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write your own review of the NRD-525.
Jan 23, 2011 11:21
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Well Engineered Receiver!
Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked up my NRD-525 from a local SWL, he had owned it for about a Year and wanted something else to play with. It was/is unmodified.
It has been in my possession now for about 3 Years and I use it mainly, when I want to just tune around 20 or 40 and maybe just listen to NETS or SW Broadcasts...
It is an impressive looking radio, even by today's standard and can be at home on your operating bench or in your den or living room!
When I first heard the radio play (at the SWL's QTH) he had it on an outside vertical and was listening to 40m (my favorite band!)he had every control cranked and it sounded just awful!
After a couple of minutes, I had reset the RF/AF Gain and PBS/PLevels and the radio sounded amazing with great signal/audio quality - presumably, just as JRC had intended it to sound!
(I still remember the SWL's raised eye-brows when I had adjusted everything correctly)
When I got it home and first opened the lid, (like all us hams do!) I was blown away with the quality of engineering. Typical of Japanese ham-radio construction of the 80's, it was obviously built to stand the test of time with quality plug in boards forming the main circuit-components of the radio it is rounded off with a solid chassis and steel cabinet.
Mine has the following:
CFL-205 (HF Tuner module)
CFH-36 (IF Filter module)
CAE-182 (IF-AF Amplifier module)
CGA-131 (Loop-1 module)
CGA-132 (Loop-2 module)
CDC-353 (CPU module)
CMH-632 (Data i/o module)
NVA-88 (external Speaker)
(There are additional slots for VHF/UHF front ends)
So, how does it play?
Well, anything I can hear on my FLEX SDR I can hear on the 525 and ditto with my FT-857D - so the answer is 'it plays good!'!
It's the best General Coverage RX I have owned, admittedly without the 'bells and whistles' of current technology. There is something to be said for 'Keeping It Simple' and the pass-band tuning and notch filter are so intuitive to use in reducing cross-band interference, even during a contest! As a general coverage receiver it has some features like memories, timer and scan function that I will never use. The noise blanker (like on most radios) is pretty ineffectual!
Would I ever sell it?
Let's just say that I am so happy with this radio that I would be very hard-pressed to part with this NRD-525 for anything less than $1000 - because I would have a very, very hard time replacing it with a similar-quality 'general coverage' receiver in my shack - even the NRD-535, I think, pales in comparison!
While there are third-party mods out there including sharper filters and AGC modifications,I really don't see the need to modify this 'fine radio' - it really does play well with signals just jumping out at you from an otherwise quiet background!
IMHO, Just a joy to own and use!
If you have one hang on to it - if you get the opportunity to buy one under $700, don't procrastinate!
Apr 5, 2002 22:35
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Pretty good... but it ain't HEAVY enough! <>
Time owned: more than 12 months
I mostly do Boatanchor receivers here... they can have my SP-600, R-390, 51J3, HRO-50, and all the rest when they pry 'em outta my cold, dead fingers. There's something solid and reassuring about a hundred or so pounds of 19 inch rack mounted communications receiver, but these old timers DO have thier drawbacks.
For one thing, the portability factor obviously leaves a LOT to be desired. For another, powering them when away from AC lines is a DEFINITELY interesting proposition ... any attempts at running them with a small supply of photovoltaic panels and a couple of golf cart batteries will be an interesting exercise!
Despite these problems tho, when I first took a look at amateur and SWL grade solid state receivers long ago I wasn't real impressed with what I saw. Physically, they all seemed too light in weight, mechanically they all seemed flimsy and toylike, and performancewise they all seemed to be found wanting in one way or another. And just let a thunderstorm get within 5 miles of you with an antenna still connected and it's back to the factory for repairs.
Back then, unless you wanted to spend upwards of $2000, the solid state rigs just weren't even in the same league with top of the line Boatanchor communications receivers.
We're all getting older, and I'm reaching the point where manhandling a classic Collins monster around the shack isn't as easy as it used to be. It was time to take another look at solid state... and I'm glad I did!
In a nutshell, in the last 20 years or so the improvements have been unbelievable; these things ALMOST meet the performance expectations of boatanchors... almost, but not quite.
They've got MUCH better noise figures than they used to, they're more stable, and they handle front end IMD better than before, tho they've STILL got a LONG a ways to go on overload resistance!
Nowadays, the BA rigs in my shack have had to move over; besides an NRD-525, the operating desk is now home to an Icom R-71A and R-7000, and a Drake R-8... there's even a PCR-100 and PCR-1000 lurking around!
Frankly, I was quite surprised at how good the performance of the NRD-525 is. My initial impression (before playing with it for a while) was that it fell into the same class as the Grundig "Yacht Boy" series; glitzy SWL receivers for "World Band" listening (UGH, I hate that catchy phrase!!!) by undemanding non-technical types, the bored gadget freeks out there with way too much money burning holes in thier pockets!
I was wrong... the NRD-525 is a full blown communications receiver. In at least one area, the NRD-525 has almost replaced the BA rigs in my shack.
I do a LOT of utility DXing in digital data modes; I have both a Universal M-7000 and an M-8000 data demod hooked up here for that purpose. The R-390 and R-390A WERE the receivers of choice for that kind of work and they still do a little of it, but the NRD-525 is the main bit of weaponry I turn to for cruising HF these days.
Early in the game, I got lucky on the NRD-525. I got hold of an assortment of optional IF filters at the going out of business auction of a ham gear supplier.
The 2400 Hz is nice for SSB... the 1800 Hz is EXCELLENT for FAX... the 1000 Hz is about the best I've ever seen for FSK signals from 300 to 800 Hz of shift.
A tip... if you get the chance to buy the 300 Hz CW filter plug-in board intended for the NRD-515 at a good price, GRAB IT!!! I picked up one at the auction for a high bid of $2.75 (!!!), unsoldered the 300 Hz filter from it (there are two filters on the board; the other is 600 Hz) and dropped it into the NRD-525 NARROW filter position.
The result was not only an EXCELLENT CW filter, but a bandpass that seems almost optimum for the 60 Hz shift QPSK data signals that show up on both HF and VLF, as well as common 170 Hz shift signals.
In any case... as an RTTY / digital data receiver, the NRD-525 blows away the R-71A and R-8. For one thing, the BFO frequency placement and receive frequency offset re. the filter center is MUCH better chosen in the NRD-525 than it is in the other two rigs; in the R-71A, shifting to the RTTY mode seems to center the received signal on one edge of the IF bandpass, and you have to go hunting for optimum tuning with the PBT control, and then go hunting for the proper MARK and SPACE tone frequencies with the main dial! Awkward and irksome, to say the least.
I was particularly impressed using the NRD-525 to copy US Coast Guard NAVTEX data transmissions on 518 KHz. The low noise floor of the radio at that frequency and below surprised me (tho below 100 KHz internal digital noise begins to become a problem). The lack of BCB intermod crud at that frequency was also a pleasant surprise... I have several AM broadcasters in the general area. The antenna I was using wasn't anywhere near optimal for the frequency ( a T2FD cut for 6 - 30 MHz), and there was a lot of QRN.
I tuned the rig to 518.0 KHz, punched into RTTY mode, and cranked the 1000 Hz IF filter in. I couldn't hear a NAVTEX signal in the headset... but suddenly the text of a maritime weather forecast started crawling across the M-8000 video monitor! A few minor tweeks brought the signal into optimum tune on the M-8000 tuning indicator, but I STILL couldn't hear a thing but QRN! It was spooky... perfect copy from an inaudible signal.
After using the NRD-525 and the Universal M-7000 / M-8000 for a while now, I've come to the conclusion that by sheer chance the receiver and these two demods were built for OPTIMAL performance with each other. Except for using the M-7000 / M-8000 with the Collins R-390, I can't duplicate the level of performance the pair gives... and the NRD-525 is easier to operate than the R-390, by far.
As far as broadcast band DXing is concerned, I only do it occasionally. Trying the nRD-525 out in that role shows it to be more than adequate to produce good results, but with a couple of fairly minor caveats.
This radio DEFINITELY likes to look at a 50 ohm antenna. Anything else and it goes downhill REAL fast. My AM DXing loop had to be modified to present an accurate 50 ohms.
Once that problem was out of the way, another cropped up; microprocessor noise. The NRD-525 radiates a LOT of it, especially from the flourescent display. A loop antenna has to be placed as far from the radio as possible; no way can you put it on top of the rig for quick and handy rotation like you can with the boatanchor rigs.
The downside of the NRD-525 is as I've already mentioned... FRONT END OVERLOAD!!! The International broadcast bands at night (esp. 49 and 31 metres) would be a DISASTER of intermod without the built-in attenuator! Likewise, I have a daytime only 5 KW AM broadcaster within a mile of me; tho it doesn't affect Boatanchor front ends at all, daytime intermod is horrendous on the NRD-525. The internal attenuator helps, but in my case an external, switchable attenuator pad was found to be necessary to clean things up.
Overall, I like the NRD-525 quite a bit. It is more practical for a LOT of things I do than a BA, and the performance is quite good.
Just the same tho, the Boatanchor rigs aren't out of a job just yet...
Apr 26, 2000 06:14
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Another Great JRC receiver.
Time owned: more than 12 months
This is another great JRC receiver,it has excellent basic performance,good ergonomics,and a wide range of filters available.SMT construction makes it very reliable,and it's a pleasure to operate.If the audio was a little better,and the
front panel was aluminum,it would be almost a perfect consumer grade radio,for a 1985 design.
I've owned two of these receivers,the first one was one of the first ones made in 1986.I bought it used in 1990.The second one I bought used in 1991,and it was one of the last ones made.I sold my first one in '91,but I recently had it back to replace one of the switches in it,that had worn out from use over the last 14 years,it still worked just like it did when I bought it ten years ago.
This is the first of the "New Age NRD's".No more cast aluminum front panel(NO!)No more thick sheet aluminum chassis(NOOO!)Now you get a plastic front panel,and very thin sheet steel for the case.It's the first JRC receiver with a built in speaker(really bad).Ok,it's not built like the 505 and 515 were,and that's a shame,but there are so many positives it really doesn't matter much.
You get 200 memories,that store mode,bandwidth,attenution,and AGC settings.It has a very nice main tuning knob that has a nice flywheel effect.The controls are big enough that you will enjoy using it much more than most of the smaller radios,like a Icom 71A,and they have better feel to them,too.The radio has plug in PC boards that make servicing quick and easy,but not cheap if one of the boards has to be replaced!
Rf performance wise,it's not QUITE up to the 515's level,but it's very close.The stock SSB filter is ok,but the optional one is recommended,along with the 1.9 narrow SSB filter if you do a lot of Ham/Utility listening.The 500hz filter is great for narrow RTTY or CW,and theres a 1000 Hz filter that's perfect for wider shift RTTY too.The display is a flourescent type,and it does generate some hash,but it varies radio to radio.I don't really know why,I've owned two of them,and the first one had less display noise (it's only a slight amount,on certain lower freqs)than my later one did,but the second one was better in EVERY way than the first.
Audio quality is fair,it's a whole lot better than say,an Icom 71A,the worst I've ever heard,but not nearly as good as the Drake R8 line.They made improvements as they went along,my second one is much cleaner,and less hissy than the first,that one had a slight "clicky" sound on strong AM signals.The second one is clean on AM,and sounds better too.Don't bother with the NVA 88 external speaker unless you are a collector,it's a 5 buck speaker in an expensive box.A radio shack Minimus works a lot better.Audio quality on SSB is great,very clean and clear.
If you are into listening to VHF low band on your scanner,the 525 receives to 34Mhz,and there is a converter that gives coverage to 460 megs,in various bands,including Airband.It works OK,not great,but would be worth getting if you are a collector.
Old age troubles see to be limited to the buttons on the front panel actually work very cheap switches on the display PC board,and wear out eventually.The switches are easily found in almost any decent catalog,but are a real pain to replace,the traces are thin,and easily broken.My old 525 already had several broken traces from excessive pressure being used to "make the switch work".The other main problem is certain unused indicators and segments of the display will darken if left "unlit" for a long time.The display itself is big bucks,but you can "fix" it by punching in all "8's" for frequency,and changing the mode once in a while.Once the dim parts are "lit",they brighten up after a while.This is a minor problem,and not really any more than cosmetic.
NRD-525's are pretty affordable now,and would make a good upgrade from say a Kenwood R2000 or yaesu FRG-8800.
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