2000 and Onwards

Some more of the equipment I have owned and operated in the past.


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Feb 2003 - May 2005

Yaesu FT-102. Purchased as a non-runner on eBay for silly money. The 102 always suffers from relay problems in the RF path (both Tx & Rx) and attempts to change them had made matters worse. After a strip down, clean up and a set of new relays the original performance was restored. Buying a rig that is almost 30 years old is a bit of a gamble but they were well built (apart from relay problems) and the specification was well ahead of its time. Replacement relays are becoming very scarce - changing them takes a bit of time but the effort is well worthwhile. With two narrow CW filters fitted the receiver is as good as anything available today, the front end which runs off 24 volts is particularly robust. A little unusual in that it uses three 6146 valves in the final stage, giving a very useful 180 watts output on CW. Run more conservatively on SSB it is remarkably linear and generates third order products that are much lower than any solid state equipment. At one stage I had three FT102's, but all have now been sold. See separate FT102 page for relay information.

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2004 - 2018

Icom IC-737 

I came across the IC737 purely by accident. It was being sold cheaply on EBay with a faulty Auto ATU - to cut a long story short I wasn't able to fix the problem and neither were Icom (UK). Needs an unobtainable board. 

However, it has proved to be one of the nicest rigs I have ever used. For a mid-priced, no frills rig it performs exceptionally well - it has all the facilities you need and none of those that you can do without. I have fitted an Inrad 400Hz filter in the 1st IF along with Icom's own excellent FL52A in the 2nd IF - that combination makes for very enjoyable CW operating. I can thoroughly recommend this radio to anyone looking for a sound basic rig that won't break the bank. Since 2008 it has been relegated to emergency use, but after ten years sitting on the shelf a decision was taken to sell the rig in 2018.

Apr 2003 - Jan 2006

Yaesu FT-990. 

Purchased (second hand) in April 2003, it was used as my main rig from 2003-2005 but has now been sold.  Some people see it as a cheaper version of the FT1000D (without the second receiver), but there are quite a few differences internally. I liked this rig a lot, everything was nice and solid and had a 'quality' feel about it. Showing it's age a bit now, no DSP but it has a really excellent variable bandwidth audio filter. A full set of four IF filters were fitted and I like the ability to select any filter regardless of mode (probably the best rig I've used for Digital modes).


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Apr 2004 - May 2007

Icom IC-746. 

Main station transceiver from 2004 to 2007 - now sold. Versatile rig and very easy to use once you get to grips with the menu system. Excellent value for money and every bit as good as its successor (IC746Pro or IC7400) without the latter's reliability problems.

A compact base station rig covering all the normal HF bands plus 50 MHz and 144 MHz. Output power is 100 watts on ALL bands. This one was fitted with a selection of CW filters and had a very sensitive receiver on the HF bands.  DSP noise reduction is one of the features but this is implemented in the audio chain rather than at IF which the very latest rigs use. 

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May 2005 - Mar 2008


Icom IC-765 

This was Icom's top-of-the-range rig in the early 90's. The first thing that strikes you is the sheer size - it's BIG!. No carrying handle on this one.

In production up to about 1995 it is noted for it's build quality and performance. The receiver has a rare combination of quietness and sensitivity, and fitted with a couple of CW filters there's not much it can't hear. It's RF performance compares very favourably with modern rigs and indeed surpasses most of them.

The implementation of the IF Shift function was crippled by Icom due to a patent infringement, but the addition of a diode and one wiring change gets it close to what they probably intended in the first place.

Lacks some of the features found on modern rigs, but if you don't need DSP it's still about as good as you can get. A very solid performer that was built to last.

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Apr 2007 - May 2008

Yaesu FT1000MP MkV 200 watts

A real classic rig.  When I purchased this one I wondered if I had made the right choice. It somehow didn't feel 'right' compared to my old IC-765.  In fact it ended up going back in it's box for a few months.

Perhaps I wasn't comfortable with the MkV because it's VERY different to the old 765. The IC765 is still (and always will be) an excellent rig, just different. Further acquaintance with the MkV's capabilities resulted in a big change of heart. Extended use makes you realise that this is a seriously powerful piece of kit. In fact for a casual CW op like myself it's probably over the top, but I would imagine it's a 'dream machine' for a dedicated SSB user. Sold in May 2008 to fund the purchase of the Elecraft K3.

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Jun 2008 - Apr 2020


Elecraft K3 

Ordered Feb 2008, delivered late Jun 2008. If reviews and lab tests are to be believed this was probably the best rig on the amateur market in its day. I wouldn't argue with those findings although you may need to be operating in extreme conditions to see much difference between the K3 and a number of very competent competitors. The upgraded K3S is still among the top performers.

In the casual CW operating environment most of the rigs above are is almost as good and in some ways a little easier to operate. However, when a very strong station comes up close by (within 2 kHz) the K3 comes into its own and remains completely unaffected until the other station is within a couple of hundred Hz of your own frequency.

The great beauty of the K3 construction is that you can tailor it to meet your own needs - if you don't need a second receiver, don't buy one. A basic 'no frills' K3 can be quite an economical purchase, but once you start to add all the extras a fully loaded rig represents a considerable cash investment.

When I placed my order I decided to buy all the options I thought I might need to save on future postage costs. This included the 100 watt PA, Auto ATU, Transverter Interface, General Coverage module and five Crystal Filters (13kHz, 2.7kHz, 1.0kHz, 500Hz and 200Hz).

A very useful addition was a home brew panadapter based on the Softrock Lite SDR and M0KGK software. See the Softrock page. This arrangement became redundant when I purchased the P3 panadapter. (See below).

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2009 - 2020

P3 Panadapter

Panadapter, bandscope, call it what you will it provides an excellent view of what is happening on the band. The display span can be adjusted from 2kHz to 200kHz, although the best settings seem to be 20kHz for CW and 50kHz for SSB. The display on the left highlights a 3kHz swathe of PSK activity on 20m. Once you use one of these you can't live without one!

Dec 2003 - Aug 2009


Heathkit SB200 Linear Amp.  

Often described as the "Workhorse Amp" and that pretty much sums it up. Introduced more than 40 years ago - the huge number still in daily use are a testament to its simple and rugged design. A pair of 572B valves (tubes) are used in grounded grid configuration, and can give 600-700 watts output with less than 100 watts drive.

Not used much as 80 watts on CW met most of my needs but it was useful to have the extra power when the going got tough.

This one has had the Harbach  modifications incorporated, and a set of new tubes restored much of the original performance.

2010 - 2013

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Vectronics HFT-1500 ATU

This is a T-match tuner (two capacitors and a roller coaster inductor) capable of matching a fairly wide range of impedances with a throughput of 1500 watts.

I had nothing that would test it's full potential although a previous owner had managed to heat up the roller coaster! Spares were readily available from USA.

Dec 2009 - Feb 2012

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 KW 1000 Linear Amp

Built along the same lines as the Heathkit SB200 and the Yaesu FL2100 series. Uses two 572B's in a similar compact cabinet and generates about 600 watts CW for 50-75 watts drive.

Like the SB200/FL2100 it requires interfacing to cope with the keying capabilities of modern transceivers. A very simple modification will get you on the air but a few additional components will reduce the demands on the driving source to a few volts and milliamps. More info on my KW1000 page.