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Reviews For: Atlas 210X/215X

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Atlas 210X/215X
Reviews: 44MSRP: 200-250
Later versions of the venerable Atlas 210 mobile HF xcvrs
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
E78CB Rating: 2023-09-16
Good and simple back up rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Was a nice gift. I kept it as simple back-up rig, but used also as main rig. Mine particular American Atlas comes from 1978 but works all digital modes even today.. small drift though, but I like rigs with switches and push buttons. Kind of awkward in CW but its simplicity and design is interesting and well worth of keeping it for play.
WB9MSM Rating: 2022-07-02
Outstanding Small Classic HF Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Great little transceiver that really was ahead of it's time. The one I have was built in 1976 and even today it works great on SSB. All solid state with no tubes. It's not much of a CW rig and I'm fine with that, as I have other rigs that are excellent on CW. I like the simplicity of this rig. I get outstanding audio reports with it. If you can find one these with the power supply at a reasonable price ($200-300) pick it up. I'm confident you'll be quite happy with it. In my opinion Herb Johnson, W6QKI hit a Grade Slam with putting this gem on the market ahead of any other manufacture in 1974.
N8FVJ Rating: 2022-02-13
Good Vintsge Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Good receive with crystal clear audio. Sensitive on 10 meters too. A surprise.
DJ3ZF Rating: 2022-02-13
Makes me happy! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
For one year I'm the lucky owner of an Atlas 215x Limited Edition from 1979, which I bought from a collector who put it very early into the rack. The transceiver even smelled like new! The guy woke it up carefully over days with slowly increasing voltage, using a laboratory power supply with current limiting. All caps reformatted that way without any failure.
Output is 70-80 W PEP on the bands from 160m to 20m and nearly 60 W PEP on 15m, so no power increase of the Limited Edition can be seen. It matches with the meter that never shows more than 13 to 14 A. Maybe the preowner has reduced output power a littlebit to protect the PA. The sensitivity of the RX is about 0.2 ┬ÁV even on 15m, and after about 10 minutes of warm-up the frequency is very stable.
Meanwhile I've got the early 220-CS power supply console (with these nice screwed electrolytic capacitors) and a Shure 404C mic, too.

Pros: The receiver sounds very smooth and clear, is very selective and without any problems if there are big signals (incl. 41m-band broadcast) nearby. RX power consumption is only 280 mA(!), and the RIT of the LE version works well. Modulation of the TX is often praised. It's really KISS-engineered, electrically and mechanically well built and simple to use.

Cons: Because of spurious emissions on various frequencies/bands without modulation it doesn't work together with the automatic frequency detection of Elecraft KPA500/KAT500, there is permanent relay switching. And if you use earphones, the loud "plop"-noise by RX/TX-switching (independend of volume control) is painful. I do NOT talk about CW, not for nothing Atlas called it a SSB transceiver! Do I miss digital frequency readout? Why should I, HF ham radio doesn't work on channels!

It's almost daily on duty now, and I'm very glad to enjoy the natural sound of a great receiver, and it's nice appearance makes me happy! :-)
VK3LZ Rating: 2020-08-15
Easy on the ears Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought a second hand Atlas 215X about 25 years ago as a spare rig and later sold it which I regretted. Then recently I saw one for sale and thought why not? Comparing it to modern rigs doesn't make sense to me so I'll use my FT-7 as a comparison rig which is

Firing it up on my shack desk the receiver has nicer more natural sounding audio than my FT-7 on SSB but the FT-7 wins on CW. The sensitivity on 80 and 40 is as good as the FT-7 but drops off more on the higher bands than the FT-7.

One advantage of the 215X is that it's a full power rig (or almost) compared to the QRP FT-7. Neither rig covers all of the 10m band.

As to appearance I like both rigs but the 215X has more traditional styling vs the early plastic front styling of the FT-7.

A boat anchor styled rig suitable for compact shacks.

NR7N Rating: 2013-02-04
Simple but Elegant Design Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have restored my 210X and it works great. It is simple but elegant design done by someone who knows what he was doing.

The passive front end can handle strong signals but it still hears well.

It is dream to work on. Most of the components are on three plug-in cards and almost everything is easily accessible except the antenna relay (tucked up into a corner near the RF PA). When i got mine gain was low, the S-meter barely worked and the AGC was almost non-existent. I suspected a bad capacitor in the AGC amp but I decided instead to replace all of the capacitors in the rig at 0.1 ufd and above. New from Mouser all of these (about forty) cost less than $25. Once the caps were replaced the radio sprang back to life. I also replaced the first mixer and product detector diodes from 1N914's to 1N5711 hot-carrier RF mixer diodes. This lowered the noise floor, improved dynamic range further and gave me better weak signal response. It easily hears less than 1 uv signals on all bands. Even the dial calibration is not too bad and is easy to adjust.

The 210X gets bad rap on its AGC performance but I will bet a dollar that 90% of the radios out there today are not up to snuff because of nearly 40 year old capacitors. Upgrade the larger values (don't touch low value disc ceramics or silver micas!) and you will have a new rig. In fact it has one of the best audio derived AGC's that I have seen.

The little 210X will give most modern radios a run for their money.
W3AFC Rating: 2012-08-01
Better than I expected Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought a 210X on eBay as a portable rig for the beach, field day, etc. I was actually looking for the 100W version of the Yaesu FT-301. When I received this, I discovered that the plastic hub on the tuning dial was cracked (a metal set screw in a plastic hub - what a surprise) which was why the dial seemed "sloppy". I fixed that problem (pix on qrz), hooked it up to one of those 13.8V 30-amp power supplies that are all over eBay, aligned the dial, hooked up a Shure 450 on hi-Z, and tried it out.

The receiver in this little dollhouse-size rig is unbelievably sensitive. In fact, it's clearer and louder than either of my Swan 700's, or my Yaesu FT0101E. I heard a contact in Ukraine, and called back. He responded right away with a 59 signal report. I then logged a station in Bulgaria. After that, I got into a ragchew with a HAM named Dave in England, and another in Ohio. All contacts remarked on how crisp and clean my audio was. All of this on a 53-ft vertical non-resonant piece of #14 wire, shot up a tree with a slingshot.

I had planned to fix this up and resell it, but it's so clean, convenient, and trouble-free that I use it everyday in my shack for copying the mail, and making contacts. I worked 4 or 5 countries in the July 28th 2012 IOTA contest with it, and even got through a couple pileups. The only one I couldn't was to Cyprus - I had to use my 700CX to get that one. But this little rig keeps the needle consistently over 85 watts on all but 10 meters with the Shure mike. I jokingly tell people I found it in a Barbie dollhouse and I had to fight Ken for it, but it's actually s great little rig. If you can find a working one for under $125, I would grab it, especially as a portable field unit.
SV9DRU Rating: 2010-09-16
A wonderful little rig Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
First, to clarify my statements, this is certainly not the radio for the non technically inclined ham who just wants to get the job of communication done. Maybe it used to be that 20-40 years ago, but today this radio sooner or later will need TLC in order to show its best qualities.
I was able to repair and refurbish 2 of these units one 210x LE and one 210M. Most of their problems were related to shorted (tandalum) or dried (conventional) electrolytics and dirty contacts.

The fact that an amateur technician (like myself) without sophisticated equipment and with parts supplied from a local electronics store, was able to resurrect these rigs speaks loads of their robust construction, simplicity of design and common part utilization, that make them a joy to work with even 35 years after their production. Very important quality in the era of minutarization and proprietary parts in current production sets which will soon make them nonrepairable long before the older rigs.

Now my operating impressions:

Rx: Crystal clear, natural analog sound. Good quality audio even through the small internal speaker. No DSP artifacts, no listening fatique.
Excellent immunity to nearby strong signals. Just worked XU7TZG from the SV1 area at less than S1 with an S7-8 signal pounding just 1,5Khz away. Eventhough the strong signal will activate the audio AGC, it will not obstruct the receiver's ability to hear the weak one. Is it due to low phase noise? is it due to audio instead of IF AGC? I will leave it to the experts, but it is quite impressive.

Tx: Coupled with an Astatic D-104 mic, through a FET impedance matching circuit (, is clear and able to brake the pileups while still getting many unsolicited nice comments from the other end of my QSOs.

Noise blanker: Variably effective, but can introduce a lot of IMD artifacts. Do not need it or use it that often.

Frequency Stability: Before installing the Cumbria designs VFO stabilizer, quite acceptable after a few minutes of warm up. Comparable to my Drake TR4 and better than my TR7.
After installing the stabilizer the rig is rock stable like a crystal oscillator from a cold start. I have installed these stabilizers in both my 210 with excellent results, for more info please refer to info at the Atlas 210 yahoo group.
There, one can also find suggestions for other enhancements, notably replacing the 1n4148 diodes with 1n5711 ones in the 1st and 2nd mixers, which will make an improvement in the already good noise floor. About the AGC mods, have not tried them since after changing the electrolytics everything sounds fine in my rigs without significant strong signal distortion...

In summary, this is a very nice little old rig. With excellent RX/TX for SSB, can be found at very reasonable prices in the used market and even though it will sooner or later require some TLC to be kept in top shape, it is worth every bit of effort and its parts are still widely available.

73 to all
Marinos, sv9dru / ki4gin
K7TCE Rating: 2009-12-04
Consider it for backup Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
The Atlas 21Xx is old, and lacks all modern features, which means it does not draw 1 to 1.5 amps or so on receive as modern digital rigs do. You can receive on this all day using a string of AA batteries (it draws 300-400ma on rx). For this reason alone, it is worth keeping around for emergency use.

The VFO drifts (a lot), but the SSB filter is superb. Power out on mine varied from 40 - 120 watts per band.
K9FON Rating: 2009-09-02
Old school Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently got a 210X with the console from a fellow ham on
I have it hooked up right now on the air and am using it on 75 meters.
It is a fun little rig to play with, but it definetly is old school at best.
The rig is very basic and has NO bells and whistles like the rigs we have now. Nope, no DSP, notch filters, roofing filters, RF processor, pretty looking band scopes, or any of that new stuff we hams enjoy today. A Icom 7800 it isnt!!!!! But it is a great little rig to play with if you dont take it seriously.
One thing that stands out above everything else is the receiver. It is sharp and incredibly sensitive. The transmit side puts out a steady, bold, 125 watts. The TX audio is sharp and clear and a plain jane Shure 444D will definetly make the rig bark.

A few negatives;

(1) the rig is USELESS on CW as it has NO sidetone at all and one must switch between receive and CW when he/she is working another station.
(2) The NB doesnt do squat. The knob is there just to look nice.
(3) The rig lopps off 10 meters below 28.400, so if you want to work someone in the lower part of 10, you are out of luck.
(4) The final transistors are no longer avialble. So if one wants to CB ise this rig for 11 meters and he/shge cooks the finals well, tough luck buddy.

Overall, it is a fine old rig if one doesnt expect it to perform like a newer rig.
But a plus is it is MADE IN THE USA!!!!!