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Author Topic: The Best CW Transceiver?  (Read 42518 times)

Posts: 3835

« Reply #60 on: November 21, 2012, 06:56:47 AM »

There's at least one ham who found a way to tame the (in)famous Eico Seven Drifty Three.

What he did was to rip out the original VFO and install an N3ZN DDS board, programmed to the right frequencies. This gives ultrastable multiple-VFO, memories, RIT, XIT, digital readout, slow tuning rate and much more. Did a similar job on an NCX-3. I can't recall his call at the moment but google is your friend.

Of course in most situations the VFO board will cost more than the rig. But it may be a worthwhile investment just to be able to say you're using a 753 and have folks marvel that you're NOT drifting...

73 de Jim, N2EY

Posts: 203

« Reply #61 on: November 21, 2012, 06:32:53 PM »

Hi all of you CW lovers

It is so hard o tell what radio is the best CW machine.
If you look at it on crowed bands big antennas with a big contest going on.
You will probably end up with the K3 or FT5000DX and maybe the new FTDX3000 or TS990, TENTEC ORION2.
If money isn't a problem.
Hilberling PT8000 the best of the best.

If you work just like I do only rag chew there is another factor and that is audio quality and listening fatigue.
a quit and pleasent audio becomes more important then  close in performance.
For audio I still prefer the Yaesu FT1000MP or D on all modes, this radio is so very good to listen to and my ears do not get tired at all.

The worst I ever heared in audio the FT857D with 300 Hz filter, the noise will drive me mad in only 15 minutes.

I now got a TS590S and it has a very selective reciever but the audio quality doesn't come close to the old FT1000MP.
Though it is very much better in close in performance and on  crowded bands.

To listen to the TX if the station that you are in QSO with uses a K3 or TS590S they will sound very good on your RX, but if you have to RX with these radios on a fairly quite band I still prefer radios like the FT1000MP or D or even radios like the TS820 or TS520 , for my ears these are much more pleasant to listen to.

But if someone would give me a chance to try out the RX of a Hilberling I wouldnt mind and it could be that that radio is much better .    
I do not know how the Hilberling sounds, but I would love to give it a try, but I see no budget for these things in the near and a little further away future.

So what is your best radio, just ask yourself , what do I expect of it and what do I need, and what do I find important?

There is no one else that can answer these questions but you.

I sometimes have as much fun with my little homebrew X-tal 3575 kHz Pixie with homebrew 15 watt amp on CW and R209 surplus reciever as with my TS590S.
And I sometimes have a great time working guys with a AN-GRC9 or the WS19 or T1154 the old tjup tjup sound and the wandering on frequency of these radios has a lot of charm, sending with these radios is hard work to keep them on freq. and working.

73 Jos
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 06:43:05 PM by PA1ZP » Logged

Posts: 15

« Reply #62 on: November 21, 2012, 07:25:21 PM »

PA1ZP is right on the money. It is a matter of perspective.



Posts: 6

« Reply #63 on: November 23, 2012, 11:33:00 AM »

I work 95% CW. One of the smoothest CW rigs I have used is the Tentec Omni 6+. I currently own a Kenwood TS-590s and I must say that it is no slouch, and for the price, offers flexibility and performance at a reasonable cost.

Vince K7NA

Posts: 7

« Reply #64 on: November 23, 2012, 11:39:15 PM »


I appreciate all opinions on here, and always find this to be an interesting subject. I notice you mention the new Hilberling.
I have been following this rig since it's development to it's recent coming out at Dayton this year. What I find rather odd is the fact that
I cannot find a review on this radio despite my endless searching. Can you perhaps point us in a direction to learn the hard facts regarding this piece of gear?
Someone here in the U.S. is the importer/distributor, but again no reviews to my knowledge. It is reported that several units sold at Dayton and I was waiting to
see one of these folks report back. Also, Sherwood Engineering has added this rig to his receiver performance listing. I have a friend in Italy, and I asked him if he
had any first hand knowledge, he replied only that he knew one person who bought one, and he ended up getting his money back due to some general performance issues.
I did not get any details beyond that comment, nor did I press him for more information. Thank you.


Posts: 203

« Reply #65 on: November 25, 2012, 06:35:18 AM »

Hi John

I only once saw a Hilberling on a hamfest in PA.
I know the German manufactorer had problems getting the thing aproved for the US.
I once worked an Italien with a Hilberling and that are all the experiences I had with these radios.
I know however how the thing is produced and looks on the inside.
And it has a totaly different and a very professioanal look on the inside.
I think you must compare a Hilberling with a Siemens radio or a Rhode und Schwarz or somethings like these.
Hilberling is a more professional radio instead of a hamradio.

I was just kidding about the Hilberling, I couldn't afford this radio and I wouldn't want to afford it.
These radios kost twice the money I payed for my little new car, and costs bout half the price of my house.
Hamradio is a hobby of mine not my obsession.

Though if you look on my, you would find that my noise-canceler, antenna tuner, or even paddles wouldn't misfit with a Hilberling.
But these things are homebrew and cost me very little money just time to build them.

I am now trying to improve my Pixie2 80 mtrs TX and homebrew amp so I can work with about 40 watts of power on 80 mtrs CW with the R209.
The Pixie needs a new VXO so it will deliver about 0.4 watt to the amp that makes 40 watts out of it.
Then I need to make it tjup tjup with a little capacitor to destabalise the VXO so it will fit in with the other surplus rigs hihi

73 Jos
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 06:44:58 AM by PA1ZP » Logged

Posts: 7

« Reply #66 on: November 25, 2012, 05:34:03 PM »

I am somewhat of a collector but, I have always limited my collecting to gear which has a solid reputation for stellar CW work.
Drake 4 line, and Kenwood hybrids dominate. If collecting, condition is everything. However if you don't get hung up on the cosmetic
perfection, plenty of these are available at very reasonable cost. I do not own anything later than 1977 or so, but I am always contemplating
a K3, K2, ORION II, or maybe ICOM 7700/7800. The Hilberling is simply too expensive to presently consider. Perhaps down the road if enough sell here
and they start making their way to the secondary market. Getting back to the original question regarding the best CW transceiver, I think if one is going
contest with this rig, any of the current top tier rigs would probably perform well. For a more relaxed pace, I personally favor the older hybrids mentioned above.


Posts: 122

« Reply #67 on: November 28, 2012, 09:53:01 PM »

I have a Yaesu FT-890 and the full QSK is very smooth. I also have an Icom 738 and it is very good also. I have had several Ten Tec rigs over the years and they of course are the benchmark for all others. The Omni C and Corsair II I owned were amazingly silky smooth during full QSK mode at about 25 wpm.

Posts: 6

« Reply #68 on: December 15, 2012, 03:20:18 AM »

Just glancing over this thread: no mention of Flexradio + PowerSDR. Recently aquired a second hand Flex 5K, a real joy to use for rag chewing once you get the latency down to acceptable levels. Yesterday had a qso at 26-30 wpm for an hour and a half, real fun!
I guess it comes down to trial and error. Everybody has to find out for themselves which rig suits best.


Posts: 860

« Reply #69 on: December 15, 2012, 11:46:54 AM »

I will chime in on Flex (somebody has to  Cheesy )

I currently own TS520S (no mods), TS570D (no mods), TS480SAT (no mods), FT817ND (no mods), and the Flex 3000.

Let's leave the FT817ND out of the conversation, since it was never intended to be a top notch CW rig (although it does work fine).

I have grown accustomed to the sound from the TS520S, and found it to be a very good CW rig for its time.  When I got the TS570D and then the TS480SAT, I found the DSP filtering to be extremely helpful in hearing the weak DX (which is what I chase 99% of the time).  Although the Noise Reduction can overwhelm the ears if not set properly, it is very helpful in weeding out close stations.

The Flex 3000, IMHO, is an apple compared to oranges.  If we ignore the complaints about CW lag on xmit (apparently fixed with SDR 2.4), the receiver is simply superb.  I have incredibly sharp filters that are adjustable, and I can SEE what I am doing in real time.  So many options, and with customizable AGC (easy and quick) it helps tremendously.  I can go from weak DX optimized setting to local S9+ in just a click for best sound (I do this all the time on 160 CW).

I am a Ten Tec fan from long ago when I operated the Smithsonian Institution NN3SI station and the Triton IV.  Talk about smooth QSK!  But for me, nothing will ever beat the Flex for CW.

Yes, it's a paradigm shift to go with a Flex panadapter versus a tuning knob.  I discuss this on my blog at as one of the first entries.  But as a CW fanatic, I can't imagine going back.  Why do I still have the other rigs?  Nostalgia.  My 520S was my first real rig in 1978.  My TS480SAT is my remote/mobile rig.  My 570 is my general coverage receiver for now.  And the 817 is used for backpacking/QRP.

I hope this helps.  73

Posts: 930

« Reply #70 on: December 16, 2012, 03:58:33 PM »

Ten-Tec just came out with the Argonaut VI.
Less than $1000 new and there is a new related linear amplifier as well.


Posts: 123

« Reply #71 on: December 16, 2012, 08:10:25 PM »

Ten-Tec just came out with the Argonaut VI.
Less than $1000 new and there is a new related linear amplifier as well.

Don't get one if you are a 12m fan.  How could they leave that band off it?

John AF5CC

Posts: 930

« Reply #72 on: December 17, 2012, 08:28:39 AM »

I wondered that too.  Evidently the small size of the rig played a part.  Probably they will get a lot of feedback on that and include 12m somehow soon.  Still, the rig looks like a lot of fun!
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 08:31:30 AM by K9AIM » Logged

Posts: 466

« Reply #73 on: December 17, 2012, 06:30:26 PM »

Did anyone look at the features of the new Ten-Tec?

NO 12 meter band
NO AM transmit. Requires filter to xmit.....$125
NO Microphone it is Optional...................$39
NO General coverage Receiver
NO AM Broadcast Band
Proprietary (?) USB Sound Card & Cable....$75

At $995 for Argonaut VI, it seems pricy. The Elecraft KX3 sounds like a much better deal for its given features. As is the Yaesu FT 817ND for even much less money.  If Ten Tec dropped the price in half to say $500 or $600. Then included the mic and tossed in a built in tuner and/or battery pack then I might agree it would be worth it.

The proprietary(?) built in sound card & cable seems reasonable for $75. But suppose you want to use your Signalink with this? Can you just buy the cable? Or do you have to buy the whole sound card cable?

OK who needs a general coverage receiver? But why exclude it when other radios such as the FT817 has it 'out of the box' and cost much less? Even the discontinued Icom 703 seemed to have more features for the money than the Argonaut VI does. Maybe the Ten Tec has a better receiver than the 817, 703 or the KX3 ? Does it?

The lack of the AM broadcast band might be important to someone if they are using the radio on battery power out in the field during an emergency situation. Perhaps during some weather related disaster such as a flood or a tornado and need to switch to the local AM stations for information.

"Frequency Range RX: 1.795-2.505 (160M), 3.495-5.005 (80M),
6.995-7.305 (40M), 9.995-10.155 (30M), 13.995-15.005 (20M), 18.063-18.173 (17M), 20.995-21.455 (15M), 27.995-29.705 (10M)"

4 Pole Roofing Filters 700 Hz, 6 kHz
702 Dynamic Mic
418 Solid State 100 Watt Linear Amplifier
712 Digital USB Sound Card Cable"


Still using Windows XP Pro.

Posts: 203

« Reply #74 on: December 18, 2012, 11:32:51 AM »

Hi to all

Are there any more things the little TEN-TEC is missing like menus or so, because it starts to become very interresting.
A rig with all kinds of things missing, that you didn't want to have on it anyway.

If it lacs a coulor screen diplay, bandscope, USB ports, RS232 ports, DSP, 1000 memories, internal ATU, internal el-bug, software upgrading, scan functions and lots of other gadgets I do not want or use anyway it gets even better.

Do not pay to much atention to me, I am just an old grumpy CW guy full of nostalgia hihi.

My fairly new TS590s is often turned to second rig when I am working with my homebrew X-tal TX and R209 RX.

The TX is nothing more then a oscilator on 3575 and  few amp stages to get it to 40 watts.
After the X-tal osc with 2 BC547 (2N2222) is a 2N2219 and that drives 2 IRF520
these IRF 520 costing a blistering 0.51 cents a piece.

We are lucky here in PA the Dutch CW rag-chew freq is 3575, I think I make 90% of my CW QSO's on this freq.

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