Trying to decide on new radio -- feedback welcomed!!

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by VA3XMR, Feb 20, 2016.

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  1. VA3XMR

    VA3XMR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well hello everyone. I live in Toronto, Ontario, which somewhat limits my options for radio purchase as many US sellers only want to ship to CONUS, and overseas shipping is prohibitively expensive. So ideally, I'd love to find a local or Canadian seller, but that's beside the point.

    I've owned a Kenwood TS-820S for almost two years, and I love it. I will probably never sell or trade it as it's my first radio, and it sounds great. Eventually I'd like to buy some accessories for it.

    My debate is on which Kenwood model to buy next. I am leaning towards the TS-440S/AT or TS-450S/AT, possibly the TS-850 but that starts to get out of my price range.

    The features I am looking for are basic computer interface capability. I have read the manual for the TS-450S/690S, and it has a TNC connection, which is what I would like to do. Interfacing it to a computer for other digital modes is fine as well. I haven't read through the whole 440 manual yet, but I think it has a similar feature. A couple of questions for owners of the TS-450 -- is there actually a serial interface? Does this allow rig control, or is it only for interfacing with TNCs? It also has a RTTY terminal (as does my TS-820S) so using a serial port, connected to a relay, is enough to key from a computer without needing to just send audio (I believe many different softwares allow keying RTTY through DTS while allowing CTS/RTS or another pin to key the radio, so I could easily build a little interface board.) Note: I just took a look at the 440 manual, and it does show data in and out pins on the ACC2 plug, but not sure what these actually control. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

    It sort of boils down to price. As a student, I don't have a lot of extra cash. I'd love to get a TS-440 or 450 for $500 or less, with or without shipping, but that might be a stretch for the 450. The 440 seems to regularly be listed for under $450, which is right up my alley. I know it has more power than my TS-820S. Here in Canada, as a Basic+, I can use up to 250W DC, 560W PEP, so I'd like to get a radio that can do closer to my current legal limit. The legal limit for advanced tickets in Canada is 1000W, and I could always get an amp later if that was something I was interested in.

    I know that some of these Kenwoods do not have AC connectors, and thus need an external DC supply, increasing the price by up to $200. It looks like both the 440 and 450 require external supplies. When did this changeover happen? I love that my TS-820S has an internal supply! I guess this makes them more optimal for mobile installation, but who has a TS-440 or 450 in their car?! It seems a bit large...

    Anyway, advice on which one to pick would be appreciated, or if you know more about other Kenwood models around my price range to look out for. I'm not terribly interested in ICOM (as they are typically much pricier)... I suppose I wouldn't terribly mind a Yaesu if I got one for a good price, but I'd prefer to stay with Kenwood.

    Any and all comments are appreciated!


    EDIT: It looks like the TS440 only needs a 4040 binary counter and 8251 USART chip installed to have rig control! Awesome, as these are easy to find chips and I bet many radios already have them installed.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  2. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would take take a pass on 440. It is getting very long in tooth and has known issues. 450 is newer but getting long in tooth too. Since you are leaning Kenwood I suggest a TS570. It is only out of production about 10 years and is a pretty reliable rig. I have owned one for 16 years. I replaced my TS 140 with it for digi as 570 as it supported FSK keying. Even a 140 is a more trouble free rig than 440 as it is a newer design than 440 and had a longer production run too. I owned a 850 once. I bought it to replace my 830 and after playing them sidebar side for over a week I sold 850 and bought 570 to replace 140. Your 820 is a good rig and other than some whistles and bells a 850 is no big up grade.
  3. VA3XMR

    VA3XMR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting advice. I did look at the TS-570 but they seem to be a bit more expensive. To be honest, I like the look and feel of the 440 better, but I really need to see and use one in person to have a good idea of what I should go for. I am going to a Ham Exhibition here in the Toronto area next month, and I should take a look around and try out some different rigs, see what I like. Thanks for the advice -- I appreciate it!

    Does the 570 have rig control built in?
  4. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    570 has remote control of rig via a RS 232 built in and was designed with better digi support as it has menu controlled audio input and output levels in rear data port independent of speaker or mic gain. 440 was a nice rig 25 or 30 years ago but not today and it has reliability issues with age and uses old style tuner too. 570 and never rigs us a solid state tuner that is very quick. 450 is a nice rig and if I would choose it over a 440 any day. I really like the LCD display on 570 that it easy to see in any light. If you do CW 570 has auto-tune of CW signal for desired side tone pitch which is a nice feature. It also has AF DSP which while fairly early in development it does give you some additional NB options than 440 or 450 does not have. Consider this you by a 440 it is 25 to 30 years old when you get it and reaching end of service life. A 450 is 16 to 25 years old and a 570 is about 7 to 15 years old. I know you have a old 820 but those are a different design and concept and they age better and it is easier to repair and keep alive than 440 or even a 450. For what it is worth.
  5. W8QLF

    W8QLF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have always considered the TS-450s/at one of the best radios that Kenwood ever made. They work great and the receivers are really sensitive. In fact I liked mine so much I purchased several of them just to have as spares. I have a box of them sitting in the other room that I went through a month ago to see how they work and each and everyone of them sounded identical. They all are about the same cosmetic condition 8 to 9 but I would consider letting one of them go. They have the auto tuner in them and they all work. If you can find a Kenwood TS-450S where you live. Snap it up. They are a great radio.
    W4WTS likes this.
  6. W4WTS

    W4WTS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I run a TS-450 myself. Darn nice radio for the money they're bringing.
  7. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Kenwood TS-440 has a better receiver vs the TS-450. The TS-450 close in range dynamic range is 20dB less. I think filter blow by was the issue.
  8. W8QLF

    W8QLF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've had several 440's and they were also a fine radio. But keep in mind that I did get rid of my 440's. They were both great radios. If I had to bet my life on any one of them I would say they were pretty much the same.
  9. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    You know the modern DNR makes SSB easy copy in a noisy environment. The Yaesu FT-450D is in the same used price class as an excellent condition TS-440 or TS-450.
  10. VE3TMT

    VE3TMT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You're kidding right? I've owned both and there's really no comparison. Throw a couple CW filters in the 850 and you have one of the best contest radios around.

    I agree with the TS-570 suggestion. It is a great radio for everyday operation. Has built in serial port for computer connection, good receiver and TX audio.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019

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