Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Looking for an HF starter radio

I've got my amateur extra license, and as a result, I would really like to get on HF. I've been doing quite a bit of research into the radio, antenna, and other gear that I will need to make my HF experience awesome, and to be able to talk across the world! Here is some of the radios that I'm considering:

Alinco DX-SR8T   All modes up to 10m, including 60m, power at 1, 10, and 100 W, hand mirophone. $530
Icom IC-718  All modes, 160-10m excluding 60m, 5-100W power. $745
Yaesu FT-450D 160-6M, 100W output. Automatic antenna tuner, beacon, $950
Yaesu FT-857- All mode, mobile, HF, 6m, 2m, and 70cm. 100W HF, lower VHF/UHF. $865

Alternatively, I'm also looking at a good used radio, although those are a lot harder to narrow in on a small enough range to talk about. Something in the range of 10 years old would be ideal, I would hope, and somewhat less expensive than the above transceivers.

Not really sure what I'll get, but I want to start getting a list together at least so I know how much money I need to save. This doesn't count the antenna either, but I'll probably get some sort of a wire antenna, so that shouldn't be too much of an expense. In any case, it's much more important for me to get any kind of an HF receiver than an HF antenna at the moment... But, I'll save those discussions for another time!


  1. As a new HAM on a general ticket, I can share my setup, and I can vouch that it works well for a starter rig.

    I have a Kenwood TS-440S with the Autotuner that I rescued for free in working condition, I have seen them sell used for around $250-$300. They are solid state, and have rudimentary computer controls if you purchase a few IC's to slap in the Rig.

    I paired this with a MFJ 1778 (G5RV) Dipole I paid $45 for at HRO.

    With this simple setup, I have so far made contacts in Croatia, The Virgin Islands and Caribbean. I have no doubt once I get my antenna up to a better height (it's currently only 20 feet up) I will make contacts even further.

    PSK31 couldn't be easier with this rig, as it has RCA ports in the rear for AFSK, and patching those to the mic/headphone jack on my laptop and using VOX on the radio (have to disconnect the mic for it to work) I was getting 599 up to 1500 miles away.

    If you're tight on cash, it seems to be a very workable setup, and I am very pleased with my setup until I can save up the cash for a more modern rig.

    Best of luck with your hunt! 73 de KB1ZNZ

    1. Thank you for the help in looking for a radio. Since I wrote this blog article, I've decided more and more to look for good used radios, something on the order of 5-10 years old. In fact, I'm planning on writing an upcoming article on this very subject, to help me collect my thoughts.

      As far as Antennas go, I've done quite a bit of research into them, and I think I'm almost ready to go. In fact, I've got two whole articles devoted to the subject that I've already written, and are just waiting to be published. I'll wait until they are published to say more;-)

  2. 500* not 1500 on PSK31... Sorry for the mistake.

    Also, with this setup, I did not need an external tuner of any kind, the 440S/AT can match every band 10-80 on the G5RV. I have not tried 160m, as the antenna requires modification for that band. I plan to string a separate antenna just for 160 at a later date.