Lately I’ve been thinking (again) about getting a new rig and replacing an older Kenwood.  I’ve actually cleaned up the shack a bit and have removed some little monoband rigs that I rarely use and have gotten down to the basics of just what I need.  I feel I need something new in the shack, I’m just not sure what.

The Elecraft K3 would be a no brainer choice.  While it’s a great rig, it somewhat has the makings of a fad for me, and I’ve never been a trend follower.

The KX3 is another option.  I kind of like the idea of a portable rig that has the potential for being a primary home shack rig at 100 watts.  But I still have concerns about the form factor, with the rig being so small and for portable backpack use it seems a bit fragile.  I don’t know if I could be satisfied with it as a home base rig.

I would love to try a Flexradio, however each day I’m leaning more towards Mac in the shack (gasps from the audience).  The last time I looked at Flex they still weren’t supporting Vista or Windows 7.  Perhaps that’s changed but support for OSX is likely light years away.

Nothing that Kenwood currently offers excites me.  Unfortunately I doubt I’ll ever buy a Kenwood HF rig again.

Maybe I should go with a Yaesu rig?  The FT-950 looks like a reasonable choice, though a bit uninspiring.  The price is right and it gets good reviews.  It appears to be a good performing rig without needless extravagance like multi-kilobuck contester rigs.  I’m quite pleased and familiar with the FT-817 and FT-897, so this rig would not be difficult to assimilate into the shack, though it doesn’t really get me into uncharted territory and it seems like a “safe” choice.

Perhaps it’s time I tried a Ten Tec?  The Ten Tec Jupiter is kind of spartan-looking, but interesting.  I like the clean look and under the hood it seems to have a lot of technology and power.  One downside I see is that the MARS mod is not readily available.  I modify all my rigs for DC to daylight transmit for emergency use and so I can use them as signal generators.  I’ve never used a Ten Tec but I know they are legendary performers.

I’ve used Icoms and I can’t say anything bad about them, they’ve just never been on my radar.  I’m not sure why.

Any thoughts from the studio audience on what’s a good $1K – $2K HF-6m rig these days?

9 Responses to “Choices”

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    My 2cents worth. I have had dozens of radio do to trades. Some were a big surprise and some were a disappointment. The FT-450/AT was nice, but damn limited and poor audio. But what I traded for was nothing short of great. I got a IC-7200. Super DSP radio. HF/6 no FM, but so what. Hot quiet receiver. Digital TBF, adjustable NB, NF and notch that really work. Full adjustable filters on all modes. No need to by anything. And a USB port for full radio and digital operation. Just down load the free driver and go. Any the radio is water and dust proof. Not to the point of dropping it in the lake, but you can dump a cup of coffee in the top and not hurt the radio..hihi At worst it is as good and my 756proII, but in reality it is better.

    My second radio of choice is the K2. I have had and traded 3 of these over the years. My latest is a fully loaded K2/100 with the matching KAT100 ATU. I plan on taking the AMP and tuner and put it in the EC2. Then put the K2 back into QRP with the internal ATU and battery like the last one. The best of two worlds. A competition class QRP rig that can go anywhere and use almost anything for an antenna…add a high current PS and the second box and you have a 100 watt rig with 90% of the close in specs of the K3 at a fraction of the cost.

    Hope that helps.

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • Mike Ve3wdm:

    Here is my 2 cents…..I am a bit bias toward the Elecraft radios but I have owned Yasue,Kenwood and Icom radios. The bottom line with me is the Elecraft K3 is a rig you can start off with as bare bones or full tilt loaded. If your intrest in ham radio changes so can the K3. The support is out of this world…more than I have ever had with the other 3 names I have mentioned. The K2 is great as well and I do own one but with this rig it has to be built. If you can get one used then you have one pre-made. The KX3 not to much I can say about that baby until it is out for a while on the market. So there is my input.

  • Jeff N1KDO:

    I used a Icom 746 Pro for several years, it is a really nice radio, good receiver, DSP noise reduction and ANF work great.

    Then I got the itch and bought a K3. The K3 is everything people say it is. It is a wonderful radio.

    With that said, I started cleaning up my 746 Pro to sell, to raise money for the KPA-500. I put the 746 Pro on the air after two years, and I remember why I liked it so much. I am having problems now with the thought of parting with it.

    My advice is to borrow a K3 for a week. It will take you a couple days to learn how to use it; it’s not your daddy’s oldsmobile. It does not really meet your criteria of $1-2K, because once you add some filters and the ATU, you’re looking at $2500, so that may be a budget killer. I’m sold, though. The thing is awesome.

    What makes it even more awesome is that you can later option it up — add the 2nd receiver, the 2M internal transverter, more roofing filters, and add the amazing P3 panadaptor. (The panadaptor is super!)

    Good luck with your decision!

  • Michael N5TGL:

    I run a Flex-3000 and I love the thing. I run a PC in the shack, because the preponderance of applications are for PC, so why fight it?

    The K3 is another excellent radio. I don’t think that great performance is a fad.

    As far as I’m concerned, those are the only two radios I’d be looking at…the other choices out there don’t offer as much bang for the buck, IMNSHO.

  • W0FMS:

    Here is my take: If you really decided you hate Kenwoods, then the obvious choice in your stated price range of a TS-590 is out for you. Pity, it’s a great value in your price range. Not perfect but a bargain at it’s street price. I own one and it’s a good rig. Low-end contest quality. Two of them would be full Contest SO2R quality and still be about $3100… cheap…

    All current Yaesu’s in that range are not as good. Non starter. I don’t like ICOM HF rigs.. never have.. but again you will have to go north of $2K to get you you want.

    I am notorious for my dislike of everything Flex Radio. I find that if you like diddling with the radios (and software) more than using them.. then they are fantastic. I also own a 1500 that TX’ed for about 10 minutes before it failed and had to be fixed and have really not used it since because I don’t get on the air enough to first update the software and then in the remaining 30 seconds I have left make one QSO. Plus I help maintain a club FLEX-5000 that’s been in the shop a couple of times for things like cold solder joints. IMHO, it’s a religion that you either become a part of or not. If you do, no other rig will be good enough for you. If not, you’ll quietly sell it at a loss because publicly stating criticism like I do will get you attacked from many angles. Having said that– it does have excellent TX audio (of course) and the RX, while not perfect is pretty “cool”. If I were retired and had a lot of time on my hands I’d like them a lot better. It’s great technology for a EE but like all SDR’s it’s not a slam dunk. Also in your range you’d be talking the Flex-3000.. you really want a 5000 if you want it as a “primary rig”.

    All the other options are indeed doable. If I were you, though– get the Elecraft.. personally I can’t afford it…with all my other responsibilities and interests.

    But I’d say, if that is what you want– and you are screaming that in between the lines here, then save up the extra money and get the Elecraft. It’s probably the best of the “non-BS” high performance rigs out there, slightly overpriced (but they can get it and have to somewhat temper demand– so good for them!).. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. You stated what you want and I concur it’s a good choice. Life is shorter than you think my friend! Go for the Elecraft!

    73.. enjoy… Fred W0FMS

  • Peter ZL1PWD:

    As a confirmed Elecrafter I would say go for the K3 basic model and build it up as the budget allows.

    My K3 was one of the first in ZL and have never regretted the purchase.

    Good luck and vry 73 to all

    Peter ZL1PWD

    Elecraft K Line

  • Frank K4FMH:

    What Kenwood do you currently have? And what do you not like about it? This disclosure would help others make a more optimal recommendation for you.



  • Goody K3NG:

    I probably should have been more clear on my statement about Kenwoods. I currently have a TS-850. I’ve had it for 13 years and it’s served me well and I do like it. I used Kenwoods in my granfather’s shack when I was a teenager. I probably would have still considered myself a “Kenwood man” six or seven years ago. I don’t feel that the current Kenwood line lives up to their legacy, and I’ve questioned their continued existence in amateur radio, not that it matters if I’m buying a rig today and they go belly up tomorrow. The 850 has served me well but I think it’s time for a technology upgrade and I’d like to have six meters in both my main rigs. Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind keeping the 850 and adding a third main rig, but I’m trying to stay with just two (the other being a Yaesu 897). My portable/hiking complement is a K1 and an 817.

  • Goody K3NG:

    Thanks for all the responses. A few quick replies back:

    K2 – A good performing rig, though I find the exterior a bit long in the tooth. However, I would relish building a kit that large. I wish Elecraft would release a “K2 II” with a general coverage receiver and a more sophisticated display. Also, it seems like you spend a lot more after you accessorize a K2 o your liking.

    Flex – I tend to agree with the comments here. I question whether I would want a rig that needs to be tied to a laptop all the time, and from what I hear it can be a bit of an ongoing lab experiment.

    K3 – if it cost $500 less I would probably jump at it.

    Ten Tec – I’ve ruled out the Jupiter. The Eagle is an option.

    Kenwood TS-590 – maybe I should look more closely at this. The 570 had a marginal receiver and that may be clouding my judgement. The reviews note issues with ALC spikes and low SSB output, but I don’t run an amp and the SSB issues look to be solvable. A MARS mod is readily available. I do like the looks of it. Hmmmmmm.

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