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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FX-9A Help


Reviews Summary for FX-9A
FX-9A Reviews: 2 Average rating: 3.5/5 MSRP: $420
Description: FX-9A HF 10 Band 10W-15W HF TRANSCEIVER LSB/USB/CW
Product is in production.
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KB1BBY Rating: 4/5 Sep 10, 2016 22:13 Send this review to a friend
Good bang for the buck  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have owned my FX-9A transceiver since early March of 2016 and I really do like it a lot. I purchased it on “EPAY” for $438.90 (from seller ID elecdesign2015). Paid an extra $25 for the DHL EXPRESS shipping and got it within well under a week. Standard features are low current drain, good receiver (but not great), good RX/TX audio, nice high visibility blue OLED display, good filters for CW/SSB, dual VFO’s, memories, good build quality inside and out….AND a very APPROPRIATELY SIZED compact ELECTRET CONDENSER hand mic with fairly punchy SSB audio. Mine operates on ALL the HF HAM BANDS, from 10 through 160M and the 60M frequencies down on 5MHz as well (no MARS/CAP capability that I am aware of yet). Menu settings are very few and geared mostly for CW operation, but quite sufficient. This is a basic HF portable that is quite compact. Approximate transceiver dimensions are about 2x4x6.5” and weight is well under 2LBS for the transceiver and included M-206S hand mic combined.

PROS:

VERY COMPACT AND LIGHT - I had my FX-9A dash mounted in a diesel tractor with nothing more than industrial strength Velcro and it never once moved.

GOOD FILTERING AND GOOD RX/TX AUDIO – no extra filters to buy and sufficient TX audio punch right out of the box…much UNLIKE the Yaesu FT-817ND.

ENERGY EFFICIENT – Obviously there are other portable rigs out there with even lower RX current drain, but at 360mA on receive, this rig is most certainly NOT quick to discharge my rechargeable gel cell and LiFePo4 batteries.

CW READY – Great working built-in CW keyer with adjustable speed, which will call CQ for you at the touch of a button. Just program your call sign into the keyer memory. Sufficient CW filtering right out of the box…UNLIKE the Yaesu FT-817ND.

GOOD SWR FOLDBACK PROTECTION – In the main settings menu, you can set the SWR protection at a HIGHLY SENSITIVE LEVEL. But be aware of the fact that this makes the rig VERY FUSSY about antenna resonance. Anything over 3:1 SWR will cause the PA to go into shutdown mode very quickly after pressing the PTT and modulating. You won’t get a single syllable out, without going into PA shutdown if you have a high SWR. This is actually a very GOOD thing if you don’t like tearing apart your rig to perform the surgery of replacing the TO-220 style MOSFET finals. I have mine set at maximum sensitivity and that is how it will remain.

SIMULTANEOUS DISPLAY of relative RF output power, SWR and operating voltage during every SSB and CW transmission. No switching between the metering functions, because SWR and OUTPUT POWER each have their own multi-segment horizontal bar graph; while voltage is shown in digital text. Nice added touch, providing this critical information on a good looking and highly visible multi-function blue OLED display.

SELECTABLE Hi/Lo RF OUTPUT LEVELS – My FX-9A must be in the CW mode with the main dial LOCKED. Then a quick press of the VOL/WPM will toggle between the selectable High/Low RF output levels. Low is 5W and High is 15W. Low shows a capital L on the screen and High shows nothing; the letter L simply disappears. A LONG PRESS of the VOL/WPM control will enter the WPM keyer speed setting while in CW mode….very handy indeed.

CONS:

The factory installed FEMALE BNC antenna jack was a weak point on my FX-9A. It is mounted to the left side plate and soldered to the internal circuit board with a jumper, which is very short and stiff. It can weaken and even break from mechanical stress; ESPECIALLY if the mounting nut on the female BNC antenna jack becomes loose! Mine failed and I have replaced it with a slightly relocated SMA FEMALE JACK and a longer internal jumper, made of thin shielded coax, which is arranged in a very relaxed loop, then soldered to the circuit board. A circuit trace was damaged when the original BNC jack was loose and pulling on the original stiff jumper wire to the board. So I had to remove and ruin a small 5V micro-relay, in order to repair the trace. I simply installed a jumper over the damaged trace and purchased a 5-pack of 5V micro relays from China. Then I soldered a new 5V micro-relay over the repaired trace. I also had to buy a couple of small and thin coaxial jumpers (SMA MALE to PL-259 MALE) for connecting my FX-9A to my tuner, but it was well worth the small price with problem resolved. If you buy an FX-9A, make sure the female BNC antenna jack is SECURED VERY WELL to the left side plate and consider installing a LONGER looped coax jumper inside to provide a better strain relief!

RECEIVER SENSITITY could be better. Not an absolute deal breaker, because most of the very weak signals are not stations that will be likely to have great copy on your 15W SSB transmission. CW would obviously be another scenario altogether.

The FRONT firing SPEAKER is a basic paper cone speaker, which is highly exposed and vulnerable to moisture. A better speaker with waterproof cone should have been used, but it is a very simple and inexpensive thing to measure and then replace it with an upgrade speaker, when it finally does fail. Stereo ear buds or headphones will render this a moot point in very short order, but the receive audio from such a tiny speaker is actually not bad at all.

METER CALIBRATIONS: The internal DC voltmeter appears to be off by at least 300mV in my FX-9A, which somewhat defeats the purpose of even having it on the nice looking blue OLED display. The SWR meter appears to be accurate and is a good safeguard to have on the display during each and every SSB and CW transmission. The S-meter seems a tad bit too generous at times, but none of these items are deal breakers by any means. They are just little things that could have been easily corrected with more careful factory calibration. Perhaps tighter tolerance resistors would be required in the various metering circuits, which might ultimately make the rig a bit more expensive.

NO DSP or NOISE BLANKER: Not a big deal, really. I just use a pocket-sized Bhi “Compact-In-Line” DSP noise reduction module with stereo ear buds and 2 AA Duracell alkaline cells installed….problem resolved. This newer Bhi DSP module makes the DSP look sad in most modern portables, INCLUDING the KX3. However, the on-board DSP filtering in the new LNR PRECISION LD-11 might be another story altogether.

FINAL SYNOPSIS:

Would I buy another FX-9A if I had it to do again? ABSOLUTELY! Accessible ENGLISH speaking/reading/writing tech support may be lacking…almost to the point of non-existence….but $440 is also a HELLUVA LOT CHEAPER (for a CASUAL portable HF operator like myself) than the price of an LNR PRECISION LD-11 or Elecraft KX2…or even Elecraft KX3. The savings in my case was worth taking the plunge for. So far, I have never seriously regretted the risk I have taken with my modest purchase of the FX-9A HF transceiver. If you can get your hands on a used one in very good condition for $350 or less, it would certainly be a far more affordable portable HF solution for you… rather than those far more expensive alternatives, which were well worth mentioning. The newest Outdoor Version of the Xiegu X108G is also another good Chinese made transceiver, which has been getting much better with continual engineering improvements….but it is debatable to assume that 20W will produce a greater signal than the 15W PEP of the FX-9A. Also, the X108G has a HUGE multifunction hand mic, compared proportionally to the size of the mating transceiver. Due to the limited space in any go-kit or backpack, that was the final deal breaker which further helped me to choose the more wallet friendly FX-9A.

With minor improvements, the FX-9A has the potential to be a solid 5 for the price. The DC voltage metering calibration should be improved. Receiver sensitivity should be improved. The speaker should have a waterproof cone, not a paper cone. Also, because of my troubles with the crappy implementation of the female BNC antenna jack and damages caused (requiring internal surgery), I have to take away one point. So I give it a solid 4 out of 5 since it has served me well, despite the weak points.
 
E74KS Rating: 3/5 Aug 22, 2016 13:07 Send this review to a friend
Small basic HF transceiver, suitable for portable operation.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought FX-9A from eBay for $399, to use it for portable operation. After first tests both from my shack and during portable operation, I can give my first impressions. Currently, I made a dozen of CW QSOs on 40m, 30m, 20m and 17m.

Pros:
- nice form factor, small size, easy to use in the field, but you can also put it on car dashboard or on seat, and all the controls are easily reachable
- powerful enough, two power levels (High: 10W CW, 15W SSB, Low: approx. 6W)
- covers 10 HF bands
- good display
- built in electronic keyer
- simple to use.

Cons:
- sensitivity of the receiver is not impressive
- a little bit strange behavior of electronic keyer (it looks like timing is dependent on operating frequency, so sometimes there is some sort of lag-everything is fine after slight change of frequency!?)
- back of the transceiver gets quite hot.

All in all, it is usable as a small portable all-HF band transceiver. I hope it will last long enough ;-)
 


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