Low cost HF rig recommendations

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N4SZO

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Trying to get back into the hobby after many years away. I am in the process of trying to acquire a FT101E, mostly for nostalgic purposes. Regardless of how that turns out, I would like, in the future, to get a more modern rig. I can't afford a high end rig. Years ago, i had a FT757GXII and I was quite happy with that.

I have been looking around and the only low cost rig I have seen is the Icom 718.

Is that a decent rig for SSB/CW or would I be better off getting a used, but higher end radio?

I know ICOM was a good radio in the past, but I don't know about today as I am out of touch with modern rigs. Suggestions welcome.

Thanks,
N4SZO
 

methusaleh

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What is your budget? Bands you want in one radio? Do you already have a good antenna system, or money allocated for that?

Concentrate on antenna first.

That being said, the rest of the equation can't really fall into place until we know your budget and band desires. Some folks like something that covers DC to daylight, some want 160-6m, some only 40-10m, etc.

That being said, I started with an Alinco DX70 and had a great time with it. Next HF rig was a 746 Pro-- that was a really awesome radio for the money. Today I have an FTDX3000 and must admit I don't use half the features in it.
 

kj3n

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How do you define "high end rig"? I define it as $3K+. Mid-range is $1400 to $3K. Anything under $1400 I would consider "low end".

As tempting as the 718 is on price, I would consider going at least one step above that. The 718 is around $600, but adding just 1 filter to it brings the cost up to $870. For $890, the IC-7200 would be a better choice. The IF DSP filtering will help when the bands get crowded, or someone gets a little close to you, which is quite common on 40m and 75m.

As someone has already mentioned, a concrete number on the budget would help.
 

N4SZO

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What is your budget? Bands you want in one radio? Do you already have a good antenna system, or money allocated for that?

Concentrate on antenna first.

That being said, the rest of the equation can't really fall into place until we know your budget and band desires. Some folks like something that covers DC to daylight, some want 160-6m, some only 40-10m, etc.

That being said, I started with an Alinco DX70 and had a great time with it. Next HF rig was a 746 Pro-- that was a really awesome radio for the money. Today I have an FTDX3000 and must admit I don't use half the features in it.
Budget: I would need to keep it around 1000 or less, that is why I will probably have to go used or the 718.

I have a slinky dipole. As far as freq range goes. probably 80-20 since those bands seem to work decent enough with low power and dipole antennas. Thanks
 

N4SZO

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How do you define "high end rig"? I define it as $3K+. Mid-range is $1400 to $3K. Anything under $1400 I would consider "low end".

As tempting as the 718 is on price, I would consider going at least one step above that. The 718 is around $600, but adding just 1 filter to it brings the cost up to $870. For $890, the IC-7200 would be a better choice. The IF DSP filtering will help when the bands get crowded, or someone gets a little close to you, which is quite common on 40m and 75m.

As someone has already mentioned, a concrete number on the budget would help.
Something like the 7200 would be about as far as I could go. But does the DSP filtering really work compared to a physical filter?

Thanks..
 

kj3n

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Something like the 7200 would be about as far as I could go. But does the DSP filtering really work compared to a physical filter?

Thanks..
I had an original IC-746 for a couple of years (SSB physical filter added), then swapped it out for the Pro version. I much prefered the IF DSP. Bandwidth continuously variable and I had 3 presets for CW, SSB, RTTY, and AM.

You can add only 1 physical filter to a 718. You can have either a CW/RTTY filter, or the SSB one; not both. The IF DSP in the 7200 is pretty much the same as a 746Pro and gives you the same 3 presets you can rotate through.
 

W9BU

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The IF DSP in the 7200 is pretty much the same as a 746Pro and gives you the same 3 presets you can rotate through.
That's three preset IF bandwidths per mode (CW, SSB, AM, RTTY). I owned an Icom IC-746 Pro and now own an IC-7600. Icom's DSP filter/IF bandwidth set-up is pretty sweet.
 

N4SZO

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Thanks guys. I will look at all three, but it sounds like the 7200 is what I should hold out for.

It looks like I will have a super clean 101 to get back on the air with and that will do till I can get a modern rig for daily use.

Thanks again...
 

KA2ZEY

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+1 on the antenna. All the bells and whistles won't amount to much without a decent antenna match.
 

AC8PT

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Depending on budget; it is hard to go wrong with either a Ten-Tec Argonaut or Eagle, especially as an initial HF transceiver.
 

N4SZO

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+1 on the antenna. All the bells and whistles won't amount to much without a decent antenna match.
Well just to get me going, I have a "super slinky" dipole that's going under the eve of the back of my house.

Any other suggests for a low profile antenna. I don't have any restrictions that I know of, but would still like to keep a low profile. Just my luck 100 watts will cause tvi.
 

kj3n

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Well just to get me going, I have a "super slinky" dipole that's going under the eve of the back of my house.

Any other suggests for a low profile antenna. I don't have any restrictions that I know of, but would still like to keep a low profile. Just my luck 100 watts will cause tvi.
I'm not a fan of "low profile" antennas. That tends to mean very low, or attic-mounted antennas. That also tends to mean very compromised antenna performance. Antennas mounted close to the house also tend to mean a high noise level in your RX because you're so much closer to all the electronic devices that spew their own RFI.

If there are no restrictions, I see no reason to go low profile. I have 5 wire HF antennas on the property, only 2 of which are actually visible against the background of the trees that they are strung from.

As to the TVI issue, you'll find that the higher (or further away from the house) you get any antenna, the less of a chance for TVI. Ask anyone who uses indoor antennas about the troubles they have running more than 20-30 watts before they start having TVI/RFI issues.
 

prcguy

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I would loose the slinky and if you have the space look at a ZS6BKw dipole which will cover 40, 20, 17, 12, 10 and 6m with a fairly good match without a tuner. With a tuner it works very well on 80m since its a good 70% the size of a half wave dipole there. Google the antenna to find dimensions and building info and its best to tune it with an antenna analyzer once its installed.

You can make a ZS6BKW for the cost of 100ft of wire and 50ft of 450 ohm ladder line or TV twinlead plus a used 1:1 choke balun off Ebay for usually under $20. I have used a lot of antennas over the last 40yrs and the ZS6BKW is now my favorite.

Have you considered a used radio? You can really save a lot and get a lot more radio than your budget will allow compared to a new radio. Some of the last used radios I've purchased are a Yaesu FT-857 for $400 and an Icom IC-706MKIIG for $400 so there are lots of good deals out there.

A friend just got an Icom 7200 and was complaining about its sensitivity to low voltage where its power output drops to about 60w at 11.5v (he runs on batteries) and the lack of FM for 10 and 6m. The Tentec Eagle mentioned earlier is a great radio, I have one but its probably not within your budget at over $2k with any options.

On the TVI issue, most people are using satellite or cable these days plus TV channels 2 through 6 no longer exist in the VHF band plus newer TVs are heavily shielded to keep in all the RFI they generate, so TVI is mostly a thing of the past. I can run full legal limit on all HF bands with my dipole 20ft over the house and nothing gets interference.
prcguy
 

N4SZO

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I would loose the slinky and if you have the space look at a ZS6BKw dipole which will cover 40, 20, 17, 12, 10 and 6m with a fairly good match without a tuner. With a tuner it works very well on 80m since its a good 70% the size of a half wave dipole there. Google the antenna to find dimensions and building info and its best to tune it with an antenna analyzer once its installed.

You can make a ZS6BKW for the cost of 100ft of wire and 50ft of 450 ohm ladder line or TV twinlead plus a used 1:1 choke balun off Ebay for usually under $20. I have used a lot of antennas over the last 40yrs and the ZS6BKW is now my favorite.

Have you considered a used radio? You can really save a lot and get a lot more radio than your budget will allow compared to a new radio. Some of the last used radios I've purchased are a Yaesu FT-857 for $400 and an Icom IC-706MKIIG for $400 so there are lots of good deals out there.

A friend just got an Icom 7200 and was complaining about its sensitivity to low voltage where its power output drops to about 60w at 11.5v (he runs on batteries) and the lack of FM for 10 and 6m. The Tentec Eagle mentioned earlier is a great radio, I have one but its probably not within your budget at over $2k with any options.

On the TVI issue, most people are using satellite or cable these days plus TV channels 2 through 6 no longer exist in the VHF band plus newer TVs are heavily shielded to keep in all the RFI they generate, so TVI is mostly a thing of the past. I can run full legal limit on all HF bands with my dipole 20ft over the house and nothing gets interference.
prcguy
Hi,
I looked at this antenna, but the issues I see with it is that that it will require the center to be about 40 feet off the ground in the middle of my back yard. I would have the latter line/coax just hanging to the ground and I don't think my mower would like that :)

What I could do beyond the slinky is to end feed something. That is have the coax end mounted on the eve and then just run a wire only out to a tree. I did something like this many years ago but I had a rohn 25 to act as the other leg and not sure a tv mask would work as well.


Yes I would go used as long as it is clean. I did just get a clean 101 so I am good for the moment once I get my antenna system up and going.

73...
 

prcguy

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You can run the ZS6BKW ladder line sideways to your house and if you don't have a metal roof you can lay the ladder line on the roof to the shack. I just set one up this morning for a friend who already had coax run to his garage roof so he just made a big loop with the ladder line on the garage roof and kept it away from anything metal.

End fed half wave antennas work great and you can make the 64:1 (or so) transformer for just a few $$ in the 100w range. A 66ft length of wire will then tune 40, 20 and 10m very nice-. I use these for travel and camping.
prcguy

Hi,
I looked at this antenna, but the issues I see with it is that that it will require the center to be about 40 feet off the ground in the middle of my back yard. I would have the latter line/coax just hanging to the ground and I don't think my mower would like that :)

What I could do beyond the slinky is to end feed something. That is have the coax end mounted on the eve and then just run a wire only out to a tree. I did something like this many years ago but I had a rohn 25 to act as the other leg and not sure a tv mask would work as well.


Yes I would go used as long as it is clean. I did just get a clean 101 so I am good for the moment once I get my antenna system up and going.

73...
 

wbswetnam

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Alinco DX-SR8T $530 at HRO.
I am also looking into HF rigs, and I considered the Alinco DX-SR8T. it seems simple to operate and very low-priced. But, this Chinese-made rig has a LOT of complaints from users on eHam and YouTube about shoddy construction and frequent breakdowns. As for me, I'd rather pay twice the money and get a quality product. As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."
 

N4SZO

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You can run the ZS6BKW ladder line sideways to your house and if you don't have a metal roof you can lay the ladder line on the roof to the shack. I just set one up this morning for a friend who already had coax run to his garage roof so he just made a big loop with the ladder line on the garage roof and kept it away from anything metal.

End fed half wave antennas work great and you can make the 64:1 (or so) transformer for just a few $$ in the 100w range. A 66ft length of wire will then tune 40, 20 and 10m very nice-. I use these for travel and camping.
prcguy
So you can just throw the ladder line anywhere, as long as it is not metal? How about on the ground? That doesn't seem right ...

For the endfeed , don't you need a ground? Seems like I had to put the shield side of the coax to my tower for it to work correctly.
 
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