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Author Topic: SSB/CW VHF/UHF setup  (Read 6208 times)
N3QE
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« on: September 07, 2012, 07:49:53 AM »

Anyone care to recommend a good cheap/used rig(s) that will do SSB and CW on VHF and/or UHF? Purpose is to hear what's out there on the bands right now, take advantage of the VHF openings, do just a little VHF contesting.

I am looking to spend a few hundred bucks on a good used rig and a few hundred on antennas.

It's possible that a transverter to be used with my HF rigs is the right solution.

2M SSB and CW would be the priority but 70 cm would be a real plus.

I am very perplexed looking at the current crop of popular VHF/UHF transceivers and I see no mention of SSB/CW abilities. Obviously I'm not looking in the right place! Last time I did this stuff was in the 80's and back then there were the "FM only" rigs but there was also a selection of SSB/CW VHF gear that my elmer had.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 07:53:12 AM by N3QE » Logged
KA4POL
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Posts: 1966




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« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 10:28:54 AM »

This question pops up now and then, see http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,84179.0.html and http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,83623.0.html
the easiest thing is to find a good antenna. They don't care if it is SSB or FM. The problem is basically that the number of hams using SSB on higher frequencies is getting less and therefore the request for rigs is reduced, which made the manufacturers pull out.
A transverter is certainly a solution. I don't like it personally as I prefer to have a dedicated rig and not lots of cables and cases.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 11:55:43 AM »

Anyone care to recommend a good cheap/used rig(s) that will do SSB and CW on VHF and/or UHF? Purpose is to hear what's out there on the bands right now, take advantage of the VHF openings, do just a little VHF contesting.

I am looking to spend a few hundred bucks on a good used rig and a few hundred on antennas.

It's possible that a transverter to be used with my HF rigs is the right solution.

2M SSB and CW would be the priority but 70 cm would be a real plus.

I am very perplexed looking at the current crop of popular VHF/UHF transceivers and I see no mention of SSB/CW abilities. Obviously I'm not looking in the right place! Last time I did this stuff was in the 80's and back then there were the "FM only" rigs but there was also a selection of SSB/CW VHF gear that my elmer had.

I'm not sure to what amount you are referring to as 'a few hundred bucks' but I'll give you a rundown on the V/UHF setup at my shack. I started out with an old beat up FT-726R with 2M and 440Mhz modules in it. I wanted to get on 6M but the cost of 6M modules for that old rig was just crazy. If you could find one, usually you could not (or in my case would not) pay the asking price, which most of the time was more than I paid for the base radio. Tentec used to sell a 2M to 6M transverter that took could output about 8-10W or so. I bought that kit and used it for many seasons with the FT-726R and a TE Systems 175W brick even though the TT transverter would not drive it to 175W. On a good day, tops was around 125-135W output. Worked ok and I earned VUCC with that setup and a Cushcraft A505S modfied for the lower 1 Mhz of the 6M band (my own redesign).

Fast forward and the FT-726 started to get flakey. TX/RX relay would not return to RX and RX would be dead for a few moments. I went looking for a replacement VHF/UHF radio and basically at that time, the only plausible options were the Yaesu FT-840, FT-736 and Kenwood TS-2000S. I was strongly looking at the FT-840 but the fact that the final transistors were scarce as unicorn teeth, I chose not to go that route. I luckily found a gent who had a TS-2000/X for sale (model with the optional 1.2Ghz 10W module factory installed) for an unbelieveable $995, like new in the box. Needless to say, after a through exam for the 'hidden charcoal parts' I figured had to be there (actually found nothing wrong woith it - he just wanted to get out of ham radio), I bought it and it is now the main radio for 6M and up in my station. I have the TS-2000/X, a King Conversions 6M modified Heathkit SB-220 (1200W out on SSB when needed), a M2 6M7JHV 30.5' boom 7 el yagi and a temporary 14 element 2M yagi up for 6M and 2M contesting and grid chasing. Plans are to replace the 14 element 2M with a bigger model form M2 soon.

I am now at 430'ish grids worked on 6M (about 2/3 confirmed) and just starting to get 2M grids confirmed.

In your case, if you can get a older Kenwood TS-700 or like rig and a Tentec 6M to 2M transverter, I believe you could setup a nice little 6M and 2M station. Add a solid state amp for each band and you could easily have 100+ watts out on 6M and 2M for a reasonable cost.

If you have the budget, investigate the TS-2000 for VHF/UHF work. I haved tried mine on HF and yes it works but that is not it's premier operating area (in my opinion). I feel it does a much better job on 6M and higher. Tentec made also made some other transverters for HF IF freqs (20M I think) but I've never messed with those. I know transverters can get costly real quick if they are of good quality.

BTW while we're talking about it, I still have my TenTec 1209 6M to 2M transverter. I don't have a need for it anymore and I'd part with it. Contact me off thread to discuss it if your interested. I'm good in QRZ.

Good Luck in your efforts,

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
VE3BJY
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2012, 04:50:15 PM »

You may want to consider Kenwood TS-790.  They may fit your criteria.
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W4JST
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2012, 06:19:14 PM »

There are new VHF/UHF only all mode rigs out there, but they're not cheap.

You can get a used older 2 meter all mode rig for maybe $50 - $250 (Icom IC-211 etc.)

I think the best value is a HF/VHF all mode or HF/VHF/UHF all mode transceiver such as an Icom IC-706 (or MKII or MKIIG), Yaesu FT-100 (or D), or Yaesu FT-857D etc. One of these can be found for maybe $200 - $700.
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K3GM
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 05:12:36 AM »

I'd look for something like a Kenwood TR-9000 2m all mode.  I sold one a couple of years ago at Dayton for $175.00.  Released in the early 80's, it had FM, SSB, and CW, 10 watts, one memory, fixed repeater splits, but no tone.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 10:53:00 AM »

There are new VHF/UHF only all mode rigs out there, but they're not cheap.

You can get a used older 2 meter all mode rig for maybe $50 - $250 (Icom IC-211 etc.)

I think the best value is a HF/VHF all mode or HF/VHF/UHF all mode transceiver such as an Icom IC-706 (or MKII or MKIIG), Yaesu FT-100 (or D), or Yaesu FT-857D etc. One of these can be found for maybe $200 - $700.

One of these can be found for maybe $200 - $700..... Huh

I don't think I would would want a HF/VHF all mode or HF/VHF/UHF all mode transceiver that could be had for $200. I would be concerned that it worked properly or had not been 'fixed' by someone who was 'screwdriver happy'? Good clean rigs in this class rarely are found for less than $350-400 and then sometimes they usually look like they have been well man-handled. FWIW, the FT-100D is a excellent rig (although sometimes a bit small WRT the controls). I have one of them and they go for $450-500+ on most sources. Mine would not go for less than $500 if I were to sell it.

In my experience and research, older 2M single band all mode rigs usually can be found somewhat less expensive (< $100 to 150) but not so much for HF/VHF(/UHF) all mode rigs.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KQ6Q
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Posts: 971




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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012, 02:25:12 PM »

rather than go for a VHF SSB/CW rig, consider trading up your HF rig for one that covers 6m2/2m and maybe even 440.  I've been there with the single purpose 'inexpensive' solutions. Had Gonset 2m Sidewinder (heavy, bulky, worked, but no FM). used a borrowed TS700A (heavy.bulky,worked but no PL)
bought a TS-9000 - smaller, too many pieces, no PL, no memories. Sold my TenTec Argosy and the TR-9000, bought an Icom 746Pro - 100W on 160m through 2m, all modes, memories, PL, CW memory keyer. Much better. Yaesu 857 and 897, Icom 706MkII, might be solutions for you.
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K1HC
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 01:45:03 PM »

Your least expensive solution might seem to be a used transverter for each band, but you would likely want some type of solid state amplifier for each band to have a reasonably competitive signal because most transverters don't have more than 25 watts output.  So, that all does add up in cost and the complexity of the cabling and switching can be a pain.  I only use a transverter on one band (222 MHZ) and I'm glad I don't have to deal with all of that switching and sequencing of the amplifier on any other band.   So, I would concur with another post recommending the used TS-790 which will get you on 144 and 432 MHZ.  If you could invest more money, a used TS-2000 would be a good choice and it would give you 100 watts on 144 MHZ and a reasonable 50 watts on 432 MHZ.  It's not the best radio out there for every purpose but it is a reasonable performer.  Another possibility is just concentrating on 144 MHZ and see how you like it there before adding 432 MHZ (far fewer people on 432 in my area anyway).  If you do consider that, look at the Kenwood TM-255.  I think it sells used in the $300-400 range.   
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VE3BJY
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2012, 07:03:38 PM »

2m only multimode used to consider Kenwood TR-751.  Watch for worn pots (rf/af).  Good sensitivity, similiar to TS-790.  $250 range.
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K4JJL
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Posts: 478




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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2012, 09:18:07 PM »

Kinda surprised nobody mentioned the Yaesu FT-290RII.  Great little portable unit.  PL was a pain (dip switches through a door in the back).
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K5TED
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Posts: 709




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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2012, 11:01:37 AM »

Your cheapest and least effective route would be a Uniden HR-2510 or similar "10m" rig, and a Ten Tec 1210 transverter. This would put you in 2m SSB/CW, as these two items generally fall in the $100 - 125 range each. You could add an older Mirage amp for another $40 - $50 bucks if you look around at hamfests and eHam. I don't recommend used antennas except for special cases, so even a new horizontal 2m antenna like the Par Moxon or a three element Yagi will set you back about another $130 or so, plus a good mast and rotor to hold it up, assuming you have no tower at present, add another $175 for a TV rotor, 30' telescopic mast and some LMR-400 and control line..

You wil spend about $600 to get this all set up, less if you have an existing tower and/or rotor.

For this kind of money, you could buy a good used Kenwood TS-711 for around $400 that would easly exceed the cobbled together MFJ/Ten Tec/Mirage setup in performance.

Keep your eyes open, check the swap sites like eHam and QRZ, etc., have a budget in mind and be willing to jump when the good deal presents itself.

I built my first 2m ssb station with a used IC-271A, Cushcraft dual polarity 11el yagi and Ratshack rotor for $500.... Back in 1996.  Things haven't changed so much for used equipment since then and all of those items are still available if you look around. Strangely, the old 271A still goes for around $300, and the 25w output with an 11el yagi is quite adequate.

Just some ideas...



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KS4VT
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2012, 06:17:46 AM »

The Yaesu FT-847 is a good choice as well....lots of these on the open market but I don't know what the budget is for the OP.
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