A Few Words on my SGC SG-2020

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by KM4DYX, Dec 28, 2017.

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  1. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recently acquired an SGC SG-2020 and I thought that my fellow QRPers here on the zed might be interested in a few notes on this unique little rig.

    I'm interested in portable rigs above all others. My first rig, an FT-817ND, checked a lot of the right boxes, but there are times when 5 watts just isn't enough. The SG is adjustable from 1-20 watts. Not a huge jump up in power, but 20 watts for SSB can make all the difference, as I confirmed with on-air testing using a websdr.

    My first impression was that this was one solidly built transceiver. Not MILSPEC, but certainly commercial quality. If looks matter, the SG 2020 looks the part.

    The first accessory that I ordered for the SG was a Signalink USB sound card for digital modes. I was really pleased at just how plug-n-play that turned out to be. I seem to remember a fair amount of menu diving with my 817 in order to get it to perform for digital modes. The SG was simple: plug everything up, put the rig in USB, and get on the air. My first attempt at linking with a Winlink gateway was a success. My next several attempts were NOT successful, however, and here I learned the first quirk about the SG: frequency stability is not it's forte. Long story short, a little up and down dialing may be required to get on freq.

    Another quirk: if the SG isn't connected to a power source it looses it's preset memory channels. An annoying "memory channel recovery procedure" is required.

    Phone tests using a websdr confirmed that the mic worked just fine, then I put the mic away because I'm really focusing on CW for now. After about 20 attempts to get my Palm Mini key to work the SG finally started transmitting; must have needed loosening up a bit. I'm really too new to know, but I have had several comments from other CW operators indicating that the rig sounds good.

    The rig has a fixed nominal 650 Hz BFO offset, which is quirky. From what I can tell it's actually closer to 635, quirkier still. The adjustable 100 Hz-2.7 KHz receiver bandwidth works well for CW; the pass band tuning feature is handy, also, but I'm still getting used to how best to employ it. RIT and SPLIT are easily accessed. The ADSP function seems to work as advertised.

    Again, I'm too new to know how the receiver compares to other rigs, but using the bandwidth adjustment, turning the volume all the way up, and using the RF gain to control the volume seems to very effective at pulling in weak signals. The downside of that is another quirk: the CW side tone volume is controlled by the volume button; ouch!

    Still having loads of fun trying to figure out how to best use the features of this new old rig.

    Hope to see you all on the air where I can abuse you with my shaky fist.

    KC8VWM likes this.
  2. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I finally sold my SG2020 when it hit EOL. It is good SSB rig, but not really something I would recommend for CW work.

    The only drawback I saw over the years was the voracious appetite for current, even at low power and low volume.

    Best of luck on your CW work, can be a lot of fun.
  3. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the feedback. Nice QRZ page; that large ALICE photo brings back a lot of (painful) memories. Perhaps we crossed paths at some point.

  4. W4KYR

    W4KYR Ham Member QRZ Page

    With the SGC-2020 there are trade offs...There are better radios out there than the SGC-2020, however this puts out 20 watts and is built rugged. It can run on voltage higher than 13.8 but less than 18 volts thus making it a good candidate for using two 7.2 volt battery packs in a series. This is a good radio to use in the field for SSB...

    The audio isn't good, the CW relay clacks, it drifts, the accessories like the battery pack are impossible to find and way over priced ($550 new). With the availability of 3D printing these days someone could produce a near copy of the original battery pack for $100 or less.

    Owners manual for the SGC Porta Pack

    You can build your own battery pack

    There are three versions of the SG 2020, the older model came without ADSP, a newer model with ADSP and the last model with ADSP2...

    If you want a rugged radio that will put out 20 watts and mainly use SSB and don't mind some drift...then the SG 2020 is for you. If you want something that sounds good, has a lot of features and really doesn't drift ...then look elsewhere . If you run across a working SGC-2020 (non ADSP) for around $300 - $350 pick it up...Anymore and your better off spending extra money on an Ft 817 instead (even though it is only 5 watts)...

    Reviews Summary for SGC SG 2020

    Reviews Summary for SGC SG-2020 ADSP

    Reviews Summary for SGC SG-2020ADSP2

    Modifications for the SGC 2020

    SGC 2020 with battery pack recently sold here on QRZ

    SGC 2020 with battery pack

    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  5. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the info. My cup runneth over. "A rugged radio that will put out 20 watts." You would think that they would be easier to find.
    W4KYR likes this.
  6. W4KYR

    W4KYR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Occasionally eBay has listings for those surplus PRC HF Military Manpacks. And then there is the Vertex VX 1210 with a 20 watt output, they were pretty pricey at $1700, not including accessories when new.
    I thought I read that they are discontinued now. The least expensive seems to be the SGC SG 2020....

    Vertex VX 1210


  7. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    AJ6KZ and MM3ENM like this.
  8. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    where's the key?
  9. K3UJ

    K3UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    A few comments from a fellow owner.
    Frequency stability, never had an issue. Made a lot of PSK contacts through mine and always had a vertical trace.
    Confused about you losing memory information. That should not happen.
  10. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey Rich, maybe freq stability is not the right term; what I mean is that the displayed freq seldom reflects the actual freq. It's usually, but not always, off about 200 Hz. Not at all an issue with CW, but I do have to play with the dial a bit to get on freq with Winlink gateways.

    The memory loss issue is well documented by other users. The recovery procedure is in the manual. An annoyance, but not a mission stopper.

    Please do share more of your experiences with this neat little rig.


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