My Working Conditions


Manuals
 
Here I will try and keep an up to date list of the high tech amateur radio equipment that I am privileged to be in possession of.

This is not to make anyone jealous.

I will try and give an honest review of the equipment, but it might have some bias (we all think our station is good, don't we!, or is it just me?)

I will also give a list of old equipment that I have used, and replaced, again with a reasonably unbiased review.

If you want any further information about anything I own, or have previously owned, please e-mail me.

Some of the equipment is for sale (in fact everything has its price, but don't tell the XYL!!), and I will indicate this if applicable.

My station (Good job I tided it up before taking picture, otherwise you wouldn't have seen anything)

10 years later

Nearly 10 years later and a lot has changed. New keyboard!

 

ICOM IC-707

This was my second HF radio.

It covers all amateur bands, and general coverage receive (and transmit - into a dummy load only of course).

Coverage from 500KHz to 30MHZ.

USB, LSB, AM, FM (with option).

5 - 100 watts SSB

5 - 25 watts AM

20 Amps at 13.5 Volts

I have manuals available if anyone needs a copy

ICOM IC-707
 

What's Good

Its small in size, but still packs a punch. It is very easy to operate, with very little to confuse the operator. Nice LCD display. Speaker is on the front panel. Good memory facilities, dual VFO with split frequency memory. When you switch band it remembers all the last settings for that band. Always get good reports (especially during contests where everyone gives me a 59 report!). It is CAT enabled, though no TX or signal strength available through the interface.

What's Bad

No IF filtering available, memories are confusing (or is it just me!). Not so good for digimodes (has fixed AGC and no VOX, and limitations with CAT interface). No speech processor, or anything else for that matter. Optional 250Hz CW Filter will cost more than the radio cost me.

Summary

Basically what you get is excellent, its only what you don't get that is the problem! If you want a no frills basic set you cant go wrong with one of these. If you want something to fiddle with, and with lots of knobs and switches, or if you are into serious weak signal DXing, look for something else.

I got mine from E-Bay, and have been delighted with it.

I have now sold it, and replaced it with a Kenwood TS-850sat, Which I have also replaced with a TS870!


Yaesu FT-726R

This was my Main 6m, 2m, and 70cm radio.

Covers 50MHZ to 54MHz, 144MHz to 142MHz, 430MHz to 440MHz.

Other options available, including HF.

USB, LSB, CW, FM.

10 watts output FM 20 watts SSB.

Split band (full Duplex) with satellite card.

240 Volt or 12 Volt input.

I have manuals available if anyone needs a copy

Yaesu FT-726R

What's Good

Three radios in one. Speech processor is quite good. Variable IF, Variable power output, Simple memory operation, Dual VFO, Easy to operate (One switch has one function). Very easy to work on (no surface mounted devices here!).

What's Bad

No CAT interface, Not easy to hook up digimodes (no mike input on rear sockets, and no VOX), Big and heavy, options are virtually unavailable for it now, primitive tone burst function, and CTCSS tones are an option board. VFO a little sensitive (difficult to fine tune SSB), low power output.

Summary

I bought two of these. One had some problems with the VFO, which was due to a faulty buffer on the control board (intermittent VFO action) I wont mention the call sign of the chap who sold it to me, but funny how it was powered up when I saw it, as fault only showed after turning it off for a short time! The other had an intermittent channel selector (which came good with a good switch cleaner).

I have just bought a CTCSS module from USA (SS-64) and I am about to see how easy (or otherwise) it is to fit this.

The only reason I would change this radio is for CAT control (FT-736 maybe!), otherwise it is a very good radio.

I have now replaced both of these with an Icom IC-706MkIIg, but may keep one of them as I think they receive better than the Icom.


Yaesu FT-727R

Dual band FM handheld

Long since been sold.

Old school VHF/UHF hand held transciever, that worked pretty well. Came with a fist mic, Fast charger, two battery packs and lether (look) case.

Can be re-configured for different frequencies by keying in a number code:-

VHF range shift step   UHF range shift step code
100-200 0 5/10   400-500 0 12.5/25 001111
144-146 0 10/20   430-440 5.0 10/20 002222
144-146 0 10/20   430-440 5.0 10/20 003333
144-148 0.6 12.5/25   430-440 7.6 12.5/25 005555
144-148 0.6 5/10   440-450 5.0 12.5/25 007777
144-146 0.6 12.5/25   430-440 1.6 12.5/25 009999

I have manuals available if anyone needs a copy

 


Yaesu FT-727R

Whats good

Worked very well with good audio, and modest power output.

Whats bad

A bit baulky and heavy (mainly due to large battery packs).

Batterys loosing their capacity due to age cant be rplaced, but can be opened carefully to replace the cells inside which are quite easy to find.

Menu system quite awkward to figure out, but then I always prefare one button, one function.


MFJ-969 ATU

300 Watts

160m to 6m

"T" Network

4:1 Balun

25 Watt continuous dummy load

MFJ-969
What's Good

Roller coaster inductor gives precise tuning, Peak or average forward/reflected power indication, Cross needle display, Balanced output, repeatable settings (set it for each band, and write down the settings), not automatic (am I getting lazy in my old age?), Tunes wide range of loads.

What's Bad

Construction less than perfect (Inductor damaged by hitting end stop too hard), Inductor is not particularly smooth to turn, keep forgetting to change power range after tuning on low power, small dummy load. "T" network is not the best arrangement for balanced feeder, but it works.

Summary

Got mine cheap on E-Bay and I am very happy with it. I use the balanced output. Do remember to read the manual when using balanced feeder, as you have to put a link in the rear (Guess how I found out about this), and without it it wont tune anything!

I have now sold this and replaced it with an LDGAT-200pro.


WELZ SP-400 SWR and Power Meter

Three Ranges 0 - 5 watts, 0 to 20 watts, 0 to 150 watts.

130 to 500 MHz

N-Type connectors

WELZ SP-400
What's good

It is well made, with N-Connectors, Large meter, easy to use.

What's Bad

Its large, Not automatic (or is it just me again!), need to be careful to read the correct range.

Summary

Bought this from a "JunkSale" seller. Very happy with it, It does exactly what it should. Only downside is its size, and the expense of N-Connectors for Coax.


TONO 2m 50w Amplifier

Output power 50 watts

All mode linear

Automatic switching.

TONO 2M-50W
Good Thing's

Small and it works.

Bad Thing's

Remote plug on the back has an exposed link (might be something is missing from mine though). No Pre-Amp. Very little information available for it.

 


G5RV

Full size.

I have now replaced the feeder with 450 ohm open wire feeder, and feed it from my ATU via 50 ohm coax and a 9:1 balun, so it is now a "Doublet"

Works pretty well in this new configuration.

Mounted inverted "V" with center about 8m above ground, over apex of roof.

This antenna is up and down depending on what other antenna I am trying




 
G5RV

Good Thing's

Cheap all band antenna, easy to install, doesn't scare the neighbors, very durable. No problems of RFI reported.

Bad Thing's

Not very efficient, no directivity, picks up a lot of noise, not very good on 160m. Need a tuner to use. Not a resonant antenna on most bands.

Summary

I bought mine about 20 years ago, and was inexpensive then. However when fitting it this time, couldn't tune it at all. Found that the 300 Ohm ribbon cable had broken where it entered the sealed dipole center. Put a new center in it and worked very well. On receive couldn't tell the difference with or without the broken wires, so gives some indication of how inefficient it is as an antenna. It now tunes up nicely, and is resonant on 21Mhz only. Important thing to consider is to keep the two wire sides in balance. This will help prevent radiation from the feeder, and reduce RFI problems. I am contemplating a small mini beam, but location and cost are problems.


2m/70cm Collinear

Don't know the make, bought of e-bay cheap.

Now just used as air band receiver aerial, and works very well.

Have also installed a mast head pre-amp (home made using a MMIC) which has resulted in a very good improvement in recieve performance (probably just compensating for coax losses)

Coax used is Westlake W103, which I find a very good coax.




2m 70cm Collinear

Good Thing's

Easy to set up and use, requires no tuning. Works reasonably well on 6m also. Omni directional. Only requires one feeder. Very durable.

Bad Thing's

Looks like a "CB" antennae (Not neighbor friendly), vertically polarized (OK for FM, but no good for SSB), little gain on 2m. Uses SO-239 connector.

Summary

Bought this of E-Bay and very happy with it. Works well, but limited due to vertical polarization and omni directional. Can work through most repeaters in my area with no problems. Bonus was finding it tuned to 6m. I will be taking it down soon, as it is too high (pokes well above roof line, and don't want to upset the Planning department (Before I put in planning permission for 60m tower(s)!! (As if the XYL would let me HI). Plan to construct ambitious 6m/2m quad and fit over garage to replace it.


Datong FL2

New acquisition to the shack, and so far unused.

Datong FL2

Already unhappy with it. On reading instructions, it warns that inserting the power connector (3.5mm plug) that it will put a momentary short circuit across the 12v supply. How can this be! I have a 30 amp power supply, permanently running, and I can expect this unit to put a short circuit across it. Come on Datong, what were you thinking when you designed this? I will now have to get a separate supply just to run this, otherwise I risk blowing fuses if it ever gets disconnected.

Couldn't get on with it, as found too fiddily to use, so have now sold it on.


Yaesu FT-301

HF Transceiver

160m - 10m (No WARC)

13.8 Volt DC

200 watts SSB

50 watts AM/CW

FT301
Yaesu FT-301

What's Good

Very solid easy to maintain construction. Solid state. Has VOX and MOX. Switched AGC, Speech Processor, Good CW filter, 13.8v power for mobile use. 500Khz bandwidth for each band (Four bands for 10m), very good audio.

What's Bad

Analogue display. Still needs "Peaking and Tuning", No FM, Drifts around when cold, No WARC bands.

Summary

Cant remember where I bought this from. It was a very long time ago. It hasn't been used for several ears now, and I keep meaning to get it back into action, just to see if it is as good as I remember. It covers all the "old" amateur bands, and the 27MHz CB band. It is an analogue display, which is surprisingly easy to read. It uses a Xtal reference tone to calibrate the dial, so should be very accurate. When it is cold, it does drift around though.

Now been sold.


Realistic DX-395 HF Receiver
 

Very easy to use HF receiver Not the highest quality receiver available, but can be found for very reasonable prices. Worst problem is a "chuffing" sound when turning the VFO, as the synthesizer re-locks onto anew frequency, makes weak signal searching very tiresome on the ears.

It is small, light and very portable, but feels cheap! A great radio for introduction to SWL'ing, but far too limiting for more seriouse listening. Sold it and replaced it with FRG7700, FRG100, and IC-R8500.


Realistic PRO 2006 Scanner
 

A little complicated to use at first but gets easier to use with a little practice. It is a very good receiver, but LCD back light has started to fade, which I think is quite common. I hadn't used it for about 5 years, and it still retained the memories programmed in it!

Have now replaced the back light (sort of fluorescent paper) very successfully (easy to do), and carried out many of the documented modifications to the audio stages.

Used as my ACARS decoder receiver at the moment. Replaced it for general scanning with UBC 780XLT, IC-R7000 and IC-R7100


Shack Cats

Good at finding trailing cables (and pulling them).

 

Cat number 2

Good things

Cant think of any

Bad things

Thinks its fun hanging off your quad project when you are trying to tune for resonance (Must borrow that 1kw linear for next time! Barbecued cat!!)

*** No animals were harmed in the making of the 2m 6m quad antenna*** YET!!!!!

   

Kenwood TS-850SAT

One of the "great" amateur radio transcievers.

General coverage reciever.

Plenty of options for filters, which can all be independently selectable on any band in any mode, making this a very versatile radio. However if you need to buy the filters it can get very expensive!

Built before DSP, so one of the last analogue recievers.

Also had a DRU-2 recording module, and RM-1 remote control, which made it a powerful contest radio.

Get a good one and you will find one of the best performers around for its price.

I sold mine to buy a TS-870, and in reality the TS-850 is a better radio, mainly due to the filter selection. DSP is not a patch on good crystal filters!

 

TS-850

Unfortunatly not without its problems:-

Know to have issues with the DDS (frequency synthesizer) chips, of which there are four, which have long since been unobtainable. Some amateurs are looking at developing a replacement module for these, but nothing yet. Make sure one you plan to buy is FULLY working, including CW sidetone.

Bad SM electrolitics on the DDS board (likely reason for a DDS chip to fail) and on the display board. Have them replaced, or inspect regularily for leakage.

 

 
 
 
 

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