Back To Base
14 September 2022
At the caravan I setup my radio gear and pretty much leave it there. I also setup a telescopic mast for quick installation of a wire, so everything's pretty much sewn up and ready to go within a few short minutes. But that leaves the shack at home pretty bare. In fact, we recently decided not to have a weekend at the caravan, but instead stay at home - and it was at that point that I realised I was 'HF deficient'
The ATU : WOW! Normally I don't even discuss built-in ATU's except on Elecrafts, because they're always pretty "average" but I have to give credit where credit is due. The TS-590SG has a superb ATU and it's super fast too. If you have something like a 40-6M EFHW, you won't need an external atu - simple as that - it'll tune all bands without an issue. Brilliant!!
Unsurprisingly, the Kenwood ATU won't find a match on my EFHW for 80 and 160M, so I might look out for a cheap external ATU like the MAT-TUNER K100.
So, there you have it. I managed to find a cheap marvel and I'm super happy with it. Even though I've previously had some high-end radios in the shack, I don't feel I'm losing out massively by using a TS-590SG. Sure, if I did a lot of work from my shack, I'd have kept the 7610, but I'm an occasional user at home, so I reckon I've done pretty good choosing this rig.
I guess the biggest competition for this radio would be the ICOM IC-7300 and if you 're specifically looking for an SDR, then that would be the natural choice, especially with Icom's super intuitive operating systems - it's certainly the cheapest option! I've had a 7300 myself and for the money it's a fabulous entry point into SDR radio. I could have got a used one for less money than the 590, but I decided I wanted to go back to a more 'traditional' rig and I personally feel that the 590 actually performs better than the 7300 IN THE SHACK!
Using the radio's built-in DSP functions, the RF Gain, a touch of attenuation and altering the filter width/shape, you can get a low noise floor and a lovely clean signal, as shown in the video below (watch the S-Meter)....
I've done it on almost every radio I've had - including the heavyweights IC-7610 and the FT-DX101D!
The TS-590SG's external-receiver connector (DRV) is a great feature! You should bear in mind though, that this is an antenna-splitter and not an IF-Out, so you're not hearing the 590's output - you're simply sharing the 590's antenna and splitting antennas between two receivers has the obvious detrimental effect of a slight signal loss on both pathways (about 1 S-point).
Some people might have hoped for an IF-Out but the advantage of feeding your RSPdx with an antenna is that you get to hear the difference between the two receivers instead of hearing the same. There'll be some circumstances where perhaps the RSPdx processes the signal in a way that makes it more readable than your 590. Certainly, if you're monitoring LW, the RSPdx does a fabulous job!
It's nice to see that you can switch off the sharing by the simple press of a button, if for example, you wanted to focus on a particularly weak signal momentarily. This built-in splitter is infinitely more convenient say, than using a clunky MFJ-1708B (not to mention cheaper, lol).
It doesn't matter how good your radio's SDR screen is, you can't beat having the flexibility and rich feature-set of software like SDR UNO, SDR CONSOLE or HDSDR and being able to control everything on the computer screen.
SDR UNO (with OminRig installed) can operate your radio flawlessly and provide you with a staggering range of information and options all on one big screen. You can even have multiple receivers open. And if you spin the physical dial on the radio (or press any buttons), it changes on the computer too. UNO is also constantly being modified and updated with an amazing array of features. I believe they're currently writing a completely new multi-platform version called SDR CONNECT which should be released at the back end of 2022.
Kenwood also supply some free software (ARCP-590) which allows you to control the radio but it obviously doesn't provide any panadapter features. It does, however, give you access to all the controls and menus in a nice, easy to access way. Please note from the screenshot below that you must download the correct version for your 590S or 590SG. Installing the wrong one (as I did 😁) will result in an error.
So apart from being cheap, the IC-7300 just doesn't compare to the TS-590SG (in my humble opinion). The 7300 only has one antenna connector, whereas the 590 has 2 TX and 3 RX connectors. The 590 has an output for an external receiver - the 7300 doesn’t. The 7300 ATU is like most other manufacturer's - average. Basically, the 7300 is a low-cost, entry-level SDR transceiver for people who are perhaps new to radio or for those who just want something very simple - it's a fabulous choice. The TS-590SG is more of an ‘experimenter’s’ radio.
I've never had an FT-DX10 so I can't really comment on it, but I have had its bigger brother the 101D (which I dumped in favour of the fabulous IC-7610).
73, Tom, M7MCQ.
The MC-60 is a very solidly built bit of kit and it won't be moving around the desk. It's simple and functional, with no frills. It could really do with an LED to remind you that it's in transmit mode and I might try to add one. The pre-amp switch is located on the underside of the base which seems a bit daft to me, so I might try relocating that too. There's no real need for either modification - but it's good fun to experiment isn't it? 😂
If you have any comments or questions, then please post in the comment section below or email me directly on email@example.com and remember, this post is just my own personal ramblings - I'm not an expert, but I have at least bought and tried the equipment that I talk about :-)