Best riceboxes on AM?

Discussion in 'Technical' started by W8EJO, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. W8EJO

    W8EJO Member

    Due to space & mobility issues I am going to sell off my boat anchors & go to one radio that will perform well on both SSB & AM.

    I've heard good things about the FT1000D & the TS850.

    Anyone here have any suggestions?
  2. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    The FT's work ok on AM, but like most all Yaesu's they have really crappy receivers that sound horrible.

    The TS-850S will work on AM, but it requires some complex modifications because they downward modulate stock.

    The older TS-830M (not the S) had AM and would be about the best one if you can find it. It was the overseas model that had AM.

    The TS-440S and the TS-940S would also be good ones...

    Maybe someone else has knowledge on the newer stuff because the TS-850S and TS-950S is where I left off. I haven't a clue as to what's been made since then.
  3. W8EJO

    W8EJO Member

  4. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    That's fine...

    Just so you know though I had an 850 years back and on AM the carrier level does drop backwards when you modulate. There was a mod someone came out with to fix it, but it did require a bit of work.

    Anyway, you will find out...
  5. KM1H

    KM1H Guest

    I used a TS-940 for years before getting some real boatanchors and while audio quality was good it was severely restricted thru the 2.4 kHz TX filter.

    I currently use a TS-950SD at times and there all sorts of things that can be done to it for AM including TX thru a 6kHz AM xtal filter or the real wide 12 kHz LC filter. Lots of front panel buttons to do things not in the manual. The digital audio can be set to about 3300Hz. That rig runs ice cold at the 20-25W needed to drive most amps to near legal limit. There is lots of info on the Internet for tweaking this model. I use an old 1986 LK-500ZC with the optional external transformer/cabinet at a 350W carrier.

    The later TS-950SDX is the ultimate of this series, but they dont come up for sale often.

    All those older Kenwoods had excellent TX and RX audio quality.

    For a new rig Ive heard several TS-590's that sound great and all the audio can be tweaked from your PC. Price isnt bad either.

  6. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    When I returned back to ham radio in the mid 1980's solar cycle 21 was in its final year or so of decay. After quickly passing all the exams again I purchased a TS-440S. I used it a little on AM and FM on 10-meters along with SSB before the cycle completely ended. It worked ok on AM with 25 watts out, but the internal fan would kick on after a few minutes. It came on a lot less when using it on SSB. I also picked up an AL-811 amp, but I went through a couple sets of tubes when trying to use it on AM.

    When the cycle ended I started going down to the lower bands, but only on SSB. I had never really worked on the lower bands before when I was younger except maybe only once or twice. Mainly because of no long antennas. I think I tried using my short 15-meter dipole on 40-meters once which tuned up fine, but just didn't work very well. When you are a kid or young teenager your parents normally won't let you put big or long antennas up on the house. I was lucky they let me put up a small 3-element 10-meter Yagi on the roof back in the mid to late 70's which was a shortened 11-meter one. Anyway, when I really started getting on the lower bands I bought a TS-850S and an AL-82. I probably used it for less than 6 months until I accidentally came across the guys on 3880. Ottis, K5SWK and Koby, K5MZH. Then about a week later I heard Ozona Bob who I hadn't heard since the 70's. I was really surprised to hear people still on AM on 75-meters and quickly leaned it wasn't just on 75. I tried using the TS-850 on AM with the AL-82 and it worked ok, but the 850's had that problem of downward modulating on AM. They did something wrong in the balanced modulator design so they never worked properly on AM. I never had the TS-950S so I wasn't sure if it was the same or not.

    One part of the story I did leave out though was right before I bought the TS-850 I had bought an FT-990 first. I had it for about a week and then returned it because of the crappy receiver. It reminded me of the old FT-101E I had back in the 70's right before I left. Horrible high-pitched sounding audio with distortion on received voice peaks probably due to being overdriven in the IF stages along with birdies here and there. It worked ok during transmit on AM at 10 watts out, but I just could not stand the horrible sounding receiver so I sent it back and got the TS-850 instead. I never did like the LED bar graph meters though, they were ugly. The FT-990 had a really nice analog meter. Kenwood really blew it when the switched to those crappy LED meters.

    Anyway, when I discovered all of the AM on 75 and 40-meters, etc. I quickly started dragging home boatanchors from the hamfests. Within a year after buying the TS-850 I had sold it and was using nothing but old tube receivers and transmitters again. I went nuts as the AM and associated collector crazed peaked and I even started building my own stuff again as well. 25 years later I have not gone back or ever will go back to the modern equipment again.
  7. KX5JT

    KX5JT Guest

    Hello Everybody! Nice to see this forum back up and running. Sorry it took me a while to realize it. I want to suggest SDR transceivers for those that are looking for "modern" low footprint, hi-fi capable AM. Flex radios and other Software Defined Radios have really blossomed over the last few years and I have heard some awesome sounding AM from them. Myself, I love the tubes but having grown up with personnel computers (my first was the Sinclair ZX-81 circa 1979) I do find the SDR concept very intriguing.

    73 de KX5JT John
  8. W8EJO

    W8EJO Member

    I found this recording of a TS-590 on Youtube.

    Carl is right - sounds good.

  9. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    You think that's good sounding AM audio :icon_wtf: It's nice and clean, but it sounds more like very compressed and restricted bandwidth audio lacking any real hi-fidelity or linearity.

    Different strokes for different folks I guess...
  10. KM1H

    KM1H Guest

    Id say it sounds quite good considering the mike being used and possible improper setting of the ALC and the reviewers rather flat voice :icon_thumbup:
  11. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Well, it kinda is was it is when it comes down to the new modern SS transceivers. You can only make them sound so good.

    I will say though my old TS-440S with the D104 and FET buffer I built into the base sounded much broader and was more linear than what I heard in that video and with the 440's compressor always turned off. I never needed the compressor or anything else between the mic and the transceiver. It wasn't necessary.
  12. KM1H

    KM1H Guest

    After a little snooping around the Internet is full of discussion about the TS-590 ALC overshoot and a KW fix has been developed.

    It also appears that continuous output TX output from 30kHz to 60mHz at 1 mw is available at the DRV connector on the back panel. That makes ir all ready to drive some amp stages for the LF and MF experimenters bands.
  13. W8EJO

    W8EJO Member

    It is when you consider my stated goal at the top of this thread, i.e., a modern ricebox that will be good on SSB & AM. And note I said it sounds "good", as in communications quality good, not HI-FI.

    There are trade offs in all equipment. Again, I'm in search of a ricebox that will, when coupled with my Amp Supply LK-450, give me a respectable AM signal. If you have audio samples of any other modern transceivers that produce a better AM signal than the TS-590 I'd like to hear them.
  14. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Just search around on YouTube, there's probably at least one or two others on there. Most of those newer ones should sound about the same. I think the trick would be in just selecting the right mic.

    Generally from my experiences Kenwood's produce the best audio with Yaesu's being second, but with a much higher pitch sound. Icom's usually have the most restricted audio and are often very under modulated. I doubt if any of that has changed much even to this day.
  15. KX5JT

    KX5JT Guest

    I've worked Frank WA3JBT quite a bit when he first obtained his TS-590. He would drive an AL-82 and it sounded really really good to me. I listened on an NC-300 as well as an "opened" (kiwa audio mods) Icom R75. He also occasionally used a Yaesu FT-101 that sounded even better.
  16. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    The old FT-101's will sound better on AM than most of the modern stuff, they just have the typical crappy Yaesu receiver. I used one back in the late 70's, but only for transmit.
  17. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    I posted some videos of my modified NC-303 receiver receiving recent 10-Meter AM activity. The two loud guys in each video were using new Kenwoods and both of them were modulating backwards when they talked. I could see the s-meter drop way back on their voice peaks.

    It looks like Kenwood never solved that problem with the bigger transceivers which started with the TS-850S. I'm guessing the 950 is also the same along with these newer models. They sound fine, but the power drops way back when you talk, the exact opposite of what you want. On 10-meters it wont be that critical, but it will be on the lower bands like 40 and 75-meters. It will make the difference in whether people far away can hear you or not. If you try and use a mic with a higher end response to cut through the noise it will only make the power drop back even further.

  18. W6ZKH

    W6ZKH Member

    I have been getting decent audio reports on both 15 and 10 meters with my old Kenwood TS-440s and also with the newer Icom IC-7200. The Kenwood is using a MC-50 mic and the Icom is using a Heil ICM mike. The Kenwood has alot better receive audio response than the Icom, which seem "tinney" to me.

    John W6ZKH
    Cen Ca
  19. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Yeah, Icom's have the most restricted audio even on transmit. It's the same common audio for both RX and TX.

    If you read back thru this topic a bit I mentioned where I used a TS-440S years back with a D104 and the FET buffer installed in the base.

    I take it you don't have an amp connected and are just running 25 watts? That will work on the higher bands, but you might consider getting a linear and setting it up for AM if you don't have one already.
  20. W6ZKH

    W6ZKH Member

    You're correct Brian, NO AMP here, and unless someone donates me one, will more than likely never have one. Only amp I ever had on HF was a Henry 2K back in the 70-80's when I ran RTTY . But... am on the outlook for some vintage AM gear, but that has been out of my SS Budget too for sometime. The XYL seems to think we have to eat, and not buy radios, hi... Wish I had gotten or I should say, found, my dad's 1Kw AM rig, pr of 813's modulated by a pair of 813's., but while I was gone in the service, my dad got tired of HR and gave it away without ever asking me... See some ads on Craigslist today for a R/390 and also a 51J series, along with a B&W 5100 TX in different locations.

    John W6ZKH
  21. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    What you could also possibly do is travel around a little on the weekends and go to some of the ham radio swap meets and electronic flea markets and try to find a cabinet and some parts little-by-little to build an amp. There are a lot of those meets and flea markets around here in California especially this time of year and right before or at the start of Spring.

    There use to be a swap meet just up north a little ways from here somewhere around Foothill Collage in Los Altos, but I never went to it. I still hear the guys on 75-meters on Saturday mornings talk about it once and a while. It may or may not still be going on. There are also a few down south closer to your neck of the woods and a lot of it is military gear related. I think there is one in Santa Ana or somewhere near there.

    There's also a fleamarket up here at De Anza College in March. I lived in Sunnyvale for about 8 years right at the corner border of Cupertino and Los Altos.
  22. W6ZKH

    W6ZKH Member

    Well I live about haf way from everywhere. I am in Visalia.. the Fresno ARC has a swap meet everyonce in a while, I missed it. I did have a chance to get some Homebrew Amps, already built at the estate sale of W6AE, but I wasnt in the market then, and they went cheap. It was just the amp, no power supply that they knew of. One was a pair of 4-400's if I recall and it went for $50 or so. With my dexterity at a limit anymore, hard for me to do any decent soldering.. might as well use an Arc Welder. But again, I am having enough fun just running barefoot here, and I also run QRP CW here, so I am not power hungry for sure. I did find a RCB receiver, or was it RBC (?) at a warehouse in Fresno that I might go and see if it is still there. A real boatanchor... think it was made by National from what I remember. That is where I found the TenTec Century 21 CW rig that is on my op desk, for $2. Brought it home, cleaned out all the junk grease in the dial reduction setup, did alittle tune job on it and it works perfect. I found that Heath HW-8 QRP rig at a yard sale, for $3 and it was a bear to realign, but I did and it works fine for 2 watts.. Again, I have limited funds to play with this hobby... it is just keeping me out of the bars....if I drankā€¦

  23. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Yeah, I looked on the map. You are even further away from everything than Bakersfield :confused:

    The RCB was made by RCA. They made two or three models, but the RCB worked from 4Mc on up so it didn't have 75-meters or 160.
  24. W1VTP

    W1VTP Member

    The Yaesu FT301 has great potential. You can go directly in to the AM generator board and modulate it..

  25. W8EJO

    W8EJO Member

    Though technically not a rice box, the TenTec Jupiter/Pegasus sounds pretty decent on AM.
    Here's a short audio clip. These rigs are actually early SDR's

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