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Author Topic: Recommendations? First HF Rig under $1500 new  (Read 4411 times)
KI4SKM
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Posts: 3




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« on: September 15, 2009, 03:33:18 PM »

Hi - Looking for my first HF rig. Budgeting $1500 or less for the rig itself. I would prefer a new radio, though won't completely rule out a used one. Antennas, etc are a separate issue. Interested in many modes across the board. Also interested in possible computer integration/control with the rig.

I've looked at a number, including the FT-950, TS-480 and TenTec Jupiter. The Jupiter doesn't include 6 meters - what are your opinions on that? Any other recommendations? I've only worked with 2m/70cm up to this point. I've got a Kenwood TM-V708A for VHF/UHF. So I really don't know much about 6 meters.

I'm looking for a fixed base radio, so size isn't an issue. I've got 4 acres, so plenty of space for antennas. While I'm very interested in the computer aspect, I want something that will stand alone also for now. Looking at a full SDR rig down the road, but want something that will work on its own in case of emergency.

Thanks.

---Bill <> KI4SKM
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WB5JEO
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 04:25:32 PM »

I've been using the FT-950 for a while now. (Also on 4 acres.) I chose it largely based on favorable comments on the receiver. It's certainly lived up to those. DSP functions work pretty well. The width function goes a long way to produce an intelligible signal in crowded conditions. A number of folks didn't like the menu. I think that's a real personal thing. A lot of it depends on how often (or if at all) you want to change things accessible through the menus. I my case, I find it no problem. It's really not much problem navigating the menus, once you're used to it. I put the output power control on the user defined button, since that's about all I ever want to change in a hurry. Very rabid DXers might be happier with entirely separate and equal front panel controls during split operation. The built-in speaker sounds good, as in pleasing, but the best communications speakers don't produce nice round tones you'd want in a good-time radio. Serious communicators will want to select an accessory speaker. (A Motorola mobile speaker I happened to have actually does very well, although for casual work I still leave it to the on-board.) Otherwise, things do what they're supposed to do. The decisions the designers made in placement and clustering of controls works for me. I find it convenient to put the 6-meter antenna group on the second coax connector, since the radio remembers which conector each band was on, as do most new rigs. Your mileage may vary. But I consider the money well spent. I have to admit, that in addition to the negative comments on the new Kenwoods (I have always like Kenwoods), I just didn't care for the funky stereo look of the Kenwood.
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 09:20:36 PM »

Without question, The best "do it all" rig on the market today is the Kenwood TS 2000, Now selling brand new with warranty for under 1500 dollars.
The ability to cross band repeat from HF to UHF is really great! Monitor 75 meters, 6 meters etc from a little hand held while not in the shack!

If you consider used, A good used Icom 756PRO, Or PROII is a lot of HF radio, The spectrum scope is a really nice feature to have.
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WA7NCL
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 08:15:59 AM »

for beginner, consider IC-718.  under $600 I think.  use the rest of $ for power supply, tuner, power meter, antennas, good coax etc.  Then when (if) sun spots come back consider more expensive SDR based radio, IC756proIII class etc.
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K9PU
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 05:38:43 PM »

IC7000. Around $1200.  No added $500 in "options," filters you must have anyway, ppm oscillator, microphone, speakers.  You get 160-10 meter, 6 meters, 2 meters, 450 MHz.  It has an internal SWR meter you use to tune up your antennas.  Any you can go mobile with it as it is.  Got to love the nice color display with spectrum scan.  Not too difficult to figure out for HF, a bit more of a job for VHF/UHF.  The only better deal is used at this level, otherwise you pay much more to get more or pay less and get less.

I also like the IC7200, although a plain jane, it also doesn't require $500 in "options."  But it's only 160-6 meters and I am not certain it comes with its microphone.  Seems a bit overpriced for this level considering the IC7000 price/capability.  

If you are in "dense" radio area (lots of high power hams around) you might go for the Sherwood ranking.  The IC7000 is a bit weak when you have an active ham a block away, although they might come up with a fix for this one day.  Not sure about the IC7200, not Sherwood rated yet.  

You have to get a 12 Volt, 25 Amp, switcher power supply but you can buy that from cheaper aftermarket vendors cheaper than the Icom PS125.

Scott
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AA5TB
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 12:27:44 PM »

I agree with WA7NCL.  Go with something simple and use the left over budget for needed accessories.

Most of the "do everything" radios these days in your price range are extensively menu driven and will suck out all of the enjoyment of using the radio for you.  Who really needs a barometer on their rig anyway?

Also, most of the performance difference these days can only be measured in a lab anyway and are just used for bragging purposes. Learn to use your radio properly and you will be able to do amazing things even with "low end" rig.

As already mentioned, a used radio is also a good way to go.  Rigs going back to the '80s are still very useable today and inexpensive (and simplier).

73,
Steve - AA5TB
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WD4ELG
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Posts: 877




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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 08:17:06 PM »

Lots of great suggestions on here.

I have a TS-480, an FT817, a TS520, a TS570, and a Flex 3000.

Before getting into the whole software-defined-radio discussion of the Flex (we could be here all night!), I think the best recommendation is one of the starter radios like IC 718, which leaves room for antenna and tuner, keyer, headphones, anything else accessories-wise.

But before you buy anything, see if you can find another ham who will let you "spin the dial" and get a feel for the thing.  Also, try dropping into local ham radio store (AES, Ham Radio Outlet, etc).  They often have rigs hooked up for you to tinker with.

Start out simple, that's the advice of my first Elmer.  I did, and worked my way up.  Sure glad I listened to him: Ed "Red" Reddington, W4ZM (SK).
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WD4ELG
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 08:18:00 PM »

Almost forgot - if you are looking for radio that works in emergency, get one that does well in a car.  

TS480 (my favorite), FT450, IC7200.
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PULLRAFTT
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Posts: 65




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« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2009, 12:04:49 PM »

IC706MKIIG.
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W4KVW
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Posts: 508




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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2009, 02:04:29 PM »

ICOM 746 PRO,100 watt s on ALL bands from 160-2 meters & a GREAT radio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CLAYTON
W4KVW
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2009, 06:34:47 PM »

I purchased a TS2000(X) as my first rig.  I used it extensively on 6M with my Technician license and it is still my favorite rig as an Extra.  2M SSB @ 100W is an added bonus with this rig.
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W6CD
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2009, 07:58:37 PM »

I have a TS-480SAT.  Auto Tuner, Hf+6M, great for computer control, very readable display, easy to understand and use, inexpensive voice module option good for contesting.  Quality build and feel, solid reliability.  Under the $1000 point - leaving money for accessories such as a desk mic and/or boomset, power supply, etc.
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BPONG
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2009, 11:56:25 AM »

i'm new to this stuff. don't plan on buying another radio.  i purchased an IC-7200.  i am impressed by its rugged build, and simple control layout.  if it is something you are looking forward to use for emergency situations, check this radio out.  i use it primarily as a mobile on its own battery, separate from my vehicles electrics.  plus it has great filtering capabilities, for a radio in its price range.
va3bpo
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KC8QVO
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Posts: 62




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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2009, 05:35:46 PM »

I know this topic is a month old but I figured I would chime in anyway.

The OP mentions 6 meters. This is one of my favorite bands. The propagation is weird and thats why I like it! When the band opens up it really is a lot of fun. So I would reccomend getting a radio with this band in it.

That said, the Ten Tec Jupitor is a nice radio. It isn't a top of the line rig, but if you compare it with others in it's class it shines brightly.

After having a TS-2000 for 6+ years I would not reccomend it if you are serious about HF. For a general radio it is fine, and if you operate VHF much it is really a great rig there. However, for HF it is not a good radio. It works and I use mine every day because that is the best rig I have right now. The DSP filtering works OK, but if you close the width past 200Hz on CW it rings. The radio has 4 IF's and a front end 15kHz wide. The DSP doesn't kick in until the 4th IF, so the radio is processing 15kHz of width ALL THROUGH THE RECEIVER. After I knowing better, following comparing to other radios, the receiver of the TS-2000, on HF, really buggs me.

Again, for a general HF radio it is OK. I am probably a bit harsh on my thoughts about it, personally. The reason I got it was for all modes on VHF and UHF - the HF side and DSP was a big plus though. I won't go selling mine, but I will retire it from HF duty.

The FT-450 is a really spectacular radio for the money. It has IF DSP and 6 meters. You can't go wrong with that. A friend of mine has one and it is a fun radio to play with. The receiver is really good considering the class of radio it is in.

I would NOT consider an IC-718. I have one of these too. I wish I never got it. It is 10 years old now, used heavily (and it shows), and isn't worth anything if I sold it so I'm going to hold on to it. I may get filters for it at some point in the future just for the hell of it, but without any filters it is not a good radio. It is a radio and works, but it is very limited. The DSP works OK, but the rig isn't fun to use - especially in crowded conditions.

Another radio I would look at is the FT-897D. However, you don't have IF DSP with this radio. What makes the 897 good is the size and that it is an all mode, all band rig. It is a spectacular portable radio. The ergonomics are great too. I have an FT-857D and it is the "same" radio (inside, just different box). I really enjoy mine and it is sitting right next to me as I digest my Thanksgiving dinner typing this! I wouldn't reccomend the 857D unless you need that size/weight radio. The 897D is an easier and more comfortable to use rig.

The IC-7000 is a great radio. It is better than the FT-450, has 2m and 70cm, is smaller, but comes with a higher price tag. If you can swing the money I would go for this one. The IF DSP filtering works great.

The TS-480 is a nice radio, but unless you drive a big vehicle and can mount the face plate in there I think this one is a bit clumsy. You can't mount the panel on the body like the IC-7000 to have a single radio unit for portable operating or sitting on your desk. From a performanc-only stand point, the 480 is a good radio.

If I were you, I would get a radio that includes VHF and UHF. Then you can expand from there. Maybe in another 5-10 years save your money up and get a nice base station HF radio. However, I think starting out having the VHF and UHF will be better than having a high-performance, high-dollar HF radio. The IC-7000 and TS-2000 fit this bill (just don't expect the TS-2000 to be a spectacular HF rig). The IC-7000 is better as a portable radio because of it's size and weight over the TS-2000, but the TS-2000 packs in more features (satellite mode, cross band repeat, and sky-command for example).

Steve, KC8QVO
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ZR1PJA
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2009, 01:37:35 PM »

go for the best rig maoney can buy. dont waste your time with what is called starter rigs. there is no such thing. all it is, is a low priced rig without the luxuary of this nice bits which you will miss once you get ontop of the rig. dont be scared of menues.
good luck and enjoy
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