Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Newbie, looking for HF radio....  (Read 4548 times)
ND8K
Member

Posts: 48




Ignore
« on: March 28, 2014, 01:25:57 PM »

Hello all. Yes, I am a newbie. I passed Tech on Mar 5, General on Mar 15, and I hope to pass the Extra tomorrow morning.  That said, I have zero experience  with HF radios.   I have been on 2m/440 VHF/UHF FM for a month... no problems. 

The problem is I have zero experience with HF, the closest club is about 20 miles away (I will probably still join), the closest ham radio shop is about 50 miles away. The problem for me, is that I really don't know about what might be necessary IN THE FUTURE... I don't know what I don't know!.

So I have combed craigslist for a month, and a bunch of radios have come and gone, but they were either dinosaurs, or too close to gigaparts pricing for me to purchase used (or a bunch of flakes on craigslist... great radios and decent prices but the people were questionable).    So, I have decided to purchase new.  And I have reduced the field to three radios:

Kenwood TS-480SAT
Yaesu FT-450D
Icom IC-7200

I have NO antenna tuner. I can make power supplies as necessary (I have several).  I am planning on a G5RV in my backyard. After reading dozens and dozens of reviews, I still cannot decide.

 I am leaning towards the IC-7200 for its low noise and IF DSP technology, and a USB interface. But is has not 6m/10m FM, and I dont know how important that might be (if ever).

I am leaning towards the TS-480SAT for what many say is a good antenna tuner, and for what LOOKS to be the best user interface of the three, and for its low noise. No IF DSP.

I threw the Yaesu FT-450D in there because it is in the same price range, and because it is highly rated in the reviews section of this site. IF DSP seems to be good. I could not find anything outstanding that this does, it just seem that people feel it does everything well.

  I am willing to bet that any one of these radios would suffice for me for a very very long time.  Every one of these radios has comments, "it the best rig in it's price range". 

So, how does a newbie decide?
Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 934


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2014, 01:43:57 PM »

I'd prefer the Icom 7200 but any of those radios (and many others) would be excellent starter rigs. For less $$$ look for an Icom 735, or something from the 706 series.

For an antenna I'd start with a 20 meter dipole. Or maybe a fan dipole for 10/15/20. Very simple, effective, should not need a tuner. Easy to make, also available on eBay for reasonable-ish prices. Get it to at least 15-20 feet and it will work well and take up very little space, particularly in an inverted V setup. You can explore 40 meters later, I'm just suggesting the most simple and effective small, tuner-free antenna I can think of. (If you have room, build a 40 meter dipole...)

Here's a short intro to the mechanics of HF propagation (Flash): http://ae4rv.com/tn/propflash.htm  (Don't laugh I know it is ancient...)

HF is hella fun, good luck.

73, Geoff
Logged
NO2A
Member

Posts: 755




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2014, 01:51:02 PM »

Since you`re not that far from a dealer,I certainly would visit there if just to get a feel of hf radios. Those rigs you listed are fine. Most dealers will give you unbiased info which is very helpful. Spend some time there to see which features you like.
Logged
KE7TMA
Member

Posts: 459




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 07:12:18 PM »

Hello all. Yes, I am a newbie. I passed Tech on Mar 5, General on Mar 15, and I hope to pass the Extra tomorrow morning.  That said, I have zero experience  with HF radios.   I have been on 2m/440 VHF/UHF FM for a month... no problems. 

The problem is I have zero experience with HF, the closest club is about 20 miles away (I will probably still join), the closest ham radio shop is about 50 miles away. The problem for me, is that I really don't know about what might be necessary IN THE FUTURE... I don't know what I don't know!.

So I have combed craigslist for a month, and a bunch of radios have come and gone, but they were either dinosaurs, or too close to gigaparts pricing for me to purchase used (or a bunch of flakes on craigslist... great radios and decent prices but the people were questionable).    So, I have decided to purchase new.  And I have reduced the field to three radios:

Kenwood TS-480SAT
Yaesu FT-450D
Icom IC-7200

I have NO antenna tuner. I can make power supplies as necessary (I have several).  I am planning on a G5RV in my backyard. After reading dozens and dozens of reviews, I still cannot decide.

 I am leaning towards the IC-7200 for its low noise and IF DSP technology, and a USB interface. But is has not 6m/10m FM, and I dont know how important that might be (if ever).

I am leaning towards the TS-480SAT for what many say is a good antenna tuner, and for what LOOKS to be the best user interface of the three, and for its low noise. No IF DSP.

I threw the Yaesu FT-450D in there because it is in the same price range, and because it is highly rated in the reviews section of this site. IF DSP seems to be good. I could not find anything outstanding that this does, it just seem that people feel it does everything well.

  I am willing to bet that any one of these radios would suffice for me for a very very long time.  Every one of these radios has comments, "it the best rig in it's price range". 

So, how does a newbie decide?

What do you want out of a radio?  I had the previous version of the 450 (basically identical) and while I still feel that it was a good radio, as I got more into HF I found it to be lacking in certain areas that were important to me.  It was a fine first radio but I eventually stopped using it.  Nowadays I am a very happy Elecraft customer, and I doubt I will buy a factory-new Japanese (or other) HF radio ever again.
Logged
WE0MT
Member

Posts: 3




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2014, 09:17:00 PM »

Hello, welcome to an exciting time in your ham radio career, you have gotten some great advise so far, the best piece of advice is to try out each if at all possible, if not....rigs are like car brands, someone will always buy brand X, even if its the biggest P.O.S. ever made, its all personal preference, I am an ICOM guy. 751A bought new, ICOM 7200, also new, my Elmer is a Kenwood guy, my closest ham buddy likes yeasu. Since I have a little experience with the 7200, I'll speak to it, I like it, a lot, no FM on 6 and 10, no issue for me, I have 10 meter FM on the 751A, I have made at most 10 contacts there, mostly to see if I could.
     The USB digital mode hookup connection is very easy to use, the radio gives me some grief changing from ssb to the digital modes, need to figure it out better, but I'm having so much fun on 10, I don't spare the time to do that, menu driven radios have lots of features but are sometimes a trial. I've been a ham since 1990, just kind of getting back into it after moving to a new house. Good luck, enjoy the journey, its just Xmas morning when you unpack the new rig.
Logged
W4KYR
Member

Posts: 469




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 03:40:42 AM »


 I am leaning towards the IC-7200 for its low noise and IF DSP technology, and a USB interface. But is has not 6m/10m FM, and I dont know how important that might be (if ever).



I don't own the IC 7200, but it is very highly rated and the USB makes doing digital communications a snap (from what I read). As far as FM goes, most use SSB on six and 10 meters.

There are some good ham radio videos on Youtube featuring some of the models you mentioned. Check the videos out and see the radios in action and maybe that will narrow your choices further.

Good Luck

.
Logged

Still using Windows XP Pro.
W1JKA
Member

Posts: 1619




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2014, 05:54:26 AM »

Re: KKZJZ

  As for choice of rig and as stated before and numerous times elsewhere if at all possible try them out. I spent about 3 months trying out your rigs of interest and 4 others within that price range in various shacks and with different antennas then bought the IC-7200 because quietness of receive beat others,  NB and NR actually work, adj. cw filtering included, ease of set up/basic menu functions, moisture proof membranes behind push buttons and around knob control shafts. Also heavy and solid not light and tinny like some of the others.
Logged
ND8K
Member

Posts: 48




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2014, 05:37:37 AM »

Thanks for the opinions, guys. I haven't made up my mind yet.  I DID pass the Extra yesterday...all three tests completed in the month of March.
Logged
KV4VE
Member

Posts: 2




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2014, 06:31:28 AM »

Congratulations!! -From another recent Extra licensee. Quite an accomplishment.
Logged
KE5GAE
Member

Posts: 153




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2014, 08:43:52 AM »

Thanks for the opinions, guys. I haven't made up my mind yet.  I DID pass the Extra yesterday...all three tests completed in the month of March.
Congratulations on passing the Extra exam.  It strikes me as somewhat unusual to go from Tech to Extra without having any substantial experience actually operating HF, however.  At least you acknowledged your status as a "newbie" in the opening post.  You strike me as someone capable of translating book knowledge into practical experience, and I wish you well in your experiences as a ham.  I'm "just" a General class ham, and am ambivalent about going for the Extra class license, though I probably will.  The extra band privileges do not mean anything to me.  There are only three reasons why I would consider going for the Extra class license: (1) the "prestige" factor, (2) the greater selection of Vanity call signs, or (3) "because it is there."  The first doesn't matter to me.  The second would be reason enough.  But if I ever do, it will probably be for reason number 3.  It is just human nature to want to scale mountains, whether figurative or literal. 

As to radios, I imagine all three are adequate.  I own the Kenwood TS-480SAT and a Yaesu FT-857D.  I only use them for digital mode ops, and both were easy to set up and configure.  (I use the two quite differently.  The Yaesu FT-857D uses a SignaLink USB for the sound card interface, HRD for rig control, and DM780 for PSK mode operations.  The Kenwood is directly connected to the internal sound card of an old XP box, and is used with HRD and WSJT-X for JT mode operations.)

But for HF work, the antenna is just as important, if not more important, than the radio.  The G5RV is highly rated, but I've been very happen with a Buxcomm Windom 40-10 (I think that model has been replaced with a 40-2 meter version).  I recently added a 80-10 EasyTenna running through a LDG tuner so that each of my radios can have its own antenna, with a switch to flip which radio is attached to which antenna.  A beam and tower would be nice, but is not on the horizon for me.  But even with a wire, and working digital mode only, I'm closing in on DXCC (actually have 111 worked, and 101 confirmed, but want a couple of more confirmations before applying). 

As you said, I think you'll be happy with any of your choices.  Have fun, and welcome to the club.

Basil
KE5GAE
Logged
ND8K
Member

Posts: 48




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2014, 12:02:13 PM »

Quote
It strikes me as somewhat unusual to go from Tech to Extra without having any substantial experience actually operating HF, however.

I got a BS in EET in 1984, a BSCS in 1989, and was about 1 semester short of a BS in Math.  I knew about 60% of the answers to the questions of each pool with only a brief review, and it could have been much harder in the electronics, mathematics, digital logic, etc sections and I would have done just as well.  It was only a matter of getting enough of the REST of the stuff to get me over the 74% mark. It took me three days to start scoring that on the Tech, about 5 days on the General, and about a week on the Extra. The rest was waiting for the next test opportunity.

But the world of "electronics"  vast.   In the actual building and operation of radios and antennas, I am a complete newbie. 
Logged
AF6WL
Member

Posts: 129




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2014, 12:32:29 PM »

It strikes me as somewhat unusual to go from Tech to Extra without having any substantial experience actually operating HF

Similarly, as an electronics engineer, who took all three exams in one sitting a couple of years ago. I have to admit the Extra was the easiest and the General the toughest exam.
The General was more about operating and practical matters which I was a bit rusty on, while the Extra more technical.
My prior operating experience was a UK class B (VHF) license which lapsed in the '90s.
Logged
N6AJR
Member

Posts: 9889




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2014, 09:10:11 AM »

Well congrats on  the testing.  I was trained in Electronic Countermeasures Repair, compliments of uncle Sam,  so passing the tests were not hard when I got my tech in 1978.  But I had a hard time with the code so I never got above tech until 2001 when  I found I could be grandfathered in as a general because of the old requirements for the tech way back when, and a week and a day later I passed my extra. 

Well, my first recommendation is to join a local club or two and get invited over to a shack or two.  See what the have and what they do and if it interests you.

 Right now my main push is working DX and working Contests.  I find them fun, and can take them in small doses here and there.

 I did satellites for a while, tried QRP for a bit, did some intense 160 work for a bit ( ya need a bit of room for the huge antennas, ) , I have dome Ham radio  radio control for cars and model planes  ( you can use a full watt on 6 meters, for greater distances).

  I have done UHF/vhf contesting, which is fairly inexpensive as you can put up huge antennas on 6m/2m /440 MHz/220 MHz/ 900 MHz/ 1,2 GHz/ and such. A 17 element beam on 1.2 g is about 3 feet long,  so that can be fun too. Mostly they do SSB and CW.

There is also moon bounce on UHF/vhf and talking to the space station.  Some folks like to do EMCOM which is emergency communications, like working with the local sheriffs dept, or the search and rescue folks, and much more. 

So talk to some folks, join a club or two, see if you can borrow a rig or two to play with, and see what folks have for sale used locally. 

Good luck and have fun.
Logged
KB2FCV
Member

Posts: 1139


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2014, 01:00:38 PM »

All three are capable radios and they should perform well with a good antenna. If you can, definitely try them out to see which you find easier / better to operate. Take a ride out to that ham shop if they have the radios you are considering available to try at the store.

Aside from performance, numbers, etc.. one thing I consider (at least for me) are having controls I use/adjust the most on a knob, not a menu. What I liked about the radio I have is pretty much everything I need to do I can turn a knob or hit a button without ever having to go into a menu. I borrowed another radio from a different manufacturer and already I disliked it because the controls I so easily just spun a knob was buried in a menu and was a chore to adjust. I was never happier to get my rig back and still enjoy it to this day.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of those radios you are looking at. Oh and congrats on passing the Extra!
Logged
KH6DC
Member

Posts: 634




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2014, 12:19:23 AM »

Start with building a dipole as your 1st antenna.  The rigs you mentioned are great and are not only for newbies.  Welcome to the world of hamming and congrats on earning your ticket.

73, Delwyn KH6DC
Logged

73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!