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Offline metrologist

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Looking at ham radio?
« on: October 17, 2017, 08:52:45 AM »
A coworker wants to get into ham radio - shortwave/HF mostly... Always starts with the equipment so wanted to toss out a few x-ceivers to consider. For emergency end of world comms...

The only entry-level radios I recall are the ICOM IC-718, Kenwood TS-480SAT, and YAESU FT-450D. Any opinion on these or others?

What happened to Flex radio? I thought they had something around a kilobuck? The cheapest thing I come across now is over $4 grandages.!?

What's a Hermes PCB? Cheap at gigaparts.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2017, 09:21:26 AM »
IMO the best entry level/value rig is the Icom 7300, you really get a bunch for your money, about $1300.

Offline Johncanfield

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2017, 09:22:28 AM »
He could start with a cheap SDR. There's not much out there on shortwave broadcast and propagation is lousy.

John - WB5THT
 
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Offline denverpilot

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2017, 11:36:33 AM »
Flex got real proud of their stuff. Granted, they make nice kit, but the market would bear the price, so up it went.

It really depends a lot on what he wants to do... there’s all sorts of good used rigs out there cheap for HF stuff.

For a beginner who knows they’re headed for licenses and classes that will get them on HF, AND has a reasonably big budget to buy new or used, I’m somewhat partial to recommending the FT857D.

It’ll do nearly anything well enough they can try a bunch of aspects of the hobby, and buy more specialized kit after they find a niche they like. It’s not the best radio out there, but it is a Swiss Army Knife / Muiltitool that’ll do almost anything.

Sadly the monetary markets and the Japanese market/ inflation, have raised the price of that rig significantly over time.  I got my first one brand new for a little over $600. I inherited one from dad when he passed and I still use the original one also... they’re tanks, fairly portable, work well enough at almost every mode and band, and just keep going.

If someone really gets into the hobby and builds up a nice shack, they still work great as mobile HF rigs. So there’s never a job I can’t get done with an FT-857D. There’s jobs I can do marginally better with other rigs, but for a quick and dirty project, I reach for those radios.
 

Offline metrologist

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2017, 12:15:09 PM »
There is a used Alinco DX-SR8T for $325 here locally.

TS-820S for $295

FT-890 $275

TS- 130S W/ PS20 and D-104 lollipop mic $350

And I discovered a Icom IC-211 for $150, which is only interesting because I have my grandfather's IC-701 (Japanese version of the IC-710). This 2m rig has the same looks.



 

Offline borjam

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 04:56:28 PM »
The best value for money in my opinion are the Icom IC-7200 (It’s my rig) or the IC-7300.
 

Online CJay

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 06:30:06 PM »
A coworker wants to get into ham radio - shortwave/HF mostly... Always starts with the equipment so wanted to toss out a few x-ceivers to consider. For emergency end of world comms...

The only entry-level radios I recall are the ICOM IC-718, Kenwood TS-480SAT, and YAESU FT-450D. Any opinion on these or others?

What happened to Flex radio? I thought they had something around a kilobuck? The cheapest thing I come across now is over $4 grandages.!?

What's a Hermes PCB? Cheap at gigaparts.

For emergency comms then something like the 718 would be ideal, simple, robust, without all the bells and whistles and neck deep menus that so many hams seem to treasure over the actual activity of communicating (I mean, really? A touch screen?).

The main problem for an emergency comms unit is the lack of built in tuner.
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Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 10:32:02 PM »
Rigs like the IC718 & IC7300 are good beginner radios.  This guide to these and others may be helpful http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gateway/firsthf.htm

These need a 12v >20A low noise power supply to run at home. Plus (optionally) an antenna coupler.

There are also a lot of QRP rigs.  If your friend is practically inclined you can get on air for <$100 with a Bitx.  This is on 7 MHz only. While a good band it's no substitute for a multiband HF whose general coverage receiver is good for monitoring homebrew rigs etc.  More on the Bitx is at http://www.hfsigs.com/
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Offline medical-nerd

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 05:54:02 AM »
Hiya

If your friend is interested in something lasting for 'end of world' comms, wouldn't he be better suited looking at least at 'boat-anchor' receivers. These have lasted, he can still build up a stock of spares and valve receivers wouldn't be completely destroyed by an EM pulse. The transmitter, especially for QRP could be home brewed.

Cheers
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Offline denverpilot

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2017, 04:03:58 PM »
Hiya

If your friend is interested in something lasting for 'end of world' comms, wouldn't he be better suited looking at least at 'boat-anchor' receivers. These have lasted, he can still build up a stock of spares and valve receivers wouldn't be completely destroyed by an EM pulse. The transmitter, especially for QRP could be home brewed.

Cheers
Everyone always says they want Comm for the “end of the world” scenario.

Every tactical radioman or woman knows the transmitter is just a fancy homing device. “Here is where people have food, water, and electricity.”

Transmit. I dare ya. LOL. Just do it somewhere far away from me if I’m surviving somewhere. Thanks. :)

Doomsday Comm for me, is seeing if my wife and I can find a nice place to watch the mushroom cloud together from. Haha. Y’all can have the place after that happens. It ain’t gonna be fun anymore.

No DaveCAD even. Even though whoever made that software sure gets a lot of sucks of the salve from Dave. Sheesh. :)
 

Offline borjam

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2017, 07:49:56 PM »
For emergency comms then something like the 718 would be ideal, simple, robust, without all the bells and whistles and neck deep menus that so many hams seem to treasure over the actual activity of communicating (I mean, really? A touch screen?).
I prefer not to recommend the 718 because it has several limitations. If you need to grow, additional filters are expensive, while newer
SDR rigs like the IC-7200 or IC-7300 don't need them being software defined.

And if you want to play with digital modes both the IC-7200 and IC-7300 include a USB audio interface which makes it really simple
to connect them to a computer. Old rigs such as the 718 need an extra audio interface which will add some expense and make
everything much more complicated. Such audio interfaces for digital modes are not trivial to get right and some are quite pricey.


 

Offline OE2WHP

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2017, 10:26:05 PM »
I wouldn't recommend a boat anchor. These suckers may have held for a long time and are 'low tech' but they also have a high probability to fail when you need them most. They have built in hundreds of opportunities to fail. Aged, dried out caps, tin whiskers, relays with all kinds of contact issues, contact issues on all connectors and there are alot inside these old rigs, failing tubes, tube sockets, high voltage caps, out of spec voltage levels, just to name some of them. So, if you wanna take one of these for emmcomm, make sure it is 100% restored, checked and in mint condition. However, don't forget to stock some spareparts.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 10:28:39 PM by OE2WHP »
 

Online CJay

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2017, 11:21:53 PM »

I prefer not to recommend the 718 because it has several limitations. If you need to grow, additional filters are expensive, while newer
SDR rigs like the IC-7200 or IC-7300 don't need them being software defined.

"For emergency end of world comms..." was the requirement, 718 is a simple (very) 100W general coverage HF transceiver that is rugged, simple to use and fits the bill.

Totally agree that it's not an ideal radio if you want to progress much further but a decent second hand one with ATU, $400 (mine was less and came with a CW filter)

« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 12:11:40 AM by CJay »
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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2017, 11:44:03 PM »
FT-890 $275
That's what I own.... and in the limited air time I have had I managed to talk to the other side of the planet with a bit of wire strung down the garden.  [Mine is FT-890*AT*, includes aerial tuner]
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 11:47:04 PM by NivagSwerdna »
 

Offline metrologist

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 12:53:59 AM »
He's actually just a couple hours out of a big city, far enough into the country that cell comms are a bit of an issue anyway. Several years ago, it was thought there was a rift in the utilities/telecom industry and some field hands sabotaged a main fiber link, which brought the entire south county offline, including cell, for about a week. I gather it's more of a back-up comm device and something to provide entertainment, but emergency comm is a key factor.

I think the price of new equipment preempted any consideration and used is a bit dubious for him. I showed him the $25 SDR so I think he'll play with that.
 

Offline donmr

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 10:16:06 AM »
There is not much point in buying a radio for "emergency end of world comms".

If things go bad you will need to know what to do with the radio, how to string antennas, what bands work when......
You'll only know that if you have been doing it regularly as a hobby.

So buy a radio to use as a hobby or don't bother.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 05:40:00 AM by donmr »
 
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Offline K5HJ

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2017, 06:55:07 AM »
My 2 cents...

I have owned the IC-718, IC-7200, and IC-7300.

The 718 receiver sucks,  The AGC is horrible.
The 7200 is great.  No filters to buy. Good performance
The 7300 is wonderful.  That is what I am currently using.  Well worth the money.

After the 7300, my second choice would be the 7200.  Very rugged for portable operation.  You can find them used for a good price.

The 7300 touch screen and band scope will spoil you.

Randy K5HJ
 

Offline cdev

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2017, 10:01:00 AM »
Isn't tube equipment supposed to be "EMP-resistant" while everything solid state would be fried?


 :palm:


I wouldn't recommend a boat anchor. These suckers may have held for a long time and are 'low tech' but they also have a high probability to fail when you need them most. They have built in hundreds of opportunities to fail. Aged, dried out caps, tin whiskers, relays with all kinds of contact issues, contact issues on all connectors and there are alot inside these old rigs, failing tubes, tube sockets, high voltage caps, out of spec voltage levels, just to name some of them. So, if you wanna take one of these for emmcomm, make sure it is 100% restored, checked and in mint condition. However, don't forget to stock some spareparts.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 12:50:22 PM by cdev »
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Offline pdenisowski

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2017, 10:23:58 AM »
I prefer not to recommend the 718 because it has several limitations. If you need to grow, additional filters are expensive, while newer
SDR rigs like the IC-7200 or IC-7300 don't need them being software defined.

And if you want to play with digital modes both the IC-7200 and IC-7300 include a USB audio interface which makes it really simple
to connect them to a computer. Old rigs such as the 718 need an extra audio interface which will add some expense and make
everything much more complicated. Such audio interfaces for digital modes are not trivial to get right and some are quite pricey.

I own both the Icom 718 and Icom 7300 -- the 7300 is over twice the cost of a stock 718, but you get a much better radio with filters, (mediocre) tuner, internal soundcard, etc.  When you add all the extras to the 718, you're not too far away from the price of the 7300.

The comment about filters for the 718 is also absolutely correct, and it's becoming very hard to find them these days (Ebay, usually from sellers in Japan, is about the only reliable source I could find for IC718 filters). 

That said, I do wonder how many people buying HF rigs for EmComm / TEOTWAWKI really bother to learn CW.  If I was preparing for a SHTF scenario, there are a lot of skills that are more important to acquiring than learning Morse Code.  [And this is from a CW guy :)]
 

Offline borjam

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2017, 08:42:09 PM »
I own both the Icom 718 and Icom 7300 -- the 7300 is over twice the cost of a stock 718, but you get a much better radio with filters, (mediocre) tuner, internal soundcard, etc.  When you add all the extras to the 718, you're not too far away from the price of the 7300.
That's why I also recommend the IC-7200. Think an IC-7300 without the nice display and without a tuner, but most of the other features. Instead of direct sampling it's a superheterodyne with a roofing filter but the last conversion is also SDR, likely almost the same DSP engine used on the IC-7300. So you have configurable filters, TCXO, builtin USB audio interface, etc.

Quote
The comment about filters for the 718 is also absolutely correct, and it's becoming very hard to find them these days (Ebay, usually from sellers in Japan, is about the only reliable source I could find for IC718 filters). 
With SDR techniques filters will become obsolete, Collins has discontinued manufacturing mechanical filters for example.

Quote
That said, I do wonder how many people buying HF rigs for EmComm / TEOTWAWKI really bother to learn CW.  If I was preparing for a SHTF scenario, there are a lot of skills that are more important to acquiring than learning Morse Code.  [And this is from a CW guy :)]
For a realistic disaster response modern digital modes can be much better suited than CW. You get similar (or even better) performance in low signal situations and you avoid issues like operator fatigue. As a plus, if you can feed data directly from computers to the radio you avoid lots of errors.


 
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Offline janoc

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2017, 01:42:07 AM »
Isn't tube equipment supposed to be "EMP-resistant" while everything solid state would be fried?


 :palm:

Maybe. But is the generator you will need to power that equipment from going to be EMP resistant? And the gear of the guy you want to talk to using that radio?

Seriously, if someone is worrying about EMP, then the radio is likely the last of their problems. What do they do about the radioactivity, for example? Lack of food or potable water? Both problems likely to be the consequence of whatever nuke has been the origin of the EMP pulse.

BTW, one can put a solid state radio in an enclosed metal crate/box for storage and it is pretty safe against any EMP ... I guess most aren't planning on using it in the middle of a nuclear exchange.

Keeping a tube boat anchor as an emergency radio for its supposed EMP resistance is ridiculous, especially when it lacks things like FM modulation on CB bands and VHF. Both of which are much more likely to be useful than AM/SSB/CW on HF in case of much more common and "mundane" disasters, such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. Every trucker has a battery and a CB radio, for ex. In such an emergency you are much more likely to need to talk locally to the relief forces than across the continent/ocean on HF ...

« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 01:51:08 AM by janoc »
 
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Offline Towger

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2017, 04:09:17 AM »
Isn't tube equipment supposed to be "EMP-resistant" while everything solid state would be fried?

Thats were old militery gear comes into its own.  A Clansman 320 or similar are designed to withstand WWIII.

And Yes they do have a hand crank generator available for them.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 04:12:13 AM by Towger »
 

Offline metrologist

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2017, 05:59:01 AM »
CB radio seems like a great suggestion. I'll also tell him how to make an inverted vee so he don't have to spend a lot of money. Big hiway isn't too far away either, so he can get practice with the truckers.  :popcorn:
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2017, 07:13:13 AM »
CB radio seems like a great suggestion. I'll also tell him how to make an inverted vee so he don't have to spend a lot of money. Big hiway isn't too far away either, so he can get practice with the truckers.  :popcorn:

CB can be hit and miss - it's popular in some areas and not in others. Eg in Australia most truckie activity is UHF not 27 MHz. 

If go the CB route you will need a vertically polarised antenna to talk to mobile stations.

Either a vertical dipole or ground plane made of wire would be fine.

An inverted vee won't be so good.
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Offline cdev

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Re: Looking at ham radio?
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2017, 07:47:52 AM »
During Hurricane Sandy using my RTLSDR I could hear a lot of emergency activity and I really got an appreciation for how difficult it must be for first responders in a major emergency.

People die, people's lives can be destroyed by things like floods.

People who can help out in times like that can make a real difference in their communities. Other kinds of emergencies are fairly common. So people with radio skills and capabilities have a good chance of being able to use them to help others.

Isn't tube equipment supposed to be "EMP-resistant" while everything solid state would be fried?


 :palm:

Maybe. But is the generator you will need to power that equipment from going to be EMP resistant? And the gear of the guy you want to talk to using that radio?

Seriously, if someone is worrying about EMP, then the radio is likely the last of their problems. What do they do about the radioactivity, for example?

Lack of food or potable water? Both problems likely to be the consequence of whatever nuke has been the origin of the EMP pulse.

BTW, one can put a solid state radio in an enclosed metal crate/box for storage and it is pretty safe against any EMP ... I guess most aren't planning on using it in the middle of a nuclear exchange.

Keeping a tube boat anchor as an emergency radio for its supposed EMP resistance is ridiculous, especially when it lacks things like FM modulation on CB bands and VHF.

I totally agree with you. I was just being kind of sarcastic.. trying to make the point that there really is no way to prepare for something like a world War III scenario. People dont commonly realize this but the very concept of a nuclear war being winnable was abandoned in the 1980s.

Both of which are much more likely to be useful than AM/SSB/CW on HF in case of much more common and "mundane" disasters, such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. Every trucker has a battery and a CB radio, for ex. In such an emergency you are much more likely to need to talk locally to the relief forces than across the continent/ocean on HF ...
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 08:31:15 AM by cdev »
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