HF rig for a beginner

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by VU3BRE, Jun 27, 2014.

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  1. VU3BRE

    VU3BRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Old Man's and Young Ladies,

    I know there is lot of stuff on internet regarding beginner radios. But, I have a different question here. After I receive my call sign, I am doing QSO's from local club stations, hence I don't have any knowledge of installing and maintaining a kit. For VHF/UHF I own a hand held and it's pretty good for my purpose.

    Now, I am very eager to own a HF rig myself and get on air. I do lot of travelling, hence digging and setting up antennas is not possible at all homes. So, I need a rig which is very easy to install and operate with minimum accessories.

    For this purpose, I see a lot about FT-817ND and TS-480SAT, which one should I have to go for? I don't know much about antennas, so which suits better for me? My major interest here is HF and DXing. Apart from these radios are there any other alternatives?

  2. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The TS480SAT. The FT817 is low power - only 5W so without experience of HF bands and with compromise antennas it becomes an exercise in frustration. It has no ATU, has a poor front end and is intensively menu driven so is a steep learning curve. A TS480SAT performs well out of the box, is bomb proof, pretty much all the functions you need to access are on the front panel and the rest are in human readable menu entries.

    For antennas, you can't go wrong starting with the simple dipole. Easy and cheap to build your own and for a single wire antenna give pretty much the best performance. You could put one up in an inverted V pattern, supporting the centre by a telescopic crappie pole. If I were to concentrate on one band for DX it would be the 20m band so you're looking at a dipole 33ft long in total.

    Power supplies. Despite what the old timers say, there's nothing wrong with a small 23-30A Switch Mode PSU, just get a decent make one. I use one when I'm contesting and in fact prefer it to the linear PSU it replaced as it runs far quieter. I run one on my Flex 6500 and can see no noise from it in the waterfall. The Switch Mode PSUs are infinitely lighter than the linear ones which is also something you need consider if you do a lot of travelling. A 30A linear PSU is going to weigh around 20lb compared to 3-4lb for a switch mode.

    As for other radios there's plenty but it depends on your budget. A Kenwood TS590S would be a good next step up and still be portable enough to move about.
  3. VU3BRE

    VU3BRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for your suggestions Conor. Yeah, this seems reasonable and pretty simple to install. I have been looking for a switching power supply and there are two variants of current, during peak and continuous. So, for TS-480SAT should the peak be 23-30A or continuous? I see this Astron SS-25, will it work? https://www.hamcity.com/store/pc/SS-25-p361.htm
  4. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd Reccommend the ICOM IC-718, no complicated menus, no tune up. Just squeeze the PICKLE and TALK! It is easily the most user friendly radio on the market!
  5. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    by the way since we have U online, Do U know what CHANNA MASSALA is? I eat it every day for lunch! Also known as CHOLE
  6. VU3BRE

    VU3BRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Patrick, I will have a look at it, I prefer buying via online stores and finding 718 model is bit complicated. While searching for it, I came across FT-450D, and it just added up to my confusion. Now, trying hard to find the differences.

    BTW, Chanaa Masala is too good and spicy, but eating every day is too much :)
  7. KD4MOJ

    KD4MOJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    +1 on the 718.

  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Have you looked at the Elecraft KX3 or K3? Either one would be a near ideal travel radio. The small KX3 is 10 watts, the K3 100, but you can buy an optional 100 watt amplifier for the KX3, and there are less expensive ones out there than the Elecraft amps, too. The K3 is actually pretty small, too.

    Both of these radios have outstanding receivers in them.

    Another very small radio with excellent receive performance would be the Ten Tec Eagle.

    I believe all of these radios have internal antenna tuners as an option or standard. That would be a nice thing to have for portable work. The KX3 can run on internal batteries, too.
  9. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    23A continuous is fine. That's basically what the peak draw is of the TS480. The Astron is fine.
  10. KF7VXA

    KF7VXA Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Yaesu 450 is a pretty hard rig to beat for the $$$. They can be found for very good prices used and will do just about anything you need. There are better radio's, but for the price of a used rig, you won't find much better. Not too big, not too small. The menu is easy to use and they require about 22 amps to run.
    Lots of good radios out there, but if price is a consideration, the FT450 or FT450D would be an excellent choice.
    Pretty good specs for a low priced radio also. It's not a top DX or contesting rig, but I sure have made many great DX contacts with mine.
    No matter which rig you decide on, your antenna is really the heart of the system, so choose wisely.
    I'm at the point that I'd like to upgrade, but a better antenna would yield far better results. I'm looking at building a Hex Beam.
    I wanted antennas that were easy to use, with little maint required, so my first was a Gap Challenger vertical. The Challenger is a little down from some on the high bands and better than others some others. 20, 40 and 130 KHz of the 80 meter band make it a good for DX, and the high bands work great when the bands are open, the lower bands are as good as any multi band vertical. I also have a 20/40 dipole, which I find is quieter, but does not always get as much DX as the vertical. The Gap has almost nothing to go wrong with it, an antenna that will last many years with no work having to be done to it, and no antenna tuner is needed with it either on any of it's bands.
    There are other verticals that work a little better on the high bands, but many require tuning and weather will make mait something that must be done on a regular basis. The trade off was worth it to me and as much as I love the high bands, the Hex beam will out do any multi band vertical or dipole antenna for a price much less overall than a yagi on an expensive tower with an expensive rotator.
    The Gap and the dipole work great on the lower bands. There are trade offs to any antenna, so do some checking, figure just what your goal is and go from there. It's well worth having several antennas if you have the room. A multi band vertical takes little room and the Gap requires only 3 twenty five foot counterpoise wires, not 40+ for best operation. The hex Beam also requires little room and a 20/40 dipole is very doable, if space is a problem, build or buy something like the Alpha Delta trapped dipole, takes very little room.
    Building one yourself can save a lot of $$$.
    Have fun and congrats on the upgrade.

    73's John
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