Saturday, December 3, 2011

10 GHz IF Transceiver Alternatives

Yaesu FT-290RII

The  transceiver (transmit and receive radio) also known as in IF-Rig is a key component within a 10 GHz station. It's purpose if to convert an IF (Intermediate Frequency) signal to and from an audio frequency for your microphone, headphone and/or speaker. There are many choices available to the newcomer and you'll probably upgrade overtime. Some considerations are:
  1. Multi-mode - usually SSB, CW and Digital for weak signal operation
  2. 144 and/or 432 MHz bands - direct or via intermediate transverter
  3. Low power output - from 0 dBm up to several watts; depending on the transverter drive
  4. Good frequency accuracy and stability - for finding weak signals on 10,386.100 MHz
  5. Digital frequency display - for accurate frequency readout
  6. Adequate selectivity - for filtering out the noise (QRN) more so than other signals (QRM) 
  7. Back lite indicators - for low-light operating environments
  8. Low power consumption - when powered from batteries in the field
  9. Low weight and small form factor - for mounting on portable, tripod based stations
  10. Useful built-in features:
    • CW keyer for both QSOs (under very weak signal conditions) and beaconing
    • Panoramic and waterfall visualization of weak signals
  Examples of common, direct-IF transceivers are:

Costs run from around $200 (used FT-290) up to $1000 for a new FT-897D
    Examples of common, indirect-IF (via intermediate transverter) transceivers are:


    • Flex-1500 - 500 KHz - 54 MHz IF range (using the 0 dBm XVTX/C and/or XVRX connectors)

    Costs range from around $150 (used HTX-100) up to $1500 for an Elecraft K3 kit

    Also, an experimental, indirect-IF transceiver kit is available:

    DIY - No-Tune SSB/CW Transceiver for 10GHz - S53MV

    Transverters should always be considered a poor technical solution for many reasons. Receive converters usually degrade the dynamic range of the receiver while transmit converters dissipate most of the RF power generated in the base SSB transceiver. Both receive and transmit converters generate a number of spurious mixing products that are very difficult to filter out due to the harmonic relationships among the VHF/UHF amateur frequency bands......Matjz Vidmar, S53MV

    Transceiver Comparison Tables

    The Care and Feeding of Transceivers: 

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