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Ham radio recommendations?

I recently earned both my Technician and General Class licenses, and I’m pondering about radios to buy. Of course, I have a number of BaoFengs, but they don’t get great reception where I am. A lot of hams recommend the Icom 7300, sort of the gold standard of HF radios, but it’s expensive and very large. I’ve considered the mobile Icom 7100, because it’d be a bit easier to work in my space and it also does VHF/UHF, though it’s not as “fancy” as the 7300. Then you have the Elecraft K3, which is small and can run off batteries, but is very expensive and has low transmit power.

For the hams in the forum: what radios do you like? I’m also open to suggestions about antennas, power supplies, and all the other necessary accouterments.

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  • Comments (4)

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      Topography made it difficult to hit my local 2m/440 repeaters with handheld 5W radios when I started out a few years back.  In retrospect, I should have started out with a mobile rig and longer antenna.

      Since 2m is where most of the action is in my area, I got the 75W Yaesu FT-2900R and paired it with a roll-up portable slim jim antenna from N9TAX (which can be connected to HTs, too).  Worked like a charm for getting out of the hole my house is situated in and didn’t cost me much more than $150.  It’s really a great emergency set up, with more than enough power and still reasonably portable, plus you could always mount it in a vehicle hooked up to purpose-built mobile antenna as it was designed, although I prefer using it as a portable base station.

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      HF is obviously the more expensive and complicated side of the hobby in terms of equipment, knowledge, and skills.  Biggest obstacle for a suburbanite like me is the length and height a decent antenna needs to be placed at, so I honestly don’t get on the air much at all.  Despite that, I would still get my Yaesu FT-450D HF/6m rig again.  It’s a high-value starter rig that’s remarkably compact and easy to learn on and still gets rave reviews from noobs and experts, alike.  Although I paid more for it back when it first arrived on the scene, nowadays it’s running less than $700 on sale.

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      If I ever manage to get my act together and actually really use my General ticket, I’m going to reward myself with the cool stuff over at Elecraft.

      Another recommendation I would make as you’re entering the hobby and obtaining radios and gear is to standardize your 12V power systems around the Anderson Powerpole connectors.  Everybody uses them and they really simplify power distribution and interoperability.

      440px-Powerpole_cutaway

      Honestly, ham radio taught me more about DC power distribution and storage more than anything else, which goes a long ways in helping one prep for grid down situations.  If I never got on the air again, I’ll always be grateful for what it’s taught me.

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      I am drowning in summer grad coursework and falling behind on prepping for Technician, but am so excited to follow this thread. As always, incredibly grateful for the expertise and community sharing on this forum.

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      I’m in a similar situation. I have my Extra license, but no HF equipment yet. I’m leaning towards an Elecraft KX2 or 3 and an external power amp.

      I’ve borrowed a Kenwood TS-590 and it was a great radio. But like the Icom 7300 you mentioned, it’s big (and heavy). Using that radio reinforced my desire for something portable that I can take with me when I travel.

      A friend of mine has a KX3 and a HardRock 50W linear amp (https://www.hobbypcb.com/index.php/products/hf-radio/hardrock-50-hf-power-amp) and really likes the combination: the pair doesn’t take up much desk space, no separate antenna tuner is needed, 50W is a respectable amount of transmit power, and he can take one or both pieces when he wants to travel.

      So I think I’m going to follow what he has done. I just need to save my pennies for awhile…

      A SDR dongle would be a good inexpensive addition too.

      -WS