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Author Topic: Best Hand Held HF SSB Receiver?  (Read 15552 times)

Posts: 44

« on: December 30, 2012, 03:40:10 AM »

Hi, I'm looking at buying a Hand held HF SSB Receiver to take with me on my travels, Any ideas which is the best to buy?

I have been looking at the Icom IC-R20 which seems to be up there!

Thanks Carl.

Posts: 3331

« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2012, 05:57:26 AM »

The R20 is truly a terrific unit -- and for more reasons and uses than you have indicated. 
Not cheap, though.
I had two at a previous employer and really miss having access to them.
I used them daily for years.

Posts: 7

« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 07:38:54 AM »

I can also recommend the Icom R20. I've had mine a couple of months and I'm amazed how much I enjoy this wide spectrum receiver. Like you, I wanted something portable. I travel with my work quite a bit. Some air travel, some by car. I wanted something I could pack in the suitcase and use at the hotel or use on on long walks. I like to listen to SW BC and Hams on SSB and VHF/UHF FM. I've been a SWL'er for more than 5 years and I usually take my Sony 7600GR and the Sony AN-LP1 active loop antenna with me on trips. Recently I had an interest in getting my Ham license. My Sony had SSB but not UHF or VHF that could tune in the local FM repeaters. The R20 gives me all of this when conditions are reasonable. Using the active loop at the hotel is a hit or miss proposition. As you may know, getting SW SSB at a hotel in some urban location is tough. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's just RFI noise. But that's no fault of the portable receiver. I can say that the R20 does just as well if not a little better job at picking out signals from the RFI noise using the active loop in these tough locations.

During the holiday's I've gone on 10 mile hikes about every other morning in a forest/prairie reserve in the outer Chicago suburbs. I've listened to Hams on 40, 20, 17, 10 meter SSB as well as the local FM repeaters in the 2m and 70cm bands. I usually use the whip that came with the R20 when I tune in all the above bands, but sometimes I add the Miracle Antenna IL Ducker in between the R20 and the delivered whip. I've come to know a few Hams from all over the country (OH, NY, NJ, VA, FL, AZ, MI, UT, NV, CA) that have unwittingly become my Elmer about electronics, RF, antennas and Ham operations. Listening to these guys is a real education and there are times when their 40 meter signal is not too strong during my hikes which is more attributable to the poor 40m propagation during daylight than it is to the R20. The Ducker helps boost these faint signals (as well as all signals). I don't use the Ducker all the time, because it's extra mass on the R20 BNC connection puts a strain on this post that it wasn't designed for. I've been thinking of getting some Kydex thermoplastic and forming a sheath for the combined R20 + Ducker assembly to take the strain off the BNC post.

I've programmed into memory the 20 or so FM repeaters in the Chicago area so that I can use the scanner feature of the R20. As a new Ham, this has been a great way for me to listen and learn about repeater operations and the local operators around me. Manually tuning for signals in the SSB is very easy with the dial knob on top of the receiver or using the up/down buttons on the left side. The R20 allows you to switch the tuning steps and I usually dial SSB at the 1.0kHz setting, and when I hear a signal I will fine tune at the 0.1kHz setting. This switch is done by simply pressing a button (9) on the face of the R20 and turning the tuning dial to the kHz setting you want (100, 50, 30, 25, 20, 15, 12.5  10, 6.25, 5, 1, .1, 01). At home, I've hooked the R20 into my PAR Electronics SWL End Fedz with great results and I've even hooked it up to my car's CB antenna (Wilson Lil' Wilson) and scanned for CB traffic in the car.

All in all, I've been very impressed with the R20. It's more than I wanted to spend, but I'm glad I did, because it fit my wants and needs very well. What convinced me to buy it were the good reviews on and a YouTube video "channel". Search for "IcomR8500R20" in YouTube. He has a number of great review videos and how-to videos of the various features of the R20. There is also a Yahoo Group you might want to join. Look for "IC-R20" in Yahoo Groups. Lots of good stuff there.

Best Wishes,

« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 07:41:46 AM by KC9YBI » Logged

Posts: 21764

« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 11:30:25 AM »

Yaesu FT-817ND.

Then you can not only listen, but make contacts if you wish!

On "receive," its internal batteries last a long time.  Transmitting, not so much.

Posts: 121

« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 07:54:26 AM »

This classify as a transmitter and may be a little bit more than you were thinking about.
 Have you looked at the Elecraft KX3?
It's handheld and very versatile.

(((73))) Milverton

Posts: 1516

« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 01:08:02 AM »

Receiver only the Lowe HF150  if you can still find one. There is nothing better.

 You cant beat a radio with a decent VFO KNOB. Handle scanners like the Icom R20 and the AOR units are a pain in the rear end when  casually tuning around
the ham bands. A ham must have a VFO knob.

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