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Author Topic: Advice for new HF XCVR  (Read 3140 times)

Posts: 1

« on: February 12, 2011, 04:28:48 PM »

I'm looking at a new HF transceiver.  I've read all the reviews, etc.  I'm down to the Kenwood TS-2000, TS-590S, or Yeasu FT-950.

Are there any strong opinions regarding yes/no for each radio, which one is better and why, or any missing features?  One thing I was hoping for is a radio that might be capable of PSK31 directly on it vs. having to use the computer.  Computer connection and functionality is important, my new PC does not have a COM port (USB Only).  Do these things work with USB to COM converters?  I am not looking for one of these newer Software defined radios.  I want the radio to be as stand alone as possible while still allowing PC interface and some programming capability.

My old steady HF rig has been an Icom 735 I purchased new in 1989 or 1990.  So I am very unfamiliar with these new radio features and want to make sure I am not missing anything significant.  For that matter, is there another radio I should consider?

73's de WA8NTW

Posts: 6

« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 05:40:36 PM »


I have the FT-950 as my first HF rig.  Perhaps others here can comment on the Kenwoods.

I have really enjoyed the FT-950 and it has served me well right out of the box.  I like the size of the radio and the number of controls on the front panel.  I find that I can perform almost all of the functions I use regularly without diving into the menus.  The three roofing filters (included) do a good job at digging out signals, when one takes the time to learn how to use all of the features this radio provides.  It takes time to learn how to use and I find myself re-reading the manual from time to time to increase my ability to use features more effectively.  Yaesu has issued regular software updates which have eliminated issues and improved performance. 

I use a Signalink USB for PSK31.  Since my computer does not have a serial port on the back, I use a serial to USB cable, with a female-female 9-pin adapter.  Why Yaesu chose to put a male DB-9 port on the back, I don't know.  Not all serial/USB cables work with HRD and other programs.  The one I use is a Gigaware cable available from Radio Shack. 

Good luck with whatever you choose!

73 de K6ACF

Posts: 701

« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 08:29:22 PM »

All three rigs you're considering are solid radios. I own a TS-2000 and have researched the other two rather thoroughly since I'm doing my own new rig search too.

Some things to consider:

1. The TS-2000 offers many features for the money. In particular, it offers two bands the other two don't -- 2 meters and 70 cm. Plus, the rig is satellite ready. These are significant advantages, if you're into VHF/UHF and the satellites.

2. On the down side, the TS-2000's design is the oldest of the three rigs and as such its DSP is not as effective as the other two. Personally, I find its HF receiver a little noisy. But I always get compliments about the nice transmit audio when on SSB.

3. You can be on HF while the TS-2000's second receiver is on 2 meters or 70 cm. I always keep the second receiver on the ISS 2m frequency and have heard them often as a result.

4. The FT-950 and TS-590 both have newer DSP technology than the TS-2000. If you like CW, the Yaesu offers a Contour function on its DSP which can significantly boost weak CW signals. The radio has roofing filters which improve its ability to reject strong nearby signals. The TS-2000 only has one wide roofing filter while the FT-950 has one wide roofing filter and two relatively narrow filters. These are in addition to the DSP filters. But the TS-590 really shines on CW. More on that in a moment.

5. The T-950 accepts the optional DMU-2000 data management unit. This can function as a bandscope, world map, log and other functions. While the DMU-2000 isn't cheap, it's an excellent option for some operators.

6. The Kenwood TS-590 is currently rated as one of the best receivers on the market due to its down conversion IF design on 160, 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters. This is according to the Sherwood Engineering website.  It has built-in roofing filters of 500 Hz for CW and 2.7 KHz for SSB for those 5 bands. This feature puts this rig miles ahead of the other two in terms of rejecting strong nearby signals. Among the rigs you're considering, the TS-590's receive specs are far ahead of the other two. The FT-950 would be he next best while the TS-2000 is far behind the other two.

And while the TS-590 uses so-called up conversion IF for 30, 17, 12, 10 and 6 meters, its receiver specs are still excellent, according to the Sherwood site. Ahead of the other two you've considering.

7. The TS-590 has a built-in soundcard for working the digital modes. This means you would still have to connect your computer to the rig but can do so using the rig's rear-panel USB port. This significantly simplifies digi mode hook-up since it only requires one cable from the rig to the computer and it means no external digi mode interface is needed since one is built into the rig. The other two rigs lack this digi mode feature although the FT-950 does have a rear USB connector for firmware upgrades as does the TS-590. The TS-2000 has no USB port.

8. The TS-2000 contains the Kenwood SkyCommand II feature meaning three different Kenwood dualband HTs and a Kenwood dualband mobile or two can be used to control the rig remotely. The rig also has an internal TNC for connecting to a packet network. The packet function is also used as part of the SkyCommand system. BTW, SkyCommand is now legal under FCC rules.

Which radio suits your needs depends on your style of operating and the bands and modes you prefer. The TS-590 is at the top of my personal list.  That's because of its superior HF receiver due to the down conversion IF design on the bands you're mostly likely to encounter really strong signals that might otherwise swamp a receiver's front end.

Lots of info to digest. Good luck on your decision.

73, Dave, N4KZ

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