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eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: WA6LII on July 01, 2013, 04:36:53 PM



Title: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: WA6LII 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


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: AD9DX on July 01, 2013, 05:13:19 PM
Yaesu FT-857d isn't a bad choice. 


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: AA9G 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KD8MJR 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W1JKA 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?


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: N3HFS 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. ;D


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: K8GU 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: WA6LII 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


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KD8MJR on July 02, 2013, 09:38:10 AM
Well at under $500 you won't have to worry about Menus ;D
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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: SWL2002 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W8JX 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.   


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: PD2R 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.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: AC4RD 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.  ;)  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)


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: WB2JNA 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. 


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W4KPA on July 05, 2013, 02:53:16 PM
Maybe I missed it when I scrolled through, but I didn't see anybody mention an ICOM IC-706 mk2g.  They're great little radios and there are thousands of them on the used market at pretty low prices.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: N3HFS on July 05, 2013, 03:02:48 PM
Maybe I missed it when I scrolled through, but I didn't see anybody mention an ICOM IC-706 mk2g.  They're great little radios and there are thousands of them on the used market at pretty low prices.
On its face, that's not a bad rig for the price and package. However...

I have a 706Mkii (non-g)  and I can tell you that the menu system is a nightmare.  Not that menus aren't a nightmare on other radios, too, but to put a radio like that in front of someone who isn't already familiar with what s/he is looking to do at any given moment is a recipe for frustration. 

Having buttons and knobs that instantly feed back (to the operator) changes in receive/xmit is a huge advantage for someone getting (re) familiarized to the HF world.  Menu-driven versions of this concept will usually, in my experience, fall flat in comparison.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: NO2A on July 06, 2013, 04:20:27 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.
This is great advice. The `440,or `440SAT (with autotuner) is a good choice provided it doesn`t have the potting glue problem which causes distortion on ssb,and chirp on cw. I have one with this problem. If you do decide on that rig,make sure it doesn`t have that issue. I think the `450,or one of the other rigs suggested would be better,though.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KB4OIF on July 07, 2013, 04:19:28 PM
I would get a Kenwood 480 SAT or 480 hx.  I have the HX model and I love it.   


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KE4YOG on July 07, 2013, 04:48:35 PM
I would get a Kenwood 480 SAT or 480 hx.  I have the HX model and I love it.   

I could not agree more. I have the HX version and love it.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: VE3WMB on July 09, 2013, 08:08:20 PM
I am surprised no one has suggested the Kenwood TS-50.

Used ones in good shape go for about $500 and they are excellent rigs on SSB and not bad on CW with the optional filter. Most importantly these rigs are built like tanks and the majority are very reliable.
The NCDXF/IARU beacon network still uses a number of TS-50s that were put into service back in 1996.
They transmit every three minutes, 24-7 ...  not many rigs would survive that.

Michael VE3WMB


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: AK4P on July 17, 2013, 08:29:54 PM
You can still find dependable vintage Heathkit gear for not a lot of money. Some people still run Heath gear because you can get it for not a lot of money and it is reliable and you can work on it if you have to. I have several myself, in fact.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: WN2C on July 18, 2013, 09:20:18 AM
Since no one else asked, I will.  What do you have left from pre QRT days?  Anything?
Lets see...some thing with dials and knobs...hmmm
Kenwood 830, 530(or 520s) Icom 735, 6 or 7. Drake TR 4, 4 line Twins, maybe the Kenwood Twins...
or you could find some working Hallicrafters gear like the HT 37, HT 32 and pair it up with the appropriate receiver...
Or just go for the gusto (and possibly break the bank) and get the Collins gear that you always wanted!!

Rick  WN2C


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W4KVW on July 21, 2013, 07:49:20 PM
For just HF I'd shoot for a Kenwood TS-50.GREAT radio with a GREAT receiver & transmit audio is GREAT as well.Works as a mobile or a base with ease. {:>)

Clayton
W4KVW


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KC7MF on July 21, 2013, 10:45:40 PM
How about an idea that will seem right off the wall.

Why not get a used Swan tube rig?  You could pick up a nice 500CX or 700CX easily for the price you mention.  You have to tune them.  Some people don't like to do that.  But you can't beat tube audio.  Also.  These rigs put out north of 300 watts so they deliver a lot of punch.  You won't need an amp and that extra 200 watts makes a bigger difference than most people are willing to admit. 

I have newer rigs but I still fire up the old Swan frequently.  My friends and I have a running joke about how I can bust just about any pileup with it.  The Swan factory repairman, John Bruchey, still works on them and tubes are easy to get.  (They don't fail often anyway.)

I think it is fun.  It sits right next to a 756pro and amp but you would be surprised how often I fire up the old Swan. 



Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: WA6LII on July 22, 2013, 10:34:48 AM
Nothing left over from the old days, getting a nice collection of VHF and UHF gear however. 
Swan, good idea!  The school radio club where I got my start in California used all Swan equipment.  Excellent gear as I recall. 
There is a couple of Hamfests in this area, time to make a decision, I guess. ;D


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KD8MJR on July 22, 2013, 12:40:41 PM
He must have gotten something by now.
 BTW he wanted to spend under $500. So some of these suggestions are over his budget.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: K9MHZ on July 27, 2013, 07:23:25 AM
....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. 


"usually have good receivers" is being pretty vague, especially compared to what's available today....but I know you weren't trying to give the definitive answer. 

I just think that a person should go with the most modern rig he can afford.....eg. a used IC-718 (or similar) with DSP over a TS-520 or TS-820.



Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: K5TED on July 29, 2013, 10:39:10 PM
It's not unusual to see a TS-690 or TS-450 in that range.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W8JX on July 30, 2013, 09:41:04 AM
....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. 


"usually have good receivers" is being pretty vague, especially compared to what's available today....but I know you weren't trying to give the definitive answer. 

I just think that a person should go with the most modern rig he can afford.....eg. a used IC-718 (or similar) with DSP over a TS-520 or TS-820.



But the 718 receiver would not sound as good 520 or 820 and then there is the proven old 530 and the classic 830 which is in this price range and still a impressive performer even today.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: K9MHZ on September 17, 2013, 05:28:14 PM
[But the 718 receiver would not sound as good 520 or 820 and then there is the proven old 530 and the classic 830 which is in this price range and still a impressive performer even today.

I owned a lot of that stuff back in the day, myself.  Good stuff, but getting pretty old and their receivers are far from comparable to modern gear.  "Sound" is a very subjective qualitative assessment, and hardly enough to trump all other parameters.



Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W8JX on September 18, 2013, 04:50:45 AM
[But the 718 receiver would not sound as good 520 or 820 and then there is the proven old 530 and the classic 830 which is in this price range and still a impressive performer even today.

I owned a lot of that stuff back in the day, myself.  Good stuff, but getting pretty old and their receivers are far from comparable to modern gear.  "Sound" is a very subjective qualitative assessment, and hardly enough to trump all other parameters.



Well far from comparable if you mean the old analog receivers sound much better than the modern entry level DSP rigs of today which lack the fidelity of old rigs.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KC0KEK on September 18, 2013, 09:49:59 AM
The Kenwood TS-570SG is worth considering.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: K9MHZ on September 19, 2013, 11:40:55 AM
Well far from comparable if you mean the old analog receivers sound much better than the modern entry level DSP rigs of today which lack the fidelity of old rigs.

No.....they're deaf, they drift, have dial backlash, etc.  And all for what....a "cool" hifi sound?

The OP apparently has his mind already set on a 440S or whatever, so I don't know why he even posted.  But telling a newb that he should look at a 520 or a Heathkit (talk about suck) just because we thought they were cool back in the day is silly.  Our nostalgia shouldn't be taken as gospel truths by a new person.  

      


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: AA4PB on September 19, 2013, 11:50:29 AM
You'd be surprised how good a modern receiver can sound if you put a decent external speaker on it. Remember, we aren't typically listening the AM signals on the ham bands any longer.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: KC0KEK on September 19, 2013, 05:14:06 PM
You'd be surprised how good a modern receiver can sound if you put a decent external speaker on it.

I sure tried with the 570 but never could get it to sound anywhere near as good as my Icom R70 or Drake R8, so I bought an Icom 7700. Other folks might have no qualms about the 570's audio. Great rig otherwise.


Title: RE: What is a good HF rig to get (re)started with?
Post by: W8JX on September 20, 2013, 05:30:29 AM
You'd be surprised how good a modern receiver can sound if you put a decent external speaker on it.

I sure tried with the 570 but never could get it to sound anywhere near as good as my Icom R70 or Drake R8, so I bought an Icom 7700. Other folks might have no qualms about the 570's audio. Great rig otherwise.

The 570 sounds MUCH better with a external speaker. The internal one is lacking.