NCX-3 vs. TS-510

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by GM0MOP, Aug 9, 2019.

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  1. GM0MOP

    GM0MOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi All

    I was offered a deal locally for either NCX-3 or TS-510. I am not sure which one would be better option for me. They both seem in good condition, but the seller doesn't know anything about them, because he was given them by his relatives. It is not very local to me, and I must drive about 60 miles to get it or have a look, but I wouldn't like to go there and just come back with empty handed. In order to make decision, and bring one with me, I need some solid information about them.

    I do like old classic tube rigs, because of their audio and fun in use etc, but I don't have much experience in restoring or repairing them. Well, I did some, but it wasn't ham radio. I once restored old tube record player and AM radio from 1940s, but that does not give me confidence restoring ham radio such as NCX-3 or TS-510.

    So which one would be better one? They both seem great reviews, and good rigs at the time, and I would like to get one, and maybe do some work on it, if needed, and use it as my rag chew rig on 20m and 40m.

    Have you had one of these, and or still using one? Have you restored one of them?
    Which one would be easier to work on for a novice ham like me?
    Which one is better performer? Why?

    Thanks & 73
  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU QRZ Lifetime Member #133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Given that choice, I'd go with the TS-510 if for no other reason than it covers 5 bands - the NCX-3 only covers 3 bands. Both were pretty comparable otherwise - decent for what they are.

    But neither is a stellar performer IMO. I'd hold out for something better like a TS-520/530 (WARC bands version)

    K9ASE likes this.
  3. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would say that is a "draw" between them.
    The TS-51o is the functional equivalent of the SB-1o1 with 6146B finals, but I feel that the build quality in the NCX-3 may be better.

    The NCX-3 uses 6GJ5 sweep tube finals which are not as robust as the 6146.

    If you get the manual for the TS-510, read and smile about the description of the cabinet style: 11300 (2).jpg
    The RF performance is about the same, and representative of the mid-1960s.

    GM0MOP likes this.
  4. GM0MOP

    GM0MOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for your info and advice. It is now quite rare to spot good TS-520 or 530 now. I see one or two now and then in eBay, but they are for collection only and 3-400 miles away from me.

    I am not too much concerned about above 20m bands, because these days with sun spot min cycle, there is hardly anything above 20m. My fav. bands are 20 and 40m.

    Between NCX-3 and TS-510, which one would be easier to service / restore?

    73 de Jay
  5. W7UUU

    W7UUU QRZ Lifetime Member #133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    You're not looking in the right places. There is a TS-520 for sale at my local club for $200!! (pick up only - the club does NOT ship).

    I picked up a TS-530S at an estate sale recently for $185 in excellent condition - the SK was the original owner.

    They sold THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of the TS-520/530 series radios - if you're patient, you will find one

    GM0MOP and N2EY like this.
  6. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You can download the manual for the NCX-3 here:

    and the manual for the TS-510 here:

    The NCX-3 is simpler, but requires some serious test gear for full alignment. The TS-510 is more complex but has more features and bands.

    NCX-3 uses the pricey 7360 tube in the balanced modulator. It is also useless on CW; doesn't even transmit and receive on the same frequency! The TS-510 is a much better performer.

    If it were me, and those two were the only choices, TS-510 would win.
    WA7PRC and GM0MOP like this.
  7. GM0MOP

    GM0MOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, I once had a Ts-520, and it worked great, but looking inside, it was not simple radio. And it is a hybrid radio with tube output, so different kettle of fish? Yeah, if I keep watching for them, eventually I will get them. But these NCX-3 and TS-510 are going for real cheap, so its a plus point. And I prefer simpler radios that work well, and serviceable by replacing parts just like the AM all tube radio from 1940s I have restored with success.

    Thanks for the manuals link. Great stuff.

    tks & 73
    de Jay
  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Taking the "quirks" of the NCX-3 into account, and also considering that 7360s and sweep tubes may cost a fortune, the TS-510 probably has fewer surprises for a comparatively new-comer.

    Also, the valve/tube complement in the TS-510 is more "European".

    Finally, check if the 500 Hz filter in the TS-510 is fitted. This addition makes it a quite passable Morse performer.

    The TS-510 at my University (SK6AB) radio club served admirably as the "back-end" of the 70 cm and 23 cm transverters back in the 70s.

    I have a somewhat "soft spot" for this type of gear since.

    AC8UN, GM0MOP and N2EY like this.
  9. GM0MOP

    GM0MOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, the TS-510 sounds better rig for daily use. I hope it will be still available for sale when I get there early next week.

    I quite liked the received audio of the NCX-3, and the way it looks as a boat anchor on this video.
  10. WA2CWA

    WA2CWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've owned a National NCX-3 since the early 70's. Actually used one when they first came out in the 60's. It was a demo at the Lafayette Radio store I worked at. I always liked the NCX-3 but I liked the National NCX-5 a lot more. There were a number of service addenda issued on the NCX-3 early on. Almost seemed like a work in process. It's most notable pain was no RIT. Could be used on AM but only on one sideband and it only covered 80-40-20. The 7360 never seemed to be a problem since I had other rigs that used them. Plus, with some rewiring of the 7360 tube socket there were subs that could be used that were more common. The NCX-3 was all hand wiring and there were various sections that are somewhat tight but it's a great sounding rig on SSB. I try to use both my NCX-3 and NCX-5 on the air on a regular basis.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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