggestions.
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KC0SOG
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2005, 06:34:42 AM »

I think the IC-718 is a more practical choice since it is an HF base station.  The 706 has lots of menus and features but then you can only do one thing at a time.  If you get the IC-718 then you can also get a regular FM dualband mobile radio like the IC-208H or something similar to put beside it.  The mobile dualband rig will have more memories, nicer scanning features, and will allow you to monitor local repeaters/simple while you are surfing the HF bands.  Of course a little dualband HT might work too if you have good local repeater coverage.   Now if you want SSB on 6m/2m then the Ic-706 is a better choice, but I would still get a dualbander for FM repeaters.

Doug kc0sog
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K7VO
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2005, 02:10:08 PM »

I wouldn't choose the IC-718.  I also wouldn't go with an HT on 6m.  95-99% of the activity on 6m is SSB/CW, depending on where you live.  Your best chance at snagging DX and getting the most out of band openings in on SSB/CW with a horizontally polarized antenna.  Youa re also sacrificing 2m and 70cm SSB/CW/digital, all of which can be good fun.

I have no problem understanding and eventually memorizing menus.  I would say, given a choice between those two, the IC-706MkII would be the better choice.  However, right now for the same money you could get a Yaesu FT-897D, which would be a much better choice than either.  You could also get an FT-857D which would cost far less and is similar in features and performance to the IC-706MkIIG and have money left over for things like filters, which do make a huge difference.  Both Yaesu choices will offer you 60m out of the box without having to modify your rig.

Finally, whatever rig you get, the antennas you choose and how good they are will matter far more than the differences between radios.

73,
Caity
K7VO/8
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KC0TQX
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2005, 02:18:19 PM »

I agree with what you say about having less flexibility with the 718. However, immediate cost is also one of my concerns.

Thanks everyone for all of your advice.
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KC0ILV
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2005, 07:18:01 PM »

I would prefer the FT-897 to the icom 706, but with price in mind, go for the FT-857
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K7VO
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2005, 08:57:55 PM »

The reason I recommended the FT-897D is that it is about the same price as the Icom IC-706 MkIIG (~$900 now after a price increase on the Icom).  The Yaesu FT-857D is a mobile rig similar to the IC-706 MKIIG for a lot less money.  It's also a newer design and probably a better choice if all else was equal.  I agree, if dollars are the big issue look at the FT-857D.  WHat you'd give up with the IC-718 just isn't worth the relatively small price difference.

73,
Caity
K7VO/8
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2005, 05:15:04 AM »

Actually, I prefer Smithfield Ham.  Stealthy Ham is a little hard to find these days.

Dennis / KG4RUL
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NS6Y_
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2005, 07:26:14 AM »

Pick your size, Yaesu 817, 857, 897 .... if you do CW you'll need a crystal filter for the 817, factory one is like $170, the INRAD one is $125, the W4rt one is lower than that and I think interchanges between rigs so choose your poison, you NEED a CW filter if you're doing CW on anything past a rudimentary basis. The bigger rigs may come with one, I'm not sure.

If by "stealthy" you mean you'll have to go out into the woods to operate, the 817 and I think it's the 897, are made to work from internal batteries. These are all very well thought of rigs.
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KC0TQX
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2005, 04:52:56 PM »

Well, as this is my first HF rig, I'm going to shy away from the 817. Does the 857 have provisions for batteries? This isn't a critical feature for me, but it might come in handy someday.
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KB1LXV
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2005, 08:35:17 AM »

Having owned an Icom 706mk2g for a while now I'd hafta place my vote there. A bit of time with the manual and the menus are easy to navigate and the radio performs very well. The model line has been around long enough for Icom to weed out the bugs. The 706 is a bit harder to swallow since Icom jacked the price up, but IMHO still worthy. It's a proven radio and some consider it "the standard" for HF mobile use. (although you want to use it as a base, don't underestimate the lure of mobile HF - I very much enjoy hill-topping on 20m :-) As for VHF/UHF, I've gotta agree with previous replies.. get a small dual-bander. The 706 works great on 2m/440, but the convenience of being able to hang on the local repeaters while working HF is worth the extra expense.

Cheers!
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K7VO
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Posts: 1010




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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2005, 09:31:17 AM »

In making my own choice like yours I ended up settling on something I did not recommend originally;  I bought a Ten Tec Argonaut V at Dayton.  The radio costs <$800, has a fantastic receiver, beautiful sounding receive audio and equally good transmit audio, wonderful DSP bandwidth filtering, and best of all it's software defined so upgrades can be downloaded directly from the internet when bugfixes or upgrades come out.  It's a neat little radio without all the menus to drive you nuts.

Yes, the Argonaut V (a/k/a model 516) only is an HF rig and it only puts out 20W.  Don't let the low power output scare you.  It's about one S-unit down from a 100W rig on the other end.  While there are certainly some times under marginal conditions where that could conceivably keep you from making a contact I find that most of the time so far I can work what I can hear clearly on both SSB/CW.

One other nice plus for the Argonaut V that neither Yaesu nor Icom offer:  digitial capabiliy is built right in.  You don't need a RigBlaster or anything else to work PSK-31 or any other soundcard modes.  That will definitely save you a few shekels.  If you operate CW or plan to in the future you will fall in love with Ten Tec's full QSK, something the Japanese can't touch.  What that means is that you can receive between the tones you send.

The Argonuat V has less bells and whistles, yes.  It is missing 6m but for around $100 you can add a Ten Tec transverter and add the band.

The Argonaut V is my first new HF rig in a number of years.  I have no regrets so far.  BTW, I bought it after a good friend of mine whom I trust did, and his is replacing a TS-940S as his main rig in the shack.  He feels the Argonaut V is just that good.

73,
Caity
K7VO/8
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