Radio Preppers

General Category => Radio Reviews, Questions and Comments. => Topic started by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 05:25:01 PM

Title: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 05:25:01 PM
I just recently upgraded to General.  I do not have a HF radio yet.  I read the thread saying that the Icom 7000 was not recommended.  I have seen the Yaesu 857D mentioned a few times.

I am looking for a radio that I can learn on.  It needs to be semiportable, but not necessarily a mobile radio (may travel in a case, but not mounted in car).  It needs to be relitively rugged.  My major interest is in grid down preparedness communications, however I may end up tinkering with other aspects of the hobby.

THe radios I am considering are as follows:

Yaesu FT857D $869
Yaesu FT 897D $949
Yaesu FT 450D $919
Icom 7000 $1279
Icom 7200 $994
Kenwood 480SAT $945

Do any of you guys have experience with these and any advice?

THanks for your time.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: gil on October 10, 2012, 05:48:01 PM
Hello,

From what I have learned recently on this forum and subsequently researched, the 7200 has everything you will ever need, including very good (and expensive) filters included...

Keep in mind that all these radios have a high current draw (1.5 to 2A on receive for the IC-7200)... For grid-down communications, that is a major concern.

I would personally suggest an MFJ-9440, or even a used Elecraft K2 (220mA on receive).
A used SGC-2020 or Index Labs QRP+ would be ideal.There is always the FT-817ND. (All about 450mA).
If you see one of those two on Ebay (2020 & QRP+), jump on it! They go very fast.
Always check the receive current draw. As far as output power, you don't need 100W. 10 or 20 is plenty.
I routinely have 5000+ miles QSOs on 12-14W...

Gil.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: cockpitbob on October 10, 2012, 05:52:19 PM
I have an FT-857D.  It is essentially the same as the FT-897D, but the 897 has a power supply built in and you can buy an automatic tuner to attach to one side.  The 857 gives a little more flexability in that you have the option of mounting it in your car.  The faceplate detaches so you can mount the big part in the trunk and just have the little face plate up front.  They even make face plate holders that go in the car's cup holder.

The Icom mobile rigs have big beautifyl displays, but eat 3x more power than the FT857 while receiving.  (FT857 is about 0.65A).  Not the best for SHTF battery opps.  Otherwise they have a very strong following.

The bottom line is that almost any of the 100W HF+6M+2M radios will be a great start and keep you happy for a few years until you know enough go have preferences.
Title: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: White Tiger on October 10, 2012, 07:40:09 PM
I just recently upgraded to General.  I do not have a HF radio yet.  I read the thread saying that the Icom 7000 was not recommended.  I have seen the Yaesu 857D mentioned a few times.

I am looking for a radio that I can learn on.  It needs to be semiportable, but not necessarily a mobile radio (may travel in a case, but not mounted in car).  It needs to be relitively rugged.  My major interest is in grid down preparedness communications, however I may end up tinkering with other aspects of the hobby.

THe radios I am considering are as follows:

Yaesu FT857D $869
Yaesu FT 897D $949
Yaesu FT 450D $919
Icom 7000 $1279
Icom 7200 $994
Kenwood 480SAT $945

Do any of you guys have experience with these and any advice?

THanks for your time.

As one who is on this same path - I was encouraged by WA4STO to look into Ten Tec. They have many new models - but as a beginner, there are models from the 80's that are large and easy to work on, the electronics are stout and can easily handle deep duty cycle, and priced reasonably for HF beginners concerned about quality AND price...

Ten Tec is based in Sevierville, TN - build ALL of their radios here, and have a tech staff on-site that can talk you through an issue, or you can mail/take your radio to them and they will fix it for you (for a nominal fee)!

That (for me) was just too much to pass up!

I can give you some additional information on a couple of models I checked out recently, if you're interested?
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 08:45:51 PM
Wow!  Thanks for the quick replies.

Gil,  so are you recommending the Icom7200 for transmitting and buying a separate radio as an emergency backup for listening in a grid down environment?

Cockpit Bob,  I have looked at the 857 very closely.  I have an "elmer" here in town that has that radio in his portable bag.  I was just worried that the small screen would be an issue, as well as not as many features as some of the others.  I was not aware of the current draw issue until now.

White TIger,  my elmer also mentioned Tentec today.  Today is the first time I have heard of them.  Is there a specific radio they build that you would recommend?

THanks all.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: gil on October 10, 2012, 08:52:46 PM
Quote
Gil,  so are you recommending the Icom7200 for transmitting and buying a separate radio as an emergency backup for listening in a grid down environment?

Well, if you can afford it! I have heard good things about the 7200. Being rugged and having good filters already included...

I would definitely suggest something with less current draw, that you would keep in an EMP protected case. For that, the MFJ-9440X is ideal, at the price is right at $270.

Gil.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 09:22:24 PM
Right now, my backup receive radio is a Sony ICF-7600

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICF-SW7600GR-Shortwave-Receiver-Reception/dp/B00006IS4X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349918437&sr=8-1&keywords=sony+shortwave+radio

It lives in an ammo can when not in use.

It looks like the MFJ only recieves on 40 meters

SH
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: gil on October 10, 2012, 09:32:34 PM
Quote
It looks like the MFJ only recieves on 40 meters

Well, yes, but it transmits too, and it's only $270  :)

Gil.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: Paul on October 10, 2012, 09:57:56 PM
I guess it's a matter of taste, and the general purpose for it.  I'm a Kenwood fan and would recommend the '480.  It's not strictly a mobile radio, just takes a 12 Vdc supply.  I've used it both mobile and fixed and it does what I want it to do.  If you can afford it I would recommend a new radio with a guarantee, but there's nothing wrong with used equipment (just use normal care in buying one, you know?).  Best recommendation I can think of is to get your hands on one, or try a radio before buying it.  Most of the newer radios are at least comparable, the big differences in ease of use.
Have fun.
 - Paul
Title: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: White Tiger on October 10, 2012, 09:59:13 PM
White TIger,  my elmer also mentioned Tentec today.  Today is the first time I have heard of them.  Is there a specific radio they build that you would recommend?

Those Elmer's - it's like they know everything!

Yep, but I think the model would depend on what you want to do - HF, with capability of doing digital modes and voice...I chose an Omni D...but the Triton was VERY close...

Be careful looking on eBay, as it is impossible to think that ALL of them came from the estate sale of their father-in-law who just happens to keep passing away every few weeks....or had one HECK of a Ten Tec collection!?

I am still pretty new, but it is the model I bought, and am very satisfied - I can direct you to someone on this board that could help you pin point a model that would fit your specific needs a little better, if you'd like? He, nor I have any affiliation with Ten Tec - except I did tour the plant when I was passing through Tennessee a few weeks ago...I stopped in at 4:30 on a Friday to see the show room...and the VP of the company gave me a tour! Since then I bought the Omni D, and have had a couple of email conversations with a technician who has been very helpful. Great people and great service...of course, I'm sure the ICOM folks could say the same about their experiences...I only have my recent experience to speak from.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 10:18:56 PM
Paul, 

The reason I listed the Kenwood is that my wife and I have Kenwood TH-F6A's in our coms kit in our vehicles.  I have had it for 2-3 years with no issues.  I just haven't seen the 480SAT mentioned as much in the preparedness community.  I do like the fact that it has abuilt in tuner, although it is my understanding that it will only tune if the SWR is close to begin with.  From what I hear, Yeasu supports the HAM community better that most of the other companies out there and that Kenwood's support is less since they were bought out.  I have no personal experience with any company other than one of my TH-F6A's malfunctioned just out of the warranty period and they still covered it

SH
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 10, 2012, 10:20:07 PM
White Tiger,

Could you post a link to the radios you mentioned.  I went to TenTec's website and couldn't find them.

SH
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: gil on October 10, 2012, 10:42:25 PM
Those radios are no longer manufactured. You can find them used on Ebay. Ten Tec has a good reputation, and I second Tim on this. To get your feet wet, you can get a good used HF radio for $300-$400... Just make sure the seller has a good rating.

Gil.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: cockpitbob on October 10, 2012, 11:21:07 PM
For getting your fee wet, I also like used equipment.  It's electronics.  In general it either works or it doesn't.
Title: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: White Tiger on October 11, 2012, 12:00:55 AM
White Tiger,

Could you post a link to the radios you mentioned.  I went to TenTec's website and couldn't find them.

SH

Didn't want to hijack the thread - sent you a PM with some informational links.

Let me know if you have any questions!

But please remember - I am still new enough at this that this radio is my first radio!. Many others are more qualified & more experienced (WA4STO, are you listening?), and I think you said your Elmer has mentioned these radios. Keep seeking a LOT of input!
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: AE5J on October 12, 2012, 12:23:58 AM
I have operated/owned a lot of radios in my time. Everything from tube types to modern ones. TenTecs, ICOM's, Yaesu's, Kenwoods, Collins, Drake's, Hallicrafters, Heathkit's, even some Radio Shack stuff, and a whole host of VHF/UHF only makers, from ham to commercial conversions.

I think you need to more closely define what you want to do with the radio. You mentioned grid down operations. Even though I love QRP, I would hesitate to recommend it for when you really need to get communications established in an emergency. Low power is a lot of fun and very rewarding as a hobby, but not really ideal unless one is forced to use low power for other reasons - especially unsuited if lives may be on the line. That is not the time for hobby operations, IMHO.

The Yaesu FT-857D is generally thought of as the Swiss Army Knife of ham radios. It has HF from 160 up to 6 meters, general coverage of the shortwave bands, and VHF/UHF so it can (and does) work satellites, AM, FM CW, SSB, and digital modes. It is small enough to go in a sturdy box, sturdy enough to survive reasonable abuse, will operate from a picnic bench, car, or home, has power levels that can be varied between about 4 and 100 watts on all HF bands, 50 watts on VHF, 20 watts on UHF, and although the considerable number of features are buried in menus to an extent, in operation it is very close to the Yaesu 450D (which I also have) - or anything else out there unless you want to spend a LOT of money. It has DSP and accomodates both CW and SSB filters. Given a fair level of operational skill and a decent antenna, it will provide communications anywhere at anytime.

The only real difference between the 857D and the 897D, in practical terms, is that the 897 can have internal batteries. Many have found their usefulness and longevity to be of dubious value. I've not owned an 897, but have operated one and it is identical to the 857, but is larger.

I have owned numerous TenTecs (Century 21, Argonaut, Omni-D and probably something else I cannot remember) over the years. They are generally excellent for CW, however only an afficiando of CW will notice this. SSB is about the same as any other rigs of the period. At this date, I cannot recommend them (new radios at least) as they have experienced a rash of quality issues that they used to never have.

I currently have an ICOM 718 with all the options, but have owned/operated almost everything they ever made up till the last couple of years. Quality radios. More expensive and generally don't do anything any of the others do.

I don't currently have any Kenwoods, but they are also excellent equipment.

I have not owned any Elecraft stuff. Great equipment, but very pricey.

Even though some cry foul and useless, I have found that the reviews section of e-ham.net is very good to help people decide what equipment to purchase. Also please remember that no radio will work well without a good antenna system. Shop wisely. My opinions, as usual.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: StoneyHill on October 13, 2012, 01:26:56 PM
THanks guys for all the help.  I need to look at the Ten-tecs.  Otherwise, I think I have narrowed my decision to the Yaesu 857 and the Icom 7200.

BTW, I got a perfiect score on the Extra exam this morning.  (Had to brag a little :)  )

SH
Title: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: White Tiger on October 13, 2012, 02:04:43 PM
Whoa! A PERFECT score...on an Extra exam!?

That is AWESOME and you DESERVE to brag!
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: Jim Boswell on October 15, 2012, 02:48:01 PM
Can you find a local club? Most club members will let you check out their radios, also field day is great for that. With over 38 years of electronics repair exp. I think an older TenTec makes a great first HF rig. A TenTec Corsair makes a great first rig. The Corsair has everything you need out of the box, and you can add extra filters as needed.
An Icom IC-730 or IC735 are very good also. Now we are talking about 20+ year old rigs. I have a new IC-7200 and I like that radio very much. The IC-7200 is built like a sherman tank and not too hard to use. If you have the 1Kbuck I would buy a 7200. Add a powersupply or gel cell batteries a manual MFJ tunner and antenna and you are set.
I will be happy to help you pick a rig.
KA5SIW@yahoo.com
Take Care,  73'S  KA5SIW
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: madball13 on October 25, 2012, 02:49:13 PM
I have an 817 with an HF packer Amp, with 5W in i get 35-40 out. I have been able to talk all over Europe with a end fed and a simple wire dipole. It doesn't get any easier to carry or power this radio.
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: Jim Boswell on November 07, 2012, 10:47:05 AM
When considering a radio, question is how are you going to use the radio. I would sort the radios into 3 size lists. Desk rigs, compact/mobile rigs,  portable rigs. Just about any rig can be used as a desk rig, but do you want to carry a full sized rig up to the top of a mountain?? Based on my personal experance, all of these radios I have owned for years, here is what I suggest:
Desk rig: Tentec Corsair, Tentec Omni-C,
Compact/mobile rig: Icom 730 Icom 735, Icom 718, Icom 7200, Tentec Delta
Portable rig: Tentec Argosy, Icom 703, Yaesu 817
If you use SSB, you need 50 to 100watts. Yes, I have used a Icom 703 on 20 meters, but to fight your way into 40meters you need more power. Do you plan to learn CW? The Youkits 4band CW rigs Tentec sells are getting good marks.
Do you require a general coverage receiver? When SHTF, you may need to get your news from BBC shortwave.
My togo kit has an Icom 7200 and 703, with wire antennas and a MFJ mobile tunner. I do not like auto tunners. I string-up and wire antennas and cut them to correct length. The tunner is used to adj for CW or SSB sections of the band. I have two different sized gell cell battery packs with solar panels to go.
For VHF work I will use my Icom IC-v80 and thrown a good scanner too.
I hope this helps,  73'S  KA5SIW
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: Forager on November 22, 2012, 01:42:36 PM
MHO...I run the Yaesu 857,897,817 family. All the "bells and whistles",auto tuners, add on's, programming software, et al are pretty much interchangable. The menu tends to need a learning curve, but once mastered, pretty easy. All of the above work pretty decent in a Battery only enviroment.
 
Title: Re: New General looking for HF transceiver advice
Post by: RadioRay on November 22, 2012, 07:43:10 PM
I second the recommendations -

If you want to get a big bang for the buck , a used Ten Tec of almost any stripe. 

For new or nearly new the 7200 is SUPERB and saves you a bundle in that you do not need to buy add-on filtern, digital mode interfaces r anything like that.  You can operate CW (Yay!), Voice, snoud card data (Yay!) and it's also a very, very good sounding shortwave receiver for general coverage.  Add to that, the fact that it's build like a TANK, yet is only medium size, it's what I would choose .  I know this, because it's what I installed on my sailboat back when I was a cruiser. Very, very good manufacturing, tough and capable - like a good woman. ha ha


de RadioRay ..._ ._