ICQ Podcast Episode 262 - Upgrading To Your Next Radio

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by M1MRB, Mar 18, 2018.

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  1. WA2LXB

    WA2LXB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  2. KS3O

    KS3O XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think this will be the "year of the hex beam" at my house. Better antennas is the way to go for me. I want a nicer rig, but until I have better antennas in the air, I could have the best receiver made, but it will make little difference without better antennas.
    KK5R, G0KVL, N6RGR and 3 others like this.
  3. KB2QQM

    KB2QQM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just chose to upgrade my Station this year. I have been using a 1983 Ten Tec Omni D for the last 8 years. It still works great, but I wanted something that could connect to my computer(s), and I looked long and hard for radios. I wanted a Portable Rugged Radio that I could take portable and have at least 10 watts of power, and then go back home, turn the power down to milliwats to feed an Amp. All of the radios I looked at just do not fit the bill for rugged. The 817ND is nice but it's 5 watts. The Elad FM-Duo, great radio, but it's not rugged enough. The Xiegu, well I'm not paying $700 for Chinese MFJ. The LNR Precision Radios are really nice, but again, the form factor is not rugged enough. They would be rugged enough if the builder of RadioSetGo.com built them into a Box for transport and use. That would be a great radio then. I was hopeful the Yaesu Ft818 would come out and be 10-15 watts. 6 Watts !!? 6 Watts works great on a salt water beach in a DX entity, but not in North America. I also wanted to be able to have the radio set up as an SDR radio and take advantage of digital modes with one USB cable. Honestly, The KX2/3 radios are nice, but their form factor is not that rugged, but their operation and thought behind them is fantastic. Their resale value is also high. I also looked at the TenTec Argonaut. The best bet these days for a portable and home radio is the Yaesu FT-891. You can have one for under $700 and it beats the pants off the Icom 718. I also looked at the Alinco HF radios and wondered why they are still in business.

    I opted to just buy a home radio, the Icom 7300. $1149. It is absolutely amazing that you can buy a full featured radio like the 7300 for less than $1200. I went to HRO in Milwaukee and sat down and operated the all the radios. I looked at the Yaesu FTdx1200, FTdx3000 ($1600), the Icom 7300, and the Kenwood TS590SG $1300. HRO also had a TenTec Omni VI used at another store, but I didn't operate it. I think they wanted $1000 for it. I wish HRO would sell Ten Tec Gear.

    The Yaesu Radios are great radios. the FTdx3000 is never leaving your shack. It's as big as my old Yaesu FT1000MP. It makes everything visual for working phone on split and such. The Icom 7300 is a fun radio to look at. The Front Panadapter visual is nice for scanning the bands looking for DX. The Menu system is deep. This is the first radio I had to read the entire manual to figure out what everything is and does. It is Complex as hell, but once you get everything set up, you can just pop around and do what you need. The weird thing about the Power settings though, everything but AM, is 2-100 watts selectable. As a QRP nerd, I wanted complete control, down to a watt, but oh well. 2 watts will have to be the bottom. Digitally with software in the digital modes you can reduce your power down to milliwatts through a digital power reducer slider that can reduce your 2 watts down to milliwatts by not driving the soundcard as hard for your digital output. I had fun last night on the 7300 trying out FT8 and using only 0.100 watts on 80 and 160m. It was amazing. Anyway. The Kenwood was also awesome. It had everything the Icom 7300 had but not in a new streaming signal output on screen. Buy the Kenwood if you want the old style radio and not a crapload of menu's. I also liked the Digital display on the Kenwood. Of all the radios I looked at, the Kenwood was the easiest on the eyes visually. At almost 53, I have to wear glasses (no, not the ones in my gag photo..) to see the Icom. The Kenwood Display is easy to read. IF you are a CW op, the Icom 7300 transmit relay for full break-in sounds like 2 people playing Ping Pong. It's utterly ridiculous. The 1983 TenTec Omni D, has better full break in. Omg, it's terrible. If you are a cw op the 7300 is not for you, unless you don't mind hearing between sending.

    There are so many options out there these days. The used market is also a treasure trove of radio. Good Luck, I just wanted to share my long winded insights into choosing a new radio. 73 Greg
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
    KK5R, KA2K and M0TCH like this.
  4. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    For a long time any transceiver is more than enough for any ham, except snobs and so-called sportsmans. It makes no sense to change a properly working transceiver. Even if yours one is twenty-therty years old you can alinement it and use further. It is better to improve the antennas.
    I do not know of any reason why I should change my perfectly made ICOM 756pro3 and 706mk2g to new ones.
    W4QBQ, W3JJW and G0KVL like this.
  5. WA2LXB

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    7300 is a Swiss Army knife IMO. I unplug it from the shack and take it to field day in a 19" rack enclosure with other goodies. I'm considering fastening the 7300 mobile mount through a backpack canvas and into the external frame of a Kelty pack to make it portable.

    The KX3 is a great 1.3 lb radio with dual watch, it's light weight, can be fitted with an internal tuner and is very tolerant of low battery voltages, but it's only 10 watts. You can add a 100W amplifier with a tuner built in, but now the weight is 8.3 lbs total.

    The QRP folks I associate with like to have 20 watts in the field. The 857D with an LDG tuner is a good combination, and is about 6lbs with tuner compared to the 7300's 9.6 lbs. But you don't get a band scope, it doesn't show up on Sherwood Engineering's reviews, and the screen is even worse for old eyes than the 7300.

    One other way to make 10 watts go farther is to build and carry higher gain, light weight wire antennas when portable to enhance ERP. Wire beams, V beams, rhombics, etc. can all be light weight and portable.
    KK5R and KB2QQM like this.
  6. K2CAJ

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    I don't plan to get a new or better transceiver, and I do plan to spend my limited budget on antenna building and my mast.

    That being said, it may be a good time to buy a used Tx when propagation is super low, and people are grumbling about everything being dead and worthless.
    WA2LXB likes this.
  7. AJ4LN

    AJ4LN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm content with my Kenwood TS-590S with simple receive out mod and SDRPlay RSP1 panadapter with HDSDR software, and with external audio amp and high quality speaker, and with low phase noise TCXO and voice modules added. I don't plan to upgrade my main radio any time soon, though upgrades/changes to other station items are always an option. I had upgraded a while ago from a TS-570DG, which we now use as one of our field day radios.
    WA2LXB likes this.
  8. KB2QQM

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    The only reason maybe to upgrade is for service, and an increase in receiver selectivity. Will those radios be serviceable going forward. I upgraded because I wanted my radio to be able to work with my computer and the newer radios have built in DSP that is to die for. No more buying expensive crystal filters for all the bandwidths. You are right though, its more important to replace feedlines and antennas.
    AJ4LN, KK5R and WA2LXB like this.
  9. KB2QQM

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    KK5R likes this.
  10. DL1MEV

    DL1MEV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Receiver technology for the classic modes like CW or SSB is not the issue anymore. The passing away of a lot of AM- broadcaststations has even relieved the large-signal-handling-requirement for ham-receivers. Today the challenges are on other fields: Antenna-restrictions all over the world, may these be HOA, lack of space due to exploding prices for land, PLC, switching- power- supplies of all kinds.

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