Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: MFJ 94-Series

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : MFJ 94-Series
Reviews: 75MSRP: 239.95
SSB Travel Radio (CW optional)
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KG6BRG Rating: 2022-06-22
Good radio for what it's designed for Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I like qrp radios, so when I had a chance to buy one at a good price I did, (9440 40 meter version). When it got to me it needed a total alignment, it was way off everywhere. I don't know if the previous owner was responsible or that was the way it shipped new. Anyway, the manual has complete step by step instructions on the alignment procedure and other than a multi meter and a second receiver, nothing fancy is required. After I did that the radio has worked perfectly since. I calibrated the dial carefully as per the manual, and I can usually get within one Kc of my intended qso frequency and then touch up when I hear some audio, or use a handheld freq counter to get closer. Either way it's pretty easy to do. Great audio, lots of talk power from the adjustable speech compressor and mic gain. I get a solid 12 watts plus, and with the crisp audio, usually I get through the noise easily. I find the radio is pretty stable on a regulated 13.8 PS and is a little drifty on battery as the battery voltage wains. On battery, a battery booster is a great help. Sips the current and will go forever on a battery, unlike my Yaesu 818nd (a very good qrp radio too). Other than they are waaaaay overpriced new, if you can find a used one for $150.00 or less, do it. The last price new I saw was $429.00 at DXE, and they were out of stock, so a Yaesu 818nd at $649.00 is a no brainer and they are in stock. I have the matching tuner, the MFJ-971 I use with it, attached to it, it makes a nice complete package. If you see a good deal on a used one buy it and if you decide to sell it, it will go fast, a no lose proposition. Just buy right and don't overpay. Cheers.
G4EDY Rating: 2022-06-21
A Blast!! Eventually! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
There are many sides to ham radio, some like to build replica 'Empire' stations using kW amps with 6 element beams at 70ft, some hams like the challenge of mastering layers of menus on the latest masterpiece of technology.

For me, from my earliest days of listening to home made TRFs under the bed covers I have had more fun from getting good results from simple bits of kit, I just can't get excited about the latest marvel that looks like a flight deck!

Out of the box the MFJ9420 looked like my kind of kit, two knobs; Tuning and Volume, and two switches; On/Off and Tune. Within minutes it was powered up from the shack leisure battery. Successful QRP operation means using an efficient antenna, I use a home brew offset fed 20m dipole fed at the 300 ohm point with ladder line and matched with a tuned coupler.

It was obvious that there were receiver problems, the BFO was off tune and although it received plenty of stations there were a ship load of birdies present!

I own an electronics manufacturing company so I know from experience that a replacement might have the identical fault. With so much kit automatically assembled it is likely that there will be a batch problem so rather than return it I dived in!

The BFO was easily tuned, I use an audio spectrum analyser on Hamscope to give an audio passband from 300Hz to about 3kHz, the birdies were more of a problem, the input tuned circuit didn't tune. I looked at the back of the PCB and found one of the input capacitors (C6) had only one leg, it looked fine from the top of the PCB! A replacement 680pF was fitted and normal service returned. A quick tune up, back on with the lid.

This morning I powered it up and there was VK3PR at 5-7 on 14.16MHz, lovely audio!

Now that it is working properly this rig is an absolute grin! It sips juice from the battery and it is so easy to use it just makes me smile!!

Just watch out for silly faults.

73s Martin

Update 2022 - I sold the 9420 - QSOs on 20 seem to be ' your report 5 9, my details on, 73, QRZ' that's the bad news - the good news is there's a 9440 in it's place and I am having a terrific time on 40m using a half wave dipole mounted 10m above an extensive ground plane from when I ran a Marconi Tee. I retuned the 9440 to cover 7.050 to 7.200 for the UK allocation. Excellent minimalist fun!
AE5VM Rating: 2020-09-05
Power output Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I owned the 20 and 40m ones back in 2010 and both put out decent watt output. They were my first radios to make contact on for HF.
Now I bought the 20m newer version and get only 7-9w output with 13.8 volts power supply.. I only made one contact and hope to make more soon..
Yes, the wattmeter shows 7-9 watts, but when pressing the spot button or tune button, it shows 10w. But when U speak into the mike even though I tweaked other settings and the power output is still the same. These radios should be called 5-9 watt radios because I've seen different reviews with different power ratings..
I give these radios a 7 on a scale of 1-10. though they are neat vintage looking.. They could use a little more help with the power output for the claim that they are 10-watt rigs.
Yes, I will buy others, like 10, 12, - 40m in time. They are neat and cool looking.
KG7RS Rating: 2020-03-11
Excellent performance & lots of fun Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This is an amazing product and I sincerely hope MFJ keeps them in production for a good long time to come. I've owned 3 of the 20-meter versions, model 9420 over the years. The first was an early model I bought used and it had seen plenty of mileage. It was a blast to use in the field. The second, a recent model, was bad right out of the box. TX worked, RX did not. MFJ took care of it. My current one, purchased new, worked perfectly right from the box. Construction looks great and it did not need any alignment/adjustment.

RF output at 13.8 VDC is 8 watts carrier and presumably as much PEP SSB, albeit I don't have a peak reading watt meter to confirm. Even my averaging watt meter clearly demonstrates the punchy compressed RF and the transmitted audio still sounds great.

The amazing thing about this radio is how easy it is to make QSO's. MFJ's advertising copy is not far off the mark. It does indeed give the impression of a far more powerful rig. I seldom have to repeat my callsign, routinely work DX, check into nets, pretty much anything I ask of it. The clear loud speaker audio has a nice presence. Frequency stability is perfectly acceptable. The receiver has a refreshingly low noise floor and no DSP artifacts to endure.

There is one downside that needs mentioning if the user plans to operate the 9420 in the field. RF power drops off substantially at 12 volts vs 13.8 volts. With my 2000mA/hr 12 V NiMH pack, my 9420 will yield 5 watts. This model would likely best be served by a 4-cell LiPo battery as long as it doesn't exceed MFJ's specified 15 volt limit.

This is a wonderful radio that's a genuine pleasure to operate for hours on end. My sincere thanks to MFJ for continuing to keep these available. 73, John, KG7RS
VE2ITZ Rating: 2017-03-29
This little radio still amazes me Time Owned: more than 12 months.
After owning this little radio for 10 years i still have to say what a fantastic little radio this is.

I have had tons of fun with it. At the park, camping, hiking and my latest test in the car with a homemade 20 meter antenna attached on the back of the Honda Fit!

Recently worked Italy and Croatia while testing my new setup in the car! I am amazed how much you can do with so little!

Got 5/7 reports from both European stations!

Ok, i agree quality wise in craftsmanship could be much better. Nevertheless it is a pretty decent radio.

I have thought about selling it. but that would be a really bad mistake and something i would regret for a long time. This one is a keeper!

Earlier 5-star review posted by VE2ITZ on 2008-06-09

Nice little rig if you love camping and the outdoors!

Got mine for 200 Canadian with the cw module included.

I run this little radio with an inverted v almost on ground level, along with a small power pack and i can be heard across the Atlantic!

I spoke to this fellow in Florida once while i was in the bush on top of a hill, and he could not believe i was in a Provincial park in the middle of nowhere, while he sat in the comfort of his home!!!

I sometimes bring it on my bicycle trips and just set the whole thing up on a city park and start communicating.

I just get a blast each time i communicate with someone with this portable setup.

This is what amazes me of radio!!!
WB4JHS Rating: 2016-01-04
I'm back with an older 9420 Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I got this one off EBay and it only does five watts out. If anyone knows how to restore it to 10 please email me.

This is the old model without the RIT. Occasionally upon turning up the volume it causes a low dull pulsing sound like a speaker overload and then it drops out. Email me if you determine why too.

Lots of fun in a car with a ham stick and great audio reports.

I wish someone would make a 10-20M small mobile like this with an internal antenna tuner, 25 watts SSB & CW.


Earlier 5-star review posted by WB4JHS on 2013-11-12

Had the same Mic and Oscillator issues and customer service cleaned it up. There was a bad run of these that did not get QCd correctly. MFJ needs to run these through a rigorous QC BEFORE leaving the plant. My guess is that when they make a run of these it might be different folks doing it. As long as they are QCd this is a fine radio. I worked last Sat T32 Kirbati Island on 20M late in the PM and use only a EF 20 End Fed Dipole. Today I actually was received in INDIA but the VU3 could not copy the whole call. I use this mobile and base. If you find one just air test it and you will be happy with it.
Earlier 5-star review posted by WB4JHS on 2013-04-12

I was a bit skeptical of th 9420 but I need an innexpensive mobile for 20M that won't break the bank if it gets stolen. This looks like a CB to most who would look though the window. I use it with a hamstick and great results. I have worked Dx from SA to EU and the Caribbean to greater USA. The radio will drift for the first 15-20 minutes and the ignition noise of my 2012 Chevy Equinox is a problem but not a show stopper. If you have suggestions on how to kill the whine of the alternator please advise. I hope to take to Panama C.A. this June to DX from the balcony of the resort over the pacific coast. Folks on 20M give me S9 to 10 over often. The stock mic works better than the Workman replacement that I read about in this thread. Email if you want to discuss the 9420. John
AB0YM Rating: 2015-07-30
Good performer for the money. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I sold my MFJ-9420 a few years ago and have regretted it since. I got it so that I would have an SSB rig on hunting trips in western Colorado. For the money, it has an very good speech processor and receive crystal filter. I missed having a direct frequency readout, so I added an outboard digital display. The catalog says 12w output, but that is only with 13.8v power. Off of 12v, the best it would do was about 8w.

I participated in the PA QP several times - some ops in PA could not believe I was only running 8w in Colorado! (I was using a full size vertical dipole with a natural reflector behind me).

My only real complaint was its frequency stability, especially in extreme temperatures was too poor for digital modes. (never noticed on SSB) Otherwise I would have rated it a 5.

I now have an FT-817 - it could not match the 9420's SSB performance until I added a speech processor and mechanical filter. Of course, the 817 has other bands and modes.
AD4C2006 Rating: 2015-04-01
Lack of quality control Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
If you are lucky to have a good one, keep it but I was one of the few ones who had to send them back.
I wanted to make a gift for a friend of mine who got his licence lately and could not afford an expensive radio, besides I thought for the low price this MFJ-9440 cost, was going to be a good investment, I was wrong.
The first one I ordered arrived in good shape and to be honest when connected to my dipole, the receiver was excellent, low noise, very good audio quality, great stability with no drift even just turned on, the TX was great too, good modulation and about 12W PEP BUT the fine tunning knob did not work, opened it up, checked all the solder around that pot, everything looked perfect, talked to the store where I bought from and they agreed to send it back to have a second unit, a week later, a new radio arrived, oh my Lord, this one was even worse, the receiver worked perfect as the first one BUT the TX sounded all distorded and it made only 6W PEP, talked to the store and decided not to try a third one, all my money was refunded including my two shiping back fees, the store guy was very sorry and he agreed MFJ has lack of quality control on these QRP radios.
I am not saying MFJ its a bad company because for many years I have been using their antenna tuners and many other products with good quality but these QRP radios need more attention to tuning details at the final alignment and test department.

N7JS Rating: 2014-12-07
You can't beat it for the money Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
First off, I am not a big fan of MFJ. BUT, that said, they got it right with this radio. I've got an FT-817 and yes it does everything...but this radio is FUN. The best thing is, it sounds great. The FT-817 sounds on receive like a tin box compared to this thing. I dinged it 1 point for the S meter for the fact it floors on about any decent signal but at least it is analog. For a couple of hundred bucks (used) you can't lose on this radio.
AB1AW Rating: 2014-09-21
MFJ-9475: Good performance. Some field adjustments required. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought this little rig because of its simplicity. I wanted a simple SSB transceiver with no bells or whistles, no microprocessors, etc. ; that is, something that I could power-up and immediately use without the need for lengthy programming or requiring assistance from an IT department. Another reason that I bought this rig was that I desired something that I could easily tinker with using readily available tools and equipment. I consider the MFJ 9475 as essentially a kit that some professional technician assembled for me, and then left for me to make the final adjustments. This is exactly what I was looking for.

In some circles, MFJ has a reputation for “Mighty Fine Junk”. However, that is clearly not the case for the MFJ-9475. The quality of construction is evident, with a well manufactured and assembled PCB and case. There is a mix of both surface-mounted and through-hole parts on the PCB. All field adjustable components are readily accessible.

Do not expect this rig to work perfectly right out of the box. I found both transmitter and receiver performance lacking when I first powered it on and tried to use it, without first going through the easy-to-follow field adjustments.

The MFJ-9475 is rated for 10 watts output. However, don’t expect this output level across the entire tuning range (which itself is a subset of the 80/75 band). Certainly, the rig puts out a solid 10 watts at the adjustment frequency. However, the power drops off to about 4 watts at about 150 KHz above and below the adjustment frequency.

The field adjustment instructions state to make the adjustments “at the band center”, which was specified as 3900 KHz. I followed these instructions, but then found the power output dropped noticeably at 3944 KHz, which is the frequency of a weekly net that I participate in. So, I readjusted for a maximum output at 3950 KHz. The bottom line here is that if you are going to wander across the full tuning range of this rig, do not expect maximum power output at the band edges. Make the power adjustment at your favorite frequency.

The sensitivity of this rig is quite good. I did not have the equipment to make an accurate, quantitative measurement of receiver sensitivity. The selectivity appears to be sharp enough to prevent interference from adjacent signals during net operations in the crowed upper portion of the 75 meter band. There is some VFO drift for the first 5 to 10 minutes after power-up, but then the rig settles down. This drifting is not unexpected as this is a pure analog transceiver. A slight touch on the fine tuning knob is all that’s needed to compensate and makes it feel like I’m operating a radio and not a computer. Based on my use in various band conditions, I am pleased with the receiver performance.

The field adjustment instructions include a PA Bias Adjustment using the uA function on a voltmeter. These instructions require connecting the meter across the PA-BIAS test points located at RFC6 on the PCB. However, on my version of the MFJ-9475, I could not locate these test points, nor could I find RFC6 on the PCB (even though the schematic indicated it). I did find a different (possibly newer?) version of the instructions on the web. Using these alternate instructions, I made the PA BIAS adjustment by measuring the voltage drop across the base-to-emitter junction of the PA transistor (Q11, 2SC313) and setting it to 0.6 volts using the PA Bias adjustment R66 on the PCB.

I also found two different versions of instructions for adjusting the speech processor. The instructions included with my rig directed me to speak into the microphone and adjust R61 for mid-scale meter readings. The alternate instructions had me use a watt meter and dummy load, adjust L5 and L6 for peak output, then turn R61 CCW until the RF power output dropped by 10%. I chose to follow the second (alternate) instructions and was pleased with the resultant audio quality signal reports.

My experience with this rig has been all positive so far. I can check-in to my local net with S7 signal reports using only an Emtech ZM-2 tuner and a 30 foot doublet in my attic.

Bottom line: If you want a simple, easy to use, QRP rig that you also want to tinker with, the MFJ-9475 fits the bill.

a.k.a. Jonathan Brookes
Author of the novel “Relic”
[ Yeah, shameless plug for my book :) ]