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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Atlas 350XL Help


Reviews Summary for Atlas 350XL
Atlas 350XL Reviews: 8 Average rating: 3.8/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: Digital base HF transceiver
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.rigpix.com/atlas/350xl.htm
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SM5RV Rating: 4/5 Jun 7, 2017 07:49 Send this review to a friend
Atlas 350XL owner, SM5RV, Stockholm. License 1948 as SM5ALP.   Time owned: more than 12 months
Hello ham friends. I have two Atlas 350XL and two Atlas 210X. I love the Atlas design and how they work. My first Atlas 350XL was purchased new 1978 from Elfa Co here i Sweden. My other three Atlas were bought second hand from friends: SM5LI, SM5KP,SM5RSV.
The Atlas are easy to work and easy to repair if necessary: after 39 years of service I have replaced one of the four final transistors (CD2545) in my first 350XL. I have replaced most of the electrolytic condensers in the circuit boards as they use to loose their capacity.
The front end tuned filter give a good reception in strong signal situations. The IF filters are very sharp. The full QSK is superb.
There is almost no drift in frequency after a few minutes. There is very little Phase noise in the receive and TX frequency as there is no synthetic frequency generation; only LC- and crystal oscillators.
I think owners of an old rig should be able to repair their rig if necessary. I like to read the manual circuit shematic; very clever Construction and easy to measure signals on the Circuit boards.
To be a happy owner of an old rig one should have a good oscilloscope and an RF Signal generator, and to like to study the Construction. Its a wonderful part of our hobby. Owned 39 years.
 
IV3DLW Rating: 4/5 Nov 20, 2013 06:23 Send this review to a friend
very good  Time owned: more than 12 months
I really love this rig. I definitely recommend it to technicians.

The overall performance of mine is VERY GOOD.
I spent a lot of time to fix it and I have learn a lot.

After extensive comparison with my other equipment available only the TEN TEC Corsair stands a bit up. FT857/TS180S/FT101ZD stand definitely down.

pros:
-excellent receiver with strong IMD characteristic and excellent SSB/CW filters
- easiness of maintenance
- full internet support (documentation and atlas groups; TKS!)
- high power output (200W)
- elegant simple/effective design
- smooth QSK

cons:
- accurate alignment is needed and sometime its cumbersome because of interdependence of some settings
- IF board and preselector need two minor mods to cure TX instability
- a bit slow and popping AF AGC
- ALC is not (so?) effective
- sensibility is a bit low on 15 and 10 mt. (but only with less than an average antenna)
- audio preamplifier after 2nd DBM is a bit noisy

wish list:
- pass band tuning
- dedicated CW audio filter

vr

Giuliano, IV3DLW
 
AA6TS Rating: 4/5 Oct 31, 2013 11:10 Send this review to a friend
A great older radio with above average RX and TX  Time owned: more than 12 months
There are a lot of technological improvements in this radio making it a good choice for a vintage rig, but those are beyond the scope of this review. An online search will produce dozens of papers and articles about the technical features of this rig. I would like to speak about it from the viewpoint of a user, not a technician.

My current Atlas 350-XL is my third Atlas radio, and over the years I have discovered that these are available on the market in three categories: First is bad operation condition needing a lot of repair work, but available cheap, second is working but still needing a lot of work, a good buy for those who like to tinker, and still affordable, and the third category is working as it should, but very expensive.

Once you have your up to spec, it is a true joy to operate. The receiver have three built-in filters and the other RX specs make this one of the best receivers in its day, and certainly better than anything currently available except the high priced contest rigs. The usual controls are there – RF gain, RIT, ANL, etc. My favorite is the A.F. Notch control which adjusts the audio frequency characteristics to filter out the background noise and allow the voice to stand out. I have used this control many times to suck a weak signal out of the noise floor.

On the transmit side, once again you will find the usual set of basic controls. When adjusted properly, this rig will put out 350 watts PEP, which should show you up to 180-190 watts into a perfect load (is there such a thing?), or more realistically, around 160 watts RF power, which gives this rig an advantage over the 100 watt rigs which put out about 80 watts.

The 350-XL will do CW, LSB and USB but not AM. There is a tuning mode to help you adjust your power (which is variable on all but the older rigs) and preselector, which helps “tune in” your band position. Be sure to adjust the preselector for the loudest noise level before adjusting your antenna tuner.

There is a companion power supply available, the PS-350, which provides ample power for the rig and some station accessories and also has a built in speaker which is a slight improvement over the speaker in the rig. You can also use any other 13-14 volt 32 amp power supply. The rig and matching power supply side-by-side have a striking appearance!

The band selector covers 160 through 10 meters and does not include the WARC bands. There is room for up to 10 auxiliary crystals in the 2-23 mHz range that you can use for marine or MARS frequencies, for example. You can also add the model 311 Auxiliary Crystal Oscillator to give you 12 more selectable crystal sockets. In place of the 311, you can also opt for the Model 305 Auxiliary VFO, which give you dual-VFO operation making frequency splits possible.

There are other accessories available including a mobile mount, but this is by no means a mobile transceiver! It is big and heavy, unlike some of the earlier Atlas transceivers such as the 210X and 215X, which could actually fit in an older car where you had some room under the dash.

On the back are connections for CW key, external speaker, 14 volt accessories, linear amp connection, and even a receive-only antenna. Also there is a switch that will allow your digital display to also work as a frequency counter.

Inside the case is a wiring and component layout that is very easy to work on. The owner’s manual includes a section on alignment and troubleshooting so someone with the skills could adjust their own rig to perfection. This is not one of those imported printed circuit board rigs! Many radio technicians have commented on how easy it is to work on the Atlas radios.

In closing, I want to emphasize that if you have a well-adjusted and up-to-spec Atlas 350-XL, it is a dream to operate with better than average RX and TX and features that were ahead of its time, in fact, comparable to some of the better rigs currently available. Good “ears” and ample RF output, plus enough controls and switches for convenient operation make this a good choice for anyone that desires an older transceiver. It simply does what it is supposed to do and does so with a minimum of confusing dials, buttons and menus. One of the advantages the 350-XL has over other vintage rigs is the addition od a digital frequency display. You can also turn it off to conserve the hard-to-find led segments and use the calibrated tuning dial, which has a dial set knob to allow for setting the dial exactly on frequency.

Like all older rigs, you must remember that this rig is 40 years old, and any rig that old is bound to develop some problems and need some attention. You will find a few technicians around the country specializing in Atlas and Swan transceivers that you can ship your rig to and they will put it back in tip-top shape.

Finally, I have noticed that the selling price for this model has been slowly on the rise as good rigs are becoming more difficult to find. One of the things that is possible driving the price higher is that the successor to this rig, the 400-X, had some problems, and rather than desiring to “move up” to the 400-X, many Atlas fanatics are choosing to stay with their 350-XL.

There is a lot of good information online on the Atlas 350-XL, including a PDF of the original manual and product brochure. You will see many people calling this the best HF amateur radio ever made. I wouldn’t go that far, but I would definitely say that is one of the ton ten! I am giving this a rating of 4 rather than 5 only because it does not do everything you might want, such as AM mode and maybe a few other things. Of course it does not have many of the features that the newer radios have, but it is a vintage radio, and not expected to hook up to a computer! If you get one, email me and tell me how you like it!
 
KC7NOA Rating: 3/5 Feb 15, 2010 20:02 Send this review to a friend
Good enuff  Time owned: more than 12 months
Im not sure NC9K was accurate on listing a 1uF chip cap for the negative feedback. Mabey iv just had some bad luck with the ones i used.... 2 started to leak DC current making the finals draw excess current. Im using 2SC2879's and they are a bit over kill - and heat the small heat-sink fairly quickly. I admit tht in its self is a problem but i had them for parts and used them rather buy new 454's or 2290's. Some PA's seem to have the output combiner orientated horizontally and not vertically. I also added 5 bead chokes to the input/output coax's. Otherwise mine is fair - its fairly deaf and im sure there must be some issue with the band pass filter causing this - i used a MFJ-259b and checked the 10M pass. On 28.400 (my fav freq !!) the SWR into a 100W dummyload was over 4:1. Im sure a bandpass filter should have at least less than 1db of loss on center freq!!!

Oh well.. i digress... But i will look into it in the future.

Mind you i do like this radio - though id rather have a TS-2000, But then again i paid for an Atlas 350XL !!!!
 
HAMWITHOUTANTENNA Rating: 4/5 Nov 28, 2005 11:52 Send this review to a friend
Missed chance  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Atlas 350XL was packed with lots of clever design details, like an almost inaudible hi-speed T/R switching scheme, one of the best notch filters of all times, an extremely quiet, spurious-free receiver, sideband and CW crystal filters of exceptional quality, an effective noise blanker and a powerful solid state PA.. The VFO was really stable, and the whole rig was built on a sturdy steel chassis that would survive the roughest handling. Quality components and plated-through glass epoxy PC boardswere used. Most circuits had double functions for receive and transmit, keeping the component count low and the reliability high.
But the Atlas 350XL suffered from an enormous number of problems.
Major problem zones, just to name a few, were the receiver AGC and the transmitter ALC, which weren't properly included into the T/R switching, causing loud bumps each time the PTT switch or the CW key was released; RF leakage from the BFO into the IF amp, resulting in a DC offset at the product detector output that changed with AGC level, causing ugly distortion products in the receiver; inadequate gain and frequency response in the transmitter chain, unwanted coupling from the dc power input into the microphone circuits, causing distortion in the transmitter, and an unstable supply for the RIT control. A nuisance was the optional frequency display that wasn't shielded and generated so many spurious signals that it had normally to be turned off.
All of these problems could have been detected and cured within a few weeks of intensive testing. It appears that the rig was developed with a very tight time schedule and released to the market when it was still in a early development stage ( not far from the breadboard stage, to be precise ). What a pity that Atlas missed this great chance.
For a really technically inclined ham, willing to work with this late 70's technology and having profound knowledge in electronics as well as access to professional test equipment and the necessary time, the Atlas 350XL is a rewarding object for restauration, or better yet, for finishing the development work on this basically excellent radio. It has been shown that the Atlas 350XL can be turned into a dream CW machine, where it really plays out its hidden abilities, as well as into a kind of hi-fi SSB rig, with razor-sharp filters in a receiver that is a joy to listen to for hours.
 
KB0PGO Rating: 2/5 Nov 18, 2002 21:06 Send this review to a friend
Hobby radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was considered an expert on Atlas radios 10 years ago. I finally refused to work on any more 350XL's around 1994. There were so many problems with them that when they started failing the problems continued to multiply. Most of the problems were due to the weak and corosive nature of the edge connected PC boards and the sockets that will also crack and loosen. There is also a tendency of the PA to go into thermal runaway or self regenerate (becone a power oscillator) and transmit on whatever frequency it wants. It is not a radio that I would recomend to any one except a devoted hobbiest with some substantial electronics knowledge.
The Atlas 210 is a much simpler rig and is actually can be fun to operate. On the other hand, the Swan 100MXA is actually an electronic equivelent of an Atlas 350XL without the mechanical flaws.
 
G4VGO Rating: 5/5 Sep 24, 2002 04:59 Send this review to a friend
A Great Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was lucky to find an unmodified 350XL complete with the HEAVY DUTY (35 amp) power supply. It made the trip from the USA in good shape and I was most anxious to try it out. I only operate 160 metres and 99% of that is CW. Bob Sherwood of Drake R4C modification fame gave the Atlas 350XL a good rating in his receiver tests of several years ago and this is the main reason I wanted to try the rig.

Out of the box it performed flawlessly. QSK is as smooth as any Ten Tec I have owned, the power out using the Atlas power supply is 200 watts on 160 metres. The tuning is silky smooth, and the VFO has very little drift from warm-up.

The receiver is a single conversion circuit with a factory installed 500 Hz CW filter. The receiver and the transmitter driver are 'peaked' with a preselector. I live not far from a very high power BBC world service transmitter site on medium wave and the 350XL is the only receiver I have that doesn't exhibit any desense or break through from the BBC. It has a receive antenna input that I use for my beverage antennas and that is something a lot of transceivers don't have.

There are a lot of very big signals on Top Band here in Europe, but the BDR on close-in signals is fantastic on the 350XL. I was hearing weak signals VERY close to EA3JE and his multi-KW 160m CW signal, weak Europeans were readable a few tens of Hz away from other Big Guns. The ultimate filter rejection of the factory stock 500 Hz filter was as good as my Kenwood TS 830S which has a world class receiver also. I was truly amazed! This transceiver's receiver was 95% as good as my R4C with the 600 Hz Sherwood roofing filter, and all of the mods.

Combine this with NO PHASE NOISE and you have a champion receiver. Needless to say I am now a believer. Now to find another one before the supply dries up.

By the way, I did try it on SSB with my D-104 mic and it got very good reports as well.
 
K8DIT Rating: 4/5 Jul 21, 2001 04:30 Send this review to a friend
Worthwhile Bargain  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was wondering what kind of radio this would be when I spotted one at my friend's house. The vernier tuning knob is it's most noticeable feature. The 350XL is Herb Johnson's last model of Atlas to be manufactured in any numbers, and while it's a basic radio, it works well and is fun to use in light of it's time in history. Some of the devices, like the driver transistor has become extinct. The 350XL puts out up to 200 watts
when used with a 32 amp power supply. I use a 20 amp supply and get nearly 150 watts out on 160, 75, 40 and 20. Less on the higher bands. The reciver is single conversion, but has plenty of sensitivity and selectivity for the ten and fifteen meter bands. It can be used on the WARC bends when crystals are installed and then selected with the switch on the front panel for alternate band use. The digital readout LEDs are also extinct, but found that through emailing some folks, they are available through one of the electronics wholesalers for about $7.50 apiece. I had to replace two of the digits. I took my radio to the one guy who has repaired hundreds of Atlases over the years who happens to live nearby
here in n.w. Washington state. His ad appears in Worldradio and Qst. He found several attempts at repairs that needed to be undone and then repaired correctly. He told me that my finals had been replaced and the good news was that they were done nicely and that they were now better than original, but one of the linkages in the bandpass filtering had been done incorrectly and was probably the reason that this radio fell into my hands so reasonably.
At the end of the repair I had a working radio that is good but not great. The things that work well are the qsk keying and the vox. The reciever is a bit on the noisey side on the lower bands, but the addition of a clear speech dsp noise filter did the trick there. The only other thing was finding a microphone that sounded halfway decent. I found a Turner plus 2 one day and have been getting really good audio reports since. The aux. VFO works fine, the cw and ssb filter are good and I compare it with my Ten Tec Omni D series B Transceiver. There are some things that are better on the Omni and a few on the 350. I found that there are quite a few Atlas afficionados out there still and understand their appeal with use. The tuning knob is unique and actually tunes backwards with respect to the digital readout, but when looking at the analog readout, it all makes sense. So, if you can find an Atlas 350XL reasonably, and figure on spending
from $75 to $300 to restore it to original specs, or if you know what you're doing on your own, you can have one of the classics of Hamdom. It's all solid state, made in the same era as the early Omni series from Ten Tec or the Drake TR 7. The 350 is definitely a step up from the earlier Atlas' series, Mine has nearly no warmup drift. The tuning is pure silk, selectivity and IMD are surprisingly good, and the cw note is crisp and clean.
 


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