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Author Topic: New HF rig for a new Ham  (Read 10751 times)
KK4JJF
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Posts: 18




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« on: May 11, 2012, 09:00:51 PM »

Though I'm not a Ham tonight, I fully expect to be a General by late tomorrow morning. At least I will be after I'm in the database. As you could guess, I have visions of transceivers as I go to sleep every night. Cool  I'm not sure which way to go? I expect my main interests to be in the HF bands running SSB, and perhaps eventually CW. I also expect to lean towards DX, and perhaps eventually contesting. I would like to forgo a VERY basic rig, and go with something a bit longer lasting. I'm going to be limited to the $1500 price range. There seems to be few choices in this range. As you may guess, I m looking at both the FT-950, and the TS-590S. I prefer the fantastic looks/ size of the FT950, but I'm reading about the receiver not being contest worthy? That's a real shame, as it would have bee my first pick. Another option would perhaps be a USED  FT1000MP. Would this be a mistake? It appears to be a contest type radio, but I do worry about buying someones headache, and obsolete parts!  Nothing decent is local so I would have to buy sight unseen!

Also I see used rigs with "hours" listed? Do most new radios have this indicator? Is this a number I can ask for when shopping used?

What to do, what to do...................
« Last Edit: May 11, 2012, 09:03:34 PM by WMACKY » Logged
ZENKI
Member

Posts: 938




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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2012, 02:43:48 AM »

Why not  look at the FT2000 200 watt version. You can pick them up at reasonable price. If you add the AC0C  Network Sciences roofing filter kit you will have a decent receiver. There is a review of the filter in  the May 2012 QST.
There seems to be a worthwhile improvement in  dynamic range figures to make the radio a  good bargain performance radio. It would certainly be a  lot better than buying a hissing FT1000MP or FT1000D, which are really poor radios these days. 200 watts is enough power  for 99.9% of QSO's and you wont really need a linear unless you get into hardcore contesting.

The next radio to consider would be the TS590S or the Orion. Ten Tec have just released a new second receiver board which turns the Orion into worthwhile radio.

The FT950 is a very attractive radio its just a pity that its receiver is  not really a contest grade receiver. If Yaesu ever released a cut down version of the FT5000 and put  it into  a box like the FT950's it would have a top
selling radio. Not everyone  needs dual receivers and all the bells and whistles..

I would ignore numbers of hours since it has little meaning in real life because you dont know at what temperature the rig was operated at. Air conditioning and high humidity can damage parts just as badly as high temperature. Cycling a radio on and off and letting it sit unused for a long period of time is more damaging than leaving the radio running  24/7. Ignore this point and just make sure the radio has not been around a smoker and has not been butchered by someone with a golden screwdriver!


Though I'm not a Ham tonight, I fully expect to be a General by late tomorrow morning. At least I will be after I'm in the database. As you could guess, I have visions of transceivers as I go to sleep every night. Cool  I'm not sure which way to go? I expect my main interests to be in the HF bands running SSB, and perhaps eventually CW. I also expect to lean towards DX, and perhaps eventually contesting. I would like to forgo a VERY basic rig, and go with something a bit longer lasting. I'm going to be limited to the $1500 price range. There seems to be few choices in this range. As you may guess, I m looking at both the FT-950, and the TS-590S. I prefer the fantastic looks/ size of the FT950, but I'm reading about the receiver not being contest worthy? That's a real shame, as it would have bee my first pick. Another option would perhaps be a USED  FT1000MP. Would this be a mistake? It appears to be a contest type radio, but I do worry about buying someones headache, and obsolete parts!  Nothing decent is local so I would have to buy sight unseen!

Also I see used rigs with "hours" listed? Do most new radios have this indicator? Is this a number I can ask for when shopping used?

What to do, what to do...................
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KS2G
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Posts: 412




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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2012, 03:43:00 AM »

It's like asking which car to buy -- you'll get as many (conflicting) opinions as there are buyers.

I have using a TS-590 in heavy contest operating (ssb, cw & rtty) for the past year-plus and love it.

"Best bang for the buck" in my opinion.

But, no doubt, others will differ.

Good luck.

73,
Mel - KS2G

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W8JX
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Posts: 5902




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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2012, 04:51:21 AM »

The FT950 is not even in same league as a TS590 which has a much better receiver in it. 590 is clearly better choice of two.
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N3DF
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 05:55:43 AM »

Think antenna, not radio. In my opinion, far too many new HF hams buy a great transceiver and then string up a poor antenna.  A $400 used rig with a good, tower-mounted Yagi  will bring you lots more interesting operating possibilities than a $2,000 radio with a poorly-located dipole or vertical. 
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Neil N3DF
W8JX
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Posts: 5902




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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 07:08:52 AM »

Think antenna, not radio. In my opinion, far too many new HF hams buy a great transceiver and then string up a poor antenna.  A $400 used rig with a good, tower-mounted Yagi  will bring you lots more interesting operating possibilities than a $2,000 radio with a poorly-located dipole or vertical. 

I mostly disagree. Todays bands can be very crowded and times and some locations have trouble with RFI too and a proper rig can deal with this better than a cheap one. I am a firm believer of have a decent rig first and beam second. You do not need a beam to do well but you do need to be able to reject/separate signals. A lot of wire antennas and even verticals can play nicely with minimal investment. 
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K7PEH
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Posts: 1124




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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 07:20:00 AM »

I agree with the disagree by W8JX.  Actually, I was writing up a reply when W8JX beat me to the punch.  If I could put up a tower with a SteppIR antenna I would.  So, I have a compromise beam, a Traffie Hexbeam, and several dipoles.  Dipoles work fine.  No, I don't hear stations I could hear with a tower and beam but then I hear enough.  I have never lacked contacts from any corner of the planet.  I have all states except one -- Rhode Island.  I am seriously thinking no hams live in Rhode Island.

My rig is an Elecraft K3/100.  Actually I have a full K-line:  K3/100 +  P3  + KPA500 and I will be adding the KAT500 when it comes out later this year.  I highly recommend this rig.  The K3 is better then any other transceiver or receiver that I have owned or used.  You can buy a basic K3/100 kit for $1999.  Not too far off the mark of your $1500 budget and you will have one of the best transceivers ever built (if not the best).  As time and your budget allow, you can add features.  The nicest thing about the K3 is that it has the best support available.  You can ask questions via e-mail of the designers and builders of the radio and get answers quickly -- sometimes as quickly as within an hour!  The community of users and the Elecraft reflector is an incredible resource.  You can join it at anytime and just listen in to the dialog and ask questions (go to www.elecraft.com and find the page for joining the reflector).
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KK4JJF
Member

Posts: 18




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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2012, 07:43:35 AM »

Thanks and keep the comments coming especially on New vs Used!

BTW, I just got back from testing, and I guess I'm going to be a General. Perfect score on both. Yeah! Now I really need that radio!
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 08:40:27 AM »

WMACKY:  First of all congratulations on passing the General test!  Now the wait starts.  Fortunately, as I understand it, it's only necessary to wait until you show up in the data base.  I had to wait over a month to get my ticket after testing!

As for rigs.... no idea since I can't afford to buy one I seldom look at them except to drool a little.  However, JX brings up what I consider a very valid point.  Get a nice rig and just get an antenna that will get you on the air.  While a beam and rotor are nice, the object at this point is to get on the air ASAP.  Antennas have a tendency to evolve.  Transceivers, not so much. 

Good luck and enjoy the finest hobby in existence!
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K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1124




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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 08:53:19 AM »

After I got back into ham radio in 2004, my first contact with my recently purchased used Icom 756 (non-pro version, $740), was using a 60 foot string of #12 insulated house wire that ran from my rig, then on the floor to the back door, where I tacked it up about 7 feet elevation, and then it ran to the roof (10 feet up) of my tool shed in the back of the yard.  Indeed, I operated that way for two weeks before, I figured out to use some of the fir trees in the yard for anchoring my 80-meter dipole fed by ladder line.  By the way, that temporary wire out the door was matched by the built-in tuner of the Icom (matching range 3:1) for the 75-meter phone band.
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AC4RD
Member

Posts: 1235




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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 09:12:42 AM »

Wmacky, first, CONGRATULATIONS!   And WELCOME!  Hope you have fun--it's a great hobby!

I've had an FT-950 for a few months and LOVE it.  I've been amazed at how much better it is than the TS-480 it replaced.  I'm using it 95% for CW DXing, and the receiver seems great to me, and the filtering is astonishing compared to the "entry-level" rigs I've owned over the last 20+ years. I can hear things I'd NEVER have heard on my older rigs. The 950 comes standard with three roofing filters that seem like magic to me--I can hear a faint CW signal in the middle of a crowded band with no AGC pumping and no interference.  I wish I had bought a 950 years ago!  But I've never used the 590 and don't have any comparison.

One thing I'd say: don't sweat too much picking a rig.  If you are going to buy a modern rig, new with a warranty, almost any of them will be a great first rig.  I worked my first 100 countries on a primitive old Griefkit that was always breaking, and that rig's many drawbacks didn't keep me from having a world of fun with it!  (And I gave that to a friend when he got his license, and HE gave that to another friend when HE got a license, so that Griefkit is STILL giving a new ham a bunch of fun, 40 years after it was built!)  Also, you'll have a much better idea of what you want in a second radio after a year or three or five, with the first radio, and if you got a new modern transceiver you'll be able to resell it at a good price.   So you really can't go very wrong with ANY rig you pick at this point.

Good luck, 73, and HAVE FUN!  And welcome to a GREAT hobby!
  --ken ac4rd

« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 09:41:11 AM by AC4RD » Logged
N6AJR
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Posts: 9908




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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 10:43:05 AM »

Congrats.  I wouls say to look at some of the Ten Tec stuff.  they have everything from a brand new Orion II (              probably the best  rig in the world  ) to a used orion, or an eagle or other radio.  Ten Tec makes great radios, super service, and they can fix them for years . not laike a foreign radio.  call and talk to them, and they also do used  ten tec's after they go through them. and some can be bought in a 4 payment plan  heck it out  Please
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N5XM
Member

Posts: 242




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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 12:12:33 PM »

Most folks talk about Ten Tec as CW rigs.  Not so.  They work just fine on SSB.  Yeah, they are kind of industrial looking, but that can be misleading.  You can always get a used VI+ for under 1500.00, even with filters.  Two days ago I saw an Omni V, full of filters for 650.00.  I would love to have it, and you'd have some money left for a used beam.  My present rigs are the IC-7600, and Orion, and an Omni VI+, all connected to a TA-33, so I'm not radio poor.  Go to the Sherwood website and take a look at the receiver numbers.  It will be an education for you.  You're a newbie and will learn and gain experience as you go along.  About any choice you make will be a good one.
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KD8MJR
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Posts: 2361




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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2012, 01:07:36 PM »

Congratulations on getting your ticket, I know exactly how you feel, I got a TS-440S after I got mine and I can tell you nothing beats owning an older rig to let you appreciate how much better a good modern radio is.  With that said I would recommend the 590 or getting a Yaesu FT-1000 Mark V.  You will have a lot more fun with all the features of the Mark V and certainly feel more Manly Grin with the Mark V but the 590 will have a slightly better receiver and better specs but I am not sure that's going to matter much given your antenna limitations. 
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WD4CHP
Member

Posts: 147




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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2012, 01:24:32 PM »

I would suggest that a new ham get a basic transeiver for the first rig.

That way he could master the operation.

Once he gets his feet wet then he can get the rig that will do what he wants it to do.

I started with a HW8 then a HW101. A couple of Atlases.

I now use an Icom IC 706MK2G mobile and an Icom IC 746 PRO at home and I still haven't mastered all the menus.
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