WOW those high end rigs!!!

Had some time today and for some reason I had a look at the top of the line dream HF rig's. First off is the  Elecraft K3S with the contest and DX package priced at 5900.00 (all prices in Canadian dollars) to be fair to all the other high end rigs you would have to add a power supply bring the price in at 6050.00.

Next in the line up is the Kenwood TS 990S priced at 7995.00 ( or as I like to say 8,000.00) for the price this is a nicely packed rig and unlike the Elecraft or Flex radio it does not need a power supply. Like the Elecraft you get 2 independent receivers but you get the added bonus of 200 watts of juice to send out your call.

Moving along to the Flex radio 7600-GPSDO in at 10,800. This rig is the top of the line for Smart SDR rigs and the one feature that sticks out to me is the 8 slice pan-adpater. Having said that just a bit of over kill for me. Here is a link for all the features of this amazing Smart SDR rig.  This rig also needs a power supply so I will add another 150.00 (same supply that was priced for the K3S) now you are looking at 10,950. The price does include the GPSDO module which is not cheap and also this rig has VHF an option not included in the K3S price.

Icom has a heavy hitter when it comes to high end rigs and it's the IC-7851 and a break the bank price at 17999.00 ( got it 18000.00) It does have a great TFT display, two receivers and 200 watts out.....but really 18,000.00 freaking dollars!!!!

The Yaesu FTDX-9000MP comes in next at 14,500.00 as with the other rigs 2 independent receivers and a whooping 400 watts output.......oh hang on just been checking and the 9000 and 5000 series rigs have been discontinued by Yaesu!!! The only rig that is left for the high end category is the FT DX 3000 at 2499.99 (lets call it what it is 2500.00).
Please correct me if I am going down the wrong path but I think Yaesu may has seen the light in that the cost to produce the very very high end rigs is just not drawing the sales to make it profitable? Now the DX 3000 rig is (in my humble opinion) a mid range rig and hopefully Yaesu will produce a rig above the DX 3000.....independent receiver and so on. BUT maybe Yaesu has taken a step back to move forward with a  "high end rig" that is within range of more hams.

In closing as my readers know I am an Elecraft nut!!! Not to be tooting my Elecraft horn but they do have a great concept and that is you purchase a radio and in time add to it. The purchaser may add to the rig in time maybe due to budget restraints at the time or maybe your ham experience changes and you may want to dive into the digi modes or VHF.
In conclusion I just can't understand rigs that cost 18K or 10k for that matter but as I said before this is my humble opinion.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

26 Responses to “WOW those high end rigs!!!”

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    It could be worst. You could be into serious bass fishing. I have a friend who is into competition bass fishing. His sponsors have dumped over $100,000 just in his boat,motors,trailer paint job. So I did a fast search of prices for high end bass rigs(boat+motors+trailer) Strotos $32,393 to $39,594. Ranger $98,995, $70,500 and $38,744. There are a lot more, but I just wanted to point out that fishing for bass can be more expensive then fishing for DX.

    So you look at high end radios and all of a sudden it looks Like ham radio might be whole lot cheaper…

    I have two K3’s and a KX2. I also have a full K-Line. I am a real big fan of Elecraft. Neither are fully tricked out with two RX or maxed out filters. However they are both beyond outstanding. I also now have a IC-7300. Using the words “entry level” to describe this radio is joke. It is well beyond entry level. However it is entry level when it comes to Icom going big time into direct sampling SDR. The IC-7610 appears to be about 90% as good as the IC-7851 as far as I can see.

    I am a bit taken back to hear the 5000 and 9000 Yeasu series is no more… Now I am wondering if they are next to go direct sampling SDR.

    In any case high end toys are nice if you have more money then you know what to do with it. When it comes to actual on the air use lower cost rigs will still work DX and I have broken though massive pile up with just 5 watts and a wire…. Makes you wonder sometimes what is really needed and which will give the biggest thrill.

    Ham radio can be expensive, but so can bass fishing, golf and taking photos… I will stick with ham radio

    Nice write up Mike… Thanks for sharing…

    73 Harry K&ZOV

  • Angelo DePalma, KD2HPQ:

    This is why, even as a ham radio nut my favorite hobby is chess. It’s really difficult to spend $200 on chess equipment. Of course afficionados spend $$$ hundreds on books and the real crazies waste hundreds of hours per year at the board. But no wires, no heavy stuff to lug around, no batteries, and the “bands” are always good.

  • Mike, WV2ZOW:

    I would have not used the top line FLEX to compare to the others. The 6600 has 4 slices on two independent rcvrs and is more comparable to the other radios. But you did say top of the line.

  • Gerald, W8RQM:

    As far as costs, try boating or flying. I gave up both of them just before the downfall of the economy.

  • jerry w5kaw:

    well I can’t justify spending that kinda money on those high end radios! as I just bought a yeasu ft-991 factory refurbished model from main trading company here on December 22 2017 for $769 I just love it! I have 160m to 440mhz all mode with c4fm digital and so I feel I have all I need plus I own two yeasu ft-817’s one is a non ND model and the other is the ND model what a great pair of radios!! 🙂

  • Wayne /WC1C:

    Don’t forget the German made rig……. 12-14K or more…Hilberling. Of course you also need the matching Amp…..

  • Ross KG5OED:

    Those expensive rigs are no good without a good antenna. If your antenna is not up to par, those radios might make a good (and expensive) paper weight. I will stick to home built for now. 72/73`s

  • mark booth W5PYN:

    Some folks drive a Lexus and some drive a VW. They all get you to the same place and a good QSO does not cost $18,000 !We are all just Hams at heart, this can be a very inexpensive hobby if you want. Just a few minutes on the the air that, in my opinion, is time well spent.Time is the thing we can’t get back and is the most important thing we all have.If it makes you happy to have your dream station, go for it.It’s your life and your hobby.
    Best 73 to all.

  • Ed Watts, KI6DCB:

    I have a Kenwood TS-940SAT, which was given to me by my father-in-law, W6RRZ, some years ago (May he rest in peace!), when I was first licensed. My VHF and UHF gear also came, mostly, from him. I have been able to break through pile-ups — barefoot — with the Kenwood, and I have never felt as though my station was not up-to-date; it is well-built and efficient, and my operating practice is above reproach. Furthermore, I have been told repeatedly that my audio is “excellent”! Well, it IS a Kenwood, you know!

    I am currently designing and building a Class-A, push-pull, dual 4-1000A amplifier, just because I have the know-how and most of the parts to do such a thing*. Will it make me a better operator? Probably not, but it will make me a better engineer, and it might — just might — allow me to get that “rare one” who can’t hear me now.

    I don’t need a $10,000+ radio to communicate with other “amateurs” around the world, although I must admit that a lot of these newer transceivers are mighty pretty! I have eight children, many of whom can provide a positive input; are there any wealthy gypsies out there? 😉

    *Yeah, I know, but external-anode, ceramic tubes just aren’t pretty when operating!

  • Boots VK3DZ:

    And you need to have aerials that complement the desk-top investment. Acreage, big towers – more investment & maintenance. Shame if your neighbour has electric fences going 24/7.

    With today’s suburban QRN levels going through the roof the best bet for many is a good portable rig and a quiet location (with nice views, maybe a BBQ & shelter).

    If you want a top shelf rig for 75m & 40m AM then Ampegon has great range of fully solid state HF senders with 5-10-25 kW carrier options. Prices start at 233,000 CHF ~US$225,000 plus P&P

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Harry, I think regarding fish it would be cheaper for me to get a bowl and a gold fish…:) My dear wife is into photography and that too if you want can be a very pricey hobby as well. With regards to sport fishing I guess it’s what ever you are into for sure. With regards to ham radio and Elecraft I too as you know am a big fan and as for my rigs (K3 and KX3) they too are not tricked out fully either. With regards to making contacts with 5 watts I have gotten into Germany with as little as 100mW’s. With the QRP power I have made a 143,000 mile per watt contact a few years ago but I have made many 40,000 to 70,000 mile per watt contacts.
    Have a great week Harry and again thanks for stopping by.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Angelo and thanks for taking the time to comment, Yes Chess is cheaper and very good exercise for the mind for sure!! I will say my wife and I always enjoy sitting down and having a good chess game. As you said lighter lifting and no SWR to worry about.
    73 and have a nice week

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Mike, I just wanted to use the “high” end from each major rig manufactuer and some topped out at 100 watts as other 200 and so on. As I said in the post 8 slices sure does seem like a lot as opposed to 4 slice which for me is more down my alley.
    Thanks for stopping by Mike
    73 until next time

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Gerald yes in my first comment from Harry K7ZOV he gave me the run down of this very pricey hobby!
    73 and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Jerry, I have owned he FT1000MP MK5 and the FT 857 and was happy with both radios. I have always found that Yaesu has been very competitive with their pricing. I would have thought that Yaesu would had come out with another QRP rig offering more that one model as the FT 817 has been a big hit.
    Have a good week Jerry.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good day Wayne, its very funny you bring this up and I was debating whether or not to bring this radio to the table but I didn’t for some reason and put it to the side. No real reason for that but I just did……
    73 Wayne and good hamming.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Top of the evening Ross and it’s so vary vary true that the antenna is the diamond on the ring! Some of those rigs would in fact make a very good paper weight!
    72 Ross

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Nice to hear from you Mark and a very well rounded comment. It’s great that the hobby is very well rounded both with modes but also the cost. As my mom used to say “what ever floats your boat” Also it’s very true that even a small amount to time spent on the radio is time well spent.
    73 Mark and enjoy your week

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Ed, my first radio was the Kenwood TS520SE and I can remember just sitting there listening to the QSO’s over the air and then hearing CW and wondering if I too would ever learn this “cool” way to communicate. Well the rest as they say is history! What I think Ed is it’s all about the operator and not the radio and when you get to know your radio it’s a major bonus for getting on the other side of the pileup. I have built 2 Elecraft K2’s, KX1 and many of their add on kits. It’s not a from scratch radio project but I loved it all the same. There is something to be said for powering on a radio you put together seeing it power up and then making a contact with it.
    Very nice to hear from you Ed and for taking the time to comment.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Boots and very nice of you to take the time any add your comment, my huge lot is a balcony on the 6th floor of a city condo! I have seen first hand these antenna farms and then seen in QST others after an ice storm or wind storm. It looked like a lot of money down the drain.
    233,000 OMG!
    Have a good week Boots

  • Dave KJ8U:

    As Ross KG5OED mentioned, a crappy antenna will make a $14K radio, a $14k paper weight.

    I’ve owned three HF radios in my 30 years in ham radio. A TS-140, IC-7200 and now IC-7300. Which when I bought it two years ago, was the most expensive radio I ever bought at $1400 US. All worked well. Sure I wanted an high end radio, but for what? I’m not a contester, I can chase DX with the best of anyone (remember the antenna comment 😉 ).

    High end super expensive radios remind of the guys I used to race against in go-karts. They’d have top of the line everything, even custom painted helmets. I’d show up in a white helmet, blue overalls and a tuned muffler and would run laps around them during every race.

    There will be those who have to have the best in everything, if they’re willing to spend that kind of money, throw some my way. I’ll continue with my 7300, it’s served me well for the past two years.

  • Paul ZS2OE:

    I’ve often seen an inverse relationship between high end radio investment and operator capability…most notably those who throw big money at hoped-for solutions to challenges that others would analyze and homebrew around. Then there’s the joy of making something that gets out there and pulls them in. I’ve had more fun with a K-1 kit build, a BITx20 and now a uBITX transceiver than I ever had with big shiny commercial rigs. El cheapo but tops in performance per watt and sheer satisfaction.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Dave, my most expensive radio was the Elecraft K3 and I have added bit by bit to it. I am a contester and with the K3 I really like its performance and support.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Paul, I have built the Elecraft KX1 and 2 Elecraft K2”s they have been sold but it was great to build a radio and then see it working making contacts. Paul thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  • Adam VA7OJ:

    The Icom IC-7610, at USD 3000 or CAD 4100, is very close to the IC-7851 in overall performance – but at 1/4 the price. The 7610 is also a direct-sampling SDR.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good evening Adam, yes, the 7610 is a great deal for the price. I am very happy that I decided to purchase one, I have never looked back. I am very happy with the purchase. Thanks for stopping by the post Adam and leaving a comment.

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