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Author Topic: Help me make a radio decision  (Read 8689 times)
K2GWK
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« on: January 08, 2013, 05:10:30 PM »

Hello Gentlemen,

My name is Guy (K2GWK) and I have a little scratch burning a hole in my pocket. A little background: My XYL and I are empty nesters and her hobby is breeding Labrador Retrievers. It is a very expensive hobby. We have spending a lot of money on breeding, dog shows and all the sundry expenses that seven, thas right, seven Labradors require. She has realized how much she has been spending on the Hounds from Hell and asked if I wanted anything for myself. I guess her conscience is getting the best of her. Normally I am so tight my butt squeeks when I walk and I am not so quick to part with the buck but an opportunity like  this does not come often in my household. If there is some extra cash laying around that she is offering to me and I don't claim it, it will literally go to the dogs.

I am good with antennas as I have a beam, tower (I DIY'ed it) and lots of wire antennas. I love to chew the rag on HF and want to try my hand at DX and maybe if I can gather the patience, contesting. I presently have a FT-950 and FT-897 backup radio. My budget for the radio is $5500. At first I thought that was an enormous amount of money for a radio and almost gave some back but after seeing the price of radios today I am glad I didn't.

I have my eye on two radios. I like what I have read about the FTDX-5000 and being a geek at heart also like what I have read about the new Flex 6500. I am not so much an Icom fan. My elmer had all kinds of problems with the power amp his IC-756 and it kind of turned me off knowing the problems he had. I may even entertain an Elecraft to throw a third into the fray as I have read many good things about th K3 also. I am looking for a radio with a good reciever and two separate recievers would be really nice. I have a LP-Pan and IF2000 for use with the Elecraft or Yaesu as a panoramic display.

I have read alot about all of these radios. What say you about them. I am asking in case I missed something and I am interested in what you think as you may have own them and used them.

Thank you,

Guy
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WD4ELG
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2013, 09:51:48 PM »

Guy

You will find folks who swear by Flex and swear AT Flex.  The SDR forum has tons of info in it on this subject.  I recommend you get with a ham who has one of the rigs and get some hands-on time.  I have the Flex 3000 and I LOVE it.  I am a Kenwood man (520, 570, 480), but for me Flex is all that I need.  Once I got used to the panadapter and clicking to tune, I was forever hooked.

Now, I have been impressed with the FTDX5000 from what I have read, and lots of folks love them...once they get used to the menus (would not bother me, I don't think).

Having said that, I would not spend $5K on any rig.  At my QTH, I don't have a good enough antenna to take advantage of such a rig.  Just using a hex beam and 750 watt amp and some wire antennas.  If I had an antenna like a C31XR or some other super multi-bander, then I would consider the Flex 6500.  Although I would wait until the thing was on the street and had a few revisions out to it.  Not because I don't love Flex, but I don't want to be "bleeding edge."  When I bought my Flex 3000 in 2009, I was "leading edge" but not "bleeding edge" as the system had software and hardware was improved by then.

I am thrilled with my Flex 3000 and I am chasing honor roll, and it makes a huge difference for me in the pileups and with weak stations.  You might want to look at the Flex 5000 instead of the 6500.  Get one with dual receivers in it, and you can do diversity reception to null noise...a VERY POWERFUL feature.  But it requires a superb second receiver (which I think only Flex and Elecraft have...I *think* the second receiver in Ten Tec and Yaesu is not identical...somebody correct me if I am wrong).

Hope this helps.
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K2GWK
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 07:07:31 AM »

Thank you for the reply. That was a great post. You are absolutely right, I wouldn't consider another rig if I wasn't happy with my antenna setup. I also agree about the two receivers for diversity. In my original post that is why I honed in on these particular radios. The all can have two receivers. Funny thing is that I have to use the cash or it will literally go to the dogs.
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W8JX
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 07:38:21 AM »

I would suggest that you maybe wait a month or two as TS-990 has been FCC approved and will ship soon and is in your price range and will warrant a look at the least.  I will agree that with Flex's you either love them or hate them. They look good on paper but in 3 years they still have not fixed "software" because some of the problem is in the design itself. I guess I am old fashion too in that while I use a PC.  in shack regularly my rigs operation does not depend on it to work.   Also new software on a old Flex radio design does not make it a new radio anymore than Windows 7 or 8 does on a old PC.  
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 07:44:26 AM by W8JX » Logged
W8GP
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 10:28:13 AM »

Do you like your '950? If you do, then you will definitely appreciate the '5000, since it will be like a '950 on steroids. The '990 is unproven at this time and the Flex is a whole different animal which may or may not be to your liking. Based on the fact that you have the money burning a hole in your pocket, I would go with the '5000.
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W8JX
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2013, 10:45:31 AM »

Do you like your '950? If you do, then you will definitely appreciate the '5000, since it will be like a '950 on steroids. The '990 is unproven at this time and the Flex is a whole different animal which may or may not be to your liking. Based on the fact that you have the money burning a hole in your pocket, I would go with the '5000.

Well the 990 has the PROVEN 590 receiver as is secondary one and primary is sure to please. If there was nothing new in wings I would say maybe consider 5000 but with 990 soon to launch I would wait and then decide.
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K2GWK
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 06:52:39 AM »

Gents,

All great points. I am planning to make the purchase by mid next month. I have read all the grumblings about the Kenwood TS-990S. I must say, it does look impressive. I am not sure it will be in my price range. I have operated a TS-590 and it does have a very good receiver. Kenwood did a good job keeping the price down on the TS-590 but I just don't know if they can do the same with the TS-990S and if it's even in my time frame. Right now it is still Vaporware. After reading all of your posts I have to say the FTDX-5000 is in the lead because I would be comfortable operating right out of the gate (FT-950 experience). With that being said I am still not comitted at this point. I hope more of you chime in as the comments so far have been excellent and I personally thank you all.

Guy (K2GWK)
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K2GWK
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 09:24:39 AM »

Gents,

A bit of news on the Kenwood TS-990S. It appears as if it will be out of my price range. I just saw on their corporate web site that Kenwood is going to release the TS-990S for sale world wide in February 2013 with a price of 798,000 Yen. At the current exchange rate that is about $9056.00 and well out of my price range.

Guy (K2GWK)
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W8JX
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 01:04:04 PM »

Gents,

A bit of news on the Kenwood TS-990S. It appears as if it will be out of my price range. I just saw on their corporate web site that Kenwood is going to release the TS-990S for sale world wide in February 2013 with a price of 798,000 Yen. At the current exchange rate that is about $9056.00 and well out of my price range.

Guy (K2GWK)

I would not bet the farm on that price. Time will tell but my source says it will be around 7k list price or less here in states.
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W6UV
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 02:22:01 PM »

I had a Flex-5000A and sold it and bought a FTdx-5000.

If you buy the Flex-6500, be prepared for things to not work at first until Flex gets around to writing (or fixing) the code to make it work, which may take a long time. This is based on my experience with the 5000A, where Flex took years to get fundamental things like CW and notch filters to work (semi) properly.

If you're the type who likes to run alpha versions of Windows on your computer, then you'll probably love the Flex-6500. If you like a stable rig where everything just works, then you'll hate it.
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KG6YV
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2013, 05:52:44 PM »

I have two friends running the FTDX 5000.  Both have the money to own anything and have been sold on the 5000 vs. any ICOM or Elecraft.  Their detailed comments to me regarding functionality indicate Yaesu finally got it right.  Both hams do CW as well as SSB and reported to me that the FTDX 5000 is the first radio they have found with absolutely no ringing on CW receive down to at least 200 hz.  That is impressive, my FT 2000D rings below 500 hz.  I don't think that the spectrum display is the best as it is too small vertically to really allow pinpoint band hopping but I use an SDR and a 20 inch computer screen so there is no comparison.

The Kenwood 990 sure looks pretty, I hear 7-8K for the selling price and shipments to the U.S. beginning
"whenever".... 

Flex is great if you love to play with your computer continuously.  If you want a reliable radio you won't like the software surprises you get.  Windows O/S, drivers, etc.  If you are happy turning knobs, its not something you wil enjoy.  The Flex 6700 series is even more "vapor-wear" at this point than the Kenwood 990. 

WHy don't you join the Yahoo FTDX 5000 group and see what owners say.  That might help too.

Gud luck shopping,

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ZENKI
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2013, 10:17:25 PM »

If you a ragchewer any of the radios  that you mention will  do the job.

The FT5000 is a marvelous radio, the bandscope sucks. In the non built in pan adapter radios its the best of  the all round super receiver do everything radios. The 200 watt PA  is worth  every cent since you would rarely
need to turn on the amplifier if you just ragchewing or even DX'ing for that matter. Thats the best feature of the FTDX5000.  You can work anything with 200 watts if you have average decent antennas.

The K3 is a close match. A mission specialist radio. You pull the K3 out and use   it when you need to get the job done. Ideal for contesting, CW and low band work using the dual receivers in diversity mode with RX antennas.
I like to think of the K3 as a snipers rifle. With the P3 connected you can dial in and shoot  your   DX and leave the scene. You can do this all day long on CW. I just dont like the ergonomics of the K3 for a general purpose
SSB radio.  If you have a simple operating style that does not revolve around pushing knobs and buttons all day, the K3 and P3 might very well keep you happy. I just dont like band changing and the multi function knobs and buttons.
The K3 would have been a perfect radio in my book if it had more knobs on a bigger front  panel with dedicated band  and mode buttons like most other radios.

Performance wise there is not much to chose between these radios. The K3's partially calibrated S-meter is  good tool. The FTDX5000 has a 200 watt and much cleaner transmitter than the K3.
The K3's digital noise blanker  works very well. There is not much difference between the noise reduction systems in either radio. A good alternative to the K3 is the Kenwood TS590S. It will do everything the K3
will do except it does not have   a IF out for a bandscope. This was  a marketing blunder by Kenwood. These days every radio should have TCXO and a IF out.

For casual operation and ragchewing  there is not one radio out there that has a huge advantage in terms of raw performance, noise blanker performance, noise reduction performance or some killer feature that will make your life better on the air. The silver bullet radio does not exist yet!

What is important if you are a casual operator operating from home is how noisy or how good the receiver sounds to you. There is nothing worst than owning a receiver that is noisy and does not sound good.
Both the TS590S and FT5000 sound better than the K3. It does not matter how much you adjust the K3 my personal opinion for whatever that reason is, is that the FT5000 and TS590S sounds better. This is especially noticeable on
weak signal CW and noisy band conditions like the DX window on 75 meters or any low band. The K3 is very fatiguing for me. My best suggestion is that you try and operate these radios and then make up your decision. This might not be enough, because unless you have these radio in the shack for 1 week you  cant really  make comparisons. Frankly I would not rely on the opinions of others you need to make your own judgements even if you have buy these radios.

The least risk radio that you will be very happy with is the TS590S. If you need a  high performance bandscope the K3/P3 combination will be the best bet. If its only a radio alone that you buying the FT5000  will be the winner.

I could live with any of these radios if I only had to chose one of them, and thats the bottom line despite all the failings of the different models. Bottom line is that  all these radios are basically good and  none are lemons.

You also have to examine the size of your antenna farm. If your antennas are less than 1   to 1.5 wavelengths on the  ground  on the higher bands your receiver wont be challenged much.   If you just talking down the road  ultimate receiver performance wont matter much because  IMD and Keyclicks will be more of problem than receiver performance.  Only  high performance antennas will give your radios ESP performance and  bigger, better and higher antennas will always be better investment than worrying about minor differences between different radios.  Ultimately only your taste in shoes or radios is what matters at the end of the day. If you dont like being heard saying you using brand X, you then must buy what you like being saying that you use. Even the oldest most basic ham radio from 50 years ago will do the job for ragchewing. Sports cars are different matter you generally get better performance as the price goes up. In radio you can pay the highest price and still get a lousy radio that does not have a calibrated S-meter and splatters as much as a 500 mobile radio. Thats the unfortunate truth about ham transceivers.

Good luck with your decision, you better make it quick before this sunspot cycle  dies and blows away. 10 and 12 meters are really rocking.




Hello Gentlemen,

My name is Guy (K2GWK) and I have a little scratch burning a hole in my pocket. A little background: My XYL and I are empty nesters and her hobby is breeding Labrador Retrievers. It is a very expensive hobby. We have spending a lot of money on breeding, dog shows and all the sundry expenses that seven, thas right, seven Labradors require. She has realized how much she has been spending on the Hounds from Hell and asked if I wanted anything for myself. I guess her conscience is getting the best of her. Normally I am so tight my butt squeeks when I walk and I am not so quick to part with the buck but an opportunity like  this does not come often in my household. If there is some extra cash laying around that she is offering to me and I don't claim it, it will literally go to the dogs.

I am good with antennas as I have a beam, tower (I DIY'ed it) and lots of wire antennas. I love to chew the rag on HF and want to try my hand at DX and maybe if I can gather the patience, contesting. I presently have a FT-950 and FT-897 backup radio. My budget for the radio is $5500. At first I thought that was an enormous amount of money for a radio and almost gave some back but after seeing the price of radios today I am glad I didn't.

I have my eye on two radios. I like what I have read about the FTDX-5000 and being a geek at heart also like what I have read about the new Flex 6500. I am not so much an Icom fan. My elmer had all kinds of problems with the power amp his IC-756 and it kind of turned me off knowing the problems he had. I may even entertain an Elecraft to throw a third into the fray as I have read many good things about th K3 also. I am looking for a radio with a good reciever and two separate recievers would be really nice. I have a LP-Pan and IF2000 for use with the Elecraft or Yaesu as a panoramic display.

I have read alot about all of these radios. What say you about them. I am asking in case I missed something and I am interested in what you think as you may have own them and used them.

Thank you,

Guy
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K2GWK
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2013, 06:57:29 AM »

KG6YV  and ZENKI,

Thank you both for the excellent replies. As I mentioned in a previous post I am leaning toward the FTDX-5000. I think I am leaning more toward the FTDX-5000 for the following reasons:

1. The radio really does have a great reputation.
2. The radio has two receivers.
3. Having owned a FT-950 for the past few years if should not be a major effort to learn to drive it.
4. While I do enjoy rag chewing, I would like some contesting and I understand the FTDX-5000 would be a good radio for that.
5. The price is right where I need to be ~$5500
6. I already have a LP-PAN and IF2000 so I do not need the FTDX-5000's small Panoramic Display
7. I have a THP HL-1.2Kfx  and Palstar AT Auto connected to my FT-950 so the cabling is in place for the FTDX-5000
8. The TS-990S will be out of my price range
9. I would not like to be a beta tester for the Flex 6500
10. I am not familiar with the Elecraft K3 although I understand it is a fine Radio

I think you guys helped me confirm what I was leaning toward since the beginning. I think I will wait a couple more weeks and purchase a FTDX5000D. Thank you all for responding, as you have been a tremendous help. This was something I could not have discussed with the XYL. I would had a better chance talking to the wall. Grin

Guy (K2GWK)
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W6UV
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2013, 03:10:21 PM »

The FT5000 is a marvelous radio, the bandscope sucks. In the non built in pan adapter radios its the best of  the all round super receiver do everything radios.

Just for clarification: the FTdx5000 does not have a bandscope. The FTdx5000D and FTdx5000MP do, in the form of the SM-5000 monitor scope/speaker.
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KF7DS
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2013, 09:29:34 PM »

K3

Don KF7DS
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