ron at gw3ydx.demon.co.uk
Wed Jan 31 17:08:47 EST 1996
| Ron Stone, GW3YDX - EMail ron at gw3ydx.demon.co.uk
Following may be of interest to fellow contesters
*** THE THREE CORNERED RING ***
ON AIR COMPARISON TS930 - OMNI 6 - FT1000MP.
Recently I was fortunate enough to have all three
of these radios in the shack for direct side by
side comparisons. This was because I was kindly
loaned a FT1000MP by Mike Devereux G3SED , Managing
Director of Nevada Communications Ltd.
The FT1000MP is a first class transceiver with many
desirable and useful operating features. Basic
performance is excellent but there are some concerns
about reception on 160m which are detailed in the
review. The radio was compared with an early (#3mil)
TS930S and a TenTec Omni 6 transceiver. The performance
was equal to the Omni6 and significantly better than
For some time I have been looking for a second radio
to replace the Omni or the 930.
My interests are mainly LF CW work, contesting in
particular. As the testing period included the WW 160
contest this seemed ideal. The main objective of
the test was to see how the MP performed. I have had
the 930 for 12 years and the Omni for two, so I
knew how they performed.
RESULTS IN DETAIL
Most of my efforts were directed to A/B tests MP
vs Omni on receive.This is as most of the
Cluster / Email from interested hams was
from people wondering which of these to buy
and those particularly interested in the low bands.
The TS930 can still be purchased very cheaply but
is no longer a current model.
As time goes on, maintenance may become a major issue.
Receiving was of primary interest in these tests.
GENERAL RX PERFORMANCE
The MP is a very fine radio, but there are some
doubts about the RX RF performance. Antennas in use here
for LF are inv vee for 160 at 120 ft , a 2 el yagi
at 95 ft on 40m, and a full size delta loop at 75 ft /
dipole at 90 ft for 80.
The signals put in from the 40m antenna pointing East
are awesome here in Europe during the peak evening BC time.
The MP was set up for most tests with the "tuned" front end
option enabled i.e best dynamic range for each part of the
HF bands. Read the MP literature for more details.
The first doubt with the MP was when I accidentally
listened to 80m with the 160 dipole. There was an S5 carrier
on 3501 which was not there with the Omni or 930. On
switching to the regular 80m ant it was gone. But the
MP was now under suspicion !
On 160 there were some other mixing problems. The CW DX
portion of the band was swept and unmodulated carriers were
present on 1827 and 1836 Khz with the MP. These were not
internally generated spurii as they disappeared with no
antenna. The 1827 carrier was around S5 and pretty well
exactly on 1827, a favourite Dxpedition transmit frequency.
Furthermore there was what appeared to be a fax transmission
on 1828.5, like the 1827 and 1836 carriers, not there
on the Omni.
There may be a local MW source which causes mixing problems
in the MP which do not mix in the Omni6, and it may be that
the MP may work quite happily elsewhere. However I do not
intend to move QTH so that the FT1000MP "works" !!
The 1827 carrier was there (weak) on the 930 but the
other two signals were not. On the MP all of these signals
were sufficiently strong to have been a DX copy problem and
were evident at mid-day - somewhat weaker - when 160 was
closed to all but local propagation. G3SED has also used this
radio for some time and noted some 160m carriers that also were
not there with his TS930. Incidentally G3SED has reported even
greater problems with an IC775 he has been testing. Mike
advises there is a local MW BC station at his QTH which may be
causing the problems.
Perhaps what is needed is extra front end
bandpass filtering. I am the EU agent for Dunestar products
and I regret I do not have a 1.8Mhz filter in stock right now.
It is also rather a shame that the MP tuner works only on
TX rather than on TX/RX as is an option with the TS870.
Most interestingly the 1827 carrier problem was reduced by
connecting the main antenna to the RX input jack of the MP.
This bypasses both the LPF and Main ANT units. Furthermore
the use of an external 50R attenuator (AVO RA54) indicated
that using the 6dB pad in the external attenuator reduced the
1827 carrier more than using 6dB of MP attenuator from
the front panel control.
Without testing another MP we cannot exclude the possibility
that there is a problem with the unit we both tested. G3SED
has workshop facilities and will run a full test on it when
I return it.
Apart from these problems 160 was good on the MP - but I
found in general that weak signals were a little better with
the Omni, especially if the band was noisy. This weak signal
differential was much reduced using the "FLAT" front end option
- enhancing signals by maybe (not measured) 6 dB. Use of
"FLAT" rather than "TUNED" did not adversely effect the MP's
strong signal handling capabilities as far as I could tell,
having found this menu option AFTER the CQ WW 160 ! I estimate
that the weak signal differential would only cause a copy / no
copy situation to arise with one QSO in a thousand. You need
to make a risk assessment on this. Will that QSO be 3Y0PI ?!
Results on 40m were quite interesting. The MP had significantly
better RX performance on phantom carriers than the Omni when
the MP was set up for "TUNED" front end and with the Omni not
attenuated. Unfortunately the TenTec designers thought
that a single 20 dB pad would be sufficient. Well it removed
the phantom carriers effectively but 20 dB is a lot to rob from
a weak signal. Too much.
To test this further the external attenuator was connected in
the Omni antenna lead. It was then adjusted to give the same
reduction of phantom carriers as evident on the "TUNED" front
end MP. Equalisation occured at the 10 dB level. 40m tests
for both radios were carried out at approx 20 GMT beaming
East on 40m. A severe test. No difference in copy was noted.
Although I have not studied the circuit of the MP in depth,
the TUNED / UNTUNED differential had the same effect as
invoking the IPO control, and attenuated signals by around
10 dB. Attenuating the Omni input by 10 dB would implement
a "level playing field" fit this test.
Some 40m tests were then conducted using the TS930 vs the MP.
Using the 930S on 40 SSB there was a memorable occasion when a
"carrier" was 59+10 on the 930 (and seemed little improved with
attenuation) and not there at all on the MP.I worked a 9M2
with the MP that simply was not audible with the 930.
On HF - both radios worked well, the Omni having a very slight
edge on digging out the weak ones from the noise - with the MP
front end set to "FLAT".
Use of the IPO on the MP reduced background noise and signals
but did not reduce the 1827 problem, which was still there
with the attenuators progressively switched in. The 1827
carrier reduced linearly with further attenuation, causing one
to wonder just where the signals were getting in.
The borrowed MP had a full set of IF filters ie both 250's,
both 500's and an optional 2.0 at 8.215. The Omni has a 250
and 500 at 6 Mhz and a standard 500 Hz at 9 Mhz for NAR
position. Most of the tests were performed with 500 Hz
filters invoked in both radios. Results were very similar,
the TenTec filters having a small advantage to the LF of
received signals. The availability of 250/250 on the MP
meant better copy when the going got really tough.
On SSB the MP sounded much nicer both on RX and TX, this
being hardly surprising with the 2.4 Khz filters. Although
not measured I felt that these filters would probably measure
out to 2.7 at the 6 dB points. The Omni SSB filter is
theoretically 2.4 but I have measured mine at 2.05 at the
6 dB points. Not surprisingly this makes for boxy audio on both
RX and TX. DX RX copy is better with the Omni than the MP
using the stock MP 2.4/2.4 filters. With cascaded 2.4 / 2.0
in the MP, no difference could be detected on receive.
Certainly it would be very pleasant if the Omni could radiate
as good SSB as the MP. Just as well I do not operate much
It was extremely useful to have such a wide range of filter
options on the MP. This made it a very versatile radio.
It is a great shame that TenTec allows users such a limited
choice. There is plenty of room in the box and TenTec could
have made lots of money from a wider filter option choice.
IF Shift on the MP was far too coarse both on SSB and CW and
the Width control usually removed a CW signal entirely. This
part of the circuitry did not seem aligned very well. The
TS930 CW VBT control was much better by comparison.The Omni
has no width control but has PBT which is much more effective
than the MP "Shift", on both CW and SSB
The IRC filters in the TS930 seemed better than the 500's in
the MP but not as good as the 250's. As the IRC filters are
400 Hz this is not surprising.
The notch filter did not seem as effective as either the Omni,
930 or on the DSP9. It was however adequate for most purposes.
The DSP on the MP was used in the Peak position with the
bandwidth value menu set to 120 Hz. It was definitely not
as effective as an external Timewave DSP 9 on peak and the MP
Noise Reduction circuits did not seem particularly effective.
This is not however a QTH with much man made noise problems.
The TS870, which I have tried here very briefly and not in a
major contest, seems to have the best DSP set up of all. A
great pity all the filtering is left to the last IF as the
870 falls over further up the RX chain, with nothing one can
do about it on a stock model. The Omni6 was (I believe) the
first production radio with DSP but this consists only of an
auto-notch filter and low pass audio filters. They are
effective but of limited use on CW.
Non QSK CW from the MP was perfectly adequate,with just a trace
of click on break. There was no attempt to adjust the shaping
via the menu system. Full QSK on the MP was OK up to about 30
WPM, when some clipping set in. QSK on the Omni is much better.
I also prefer the sound of the Omni both on air and sidetone -
but the sound of CW is a personal thing. Although the MP hand
book suggests that the use of the MONITOR control is not needed
on CW, users will find that, with MONI implemented, they can
regulate the sidetone vol from the front panel control
(rather than via that frightful little hole in the rear apron)
and that the sidetone sounds much better.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
The MP excels in this area. The second RX was not found to be
particularly useful but probably because I did not get used
to it. The second RX shares the same bandpass filter as the
main one. This means that one cannot reliably use splits on
different bands with equal RX sensitivity. It is however
possible to receive sigs on 14 and 21 simultaneously without
adverse effect to either.I did not test all the band
It was certainly very useful to have a seperate VFO knob for
adjusting frequency during splits. However it was irritating
that the MP sub VFO did not automatically track the band used
by the main VFO. Someone will probably tell me there is a menu
setting to enable this. !!!
The best MP bell and whistle was the availabilty of a CW audio
beat note between 300 and 1050 Hz. I prefer a note of about
400 Hz and the MP allowed this choice with ease. Ever since
I have had the Omni I have hated being boxed into listening
to 750 Hz note - the design freq of the NAR CW filter. The
hate extends to the point of having a custom filter made to
get round this. Omni users who are not aware of my activities
to commission a batch of filters for this (400 Hz note 400 Hz
bandwidth filter for the "NAR" position) are advised to get
in touch quickly.
This resume will not go further into the bells and whistles
area, where the MP must be the winner.
POSITION OF CONTROLS ETC
Many of the MP controls were small but at least they are
accessible.The AF gain and MIC control were too close
together.I would have liked them to be of different sizes.
I kept on reducing the MIC gain when less RX audio was
desired. The RF Gain (hardly anyone uses it these days
I think) is reduced sensibly to the status of a minor
control not used much. The keyer controls were awkwardly
placed under the SUB VFO tuning knob. I tried to imagine
myself after a 48 hour contest with both radios. I felt
that the Omni would probably be less tiring. Having said
all this, the MP was not at all difficult to drive.
One small point. As I approach my half century, reading
glasses are a necessity (and curse). I can still read the
big digits on the Omni display without them. The damn glasses
are necessary for the MP display and also to read the labels
on the controls. This IS an issue after 48 hours with the
bridge of your nose hurting like hell.
Yes I do think the MP display is poor with many unlit segments
showing - but with me that would not be a show stopper.
Which radio would I buy ? If I was a 50% or more SSBer the MP
would have to be the choice. If the 160m phantom carriers get
sorted out on the MP, I will save my money for one. Until that
the Omni6 rules.
If you have the chance to try out an MP at your QTH to see if
it is affected by this 160m problem at your QTH with your
antennas that is probably the way to decide.
The 930 is showing its age and lacks PC interface. It remains
excellent value though, particularly if you are not a PC / Radio
If you would like me to expand on any detail of this review
then please Email / Cluster / Phone / Fax. However by the time
you read this the MP will have been regretfully returned to
whence it came. If anyone would like to loan me an IC775 /
FT1000D / Whatever / I will be pleased to carry out similar
tests ! I do read the reviews in the various magazines but
concluded long ago that the world is somewhat more complex
than two pure signals into a hybrid combiner !
Phone +44 (0) 1691 831111 (08 - 22 GMT)
Fax +44 (0) 1691 831386 ( 24hr )
Email ron at gw3ydx.demon.co.uk
>From David L. Thompson" <thompson at mindspring.com Wed Jan 31 18:25:31 1996
From: David L. Thompson" <thompson at mindspring.com (David L. Thompson)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 13:25:31 -0500
Subject: NO E-Mail of Logs to CQ for 160 Meter Contests
Message-ID: <199601311818.NAA16244 at borg.mindspring.com>
I do not accept logs sent via E-Mail. Maybe in the future!
CQ 160 Meter Contests Director
>From tomf at neca.com (Thomas E. Francis) Wed Jan 31 18:56:54 1996
From: tomf at neca.com (Thomas E. Francis) (Thomas E. Francis)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 13:56:54 -0500
Subject: WH6R via AK7Q??
Message-ID: <199601311856.NAA29872 at orion.neca.com>
I've tried everywhere else, thought I'd try this - sorry
if this is inappropriate for this reflector - if there is
a reflector this this type of question, please inform me.
I have two QSL cards out to WH6R at the CBA, but have not
received any returns - GO list states via AK7Q, but that
was only listed for 1986.
Can anyone help me with a good address??
Tom, NM1Q (tomf at neca.com)
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