Yesterday while I was continuing my research into new rigs, my TS-850 stopped working with a dead silent receiver. I pretty much wrote off the rig thinking it wasn’t worth the repair and I would be getting out the credit card and picking up the phone to place an order for its replacement. But my good friend K3PH happened to see my rig death announcement on Facebook and posted a link to a Kenwood service bulletin about a known issue with Kenwood 850 receivers going dead. For giggles I opened up the rig and checked the “RXB” voltage point, and sure enough it had the symptoms of the issue. I replaced one culprit SMT diode with two run-of-the-mill 1N914 diodes and the rig came back to life. As if that wasn’t enough, the CW QSK is now much better, with full break actually much quieter and smoother than before. It’s like the rig has a second lease on life.
So for now the decision that seemed eminent is postponed while I enjoy my reborn Kenwood 850. I’m still mulling over the choices for a new rig, but I think I have it down to the Kenwood TS-590 and the Yaesu FT-950. Despite my initial thoughts of abandoning Kenwood altogether, the 590 seems to have some of the old Kenwood flair I liked years ago. I’ve ruled out the K3, KX3, and Ten Tec Jupiter. The Ten Tec Eagle is getting pushed out of the race. I haven’t seriously considered Icom, but perhaps I should take the extra time to look at them.
So far the Kenwood and Yaesu offerings are neck-and-neck in the race, though from review comments, going through the manuals, and my experiences with other Yaesu products, I get the feeling the Kenwood interface may be more user friendly than the Yaesu menus. I do like the front CW key jack, the separate RCA REC and PTT jacks, and the rotator integration feature in the Yaesu. I wish I had an amateur radio store nearby I could touch each of these rigs.
Last night I operated during the CQ 160 phone contest with the 850. I ran 100 watts to an inverted L with a meager seven or eight short radials on my acre lot, and I worked all but perhaps four or five stations in the midwest who couldn’t hear me. It was like shooting fish in a barrel and quite fun, and really speaks to what you can do with a modest antenna on 160.
Good morning Anthony, do post which rig you end up getting and let us know how it works for you as well. I have heard some great reports on the TS-590 rig.
I have a TS-440SAT and now a TS-590S. I bought it at Dayton for a little over $1500 shipped. If you wait until Dayton you will get the best deal. I’ve been so hopelessly busy since last May that I literally have minutes of operating time on a rig that’s almost a year old. Look at the TS-590 Yahoo group and every nitpick that could ever be had for the rig is there. None of them are a showstopper. What is nice is if you already have all your accessories, cabling for an amp, etc for your Kenwood rig it will almost be a drop in for the 850. Actually your 850 is new enough that you will not have the problem I did with the TS-440SAT power supply (Kenwood make) not having the correct cable and being about 10% “too low” on current supply spec (but probably fine actually) for the TS-590S. I bought a decent off brand switcher for the new rig (I needed another supply otherwise anyway).. but since your rig is two generations newer — the power supply you already have will probably be “plug and chug” too.
The user interface is Kenwood, so if you are used to it, then you’d quickly be up to speed on the ‘590. Also specification wise the TS-590 is clearly the superior rig to the Yaesu FT-950.
I hope this helps. I’d wait until Dayton and then call the biggies like AES, HRO in either case and ask for the show deal. They (or at least AES in the past) will give it to you regardless if you go or not.
Before buying an Icom, check reviews, and see how much time they spend in the shop. Don’t know about the newest ones, but I’ve had great luck with Yaesu, and Kenwood, and would highly recommend either. Good luck with whatever you choose!