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Author Topic: Good contesting radios  (Read 759 times)
W2IRT
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« on: October 16, 2003, 01:49:27 PM »

I'm curious -- everybody -- what rigs do you use for SSB contesting?

I wrote in another thread that I'm stuck with a TS-570 as my HF radio, and while I love it for everything else, it's essentially useless in CQWW or WPX. If I were to consider buying another radio, what would your suggestions be -- either new or used? I can't afford an Orion or FT-1000, but is that price point (~$3300) really the price of admission to a good contesting rig?

I'm only using 100W and a dipole at 35' up so it's not for serious competition reasons that I run in contests, it's more fun than anything else. As such, I might not need the "best of the best," but just something better than I have now.

What say you?

Cheers,
Peter W2IRT
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N2MG
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2003, 02:07:56 PM »

The TS-940 can be had for ~$800, the FT-1000MP goes for around ~1400 - these are both good radios for contesting (the 940 is admittedly dated).  The TS-850 is a favorite as well.

(Note: You may need to invest no small amount of cash in filters to tolerate the crowded bands.)

Don't spend more than $1K until you spend that much on antennas!

GL,
Mike N2MG
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N8UZE
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2003, 07:52:51 PM »

Why do you consider your TS-570 inadequate?  It's 100 watts out like other radios.  Is the filtering insufficient?  If so just install better filters or get outboard filters.  It's much cheaper than buying a different radio.

Until very recently, I ran an old Kenwood TS-130SE and it was more than sufficient.  However shortly after I bought it (used), I got the narrowest SSB filter and CW filter available for it and had them installed.  It makes a world of difference.
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KB8YJU
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2003, 10:31:27 PM »

FT-920 is a good choice too........ can be had for $800.00 or so.
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W1NK
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2003, 04:47:59 PM »

I have been having a TON of contesting fun running another dated rig (circa 1997)...an FT-990.

It was purchased for $1,000 & included all the filters, external speaker, & desk mic.

Running 100W to a 40-10M Windom, 2003 contest results were:

ARRL CW DX--439 Qs
ARRL DX PH--193 Qs
CQ WPX CW --262 Qs
CQ WPX PH --250 Qs

This summer I added a Force12 Sigma 5 Vertical and....
IARU      --185 Qs

Another nice thing about this rig is that it will accept N1MM's contesting software so my dinky, clunky 100MHz laptop gives me rig control, cw keying, etc.

W1NK
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2003, 06:42:33 PM »

Surely antennas are the place to invest, but I can understand the complaint about the TS-570D...I tried one in a contest situation and it was overwhelmed.

On the other hand, a very contest-worthy rig that can be found for far less than $1000 is the TS-850S.  This rig, unlike the TS-570D, is triple conversion and accepts a total of eight I.F. filters, four each in the second and third I.F. stages, and you can switch in any combination of them in one second from the front panel.  It also has one of the highest IMD intercept points of any amateur HF transceiver, then or since.  Not to mention very contest-worthy keying and modulation characteristics, and a host of built-in features (or options) including a 3-channel digital voice recorder and 3-channel memory keyer.  It's a rig that was really quite set up for contesting, even though designed in 1989.  (It does have a CAT interface, as well, for station automation.)

Many rigs have come and gone through my own shack between 1989 and now, but the TS-850S is one I still hang on to.

WB2WIK/6
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ON4MGY
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2003, 12:32:46 PM »

I used to use my Yaesu FT-840, but it was worth almost nothing for contesting. The rig I bought for contesting is a 20 year old one, the Kenwood TS-830S. It uses valves so no fast band-changing, has no PC-control, needs an aditional second VFO to work split, etc, etc,  but is a very great radio for contesting or DX-ing on crowded bands. It's much better than the TS-570 in my opinion.
If you can buy one of these, you'll have lots of fun.
If your budget is a little larger, you should go for the TS-850.

73 de ON4MGY Nic
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KG4PZZ
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2003, 10:52:49 PM »

I'll have to echo what two others have already said.

FT-990 and FT-920.  I've only personally operated the 920 (love mine), but I've heard very good things about the 990.

Can you win a contest with these radios?  Maybe.  Probably not.  They'll give you a lot of fun in a contest, though.  I know that it was so refreshing during CQWW SSB to just tap "Notch", twist around the DSP knobs and noise reducer, and BAM, a wonderful SSB signal out of the noice and hum of 40m.

I doubt you'd be let down with an FT-920.

Fred
KG4PZZ
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