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Author Topic: TS-480SAT vs. FT-950  (Read 9781 times)
KF5KCA
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« on: April 03, 2011, 01:46:31 PM »

Hello fellow HAMs,

As a new HAM, I will be building a new shack from the ground up. My budget has limits (no surprise) and so does my home QTH (HOA restrictions).

Bottom line, I will be using some kind of dipole (G5RV, miracle), strung in between trees. I have picked my power supply (Alinco DM-340MVT) and antenna tuner (Palstar AT2K).

What I do need some help with, is deciding between 2 rigs that have made the short list: Kenwood TS-480SAT and Yaesu FT-950.

To give a little more color around my particular situation, I am not interested in the TS-480HX and have absolutely ZERO additional budget beyond the $1,350, which the FT-950 costs. So, no, JUST spending the extra $400 and getting the TS-590 is not an option. Actually, the Yaesu price tag is already stretching my budget to the limit (FT-950 $1,350 vs. TS-480 $950).

I will be using these as base rigs and have very little interest in field usage. I know the TS-480 does not have IF-DSP and am wondering how big a deal the additional adjustment options on the FT-950 are. Also, the TS-480 head unit would fit nicely on the desk, compared to the rather huge size of the FT-950.
I am interested in DX-ing, but have ZERO interest in CW.

Thank you very much for any help and insights you can provide. Also, if there are any other rigs that I overlooked, please let me know.

73’s

KF5KCA
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W8JX
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 02:46:49 PM »

I have owned a 480 SAT for 18 months and cannot fault it. I also have optional SSB and CW filters in it too and it makes radio very tight when need be.  Also 480 HX has a rebate too and it is only 1075 at HRO and might be cheaper yet somewhere else.
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KJ1D
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2011, 04:54:59 PM »

I have had a Yaesu FT-950 now for about 1 1/2 years. It is a very good radio. I have been using it with a G5RV antenna and a Palstar AT2KD tuner with very good results. I recently bought a K3 which I like very much. Bottom line....I have no experience with the Kenwood but I know the Yaesu FT-950 is a lot of radio for the money.
Good luck in your decision.

73
Richard
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K8AC
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2011, 05:15:03 PM »

You should jump on the TS-480SAT.  Don't get hung up at this point on AF DSP vs. IF DSP.  The DSP in the 480 works very well indeed and since you are new, it will be quite a while before you can list the reasons why you need a better rig than the 480. Until you can make that list yourself, keep the 480.  Your decision not to use CW will be a much bigger handicap to your ability to work DX than whether you have a 480 or something better.  With simple low antennas, you need all the edge you can get and CW would open up more opportunities for working DX.  Best of luck!

73, K8AC
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2011, 05:27:04 PM »

You should jump on the TS-480SAT.  Don't get hung up at this point on AF DSP vs. IF DSP.  The DSP in the 480 works very well indeed and since you are new, it will be quite a while before you can list the reasons why you need a better rig than the 480. Until you can make that list yourself, keep the 480.  Your decision not to use CW will be a much bigger handicap to your ability to work DX than whether you have a 480 or something better.  With simple low antennas, you need all the edge you can get and CW would open up more opportunities for working DX.  Best of luck!

73, K8AC

I agree with that entirely.  I'd go for the TS-480SAT and if you have money left over, invest in better antennas.  Working DX on CW is a lot easier than on SSB, especially without beams.
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KF5KCA
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2011, 07:09:30 PM »

Thank you all for responding. I agree that CW would afford for better DX. However, I unfortunately have very little time for my hobby to begin with and will not be able to keep up with even rudimentary CW practice.

On the "better antenna" issue. Yes, I wish I could, but HOA restrictions will prevent me from using any verticals or beams. I can also not use any attic antenna, as I have a concrete tile roof and upstairs AC air handler and air ducts throughout.
 
However, my home QTH is located on a sizable elevation (800ft AGL) and I have an overlook like, free and unobstructed view over the surrounding area. I will also be able to get the wire dipole to a good 30-40 feet above ground.

I am now leaning towards the TS-480 as I have a hard time myself justifying $400 extra for the additional features in the FT-950.

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W8JX
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2011, 07:19:01 PM »

you might do well to consider HX for a extra 3db when you need it and it would loaf at 100 watts.
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KF5KCA
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2011, 07:53:40 PM »

Well, I was originally not that interested in the HX version, but an extra 3db does sounds tempting. What does not excite me too much is the fact that I would have to spend an extra $200 for an additional power supply. So, essentially, the HX version is not $1,050, but $1,250-- and now we are at almost the same price as the FT-950 ;-) It's a devilish circle. There is no winning :-)
  
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 08:35:47 PM by KF5KCA » Logged
W8JX
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 08:44:10 PM »

You can get a single switching supply that can feed it for less than 200 so if you have none get proper one. If you already have one HX can operate as a 100 watt rig via one power connector on back of rig until you get another one. One plug powers radio logic and one final section and other plug just powers second parallel final section. You will know when you have correct plug as radio will power up.
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NN4RH
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2011, 04:07:27 AM »

I have had both the TS-480SAT and the FT-950. They are both fine radios.  If you have zero interest in CW (bad choice, in my opinion, but it's your choice) it doesn't matter which one you get. 

If you did have a serious interest in CW I'd recommend the FT-950 because of the built-in IF DSP and easier access to the various controls. You can add an optional 300Hz or 500Hz filter to the TS-480 if you develop an interest in CW.

IF DSP is also much more useful for data modes than AF DSP. IMO.

The FT-950 has more controls on the front panel. The TS-480 is more menu driven. The FT-950 is a big, heavy monolithic radio. The TS-480 is smaller and lighter and the control head is separate so you can mount the control head just about anywhere, even mobile, and put the main chassis somewhere else.


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W8JX
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2011, 06:03:54 AM »


If you did have a serious interest in CW I'd recommend the FT-950 because of the built-in IF DSP and easier access to the various controls. You can add an optional 300Hz or 500Hz filter to the TS-480 if you develop an interest in CW.


I can tell you never used CW on a 480. It is very sweet. It has auto tune to signal to side tone freq or your choice and you can reduce bandwidth to about 50hz on demand. (this auto tune is important to zero beat properly before narrowing bandwidth way down) Kenwood has supported this since 570. 
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NN4RH
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 08:26:11 AM »

I can tell you never used CW on a 480. It is very sweet. It has auto tune to signal to side tone freq or your choice and you can reduce bandwidth to about 50hz on demand. (this auto tune is important to zero beat properly before narrowing bandwidth way down) Kenwood has supported this since 570.  

Wrong. I used CW almost exclusively for three or four years with the TS480 and mostly for contesting.  I eventually upgraded to the FT-950 which I assert is a much better rig out of the box for CW.

The TS-480 uses AUDIO DSP and it has the same failings as any other rig with only audio DSP.

Sure you can narrow the audio DSP "filter" down to 50HZ but the IF is still seeing 2.3+ kHz and any strong signals in that IF passband will control the AGC.  You really don't start to see the full benefits of the TS-480 filters unless you put a optional  300 or 500 Hz CW filter into it.
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KR2D
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 11:15:21 AM »

You really don't start to see the full benefits of the TS-480 filters unless you put a optional  300 or 500 Hz CW filter into it.

When I was choosing a new rig, that's what settled it for me.  I knew I wanted narrow filters, and adding them to the TS-480 (and other analog IF rigs I looked at) put the total cost in the same class as the IF DSP rigs which needed no additional filters. 

This was back in 2005, so the FT-950 was not available yet.  If I were shopping today, the FT-950 would be on the short list.
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W8JX
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2011, 01:46:04 PM »


Sure you can narrow the audio DSP "filter" down to 50HZ but the IF is still seeing 2.3+ kHz and any strong signals in that IF passband will control the AGC.  You really don't start to see the full benefits of the TS-480 filters unless you put a optional  300 or 500 Hz CW filter into it.

Duh, anyone serious about CW does not do it without a CW filter in a rig that supports it. Every rig I have owned in last 25 years has had optional CW filter installed. My 480 has both SSB and CW filter in it since I got it. There skirts on the filter used in 480 are very sharp/steep and together with AF DSP if is very selective. So, you never really used a 480 properly configured for CW so your comparison is questionable.
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W8JX
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2011, 01:49:55 PM »



When I was choosing a new rig, that's what settled it for me.  I knew I wanted narrow filters, and adding them to the TS-480 (and other analog IF rigs I looked at) put the total cost in the same class as the IF DSP rigs which needed no additional filters. 

This was back in 2005, so the FT-950 was not available yet.  If I were shopping today, the FT-950 would be on the short list.
[/quote]

The skirts of IF DSP of 2005 era are not very steep and would not out perform a good rock filter. This is why Kenwood uses roofing filters in 590 to provide better selectivity than possible with just IF DSP at a reasonable price level.
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