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Reviews Categories | Digital Multi-mode decoders | MFJ-461 Morse Code Reader Help

Reviews Summary for MFJ-461 Morse Code Reader
MFJ-461 Morse Code Reader Reviews: 52 Average rating: 3.3/5 MSRP: $79.95
Description: Place this tiny pocket size MFJ Morse Code Reader near your receiver's speaker. Then watch Morse code signals turn into solid text messages as they scroll across an LCD display. No cables to hook-up, no computer, no interface, no other equipment needed.
Product is in production.
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WU6X Rating: 2/5 Dec 7, 2014 17:23 Send this review to a friend
Poor Value/Cost  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
For the price, this little box should perform way better. I tuned it with a signal generator to match my radio CW side tone so I could "spot" receive CW signals, and it still provided only intermittent decode. Even with the sensitivity all the way up, it must be placed 1-inch away from the speaker with volume set uncomfortably loud. Battery compartment too small for standard 9v. Sorry MFJ ... this box needs a design upgrade. It may work well on the test bench, but not in practical application.
OZ1LQO Rating: 2/5 Jun 9, 2014 07:47 Send this review to a friend
Marginal  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'll rate it '2' because it does the job, but you can't really expect wonders from a small box like this. If you want to decode your own transmissions when doing TX practice, it's probably fine. It needs a high S/N, so as an assistant to real time QSO use, it's of less use.
Looking inside, it's built with a classic XR2211 tone decoder, then a 4MHz PIC-16 to do the actual decoding. The box was made before the emergence of smartphones - today you might just as well get an(y) app for the same purpose and it'll do a better job.
I got mine about 10y back, it's been in a drawer ever since - well until now: I just took it apart and plan to use the casing and the display along with an Arduino Nano and an old GPS module to make a small UTC clock for the shack ;-)

Best 73
HB9KL Rating: 0/5 Mar 20, 2014 03:36 Send this review to a friend
A waste of money  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The battery compartment is far to small. It was impossible to close the cover.
Decoding is useless. You better use your own brain.
I can't understand how MFJ can sell such a rubbish.
M0GNA Rating: 4/5 Nov 25, 2013 05:15 Send this review to a friend
It works OK.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Its not a bad little decoder as long as the signal is fairly clear,the nice thing is its size,you can put into your shirt pocket.Its a great aid for learning the code but will never better the old lug-holes.The price is a bit steep if buying new but if you come across one at you hamfest going cheap snap it up and have some fun with it.For a gadget its size its great.
WU1V Rating: 4/5 Sep 1, 2013 06:22 Send this review to a friend
Good product with caveats  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is not a miracle producer, so if you are a poor CW receiver then brush up on your receiving skills on the air, because this unit will not replace skillful CW receiving. I am very pleased with this product, though I already can receive CW at up to 25 WPM. When the high-power DX stations start sending CQ and callsign over 30 WPM my aging ears fail me and I have to listen repeatedly to get their callsign right, if at all. So this unit can really pick up super fast CW, providing there is no QRM nearby or band noise. Band noise, when at a certain level, causes this unit to read a series of E's and T's instead of code. Also, the unit does not compensate for sloppy sending, and it is not good at deciphering code sent by bugs. It works best when RST is close to 599 and minimum QRN and QRM, especially good when the sender is using a keyer or paddles. I'm good at CW but this is a nice aid that helps me in certain difficult situations. I don't use it for routine CW copying though. I rely on my ears and experience for that. I didn't have any trouble installing the 9V battery that some reviewers reported. One other complaint, the LED display is very dark and you'll need to tilt the unit just right and have a lamp aimed at the unit to read the display. It's annoying but I called MFJ and they didn't have a solution to this problem. With all these caveats and concerns, I still like the unit for the help it gives me. I gave it 4 stars since I'm not TOTALLY happy with it even given its shortcomings.
KD8RNO Rating: 1/5 Jul 1, 2013 14:30 Send this review to a friend
Don't be tempted  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I was tempted to purchase this figuring it would be easy to use, and would benefit my SWL CW listening. Don't sucker yourself in buying this cute magic little box. I think you have to be a magician to use it. Straight forward operation doesn't happen with this.
KD2DTJ Rating: 0/5 May 15, 2013 17:31 Send this review to a friend
Terrible product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This item is terrible, as you must adjust the Input level and the PLL frequency on the reader using tiny little plastic screws on the back that are easy to strip out. I was able to make it work at 20 WPM on the test files at the W1AW test files, but was never able to make it work with my Grundig shortwave in the 40 meter band. A waste of money!
W8GND Rating: 5/5 Jun 17, 2012 06:52 Send this review to a friend
Dandy Reader  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had mine for about 6 years. I use it mainly to copy my sending, but if I hear a really strong signal it does the job completely.

Alas, after all this time, the display isn't working, so I'll have to get another one. But it's still sending stuff out to the computer!

73 Jerry W8GND
AD5VM Rating: 3/5 Jul 20, 2011 17:20 Send this review to a friend
Needed some work  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just got it in the mail today so this review is based solely on "out of box functionality" I couldn't get the battery cover to go on with a battery installed... at all! After removing the electrical tape (only from the ribbon cable, not the pcb) I was able to just get it closed but its about to bust at the seams!
The contrast was terrible! I could only 'barely' read it when looking straight on and not at all from any kind of angle. I installed a small 10k trimmer and was able to set it to a satisfactory level (I took it out an measured the resistance, 4.3k looked best to me) Maybe I'll look for a fixed resistor.
I was unable to adjust the level control or the PLL. Looking in the two holes on the back, I was only able to see the edge of the trimmer housings, could not even see the place where the screwdriver goes. I had to drill out the holes to 1/4 inch! and now I can just barely get a tiny jewelers screwdriver in the slot, I should have just drilled two more holes...
Anyway after all that it seems to work great but I've only tried it on computer generated code, but it coppied 100% even at 50wpm.
Seems like a great gizmo but dang... I'd be happy to pay a couple extra bucks for something that didn't need to be fixed. Having said all that, I am very very thankful for MFJ and I hope they continue making all these wonderful accessories for us. Id rather live in a world with MFJ and their questionable QC than a world with no MFJ at all. That would be awful!
N3NXD Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2011 16:01 Send this review to a friend
Great unit for the money.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased mine at the Charlotte Hamfest 2010. I really got the bug to understand the varying band conditions that this reader has to work thru. I read many good, and not so good reviews. I found mine is quite sucessful, despite some bad QRN,QRM band conditions. The following is for using the built-in mic pickup.
There are 2 recessed pots underneath. One is for input level, I left mine on high, fully clockwise, for best results. The other pot, PPL frequency. Here is the trick. The human ear hearing process differs person to person. This could hold true for individual mfj 461 units. I have found that tuning the PPL Frequency control allows the unit to sync with varying tones within the band conditions. Using the variable bandpass control on my Icom 718, to center the wanted siganl from neighboring signals. There is a point of adjustment of the PPL frequency control that allows that perfect sweet-spot to sync with the radio speaker thru much bad band conditions. I have found that to lower the background static to a lower frequency rumble, and adjusting RF gain of the radio to furthur reduce static, is sucessful. Higher frequency static crashing confuses the reader. There is obviously a point where you will lose your PPL sync, due to too much attenuation. If you minutely adjust the PPL pot after you have adjusted your radio, you will be surprised how much copy that can occur with weaker CW, on congested bands. It will take practice, and patience. Make sure your rig has been adjusted to rumble the static, instead of frying it. Set and forget. Use the radio controls thereafter.
Relative to the battery compartment tightness, I carefully peeled the foam from beneath where the battery sat. Be careful!! the foam was over a ribbon cable that is folded on itself. Do not use a tool that could poke into that ribbon. My fingernail worked just fine. I then replaced with a layer of friction tape, then vinyl tape. More workable for changing battery, and being able to close lid.
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