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Author Topic: The Best CW Transceiver?  (Read 42935 times)
N3QE
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Posts: 2094




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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2012, 06:05:37 AM »

First, QSK (Full break in), is not necessary.
It was useful for shipboard and coast stations where traffic had to be transcribed perfectly, and both operators were aware that
full break in was available. In ham use, it is rarely employed, unless you have two stations who both agree to use it.
However, having a transceiver which switches quickly from transmit to receive is useful, since some stations, particularly in DX work,
are real speed demons on the switchover, and if your switchover is slow, you may miss some of their reply.

That's an attitude largely inspired by several decades of SSB-oriented transceivers that had poor to no QSK. Before that, everyone had a separate transmitter and receiver, and by default got to listen to the band between dits and dahs. Some had a way of muting the receiver while key-down, but many of us were not even at that level of sophistication :-)

QSK is way more than simply a way of transcribing traffic properly.

Done well, QSK gives excellent band awareness. Imagine voice-wise, being in a crowded room with many verbal conversations and whenever you started talking and for some period after you went completely blind and deaf. You would be socially very very awkward. That's exactly what it's like when you don't have good QSK and are working in a busy environment. I could not imagine working DX or contesting or ragchewing without QSK.

Tim.
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STAYVERTICAL
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2012, 03:12:12 PM »

Your point is taken Tim, but in my case, it is actually an attitude inspired by decades of using professional marine equipment with excellent QSK.

When you are a professional radio operator the way of operating is very different than when you are a ham who is restarting his CW experience.
Sometimes we forget the path we trod to get to where we are.
It helps to reflect how we would feel with noise blasting in our ears between morse elements if we were just starting out.

As I said earlier, most hams do not use QSK, unlike days of yore in marine circles, and to date I have never been queried as to whether I can use QSK.
So I am assuming some hams use it as a personal option,such as yourself, depending on equipment capability.
However, most hams would assume their contact is not using QSK, unlike marine communications of the past.

I am glad it enhances your CW experience, but when we substitute a mirror for a window, we cannot see others outside clearly.

73s - Rob.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 03:21:07 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
N3QE
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Posts: 2094




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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2012, 05:49:42 PM »

> It helps to reflect how we would feel with noise blasting in our ears between
> morse elements if we were just starting out.
To be fair, when I started without even a mute input to the RX, the band was very quiet compared to the racket my receiver made whenever I keyed up :-).
Quote
> As I said earlier, most hams do not use QSK, unlike days of yore in marine
> circles, and to date I have never been queried as to whether I can use QSK.
> So I am assuming some hams use it as a personal option,such as yourself,
> depending on equipment capability.
> However, most hams would assume their contact is not using QSK,
> unlike marine communications of the past.
Depends on the circle. I could not imagine DX'ing or contesting, and certainly not sprinting, with semi-break-in or a manual T/R switch. Heck, many of the traditional SSB rigs have a semi-break-in duration that could hold an entire sprint QSO :-).

And casual ragchewing would be so much less interesting if I couldn't hear what was happening around me in the band or I couldn't interrupt for fills. While the handbook might imply a formal QSK ack/nack before attempting to break in, I find it never hurts to just give it a try and if the other op stops and listens, then he has QSK and knows how to operate with it. The vast majority of CW ops are using a rig that's very capable of QSK; if it's not being used effectively that's probably more the op than the radio.

(There is a small fraction using some crummy 70's or 80's SSB-oriented transceiver that is at best semi-break-in. But really... that went out of style like 20 years ago.)

When I operate RTTY or (gak! But I've done it to help the club at field day) phone, I find it very unnerving that I'm going many many seconds without being able to hear.

I couldn't imagine teaching someone to use CW on the ham bands if they couldn't listen to the band whenever the key was up. It would be like teaching a baby to talk but holding my hands over their ears for a while after they said anything. Unnatural and cruel.

Tim.
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AK7V
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Posts: 249




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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2012, 12:55:00 PM »

I also use QSK all the time.  I like being able to hear what's going on while I send.  Sometimes I'll hear someone QRM me and I'll know it's happening, so I'll wait or re-send -- or I'll hear the other op ask the QRMer to QSY.

I look for rigs with pretty good QSK.  I'm happy with the QSK in my IC-756 pro 3.  As long as the relay noise isn't too loud and the QSK is fast enough to work at my average QSO speed, I'm happy.  My IC-703 has loud relays, but when I use headphones, it doesn't bother me.
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KQ6Q
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2012, 09:58:32 AM »

For cost effective CW fun, watch fo a TenTec Century 21 - 5 band, CW only, 50W, solid state full break-in, built-in AC PS. And it's the only one of the early TenTec's that doesn't have a dial string to worry about.
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N2EY
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« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2012, 10:22:24 AM »

IMHO, there is no "best" CW transceiver. All have their good and bad points.

It all depends on what you want to do, and what you consider important.

There are also the considerations of cost, size, weight, repairability, power consumption, and ease of use.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2012, 02:24:00 PM »

IMHO, there is no "best" CW transceiver. All have their good and bad points.

It all depends on what you want to do, and what you consider important.

There are also the considerations of cost, size, weight, repairability, power consumption, and ease of use.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Truer words were never spoken Jim.
I heartily agree.

73s - Rob
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2012, 04:13:18 AM »



Truer words were never spoken Jim.
I heartily agree.

73s - Rob


Rob

Truer then true is the banner of your statements. True.

Here you have the - in my opinion - true words ( not truer then true) that has ever been written:

The only ideal transmitter is the transmitter that you (design and) build yourself, preferably from scratch with the components that you find to be available in YOUR  junk box. Filled up from flea markets and taken-apart-to-components CD players washing machines, TVs. PCs and you name it. Not ideal as it will be found out in using it but that is the incentive for developing the next ideal one, and so on.

It will not be a complex SSB transmitter with CW as add on, but a CW transmitter without SSB as add-on with a class C (or E) final, hence no waste of power in order to be 'linear' and no complex mixing scheme . filters and what have you..

Excuse when my American English is far from  perfect, and hence requires a lot of ham spirit from your side to decode and understand it; it is a second language for me and I had to spent a lot of time to express my thoughts in it , not so the people that criticize it, and has it as a mothers tongue, and don't speak any other language and used that bulk extra free time for selecting foreign produced products and not for development of the intellectual skills of their own person. as the amateur service was meant for, when primary installed.

Even when the transmitter is incomparable with JAPANESE products -  in the experienced eyes of selecting industrial products people, that have the experience because they spent their bulk extra free time in selecting and not in gaining 'know how' for creating a product - it should be  the best because you developed your skills and you did the self development the amateur service was created for.

Bob
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 04:27:51 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
N4OI
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Posts: 200




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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2012, 06:36:03 AM »

For cost effective CW fun, watch fo a TenTec Century 21 - 5 band, CW only, 50W, solid state full break-in, built-in AC PS. And it's the only one of the early TenTec's that doesn't have a dial string to worry about.

Yes! A Century 21 is my next project -- the raw materials (i.e., Ebay rig described as "Non-working, for parts...") should be delivered today.  Time to break out the scope, signal generator and soldering iron! 

I have always wanted to have a classic TenTec radio since I bought a great used TenTec 238 manual tuner a few years ago.  And yes, CW-only, quiet QSK and a responsive USA manufacturer were key decision factors for my Elecraft K1 and Small Wonder Labs Rockmite and DSW-IIs -- all are also great CW radios.

My only rig with a microphone is my Yaesu FT-920 -- in fact, I think the mic is in a drawer around here somewhere...  Huh

73 ES GOD BLESS U ES URS DE KEN N401   Grin
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2012, 10:00:54 PM »

Quote
Excuse when my American English is far from  perfect, and hence requires a lot of ham spirit from your side to decode and understand it; it is a second language for me and I had to spent a lot of time to express my thoughts in it , not so the people that criticize it, and has it as a mothers tongue, and don't speak any other language and used that bulk extra free time for selecting foreign produced products and not for development of the intellectual skills of their own person. as the amateur service was meant for, when primary installed.

Don't worry Bob, your English is better than my Dutch, or my high school German.
Mach dich keine sorgen Bob, dein English ist gut. Hab ein gutes tag mein freund.
(Don't worry Bob, your English is good. Have a good day my friend)

Interesting comments in your post.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 10:24:32 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
WX7G
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« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2012, 04:10:31 PM »

Elecraft K2.
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ZENKI
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Posts: 906




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« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2012, 04:55:48 AM »

Yep,  I agree. The K2 is my favorite CW radio. It really excels on Low Band CW especially weak signal CW under noisy QRN conditions. The K2 is way ahead of the K3. I dont care what people say about the K3's  receiver and how good it is. The K3 makes the bands seem  much noisy than it really is regardless of AGC settings. It always amazes me when  I switch between a K3 and any good analog radio, the K3 is  really a fatiguing radio under noisy band conditions.

I am not impressed with the K3. I think most people who own this radio talk themselves into believing that its the best. All my subjective tests indicate otherwise. I have just downloaded the latest firmware and the changes  seem impressive to the ear.  I need to make long terms tests to convince myself that Elecraft has made the K3 a better quite weak signal radio.. The claims that the K3 was noisy was ignored right from the first day that the K3 was released. The  second contest season i sidelined my K3, its my least favorite radio despite its specifications. The K2 I can use under any conditions and it will always produce the results.

In  my subjective tests on 10 meters and very weak signal CW the K2 receives much better. The body of the signal and note when signals are weak is much better on the K2, the K3 by comparison has a washed out weak sound and makes copying weak CW  much harder. K6SE(SK) and myself exchanged many notes on this  subject. K6SE made many  controversial posts on various reflectors, in his tests the K2 came out on top when it came to weak signal CW.
My other ham friends who use the K2 with transverters on EME and weak signal VHF/UHF work also praise the K2 on CW

Anyway  regardless of what people think the K2 is my favorite  weak signal radio as well as a great general purpose CW radio. You wont go wrong buying or building a K2. I wish Elecraft would update the K2 design as a legacy analog design using all SMT construction. I think as the DSP fad passes, and people look back and turn on the great legacy analog radios they will ask themselves one day why they ever abandoned this  old hat technology for something that is not really superior yet. I operate a lot of low band DX contests especially on CW and its always a pleasure using the K2 on CW.


Elecraft K2.
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N6GND
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« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2012, 01:56:13 PM »

ZENKI said: Yep,  I agree. The K2 is my favorite CW radio.


I want to add my enthusiasm. The K2 is a terrific CW radio. I would add that the experiences of building, aligning, setting up (for example the filters but also many other things can be customized), learning about, modifying and adding options are additional very richly enjoyable aspects of the K2. You can learn a lot about your K2 and radio design generally by reading the comments in the reflector. I built my K2/100 two years ago after getting re-licensed after more than 45 years away from amateur radio. I recently built the SSB board and installed the Rework Eliminator mic setup device. Rework Eliminators are themselves great inventions and anyone building a K2 should incorporate them during the original construction.

I had a lot to learn about PC board work, soldering with a very small tip, winding toroids and lots of other very enjoyable construction details. When I started out back in the 50s the radios I built were all built on a metal chassis with components mounted on terminal strips or tube sockets which were bolted on. A very different world.

It took me over 60 hours to build my K2 but it worked perfectly after assembly. So too has every option I've added. I've never had a moment's trouble with my K2. If I've had any question about its operaton, I've found a full discussion on the reflector.

Knowing your gear inside and out is very useful, informative and entertaining. That's another important set of reasons that the K2 is such a splendid radio. The K3 may perform better in some ways, but can't possibly be as rich a total experience.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 01:57:49 PM by N6GND » Logged
NI0C
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Posts: 2383




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« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2012, 05:38:22 AM »

This discussion of the K2 versus the K3 is interesting, since I have both radios. 

The K3 has some features I now find indispensable for low band CW work: five slots for crystal roofing filters; low pitch capability (down to 300 Hz); Audio Peak Filtering (APF); Rx input and output jacks (for inserting a preamp or noise cancelling device).  It can also be upgraded with a second receiver. 

I have done side by side comparisons of the K2 vs. K3 using a receive antenna splitter, and always prefer the K3.

73,
Chuck  NI0C



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ZENKI
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2012, 04:08:56 AM »

I must own 2 X bad K3's!

I am not disputing that the K3 is ahead on features and flexibility. However  the bells and whistles rarely matter much on CW.

On my comparisons on weak signals and low band DX with QRN the K2 is ahead on weak signal detection.
The only thing I wish the K2 had was a decent APF, I use a Datong filter which gives me a APF function on the K2. The Datong APF is as goods as the K3s APF.

I just loaded the new beta firmware and it looks promising, the receiver seems to have been silenced in  its response to QRN, it  is not so violent and noisy. I will  need to spend more time but for the moment it looks good.
I could not believe that I was listening to the K3 when I installed the new beta firmware. Its a very pleasant sounding receiver now,  i might actually start using it again and might  change my mind about its  capabilities..

The bottom line is that I would be happy to run my K2 against any radio and I know with a lot of confidence that it will hold its own. My results in CW contests bears  me out on this comparison. I have one of the very first 1000  serial K3's My second K3 is a factory built  very high serial number with all current updates and mods done at the factory. They both equal on my bench.

Elecraft could easily update the K2 design and manufacturer it with all SMT parts, it would be a huge success, from reading the reflector is still a popular rig  and seems to be selling well. One can only imagine  how well this radio
would sell if it was ready built. Elecraft wont do this since they busy working on the K4's design.

This discussion of the K2 versus the K3 is interesting, since I have both radios. 

The K3 has some features I now find indispensable for low band CW work: five slots for crystal roofing filters; low pitch capability (down to 300 Hz); Audio Peak Filtering (APF); Rx input and output jacks (for inserting a preamp or noise cancelling device).  It can also be upgraded with a second receiver. 

I have done side by side comparisons of the K2 vs. K3 using a receive antenna splitter, and always prefer the K3.

73,
Chuck  NI0C




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