Kenwood TS520 fans

Status
Not open for further replies.

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
Has anyone here owned or used a Kenwood TS520 rig. I may have a chance to get one soon. Any reviews / real life experience with this rig? Thanks in advance
 

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
Got one

Joseph,

I have a TS520S that I inherited about 23 years ago and used aboard our sailboat for several years. The S model has the analog dial and is a solid state (transistorized) rig except for tube finals and driver. It uses a pi-net output, so has to be tuned with the "dip and load" method. If you get one, you might want to practice tuning with a 100 watt incandescesent as a dummy load if you don't have a dummy load presently.

If you are not going to transmit with it but only want it as a receiver, you can operate the receiver section directly from 12 volt DC by fabricating a special power cord, otherwise you need 110-220 vac unless you have the "chopper" accessory.

They are good quality, bullet proof radios and from what I've seen, the ball park price now is around $100 to $200 depending on condition.

Kermit
 

wa2chj

Member
Joined
May 4, 2006
Messages
193
Location
Charlotte, NC Metro
First rig I ever had back in the mid-70s. Was great back then, not sure how well its aged, though. Might be some caps that need to be replaced, alignment, and finals replaced. But for a 30+ year old rig, it's probably as good as they get.

WA2CHJ
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
wa2chj, thank you for your reply.
Might be some caps that need to be replaced, alignment, and finals replaced. But for a 30+ year old rig, it's probably as good as they get.
I agree, that's good advice. I like those old rigs because it's what I can understand, and, if need be, I can learn to fix or maintain myself.

kermitdafrog, thank you for your helpful response.
have a TS520S that I inherited about 23 years ago and used aboard our sailboat for several years. The S model has the analog dial and is a solid state (transistorized) rig except for tube finals and driver.
My future TS520 is the same; all q's and diodes except for the driver tube (12by7a) and finals (2 x s2001a), all inexpensive and easily available.. Yes, everything is analog on it, and I'm loving that. Easy to work on! The gentleman is selling it for $100, guaranteed to work, although I will change the filter caps right away as it has been in storage for years. I'm guessing there will be some tuning involved also. Hopefully the finals will be good, but who knows?

unless you have the "chopper" accessory.
what the heck is a "chopper"? Is it an inverter?
Thanks again
 
Last edited:

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
Yeah, the chopper (my name) is a little gizmatchie (chassis) that screws onto the back of the radio. You can see where there is an opening covered by a plate that you have to remove so that the wiring from the chopper can pass through to the transformer.

The chopper has a pair of power transistors, similar to a 2N3055 if I remember correctly, that chops up the 12 volt DC to the transformer primary, kinda like the old Motorola V-Power VHF radios, or for that matter, like a 55 Chevy factory radio, except they used vibrators.

I never had one for my radio, but had seen documentation on it somewhere.

Rick
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
Everyone just loves this rig! All I hear and see are good reviews.
OK, is there anyone here who didn't like it? There has to be something bad about it...
thanks for your replies
 
Last edited:

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
By retune I think you mean recalibrate or rezero. Pretty much all older analog radios would drift somewhat as they warmed up, some worse than others. On the analog dial type 520, you just turn on the crystal marker, zerobeat with the main vfo knob, then hold the vfo knob while putting the the silver dial on zero, then switch off the marker.

When I hear "retune", I think of rechecking the "dip and load" of the finals

Kermit
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
kermitdafrog, thanks again for your reply. I did not understand most of it, but, given time, and having the rig in front of me will help with that.
older analog radios would drift somewhat as they warmed up, some worse than others
Quesrion #1 Does this mean I need to re-zero every time I power up the ts520?

Aside from the digital frequency display and the 160 meter band, are there any other major differences between the ts520(no s) and the ts530S or are they pretty close circuit wise?

Question 2: In your opinion is one any better than the other and why?

Qestion 3: What does it mean when the specifications say "This transceiver does not have general coverage receive?" What is general coverage?

Question 4 (ongoing): is there anyone who does NOT like something about the TS520 or TS530S.

Thanks in advance
 

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
#1 yes, most likely you will have to rezero, but it only takes about 5 seconds. It's not going to be so far off without calibrating that it would put you out of band, unless you are right at the band edge, it's just that it's nice to know where you're transmitting:).

I can't say from experience the differences between the two radios, but my guess would be that the circuitry is pretty much the same between the radios except for the addition of the digital frequency counter (which by the way can be added to the S in the form of an external unit), and the additional 160 circuitry.

#2 Again without having owned the other model I don't know, but being able to see the frequency at a glance without adding the band select knob value to the vfo reading, plus the silver dial would be a plus. The option of an additional band couldn't hurt.

#3 General coverage, for lack of a better definition, means that the receiver will cover frequencies other than the ones that it will transmit on. For example my Yaesu 450 is said to have general coverage, and offers continuous unbroken receive coverage from 30kHz to 50 mHz receive, but only transmits on ham bands (unless modified).

Rick
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
kermitdafrog, my sincere thanks for your helpful reply. After I get this rig, my first purchase will be an antenna, after that, the digital display unit. I downloaded and printed the TS-520 user and service manuals. I'll start reading those and maybe ( I said maybe) my questions will become more intelligent. Thanks again.

If there are any further comments or negative reviews I would still like to hear those, Especially from those people who have used or still use the TS-520. Thanks in advance.
 

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
The only unintelligent questions are the ones you don't ask.

I'm assuming you are going to get a license so will be transmitting. Before you spend money on an antenna and digital display, my suggestion would be to spend the money on an "antenna tuner" and throw up a wire antenna. This combo will get you on the air on pretty much any band that the radio will cover. Here is the tuner similar to the one I use with my 520S:

MFJ Enterprises Inc.

If you really want to save money, you can make a dipole antenna and cut it to the band you want to operate and that radio will tune it just fine without the antenna tuner.

I have been on HF for nearly 50 years and have never bought an HF antenna, I have always made mine from wire, so don't just throw money at it ... learn how to build it.

Rather than spend money on a digital display, if I were you I would start saving up for a later model solid state digital radio. My main reasons for this are: 1. A lot of later model radios are powered by 12 volts, great for emergencies when the power goes off. 2. 12 volt operation allows you to use the same radio for mobile operation as well as home use. 3. A solid state digital radio will be more stable and allow you to operate digital modes such as PSK31.

edit -- you can find good digital solid state radios around for under $300 that will do you well. A friend of mine just inherited a TS-130 that I would really like to have, and they typically go for around $275 or so.

Kermit
 
Last edited:

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
kermitdafrog, as always, thank you for your informative and helpful reply.
I'm assuming you are going to get a license so will be transmitting
I got my license last July (KD0PDX), so I got that covered!
spend the money on an "antenna tuner" and throw up a wire antenna. This combo will get you on the air on pretty much any band that the radio will cover
I am looking at antenna tuners, and just received the 2012 MFJ catalog. On that wire antenna...about how long do you think I would need?
so don't just throw money at it ... learn how to build it.
With my financial situation I have no choice but to build all I can myself. I did build for 2 meter, one a J diple using twin-lead, the other one made from a old school rabbit ears, and they both work pretty well.

start saving up for a later model solid state digital radio.
Currently,I am focused on learning how to use the 520. I also like the idea of being able to work on the rig myself when I have to (no unsoldering ICs or SMT parts). The 520 (not S) does have the 12 volt capability built in (dc-dc converter, like a chopper). Digital modes such as PSK31 are down the road for me at this time. Right now what I really want to learn is how to operate this radio in an efficient manner. Thanks again Kermit, feel free to keep those comments coming my way. Your responses are always welcome.
 
Last edited:

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
OK, it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

When I suggested a solid state rig and a homebrew wire antenna, being the tightwad that I am, I was concerned that you might end up spending money on fru fru stuff for that older radio that was really not necessary and then find out you could have applied the funds to something more useful. (you will come to appreciate a second backup radio at some time. I'd much rather have two so-so radios than one super whiz-bang).

For all the years I have been in Ham radio this radio sitting next to me here, my FT-450AT, is the first new HF radio I have ever owned. My first new VHF HT I bought, an Icom 02AT I got over 20 years ago is also sitting here next to me and still works great. I did break down and buy a new VX7R at the same time I got the 450. All the rest were homebrew, converted military surplus, or used inexpensive hand me downs.

As for antenna size, that would depend on how much real estate you have. If you have two trees at least 120 feet apart and the location of your house allows you to feed it from the middle that will give you a nice 80 meter dipole, two 60 foot legs and no tuner required. Two 30 foot legs will give you a 40 meter dipole, no tuner required. Two 15 foot legs will give you a 20 meter dipole, no tuner required. If you can arrange a way to hang them all, you can combine all three dipoles and feed it with a single feed line (52 ohm coax) and presto, you have a tri-band 80-40-20 meter antenna that needs no tuner, especially with that pi-net output radio. I think that arrangement will also cover 15 meters.

If you do have a tuner and are lazy, just string out a random length of wire from a tree to the window , drive in a ground rod just outside the window, and let 'er rip.

Rick
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
kermitdafrog, thank you for your informative reply. I was going to get a SWR meter to tune the antenna, but the manual and you suggests I use a antenna tuner instead...an antenna tuner it will be.

Reading the VFO frequency by adding all the knob and dial numbers together does not sound fun. I would like to use a digital display and have seen the DG5, which requires a DK520 kit in back of the TS-520. Well, the radio I am looking at has the DK520 already installed, so I would need to find just the DG5, I did see one online and they are pricey ($150)!...not a realistic option.

I have a hand held Aceco FC1002 freq counter (1 Mhz - 3 Ghz) that has a BNC connector on it for a ducky when used as a field strength meter. Is there any way to adapt this counter to work with the TS-520 and read the VFO that way? I am not afraid to get inside the radio and do some soldering if necessary. Thanks again.
 
Last edited:

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
Joseph,

(Nothing about the digital readout in this post. More on that later if you want.)

The SWR bridge and antenna tuner are not for the same purpose. The bridge is measurement device, and the tuner is a matching device.

The SWR Bridge: The bridge will MEASURE the SWR for an antenna at a given frequency, but can't do anything to change the result. Once you have cut and/or adusted the antenna, and determined that it is "happy" at a given frequency as indicated by the bridge, then you can put the bridge back in it's box. Any transmitter you connect to that antenna from then on will react the same way AT THAT FREQUENCY. Unless you change the transmitter frequency very far in either direction that SWR reading should never change again.

The tuner: It doesn't actually "tune" the antenna, but goes between the transmitter and antenna and fools the transmitter into believing that the antenna has an input impedence of 52 ohms, so "antenna matcher" might be a more accurate term, but "tuner" is the accepted term now. If your antenna is cut to a certain frequency and already has a feedpoint impedence of 52 ohms you won't need a tuner. If you change the transmitter frequency very far above or below the freq that it is cut for, then you can use the tuner to fool the transmitter into thinking that it's still 52 ohms. (There are situations when the transmitter and antenna impedence aren't 52 ohms, but that's not usually the case for ham gear.)

In a nutshell; In order for a transmitter to efficiently transfer power to an antenna, the transmitter output impedence must be the same as the antenna input impedence, usually 52 ohms. The bridge tells you if they match, and a tuner makes them match.

If you get a tuner such as the one I sent you link for, it conveniently combines an SWR bridge for measurement AND a matching device to make the antenna look like 52 ohms to the 52 ohm transmitter in one box, and is left in line.

Kermit
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
kermitdafrog, thanks again for your reply
. The bridge tells you if they match, and a tuner makes them match.
I need to get the tuner..that would be the best solution. With a tuner SWR is matched as a "side effect" of the tuning. Thanks for that great advice, Kermit.

How far can you adjust? Let's say I have an antenna built for 10 meter...will a tuner make that antenna work on 20 40 80 meter? Can you use just one antenna and use a tuner for all (3 - 30 Mhz) HF? Thanks for your educational and relevant replies, always very helpful.
 

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
Quote: "With a tuner SWR is matched as a "side effect" of the tuning."

Maybe another way to say it would be "By using a tuner, the SWR can be MINIMIZED, which is measured and verified by the bridge".

Quote: "How far can you adjust? Let's say I have an antenna built for 10 meter...will a tuner make that antenna work on 20 40 80 meter? Can you use just one antenna and use a tuner for all (3 - 30 Mhz) HF?"

The short answer is "yes", but it also depends on the antenna.

I use a single multiband antenna. It is a wire type dipole style antenna known as the "G5RV" and an "LDG AT-100 Autotuner" with my FT-450, and can work 80-40-20-15-10 meters. (It would work just as well with the TS-520 and the MFJ tuner). There is another slightly longer G5RV that will work all the above bands plus 160 meters. Mine is 102 feet long, and I have it suspended between two trees. Here is a link describing one and how to build it. ( G5RV Multiband Antenna ) I'll admit I didn't build mine, but received a storebought version from my Son as a Christmas present. You MUST have a tuner to use this antenna.

If you want to just buy one, here is a link: ( MFJ-1778 G5RV Antenna and MFJ-1778M G5RV Junior Antenna )

Kermit
 

joseph2020

Member
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
113
Location
CO. US
question answered

kermitdafrog, thank you for your knowledgeable and clarifying reply. Thanks to you, I think I now understand how using a tuner would be most beneficial. A special thanks for the links. I will read the build instructions and maybe do it myself, although at $50 it seems like a great deal (depends on how much the materials will cost locally.

I think you have answered all my questions on this topic and it is much appreciated. I guess there isn't any negative feedback for this rig, so that would conclude this "round" of questions and this topic. Although I have learned much more than I originally thought I would.

I would like to thank all those who replied and a special thanks to kermitdafrog for the special effort put forth to help me with this. I posted the freq counter question under a different thread in the "amateur radio equipment" section. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
 

kermitdafrog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 21, 2011
Messages
22
Location
Charleston, SC
Joeseph,

One thing I forgot to mention earlier: When you get the tuner try to get one that also has a dummy load built in such as the MFJ 949E like this one MFJ-948 MFJ-949E Antenna Tuner. It's well worth the extra few bucks. I've had mine for 20+ years for use with my 520 and like it.

To explain why you need the dummy load, the radio tuneup procedure goes something like this:

1.set the radio band selector and vfo to the band and frequency you desire
2.switch the tuner to the dummy load
3.key the transmitter and tune the radio into the dummy load with the normal "dip and load" procedure

Up to this point you haven't put a signal on the air yet. Now, making sure you aren't transmitting on top of someone ....

4.on the tuner, switch from dummy load to the antenna
5.key the transmitter and use the 3 TUNER controls to QUICKLY minimize SWR (don't touch the radio controls)
6.you should now be good to go

Kermit
 
Last edited:

KK4ENB

Newbie
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Messages
1
Great Group

Hey guys - just got my rig powered for the first time last night. Bought my TS520-S for $300 which included a nice microphone and shipping. I have my 10meter dipole running horizontal through the upstairs attic, and bought an SWR today which I can't wait to hook up. Heard N. Dakota and PR lst night, but could not transmit for some reason. Not having a digital read out ($100 buck IF you can find this is pricey) is hard, but will get used to it.

I do have a questoin for the group (well, lots, but lets start off slow) - My tuning know does not have the finger dimple on it - is this model specific?

Glad I found this gorup and will be hitting the 10 meteres late tonight.

73's.

Charlotte, NC
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top