I am hoping to pass the ComReg exam in October. And anticipating my license; I am offcourse looking for rigs.
I will be using the rig both as base as well as mobile.
In due time I can get a base rig, but for now my choice is going to be a mobile rig.
So, here is my question:
If you would buy a mobile rig, and your choice would be between:
- the Yaesu FT897D,
- the Icom IC-7000, or
- the Kenwood TS480SAT,
What rig would you buy and why ?
ICOM 7000: The size of the unit is very good for mobile operation and base use. With its flat detachable front head its very good for mobile mounting but not something i would stick to the dash when not around as it looks and is expensive. I found the unit to be a hot radio, by that i mean it actually gets very hot when left on for a few hours without TX'ing and it gets hotter when using for TxRx. There is a temp monitor on the display which shows how things are but I personally could not get comfortable with the heat of the unit (if its hot outside whats going on inside) even with fans running, and there is a fan mod also. Big filter on the DC lead bulky.
The mic is also a cause of contention, as many people have to have a modification done to it to make the Tx audio broad and full sounding, i could never get my one to give me a good rf drive because i have a deep low frequency voice drive:). The icom mic is designed better for people with a mid to high frequency range. the display of the radio is very good and whats makes the radio a big seller is the noise floor which is very low and when ran through a good speaker you would think it was a big base station.
So for a radio that possibly needs a mic mod, fan mod and not the best ears on vhf and uhf its a bit costly but it looks the business.
TS480: The is the best of the three for being an all rounder. The mobile operation could be a bit difficult as the head unit is a bit big. The euro version of this radio comes with a frame to allow connection of the body and the head unit, not sure if the us version has the frame yet. This radio never got hot and always performed with great audio reports from the stock mic and the receive audio was always beautiful from the radio without an external speaker. The receive noise floor is also low, maybe not as low as the 7000 but not far off.
The radio head unit always looked beautiful on the desk and the main unit on the floor. I would buy this radio again in a heartbeat a brilliant all rounder but many not as easy to take mobile ( a few bits to carry about).
And of course there is no vhf uhf, but there is two antenna connectors which is handy for swopping between a wire or vertical antenna.
FT897D: This radio is the ultimate shack in a box especially if you get the internal PSU, but if you have to power other devices such as ATU you still need another external psu so think about it before considering the internal one. This radio never gets hot , has a good form factor with carrying handle. the display is not very big but very usable and gives enough information. the menu system takes a bit of getting used to but after a bit of use, one really only needs a few buttons to adjust. The is a nice big VFO knob to twirl and it gives a good full audio for Tx'ing on all the bands. The radio looks the business but not very practical for mobile as there is no detachable parts so the 857 may be a better option with the removable head unit and basically the same guts if you wand mobile ops.
I still have the 897D as its a solid cool running do it all radio with a carry handle and i have the internal PSU so just a wall plug is needed.
Another radio you might consider is an IC7200, (which is my base/portable now) it has a beautiful audio, low noise floor, splash proof and best of all you can connect to the pc and run digital modes with a usb cable and HRD (yes just a usb cable). Ok, so not so good for mobile but worth considering, and if you get a separate vhf uhf radio you can also listen to hf and monitor vhf/uhf at the same time.
Good all-rounder for a beginner. Have it all and more in just one black box.
Of course if you don't mind tons of options hidden under menu.
Ah, needles to say that it would require some knowledge of how a HF trx works at all, otherwise it can be too complicated.
Not really good as mobile rig (FT857 is more "mobile" version of it but personally I would prefer FT100D - it was my best mobile rig ever, pity that I sold it off) and has some substantial drawbacks, but it is one of very few things that I'm not gonna get rid off in foreseeable future. Its simply too handy. And for the average price of 500eur secondhand you cant go wrong at all.
TS480 is a grand rig as mobile set. Anyway Kenwood has some better "base station" rigs, and in my opinion those antenna flying leads is just laughable option. Why Kenwood just not rethink the die-cast and make some space for regular antenna socket? And of course it is missing vhf/uhf. For base HF would rather pick up something full sized or at least featured with vhf.
IC7000 - never had one, saw it few times at friend's mobile but can't see it as base rig. Nice, flashy, bells and whistles. One day, would give it a go.