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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF (including HF+VHF/UHF models) | Kenwood TS-440S/AT Help


Reviews Summary for Kenwood TS-440S/AT
Kenwood TS-440S/AT Reviews: 28 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $1200 price class
Description: 160-10 Meter HF Transceiver/Auto Tune
More info: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TS-440/

You can write your own review of the Kenwood TS-440S/AT.

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VK2IMM Rating: 4/5 Mar 27, 2005 04:24 Send this review to a friend
Good radio built in the 80's  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was first impressed with the design of TS-440S in the 80s when I was going through ads placed in some amateur radio magazines. The feature that had caught my attention was a very sizable finned heat sink of the transceiver. This was certainly an indication of good engineering, at least in one of the ways I could see it. This happened that I had purchased one of these radios several years later and then I had an option to check the radio in action.

From the design point of view TS-440S has all attributes of an HF radio built in the 80s, this includes an 8 bit microprocessor, PLL board with multiple VCOs, optional interface for computer control, dual VFOs, 100 of memories etc.. From an RF point of view the circuit is built using 3 IFs and has an option for installation of two additional XTAL filters on 2-nd IF. Filter selection process is very flexible and it allows choosing any of the optional filters installed or the standard filter in any mode. The transmitter is of a heavy duty type and it is rated for a 1 hr key down operation. Last two options are very important in RTTY or other carrier based modes especially in the contests.

Impressions.

First point which I noticed when switching over from a non-synthesized radio to a TS-440S was that the receiver was rather noisy. There is sufficient sensitivity but maximizing RF gain would very often lead to substantial amount of noise at the receiver output. This was especially the case with SSB filters switched in what made SSB reception somewhat tiresome. Careful adjustment of the RF gain control would fix this but not completely. When using a narrow CW filter this would be much less observed and I would rate performance in narrow band modes somewhat higher.

When optional XTAL filters are switched into the circuit this transceiver offers very high level of the out-of-pass-band selectivity. From my measurements at AF output it was about 15-20 db better comparing with a TS-530S model when in CW mode.

Notch circuit provides 20 dB attenuation in average.
Noise blanker can be effective in some cases.
Built in antenna tuner works well for a motor driven unit. Power loss in the tuner is about 15%.

Dynamic range.

I have not done any measurements on this so my observations are quite subjective. I have not experienced any significant problems with receiver blocking or intermodulation during operatinion on any bands from 7MHz to 28 MHZ with low gain full size antennas. This includes some contest entries also.

General.

Pros
The transceiver is well designed and has good ergonomics for the radio of its size
Good set of functions and features available
Heavy-duty transmitter with a very quiet fan
Good reliability, although with units of such age some circuit alignment may be required
Very good selectivity when optional XTAL filters installed

Cons
I am not very impressed with the implementation of mode selection and function keys as well as with a lightly built plastic front panel of the radio.
Somewhat noisy receiver what would be probably similar to many synthesized radios of that age.

Overall: This is certainly a good radio built in the 80s.
 
KG6AOH Rating: 4/5 Mar 1, 2005 11:30 Send this review to a friend
A great radio regardless of price or vintage.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my TS-440 with built in tuner for so long, I think I forgot a time when I did not own it.

I have used various radios for SW listening, and the 440 is a stellar performer. I run mine off of a gel-cell battery with solar charging and a 30 amp Astron for extended running if I decide to talk a lot and the power is on. The battery operation makes the receiver SILENT! Weak signals are no trouble at all.

My only gripes are low sensitivity on AM BCB and LW. I did bypass the fixed attenuator for the lower bands, and this improved it a LOT. However, it is still not anywhere near as sensitive on LW as my old Zenith tube receiver. No tuner operation on 160m band is a bummer for those of you interested in talking on 160. Also, my keyboard is starting to do that 'bounce' thing everyone complains about. Tried using it on AM in the 75m band. The AM is not very good at all, even with the carrier set as low as 10watts. Lastly, Kenwood refuses to support this radio, even going so far as to mail me a brochure with all their new models in it. How offensive!

With the gripes out of the way.... Here's what I love about this radio-

The analog S-meter is dreamy
The smooth and full audio quality (TX and RX both)
Sensitivity on HF bands above 2 MHz.
Selectivity is really good all over.
Ease of use (even for big fingers)
Smooth tuning and good audio while tuning (no noises)
Runs into just about any load and can TX 24/7 without breaking
Does not overheat and quit
Great frequency display (so much easier to see than an LCD)

Since I use my TS-440 for listening 99.99% of the time, and I am NOT an 'active' ham, my usage may vary from yours. However, as a shortwave receiver, I am most pleasantly pleased with the 440. I have NO plans of replacing it with anything else. Since it has not broken, thankfully I have not really been forced to consider what I would replace it with. I enjoy it very much! NOT FOR SALE!! It's a keeper.
 
GI0ZGB Rating: 5/5 Dec 14, 2004 14:02 Send this review to a friend
Follow Up  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
In addition to my previous post, I was well pleased with the condition of my "new" TS-440S/AT - it was in truly pristine condition. However, I discovered that there was no AM TX, and after searching for a fault, I discovered that my 440 was a Japanese version and that AM TX had been factory disabled. Thanks to David Wilkins of Kenwood UK I was advised that D77 on the control unit was the culprit - it shares the same diode matrix as D80 famous for enabling wideband TX.
Snipping the diode lead did the trick and the silver lining was that the Japanese version contains certain better quality components than the western equivalent which was pleasing to learn. After using the rig for a few weeks now, I can't help but wonder what possessed me to sell the first one I ever owned - crazy!
I would simply confirm my previous rating of 5/5 and sincerely recommend this classic rig to anyone.
 
GI0ZGB Rating: 5/5 Nov 20, 2004 14:18 Send this review to a friend
Classic Mobile  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a TS-440SAT way back in the eighties and found it a brilliant performer in many respects. It didn't suffer from overheating problems associated with its more modern offsprings and seemed generally more rugged and able take tough usage in its stride. The audio quality was typically Kenwood, an experienced ear could identify it in a heartbeat. It worked well with a variety of mic and audio accessories. Using the MC-85 a minor mod had to be done on the IF board, replacing R172 with a 100 ohm resistor to enable proper drive levels with compression enabled. The Datong external Automatic RF Speech Processor delivered the goods with any mic, dynamic being best for reducing background noise. The recipocral mixing left something to be desired causing problems with weak signal reception, and the interference rejection etc typically ok a 50KHz was very poor close in, not entirely suitable for contest use.
I liked this rig very much, but took a crazy notion to trade it for a new TS-450SAT, certainly a more refined rig but without the six pack, and I regretted the deal almost immediatly. Just a few days ago I came across a TS-440SAT advertised in pristine condition and I couldn't resist purchasing. After all these years the fondness and affection for this classic mobile has survived, and I'm like a little child, impatiently waiting for Santa to make his delivery. Highly recommended, but nowadays dry joints and other well documented problems may arise, but nothing too serious that can't be sorted!
 
N3GOO Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2004 22:52 Send this review to a friend
Good, solid performer  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought one new in 1990, first and only (so far) HF rig owned. Only needed maintenance once, in 2003 when PLLs wouldn't lock anymore and internal battery finally died. Fine audio, both TX and RX, controls simple and easy to use. No plans to replace it. In fact, I might buy another one!
 
KO4BB Rating: 5/5 Jul 6, 2004 11:09 Send this review to a friend
Strong performance in a relatively small form factor  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this rig new in 1991 and recently retired it in favor of a FT-1000MP Mk5 Field.
However, the TS-440 is not going anywhere. It has been, and still is an outstanding rig. I have had absolutely zero problem with it.
The receiver is quiet and sensitive, even though newer rigs may be more sensitive on the higher bands (12 and 10m).
The transmitter is powerfull and not too bothered by VSWR. Transmit audio is excellent.
The antenna tuner works well. It will match well beyond the specified range, but on the lower bands, with very narrow band antennas, tuning will be touchy. The tuner does not cover 160m though, a strange omission. Also, newer radios with tuner have tuner memories, the TS-440 does not, so you have to retune when you change frequency.
I have two optional filters, and I wish there had been room for a 3rd one.
The rig has a single frequency reference, and once I drilled a small hole in the side cover to get the adjustment tool in without having to remove the cover, this is the only adjustment you need to get the rig perfectly aligned. Once aligned, the rig drifts about 100 Hz in 30 minutes (on 20m) after power up, then is absolutely rock stable for days.
With 100 memories, you are perfectly covered. I used the memories to set the start of CW and SSB subbands for all the ham bands, making band changing a lot more convenient than with the (useless) band switch buttons.
I made a small mod to the stock microphone so that I do not have to unplug it when doing digital modes (involves a small signal MOSFET, a resistor and a capacitor).
All the controls are doing exactly what you need them to do, ergonomics are VERY good. I like the fairly high tuning rate, even though it would have been nice to be able to optionally select a lower rate for CW.
I took it to my club's 2004 Field Day deployment, and when on the same band as an IC-746 and an IC-738, the TS-440 was absolutely not affected by the other rigs, but the 746 Pro was significantly affected by the TS-440. The 738 was much less affected, but some blocking still was taking place. In a multi-station setup, I will take the TS-440 any time.
Only gripes: 1) even though QSK works very well, too many relays chatter in full break-in, 2) the external speaker jack gets dirty very quickly, requiring frequent cleaning with a contact cleaner and 3) I wish there was a transverter jack with low power output.
Considering you can buy a used TS-440S/AT on eBay for about $350, I could not recommend a better rig for a new ham.
 
N5KBP Rating: 5/5 Apr 6, 2004 15:10 Send this review to a friend
Best bang for buck  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned 3 of them and keep going back to it. The 440 is the best bang for the buck in the used radio market. It has it's warts but nothing a set of tweezers, a good work light and a soldering iron will not permanently fix. As far as the low audio problem. Check C175 (220uF at 10V). Change it to a 16V unit also look at L14. If C175 shorts it usually takes out the inducter.


 
W4SPF Rating: 5/5 Mar 1, 2004 16:24 Send this review to a friend
One of the BEST  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my TS440S/AT in 1988 and sold it reluctantly in 2003. I loved this rig. I used it at my home QTH and aboard my boat on long trips in the summer on the Great Lakes to talk with friends back home from distant ports and remote islands. The auto antenna tuner was a dream come true to help quickly get on the air in remote locations. I rate this rig the best except for my present rig that cost more than twice the original cost of the TS440. If you're looking for a good used rig, consider the 440, it's a really great transceiver.
 
VE3XDB Rating: 4/5 Dec 14, 2003 18:47 Send this review to a friend
Bought a second one  Time owned: more than 12 months

My previous 440 lasted me for 9 years, then it did the inevitable -- dots caused by the glue in the VCO's becoming conductive. Instead of repairing, it was sold to someone who wanted to fix it. I thought it was time to try something new, anyway, and purchased a 570.

Now the old 440 had all the bad habits - keyboard bounce, underwater audio, dots on the screen, etc. Why did I buy another? Because they are a great radio, when they are working properly. The receiver is really good, much better than the 570's receiver. I didn't like the integrated full-time DSP in the 570, and like my 440 with an outboard DSP which works better than the 570, and the DSP can be shut off at will.

Controls on the 440 are straight forward and intuitive. The tuner works well, beyond its specifications, although I'm told you can cook the tuner if it is used this way. Audio reports are good, and I really like it on CW.

There are several credible and reliable people around who fix 440's. My "new" 440 has been fixed by one of them, and is like a new radio.

Do me a favour. If I ever try to sell my 440 again, don't buy it from me, okay?

All the best,

Doug VE3XDB
 
G7WBB Rating: 4/5 Nov 19, 2003 11:32 Send this review to a friend
Nice Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought mu TS440s minus the auto atu unit...found after they are so rare or impossible to find!The radio performs really well and puts out well above the 100 watts on all bands.Did have a problem with the tuning mechanism this seized up but I got hold of a new unit easily and fitted this in around an hour.I have modded the SSB power control so that the Mic gain is left where its set and the carrier control adjusts the SSB power as in the AM and FM. all this involves is a diode cut. All reports on the audio and signal are always good,even on the standard fist mike.I use the radio thru the AT230 tuner and this works extremely well tuning almost anything I use (Long Wires etc)All in all a good all round radio
 
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