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Author Topic: Best transceiver/receiver in market today 2012  (Read 19519 times)
W2IRT
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2012, 04:39:08 PM »

George, I'm really curious about something. You prefer the 7800 over the K3, fair enough, but if you take the ergonomics out of the equation, where do you find the K3 lacking? I have neither, and unless I win the lottery, I doubt I'll ever be able to replace my Mark V, but I'm curious about what shortcomings you feel the K3 has. Basically, if you were to tune both a 7800 and a K3 to the same weak signal surrounded by loud signals within the passband (i.e. CW or SSB contest), would the 7800 outperform it 6000 dollars worth?

I've heard some folks grumble about the K3, but given the published and tested specs from Sherwood, I'm not seeing the downside. Can someone enlighten me?
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K5JZ
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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2012, 08:06:36 PM »

George, I'm really curious about something. You prefer the 7800 over the K3, fair enough, but if you take the ergonomics out of the equation, where do you find the K3 lacking? I have neither, and unless I win the lottery, I doubt I'll ever be able to replace my Mark V, but I'm curious about what shortcomings you feel the K3 has. Basically, if you were to tune both a 7800 and a K3 to the same weak signal surrounded by loud signals within the passband (i.e. CW or SSB contest), would the 7800 outperform it 6000 dollars worth?

I've heard some folks grumble about the K3, but given the published and tested specs from Sherwood, I'm not seeing the downside. Can someone enlighten me?



I hate to get into a detailed critique of any rig comparison, as this is a very subjective topic and as we can already see in this thread… people’s feelings can get hurt easily.

Ergonomics have a lot to do with the size of a rig, placement of controls, ease of use of controls and quality that is manifested in the “feel” of the controls and also the feedback of their use. The K3 is small; IMHO the display is low in resolution and limited in functionality when compared to the Icom’s. The P3 is a fine piece of equipment and has great features and a great display. The 7800 has this built in… not as robust in features but it works great for what it is intended to do and the radio/human GUI it becomes, is without peer in the Amateur market. The K3’s controls are not of the quality of those found on the 7800. Case construction, paint finish, silk screening, the die cast front faceplate, illuminated controls and buttons, quality extruded materials used in the construction of the outer case and a fit and finish to rival a 2012 Roll Royce Phantom, are the optical differences between the two rigs.

The K3 shares some of the features that I will mention… others it does not or it requires an accessory to do so… those familiar with both rigs will understand my references.
 
The 48 volt built in power supply and the finals running at 48 volts, allows a very clean 200 watt output stage to supply your signal to the antenna. The auto tuner functions flawlessly if needed (within its design parameters).

Let’s take the use of the Noise Reduction (DSP) function. The NR works great in both rigs. Remember, I said I cannot fault the K3’s overall performance. Now to adjust this NR in the heat of a 160 meter pileup for something rare like 3C0, the 7800 is but a push of a button and a spin of a knob away from maximizing the reduction of offending noise sources. The K3 has many choices for NR DSP algorithms but the choices are many and it takes a few seconds for each setting to lock into place. One can put some of these settings into memory but this does not always assure that the best choice is available quickly… depending upon the offending noise. This is one place where the Horse Power under the hood makes its presence known.

The noise blanker function is within the DSP and it is miraculous in its effectiveness… and front end overload in the vicinity of strong signals is not an issue. It is adjustable in width and depth and it works like gangbusters. Any transient AGC pops that cause desensing are eliminated with the proper use of the Noise Blanker.

The Notch filter is available in Auto Notch (audio based multiple carrier removal tool) and in a Manual IF Notch mode, which is a 70DB depth filter and is available in multiple widths.

The metering and monitoring of the internal functions of the 7800 are complete. One can monitor every parameter simultaneously if wanted. Filter setup is quick and fully displayed in parameter and adjustment. Even the shape can be changed on the fly. The Twin Passband Tuning is outstanding and if both knobs are shifted together, one has traditional IF shift. The digital reproduction of a mechanical D'Arsonval meter movement is amazing and beautiful. All display parameters are available for both receivers. Each receiver has its very own 32bit floating point CPU for operations and a separate 32bit floating point CPU for the DSP functions. Each receiver has its own DSP unit. There are no detrimental effects when both receivers are engaged. All roofing filters and filter adjustments are available for both receivers and are entirely independent of one another. The large Color display is available in several variations and colors. The scope can be customized in both function and color.

RTTY and PSK are available in one box and the display for each is quite robust. Memory functions allow pre-recorded transmit buffers as well as archiving of QSO’s made. The FSK operation is on par with my Hal ST-8000 RTTY terminal and Hal’s DSP38 modem. Actually it is better than the 38 by a wide margin. CW and Voice memory buffers are available and accessible via the front panel, a plug in box or a USB keyboard.

The Digi Sel feature operates as a pre-selector and is of value when operating on the lower bands, when strong commercial broadcasting fills the band with harmonics and fundamental overload. Europeans find this feature very desirable when they have to contend with primary and harmonic signals from Short Wave broadcasters located near Amateur frequencies. The Audio Peak Filter works extremely well and is adjustable in width and frequency. It can make the difference in copying the weakest of CW signals. The Twin Peak filter is amazing on RTTY mode. It will allow Q5 copy of RTTY DX stations that reside at the noise floor.

Full QSK keying is supreme and with the MOSFET keying option engaged, it is silent running. One can hear in between letters regardless of CW speed… it works and it works as well as the finest QSK rigs that I have ever used.  I use it up to 45 WPM without a glitch.

The transmit audio can be as mellow and as clear as Plate Modulated AM and with the click of a switch, one can be in pileup busting WAR MODE. A large LCD flat panel display can be plugged into a VGA connector and one can have a front panel display as large as one’s wallet will allow… built in standard equipment. Firmware updates are easy and fast. Receive quality can be High Fidelity if setup that way. One can tailor the transmit and receive audio in any way that pleases the operator. I could go on and on but this is a good summation.

The K3 is an outstanding radio… and it will likely hear any signal that any other high end radio can hear. Almost all of the current high end receivers have good performance in this category. How easy it is to copy the signal, how easy it is to utilize the built in aids to help in copying signals and how it “feels” when in the heat of battle, are all things that cannot be put into an Excel spreadsheet.

There are plenty of instances on the Internet where the following has been stated and for 99% of the situations incurred, I believe it to be true. “I have not heard stations on one rig, which I could not copy on the other rig”. I do believe that to be true in the majority of cases. How well or how easily that signal is captured in your snare is where the differences in all of these rigs reside. I could go into receiver architecture but that is beyond the scope of this thread and I am not the most qualified person to present that data. Anomalies exist in some radios, due to their architecture. I have not encountered any with respect to the K3.
 
Is the 7800 worth $6000.00 more to me? Without equivocation... yes. Would it be worth it to you? I have no idea.  It is up to the individual to weigh their options and make a decision based on their likes and needs... not mine.

An analogy that I just thought of was an auto show that I once watched, where several autos were put on a test track and graded for speed and handling ability. Several were tested… the Corvette, Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, Ford GT, Ferrari etc… but when the driver was tooling around the track in the Sesto Elemento, he was doing in excess of 200 MPH, in air conditioned comfort while listening to Mozart on the Blaupunkt stereo… and commenting that while the other rides could hit the mark as well… none could do it while enjoying the silence and comfort of one’s living room and recliner… all but the Sesto Elemento. That is how I envision the 7800.

I hope that this helps.

73,
George K5JZ
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 08:28:05 PM by K5JZ » Logged
K4HYZ
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« Reply #17 on: February 29, 2012, 09:41:22 AM »

Anybody considering a ic7800 should visit the 7800 yahoo reflector. Then search for bad output finals. It is amazing how many owners have problems with these radios.   It would be interesting to know how many of these are sold a year to put the problem in perspective.
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K5JZ
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« Reply #18 on: February 29, 2012, 01:02:54 PM »

Go visit the FT5000 reflector and see the discussions on hum in the main receiver, AGC popping on specific frequencies when strong signals are present nearby... vertical lines appearing in the OLED display and various other glitches... including complaints about the APF setup. How about a number of S-Meters that have had the needle stick to the stop due to the rubber bumpers either not being installed or falling off... the fix... a new S-Meter. The latest discussions are about installing an INRAD roofing filter mod so that the the receiver can better handle close in SSB signals on a crowded band.

There have been finals that have failed in the 7800 line and the 7700 line... but what you see on user groups are those that have had problems. Some failures have been possibly linked to loose connections and improper heat sink compound installation... others have been linked to possible defective batches of transistors. I have been told by someone who would know... that less that 1% of the units sold have experienced any final related failures. Failures also exist in the FTDX9000, FT2000 and FT5000 lines. The K3 Reflector has had references to radio failures. Any brand of radio can break.

I have run my 7800 every day for several years. I have been in RTTY pileups lasting for hours... in CW pileups lasting for hours... we just finished 2 days of the CQ 160 meter SSB contest, using a brand new 7700. I have experienced no problems in any way. K3LR has 14 7800's in his Contest station setup... he has purchased many of them used. He has run the serial numbers on all of his rigs and none have been back to Icom for final replacement. He has had ZERO failure rate on his radios. He also posted that fact on the same Yahoo group referenced so look it up while you are there. These are not rigs that are pampered... they are run hard and put away wet! If there were a definable design problem inherent in the Icom line... K3LR and others like myself would have experienced the problem.

73,
George K5JZ
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 01:16:36 PM by K5JZ » Logged
KF7DS
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« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2012, 08:43:22 PM »

I've been happy with my Icom 7600. For me it had the best combination of price / performance / features. The highlights for me are: good receiver, dual-watch capability, built-in band scope, nice color display with large numbers, and CAT control + audio for digital modes with one USB cable.

You can get better performance in each of those areas on more expensive radios, but for me there was a much larger cost for only a small or moderate improvement.

-Jeff


I agree... IMHO it is the best bang for the bucks.

73,
George K5JZ

Here is another vote for the 7600....great bang for your $

Don -KF7QZB
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AB3CX
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« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2012, 11:29:05 PM »

If we're talking top of the line radios where money is somewhat expendable (although not stupid expendable), I would proffer the follow three radios (alpha order)

Elecraft K3
Icom IC-7800
Yaesu FTDX5000

One notch below would be the

Icom IC-7700
Tentec Orion I/II

I've used all of these radios, and all of them perform well.  Some have quirks that one has to deal with (e.g., the K3 is very fussy with some SSB settings; the Orion is very menu driven).

I used the FTDX5000 at N3HBX in the CQWW SSB last year and made over 5,000 QSOs in a weekend (first USA ham to do that in CQWW).

I also used the FT-5000 in the CQ WW CW at the W2RE station this past fall.  I'm a regular FT-2000 (+ AC0C roofing filter and + IF-2000/SDR-IQ Panadaptor) user with no complaints about my own rig at all.  The FT-5000 worked extremely well for me, the diversity reception feature was useful, the rig is intuitive if you already know the FT-2000.  Because contesters shun the FT-2000, I was the only one using the rig really able to use it to advantage. But get me around a K3, I'm lost, I dont know the rig well enough to feel comfortable with it. That weekend we had 2 Yaesu guys (one a great contester who wins alot with the FT-1000-MP), a K3 guy, an Icom 7800 guy, and the owner of the FT-5000 who was not really familiar with the DSP at all yet.  For any serious pile-up DXer, a radio with a subreceiver and two tuning knobs seems like a "must have" to me.  If I had some more extra $$ now, I'd upgrade to the FT-5000 in a heartbeat, but all my radio $$ are going into towers and antennas right now.
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KY6R
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« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2012, 04:52:59 AM »

Anybody considering a ic7800 should visit the 7800 yahoo reflector. Then search for bad output finals. It is amazing how many owners have problems with these radios.   It would be interesting to know how many of these are sold a year to put the problem in perspective.

I had a 7800 and the finals blew within the first year - so it was fixed under warranty. I sold it with a very painful lesson that I just way over paid for something that I also wouldn't dream of fixing myself.

I had an FT-2000D, which had just about the best ergonomics of any rig - but the NB and filtering left me wanting for better. I was not willing to install the roofing filter that many have - that seem to correct the shortcomings - so I sold the radio. I should have never sold the Orion II for the FT-2000D, but I do like having a 200 watt rig - and no amplifier.

The K3 - is most definitely user serviceable, takes up way less space, is much lighter, and performs (for the DX-ing that I do) as well as any $10K radio. The rest of the K-Line now has me hooked - I can add the Panadaptor and Amplifier later - when I want. Its a really nice system.

I have always felt that I could repair a Ten Tec or Elecraft rig . . . . there is actually some space inside to remove and replace parts.

Speaking of parts - no one comes close to the track record of Ten Tec - who can fix just about all of the radios they have ever produced. Elecraft is gunning for this kind of support too. As much as I love the Yaesu FT-1000D, you can't get all of the replacement parts any more.

Maybe it doesn't matter so much - as we all probably buy radios way more often than we should - hi hi.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 07:19:20 AM by KY6R » Logged
W4VKU
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« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2012, 06:20:30 AM »

I have collected some data on the asking price of the IC7800 in the
preowned market, which has falled down to almost 1/2 the new unit going price.
Perhaps, the IC7700 and the IC7600 are adding to the pricing pressure. The K3 inspite of
the ergonomics, appears to be holding up well in price/performance.

Just my 2cents

Krish
w4vku
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N8FNR
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« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2012, 06:54:40 AM »

" Hard to fault a Flex except that's it's a bit less than perfect on CW. The new Flex tracking notch is simply amazing. And useful. Does the K3 have that, or the still largely MIA KX3?

The Flex-5000 is test equipment... that can transmit too.

I have had a fair share of Flex operators just wink out on me during a QSO only to hear them reappear 5 minutes later apologizing and cussing about a PC lockup.  That's one big fault right there.

I have had a Flex-5000A ever since they first came out and have only had it lock up once while in use. And no, I am not running a high end PC.

The panadapter and incredible filters are worth the rig cost. I worked a lot of DX in the CQ RTTY contest and created a filter that was just slightly wider than a RTTY signal. Having a filter that tight knocks out a LOT of the interference in contests. Also I normally use a 25hz filter for CW. Is there any other rig that has one of those? And BTW there is no ringing at that width.

And now I have I paired with a Elecraft KPA-500 and consider it to be a killer combo.

Zack
N8FNR
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NI0C
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2012, 08:27:12 AM »

Quote
The K3 is small; IMHO the display is low in resolution and limited in functionality when compared to the Icom’s.

"Sorry OM, I just couldn't dig you out of the noise with my K3 on Top Band at sunrise this morning.  I was using diversity receive with 250 Hz 8-pole roofing filters-- I even engaged the audio peaking filter, all to no avail.  Alas, my display resolution just couldn't cut it."
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K0OD
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« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2012, 10:34:31 AM »

Quote
"Also I normally use a 25hz filter for CW. Is there any other rig that has one of those? And BTW there is no ringing at that width."

My Flex filters (ten in each mode and highly customizable)  are marvelous but...

The Flex CW filter marked "25 Hz" isn't functional at that bandwidth. Neither is the one marked "50 Hz."  I've done extensive testing of those on my 5000 a few years ago. The Flex 100 Hz filter works as advertised which is darn well, but the two narrower ones are just a smidgeon narrower... perhaps 90 Hz. 

I'm sure Flex Radio could make their filters do 25 Hz but that would involve undesirable tradeoffs in ways such as panadaptor performance and would require a heftier computer.

I think I'm right about the above, unless there's been some changes to PSDR in that regard. Besides, 100 Hz is plenty narrow for all but the slowest CW speeds.
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WF2S
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« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2012, 07:58:15 AM »

There is NO BEST XCVR !!  I have owned IC756 pro #, IC7700, Ten Tec Eagle and a K3. Each has served me well. My friends that are always near the top of any major contest use K3 and Ten tec Orion ll and Omni Vl... I am not a fanatic contester , so my needs are different..
I have taken Icom low end rigs 1/2 way around the world to operate sans problem. I recently took a Ten Tec Eagle to j6 and in 5 days logges over 2.5k digital qsos without a snag..
I now value service or rather the lack of need for service and the fact that it was MADE in the USA as paramount.
Every radio that I have owned that was manufactured in Malaysia and sold under a major brand name  has had serious manufacturing defects necessitating its return. $300 to mail back a PW1 and IC7700 within weeks of purchase has jaded my opinion.
Good Luck

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N4NYY
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« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2012, 06:50:47 PM »

The best all-around rig for the money is the Yaesu FT-950 (I paid $1,244). You will not find another rig in that price range with those features. If you have another $1,000 to spend, then get the Elecraft K3. I have yet to hear something bad about them, and their receivers are the best.

As far as Icom, I have had bad experiences with their newer line, and am done with them.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 06:52:22 PM by N4NYY » Logged
KH6DC
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« Reply #28 on: March 03, 2012, 10:10:49 PM »

Been through: Kenwood TS50, Kenwood TS450/SAT, Icom 706, Icom 765, Icom 756 Pro, Icom 756 Pro II, Icom 7600, Icom 706MKIIG and the Elecraft K3.  Hands down the Elecraft K3 is by the best mainly for pulling in weak dx stations through the S9+20 noise level at my QTH.
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
KD8MJR
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« Reply #29 on: March 04, 2012, 12:42:31 PM »

IMO the post above by K5JZ sums it up perfectly.
The K3 is kind of a one trick pony. If all you are interested in is having a Razor thin disputable edge in receiver performance then the K3 is your best bet!  But if you take into account all the other things that go into a great Radio the K3 is way behind in the pack.
Not even close to a 7800,7700,7600,Ft-5000,Ft-2000 and a whole host of other radios that give a Ham greater ergonomics, better transmit and a host of other tools.   Yep I am going to get some people mad but it's true, the K3 does one thing very well and falls far short in many other areas.  When I buy a radio I am not buying it solely for that 1% of contacts but for the 99%.

Been through: Kenwood TS50, Kenwood TS450/SAT, Icom 706, Icom 765, Icom 756 Pro, Icom 756 Pro II, Icom 7600, Icom 706MKIIG and the Elecraft K3.  Hands down the Elecraft K3 is by the best mainly for pulling in weak dx stations through the S9+20 noise level at my QTH.
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