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Discovery TX500 (Part 2)

Continuing the discussion from Discovery TX500 (Part 1) - #100 by W7MDN.

Previous discussions:

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I just got my Lab599 on Friday. It’s solid and feels smaller than the pictures online.
Batteries and connectors have been ordered, but no chance to test it from a Summit yet.

The DIY599 amp doesn’t allow for tuning in bypass mode. Hoping to get the amp before Summer.

Mike
VE7ESE

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I’m in the market for a TX-500. When first introduced, the MSRP was $789-ish. HRO currently lists them at $949. Anyone know why the price increase? I’ve read HRO was the only U.S. distributor.

There are problems with electronics parts in the world (some kind of crisis) thus most of RIGs will rise in price or already did this.

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I’ve used my TX-500 in all five of my activations, I can’t compare it with anything but the KX3 I had for a short period but I’m happier using the TX-500 outdoors than the KX3. I have it in Helikon Tex padded case with battery, cables and T1 ATU. That goes in a dry bag in the rucksack close to my back. I pratted about with connectors for the separate headset and use a Heil BM-17 single headset. Works really well with no complaints about my audio so far. I’m definitely an operator rather than an electronic guru and this radio gives me what I need and just works.

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I have yet to use mine from a Summit but I did use it the other day around lunchtime for about an hour from a POTA. EFHW feed point/radio on the ground inverted V about 15’ or so in the air.


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I forgot to mention I used my TX-500 with the Elecraft AX1 yesterday on 20m. All seemed to go well with QSO’s in Switzerland and Austria.

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What mode? I have been thinking about getting an AX1 but I don’t know CW.

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SSB, I don’t do CW. On one of my uses I got lots of euro traffic then realised I hadn’t fitted the counterpoise. It’s not a primary use but good as a backup when I’m out

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I would love to see your SSB contacts on the AX1. I know it’s not the best of antennas, but I want to have something that I can use Incase I don’t have the ability to use anything else. Also I want to go do all the DC POTAs with the smallest footprint

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Here’s my two QSO’s from Mon using the AX1

I understand they’re bringing out an AX2 next year. I’m after the extension for 40m but they’re out of stock over here.

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Sorry I misspoke or misunderstood, I thought you were saying you had used it in SSB more than just the 2 contacts.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for elaborating about your last activation and welcome to this addictive hobby!

For a comparison, I used as well the TX-500 and SSB, but made the following contacts one day before you did, by using a different antenna.

First I activated DM/BW-348 on 40m and 20m (54 contacts during 48 Minutes):

Afterwards I activated DM/BW-854 on 20m, 40m and 17m (48 contacts during 50 Minutes):

On this second summit, Sara @MW7SRA tried to chase me like you with an AX1 antenna on 20m but unfortunately, I couldn’t hear her. Since the same happened to me when I started more than two years ago with SOTA, me and others proposed Sara to use a more efficient antenna (see my comment).

Don’t get me wrong, I think the AX1 for its size is great and may be the only feasible solution on a very small summit, but definitely can’t be comparable with a bigger (wire) antenna.

In my case, I was using both times my compact 12m long backup EFHW antenna, because the usual 20m long full size EFHW antenna was faulty (still have to check it out). The setup time of both antennas is usually below five minutes, as can be seen on one of my YT videos.

There are so many different antennas to use and the current propagation condition is probably the most important success factor. I just want to propose to play and build different antennas, since you learn a lot and to me it’s great fun to experiment with the component that radiates your RF. Enjoy the hobby!

73 Stephan

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It’s definitely a compromise, but as always, whether something is worth it comes down to what is important to you at the time.

To be fair to the AX1, though, I would like to point out that it in this case it could be just as much down to user error, as both the radio and the antenna are new to me, and I only tried TXing a couple of times as I didn’t want to worry the other visitors. :smiley:

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Absolutely!

After a long break with ham radio and the start of SOTA, I watched some YT videos and got the wrong impression, that during my radio pause physics had changed. Obviously, this was not the case :wink:

And yes, I remember my learning curve at the beginning, not only with antennas.
In theory all looks easy, but along the way until the summit, there may be obstacles that you didn’t take into account. But exactly that is what makes SOTA so interesting, e.g. to deal with an unplanned situation.

Fortunately, after the initial couple of activations and when I experimented with different antennas, I always took at least one proven antenna as spare with me.

73 Stephan

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I would never use the AX1 as a replacement it would be for a summit with no room / POTA that I need a small foot print. I have thought about getting a Buddistick Pro, but they are pricey and heavy. I had a WRC but it would upset me while I was using so I sold it. I love the ease of using EFHW and not having to change anything with the antenna when switching bands.

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The second batch of TX-500’s have now landed in the UK - mine arrived this morning. First impressions after a little CW chasing is very positive, and it’ll certainly save some weight and space in the rucksack and I really like the design and engineering. A quick A/B rx check against my IC-705 showed it was equally able to pick out very weak signals.

A quick heads up though for anyone else upgrading the firmware to 1.12.0, as well as the improvements to AGC this also introduces a new menu item “32 Tune Ref” which allows you to trim the TCXO DAC setting. On mine, after the upgrade I couldn’t hear the same stations anymore compared to my IC-705 but I guessed fairly quickly the problem - the firmware update had initialised the TCXO DAC value to +1000, putting the radio several kHz off the indicated frequency.

Simply setting the “Tune Ref” parameter back to zero fixed it, so worth checking after you’ve done the upgrade.

73, Jonathan

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Interesting, after updating the firmware last week, mine was on zero.

Last Saturday, I met @HB9ZAP and updated the firmware of his TX-500 in a restaurant, after we did a joint activation. But I didn’t check the menu “32 Tune Ref”.

Maybe we’ll have a TX-500 S2S in the near future :smiley:
Enjoy your new toy!

73 Stephan

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I suspect it might depend on whats been in the EEPROM before (they usually default to all 1’s). I know how easy it is to get tripped up on bugs like that, where your development boards have had lots of previous releases running on them and might not behave the same as a new radio. On our automated test systems at work we routinely erase all the flash to try to avoid this, but it can still bite :slight_smile:

Done a bit more testing and I’m really liking it. There’s the occasional very weak internal spurious on RX, but because its easy to switch between direct conversion and low IF modes thats absolutely no problem (and once on a better antenna I think they’ll disappear into the noise).

The user interface is very well thought out and I think will be quite useable in poor weather conditions.

Looking forward to that contact Stephan :grinning:

73, Jonathan

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I have. Each time I take it out I get contacts on 20m and all in Europe. No UK or Irish QSO’s. I just loaded up todays activation and got 6 contacts, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria. No ones more surprised than me. I did try to get a chum up a hill 20 or so miles away and we could barely hear each other. I carry it in a wee Maxpedition pouch as a secondary and backup antenna.

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Cheers Stephan, normally I use a Bandspringer or a Bandhopper for HF. The AX1 is heavily compromised but it’s small enough to give me something to use for an aerial. It’s not my primary aerial but a wee handy one.

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