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Old 26-03-2013, 16:44   #1
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Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

I'm dropping my mast in a few weeks to replace my standing rigging and want to upgrade my communications equipment while i'm at it.

I'm currently in the process of trying to get my HAM license and buy my first transceiver. I'm going to be cruising from Seattle to Mexico and heard that the "nets" are a great part of cruising for many different reasons. While the mast is down I'd like to get one installed.

My goals.
1. transceiver that can stay in touch with most popular cruising nets
2. Under $500 (not including antenna or wiring)
3. relatively small in size
4. get weather info within few hundred miles from shore
5. not overly complex. That tends to mess with goal #2. I dont mind paying for decent equipment but I dont want to pay for stuff I wont use
6. Ham and not SSB due to costs and I've heard there's more people on HAM to chat with. It would be nice to have a transceiver that could do both but see goal #2 again


I've been searching and searching for info and the ICOM 7000, Kenwood TS-480 and Icom 706 have been peaking my interest but have only been on ebay. I've read that its not a smart move to buy used equipment from there so i'm hesitant. I've found some radio's on amazon for about $300 but I dont think they are the right frequency band. I've only looked up "nets" and tried to cross reference what frequency they broadcast on to make a good choice but I'm really throwing darts against the board. I wish I had a little more time to research this and get my ham license first but i'm a little rushed with the rigging refresh.

Thoughts or comments that could help me figure this out?

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
-Jared
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Old 26-03-2013, 17:09   #2
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The best bet to stay within your budget is buy used from a HAM, not ebay or Craig's list due to butchered radios owned by bootleg CB'ers. Here is a link for you eHam.net Classifieds - Search

Enter into category "HF radios"

Enter into text search "mobile"

and you find ads like this one http://www.eham.net/classifieds/detail/402852


also this one http://www.eham.net/classifieds/detail/400070

and this one http://www.eham.net/classifieds/detail/399342

and http://www.eham.net/classifieds/detail/402870
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Old 26-03-2013, 17:23   #3
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Deckofficer is right. Buy from a brick and mortar store, or from a ham. Take a look also at www.qrz.com and the ham gear for sale forum. Read the stickies at the top of the forum.

If you see a radio you want to buy, talk to the ham and get his advice. You can also use that communication to feel comfortable with the purchase.

I have bought ham rigs on ebay. All were fine but one which I actually enjoyed repairing myself. So you take your chances.

Chip
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Old 26-03-2013, 17:41   #4
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The Kenwood 480TS is a good choice. I am looking at getting one myself. The thing I like is your choice of power 5 watts to 100 max. Watts translate into Amps. about 20 amps at 100 watts. If you don't need all that power you save quite a bit. If you do some Googling you might just find how to illegally expand the transmit frequencies.
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Old 26-03-2013, 17:56   #5
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This is a great post and also interests me as well. Are most of these radios listed capable of transmitting & receiving email? I under stand u would need a pactor 2 or 3 modem? Unless there is a better alternative
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Old 26-03-2013, 18:04   #6
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Thanks for the replies and the good info...

Im new so dont know what's a good deal or if it can do what I want it to.

I'm tempted to buy either the yaesu ft100d model for ($640) or the Icom 706 Mk II G for ($600).

The Icom 706 has slightly better reviews than the ft100d.

One also comes with an autotuner? How important is that?

Thanks!
-Jared
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Old 26-03-2013, 18:31   #7
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post

One also comes with an autotuner? How important is that?

Thanks!
-Jared
The best antenna configuration in an insulated backstay. The best way to tune it is an automatic antenna tuner/coupler close to the feed point but out of the weather. These aren't cheap $300 to $500 new, but you won't have a better signal and that is the name of the game.

SGC makes the best, here is one rated for 100 watts SGC SG-237 | 1.8-60MHZ 100W PEP SMARTUNER

A 200 watt SGC tuner will run $500 and a 500 watt tuner is on sale from SGC for about $1000.
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Old 26-03-2013, 18:35   #8
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

G'day, mate. I spent my money on an ICOM-706 and have NEVER regretted it. Works excellent with my Pactor II pro (upgraded to III) for emails and weather fax. With patience you can pick one up in your budget range from the sites given to you above. All the best. Cheers.
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Old 26-03-2013, 18:51   #9
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Buying used electronics equipment is fine, as long as: 1) No new boards replaced the original set, and 2) No soldering of any components took place on any original board in the set. In addition, if your electronics are older than 7 years, start budgeting for a newer generation of toys; you got your money's worth. Mauritz
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Old 26-03-2013, 18:54   #10
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Im looking at the following Yaesu but haven't made up my mind. I want something I can throw in a backpack:

Welcome to Yaesu.com - FT-817

Welcome to Yaesu.com - FT-857D

Welcome to Yaesu.com - FT-897D

Plus an outbacker marine and mobile antenna:

Outbacker Antennas NA
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Old 26-03-2013, 19:21   #11
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

I wasnt going to insulate my backstay as its split and would require 3 insulators and each one of those puppies were several hundred each!

Hopefully I can make it work another way...


Thanks!
-Jared
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Old 26-03-2013, 19:29   #12
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

A 28' Marine fiberglass vertical will do the job, not as well on the low bands as your backstay. Still need the tuner, again as close to the feed point and still protected from weather, and I forgot to mention, both antenna choices needs a counterpoise, which is a real hassle on a boat already assembled. All of Dashew's boats that are glass has foil laid up in the hull below the water line, which is what you will need to do for the best signal. Of course if you have a steel or aluminum boat you got the best counterpoise.
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Old 26-03-2013, 19:32   #13
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jared1048 View Post

One also comes with an autotuner? How important is that?

Thanks!
-Jared
It's important (that you have a tuner) however, the built-in types found in many transceivers are limited to matching a limited range of impedance into a balanced load. A backstay type antenna is not a balanced load so the built-in tuner is useless. You will need an external tuner for such an antenna
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Old 26-03-2013, 20:27   #14
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

The Icom 706MKIIG is the most popular ham transceiver....ever! It is an excellent little radio for use on a boat, and can do email quite well.

I generally like Yaesu equipment, too, but the 100D has been problematic in several instances, so I'd avoid that one.

There are lots of other choices, too, in small to medium size ham transceivers.

You will need an automatic tuner. I'd avoid the SG-237, but the SG-230 is the gold standard and has been for the past 25 years. It will cost $500 new, and I'd be very careful about buying a used one.

Your $600 budget is not realistic for both a radio and tuner, especially with these choices (IC-706 and SG-230 tuner). A modem for email will cost an additional $500-800 used.

It is possible to find a good used marine SSB transceiver and automatic tuner for not much more than your $600 budget. I have several. PM me for details if you like.

There are several alternatives to a backstay antenna. On some boats it's possible to fashion an "alternate backstay"....a robust and low cost alternative... which doesn't require the pricey insulators.

Some antenna choices for maritime operation are shown in the following chart: MarineAntennaChoices2

Bill
WA6CCA
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Old 26-03-2013, 21:18   #15
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Re: Choosing HAM transceiver (under $500)

[QUOTE=btrayfors;1195555]The Icom 706MKIIG is the most popular ham transceiver....ever!


+1 on the 706MkIIG. I did get mine on ebay, paid $700 and it is like new. added the AH-4 tuner also from ebay and hoist long wire for antenna and drag same for counterpoise. works great. Unfortunately, doubled your budget all in.

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