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Author Topic: Good HF rig for new ham  (Read 60460 times)

Posts: 4

« on: August 28, 2012, 07:17:12 PM »

I don't know if this is where my question is supposed to go-I hope it is Smiley

My dad and I are new to HAM radio and would like to get a HF transceiver. Where should we start? We are studying for the General exam and should upgrade our licenses soon. I am partial to Icom and Yaesu, but we are open to suggestions. A base unit is probably our ideal rig. A mobile will work if the price is right.

Is any brand HF better than another? What rig(s) do you have and use? We are looking for an easy(if you can call it that) to understand/operate HF base unit. What Antenna do you recommend?

The unit can be a single-band HF only unit.

Thanks in advance!

PS-I love the forums!!

Posts: 13268

« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2012, 09:51:32 AM »

There is a LOT of options out there from Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood. You need to decide on a price range and what you would like to do as far as bands and modes to operate and then maybe you will get more/better advise.

Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..

Posts: 1208


« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2012, 05:09:25 PM »

I'll add to what W8JX says and tell you that you also need to decide several other factors before you ask a question like that. Besides price range (big driver and the ever popular "what bands/modes you want to operate", you might want to ask yourself:

1) if you will accept a used radio or does it have to be new ... and if you will you accept a used radio, will you accept one with tube finals.
3) how much space you have for antennas. This will help drive whether you may want to focus more on the high bands above 20M or look at low bands (160M thru 30M) - again bands to operate info.
4) do you want digital only or voice and digital. Are you planning to use CW now or ever?
5) to what level of menu driven interface are you willing to learn. (You mention you are looking for EASY). This is a relative term. Some rigs have several levels of nested menus to drill down through and can be tedious to operate while older rigs (again used probably) have it all up front on switches and knobs.
6) are you computer savvy to explore 'Software Defined Radio'. Many new hams like the idea of a computer software controlled radio (me, I like knobs, dials, switches and lots of them Smiley )

Don't feel like we're shunning your question. Almost every new hams comes on these forums and asks a similar question or two. It's part of learning. But we just need you to do some of the foot work before asking so we know what kind of radio might best suit your needs and to help guide you to finding it. In the end, however, it's your money and you should spend it WISELY.

Gene W5DQ

Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp

Posts: 3351


« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2012, 05:52:53 PM »

I have three HF capable rigs, Yaesu FT100D (160M-70CM), Kenwood TS2000(X) (160M-23CM) and Alinco DX-SR8T (160M-10M).  Of the three the Alinco has the simplest operator interface.  Link to Alinco at Ham Radio Outlet:

Posts: 949

« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2012, 08:09:56 PM »

Welcome to ham radio!  In my opinion it really helps to have someone in your area that is willing to answer questions, help with initial setup, etc.  If you go to, you can do a search on ham clubs in your area.

Some clubs are more for contesting or DXing, or (unfortunately) not particularly welcoming to newbees.  But most clubs and their members are more than willing to help you get started.  John. 

Posts: 81

« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012, 05:50:38 AM »

Welcome to the hobby Rachel.  When I got back into it years ago I wanted something easy to learn too, so I went with the ICOM 746 Pro.  It works all the HF bands.  It has an internal antenna tuner which means you don't have to buy one until you get more involved with additional equipment.  It also has many filters that make it easier for you to hear stations.  It has an easy to learn menu.  As others have said, the other manufacturers have good equipment also.

Antenna:  That's a huge subject.  Depending on your location, you might put up a G5RV wire antenna.  It's very inexpensive and works on all HF bands.  It's been called a "compromise" antenna because it's not perfect, but it's something to get started with.  I still use mine and I love it.  Again, it depends on your location and how high you can get it.  Hope this helps, and good luck getting your General.

Andy N3QVB

Posts: 3

« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 12:52:36 PM »

For someone new to the field, I'd recommend an Icom 718. This is a basic HF transceiver - not a lot of extra controls and menus. Can be found new and used from $400 to $600. A lot of bang for the buck.

Posts: 179

« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 08:06:12 PM »

I would try to find a used FT450.  Good DSP, no filters to buy, built in TCXO, and just a lot of rig for $500 or so. Much better than the Icom 718.

John AF5CC

Posts: 34

« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2012, 09:55:59 AM »

Go for an FT-450D which is an updated version of the FT-450. I don't recommend the IC-7000 for a beginner rig as the radio relies far too much on menus.

If you are near a ham store, stop by and try before you buy. It's good to find a radio that 'fits' the way you want to operate.

As far as antennas go, a simple dipole would be a great first antenna. If a simple wire antenna promises amazing multi-band performance, the claims are too good to be true.

Posts: 66

« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2012, 03:01:47 PM »

Hello Rachael and welcome to hamdom. 
My suggestions is go find yourself a ham radio store.  There should be one around somewhere near where you live and you need to look for it.   The point is, do not buy anything until you try it out and see how you like it.  Whether it is used or new makes no difference, just try it before you and your dad put your money down.  Make sure it is what you both want and are happy with.  Then you can figure out where to go from there.  Only you and your dad really know what you want, (features,bands, dollars spent) and to help make that decision you need to try a few different radios to help make up your minds.  This way you will not become a victim to the "I thought this is what I wanted but its to" something.  You now sell it and loose money only to try something different.  My to cents and been at this game a pretty long time.

Posts: 33

« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 09:07:01 PM »

That's easy, an Icom IC-718, no question about it.

Posts: 55

« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2012, 07:29:37 AM »

For an older but respected HF look at the Kenwood TS-440, 450, or 460.
My first HF was an Icom 730, great SIMPLE radio that works really well.

Base / Mobile
For a PURE HF radio that is at home as a base or mobile the Kenwood TS-480SAT (with antenna tuner) or the 480HX (no tuner but 200W) are hard to beat.  This is what I have and LOVE it.  Easy radio to use HUGE display for mobile.

If you want a VHF/UHF/HF the the Icom 706G, , or the Yeasu 857, can be found used at a pretty good price.
The Icom 7000 is also a good radio but more expensive.

Good luck on your general exam.
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