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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Commercial/Military/Marine adaptable to ham use | Watkins Johnson WJ-8716 Help

Reviews Summary for Watkins Johnson WJ-8716
Reviews: 1 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $12,000
Description: 0-30MHz general coverage receiver
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the Watkins Johnson WJ-8716.

N3QE Rating: 4/5 Aug 25, 2008 11:35 Send this review to a friend
Excellent SWL and utility receiver, poor ham receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
In terms of technical receiving ability, the WJ-8716 is phenomenally good. Mine has the optional preselector and its overall performance in the presence of nearby commercial transmitters is excellent thanks to the preselection. The CW/AM/SSB filters do their job very well, sharp edges without much ringing.

I think anyone who does SWL'ing or utility reception would enjoy this radio.

But as a ham receiver, it is very definitely lacking. The AGC has two settings, fast and slow, but neither seems to work well on CW and ham SSB use. On CW, the fast just pops at every key-down, and the slow is a little better but obviously pops at every space between words. On SSB, slow is way too slow for listening to multiple hams on the same frequency, and fast is obviously following the syllables. I pretty much have to turn off AGC listening to ham stuff.

Tuning-wise, the knob does exactly what it's supposed to do at the selected tuning rate, but it has a poor feel compared to a good ham radio. It's no worse than the shaft encoders on some cheap japanese rigs, but just feels wrong in ham use. Maybe the factor of tens in tuning rate simply misses the tuning rate I'm expecting.

It does not have any obvious mute inputs or other ways to synchronize with ham transmitters.

The receiver has a whole lot of gain, enough to make atmospherics on 80M in the summertime register a continuous roar about 20dB above S9 :-). Gain distribution and sensitivity seems more reasonably balanced on 20M or 15M.

It is a passable longwave (LW) receiver, and the filters really do work well there, for crystal filters they do not have lots of problems with ringing on noise.

If this review category did not have the "adaptable to ham use" in its title, I would gladly give this radio a 5 for use in SWL or utility reception. But it is painful to use compared to a good ham receiver, and does not support adaptation as part of a transmitter/receiver setup, and I strongly recommend that you not buy this radio with ham operation in mind.

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