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Author Topic: VK3BL's List of what a NEW HAM should look for in a transceiver.  (Read 4051 times)
VK3BL
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« on: June 11, 2016, 01:07:38 AM »

As a new Ham, you should be playing with every radio you can get your hands on before you buy one.

You should ask these questions:
-How easy is it to adjust TX power level (if you have a tuner or amp, you will do this OFTEN).
-How easy is the DSP to use, and how well does it work? (NB, NR & IF Shift)
-How many antenna connectors does it have?  (Do you need more than one?)
-Does it have an internal ATU?
-IS IT NICE TO LISTEN TOO? (You're going to spend a bit of time doing that!)
-Is the radio big enough for shack use comfortably? (the FT-857D is a pain to use)
-Does it have a built in Equalizer, for transmit and receive?
-Does the radio have a reputation for 'sounding good'?  (the IC-7300 definitely does)
-Are there any extras?  Eg, real time band scope?
-Does it come with all the filters you need, or are they extras?  Eg, the K3
-Can it be plugged into a computer via USB for Audio & Control? (you won't need a digital mode interface then)
-How long is the warranty?  Is there a local factory authorized service center? (accidents happen)
-Does it decode RTTY? CW without a pc?
-Can it SEND RTTY? CW without a pc?
-Does it have any recording features?
-Does it have a Voice Keyer (eg, you record 'CQ 40' and then just press a button)

Don't worry about Sherwood lists, or other comparisons that focus on a single aspect of a transceiver.  Those appraisals are targeted to specific audiences (eg, CW Contesters). 

Your first radio should be an 'all rounder' - if you later on find you're only interested in CW Contesting, then sure, buy a radio that excels at that at the expense of other features.


IMHO, the current best entry level rigs are the Icom IC-7300 and Kenwood TS-590SG.  The reasons for this are as follows:
-Both have receiver performance beyond their price class
-Both have USB connectors so you can plug them into your computer and use digital modes without other adapters
-Both can do voice keying (with the optional board installed in the kenwood)
-Both have built in Antenna Tuners.
-Both are decent enough in size to use as shack radios, and both offer decent ergonomics
-Both get pretty nice sound quality reports on air
-Both are pretty nice to listen too
-Both have the 'basics' like IF DSP (NR & NB), IF Shift
-Both have a built in compressor, and adjustable TX bandwidth & equalization

There are a few significant differences: 
The TS-590SG has 2 antenna connectors, and a really handy 'tune' button (transmits a low power carrier).
The IC-7300 has an exceptional real time spectrum scope & audio scope.

I've used both - I like both very much.  Personally, the real time spectrum scope and the fact the Icom service center is 5 minutes drive from my workplace pushed me towards the IC-7300.
 
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J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
ZENKI
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2016, 04:19:05 PM »

And you forget an  important technical issue that is ignored because of technical ignorance.

 The Transmitter performance should be as good or even better than the receiver performance if you are going to exploits the receiver performance. You wont hear receivers overloading or having IMD problems today because the vast majority of ham transmitters and amplifiers have lousy transmit IMD performance which covers up the receiver collapsing. Even the worst radios today falling apart under pressure from strong signals are not behaving as bad as the routine splatter we find on the ham bands from  the lousy radio and amps on the air today. How is it that the modern Radio like IC7300 or even IC7800 can outperform a radio like a TS830S from 35 years ago or worst a KWM2 from  50 years ago? You call this progress?

Sherwoods has little meaning in the real world when you  have hams using RM Italy CB amplifiers  being driven with radios that have ALC faults and horrendous IMD. What good is it having such excellent receivers like the TS590SG and K3 when you  have technical stupidity reducing the performance to equivalent of the worst radio because of splatter. Until hams fully understand this issue they wasting their money. Poor IMD performance of transmitters is ham radios dirty little secret that so many ignorant hams want to sweep under the carpet because they want to buy  and use cheap CB amps and even expensive amps like the SPE which have the equivalent IMD performance CB amps.

A good radio has many of the attributes that you list however without considering the balance and equal of both transmitter and receiver performance hams are just  not  understanding the issue and how it plays out on the air.

Boast all you like about wonderful receivers, it means little when you see typical IMD down 5khz of of S5 or more. Transmitter specifications  whether from a 1 dollar transceiver or a 15000 dollar transceiver should be the best it can.Currently all ham radios transmitters really stink and cant even meet ITU standards for IMD they so lousy. Its nice having waterfall, you can look at the lousy IMD covering up the weak signals. Maybe when hams buy cheap radios like the IC7300 they will start to understand the problem only because the radio can now help them see the issue rather than think about it with no ability to understand the issue!

As a new Ham, you should be playing with every radio you can get your hands on before you buy one.

You should ask these questions:
-How easy is it to adjust TX power level (if you have a tuner or amp, you will do this OFTEN).
-How easy is the DSP to use, and how well does it work? (NB, NR & IF Shift)
-How many antenna connectors does it have?  (Do you need more than one?)
-Does it have an internal ATU?
-IS IT NICE TO LISTEN TOO? (You're going to spend a bit of time doing that!)
-Is the radio big enough for shack use comfortably? (the FT-857D is a pain to use)
-Does it have a built in Equalizer, for transmit and receive?
-Does the radio have a reputation for 'sounding good'?  (the IC-7300 definitely does)
-Are there any extras?  Eg, real time band scope?
-Does it come with all the filters you need, or are they extras?  Eg, the K3
-Can it be plugged into a computer via USB for Audio & Control? (you won't need a digital mode interface then)
-How long is the warranty?  Is there a local factory authorized service center? (accidents happen)
-Does it decode RTTY? CW without a pc?
-Can it SEND RTTY? CW without a pc?
-Does it have any recording features?
-Does it have a Voice Keyer (eg, you record 'CQ 40' and then just press a button)

Don't worry about Sherwood lists, or other comparisons that focus on a single aspect of a transceiver.  Those appraisals are targeted to specific audiences (eg, CW Contesters). 

Your first radio should be an 'all rounder' - if you later on find you're only interested in CW Contesting, then sure, buy a radio that excels at that at the expense of other features.


IMHO, the current best entry level rigs are the Icom IC-7300 and Kenwood TS-590SG.  The reasons for this are as follows:
-Both have receiver performance beyond their price class
-Both have USB connectors so you can plug them into your computer and use digital modes without other adapters
-Both can do voice keying (with the optional board installed in the kenwood)
-Both have built in Antenna Tuners.
-Both are decent enough in size to use as shack radios, and both offer decent ergonomics
-Both get pretty nice sound quality reports on air
-Both are pretty nice to listen too
-Both have the 'basics' like IF DSP (NR & NB), IF Shift
-Both have a built in compressor, and adjustable TX bandwidth & equalization

There are a few significant differences: 
The TS-590SG has 2 antenna connectors, and a really handy 'tune' button (transmits a low power carrier).
The IC-7300 has an exceptional real time spectrum scope & audio scope.

I've used both - I like both very much.  Personally, the real time spectrum scope and the fact the Icom service center is 5 minutes drive from my workplace pushed me towards the IC-7300.
 

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VK3BL
Member

Posts: 1750


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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 05:22:38 PM »

And you forget an  important technical issue that is ignored because of technical ignorance.

 The Transmitter performance should be as good or even better than the receiver performance if you are going to exploits the receiver performance. You wont hear receivers overloading or having IMD problems today because the vast majority of ham transmitters and amplifiers have lousy transmit IMD performance which covers up the receiver collapsing. Even the worst radios today falling apart under pressure from strong signals are not behaving as bad as the routine splatter we find on the ham bands from  the lousy radio and amps on the air today. How is it that the modern Radio like IC7300 or even IC7800 can outperform a radio like a TS830S from 35 years ago or worst a KWM2 from  50 years ago? You call this progress?


I agree, and I didn't ignore it due to ignorance. 

I ignored it because it isn't possible to buy a HAM radio with a decent transmitter (other than the ANAN series SDRs), so why send a new Ham on a fools errand looking for something that doesn't exist?

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J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
KD8MJR
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Posts: 5191




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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 06:29:26 PM »

VK3BL that is a nice list of things to look for.
It certainly can be expanded on but you got many of the major aspects I would be looking for on your list.

73s
Rob
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“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
NK7Z
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Posts: 2328


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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2016, 06:49:48 PM »

You should look for the single word-- Elecraft.
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Thanks,
Dave
Amateur Radio: RFI help, Reviews, Setup information, and more...
https://www.nk7z.net
KD8MJR
Member

Posts: 5191




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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2016, 11:15:41 PM »

You should look for the single word-- Elecraft.

LOL oh yes the most ergonomic unfriendly radio out there and with a high price tag for all the pieces to make it complete.  Everything Elecraft is geared specifically for CW enthusiasts or Phone operators with high threshold for ear fatigue.  No thanks I would take an Icom 7300 over it any day of the week.

Of course that's just my opinion and everyone is entitled to theirs.

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“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
NK7Z
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Posts: 2328


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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 11:19:32 PM »

I do mostly CW, so for me it is without a doubt the best rig I have ever owned...  I must admit, I tend to agree with you about how ergonomic it is though...  Smiley
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Thanks,
Dave
Amateur Radio: RFI help, Reviews, Setup information, and more...
https://www.nk7z.net
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