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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Collins KWM-380 Help


Reviews Summary for Collins KWM-380
Collins KWM-380 Reviews: 14 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $6500
Description:
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.collinsradio.org/html/kwm-380.html
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WW3KP Rating: 5/5 Jul 1, 2012 11:22 Send this review to a friend
Great Transceiver  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have owned two KWM-380's I sold one about a year ago and regretted the decision. I now own Serial number 2224, which was sent back to the factory when it was new to get the HF-380 upgrades and modifications. Rockwell Collins stopped production at serial 2253 so this KWM-380/HF-380 had all of the service bulletins installed at time of production. This 380 also has all of the optional filters, noise Blanker, cooling fans, original Pipo keypad and Kiron memory adapter.

I have been licensed for 53 years and I have owned just about every receiver, transmitter and transceiver made including most of the new DSP rigs and I still use the HF-380 more often than my new rigs. The appeal is the simplicity of operation, the receiver is excellent, the filters are exceptional and it compares very favorably to my FTdx-9000d. The passband tuning is fabulous, I can not say enough about how enjoyable this transceiver is to operate. I get great audio reports on SSB and I used a 3db attenuator in line to drive my Alpha 9500 to about 1200 to 1400 watts PEP output. Note it is easy to over drive a high gain amp like and Alpha 9500 so an attenuator is recommended.

If you are thinking about buying a KWM-380 I would suggest choosing one that has a higher serial number, 1500 and up or make sure that transceiver you are buying has all of the 18 service bulletins installed.

I will never part with this KWM-380/HF-380, so my recommendation is if you can find on in good operating condition buy it, you will not regret the decision. Current prices for a CCA very good to mint condition KWM-380 are in the $2500 to $4000 price range.
 
N2FQ Rating: 5/5 May 9, 2012 09:50 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Sorry to have sold mine years ago, I have been fortunate
to pick one up recently. Easy to operate, similar performance
to my Orion and it's military grade. No band changing, super
receiver, razor sharp filters and love that PBT.
Fernando N2FQ/6
 
KX7P Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2010 16:17 Send this review to a friend
CLASSIC PERFORMER  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The KWM-380 is a classic performing HF radio with a classic radio look. It was built to last. Nothing cheap about this American made radio. It's not complicated to use. It has good size knobs and buttons on the front panel and a large digital frequency display. The receiver is great and compares well with many newer radios. It produced quality audio from the front mounted internal speaker, but I get better audio from a good external speaker. It has great transmit audio and I get many unsolicited complements on my audio.

The KWM 380 is a very expensive radio on the used market, but if you get one that has not been abused it should last the rest of your life.
 
K4BWG Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2010 07:15 Send this review to a friend
One of the best HF rigs available  Time owned: more than 12 months
After owning may HF radios over the years, this one is still at the operating position. Yes you can get a higher performance rig today such as an Elecraft K2 or K3 (I own both) or other foreign made models with improved receiver dynamics, noise figures, etc. Bottom line for me though is the ease of operating, sound of the receiver, and overall pleasure of operating this radio. Some may not justify the cost of a used KWM-380, but to me it is worth every penny.
 
VE1PJ Rating: 5/5 Mar 9, 2006 12:48 Send this review to a friend
Great receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The receiver in the KWM380 can pull in signals clearly that are not copyable on a TS950SDX.
 
M0KKW Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2003 23:23 Send this review to a friend
Built to spec not a price  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought my 380 with a synthesiser fault which I fixed for the cost of a CMOS chip (pennies) and am now thoroughly enjoying the rig.
The quality of construction and components used are excellent, and the ergonomics are superb. The recieve performance is, despite what I'd heard, very robust.I regularly use 40M for local working with a "cloudwarmer" quad and the European QRM can be a real headache with some rigs, but not the Collins.
My 380 lives with a TS850, JRC JST 100 and 125, and my old favourite FT7 and is now getting the most use of the lot alongside an Amp Supply LK450.
A very practical classic which will be going strong long after the ft1000s have fallen apart.

Bob M0KKW
 
N2WL Rating: 5/5 Jun 1, 2003 00:29 Send this review to a friend
Terriffic  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought two when they were introduced. The keypad was brilliant. Get on the band and then qsy without reentering Mcs, the passband is unique, one control for moving the IF. The unit wasn't as tough as the 2A's, the synthesizer was noisy, you can make all sorts of dumb complaints but mine still work. No failures. Lets see,
$ 3000 new x 2 / 24 years works out to $ 250 per year. We guys with deep pockets buy radios the same way we buy cars and cameras and guns and planes. To last. One old timer told me when I was a kid buying cheap swr bridges to stop what I was doing and go buy a Bird. His feeling was that I was going to end up with a Bird anyway so why waste the money on all the junk in between. You guys miss the point arguing about the weakness or strength of the radio. If it works so you can communicate with another person then its doing its job. Tell you young pups this much. DX fellow says he listening .xyz and I can get to xyz with a 380 faster than you can with any radio you have.
 
W9AC Rating: 3/5 May 19, 2003 20:01 Send this review to a friend
An Influential Design  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Collins HF/KWM-380 transceivers changed the landscape of amateur radio. While the technology was revolutionary, its performance was not.

I owned two HF-380 transceivers and enjoyed them for several years until I could no longer justify the value/performance ratio. For a fraction of the market value of my two '380s, I was able to purchase several new top-of-the-line transceivers with performance that greatly exceeded that of the Collins.

If you're into the Collins mystique, it's probably a "must have" item. Otherwise, the market price simply does not justify its lack of basic performance and features.

 
W0LPQ Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2002 09:27 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I, like Pete, am biased. I still work for them. For those who "hate" the -380, you might check the Collins web site, www.collinsradio.org and read items on the reflector. The latest of which really puts a good spin on the design of this radio. Granted, there may have been somethings that could have been done differently, such as the ribbon cables, but for that point in time, there were not many choices for ribbon cables. In one design I worked on, we had a choice, one vendor, of ribbon cables. No one liked them, but that was our "choice"...in other words..there was none. I think that if you really compare this unit with others of the era, there is NO comparision! Even today, given DSP and the like, this radio STILL performs well. Granted, the price was high. But, when you try to compete with the Japanese radios, at US labor prices, what choice do you really have. That in itself killed the radio.

Great Radio. But, I have an M-2A and would not trade it for anything...and .. I mean .. anything.

73

Bill, W0LPQ
 
AC5XP Rating: 4/5 Jan 27, 2002 22:24 Send this review to a friend
Good but unworthy to the Collins heritage  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had a KWM-380 5 years ago, bought it on rec.radio.swap . My expectations where quite high so when I finally got it it was somewhat of a disappointment, I expected more from Rockwell-Collins. My conclusion is that it is indeed a ham radio, NOT a professional/military grade radio like I originally believed (Yes I know there is an HF-380 as well but it is practically the same radio)
What I did not like: The synthesizer uses two frequency sources instead of one. Very "un-Collins" like. It would have been simple for Collins to design the synthesizer with only one master oscillator, like the 651S-1 receiver had (and the latter is MUCH older, from 1971!)
The synthesizer also is quite phase-noisy, but all radios of those pre-DDS days had that problem.
Also, the variable IF shift does not have a pre-fixed position for USB and LSB. This I really disliked. In fact, Collins should not have given in to this "fashion" IF-shift feature, they should have designed the KWM-380 with one of their superb 500 KHz mechanical filters (or three, one for LSB, one for USB and one for AM like the 651S-1) instead of using a much higher (in frequency) crystal filter which they had to revert to for facilitating this weird and unnecessary IF shift feature.
Also, the pushbuttons on the front-panel were too close together to be comfortable.
What I also disliked was the fact that the circuit cards were not done like plug-in cards on a motherboard. The manual tries to give this a positive spin by stating that this makes service easier. But I feel this to be very un-Collins like (Cost reduction enforced by the new owner in those days, Rockwell?)
What I also disliked is that costs were saved by using those cheap connectors on the internal coax connections. Only for the PA connectors are real SMA connectors used, too bad this is not the case throughout the whole radio.
Also the used ribbon cables are un-Collins; why they used teflon cables throughout most of the radio but then stopped by using cheap ribbon cable we will never know.
The receiver performance was in fact worse than the earlier KWM2(A) radios. I actually considered to design a complete DDS synthesizer for this radio once, that really would have improved receiver performance due to phase-noise reduction. But I figured it would only lower the radio's value so I never did this. Actually, when a good bid came along I sold it again.
There were good points: On the majority it was built well, with high-quality components with the exception of the above cable and connectors.
Last but not least, it holds its value very well especially if it is in mint condition (like mine was)
But I always believed that this radio was unworthy to the Collins heritage, in both concept, over-all construction and performance.
But then, I am a perfectionist. I cannot deny that it is still an impressive radio.

 
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