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Yaesu FT-1900R

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Bottom Line
The FT-1900R offers a wide range of features at a budget friendly price. Its sturdy construction and bright, easy to read display make it a good choice for mobile use.

Mark J. Wilson, K1RO

Product Review Editor

k1ro@arrl.org

From May 2010 QST ARRL

On the Road

For this review I connected the FT-1900R to a quarter-wavelength magnetically mounted mobile antenna and grafted its dc power cable onto a cigarette lighter plug. My setup was far from elegant, but it worked well. The only glitch worth noting was the fact that RF tended to get into the dc power leads when running the FT-1900R at 55 W, which caused the radio to shut down whenever I keyed the microphone. This is more the fault of less than optimum grounding than a flaw in the FT-1900R. Application of a ferrite choke on the dc line cured the problem. The FT-1900Rs receive audio seemed robust and clean with more than enough acoustic power to overcome the ever-present road noise. Transmit audio reports were flattering with references to how good the rig sounded. The backlit DTMF (dual tone, multifrequency) keypad microphone also provides some limited rig control functionality. In terms of reception, the FT-1900R appeared to acquit itself reasonably well. I heard distant stations easily (including the International Space Station!) while avoiding most intermodulation byproducts. Speaking of being on the road, I have to say that I truly enjoyed one of the FT1900Rs more unusual features: the CW trainer. When activated, the rig plays strings of Morse code at various speed steps from 4 to 40 WPM. Youd be amazed at how you can improve your CW receiving speed with a few days of training during commutes to work. Just make sure you resist the temptation to gaze at the characters on the FT-1900Rs display while driving. The catch with the CW trainer is that the Morse code audio is mixed with any signal the FT-1900R happens to receive over the air. If someone begins talking while you are listening to Morse training, youll hear their voice along with the dits and dahs. Tune to a quiet frequency before you activate the trainer.
Table 1 Yaesu FT-1900R, serial number 9G391497
Manufacturers Specifications
Frequency coverage: Receive, 136-174 MHz; transmit, 144-148 MHz. Modes: FM, NFM. Power requirements: Receive: >700 mA, >300 mA (standby); transmit, 11, 7, 5, 4 A (high, low 3, low 2, low 1) at 13.8 V dc 15%. Receiver FM sensitivity: 12 dB SINAD, <0.2 V. FM two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range: Not specified.

Measured in ARRL Lab

Receive and transmit, as specified. As specified. Receive, 520 mA (max volume, max lights, no signal); standby, 180 mA (no lights). Transmit, 9, 6.3, 4.1, 3 A (high, low 3, low 2, low 1). Receiver Dynamic Testing For 12 dB SINAD, 0.16 V; 0.17 V at 138 MHz, 0.18 V at 162 MHz. 20 kHz offset: 59 dB*; 10 MHz offset: 89 dB.

FM two-tone, second-order IMD dynamic range: 146 MHz, 81 dB. Not specified. Adjacent-channel rejection: Not specified. Spurious response: Not specified. Squelch sensitivity: Not specified. S meter sensitivity: Not specified. Audio output: 3 W at 10% THD into 4. Transmitter Power output: 55, 25, 10, 5 W (high, low 3, low 3, low 1) at 13.8 V dc 15%. Spurious signal and harmonic suppression: >60 dB. Transmit-receive turnaround time (PTT release to 50% of full audio output): Not specified. Receive-transmit turnaround time (tx delay): Not specified. 20 kHz offset: 59 dB. IF rejection, 128 dB; image rejection, 71 dB. At threshold, 0.07 V; 0.2 V max. 5.37 V at full scale. 3.6 W at 10% THD into 4 ; THD at 1 V RMS, 1.5 %. Transmitter Dynamic Testing 51.4, 22.7, 7.8, 3.5 W (high, low 3, low 2, low 1); 49 W at 11.4 V dc. >70 dB, meets FCC requirements. Squelch on, S9 signal, 150 ms. 74 ms.
Size (height, width, depth): 1.6" 5.5" 5.7"; weight, 2.6 lbs. Price: FT-1900R, $150; ADMS-1900 programming software/cable, $40.
*Measurement was noise limited.
The FT-1900R provides a feature that makes it as simple as possible to make contacts through the Wide-coverage Internet R epeater Enhancement System (WIRES). Perhaps you are more familiar with EchoLink or IRLP, the VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) systems that use the Internet to link audio streams between distant repeaters or simplex stations. WIRES is similar, using DTMF tones to establish links that could permit a mobile operator in, say, Los Angeles, to speak with a ham in Japan. The FT-1900R attempts to streamline the WIRES connection process by providing a button on the front panel (it is labeled with a symbol that resembles a stylized atom). For example, if you are communicating through
a WIRES repeater that is linked to several other machines in what is known as the Sister Radio Group mode, the FT-1900R will add a short DTMF burst to the beginning of each transmission to open and maintain a link to a designated repeater. The only downside to the WIRES concept is that most WIRES equipped repeaters are in Japan. At the time of this writing, the WIRES ACTIVE LIST on Yaesus Web site showed only 25 repeaters in the United States. That said, the WIRES functionality in the FT-1900R can be used to access EchoLink and IRLP systems, although the manual doesnt specifically say so. If you consistently link to an EchoLink repeater in, say, Chicago, you can store the DTMF sequence that corresponds to the Chicago repeater in the WIRES INTERNET MEMORY.

More Clever Features

The FT-1900R offers more interesting
features that tend to hide in the manual. I usually breeze through transceiver manuals, hitting the major feature points and glossing over everything else. But as weve already seen with the FT-1900Rs CW trainer, it pays to spend some time exploring the radio. For example, while the FT-1900R includes CTCSS (continuous tone coded squelch system) encoding and decoding (as does just about every FM rig on the market), it also provides a unique twist known as Enhanced CTCSS. As with DTMF, Enhanced CTCSS involves the use of low-frequency tones sent in pairs rather than individually. According to Yaesu, Enhanced CTCSS prevents falsing caused by low-frequency components in the received audio. Obviously, to make use of this feature the sending stations must have Enhanced CTCSS capability and thats mostly confined to Yaesu transceivers at the present time. I didnt have access to another Enhanced
CTCSS capable rig to test this feature. Another Yaesu exclusive feature is ARTS Automatic Range Transponder System. If you and your buddy both own Yaesu rigs equipped with ARTS, your radios can be configured to transmit polling signals at regular intervals (along with CW identifications). Whenever either radio hears the other, it sounds an alert to let participants know when they are within simplex communications range. And speaking of simplex group activities, I had to admire the FT-1900Rs busy channel lockout feature. Some would call this the anti lid function, but I prefer to be more charitable. Lets just say it assists our better natures by preventing us from transmitting on otherwise busy frequencies.
Finally, I had to smile when I saw the Password feature that allows you to create a password that effectively locks down the FT1900R until you enter the proper characters. Not only does this block unauthorized use (think of mischievous children), it assures a bit of delayed justice in the event that the rig is ever stolen.
output (audio and keying lines) of my APRS position encoder to a modular telephone style plug to fit the FT-1900Rs microphone connector. According to on-air reports, my 1200 baud packet bursts were well modulated and clean.

Conclusion

The FT-1900R offers just about everything an active 2 meter FM operator could desire at a price that is budget friendly. Combine its durable construction and ergonomic design (not to mention its bright, easy to read display) and youve earned a substantial return on your investment. Manufacturer: Vertex Standard, 10900 Walker St, Cypress, CA 90630; tel 714-8277600; www.yaesu.com.

APRS and the FT-1900R

In addition to voice operation, I was able to put the FT-1900R to use as a 1200 baud APRS (Automatic Packet/Position Reporting System) transceiver. For those not familiar with the technology, APRS is a digital messaging and tracking network that youll find primarily on 144.39 MHz. The only catch was that I had to adapt the

Popular Dual-Lever Keyer Paddles Part 1
Reviewed by Bruce Prior, N7RR ARRL Technical Advisor n7rr@arrl.net Previous QST Product Reviews described high end and portable dual lever keyer paddles, including some very expensive ones.1,2 The six dual lever paddles reviewed here are mostly mass produced and, with one exception, are more modestly priced. Two (Bencher and MFJ) use a long spring design, two are low profile designs from Kent and Vibroplex, and two are spring return keys from European manufacturers Begali and Scheunemann. Paired with electronic keyers, dual lever paddles use their two levers to control dits and dahs. They allow iambic operation, in which closing contacts with both levers simultaneously yields an alternating series of dits and dahs. With keyers featuring dit and dah insertion modes, holding the dit lever
while tapping the dah lever inserts one dah into a series of dits (and vice-versa). Table 2 highlights characteristics of the review paddles. The Dislodging Pressure column shows lateral force required to dislodge the paddle on a typical operating surface and on that same surface on top of a thin high-friction pad similar to those sold as kitchen shelf liners. Another column shows range of adjustment of the fingerpieces above the operating surface. Thanks to Margaret Prior, K7MWP, Paul Greenough, KE7QPK, and Stan Schmidt, N7OC, for their help and advice with this review.

BENCHER BY-1

Bencher BY series paddles been around for more than a quarter century and are widely used. They wouldnt be so popular if they didnt work well for many amateurs, some of whom have used the same paddle for years. The black base BY-1 with chrome components is the most economical of the BY series. Others include the all chrome BY-2, the all gold plated BY-3 and the BY-4, with gold plated components on a black base. A Bencher BY series paddle looks great on the operating desk. Its long spring is the big attention getter. That spring, which bends gently around a grooved vertical stay on the back of the instrument, is the innovative heart of Bencher design. The spring is long enough to make the return force more linear than other designs. Thats probably what operators mean when they describe the BY action as smooth. Spring tension is the name of the game

MFJ-564B DELUXE IAMBIC PADDLE
MFJ, the popular manufacturer of Amateur Radio equipment and accessories, supplies a long list of products for the CW operator. Model MFJ-564B is a keyer paddle patterned after the Bencher BY-1 (Bencher has a working relationship with MFJ), but at a lower price.
As with the Bencher, the adjustment of spring tension is possible, but only over a limited range through the adjustment of the pivot stop screws and then readjustment of the contact spacing to compensate. Use of a standard hex wrench is required for adjustment of the pivot stop screws. The contact spacing is also adjustable via a hex wrench. If the Phillips locking screws are loosened, however, the contact spacing can be adjusted by hand and then locked into position. No tools are supplied. The MFJ-564B provides a very usable paddle at an attractive price for those who like the feel of the long spring return action. MFJ paddles are available directly from the manufacturer or from Amateur Radio dealers. Manufacturer: MFJ Enterprises, PO Box 494, Mississippi State, MS 39762; tel 800647-1800; www.mfjenterprises.com.
VIBROPLEX CODE WARRIOR JUNIOR
Vibroplex is a company steeped in the traditions of CW operation. Originally known for semi automatic bugs (sophisticated mechanical keys that produce strings of dits when the lever is pushed one way and manually formed dahs when the lever is pushed the other), Vibroplex currently produces a wide
selection of keyer paddles in the US for the CW enthusiast. In late 2009, Scott Robbins, W4PA, acquired the company and moved operations to Knoxville, Tennessee. The Code Warrior Junior is an elegant low profile key with attracting magnetic lever return, silver contacts and oil impregnated brass bearings. Two hex wrenches for making adjustments are included with the paddle. Many operators will want to add a strain-relief on the bottom to secure the keyer cable, perhaps by replacing the machine screw holding the magnet assembly with a longer one. The amount of lever tension depends on how close the black steel flat-head screws are set from the magnets. The screw distance is fixed by a lock nut. The actual adjustment process is fussy, since tightening the lock nut tends to turn the screw closer to the magnet. It is not a process that can easily be accomplished on the fly. The contact gap adjustment system works very well. The lock nuts are larger in diameter than the adjustment screws, so they are easy to manipulate in tandem. Once adjusted, the Code Warrior Junior behaves nicely, with smooth action. As shipped, the fingerpieces are oriented upward, but they can be repositioned downward for keying close to the operating surface. Weighing price against performance, the Code Warrior Junior is a bargain. A Chrome Warrior version is also available. Vibroplex has recently introduced a Lite Warrior paddle that looks identical to the Chrome Warrior but with an aluminum base. As its name implies, the Lite Warrior is lighter it weighs 10 ounces. Without countersunk grooves for electrical connections beneath the paddle, however, mounting the paddle to some surface using, say, 3M Dual Lock fastener material, would be difficult.5 The Lite Warrior might have to be held down by the operators non keying hand to keep it in place. Vibroplex paddles are available directly from the manufacturer or from Amateur Radio dealers.

5www.3m.com/product/information/
The paddle came with a cord attached. The customer must supply a stereo plug to match the keyer, which enables a choice of plug size and fingerpiece polarity. The cord that came with the review paddle had one wire that wasnt intact, so I replaced the whole cable. Apart from that minor issue, the Kent Twin Paddle oozes quality manufacturing. In operation, the Kent Twin Paddle feels as snazzy as it looks. Kent paddles are available from several US dealers or may be ordered directly from the manufacturer. Manufacturer: Kent Engineers Ltd, 243 Carr Lane, Tarleton, Preston, Lancaster PR4 6BY, England; www.kent-engineers.com. US Distributor: Kent USA Inc, 214 Second St, Manchester, KY 40962; tel 606-5982029; www.kentkeys.com.

BEGALI SIMPLEX

I never met a Begali paddle I didnt like. The Begali Simplex is the most economical of the extensive line of high quality dual lever paddles from this Italian manufacturer. The review Simplex features a palladiumplated base. A gold plated base version is also available for the same price.
Dual-Lock-Reclosable-Fastener.html
Four ball bearing races are embedded in the base. Silver contacts are standard, and solid gold contacts are available as an option. A rudimentary thin gauge plastic dust cover is included. Long black plastic fingerpieces were installed on the paddle when shipped. Two spare short red anodized-aluminum fingerpieces were also included. The photograph shows the aluminum fingerpieces mounted. Other thoughtful additions by Begali were a bag of spare fingerpiece screws, a dusting cloth and a 0.03 mm metal feeler gauge for adjusting contact spacing. The connecting cord is customer supplied. The solder connectors and the strain relief bar for the cord are all channeled on the bottom of the paddle, making it practical to remove the four rubber feet and to install a
semi-permanent mounting system, such as 3M Dual Lock, either for use in a portable situation or for accommodating operators who send with a heavy fisted style. The light alloy levers found on all Begali paddles make for lower mass movement with each stroke. This paddle, as the others, is especially designed for operators who prefer light touch and close spacing adjustment, although the Simplex is substantial enough to allow for heavier style paddling. Fine threading with no locking nuts make quick readjustment simple. The two contact space adjustment screws are held in position with sleeve springs. Finger return pressure for two compression springs is individually adjustable for those who like different left and right pressure. Warning: if you buy a Begali Simplex, other paddles in your collection may gather dust. Manufacturer: Officina Meccanica P ietro Begali, Via Badia 22, I-25060 Cellatica, Italy; www.i2rtf.com.
SCHEUNEMANN DER MORSE DIRIGENT
This German paddle is the most expensive of this group. Der Dirigent is translated as the (musical) conductor. The paddle is a gleaming beauty under its integrated hinged acrylic dust cover (removed for photograph). The technology of the Dirigent is utterly

simple, but it is elegantly executed. The Dirigent employs needle and seat bearings rather than the ball bearings more commonly found in high quality paddles. The seat is so precisely machined that the bearings are known to last for many years without any adjustment. The levers are brass, so more mass is moved with each stroke than is needed for lighter levers. The Dirigent arrived ready to use, with a mini stereo plug and cord already installed. The electrical connections are inside the brass base, leaving the bottom flat. The low profile rubber feet could be removed and another mounting system could be installed for essentially immovable operation. This was the only paddle that tested more stable on the bare surface than with the added friction pad, but it required significant force to
Table 2 Popular Dual-Lever Paddle Summary
Model Return, Bearings and Base Hardware and Contacts Dislodging Levers and Fingerpieces Weight Pressure* (lb) Bencher One long stretch spring; Chrome-plated brass 9.5 oz/ Clear triangular 2.9 BY-1 needle bearings on nylon; hardware; gold-plated 15.5 oz acrylic; 21 to 57 mm seats; black steel base silver contacts above operating surface MFJ One long stretch spring; Chrome-plated brass 10.6 oz/ MFJ-564B needle bearings on nylon hardware; gold-plated 11.3 oz seats; black steel base silver contacts Vibroplex Two rare earth magnets; Brass hardware; 2.5 oz/ Code Warrior oil-impregnated brass silver contact 7.4 oz Junior bearings; black steel base Kent Two sleeve compression Brass hardware; 8.5 oz/ Twin Paddle springs; four large race convex to rounded point 16.2 oz Morse Key bearings; black steel base silver plated contacts Begali Two compression springs; Gold plated hardware; 8.5 oz/ Simplex four ball bearings; gold 925/000 silver 20.1 oz or palladium plated base contacts Scheunemann Two compression springs; Brass hardware; 23.3 oz/ Der Morse needle and seat bearings; convex silver contacts 18 oz Dirigent coated brass base Clear triangular 2.4 acrylic; 19 to 56 mm above operating surface Clear plastic; 18 to 1.mm above operating surface in upward orientation Short brass levers and 2.6 contact wings; black fingerpieces 7 to 40 mm above operating surface Light alloy levers; standard 2.6 long plastic fingerpieces 12 to 48 mm above operating surface Coated brass levers; 3.1 triangular clear acrylic fingerpieces 12 to 53 mm above operating surface Price $110 (plus s/h) $70 (plus s/h) $100 (plus s/h) $150 (plus s/h) $170 (plus s/h) $350 (plus s/h)

*Lateral finger pressure required to move the paddle on a laminate surface (first figure) and with a friction mat. See text. Options include gold contacts and anodized aluminum fingerpieces in a variety of styles. See manufacturers Web site for details.
move it in either case. The return tension system uses two independently adjustable compression sleeve springs that can be manipulated quickly on the fly using large finger knobs. Some operators, especially those who have had experience using mechanical bugs, prefer to have different return pressure on the thumb and the pointer finger, so they may judge the two springs on the Dirigent as an important feature. This is the major change from its predecessor, the Schurr Profi 2, which uses a single adjustable compression spring. My
wife Margaret, K7MWP, has owned the excellent Profi 2 for years. Her paddle still looks brand new because of the proprietary polymer coating on the paddles brass. That same coating and brass are used on the current Dirigent model. The convex contacts are coin silver, ensuring crisp keying with every stroke. Contact spacing is adjusted with finger knobs similar to those for tension adjustment. To make sure the adjustments dont change, a separate screw tension adjustment is provided. Proper setting allows for finger
adjustment while insuring the adjustments stay put. No hex wrench is supplied with the paddle. The Dirigent is not cheap, but it is a masterpiece that begs to be operated at high speeds with light touch. In North America, the Dirigent paddle is distributed by Morse Express. Manufacturer: Scheunemann, Unterweissacher Str 19A, 71549 Auenwald, Germany; www.scheunemann-morsetasten. de. US distributor: Morse Express, 10691 E Bethany Dr, Suite 800, Aurora, CO 80014; www.mtechnologies.com.
A Look at Noise Canceling Headphones
Reviewed by Joel R. Hallas, W1ZR QST Technical Editor, and Nancy G. Hallas, W1NCY ARRL Book Editor Amateurs have used padded headphones with acoustic insulation to attenuate outside noise almost since the beginning, but the use of active circuitry to reduce external sound is a fairly recent development. In essence, active sound cancellation involves using an internal microphone to pick up a sample of the ambient noise. An amplifier brings it to the level that would be heard inside the phones, and a properly phased (inverted) sample is applied to the headphone transducer in order to cancel the outside signal. This review looks at noise canceling headphones from Bose and Heil Sound. Note that this noise cancellation is completely independent of the use of the set as headphones. Both units reviewed here have easily unplugged cables so that the headset can be used just as a noise reduction system to block out ambient noise without listening to anything. This feature had an immediate appeal for Nancy since she works, and tries to concentrate, in a busy shared office environment. We will look at each unit both as a noise reduction set and in the more typical Amateur Radio environments. Both reviewed units are similar in size, designed for travelers use in aircraft and other situations in which background noise can interfere with listening to other signal sources. Both emphasize cancellation in the lower registers, typically rolling off around 400 Hz. This is the prime area for such sounds as jet engine and amplifier blower noise. While male voices are considerably attenuated, Nancy found that neither unit reduced the higher pitched voices in her office area sufficiently to meet her objectives. One operational difference between the units is that the Bose phones will not

function unless turned on with a battery installed, while the Heil unit will work with the canceling feature turned ON or OFF, and can operate as standard headphones without cancellation while in the OFF state. Another key difference is that the Heil offers an optional MB-1 boom mic that can be easily removed when not needed. See the sidebar for a description of the Bose QC-15 Mobile Communications Kit, and an unsuccessful attempt to adapt it to amateur use.
Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones
Bose QC-15 headphones are powered by a supplied AAA size battery with a specified service life of 35 hours perhaps about right for most ham radio contests. In addition to the headphones, the package contains the removable headphone cable with a standard 18 inch stereo plug, an adapter for the dual mono jacks found in airline seats and a custom fit carry case. Nancy found the Bose phones both the best at noise cancellation and the best reproducer of music. In the W1ZR shack, we had the linear with its loud fan running and the receiver listening to a woman commentator on the local National Public Radio FM broadcast station. First Nancy tested a set of padded headphones without active cancellation. Then she tried the Bose and Heil headphones
Both noise canceling headphones offer excellent reception and good, if not perfect, noise reduction, particularly at lower frequencies. The Heil adds the flexibility of an assortment of optional boom microphones tailored for amateur use.
equipped with noise reduction technology meant to actively cancel out ambient room noise. She tried each set of these headsets two ways with the active cancellation circuitry off and then with it on. With the standard phones on but not connected to the receiver, she could still hear the fan noise and the commentators voice padded cushions alone were not providing significant noise reduction. With the Bose phones on, but not connected to the receiver and turned OFF, she could still hear the radio commentator and understand perfectly, similar to the results with the standard headphones. With the circuitry turned ON the voice was significantly attenuated; she could still faintly hear that it was there, but couldnt really understand the spoken words. Other background noise was attenu-
ated, but still somewhat audible. With the Bose phones plugged into a stereo receiver, she found music was very true to the sound of the instruments, as if they were in the room with her. She found the QC-15 a little easier to turn OFF and ON because of the placement of the button. Instead of a continuous VOLUME control, the Bose set has a two position LOW or HIGH attenuator built into the headphone end of the plug. The instructions suggest to switch to LOW if using with high level aircraft sound systems. We found no need to switch from the HIGH setting in either Amateur Radio or stereo reception. Bose offers an accessory QC-15 Mobile Communications Kit with an inline microphone, a cable that plugs into the phones in place of the standard headphone cable. Unfortunately, they offer no connection info and I was unable to make it operate with a transceiver. See the Sidebar on the QST Product Review Web site for more details. Manufacturer: Bose Corporation, The Mountain, Framingham, MA 01701; tel 508-879-7330; www.bose.com. Price $299.95.

Heil Quiet Phone Pro Headphones and MB-1 Boom Microphone
The Heil Quiet Phone Pro is the second generation of headphones with active noise reduction from Heil Sound.6 These phones are powered by a user supplied AAA size battery with a specified service life of 70 hours twice that of the Bose unit. In addition to the headphones, the package contains both a straight and a coiled headphone cable, each with a standard 18 inch stereo plug, and a single adapter to a 14 inch stereo plug. The Quiet Phone Pro headphones include a threaded brass socket designed for the optional MB-1 boom mic described below. As supplied, the socket is covered by a small rubber plug. Our original set of headphones stopped effectively canceling noise after about a week. According to Bob Heil, this was due to a fault in one of the amplifiers. A replacement unit did not suffer from that problem. Nancy repeated the test sequence described above with the Heil phones. With the headset on her head, not connected to the receiver and with the cancellation circuitry not yet switched on, she could still hear the radio announcer and understand what she was saying. She could also hear the background noise. With the cancellation circuitry turned ON, the background noise almost went away, but she could still hear
the female radio commentator clearly and understandably. While plugged into the stereo and listening to music with the circuitry activated, the sound of the music was much brighter and fuller than with the headphones turned off. Still, with the noise cancellation turned off the headphones would function adequately for Amateur Radio use, perhaps an important consideration if the battery dies in the heat of a contest. Nancy had a sense of listening to recorded music rather than being able to feel like she was in front of an orchestra, as with the Bose. Nancy found the ON-OFF switch and the VOLUME control of the Heil a little difficult to find when on her head, although in most applications they would be turned ON before being put on the head.

MB-1 Boom Microphone

The optional Heil MB-1 boom microphone is available in four different versions, three of which have been available for many years. The MB-1 4, with the Heil HC-4 mic element with narrow frequency response and a 10 dB peak at 2 kHz, is designed for maximum punch in contest and DX operations. The MB-1 5, with the Heil HC-5 dynamic mic element, has a wider more balanced response designed for articulate audio in normal and rag chew communications. The MB-1 iC, with a special electret condenser mic element, is designed to provide proper drive for early ICOM transceivers with low level audio amplification. The MB-uses the new Heil HC-6 full range dynamic mic element designed for broadcast and critical audio applications, and we decided to try this new element for the review. The MB-1 boom mics all connect to the transceiver mic input via a thin cable, sepa-
rate from the headphone cable, terminated in a 18 inch mono plug. Heil offers adapters to interface with most transceivers. For my Elecraft K3, the plug fits directly into the inch rear panel MIC jack with no adapter required. A rear PTT jack could also be used, but I elected to use the K3s voice operated TR switching (VOX). In an earlier Product Review, Nancy and I compared the HC-4 and HC-5 mic elements.7 We had a contact with Rich Roznoy, K1OF, who lives across town. The close proximity gave us a very low noise environment in which he could evaluate the way we sounded with each mic element, compared to how we sounded in person. He concluded that we both sounded more like us with the HC-5 element, and I purchased an HC-5 element to upgrade my old desk mic. For this review, we asked Rich to help compare the MB-1 with the HC-6 element to my desk mic with the HC-5. We removed all equalization from the K3 and tried another contact with Rich on 10 meter SSB. He was very favorably impressed with the naturalness of both of our voices with the HC-6 as we switched back and forth in a blind test. I could even hear the difference in the K3 monitor function as I was setting up the test. If Heil Sound offers the HC-6 element as a separate item, I will likely purchase one to upgrade my current mic. One benefit of the many modern transceivers with equalization is that you can use that feature to tailor the audio from a wide range, flat response mic such as the HC-6 to just what you want for casual contacts or contest work. Alternately, you can purchase more than one flavor of the MB-1 and quickly switch between them for different types of operation. A single screw-in stud can quickly remove the boom mic if you dont need it, or it can swivel upward and out of the way. One downside is that the mic cable is a second tail hanging from the headset, unlike the earlier Heil headsets in which a single cable took care of both directions. I found that with sufficient patience, the mic cable can be run between the turns of the coiled cord, making it into a single cable of sorts. If you want to remove the boom mic, you can also remove the coiled cord and use the supplied straight cable for headphones alone. Not a bad compromise, in my view. Manufacturer: Heil Sound, Ltd, 5800 N Illinois St, Fairview Heights, IL 62208; tel 618-257-3000; www.heilsound.com. Price: Quiet Phone Pro Headphones, $170; MB-1 boom mic, $85; AD-1 radio adapter (if needed), $20; Gear Bag carry case, $20.

Patton, NN1N, Heil Pro Set Quiet Phone Noise Canceling Headset, Product Review, QST, Jun 2006, pp 71-72.
Hallas, W1ZR, Product Review Heil Pro-Set Plus Headset with Boom Microphone, Product Review, QST, Dec 2003, pp 61-63.
Bose QC-15 Mobile Communications Kit
Bose offers an accessory QC-15 Mobile Communications Kit with an inline microphone, a cable that plugs into the phones in place of the standard headphone cable, and four short adapter cables. The mic can be clipped to a shirt collar. For the comparison, I thought we should order this $40 accessory to expand the QC-15 headphones into a two way system. This option is designed to operate with multiple cell phones, and I realized there was some risk, since the Bose Web site did not include any connectivity information. I thought the instructions would provide what I needed to hook the mic to my transceiver. When I received the kit, I found no technical information, nor a connectivity diagram. I was faced with a four conductor 18 inch plug that fit nothing I had. I spent much too much time unsuccessfully dealing with Bose customer service, public relations and even their executive offices. They offer their product only for its intended use and do not publish specifications or technical information. They took a different tack use it and if you like it keep it, if not return it. That makes some sense to me, but didnt help me adapt the mic to my transceiver. In summary, connectivity info and specs arent available. Undaunted, I found a mating connector, Philmore part number 70-086, at Cables and Connectors here in Newington (www.cablesandconnectors.com). How hard could it be a common, two headphone connections (easily found with an ohmmeter click in each ear), and the remaining connection must be the mic. I made an adapter cable to connect to the HEADPHONE jack and the rear MIC connector of the K3, and got nowhere except for some mic feedback! Hence, we reviewed the QC-15 headphones without a mic option. ARRL Lab Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, hooked up the QC-15 to his cell phone and called me. He sounded about as natural as you can over that medium, confirming that the mic actually did what it was supposed to, all that Bose promises. Someone with knowledge of cell phone connectivity and sufficient motivation could likely make this work but that doesnt seem to fit my profile. Joel Hallas, W1ZR

short takes

Radio Remote Control 1258MkII
As often happens with QST Product Reviews and Short Takes, some of the best suggestions for new product reviews come from our readers. In this instance the suggestion came from Rick Hilding, K6VVA, who wanted us to take a look at the Remote Rig units being manufactured and sold by Mikael Styrefors, SM2O. Interest in remote station operating is on the upswing, driven by the fact that so many hams are facing restrictions on their ability to erect effective antennas. For some its a matter of local ordinances or lack of real estate, but for others it is the result of life-altering changes such as moving from homes to apartments. Thanks to products such as Mikaels Radio Remote Control 1258MkII, a downsized lifestyle doesnt have to mean abandonment of Amateur Radio. the package directly from Mikaels Web site based in Sweden (www.remoterig.com) and it arrived within a week. One of the most elegant approaches to Internet remote control is to use a transceiver that offers a detachable front panel such as an ICOM IC-706 series, Kenwood TS-480 and so on. The front panel resides with the client while the rest of the rig remains at the host. The 1258MkIIs are specifically designed to make this type of installation as seamless as possible. By plugging in the correct cables at

Not Plug and Play

Once I had the 1258MkIIs completely configured, they worked perfectly. It was remarkable to hear the audio from the remote radio pouring out of the speaker. By the same token, on-air reports of my transmit audio were outstanding. In fact, no one guessed (until I told them) that I was 10 miles from the radio. The 1258MkIIs also include a CW capability that functions surprisingly well. You simply plug your key into the unit at the client end and adjust the front panel control to set your keying speed. Since the sidetone is heard on the client side, youre able to operate without being distracted by audio delays. All that said, it is important to point out that 1258MkII system is most definitely not plug and play. Depending on the type of transceiver and microphone you are using, you may need to construct microphone adapter cables (I did). You must also open both units and configure the wire strapping jumpers to permit correct microphone keying as well as the correct audio pathways. Finally, youll need to know how to properly configure your network routers and software firewalls to allow the 1258MkIIs to pass data from one unit to the other. If youre not comfortable with network terminology and architecture, this could be a challenge. Ive been working with computers for decades, so I found it straightforward. Others, however, may not. There are no manuals for the 1258MkIIs as such. Instead, the setup information exists on several pages at Mikaels Web site. The units are well built and perform smoothly, but a comprehensive user manual, perhaps downloadable in PDF format, would be a huge benefit and would help expand their appeal beyond computer power users. Manufacturer: Microbit, Nystaden 1, 95261 Kalix, Sweden; www.remoterig. com. $449. Purchase must be made from Mikaels Web site using PayPal.

 

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