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Author Topic: Most Improved Feature Over the Years?  (Read 9503 times)
K0OD
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« on: January 08, 2012, 08:35:28 AM »

Find myself getting nostalgic over the best boat anchors, like the still-impressive 1939 HRO5. Some on Eham get aroused by the mention of 70s Drake stuff. My cheapie TS-430 from 1982 is a simple uncluttered delight to use... occasionally.

Many old radios are still fun and they do some things impressively well. So sometimes I wonder how much ham equipment has really improved over the years... over the decades. One could debate whether S-meters have improved overall. There was no learning curve on most tube radios. New radios are generally far better than old ones. But some aspects have benefited more than others.

Has any feature progressed more than frequency accuracy? That costly HRO, with its plug-in coils and optional crystal calibration oscillator could put you within a kHz or two of a band-edge. On other frequencies you only had a chart to guide you to a guess-timate. I was surprised to determine that the digital readout of my TS-430 was off about 0.25 kHz. My 1992 TS-850 is accurate to about 0.15 kHz.  (perhaps there's been some deterioration over time)

My Flex with its scope can determine frequency within 1/4 of a Hz! I think K3s are almost as good. If you look at Frequency Measuring Test results over the decades the progress is remarkable. Modern radios are more than a thousand times more precise than the once-astounding 1 kc Collins readout. Heck, the latest radios are more accurate than radios from just 5 years ago. FMT scores quantify that.

What's your vote for most-improved radio feature?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 10:31:49 PM by K0OD » Logged
ONAIR
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2012, 10:02:31 AM »

Find myself getting nostalgic over the best boat anchors, like the still-impressive 1939 HRO5. I think cave men were living when that came out. Some here get aroused by the mention of 70s Drake stuff. My bottom-of-the-line TS-430 from 1982 is a delight to use... occasionally. Sometimes I wonder how much radio has really improved over the years... over the decades.

Has any feature improved more than frequency accuracy? That costly HRO, with its plug-in coils and optional crystal calibration oscillator could put you within a kHz or two of a band-edge. On other frequencies you only had a CHART to guide you to a guess-timate. I was surprised to determine that the digital readout of my TS-430 was off about .25 kHz. My 1992 TS-850 is accurate to about 1/8th a kHz.  (perhaps there's been some deterioration over time)

My Flex with its scope can determine frequency within 1/4 of a Hz! I think K3s are almost as good. If you look at Frequency Measuring Test results over the decades the progress is remarkable. Modern radios are more than a thousand times more precise than the once-astounding 1 KC Collins readout. Heck, the latest radios are more accurate than radios from just 5 years ago. FMT scores quantify that.

What's your vote for most-improved radio feature?

  Digital readouts, lower weights, and and compact size!  DSP is fun too.
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W8JX
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2012, 11:01:48 AM »

Auto notch.....
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K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2012, 06:47:55 PM »

The complexity!  Now I don't feel guilty when I can't fix the damn thing when it breaks!  Either send it back or trash it!  Simple.
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W7ETA
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2012, 08:36:05 PM »

Amen, Auto notch.
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WX7G
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 05:50:58 AM »

DSP noise reduction and filtering for CW operation are great advances.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2012, 06:23:39 AM »

I have a Yaesu FT101-EE.  It's more complicated to tune properly (although it's easy enough once you get the hang of it) while the newer radios are more forgiving if the tuning is a bit off.

On the other hand, I wouldn't trade the 101 in for anything.  It's too much fun to use!
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K0OD
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 06:49:18 AM »

Quote
DSP noise reduction
I talking about improvements that help function, not those that jack sales. The marketing beauty of DSP is that with each new model ads can imply: "This time we got it right!"

No one thinks about drift anymore. Do our latest models drift at all?  contrast this from a Collins 75A4 spec sheet:

"Warm-up drift is less than 300 cycles after 15 minutes of operation. Temperature stability is less than 1200 cycles drift from 0 to +/- 60 degrees C. Dial accuracy is 300 cycles after calibration."
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KA5IPF
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 10:52:50 AM »

Sure they all drift. The TCXO determines how much. On 20m the standard specs for a radio are +/-10PPM. That translates to +/- 140 Hz after a 30 min warmup. The high stability ones are usually 0.5PPM or +/-7Hz.

The drift will not be reflected in the display like in the older radios (Kenwood TS820) as the displayed frequency is determined by the processor which is displays whatever frequency the software tells it to. It depends on the TCXO being correct. The numbers won't change but the frequency will as the TCXO drifts around. The 820 mentioned had a frequency counter for a display and as the frequency drifted so did the frequency displayed.

The "fly in the ointment" as they say is the accuracy of the TCXO. If it's exactly on design frequency so will you be. I've never seen this happen as alignment spec's usually call for +/-20Hz. If your radio uses a Cesium or Rubidium Standard for a reference oscillator you will be on frequency otherwise you're in the neighborhood.

What I see as the greatest advance is the ability of the mfg's to offer more and more features for the same dollars. A mid-range radio in the 80's was around $1k, same today. Don't even try to compare the 2 for features.

Clif
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G3RZP
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 12:15:45 PM »

Better RX intermodulation performance: better rx filters, and depending, maybe better reciprocal mixing.
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K0OD
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 10:28:57 PM »

Quote
Sure they all drift.

I wondered how much my Flex-5000 drifts. My test tonight showed it has NO discernible drift! I even turned it and its computer off for 15 minutes and back on. The Flex scope showed it remained on the same frequency... 5.000.000 Mhz. Amid one or two tenths of a Hz of Doppler shift, it was impossible to detect any change in the Flex's frequency. The Flex TCXO is rated at 0.5 PPM but it's far better than that. Roughly 1000 times better than a 75A4.

BTW, I see that the optional K3 TCXO is rated at 0.5 ppm.

I'm basing my test on the Flex-5000's built-in scope, not the readout. Shouldn't that be accurate for measuring drift?

 
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KA5IPF
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 05:54:40 PM »

Nope, that's checking itself. Same TCXO provides stability for both. It's kinda like me checking the 10mHz output on the back of my freq counter on the same counter, it's looking at itself, zero error.

It's a 2 part deal. How much it moves over time and where it actually is. 2 different things. Try setting up on WWV and getting a reference point on your 'scope. IE the beep or whatever you want. Turn it off leave it off a while and turn it back on. If your reference point isn't the same it's your radio moving, not WWV
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K0OD
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 07:29:35 PM »

I am measuring WWV on 5 megs. I've used the scope with no external reference oscillator to do pretty well in Frequency Measuring Contests a couple of times. Wave display slows as I tune onto WWV and goes flat (plus/minus Doppler) if I'm precisely on it. 

I left the radio on WWV all day today and now see drift of about a one or two tenths of a Hz. I think my method is valid but such little drift seems too good to be true.
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N3OX
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2012, 07:46:57 PM »

Some combination of my sound card and my FT-857D drift maybe 10Hz in 15 minutes on 2m with respect to WA1ZMS/B which is frequency locked to a claimed 1 part per billion using a GPS-locked frequency source.

You can see it here (along with the doppler shifted scatter off a whole bunch of airplanes):

http://n3ox.net/files/WA1ZMS_0042Z_082309.jpg

That's a little better than 0.1ppm drift in 15 minutes.

But that's still  not conclusive because my rig and sound card could be drifting in opposite directions Grin


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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
W8JX
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2012, 05:39:50 AM »

Amen, Auto notch.

You have to be kidding!  Autonotches are terrible compared to a manual IF notch.

Best feature-additional bands on an HF rig, like 6 and 2m!  Second best improved feature-receiver dynamic range.

73s John AA5JG

Well the auto Notch I have on 2 Kenwood rigs here works flawlessly.
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