Best entry level HF rig

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

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  1. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Only on 20M and up! All the action, all day long is on 40M and 75M. The easiest and cheapest way to do that is wire. Put it where you can, the higher the better.

    Whats a tower? :D
  2. N0SYA

    N0SYA Ham Member QRZ Page

    my short list of cheap ($300 to $700ish) used decent (adequate dynamic range) beginner rigs:

    IC751A, IC735, IC745, IC761/765, IC738

    TS430 thru 570
    TS940, TS950, TS850

    FT890, FT747, FT767, FT450

    the ft747 is a simple and rugged rig, has crystal filters for each mode, and if you don't move it, it will last a long time, should come in on the low end at around $250 or so
  3. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    Actually, my first rig at home was a HeathKit HW101. It was given to me by the fellow that convinced me to take my test. It served me well and was given to another new ham who, I assume, passed it on to another. Hopefully that rig is still in circulation.

  4. K2QI

    K2QI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd second any of the lower end Yaesu's as well; the FT-897 is a great all-in-one package that can be made portable/mobile if desired.
  5. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would rate these above just adequate. :)

    IC751A, IC761/765

    TS940, TS950, TS850

    These are top end rigs, that hold there own with anything made today. And are superior to the current "beginners radio", whatever that is.

    Maybe they don't have DSP, bandscopes, and 300 sub menus, but they are fine radios.

    The IC-751A is also one of the most bullet proof rigs ever made. Many of them will still be on the air, when some of the newer stuff is salvaged for parts.

    Good luck finding a TS-950 that isn't more then a new "beginner rig". An SDX will bring $2000 or more.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  6. K4AX

    K4AX XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    TS940, TS950, TS850*

    These would be in my consideration, those most will run you all of 600.

    I saw a FT-920 the other day for 600, that was a great rig!
  7. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    You should have grabbed that one, they usualy bring $800-900.

    The FT-920 is a real sleeper. The audio and ergonomics are great. The DSP is also very good. My wife has her second 920, after making the mistake of selling the first one.

    My MK-V is a bit better, but not by much, other then I have a lot of filters in it.

    If I had no HF rigs, and had $600-800 to spent, I would look no farther then an FT-920 or TS-850SAT. I'd give the edge to the TS-850SAT. :)
  8. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was a Tech I mentioned I was studying for my General to KA9NRT and WD9IWN on 2M one night.
    KA9NRT gave me a HW-101 that didn't work and a SB-300 Receiver that worked wonderfully.
    WD9IWN gave me a Butternut HF-9V.
    Both of these guys gave me allot of advice and help. WD9IWN even came to my house and put my VHF/UHF array back on the roof when it was taken down in an ice storm.

    When I got my General, I fixed that old HW-101 and ran it for about a month when I bought another old rig.

    I gave that HW-101 away to a new ham. He got some use out of it, and one night while he was talking to me on 75M it slowly drifted off frequency and away. That was the last I heard of that rig. He traded it to a guy for a Kenwood TS-830.

    Ham radio and Ham Radio Operators have been mighty good to me.

    KDOHDH Guest

    I agree with you. I am working on getting my general ticket as well sometime in the future and if I'm gonna spend THAT much money for another rig, I want something that I know will work. BTW, I am a Yaesu fan too. Have had nothing but good luck with my UHF/VHF radios. I originally was looking at the 817D because it's extremely portable and can operate on batteries if necessary but am not sure it has everything I'll want in an HF rig-maybe the 857 would be better. It's more expensive but may be a better buy in the long run....don't know yet.
  10. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wouldn't suggest an FT-817D as a first HF rig. I have one with dual Collins filters and the DSP board, and it is great for portable.

    BUT, with 5W it isn't going to do much on SSB. On CW and PSK31, I have lots of contacts. On SSB, it is a challenge. The other thing to consider, is that the FT-817 will work on batteries, but it is a power hog. Even 2400 mAH cells don't last long. I use mine on an external 7AH.

    As a Yaesu fan, you might want to look at an FT-450. It is a very advanced IF DSP radio for it's price. It will also run on an external gell battery, and has a pretty good receiver for $810. I am an analog fan, but with the FT-450, you wont have to buy any filters, and you wont have any serious overload if you hook it to a good antenna.
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