Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio Gear Reviews

Mobile HF rigs

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buffalojustice:
This is in response to a question from the how many hams do we have thread and is meant more for the new hams. Maybe we can get a good list of peoples thoughts on the HF mobile rigs out there.

I owned, until recently, an Icom IC-7000. This is, IMHO, the gold standard of mobile HF rigs. The menu system is very easy to navigate and the filters are top notch, pun not originally intended but I'll go with it. As an example, if you wish to turn on the notch filter simply press the MNF (manual notch filter) button and if you want to adjust it just press and hold the button for a second. This is how easy the filters are to use and most operating functions are similar. While it's not as easy as a full size radio with dedicated buttons and knobs for every function it is a good balance between ease of use and "button clutter." Audio reports were excellent and receive audio is very good for a mobile An aftermarket microphone and speaker such as a Heil headset improves both the TX/RX audio quality, and makes for a happy wife!

I have used, though not extensively, both the Yaesu FT-857D and the FT-897D. These are great rigs as well but the menus were a little more entailed. To be honest it was difficult to find things in the 857 system as some functions were abbreviated differently than there actuall function. I'm sure it wouldn't take much time to figure it out but not as intuitive as the 7000, the price is hundreds less for the 857 though. The 897 was a little easier to understand and it's a beautiful radio and built like a tank, almost has a military appearance. Audio was good on both radios and reports were excellent as well, no different than the 7000 really.

I would have a hard time telling anyone not to buy any of these radios. It's bad but I almost recommend them based on what you can afford. The trouble comes when comparing the 897 to the 7000 as they are both awesome radios. You can save about three hundred bucks going with the 897 and you'd be hard pressed to prove that the extra cost of the 7000 yields $300 worth of improved performance. In fact performance wise the 857 is as good a radio as either of the other two but the difference in cost to upgrade to the 897 would be worth it to me. So the bottom line, go with what you can afford and have fun with whichever you choose.

Please add any thoughts you have, especially if you have more experience with other radios. Maybe we can put together a good "buyers guide" for the newer guys.

WestTx753:
FT-857 works well for me no issues. I even use a ATAS which people love to hate, but I make good contacts.

buffalojustice:
You do know the ATAS doesn't work don't you? All those contacts you think you made didn't actually happen! I love all the antenna bashing that comes with certain setups. Did you also know that the G5RV will not radiate RF but will destroy your neighbors TV reception, make his phones worthless, kill his dog and make his daughter run away and join the circus? Never mind that mine worked great and not one neighbor even noticed a hint of a problem, and that was with me asking them repeatedly about it.  I'm glad you do well with the ATAS.

More on topic, I have nothing bad to say about the 857. It wasn't my cup of tea but it wasn't my radio so I never had a chance to learn it's ins and outs. There's a learning curve with any radio and I doubt highly that either of us could find any real difference between the 857 and the 7000 where it matters most. I will say the 7000 is highly intuitive to control and I had little problem learning where things were. Is that worth the extra $400? Maybe to some but in the end $400 will buy a damn good antenna and that's the most important part of the setup.  73

JohnAdams:
Just wanted to comment and say this thread is very helpful to me. I'm looking at a mobile HF rig and specifically had my eye on the FT-857, but after reading some candid and down-to-earth reviews, I'm now considering the 897 and 7000. To be frank, the 7000 looks awesome, just having a hard time justifying the expense of a top-of-the-line HF mobile as my first rig. Are there any 'classic' HF mobiles you recommend that I might be able to pick up as used?

Pukwudji:

--- Quote from: JohnAdams on April 18, 2011, 05:06:17 PM ---Just wanted to comment and say this thread is very helpful to me. I'm looking at a mobile HF rig and specifically had my eye on the FT-857, but after reading some candid and down-to-earth reviews, I'm now considering the 897 and 7000. To be frank, the 7000 looks awesome, just having a hard time justifying the expense of a top-of-the-line HF mobile as my first rig. Are there any 'classic' HF mobiles you recommend that I might be able to pick up as used?

--- End quote ---

I'm also trying to make this decision.  Here's the radios I'm considering and my thoughts on each.

FT-817 - I'm not into QRP so this is just too low power for me.

FT-857d - Keeps fighting for the top slot due to price (new or used) and features.  My biggest concerns have been the complaints about menus and how small the screen is.  I have found info to
make a bluetooth control interface for tall three of these FT-8xx radios that would allow me to use Ham Radio Deluxe software to control the radio itself making the menus and screen size issue moot, especially if I use a touchscreen tablet to run the HRD software.  Hmmm....

FT-897d - Kinda chunky.  Not sure how that'll work mounted in a vehicle as the radio is a bit bigger.  Not sure I like the proprietary battery pack.  I'd much prefer if I could throw in some good rechargable AA cells instead.

IC-7000 - Wow, nice big screen, menus easier to navigate (according to reviews) and good filters already built in.  A LOT more expensive (about $300 more than 857d new).

IC-7100 - Okay, this one gets me excited.  Not only a nice big screen, big filters, and built in digital modes, but it has a touch screen making menu navigation even easier than the 7000.  Problem with this radio is it is another $400 over the 7000.  Almost twice the price of a new 857d.

Why doesn't Baofeng make an All-Mode/All-Band radio?  Then I could get one for $100.

I'm still making my choice, but wanted to throw out what I thought were high/low points.  I'm still leaning toward the 857d, but if I suddenly get enough funds to afford it that 7100 is sexy, baby.

-Brian

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