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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 1:25 am 
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(edited 5/3 while fully awake)

I pull this from another thread here on the board as it seemed to be a derail over there.

So - is one of the so-called trail friendly radio still good for use as a primary disaster communication set?

What is a good disaster communications radio?

Battery powered is a must - internal battery = better?'
low RX current - under 70 mA minimum
Reasonable power out (5 to 20 watts)
sensitive receiver due to likely use of a compromise antenna
Wide band RX (for SWL) with narrow bandwidth (appropriate for the mode in use)
Small form factor / low weight
Simple controls CW and SSB - Psk-31 could a real plus.
Internal tuner and SWR bridge internal - again due t possible compromise antenna.

What say you?

************************
I found this site - http://www.lnrprecision.com/ that carries Trail Friendly Radios.

Image

Specifications:
Three bands, 40M, 30M, 20M

Receiver:
MDS: ~0.2 uV
Small signal band width ~ 500 Hz
Audio output limited to ~ 1200 mv p-p
Headphone output, 16 ohms min recommended.

Transmitter:
2.5 watts @ 9 volt supply typical
Spurs -50 dBc or better

Size:
3.8” x 2.7” x 1” (LWH) - a deck playing cards are (poker size) 2.5 × 3.5 inches
Weight:
4.4 ounces.

Power requirements:
6 volts minimum, 12 volts maximum. So, 8xAA NiMH for power and a precut antenna.....BAM - fun.

Receive current:
~ 35 ma, no signal.

Transmit current:
~ 400 ma @ 9V, 20M
~ 550 ma @12V, 20M
(transmit current is slightly less on 40 and 30 meters)

DDS VFO for full band coverage...good stuff.

The earlier ATS-3 fit in an Altoids tin.
Image

Uses a lot of SMD - which makes it small.
Image

http://www.adventure-radio.org/ars/page ... /N0TU.html good reasons to carry a small radio on the trail.

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Last edited by TacAir on Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:06 pm, edited 23 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 6:39 am 
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TacAir wrote:
I pull this from another thread as it seemed to be a derail over there.

So - trail friend = disaster comms?

What is a good disaster comm radio?

Battery power - internal = better?
Reasonable power out (5 to 20 watts)
Wide band RX (for SWL)
Small form factor
Simple controls CW and SSB - Psk-31 could a real plus.
Internal tuner and SWR bridge?

What say you?


trail friend = disaster comms?
Radio comm is about compromise
Battery power - internal = better?Reasonable power out (5 to 20 watts)
Are you going to use a handheld(>less than 5 watts) or a mobile radio (up to 100watts or more)
Me in band a mix of mobile and hand held
Wide band RX (for SWL)
Small form factor
Simple controls CW and SSB - Psk-31 could a real plus.
Internal tuner and SWR bridge?

more than likely not I would want to keep it simple.

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2015 12:01 pm 
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Yaseu FT-817ND 5 Watt HF/6/2/440 with a Buddypole antenna system.

Add a solar charger, a peak and you can chat around the world.

Limitation is, IIRC, Ham bands only.

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007097

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:50 pm 
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Do not get me wrong I think that radio is neat,but the purpose of a radio is communication.I like 2mt. cb 70mt for the ability of communication outside my group. that radio would be great for a small group for private limited contact.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 8:11 pm 
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Looking at getting a Yaesu 857D for the transport. Right now I'm hitting repeaters 20 mi. away, and bouncing off the nearest repeater when hiking- with a Baofeng UV-5r and a Diamond SRJF40A.


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 10:41 am 
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Hollis wrote:
Yaseu FT-817ND 5 Watt HF/6/2/440 with a Buddypole antenna system.

Add a solar charger, a peak and you can chat around the world.

Limitation is, IIRC, Ham bands only.

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007097


To answer this and the following post (buck85) -

The FT-817 is my go to radio (and an outboard power amplifier) - covers all the ham bands up to 70 cm, wide band RX in AM/SSB/digital. A fairly small form factor, but the FT-817 is a terror on batteries. 380 mA at idle and even more draw when you turn up the volume. The -817 is not "trail-friendly - due to placement of controls.

An HF rig + dual-band FM hand held might be a better mix than an all-in-one.

The OP posted rig (MT topper) offers 3 bands of HF comms and offers very low current draw, even with a digital VFO. More like a BOB HF rig, but you would have to be a regular on the nets to ensure you have any kind of chance for passing messages.

LNRprecision off two other radios,
Image
The LD-5 - Supply Voltage: 10.5V min to 15V max 350mA receive and 1.5 to 2A typical in transmit. Ham bands only, no wide RX.
At $575 nearly the same price point as a used FT-817, with the same TX power/same current draw.

Image
The FX-4a. 5 watt TX power out.
Overall Length: 4.4" Inches
Overall Width: 3" Inches
Overall Thickness (excluding VFO knob): 1.65" Inches
Weight: 15.5 oz
and
40M: 7.000.00 to 7.300.00 MHz
20M: 14.000.00 to 14.350.00 MHz
30M: 9.999.99 to 10.155.00 MHz
17M: 18.068 to 18.168.00 MHz
IOW - ham band tx/rx only. The vendor also recommends an outboard CW filter, if you plan to run CW.
No current draw listed. So, smaller than an FT-817 and a not-bad price point.

all of the LNR offering may be considered trail-friendly - controls are on top/easy to see and use.

Image
The TJ-2B, HF Handie-talkie - HF SSB
TX:3 Ham band(40m/20m/17m)
RX:5-25MHz
power out - about 3 to 5 watts internal battery, speaker and mike - external speaker/mike comes with the unit as does a pouch.
AT $329 w/ mike, battery, pouch, it offers an attractive package at a decent price point.
Sold by a very nice Chinese ham in Canada, the 'warranty' such as it is, involves shipment back to China at your expense. Basically these are hand build in batches, then drop-shipped to you. If you have good electronic skills, this may be something to look at. You will still need an FM HT to get the same coverage as the FT-817. Battery requires a special charger as it is a LiPo type.

On the used market, you see the odd Mizuho handhelds
http://www.eham.net/data/articles/3496/mx21s.jpg
more at
http://www.eham.net/data/articles/3496/mx21s.jpg

Elecraft offers the
Image
KX3 and

http://www.elecraft.com/KX1/kx1_hands_new_small.jpg
KX1 qrp. Visit the Elecraft page for price data.

Kits are available @ http://www.qrpkits.com/ if you want to roll your own. Fire up that soldering iron....

much past these offerings are the military/paramilitary portable radios (PRC-104 comes to mind) and used start at 5 grand and up....

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 8:57 pm 
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........Interesting! Much to think about!

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 5:37 pm 
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The KX3 with built in antenna tuner and optional protective side panels with handles and Lexan cover is really bullet proof and will outperform radios costing many thousands of $$. There is also an optional VHF/2m module that gives you about 3w of transmit power. Another plus of the KX3 is its very low battery consumption around 190ma on receive, which is about 1/3 that of a Yaesu FT-817. Here is a link to the side panels and covers, not to be confused by rip off knock offs: http://gemsproducts.com/

Military manpacks are not cheap but you can get a PRC-104 in the $1200-$1500 price range no problem. Another popular one is the Tadiran PRC-174 which is similar size and specs in the $900 to $1200 range. If you want the best out there on the surplus market then about $5k will get you a Harris PRC-138. Once you get a military manpack you gotta spend more for the proper batteries, chargers, antennas, etc. It all adds up.
Radio Guy

TacAir wrote:
Hollis wrote:
Yaseu FT-817ND 5 Watt HF/6/2/440 with a Buddypole antenna system.

Add a solar charger, a peak and you can chat around the world.

Limitation is, IIRC, Ham bands only.

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007097


To answer this and the following post (buck85) -

The FT-817 is my go to radio (and an outboard power amplifier) - covers all the ham bands up to 70 cm, wide band RX in AM/SSB/digital. A fairly small form factor, but the FT-817 is a terror on batteries. 380 mA at idle and even more draw when you turn up the volume. The -817 is not "trail-friendly - due to placement of controls.

An HF rig + dual-band FM hand held might be a better mix than an all-in-one.

The OP posted rig (MT topper) offers 3 bands of HF comms and offers very low current draw, even with a digital VFO. More like a BOB HF rig, but you would have to be a regular on the nets to ensure you have any kind of chance for passing messages.

LNRprecision off two other radios,
Image
The LD-5 - Supply Voltage: 10.5V min to 15V max 350mA receive and 1.5 to 2A typical in transmit. Ham bands only, no wide RX.
At $575 nearly the same price point as a used FT-817, with the same TX power/same current draw.

Image
The FX-4a. 5 watt TX power out.
Overall Length: 4.4" Inches
Overall Width: 3" Inches
Overall Thickness (excluding VFO knob): 1.65" Inches
Weight: 15.5 oz
and
40M: 7.000.00 to 7.300.00 MHz
20M: 14.000.00 to 14.350.00 MHz
30M: 9.999.99 to 10.155.00 MHz
17M: 18.068 to 18.168.00 MHz
IOW - ham band tx/rx only. The vendor also recommends an outboard CW filter, if you plan to run CW.
No current draw listed. So, smaller than an FT-817 and a not-bad price point.

all of the LNR offering may be considered trail-friendly - controls are on top/easy to see and use.

Image
The TJ-2B, HF Handie-talkie - HF SSB
TX:3 Ham band(40m/20m/17m)
RX:5-25MHz
power out - about 3 to 5 watts internal battery, speaker and mike - external speaker/mike comes with the unit as does a pouch.
AT $329 w/ mike, battery, pouch, it offers an attractive package at a decent price point.
Sold by a very nice Chinese ham in Canada, the 'warranty' such as it is, involves shipment back to China at your expense. Basically these are hand build in batches, then drop-shipped to you. If you have good electronic skills, this may be something to look at. You will still need an FM HT to get the same coverage as the FT-817. Battery requires a special charger as it is a LiPo type.

On the used market, you see the odd Mizuho handhelds
http://www.eham.net/data/articles/3496/mx21s.jpg
more at
http://www.eham.net/data/articles/3496/mx21s.jpg

Elecraft offers the
Image
KX3 and

http://www.elecraft.com/KX1/kx1_hands_new_small.jpg
KX1 qrp. Visit the Elecraft page for price data.

Kits are available @ http://www.qrpkits.com/ if you want to roll your own. Fire up that soldering iron....

much past these offerings are the military/paramilitary portable radios (PRC-104 comes to mind) and used start at 5 grand and up....


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 8:44 pm 
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Too many great choices.

Do we have many QRP members?

Just installed a FT-857D in my van. ALL MODE HF / 6M + 2M + 70CM MOBILE TRANSCEIVER, Not as portable as the FT-817ND, more power, ergo... weight and power needs.

I have looked at the Elecraft, very very tempting.

On antennas, take a serious look at Buddipole. http://www.buddipole.com/ It can be a like a erector set, it has built in entertainment value on what all you can do with it.

Another antenna, OSO king. http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9943 It needs trees or something to hang it up in the air. I have one before I got my tower up. Now it is used for my Yeasu receiver.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 9:53 pm 
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I do an amount of QRP with a KX3 and previously with an FT-817 then an Ft-857 with the power turned down.

I had a Buddipole for years and only used it about 3 times, it was very difficult to tune in the field without an antenna analyzer and just too much stuff to deal with and its a lot of $$. But it is the best made and highest quality of the portable take apart loaded antennas. The QSO King and variants are simply a 9:1 balun with various lengths of non resonant wire and they can radiate ok but not anywhere near a full size dipole. Then there are companies selling basically the same antenna but with fantastic claims, you'll see this from the Alpha Antenna and Chameleon Antenna guys who sell the antenna on its SWR and the fact it made DX contacts on bands where a few miliwatts and a wet string will probably work. With the way they advertise a dummy load would make a great antenna because it has a good match....

My favorite portable antenna is an end fed resonant half wave and it operates on even and some odd multiples of its half wave resonant frequency. So, a 40m version at about 65ft long also works great on 20m and 10m but also 15m where it shouldn't work and it has a good match and radiates well there too. They are very easy to put up and only need supporting at the far end in most cases.

You can make them for low $$ or just buy the PAR versions from LNR Precision. They have 40/20/10m versions that are very small and handle up to 25w for QRP folks or a newer version that covers 40/20/15 and 10m up to 200w on SSB. These work much better than the 9:1 balun random wire end feds, which can radiate as much from the coax as the antenna wire.
Radio Guy


Hollis wrote:
Too many great choices.

Do we have many QRP members?

Just installed a FT-857D in my van. ALL MODE HF / 6M + 2M + 70CM MOBILE TRANSCEIVER, Not as portable as the FT-817ND, more power, ergo... weight and power needs.

I have looked at the Elecraft, very very tempting.

On antennas, take a serious look at Buddipole. http://www.buddipole.com/ It can be a like a erector set, it has built in entertainment value on what all you can do with it.

Another antenna, OSO king. http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9943 It needs trees or something to hang it up in the air. I have one before I got my tower up. Now it is used for my Yeasu receiver.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 12:10 am 
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To see the fun that can be had, even with QRP - see the posts on this blog...http://k0jqz.blogspot.com/
lots of photos & radio logs so you can see what is possible with just a little work.

another fun link
http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,407.0.html

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 1:07 pm 
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Hollis wrote:
Yaseu FT-817ND 5 Watt HF/6/2/440 with a Buddypole antenna system.

Add a solar charger, a peak and you can chat around the world.

Limitation is, IIRC, Ham bands only.

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007097


I will second the FT-817. It's my favorite radio. HF coms on a set of AA's is pretty sweet. The downside is that you only get 5 watts. I enjoy QRP operation so for fun 5 watts is fine. In a disaster you might want to bump it up a bit. You can get a higher power radio such as the FT-857 or Icom IC-706. The downside would be power consumption. I have a 706 MKIIG. It's a great radio but consumes a fair bit of power when idle. You also sacrifice the size and AA power capability of the 817. A solution would be a QRP amp such as the hardrock

https://www.hobbypcb.com/products/hardrock-50-hf-power-amp

There aren't many QRP amps on the market. I am guessing that's because of CBers. There are some Chinese amps on ebay; however I was told to avoid those by some local hams. I don't know much about amp use; but it wouldn't surprise me if a cheap Chinese amp did things it shouldn't. You don't want your signal to end up splattering. If you hop on CB channel 6 you can hear guys splattering up and down a channel or two.

As you pointed out the 817 is designed for operation on the ham bands. It can however be MARS modded to operate on other bands. If you decide to go that rout make sure it's legal for you to operate on whatever bands you are going to operate on.

A radio like the FT-857 is another option. I ended up getting an Icom IC-706 MKIIG. I chose that over the 857 due to the layout of the controls and better reception on the AM broadcast band. The thing I failed to look at was power consumption. With the receiver squelched it draws 1.8 amps! :shock: By comparison the FT-857 draws only 550 mA when squelched. Since I run of batteries and solar panels all the time; 1.8 A makes a difference. I am seriously thinking of picking up a used 857 to try out. The lower power consumption may be enough to overcome any issues I might have with the layout of the radio. I haven't ever used one, so it may not be an issue. The biggest issue I see is that the mic connector is the behind the face place. I don't like the idea of having to remove the face plate every time I want to unplug the mic. I love my 706, but I am not in love with it's power consumption.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 1:21 pm 
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Radio guy wrote:
The KX3 with built in antenna tuner and optional protective side panels with handles and Lexan cover is really bullet proof and will outperform radios costing many thousands of $$. There is also an optional VHF/2m module that gives you about 3w of transmit power. Another plus of the KX3 is its very low battery consumption around 190ma on receive, which is about 1/3 that of a Yaesu FT-817. Here is a link to the side panels and covers, not to be confused by rip off knock offs: http://gemsproducts.com/


The biggest downside to the KX3 is the price. It's hard to justify spending close to $1000 on a KX3 when the 817 does more for only $660. I might get a KX3 in the future, but for now I can't justify the cost. I already have an 817, so the money spent on a KX3 would be better spent on the IC-2700 I have been eying.

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I just came across the youkits TJ-5A.

http://www.youkits.com/

Here are the specs

RX:3.500-30.000Mhz (broardband RX is available by adjusting the jump cap)
Tx:7.000-7.3000Mhz, 14.000-14.350Mhz,21.000-21.450Mhz, 28.000-29.700Mhz
High performance AGC
features strong signal handing ability
+/- 120Hz RIT is available
DDS controlled, LCD display,heavy duty metal case
SSB: 0.25-20W, CW:0.1-10W output adjustable,rx sensitivity 0.2uV
10Hz,100Hz,1KhHz,10KHz,100KHz tuning rate available
Dual VFO with 40 memories
Memory transfer to VFO
Crystal IF filter 2.4K
RX:250MA, TX:4A
size:180mm wide x 58mm high x 200mm deep, battery case deep 35mm
weight: 1500g without battery

The price is $399. They also have a lithium battery pack with charger for $39

Due to the low power consumption and price it's tempting. However I am not sure about being limited to only 4 bands. Also, since it doesn't seem to do AM; it wouldn't be usable for shortwave listening. One of the criteria I have for HF rigs is the ability to pick up shortwave broadcasts. In a disaster listening to broadcast stations in other countries could provide you will useful information. Right now the only HF rig (not counting CB's) I have without general receive coverage is my IC-730. That rig works well enough and is easy enough to operate that I plan on keeping it as a backup rig and occasional SSB use. Other than the 730 I am not sure I would want an HF rig I can't use for shortwave listening. The only possible exceptions being one of those tiny CW rigs if I ever get around to learning Morse code.

*EDIT*

I just hopped on the AM broadcast band on my 817 to check SSB reception of AM broadcasts. It is indeed possible to receive AM on SSB. However the audio is lower. So AM mode isn't not strictly needed for shortwave listening. It is however preferred. So I would still insist on AM for a radio that covers all or most of HF on RX.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 7:17 pm 
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(Edit - to move comments)
Please read the full thread for the entire story and all updates.


Brand new hams with little technical background may be better off by spending more and getting a different rig....


Missed this one from earlier

Image

MFJ 92XX (9296) price point $229/with all 6 band modules.

Reminds me of the ATS series (and a couple of the NorCal kits, like the Cascade SSB xciver) with plug in band modules. At this price point I can live with the module swapping. The next choice would have been the Mountain Topper (a KD1JV rig) with 40-30-20 meter bands only and no chance to listen to SSB. Trouble is the Mt Topper, the ATS Sprint series and even the PFR 3 (another KD1JV designed rig at Pacific kits) are all but impossible to find and all cost as much - or more - than the MFJ.

This B/W thing matters to me - several nets here are a mix of SSB and CW check-ins, so someone showing up on the net with a CW signal is no big. The ability to change the B/W on the 9296 will allow me to monitor/check in on the net(s).
The modules RX is wide allow enough to cover several SW bands as well.

I don't like that I can't zero beat to the distant station, but this is a transceiver after all. I'll initially use my Z series tuner and BALUN to run a EFHW, and then 'upgrade' to a L match tuner a bit later.

I put one of these on order, when it gets in - I'll post a review when I hit a glacier and work some stations....


Specifications:

Frequency Control: DDS, 60-MHz reference frequency
Tuning Step: 100-Hz, 1-kHz, and 100-kHz
RIT Step: 10-Hz
VFO Memories: 8 per band
VFO Display: LCD, 802-pixel, switched backlight
VFO Display Frequency Resolution: 100-Hz, 10-Hz with RIT activated
Operating Modes: Transmit - A1 (CW), Receive - A1, A3J (LSB or USB)
CW Offset: ~700 Hz
T/R Switching: Full QSK
Frequency Coverage, MHz:

Band:
80-M
Receive: 3.2-4.9
Transmit: 3.5-4.0
40-M
Receive: 5.9-7.5
Transmit: 7.0-7.3
30-M
Receive: 9.4-12.1
Transmit: 10.1-10.15
20-M
Receive: 13.5-15.8
Transmit: 14.0-14.35
17-M
Receive: 17.4-19.1
Transmit: 18.068-18.168
15-M
Receive: 18.5-22.0
Transmit: 21.0-21.45

Receiver MDS: 0.1-uV, all bands On the bench a 0.1 uV signal is easy to hear.
AGC Threshold: 3 to 5-uV, all bands - a must have 'feature'
Bandwidth: Selectable, 600-Hz CW, 2.5-Hz SSB
Audio Output: 100-mW, 8-Ohm load, stereo plug
Receiver Current Drain: ~40-mA no backlight, ~80 mA with backlight
Transmitter Keying: Iambic automatic, straight-key sensing, CQ memory
Speed Range: 3-45 WPM
Transmitter Power: 5-W or better, all bands, at 12.6 Volts. Mine puts out 9 Watts at 13.0 VDC input (more on this later)
Harmonic and spur suppression: -50 dB or better, all operating voltages
Typical Transmit Current: 0.9-A at 10-V, 1.2-A at 14-V
Supply Voltage: 8-15 VDC at 1.5A
Dimensions: 4.8"x3.15"x1.34", 120x80x34-mm
Weight: 7.4 oz, 200 gm

Update maintenance data and schematic can now be had. This effort was myself and Steve Weber (KD1JV) - you now have a chance to maintain the radio.

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Last edited by TacAir on Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Since this thread has mentioned several CW rigs; what about keys? What kind of key do you use out in the field TacAir? I have a Whiterook single lever paddle.

http://electronicsusa.com/mk.html

It's very compact and seems to work well. Once I get around to learning Morse code that key will probably be a regular addition to my radio kit. The 817 has a nice built in keyer that works great with the Whiterook. I think the only downside to the white rook keys is their weight. I have to hold the base of the paddle to keep it from sliding around. Of course there are various ways to keep the key from sliding around. One guy rubber banded it to a DVD case.

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Radio arrived. I would have been happier if better packed by Retail vendor, but it survived the USPS.

NOTE 1 - It doesn't come with --
A manual - print your own.
OK, saves them money and I get an English vice Chinglish document.

No power cord/connector.
OK, it's a 2.1 mm coaxial connector, real common, saves them money and I have one already. Be nice if this was noted in the ads, but, hey, this will be a fun review.

NOTE 2 - not mentioned anywhere in the radio "User manual" is the need to "align" the individual band modules for best MDS performance. There is a one-page instruction, found (separately on the MFJ site) with the modules (like the BM-40) -- print it and put it with the User manual.

NOTE 3 - no user serviceable parts inside because there is no schematic. I believe this radio to be the announced but unseen in North America HS-1B model briefly seen mentioned on some QRP sites. I'll post more if I can track it down with certainty.

This thing is small. :clap:

After I get done aligning the modules, I'll post a full review with Pics. I like this minimal alignment part, that way I can set the max sensitivity to the spot of most use to me - like 7.030 and so on....

I might even be able to make some money on this by writing a new tech manual, which is what I do for a living...

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Sounds pretty cool, Thank you for the update,

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Found it!
Image

The MFJ 92XX is the evolution of the HS1A it would seem.

Image
The band modules are different, and it would also explain the seeming "error" in the 92XX manual, the band modules in the 92XX are not captive, in the HS1A the modules are (or seem to be) held by a screw as shown.

Image
(EDIT) So the band modules seems to have been redesigned to use cheaper parts - the coils are not all enclosed as seen in the phtotos.

Source
(http://translate.googleusercontent.com/ ... rwyaJjs-JA) from 2010.

This matters for tracking down a usable service manual....

ETA
A nice review from a French radio magazine.
http://www.on6ll.be/NMRevue/2011/QSP-revue_062011.pdf

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Again, thank you. That is really cool.

HRO has them............. so now the thought process begins. Time to re-learn code.

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That's a neat looking radio. I can't wait to see your review after you have had some time to play with it. I really need to sit down and learn Morse code. There are all kind of cool CW rigs I can't play with right now.

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I have the Elecraft KX3. I sold off my two military radios (PRC-70 & MP-25) as they were large and very heavy compared to the KX3 and FT-817. The proceeds of the sale of the military radios easily covered the purchase of the KX3, PX3 display and KXPA 100 watt amp. I did not want HI-VHF and UHF but I did want HF and more than the 5 watts the FT-817 offered. Using a small VHF/UHF handheld is more convenient for those bands. I also wanted the internal tuner of the KX3 to further reduce complexity and weight. The KX3's tuner can handle anything and on the trail I also use end fed antennas of the type that RadioGuy mentioned earlier.

I do like the other portable options offered. Some of them look really nice and the handheld TJ2b seems like a fun rig too.

regards,

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I was able, in between everything else, to do a detailed examination and perform a basic burn in test/freq test. I went ahead and transmitted into a dummy load as well.

Results of basic exam:
Seems I was right to be upset about how the unit was packed for shipment. The box from MFJ (China) had the radio and the six band modules. The MFJ box was then placed in a shipping box by the vendor, with a single layer wrap of bubble pack and a handful of packing 'peanuts'. This arrangement allowed the radio to slam back and forth within the box holding the modules. So, I place any blame on both MFJ and the Vendor for the situation - and damage.

Fortunately, the only damage was to one band module which had the header pins bent. I was able to straighten them out with a pin tool I happen to have left over from my days installing telephone/network equipment. I could have easily broken the header pins, so then it would have been on me. Check any shipped equipment for damage as soon as possible and report it to shipper/vendor.

NOTE – it may help to 'ask' the vendor shipping to either separate the modules & radio and ship in separate boxes or open the MFJ box, fill it with peanuts & pack the outer box full to stop any movement. USPS to Alaska is the least cost and they do a pretty good job, other than using small packages for football practice...

I plugged in a power cord – after confirming the polarity, even though the input is diode protected. The battery was reading right at 13 VDC – fully charged. The headphones used were a no-name set leftover from a CD player. The antenna was terminated at the unit with a 50 ohm dummy load. I installed the 20 Meter band module. I left the volume control all of the way 'off' and applied power. More on this in a bit. Hoo-ray, no smoke.

Now, if you'll look at this photo
Image
You'll see the module mounts 'upside-down' (solder side out). What isn't really visible (I'll post some images later) is the bottom of the module sits right at the level of the back panel. I was uncomfortable enough with this situation to go ahead and add a strip of heavy plastic shipping tape to the back cover. This was done to insulate the area under (or over, depending on your viewpoint) the installed module for when, not if, I don't get a module fully seated and apply power.... Having performed radio repair for over two decades, I've learned that smoke prevention is always a good first step...

The display lit up, nice and bright and the text was easy to read. Owners of FT-817s will enjoy the display being 'on top' and large enough to read without a magnifying glass :D

The radio gave a MORSE charter of "A" letting me know the radio was in iambic keyer mode. When I powered off, then on again, this time with a non-stereo plug in the KEY jack, the radio gave me a "M".

Using my old J-37 key, it had no problem with 'high-speed' keying. Later, I'll check for clicks on a second receiver, but reviews to date have not indicated clicks (keying waveform issue) to be a problem.

The power out @ 12.8 VDC indicated was 9 watts! This is one hot rig.

After heating my dummy load, I'll have to figure out how to set the sidetone level – I suspect a headphone set with an in-line 'volume' control will be needed...and a PITA. Otherwise, I'll just use the rig's volume control, since this isn't going to be a main station rig, I can live with this while in the field.

On the receive side, I hooked up a resonate vertical antenna and set the VFO for 15.0 MHz to check against WWV. I was able to hear WWV and WWV-H both, not bad. The rig is close enough to being on frequency for this check, I'm happy.

I need to align all the modules – well, peak them anyway, for the band segment of most interest to me. Tuning is easy to figure out, but you will quickly learn to appreciate the 8 memory locations and how easy it is to add/read memory.

The one thing I see on this rig as a potential issue is the encoder – which is also a push button. I suspect that the encoder is likely going to be the first thing to fail – IF you tend to be a dial twirler. To be fair, if you use an FT-817, it has an encoder that also makes me nervous. What can I say, I was brought up on a Collins KWM-1 and later, a KWM-2A. If you use the rig to establish a contact then QSY a few Khz, this won't be an issue. The RIT allows enough spilt to work those pesky high-volume stations – or at least try. With 8 or 9 watts, you aren't going to bust too many pileups.

What's left? I need to go to the local e-store and pick up a new set of alignment tools, mine seem to have evaporated. Once I have those in hand, I can do a detailed RX evaluation. I'll also check frequency stability (drift) over time.

One last note. The band modules fit a 35mm plastic film can as if they were made for such. A bit of foam at each end and you'll have a pretty bomb-proof storage/transport container. Address labels on the film cans will make ID'ing the modules in the field/dark much easier.

Glue a good quality magnet to your station log clipboard – you'll need it to keep track of the cover screws. Once those become available, I'm buying a dozen or so. I suspect these screws will be the first thing you lose in the field. I've wrapped the rig in a Sham-wow, so when I do any band changing in the field, it will be while sitting on a large blue 'cloth' and that way I'll hopefully catch anything falling – before it gets lost in the weeds.

This week I'll be heading for Exit Glacier, outside of Seward AK – It will be interesting to see how much traffic I can attract. I'll be using my ATS-909 as a spotting receiver, as it is pretty accurate on RX frequency. I won't be QRP (5 watts) until the battery drops a bit, but it should be great fun. After all, isn't ham radio all about having fun?

Any questions?

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Be sure to take numerous pictures of your deployment of the radio in the field as well as the results of the stations that you work. :idea:

Jim

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