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Author Topic: second rig or upgrade ???  (Read 1057 times)
G0RIF
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Posts: 129




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« on: April 07, 2006, 10:50:50 AM »

Hi all,

Question: Which way to go...a second rig or an upgrade to what I have?

I'm currently running a JRC JST-245 (with bhi NES10-2 DSP speaker) which I'm very happy with, operating half-and-half PSK31 and SSB, 20m and 40m mostly.

I'm thinking which way to go by way of "building" the station and/or providing a portable/vacation facility.

One option is a second rig, maybe QRP, maybe 100W (not decided) and keep the JST-245. In this instance I'm not sure whether to go for newer rigs like the FT-857/897 (I think the 817 is too small), IC-703/706 (7000 is too expensive) and TS-480SAT (with their DSP and all that entails...potentially better selectivity etc)...or to consider older rigs like FT-707, 747, 757 or similar (for their portability and simplicity).

The other approach is to forego the portable/vacation option in favour of a "better" (whatever that means) base station and to upgrade the JST-245 to something like a IC-756Pro(II or III), FT-1000 or whatever you might suggest.

As I said, I'm happy with the JST-245 but intrigued as to how much better I could get for reasonable upgrade cost (equivalent to what I might pay for a seperate 2nd rig). Add to that the desire to be able to work portable/vacation from a smaller 2nd rig and I have a bit of a decision to make.

I'm considering used or new options and I am cost sensitive, limiting myself to a budget of circa £500 and limiting myself to UK purchases (hence UK prices).

Any opinions as to which radios might best fit these two options? All inputs greatly appreciated.

73, Dean - G0RIF
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20612




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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2006, 02:33:38 PM »

Every time I'm tempted to buy a new transceiver, I take the money I would have spent on that, upgrade my antennas and use the old rig.  Best investment ever.  

Of course, if you already have stacked beams on a 40m high tower, perhaps there's no upgrading left to do on that front.

The JST is a marvelous rig; the only issue I have with it is that it's discontinued and not replaced by anything made by JRC (who evidently has completely stopped making amateur transceivers) and no domestic service is available here in the States; so, if something goes so seriously wrong that I can't fix it, there's no place to send it for service -- unless I send it off to Japan.  I know people who have done that and a year later, they're still waiting to see their rigs again.

Personally, I'd keep the JST until it falls apart and invest in more antennas, if I had money to spend on improvements.

The older "second rigs" you mentioned aren't thrilling.  I'd go for a TS-480S or IC-706MK2G in lieu of any of those -- menus and all.  Just plain better performance, more features, newer and likely more reliable.

WB2WIK/6
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G0RIF
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Posts: 129




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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2006, 12:18:18 AM »

Thanks for the post Steven and fair comment.

Unfortunately the one thing I can't do much about is my antenna situation. I'm currently using a few wire antennas in my attic - simple 20m dipole and a loaded dipole for 40m, hence my desire for some portable ops, maybe with antennas a little higher and or more effective.

As you say, the JRC is a fine rig, hence my reluctance to part with it...and yes, I do quite fancy the TS-480 so certainly something to think about.

73, Dean - G0RIF
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NI0C
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Posts: 2408




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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2006, 09:18:36 AM »

Have you considered the Elecraft K-2 ?  It would seem to be in your stated price range and it can be purchased as a QRP rig, then upgraded to 100 watts later on.  You might be able to purchase a used one locally if you don't care to build one.  

73,
Chuck  NI0C

 
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AD6ZU
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2006, 11:47:29 AM »

JST-245?!!
By all means, if you are anywhere near to liking that rig KEEP IT!
So long as it is in good shape, you should hang on to that radio because unlike most other rigs, there are not too many around and even fewer around that are in tip-top condition. It has some of the best audio (TX and RX) avaiable and has such a great colorful display and that VFO knob tunes so smoothly, it should be illegal <g>.

I had a fully loaded JST-145 and in a moment of weakness, sold it. I don't really regret it, but if I had an unlimited budget, would have defintely kept it as one of the radio's I would be happy to use forever. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of the latest rigs, nor does it have all the QRM/QRN fighting tools of a DX machine, but it is probably at the top of my list for great sounding ragchewing and SWL'ing radios.


As for QRP, try this out first. Turn the Output power of your 245 down to minimum and promise yourself you'd leave it there for the next two weeks. Then try getting into some QSO's and see if you can live with that power or are tempted to QRO rather than give up when they cannot copy you. If you can live with low power, then you know you can live with QRP. I'm still new enough to want 100 Watts when needed and am happy to just turn the power down when QRP'ing.

If you feel you must upgrade, my suggestion would be the 756Pro2/Pro3. The 756Pro would be a downgrade in price, although it would be about an even swap in performance. You'll be getting some better QRM fighting tools and the real-time scope, but giving up some in the audio department. The TS-480 will give you better performance but you'll be giving up a lot in the ergonomic side with small buttons, drilling down into menus to set things and losing that big beautiful 245 front panel. If you are thinking of replacing your 245 with the ts-480 you should definitely try out a TS-480 before cashing in your JRC.
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G0RIF
Member

Posts: 129




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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2006, 02:10:51 PM »

Roy/Chuck...thanks for the input.

Chuck - The K2 is certainly a consideration - I'd gladly take the low power version for the reduced power requirements when portable or on vacation. Also under consideration here is another US radio, the TT Argonaut V.

Roy - I agree with you regards the 245 - I LOVE this radio and can absolutely live without all the extra bells, whistles and QRM fighting tools in "better" rigs - I enjoy just working what I can when I can so could also gladly run QRP and enjoy working stations with minimal power.

All things considered, I think a good lower powered 2nd rig will suit my operating needs and ambitions better than upgrading and then missing my 245.

Thanks again guys!

73 de Dean - G0RIF
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K7VO
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Posts: 1010




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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2006, 10:19:01 PM »

The Ten Tec Argonuat V is the best value out there under $1000.  Excellent receiver, wonderful QSK if you're a CW op, outstanding IF DSP bandwidth filters, absolutely superb receive audio even on AM for SWLing.  20W is more than enough most of the time.  That is one radio you absolutely cannot go wrong with.  Keep the JST-245 and add teh Argonaut V for the vacation radio.  If you need smaller or will operate on battery then the Icom IC-703Plus is a good second choice.

73,
Caity
K7VO
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G0RIF
Member

Posts: 129




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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2006, 12:11:28 AM »

Caity,

You'll not be at all surprised to hear that this is probably my most preferred way forward.

For around £600 the Argo V sounds like great value to me. All I need to do now is figure out how to get one here in the UK by the most cost effective route.

73, Dean - G0RIF
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N2NFG
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Posts: 47


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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2006, 09:43:13 PM »

Hi Dean, Sure wish I had a 245! Don't sell that one. Over the psat two years I've had a bunch of rigs on the desk. The current line up is an ICOM 751A (PIN diode mod and
INRAD filters), and an even older KENWOOD 180S. Gone are the KENWOOD 940S and 930SAT, TEN TEC CORSAIR II, ICOM 706 MKIIG, and several others. The ONE radio I wish I still had is the 706 MKIIG. Even with both the 1.8 and 350 hz filters, the receiver was not even close to the others I mentioned. The menues could fray your last nerve. BUT...the receiver is more than adequate for most situations, even contesting. The menue system gets more familiar and not so nerve wracking after all. It's nice to have 2 meters and 440 in the same small box. AND 100 watts is a big plus, (sorry Caity), particularly if you plan on using it portable. You can't always set up on a high hill with very tall trees conveniently spaced to get your antenna at the right height and pointed in the right direction. Propagation does truly suck at times. Don't get me wrong, I like QRP and often use <5 watts. If conditions dictate that I have to turn the power up to make QSOs, I sure do want that option at hand. It's also nice to be able to stuff your entire station into a shoulder bag and still have room for lunch. Yep, sure wish I had another small radio.                                 73, Bob                                    (
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G0RIF
Member

Posts: 129




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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2006, 12:26:31 AM »

Bob,

Thanks for the input. It seems I have a well regarded radio in the 245 - I see many comments to the effect it's a VERY good analogue radio.

Rest assured I will be keeping the 245 - comments here have convinced me that is the right thing to do. What I need now in a second rig is:-

1. IF DSP filtering for narrow bandwidth on PSK31 and better selectivity on crowded bands (contest conditions).
2. Some degree of portability (not backpacking) - just something small enough to take out into the countryside or on vacation.
3. Not limited to QRP as this may at times be used as primary base station rig.
4. Affordability!

Any ideas anyone?

73, Dean - G0RIF
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K7VO
Member

Posts: 1010




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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2006, 02:09:05 PM »

Hi, Dean,

If you want 100W and IF DSP you are looking at >$1500 (US prices) for something like an Icom IC-7000.  

A Ten Tec Argonaut V (current production) at 25W is NOT a QRP rig by definition.  The 6dB difference between 25W and 100W will make a difference less than 5% of the time, far less on CW.  Is that really worth $500 or more extra?  

73,
Caity
K7VO
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G0RIF
Member

Posts: 129




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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2006, 10:30:30 AM »

Caity,

You are oh so wise.

I'm sure the extra power isn't worth the additional £400/£500. I do very much like the look and spec of the Argo V. I know that's the right way forward for me.

Until I can fund the radio I need to work on antenna efficiency to make sure I'm putting as much as possible into the ether and not wasting any power in my antenna system. Limited to a simple 20m dipole in my attic for now with a companion 40m loaded dipole. I hope to get an external loop up soon, hopefully full wave on 40m.

73 Dean - G0RIF
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