Best CW Transceiver?

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by VR2WAR, Apr 27, 2012.

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  1. VR2WAR

    VR2WAR QRZ Member QRZ Page


    I would like to have your opinion as to which set up is the best for CW. Both tube and SS will be considered. Thank you.
  2. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

    The K3 is the best of the current radios
  3. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    CW "Only" K3 it seems at this time.
  4. G4OTU

    G4OTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are many very good CW transceivers out there....but no matter which you may choose , it is nothing without a user who knows how to get the best out of his setup.The most important parts of any setup are the operators ears - and the grey stuff between them.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  5. VR2WAR

    VR2WAR QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for replying. May I ask what a CW only K3 is? I thought there is only one spec.
  6. W3WN

    W3WN Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Set up" covers a lot of territory.

    Any radio I wanted to use for CW would need at least one narrow (500 Hz +/-) filter in it, amongst many other things.

    With that in mind:

    Of the radios I've used, I've most enjoyed operating (in no particular order) the Ten Tec Corsair II & the Ten Tec Omni VI+ -- both of which I own -- the Ten Tec Orion, back when my friend W3WH owned one, and the Elecraft K3, which he currently owns.

    That's not to say that there aren't many other rigs out there that can perform exceedingly well. And in this situation, "best" is, after all, a relative term. You need to find out what radio suits YOU the best, in terms of features, performance, and ergonomics (ie panel layout, screen or display functionality, etc.)

    As I've said before: Find someone with the radios you're interested in, and try them out. Otherwise, you might buy a radio that I would like, but that you find difficult to operate, simply because I prefer the widget controls on the left & you'd rather have them on the right...
  7. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think what he meant is if your only (or primary) use is CW then it's the K3. If you intend to work a mix of modes the K3 may not be the best choice. The K 3 is an excellent radio but is better regarded as a CW radio rather than an SSB radio.
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think that's what he meant, also.

    The Ten Tec Orion-II is also a truly excellent CW rig (and good on phone modes, too).
  9. KB4BLU

    KB4BLU Ham Member QRZ Page

    The best one that I have ever used for CW was my Ten-Tec Omni D.
    I should be shot for getting rid of it. But I was young and stupid.

    Now I am old and ......
  10. M0AUW

    M0AUW Ham Member QRZ Page

    You'll get different operators choosing different rigs, (individual taste), but I suspect the most popular will be the K3. It's a pity, I'd love to own one but they are like gold dust in the UK. .............I take it price is a consideration?
    I've got an FT1000MP V with all the filters, providing you have all the filters it's a good rig for CW.
    But if I could find one I'd get a K3!

    73s Richard
  11. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    K3 is my "vote". My second choice is the Kenwood 2000 as a very good CW rig.
  12. KC2SIZ

    KC2SIZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If we're talking not about overall performance but about good old fashioned ham radio fun, then I'd nominate the Ten Tec Century 21. It transmits in CW mode only (no vulgar modes). Great fun and a piece of ham radio history.
  13. AG6JU

    AG6JU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use Yaesu FT-450D, my CW is slow speed, but this radio do pretty well with CW. it also have DSP/IF 300 Hz wide filter standard. it also have QSK, for the price, it is good CW radio. newer radio is more reliable. older radio tend to break down often. I used other radio in the passed, such as Yaesu FT-757GX, Ten Tec OMNI-V, Kenwood TS-940, TS-830, but FT-450D do well as all other I used.
  14. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've used the K3 on CW, and it does have some kind of magic in it that makes the weak signals pop out of the noise. I don't think it's the most comfortable radio to listen to for hours on end. I'm a big fan of Ten Tec rigs, though I've only owned a few of them. I just acquired a well maintained TT Omni VI+ - probably 20 years old, upgraded to the '+' model 12-15 years ago. I really like it on CW and on SSB, it's a pleasure to use, and I can listen to it all day without getting tired of it. The same is true of my ancient IC-746, but it's not really a contest grade rig - never was. Still, it's fine for CW if you have the filters for it.
  15. NL7W

    NL7W Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the money (less than $1600), the TS-590S appears to be right up there, I believe it's #8 on Sherwood's all-time performance list. It's receiver is hard to beat. The transmitter seems to have the ALC overshoot spike. But, this may have been mitigated by a later Kenwood firmware upgrade. Solid rig...
  16. VR2WAR

    VR2WAR QRZ Member QRZ Page

    I would like to thank you everyone. All of your advices are very valuable. Yes, I would like to concentrate on CW in the future. I understand that everyone has his own favourite CW rig. But it seems that Ten Tec and Elecraft are the common factors here. I would like to ask how K3 vs K2? In some other forums, some opinions are that K2 is cleaner on the reception. I am not too keen on computer rig. Is K2 a better option? For the Ten Tec Orion II, it is computer controllable. If I take this feature out of the K3 and Orion II, are they any better than other rig like K2, and other older rigs? Once again thank you everyone.
  17. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've had the K2, and built two of them. They are very fun kits and work well.

    By the time you add in the cost of the 100W PA; the SSB module; the noise blanker; the extra bands (160m/30m) and so forth it actually becomes pretty expensive. But I think it's still a decent value.

    My "problem" with the K2 is although it's a good CW rig, it was never good on SSB and still isn't. If you don't care about that, just don't buy the SSB option and stick with CW. It's also kind of "small" for me. Pictures are deceiving, it's a tiny little rig. Just pressing a front panel button can push the rig back on the table (literally, at least for me) unless you do everything gently. I'd love it for portable operation, but as a "home station" I decided to sell it years ago as I just wasn't using it as much as bigger stuff that's easier to use.

    There's a huge difference in operation and functionality between a K3 or Orion-II and the K2. The Orion-II has a second receiver (incredibly handy, but adds a lot to the cost); a spectrum monitor video display; all HF ham band coverage including 60m and everything else; built-in automatic antenna tuner; excellent combination of hardware (crystal filter) and software (DSP) filtering with dozens of bandwidth choices on any mode; 100W output continuous duty (even for RTTY); a large, easy-to-read video display (flat panel TFT); large, easy-to-use knobs and switches; sounds fantastic on voice modes, if you ever want to do that; and lots of other things that are very noticeable in actual operation.

    The K2 is a fun kit and works well as a small CW rig, but it's no Orion-II. The K3 is a big step up also -- then, it's a 10-year newer design and intended for really serious operators (contesters and major-league DXers) who haven't time to diddle around. Given a choice, I'd like to have "both" (K2 for portable fun, K3 or Orion-II for home).
  18. W6OGC

    W6OGC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I regard my brother, W5DV, as as serious and proficient a CW op as there is, one of the top CW ops out there. He had a Omni VI+ which he really liked, then an Orion which he liked and still has sitting on the floor, and now on the desk he has a K3.
  19. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a K3 and sold it opted for a better radio the FTDX-5000MP the #1 rated receiver on the market and SSB/Digital but CW not quite as good as the K3. It has the look and feel of the way a radio should be and a 200w rig also everything on the front panel for most used items.
  20. VR2WAR

    VR2WAR QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for your opinion, WB2WIK.

    For those who have used Omni 6+ and Orion II, how do you compare these two. Once again, I will use CW only. Thanks in advance.

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