Author Topic: Mobile HF rigs  (Read 11277 times)

Offline buffalojustice

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Mobile HF rigs
« on: March 10, 2011, 08:27:48 AM »
This is in response to a question from the how many hams do we have thread and is meant more for the new hams. Maybe we can get a good list of peoples thoughts on the HF mobile rigs out there.

I owned, until recently, an Icom IC-7000. This is, IMHO, the gold standard of mobile HF rigs. The menu system is very easy to navigate and the filters are top notch, pun not originally intended but I'll go with it. As an example, if you wish to turn on the notch filter simply press the MNF (manual notch filter) button and if you want to adjust it just press and hold the button for a second. This is how easy the filters are to use and most operating functions are similar. While it's not as easy as a full size radio with dedicated buttons and knobs for every function it is a good balance between ease of use and "button clutter." Audio reports were excellent and receive audio is very good for a mobile An aftermarket microphone and speaker such as a Heil headset improves both the TX/RX audio quality, and makes for a happy wife!

I have used, though not extensively, both the Yaesu FT-857D and the FT-897D. These are great rigs as well but the menus were a little more entailed. To be honest it was difficult to find things in the 857 system as some functions were abbreviated differently than there actuall function. I'm sure it wouldn't take much time to figure it out but not as intuitive as the 7000, the price is hundreds less for the 857 though. The 897 was a little easier to understand and it's a beautiful radio and built like a tank, almost has a military appearance. Audio was good on both radios and reports were excellent as well, no different than the 7000 really.

I would have a hard time telling anyone not to buy any of these radios. It's bad but I almost recommend them based on what you can afford. The trouble comes when comparing the 897 to the 7000 as they are both awesome radios. You can save about three hundred bucks going with the 897 and you'd be hard pressed to prove that the extra cost of the 7000 yields $300 worth of improved performance. In fact performance wise the 857 is as good a radio as either of the other two but the difference in cost to upgrade to the 897 would be worth it to me. So the bottom line, go with what you can afford and have fun with whichever you choose.

Please add any thoughts you have, especially if you have more experience with other radios. Maybe we can put together a good "buyers guide" for the newer guys.


Offline WestTx753

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 12:40:34 PM »
FT-857 works well for me no issues. I even use a ATAS which people love to hate, but I make good contacts.

Offline buffalojustice

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 11:07:26 PM »
You do know the ATAS doesn't work don't you? All those contacts you think you made didn't actually happen! I love all the antenna bashing that comes with certain setups. Did you also know that the G5RV will not radiate RF but will destroy your neighbors TV reception, make his phones worthless, kill his dog and make his daughter run away and join the circus? Never mind that mine worked great and not one neighbor even noticed a hint of a problem, and that was with me asking them repeatedly about it.  I'm glad you do well with the ATAS.

More on topic, I have nothing bad to say about the 857. It wasn't my cup of tea but it wasn't my radio so I never had a chance to learn it's ins and outs. There's a learning curve with any radio and I doubt highly that either of us could find any real difference between the 857 and the 7000 where it matters most. I will say the 7000 is highly intuitive to control and I had little problem learning where things were. Is that worth the extra $400? Maybe to some but in the end $400 will buy a damn good antenna and that's the most important part of the setup.  73

Offline JohnAdams

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2011, 05:06:17 PM »
Just wanted to comment and say this thread is very helpful to me. I'm looking at a mobile HF rig and specifically had my eye on the FT-857, but after reading some candid and down-to-earth reviews, I'm now considering the 897 and 7000. To be frank, the 7000 looks awesome, just having a hard time justifying the expense of a top-of-the-line HF mobile as my first rig. Are there any 'classic' HF mobiles you recommend that I might be able to pick up as used?

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2014, 10:26:30 AM »
Just wanted to comment and say this thread is very helpful to me. I'm looking at a mobile HF rig and specifically had my eye on the FT-857, but after reading some candid and down-to-earth reviews, I'm now considering the 897 and 7000. To be frank, the 7000 looks awesome, just having a hard time justifying the expense of a top-of-the-line HF mobile as my first rig. Are there any 'classic' HF mobiles you recommend that I might be able to pick up as used?

I'm also trying to make this decision.  Here's the radios I'm considering and my thoughts on each.

FT-817 - I'm not into QRP so this is just too low power for me.

FT-857d - Keeps fighting for the top slot due to price (new or used) and features.  My biggest concerns have been the complaints about menus and how small the screen is.  I have found info to
make a bluetooth control interface for tall three of these FT-8xx radios that would allow me to use Ham Radio Deluxe software to control the radio itself making the menus and screen size issue moot, especially if I use a touchscreen tablet to run the HRD software.  Hmmm....

FT-897d - Kinda chunky.  Not sure how that'll work mounted in a vehicle as the radio is a bit bigger.  Not sure I like the proprietary battery pack.  I'd much prefer if I could throw in some good rechargable AA cells instead.

IC-7000 - Wow, nice big screen, menus easier to navigate (according to reviews) and good filters already built in.  A LOT more expensive (about $300 more than 857d new).

IC-7100 - Okay, this one gets me excited.  Not only a nice big screen, big filters, and built in digital modes, but it has a touch screen making menu navigation even easier than the 7000.  Problem with this radio is it is another $400 over the 7000.  Almost twice the price of a new 857d.

Why doesn't Baofeng make an All-Mode/All-Band radio?  Then I could get one for $100.

I'm still making my choice, but wanted to throw out what I thought were high/low points.  I'm still leaning toward the 857d, but if I suddenly get enough funds to afford it that 7100 is sexy, baby.

-Brian
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Offline Saint-TyR

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 06:41:21 PM »
I am having the same issues with a good mobile set up! After several discussion board posts I have come down to the ICOM-7000 with the IT-100 tuner and the only thing left is the antenna, which I am still figuring that out. I want to pack it all in a pelican case for travel or emergency purposes. So a power source is next to add in!

Great discussion posts, thank you!

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Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2014, 06:45:01 PM »
I'm a big fan of the buddipole.  For mobile use I think I'll just use hamsticks.

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Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2014, 06:47:10 PM »
IC-7200 with camouflage paint schemes.

http://www.gigaparts.com/ALTV/Icom-IC-7200.html
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2014, 07:15:44 PM »
Why doesn't Baofeng make an All-Mode/All-Band radio?  Then I could get one for $100.
Yes, but the Cray supercomputer you'd need to sort out the menus and program that beast would cost millions!  ;)

More seriously though, have you thought about an FT-450d?  It's fairly compact but is not so afflicted by the "too many menus" problem.  The internal tuner, though limited, is a nice plus too.

The way I see it for mobile bugged-out power, it usually comes down to a choice between "luggable battery & QRP" or "car battery and 100 watts."  I chose the latter, but everyone's got their own set of requirements.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2014, 07:17:54 PM »
IC-7200 with camouflage paint schemes.
Is very cool!  I'm not sure if it's $250 worth of cool, but it is very cool!

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2014, 05:38:51 AM »
I settled for the FT-987D with an LDG-897D autotuner, powered by an Alinco DM330MV power supply. I just began monitoring with it during the past 8-9 days and made my first contacts on Friday and Saturday.

So far it's been lots of fun monitoring and making my first few contacts on 20 and 40M on an MFJ portable antenna and I'll hopefully figure out how to get the most out of the 75M MFJ Mini-Dipole later this week. Once I add a Signalink USB adapter to connect with all of the PSK activity that I've been monitoring and pick up a deep cycle battery to operate during power outages, I think that I'll have all the gear required to keep me busy for the next couple of months at the very least and keep operating under any emergency conditions that might come my way.

I'll agree that it looks like quite the learning curve to figure out all of the features. Even a fairly experienced salesman took quite some time going through the manual just to find out how to turn down the power so that I could tune the antenna without frying the finals, which at least made me feel less embarrassed about my inability to find it myself. Without doubt I'll also have a few moments of frustration when I try to program the closest UHF/VHF repeaters, but for now I can at least get on the air with little difficulty.

So for now at least I'm a happy with the Yaesu and don't think that I lost out by spending $300 less than for the ICOM 7000. And since I'm using it for a base station, with intentions of using it as a portable in the future, I think that my radio's better setup for that kind of operation.

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 12:22:18 AM »
I finally went for it.  My ft-857d should be here tomorrow.  I spent the weekend making a homebrew Buddipole and a bluetooth CAT adapter..

Brian
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2014, 06:59:22 PM »
Very cool!  Keep us posted on how getting on the air goes.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2014, 09:23:11 PM »
   Got the radio today.  It fires up and with my homebrew buddipole I was listing to a guy working cq from Hawaii (I'm in Oregon).  Before I try transmitting I need to get an antenna analyzer and/or tuner.  Watch out, HF.  Here I come.

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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 06:37:15 AM »
   Watch out, HF.  Here I come.

Very good.  Now get that tuner and get on the air!  Don't neglect 10 meters, it's a nice coast-to-coast band, we might get to talk someday.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline armymars

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Re: Mobile HF rigs
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2014, 05:10:44 PM »
Almost all the best mobile signals use a screw driver antenna. Most of the Mars types in this state use IC 706's, but after 4 or 5 years in a car you have to replace the 50 ohm jumpers inside the radio. For portable antennas I always used a fan dipole. I did this every Wednesday morning for my Mars net for about 5 years. Did you know that at 14 F the hard drive in your lap top has trouble loading the operating system and at 11F it stops all together because the lube inside the hard drive is too thick. HI