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Reviews For: LDG DM-990

Category: SWR & Wattmeters & Dummy Loads

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Review Summary For : LDG DM-990
Reviews: 3MSRP: 179.99
Provides two 4.5” meters, one for the Main receiver and one for the Sub.
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W4MY Rating: 2023-05-28
Good, Don't like the Illumination Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I agree with both reviews so far. The meters are big and good quality and move smoothly and provide useful indication. I got my DM-990 used for my TS-890 and it works fine, allbeit there's no second RX. That's OK because you can configure it from the 890 advanced menu to read something else you want.

Yes, the enclosure is a bit "cheezy" having an "MFJ" feel to it. OK, its a useful meter, I can get over that. What I really don't like is the illumination. Bright on the side of the meter face where the LED is, dark on the other side of the same meter face. I haven't looked inside, maybe I will look into a "mod" to improve this. One star deducted.

Hope this is useful for '890 owners that it works with this radio. The manual states it is for the TS-990 only.
W8UAB Rating: 2014-07-28
Accurate and Effective! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Let's face it, the Kenwood TS-990 is such a complete package that the usual line of accessories needed to complete a station set-up is almost nonexistent. In fact, the owners manual shows three microphones, two pairs of headphones and a speaker as "Optional Accessories". That is it! I was optimistic that I would find something to spend more money on and I found it!

The LDG DM-990 is a winner on many levels.

The meters perform as intended. Readings are accurate and easy to read. The Kenwood TS-990 advanced menu system allows for unparalleled flexibility when choosing what reading is paired with an individual meter. Example, you can set the left meter to read PWR on transmit, the right meter to read SWR on transmit and then set the radios internal meter to read ALC on transmit. Wow! Three big and beautiful analog meter displays all working independently. On receive they default to reading RX signal strength on each receiver respectively.

Although one may consider my next comment to score in the negative category, I find it to be the products most redeeming feature. My DM-990 was defective! It exhibited some anomalies on TX and RX. I was not the original owner. I was not even the second owner. I was the third owner. I sent it back to LDG and shortly after the UPS man came to my front door and hand delivered a brand new replacement meter. No charge! Free! LDG even covered the cost to ship the replacement.

The replacement meter works 100%. Perfect! This is the level of service that keeps a companies reputation high and customers returning again and again. For the record, this is the third product I have sent to LDG over the years. Each time they have stood behind the product completely, no questions asked.

Note that the end user is able to zero align and voltage (full scale) calibrate the meter via easily accessible trim pots for accurate reading for years to come.

LDG is a winner and this meter is as good as it gets.
AA7AS Rating: 2014-03-26
Could be better, but... Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The TS-990, at least as of firmware 1.05, has the unfortunate "feature" of not being able to show you the main signal meters except as a minimal bar graph when the waterfall is open. Most users will really want the waterfall open, unless they're running a synchronized SDR with its own waterfall at the same time. LDG has addressed this problem by building an external analog metering system for the TS-990, so one doesn't have to be concerned about the metering on the radio's own LCD and can enjoy the benefits of the radio's waterfall.

Most importantly, the two meters are large, clearly marked, and accurate. They do what they're supposed to do, and they do it well. Inside, the circuit boards are clean and well manufactured, and surprisingly easy to work on (I'll get to why you need to work on them in a moment.) The power and signal jacks are good quality, the supplied cable plugged into my TS-990 without incident, and everything worked correctly right away. The power jack supplies the LEDs with power so they can light the meters (200 to 500 ma, 12 vdc); you don't even have to connect the power cord if you prefer not to. I'm content with my purchase in the sense that I'm not looking to return it. I wanted big, accurate analog meters, and that's what I got.

Now, the radio drives the meters to read s-units that agree with the TS-990 displays for the dual receivers, which is both good and bad. The good is that its just what you'd see on the radio. The bad is that Kenwood failed to implement the standard for s-units in the TS-990 (about 50 uV equals s9 and so forth), and so the radio's metering is consistently wrong, which makes comparing receive performance to anything else a great deal more difficult than it really needed to be. Sigh. Perhaps they'll fix this, at least as a menu option, with 1.06 or later firmware.

During transmit, you can select what parameters the meters read using menu options deep within the TS-990's menu system. Have fun with that. :)

So the meters, in and of themselves, are very nice. It's the details that are a little disappointing.

First, the meter backdrops are translucent white, with black, green and red silkscreening. LDG, in a fit of I-don't-know-what, decided to backlight the meters in blue. Which makes the red and green look positively sickly. You can fix this, though; half the backlighting LEDs inside the case are white, and half are blue. You can desolder the series resistors next to the blue LEDs, or the LEDs themselves with very little effort, and then the meters look decent, although somewhat dimmer. Or, if you're better at surface mount work than I am, just replace the blue LEDs with more white LEDs, and it'll be perfect.

Next, the case. It's poorly done. There's no support where the top meets the front and back panels, so the box actually bends as you handle it. Also, the top is attached to the base with nasty, short, self-threading sheet metal screws that don't like to reseat at all. It's just really cheap manufacturing. For a $180 device. Not happy with this.

Finally, the silkscreening -- not on the meters, that's fine, excellent in fact, but on the case -- has a decided amateur feel to it, and by that I don't mean "ham radio", I mean "someone has no artistic sense for fonts." I'm very tempted to black it out with a laundry marker or something.

Overall, I'm glad to have the metering system. But it could really have been better on several levels. Hence the "OK."

Tip: If you're not otherwise using the external AT-300 antenna tuner connector on the TS-990, you can power the DM-990 unit's illumination from the 13.8 VDC supply line on AT connector pin 6; ground is available at both pins one and three. The AT-300's power consumption is two amperes, far more than the DM-990 requires, so the power available here is certain to be adequate. Taking power from this point will cause the meter lighting to go on and off following the setting of the TS-990's power switch. In the TS-990S's manual, Kenwood says that this connector is only usable with their model AT-300 external tuner; but then they note that the AT-300 has been discontinued. This, in combination with the fact that the TS-990S has an internal tuner, makes this approach to getting power from the transceiver reasonable unless you are actually using a legacy AT-300 for some reason.