It’s here! Finally. The production models of the Optima. And the sun turned it on and gave a week of 100 plus on the SFI so the skip has been running hot with signals into South America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. At times I had to switch off and take a break as the Roman and Gaul filters were overloaded. When you call for South America only and 60 Italian stations respond en mass……I usually stop and get a cup of tea. Never make the mistake of responding! They will nail you.
Anyway, the OPTIMA. What a great rig. I was comparing it with the new Magnum S-45 HP which is a great rig in its own right…Booming audio and a solid receiver but the magnum is back in the box and the Optima is on the bench. The Optima with the 5khz steps is just so much easier to navigate and chasing the DX on the s-45HP with the 10khz steps and 40ch bands just gets to be a pain. The PA heats up like a hotplate as well. I added a fan but it was hard pressed to keep up. Put the mic face down on the desk and hit the front up/down buttons and away she skips…..can run 10 channels up the band before you realise it. Still a good rig…just needs refinement to make it a great one. I don’t know why magnum won’t add a fan…maybe they got a coffee heating attachment for it. It does get that hot that quick. But more on the S-45 HP later….
The Optima has a very sensitive receiver, and when coupled with the additional filter it was able to pull in the weak ones quite clearly. The filter works but it does reduce the audio and ether rf gain or the volume need to be increased to compensate. At times it seemed the receiver got out of control and started motorboating and the rx gain had to be reduced to bring clear audio back. not all the time but under noisy conditions with weak signals. I queried the maker about this and this the answer I was given: ” REASON IS OPTIMA WITH WIDE BAND WITH LINEAR FRONT END WITH AUTO TUNE CIRCUIT, SO SENSITIVITY IS 3-6 Db BETTER THAN HURACAN, EVEN UTRA WEAK SIGNAL COULD GET CLARE RECEIVING SIGNAL, SO EASY TO PICK UP WEAK SIGNAL.THAT IS ACTIVATED AGC WITH A SIGNIFICANT SENS. AS A AGC DELAY SO YOU FELL THAT IS A SUDDEN INCREASE, ACTUALLY A VERY WEAK SIGNAL DETECHED, AND TO ACTIVATED AGC WORKING. WE HAVE NO WAY TO HELP BUT ONLY BACK TO STANDARD SENS, OR TURN THE RF GAIN TO MIN ALL THE TIME. OR WE HAVE TO 3 db REDUCE AS NORMAL RADIO SENS. FOR EX-FACTORY DEFAULT SETTING INTERNALLY.” WE HAVE MADE SUPPER SENS.
I have left the wording exactly as I received it so and will let the readers decipher it as they want. It seems 3-6 db gain has been added to the receive section. The filter removes a lot of the associated noise and the result is remarkable. The filter still drags the audio down a bit more than we would like but it is easily compensated for.
Everything works as it should and it worked perfectly with my Icom SM20 desk mic (Lo cut ) plugged directly into the 8 pin plug on the radio. The JCD201M desk mic also worked. The supplied mic is rather small but it works extremely well.
I used this radio with a texas star DX1600 amplifier for just over 1kw on all bands from 12m to 10m but the amp did not seem so happy on 12m as it was on 11m! The one thing I liked about this radio was that it ran cool…the fan came on when you key the mike and remains on for about 30 seconds. You won’t hear the fan either. The heatsink barely got warm even on extended overs. When you live in the tropics that is a great feature. The rig has yet to be used on AM and FM modes which will test the ability of fan to cool the heatsink. Don’t even know what it sounds like on AM or FM yet!
Its a keeper.