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Radio Equipment - My Favorites

James Benedict (N8FVJ) on February 7, 2002
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Over the years I have owned perhaps 100+ receivers, transceivers, transmitters and accessories. My engineering side 'made me this way' thus I had to try one of everything to the limits of my 'fun money'. I have not purchased items over $1500, thus the 'high-end' gear I played with were owned by others. I thought it would be interesting to list my favorite gear and the reasons I have repurchased equipment.

KENWOOD TR-7400A. The latest 2 meter radio I owned was the Icom IC-2100H. Very fine 2 meter rig. I went back to a mint TR-7400A. I simply do not care about scanning functions and like the 'dial-a-matic' frequency function of the Kenwood- 800 instant frequencies. Kind of like a microwave oven with the handy analog timer dial. (Everything I warm up on my 'electronic' microwave is under the heading 'Popcorn'). I also receive the best audio reports with this radio which is better than the excellent IC-2100H. The radio has superior receive audio and is built like a tank. I do not care about 2 meter SSB anymore. If I wanted SSB capacity, the Kenwood TR-751A would be the radio of choice. I have owned two TR-751A radios.

TEN TEC OMNI V. I have owned over 20 late model (1989-2000) HF transceivers. The OMNI V simply lets me listen to almost every signal on a trader swap net under horrid band conditions. I know a FT-1000MP Mark II or an IC-765 will also perform well. The FT-920 would not! Neither the IC-728, IC-729, TS-430, TS-450 and many other HF radios. The OMNI V has an outstanding audio filter, various filter combinations up to 28 poles of crystal filtering (optional 10 pole filters) and a tone control. I added an expensive market DSP and the DSP did not improve performance! The OMNI V has enough memories and a simple front panel layout. I simply do not need any more functions. If I needed general receive I would purchase a FT-1000MP as used prices are excellent.

YAESU FT-625RD. I owned a few 6 meter radios. The best to date was the FT-920. I compared the FT-920 to a commercial radio on FM and it was a tie. Of course the FT-920 has SSB. The FT-625RD is a better value for me as I need a dedicated radio to constantly monitor 6 meters. The radio transmits enough power at 25 watts and is very comfortable to operate. I suspect the tuning is analog with a real frequency counter. The receive is quiet and very sensitive. The FT-920 is too expensive for just 6 meter use and I once heard RF arcing while tuning a SWR under 2 to 1. No thanks! I may add a KW amplifier and 25 watts will drive a 3CX-800.

RADIO SHACK DX-200. I listen to shortwave AM. The DX-200 is a real piece of junk on SSB- distorted audio and too drifty. The radio receives well on AM. The $50 invested is all I really need for a shortwave receiver, however I will most likely upgrade later.

ASTRON RS-35A. I have owned perhaps 10 power supplies. The Astron RS-35A is a solid value. The transformer is much larger than the RS-20 and the pass transistors do not heat up as much as the RS-20. Four vs two pass transistors and a larger heatsink makes the RS-35A a bargain. The design is 'linear' type, thus SCR switching noise is not an issue. The RS-35A has reserve capacity to operate all of my equipment at once and most likely all future requirements. I do not care about volt and amp meters as the power supply has a SCR crowbar to monitor overvoltage.

HEATHKIT SP-600. I have used only a few amateur radio type speakers. I have tried about 20 different 'raw drivers' to date due to my kids constantly changing auto and home stereo systems. The SB-600 seems to have a natural frequency curve that attentuates static and lightning crashes on both the high and low frequencies. Perhaps the driver has aged into a better unit, I am not sure. Until the speaker cone fails, I will continue to use it.

MOSLEY TA-33JR WARC. I have not owned to many HF beam antennas. My QTH is a nightmare for a large HF beam. Ice loading and 70 mph winds are common place in the winter. Year after year the antenna sits defiant against the weather elements and presents a low SWR on all five bands. The low gain on 17 and 12 meters have not been an issue yet. My ham 'neighbors' have had antenna problems.

CUSHCRAFT A50-3S. Same as above, the antenna performs year after year.

ROOF MOUNT TOWER. Manufacture is unknown. The tower is 8 feet tall with three legs. Steel construction demands painting to control rust. A roof mount tower is not for everyone. My QTH is on top of a high hill with a view as far as one can see. About 200-500 feet in all directions the antenna is about 80 feet above the ground overlooking any trees for many miles. I placed the tower on my garage and have a firm roof base which I can tilt the tower over and rest the array on the HF boom. This is about as safe as it gets. The only downfall to this QTH is on two meters FM. I have to use a very low gain beam. An omni direction antenna will key up as many as three different repeaters at once. I can contact FM repeaters over 200 miles away almost anytime. This is not a complaint, rather VHF/UHF heaven!

YAESU G-450XL. The rotator is not perfect as the complicated electronics supporting the analog readout is intermittant. The previous rotator did fail to operate at all. Someday I will send the rotator control in for service. What is wrong with a simple variable resistor driving a meter through a simple resistor network? Beats me! Anyways, my antennas still rotate and I am too cheap to buy a 'high-end' rotator such as a Tail-Twister. Perhaps I may change my thinking on this one.

MFJ MODEL #962 ANTENNA TUNER. Well, the variable capacitor is terribly built- wobbles on its axis. The SWR peak meter function does not work, however the tuner will tune anything without arcing while using a kilowatt. The simple two knob tuning makes me as lazy as the 'popcorn' button on the microwave. Perhaps someday I will purchase an outboard automatic KW tuner.

MFJ AL-811A HF Amplifier. I sold mine, may buy another. I owned only a few HF amplifiers. The MFJ new solid state amp demands a very low SWR, the 3-500Z and higher voltage amps 'scare me'- hate those B+ arc overs. Once was enough! I really would like a Yaesu FT-2100F as the amp has 160 and the WARC bands including tuned input. 600 to 700 watts is enough as I will not operate 'shotgun' with 3-5 KW out! HI!

HOBBY BENCH. I am never completely satisfied unless I have some project going on the 'back burner'. My most recient project is a Military Navy TBX-8 transceiver. I found a new old stock unit that needs a power supply. I can operate 160 & 80 meters AM and CW with this radio. Performance is a dog, but the build quality is 'out of this world'. The power supply is a converted Drake AC-4. Of course, I must have regulated B+, filament and bias voltages. The radio is full-breakin CW. Perhaps I will keep this for CW use. I can also control the power and operate QRP.

OTHER IDEAS. I like the construction build of the earlier Kenwood HF transceivers. I understand the TS-530SP has the TS-830s receiver. The TS-530SP is more rare and less money. A set of Yaesu HF twins looks interesting. I owned the '400' series and do not want them. Perhaps the '100' series twins are the best bet.

If you have a favorite radio or other gear, let us know about it. 73s, Jim

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Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WB2WIK on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, sounds like you have warm fuzzies even for stuff that isn't very good. But I can understand that.

I don't get attached to equipment, but wish I still had:

TR7400A: Ditto your remarks. I had two, used them to death, they both eventually failed but they had about a million miles on them. Great radios. Even a great mobile bracket!

Clegg FM-27B: Amazing little rig. What fantastic modulation. Way ahead of its time, but sold like hotcakes and I was very pleased to have owned one.

Johnson Viking Ranger II: Egads, I sold it because I thought SSB was completely replacing AM and its value would drop to zero very soon. Little did I know. To buy back the one I sold in 1968, I'd have to pay about ten times what I sold it for. Humbug.

National NC-303: Just delightful. But heavy. Definitely helped me build muscles, as I carried it around a lot, even to Field Day stations in the mid-60's.

Clegg Venus: Not a great performer, in fact not particularly great at anything. I just love the way it looked, and the flywheel weighted tuning system...wheeeee!

Cushcraft 2m "DX Arrays:" Cushcraft hasn't made these in many years, but WOW did they work well. In fact, they worked a whole lot better than about anything else Cushcraft ever made for VHF. Took up a lot of mast space, though. If they were still made, I'd buy one, today.

Hy-Gain 204BA: Great 20m beam. I still have a 20m beam, but it's not as good as this one. At least this one is actually still manufactured, so if I wanted to be wild & crazy, I could buy another one, and put it up. Maybe when Cycle 23 falls into a huge dip and the higher bands all shut down...

Gonset Communicator II: Just because. My first "voice" contact of any kind was made with one of these, in 1965. Boxy and goofy. Today, they are considered Art Deco. I love them. Also, they were manufactured only 12 miles from where I currently live, so I actually know a number of people who worked there, and built these things (they're all retired).

Collins 75A4: Actually, I like the NC-303 better, in many ways; however there's no denying the A4's superiority in almost all aspects. It was the best receiver available at any price in the late 1950's, and I shouldn't have sold mine (in 1989). Just loved the trap door on top. (Actually, the NC-303 had one, too.)

Globe Scout: How could anyone not love this transmitter? I had a truly mint one, back in the day. Darn.

Swan 350: Pretty. Very pretty. And worked well for its day. Loved those multicolored dial scales.

Okay, I'm done. Sniff.


RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by W5HTW on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Like Steve, and probably like a few others, my favorite radios were not always favorites due to actual performance. Sometimes it was cosmetics. Sometimes it was the method by which acquired. Now and then it was the investment in sweat and after-school slinging sodas at an ice cream bar that determined the value of the radio. An example of that would be my first commercially made receiver, a Hallicrafters S-85, brand new, purchased at age 17 (mine, not the receiver's) on my first "credit plan." It was to teach me the meaning of the phrase "Old Shakey." Just walking across the floor would shift the CW tone. But I had fond memories of that radio.

Several Johnson radios entered my life and I loved them all, like a fickle husband of many divorces. An Adventurer, a Challenger, a Johnson Ranger I and a Ranger II, a Viking II, a Pacemaker, Valiant I, and one of the neatest little CW radios of the day, a Johnson Navigator. Of all of them, that is the one I remember most favorably. Why I got rid of any of them is a puzzle, but, like most men, and especially ham radio hobbiests, we don't want to see what we have, we want to see what we can get. (A modified TV statement in which it is said men don't want to know what is on, but what ELSE is on.) There is always another hill and another valley.

In around 1970, I managed to acquire a brand new Drake TR4. Shortly after getting it, a friend who had a new set of Drake B twins was in serious financial trouble and asked me if I would buy them. The price was fabulous, and I did. Wonderful radios, and I am proud to say I have recently acquired another set of Drake B twins, which perform just as well as those did nearly 35 years ago, and are very rapidly becoming my primary radio. I am reliving my youth.

I also acquired not one, but two, Collins S-Lines, identical. One of them was working quite well, and I sold it a few months ago. The other needs restoration, retubing, etc., and sits in a room, waiting for me to get ambition, time and money. (I also have a Hammarlund TX and RX in the same storage. Perhaps one of these days I'll sell them.) The Collins was a favorite because it was THE desired radio of the 60s, and I was using them in government service, and because it had simply wonderful receive audio.

One of the receivers I had and enjoyed was the NC183D, but I also had a really neat Hallicrafters SX71 and I'd like to find another one at a garage sale somewhere. Yeah, right. Knobs twirled only on Sunday mornings by a little old lady Novice. I saw one advertised recently, but I have not figured out how to tell the wife it will vacuum floors or feed the cats, in order to get budgetary approval.

There were many more. Quite a few were Heaths, and some were good, some were so-so, and a few were really lots of fun. The Apache was in that later category. So was the Marauder. The HW100 was a fairly good buy, and I bought it new and assembled it, my first Heathkit ham radio kit.

I like my Yaesu FT101EE. It is easy to use, delivers reasonable power, looks good on the bench, has enough knobs to satisfy an old tube-burner like me, and sounds good on receive and transmit. I use it frequently on both SSB and CW and have even had a coupe of AM contacts with it. I do like it a lot, and am not likely to sell it.

We've already mentioned the Drakes.

I like the Icom 706 on my bench. I think back to the days when it would take a basement full of relay racks to do what the 706 does in cigar-box size. But in the car it looks too much like a CB radio, and I seem to have a mental block about that. It gets a lot of use on CW, though, at the house, and though I have considered trading it for some boat anchor, it is just too versatile. So I guess it's one of my favorites, too.

And in some way or other, they have ALL been my favorites at the moment.

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by AB7RG on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!

Well let's see, where should I start?

Here looks good...

Azden PCS-7500H 6 Meter FM Mobile -- Past radio. Great for FM, but I found 6 meter SSB far more fun.

Drake TR-4 -- Past radio. Not the best receiver in the world, but not bad for a near 40 year old radio. I wouldn't mind having another one just to play with.

Icom IC-275A 2 Meter All-Mode -- Past radio. Nice receiver for an older 2 meter all-mode radio. Had to install a tone (PL) board for repeater work. Needed more power output.

Icom IC-706 -- Past radio. Very innovative. Great HF mobile rig, but lacking badly on VHF.

Icom IC-706MK -- Past radio. Huge improvement over the original 706. Nearly perfect mobile radio.

Icom IC-706MKIIG -- Current radio! I didn't think that the 706MKII could have been made any better. I was proven wrong when I purchased the MKIIG. Two filter slots, DSP standard, backlit keys, and 440 to boot, wow! Possibly the perfect mobile raido...

Icom IC-718 -- Current radio! An excellent receiver, easy to use, and great audio from a nice front-firing speaker. IF shift works better than most radios I've used. The S-meter seems a little soft, and there is no FM option. Optional DSP works great, but is at the AF stage, like the 706 MKII and G series. CW filter was very expensive, but worth it, as always. I'm finding myself roaming 40 meter CW a lot with mine lately. Many features not found in other radios in this price class. Excellent backup, portable, or beginners radio. Only one optional filter slot however. Mine has the 500 Hz CW filter in it.

Icom IC-756 -- Current radio! Probably the best HF radio ever made. A little wide filtering on AM, but otherwise it couldn't be any better. Well, maybe with four filter slots instead of two. Both of mine are filled. Use the Icom SM-20 desk mic and get broadcast sounding audio with incredible punch. The Pro and ProII can't touch this original modern day classic. I can't say enough about it!

Icom IC-910H -- Past radio. A very good receiver, very powerful output, but the receiver wasn't stable, and mine came off-frequency by 200 Hz from the factory. Great features however, and dual receive in all modes.

Icom T2H 2 Meter HT -- Past radio. Hated programming this HT. Very difficult to nearly impossible. A little large for an HT today. Cheap price, but look elsewhere for a better HT.

Icom ICQ7A -- Current radio! A great little HT for operating cross-band repeat. Also works as an excellent handheld scanner. Could have better audio though. Quick reference sheet comes in really handy too...

Kenwood TS-120S -- Past radio. A nice performer, but lacking in features, and no WARC bands. Go for the TS-130S if you're looking for a radio in this price class. No general coverage receive.

Kenwood TS-130S -- Past radio. Much better than the Kenwood TS-120S. WARC bands and a better receiver. No general coverage receive.

Kenwood TS-430S -- Past & present radio! (Loved the first one, and missed it so much after I sold it that I had to buy another one.) Probably the best buy in a used HF radio. Very easy to use. Mine has the optional Narrow CW and SSB filters plus the wide AM filter and the FM board. The AM filter is a must for SW listening.

Kenwood TS-440SAT -- Past radio. Very good all around HF radio, especially with the auto-tuner. Receiver much like the 430S, but with good sounding AM from the factory.

Kenwood TS-450SAT -- Past radio. Possibly a step down from the Kenwood TS-440SAT... Mine ran hot all the time, even without transmitting, and the receiver wasn't nearly as good as my 440 was or my 430. The antenna tuner wasn't nearly as good as the 440's was either.

Kenwood TS-530S -- Past radio. No WARC bands and a marginal receiver.

Kenwood TS-570D(G) -- Current radio! Great HF performance. Far superior to the Kenwood 450SAT. This radio's tuner works great. The receiver is exceptional for a $1200 radio. Wish it had one-touch band switching though. Needs two filter slots. Not sure what Kenwood was thinking. I have to switch the narrow CW and SSB filters back and forth. Nice display, easy to use, and excellent received audio.

Kenwood TS-830S -- Past radio. Excellent receiver, compares favorably with new HF radios on the market. Great CW rig, even with stock filtering. Great transmit audio. Only operates off of AC, lacks a Lock button, tuning knob is a bit touchy, and only one VFO from the factory however. No general coverage receive, but with a radio that is this much fun, who needs it?

Kenwood TS-950SD -- Past radio. Great primary receiver, but the sub-receiver is marginal and not easy to use compared to other radios. The auto-tuner is incredible. Just don't strain your back when you move this rig, it's heavy! Great transmit audio. Second only to the Kenwood TS-830 and Icom IC-756.

Kenwood THG71A -- Current radios! So good that I have two of them! Unsurpassed audio on transmit and receive for handhelds. Easy to use, reliable, rugged, and no intermod. What more could one ask for? Okay, so there is one weak point; you have to turn the radio off to charge the batteries. So the rapid charger is a must have. Battery packs, like most all spare battery packs, are not cheap, but are well worth it. I have six 5-watt battery packs and four of the AA dry-cell battery cases for my TH-G71A's. Simply put, the best HT on the market, past or present.

Patcomm PC16000 -- Past radio. Had an unfinished feel to it, and was very rough around the edges. A fair receiver, a speaker that rattled badly, and was complex to work. Had potential, but not quality. I sent mine back after two weeks.

Radio Shack HTX202 -- Past radios. I have owned four. Quality control appeared to be an issue. Earlier radios were great, the ones that had "Realistic" on them. Ones that said "Radio Shack" appeared to be
cursed. Bad battery rails, PL tones that didn't work, TX that would stick, etc. Early radios had no problems, and worked great. Very easy to use. They are very large chucky and very box-like though, and the PTT is a little heavy, not to mention hard to reach unless you have very large hands.

Standard C508A -- Past radios. I really liked both of these HT's that I owned, but once the Icom IC-Q7A came out, they were sold off.

Yaesu FT-650 -- Past radio. One of the best radios made for 6-meters. Also excellent on it's other two bands, 10 & 12 meters. Punchy output, easy to use, and extremely well built. Lots of features too.

Yaesu FT-817 -- Past radio. Great little portable radio. Really innovative. Current drain is too much for the AA power however. Receiver has a few too many birdies too. Lacking a Notch filter and a speech processor. Both sorely needed. Hope to buy an improved MK5 version when they come out with one...

Yaesu FT-840 -- Current radio! Great receiver for the price, very easy to use, and quite affordable. Needs a Notch filter badly, and AM audio is horrible, until you purchase the wide AM filter, then it sounds better
than most high-end SW receivers. FM optional and well worth it. Excellent transmit audio too. Very rugged little performer. Modern Yaesu version of the Kenwood 430. Definitely a keeper!

Yaesu FT-847 -- Current radio! Nice radio for the price. Great FM performance, and very good all around VHF/UHF all-mode radio. Pretty good on HF too, but not as good as it could be. Audio is too hot from the factory, and if turned down too far it drops out completely. Fairly easy to fix however. Needs a sub-receiver that works in all modes, like the Icom IC-910H. Power output is good enough, the radio is very easy to use, and the display is pleasing to the eye.

Yaesu FT-900CAT -- Past radio. Second only the 706MKII and MKIIG Icom mobile radios. If not for the 706, I would still have mine. No optional SSB filter available however. Very good receiver, very good auto tuner, and more features than many "base" radios.

Yaesu FT-920 -- Current radio! A very impressive radio! The best buy on the market for the price. Large and not too light however. The second VFO tuning is a bit odd until you get used to it, then it grows on you. Great audio, transmit and receive. FM board now "free", but you still need the AM filter. It's worth it... The more I use this radio the more I love it. It keeps getting used more each week.

Yaesu FT-2200 -- Current radio! Rock solid 2 meter FM mobile. Mine is used daily on packet. 24/7 365 day a year, since '96. Never a problem. Easy to use, and very affordable. Wish Yaesu still made them...

Yaesu FT-2500M -- Current radio! The most rugged 2 meter mobile ever made. Owned for almost seven years and have only had to replace the light bulbs behind the display. Needs more memory channels. Has great selectivity on power output, and no intermod problems. A little large, but it does dissipate the heat. Too bad Yaesu quit making this radio too...

Yaesu FT-5100 -- Past radio. Not useable on 2 meters due to intermod problems. An outboard filter solved it. Heated up too quickly too.

Yaesu FT-8100 -- Current radio! Heats up a little quickly, but otherwise is a great radio. A small muffin fan with a toggle switch for turning it off and on, using long screws though it for mount feet fixes the heat problem instantly. Needs a better speaker (such as an MFJ Cleartone external speaker), then the audio is excellent. Fairly easy to use, and works like a dream. No intermod problems either!

Yaesu FT-290RII -- Past radio. Fair receiver at best. Mine came off-frequency by 100 hz from the factory. Not too many positive things to say. Low output radio. Made obsolete by the Yaesu FT 817.

Yaesu FT-736R -- Past radio. Great all-mode radio, but lacking in power output. Very good receiver, but a little complex to use at first.

Yaesu FT-33R -- Past radio. A little box like, but very rugged HT. Great receiver for an HT -- rivals many mobile radios... Very basic, but a good all around HT for exploring 220.

Yaesu FT-50R -- Past radio. Good audio on receive, and very well built. Very hard to use, and way too chunky for my hands. I sold mine within a month of having it.

Yaesu FT-530 -- Past radio. The dual-band HT "king", at least until the Kenwood TH-G71A came out. Dual receive is excellent. Yaesu should have kept making this radio... Very easy to use, just be sure to use the Lock button when it's on your waist... I would rate it as the second best handheld ever made. Second to the TH-G71A.

Yaesu (Vertex) VX-150 -- Past radio. Easy to use, built like a tank, incredible price, great receive audio, but taking the battery case on and off is like trying to pry off the lid of a soup can with tweezers. The PTT
isn't easy to access at all angles. Accessories aren't very cheap either.

Motorola T-6300 FRS HT's -- The best FRS units available. Very nice feel to them, excellent TX and RX audio. Has three scramble modes (simple speech inversion, but keeps casual listeners locked out). Also has 38 CTCSS tones, and even a feature which will only let the radio hear another T-6300 series FRS HT! A MUST have for hamfests and going to large events when you are not with ham friends (i.e. with the XYL.) QRM free FRS, and very easy to use, with scanning features too. Truly the Cadillac of FRS HTs. Not cheap, but well worth the price.

Radio Shack Pro-2066 200 channel mobile scanner -- I have used this scanner mobile while going cross country and it's search features are incredible. It also has a very sensitive receiver and rejects intermod very well. Easy to program and even easier to use. Small for base use too, which is where mine is at currently.

Uniden Bearcat BC178XLT 100 channel scanner -- Made for base use, very low profile and works great for local scanning with the telescopic whip antenna. Very nice for casual monitoring of local ham radio, police, fire, ambulance, etc.... Very affordable and extremely easy to use.

Astron RS-12 power supply -- A nice little power supply for the money, but a bit heavy for a 12 amp unit. This power supply has been in use 24/7 365 for almost seven years now without a single problem.

Astron RS-20 power supply -- A great power supply for the money. Mine has been going strong for about seven years now.

Astron RS-35M -- Not light, but by far the best power supply made. A very rugged power supply. Nice meters for monitoring voltage and current pull. Can hum, but is easy to fix as the top of the cabinet wants to vibrate slightly with the front panel, which is very easy to solve. I have three of these and love them!

Kenwood PS-40 power supply -- Very nice compact lightweight switching power supply capable of powering a 100 watt radio with a continous duty cycle. Works great, the only down side is the fan noise. It's pretty loud, but does keep the power supply cool.

Bencher BY-1 Iambic paddle -- The standard by which all other keys are judged. A great feel, easy to adjust, and very reliable. I have two of them and use them all the time.

Telephonics/Bendix Navy "Flameproof" straight key -- Possibly the best feeling straight key ever produced, and by far the most rugged. Of all my straight keys I use this one the most. Has an incredible feel and the navy knob makes sending a breeze.

Ham-Key straight key -- Hard to find but worth it. Very rugged heavy key. Has a navy style knob for easy sending and doesn't move around on your operating desk. Second only to my Navy key.

Ham-Key Iambic paddle -- Hard to find, but well worth it, just like the straight key. Very heavy and has a great feel. Extremely well built paddle!

J-38 straight key -- Hard to find one in really good shape, but when you do you will see why these are the standard by which all other straight keys are judged... The shorting bar makes tuning a manual antenna tuner a breeze. I have two of these, one original and one Ameco modern day copy. Inexpensive rugged go-anywhere keys. Every ham should own one!

J-37 straight key -- Has a fantastic feel to it! Mine is still on the original Bakelite base and sees a fair amount of use, especially for Novice band QSO's. Another must have key!

Kenwood MC60A desk microphone -- Nice solid desk mic with great sounding audio. Forget putting a battery in the bottom. The amplification will pick up breathing from halfway across your shack. Works great with any Kenwood HF rig. Mine is currently hooked up to my Kenwood TS-570D(G).

Kenwood MC-90 desk microphone -- The best mic made by Kenwood. Outstanding audio, second only to the Icom SM-20. Wish I still had this one...

Yaesu MD-1 desk microphone -- Nice solid desk mic with great sounding audio and a glass smooth PTT button. Very well built. My current one is currently hooked up to my Yaesu FT-840.

Yaesu MD-100A8x desk microphone -- Lighter in weight than the MD-1, but still great quality and even better sounding audio. Lock button on the mic (not the one on the base), is easy to engage and not know it when your cleaning the shack, so keep an eye on it! I have two, one for my Yaesu FT-920 and the other for my Yaesu FT-847.

Icom SM-8 desk microphone -- Very nice audio and can be used with two radios. Fairly inexpensive and light weight desk mic. A little too sensitive for VOX operation, but otherwise an excellent choice. Mine is currently hooked up to my Icom IC-718 and I have the adapter for my IC-706MKIIG if I ever decide to take it out of my Camaro.

Icom SM-20 desk microphone -- The Cadillac of all desk microphones! Excellent for VOX and will drive your Icom radio to it's fullest potential. Small enough not to take up much room too. I have had stations during a contest actually stop and ask me what I was running, and have received countless praise from the audio quality of this mic. Expensive but once you use one you will see, or should I say hear where your money went! Mine is currently hooked up to my Icom IC-756.

Turner Plus III desk microphone -- A classic desk mic with a very streamlined appearance. Very good audio. Hard to find one in great shape. I was lucky enough to find one still new in the original box last year.

MFJ-281 Clear Tone speaker -- Very inexpensive speaker with excellent audio! I have three of them and they work great. Small, but very effective speakers. A best buy for your money when it comes to an external speaker.

Icom SP7 external speaker -- Pricey but well worth it. I have mine currently hooked up to my Icom IC-706MKIIG in my Camaro on a homemade quick-release mounting bracket. Boy is this a nice mobile speaker! It would also work very well for base applications.

Icom SP-21 external speaker -- Quite pricy but well worth it. Has great filtering and unsurpassed audio quality. Currently hoooked up to my Icom IC-756. A little large for many applications.

MFJ-392 headphones -- A great value for the money. Unlike open-air headphones it is hard to hear yourself when operating though. Very comfortable too. If your radio has a speech monitor function these headphones will work great for you.

MFJ-394 headset boom-mic -- A new addition to my gear. Great comfort and nice audio. I haven't played with them enough to state their full VOX capability yet. Very inexpensive, but if you're using them with more than one brand of radio prepare to buy an additional cable for each, for me this meant three. They look the same too, so be sure to lable them Y/K/I...

Yaesu YH-7STA headphones -- The best lightweight open-air headphones made in my opinion. Not cheap, but they are quite durable and have a very clear audio to them. Very comfortable too for long term operating. I have two pair of these wonderfull headphones.

MFJ-906 6 meter antenna tuner -- will tune almost any reasonable antenna on six, and will tune the full band. Great tuner if you need a manual antenna tuner just for six meters.

MFJ-921 2 meter antenna tuner -- great for MARS & CAP operators when you need to go out of band with your 2 meter antenna. Also tunes 220 MHz and handles 300 watts nicely. Needs a lamp behind the meter though.

MFJ-971 portable 160-10 meter antennna tuner -- Great for QRP work, or for 100-200 watt radios. Does need a button for turning the lamp on and off though. I solved this for base use via a toggle switch. Very compact tuner and a great value for the money. Nice looking finish too.

MFJ-969 roller inductor 160-6 meter antenna tuner -- The best deal for the money when you're looking for a roller inductor tuner. Much nicer than fixed inductance tuners. Comes with a built-in dummy load, a nice plus!

MFJ-989C 3KW roller inductor 160-10 meter antenna tuner -- I wouldn't run legal limit with it, especially not on 160, but this is a very nice tuner for the money. For 1500 watt amps and random antennas look for an expensive tuner that can handle 1000 watt CW carrier easily. Avoid the older 989's, as the counter uses a rubber band essentially, and quits working soon (band breaks or stretches and falls off). The newer units have gears, and their knobs and main swich resemble older Kenwoods for a nicer appearance.

MFJ-250 1KW Oil Can dummy load -- A must have for any ham who owns and amplifier. Save time and keep from creating QRM when tuning up your amp or testing your radio's audio when using the Monitor feature. It will also keep you from burning up a dry dummy load.

Radio Shack 21-506 100 watt dry dummy load -- A MUST have for every ham! Handles 100 watts (max) for 15 seconds and 15 watts continuously and works from 160 meters up through 650 MHz! Very small, fits in the palm of your hand. Ideal for testing.

Kenwood BC-19 rapid charger -- A must have for Kenwood TH-G71A HT owners! About five hours max to charge the five watt capacity battery packs. Takes the batteries down then charges them back up. A really nice charger! (Comes in really handy when you have six 5-watt battery packs!)

Kantronics KPC-3 TNC -- The best TNC ever made in my opinion. Mine has been used continously 24/7 365 since '96 without a single problem. Can be operated with a 9 volt battery for portable use. Make sure you get the 128K mailbox though!

RigBlaster No-Mic -- An incredible soundcard interface. Works with any radio, just change the jumpers inside the case and hook up the appropriate microphone cable and computer cable. No power supply needed! Very compact, great for portable or base use. Works so well I'm going to have to buy another one, perhaps an original unit. Great customer support too, wish all manufacturers were this nice and helpful.

Ameritron 811H amplifier -- Inexpensive amp, works great when conditions are marginal. Very well built, and the tubes are inexpensive too. A great starter or back-up amplifier.

Timewave DSP 9+ -- A great little outboard DSP box. Marginal filter for CW, but great for digital modes and for cleaning up recieved audio on the lower HF bands, or for quieting your shack. Currently hooked up between my Kenwood TS-430S and my RigBlaster NoMic.

Timewave DSP59+ -- The best outboard DSP filter that I've ever used. I missed my first one so much that I had to have another one. It is currently hooked up to my Yaesu FT-840. Remember the 840 not having a Notch filter? Problem solved! It may be at AF, but it sure wipes out broadcast QRM and tune-ups. The NR works better than many inboard DSP setups, as does the Notch filter. Very easy to change bandwidths. Again, filtering is obviously done at AF, but it really helps my 840 when QRM is present. Especially great accessory for radios that do not have Notch or optional filters.

MFJ-125 24 hour wall clock -- Another must have for the hamshack. Lots of features on a very easy to read clock. Uses one AA battery. Easy to set, and pretty accurate. Has local time feature too. Inexpensive to boot!

I won't bother to go into rotators, antennas, coax switches, programs, books (I have an entire Ham radio library), or other station accessories, nor station accesories that I no longer own... Far too many to list and far too little time to do it, plus this would have to be a 20 page book -- not counting the antennas that I've made! Anyway, I do hope that this is in some way helpful to someone when it comes to comparing and purchasing Ham Radio transceivers and accessories.

73 Clinton AB7RG

RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N8FVJ on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The TS-530SE is single conversion receiver and the TS-830S is a double conversion receiver.
RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WB2WIK on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Clinton, you've got waaaay too much stuff.

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WN3VAW on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
In no particular order:

Collins S-Line: This was THE station to use at K3CR when I was at Penn State in the mid-to-late 70's. Story was that it was ordered from Collins Radio Company, but delivered by Rockwell-Collins, and that the University had to step in to prevent RC from doubling the price on the student club (it had been put out to bids, you see...) One of the sharpest tube receivers of it's time, one of the cleanest transmitters, and to be honest, it took a hell of a beating from some of the less-than-careful student body. It outlived a Heath 301/401 combo, TS-520, TS-820, and TS-830s that I know of. Heard a few years ago that due to neglect, it had been relegated to a dust-bunny-gathering status, and one of the alum bought it and restored it. Hope that tale's true!

Drake C-Line: Lusted after a Drake (any Drake) growing up, finally obtained the C twins about 10 years ago. Solid performer, receiver beat out a lot of rigs. Only problem was that as a hybrid, I'd gotten in the habit of letting it warm up for about 15 minutes before operating, and when you only have 20 minutes here or there to be QRV, well... regretted trading them for a solid-state rig, and I know I took a few steps down, but... anyway, I still have a classic station to play with:

Hallicrafters HT-37: Along with an SX-111 & HT-41, an old-fashioned fun station. I've been using an HT-37 in the shack for over 20 years, and if you want to hear hi quality voice, you've got to hear this rig on the air. Best audio I've ever heard, and I've gotten more compliments using it than everything else combined.

Regency HR2B: My first 2M rig. Despite AES screwing me on crystals (Wickliffe promised they had all the repeater pairs I wanted in stock, but the rig shipped from Milwaukee, they refused to take back the crystal certificates in lieu of crystals & Bowman took 6 months to redeem them -- but 2 weeks to send me crystals that I ordered with a check), it was a solid performer. Regret to this day selling that radio.

Tempo FMH-2: First HT. Remember when we thought these were "small?"

Ten-Tec Corsair & Argosy: Sold these when I worked in a now defunct radio store. You could put an Argosy side-by-side with a TS-930S (and I did) and be shocked at how well the Argosy beat the pants off the 930. Same antenna, same signal, same everything. And the Argosy was outclassed by far by the original Corsair. The amazing thing was, I'd show this to someone, and 4 times out of 5 they'd STILL buy the Kenwood or ICOM or Yaesu over the Ten-Tec, and then gripe for months after about performance. No comment.

73, ron wn3vaw
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N5XM on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Gee, I thought this was supposed to be about our FAVORITE equipment, not everything we ever owned, not a "mine is bigger than yours" kind of thing. Oh well, I guess some people are just that way. If the shoe fits, I guess.

I haven't owned enough gear for 20 HF stations, so I don't know if I even qualify for comment here, but I have owned some stuff that I enjoyed tremendously, and some of it I still have and still enjoy tremendously.

The first rig I ever owned that I actually thought qualified as "beautiful" was a Kenwood 830 Gold Edition. It had quality written all over it. I was really proud of that radio. The narrow CW filter worked great, and it had a silky smooth VFO.

People either seem to love or hate the Yaesu 920. I love mine, and to show you how much I love it, it gets use even with four Ten Tecs in the shack.

I've gotta agree about the Ten Tec Omni V. What a performer, and it is so easy to use, there is just no fatigue. I have not been able to understand why "Big Orange" doesn't just dominate the Japanese market. I know, I know, the Japanese give us what we want. Yeah, sure.

I have a mint Ten Tec Corsair II that looks like it just came out of the box, and there are times I swear that I like using it more than the Omni V or the 920. There is just something about this is so functional. The reciever is so quiet, and it is just a no-nonsense radio. I actually LIKE the grey front panel.

I have also become a big fan of the Autek QF1A analog filter. I piggyback it into a Timewave DSP-9, the first one, and it works great. I'm sure some of you purists would pooh pooh this setup, but it works well for me, in my shack, with my antennas, and that is good enough for me.

My Ten Tec Century 21 isn't fancy, powerful, or modern, but it sure is fun to use. It has a built-in power supply, great QSK, it is really cool looking, and it actually has a little filtering. All this stuff makes me wish I could make money ragchewing. Oh well.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N5XM on February 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Great thread, but I thought it was about your Favorite gear, not showing everyone how much stuff you've owned, how much you think you know, or even the admirable goal of helping someone decide about what kind of gear to get. I mean, I hate to be critical, and I'm not gonna mention names...but as they say, if the shoe fits. I didn't count them, but one poster must have had somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 favorite items. C'mon now, I don't believe it was intended as a "mine's bigger than yours'" contest. That isn't what Ham Radio is about. It is equipment oriented, but what about the Hams who have one or two rigs, tops? Do you feel better about yourself because you've had enough HF gear to put together 20 stations? I have some favorite gear, but I don't even feel like telling anyone about it now. Someone else hogged the thread.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WB5OAU on February 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
This is a good topic for me.

Having about 150 radios at home now, spanning from 1920's to 2001 this is certainly fun.


Anything Drake. I've got 8 drake stations (either transceivers or T/R separates) on the air hooked up right now. All work superbly. Additionally, the 2B and 2A receivers (not counted in the above totals) are sleepers and wonderful triple conversion CW rigs.
Drake: the thinking mans Collins!

Johnson gear: 3 Rangers, 2 Viking IIs, a Viking I, Challenger, Adventurer, Valiant...all well made and work well, even after 60 years in some cases.

Collins. Rather antiseptic, but no doubt well performing. The Slines leave me cold, but the St James Boxes, particularly my 75A1/32V2 station are wonderful.
The 550A1 broadcast rig in the garage is going to be fun to put on 160.

WRL: Love the 2 Globe kings, and the Champion. Leo made great stuff with ordinary parts.

Regens: I've built some, and restored others. Old HB stuff is a gas to get running.

Heath: My TX1/RX1 rigs are real mules...they never die and are my boatanchor "appliance" rigs. HW100/101 and the 301/401 twins also fun to run from time to time.

B&W6100 is a ball to use, along with 75A4.

Favorite currently working SSB station is a Central
Electronics 20A with the 458 VFO into a WRL LA1 linear
running about 200 w PEP out. Stable and dependable. Also about 3 feet long! Another Drake 2B works FB on
the RX side, though not a good match date-wise.

New stuff leaves me cold, though I enjoy PSK31 somewhat.

Got my license in 70 at 15.... so most all this stuff is older than my Ham career is!

John wb5oau
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by KN3ZAN on February 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I still use my original Kenwood equipment that was purchased new. They consist of:

TS-180S w/DFC and all of the station accessories.
TL-922 amplifier.
Kenwood Twins (D) series, (two sets of them).
TS-700S and all of the accessories.
TS-600 and all of the accessories.
All of the VHF and UHF equipment is Kenwood also.

Everything is still going strong after all of these years. Nothing has broke as of yet. They just keep getting better every day.

I wouldn't trade them in for any other radios.
RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N8FVJ on February 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My article should have said- 'Favorites considering the purchase price'. My TS-950SD slightly outperforms the OMNI V for a whopping $500 more money.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by K0WA on February 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I must say this was interesting reading. I am not going to rehash all the equipment I've ever owned, but I have a few opinions (who doesn't?).

TA33M or JR. --- Not very good and I am being polite. They seem to be a dummy load.
TH6DXX --- Awesome (The one I have now is over 25 years old.

Best Rig: FT1000MP
Second Best Rig: TS850
Third Best Rig: TS830

Most fun rig: Elecraft K2 (You just have to experience it)
Most rig for the dollars; Elecraft K2

Worst amp: SB220 This is an unpopular comment because they are so beloved in the ham community, but they were TVI generators. The new amps do not have near the trouble.

Older Rigs I loved. DX40 - Ranger II
Older Rigs I hated. HW100 (goofy little rig that needed TLC. Funny tuning mechanism too. Worked, but always had the cover off if it to tweak it.)

Two-meters: Heath Twoer. Why? 2-meter AM was fun back then talking with the locals. FM trashed the whole band. I have an HT somewhere and a mobile rig, but I haven't seen them in years. Why bother? I did like the TS9130.

Just a few comments.....

Lee - K0WA

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by K0WA on February 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I must say this was interesting reading. I am not going to rehash all the equipment I've ever owned, but I have a few opinions (who doesn't?).

TA33M or JR. --- Not very good and I am being polite. They seem to be a dummy load.
TH6DXX --- Awesome (The one I have now is over 25 years old.

Best Rig: FT1000MP
Second Best Rig: TS850
Third Best Rig: TS830

Most fun rig: Elecraft K2 (You just have to experience it)
Most rig for the dollars; Elecraft K2

Worst amp: SB220 This is an unpopular comment because they are so beloved in the ham community, but they were TVI generators. The new amps do not have near the trouble.

Older Rigs I loved. DX40 - Ranger II
Older Rigs I hated. HW100 (goofy little rig that needed TLC. Funny tuning mechanism too. Worked, but always had the cover off if it to tweak it.)

Two-meters: Heath Twoer. Why? 2-meter AM was fun back then talking with the locals. FM trashed the whole band. I have an HT somewhere and a mobile rig, but I haven't seen them in years. Why bother? I did like the TS9130.

Just a few comments.....

Lee - K0WA

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by PY4RO on February 9, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Good topic. Congratulations Jim.

My favorite classic radio is the Drake C line. This line is fantastic on 80 and 160. I bought one of these beauties in São Paulo two years ago and it looks like new! Drake used to build radios to last.

Something I do not like: FL2100 (B/Z etc). You need to replace the bandswitch twice a week..hi. Also gets so much hot. You smell BAD after using it during a contest. Really do not like it. I like the Ameritron AL80B (my current amplifier).

An antenna I enjoyed a lot was the old Mosley TA33 (made in the 1970´s). That´s a pity I sold it in 1997. An antenna I DID NOT like was the Cushcraft R4. Very, very noisy. Their AV3 model (with radials) works much better in tx/rx.

73 Carlos PY4RO (ex PY1CAS, ex PT2HO)

RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N4HRA on February 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I have had 2 hf rigs over the pase 15 years, and both are in use
1. CIR Astro 200A HF Moble, Nice and simple to use, though the antenna must to tuned for the freq you are going to use

2. Tempo 2020 with external VFO its getting a little tired, still works great.
RE: Radio Equipment - Mosley Products  
by N8FVJ on February 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
So interesting on the Mosley beam comment above. My TA-33jr WARC, for example, consistantly 'snags' Russian stations with my amp providing 500 watts on 10 meters. Still ok amount of replies with 100 watts most of the time!
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by K2WH on February 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Clinton, (AB7RG) could not possibly be married. Then again neither am I. (Where the hell did you get all that stuff)?

Anyway, favorite rig - Kenwood TS-820s! I just picked up one (1 week ago), on Ebay. The rig is in excellent condition and I have been using it on the air with no problems. I sold my original TS-820s about 25 years ago at a good profit! Read that to say PROFIT.

Heres the story:

Been a ham for 32 years but about 25 years ago, I wanted an HF rig. It had to be something impressive but, something I could afford. Well, I decided on a Kenwood TS-520. Paid some outfit in California. Waited for the rig to arrive. UPS pulls up and delivers this big box. Oh goody, my rig is here. I open the first box, and inside there is a second box. The outside of the inside box reads "Kenwood TS-820s"!

No way, must be using a scrap box. Opened the inner box and holy shamoly, it's an 820s!!! A top of the line rig at that time and valued at twice the price I paid for the 520. I said nothing and the California seller never contacted me. So, that's why it's my favorite rig. Ahh nostalgia.
RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N8FVJ on February 11, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I once ordered a new TS-450S (yuk) from AES and also received a new FT-890. My credit card was billed for both, only ordered the TS-450S. Fortunately, the FT-890 was sold the next day to a local ham. I just sold the wrong radio as the TS-450S cound not hold a 'candle' to the FT-890 or earlier TS-440S! No, I did not open the FT-890 box.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by W2RBA on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I haven't owned all that much over the 38 I've been hamming, but a few favorites, largely for nostalgic reasons:

1) My second novice/general station, particularly the RX: Drake 2B and 2BQ. I bought that when I was 16 years old, as I recall, got it used from a fellow who was letting it go for who knows what reason. That RX was an eye-opener -- I thought it heard everything under the sun! That was coupled with a Lafayette KT-390 (I think) copy of the DX-60. When I got a *real* antenna attached to the rigs, wow! (Unfortunately, I then moved to college and began my relationshiop with a number of temporary antennas which continues to this day!)

2) My Ten-Tec Argonaut 509: This was the second QRP rig I owned, first one was an HW-8, but this was a real eye-opener in terms of performance vs. price. It may not be that old of a radio, but it sure was classic in my book. I still have it, down in the basement on the workbench, still works fine though it's used mostly to listen these days. The K2 has supplanted it, but it still has a place in my heart.

3) I suppose my relationship to Ten-Tec was solidified after getting that Argonaut used (for the lprincely sum of $175 in 1980). I've had since then an Argosy, which I later traded in for a Corsair; a Triton IV (great rig, it spurred my "rediscovery" of the ham world when I was a graduate student - they had one at the campus ham club station); a Century 21, which is a good radio although pretty much bare bones; a Jupiter (the current main radio) and last but not least a T-Kit QRP xcvr for 30 meters. I don't have too many fond memories of the Jupiter yet - it's way too early to expect that (though the rig performs admirably), but the other Ten-Tec gear I've had has some nice memories, especially the Argosy.

Of course, I'm still awaiting the income to be able to afford a *real* antenna!


Joe, W2RBA
Radio Equipment , Like Beauty, Eyes of the Beholde  
by KE5GK on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur Radio, like many other hobbies, has multiple facets. And most of us progress through phases within a hobby.

Collecting and restoring has become an important part of our great hobby.

I know one ham who has so many rigs, he has had to rent storage space! Others have a full shack, room, or garage.

I once had three HF rigs in the shack. I'm down to one HF rig (Ten Tec Corsiar II), one 2M HT Radio Shack), and one 2M base station (Alinco 130). My wife loves the cleaner shack and I find I am on the air more.

The Amateur Radio tent is big enough for the one rig operator and the ham who owns one of everything.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N8SNG on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I like my Kenwood 77A the best of all the hand helds I have had. I have a 79A which is a good radio but I have had battery problems from the start. It just doesn't make good connections and can shut the radio off in the middle of a conversation. I have two of the 79A's and both are the same way. I have an Alinco DJ-160 which works fine. I have an older Yaesu 107M for an HF rig which still works well but is slightly outdated. If it works don't fix it! Just keep running it! So what ever you have enjoy it if it works no matter how old it is.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by K2JX on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I am back to running a BC-348 rcvr, Johnson Viking Adventurer, Heath VF-1 VFO. That was my novice station back in the early 70's. I just recently found the '348 in 6 land, the VF-1 was new old stock (I had to put it together) and the Johnson was a gift from my best friend.
Of course this set-up does'nt compare to my Yeasu FT-847 or my Ten-Tec Paragon 2. But they sure are fun to use ! Some of you guys must have a stadium for a ham shack judging by the amount of gear listed !
Now about those electric bills...
73, Jack K2JX
RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by W7UIV on February 13, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
This is supposed to be a listing of the best, but sometimes people have to mention most everything so others can tell what kind of a contrast they base their opinions on. Trust me to say from the 50s through late 70s I had from the least to some of the greatest (excepting Signal One) and these are my fond memories. I will also mention the worst one of the lot.

75A-1 with an outboard 50KC I.F. amp that I built into the speaker cabinet. The 12 hi-Q Miller I.F.s could be stagger tuned for CW or SSB bandwidth. On SSB signals would simply "drop" in or out when tuning across the band. I have never heard another kind of filter that worked like that, and happily I still have it to perhaps resurrect some day. I believe it's in the 1952 ARRL Handbook with 11 tuned circuits, but I added one more to make it 12.

Drake 2B. Someone in here called it a "sleeper" and I agree to that. This was one hot receiver. Although Drake could have used a slower tuning rate.

Drake 4C line. Yeah, and I hung onto this one. As a side note for which I need some help; I ordered all the upgrade parts from the Drake Shop a year ago and the PD board arrived cracked. I sent it back for replacement as directed, but never have heard a word and the Drake shop web site is "off the air". Someone told me the owner was in an accident. Letters and emails seem to go out ok, but no answers back. Anyone know what the deal is?

Kenwood TS930AT. I would say this is the most enjoyable one of the lot to operate. Everything works and still not too complex with a lot of multiple functions as today's rigs. Just plain old straightforward operating. Serial number is above the 4xxxx mark. Earlier one's had some problems I've never experienced.

ICOM 756 Pro. I've had it a year and I like it, although a few times I've pushed some button and had to get the book out to discover what I did, and how to get back out of it. It say's "passband tuning", but doesn't mean what Drake did. It's variable bandwidth, and you can shift it some, but seems a lot more work to it than the Drake. However for the first time in 40 years my wife doesn't complain about hearing the squawk on SSB stations when she's in the room. Great rig. ICOM needs to supply a shortcut guide, one of those plastic fold out guides like the old DOS word processors did, so you don't have to plow through the entire manual to find all these functions. If you get into trouble this rig is nearly useless without the book. But it's a topper on the list.

Some others: Hammarlund SP 400x, RME 99 and 6900, 75A4, 51J4, 51S1, three S lines from first to last models, Swan 120, Heathkit twins, National NCX 5. All ok, at the top of the list in their times, but got knocked off the tables by the above over the long term.

The worst: National 183D (intolerably unstable) In mid 1950s was my first "good" receiver of my very own (not my dad's). This was also the first of equipment I bought fairly cheap through the years due to it's having "phantom" problems that nobody could seem to fix, and eventually I could get them working after a few evenings. I was told the 183D was this way right out of the box, and that the factory couldn't find any problem (or wouldn't admit there was one), nor would they replace it. After a few months of trying to fix it I sold it even cheaper to a more experienced ham, and he in turn ended up getting rid of it. I never got one moment of use out of that piece of junk.

Recently I've been watching for an HRO500 to give National another shot. One just went for $2200 on if that's any indication what they go for, it's simply not going to happen.

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by W2PA on February 14, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Well I can't resist *this* one. Lots of great pieces of equipment have already been mentioned. I think with something this subjective, you can't just limit youself to the best performing or best designed. It is possible to love a clunker, as others have pointed out. Here are my favorites in chronological order of my using them.

Heathkit GR-64 receiver (~1967).
My first kit, first sWL receiver, and I used it as a Novice and General. It is *such* an awful ham receiver that it probably made me a better operator. My friend down the street had one too. When he keyed his transmitter on 40m, my whole "C" band would go dead. We could never work each other because even with no antenna connected, the thing would overload. What fun! I still have it.

Heathkit DX-60B transmitter (~1969).
My first transmitter, second kit. Simple and reliable. I made lots of QSOs with that thing. I'm very sorry I sold it.

Collins 75A-1 receiver (made before I was born).
This is the first receiver I ever used that had 1-kHz resolution. What a concept - knowing what frequency you're on! After the GR-64 this was truly Nirvana. I didn't own one - I just used it at a friend's station.

Drake TR-4 (the middle model, around 1970).
Yeah, I know it's no CW rig but when my friend down the street replaced his GR-64 and DX-60B with one of these beauties I was bluish-green with envy. I now have one I picked up last year.

Heathkit HW-100 (~1970).
What I ended up with since I couldn't afford the TR-4 on a lawn-mowing salary. What a bargain! It was my first sideband rig and I used it as my main rig for longer than I can believe, around 10 years. I replaced the silly plastic dial drive with the Swan drive. Nice. Working DX split was a challenge. There were two techniques: (1) spin the dial back and forth with the high rate metal collar and (2) stick a carefully tuned piece of insulated wire down the center of the tunable inductor sticking out the top of the VFO. Dropping it in gets you down 5; pulling it out brings you back. I still have this rig. I built it - how could I sell it?

Drake C-line (mid '70s).
The one I wanted but couldn't afford in college. I eventually bought one in Dayton around 1980 and used it for 10 years.

Collins S-line (mid '70s).
Used in in college at the club station. I never thought it performed as well as the C-line but it sure "felt" nicer. That dial drive mechnism is in a class by itself.

Yaesu FT-1000D (90s).
This is what I replaced the C line with, around 1992. At last - no more scratchy rotary switches - no more final tuning. It's the best rig I ever used (never mind owned). It's still my main rig.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by W4MGY on February 16, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Over the years, I have owned both Japanese and American made SW receivers, HF transceivers, and VHF stuff. Among the the imports, the Kenwood TS-830 was probably the best mid class radio made for the buck for it's time. But all of the imported stuff made today with all the menus and CPU's leave me very cold. This crazy fad of putting everything in one box, and reducing it to ever smaller dimentions has turned ham gear today into what amounts to a consumer driven radio 'toy'. I have a vision impairment, and prefer large full sized serious equipment with large knobs and switches. With that in mind, here are my favorite radios.

Collins: Presently own an S/Line, a KWM-380, and a R-390A. The build-out quality on Collins gear has no equal; they are materpieces of electronic art. Typical performance may not be the same as the newer DSP designs. Remember, most Collins equipment was in reality commercial grade, sold to the ham marketplace. Even today, most Collins gear are conisdered very stable for it's time, and is still a dependable radio. The R-390A is a legendary radio, own one and you will understand why.

Drake: Own R-4C and R8A receivers, hope to add other pieces to have a C-Line. Owned a B-Line and enjoyed it. Drake built probably the best functional elite class ham equipment ever made. No bells and whistles like the current ricebox rigs; every control on Drake gear had a definate purpose, and made the differance is hearing that elusive signal.

TenTec: Own an Omni V, and a Jupiter. The Omni is the current main rig for serious DX work. The Jupiter is a back up rig, and I reccmend it for casual use only. Hope to add another Omni V to back up the main rig.

Hammarlund: Owned many of these fine receivers over the years. My present favorites is the massive SP-600 Super Pro, and the classic HQ-180A. Both receivers where made back in the days when AM was still king on the ham bands. The '180 can still yield awesome results under the most extreme conditions, and is a top choice for those who still enjoy DXing the standard and shortwave broadcast bands.

73 de Steve W4MGY

No wonder there are so many divorces?  
by N0TONE on February 19, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I know we like to swap, somehow it's in our blood. But when we swap, do we know why?

I've been a ham for over forty years. Until recently, I never had two HF rigs at the same time. When I change radios, or "upgrade", it's for a very specific reason, a thing I want to be able to do that I couldn't before. Besides, if I went through the series of rigs you guys have, I'm certain that my wife would not have stayed with me this long.

So I have a set of Drakes as the "main" rig. Great RX, allows me to hear the weak ones even when strong ones are on the band. I also have an Icom solid state rig. The Icom is almost erotic in the fluidness of the QSK. As an almost exclusive CW op, I LOVE the Icom's QSK, but the receiver utterly collapses on my favourite two bands of 80 meters and 160.

Maybe someday there'll be a rig with the Drake RX's dynamic range and low phase noise that also has QSK, but it doesn't exist today. I see no reason to swap radios until there's a reason.

2 meters? Sure - one on the TX and one on the RX.

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by K7LD on February 20, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite line up which is all I ever use is the mighty (&) heavy DX-100 tx and 51J4 receiver. A match made in ham heaven! I enjoy the quality of AM and enjoy cw on the old rigs. I don't have any antenna relays so I am like a mad scientist keying, turning and switching knobs and making sure my tx is not routed to my rx. It adds another dimension to my operating.

RE: No wonder there are so many divorces?  
by W8EJO on February 21, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The rig you want exists. It's the Elecraft K-2. I too had a Drake rig w/o QSK that I loved (TR7). I sold it & bought the little K-2 & couldn't be happier. Great portable, mobile or base.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by KS1U on February 25, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite station was my novice set-op, an EICO 723 xmtr and a Hallicrafters S-120 rcvr. They were so difficult to use together that it made me a better operator than if I could have afforded a big buck station, or even a decent Heathkit.
I still love playing with my R-390A (A Collins 1955 unit), If you ever get a chance to own or play with one, do it.
My current favorites are my various pieces of homebrew equipment.
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by N2EEZ on February 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Great reading. Stick with me on this, it's actually about the topic of this forum...

I was licensed in 1953 (at the age of 9!) and my first rig was a Globe Scout and a little Hallicrafters receiver with the big arc-shaped multi band tuning dial (sorry, I can't remember the model, but I'm sure somebody will remind me.) My first antenna was a 1/4 wave 15 meter dipole strung from my bedroom to a tree. In the first few weeks after my ticket arrived, I worked many stations from my QTH in Long Island, NY, all over the midwest and south, on 5 wpm CW on the 15 novice band. Then one afternoon, I called CQ and a DL3 came back, and in that instant I was galvanized into a DX'er for life. Until this day I can remember my pulse racing as I struggled to figure out "where the hell is DL?". I soon cajoled my father, who had been an early radio pioneer in europe in 1918 and who was excited as I was about upgrading the Globe Scout, to take me down to Greenwich Street in New York City, then known as "Radio Row", now the site of the former World Trade Center. Imagine one city block which had Harrison Radio, Henry Radio, and 100 other Ham Radio stores, vendors, parts dealers, pushcarts filled with surplus ham gear as big as your refrigerator, etc. as far as the eye could see. And the block was always mobbed with people buying, selling, trucks unloading boxes of new equipment. You'd have thought they were selling fresh hot bread to starving refugees, but it was all ham gear. As we walked past towers of large cartons with the red Collons logo stacked on the sidewalk in front of Harrison Radio, I had entered heaven...just imagine: a large showroom, filled with men in hats and suits, with shelves all around loaded with new Collins 75A1's, 32v3's, 75A4's, KWS-1's, KW-1's, station controls, automatic coax switches, phone patches...all Collins! There was a conveyor belt in the showroom that brought new equipment up from the basement. I still remember my first 75A2, 32V3, and station control with phone patch, clock, and filament lamp, in crisp unopened boxes with the red Collins logo rising up through the floor, like a sunrise at sea. The conveyor belt ran every day from 9 am to 5 pm, and was always bringing up a seemingly continuous row of new Collins equipment from the basement to customers lined up at the top. To a boy, it sure seemed that they must have been selling a lot of Collins equipment back then!

A few years later, I built a tri-band cubical quad from the April 1957 issue of QST, and mounted it atop a welded 40 ft. steel tower with Ham-M Rotor that I also built. Then I worked 300+ countries and went on to other things, like getting a life! It was almost the best antenna and station I had ever had, until I acquired a new ICOM 775DSP, Alpha 87, Force 12 C31XR, on a 75 ft. Rohn HD tower, a few years ago. The 775 DSP reminds me of the 75A2 in many ways: large scale, big audio, big jugs. The Alpha 87 is also larger than life, and what performance, especially for a guy like me who now has so little time to operate that he MUST ABSOLUTELY work any rare DX station he calls on the FIRST CALL, or his available operating time will have expired!

Anyway, guys & gals, thanks for putting up with this seeemingy endless wandering down memory lane, which I haven't done publicly before, and try to go easy on me with your witty comments. Best wishes and thanks to all for the chance to reminisce.

N2EEZ (ex K2HIY)
Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WA2CCN on February 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic! OK, here's my personal favorites....

Receivers: National NC-303! Bought one when I finally got to the point where I could afford it some years ago, and still love it. Just got an original speaker - looking for converters. Great receiver. Also had HQ-145C (really nice), SX-99 (so-so), and my first receiver was an S-38C - good 50's novice rig, but damn near killed myself with the AC/DC transformerless power supply. Yeah, Collins stuff is great - but I still like my old '303. Someone mentioned a BC-348 - that was really a good receiver - my "Elmer" (Bud Garison) had one back on the mid-50's, with an outboard low frequency IF - real narrow BW for CW.

Transmitters: Johnson! I've got a Valiant and Pacemaker - also a 6N2! Wonderful! Especially the Valiant on AM! Hear the transformer laminations buzz when you talk! The Pacemaker still makes the cleanest clearest SSB signals.... WHEN the phasing is adjusted correctly. Love it - lots of knobs to play with. Had an Eico 720 that was very nice. My original novice transmitter was a Harvey Wells TBS-50D, and it really did put put some stuff on 2 meters.... probably less than a watt, but it worked.

Transceivers: My current HF rig is a Kenwood TS-870, and it is clearly the finist radio I've owned. Just love it. Had a TS-440SAT - worked great once I got the VFO fixed and stable - very good receiver. Also had a Yeasu FT-101ZD with external VFO - could tweek the 6146's to about 140W out - very good for it's time.

2 meters: Love my ICOM IC-211 all-mode rig - still works great. But my favorite VHF rigs were the Polycomm units one for 6 & one for 2 - the 6N2 had a lot of problems, but the single band units were solid and super receivers (Nuvistor front ends!). Had an old Tecraft 2M AM rig - lots of fun - used a Gonset 2M converter working into the S-38 (thats where the AC/DC PS problems came in)

Amplifiers: Clipperton-L - Great - still got it and use it - 1,000W+ output - but the Clipperton-V for 2M was a dog - self oscillated all over the place.

Antennas: Best I've owned was the KLM KT-34A - had 2 of them - super antennas. Bought a KLM LPA (7 el on a 30' boom) but never got it up. Now have a Tennadyne T-8 LPA - it's up, but not wired to the shack yet. Had a Butternut vert. on a Holiday Rambler Alumilite travel trailer, and it worked great. Got a Sommer T-25 - also in the process of wiring it to the shack - will report on the T-8 & T-25 down the road.

73, Hank - WA2CCN
RE: Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by KF7OM on March 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
To: N5XM, Hi om, I just purchased a c-21 and thought you might know of any mods I could make to it. my all time favorite rig was the corsair 2, one beautiful rig with the variable passband tuning, much better than the drake r4c in my humble opinion. My next best favorite rig was the Cubic Astro 103, used a transformer in the keying circuit for qsk, actually better than tentec's reed relay setup.The passband tuning on this baby was a cw ops dream, I sure wish I had my 103 back. Anyone got one gathering dust? if its any good and you want to find it a new home gemme an email please. thanks 73 john
RE: No wonder there are so many divorces?  
by N0TONE on March 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
W8EJO, I'm glad you mention the K2. It's a neat rig, one I'd put in the class of "someday, this company will get it right". Yes, the QSK is great. The RX dynamic range is pretty darned good, but it fails in comparison to an older rig with preselector. I borrowed a K2 for a while, and it had troubles with nearby AM BCB stations when I tried to use it on 160meters. Here are other shortcomings:

-If it has passband tuning or a notch filter, I was unable to find them
-When you add the necessary SSB, 160 meter, and 100 watt options, this is an expensive rig, and you still have to put $$$ of time into it to build it
-For someone my age, the knobs and buttons are too small. I know, this rig is a compromise for portability - but I don't want a compromise.
-As my wife put it, this rig is just plain ugly. Why didn't they at least use flathead srews in the case so they didn't have screwheads poking up on the front top? Couldn't they have figured out how to design it so the front panel was flat and didn't have those edges from the sides poking out?
-Sorry, but an LED bargraph S-meter only belongs on rigs costing less than about $300
-In the time I had it here, I could not figure out how to get it to key my amplifier. Those of us who chase DX on 160 and 80 all use amps.
-Phase noise isn't that good yet. Maybe better than the other broadband solid state rigs, but still worse than the old PTO rigs like the Drake or Collin. I could definitely hear it
-Transmit SSB distortion levels are too high.

It does most of these things better than other so-called modern solid state rigs. But it is definitely not an upgrade from a Drake twins line.

Radio Equipment - My Favorites  
by WA2JJH on September 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Ok, I will only comment on the astron power supplies.
I am a former owner of an Astron-50. Dual meters (volts and amp draw)50 honest amp draw. Short circuit proof, blah, blah, blah.

This week end I was re-organising my shack. The hefty Astron dropped on my foot! Fortunitly I was not bear footed, the razor like heat sinks missed my foot.
If the power supply did drop at the wrong angle, I would be having micro-surgery right now.

Fortunity only my second and 3erd tarsus bones were bruised. My foot did swell up quit a bit. Decided not to go to an E.R. I am OK.

I proved to my self what fanatics hams are. I was freaked out that I was off the air. The foot pain was secondary.

Called a few friends. One had a 60 amp switching power supply. A Todd 750-12. 12 volts 60 amps, no heat sink, and weighs 4 pounds!!!! He wisely bought 20 of them. He let me have one for $100.

I am running my TS-850, 150 watt vhf amp(about 40 amps peak) at the same time. The Todd does not even get hot.

Switching supplies seem to make sense for those that have small Full Power HF rigs and want to go to another location also.

Your artical I liked very much..but after almost loosing a foot, i disagree on your power supply.


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