Until 2009 the main station HF radio was the Kenwood TS-830S. This radio was bought new in 1985 by John, G4WSK and he passed it onto me in 1989. I've had many a happy hour using this great old rig with it's sensitive receiver and it's been used for just about all the modes I've ever tried, including Morse, RTTY, PSK31,SSTV and,of course, speech. And, like a lot of 830 Sugar users have found out over the years, you always get great audio reports!
Unfortunately, when I had to move the shack into it's present location there just wasn't room for such a large radio, (American Hams use the term "Boat Anchors" for rigs like this!), so it had to go into storage at the bottom of my wardrobe. When we sometimes got a sunny day, I'd risk a hernia by carrying it downstairs and into the garden shed where I could play radio and feel the breeze, (as well as shoot it!). Regretfully, I sold this radio on in 2011, I needed cash for another interest of mine, astronomy.
Here's a few details about this radio. First manufactured in 1980 it has 9 HF bands, 160m, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m. It 's power output is variable up to 100 Watts or so and it only has two modes of emission, CW and SSB. It's main rival, the Yaesu FT-101 series had, in addition, AM or, in later models, FM. I've had an FT-101ZD but it really couldn't compete with the 830 for sensitivity and, in my opinion, ease of use. It weighs, though, a crunching 13.5 Kg, just short of 30 lbs but Kenwood very helpfully provided a carrying handle on one side. Not exactly hand-luggage all the same!
Because of lack of room I needed a smaller radio and because I prefer Kenwood products I looked to see what they had to offer. I saw this................
THE TS-480 SAT. (Image courtesy of Kenwood Electronics UK Ltd.)
This solved the lack of space problem superbly. The front panel carrying all the controls detaches from the main radio. This enables me to have the control panel, sat on top of an LDG Electronics AT-100 Pro auto-ATU, at the side of my computer. The main body of the radio is under the bench where it quietly gets on the with the job. Brilliant! Of course if this radio was to be installed in a car, the front panel could be on your dashboard and the main body, tucked safely away, in your boot / trunk.
This little beauty has all the usual 10 HF bands plus 6m. It employs SSB, CW, AM, FM and FSK modes. Power is variable between 5 Watts in all modes to 25 Watts in AM and to 100 Watts in the other modes. I use PSK31 a lot and I generally use 35 Watts output in this mode and get good reports. It has 100 memory channels and has an auto-ATU built in. Because my G5RV antenna doesn't tune up well on the 17m band I use a simple wire dipole and the rig's atu to tune it. Because the rig has 2 SO-239 antenna sockets I can keep both antennas permanently connected, no fiddling around the back with PL-259 plugs.
This isn't a picture of 2 identical rigs, look carefully, on the left is a Kenwood TR-9000 2m multimode and on the right is a TR-9130 2m multimode. Why have 2 almost identical 2m rigs? I hear you ask. Well, the one on the left, the TR-9000 is permanently connected to a Spectrum Communications 4m transverter. The TR-9130 is actually used for 2m.
I bought the TR-9130 in 1990, it wasn't brand new but it was un-used and still in it's original packaging. This replaced yet another Kenwood rig, a TR-7800, FM only and a telephone style keypad for frequency selection etc. Not ideal for use whilst mobile. The 9130 has been in constant use ever since I bought it and has never had a problem. It's a superb rig, with outputs of 5 or 25 Watts on FM and CW, 25 Watts on SSB. Being about 23 years old it doesn't have all the "bells and whistles" of newer models. It doesn't have CTCSS or DTMF tones built in, it only has 6 memories and they won't hold data when the rig is switched off unless you hook a PSU up to a rear panel socket, but what it does have, works very well. I'll be extremely sorry if I have to replace it because of faults I cannot repair. This rig is connected via a Diamond SX-400 power/SWR meter to a Diamond V-2000 Tri-band vertical antenna on the roof.
I acquired the TR-9000 in 2009 and all I know of it's previous history is the amateur I bought it from and the fact that it had it's power module, or RF amplifier replaced in 1998. This rig, like the TR-9130, is about 30 years old. Because it feeds a 4m transverter I've reduced it's power output to about 2 Watts. The signal strength/power meter lamp was u/s when I bought the rig and, unfortunately, although it isn't an integral part of the meter, it would mean having to disassemble the whole front panel of the radio and then strip down the meter itself. And that's assuming the bulb itself is available. I have positioned a white LED at the side of the meter body, inside the radio, and it illuminates the face of the meter very well. In fact it works so well I'm thinking of doing the same to the TR-9130's meter although it's lamp is still working, albeit a little yellowish these days. The TR-9000 works fine and very recently, (June 2010), using this rig and the 4m transverter, I worked OZ3ZW, Torben, in Maribo, Denmark, to record my best dx so far on 4m SSB. The rig and transverter are connected through a Diamond SX-200 power/SWR meter to a simple aluminium 1/2 wave dipole, mounted vertically on the roof.
This is the Alinco DJ-180 2m FM hand-held. I've had this rig since 1993 and, again I've had no problems with it unless you regard having to change it's Ni-Cad battery pack twice as a problem! I was able to buy a replacement battery pack in 2006 but when that set of cells died in 2008 I did some research and managed to buy identical Ni-Cad cells from an internet supplier. By carefully splitting the plastic cases of the original battery packs I was able to replace the cells and, using epoxy glue, reassemble both packs thus leaving me with one powering the rig and one ready for charging. If you're familiar with the rig you'll have noticed that I've replaced the original antenna with a helical for better performance.
Some brief specifications of the radio
Receive and transmit capability : 144 MHz - 145.995 MHz
Output power with standard 7.2V Ni-Cads : 2W (High), 0.5W (Low).
Memory Channels : 10
Weight : 350g (Approx)
The model I have doesn't have DTMF tone capability but you used to be able to buy a little keypad that fitted underneath the tiny LCD display window and presumably a small circuit board to fit inside giving you the option of encoding and decoding DTMF tones. It does have a repeater tone burst of 1750 Hz so most repeaters are accessible.
It is possible to extend the receive and transmit range of this radio from137 MHz to 173.995 MHz by a combination of key pushes on switch on, but of course in Britain it would be illegal to use this outside of the Amateur 2m band.
I took this rig with me to Denmark in 2009 and called CQ from the summit of Denmark's second highest hill, The Himmelbjerget, (147m - approx 485 ft), and didn't get a single reply, neither simplex or repeater! It wouldn't happen in Britain!
This little radio is the Linton LT-3288 UHF handheld. This is one of the flood of Chinese radios that are now available in Britain, usually obtained on sites like "ebay" for very little outlay. This rig operates over the frequency range, 400 - 470 MHz, FM only. Of course, for a British radio amateur, only the portion of the UHF band from 430 - 440 MHz can be used. It is vital, therefore, that operating outside of these frequencies is avoided. Some attributes of this radio are;
Power output of either 1 or 4 Watts,
99 channel memory,
Repeater shift, 1750 Hz tone and 50 CTCSS tones,
Light weight 230g or 8oz.
I use this rig with the Garex 70cms flexiwhip antenna for greater sensitivity than the original "rubber duck" which is the antenna shown in the accompanying photo.
VHF /UHF HANDHELD
This tiny radio is my latest acquisition. The Baofeng UV-3R dual band VHF / UHV, FM only transceiver. Again, this a Chinese import with a frequency coverage of 136 - 174 MHz in the VHF range and 400 - 470 MHz in the UHF range. Power output is low at a rated 2 Watts, (mine measures about 1.5 Watts with a fully charged battery), and an even lower "Low" power position!
At the press of a button a bright LED "torch" is lit on the top of the rig and, if you get bored with Ham radio, there's even an FM broadcast band, (87 - 108 MHz), receiver built in!
The rig measures only 950 X 525 mm at it's maximum height and width. It's 220 mm deep without the optional belt clip, (provided).
Some of it's attributes include;
DSP (Digital Signal Processing)
99 channel memory
1750 Hz repeater burst tone plus 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS tones
The ability to monitor 1 VHF and 1 UHF frequency simutaneously.
Mine came complete with separate VHF and UHF antennas, a combined earpiece / microphone with a PTT facility and an SMC (male) to BNC (female) adapter. This last enables me to use other antennas and I chose the Diamond RH3 "stubby" antenna which is shown in the photo.
This antenna is a tri-band antenna for 145 MHz, 433 MHz and 1.2 GHz and I can thus use the same antenna for the 2 bands that this radio provides. Again, great care has to be taken to ensure that the operator does not stray outside of the designated Amateur bands of, (in UK), 144 -146 MHz and 430 - 440 MHz.
Recently I took this rig with me when I went for a walk up the hill, behind my home, towards Standish when I heard a station calling CQ on 145.5 MHz and giving his position as on top of a hill named, "Shining Tor", a hill in the Peak District, near to Macclesfield. I answered his call, not seriously expecting him to hear me but to my amazement he did. His callsign was 2e0YYY/P and he was located approximately 56 Km away! He was at a height of about 560 m, ASL and I was at about 82 m, ASL. Most impressive from this little gem of a radio!