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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF+UHF models) | Tempo (Uniden) 2020 Help

Reviews Summary for Tempo (Uniden) 2020
Tempo (Uniden) 2020 Reviews: 24 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $2800
Description: Vintage Japanese HF radio from mid-seventies era
Product is not in production.
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KB6YH Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2005 14:52 Send this review to a friend
Excellent XCVR  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought one brand new in 1977. The new price was $759 not $2800 as listed on this site. It has an excellent receiver with very good IF filtering, sensitivity and audio. The noise blanker is the best I have used.It has a 25KC calibrator and the calibration is right on. Both CW and SSB sound great on the receiver.It is easy to switch from one band to another or from one segmment to another.It is extremely stable and convienient to use with other receivers if you want to compare reception. I've worked all over the world with it. Finals last forever.
W8IDL Rating: 5/5 Dec 4, 2004 05:09 Send this review to a friend
A True Classic!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned one of these transceivers for many years. The frequency tuning method is quite unique and easy to use, and the frequency display is unlike any other transceiver around. It is of that mid-70's era where state-of-the-art electronics were half analog and half digital. The transceiver is built extremely well for both mechanical and electronic stability. The receiver is suprisingly sensitive with a very low noise floor and very smooth and comforting AGC. The transmittter is easy to tune, gets great audio reports, and has a pleasing CW note. The 2020 has withstood the test of time. Put this radio next to a Collins KWM-2 (or even an s-line) and compare the construction and performance: the 2020 is a superior radio in almost every way! For this reason, the 2020 has become a collectable vintage radio and the good ones are getting difficult to find. The external VFO is really worth the extra money for eye appeal as much as performance. The 2020 is truly a beautiful piece of radio art!
N4SRT Rating: 5/5 Dec 30, 2003 02:23 Send this review to a friend
Great rig for the times  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Tempo 2020 was my first hybrid amateur transceiver. My first rigs (Hallicrafters SR-150 and Heathkit SB-102) were good, but the Tempo was well beyond either of those.

It was stable and relatively quiet on receive. I usually received comments on the audio quality, even though I was only using a hand mic on the rig. The rig was built solid as a tank, and I sold it only to help finance the purchase of an all solid-state rig, a Yaesu FT-757GX. The Tempo 2020's receiver was better than the 757, and I still regret selling the rig too cheap.

The reputation of these rigs has kept their resale value high -- I've been keeping my eyes open on eBay in hopes of buying another. I would recommend the rig as a starter rig or a backup. It can run AC or DC, and it's perfect for Field Day.
DL0USB Rating: 4/5 Oct 3, 2003 16:13 Send this review to a friend
Very pleased  Time owned: more than 12 months
Was pretty good its time except for some minor problems or failures.

The 100khz drum mechanism failed but was replaced by a digital counter system. Also the 5 radio buttons for the segments needed refurbishments.

40m receiptions is a bit difficult in EU, also AM was badly implemented (wasn't there a DSB system instead?). But - all in all a fine rig!
LA0HV Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2002 12:29 Send this review to a friend
Solid as a Rock  Time owned: more than 12 months
I startet Ham'in in 1977, My first Rig was a TenTec Century 21. Dedicated 80m CW rig. In '78 I got the Tempo 2020 HF Rig. The receiver was extremly quiet, weak signals was'nt a problem at all :-) I worked everything on it, even a QRP Pole expedition on the South Pole (they had only 1W out). Well ham'in was easyer then I think, it was more quiet in the ether, we did'nt have all that data crap in the amaturebands then. Data freaks: "Use the WWW please!" All of them new super sharp expensive brickewall filters are eating up our Ham budget.
I used the Tempo mostly for CW. You really need a TenTec to compeed in CW smoothnes of the Tempo.
I sold It '87 for the Omni D. I'm planning to buy a Elecraft K2/100 rig with all the bells. I compared it to the TS2000 and the 756pro. The K2/100 are so much better in all areas, dont you belive me? Well just try it!
CW is a lifestyle - only the best is good enough.
W5XE Rating: 5/5 Sep 18, 2002 21:02 Send this review to a friend
great classic radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I first bought a Tempo (Uniden) 2020 in late 1976
thru Henry Radio out of Butler Mo. Was a great
radio and really enjoyed using it at that time.
When I got the radio, the first thing I did was
to open it up and inscribe my call on the aluminum
VFO cover, should it ever come up missing.
But with more radios coming out, I just had to
trade for something else - mistake but too late.
I had a chance to acquire another 2020 when an
XE friend offered one in trade a couple of years
ago. I took him up on it and have been
using it on a daily basis.
Imagine my surprise when I
took the covers off to reset the calibrator and
on the bottom of the vfo cover was my callsign -
the old rig had returned after a trip thru
California, New Mexico and Mexico. The only
problem I have had was the drive belt for the
analog wheel broke. So, I did a minor modification by
removing the wheel, and acquiring
an AADE backlit counter that reads the last 3
digits. No need for others as the band switch
and segment switches indicate the first significant numbers.
That combination works very well. I have since acquired another
which is not complete but does make noise on
receive and is being kept as a source of spare
parts. The one outstanding feature I think about
this radio, and many of the features have already
been enumerated, is the noise blanker. I live
in an area where the power company has found
4 or 5 overlayered noise sources on the lines.
I have a new Kenwood TS570 which is useless on
receive but the blanker in the Tempo2020 takes the
noise down from 25 over S9 to s2 or s3. This is
technology of 25+ years ago and it still works
great. I suggest anyone looking for a good,
basic rig (no warc bands) to try this one if
the opportunity presents itself.
VR2XMQ Rating: 4/5 Jul 30, 2002 06:06 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio, seen better days  Time owned: more than 12 months
The one I own was but by Uniden and shipped out from Nihon (Uniden are better known as the Bearcat Scanner people these days). The cost for a used one these days is around USD320.00. They aso made an external matching VFO and speaker for it.

Mine was installed with additional band for 11 meters.This is a truly serviceable radio with modular plug in boards. As most are aware, the digital readout is misleading as it really is basically a counter. The RX is kept simple , single-conversion and the sample I have is rather sensitive and selective.

Other technical features have already been covered by other reviewers, but I thought I would give my thumbs up to this classic. Great radio to own.

Steve Sebastian Beesley - VR2XMQ
AC5XP Rating: 5/5 May 29, 2002 14:31 Send this review to a friend
Excellent performer, built like a battleship  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Tempo (Uniden) 2020 HF transceiver
By L.J. díHont AC5XP

I can still remember the ads for the Tempo 2020, when it came out around 1975. As a young ham in those days, I liked it a lot but knew I could not afford it, and that was that.

Almost 30 years later, I read the positive Tempo-2020 reviews here at Eham, which made me decide to study the diagrams for the radio (downloadable from RigPix). What I saw there I liked a lot, so I placed a wanted-ad to get me a 2020. But it had to be a mint of course, so I did not expect a lot of responses. But after some weeks I got one offered for sale from an estate. It apparently had been sitting in the box for 20 years but it did not work. It must have given up early right after the (now deceased) OM had purchased it. I decided to take the risk and bought the unit.
What drew me to the radio is its efficient, no-nonsense design concept. Uniden (the designer/manufacturer) did not give in to all kinds of "fashions features" of the time, which otherwise would have made this radio a bad one. For instance, you wonít find things like an IF shift on this rig (that concept thoroughly messed-up the design of the KWM-380, to give you an example), no notch filters, no FSK data mode (would be cause for frequency instability like what the Yaesu FT-one suffers), and no early digital synthesizer (would have resulted in a phase-noise disaster).
Also, the transceiver RF/IF chain is based on a very simple, single-conversion concept, which was possible because a general-coverage design was not attempted here. The radio is only designed for the ham bands, another smart move of the time.
Last but not least, Uniden went the extra mile to give this radio independent filters for both LSB and USB, instead of using a single filter and then using that for both modes by shifting around the VFO and local oscillators with capacitor presets (That latter concept screwed up the KWM2A, Collins should have used two sideband filters!)
Uniden designed the driver and RF power amplifier with tubes (dual 6146B's in the PA, so no TV line tubes), another wise decision as a solid-state PA would undoubtedly have resulted in poor linearity.
The radio was designed in the era when the dual-gate MOSFETS were the hot item of the day (remember all the projects based on these things in the mid-70s issues of the ARRL handbooks?). The complete RF and IF chain for the receiver is equipped with them, as well as much of the transmitter and VFO sections. Although much better than the transistors of that same era, they cannot compete any more with todayís high-level, low-noise transistors and J-FETs. But because this radio has tuned RF bandpass filters, tunable by the user using the pre-selector knob on the front, I have found the receiver performance to be very decent with regard to out-of-band strong signal handling.
To stay with the radioís performance, it indeed works excellent for such an old radio. The receiver sounds very good, is sensitive and is a pleasure to listen to, without any IF and LF "hissing". The radio does not have an RF speech processor but it does not need it, modulation reports I received were all positive. It does have a noise blanker which does a fairly decent job I have found.
The Tempo-2020 uses a somewhat strange PLL concept for the main LO which allows for the main VFO only having to cover a 100 kHz span. Uniden must have done this to increase VFO stability, as a 100 kHz VFO span results in much higher stability than a 500 kHz VFO span as used by the 2020ís contemporaries. To still being able to cover a 500 kHz span for each ham band, a synthesizer was introduced making 100 kHz steps in 5 sections. The steps are selectable by push buttons on the front panel. Somewhat awkward but effective, as a 100 kHz synthesizer still would not suffer phase noise problems due to the reference frequency on the phase detector being high enough (being 100 kHz) to avoid such behavior.
If more than 500 kHz coverage is needed (for instance on the 10 meter band), a new crystal is selected in the band oscillator section, against which the PLL VCO output is mixed. The whole concept works quite well and results in an exceptionally stable transceiver, much better than for instance the Drake TR-7 I have owned, which also uses a VFO concept but one with a span of 500 kHz instead.
The display shows MHz and 100 kHz by means of a true 7-segment display, decoded from the band switch and segment pushbuttons on the front. But within a 100 kHz resolution, the radio uses a rotating drum, on which "fake" 7-segment characters are printed. Quite a novelty, I actually love it. It gives the radio a lot of charisma.
Last but not least, this radio has a built-in AC power supply. For a radio to be classified as "real", this is a necessity. Good thing Yaesu recognized that again with the MP-1000MKV-field they just came out with (too bad that one does not have 50 MHz otherwise I would have bought it)
To summarize: The Tempo-2020 has a good receiver, excellent transmitter modulation and linearity, and a very stable VFO performance. Also, the independent USB/LSB filters result in excellent, right-on-frequency filtering. When switching over from USB to LSB with no signal present, the noise sounds exactly the same which is proof the filters are positioned exactly right around the product-detector carrier. Try to do THAT with the KWM2A, it will flunk that test every time no-matter how often you re-adjust those sideband shift capsÖ
But there is more for the 2020. In addition to the above, this radio is constructed very well. High quality PCB boards, and of modular plug-in design. Massive, aluminum front panel with machined aluminum knobs. The radio has a large main tuning knob with a solid feel, giving the user a smooth, backlash-free tuning experience. And I love those good old potentiometers with the metal shaft. As a sidenote here, I played with the new IC-746PRO at Dayton and was really turned off by the flimsy knobs, the result from using plastic shafts on the controls. So I bought this Tempo-2020 instead, Iím having a ball and saved $1600 in the process!!
Are there bad things about this radio? Yes, of course. To list a few:
The radio has a built-in inverter to let it run from 12V. This is done (in DC mode) by exciting the hypersil transformer with two power transistors, in a 60 Hz cycle so that the same mains transformer could be used. 60 Hz is a way too low for an inverter switching frequency of course, and for the 2020 it therefore results in a very (acoustically) noisy inverter. The efficiency also must be poor; when I tried to tune up in the DC mode my 20A DC power supply collapsed, although the 2020 manual states that 20 amps should be enough. So I would not recommend using the 2020 in your car (way too big of a radio anyway!) although in emergencies it can be done.
Another thing I liked less is that the SSB filters are pretty narrow (but with excellent shape factors I must say), 2.1 kHz. I would have preferred 2.8 KHz instead, as I am not a DX-er. I prefer a more relaxed wider response. But others might actually see this as a plus, the selectivity of this radio is indeed superb.
I also would have liked a separate 6 kHz filter for the AM mode. That is now accomplished by switching-in both the USB and the LSB filter at the same time, meaning one needs to detune the dial frequency to be slightly off-center from the AM station otherwise the received AM carrier ends up exactly in the "notch" in between the two filters. If you donít do that, the AM sounds like SSB while in AM mode, as the carrier is notched out (but at the same time it is proof that the shape factors of these filters are indeed excellent)

Maybe you are wondering: What was actually wrong with his mint Tempo-2020 from that estate sale? The problem turned out to be a bad capacitor in the VFO, the one that couples the varactor diode with the oscillator circuit. That caused the VFO to loose its lock after some warmup time. Although it took some time to isolate this faulty capacitor, the repair was still do-able because the radio is very easily accessible for service.
To summarize, a great, no-frills classic rig, built like a battleship, and an excellent performer. And they are very decently priced in the used HF radio market, therefore a buy I can recommend.
Donít let any-one tell you the Japanese never made any classics. They did, and this radio is the proof!
N4HRA Rating: 5/5 Oct 31, 2001 20:36 Send this review to a friend
Great Old Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had my tempo with the external VFO for over 20 years, Its a great radio, I have used it both as a base and moble, it most likely needs new tubes and a good aliment (receive getting weak low power power output on 10 & 15 meters) but I am still using it.

KB2NSE Rating: 5/5 May 28, 2001 23:50 Send this review to a friend
Great old radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased my second Tempo 2020 within 10 years. It has an unbelievable receiver! Super sensitive! The power output is 100 watts out of the rugged 6146 finals. The 6146's only cost about $15.00 each as opposed to the expensive sweep tubes used in comparable radios of this vintage. A great starter radio or just a fun playtoy! You can't go wrong!
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