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Author Topic: HF radio comparisons  (Read 3256 times)
N6SBN
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« on: March 24, 2012, 09:23:36 AM »


  I was looking at the newer HF radios such as the Kenwood TS-590s, K3  etc etc.  I am  not finding the competitive testing of the different models like you would see in the motorcycle magazines.   The only reviews with substance seem to be the Eham "reviews"   Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance.
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KG4NEL
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 09:33:05 AM »

Check this out: http://www.sherweng.com/table.html
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AC5UP
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2012, 10:02:18 AM »

Am I missing anything?

Only that eHam reviews should be read with a jaundiced eye and never taken at face value...... Particularly those reviews overwhelmingly positive, negative, or begin with the phrase "I received a new Kenyaecom Etherblaster yesterday and..."
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N5NA
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2012, 10:52:45 AM »

ARRL tests all the latest equipment.  All the test results are at http://www.arrl.org/reviews-listed-by-manufacturer but you have to be an ARRL member to download them.

Alan N5NA
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K8AC
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2012, 02:36:04 PM »

If you think the Eham reviews have substance, you are missing something.  For my money, the only way to read those reviews is to look at all the reviews that are less than 5, and see if there's a common thread to the lower reviews.  If they refer to a common problem or complaint, it's probably valid. 
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K0OD
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2012, 02:57:28 PM »

Quote
"I received a new Kenyaecom Etherblaster yesterday and..."

You beat me to that barb.  I've owned my Flex-5000 for nearly three years and still haven't gotten around to reviewing that sophisticated transceiver. Isn't it amazing how many brand new techs can review complex radios or multiband antennas from one or two contacts.

I'll offer another vote for ignoring 5/5 Eham reviews. Or any review that refers to the company owner by his first name. 
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2012, 05:39:18 PM »

I'm another vote for kind of ignoring the eHam (or other website) personal reviews only because they've very anecdotal.  In many cases the reviewer has no standard of comparison, no lab test equipment, and really nothing other than an opinion based on using a piece of gear which may have satisfied him, or not.

If the only care you ever owned was a Yugo, it would be a great car, because it sure beats walking.

The ARRL does test "most" (not all) new gear and the product reviews are printed in QST and then posted on line in the "for members only" section.  I think they're valuable because they include not only lab test results but also operator opinions from people who have used a lot of equipment and have reasonable experience.

As an example, a rig might perform great in the lab but be almost impossible to use; that would make it technically excellent but a failure on the market.  Some other rigs might be really great to use but not perform well, and they would be the opposite.

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W9KDX
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2012, 06:02:08 PM »

While the reviews on HF equipment may be limited here, I often find the reviews on less complex equipment are much more helpful than those at ARRL.  Many times, I have read reviews there on certain well known "junk" and they are no help in alerting you to many of the problems and issues.
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Sam
W9KDX
KD8MJR
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2012, 08:41:24 PM »

I like eham reviews but I also read Qst reviews and look at the sherwood numbers etc.
When reading The reviews you just have to take each one with a grain of salt and sift through them intelligently.  One thing that is great about eham is the sheer volume of reviews on just about every product, if you see a trend like "the fit and finish is terrible" or the "the soldering job sucks" you can take these trends and get a fairly good idea that there is probably truth to the complaints.  I bought my Tokyo hy-power amp based on the sheer volume of positive reviews and just about all of them were accurate.
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AD6KA
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2012, 12:05:52 PM »

Besides the hard "numbers" from lab reports,
there are a lot of subjective things to consider.

A menu system that is "intuitive" to one op
may be frustrating to another. What is an
"ergonomic layout" for one reviewer may seem
goofy to you.  A rig whose receiver
"is easy to listen to for long periods" for one guy
may be "tiring" to another. (Sorta like stereo speakers.
A friend of mine goes on and on about his expensive
speakers. Frankly, after 30 minutes they give me a headache).

I think that "Hands On A/B testing" is the way to go.
It may well be worth a couple hours drive each way
to find a ham shop where you can do this. Try to find
a nearby attraction for the XYL and make a "Road Trip"
out of it!  Grin
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 08:45:32 PM »

There's another problem:

. . . Rigs like the K3, TS-590, etc, are very nearly perfect.

They don't drift, they are background-noise-limited on all bands, their distortion numbers are pretty low, and their filtering is both flexible and very good.

So the Sherwood Engineering tests make sense -- put each rig under stress (a weak desired signal, near a very strong interfering signal), and see how they stack up.

. . . But what else are you going to _compare_ ? 

You could test things like the speech compressor, but there are no objective criteria for what's "good" and what's "bad".

As a previous post says, "ergonomics" is a rather subjective area.  What one person accepts without question -- e.g., a button where "press" and "long press" do different things -- will drive another person crazy.   And, as one gets experience with a rig, the problems often tend to recede into the background.

               Charles
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G4AON
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Posts: 529




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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 12:32:17 AM »

I've had a K3 since late 2007 and a good friend has a TS590... You ask about comparisons, so here we go:

K3 is a "system" radio that can be integrated into almost any station setup you want, IF out for a pan adapter, RF IN/OUT loop for external parallel receiver or input from 2nd antenna. TS590 has neither of these.

You can build a basic K3 from a kit and add to it as you can afford to. What you get with the 590 is pretty much it.

The K3 is the only ham transceiver to offer a second receiver that does diversity receive.

I don't know about the TS590, but plenty of DXPeditions swear by the K3 as the oscillators are so clean you can operate multiple radio from the same station with little QRM between them (even CW and SSB on the same band in some setups).

Matching amplifier for the K3 to form a well integrated 500 W station. Kenwood no longer make an amplifier.

The K3 is made in America with some of the best support (both software and hardware) of any manufacturer.

Neither are as clean on IMD products on SSB transmit as a high voltage PA radio.

I could go on, but for my money it would have to be an American made radio for a ham living in the USA. You have the choice of Elecraft, Ten Tec and Flex... Go for one of those!

73 Dave

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K0OD
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Posts: 2557




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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 07:01:29 AM »


Quote
The K3 is the only ham transceiver to offer a second receiver that does diversity receive

Flex-5000 with optional 2nd receiver can do diversity. 

Your point, and especially coming from a G perspective, is well taken. USA hams should be damn proud of their radio manufacturers in recent years. 
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W0BTU
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 11:26:44 AM »

The Sherwood data is very good indeed. Probably the best you'll find anywhere.

What the ARRL publishes is lots better than the vast majority of those eHam reviews, yes.

But you still have to be careful. Not long ago, the ARRL's tester let a very major design defect slip by, and there was quite a discussion on QRZ about what they published in QST.
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N6AJR
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2012, 12:15:48 PM »

an orion with the VER 3 software is a super rig
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