We seek to understand and document all radio transmissions, legal and otherwise, as part of the radio listening hobby. We do not encourage any radio operations contrary to regulations. Always consult with the appropriate authorities if you have questions concerning what is permissable in your locale.

Author Topic: Equipment Recommendations?  (Read 1201 times)

Offline ko4fki

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Equipment Recommendations?
« on: December 31, 2021, 0154 UTC »
Hey, I'm new here and I wanted to know if anybody had some recommendations for a HF base station rig? Preferably something older to reduce the price. Another detail that should be noted is that I am not Extra Class yet, but I would like to have something that would last a while and that would still work well through different classes.
See you on HF...

73,
KO4FKI

Offline ThaDood

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 943
  • Likely, not where you are.
    • View Profile
    • Extreme Part #15!
    • Email
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2021, 0727 UTC »
Hmmmmmmmmmmm... My 1st HF rig was, (And I still have.), an Icom IC-745. Great receive on that rig, but very much just communication grade audio. I bought it from a friend in 1993 for $650.00 and later upgraded the VRAM board to the PIEXX battery-less VRAM re[placement. It has the same receive capabilities as the famed IC-R71A receiver, which is a big reason that I chose that.  https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=508   A somewhat newer rig is the Icom IC-735. Better audio here, especially in AM RX / TX.  https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=381     Going Kenwood, I still like my TS-50S, and that even has the CTCSS PL tones for 10M repeater work, when you get to that with Generals and Extra upgrade, but a very good 10M SSB rig for Tech Class.   https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=411  (I have the 6M TS-60S version of this rig as well.)  If you want a Swiss Army Knife-type rig, there are a lot of Kenwood TS-2000's out there second and even third-hand.    https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=1249     BTW, try to find ones that are 2007, or newer, so that they have the updated softwares and not the DC voltage to TOKO IF filter problems. (Yaesus have been known to have that problem as well.) Mine serves me well on All-Modes.  Another Kenwood considering is a decent TS-440. A good all-around older performer that I'd still take, today. They sound great. Yet another Kenwood rig that I've worked many stations that were mobile is the TS-480S, and the later flavors. https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=8695    Every TS-480 that I've heard, and worked, sounded excellent just from their stock mics. Another Swiss Army Knife rig, that I use to have, was the Yaesu FT-857D. Very compact, punchy SSB. FM was OK, but AM just sucked.   https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=3046    All these rigs are the 100W variety, but if you don't mind stepping down to 20W, I'm diggin' the new Xiegu G90.   https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=14255    I have yet to write my Perks & Jerks review on this there on eham. If tubes don't scare ya, a Yaesu FT-101, (The 1970's version, not the FTDX-101 out now.), is a excellent all-around performer.     https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=4539     And, even the Tempo One.    https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=1239    Certainly, research these eham reviews and links.   https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-category?id=14  BTW, I have used both those preceding tube rigs at friends' QTH's, and would take either one, today.    Hopefully, this will help ya start-out. Good luck!!!!!!
   
Don't accuse me of judging a book by it's cover. I'll read the Table Of Contents.

Offline Elf36

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2021, 1517 UTC »
Be careful with older rigs. They have a lot of miles on them and will likely need to be re-capped. IMO I'd advise an Icom IC-718. You could probably find one used for 400.00/425.00. You would have a much newer rig and DSP. I've owned one and liked it very well. Good solid rig and easy to use. If you decide later that you want to upgrade, you won't lose too much money. You will see a lot of older rigs on Ebay for sale. I tend to see a lot of Kenwood rigs, most of these are much older and will have lots of knobs and features that do things you wouldn't know how to set, being new to the hobby. I was QRP for many years, but I would never advise anyone to start this way. I currently run 50/100 watts into a low dipole and am able to work Europe/UK and SA most days. There is also the Xiegu option, but you would be in the 5 - 20 watt range. This could be aggravating and frustrating to a new person (To anyone really) In conclusion, buy the newest rig you can within your budget.
Yaesu FT-950, 135' OCF dipole @ 28', SignaLink interface, Vibroplex Square Racer paddle and a Grundig G3 when portable.

Offline NJQA

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
  • Virginia
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2022, 1510 UTC »
The IC-718 suffers from one problem - horrible fast AGC time constants on SSB.  The audio “pumps” (especially on medium to strong signals) and is tiring to listen to for any length of time.  You can make the radio tolerable by using the RF gain control to reduce the received signal strength so that the AVC isn’t so active.

I have never seen a mod to fix this.  The only mod for the AGC I found was one that forced the radio to use the AGC settings for one of the other modes.  It’s too bad as the radio is otherwise OK.  I used one for MARS operation for a few years.

Despite the physical resemblance to the Icom R-75 receiver, the IC-718 receiver section is not the same.  The R-75 is better.
 

Offline Elf36

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2022, 1722 UTC »
I think that fault could be found in almost any transceiver. I worked plenty of DX with the 718 on CW, SSB, and PSK31 as well as using it as my shortwave receiver. I don't think a newer ham would notice. It's a perfectly capable rig. I can't think of a newer rig with a better price. I'd rather have a 2015 Honda civic than a 1983 Jaguar.
Yaesu FT-950, 135' OCF dipole @ 28', SignaLink interface, Vibroplex Square Racer paddle and a Grundig G3 when portable.

Offline Stretchyman

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 589
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2022, 1940 UTC »
Any hamradio will suit your needs and there's a lot out there second hand. It's down to personal preference so best to see if you can visit somewhere that sells older radios and try one for size. Older radios (valve hybrids) like the FT101ZD can be had quite cheaply now but recommended something less than 20 years old with a built in antenna tuner.

Good luck on your quest!

Str.
'It's better to give than receive' so why RX when you can TX!

         15W and100W models available.

                   Buy one from me, NOW!


                                              ;)

Offline Elf36

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2022, 2010 UTC »
Yes, built-in tuners are great. I have one in my HF rig and also have an LDG auto-tuner if needed. At this point, I'm pretty spoiled. However, If you don't find a radio with a built-in tuner, you always have options of external ones. I'm not a huge fan of MFJ, but I must admit I've owned a few of their manual tuners and had no issues. Once you learn how to adjust the knobs, you can dial them in pretty quickly. Another great feature of these types of tuners is having a built-in antenna switch, with the option of 2 outgoing SO239's and another for ladder line or random wire.
Yaesu FT-950, 135' OCF dipole @ 28', SignaLink interface, Vibroplex Square Racer paddle and a Grundig G3 when portable.

Offline RobRich

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 995
  • Tampa, FL USA
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2022, 2102 UTC »
Expect to spend like $300 to $500 for a basic used HF rig, but also be prepared to spend on maintenance and repairs. Replacing older caps has been mentioned. Other common fail parts in even popular HF rig models often include cooling fans, VFO encoders, and output transistors. Repairs can add up fast if not doing them yourself, and more so if you run into "nearly unobtanium" parts.

The Icom IC-718 is popular for the price, and AFAIK, its receiver side is similar to the popular R-75.

That said, consider taking a look at the Icom IC-7100. Yeah, it a shack-in-the-box rig, so often opined as being a "jack of all trades, master of none." Still it is under $1000 new for HF, 6m, 2m, and 440. It can do SSB on the VHF and UHF bands as well, assuming that is something that might interest you.

Agree with ya' Elf. LDG offers several popular external tuners, or alternatively a MFJ manual tuner if on a budget and/or needing a wide matching range.

I kind of missing Alinco in the HF desktop rig market. The Alinco DX-SR8T was another relatively decent ~$500 entry-level or backup 100w HF rig.
Tampa, FL USA | US Map Grid EL88
Airspy HF+ Discovery | Kenwood R-600 + R-2000 | 2x RTL-SDR V3 + NE602 | Si-Tex 200 | Soft66LC4 | Yaesu FRG-7
148' "Shielded" Loop-on-Ground | 2x 18' End-Fed Verticals | 31' Vertical | 2x PA0NHC MiniWhips

Offline ~SIGINT~

  • DX Legend
  • ******
  • Posts: 1428
  • Locator: FN03
  • .ılılı..ılılı..ılılı..ılılı..ılılı.
    • View Profile
    • Milspec Communication Canada
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2022, 2353 UTC »
The AGC on my ICOM IC-R75 is just as brutal otherwise it is a very nice receiver. I have owned well over 100+ receivers/transceivers and each one has their unique characteristics. For example, my Collins HF-2050 has one of the best squelch circuits I have encountered, my Harris RF-590 best ergonomics and is an overall great performing receiver and my Racals, by far, have had the best ever AGC circuits. Perfect time constances and smooth recovery.

Offline ko4fki

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2022, 1633 UTC »
Any hamradio will suit your needs and there's a lot out there second hand. It's down to personal preference so best to see if you can visit somewhere that sells older radios and try one for size. Older radios (valve hybrids) like the FT101ZD can be had quite cheaply now but recommended something less than 20 years old with a built in antenna tuner.

Good luck on your quest!

Str.

Thank you (and everybody else who helped out)!
See you on HF...

73,
KO4FKI

Offline Elf36

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2022, 2051 UTC »
People (Myself included) tend to look on Ebay for radios, but don't forget QTH.com- classifieds. There are is a lot of equipment for sale on that website. It tends to be an older crowd that doesn't do Ebay. It's also great because it's all ham op's and in my opinion more trusted. Some of the equipment you see elsewhere is from estate sales etc and the sellers do not know how to test properly.
Yaesu FT-950, 135' OCF dipole @ 28', SignaLink interface, Vibroplex Square Racer paddle and a Grundig G3 when portable.

Offline NJQA

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
  • Virginia
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2022, 1224 UTC »

The Icom IC-718 is popular for the price, and AFAIK, its receiver side is similar to the popular R-75.


This topic was covered on HFU before.  The R75 is a triple conversion receiver, the IC-718 is double conversion.  The R75 had a little more control over AGC, but still had problems on SSB/CW.  Proper use of your RF gain control helps a lot…which is why it is there <G>.  Token noted on the Radioreference.com site that the circuit board layouts are quite different.

https://www.hfunderground.com/board/index.php?topic=59595.0

https://forums.radioreference.com/threads/ic-718-transceiver-ic-r75-receiver-circuitry.368407/

If I was saving up for a rig, I would wait until I had enough to buy a IC-7300.  I don’t think there is another radio on the market that gives you the bang for the buck that the IC-7300 offers and in sheer numbers sold, it may well be the most popular ham rig ever.  Radios like the IC-7100 or FT-991A also give you VHF/UHF which is something to consider if that is important to you, but for HF the IC-7300 is better.  The IC-7300 comes with DSP filters whereas the IC-718 requires you to buy additional filters.  The IC-718 is an older design than the IC-7300, which *might* mean that the IC-7300 will be supported longer, but these days who knows?  A brand new IC-7300 is going to cost you around $1000 - more expensive than the IC-718, but more likely to be the radio you will still be using years in the future.  You will likely outgrow the IC-718 if you stay in the hobby.



Offline Elf36

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Florida
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2022, 1311 UTC »
Yes, the 7300 is a great rig from what I've read. It is insane how many have been sold. I can't tell you how many people on HF are using them. I don't remember a transceiver being so popular. Icom is making millions of these rigs. It reminds me of when the 706 came out years ago.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2022, 1331 UTC by Elf36 »
Yaesu FT-950, 135' OCF dipole @ 28', SignaLink interface, Vibroplex Square Racer paddle and a Grundig G3 when portable.

Offline RobRich

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 995
  • Tampa, FL USA
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2022, 1659 UTC »
Do not think I ever seriously looked at the circuit design if the 718, thus suspecting it would be similar to the R75. Not kicking it being a double conversion circuit, as there are decent double conversion designs, but I would have suspected and hoped for triple conversion like the R75.

While not exactly entry-level affordable, I agree the 7300 has a great price-to-features ratio, especially if on sale with rebates available.

If one does not mind lots of menus, the Yaesu FT-891 would be another great entry-level HF+6 rig to consider. Users seem to like its receiver, too. I do know it is triple conversion with a decent roofing filter and IF DSP. Even has as small bandscope, though I heard it is more of an afterthought or neat gadget than being seriously useful. Still, lots of features for a $650 rig IMO.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2022, 0029 UTC by RobRich »
Tampa, FL USA | US Map Grid EL88
Airspy HF+ Discovery | Kenwood R-600 + R-2000 | 2x RTL-SDR V3 + NE602 | Si-Tex 200 | Soft66LC4 | Yaesu FRG-7
148' "Shielded" Loop-on-Ground | 2x 18' End-Fed Verticals | 31' Vertical | 2x PA0NHC MiniWhips

Offline Josh

  • DXing Phenomena
  • *******
  • Posts: 4197
    • View Profile
Re: Equipment Recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2022, 1944 UTC »
I'd head straight for a 7300, get it new on sale as the capitalists are trying to sell used ones for almost as much as new. Then all you need is a dipole, a psu, a pc, and off you go. So much capability and you miss out on the fun of bad caps, misalignment, stressed components, etc malaise of the typical used rig. I would say try a G90 but 20 watts isn't sufficient for newbs.
We do not encourage any radio operations contrary to regulations.