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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Reading Between the Lines

Don Keith (N4KC) on September 18, 2009
View comments about this article!

Reading Between the Lines

By Don Keith N4KC

When I am contemplating an amateur radio purchase, I find the reviews offered by others here on eHam or other similar sites to be quite helpful. After a piece of gear has accumulated several dozen comments, I find there is enough input to make a good judgment about not only the quality of the item but whether its feature set is really what I am looking for. After many years of perusing the reviews, though, I think I have picked up the ability to read between the lines of some of them, and to glean even more information from them.

As a service to my fellow hams, here is a quick guide to what posters are really saying in those reviews.

No need to thank me. I'm happy to help.

What the reviewer says: “This thing is a POS!”

What the reviewer means: “This wonderful bit of electronic engineering is a POS - a `perfectly operating system!' I'd buy a dozen but I don't have room to store them.”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “0/5”

What the reviewer means: “I know the thing has a 4.9/5 average, and I'm the only one—out of 527 reviews—to give it less than a 4. But I pulled mine out of the box, tossed the box and manual in the dumpster, hooked it up, tried to load it up to a lawn chair, and the output transistors went pppsssszzzzlll. What a pile of junk! How can they get away with selling stuff like this?”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “I know this antenna is only a 50-ohm resistor in a tub of epoxy, but it is the greatest radiator ever invented. My first contact was with a VK on 40 meters in broad daylight from St. Louis. Forget the laws of physics. This technology may well win the Nobel Prize. A hundred years of antenna engineering and never, until now, has someone discovered such a stunning breakthrough like this. The thing is a miracle!”

What the reviewer means: “My brother-in-law and I make these things in our basement. Every other positive review you see is from somebody we gave a free one in exchange for the `5.' Please buy one. I suddenly have lots and lots of legal bills and the Federal Trade Commission is spamming my in-box.”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “Too complicated, too many knobs, the menu structure reminds me of that calculus class I dropped in college. What good is it if I can't figure out how to even turn it on?”

What the reviewer means: “I want DC-to-daylight, roofing filters, noise blanking, all modes, backlighting with a choice of a hundred colors, and instant mode and bandswitching, CW speed, mic gain, sideband selection, satellite choices, split and reverse split, three receivers, voice processing, and more…all with two knobs and no menus.”

Alternative version of what the reviewer means: “I've been inactive since Nixon was president. I'm still looking for some tubes in this thing. And knobs for the plate and load. A menu on a radio? Next thing you'll tell me is that people are getting radios that plug into their computers. I think I need to go lie down for a while.”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “Their customer service is the worst. Dunno how they stay in business.”

What the reviewer means: “Okay, so I questioned the person's ancestry and sobriety, and used some language more appropriate for a dockworker. And that was just while talking to the receptionist. But their junk blew a fuse and all I did was go key-down for an hour with no antenna hooked up. And fudged just a bit when I told them when I bought it. Fudged by six years. But the least they could have done is send me a new one.”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “Man, this is one fantastic radio! I had no idea something this great was on the market. I'd buy six more if I had the desk space.”

What the reviewer means: “Look, I could have bought a slightly used Toyota for what this box full of parts cost me. It makes power on two bands, drifts like a hobo, smells like sardines when it gets hot…which it does quite quickly…and produces transmit audio that sounds like a cement mixer full of gravel. But if you think I'm going to spend that much on something and not pretend to love it, you're out of your mind!”

Θ

What the reviewer says: “reel gud flox bt som time seemz to gof wen glocking the qtr. hey, ifn want craigy swartz, this is the wun yu waant.”

What the reviewer means: Well, truth is that I haven't quite figured those kinds of posts out yet. I know our education system is superb and that no one could graduate high school without being able to string together a coherent sentence. I figure this must be some other language with which I am not familiar.

Θ

What the reviewer says: “WOW! THIS IS ONE SWEET, SWEET PIECE OF GEAR!!!!!!”

What the reviewer means: “I do like this piece of equipment. I just can't figure out how to get the caps lock on my keyboard turned off since all the RF in the shack turned it on back in `98.”

So that is my little attempt at interpreting the web reviews for ham gear. I do hope it has been helpful and that you will all continue to give the rest of us the benefit of your comments. They do mostly serve a useful purpose, and thanks to the sites that allow for this first-hand commentary.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by PD2R on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
LOL, great article.

One of my favorites: "I can work everything I hear!"

Since you are good in reading between the lines, what is it that he's really trying to say?

73, Maarten
PD2R
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by G0GQK on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
If I were considering buying something new and I read any users comments like those, I would ignore the lot and start again and read some sensible user reports.

G0GQK
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by SM5JAB on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
IMHO if I buy a new gadget for a lot of money I am not inclined to give it a bad rating generally. "If I paid a lot for it, it must be good"-syndrome. I trust the lower ratings more.

While I have had much use of the eham-reviews I have learned not to use them for anything than an indication of a radio's state. I skip the 0/5 and the 5/5 mostly. A rating of 3/5, 4/5 or 2/5 more often than not indicate a more balanced review. Not much out there is 0/5-junk. And not much is 5-out-of-5 either. It is hard to take a reviewer seriously if he opened the box earlier that same day:)

And wouldn't it be nice to know if the reviewer actually knows what he is talking about? I am certainly not qualified to comment on most equipment - and I try not to - but when it comes to CW and shortwave then I have a fair idea of what *I* want, having experienced a number of rigs down the years.

More experience, less enthusiasm in the reviews would be nice...

/Micke
"Any fool can criticize - and may of them do!"
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by N2EY on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
PD2R: "One of my favorites: "I can work everything I hear!" "

I like that one too.

PD2R: "what is it that he's really trying to say?"

I think it really means: 'This rig has a terrible receiver and a great transmitter'.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by VE3TMT on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Don,

Usually you will find two types of reviews on here, one from a truly technically smart person who can tell of a serious downfall in the performance of a piece of equipment, or those who give it a bad rating simply because their brain fails to understand the concept of a menu system or what a control is designed to do. They're usually the ones who don't post their call sign either!

Thanks for the laugh,

Max
VE3TMT
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by TERRY_PERRY_EX_W3VR on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Name of article-Reading Between the Lines

What it is-Another one that apathetically slipped by.

=========================================================

Many thanks to W8JI, K0BG, and N2EY as they are the 0.1 percent of this site that carry the rest of it in technical contributions. They are the only reason I subscribe to this site.

One could easily forget that ham radio is a technical hobby by suffering through the remaining 99.99 percent.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by K1KP on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What's often more usefulf than the 5/5 rating is the number of reviewers. If a product has many reviews, generally it has a good reputation for value and quality, and that shows in the number of hams that buy (and review) the product.

If I'm researching something new, I first narrow my search down by number of reviews. Then once I've done that, I look at the individual reviews. I ignore any review that gives a 5 - I'm only interested in the problems/deficiencies that users experience. Then weed out the crackpots and zealots, and you're left with some good information. Thanks eHam for providing this valuable consumer info!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by AA4PB on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I think it really means: 'This rig has a terrible receiver and a great transmitter'.
-----------------------------------------------------

or.... 'The transmitter in this thing is as bad as the receiver'.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K0BG on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don, you did good! You hit a few of my pet peeves dead on the head.

One would think, by reading the comments herein, that the number of DX contacts has a direct relationship to all manner of antenna specifications. One would also think that a low SWR equates to all things good. They don't, obvious.

Unfortunately, you left out one which is usually posted as a question in the mobile forum, rather than a review. And that is, I grounded the antenna, and the SWR is still too high.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by VK3DWZ on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a great article, Don.

Like others here, I read the eHam reviews carefully before purchasing Amateur Radio equipment. Too many listings of 0 - 2 and I won't purchase from that vendor.

Cheers,

Terry.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by KE3HO on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. I needed a good laugh this morning.

There are some real gems in the product review section. I don't know if it is still in there, but one of my favorites was a review for a radio where the guy gave it a 5/5 and raved on for a few paragraphs about how wonderful it is, though all he talks about are the features of the rig, not its performance. Then he said something to the effect "I don't own this rig yet, but looking at the sales brochure, this thing is awesome. I can't wait to get one." A classic.

You are right about the price tag effect on reviews. I love the reviews of a particular $11K radio. 90% of the reviews say it is the best rig ever made (though, again, mostly they talk about its features, not its performance). Then the other 10% express disappointment that the receiver in their new $11K rig is no better than the one in the $1K rig it replaced. When you spend a lot of money for something, it can be hard to accept (and harder to admit) that it is anything but the best thing ever to come down the pike.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by W1YB on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Humorous article that points out how sad amateur radio, and American civilization (?), has become.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by N4KZ on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great reading as always, Don. I too don't make a major purchase without reading the eHam reviews first but I swallow them with a grain of salt too.

It reminds of the fellow who reviewed a linear amplifier a couple years ago and rated it 0/5 because it was "dead out of the box." What he later realized was that those two fuses taped by the manufacturer to the top of the amp were indeed not the spares he assumed them to be.

73, N4KZ
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by VE6TL on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice work Don. Many of the reviews remind me of the website that provides feedback for resorts that people stay at. Some people rave about the service, the food, the beach, etc. But it seems that more often than not, people tend to write a critique when they've had a bad experience. You then end up asking yourself how a place can be 5/5 or 0/5 at the same time? So what really matters is finding a review, for whatever product, that is objective, factual, and useful. Comments like, "I just love my new ____" are a waste of time as they provide no information. But critical comments about the quality of construction/materials, reliability, design flaws, quality of service, etc. can be really helpful. I agree with the comment that the more reviews, the better quality that piece of gear is likely to be. And at least you have more information to review so you can get a pretty good feel for what the issues are.

With such an opinionated group it is common to see reviewers disagreeing among themselves and this is where the most valuable information seems to come out.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by W4VR on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
It's like a bus driver at Port Authority in NYC once told me when I questioned what my ticket said: "don't believe everything you read."
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by K9YNF on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Don!

You crack me up! Thanks for applying your professional writing skills (and your droll Southern humor) to this ratings issue.

I was just telling a DXer friend of mine the other day (who was not familiar with eHam reviews), that he had better check them out before buying anything. He really appreciated my advice.

I have bought a fair amount of gear in my 49 years of hamming, and have been burnt on more than one occasion. Now, I always consult the eHam reviews before laying out my dough.

Following this thorough Internet research, I can truthfully say that I have been very happy with my big dollar purchases like the Elecraft K3, ZeroFive Antennas for my 4-square and flagpole verticals, and my Alpha 99 amp. Oh yes, and IT9EJW QSLs.

"Buyer's Remorse" is a malady that too many hams experience when they don't have to. eHam reviews are a great resource, if you take them all with a grain of salt like Don says.

Now, Don, for your next writing mission (should you decide to accept it), please take on the need for people in general (and hams in particular) to master the English language. Internet traffic these days needs some "tough love" from a pro like you!

73,

Wayne C. Long, K9YNF
Writer/Editor/Internet Publisher
www.LongShortStories.com
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by WI7B on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"...language more appropriate for a dockworker"

Wait a second! I know an OM who works the docks at the Port of Seattle and he is the nicest guy.

73,

---* Ken
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by AC9HE on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I review everything here first before I purchase. I have changed my decision to purchase based on what I have read in the reviews here. But I do see the points that the poster makes and smiles as I was reading this post.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by KF4HR on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Free equipment reviews are worth exactly what a person pays for them. (Although some reviews do produce priceless humor.)

KF4HR
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by K3YD on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don,

A great bit of humor and a super distillation of the "less than helpful" reviews. Thanks.

I do read over the e-Ham reviews before making major purchases and often a comment buried within the review casually notes a significant flaw, or real benefit, for my intended use. Or it may suggest something which I should investigate a bit more with a local user, if I'm lucky enough to know one.

I agree with those who think that there are few "5"s. However I am fortunate to own some darn good "4+" gear. Since e-ham doesn't give the option of "4.5" I have given out a "5" or two over the years.

I wish that the negative reviewers had enough "courage of conviction" to sign their reviews with a call. I've often wanted to reply with a follow up question. Not flames, a real question, but that is seldom possible.

73, Blair K3YD
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by N0YXB on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I like the ones where the reviewer doesn't even own or use the gear, but gives it a zero rating. One fellow did this for no other reason than he didn't like how one of the reviews was written.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by WB2WIK on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice work, Don!

We can all add one, probably.

How about:

I've had this rig for nearly 12 minutes now and it's the best rig, ever, bar none.

It's my first rig.

:-)
 
Great Article  
by K7LA on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I really enjoyed this article.

Most of the reviews would be well served by the international athletic scoring standard: throw out the highs, throw out the extreme lows. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by N8AUC on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Oh man....I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes.
I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Thanks!

Then again, I believe that the advertisements are some
of the best entertainment on television, too.

But seriously, you hit many nails right on the head.
Read "free" online equipment reviews with great
skepticism. Some of the reviews are good, and some
aren't worth the paper they aren't printed on. It
is highly dependent on the author.

73 de N8AUC
Eric
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by N9DG on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Then there was the one fellow a few years ago who panned the same radio 4-5 times, and the company that made it under 4 or 5 different call signs. Boy, you've really got hate something an awful lot to pay the vanity fee over over again just so you can slam a specific radio several times over..
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K4DPK on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Funny but true.

One more, if I may:

This is the greatest rig ever. Does everything but cook breakfast.

I'm gonna unload this dog on the first sucker I see.

Phil C. Sr.
k4dpk
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by SOLARDX on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
One of the more disturbing aspects of reading Eham reviews is how some can be very dismissive of technical review data. Its amazing that people actually can review a product and clearly try and talk away a poor measured weakness as a positive. Crap is crap and should be called crap and not try and delude people just because you like or want to buy the radio.

In my view when we cant understand what we are measuring and what the measurements mean, we lose our relevance as a technical society.

Some of the reviews on Eham remind me a lot of wine reviewers, wine consumers like the wine reviewers babble, which is mostly subjective nonsense. The wine industry has a wide variety of scientific tools available that can measure what we perceive on out pallets, and they can tell us exactly what a good or bad wine is. However the emotional and conformist consumers dont like the notion of science interfering in their romantic notions of what good wine is.

Reading the equipment reviews makes me think that hams are behaving in a similar manner when buying equipment. I have far more trust in quantitative and qualitative measurements, especially when they are done right, and you know that you comparing apples with apples.

It would be nice if the ARRL started using some of the test standards that ETSI and the ITU use for commercial radio equipment. Its very easy to find poor performing equipment when using commercial standards and not ham standards
like "I worked 50 countries" , I can hear stations that cannot be heard on my other radios and I am a Icom man

Part of the problem surrounding the science is that people like the ARRL really refuse to call a spade a spade. Granted that their illustrative sidebar in the review giving graded colors for good bad or ugly does this partially, it would be nice if they actually said what is bad performance. Things like poor transmitter IMD should be called unacceptable. Talking sweetly around the subject achieves little and leaves readers with the impression that they can get away with poor performance. You see this happening often on low end HF mobile radios reviews which really suck in terms of their transmitter and receiver performance. However reviewers often state that numbers mean nothing, maybe only in their own little worlds.

To me if a receiver has bad blocking dynamic range figures its bad.
If is has poor phase noise figures its bad.
If it has poor transmitter IMD its bad.
If it has poor inband receive IMD its bad.
If it has audio amplifier HISS its bad.
Anything bad is bad and thats how it should be.


I have never bought a piece of equipment that had poor measured results that was actually any good!However if you read EHam reviews you would think that you can buy turd and it turns it into a gold nugget.

The bottom line is that ham radio equipment regardless of their design intentions should have a minimum set of specifications.

Commercial HF radios have a base set performance criteria that every radio should meet, you can find details of these on the ITU and ETSI web pages. Once these basic set of basic transmitter and receiver performance standards have been met, nobody cares what price or what bells and whistles are on the radio. The consumer will then always be sure that they are buying a decent transceiver.


I wish that Ham radio companies would behave like Agilent and publish their specifications in a scientific and truthful manner. Reading the specifications brochure of most transceivers tells you very little about its performance. You can almost take a brochure of any ham transceiver from 30 years ago and the current brochure actually has the same list of almost meaningless specifications that tells you very little about how good the radio is.

You have to be a radio review nazi if you want value for money. Just because a radio has a good receiver does not mean you can brush over its other specifications that are poor. Reviewers who dont understand what the technical specifications and measured data mean will endlessly wax lyrically about things that nobody can measure or verify. So working 100 DXCC countries is a good substitute for IMD dynamic range numbers for their reviews.

If you look at all the radios that are considered to be the best in one aspect of its performance, things like receiver performance, it is probably lacking in one or more of its other measured results. After all why would you buy a $10,000 dollar radio with a poor receiver? However thats what reviewers are saying to you the potential buyer that the science is wrong. I would like to buy Ferrari for 1000 dollars however that not going to happen any time soon. It reminds me of buying Chinese tools, but I wont go there! I never found such bargains any time in my life. However its amusing to read reviews that give you the impression that such a nirvana exists. If that was the case MFJ products would all be rated at 5 stars!

I have never owned a radio that had poor measured receiver and transmitter data that was any good. Thats why on EHam its very easy to spot "brand groupies" who spew out technical babble reviews that dont hold water. Ham radio seems more about spewing out a list of equipment that you have bought and owned rather than bragging about what is technically good and competent. W

ho can brag that they have the best possible transmitter IMD performance in the world? However I am sure that many will brag about owning the best receiver in the world, but is that the best transceiver? Not according to my standards of excellence. A good transceiver should meet or exceed all the best technical standards, even ham radios. There are so many terrible products that I know of that have such dismal performance and many have 4 pages of 5 star reviews.

We should get a ham radio products hall of fame going. Only the best ham radio products will make it onto this list. It should not be user reviews but a very deep in-depth technical review. Only products that exceed expected specifications and do what they supposed to do would be on this list.

Buying ham radios these days is becoming a bit like gambling you never know if you going to win or lose, which is very sad. Making a major purchase like a good HF transceiver is not spending beer money any more. It is a pity that so many "brand groupies" don't appreciate that not everyone has buckets of money to change radios every year.

Many of these "brand groupies" have become de facto subversive marketing tools for the radio companies. User groups controlled by brand zealots are doing more harm than good when trying to understanding radio performance criteria. Their unfortunate restriction of a users free speech rights and overbearing control of any criticism of brand "x's" failings gets rapidly censored. Its for this reason alone that EHAM is a very useful resource, its uncensored reviews allowing all to express their opinion without fear or favor. it is one of the best things going for hams on the net.

Frankly I would rather trust diverse user input on Eham even when some of the reviews are flawed. Eham is much better than a yahoo type radio groups who seem to be run by 1 or 2 characters who seem to control all groups related to a particular brand.

These groups are becoming more suspicious when you hear that many individuals who control these yahoo groups have direct input into the companies upper echelons, and are receiving equipment for review. They are even getting invited for regular factory tours and briefings! How can such people be viewed as independent? They are not, and thats why you will find all these brand propagandists have their own associated web pages further promoting their purchasing decision with endless rubbish papers and opinions on how good their favored brands are supposed to be. In this context EHAM receives 10 stars! You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cant fool all of the people all of the time. Science is good folklore and gibberish is for idiots!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by HR2510 on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Eham reviews can reveal certain traits of models if you just read enough. Yes there is tons of fluff and some just can't bring themselves to criticize a massive purchase they just made. I don't read any of the "5's". I look for the lower numbers and look at the reasons why they gave a lower score.

I have to admit I didn't find the article the least bit funny. The article writers give their ratings for a reason. Whether you agree with it doesn't really matter.

Yes some of them can be humorous, but Don's article just takes random potshots at fellow amateurs.

IMHO it's another troll.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by KD6HUC on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am sure we could go on and on with this one!
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by N4DSP on September 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don,
this is destined to be an eHam Classic!
Thanks.

john
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by SM5JAB on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"have direct input into the companies upper echelons, and are receiving equipment for review. They are even getting invited for regular factory tours and briefings! How can such people be viewed as independent?"

Exactly. I have yet to find a review in a magazine that points out negative aspects of the rig... Rag-reviews are mainly useless:(
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by KV1P on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I would trust QST's product review; along with seeing the rig in person; than some of the product reviews that have been posted. You have to wonder if they really did purchase the equipment!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K9FON on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What gets me are the low reviews of the older gear like the Drake, Heathkits, Collins, and so on. Some hams will give them a low review and compare them to a new/newer HF rig! Hello! We are doing an unfair comparison. That's like comparing a 57' Chevy to a new vehicle from today.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by W9OY on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<reel gud flox bt som time seemz to gof wen glocking the qtr. hey, ifn want craigy swartz, this is the wun yu waant.>

its simple this guy is a CW operator

73 W9OY
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by W9OY on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<I grounded the antenna, and the SWR is still too high.>

probably didn't grind it fine enough

73 W9OY
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by W9OY on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
SOLARDX

Don't your fingers get tired?

73 W9OY
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by WG7X on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yeah...

It was a good article.

Personally, I skip over any material on this site written (and I use that word with caution) by any nameless troll.

One of biggest problems here is that the site admins allow trolls to hide behind pseudonyms and snipe.

That tends to water down the usefulness of the review section and the various forums.

So take it all with a big grain of salt.
73 Gary
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by ZF2RN on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
And of course, there is always the one with absolutely no sense of humor that cannot figure out that the article was written totally tongue in cheek to put a smile on your face and remind you that....

It is just a hobby. Have fun!!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K4JSR on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don strikes again!!!
Don has cured all but one of the wild things in amateur radio with this great article!

That one thing is curing KA4KOE calling "CQ DX" on his
theremin. I told him not to paint it green like his PRC-2000!

Alan; I grounded my mobile antenna and it gets out fine as long as I feed it with my grounded grid amplifier. It radiates the best GROUND WAVE, ever!

Time to go work KA4KOE at his Boy Scout encampment.
I hope it is not as rainy there as it is in Bethlehem.

73 to all and may my favorite Scottish Poet, R. F. Burns write a nice sonnett in your behalf.

Cal K4JSR
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by ZR1PJA on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. Similar thoughts have crossed my mind. The other favourite is;
'This rig is too complicated and has menues"
What he really means is,
'It does not have enough knobs and it does'nt work like my 1980 transceiver' and ' I don't like reading manuals'




God made man. Samuel Colt made them equal!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by WB2WIK on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>RE: Reading Between the Lines Reply
by K9FON on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What gets me are the low reviews of the older gear like the Drake, Heathkits, Collins, and so on. Some hams will give them a low review and compare them to a new/newer HF rig! Hello! We are doing an unfair comparison. That's like comparing a 57' Chevy to a new vehicle from today.<

::The problem there is many of those reviews are written by guys who bought a 20-30-40-50 year old piece of equipment that already had problems. Most of that stuff was spectactular when it was new, and much of it would "stand up" to today's modern technology models just fine, if they hadn't been tinkered by the "golden screwdriver," abused, misaligned, worn out, etc.

I have a 55 year-old Collins 75A4 that can hear anything the very best transceiver made in 2009 can hear, and often better. Ditto my 31 year-old Drake TR-7. But these are in perfect condition and have never been tinkered with. I'm only the second owner of the 75A4 (I've had it for 37 years) and the original owner of the TR-7. They both look, and work, like they're brand new.

I've never used anything that actually *works* better; however the top modern rigs do certainly have some operational advantages!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by TERRY_PERRY_EX_W3VR on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"RE: Reading Between the Lines Reply
by WB2WIK on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>RE: Reading Between the Lines Reply......
I'm only the second owner of the 75A4 (I've had it for 37 years) and the original owner of the TR-7. They both look, and work, like they're brand new.

I've never used anything that actually *works* better; however the top modern rigs do certainly have some operational advantages!"

==========================================================

Thanks for the user review Steve.

The good information is not always in the usual places here. I will get may hands on a TR7 somehow. The fact that a guy with your means doesn't have all the latest equipment speaks a lot to me.

Are you around on 20 meters right now? I'm working portable from my son's backyard right now with an Orion II, and a portable antenna. Of course that may mean very little, but if you are around maybe we can try to exchange signal reports, and you can tell me how terrible my signal is.

W3VR
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by TERRY_PERRY_EX_W3VR on September 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Just had a great QSO with WA6WRF on 7204. Makes me realize that all the living history from guys like this eclipses most any online forum. The experience of sharing years past with someone who lived all the things I read about makes it all worthwhile.

Product reviews and spoof articles be damned.

Tune up, key up, and enjoy ham radio where you are supposed to....on the air.

W3VR
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by N0AH on September 20, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Most MFJ reviews are relective of mighty fine junk-
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by K1CJS on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article! Those descriptions almost made me bust a gut. But..... Just one thing--I wish people would keep in mind that although you try to do the best you can, and therefore look to get the best information you can, ham radio is a HOBBY to most people.

Even though some people on this site do their darndest to keep that in mind, others steadfastly refuse to--and treat this hobby as a profession where only absolutes are of any value, and the rest of the comments are 'junk science'.

Those perfectionists should realize that they too went through the process of finding out for themselves, and allow others to go through that process too. That is where the 'fun comes into the hobby. It's too bad that the perfectionists want to deprive others from having that fun.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by WZ3O on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Tongue-in-cheek at it's finest...a classic to be sure.......but as usual not everyone has a sense of humor & some feel compelled to over analyze..too sad...

Enjoy life, learn to laugh, even at yourself - 'cause other might be, play radio, have fun...& remember none of get out of here alive.......

73
Gary
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by WZ3O on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Tongue-in-cheek at it's finest...a classic to be sure.......but as usual not everyone has a sense of humor & some feel compelled to over analyze..too sad...

Enjoy life, learn to laugh, even at yourself - 'cause others might be, play radio, have fun...& remember none of get out of here alive.......

73
Gary
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K1NVY on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, eHam reviews are in general pretty useless. I have yet to read a review of a HF rig that isn't claimed to be the very best. "She's a keeper"...blah, blah, blah...Is there anyone out there that can post an objective review?

For what's it's worth, here's what I found three years ago while sitting at Icom's Bellevue, WA station (I live 20 miles from Icom HQ):

(1) I compared the pre amps in the IC-7800, IC-7700 (before it was priced and made available to the public) and the IC-756 Pro-3 using the same antenna (they have a very easy to change antenna switching system). The Pre Amps worked the same in all three radios. I compared the NR function and found they too were the same. The Pro-3 band scope was 'primitve' as compared to the 7800 and 7700's.

(2) I used Ham Radio Deluxe's audio spectrum display and compared my Pro-3 (yep, I bought one) and my FT-1000MP MK-V's NR and audio peaking filter (100% CW ops). The Pro-3's slopes are very steep where the MK-V's were not as steep. The MK-V's four levels of noise reduction are clearly defined with position "D" as deep as the Pro-3's with NB level set mid-way. The Por-3 has a "hollower" sound.

(3) Sensitivity is equal in the MK-V, Pro-3, FT-1000D and TS-850S/DSP-100 using my cans as the measurement criteria.

(4) The FT-1000D and TS-850S/DSP-100 beats the Pro-3 and MK-V (all mods less PIN diodes) is ambient noise floor ("analog" vs. DSP).

My operating desk has the Pro-3, MK-V, TS-850S/DSP-100 and FT-1000D. The TS-850S/DSP-100 has a homebrewed audio peaking filter (fixed at 700Hz) and SGC ADSP-II low level board (after the mixer) followed by my filter. When I absolutely need to copy a station, I go to the TS-850S/DSP-100 with my mods. The only operating feature that the TS-850S lacks is to see the second VFO during split oeration. I'm so impressed with the SGC ADSP-II low level board that I acquired another one for the FT-1000D.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by TERRY_PERRY_EX_W3VR on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K1NVY-Fred, You haven't tried the K3?

Do you have a schematic of that APF? That's interesting about the Yaesu. There's good deals on iterations of the 1000. I want to try one, and try the Drake TR7.

Thanks for the information. It's not always in the places you think.

Eham is good that way. There's a lot of freedom here still.

W3VR
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K1NVY on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W3VR...I sent you via QRZ's e-mail address, the diagram of what I did to the TS-850S.

Nope, haven't tried the K3 but have CW op friends who have them. There might be a "K4" in my future if it comes with a band scope. I'd like to do a side-by-side with the K3 and my TS-850S/DSP-100.

I forgot to mention in my rambling post above, I consider the ARRL reviews the most accurate source of information. Of course, they never say 'this radio is a piece of junk' or 'the best radio ever made'.

I did a study of ARRL reviews of all modern (90's to present) receivers and according to their measured data, the IC-765, TS-850S, FT-1000 and K3 in that order have the best total of 3IMD, MDS and BDR. All other radios follow and that includes the $10K models.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by XE1GXG on September 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Very amusing

(read between the lines: fairly funny)
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by W7ETA on September 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I can talk to everyone I hear.

Thursday I have an appointment for a new hearing aide.

Bob
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by KC4IWI on September 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What? 10-4 good buddy
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by AC9HE on September 28, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I find it particularly interesting when someone will type an paragraph about all the things they don't like about a product, but give it a 5/5 review. How does that happen. Maybe they should make the review a 0 to 10 so it will give people more room to rate a product.
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by K4DPK on September 28, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've noticed many of the reviewers will give a particular rig glowing 5+++ ratings without ever testing all bands and modes.

One I recall in particular described a Japanese rig that I had heard a number of on the air, and every one had terrible key clicks. On seeing the superior reviews, I mentioned the clicks and immediately came under fire from several owners, some of whom didn't even know what key clicks are.

I think if you're going to review a rig and haven't operated it completely, you should mention that in the review.

It seems to me also, that reviews are usually either 5 or zero. I think the reason is the fives need to justify their purchase, and the zeroes are so mad they want retribution.

Phil C. Sr.
k4dpk
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by KG4RRN on September 29, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK-how do you keep your equipment is prestine condition for 37 years, man that is a tall tale, if I ever heard one.
You must clean and re-align your rigs every week, how could anyone do that with a full time job and family, I donno, but that is real fairy tale stuff there.
I have an old Swan 500C could I get that to you, to align and get a working mobile mic on it???
Could you do that in-- say--- a day???
Appreciate the article. I love reviews that give the products a hard time from hams who are just starting out,
or the ones who have had the product for 50 years...
You all should see the stupid posts on programming a old BK radio or a HT, from the 80s. LOL
Here is my review on the Icom v82HT.
I dropped it from my bicycle going 25 mph down the highway and it still works even though the plastic was worn in a few places and the skid marks were all over the highway. The battery case cracked in half and the board sprung out of the back like a crazed school kid getting outside for recess.
Otherwise, it is up to my standard of workmanship.
Its still working after 3 years of being dropped, they finally made a spring clip that stays on instead of snapping in half.The batteries still charge, but the charger never gives me an indication of what the charge state is...
Being able to listen to the weather stations is a plus too, since I never know when it's going to rain...
Stay away from these sale items:
1)I got it from a friend of mine who wants to sell it and we are splitting the dough.
2) not DOA (dead on arrival)
3) it is just powered up and seems to work, did not test the frequencies and have no way to connect it to an antenna, so no refunds or returns.
4) We are an auction house and all sales are final.
5) Buyer may put down 5% and we'll ship on good credit.
6) all sales final
7) May cost extra to ship, but the price is low.
8) If you cash my check for 2 million, and return 1.5 million, you can keep the rest.
9) These radios need reprogramming and you may have to pay extra for that, but I will do it, and if the frequencies are wrong, you will have to pay me a fee to reset them correctly.
 
Reading Between the Lines  
by WA6MOW on October 14, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don,a great read! I have written reviews before I really took the time to learn the potential of a particular rig. I made some stupid authoritative comments about the menu being too complicated, the receiver being too noisy etc. etc. The menu actually was awesome, allowing numerous features in a little box. The receiver really wasn't noisy after I turned off the two pre-amps! The antenna that didn't work worth a damn had a cold solder connection in the coax connector. I guess you get the point. We really do need to read between the lines!!
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by N4KC on October 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Don't worry MOW. You're not the only one. I was about to dash off a scathing review of a very popular device because it was intermittent when I flexed the coax connector. QC! QC! I screeched. Can't those #*&$@# even solder a connector to last?

I even tried two different coax patch cables just to be sure, because when I opened the box, it really looked okay and well-constructed.

Just on a whim, I tried a third patch cable. No problems. Dang cheap hamfest coax cables!

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
www.facebook.com/donkeith
 
RE: Reading Between the Lines  
by ZR1PJA on October 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Just saw this one and had to post it. Already rated without a preview!

quote
VK2JAF Rating: 3/5 Oct 9, 2009 00:28 Send this review to a friend!
Just purchased... Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just received today..will review once installed

Derek VK2YN..formerly VK2JAF
Unquote
 
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