Author Topic: Which HF rig?  (Read 10584 times)

Offline Freedom Forged

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Which HF rig?
« on: November 13, 2014, 06:08:45 PM »
Hello all.  Been a ham for 40+ years but I have been out of it for at least 20.  I'm in the market for a base HF rig but being out of it so long so many things have changed.. I would appreciate some suggestions.
Thanks, David

Offline austinrob

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 10:00:53 PM »
Do you have goals for what you want to do with your new radio?  Maybe a price point?

I own a Yaesu FT-450D and like it fine for SSB and digital.  I don't operate CW, but have been told it's a good CW rig.  The internal tuner works fine on "close enough" antennas, but I have an MFJ-993B so it'll tune a wet noodle almost.

the IC7200 and the Kenwood TS-480 are also both good rigs.  But really it depends on what you want to do, and how much you want to spend.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2014, 11:56:14 PM »
Do you have goals for what you want to do with your new radio?  Maybe a price point?

I own a Yaesu FT-450D and like it fine for SSB and digital.  I don't operate CW, but have been told it's a good CW rig.  The internal tuner works fine on "close enough" antennas, but I have an MFJ-993B so it'll tune a wet noodle almost.

the IC7200 and the Kenwood TS-480 are also both good rigs.  But really it depends on what you want to do, and how much you want to spend.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a Black Friday FT-450D deal will pop up.  What kind of antenna system are you using besides the MFJ-993B?


Offline NR5P

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2014, 05:24:14 AM »
If you're on a budget a used Kenwood ts-430 is probably the best for the cheapest for HF and is a great radio. The only major change in 20 years on HF that I can think of is there are now SDR software defined radio options. And some new digital modes. There is 60 meters if you are interested in playing with those 5 channels it would be a good idea to look for that capability. What has really changed is the integration of the computer with the ham shack and radio for digital modes. This can be done with even the older rigs. I even use my ts-820 on psk31

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2014, 05:37:56 AM »
as the above eluded, the pool is vastly vast  ;)

Hard to mess up with any of the big 3....Biggest Factors will be depending on where you wanna operate and how you wanna operate, uh...not to mention Budget  :)

QRV

Offline Freedom Forged

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2014, 06:27:38 AM »
Thanks guys, I am on somewhat of a budget but I don't want to buy twice if you know what I mean.  I don't operate CW anymore and my main purpose for getting back into HF is for emergency comms though I will enjoy it for the same reason we all enjoy AR.
David

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2014, 07:09:21 AM »
I like the Yaesu FT 450D and Icom  718 as good $700 range 100 watt HF radios,both have proven good designs and are 'last years model' so are found at about HALF of original retail price. Both have simple controls and full power with DSP for excellent audio (I own one of each) and I say the FT 450D is slightly better of the two as it comes with a pretty good (3 to 1 SWR) automatic tuner and has a bit more flexibility with the MENU adjustments of the transmit and receive audio adjustments. The ICOM 718 has a power out section that will take a lot of mis-match abuse though a tuner is your best add-on for $$$ spent.
\
My rig in the BOL (Peppermint Mine) is the ICOM 746 Pro....one of the best older rigs you can buy.
I also will ad that most any not abused TENTEC radio would also be good as I LOVE the refined receivers of the TENTEC radios.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2014, 07:10:29 AM »
For once, I don't have any strong opinions on this, because I know just enough to know that I don't know very much!  Having said that, I went with a Yaesu 450D as my first HF rig because it (a) has enough faceplate area and buttons that all of the cool features weren't buried under layers of menus, (b) that internal tuner Smurf and Carl mentioned, (c) small enough to be easily bug-outable, (d) sub $1k.

I almost went with an 857, but items (a) & (b) steered me to the 450D.  Also, having 2m/70cm in the same chassis would've been a real plus, and a cost savings that would've made up the price of an external tuner.  Still, it's working out pretty well so far.

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2014, 08:42:57 AM »
For once, I don't have any strong opinions on this, because I know just enough to know that I don't know very much!  Having said that, I went with a Yaesu 450D as my first HF rig because it (a) has enough faceplate area and buttons that all of the cool features weren't buried under layers of menus, (b) that internal tuner Smurf and Carl mentioned, (c) small enough to be easily bug-outable, (d) sub $1k.

I almost went with an 857, but items (a) & (b) steered me to the 450D.  Also, having 2m/70cm in the same chassis would've been a real plus, and a cost savings that would've made up the price of an external tuner.  Still, it's working out pretty well so far.

Alan (and anyone who has had this problem)...putting all of your options in ONE RADIO (UHF/VHF plus HF) while it may sound good at first is ,at least in my opinion ,not your best option. VHF and  UHF have am different use (IE local communications) verses the long distance  ability of HF also the PA (Power Amplifier) in the radio that covers HF and UHF/VHF is a compromise that often is really stressed to work over such a wide range of frequency.

Look at discussion of most of these all band radios and you will read of UHF/VHF output problems as overworked PA's begin to degrade and eventually FAIL. Few of the all band radios have a separate PA and output (my IC 746 Pro does) and can handle the stress of FM UHF/VHF work...also people rarely exercise the option of NOT RUNNING MAXIMUM POWER and this is not really good on the radio and rarely effects range or read ability with any of the HAM bands...POWER MAKES LITTLE CHANGE in signal.

I suggest a HF ( long distance) radio and a VHF/UHF (short distance) as a different radio as they have such different uses as failure of your ALL IN ONE RADIO will leave you without.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 10:24:57 AM »
Thanks Carl, makes me think I did the right thing by going with two separate radios.  Guess a spoon and a fork are generally better than a spork, outside of a few special cases.

Offline Sailor

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2014, 01:26:50 PM »
If you plan on using/needing your HF rig mobile, or portable get the 857. 

Mine goes from shack to backpack.  Tac comm carriers and small batterys and my droid phone for psk work. 

Plus I can throw up a roll up jpole for vhf/uhf and hit my simplex repeater if needed.  I have other VHF radios but like the versatility of the 857. 

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2014, 02:24:20 PM »
If you plan on using/needing your HF rig mobile, or portable get the 857. 

Mine goes from shack to backpack.  Tac comm carriers and small batterys and my droid phone for psk work. 

Plus I can throw up a roll up jpole for vhf/uhf and hit my simplex repeater if needed.  I have other VHF radios but like the versatility of the 857.

Not a bad choice,but about the same cost as the 'TWO radio option" if weight and size is important,the 857 is a good choice (for about the same cost as the two radios above)

How much do the batteries and TUNER ,plus HF antennas you carry weight?

Offline armymars

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2014, 04:06:03 PM »
 The TS 430 and older Ten-tecs are the best cheapest radios out there. I'm using a Paragon now and have had little trouble with it. The one problem I had was I kept putig my coffee cup on top in the same place. I didn't know that aa park had been mounted a little too high and I was pressing down on it till I broke the solder joint. I solder it in a little bit lower and I keep my coffee cup off to the side now.
  The Pro line and the 540 are both good radios. Check some of the yahoo groups to see if there are any re-occurring problems. If money was no problem the the K3 would be the why to go.  P.S. Alan I got your QSL card. 

Offline austinrob

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2014, 12:48:28 PM »
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a Black Friday FT-450D deal will pop up.  What kind of antenna system are you using besides the MFJ-993B?

I have a windom cut for 40m thrown across the top of my roof and trailed into the trees in the backyard.  Without the tuner, it's good for 40,20,10 (the low end) ,6 and the 993B tunes it for 80, 17, 15, 12, 10 (the rest of it).

My neighborhood is pretty noisy though.  I'm thinking I'm going to build a go-box for it and take a weekend every other month (except when the asphalt is liquid down here) and operate portable with it.  I'll build a vertical of some sort for that.

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2014, 01:17:00 PM »
I have a windom cut for 40m thrown across the top of my roof and trailed into the trees in the backyard.  Without the tuner, it's good for 40,20,10 (the low end) ,6 and the 993B tunes it for 80, 17, 15, 12, 10 (the rest of it).

My neighborhood is pretty noisy though.  I'm thinking I'm going to build a go-box for it and take a weekend every other month (except when the asphalt is liquid down here) and operate portable with it.  I'll build a vertical of some sort for that.

End Fed Half Wave is worth your concideration as it is easy to use and set up. I use a 17 foot 6 inch counterpoise  with a 34/35 foot wire tied to a plastic water bottle and tossed over a tree limb. It all fits in your pocket,sets up easy,and with a small tuner will work 80 thru 6 meters...that is my results and if you "lose" the antenna ....you are out a couple of dollars or less if you use thinner wire

I have a thread here already about the ease and effectiveness of this simple antenna.

Offline austinrob

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2014, 09:22:18 PM »
excellent.  I already have 35' of 16ga wire coiled in my junk box with a UHF connector on the end.  I'll go dig up that article.  Thanks

Offline Beechnut

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2014, 07:08:39 AM »
Anyone have any experience with Icoms IC-7200? It's a $1K rig. When you talk about buying once... ;D

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/7200/default.aspx


Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2014, 08:16:20 AM »
Anyone have any experience with Icoms IC-7200? It's a $1K rig. When you talk about buying once... ;D

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/7200/default.aspx


If there is one thing the hamisphere is not short on it is reviews.  Perhaps eHam, QRZ, Prepared Ham Forum and our own review section on the Ham Radio Radio subsection on reviews.  I have also found the YouTubes a great resource.  I can read all I want, its a whole new level when I actually watch someone using the thing.

So to actually answer your question, no I have never even seen one.  :D

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2014, 08:30:15 AM »
Anyone have any experience with Icoms IC-7200? It's a $1K rig. When you talk about buying once... ;D

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/7200/default.aspx


\
I have had hands on for a few hours and it is a good basic radio, it is not as bulletproof as it looks (it is not dust/moisture sealed)  yet is not a bad choice in a rig.
It is on par with my IC718 as far as performance goes with a few added buttons and knobs for most frequent needed adjustments.
They can be had for $900 at a place I buy from....

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=49&products_id=66661

Offline armymars

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2014, 01:45:28 PM »
  I was on qrz.com this morning and saw some good buys.

Offline austinrob

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2014, 03:09:07 PM »
The Hams over on ar15.com love the 7200 as well. 

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2014, 07:03:36 AM »
The Hams over on ar15.com love the 7200 as well.

Tactical Carry Handles and the USB port are the main draw  ;)

Offline armymars

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2014, 01:22:37 PM »
  If your looking at the 7200, take a look at the Ten-Tec Jupiter.

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2014, 02:57:31 PM »
I can't not add that most current day HF rigs are not distinguishable on the other end....a 100 watt radio is a 100 watt radio and only YOU will know what radio you are using,,,pick one that has controls/options/looks/PRICE that you like as there is little difference in the transmitted signal.


Offline TiredOldGrunt

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2014, 04:07:01 PM »
I regret the day I sold my TS-120... damn fine radio, always good reports.  I also had a TS-440 with a built in tuner, I think Id rather have had one without.. but it was a good radio too!

Im currently running a TenTec 440 I think, I previously had an Icom 718, for a budget minded operator that  wants an up to date digital rig, the 718 is hard to beat!!

TOG

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2014, 10:48:34 PM »
Tactical Carry Handles and the USB port are the main draw  ;)
I want a rig with a Picatinny rail down each side so that I can mount AR carry handles.  I hear that's coming next year.   ;D

Offline Carl

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2014, 11:20:59 PM »
Being on the cutting edge of new gear is a costly way to be a beta tester. Last years radio can be had for half price and you will know the bugs involved.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2014, 02:41:06 PM »









Offline vulture774

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2014, 04:42:24 AM »
SCWolverine:   I see what you did there!


If you were to take that Emergency Orange radio and place it into a Green Go-Box......And post it on a certain board......The universe might implode!  Or at least disturb the force for one Jedi I know! :)


To the OP:  As you can see...Best radio has many correct answers.   For me, I like simple.  I found a Yaseu FT-747GX a few years ago for a steal, $350.00 with a 25amp PS shipped to my door.  Its simple, works, and keeps me out of trouble.


Offline Sailor

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Re: Which HF rig?
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2014, 05:24:47 AM »