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Show all reviews of the Kenwood TS-990S
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of the Kenwood TS-990S.
Feb 16, 2014 13:35
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Good, needs attention from Kenwood
Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The TS-990 is a superb transceiver. In day to day operations, I find the amenities to be well thought out and useful, the receiver to be highly selective, sensitive and capable of significant fidelity or extreme narrowband operations.
Between the noise blanking and reduction, notches, BEF, receive equalization, shift/width or high/low bandpass, RF gain, AGC selection, roofing filters, antenna choices, preamplifier, preselector, splitting, RIT, separate rx/tx antennas, regular memories, quick memories, band stacking and band memories, isolated rx loop and the optical, usb and analog audio outputs, and the unique and very clever shortwave mode, the receiver is truly a joy to use.
The transmitter, at 200 watts and with a relatively high final voltage, runs at reasonable temperatures and produces a good quality signal. I've gone all day rag-chewing, barefoot at full power and never experienced any kind of heat related problem, not even a particularly warm case. The antenna tuner likes all my antennas and is quite fast. There is TX equalization, bandwidth setting, XIT, split operation, and remote operation.
The network command set is reasonably well thought out (with the exception of the selection of UTF-16LE as the character set) and enabled me to quickly write a Python application that allows my SDR software to track the TS-990's tuning and demodulation mode, and vice-versa. The radio's network operations are highly responsive and although the manual warns of possible missed commands under heavy (radio) CPU load, I have never seen this happen.
I've left the radio on for days at a time, and it has never crashed or glitched. Given that I actually use a lot of the radio's features, this speaks highly of the firmware quality.
This radio is large, heavy, and will not operate from 12vdc unless you have a (powerful) inverter. A great desktop rig; not so great for portability unless mounted in a trailer or something like that.
The menu system is extensive, and offers a myriad of useful choices and options. Expect to spend some quality time in there changing things around. I can guarantee it.
It didn't come with a microphone. Had the salesman not warned me, I would have been one disappointed fellow the day I received the rig. I don't understand Kenwood's choice in this regard.
Both the spectrum and the waterfall are low performance in comparison with the typical SDR display. Slower, less resolution, poorer control, less utility. Having said that, there's a lot that could be done to improve both of them in firmware.
Firmware upgrading is basically trivial: You format a memory stick on the transceiver, move it to your computer (any OS), drag and drop the upgrade file onto the stick, plug the stick back into the TS-990S, and start the upgrade. No cables, no OS-specific software, no computer crashes, no multiple file download/install complexities... nice.
The radio is very expensive; in my opinion, it is well worth the price. But it could easily be improved. Specifically...
As of firmware 1.05, I find that the following firmware changes are called for:
o mouse control for the spectrum display
o S-meter recoded to obey 50uv=S9 standards
o Waterfall base color s/b much darker
o Waterfall colors s/b editable
o Waterfall intercept with spectrum display s/b variable
o Front panel REC system should allow for retransmit
o Main knob should have spin rate variable tuning rate
o Needs CW decode added to RTTY and PSK decode
o NB1 should not stop blanking when signal is high level
o NB2 should not stop blanking when signal is high level
o NB2 needs independently adjustable width, threshold
o Notch is too wide at 300 hz
o Needs ID interval timer
o PF keys don't execute deeply enough, pick menu choice
o Slowest AGC isn't even close to slow enough
o Sub-display should be able to show s, other-meter(s)
o Kenwood software should support OSX, Linux too
o Antenna jacks need TX disable switches
o Antenna jacks need TX only within range(s) settings
o Preamp gain should be consistent on all bands
o Matching speaker needs to be completely rethought
Product is in production.
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