Sadly Alan, I am experiencing many of the same issues for satellite work. My radio is one of the first 100 released at Dayton, and still has the 0.4 firmware.The sub receiver is very poor, and to me it sounds like it's a mile wide. I've given it several trys while here in Denmark on vacation and I'm pretty disgusted by the radio at this point. The full duplex on mine absolutely does not work on satellite with either an Arrow or an AL-800 whip. Around TCA, I can hear myself just a little bit through the noise, and that's as good as it gets. Not good enough for me! Full duplex is such an important tool on the FM sats, especially portable.
I like the radio's construction, and I don't even mind the poor manual given the newness of the radio. I did download, print and bind the new one, but it's still a mess in my opinion. Other than using I with my buddy on 1.2 GHz, I don't think it'll get used much at all. Given we both also have the F6 Kenwood, we are much more likely to use 222 FM at hamfests and such. It's much lighter, and has just as good if not better battery life.
When I get home I hope to be able to do the firmware upgrade and see if it improves the cross band full duplex issues. If not, I may have to put it on Ebay. I hate being negative, but I had high hopes for this rig.
73, Drew OZ/KO4MA
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?
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