HF Transceivers - Experience/Knowledge Needed

ScubaJungle

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Ive found that its very hard to figure out the timeline of models, releases, production length, what's supported, what is "too old", what is still popular, etc

and I understand that a lot of people will say that any HF rig will be a solid purchase, and others will say don't buy anything that isn't currently available - but what I mean here is -

Can anyone with knowledge of the different HF brands and models help with making a simple personal recommendation list of what HF radios (besides the currently available models) would be a solid choice as a first purchase for someone without having to anticipate doing any work on it (capacitors, knobs, etc) to keep it running?
What would be some of those models you would recommend?

- I know, any radio may need work, even new if heavily used or just a bad unit - but what I mean is, in general, going off the norm in relation to either the age, reputation of the radio, or personal experience

I think it would help a lot of people - not just me - in the same boat of lacking familiarity with the models and what is popular, what isn't, what's too old, what's a common recommendation, etc

Basically, just something like:
"ICOM
some good choices would be:
- A234
-B324
-C324
or Kenwood, nothing older than model G7800"

I know a lot of people here have a lot of knowledge and experience with many different brands and models, and that is something that cant be easily searched for as there is no right or wrong, or generic answer. For people without the familiarity of the different HF radios, it can be very confusing trying to figure out what is still worth purchasing and what isn't - so getting multiple opinions here will really help to know where to start.

Thanks!
 

prcguy

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The Icom IC-7300 is listed as an "entry level" transceiver in the $1k street price range but it turns out to be a really good radio giving $2k to $2.5k worth of performance for the $1k investment. Its also probably the best selling HF rig in history with a gabillion of them out there and an extremely good track record. If $1k is in your price range the 7300 will give you many years of trouble free enjoyment and its current technology. Nothing else in that price range can come close to the performance and features.
 

ScubaJungle

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The Icom IC-7300 is listed as an "entry level" transceiver in the $1k street price range but it turns out to be a really good radio giving $2k to $2.5k worth of performance for the $1k investment. Its also probably the best selling HF rig in history with a gabillion of them out there and an extremely good track record. If $1k is in your price range the 7300 will give you many years of trouble free enjoyment and its current technology. Nothing else in that price range can come close to the performance and features.
Thanks, thats exactly what Im looking for. I really dont know the track records and such of all the models nearly as well as many of you guys, so things like this that may seem common knowledge among the HF community is exactly the recommendations and advice I'm trying to find.

The 7300 is a bit over what I wanted to spend, but I have seen it come up various times so I may save up the extra cash and look for a good deal on one. Any other ideas are welcome as well
 

ScubaJungle

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You're taking what I said way too literally. I just hit random letters on the keypad to show what kind of answer I was looking for (format, idea, etc), hence the quotes and "Basically, something like"
 

N8IAA

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You're taking what I said way too literally. I just hit random letters on the keypad to show what kind of answer I was looking for (format, idea, etc), hence the quotes and "Basically, something like"
Go to Universal Radio's website and familiarize yourself with what is current, and used/older HF radios.

One should always check just before typing in, what to you, is random letters and numbers. (y)
 

popnokick

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Since you posted in the HF / MW / LW Monitoring Forum, can we assume you are looking for an HF receiver... and not a transceiver? If this is not the case and you are in fact looking for an HF transceiver for Amateur Radio use, you may want to get this thread moved into a forum that is for Amateur Radio equipment. And either way, it would be helpful to know what you're looking to spend. The only clue we have at the moment is when you wrote "The 7300 is a bit over what I wanted to spend".
 

ScubaJungle

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Go to Universal Radio's website and familiarize yourself with what is current, and used/older HF radios.

One should always check just before typing in, what to you, is random letters and numbers. (y)
Yes - you are right, I didn't think I would tap out a real product there (also why I didn't know what you were referring to originally), but I guess I was wrong - I wish I had that kind of luck with the lottery numbers..

Thanks for the website recommendation. Also, to your first post about local hams - this is one of many different sources of info I'm looking at. Basically just trying to get as many personal opinions as I can so that I can then research them further but with prior insight.

Since you posted in the HF / MW / LW Monitoring Forum, can we assume you are looking for an HF receiver... and not a transceiver? If this is not the case and you are in fact looking for an HF transceiver for Amateur Radio use, you may want to get this thread moved into a forum that is for Amateur Radio equipment. And either way, it would be helpful to know what you're looking to spend. The only clue we have at the moment is when you wrote "The 7300 is a bit over what I wanted to spend".
I guess I misunderstood the forum title, I thought it was for all HF-related gear.
If that's the case, then yes I need to have it moved - it is for transceivers, not receivers (already have two)

I purposefully left the price out because I really just wanted personalized opinions from different people - of different products at different price ranges, but I guess since the price ranges so drastically I should add something - say ~$1100 max. I haven't really set a price I'm willing to spend yet - I would like to spend around $500-$700, but that's not set in stone and seems like it will be a bit tough to do.
 

n5ims

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What are you looking for in an HF starter radio? That would help us guide you in the right direction. If you are simply looking for a radio that will do voice (SSB) and/or Morse code many of the old tube type radios will work just fine at minimal cost and since you'll need to tune the finals, no tuner will be generally necessary. The digital modes will be a bit more than they'll handle without additional equipment, but you may still save money.

Also what bands do you really want in that radio? Do you want to control the radio using just the knobs and dials on the radio or through a PC? In most cases, an all-in-one radio (160 - 6 + VHF/UHF) may sound like what you want, but there are trade offs. The main thing for me is that typically it's a single radio so if you're on one band, you can't monitor any of the others at the same time. This may not sound like much, but I often monitor the local VHF and UHF channels for local traffic and nets while using my HF radio on the HF bands. For this, a separate (or additional) VHF/UHF radio is important.

The older radios generally are just knobs and dial control while newer ones will allow computer control. On the other hand, an old tube radio will often handle a much wider range of SWR while a new solid state won't (without an antenna tuner, which really should be called an antenna matching device) and most built-in ones won't handle much beyond 3:1.

This would be a good thing to bring up to a local ham club since they will have people that have experience with many radios and can help you with the plusses and minuses. Often there are nets that have time for buy, sale, and trade transactions. This is often for local folks so if you find something you're interested in, you can get some hands on time and get some training on how to use the radio. Often the radios are not just some old junk, but are from a club member that has died and is selling of their station and may be in very good condition. Other times it's a club member that just likes to buy used radios, play with them for a while, fix them up, and sell them so they can buy their next one.

Also, when you budget for your radio, be aware that often you'll need some additional items to get it to work. You'll often need a power supply to power it (check the specs to see what type is needed and remember that the radio may say 12 v at 30 amps so your power supply will need to be 12 v with at least 35 amps - power supplies are listed as peak power so you'll need to add at least 10% more to that for your power supply). You may also need an antenna matching unit (aka antenna tuner), cables, microphone, etc. You also will need one or more antennas and your selection of the antenna(s) may indicate a need for things like the matching unit, etc.
 

wcsd45

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Transceiver: Yaesu FTDX-3000, particularly if you aspire to earn or already have amateur radio license. Yes, it's pricier but you'll grow into into this rig. It's back panel inputs/outputs are superior in that you'll have more options on Tx/Rx. It goes on sale/special fairly often.

Receiver only: Icom IC-R30. Yes, it's hand held. No, it's not a trunking scanner. Cost may be more in your price range.

Happy with both in my case.

Good luck, and 73,

Chuck KC9QBY
 

prcguy

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The Icom IC-7300 receiver is rated a bit better in critical specs over the Yaesu FTDX-3000 and the 7300 is a lot less expensive. Look up both radios here: Receiver Test Data

The 7300 transmitter is also a lot cleaner with the FTDX3000 and especially the FTDX1200 which get a lot of complaints of high IMD on transmit, covering a wide spectrum. I've seen this on the air countless times where someone is splattering really bad (on a 1200 in this case) they took the radio to Yaesu and Yaesu claims there is no problem.

Turns out Yaesu barely drives the mic input on the test bench, which does not generate any IMD, so everything passes but when the owner gets the rig back home they stick the preamp mic back on, cranks everything up to sound good and there goes the band again. On the other hand, the Icom IC-7300 will out talk most radios on the market getting very loud and not generating the slightest bit of IMD.

Transceiver: Yaesu FTDX-3000, particularly if you aspire to earn or already have amateur radio license. Yes, it's pricier but you'll grow into into this rig. It's back panel inputs/outputs are superior in that you'll have more options on Tx/Rx. It goes on sale/special fairly often.

Receiver only: Icom IC-R30. Yes, it's hand held. No, it's not a trunking scanner. Cost may be more in your price range.

Happy with both in my case.

Good luck, and 73,

Chuck KC9QBY
 
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popnokick

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ICOM 7100 is about $760 brand new now after mfr rebate. It's multi band and multi mode.... all HF + VHF / UHF bands. Does all digital modes with a simple USB cable to your computer. Described as a "mobile" radio but I use mine as a base radio... the control head is separate from the main body of the transceiver... and very conveniently located on a desk or other limited space. Also lends itself well to remote operation via Ham Radio Deluxe or other programs.
 

prcguy

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The Icom IC-7100 is a sleeper, really good performing radio with an interesting remote head and a cheap price. I bought one to use with RemoteRig boxes then discovered how good the radio is then bought two more.


ICOM 7100 is about $760 brand new now after mfr rebate. It's multi band and multi mode.... all HF + VHF / UHF bands. Does all digital modes with a simple USB cable to your computer. Described as a "mobile" radio but I use mine as a base radio... the control head is separate from the main body of the transceiver... and very conveniently located on a desk or other limited space. Also lends itself well to remote operation via Ham Radio Deluxe or other programs.
 

alcahuete

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I would like to spend around $500-$700, but that's not set in stone and seems like it will be a bit tough to do.
In that price range, you are not looking at anything new, outside of the Xiegu, which I don't recommend for a first rig. The closest you will probably get is the Yaesu FT-450D. That's usually in the low $700s, gets good reviews, and is a decent starter radio.

But as @prcguy said, I personally would save up an extra $50-$100 and just pick up a used IC-7300. It's a pretty new radio, it's a very good radio, and will last you a very long time.
 

spanky15805

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prcguy... The Icom 7100 reviews as a really nice radio. Truly a sleeper. Really am taking a liking to the display. To quote you, I will have to check with "Secartary of War and Finance". :)
 

AK9R

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The Icom IC-718 is currently "on sale" at various amateur radio dealers for just under $600. It's a pretty basic starter-level HF transceiver.
 

WB9YBM

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A lot of it's personal preference, just like with cars; some people enjoy showing off by getting the most glamorous, impressive toy on the block while others get basic models that get the job done without the "Bells 'n Whistles". Just be realistic: for example I once heard a guy admit on the air that he bought himself the fanciest radio out there and after a few weeks of operating realized he only needs a fraction of the radios' capability for typical operation and the rest of the options went unused / wasted money. Bottom line: don't let someone bamboozle you into thinking you need stuff you really don't.
 

ScubaJungle

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Thanks everyone, this has given me a lot of great insight.
As far as features and bands - I really have no need for the radio to do anything other than HF. I have VHF/UHF radios, so I'd rather get something that is best at HF and down rather than OK all around.
Features - the biggest thing I would say is, I am very much used to having a waterfall display since I do a lot with SDRs. From talking to a really helpful member here who messaged me, I found that I can have that even on radios without one built-in - but I think the IC7300 is looking really nice since it has that plus a lot more.
As far as digital stuff - I don't really think I need all that much fancy stuff - after all, I can just hook it up to a computer and use an application for that, right?

Since the IC-7300 seems to be a good choice both in the long-haul and to start, and has a waterfall, and a lot of other features that I may find I like, I think that is going to be my goal. The IC-7300 has been coming up quite a bit in my other coversations and questions, along with the 7100 and a few other models, but the waterfall is really what has me. I know I can do it on the computer, but it will be cool having something independent.
 

k9wkj

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- I really have no need for the radio to do anything other than HF. I have VHF/UHF radios,
dont pass up the ability to do SSB on 2M and 70CM, it opens up a entire world of things to explore
2M FT8 is a real thing, it has turned into the goto mode for the big VHF/UHF contests
and there is always meteor scatter to play with using MSK144
just last week I received a FT8 signal on 2M from almost 1000 miles away on my tiny 2M halo antenna

my vote goes to the IC-7100
 
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