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Best entry level HF rig

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KD8IEL, Nov 16, 2009.

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  1. KD8IEL

    KD8IEL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am pretty much a newbie to Ham radio, but I have been studying for my General ticket. There are very few local hams I can talk to in person about their HF equipment, so I am posting here for help.

    For entry level what are your opinions on the best all around HF rig, new or used. Like most of us these days money is tight so that is a consideration, maybe in the $300.00 to $700.00 range.

    Thank all of you in advance for your replies.

  2. N3XP

    N3XP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh man is this the tough question. You will get a thousand answers. I am a fan of new radios. I don't want something someone else has used and abused. I am a fan of Yaesu gear. I have had great luck with Yaesu. There are some great deals on both new and used both the 897 and 857. Both do 160-70cm, all modes. Not really great at any one thing. But both a great at doing a lot of thing well.
  3. KC6RHE

    KC6RHE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I will say the ICOM IC-718 but if you want more bands and modes then you are looking at more money if buying new.

    I would recommend used and in that price range you can get alot of radio for the money.
  4. KD0EAH

    KD0EAH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got my General ticket in Feb 2009. I shortly there after bought an Icom 718 for my first HF radio.

    It's allowed me to get on the air, work DX Phone and PSK31. Still have a lot to learn, but it's a first radio.

    I got mine off QRZ'd for ~$450. Well worth the money.

    Understand that you will need a power supply and a tuner to go with it, and when I added it all up, it was another $200 to put it on the air with a 80M dipole in the trees across the back yard. But it plays nice.

    So for ~$650 I got into my HF rig.
  5. N5YPJ

    N5YPJ QRZ Moderator QRZ Page

    IF you could stretch your budget a little more then the Yaesu Ft-897D is a darned nice rig.

    If not then the IC-718 is well within your budget and a good buy.

    Used gear can be good, you do have to be cautious in buying used gear while there are some folks out there who do take really good care of their gear there are some who don't. If you do go used maybe an elmer could steer you on to something locally that he knows to be good.

    Have fun!
  6. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Ronnie,

    Like just about anything, it's a matter of opinion. Some like simple while others like to have ALL the bells & whistles. Some like only the latest while others prefer olde gear. Some are brand-loyal while others aren't.

    Without getting specific, I'd advise you find something relatively inexpensive and recent. It'll still have lots of life in it and, many accessory items can still be had. If/when you decide you need or want something else, you'll still be able to sell it. If/when you need to have it serviced, you should be able to find someone (and the parts) to repair it. If, down the road, it's still working, you can use it as a backup or mobile rig.

    Start by defining your budget -- ask yourself how much radio you can afford. Then, read all the reviews you can find regarding rigs you can afford. Choose the one(s) you think you might like, and then look for one that's in your budget. I did just that when looking for another rig and am as happy as a pig in slop! :D

    Bryan WA7PRC
  7. G7LPK

    G7LPK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, I have just bought my first HF radio....a Kenwood TS 570 DG with matching base mic and matching speaker off ebay for £500. I find it a nice radio to use and not too complicated to set up, it gives between 5 and 100 Watts output power. Made my first USA contact on 17m only a few days ago.
    I know you take a risk on ebay, but to be honest if you want to grab a bargain and do your homework you should be ok.
    73. Ray.
  8. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    Hands down the Yaesu FT-450. I have had this radio since Feb when I was licensed. I have worked Field day and spoken around the globe. I feel no need to upgrade because for my amount of operating and the price tag. this radio is it.

    By all means check out a review ive done on the radio when i was brand new, and maybe some of my other radios and get a feel for it.

    Good luck on your decision =) pretty much no matter what you pick you will enjoy it
  9. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a huge proponent of the Yaesu FT-857D. The same rig as the FT-897 and offers the same flexibility for less money.

    The IC-718 and IC-706 are good rigs for the same money, used, but having owned all but the FT-897D I feel the FT-857D is a better deal.

    If you buy the FT-897D, you can also get some very overpriced batteries or a power supply to put inside.

    My buddy just sold a very nice FT-857D for $475 here on DA ZED.

    If power supply issues are a problem for you, Consider a good Car/Marine Battery with a trickle charger. There are hundreds who will tell you this won't work. I used one for 2 years and it makes great battery back-up.

    Stick a fan dipole out in the yard and tune it correctly and you won't even need a tuner.
    M6DJG likes this.
  10. PH5E

    PH5E Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm also very happy with my Yaesu FT-450. I have the version without ATU, figuring an external tuner would give me more flexibility. Also, I had planned to build my own tuner (that project is still in its start-up fase, but that's an other story).
    But the FT-450 is just excellent!
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