Excellent service Acom & GB Antennes!

With the help of George from GB Antennas (Dutch Acom dealer www.gbantennes.nl) I was able to figure out that my Acom 1011 does have the factory modification installed for improved tube life.

I emailed Acom and got a quick response from Val (LZ1VB). He confirmed the factory modification was in place so tubes should be safe. Even though the invoice is dated end of October 2012 (but also indicates amp was picked up by previous owner in december 2012), Val offered me to send a replacement set of power tubes under warranty. He also included detailed in structions how to install and bias the tubes. Not that’s what I call EXCELLENT SERVICE!! Acom really live up to the expection “for hams, by hams” and stand behind their products 100% Only for that reason, I would buy Acom amplifiers any time!

If you have an Acom A1011 amplifier and you want to find out if your amp has been (factory) modified to protect power tubes, read the article that I made (thanks again to George from GB Antennes): Checking your Acom A1011 amplifier for factory modification V1.0. You can also download it from www.mods.dk.


Acom 1011 down?!…

A few weeks ago I had an issue with the Acom 1011. After warm up period of 1 – 2 minutes (manual indicates it’s operational after 30 seconds) the red F and yellow IP LEDs started blinking, green OPER LED went off and the amp went into protection for a couple of seconds. I checked everything (bandswitch, antenne switch etc.) and tried again: the amp worked OK. I didn’t take notice and suspected it would be a “hick-up”. I didn’t use the amp for almost a week, so maybe the tubes needed some extra warming up, I don’t know.

Last couple of weeks this problem occured again and more frequent. I had the impression that after a longer warm up period, it worked OK but since yesterday, it doesn’t work any more. Sometimes it doesn’t go into protection but then the output power equals the input power (30 Watts) and in that case, the TX LED on the amp is ON but I don’t hear the amp’s relay clicking. I’ve raised the issue with Acom and as their after sales service has a very good reputation, hopefully we can work this out. I will keep you informed. 

What about the FTdx-3000?!..

Many people keep asking me this question. Do you still like it or wish you’d bought something else? Let me be clear: I’m still very happy with the FTdx-3000 and have no regrets. Of course there are pro’s and cons so here we go.

The biggest advantage is the receiver. It just LOVE IT! When listening on 40m SSB, many times it’s like listening to local FM stations. The receiver is very quiet and a joy to listen too. It also seems that the better “dynamic range” (and other figures that are measured by ARRL,  Sherwood etc.) made a noticable difference difference in last CQWW SSB contest. It was the first time I was able to hear weak stations in between very big signals near by. Even though I’ve done some contests before, I never even noticed these stations. I probably simply didn’t hear them because they were squashed by the big signals. Fair is fair, it’s not a joy to pull out weak stations when big signals are above and below, but because of the higher / lower pitch of the voices, it is possible and doing so, I was able to dig a Chinese high school club station out of noise. GREAT. 

 Also the DSP´s DNR is fantastic. For the first time I think DSP (DNR) really makes a difference in being able to copy a station or not. I recently found that the LED spots in my house are root cause for S9+ QRM but even when these LED spots are on (bathroom, kitchen), the DNR makes a huge difference and seem to clear up the signal from QRM, really amazing. I also like the one-cable USB interface for both audio in/out and CAT control. It seems to work very very well with digital modes, but also for recording QSO’s. 

The menu’s are similar to the ones on the FT-2000 or FT-950. There are many parameters you can set but most of them are “set ‘n’ forget” and have a decent default value so even if you’d never touch them, you shouldn’t be bothered. The cursor keys seem to behave opposite of what you would expect (cursur up for lower value, cursor down for higher value). There’s no logic behind this, so I reckon this is just an ordinary bug that will be fixed in near future. Setting parameter values using the VFO-B dial is much easier and the way to go. About the parameters, I actually like it that I have the opportunity to “finetune” things. People are complaining about the parametric EQ. As I’m a musician and recording egineer, I don’t have a problem with these parameters and actually think it is an excellent feature and much, much better than conventional bass, mid treble settings with fixed frequencies and Q. There are two sets of EQ parameter values; one for processor off (mostly local rag chewing), one for processor on. (mostly for DX). I find it strange that Yaesu did not relate TX bandwidth to those settings. There’s only one TX bandwidth setting; I would have liked a 2nd bandwidth parameter for processor on mode. Actually, two sets of audioparameters in general would have been better; a “local ragchewing” setup and a “dx” setup. Hell why not 3 or 4 sets of parameters? With the (free) software, it’s easy to set parameters and all of them are grouped logically. 

If a scope is your thing, you will be dissapointed. I don’t have any experience with Icom radios with scopes but I think this functionality is much better on the Icom IC-7600, 7700 and 7800. Don’t have high expectations on the band scope, it’s a nice gimmick, it looks nice, but until now I haven’t been in a situation where the scope added value. Also the CW decode function is not too great; it’s not fully automatic, you need to estimate the speed yourself (I’m not good at that) and then still it doesn’t copy the code very well. The AF-FFT (Audio Frequency Fast Fourier Transform) scope for RX and TX do not impress me at all. There’s no full screen option so the very small graphic display in the lower right corner is not usefull to say anything sensible about TX or RX audio. If AF-FFT would have a full screen mode, it would add value I guess. I also would have liked an SSB RF power knob, even though I programmed the output power parameter to the CS button (so available by pressing one button), a small dial would have been great. 

Price of the FTdx-3000 is lower than what the FT-2000 was sold for once. Even though the FTdx-3000 is compacter and has less knobs, buttons and dials, it is a MUCH better transceiver than the FT-2000. So is it worth the price? Defenitely! Even if it would not have a scope at all, I still think it’s a step up from the FT-2000. It has the FXdx-5000 main receiver (double conversion) architecture, and the receiver is quiet and silky smooth. I reckon same counts for the FTdx-1200 compared to the FT-950. The FTdx-1200 sells for same price as the FT-950 and even though the architecture is “only” that of the FTdx-5000’s sub receiver (triple conversion), it’s still a great receiver with very good figures and fantastic DSP functionality. I hope there will be some firmware updates that improve the scope functionality but I am happy with the FTdx-3000 as it is right now. You want a better scope? Lay down another $1000 and buy the IC-7600. You will enjoy the scope functionality on that rig and have to accept the receiver is not very high in the charts.

In this price range, there simply is no competition.