Those of you who have been following the blog for a bit, know that I lost my first HF radio awhile back to some sort of power surge. Not to worry though! The 590SG has been replaced! Yes… I missed the radio that much! I stopped in at HRO while I was passing through Plano this month and went to check out all the mid-range rigs that are still out there today. I played with the iCOM 7300, Yaesu FTDX 1200, Yaesu FTDX 3000, and the 590SG.
It all really boils down to ergonomics, and which rig you prefer. The iCOM 7300 is a hot rig right now – I just didn’t particularly care for the slight increase in button pushing to find common functions that you can find on the fly with the 590SG. The screen – while cool, was not very helpful in finding weak signals. IMHO a panadapter screen needs to be much larger. This is coming from someone who uses SDRConsole on a regular basis though! The gentleman who I had my first SSB contact with on this new 590SG, W9FOG, mentioned that’s the very reason he purchased the radio was so that he would have that SDR type architecture in a small form factor radio that’s great for even portable ops!
There were a few things that won me over on the 590SG though, the dual antenna ports, the ability to split the antenna with an SDR without any additional hardware, the ergonomics, and of course, every single accessory I had is still for the 590SG! So I saved a bit of dough there…
MFJ has recently came out with an SDR switch, the MFJ-1708 that will allow you to do what I do with the 590SG, but that’s just another piece of hardware on the desk and to lug around if you ever want to take the radio somewhere else & use the panadapter. Quite a few more cables as well! Previously, there were only a few products out there that would do such switching, i.e. the DX Engineering RTR-1A which isn’t cheap. Priced at $79 – the MFJ version should bring about quite a few new panadapters I’m guessing! Matter of fact, I’m actually considering one for myself for the Kenwood TS-480SAT, so I don’t have to use the IF tap on the radio. This will introduce a 3dB drop in your signal, however, I have not found that to be an issue. Occasionally I will have to turn the splitter off if I’m listening for a weak DX station. The provided 2 page manual that MFJ provides with it needs some work – hopefully they’ll update that or I imagine there will be some damaged transceivers out there!
So obviously i’ll be making some how-to videos on the 590SG – but it’s so darn easy, do I really need to? 😉 So nice having a one cable to the computer and done solution. The amount of cables required to get a KX3 up and running on digi-modes with a CAT connection is enough to scare anyone away. The 590 provides the best of both worlds for my shack – either a superb 32-bit IF DSP receiver, or I can flip the switch to the Elad FDM-S2 SDR that’s connected to the DRV port on the 590 & use it as a panadapter, or even switch to the audio through the SDR software.
I’m still smitten with the waterfall… having a visual representation of the spectrum on a large screen before your eyes is just mesmerizing. It just adds a whole new dynamic to the radio. My first thoughts were that it would distract from the whole listening experience. Boy was I wrong! Forget spending time searching for transmissions by spinning the VFO dial endlessly. Especially useful for those who like to Search & Pounce (like me!).
Any requests for how-to’s on the 590? 😉