Monday, November 30, 2009


There aren't that many rigs on the market (past or present) that you would/could consider for a mobile rig - at least not in today's modern Vehicles. If you you go back further than the rigs I've mentioned the only one I'd consider small enough to be mobile would be the Yaesu FT-757, which is still kicking butt on the airwaves after all of these years!


First on the list (in no particular order) is Kenwood's TS-50S, which covers the entire HF spectrum, along with 11meters if so modified. These rigs are tough, have user friendly features on the faceplate or programmed into the microphone without having to dive into a plethora of menus. The fact that these rigs sell almost as soon as they are listed for sale is an indication of how well they were built. The TS-50 came with a SSB filter with a socket for an optional CW filter. It mates to the AT-50 tuner which is much harder, and expensive to find. DOWNSIDES:

  • AGE. Parts are hard to find, sometimes impossible.




The ICOM IC-706 (in it's various revisions) is still a popular mobile HF/VHF/UHF (Depending on the version) rig. It's more menu intensive than the TS-50, yet it is still VERY popular with the mobile crowd. DOWNSIDES:

  • The noise-blanker, while not as bad as some, is not the greatest in the world.

  • If it has to go into the shop you've lost everything - HF, VHF, UHF

  • A common problem with small "I-do-almost-everything-rigs-squashed-into-a-small-unit" are high SWR issues, grounding problems, and loss of sensitivity/output on one of the major units (HF or VHF/UHF).

    The Alinco DX-70 is the closest thing to a TS-50 that is still being sold. It has the advantage of having HF + 6 meters, whereas the TS-50 does not. I've probably owned 4 of these throughout the years. It has great tx audio, an easily readable display (night or day), and the controls you need are on the faceplate - not buried in some menu. DOWNSIDES:

  • NB. This rig has the worst noise blanker I have ever run across - in fact, when you activate it to eliminate noise it actually makes it worse. If you check around, there is a modification/component change that makes it a little better, but it's still not up to par with other brand rigs.

  • PRICE. This is a very expensive rig considering it only has HF and 6 meters. While it is still in production, you'd be better off buying a used TS-50.

    The Yaesu FT-100/D is an HF/VHF/UHF small footprint rig that has been around for awhile. It has a deep seated menu system which makes those "Cheat Sheets" you see for sale something to consider. The buttons (like most small all-in-one rigs) are tiny and it's very easy to press the wrong one. If you can find one, the FT-100 has a matching antenna tuner (AT-100) that works really nice, and it's power source comes from the transceiver! Like the TS-50, the microphone has programmable buttons which makes things easier, especially when used mobile. The FT-100 is no longer in production (for many years now), but demand is high and prices for used ones average about $500. The noise-blanker works as it should and that makes me happy! DOWNSIDES:
  • FALSE SWR. The rig has issues with false "High SWR" readings and there were workarounds that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn't. I ran mine in a minivan for a couple years without any problems, but when I got a new vehicle the high SWR problem was there immediately, always on HF, never on the higher frequencies. I never could get the problem solved to my satisfaction, and being in the FT-100 Yahoo Group, I could see by the postings that I wasn't alone. This was only while used as a mobile, so I eventually took it out of the car and it became my home station.

  • HEAT. Another well know problem was with the fans. While on the HF bands the fans would run at a slow speed and kept the rig cool to the touch. However, when using the VHF/UHF frequencies, the fans only came on during transmit. If you had the rig "ON", monitoring your favorite repeater, the transceiver would get so hot it was uncomfortable touch the case (not good for the components). This too was fixed via a workaround so that the fans would run while receiving on VHF/UHF frequencies. Unfortunately the noise from the fans can be disconcerting if you're trying to do something else in the room.

    And then there is the Yaesu FT-857 mobile. It has a removable head (like the 100/D) but, at least for my eyesight, a very small display. Once again, if you lurk around various newsgroups/clubs devoted to this rig you find similar issues - Problems with rf getting into rig, false SWR problems, etc. Not everyone who owns one has a problem, but those that do can't get rid of it (ed. - sell the car? or sell the rig? 'Nuff Said).

So what rig is best for you? I can't tell ya.... I can say that I've seen those weird false SWR and rf-in-the-box problems go away (or appear) just by changing vehicles. I know that today's vehicles are space limited and funnels you into an all-in-one situation. I tend to pick my vehicles by what rigs I want installed in them (whenever possible), and prefer to have separate HF and VHF/UHF rigs, along with a 3rd transceiver (yep, a dedicated 11m am/ssb mobile).

I've been working on this post off and on for about 5 days now (trying to get one last post in for November 2009), so I think I'll end this one now and finish working on my first post of December 2009. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and if possible, some DX too!!

73, Woody

No comments:

Post a Comment