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INFO: Yaesu FTDX-5000, Icom IC-7600, Elecraft K3, please...

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by N0NUF, May 3, 2012.


What is the ultimate CW Tranceiver?

  1. Yaesu FTDX-5000 series

  2. Elecraft K3 series

  3. Other

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  1. N0NUF

    N0NUF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good morning everyone.

    I would appreciate some objective observations/information on the Yaesu FTDX-5000, Icom IC-7600, Elecraft K3 radios.

    I have always owned and operated Icom radios. I currently run the 7600/7000/706 radios and used to own the 756 pro series radios. By the way, I have never had an issue or failure with an Icom radio in 20+ years over multiple radios. I was going to get an IC-7700, but my dealer talked me out of it after comparing what you get for the money.

    My primary mode of operation is CW. For what it's worth, what's heard from the radio is just as important to a CW op as it is to an SSB op.

    I am seriously thinking of purchasing either the Yaesu FTDX-5000 or Elecraft K3 for the final setup. I had the opportunity to compare the FT-2000 to the Kenwood TS-590S side by side yesterday on a 20m and 40m vertical for about 2 hours using the same antenna on a switch. On CW, the Yaesu had a VERY quiet and pleasing receiver with almost NO sea-shell effect, however the Kenwood 'appeared' to have better 'ears' but was noisy. Yes, I realize the Yaesu is not 'contest ready' out of the box and requires a somewhat complicated setup. I have NOT had the opportunity to evaluate a K3. I am looking for someone in the Leavenworth, KS area (40mi radius?) who might want to demo the K3.

    While the IC-7600 is a very well made radio in both appearance and feel, I am dissatisfied with its ability to pull weak CW signals or differentiate CW signals in a pileup. I am also dissatisfied with the severity of ringing, or as I call it 'listening to a sea shell' effect on IC-7600 while the filters are engaged. I have tried all combinations of NB, NR, P.AMP, PBT, Notch, APF, Menu, etc... The best I could get on 40m with a dipole was to have NB=on, Filter 3, PBT tight, notch just above the null point for a given signal, APF=ON-WIDE, AF about 95%, and... Well, that's it. Nothing else there that I can find/see to help dial in on a station. Even cranked down as above, or combinations of above, the ring/sea shell effect is still right at the signal most of the time depending on signal strength. For my hearing, this is very fatiguing to listen to for even short periods of time. If a signal is S9+ then it's so far above the noise that it's rather trivial to isolate it quietly.

    Now, you might ask: How strong is (are these) this signal(s)? Most are S2-5 or so. Granted, if a signal is in the 'mud', then it's a crap shoot. But, these signals I refer to aren't in the mud. This isn't unique to my particular 7600 either. I have experienced it on two other 7600's I checked out as well. My line of 756 PROxxx rigs also had 'sea shell' receive. If you're lost about the 'sea-shell' effect, find a large con shell from the ocean and hold it up close to your ear. That is the sound I am talking about. Yes, all filtering may produce this effect, but within reason. I rarely use the Icom filters for this reason.

    Now that you have a reference point where I'm coming from, maybe you folks can point me in the right direction. I am leaning toward the FTDX-5000 series. My reservation at this point is that most high-end Yaesu people I meet are SSB only or very little CW. Not that that is the true for the population, only for the ops that I have met. At the same time, I read that all K3 owners swear by the K3 for precise CW isolation and full quieting. Is this a "ford / chevy" opinion? Meaning, this is what I or my friends have or have always used so it must be the best?

    I am spoiled by the craftsmanship and the ease of use of the Icom radios in comparison to the cheap look and feel of the plastic knobs and light weight, hollow feeling VFO knobs and tension rings on the Yaesu radios (ft-2000 anyway). But, if the Yaesu receiver is better with more tools to grab a clean/quiet signal, I can live with that. And, I LOVE Yaesu's large control panel with a button or knob right there. Again, I have yet to lay hands or ears on a physical, in your face, K3. I have heard recordings from a K3, but that's not the same. I have exhausted all current youtube videos on all these rigs.

    I don't care about 100W/200W output. What is that? 1db or 1/3 of an S-unit? Think about it. If I was after power, then I'd buy an amp. I've talked all over the world on 5-10W.

    Can anyone offer any advice here (besides -go jump off a cliff-)?

    Thanks in advance for any positive comments or information. Feel free to email me if you do not wish to post here.

    By the way, the Begali Sculpture CW key IS the end-game CW key. My thanks to those that offered information on keys.

    73 de Scott - n0nuf
  2. KJ3N

    KJ3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Where's the option for, "Don't do CW, but bought a K3 anyways."? ;) :D
  3. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    All the top DXers in our DX Club (CW OPs), and DXpeditioners SWEAR by the K3. None choose a FTdx5000 over the K3. K3s are cheaper too. But I STILL want a FTdx5000. I am not a PRO CW user, but as I have found out from the 7O6T DXpedition, if there is ANY HOPE to working them, U have to be able to separate their signal from the massive amounts of LIDS who call back on THEIR frequency!
    Only rigs of the calibre listed can do this. CW filters are no help. You NEED DSP to erase the CLOWNS and pull the rare DX signal out from the mess. So THAT is why I need a FTdx5000. It is my ONLY HOPE of working stations such as this. But I probably take a K3 too. All these TOP DXers can't be wrong. It just doesn't have as many PRETTY KNOBS as the 5000!
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Where's the DX-60/NC-300 choice? Unfair.:eek:

    I think when it comes to CW rigs, the important stuff is:

    -Listenability; a receiver you can listen to for hours on end without it being tiring.
    -Clean QSK transmission; not cutting off the leading edge of a dit or dah at 40 wpm, not generating any key clicks, and occupying minimum spectrum possible
    -Clean QSK reception; being able to hear someone break in between characters at 40+ wpm
    -Great AGC flexibility; from OFF to SLOW, with adjustments in between
    -Excellent physical user interface; making it easy to adjust power, sending speed, AGC, RX bandwidth (filters), passband tuning, notch filtering, RIT, etc on the fly without having to touch more than one front panel control for any of those
    -Everything else

    Seriously, one of the most important things for me when operating for extended periods is using a receiver that doesn't make me tired. MANY modern all-digital rigs are tiring to listen to, especially on a crowded band. Most old analog receivers aren't tiring at all, but of course may lack the performance of modern stuff; so it's a tradeoff.
  5. N5XM

    N5XM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had a 7600 for about a year and a half and I love it. I also have an Orion and an Omni VI+, and each radio has a different kind of sound. I've never owned or used a K3, so I can't comment, except for the obviously superior receiver numbers. I don't use DSP unless the signals are fairly strong, but I do keep the BW at 100Hz. I'd like the purest CW signal possible, but with the variabiity of QRN out there, I've concluded that compromise is a reality, as is synthesizer noise. It seems to me that we've reached the point of diminishing returns as far as HF radio is concerned. I'm not sure how much better they can get. You need to find someone with a K3 and really put it through its' paces. It might be what you're looking for.
  6. W7TRP

    W7TRP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I cannot give an honest comparison performance wise. However, I have seen the K3 up close and it is way too small in size for me. I much prefer the larger radios. I do not go on DXpeditions, so the weight factor does not concern me. I would shove it off the back of the bench every time I try to push a button. I am sure the K3 is a great performer as many have testified, but I am very happy with the FTdx5000MP. It has one of the quietest receivers I've had the fortune to use and it has BIG knobs, and feels well built contrary to another posters opinion. I do currently own an Orion, and a Pro 3, along with the 5000. The Orion with the new firmware is right on the 5000's heals, but it does not quite out perform the 5000. I like my Pro 3 and will not ever sell it. It is on the small side however, but there are many other things I like about it, such as, it has an analog meter. The 7600 does not, so it lost my interest right there. I have had the notorious driver problem with my Pro 3on one occasion, and that has soured me on going with another Icom. Their PA's could be better designed, IMHO (eliminate the live bias when radio is not transmitting or when turned off).

    Just my two cents.
  7. KC0W

    KC0W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nope, 3 dB.

    Looking into my crystal ball I see the next generation of K3's (K4's?) being 200 watts output. Can't comment on the FTDX5000 but I love my K3's.

    Tom KCØW
  8. N0NUF

    N0NUF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    Yup, my bad. LOL. Double power = 3db. That's what I get for being gone for 10years...

    K4 ... Hmmm... Now, that's a thought. When would your crystal ball have foreseen this phenomenon? I could almost wait for a K4 if it is better than a K3. Regardless of output power.

    Thanks everyone for the comments thus far. Like the robot said... "More input!" lol.

    Best 73 everyone de Scott - n0nuf
  9. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm voting with you on this one. I like ICOM receivers but their transmitters could be better (unstable unless transmitting into a perfect 50 ohm load), this is from a former solid state transmitter designer.

  10. KC0W

    KC0W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have no personal knowledge regarding any new Elecraft radios on their drawing board.

    It would make logical sense for the K3's successor to be a K4 though. The subject of what the new rig will have incorporated in it has been rehashed over & over again on the Elecraft reflector.

    My personal opinion is that any new Elecraft flagship rig will still remain rather small in stature. Possibly have a P3 pan adapter built in, 200 watts output, and for once & all have buttons dedicated for each band rather than the harebrained scrolling up or down to change bands the K3's have now.

    Either rig you choose would probably be a winner. I would absolutely, positively NOT get Yaesu's pan adapter for the FTDX-5000. It's a complete joke of skullduggery and tomfoolery by Yaesu. Purchase either LP Pan or get Elecrafts P3.

    Tom KCØW
  11. N0NUF

    N0NUF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yaesu Pan adapter? Are you refering to the DMU-2000? I was wondering what they put in that big box for that big price. Didn't seem like much. Or the internal board that plugs into the SDR?

    Scott - n0nuf
  12. N5XM

    N5XM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't laught at me too hard, but I would like a radio with a direct conversion receiver, selectable roofing filters, a digital preselector for every band, and a modern adjustable ACG like the Orion. Add two receivers/vfos, a good DSP system, a couple of crystal filters for CW, modern PBT and diversity reception, and I'd be very happy. Ten Tec, are you listening?
  13. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is one clear winner and I'm sure your dealer told you what it is the #1 rated radio in ALL of the tests ran Sherwood, QST and 5 others it's the FTDX-5000MP. As of right now it still has no real competition in a full featured radio I would invite you to check all the reports and the new one as as the CW part on the 5000 they have improved it greatly since the introduction hardware/firmware. I personally have owned the 7700 when I bought the 5000 and sold it shortly afterward 2 yrs ago. Now I have the FTDX-5000 a IC-9100with all filters and a Elecraft that I just finished building a new K2/100. All are good radios with decent receivers the IC-9100 for a all band all mode Very good on HF I was surprised it was bought mainly for the UHF/VHF/1200/D-Star the K2 will hold it own for what it is and the low cost a winner.

    But for the overall winner it has to be the Yaesu beyond a doubt unless you want to carry it around with you at 50#. It has the best receiver of them all and if you can't hear you can't work them is true plus 200w output. It is an operators radio with controls right in front of you not buried in menus layers deep and tailored sound to your voice excellent audio. I have had mine for over 2 years now and not a single problem ever flawless. Worth noting there are many Contest stations that are going to the FT-5000's and not the K3's as some would have you beleive Yaesu radio's have been the Contester's choice for a very long time. The Station Monitor's scope leaves something to be desired but it's cheap and the speakers alone are worth it personally I would still buy another "MP" model I like the options.

    As for the DXpeditions going with the K3's yes they do as a matter of fact, BUT they get them for free and don't have to take there own radios plus they have to "advertise" what they let them use. The other reason is they will run off of 12v and only weigh a few pounds and are very small those are the reasons.

    It really boils down to it you want a portable rig or a base, buy the time you dress out a K3 it is very close to the price of a base model 5000 and the K3 still lacks a lot of the features of the 5000 has as a base model.
  14. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    And here I am running an Eico 720 and HQ-129X. Personally, I am bad at making choices when it comes to radios. When it comes down to it if I am stuck on which radio I like better I buy both. Not an option for all people.

    I will be picking up a K3. My reasons are simple, it gives stellar performance in a fitting package for my current situation. I am currently living in a flat in Spain. Space conservation is something that is encouraging to me. Also, I go to out country house every weekend therefore the portable aspect is a plus. Also, I like the fact that upgrades are continuously released for the radio. New accessories, new modules, etc. Around the time I normally get bored with a rig and trade it in for something new I can just add something else to the K3. (I grow bored with a rig in about 12-18 months time.

    To each their own.
  15. NZ9Y

    NZ9Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    I met a fellow recently that is 99% CW only op, and heavy into contesting. This guy ragchews CW at 35-40 wpm during his commute to work.

    I was in his shack briefly and noted an IC-756Pro3, some pretty Heath stuff, and at the place of honor was a rig I didn't recognize.

    I asked, "Whats that?"
    He replied, "K3". "Why not use the Pro3?". "Cuz the K3 is the best CW reciever." he replied.

    Naturally, being the biased Icom fanboy that I am, I chortled, "I'd lie to see that!" He proceeded to demontrate in a manner that even I could hear. It was clearly superior as a CW reciever to the Pro3. I'm no expert but this guy virtually worshipped his K3 and he easily had the means to but any rig he wanted.

    One thing to note on the IC-7600, if you are always twisting the PBT tighter, it is more effective if you actually make the filter narrower instead.
  16. W1TXT

    W1TXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Scott. I have the K3 - actually, the K-Line. I've operated all of the current Yaesu, ICOM and Kenwood radios and like the K3 best of all. When I first purchased the K3, I had an almost complete FT-2000 line and felt the K3 purchase was a mistake. I gave it time though, and after a month or so, sold all of the Yaesu gear.

    If you like the feel a of a large radio the FT-5000 is the way to go as it's performance is excellent, although the bandscope is slow and under powered IMO. If you want a modular, expandable radio that has an outstanding receiver and a much lower entry price, the K3 is the way to go, but understand that as you add option after option, the price will approach that of the FT-5000.

    One of the things I've learned is to watch what contesters use. They're a pretty hardcore bunch when it comes to performance. Good luck with your decision and feel free to contact me w/any questions directly.

    Tom Kruczek
    W1TXT at arrl dotnet
  17. N0NUF

    N0NUF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    NZ9Y: I'm here to tell you, I have choked the 7600 to the max (narrowed the filter :p ). Depending on the signal and the noise, I use every option available on the rig. lol.
  18. N0NUF

    N0NUF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, wish there was a way to make the poll and have the 3rd option as fill in the blank. Would be curious what other people are choosing for option 3 on the poll. :) I'm surprised that more people haven't thrown their 2 cents into the pot. Thanks to those that have. Guess I'm just going to have to find someone with a K3 and have a demo... Anyone in Kansas City area with a K3?

    -Scott - n0nuf
  19. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't have a K3 but have used them a few times, and have several neighbors with them.

    I actually perfer my ORION (Ten Tec) in a few ways, mostly operability. The K3's receiver may be slightly better, but I honestly can't tell; and the ORION has a second receiver standard, not an option. I like its size and user interface better, and of course the spectrum scope is standard, and not an option. They're both excellent for QRQ QSK.
  20. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, gosh, I'm not a CW guy, so all the supposed problems with the FT-2000 and FTdx-5000 are lost on me. I'm not sure about the hollow knob comment, I find the tuning knobs on both fine [and I have both sitting here side by side]. The 5000 IS a superior radio to the 2000 but I'm not sure how much in the real world - my net guys cannot tell 'em apart on the air, both use the same microphone.

    The Dual VFO/Receive setup on the 5000 is much better and easier to use, plus you can diversity receive with two antennas and lock the VFO's together - this is pretty sweet. The noise reduction operations are easy on both but I think the 5000 just does a better job.

    Unlike Tom, I like the pan adapator, but then I don't know any better - it works, but if you are serious, you would put an SDR on the IF output, I'd think. the speakers, if you don't have a complex audio setup are VERY nice to my ears.

    Now, all that being said, I have a friend who's a top contester and uses a K3 [10 watts] infallably for field day and travels with it, but uses a IC-756 the rest of the time. He loves the K3 for CW, says it's a great rig.

    Totally useless, right?
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