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Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:54 pm
by lars
I've been looking into buying a transceiver, perhaps for the 20m band, but probably other things also in due course.

But all this stuff is way out of my price range. I don't really understand why it's so much more expensive than stuff designed for 2m -- my recollection is that electronic design becomes increasingly troublesome as frequency increases. 10m/11m transceivers can be had for < £200, much less if it's for the CB market. Why does halving the frequency double or treble the price?

Well, rant over. What I was wondering was:

1. Is there a manufacturer or HF transceivers that offers reasonable-quality, no-frills stuff?
2. Does anybody sell second-hand gear that is trustworthy? I'm thinking really of a shop, rather than eBay.


Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:35 pm
by m0lsx
I have to say, I normally feel the opposite, 10 meter radios are stupidly expensive.
The last time I wanted a good 10 meter radio. I ended up buying a secondhand HF + 6 meter radio for similar money to a new & usable 10 meter radio.
I paid just over £200 & got more channels, repeater shift & CTCSS, a remote head if I want to mount the radio out of sight. 100 watts instead of 10 watts & a whole raft of other benefits.
My cheapest HF radio was an old Valve transceiver with an output well over 100 watts, but without the WARC bands, so just 160, 80, 40, 20 & 10 meters, but for well under £50. However it did need a new microphone.
My FT-817 & my FT-857 were £200 each & my Kenwood was either just under or over £200.
There is or was a lovely little cheap QRP radio that sold for small money new & there are plenty of old Military radios around for good money too.
If you want to buy from a shop you will always pay much more than privately, plus most dealers are not interested in old cheap radios.
The best sources for radios are amateur radios sales sites, but you will need a callsign to join. However that gives you an element of protection, as fraudulent sales activity is much lower on the amateur radio sites than on sites like G3CWI's site.
G3CWI is the person behind Sota antennas etc, he also runs a community site for selling & buying amateur radio kit, however do take care on there as it's frequented by lots of dodgy individuals. However I have had some good purchases on there.

Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:59 am
by lars
Where are you getting these prices ?! I'd quite like an FT-857, but new prices are > £600, and even second-hand sellers seem to be asking £300-400. Even on G3CWI prices seem to be > £300 for anything HF, even old kit.

I´d cheerfully pay £200 for a second-hand, decent HF unit, if I could find one. But, so far, I can't :/

Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:41 am
by G4RMT
In 1980 I bought a brand new Trio (now Kenwood) HF rig - bottom of the range, with valves - a TS-530. I paid around £500 - a simply huge amount of money when you consider what I was earning. One went on ebay for £325 this year. The internet year calculator says that 1980 £500 is currently the same as £2,286.43.

Nowadays it does seem like nobody wants to spend any money at all, but wants amazing value. Plus, when they sell it, they want top deal money for the old one too.

So a 36 year old radio is now still 10% of it's new cost.

Money seems to be plentiful, but everyone is now a bit scrooge like in their spending. Some things we now spend fortunes on - Sky, mobiles, playstation and X-Boxes, but want radios to be dirt cheap. I don't see the differences. We even have people treating Baofengs as expensive in some posts, and really worrying before spending twenty quid on an aerial. Anybody taken the family to McDonalds recently - or even bought a couple of pizzas?

A delivered Chinese can cost more than a radio, for goodness sake!

£600 for an HF set is cheap, and £300 for a second hand one seems pretty good value.

I just bought a fridge freezer from Currys for £400 (on Friday, being delivered today). I went online to check the size and today it is £600!

Money isn't real any more - it's just about 'worth'. What else is crazy (going off topic)? Ferry prices! How much for a Vivaro van and the driver from Birkenhead to Belfast? You won't believe it, but it is over £250 - ONE WAY.

Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:40 am
by m0lsx
I can remember back in the early 80's a lot of rich CB'ers came over to Echo Charlie on ex amateur radio kit. Until then everyone was using homemade or ex WW2 kit. The radios then were phenomenally expensive, even secondhand & unless you had a licence difficult to get hold of.
I finally got around to taking my amateur radio exam about 20 years ago. I missed my RAE back in about 1980 & was told I had to do the entire years training again to sit the exam. (Not true.)
My first legal to use amateur radio was an ancient 20 channel 2 meter mobile, with a cheap CB mag mount & a very cheap whip. Complete with a semi decent SWR meter, I spent under £60, I believe.
First I upgraded my whip to a 5/8th wave, then I set up so I could operate as a homebase. Then when the right radio came along, which was months later I went onto HF.
A lot of people think they can throw money at the hobby & be a radio amateur. But it's not how it works, so a fair bit of my kit has come from people who threw money at the interest & discovered that £'s don't make happiness, other bits came from people down sizing or changing direction within the hobby.
I have a 1978 Practical Wireless sitting here. Page 85 has a job advert for Radio Technicians at GCHQ on it, starting pay is £2927 if you have the relevant C & G qualification. A new FRG-7 SWL radio on page 78 is £200, or 4/5th of a months salary for a qualified Radio Technician.
In around 1980, I paid about £130 for a secondhand Trio QR666 SWL radio, at that time a brand new SSB CB from a dealer was a similar price. I still have my QR666, my friends CB, that they bought new at the same time went into the bin decades ago.

Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:56 am
by lars
The real-terms cost of all sorts of electronic equipment has fallen sharply over the last thirty years or so; I remember paying £250 for a pair of Sennheiser headphones back in 1980. I guess that would have been about £1200 in today's money -- it was several week's pay, anyway. I can't imagine paying that kind of money for headphones these days.

But, for me, the important question isn't whether something is good value, but simply whether I can afford it.

£600 for a good quality HF transceiver might, for all I know, represent excellent value for money. However, as a man considering retirement, with no savings and two kids still in education, it falls into the category of "unjustifiable expenditure." £200, on the other hand, is the sort of expenditure I might make make on non-essential items once in a while.

Aside from my personal impecuniousness, however, I do have to question whether something really is good value, when a product with similar functionality is available much more cheaply. I recently had an opportunity to compare the performance of Baofeng UV-5Rs with considerably more expensive Icom units on ~140Mhz. This was at open open-air charity event in mixed park and woodland. I found the range, coverage, and sound quality broadly equivalent. I can understand why the Icom units are more expensive, but _five times_ more expensive? That's not a scientific test, of course, but I didn't come away regretting that I could only afford a cheap VHF radio for my own use.

It would be nice (for me) if there was an HF equivalent of the Baofeng, but I guess there isn't sufficient demand for that kind of equipment to make the necessary economies of scale. I expect to get what I pay for -- I'm not expecting something for nothing. I accept that my budget does not stretch to top-quality gear. Unfortunately, in the HF area, it doesn't seem to stretch to anything.

Re: Is there such a thing as an affordable HF transceiver?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:16 pm
by Allan
I think that second hand HF gear is very cheap now... A S,hand Yaesu 757GX open case knock down the switch it will TX/RX from 0 to 30 megs 100 watt output. About £200. FT101ZD abt same price on and on.The new HF radios that people buy for a couple of Grand wont do much more on the HF band. When I passed the exam about 1981 time I payed £250 for a new Yaesu FT290 VHF portable multimode.A year later when I passed the CW I bought a 18 month old Yaesu FT102 with matching speaker.VFO.ATU. that cost mega money then.. However keep looking there are some great buys out there for less than a few hundred quid.