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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07-03-2012, 2:03 PM
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Default Alinco R8T review

By Colin Newell of DXer.ca

Alinco DX-R8T First Look

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Old 07-05-2012, 3:25 AM
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Nice writeup.

In use, the current draw I measured on mine is actually anywhere from 500 -600 milliamps depending on the amount of backlighting, which can be turned off completely. HOWEVER, I registered a quick 2-amp spike at power on, so yes, a 3amp supply (or a good battery) is recommended.

It is not an R75, but I suppose if you need custom filtering bandwidths, the filters are easy to replace if you have GOOD desoldering equipment. I put Collins mechanical filters for ssb and cw into mine, although in reality, I was quite happy with it stock.

For those that want to quickly spin around the bands with the vfo, you'll be in for a shock. You cannot change the step rate of the vfo knob, which defaults to 0.1khz for ssb/cw, and 1khz for AM, and 2.5 khz for FM. You CAN however, change the default stepping rate for the up-down buttons. That is about my only major gripe, although with the slow vfo tuning rate, I'm not skipping over weak stations like I used to.

Narrow AM filtering uses the 2.4khz ssb filter (Murata CFJ455K-5) which is usually too narrow for most. However, you can off-tune it by 1khz or so to get the fidelity back, albeit with a little loss of signal strength. OR, you can purposely go into SSB, and use that for narrow am. Choose a sideband, zero beat the signal (easy to do with the slow vfo knob) and it works very well for ECSSB mode. I suppose you could change the 9khz am filter for something smaller, say 6Khz Collins mechanical if you really want to, but this could potentially affect your 10-meter FM monitoring, so keep that in mind.

For CW ops, the Murata CFJ455K-8 ceramic filter is a 1khz bandwidth, and narrow cw relies on a narrow 500hz audio filter. I really like that setup - 1khz is great for band scanning, and the narrow audio filter really does work without too much ringing - although in a contest you may get some agc pumping. Again, the cw filter can be changed to your liking if you want to. (Like Collins mechanicals from Inrad or elsewhere)

Display is great, although the buttons are kind of cramped. You get used to it. Yes, the RIT button gets in the way but the easy fix is to stop grasping the knob and man-handling it. Use the edge or dimple. Encoder action is very smooth and there is very little drag on the VFO.

Common issue for some was the slightly loose or clicking knob. Two small metallic shims, about the thickness of one side of an rf-id tag, may not be compressed between the shaft and knob. If so, pull the knob, place one of the shims over the shaft, and reinstall taking care to line up the D-shaped shaft to the knob. If shims are missing, one can use a small piece of kitchen foil wrapped over the end of the shaft. This really isn't a showstopper issue.

Speaker is small and of course not high-fidelity. But if you don't overdrive it, is does a great job in the shack under normal conditions for ssb/cw. Use a quality external speaker and it sounds great. I do hear some very low level "chuffing" when spinning the vfo in ssb/cw, but that is only with headphones on, and when there is no antenna attached, or the band is extremely quiet.

Overall, I think it is a great value and a very nice rig for it's class.

Last edited by hertzian; 07-05-2012 at 4:20 AM.. Reason: power supply 2amp spike
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Old 10-23-2012, 9:57 PM
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FM operations for 10m amateur (29.600 / 620 / 640 / 660 / 680)

Finally got some band openings on 10 meters, and FM sounds great. The +10db preamp really helped for weak-signal, and at times I ran with the squelch open, but at a moderately low volume so as not to go crazy. If you are chasing non-locals, try it with the preamp enabled at first.

The 10db preamp is also doing nicely in other modes, and seems just about right. Had there been more gain, like 20db or so, I feel it would actually be too much. Seems clean, although I don't use it when I don't have to.

Noticed that for FM you should check to see that the IF shift is either centered, or rotated clockwise if sitting exactly on frequency. If the IF shift is counterclockwise of center, it gets a little too far out of the passband and becomes a bit noisy. This was also noticed on the DX-R8T transceiver.

Long-term modifications: replacing the stock ceramic ssb filter with a Collins mechanical of nearly the same bandwidth was a small improvement, but all that really did was center up in the passband a little better. With the stock ceramic, merely rotating the IF shift just barely off the center detent one way or the other produced nearly the same results.

I've been giving the tuning encoder and up/down buttons a real workout, (since there is no way to adjust the KNOB tuning rate), and they are holding up ok. In 5 years, who knows, but for now I'm not seeing any early signs of failure. I wish for a firmware mod to speed up the tuning encoder, but I'm not holding my breath.

Essentially I'm still very happy with it keeping in mind what price/performance bracket it is in.

Last edited by hertzian; 10-23-2012 at 10:13 PM..
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Old 11-13-2012, 8:07 PM
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I have a new appreciation for the Alinco's knobs coated *entirely* in rubber.

Running my RX8T and Icom 718 side by side did some antenna work today, not heeding the warnings of small static shocks around the house. Moved my hand from tuning the Alinco to put the Icom on the same frequency, and zap - static hit the face of the 718's tuning knob and now I have a blown encoder, despite cpu resets. This should have also killed the Alinco, but apparently the knob is coated enough that it didn't conduct.

You guessed it - I had forgotten to replace the ground. Now I have a 718 needing repair. The worst part is that the Icom had tried to warn me beforehand when earlier I touched the hard plastic volume knob, and a very small static shock occurred there, but I didn't think much of it.

I'm not saying that the Alinco faceplate is immune from static, but the totally covered knobs may have saved the day for itself.
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Old 11-18-2013, 2:41 PM
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Great Info Hertzian.

I recently got back into SWLing after a 10 yr. absence...I have previously owned: Kenwood R-1000, Grundig 650, Drake SW2, JRC- NRD 515, iCOM R75 and the Palstar R30.

I bought the Alinco DX-R8T based on its positive reviews and price. I am very happy with my purchase...I agree with all the review comments by Hertzian. No it's not an iCOM R75, as it's in a different price and class.

The only real issue for some people might be, the small, cramped key-pad and the close location of some of the operating buttons near the tuning knob (ie. RIT and Function), especially for someone with large fingers. For me it is not an issue but the small size buttons do take some getting use too.

The knobs, buttons and key-pad all have a nice feel to them and for the most part are well laid out.
The receiver has an outstanding large, adjustable brightness,ice-blue display..The inclusion of an IF Shift Control really makes this receiver perform well for fine tuning AM, SSB and CW.

I also agree that the standard Murata filters work well..AM: 9kHz , SSB: 2.4 and CW: 1.0 kHz. However like Hertzian I replaced some of the filters ...Just to tweak it to my liking... I went with the following Murata filters options: AM: 6kHz, SSB: 2.9 kHz and because I don't listen to CW I replaced the 1.0kHz filter with the 2.4 kHz filter...Very happy with the changes,it works for me......One thing on changing filters on the Alinco... The original filters on the circuit board are EXTREMELY hard to extract as the holes where the filters attach to the board ore small and tight additionally there are some very tiny resisters near the filters which could accidentally get knocked off, if not careful....I had help removing mine and strongly recommend having someone with experience and quality soldering equipment do the work (just my opinion).

Overall quality built with above average fit and finish...nice little SW tabletop receiver at a very reasonable price. A keeper with 5 stars!
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Old 12-04-2013, 2:02 AM
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really nice review!!
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Old 12-10-2013, 3:20 AM
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Im thinking of picking one up but Im not sure if I should get the reciever or the transciever. My question is does the transciever have all the same recieve capibilities as the DX-R8 or is it limited on the SW bands? The two radios are only about $50 difference in price and Im thinking if I get the transciever it will push me to upgrade my Ham lic and if not I still have a great all mode reciever.
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Old 12-10-2013, 4:49 AM
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As far as I remember, the major difference between the DX-R8 receiver and the DX-SR8 transceiver is that the DX-R8 receiver has IQ output for SDR use while the DX-SR8 transceiver does not. Two things to think about: (1) The DX-SR9 does have the IQ output (and input) for SDR use but it seems to be rather expensive to get that feature. (2) I read a rumor somewhere that Alinco is designing a new version of the DX-R8 that is will be made to be used with or may come with Collins mechanical filters instead of the Murata ceramic filters that the DX-R8 uses. When such a receiver might be announced is any one's guess. I'm sure that someone offers a Collins Filter conversion for the DX-R8, or will shortly. I like my DX-R8 for the price and would recommend it to anyone.

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Old 12-10-2013, 3:13 PM
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Thanks for all the info Mark! Now I just need to decide if I want to pay the extra for the SR9. Right now Im leaning that direction.
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Old 12-10-2013, 9:26 PM
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One thing I can't confirm about the diff between the rx-only and transceiver is that the transceiver *may* also have tighter rf bandpass filtering around the amateur bands - but I haven't been able to confirm or heard much difference with.

There are some small differences - like preset band jumping on the transceiver will jump through the amateur bands naturally. Oh, and the blindingly bright rx-tx led near the display which I have to tape over that doesn't exist on the R8T.

Just be sure you are comfortable with Slooooow vfo tuning - at least on the older models. I'm dying to find out if the newer models still incorporate that super slow vfo. Works great, but just starts to aggravate me after awhile.

Last edited by hertzian; 12-10-2013 at 9:30 PM..
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Old 12-15-2013, 6:47 PM
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Picture of my Alinco w/murata filter changes-


Am: CFWM455H = 6kHz / 2.9kHz (Nar.)
SSB: CFJ455K12 = 2.9kHz / 2.4kHz (Nar.)
SSB (CW) : CFJ455K5 = 2.4kHz / 1.5kHz not sure? (Nar.)

The 2.4kHz is used as an optional SSB filter in place of original 1kHz (CW) filter as I don't listen to CW.
Keep in mind that filter changes were customized for my particular listening preferences and that the original stock filters were quite good....small changes for sure but for me it works and i'm still very happy with my Alinco R8T!
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Old 12-18-2013, 2:33 PM
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Default Noise Blanker

I am taking a serious look at the Alinco DX-R8T as a second receiver. I'd like to know if anyone who owns one of these has had occasion to use the noise blanker. I have a lot of power line and other man-made noise in my location which makes listening to HF on any receiver without an effective noise blanker very unpleasant.

. I have a Drake R8B, and the noise blanker on it is fantastic. Takes out all of the noise that gets by my Wellbrook 330 antenna. I have tried other receivers over the years which did not fare as well including a Ten-Tec RX-350. The Icom R-75 noise blanker was effective in SSB, but I could never get it to work in AM, even after enabling the NB in AM in the set up menu.

I'd like to try the Alinco, but have been unable to find much much information on the effectiveness of the noise blanker in it. Any comments would be appreciated.
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtcase View Post
I am taking a serious look at the Alinco DX-R8T as a second receiver. I'd like to know if anyone who owns one of these has had occasion to use the noise blanker. I have a lot of power line and other man-made noise in my location which makes listening to HF on any receiver without an effective noise blanker very unpleasant.

. I have a Drake R8B, and the noise blanker on it is fantastic. Takes out all of the noise that gets by my Wellbrook 330 antenna. I have tried other receivers over the years which did not fare as well including a Ten-Tec RX-350. The Icom R-75 noise blanker was effective in SSB, but I could never get it to work in AM, even after enabling the NB in AM in the set up menu.

I'd like to try the Alinco, but have been unable to find much much information on the effectiveness of the noise blanker in it. Any comments would be appreciated.
I would love to have a Drake R8 right next to my Drake SW8! Im thinking the Drake R8 has got to be way above the Alinco in performance however no SDR on the old Drake so Im investing in the Alinco.

Last edited by N1RGR; 12-20-2013 at 10:27 PM..
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:31 PM
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Same as you, the SDR feature is exactly why I am looking real hard at the Alinco R8T. I just wish I could get more of a feel for how well (or not) the noise blanker works on it.
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Old 12-21-2013, 2:55 PM
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Hi noise blanker is not important on a receiver to me and i do have lots of hf receivers the Wellbrook-ALA330 Active Loop gain is to high had one myself and it didnt matter what location or height it just didnt perform well at all and sold it however i do have the ALA1530 & (2) ALA1530AL-1 Active Loops and the performance is excellent.I also have (2) Alinco DX-R8 hf receivers main intrest for me is monitoring the hf aircraft bands and compare to my other receivers aor,commradio,drake,icom,palstar,ten tec performance is as good..

Regards Lino..
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Old 12-21-2013, 3:36 PM
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Thank you for the response. I was interested in your experience that the Alinco can hold its own with the Drake and Commradio. I also appreciate what you are saying about the 330. I had a Wellbrook ALA 1530 prior to the 330s, but it was damaged in a storm. As I do not do much LW or MW I went for the higher gain in the 330s. The upgraded design is more resistant to IMD, and works rather well for me here. Did you have a 330 or 330s?

As far as the NB is concerned, some of my friends had Alinco rigs in the past, and they said the NB's were not very good on them in general. Call me old fashioned, but if you have a function on a radio, it should work. I see Universal has a good price on the R8T as an open box. I will probably go for that, but I also want to check out the possibility of a newer version coming out. Supposedly there is an Alinco DX-R9T on the horizon. Anyone have any news on that?
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Old 12-22-2013, 4:18 AM
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I use to have the ALA330S..

Regards Lino..
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Old 12-22-2013, 2:22 PM
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Hi jtcase-

I have not yet had a situation where I have had to use the noise blanker on my Alinco R8T. So I really can not say as to how effective it is. However, in the Alinco supplied operating instructions, under NB (Noise Blanker) there is the following:

NOTE: Do NOT leave this function activated always. As a side-effect, adjacent strong signals may cause interferences to your receiving frequency.

The above note is a direct quote from the manual, for what its worth.....Sorry I can't be of further assistance....All in all its still a great receiver (IMO).

73's....Fred.
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Old 01-14-2014, 6:25 PM
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Hi has anyone figured out how to tune ssb in 1khz step..

Regards Lino..
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Old 01-14-2014, 8:16 PM
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Smile Changing Freq. Step in SSB

Hi Lino,

Try the following:

Receiver MUST be in the SSB mode-

1. Enter Setting Mode (Hold in "Function Button" until set mode is activated) on the screen.

2 .Scroll through Setting Mode Menu using the ^ (up) or v (down) buttons until "SSB- - 0.1" appears on screen.

3. Rotate Main Tuning Knob to change the frequency(kHz) step. Frequency (kHz) step options are as follows:

SSB-0.1 , SSB-0.5 , SSB-1.0 , SSB-2.5 (kHz)....... note that the Default step setting is 0.1 (kHz).

4. Exit Setting Mode when finished ...by pressing the "Function Button".

One final note ...In my experience, the changed step setting is only operational using the up or down buttons and is not operational using the Tuning Knob when scanning a frequency band..

Further information can be found in the Alinco Instruction Manual in the "Parameter Setting Mode Section" on Pages 49 & 50.

Hope this helps....Fred

Last edited by aocsgil; 01-14-2014 at 9:26 PM..
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