Yaesu_VL-1000_Quadra_QST_review_2002
Product Review & Short Takes Columns from QST Magazine
January, 2002
Product Reviews
WiNRADiO WR-1550i Computer-Based Communications Receiver
Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra Linear Amplifier
Short Takes
Two from IZ8BLY: Stream and Vox Recorder
Copyright © 2001 by the American Radio Relay League Inc. All rights reserved.
PRODUCT REVIEW
WiNRADiO WR-1550i Computer-Based
Communications Receiver
Reviewed by Rich Arland, K7SZ
QST Contributing Columnist
Shortwave radio has been part of my
life since I was 9 years old. Dad’s old
Arvin console radio put the world at my
fingertips. The excitement of hearing history in the making by listening to shortwave broadcasts was—and still is—quite
a thrill.
Shortwave receivers have evolved tremendously since 1955. Vacuum tubes
were replaced with transistors, which, in
turn, gave way to integrated circuits and
surface mount technology. The size of the
receivers has shrunk dramatically. These
days, you can tune in the world with tiny
portable radios that are less than twice
the size of a pack of playing cards!
Enter the WiNRADiO model
WR-1550i. Just plug it into an empty ISA
expansion slot on your computer ’s
motherboard and hook up an antenna, and
the WiNRADiO will transform your PC
into a wide-range communications receiver. You’ll have instant access to frequencies from 150 kHz to 1.5 GHz in the
AM, narrow and wideband FM, CW and
SSB modes—all at the click of a mouse.
(WiNRADiO offers a wide variety of
both internal “card” and external “black
box” PC-based receivers. Visit www.
winradio.com for details.)
With a WiNRADiO-equipped computer, you can catch up on news of local
and world events delivered through the
AM, FM and shortwave broadcast outlets; eavesdrop on military/civilian HF
flight-following traffic and long-haul
maritime ship-to-shore transmissions;
monitor tactical FM frequencies used by
fire, police, EMS and the US government;
tune through most of the ham bands—and
lots more. If a radio signal exists somewhere between 150 kHz and 1500 MHz,
chances are you can receive it using the
WiNRADiO system. The cellular telephone frequencies are blocked, of course.
(We certainly wouldn’t want to violate
the Electronic Communications Privacy
Act of 1986, would we?)
Installation and Set Up
The WR-1550i package includes a cir-
cuit card (the actual receiver unit), a 3.5inch floppy installation disk, an indoor
“test” antenna, a User’s Guide and warranty information. The installation instructions are very concise and made the
job of getting this radio up and running
the proverbial “walk in the park.”
Installation of the card was totally
uneventful. The hardest part was getting
the darned cover off the computer cabinet! I had two unused ISA expansion
slots, so I put the card into the bottommost slot. The factory default jumper setting for the I/O address (180) worked
fine. I chose not to jumper the audio output of the radio card into the line input
of my soundcard. Instead, I just plugged
my computer speaker system directly into
the single 1/8-inch phono jack on the back
of the board.
Just a few minutes after I had the computer case buttoned back up, I had the
indoor test antenna connected to its BNC
terminal, the speakers plugged in and the
software loaded. I ran the indoor antenna
over to my shack window and connected
Bottom Line
Slip a WiNRADiO WR-1550i into
an expansion slot in your PC and
you’ll instantly transform it into a
sophisticated wide-range communications receiver.
Joe Bottiglieri, AA1GW
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
the end to a long-wire antenna I have up
outside. A second or two after I doubleclicked on the new WiNRADiO icon on
my computer screen the speakers came
alive with signals! There was some slight
interference generated by my computer
(as might be expected with this temporary indoor/outdoor antenna lashup) but
it was not objectionable.
I have a confession to make. I’m yet
another one of those guys who don’t like
to spend a whole lot of time wading
through the detailed operating instructions found in most manuals. I save that
exercise for those times when I really
can’t figure out how a feature works. I’ve
discovered that a little hands-on experience can substitute for page upon page
of text.
The WiNRADiO receiver presented
few challenges. It took me about 15 minutes of mousing around on the virtual
front panel to master nearly all of the
nuances of this receiver. To say that the
layout of the controls and the organization of the drop-down menus make operating this rig easy would be an understatement. If you’ve got a little common sense,
a bit of computer savvy and some basic
radio operating knowledge—you’ll
quickly master this rig.
The User’s Guide outlines all of the
various control operations in excruciating detail, but a quick glance at the uncluttered front panel that appears on the
monitor screen will immediately convey
Assistant Technical Editor
Table 1
WiNRADiO WR-1550i, serial number 107620
Manufacturer’s Claimed Specifications
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Frequency coverage: 0.15-1500 MHz (cell blocked).
0.15-1600 MHz, cell blocked.1
Modes of operation: FM, WFM, AM, USB, LSB, CW.
As specified.
Size (HWD): 4.5×0.7×11.4 inches; weight, 20.2 oz.
CW/SSB sensitivity (10 dB S/N): 0.5-1.8 MHz,
2.0 µV; 1.8-30 MHz, 0.3 µV; 30-1000 MHz,
0.3 µV; 1000-1500 MHz, 0.4 µV.
Noise floor (MDS): 1.0 MHz, –101 dBm; 3.5 MHz, –132 dBm;
14 MHz, –128 dBm; 50 MHz, –118 dBm; 144 MHz, –113 dBm;
222 MHz, –124 dBm; 432 MHz, –120 dBm; 902 MHz,
–120 dBm; 1240 MHz, –114 dBm.
AM sensitivity (10 dB S/N): 0.5-1.8 MHz,
10.0 µV; 1.8-30 MHz, 1.0 µV; 30-1000 MHz,
1.5 µV; 1000-1500 MHz, 1.9 µV.
AM narrow, test signal modulated 30% with a 1-kHz tone,
10 dB (S+N)/N: 1.0 MHz, 20 µV; 3.8 MHz, 0.6 µV;
53 MHz, 2.6 µV; 120 MHz, 2.3 µV; 146 MHz,
2.5 µV; 440 MHz, 1.8 µV.
FM narrow sensitivity (12 dB SINAD): 0.5-1.8 MHz,
2.5 µV; 1.8-30 MHz, 0.4 µV; 30-1000 MHz,
0.4 µV; 1000-1500 MHz, 0.6 µV.
FM narrow, 12 dB SINAD: 29 MHz, 0.75 µV; 52 MHz, 1.1 µV;
146 MHz, 0.83 µV; 222 MHz, 0.44 µV; 440 MHz, 0.69 µV;
906 MHz, 0.84 µV; 1296 MHz, 1.7 µV.
FM wide sensitivity (12 dB SINAD): 30-1000 MHz,
1.5 µV; 1000-1500 MHz, 2.5 µV.
100 MHz, 6.1 µV.
Blocking dynamic range: Not specified.
CW mode: 3.8 MHz, 49 dB; 14 MHz, 45 dB; 50 MHz, 35 dB;
144 MHz, 34 dB; 222 MHz, 52 dB; 432 MHz, 26 dB;
902 MHz, 26 dB; 1240 MHz, 39 dB.
Two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range: Not specified.
CW mode dynamic range and third-order intercept point
Frequency
Dynamic
Intercept Point 2
(MHz)
Range (dB)
(dBm)
3.8
53
–53
14
50
–53
50
50
–43
144
51*
–36
432
51
–43
902
n/a3
n/a3
1240
49
–40
Second-order intercept point: Not specified.
–14 dBm.
FM adjacent channel rejection: Not specified.
20 kHz channel spacing: 29 MHz, 45 dB; 52 MHz, 46 dB;
146 MHz, 33 dB; 440 MHz, 37 dB; 906 MHz, 53 dB;
1296 MHz, 41 dB.
FM two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range: Not specified.
20 kHz channel spacing: 29 MHz, 45 dB*; 52 MHz, 46 dB*;
146 MHz, 33 dB*; 440 MHz, 37 dB*; 906 MHz, 48 dB;
1296 MHz, 41 dB*; 10 MHz channel spacing: 52 MHz,
59 dB; 146 MHz, 67 dB; 440 MHz, 55 dB.
Squelch sensitivity (threshold): Not specified.
At threshold: SSB, 14 MHz, 25 µV; FM, 29 MHz, 1.1 µV;
52 MHz, 0.62 µV; 146 MHz, 1.3 µV; 440 MHz, 0.43 µV;
906 MHz, 0.42 µV; 1296 MHz, 1.4 µV.
S-meter sensitivity: Not specified.
“45” indication4: 14 MHz, 23 µV; 50 MHz, 97 µV;
144 MHz, 266 µV; 430 MHz, 85 µV; 902 MHz,
14 µV; 1240 MHz, 26 µV.
Audio output: 0.2 W into 8 Ω (THD not specified).
0.21 W into 8 Ω at 12% THD.5
IF/audio response: Not specified.
Range at –6 dB points (bandwidth): CW: 102-2127 Hz
(2025 Hz); USB: 385-2294 Hz (1909 Hz); LSB: 1192234 Hz (2115 Hz); AM: 96-1249 Hz (1153 Hz).
Spurious and image rejection: Not specified.
IF rejection: 14 MHz, 96 dB; 144 MHz, 58 dB; 430 MHz, 44 dB;
902 MHz, 35 dB; 1240 MHz, 14 dB; image rejection: 14 MHz,
75 dB; 144 MHz, 87 dB; 430 MHz, 4 dB; 902 MHz,
0 dB; 1240 MHz, 18 dB.
Except as noted, all dynamic range measurements were taken using the ARRL Lab standard spacing of 20 kHz.
*Measurement was noise limited at the value shown.
1
Sensitivity degrades below 0.5 MHz. Cell blocked 869-895 MHz.
2
Intercept points were determined by noise floor reference.
3
Could not be measured due to blocking response.
4
Meter reads in “dB above the noise floor” according to manufacturer. Using the quasi-standard of 6 dB per S-unit, S9 equals 45 dB. The meter
can be calibrated through software (see text).
5
Output at 10% THD was 20 mW.
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
Figure 1—The virtual front panel of the WiNRADiO WR-1500i
communications receiver. Don’t let its simple appearance fool
you—this receiver is packed with sophisticated capabilities.
a good sense of its simplicity (see
Figure 1).
A Tour of the Controls
The main tuning “knob” is located directly below the digital frequency display—the most prominent feature on the
virtual front panel. Placing the cursor on
top of the tuning knob and holding down
the left mouse button varies the frequency
either up or down, depending upon the
position of the cursor on the knob. You
can also punch in frequencies directly
with the number keys on your computer
keyboard. (Nearly all of the radio’s controls can be alternatively operated using
keyboard commands.)
There are four tuning step configurations available: fixed, auto, memory and
duplex. “Fixed Stepping” is useful when
tuning AM/FM broadcast stations and
other “channelized” radio services. “Auto
Stepping” is an enhanced form of fixed
stepping where the step size and receive
mode is directly dependent upon the specific frequency range you’re tuning. (You
set this up by typing information into a
table in a submenu. It’s a very simple
operation.) “Memory Stepping ” is used
to move through the stored memory frequencies. “Duplex Stepping” makes the
task of jumping between the two sides of
a duplex communication a snap.
The receive mode is selected by clicking on one of six buttons located in a
group to the left of the main tuning knob.
Volume and squelch are controlled by two
sets of up/down arrow buttons on the far
right side of the front panel. Their relaFrom January 2002 QST © ARRL
Figure 2—The ’1550i’s RF Spectrum Scope can sweep through
a range of frequencies and generate a graph of relative signal
strength. The mouse cursor can be used to instantly tune the
receiver to interesting “peaks.”
tive levels are shown numerically, and
there’s even a handy MUTE button that
can instantly silence the receiver.
Sensitivity is controlled by a pair of
buttons located immediately to the left of
the digital frequency display. The “DX”
setting provides maximum sensitivity; the
“local” setting activates an 18-dB attenuator that’s helpful in cases of interference,
intermod or overload.
Directly under the digital frequency
readout is an alphanumeric comment
field that displays text that relates to the
tuned frequency. When the radio is in the
VFO mode, for example, tuning the receiver anywhere between 14 and 14.35
MHz will bring up the message “Amateur Band (20-metre).” Programmed
memories are capable of displaying any
desired text—up to 34 characters in
length—in this same field.
Sampling the Spectrum
The first time you power it on, the
WiNRADiO receiver comes up on
10 MHz. The memories are empty and
the tuning step rate is 5 kHz. WWV on
10 MHz can occasionally be a bit difficult to hear in my neck of the woods. I
moved up to 15 and then 20 MHz by
changing the step size from 5 kHz to
1 MHz and clicking the mouse on the up/
down arrow buttons to the right of the frequency display. Hey! This is really
simple.
All of the IF filters in the radio are
preset for their respective modes. These
are fixed—the user cannot vary the
bandwidth—and this can lead to some
frustration when you’re trying to separate
signals on a crowded band. IF/BFO shift
is available in the SSB/CW modes. Some
form of external active audio filtering,
with notch, would be a great enhancement.
In the SSB/CW modes the BFO can
be adjusted in 5-Hz steps up to 3000 Hz
above or below the displayed frequency.
As with most of the functions on this virtual receiver, the shift value is controlled
by using up/down arrow buttons. A
RESET button immediately returns the
offset to the default value.
It was time for a visit to the HF shortwave broadcast portion of the spectrum—
the frequencies around 5.9, 7.2 and 9.5
MHz are known to be popular shortwave
watering holes. Grab the mouse—click,
click, click—and there it is—BBC World
Service on 5.975 MHz. WOW! This is
neat! A few more clicks of the mouse and
I’m listening to Deutsche Welle—The
Voice of Germany—on 9.515 MHz. Oh,
I’m beginning to fall for this little rig!
I tried an old shortwave listener’s
trick. I switched the receiver into the SSB
mode and tuned in an AM shortwave
broadcaster. This interference-fighting
technique is commonly known as ECSS
(for Exalted Carrier Selectable Sideband). The idea is to isolate either the
upper or lower sideband portion of the
AM signal within the narrower filter used
in the SSB modes. This can reduce interference from nearby stations. I found this
effective in several instances.
Our local police department communicates on 154.485 MHz, so I moved from
the HF to the VHF portion of the radio
spectrum to give that a listen. Setting the
squelch is as simple as clicking on the
pair of arrow buttons that increase and
decrease the squelch sensitivity. A bar
graph relative signal strength meter—
calibrated in dB—on the lower right hand
portion of the front panel is a welcome
tuning aid. By watching the peak signal,
it’s easy to adjust the squelch threshold
to a level where it will mute the receiver
and still maintain good sensitivity. This
meter functions in all modes. Calibration
software—Calibration Editor—is available for download free from the
WiNRADiO Web site. This will allow
you to recalibrate the meter indication independently for each mode.
Since I don’t keep my handheld scanner in the shack, I decided to load up a
few of the local VHF/UHF “action band”
frequencies into the memories. A click of
the S (store) button in the MEMORY control group brings up a submenu titled:
“Store Frequency Into Memory.” It’s a
simple matter to write the currently selected VFO frequency, mode and squelch
settings into one of the WiNRADiO’s
memory positions, and you can assign the
memory to one of 16 memory groups. A
memory channel lockout feature, for
locking a specific memory out of a
memory scan, is available.
Serious scanner listeners will be delighted to hear that optional software is
available that will allow this receiver to
follow trunked communications. Information on the WiNRADiO Web page indicates that the radio can track Motorola
SmartNet and MPT1327 systems.
You can store up to 1000 frequencies
in each memory file, and the number of
memory files that you can retain is only
limited by the available space on your
computer’s hard drive. You access memories by clicking on the R (recall) button.
This evokes the “Recall a Frequency from
Memory” submenu. Highlight the desired
memory in the list, click the mouse on it
and the radio instantly tunes to that frequency. Another optional software package—Database Manager—expands the
station information retained in the
memory files, allows you to sort through
the memory data, and lets you import frequency lists from other sources.
You can scan through the memories or
a specific range of frequencies by using
the buttons in the SCANNER button
group. You can even set up frequencies
or ranges of frequencies to exclude from
a VFO scan.
“Immediate Scanning” is quick and
simple. Just select the step size and then
click on the left/right arrow buttons in
this group and the receiver tuning will
take off in whichever direction you selected, stopping on active channels.
“Frequency Range Scanning” is accomplished by using the scanning options
menu and entering the start/stop frequencies, the step size, the mode and the
squelch settings into a table. You can even
select an “AutoStore” mode that will automatically write active frequencies directly into memories.
“Memory Scan” scans the frequencies
that are programmed into the memories.
The “Scanner Options” dialog box allows
you to select a variety of scanning settings including the scan rate, pause/stop
on active frequencies, the delay time, etc.
All in all, the WiNRADiO’s scanning
abilities are very impressive.
Another neat feature is the RF Spectrum Scope (see Figure 2). Activate this
feature and the receiver will sweep a selected frequency range and generate a
graph of signal strength versus frequency.
Once you’ve captured a trace, you hold
down the mouse button and drag the cursor up and down the trace to tune around,
or double click on a portion of the trace
to tune to the closest signal peak. This is
very handy when you’re searching for
interesting signals.
Digital mode fanatics may want to investigate the optional Digital Mode Suite
package. This software product provides
WEFAX, HF Fax, Packet and ACARS
decode capabilities. Additional features
include CTCSS squelch, DTMF decode,
a “Signal Classifier” function (that can
identify signals as noise, data or carrier
for improved scanning), an audio oscilloscope, a spectrum analyzer and a
squelch-controlled audio record and playback system.
I can’t over-stress the fact that this rig
is really simple to operate, which is a
definite advantage. The longer it takes to
become familiar with the operational
characteristics of a receiver, the less time
you’ll spend having fun doing what you
bought the radio to do—listening around
the bands. The WiNRADiO folks did
their homework on this one. The user interface software that they crafted for this
computer-controlled radio makes it extremely user friendly.
Performance Particulars
I’ve always been leery of “dc-to-daylight” receivers. Trying to cover this
much radio real estate in a single receiver
often leads to compromises in overall
performance. As the accompanying
ARRL Lab test results reveal, the
WiNRADiO WR-1550i receiver exhibits
some less-than-spectacular performance
characteristics (see Table 1). There are
rather mediocre blocking dynamic range
measurements. Sensitivity also suffers in
some instances (notice that the AM and
FM sensitivity specs are not met on several ham bands). Basically this means that
the ability of the WiNRADiO to hear very
weak signals, particularly in the presence
of strong close-in signals, is sometimes
impeded.
Does all this mean that the WiNRADiO
is not a “good” receiver? Not at all. Onair usage of the WiNRADiO was, even to
my seasoned tastes, quite enjoyable. I
found having almost instant access to such
a huge hunk of RF spectrum quite intoxicating. Add to this the absolutely fantastic computer/radio interface and this rig
can deliver a tremendous amount of listening enjoyment. In fact, I was simultaneously listening to BBC World Service
on 12.035 MHz reporting on the first
US military strikes against the Taliban in
Afghanistan while I was working on this
review!
There are a couple of things that I
would change on the WiNRADiO. First
would be the addition of some sort of AF
filtering with a tunable notch filter. Active audio filters are ultra simple to design and much less expensive than IF
crystal filters. Since the audio output of
this receiver can be jumpered back into
your soundcard, you could make use of
one of the soundcard-based audio filter
programs that are currently available.
Another feature I would like to see incorporated is AGC control. There are times
when it can be advantageous to turn off
the AGC, especially when there are strong
nearby signals that make the AGC “pump.”
Would I go out and buy a WiNRADiO?
If I wanted to add receive capabilities
to the computer in my home office or
if I was looking for a wideband HF/
VHF/UHF/microwave receiver that
wouldn’t take up operating desk space in
my shack, I would definitely consider a
WiNRADiO. Although the overall performance may not be stellar, this is a very
user-friendly receiver that delivered a
great deal of listening enjoyment.
Manufacturer: WiNRADiO Communications, PO Box 6118, St Kilda
Rd, Melbourne 3004, Australia;
www. winradio.com. Price, WiNRADiO
WR-1550i: $549.95. Optional accessories: WR-TO Trunking Option, $99.95;
WR-DS Digital Suite, $99.95; WR-DM
Database Manager, $49.95. See
WiNRADiO’s Web site or contact QST
advertising for US dealers.
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra Linear Amplifier
Reviewed by Mark Wilson, K1RO,
QST Publisher
Convenience is something that many
people look for—and seem increasingly
willing to pay for—in life. No time to
cook dinner after work? That’s no problem—there’s plenty of takeout available,
or your local supermarket has the widest
variety of frozen dinners imaginable.
Can’t wait around the house for that
phone call? No problem, grab your cell
phone and go.
Over the years our ham stations have
gotten more convenient, with solid-state
transceivers, automatic antenna tuners,
multiband antennas, computer control
and the like. Despite the changes in station technology, many of the power amplifiers in use today require the operator
to change bands manually. That’s not difficult, usually involving turning the band
switch and adjusting the tune and load
capacitors, but it just seems like a hassle
when everything else in your station happens automatically.
The VL-1000 Quadra is Yaesu’s latest entry in the amplifier market, and it
is designed to add a lot of convenience
to your station. The Quadra is a solidstate, no-tune amplifier that uses eight
MRF150 power FETs to produce 1 kW
output on all amateur bands from 160
through 6 meters. The amplifier sells for
about $4000 and competes with highpower auto-tune tube amplifiers from
Alpha-Power1 and ACOM, 2 and with the
solid-state ICOM IC-PW1. 3
Features
The Quadra is actually two pieces—
the 46-pound VL-1000 RF deck and the
32-pound VP-1000 switching power supply. The power supply can sit on the floor
or some other convenient spot, connected
to the RF deck with two 6-foot cables
(one carries 48 V dc from the power supply; the other carries control signals). For
full power you need a 200-240 V ac supply (14 A max), but you can use it with a
120-V supply in the low power mode
(500 W out). Yaesu ships US-model
Quadras without an ac power connector
because of the wide variety of possible
configurations. A local home center had
the needed plug for the 240-V ac line in
my station. The Quadra detects the line
voltage and adjusts itself accordingly—
no jumpers or switches. I didn’t try the
amplifier at 120 V.
The RF deck houses the power ampli1Notes
appear on page 76.
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
fier circuitry, heat sinks, cooling fans,
antenna tuner, control circuitry, and
switching for up to four antennas and two
transceivers. The Quadra includes extensive protection circuitry. The amplifier
will take itself offline and display error
messages if the temperature, SWR, drive
power, drain voltage or drain current exceed the limits. It will also warn if there
is an imbalance among the four power
amplifier sections, if the connection between the power supply and RF deck
fails, or if your transceiver is set to a different band than the amplifier. An interesting feature exercises the relays periodically when the amplifier is not in use
to keep the contacts clean.
You communicate with the Quadra via
an LCD panel 8 inches wide by 2 inches
high, and a row of pushbuttons under the
display. Most of the display is devoted
to metering functions, and you switch
among them using the DISPLAY SELECT
switch. You can store and recall any two
options as DISPLAY 1 and DISPLAY 2.
Display options include various combinations of peak and average power, SWR,
drain current and voltage, and frequency.
The graphical SWR meter option shows
a graph of SWR with the tuner in and out
across the selected band. During antenna
Bottom Line
The Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra 1 kW
amplifier is a great way to boost your
signal on all bands from 160 to
6 meters. Although it’s designed to
work smoothly with Yaesu transceivers, you can use it in any station.
tuner adjustment, the display changes to
show an SWR bar graph in the center and
a graphic representation of two variable
capacitors in motion. You can dim the
display and adjust its contrast.
The bottom of the display shows the
status of the various switches. OPERATE
allows you to bypass the amplifier for
barefoot operation. LOW switches the
amplifier to low power (500 W). INPUT
selects between two transceivers that can
be connected to the rear panel. ATT
switches in a 3-dB attenuator for use with
transceivers that exceed 100 W. ANT
switches among the four antenna jacks.
TUNER switches the antenna tuner in and
out, while TUNE starts the automatic antenna tuning process. F SET is used to select the band when the Quadra is not connected to a compatible Yaesu transceiver.
Connections
You can connect two transceivers to
the Quadra and choose between them with
the front-panel INPUT switch. If you’re
using a recent Yaesu transceiver (FT-920,
FT-1000, FT-1000MP) with the Quadra,
an 8-pin “Band Data” cable provides control signals from the radio to automatically switch the Quadra to the appropriate band, handle TR switching, and turn
the Quadra’s power on and off when the
transceiver is switched on and off. There’s
a supplied ALC cable (phono plugs) to
connect to the transceiver’s ALC jack to
prevent overdriving the Quadra. Transceiver antenna connections are handled
by SO-239 jacks labeled INPUT 1 and
INPUT 2. BAND-DATA 2 has the same band
information as BAND-DATA 1, plus additional pins to close the transceiver’s
Table 2
Yaesu VL-1000, serial number 0K220026
Manufacturer’s Claimed Specifications
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Frequency range (US units): 1.8-2, 3.5-4, 7-7.3, 10.1-10.15, 14-14.35,
18.068-18.168, 21-21.45, 24.89-24.99,1 28-29.7,1 50-54 MHz.
As specified.
Power output: 1000 W PEP, all modes.2
As specified for SSB and CW.
Drive power required: 50-80 W.
Typically 40 W (band dependent).
Input SWR: 1.5:1 or better.
Typically 1.0:1.
Output matching: 16-100 Ω on 160 meters, 16-150 Ω on 80-10 meters
and 25-100 Ω on 6 meters.
As specified.
Spurious signal and harmonic suppression: 50 dB for HF, 60 dB for 6 meters.
60 dB on HF and 6 meters.
Intermodulation distortion (IMD): better than −30 dB typical.
See Figure 3.
Primary power requirements: 100-234 V ac (VP-1000 power supply).
Size (HWD): VL-1000 RF deck, 5.9 × 16.3 × 17.8 inches; weight, 46 lb.
VP-1000 power supply, 5.9 × 16.3 × 15 inches; weight, 32 lb.
1
2
See text.
On 200-240 V ac; de-rated to 500 W on 100-120 V ac.
PTT input line when the Quadra’s F-SET
button is pushed. If you’re not using a
Yaesu transceiver, you would use a phono
cable for TR switching ( PTT 1 or PTT 2)
and not use the BAND DATA jacks. You
also have to use the Quadra’s front-panel
switch to turn the power on and off.
The Quadra includes connections and
switching for up to four antennas, and the
control circuitry remembers which antenna is used for each band. In my station, I used these connectors for my
multiband beam (20-10 meters), 40-meter
dipole, 80-meter inverted V and 6-meter
Yagi. When the amplifier is off, antenna
“1” is connected to your transceiver.
0
Reference Level: 0 dB PEP
–10
–20
–30
–40
–50
–60
–70
–80
–10
–8
–6
–4
–2
0
2
4
Frequency Offset (kHz)
6
8
10
Figure 3—Worst-case
spectral display of the
Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra
amplifier during two-tone
intermodulation distortion
(IMD) testing. The worstcase third-order product is
approximately 32 dB below
PEP output, and the worstcase fifth-order product is
approximately 44 dB down.
The amplifier was being
operated at 1 kW at 14.010
MHz. The levels of the
third- and fifth-order IMD
products are higher than
those we have observed on
other recently reviewed
tube-type amplifiers.
Using the Quadra
The US version of the Quadra is
shipped without 10- and 12-meter operation enabled because of FCC regulations.
To enable 10- and 12-meter operation,
you need to contact Yaesu’s service department and provide verification of your
amateur license, and they will send details. The operation is not difficult and
involves internal jumpers and some programming via the front panel.
I used the Quadra with a Yaesu
FT-1000D and an ICOM IC-746. The
interconnections were straightforward—
INPUT 1, ALC 1 , PTT 1, BAND-DATA 1 for
the FT-1000, and INPUT 2 , ALC 2 and
PTT 2 for the IC-746.
Once everything is hooked up, the
manual advises you to check the drive
power. The Quadra wants to see 50-80
watts for normal operation. If your transceiver is capable of more than 100 W
output (like my FT-1000D), use the frontpanel ATT control to enable the input
power attenuator. Although the ALC level
is set to work with Yaesu transceivers, I
needed to adjust it slightly to get full
1000 W output with my FT-1000D. That
involves entering the “ALC alignment
mode” and watching the front-panel
display while using the DISPLAY 1 and
DISPLAY 2 buttons to increase or decrease
the ALC voltage. ALC adjustments for
the two inputs are independent of each
other. The ALC range is 0 to −10 V dc,
which is also compatible with my IC-746
and most other modern transceivers.
The next step is to go through each
band, select the appropriate antenna, and
adjust the antenna tuner if necessary. The
Quadra remembers which antenna you
last selected for each band, whether or
not the antenna tuner was used, and the
last tuner setting that was programmed.
The Quadra will put out full power into
an SWR of up to 2:1, so you don’t need to
use the tuner in many situations. A nice
feature is that if the antenna SWR reaches
2:1 and you’re not using the tuner, the
Quadra folds back into the low-power
mode but still puts out 500 W. When the
SWR goes below 2:1, the amplifier goes
back to high power. The Quadra continues to work in the low power mode until
the SWR reaches 3:1; at that point it takes
itself offline and issues a high SWR warning via the front panel display.
The built-in antenna tuner can match
16 to 100 Ω on 160 meters, 16 to 150 Ω
on HF and 25 to 100 Ω on 6 meters. The
tuner came in handy for phone operation
with my 40-meter dipole, which is cut for
the CW end of the band. I also needed it
for some segments of 15 and 20 on my
Cushcraft X7 multiband beam. The X7
works on 12 and 17 meters but has an
SWR near 3:1 on those bands. The
Quadra’s tuner had no problem coming
up with a good match. The tuner can be
used when the amplifier is in standby.
During the course of our evaluation
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
Figure 4—The rear panel of the Quadra offers input, ALC, switching
and control connectors for two separate exciters and outputs for up to four antennas.
period, the ARRL Lab received correspondence from a member who reported
experiencing some unusual behavior
from his VL-1000 when transmitting on
80 or 160 meters. The Quadra includes
several cooling fans, and apparently when
the amplifier is operated at full output on
those bands, stray RF inside the amplifier enclosure causes a noticeable decrease in the motor speed of the fan that
cools the antenna tuner subassembly. The
member—in the finest of ham tradition—
had fashioned an RF shield for the fan
motor that eliminated the problem.
Our lab tested two different Quadras
(with the amplifiers connected to antennas and to dummy loads) and observed
similar fan motor behavior. Yaesu is investigating the problem, but states that
during typical transceive operation the
short-term decreases in cooling air flow
are unlikely to result in failures.
The one aspect of operation where the
Quadra could be more convenient is band
changes. Although the Quadra tracks the
band selections from my FT-1000D, it
doesn’t track frequency changes within
the band. For example, if I am on 14.025
and switch to 14.250, the frequency display on the Quadra doesn’t change and
the tuner settings don’t change to the right
ones for phone.
To change frequency, you set your
transceiver to RTTY or another carrier
mode and press the F-SET switch. If you
have the BAND DATA 2 cable hooked up
as shown in the manual, the Quadra keys
the PTT on your transceiver. If not, you
need to press the F-SET switch and then
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
put your transceiver into transmit. The
amplifier samples the incoming RF and
makes the adjustment. This is also the
procedure to change bands if you are using a non-Yaesu transceiver. There are no
front-panel band-selection controls.
If you need to use the tuner, press the
TUNE switch (again with the transceiver
in RTTY or another carrier mode) and the
amplifier will tune itself up in a few seconds. The amplifier remembers the last
tuner setting that you used for a band.
For example, if you have the tuner set for
40-meter SSB, move to 15 meters and
then back to 40 SSB, the Quadra remembers the 40 SSB settings. But if you move
to the CW end of 40, you have to use the
F-SET or TUNE switch to retune. On
bands where my antenna is broad enough
to do without the tuner, or on the narrow
17- and 12-meter bands where one setting works across the band, this isn’t an
issue.
The other high-power autotune amplifiers on the market are a little more “automatic.” The ACOM and Alpha 87A
products sense the drive frequency and
preset the tuning/loading capacitors really quickly (sending a dit on CW or
speaking a syllable on phone will usually
do it). The ICOM IC-PW1 tracks operating frequency via the CI-V system and
updates the tuner settings to saved values. It would be great if the Quadra used
its internal frequency counter to automatically track frequency changes, or if
there was a more direct way to change
bands from the front panel other than the
F-SET or TUNE procedure.
During the review period, I gave the
Quadra a workout on all bands, including
a serious effort in the ARRL RTTY
Roundup and time in several other CW
and phone contests. The manual seems to
recommend the low power mode for
RTTY “to prevent overheating during continuous operation for several hours.” The
specifications say the amplifier can transmit continuously for 1 hour at 500 W.
RTTY contesting isn’t nearly that demanding—more like 5-10 second transmissions
with listening periods in between. I ended
up using the Quadra at full power for
RTTY contests and saw no evidence of
overheating. (Had it overheated, one of the
error messages would have indicated the
need to reduce power or shorten transmissions.) The Quadra’s fans are quiet, even
when they kick into high gear after you’ve
been transmitting for a while.
The Quadra proved its versatility late
in October and November of 2001 when
6 meters opened again. My setup—the
IC-746 and a 5-element M2 Yagi at 45
feet, not on a hill—is not real competitive, but it gets me on the band. Pileups
have been frustrating, and it’s often difficult to get through when conditions are
marginal. After a particularly difficult
time getting through the pileup to
D44TD, I hooked up the Quadra for 6meter operation and had a kW out right
away. After that it was a lot easier to work
through pileups when conditions weren’t
great, and to get responses to CQs. Now
I just need to hear better.
I liked the Quadra a lot. Most of the
time it was a convenient extension to my
Yaesu transceiver. Although it doesn’t run
the full legal limit, it’s within 1.5 dB. For
my interests, the 6-meter capability is
worth a lot, as is the internal antenna
tuner to deal with my multiband antennas (especially on 12 and 17 meters) and
the antenna switching. It would be nice
if it was less awkward to changing bands
with non-Yaesu radios, and if the amplifier and tuner settings tracked operation
within a band.
Manufacturer: Yaesu USA, 17210
Edwards Rd, Cerritos, CA 90703; tel 562404-2700; fax 562-404-4828; www.
yaesu.com. Manufacturer’s suggested
retail price: $5990. Typical current street
price, $4000.
Notes
1
“Product Review: AlphaMax and AlphaRemote for the Alpha 87A,” QST, Aug 2000,
pp 73-74; “Product Review: ETO Alpha 87A
MF/HF Linear Amplifier,” QST, Jun 1992,
pp 53-56.
2
“Product Review: ACOM 2000A HF Linear
Amplifier,” QST, May 2000, pp 64-66.
3
“Product Review: ICOM PW1 Linear Amplifier,” QST, Feb 2001, pp 85-87.
SOLICITATION FOR PRODUCT
REVIEW EQUIPMENT BIDS
“Product Review,” Oct 2001 QST).
Minimum bid: $285.
[In order to present the most objective reviews,
ARRL purchases equipment off the shelf from
dealers. ARRL receives no remuneration from
anyone involved with the sale or manufacture
of items presented in the Product Review, Short
Takes or New Products columns.—Ed.]
Ten-Tec Model 416 Titan II HF amplifier, serial number 02C10070 (see
“Product Review,” Sep 2001 QST).
Minimum bid: $1975.
The ARRL-purchased Product Review
equipment listed below is for sale to the
highest bidder. Prices quoted are minimum acceptable bids, and are discounted
from the purchase prices. All equipment
is sold without warranty.
Ameritron ALS-600 solid state HF
amplifier, serial number 12727 (see
“Product Review,” Aug 2001 QST).
Minimum bid: $750.
AOR TDF-370 DSP multi-media terminal, serial number 01-00060 (see
“Product Review,” Sep 2001 QST).
Minimum bid: $215.
ICOM IC-V8 2-meter FM handheld
transceiver, serial number 01702 (see
“Product Review,” Nov 2001 QST).
Minimum bid: $110.
Ranger Communications RCI2970DX 10/12-meter transceiver,
serial number T1M00426 (see
Ten-Tec Model 526 6N2 multimode
VHF transceiver, serial number
04C10421 (see “Product Review,”
Oct 2001 QST). Minimum bid: $470.
W2IHY Technologies 8-band audio
equalizer and noise gate (see “Short
Takes,” Dec 2000 QST). Minimum
bid: $165.
Yaesu FT-7100M dual-band FM
mobile transceiver, serial number
1D040208 (see “Product Review,”
Aug 2001 QST). Minimum bid: $295.
Sealed bids must be submitted by mail
and must be postmarked on or before Mar
1, 2002. Bids postmarked after the closing date will not be considered. Bids will
be opened seven days after the closing
postmark date. In the case of equal high
bids, the high bid bearing the earliest
postmark will be declared the successful
bidder.
In your bid, clearly identify the item
you are bidding on, using the manufacturer’s name and model number, or
other identification number, if specified.
Each item requires a separate bid and
envelope. Shipping charges will be paid
by ARRL. Please include a daytime telephone number. The successful bidder will
be advised by telephone or by mail. Once
notified, confirmation from the successful bidder of intent to purchase the item
must be made within two weeks. No response within this period will be interpreted as an indication of the winning
bidder’s refusal to complete the transaction. The next highest bidder will then
have the option of purchasing the item.
No other notifications will be made, and
no information will be given to anyone
other than successful bidders regarding
the final price or the identity of the successful bidder. If you include a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your bid
and you are not the high bidder on that
item, we will return the postcard to you
when the unit has been shipped to the successful bidder.
Please send bids to Bob Boucher,
Product Review Bids, ARRL, 225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111-1494.
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
SHORT TAKES
Two from IZ8BLY: Stream and Vox Recorder
Stream
Have you been hearing musical signals around
14.080 MHz? If so, you’ve probably been listening to
MFSK16, one of the latest in a series of sound-card-based HF
digital modes. Like RTTY and PSK31, MFSK16 is a keyboardto-keyboard “conversational” mode. MFSK16 does not
guarantee 100% error-free copy, but it offers remarkable performance under difficult conditions.
I won’t go into the technical details of MFSK16 itself
(Murray Greenman, ZL1BPU, covered that ground in his January 2001 QST article, “MFSK for the New Millennium”), except to point out that this is a robust, multi-tone digital system
that occupies only 350 Hz of spectrum. The multi-tone nature
of MFSK16 creates signals that sound like carnival music;
they’re easy to spot on the bands.
Nino Porcino, IZ8BLY, created the software that brought
MSFK16 to the amateur community. His Stream freeware package for Windows runs on just about any sound-card-equipped
Pentium PC, 100 MHz or faster. Transmit/receive switching
is handled via the computer’s COM port using either a
homebrew interface, or one of the RIGblaster, Tigertronics or
MFJ commercial interfaces. Audio is routed to and from the
sound card directly, or through the interface.
Stream provides macro buttons for all sorts of “canned”
messages—CQ, BTU, sign off and so on. Between the buttons
and the various status indicators, the Stream window may seem
quite “busy.” Don’t let this intimidate you—using Stream is
much easier than it looks. The display that needs your attention is the horizontally scrolling waterfall along the right-hand
side of the window.
You simply tune your SSB transceiver until the jagged lines
of an MFSK signal appear somewhere in the waterfall, preferably near the middle. Then, you place your mouse cursor in
the waterfall and drag the two horizontal tuning lines up or
down until they bracket the signal along the top and bottom.
Left click the mouse once and Stream will attempt to lock in
and begin decoding.
You’ll need some patience at this point. Coherent text won’t
appear in the Stream receive window for about 4 seconds. If
you still see nothing (or gibberish) after 4 seconds, you need
to reposition the tuning lines and try again. I found that with
some practice I was able to properly tune MFSK16 signals on
the first or second attempts.
Stream has a built-in AFC that will compensate for drift up
to about 7 Hz, but you still need to use reasonably stable radios.
I’ve used Stream with several late-model rigs without difficulty.
MFSK16 activity is sparse compared to PSK31, but on the
weekends I can usually find someone to chat with around
14.080 MHz. It’s fascinating to listen as the signals fade almost
to silence, only to find that you are still copying readable text!
Recorder and set the threshold—the audio level that triggers
Vox Recorder to begin creating files. You can also set the decay—the amount of time Vox Recorder waits before closing
the current file (up to 2 seconds). Simply click on the RECORD
button and Vox Recorder swings into action.
Each time a signal breaks the threshold, Vox Recorder will
begin writing an audio WAV file to the designated directory
on your hard drive. Additional recordings are appended to the
same file. In Vox Recorder’s status window you’ll see a log
(including date and time) of each recording.
You can do interesting things with Vox Recorder. I set it
up to monitor activity on 6-meter FM at 52.525 MHz and
10-meter FM simplex at 29.600 MHz. You’d be amazed at what
goes on when you’re not at your station!
Vox Recorder
Download ’Em Today
Vox Recorder is a neat little Windows application from IZ8BLY
that allows you to record activity when you are away from the
radio. As the name implies, this is sound-activated recording.
All you need to do is feed the audio from your radio to the
line or microphone input of your PC sound card. Fire up Vox
Both Stream and Vox Recorder are completely free for
downloading from Nino’s Web site at iz8bly.sysonline.it/
index.htm/. If you’re looking for a new mode and a useful
monitoring tool, both of these applications are worth your attention.
Steve Ford, WB8IMY
Stream MFSK16 software for Windows by IZ8BLY.
Vox Recorder logs activity on 6-meter FM.
QST Editor
From January 2002 QST © ARRL
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