Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

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Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  al2n on Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:11 pm

Starting to put my shack back together. All I have had for the last 18 months is a cheap 2M handheld.

Wanting to get back on HF, but funding is going to be tight. Want to keep it under 200 bucks (less if possible).

I used to have a Yaesu FT-737 that served me well with a home brew wire dipole above my house. Loved to run RTTY and PSK with that thing!

Any suggestions for a cheap rig that will get me the best bang for the buck?

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  N8YX on Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:20 am

$200 is really pushing it, Mike. Adjust that figure to $400 and a number of possibilities open up.

TS130S, TS440SAT, FT-980, IC-745, IC-751A, bare-bones TR7, Omni B/C/D, Corsair/Corsair II...Cubic Astro 150, Astro 102BXA/103. I purposefully left all the tube hybrids and all-tube varieties as they're more of a niche market item these days.

$350 at Dayton this year could have netted a fellow a sweet Corsair II and matching PSU. I would have bought the thing but was more focused on test gear - and selling off some of my existing inventory.

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  al2n on Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:03 pm

400 you say?

That means I will have to wait till this winter before I can pull the trigger. That means setting up an antenna in the winter time. That means.....well, it means I will be ready for spring contests and such. Very Happy 

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  N8YX on Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:21 pm

Put your antennas up now and plan for the shack come winter.

I left out a few rigs on purpose. The more I play with my FT-301s, the more I like them. All analog signal chain - and I have to find one more analog example of the radio for my conversion project. There is a spare -D model kicking around the basement which I may or may not resurrect then sell; this will be determined on what else I can source in the way of parts. Ultimately, one area of the operating bench will consist of an analog 100w transceiver/receiver pair (with scope, PSU, external speaker and antenna tuner), a digital version of same, an analog receiver which covers SWBC allocations, 10 and 11M - and an FT-221 for 2M. Each of those spots get a speaker and YO-301 as I find them.

There is a way to crunch-proof the front end of a '301 but in doing so you have to replace the radio's transceive mixer with one from an FT-90x...and thus it'll no longer function as a transceiver. Which is fine, as the receiver portion of the twins can be used when the going is tough - much like a TR7/R7 combination.

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  al2n on Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:49 pm

Putting up an antenna in the summer? That is crazy talk!

All antennas must be installed with either bad weather or lack of proper tools. It is in the handbook.

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  N2RJ on Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:12 pm

I was going to say k3 until you said $200.

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  al2n on Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:36 pm

Yeah, I am cheap. If I spend too much money I will feel guilty.


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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  W5GA on Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:43 am

So feel guilty and enjoy it!

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  N2RJ on Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:00 am

Well I did get a Kenwood TS440s with CW filters for $250 a few years ago. Excellent rig for the price. So yeah, it's doable, but barely.

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Re: Rebuilding my shack- best HF rig for under $200

Post  N8YX on Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:43 pm

N2RJ wrote:Well I did get a Kenwood TS440s with CW filters for $250 a few years ago. Excellent rig for the price. So yeah, it's doable, but barely.
You must have gotten the same deal I did, although mine has a scratched-up case and had a nicked front panel and tuning knob. I managed to get hold of some NOS replacements, the balance of the filters and the IF232 interface chips.

A neat radio but with the exception of memory channel count (100 vs 32) it really doesn't do much more than my IC-751As. Thus, I'll eventually sell the thing.

Should one find an example of the "A" model Icom and can get either an AT100 or AT500 along with an AH2/AH2B tuner combo you'll be loaded for bear. All three tuners are remote-controllable by the '751; the AT- series are set up for coaxial feed whereas the AH2B is an unbalanced, random wire type. Use the former for feeding your dipoles and tribander; the latter for a flagpole vertical, inverted L or similar construct. The tuner assembly itself can be mounted at the antenna, as it's enclosed in a water resistant box. RF feed and band/tune info from the radio-mounted AH2 controller are supplied through separate cabling.

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