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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | MFJ 90-Series Help

Reviews Summary for MFJ 90-Series
MFJ 90-Series Reviews: 35 Average rating: 3.5/5 MSRP: $189.95
Description: Mono-band HF QRP CW Transceiver
Product is in production.
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N2UHC Rating: 3/5 Apr 26, 2014 14:19 Send this review to a friend
Decent QRP radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought a used MFJ-9015 because I wanted to get on 15 meters QRP. I found one for sale at a QRP get-together for a decent price, so I snatched it up.

After bringing it home and testing it out to make sure everything works, I found that the side tone started out OK but faded out to inaudible. After conferring online with a few other hams familiar with this series of radios, I learned that if you turn the internal voltage regulator down to where you have about 9.5V on TP2 instead of 10.5V like the manual says, it will work OK and the side tone will stay audible. I did this and it works fine now.

My major complaints with this radio are first that the AGC keeps thumping, and when you start sending the side tone is a bit harsh and then mellows out. This can also be adjusted by turning the AGC pot to get 4.0V on TP1. However, I turned the pot all the way down and still have about 4.8V. So I decided to leave it at that.

My second complaint is that they used a mono jack for the headphones instead of a stereo jack. I haven't seen a mono set of headphones with a 3.5mm jack in forever, so it's necessary to have a mono-to-stereo adapter on hand when using headphones. I could probably replace the jack but that would require reworking the connections on the PC board. It's easier to use the adapter.

I also prefer to have a 1/4" jack for straight keys, since that's what my main Kenwood radio uses, but this is a minor concern since I rarely use a straight key. I have built and installed an electronic keyer in the 9015 and it works well.

Overall, this is a decent QRP radio but not quite as good as, say, a Small Wonder Labs SW+ series. It does have decent frequency range, covering 21.000 to 21.200 MHZ. Other reviews have mentioned excessive drift in this series of radios, but mine doesn't drift at all after an initial warmup of about 10 minutes.

I'm glad I got the one I did for the price I did, and I'm really happy with it. However, if I'd had to pay the full $200 new price for one I think I'd be a bit unhappy with it.
KU4UV Rating: 4/5 Jan 24, 2014 05:20 Send this review to a friend
I really like my MFJ-9020  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I purchased my brand new MFJ-9020 back in June of 2013. I haven't experienced any problems with my transceiver, and any drift, is very minimal. I haven't noticed any significant problems with drift during a QSO, so maybe MFJ corrected the problem. I am getting a good solid 5 Watts output from my 9020, more than enough power to make some contacts. I live in an apartment, and use a 200 foot longwire antenna about 6 feet off the ground along with an MFJ-902 antenna tuner. I have worked Italy with this setup, so the transceiver can certainly snag some DX contacts with a decent antenna. I noticed that the QSK on my radio straight out of the box was rather slow, almost too slow for my taste. It seemed like it took about a full second for the transceiver to switch back over to receive after keying the transmitter. I opened up the radio and adjusted the QSK setting. I am now able to hear stations between individual characters when transmitting. This makes working DX or contests especially nice.
The build quality on my transceiver looks really good, and I haven't found any quality issues in the 6 months since I've owned the transceiver. The transceiver seems a little pricey for a radio in it's class, but if you can find a good one on the used market, I would pick one up. MFJ includes a schematic, which is nice should you ever have to work on the transceiver. Overall, a really nice QRP transceiver that performs well.
WD9DUI Rating: 4/5 May 8, 2013 17:49 Send this review to a friend
ok for QRP  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have the 9040, the 40M version, I obtained mine used 10 months back. I have had a number of kits and figured that I would try a full 5W radio. When I obtained the radio I notice that it would not work off a 12V system, it stated in the manual that it requires 13.8V. I gave it 13.8 and checked the voltage regulation, it seemed to be off, so some adjustments were made. With a 50-ohm dummy load I show about 8 watts. With antenna connected it is showing about 4 Watts which for me is plenty to work with. I have also installed a K12 cw keyer inside the rig, it will fit OK and you can use some of the pins that MFJ has provided for their accessories. The version I have appears to be made later and I have only 1 or 2 reports of drift.
KA8YRV Rating: 0/5 Aug 8, 2012 16:32 Send this review to a friend
never made it to the bench  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Upon receiving the rig from HRO, I opened the packaging, took the rig from the plastic bag and immediately put it all back. The rig had scratches down to the metal in five or more places on the "painted" cover and the same on the metal. Looked like used hamfest junk. What the hell is wrong with MFJ ? Their QC is a bad joke it seems. No more of them for me!
KA5KRV Rating: 4/5 May 23, 2012 10:06 Send this review to a friend
Nice rig-while it works  Time owned: more than 12 months
The xcvr is a neat one--great to drag along on our boat or camping. Mine developed some odd noises just after going out of warranty and got sent to the company for repair back in mid-January. Four months later and it's not back or been looked at, best I can tell. Three e-mails and a phone call or two have had no effect. Any repair guys out there need a job? There's work waiting in Starkville MS!! Good radio, lousy support.
W1JKA Rating: 5/5 Aug 16, 2011 03:25 Send this review to a friend
Built like a tank  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am mostly a qrp cw-dx operator and do 75% portable ops on land and water and have built several qrp rigs.My favorite by far(other than backpacking for which I use my cubs and swl-30) are my 40/20 meter 90 series rigs.Very good signal seperation, built like a tank and simple to use.Mine are weather proofed in a 1 gal. zip lock bag and operate through lots of varied conditions winter and summer,Main antenna is a portable dipole with 20/40 m screw on radiators usually 15-20 ft. high with auto jump start battery for power,no tuner or baluns to mess with.I love my home qth K-1 base station but there is no way the K-1 would hold up to the unintentional abuse and conditions that the 90's see.My only recommendation with these radios is to check voltages and repeak tuning from factory for maximum effenciancy(Standard practice for anyone buying an MFJ product),I also tried the RS amp chip mod but noticed little difference,I prefer head phones in the outdoors anyway.The TIMEX slogan would aptly fit this radio so it gets a 5.
AA4BQ Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2011 12:31 Send this review to a friend
With Mods= excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
The MFJ-9020 out-of-the-box was a bit rough around the edges. However, with two improvements, it rivals my TenTec Scout in the QRP mode. The first improvement was with the audio. Some have suggested just putting in a Radio Shack chip in the place of existing one. I guess that works okay. But, better yet, I built a simple audio amp using a basic chip and took the opportunity to build the supporting circuitry to enhance the audio bandpass. It's marvelous. At the same time, I added a single chip keyer and placed the speed control on the back panel. With these two nice enhancements, this little MFJ-9020 is just superb. It's built-in crystal filter and hefty 5W out netted me a full log during the recent QTC contest. I was amazed how well hams in Europe heard me (because they wanted to). And, the receiver in the 9020 is selective enough even during the crowded contest band conditions. I can't say enough good about these little rigs once these two enhancements are added. I will say I didn't just throw something together. I designed and built the audio amp for performance as I did the keyer. I couldn't be happier with the performance.
WX4O Rating: 4/5 Feb 24, 2011 19:58 Send this review to a friend
Good rig for <$100.oo  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned many of these for different bands. They were pretty good at the $100. or so price. They are
NOT a good deal at the current price. Buy used or not at all. Save your $ for an 817.
AF2Q Rating: 5/5 Feb 24, 2011 16:54 Send this review to a friend
MFJ CAN'T BEAT IT  Time owned: more than 12 months
I think I owned the very first MFJ 20 meter 9020 rig that came out.
Yes it did drift but some poly caps put a good fix on that.
I started buying used rigs for under $100.00
The plug in CW filter beats the bandwidth on the 2 band China rig.
I even use it more then my FT 817.
If your low on funds,this out of the box rig will have you making contacts all over the world just as soon as you string up an end fed wire.
I also showed how rugged the rig is by parking the front wheel of my Ford Escort on it.
The final takes a real beating but never seems to fail.
Of all the MFJ rigs I had,I only suffered on that failed and that was the relay.
I still have and use my first 40 meter 9040 that I purchased back in 1996 and I still use it almost every day
N7JBH Rating: 5/5 Jun 21, 2010 08:35 Send this review to a friend
Built in speaker  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own an MJF-9020 and 9040, I use these at work with an end fed longwire strung between two HVAC units on the roof, no antenna tuner. Haven't checked the SWR, afraid what I might find. Both get out suprisingly well, must be the good counterpoise (all the ducting and AC wiring in the building) I like the MFJ's because they have a built in speaker, I don't think any other single band QRP rigs have a speaker built in. I just wish MFJ built an all band 90' series radio, even if it were only the five traditional bands and no WARC bands, I would be happy.
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