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Good Beginner HF Rig

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by N7IFU, May 31, 2010.

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  1. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Everyone,
    I will be taking my General exam soon. I want to start transmitting on HF, but I don't know a good rig. Could someone please guide me in the right direction for a decent, inexpensive HF rig for a beginner like me. Budget is tight though. So can't be in the $800s or above. I was thinking about the FT-857D because if you read my bio, that is my dream radio. What do you guys think? Thanks so much.

    Dustin K7RPG:):):):):):):):)
  2. KC9BNW

    KC9BNW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Greetings Dustin,

    A great many folks love the FT-857D/897D line - for they are easy to use, and cover much of the spectrum. However, some people prefer separate radios for MF/HF and VHF/UHF. You have part of the upper frequencies already covered; therefore, a dedicated HF rig might appeal to you. But, like so much in life, in the compromise, you lose some portability that may be important to you (picnic/backpacking/camping/etc).

    If you go the FT-857D route, I would look for a bargain from one of the major suppliers, or find a gently and lovingly used rig. This will allow some leftover money to start experimenting with antennas. As they say, ask a thousand people, get a thousand different answers.

  3. W6SO

    W6SO Guest

    Dustin -

    You have sort of answered your own question. There is nothing wrong with the FT-857D if that is what you want and it looks to be in your price range if you shop carefully. Even more so if you are able to find one used.

    The real question is what YOU want in a rig, since for up to $800 you can get a very good radio, again particularly if you shop for a used one. If you like Yaesu equipment, I think I would be more inclined towards the FT-450, mostly because I prefer a table rig rather than one that is more of a mobile design. If you do not limit yourself to Yaesu, then you can find a very wide range of equipment available in your price range, both new and used.

    Perhaps the best advice I can offer is to consider your needs and interests carefully and then shop for the best price you can find. Also remember to save some money for the antenna, whether you choose to buy one or build it yourself.

    Good luck with your exam,
  4. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Kenwood TS-480 is a very good HF+6 radio and very easy to learn. Everything you need is on the front panel unlike the Ft-857 where everything is in menus. Also the display is far larger and easier to read and there's no having to remember what a particular onscreen icon does because the TS480 uses words instead of symbols.

    If you want a proper desk filler, a used TS-850 will serve you well. They're knocking on now but were contest class radios back in the day and still serve well. They can be hooked up to a computer or SDR as well.
  5. W9PSK

    W9PSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    How much of that $800 do you plan on spending on antennas and whatnot? You could buy a G5RV, but then you'd need a tuner. Well, you are going to need a tuner anyway, unless you can put up an antenna farm, which would wipe out your $800 faster than you can imagine.

    My suggestion would be to look for an older HF rig-something you could get for $350 or so. I got my IC-735 for less than that and it works great. Then you'd have some money for a tuner, power supply, and a couple of different antennas you could experiment with.

    If you play your cards right, you could get a used HF rig, a used dual band VHF/UHF rig, the power supply, a used tuner, a G5RV, and a dual band antenna. There's plenty of time for that dream radio. KWIM?
  6. KC8AHN

    KC8AHN Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you are going to use your rig both mobile and base, or as a mobile only, the 857 is the way to go. It is smaller, and has the removeable face. It is a nice radio and a good price

    Having said that, I am a new General and I opted for the FT450, it is cheaper than the 857 so it left me some money for the power supply and antenna, it has IF-DSP and other newer features that are not in the 857. It works great for my purpose and that is a desktop radio.

    Remember the radio is only a small part of your station, you need the power supply, tuner and more important, an antenna.
  7. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would have to agree with most of the others the FT-450 would be a perfect fit for you just for :

    It is a desk top radio

    It is a newer design

    Plus HF and 6m

    I tend to avoid a shack in box combining all your radios together because if one goes down you have nothing. I take it you must have a 2m rig now use it and the rest of your money use for a HF radio only.

    I do have several Icom 7000's and they are great radios they are a much better radio than the FT-857 and I'm a Yaesu man but the cost is more than you want to spend. I use one mobile and the other in a (Go KIT) and for field day.

    But one thing to remember antennas, antennas, antennas and good coax. You can have the greatest radio in the world if not connected to a good antenna a cheap radio with a great antenna will out preform it every time.

    Good luck and welcome to the world of HF real radio :)
  8. W6CD

    W6CD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kenwood TS-480-AT

    • Well featured
    • Good audio reports
    • Great for digital or remote control
    • Good value for the features/performance
    • Easy to use, small desk footprint
    • Mobile/portable operation

    IMHO -
  9. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    If it is your dream radio, why not live the dream???
  10. 2W0CSS

    2W0CSS Ham Member QRZ Page

    All of those could be used to describe an 857 as well. IMO
  11. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page


    I think you have the answer in your hand - you want an 857, why not get one? IMHO it's a bit small for my large hands so I got an 897, which I use as a portable radio.

    You did say "Starter Radio", so that's good, you will likely upgrade eventually, but an 857 would serve as a good mobile in the future if that is the case.

    Others mentioned budgeting for other needed hardware, PS, Antenna tuner, feedlines and antenna wire, insulators, etc.

    Good thing about that radio is that there are a lot of them out there, you should look for a used one to stretch your budget some.

    However, I also suggest that there are plenty of other used radios out there - depending on where you live, you might find a good deal at a hamfest. Do you have an Elmer who could help you out with that?
  12. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you VERY much. I am currently looking for a bargain like you said. Thanks again!
  13. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you! I will look into the FT-450 as I am not currently familiar with it. I am not limiting myself to Yaesu, but I have heard many good things and owning three radios from them myself, I am impressed. Thanks again!
  14. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for your advice. I have heard but don't know much about the TS-480. I like the look of that radio but have never used it. I will try it out sometime at Ham Radio Outlet. Thanks again!
  15. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for your advice! I am not familiar with the IC-735. And I already have a VHF/UHF antenna from Arrow. I don't need a 30 ft tall antenna but just something decent and that works. I looked up a couple of images of the G5RV on Google and I think I like it. Do you know the MSRP? Thanks, Dustin.
  16. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree. I will look into the FT-450, sounds like many people like it. I have a power supply, Samlex 1223, 20A. Will that work. As I said above, I will do some research as far as antennas go but I need a tuner. Thanks so much for your advice!!!
  17. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you very much! I haven't operated an HF rig yet so I am not sure of what they can do. But I trust everyone on here more then myself in this matter at least. Thank you!
  18. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks! Will research it!
  19. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Money. I was planning on having my mother, dad, etc. help me out. And then let my family use it as well if they want. Specifically my dad because he and I are the only hams in the family.
  20. N7IFU

    N7IFU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think I am kind of leaning towards the FT-450 based on everyone's response. As I said above, money is why I cannot get the FT-857D. I wasn't planning on getting a new radio right away anyway. Thanks!
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