After a nearly 2 month wait, my rig came in recently. The good news is that
they are coming through with the current firmware and manual. The manual is
"OK" but lacks an index making things hard to find, and does not include all
the menu items. Fortunately, after you get comfortable with the logic, it
is easy to figure them out. The computer programming software is available
so far only in Japanese, but they claim the English version will be
available Real Soon Now. For normal operations, the RX and TX audio are
excellent, and the wideband receive is useful, or at least fun. As with
most HTs, the stock antenna could stand to be replaced, and has been.
Packet works well, and the VOX simplifies interfacing.
On the downside, the receivers are both less sensitive than they should be.
In comparison with an ancient Icom HT with exactly the same specs, using the
same antenna and location, marginal repeaters which are close to full
quieting on the Icom are noisy and largely unreadable on the Alinco. More
importantly for satellite use, the sub band which you must use for RX is
significantly noisier. I use an ARR preamp. With it on, pointing to clear
sky with an Elk antenna, I get 2-3 S-units of noise on the main RX. Using
the sub RX, it is full scale, and actual readability is poor in comparison
with the main RX. This is independent of whether the wideband RX function
is on or off. Attenuators off of course. ;)
I have had the impression that some of the old AMSAT hands at portable
operation have been less than impressed, and so far that has been my
experience. It will be interesting so see if there are any helpful firmware
updates. While a disappointment so far for satellite use, I do expect to
use this as my main HT for normal operations once the English programming
software becomes available.
Anybody have an experiences to share, hopefully positive?