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Best portable hf rig

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N1QWI, May 2, 2015.

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  1. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm going to go against the grain....

    The Kenwood TS 480 actually offers better portability, when you take a stand back and think about it.

    With it's main body and detachable control head, it's a breeze to operate when portable. No need to carry external antenna tuners, one is built in. No portable amplifier to lug around, as it can run 5 watts QRP, or you can ramp it up to 100 watts from the front control panel.

    Much better specs than most portable "rigs of yesterday."

    It's also plug and play ready for digital operation, and it can even be interfaced with a smartphone.

    Intuitive and uncrowded controls on the front panel are easy to operate and see, it has the same size display as a TS-2000, and with buttons that light up in the dark, this makes the TS 480 the perfect companion to use at the picnic table or during a Dxpedition.


    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
    K8TDN and N1QWI like this.
  2. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree. I have owned a 480 for over 5 years and if I was going to do portable it would be my choice too.
  3. W7ARX

    W7ARX Guest

    All those listed and discussed, I don't think you would go wrong with any of them...main thing is, which one appeals to you, then go out and have fun!
  4. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I want a TS480S to replace the ICOM 706MK2 in the TOWN CAR, but dollars are HARD to come by these days. I saw one go for $300 at the HRO swapmeet and that was a HX version! WISH I could have nailed that! I will never see one for even TWICE that price again!
  5. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    That would of been a sweet deal. I have the SAT and for portable it is a better deal I think because you only have to have a reasonable resonant portable antenna as it has a built in tuner vs a rig like a 857 needs a external tuner unless antenna is well matched and have to carry a tuner adds to complexity and size of carry.
  6. N0SYA

    N0SYA Ham Member QRZ Page

    IC-706, IC-703, IC-7200. The 706 is 100w out on hf and 6m and also does 2m and 70cm, 703 is qrp so battery operation can last a while and it also has a built in transmatch, the 7200 is a smallish 100w rig built for outdoorsy operating.
  7. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    When a rig has 2m and 440 support compromises are made in HF performance to hit a price point. Shack in a box rarely have good HF performance or built in tuners meaning you have to carry a tuner of some sort too. At least with a rig with a built in tuner, it might be a big bigger and heavier but there is not need to carry a tuner too as long as you have a reasonably resonant (under 3 to 1 SWR or so) antenna simplifying setups.
    N1QWI likes this.
  8. AF6MC

    AF6MC Ham Member QRZ Page

    The best all around radio I can think of is the Yaesu FT-857D. Its small a bit pricy at around $850 but it drops to 5W's and on full power it goes up to 100 W's. Its also an all mode radio that covers 160 M's to 70 cm's. All in all its a nice radio. If you hook a SignaLink or others of its ilk, you can do digital communications.

    I looked at the price of the other radios and this seems to be the best all around. Cheaper than most radio's in its class. Some don't cover VHF or UHF.

    73, WY6L
  9. AF6MC

    AF6MC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I forgot that it does not have an internal tuner but I picked up the YT-100 from LDG. Look of the tuner on eHam. I attached a cable to it and can tune in the front seat while the tuner and radio is in the back of the SUV.

    I prefer small and portable. If its QRP your mostly interested in go with the FT-817. One fine radio.

    73, WY6L
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I also have an FT 817, but there's situations where you need more when working portable.

    First thing you start thinking about is adding an external antenna tuner.

    Next thing is adding a portable HF pack type amplifier, so your FT 817 will do more power.

    Then you need to add some kind of interface box to operate digital modes.

    Now you're in the price range of a 100 watt TS 480, but you are actually carrying more equipment to achieve the same thing that's already built into the TS 480.

    Of course a TS 480 is also way nicer to operate than those tiny crammed buttons on the FT 817.

    In terms of VHF/UHF here's what actually happens when you are out in the woods. When travelling with someone else, you need a way to quickly communicate with one another. In reality, you can't do that very well with a portable tranciever hanging around your neck. Even an FT 817 would be extremely awkward to operate while walking along the trails. What you really need are a couple of $29 dual band HT's so everyone can talk to one another in the woods. At base camp, you just use one of the HT's for any VHF/UHF operation needs. So it's not really needed to have VHF/UHF capability in the portable HF transceiver itself.
    WB4M likes this.

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