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Author Topic: First HF rig, think I know what I want, any flaws?  (Read 9392 times)
WD1R
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Posts: 26




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« on: September 03, 2012, 11:59:28 AM »

I am scheduled to take my general on the 22nd of this month so I am looking at rigs to get. What I am thinking is I want something that pretty much does all the bands, both voice and data (and... gulp... maybe CW if I get the gumption to learn it). I would like something portable because among other things I want to do some satellite work as well out at an astronomy observatory (combining hobbies). So here is what I am thinking, let me know if there is anything I am missing or if there is a problem with the setup. I will have about $2,000 to work with.

Radio - Yaesu FT-897D (does HF + 2m/440 for local repeaters and sats)
Data - Signalink USB (does lots of data with direct plug for the FT-897D)
Tuner - LDG AT897 Plus (because of the variety of antennas I plan on using this will work with up to 10:1 SWR)
Power Supply - Yaesu FP-30 (most places I will go have AC and this makes it easier to carry one piece)
Microphone - Yaesu MH-59A8J (for direct keypad entry etc since the 897 has so few front panel buttons)

I haven't decided on antennas yet but am looking at the buddipole deluxe for HF portable, maybe some kind of whip for 2m/440 portable, a single wire dipole for base use and a vertical for base 2m/440. For sats I am thinking the Arrow 146/437-10WBP.

Am I missing anything to start off with? Are my product selections reasonable? I realize there are preferences for everyone so what I am mainly looking for is someone may say "for less money you can get the same out of product XXX instead of using product YYY", or "product XXX you listed doesn't work well with product YYY you listed as well, you are better off using ZZZ with XXX".

I might also mention I am thinking about using HRD with the radio for a lot of things since my day job is IT and computers is not something I am short on :-)

Thanks in advance!

Allan
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VE3WMB
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Posts: 289




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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 04:51:03 PM »

Allan :

I think that the FT-897D is a good choice. I use to own one. I  bought it to use as my cottage station.
Having 160m through 70cm in one radio is very convenient. It is a decent performing radio and should give you many years of use. This is not a backpack rig by any means but it is easy to transport (I kept mine in a Pelican 1450 case when it was not in use or when in transit).

I guess the only suggestion I have is that you might want to consider what happens if you decide to
buy an additional rig at some time later. Having the internal power supply and a tuner bolted onto the
side of the FT-897D doesn't allow you to share the tuner or power supply with another rig (i.e if you decide to buy a dedicated 2m rig you would also need to buy a power supply for it).
The LDG Z-11pro II I think will do everything that the AT897 will and it is a little bit cheaper.
It also gives you a better indication of what is going on with the antenna tuning. Again it comes down
to whether you want an all-in-one package or whether you are ok with having a separate tuner and
power supply that you can potentially share with other rigs. The other downside of having the power
supply in the rig is that you have to carry that weight around with the rig even if you are operating
portable from a battery.

Another thing worth mentioning that you might not be aware of ... the FT-857D is essentially the
same radio as the FT-897D, but in a slightly different form factor that doesn't allow for an internal
power supply or internal batteries.  The main board in both rigs is the same.  I just thought that I would
mention this, in case portability is really high on your list; this gives you another rig option.
Personally I liked the layout and size of the FT-897D front panel. The ergonomics of the FT-857D are
no doubt a bit worse because of the smaller faceplate.

I do recommend the SignalLink USB. I have one as well as the slightly older SL1+ and they
are great interfaces. What I like about the USB model is that you have controls for RX and TX
gain on the interface so you don't need to mess around with setting these levels in software.
Also not having to provide external power to the interface is very convenient, as is the one cable to
the back of the rig and a USB cable to the computer. I suggest  that you have a peek at FLDIGI ... it is my favourite digital mode software.

If you do want to operate CW then I suggest the addition of a 500Hz CW filter as the DSP filtering
alone isn't good enough for CW, IMHO.

Best of luck with your exam and your purchase.

Cheers

Michael VE3WMB

P.S. I regret selling my FT-897D. I finally built my Elecraft K2 for use as a home station and
decided to move my Ten Tec Argonaut V to the cottage, so the FT-897D became surplus to my needs.

I am scheduled to take my general on the 22nd of this month so I am looking at rigs to get. What I am thinking is I want something that pretty much does all the bands, both voice and data (and... gulp... maybe CW if I get the gumption to learn it). I would like something portable because among other things I want to do some satellite work as well out at an astronomy observatory (combining hobbies). So here is what I am thinking, let me know if there is anything I am missing or if there is a problem with the setup. I will have about $2,000 to work with.

Radio - Yaesu FT-897D (does HF + 2m/440 for local repeaters and sats)
Data - Signalink USB (does lots of data with direct plug for the FT-897D)
Tuner - LDG AT897 Plus (because of the variety of antennas I plan on using this will work with up to 10:1 SWR)
Power Supply - Yaesu FP-30 (most places I will go have AC and this makes it easier to carry one piece)
Microphone - Yaesu MH-59A8J (for direct keypad entry etc since the 897 has so few front panel buttons)

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K4KRW
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Posts: 98




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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2012, 05:02:10 PM »

I have an FT-897D (Since 2005).  It is a good radio and I have really enjoyed mine.  It is getting a little dated in its design, but still it is a great value and exists in a very small class of radios that give you HF/VHF and UHF.

As far as using it for satellite work.  Realize that it does not operate full duplex.  So, you can't hear the downlink side of the satellite while transmitting on the uplink side. Of course, there are not many radios that do this.  And you pay a premium for that capability.  You should do some research here before you make any purchasing decisions with satellites in mind.  If you can find a local satellite enthusiast to show you the ropes, that would be best.  It is very easy to offend folks on 'the birds' with poor operating practices.  Find a good mentor and things will go much smoother.  And you also probably get some help with purchasing decisions.

The Signalink USB interface will work fine for PSK and other sound card type modes.  But, I don't think it gives you CAT control.  So, for example, if you were using Ham Radio Deluxe, you could not see and change radio settings (even frequency) using the software.  You would be limited to just the digital modes and 'waterfall' functionality (DM780 basically).  You can add a second interface (a CAT interface) to do this.  So, it's not that the Signalink won't work.  It just isn't the entire solution if you want complete computer control of the rig.  Rigblaster and others do make interfaces that give you both pieces in one device.

The only comment about the AT-897 is that it is made to be used with the FT-897.  It will probably work just as well with other rigs.  But, if you want to use it with multiple rigs, you might want to do some investigating.  I have the Z-11 Pro II.  It's tuning range is a little more broad (but not much = 6 to 1000 vs 6 to 800).  But, you also get those additional buttons on the front of the tuner.  I do find that I use them from time to time and I would definitely miss them.  That is one reason I didn't get the AT-897.

FP-30.  The convenience of having the power supply in the radio would definitely be nice.  I have never used my battery compartments.  So, I could use one as well.  I use external gel cells when operating portable.  You do pay a premium (looks like about $90 more) for the convenience of the internal supply.  But, if convenience is the priority, the FP-30 is hard to argue with.

Microphone -  See later comment.

Advice.
Try not to buy any radio without first trying one out.  See if you can find a local ham who has one who could show you how it works.  Try to look at the competing products as well.  I do think you will like the 897.  But, it is getting to be an old design.  It does serve a niche that very few other radios really serve.  (The IC-7000 would be another to look at).  There are plenty of fans of both.  Also, the best radio for one person is often not the best for another.

You may want to hold off on some accessories.  You could definitely save some money and may find you don't need them.  The microphone would be a perfect example of where to hold off.  I program my frequencies and settings and store them in memories.   I find I just don't need the number buttons.  Would it be handy to directly enter a frequency?  Sure.  But what mode are you in?  If you are in the PSK area of the band and you enter a SSB frequency, you still have to go fiddle with mode (change from Data to SSB) ......  I just store my band edges and modes in memories.  I have all of the CW band edges in a series, followed by all of my Data mode frequencies followed by all of my SSB band edges.  So, if I want to go from the CW part of 40 meters, to the SSB part of 20 meters, I just spin the memory knob until I get to the memory setting for the bottom edge of the SSB section on 20 meters.  Once there, all of my settings are correct and I am ready to go.  I then only have to spin the VFO up into the band segment.  No other settings need to be touched.

I would probably be more concerned about the sound quality of the microphone than whether it offered a number pad.  Note: the stock mike is one thing that is often enhanced or replaced by owners of the 897.

The antenna tuner may be another area where you can wait.  If you are using antennas that present a proper impedance on the band you are using, you don't need a tuner.  So, you would not need a tuner for a fan dipole if it is tuned for the bands you use.  But, if you want to use something like a G5RV or a Carolina Windom (my antenna), you probably need a tuner.

You also may want to try some wire antennas before you spend the money on the buddy poles.  A dipole will be much more efficient.  When I go out on the field, I usually take a home brew end fed half wave antenna.  It is extremely easy to hang in a tree.  I have even used it on a kite string at the beach.

A recent Gotcha:
Do some research about 60 meters.  Since the recent rule changes, many radios really won't let you take advantage of this band.  This should not be a deal killer on a radio. But, you should understand your circumstances so you can make a good decision.  For example, with my FT-897D I cannot fully utilize the 60 meter channels without doing the MARS mod on my radio.  I personally don't want to modify my radio.  My radio, as is, will keep me from transmitting outside of a ham band  (it just won't transmit once you pass the band edge). 

Note though, your radio won't protect you from exceeding your privileges (won't stop a General from transmitting in the Extra portion of the band).  You can also end up transmitting out of band just due to the width of your signal.  Eg:  The rig will transmit on 7.300 MHz, but you shouldn't.  Part of your signal will be outside of the band. 

The thing I don't like about the MARS mod is I can easily and blatantly exceed the band edges.  Of course, others will argue they had rather be able to transmit anywhere if for no other reason emergency circumstances.  So, to each his or her own.

So, in summary, I would say don't get in a hurry to buy everything you think you will need.  After operating a while, you will learn what you really do need.  And if you haven't spent money on things you don't use, you will have money for the things you find you really do need.

Good luck and congratulations.  Sorry for the book.

73, Richard - K4KRW





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K4KRW
Member

Posts: 98




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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2012, 05:19:43 PM »

I saw Micheal's post after I posted mine.

Great points about the power supply and antenna tuner.

One other difference between the 897 and the 857.  The 897 comes with the TCXO option 
(Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator - makes the 897 more frequency stable.  But, I don't think drift is a problem without the TCXO).

I agree with Michael on the CW filter (if you are going to be operating CW).

73 - Richard - K4KRW
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WD1R
Member

Posts: 26




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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2012, 06:28:57 PM »

The Signalink USB interface will work fine for PSK and other sound card type modes.  But, I don't think it gives you CAT control.  So, for example, if you were using Ham Radio Deluxe, you could not see and change radio settings (even frequency) using the software.  You would be limited to just the digital modes and 'waterfall' functionality (DM780 basically).  You can add a second interface (a CAT interface) to do this.  So, it's not that the Signalink won't work.  It just isn't the entire solution if you want complete computer control of the rig.  Rigblaster and others do make interfaces that give you both pieces in one device.

I am a little confused here. I was under the impression that you would control the signalink through the USB port which then connected to the radio via the CAT, that gave you data control. Radio control would be done with a serial port. Have I got that wrong or do they not work in tandem?

Allan
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K4KRW
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Posts: 98




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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 07:08:39 AM »

The Signalink device has a built in sound card.  The USB interface in the Signalink is just an interface to this built in sound card.  So, the Ham Radio Deluxe will get it's sound data from the SignalLink sound card on receive and send it's sound data to the Signalink sound card on transmit via this USB port.  It can also be used to control the 'Push to Talk' line so the Signallink can key your transmitter.  But that is it.  With most sound card interfaces, you can leave the keying of the transmitter up to the VOX functionality of the rig as well.  Not sure about the Signalink.  I don't use VOX myself.  I like having control of the PTT line better.

You can work PSK and other digital modes with this setup just fine.  You just can't see and change settings on the rig using Ham Radio Deluxe (or other control software).  If you add a second adapter (CAT interface), the Signallink will take care of the audio side and the CAT interface will take care of the rig control.

Or you can find an interface that will just do both.  I have an interface that does both (Audio interface and CAT interface).  I think it is worth the extra money.  Mine is an old one.  This one would be the current version of it.

http://www.g4zlp.co.uk/unified/DM_PRO_PLUS_complete.shtml
Note though, it does not have a built in sound card.  If you have a great sound card, you can get by with this just fine.  Many laptops don't though.

Here is a more expensive model that does it all.  Built in sound card, digital modes capabilities and CAT capabilities.
http://www.g4zlp.co.uk/unified/DigiMaster%20ProTwo.shtml


I would look at the RigBlasters too. 
Simple model that depends on your PC's sound card.
http://www.westmountainradio.com/product_info.php?products_id=pnp

Deluxe model with built in sound card
http://www.westmountainradio.com/product_info.php?products_id=rb_adv

If I bought a new one I would buy one with the built in sound card.  Many PCs have really sorry sound cards.  Plus, if you use the PC's sound card, you will have to constantly change your record and playback levels as you go from using digital modes to just using the PC.

The devices with the built in sound card allow you to just set the levels for that card separately.  Then you can just leave them alone.  You can also isolate the audio to the second sound card so your normal windows sounds don't play through that sound card.  You don't want to unintentionally broadcast audio from your PC (like one night when I broadcast the audio from a B-52 crash video unintentionally over the local repeater - (ssshhh - don't tell anyone.).

They weren't building sound cards into the digital modes interfaces at the time I bought mine.  I actually use a separate external sound card with my laptop.  I use a Griffin iMic.  They were great at the time I bought it.  Not sure now.  Today, I would buy one of the interfaces that does it all.

If you just wanted to add CAT capabilies and still go with the Signalink, you would need to buy something like this.

http://www.g4zlp.co.uk/unified/YaesuCAT.shtml  (First item on page - Plus buy the correct interface cable)

Yeasu also makes the CT-62 which sells for about $40.  People seem to like it fine.  Most ham radio vendors carry them.

Hope this helps.

Richard - K4KRW
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KE5JPP
Member

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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2012, 10:31:52 AM »

I am scheduled to take my general on the 22nd of this month so I am looking at rigs to get. What I am thinking is I want something that pretty much does all the bands, both voice and data (and... gulp... maybe CW if I get the gumption to learn it). I would like something portable because among other things I want to do some satellite work as well out at an astronomy observatory (combining hobbies). So here is what I am thinking, let me know if there is anything I am missing or if there is a problem with the setup. I will have about $2,000 to work with.

Radio - Yaesu FT-897D (does HF + 2m/440 for local repeaters and sats)
Data - Signalink USB (does lots of data with direct plug for the FT-897D)
Tuner - LDG AT897 Plus (because of the variety of antennas I plan on using this will work with up to 10:1 SWR)
Power Supply - Yaesu FP-30 (most places I will go have AC and this makes it easier to carry one piece)
Microphone - Yaesu MH-59A8J (for direct keypad entry etc since the 897 has so few front panel buttons)

I haven't decided on antennas yet but am looking at the buddipole deluxe for HF portable, maybe some kind of whip for 2m/440 portable, a single wire dipole for base use and a vertical for base 2m/440. For sats I am thinking the Arrow 146/437-10WBP.

Am I missing anything to start off with? Are my product selections reasonable? I realize there are preferences for everyone so what I am mainly looking for is someone may say "for less money you can get the same out of product XXX instead of using product YYY", or "product XXX you listed doesn't work well with product YYY you listed as well, you are better off using ZZZ with XXX".

I might also mention I am thinking about using HRD with the radio for a lot of things since my day job is IT and computers is not something I am short on :-)

Thanks in advance!

Allan


If you are working with a $2000 budget, take a look at the TS-590s.  It has a very good built in antenna tuner, so you would not necessarily have to buy a separate tuner.  It also has a USB connection which looks like a USB sound card to your PC, so running digital modes is a breeze.  This eliminates having to buy the Signalink USB device and eliminates the cabling nightmare.  The TS-590s comes with a microphone or you can add desk microphone later.  You'd basically only need a power supply and an antenna.  Buy an inexpensive dual band HT or mobile for 2m and 440 or if you must do SSB on 2m or 440, add a transverter to the TS-590s.  It has a low level driver output that works with many transverters. Just a suggestion...

Gene
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 10:34:56 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
WD1R
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2012, 10:57:55 AM »

If you are working with a $2000 budget, take a look at the TS-590s.  It has a very good built in antenna tuner, so you would not necessarily have to buy a separate tuner.  It also has a USB connection which looks like a USB sound card to your PC, so running digital modes is a breeze.  This eliminates having to buy the Signalink USB device and eliminates the cabling nightmare.  The TS-590s comes with a microphone or you can add desk microphone later.  You'd basically only need a power supply and an antenna.  Buy an inexpensive dual band HT or mobile for 2m and 440 or if you must do SSB on 2m or 440, add a transverter to the TS-590s.  It has a low level driver output that works with many transverters. Just a suggestion...

Gene

I like Kenwood as a brand, the larger display, the built in tuner and the built in data, does it have a handle for carrying? This unit will absolutely be used for portable use and it seems the 897 is built for that, is the Kenwood? It sure looks more like a desk radio than something you carry out into the field. It will actually cost me more as well since I will need a larger power supply to run it and a 2m/440 mobile rig at the same time, and of course I will have to buy a 2m/440 mobile rig and figure out how to bolt it to the Kenwood. Hmmmmm.

Allan
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W8JX
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2012, 03:29:42 PM »

If you are working with a $2000 budget, take a look at the TS-590s.  It has a very good built in antenna tuner, so you would not necessarily have to buy a separate tuner.  It also has a USB connection which looks like a USB sound card to your PC, so running digital modes is a breeze.  This eliminates having to buy the Signalink USB device and eliminates the cabling nightmare.  The TS-590s comes with a microphone or you can add desk microphone later.  You'd basically only need a power supply and an antenna.  Buy an inexpensive dual band HT or mobile for 2m and 440 or if you must do SSB on 2m or 440, add a transverter to the TS-590s.  It has a low level driver output that works with many transverters. Just a suggestion...

Gene

I like Kenwood as a brand, the larger display, the built in tuner and the built in data, does it have a handle for carrying? This unit will absolutely be used for portable use and it seems the 897 is built for that, is the Kenwood? It sure looks more like a desk radio than something you carry out into the field. It will actually cost me more as well since I will need a larger power supply to run it and a 2m/440 mobile rig at the same time, and of course I will have to buy a 2m/440 mobile rig and figure out how to bolt it to the Kenwood. Hmmmmm.

Allan

A 590 it really no more or less portable than a 897 but it does have a much better receiver and more modern design. While built in tuner is rated at only 3 to 1 it match a bit more and for portable with say a G5RV no external tuner would be needed. As far as "lugging" a extra rig for 2m and 440, as you are not very likely to use VHF/UHF SSB portable why not simple carry a HT?  Personally I never could see the logic of tying up a HF rig to work 2m or 440 FM.
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NI0Z
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2012, 04:17:21 PM »


I like Kenwood as a brand, the larger display, the built in tuner and the built in data, does it have a handle for carrying? This unit will absolutely be used for portable use and it seems the 897 is built for that, is the Kenwood? It sure looks more like a desk radio than something you carry out into the field. It will actually cost me more as well since I will need a larger power supply to run it and a 2m/440 mobile rig at the same time, and of course I will have to buy a 2m/440 mobile rig and figure out how to bolt it to the Kenwood. Hmmmmm.

Allan

Allan, you are on the right track, the 897D has the battery, a tuner clamps on and you've got the handle.  Plenty of folks use this rig in just the way your describing.  One thing to make sure your comfortable with is understanding power drain for field use and how you'll be powering the rig.  Sounds like you already considering that.  For example, the IC 7000 seems a little nicer to me, I own it and did own the 897D as well, but the IC 7000 will consume lots of power, has no handle, ect.

Yes, there are radios with better receivers, and so my advice is to just understand the power drain based on the power your going to operate with.  Of course you'll be plugged in at home and so there won't be the fast drain issue there.  What I am saying is you may not be able to go long off battery working SSB at 75 watts.  You may be more QRP like in your transmit with any radio if operating off battery.   I say this because some of the QRP rigs have top notch receivers and are awesome for the field but then you only have 5-10 watts at home for xmit without dropping more money on an amp.

You may find that for your shack, a great antenna is your next best investment. Moving from an antenna with loss to one with gain can be huge!  Once you have that you can look to a top end receiver if you want or have the budget and will to spend it.  And of course you can keep the 897 for field use that way also.  By the way, the 897 was an awesome PSK and RTTY machine for me, I was getting all over Europe with just 10-15 watts.

My advice as well, google to uncover common issues for any radio your interested in and how they handle issue and how long it takes them to respond and follow through.  You don't want a radio where the vendor doesn't solve issues.  You'll be suprised at what dirt you'll dig up!
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 04:23:07 PM by NI0Z » Logged

WD1R
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2012, 06:44:52 PM »

W8JX, I see your point, I just never saw the use in having multiple radios when I can really only concentrate on one at a time. Having them all in one unit does mean I have a central point of failure, but it also means I have one radio to learn, one radio to control and one radio to tote around. I guess maybe once I get more experience I might change my view but for now I think I want to stick with one unit. Thanks though.

NI0Z, The two primary places the rig will be used are on my desk, and on a portable table out at the observatory, both have AC power available. I also have a couple battery packs, one 17ah and one about 24ah that I can use to power the rig on the infrequent occasions when I want to be "off grid". I have no delusions of this setup being run off my car's cigarette lighter or a little solar charger in the middle of the boonies. Although if I dropped the power down to 10 watts I bet that 24ah battery pack would run it for quite a while!

I looked at the IC-7000 as well, and while it clearly has a better LCD, I have read of a few issues with that radio, it doesn't have the bolt on tuner or built in power supply, and my only experience with icom was a IC-T90A which I absolutely hated.

Not only have I been using google and youtube (seen some really sweet 897 videos of people talking with it using a whip and even one guy doing it solar and getting some awesome contacts!) but using the reviews on here as well. For example, the IC-7000 scores a 4.3 on 321 reviews, the TS-590s shows 4.6 in 180 reviews and the FT-897 scored 4.6 with 327 reviews. While certainly not locked into the 897, everything I look at seems to favor it for what I want. This will be my second Yaesu if I go with it, I have a VX-8GR which is a fantastic operating radio although I sure do wish they used an actual volume knob/on-off switch combo!

Allan
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W8JX
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2012, 08:38:37 PM »

W8JX, I see your point, I just never saw the use in having multiple radios when I can really only concentrate on one at a time. Having them all in one unit does mean I have a central point of failure, but it also means I have one radio to learn, one radio to control and one radio to tote around. I guess maybe once I get more experience I might change my view but for now I think I want to stick with one unit. Thanks though.

I understand where you are coming from but I also want you to be aware that most dual band VHF/UHF mobiles can not only receive two signals at once (2m + 2m or 2m + 440 or 440 + 440) most can also cross band repeat which means when setup in a remote area you can use your HT to link thru is transparently and have long range. I have used this trick for about 20 years from time to time. None of this is possible with a 897.
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K4KRW
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 05:02:50 AM »

Being able to monitor both 70cm and 2m at the same time is nice.  Cross band repeat is nice.  With the 897D you can't even monitor one of those bands while you are working HF.  But, you are not comparing apples to apples when you talk about 70cm and 2m verses a separate mobile rig.  I don't know of a single dual band mobile/portable rig currently in production that is all mode. 

Actually, this is one of the bad points about the FT-897D.  You will end up like me.  I would like to buy a new rig.  But, every time I think I'm actually going to do it, I think about losing SSB on 2m and 70cm and I decide I'd rather keep what I have.  So, in the end, I will end up with 2 main rigs.  The FT-897D and whatever I decide to purchase. 

You just can't buy another rig that matches the FT-897D in its packaging and capabilities.

You can easily buy a separate dual band rig to get dual band monitoring and cross band repeat.  For example, my Alinco DR-635 is very reasonably price and does all of this well.  You can't easily buy SSB capabilities for 2m and 70cm. 

For me it made more sense to get the SSB capabilities and handle the rest with a separate rig.

73, Richard - K4KRW
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W5LZ
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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2012, 06:31:30 AM »

This is second hand so take it as such. 
I have a friend that has/had an FT-897D with the built-on power supply.  He had a problem with it, that power supply would over-heat.  His 'cure' was simple, just drilled a few holes for ventilation.  Not very pretty, but it works.
Antennas can only be miniaturized so far before their performance makes them almost useless.  That's true about antennas for any frequency range, but especially for HF antennas.  A very rough 'ROT' (Rule Of Thumb) is that if it ain't big and ugly, and inconvenient, it's not going to be very good.  There are compromises of one sort or another with almost everything.  If a 'miniature' antenna is required for whatever reason, then it's going to be better than nothing, probably.
 - 'Doc
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KD0MRU
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« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2012, 07:10:35 AM »

I am in a similar situation although I haven't yet scheduled my general test. I have been researching HF radios for over 2 years. First, like you, I decided the FT-857/897 was the best bang for the buck. Then when the Kenwood ts-590s came out it became a more difficult decision. Enough so that I have "hem-hawed" about purchase as well as taking the exam. Difficult in many ways to decide portability versus performance.
Then I recently found out the Elecraft KX3 was shipping. Problem solved, order placed, general license study book back on table. My Elecraft won't ship for 45 days so much incentive to study for test in meantime.
I plan on paring an Alpha Antenna portable and an Apha Antennae 6-160 J-pole strung at home with the Elecraft; I did order the internal tuner and battery charger with the radio.
I am convinced (I am sure like everyone who makes a significant radio purchase) that I have the best radio ordered for my purposes; dual portable and home unit.
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