[VHFcontesting] Best contesting rig

DAVID C. OLEAN k1whs at worldpath.net
Wed Oct 9 15:52:34 EDT 2002

Hi John,
    I believe the best rig for VHF contesting from the standpoint of
price/performance is the Elecraft K2. It is available for about $700 as
a kit, and has the best dynamic range, an excellent noise blanker, CW
filtering and small size with low current drain. The K2 must be used
with transverters, but they tend to preserve the great performance of
the K2 much more than you can expect from any "do it all" radio on the
market today. Get a modern transverter, not an old "black box" at a flea
market. See what 120 dB of dynamic range can get you!  You can even
program the K2 digital readout to indicate the VHF frequency directly!
It can allow for error in the transverter crystal!  Price around $1000
minimum. (Category 2) I had no candidates for under $600 (category 1)  I
use two K2s in a contest station. Soon it will be three K2s.
    If you live in an area with few other signals, then possibly another
radio may make sense, but on six meters in June, signals tend to be
strong everywhere. It is nice to keep working stuff in the face of huge
    I use Ten Tec OMNI V radios as well. They have excellent dynamic
range of the same magnitude, (136 dB blocking DR) and are available used
for under $1000. My six meter station uses an OMNI V and three tandem
2.1 khz International Radio crystal filters in the IF strip.  I use a
new DEM 50 MHz transverter along with the OMNI:  7 dB gain with a 1.4 dB
noise figure at 50 MHz!!  Hard to beat that.  It has very low gain to
preserve the excellent dynamic range of the OMNI V.  The only problem
with the OMNI V is that CW is on LSB. It can be modified to put it on
USB tho. Total cost around  $1100- $1200 to get on a band. (Category 3)
If price is no object, the new Ten Tec Orion bears watching.
    In my opinion, dynamic range and close in selectivity are the most
important factors in home station or mountaintop station operation. If
you are a rover, possibly many bands in one box would be more
important.  Check out the recent article in QEX about contest and DX
receiver performance by SP7HT, Tadeusz  Raczek.   There is a good amount
of discussion about what makes a good receiver for contesting and DX
operation. Parameters that bear watching are the close in blocking
dynamic range values and IMD dynamic range.  The ARRL uses 20 khz.
spacing.   Dxers want to see data on 5 khz and even 2 khz. He presents
some close in numbers for the current crop of competition grade
receivers including the IC756PRO, TS-570, and FT-1000MP Mark V.
    I made a test years ago with Bob, K1SIX to determine overload levels
on 144 MHz, and could detect his transmitted signal at -69 dBm from 63
miles away with our beams aimed at each other. (He used a calibrated
signal generator as a transmitter)  If I estimate a 0 dB s/n  MDS it
would be about -62 dBm. So, when Bob turns on his 1500 watt amplifier, I
get hit with a signal 124 dB stronger than the minimum discernable
signal. There are few receivers that can survive that kind of signal,
and Bob is 63 miles away!!!
    Just my 2 cents worth. It should be interesting to see all the

Dave Olean K1WHS

John Geiger wrote:

> I am preparing to write my monthly Contesting Column
> for our local newsletter.  This month I am going to
> write about what to look for in picking out the best
> contesting rig.  I would like opinions and feed back
> from reflector members about the best contesting rig:
> 1. Under $600
> 2. From $600 to $1000
> 3. From $1000 to $1500
> 4. Over $1500
> Are there any rigs in these categories that you would
> definitely avoid?  Any Why?
> Thanks
> 73s John NE0P
> =====
> John Geiger
> Assistant Professor of Psychology, Cameron University
> Ham Call NE0P, active 160-23cm
> Yaesu FT100D, Icom T81A, Clegg FM73 (220 MHZ FM)
> Now on RTTY, PSK, Hellschreiber, MFSK16, JT44, and HSMS with WSJT
> SMIRK 5768, 10X 67581, 6 club 497
> 5BWAS, DXCC, 2 VUCCs on 50 mhz (Iowa, Illinois)
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