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Author Topic: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?  (Read 24979 times)
WA6LII
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« on: July 01, 2013, 04:36:53 PM »

Looking to get back into HF after a very long absence. I am looking to purchase a good HF rig at a bargain price just to get started. Should I stay with it, it would need to be good as a back up or portable rig. (Not asking much, am I?)  I am currently thinking about a Kenwood TS-440 SAT. Can anyone suggest a better choice?

73's
Walt
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AD9DX
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 05:13:19 PM »

Yaesu FT-857d isn't a bad choice. 
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AA9G
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 06:05:50 PM »

If you lean more to portable then something like the 857 or a K2 would be fine choices.
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 07:27:06 PM »

Bargain price would be the 440s. You can get one for under $300.
If your willing to go into the $800 range then that opens up a whole bunch of new and used possibilities.  I started with a 440s and had lots of fun with it. Just make sure to do your research on any older radio and find out what the most likely failure areas are, then check the rig to make sure it does not have those issues. On the 440s a common problem is dots on the display.
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W8JX
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 10:01:58 PM »

I would suggest you consider a few other rigs in Kenwood tree I would suggest a TS140 which is a new rig than 440 which is getting very long in tooth. 140 is a very sturdy/reliable rig too and in same price range. A 570 is a very solid rig and from mid 90's to mid 00's. Can be had in 500 to 600 dollar range.
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W1JKA
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 02:44:12 AM »

Re:WA6LII

What is your definition of "bargain price" and what was your favorite niche/mode in the hobby before going QRT?
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 03:12:38 AM by W1JKA » Logged
N3HFS
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 04:43:57 AM »

My second rig was a brand new TS-440S with the antenna tuner and CW 500Hz filter.  I still have it and use it!  It replaced my first rig, a used TS-520S, after about a year of great HF enjoyment back around 1990.

Naturally, there's lots of fine rigs from that era that will be roughly the same price range and will give you loads of good service and fun.  Your approach of buying a good older rig is a good one if you're not certain you'll be staying with it.  I doubt that your final choice of which rig will be as important as simply getting a rig and putting up an antenna and having fun.  Your choice of future follow-up rig will incorporate the features you'll realize you want, and the modern improvements you'll really appreciate.  It might be like getting an old surplus Army jeep as your first car. Grin
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K8GU
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 05:44:21 AM »

The TS-440S is a nice radio, but it's long in the tooth.  I've fixed the dots problem in one---not rocket science but a bit of effort.

I think we need to know what constitutes "bargain" before giving more suggestions.  Once you drop below $500 it gets hard to recommend something for which repair isn't a matter of "when."  There are lots of good rigs in the under-$1000 category. 

In the $500 and down range, the TS-440S is OK.  Also consider Yaesu's FT-840 and FT-890, possibly the IC-735.

In the $1000 and down range, the IC-765 and FT-1000MP (loaded will push over $1k, but a basic one is less) are big radios that are very good.  FT-100D and FT-857(D) are nice smaller radios.  A K2/100 occasionally pops up for less than $1000, but you have to be fast.
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WA6LII
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 06:20:22 AM »

     Sorry, that was a short question for such a complicated answer.  I am not wanting to spend over $500 at this time.  I am looking to do some voice rag chewing, and not looking to do contesting or am I concerned with DX performance at this time.  It will be hooked to a long wire, maybe an inverted V, or possibly a ground mounted vertical.  (The antenna depends on what I can talk the wife into!)  Personally, I prefer dials, knobs and switches to a menu driven system.  As N3HFS put it, I am looking for an old reliable Army Jeep to test the waters before I build a Mega Rock Crawler.

   Thanks for all the input.

73's
Walt
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 09:38:10 AM »

Well at under $500 you won't have to worry about Menus Grin
I kind of figured from your first post that you are looking in that price range, so a good 440s should be perfect. Just make sure it has no initial problems and it should serve you a long time.
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SWL2002
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 10:05:33 AM »

Since your requirements are moderate, look at the Alinco DX-SR8T which is right at $500 new.  You'll get a new radio without the possible hassles of a used radio in that price range.
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W8JX
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 10:15:28 AM »

Since your requirements are moderate, look at the Alinco DX-SR8T which is right at $500 new.  You'll get a new radio without the possible hassles of a used radio in that price range.

Interesting concept but a unproven rig and it seems Alinco's warranty support in US is in question too. I would avoid a 440, it is long in tooth and trouble prone with advance age. TS140 is a solid rig and under 500 today and was made for nearly 15 years, far longer than 440. TS450 replaced and a nice rig that can be found around 500. 570 replace 450 and wa first main stream Kenwood rig with a back lit LCD display that is easily readable in any light conditions. It is 500 to 600 and discontinued about 5 years ago.   
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PD2R
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 10:53:58 AM »

TS-480SAT of HX. Under rated rig IMHO.

TS440 is a nice rig as well but it's getting old.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2013, 04:16:12 PM »

Walt, there's lots of good advice here ... and some of it contradicts other parts of it, so you'll have to draw your own conclusions.  Wink  My own take on it is this:  Make sure you're buying a rig from someone you can trust, preferably one of your local hams (look for your local clubs and join one!)  And after that, just about ANY recent HF rig will be a good starting point.  None of them are bad enough to need to avoid, and if you work on getting a good deal, you can always sell whatever rig you get for close to what you paid for it, so you can move to another rig soon if you decide to.  You can also buy a used rig from a bunch of the big ham stores--you pay a bit more than in a private sale, but you get a guarantee that it works, which is good.  There are a BUNCH of good used HF rigs around at under $500 if you look around and buy carefully.   Hope this helps; GL 73!  --ken ac4rd (feel free to email off list if you want)
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WB2JNA
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2013, 06:49:19 AM »

Well, I have a Ten Tec Corsair and think it is a great value in a used rig. Ten Tec still services their rigs so that's a reason to consider a used Ten Tec, I think. And yes, I totally agree with the comment to "make sure you're buying a rig from someone you can trust." A Kenwood hybrid might also be a good choice. I realize that these are older rigs, but they're easy on the wallet and usually have good receivers, which is important. 
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