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Author Topic: New HF Tranceiver vs Old HF Transceiver  (Read 4975 times)
W4NRY
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Posts: 37




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« on: July 26, 2011, 04:54:34 AM »

I am considering updating my rig from a venerable old HW-100 to something newer. I've compared some of the specs and here are some of the things different:
     1) Digital frequency readout
     2) Memory
     3) Better selectivity (?)
     4) Different power supply
     5) Phase Lock Loop
     6) Smaller
     7) Electronic keying
     Cool Split frequency capability
     9) Solid State
    10) Automatic tuning
    11) Others?

I don't do contesting so some of the above wouldn't be a factor. SO, do any of these features (other that looking cool) justify an expense for a later model transceiver? The boat anchor still puts out 100+ watts just like the newer ones.
Any comments from other Elmers?
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N1UK
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 05:54:26 AM »

I still run my TS-930S. What do I miss?....having a second receiver for split pileup spotting. Direct frequency entering would be nice. Otherwise I am very happy with this rig. VOX controls are on the top of the case and not easy to access when radio is stacked.

I like the solid state no tune output..I have enough other things to tune...linear and transmatches. I never use the built in tuner. Memories are handy as long as they are easy to access. Frequency readout is good to get near the band edges and with tuning in DX spots.


Mark N1UK
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K8GU
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 06:00:31 AM »

I think that you hit most of the differences, although really only 6, 7, 8, and 9, matter that much.  A better way to say 5 is "frequency stability"...there are some crummy synthesizers out there, too.  Computer control is another feature that I find handy. 

A lot of "worth it" depends on what you want to do.  Even if you don't contest, sometimes having a contest-grade receiver is helpful.  The performance in receiving weak signals in between very strong signals that makes a good receiver--that's not only "selectivity," but the linearity range of the various IF stages---can they amplify/process loud signals as much as weak ones without keeling over and producing artifacts?  Also, the quality of the local oscillators (especially synthesized sources) comes into play here---you want few spurs and low phase noise, on which your HW-100 may have some "modern" radios beat.  (I've never used one so I'm not that familiar, plus the other RX parameters of the HW-100 probably prevent that from being the limiting figure.)  So, if you operate on any crowded bands or wish to operate during a contest (even as a non-participant), your enjoyment of your operating time will probably increase by using a higher-quality receiver.

Reliability may or may not be a concern, but availability of 40-year-old parts is often similar to the availability of 10-year-old and sometimes 5-year-old parts. 

My first HF station was an SB-303/SB-401 and although I couldn't wait to upgrade to something new and solid state, I wouldn't mind tracking down at least an SB-303 again to play with.  So, like I said, it's all about what your interests are...
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K1MMI
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Posts: 58




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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 06:16:10 AM »

I am considering updating my rig from a venerable old HW-100 to something newer. I've compared some of the specs and here are some of the things different:
     1) Digital frequency readout
     2) Memory
     3) Better selectivity (?)
     4) Different power supply
     5) Phase Lock Loop
     6) Smaller
     7) Electronic keying
     Cool Split frequency capability
     9) Solid State
    10) Automatic tuning
    11) Others?

I don't do contesting so some of the above wouldn't be a factor. SO, do any of these features (other that looking cool) justify an expense for a later model transceiver? The boat anchor still puts out 100+ watts just like the newer ones.
Any comments from other Elmers?

The HW-100 doesn't have an RIT control so when you tune in a station your XMT frequency also changes. This requires the station you contact to re-tune you in everytime you move your tuning dial. The tuning dial on the HW-100 may be the worst mechanical system ever designed - unless you replaced it with the SWAN vernier dial tuning knob.

The HW-100 would have some warmup drift. With a solid state rig it is pretty rock solid as soon as you turn it on.

The HW-100 covers 80,40,20,15,10. A solid state rig covers 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6, and 60.

With the HW-100 if I want to bounce back and forth between bands. For example, listen on 3.525, then 7.020, then 14.300, then 3.925 you have to spend time moving the main tuning dial and adjusting controls to peak the received signal. With a Solid State rig it is so simple and user friendly to bounce back and forth between bands.

The Digital Frequency Readout is a tremendous improvement over the analog dial on the HW-100.
I built a digital readout and added it to an HW-100 and it was like night and day. Plus it is so much easier to schedule a contact with a friend and end up on the same exact frequency.

I normally operate at a very early time when few stations are on so I end up calling CQs quite often. With the built-in memory keyer I can program a CQ into a memory then read a magazine and let the radio loop and keep sending CQs until I get an answer. With an automatic antenna tuner I can hit one button and starting sending on 80, then hit another button and start sending on 40 or 30.

The HW-100 is a ham band only rig. I like to listen to the broadcast band and to shortwave stations and a Solid State rig covers those frequencies. Plus longwave too.  With the built in memories you can load them up with a lot of frequencies that you like to listen too and just turn a knob to quickly tune them in.

The HW-100 has no noise filters. A solid state rig has noise filters that do a great job on pulse noise and some do a pretty good job on random noise.

With a Solid State rig you can connect it to a computer and for $10 to $25 be operating on RTTY, PSK31 and etc.

If your normal operating pattern is to schedule a contact with a friend or you pick a band and just operate in say a
50Khz range then the HW-100 is probably all you need. From time to time I will hookup my 42 year old SWAN 500C and it is pretty cool to make a CW contact with it but in short order I feel like I've gone back to the stone ages. I find myself wasting so much time spinning the tuning dial and re-adjust controls to re-tune when switching bands.

This is not about being too lazy to adjust knobs and controls but more about operating in an efficient manner and in a user friendly way.

To me, comparing an HW-100 to a modern Solid State rig is like comparing a TV with a mechanical tuner to a TV with a digital tuner operated with a remote control. If you wanted to channel surfing looking for a station to watch, the mechanical tuner does get the job done, but the remote control is way more user friendly and there is no excessive wasting of time.

The thing I like most about old rigs like the HW-100 is they can be purchased for $100 to $150 and give anyone the opportunity to enjoy Ham Radio on a very low budget.
 
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W4NRY
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 06:29:46 AM »

Thanks for all info, especially from K1MMI. Yeah, I did forget about general coverage which is a big plus and the additional ham bands plus the ease of tuning. I have a DSP 9+ hooked up which helps a lot on CW, but noise filtering upstream makes a lot of sense, especially as my ears get older!!!

73
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W8JX
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Posts: 6443




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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 07:22:15 AM »

I still own a HW 101 that I built in mid 70's and used for 15 years. It is retired now and boxed up in storage for several years now. When 101 was in its prime there was a lot less hams on bands then today.  Today you need a rig with better stability and tractability which is easily done today.   It is nice to be able to meet on a exact frequency or search for a clear spot and return to same freq. Also one of HW100's biggest weaknesses is selectivity. AF DSP does nothing to reject strong signals from IF effecting AGC with a radio that has SSB skirts extending to over 7kc before max attenuation is reach. It also lacks even basic IF shift which has been around for about 30 years now on more modern rigs and can help a lot at times. A newer rig gives you a lot better tools to work with.
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N2EY
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Posts: 3909




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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 09:32:53 AM »

Couple of things to consider:

The HW-100 is over 40 years old, so "newer" covers a lot of ground. It can mean:

- A new or recent model transceiver, currently being manufactured
- A discontinued model a few years old (2000 to present)
- An older discontinued model (1980s-2000) that is digitally-based
- An older "analog based" model (1970s-1980s)

There's also the question of all-solid-state or hybrid, if you're considering the older models.

Prices range all over the place - how much is in the kitty?

What bands and modes do you operate?

Now to your points:

1) Digital frequency readout
2) Memory

These are convenient but not essential unless you do certain kinds of operating. They don't make your signal sound any better, nor help you hear the other guys.

3) Better selectivity (?)

This is one of the biggest reasons to replace the HW-100. The stock filter in that rig is a 4 pole 2.1 kHz unit which is pretty good for the vintage, but modern filters are a lot better. Particularly for CW.

4) Different power supply

Some "newer" rigs have the PS built in; most use an external 13.8 volt supply. Be sure to include the cost of the power supply in the budget! Many of the newer rigs can be run from a "12 volt" battery for portable, mobile or emergency use.

5) Phase Lock Loop

Some "newer" rigs use a PLL synthesizer, some use DDS (Direct Digital Synthesis), and some older models use analog methods (TenTec Corsair). The big issue is how clean the synthesizer is.

6) Smaller

This can be good or bad. I find the tiny knobs, buttons and displays on many modern rigs tedious to operate.

7) Electronic keying

Many but not all newer rigs have a built-in keyer, which can be convenient if you like the way it works.

Cool Split frequency capability

Depends on the kind of operating you do; for me it's a necessity to be able to offset a few kHz. I wonder why Heath never included even an RIT control in their transceivers.

9) Solid State
10) Automatic tuning

Some older models used tube finals; they were pretty much all gone by the mid-1980s or so. While no-tune SS rigs can be convenient, they require a low-SWR load to work. Most cannot tolerate SWR worse than 2:1. Depending on what antenna(s) you use, an "antenna tuner" can be a practical necessity. Such a "tuner" (really a Transmatch) can be manual or automatic, internal or external. Its cost should be included in the overall budget.

Some others:

11) Operating ease - The HW-100 has a switch or knob for each function; no menus, no guessing what the rig is doing. The front panel is uncluttered; not that many knobs and switches. Newer rigs have a forest of knobs and buttons, plus menus; the learning curve can be steep! Depending on the design, doing what appears to be simple may require a bit of head-scratching, manual-page-flipping and cuss words.

12) Ability to work on the rig - You can fix or modify the HW-100 pretty easily; the manual explains everything and the parts are fairly big. All you need are a few tools and some basic test gear. Most of the parts in the HW-100 are still available new; the ones that aren't can be gotten from defunct Heath rigs (a lot of the parts were shared between the SB-line, the HW-100 and HW-101, and a LOT of them were made).

None of the tubes in an HW-100 are rare, and you can do things such as rewiring the final heaters in parallel so that 6883s can be used instead of 6146s. (Often 6883s can be found for bargain prices because they have 12 volt heaters).

Newer rigs use much smaller parts, and often replacements can only be had from defunct rigs of the same model. Working on them is a completely different world, and documentation isn't always easily available.

13)  The HW-100 does not have a noise blanker, and its dynamic range (I use the generic term for a number of performance measures) isn't as good as many newer rigs. Both can make a big difference in how well you can hear the other guys.

14) A used rig can be a bargain - or a headache. Depends on condition and how easy it is to fix.

Before you make any decision, take a look at the Elecraft website. A K2 or K3 may be what you want, particularly if you like CW and want to be able to work on the rig.

How much can you spend? That's probably the biggest question.

----

When the HW-100 first appeared (1968 IIRC), you could get the rig, AC power supply and speaker for under $300. Sounds like a bargain, right? It was - sort of.

When you adjust for inflation, $300 back then is about $1800 today. Think what rigs you can buy today for $1800! And the HW-100 was a kit you had to build!

73 de Jim, N2EY
 

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 09:38:42 AM »

I am considering updating my rig from a venerable old HW-100 to something newer. I've compared some of the specs and here are some of the things different:
     1) Digital frequency readout

Not just a readout; the rigs are entirely digital and as such can beg, roll over, play dead and do all sorts of tricks that analog rigs never could.  "Split" operations; memories; remembering what frequency, mode etc. you were last on for each band; internal CW keyer; interface to your computer to operate the rig and keep a log, etc; digital noise reduction; digital notch filtering; all kinds of stuff.

   
Quote
 2) Memory
     3) Better selectivity (?)

That's an absolute certainty.

     
Quote
4) Different power supply
     5) Phase Lock Loop

For sure, but there's a lot more to it than that.  The PLL is responsible for lots of things, and one immediately obvious one is the greatly enhanced frequency stability achieved by locking to a crystal oscillator.  Everywhere you tune, the rig is as stable as a crystal.  Many have TCXO options (or in some cases, standard) where your rig becomes nearly as stable as WWV, from a cold start.

Quote
6) Smaller
     7) Electronic keying
     Cool Split frequency capability
     9) Solid State
    10) Automatic tuning

This is very important for solid state rigs.  An internal ATU makes a modern SS rig about as "antenna friendly" as an old fashioned tube rig with a pi-network PA stage.


Quote
    11) Others?

Rigs vary a lot in overall quality, performance and features; however many have multiple stage filtering, including a "roofing" filter that eliminates a lot of problems that occur closest to the front end, as well as a wide range of selectable IF filters in later stages, so you can switch from an "AM" filter (6 kHz or wider) to a "narrow CW" filter (500 Hz or narrower) by turning on knob, which takes two seconds.  You can set both received and transmitted bandwidths to alter how the band sounds, and also how YOU sound to others (if you use voice modes).  You can often set high and low frequency cutoffs for voice modes, to tailor your audio to accommodate different microphones and different voices.  Most modern rigs have decent speech processing which provides more "punch" without adding distortion.  Many (probably most) are "full QSK" on CW, so if you like real QSK -- where you can hear another station between dits at 40 wpm -- they can do that, if you want.  But of course you can turn that off if you don't want.  Dial accuracy and resettability are greatly improved.  They all have RIT/XIT functionality, which often can be programmed to various tuning ranges from very small to quite large.  The frequency display indicates where you're transmitting and also where you're receiving, if you're working "split."  Many rigs have internal digital audio recorders so you can pre-record a "phone" CQ if you wish, and sometimes also record the other station so you can play it back to him and he can see how he sounds to you.  The newer rigs most all work AM as well as SSB-CW, and also work FM for use at the high end of 10m, where there is FM activity.

I built an HW-101 from a kit back in the early 70s and it was okay.  But I sure wouldn't want to be using it today! Cheesy

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N2EY
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 09:45:08 AM »

When 101 was in its prime there was a lot less hams on bands then today.  

Maybe. Back in the early 1970s there were about half as many US hams as today. How many were/are actively on the air then/now is anybody's guess.

However, back then we hams had fewer bands and modes, and many rigs had limited coverage. 30, 17 and 12 meters didn't become ham bands until WARC-1979, and it took a few years before we could use them. There was almost no manufactured gear for the bands above 70 cm, and most VHF/UHF gear was single-band. 160 was full of LORAN and most rigs didn't cover it (Drake-line being the exception). Many hams were using rigs that didn't even cover all the traditional HF bands.

To top it all off, the US 'phone subbands were a lot narrower. 75 meters was only 3800 to 4000 and 40 'phone was only 7200-7300, even for Extras.

So while there were fewer hams back then, they were crowded into a smaller space.

73 de Jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 09:54:26 AM by N2EY » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 10:04:08 AM »

One more point: Tuning rate and "feel".

For some reason, older rigs tend to have really fast tuning rates. 20-25 kHz per turn of the knob was about as slow as you could find. The "feel" often left something to be desired, too - backlash, small tuning knob, etc. Particularly in the rigs most of us could afford.

I found the whole thing so frustrating that I went to homebrewing; getting a better tuning rate and feel was one big reason. The integrated tuning capacitor/gear train from a BC-221 or ARC-5 tx was miles above what was in most ham rigs of the day, and much cheaper - and I got a tuning rate of 5 to 10 kHz per turn, a nice big knob, and a solid, silky no-backlash feel. Maybe it didn't bother most hams back then but it sure bothered me.

Eventually the rigmakers caught up.

73 de Jim.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2011, 11:05:38 AM »

I went from the Heathkit AT-1 transmitter with the external VFO and separate receiver to the Heath Apache with built in VFO and separate receiver to the SB-102 transceiver which I used for many years.

I was left a fairly new Kenwood TS-830s by an SK I used to mentor.  The difference between the 102 and the 830s was like going from a jalopy to a Cadillac!  I've used it the past 28 years and still use it.  Since I can no longer seriously consider spending big bucks for a modern transceiver, with the features you list, all I can do is look at these newer transceivers and imagine.  I also drool and whimper a little.

With all of that said, let me now answer your question.  Don't even think about this go-no go stuff anymore. 

Decide how much money you can afford to spend and then add 50% to it (seriously consider doubling that amount) and then see what you can get for that money.  Compare features to features....what some have, what some don't. 

Take your time, take the plunge.  You'll never be sorry.  Keep the 101 for nostalgia or a spare....whatever.  But pamper yourself with a GOOD rig!

[Let me relate a little story of why I said "seriously consider doubling that amount."  I guy I worked with bought a new Harley, addeded a lot of chrome and lights, including a heavy duty alternator to power the lighting; paid $17,000 and change for it.....kept it one year and decided he wanted to get married. 

The Harley had to go.  He offered it for sale for $5,000!  I let it get by me because I didn't feel that I should deprive my family of that money even though I wanted that Harley so bad I had nightmares about it for years afterwards.  It might have strained the budget for a couple years but we would have survived]
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W4NRY
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 11:56:27 AM »

Okay, I think I've heard enough. Thanks all for your comments, I've been looking around for a newer rig for some time and value all your inputs. All the replies were definitely helpful...

73 all ..._._
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W8JX
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2011, 01:49:58 PM »

  The difference between the 102 and the 830s was like going from a jalopy to a Cadillac!  I've used it the past 28 years and still use it. 

Even today a 830 in good order is still a pretty good rig. I know I have owned one for well over 20 years now.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 09:39:23 AM »

JX:  The only thing I really crave is to operate split.  I find the limited split on the 830 very frustrating at times.
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N3QE
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 10:40:16 AM »

You might want to consider what you will lose with any rig newer than a HW-100 or similar:

1. Modern rigs lack of green heath paint scheme (I swear Heath was at least a decade ahead of "Avocado Green" appliances.)

2. Modern rigs don't have a OA2 voltage regulator to blink as you key.

3. Rubber O-rings on preselector controls that deteriorate every couple of years

4. Funky audio-CW-sidetone injected into SSB chain for CW transmission. (To be fair this was copied from the KWM-2 and sucked there too, but the KWM2 predates the HW-100.)

5. Lack of full break in on CW.

Seriously, I had (and still have) a HW-100 that I got when I was a new ham. I very quickly modded it to have RIT. I thought everyone who actually "used" (as opposed to "collected") HW-100's/101's added RIT. April 1974 QST Hints and Kinks page 38 shows a common scheme.

For vintage enjoyment I generally use a HW-16 which to be honest is a far superior CW rig (full break in is such a complete joy - largely because the HW-16 is entirely seperate transmitter and receiver in the same box.)

I also have a 70's era vintage Ten-Tec solid state rig that I like.

Tim.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 10:42:50 AM by N3QE » Logged
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