Category Archives: Hilberling PT-8000

Setting up a TS-990, Yaesu FT-5000, a Icom IC-7800 and a Flex-6000 back to back

My island neighbor George W9EVT had some unsupervised urchins in his shack during a major event on the farm, youngsters whose curiosity set them into twiddling knobs and pushing buttons.

Stuff like that happens and while the radios were none the worse for the attentions, the settings were partially scrambled.

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Using a High Performance Radio – Operating the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiverl

Hilberling PT-8000A with George W9EVT

Hilberling PT-8000A with George W9EVT

Using a High Performance Radio – Operating the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver

This last week I finally had the opportunity to use the top-notch Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver with an amp & antenna farm worthy of the radio.

As QST readers may recollect, the ARRL recently tested & reviewed the Hilberling PT-8000A – actually they tested and review exactly this particular PT-8000A as we acquired it from them after their testing.

The Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver is much like a new high-end AC Cobra sports car – a classic format product fine-tuned to as close to perfection as the manufacturer can engineer, executed with near-jewelry precision & finish. The PT-8000A is absolutely a work of art in a classic style.

How is it in use? I really enjoyed knocking out DX QSOs with the radio behind George’s antennas and amp. There are some quirks, many with have to do with my operator-error failure to read and understand the manual. In terms of the manual and how the radio is designed, this is a very much bespoke radio meeting the design criteria Mr Hilberling set, even if the function strays from typical operations.

Hooking up the amp requires building a cable from the serial port type connector (use the HF PTT pair of pins, which is different from the trigger for a VHF Amp where the VHF PTT and a Ground work) to the Alpha 9500’s RCA connector. The first one I built this winter was too fragile and had failed, so this time I used a breakout board. I also soldered up a cable so George W9EVT would have a backup on hand. Personally at this price point an adaptor like what TenTec provided with the Pegasus Transceiver should have been included where the various functions were brought out to industry standard connectors. Not everyone has a lab grade workspace to build cables like the factory does.

The ARRL benched test this radio and then had it at the W1AW shack for a period. Not certain if they fiddled, but we did spend a fair bit of time chasing down gremlins that were actually extreme user settings. We have an upcoming coaching session with Hilberling-USA to complete the normalization process of returning the trimmer pots, and soft settings to normal ranges.

It is easy to overdrive the Alpha causing all sorts of issues unless the gain is carefully kept down. We added toroids to some of the cables which benefited some issues, as the W9EVT shack is complex enough to induce problems normally never seen in an average ham’s shack.

Once the user gets accustomed to the Main/Sub windows and the summoning of an appropriate Softkey Menu running the radio is a smooth. While I personally prefer every command to always be in exactly the same place, the number of button pushes can vary based on whether the appropriate Softkey Menu needs to be fist called up, or if it is already active. This is nothing unique to the PT-8000A, rather a personal preference that comes from my operating style.

The weighted VFO knob is silky, and while high-end old school the controls are positive. Band changes are quick and I developed a rapid drill to switch bands/antennas, retune and return to QRO operations quickly.

The split operation is easy, though at first I was going about it a complex way that was solidly based on my missing a bit of information that was in the manual if I had only paid more attention when reading the directions. Received numerous complements on the audio, but every now and then someone would complain saying I was distorted. Checking each time I would find I had run the power up enough to cause splatter, and simply backing down a couple hundred watts would do the trick.

Calling into pileups it was awesome to mostly a one call and then picked up by the DX station sort of operation.

Contrasting the PT-8000A with the Icom IC-7800 next to it was interesting. The Icom is a less “edgy” radio, perhaps easier to set up, but hands down the Hilberling was able to distinguish itself by digging DX out from deeper in the noise, and there is no arguing with its TX being a pileup-breaker. Where the Icom appeals is with the native output to a monitor for a Panadapter view and the comfort level of familiarity. Eclipsing both is a well set up Flex-6700, but until the Maestro FlexRadio Systems add-on is fully released the difference between a Faceplate w/Knobs Transceiver and a Computer with Mouse Transceiver favors the Hilberling/Icom ergonomics for many radio amateurs.

I’m comfortable either way, and found the Hilberling a relaxing experience to run DX with – basically using it was a lot of fun, and that is what radio is all about.

Some hams question whether the price tag is too high, and I’m sticking my head out and saying it is not only fine, but appropriate for the build quality. It doesn’t pretend to be an everyman’s radio any more than the AC Cobra we started the article discussing pretends to be everyman’s car.

Just like driving a sports car won’t make sense to someone who values low investment costs, fuel economy, and low running costs as their main auto ownership goals, a radio like this belongs in a shack where raw performance and appreciation of build quality comes before economics.

Interestingly several Hilberling owners as said to own several PT-8000A Transceiver each, presumably in the various faceplate colors.

All in all and excellent radio that was a huge blast to work behind now that I’ve had a chance to do so in a first class station!

Of course YMMV.

73

Steve
K9ZW

May 2015 Operation from Washington Island WI-001L – Trying for DXCC in one session

For a good part of last week I was on Washington Island, Wisconsin – US Island WI-001L – operating from my friend George W9EVT’s shack.

I had informally set myself a DXCC in a visit goal.  Despite poor weather I didn’t come too far short.

The first 16 QSOs I used George W9EVT’s Icom IC-7800 and then for the remaining 174 QSOs moved over to the Hilberling PT-8000A Transceiver.

Here is the country list for the visit:

  1. Aruba
  2. Andorra
  3. Austria
  4. Azores
  5. Argentina
  6. Algeria
  7. Balearic Islands
  8. Bahamas
  9. Bahrain
  10. Bonaire
  11. Brazil
  12. Belarus
  13. Belgium
  14. Bulgaria
  15. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  16. Croatia
  17. Chile
  18. Cuba
  19. Canada
  20. Canary Islands
  21. Cayman Islands
  22. Crete
  23. Denmark
  24. England
  25. Estonia
  26. Falkland Islands
  27. France
  28. Georgia
  29. Greece
  30. Germany
  31. Guinea
  32. Guayana
  33. Grenada
  34. Hawaii
  35. Hungary
  36. India
  37. Iceland
  38. Israel
  39. Ireland
  40. Italy
  41. Kyrgyzstan
  42. Kuwait
  43. Kenya
  44. Latvia
  45. Liberia
  46. Lithuania
  47. Lebanon
  48. Luxembourg
  49. Macedonia
  50. Malta
  51. Netherlands
  52. New Zealand
  53. Norway
  54. Northern Ireland
  55. Oman
  56. Portugal
  57. Panama
  58. Paraguay
  59. Philippines
  60. Poland
  61. Qatar
  62. Romania
  63. Russia – Asiatic
  64. Russia – European
  65. Sardinia
  66. Saudi Arabia
  67. Spain
  68. South Cook Islands
  69. St. Martin
  70. St. Barthelemy
  71. St. Lucia
  72. San Marino
  73. Slovenia
  74. Slovak Republic
  75. Switzerland
  76. Svalbard
  77. Scotland
  78. Sweden
  79. Turkey
  80. United Arab Emirates
  81. Uruguay
  82. Ukraine
  83. USA
  84. Wales

I’m rather sure that without the storms and lightening, that 100 DXCC entities wouldn’t have been much more work.

In addition to the DX, I also worked a “Clean Sweep” on the Ham Nation special event and a handful of special event stations that caught my interest.

I did fudge and organize one sked – I had called and arranged to work my good friend Paul AE5JU as my final QSO for the visit.  Nothing finer to “close the logs” with working a good friend about 1000 miles away!

While I only added two DXCC entities to my all time list, the exercise was a lot of fun for both myself and George W9EVT.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Comparison Part 2 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Finally I’ve arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

There is no question the PT-8000A delivers the goods.  Compared to other than the FlexRadio System 6×00 series radios it easily waxes my other radios.

There are a couple quirks that sent me back to the PT-8000A’s manual:

  • Setting Up Split lacks some of the confirmation of TX frequency that has become customary.  The TX frequency is in the Sub Window and the Split indicator the opposite side of the screen and then an inverse of soft key colors if that menu is showing.  Shooting a frequency into the Sub is not horrible, but again is across the radio ergonomically.
  • The PT-8000A’s key touch courtesy tone adjustment/mute is not documented, and I have put in an email requesting instructions on toning this down.
  • While no worse than many modern high-end transceivers, I don’t have the operating hands across the radio face quite sorted out, and I’m slow setting things up.  Some things are my foibles, like:
    • I would prefer rotating controls that also have a push control to be a click & stay push-pull rather than a silky smooth momentary push button.  My ideas is if you have tactile feedback, make it persistent and intuitive.
    • I would prefer an indicator at the control, rather than having to look around on the screen for a different shaped & different sequenced indicator.  Make it simple.
    • Seldom manipulated controls could have been made to disappear nearly flush to the faceplate rather than left proud.

Working DX the amazing ability of the Flex-6×00 does dig a bit deeper, but the Hilberling is no slouch.  That the PT-8000A is up an operating in seconds running 200w barefoot is certainly an awesome feature compared to booting hardware & software for an SDR radio with PC of any type.

More as I work across the bands in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Comparison Part 1 … Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

As mentioned I have arranged to have a very rare radio – a Hilberling PT-800A Transceiver –  in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System 6700 and 6300 models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hilberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance.

I’ve finally arrange some time to get some more QSOs on the PT-8000A.

Initial impressions – the radio drips of quality.  High grade connectors, small details well executed, use of best available technology – the PT-8000A delivers the goods.

So far the only quirk I haven’t figured out is how to reduce the volume of the courtesy key-touch beeps.

Walking through things – the connectors are high grade N-connectors for antennas, a unusual power-supply to radio connector that looks aerospace in origin, and everything is polished/chromed or finished in the Hilberling Blue finish.  Everything about the PT-8000A reminds me of an upscale European Stereo system – like a Revox or B+O grade build quality.

Using the PT-8000A is much like running any high quality transceiver, with the exception that the menu system is shallower and the precision of adjustments impressive.  I’ve always been frustrated with the 6-7 levels deep menu systems many transceiver deploy, and much prefer the Hilberling style of menus.

The display is awesome – and actually the software at its present level doesn’t really do justice to the high grade display.  The power supply meg-meter is current draw, which is fine but hardly seems the first choice to dedicate such a large bit of front face real estate to display.

Initial SSB reports have been enthusiastically positive, with several QSO partners commenting about the broadcast-like sound quality.

I like the supplied desk mic, as it is clever in appearance and in performance.

More, including some contrasts with the Flex-6700 in the next few parts of this comparison.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Very interesting… Hilberling PT-8000 in the K9ZW Shack

Have arranged to have a very rare radio in my shack for an a lengthy trial, including some A/B testing against my radios (including the FlexRadio System models).

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

Hiberling PT-8000 Transceiver

The first QSO I made with the transceiver was to W1AW/1 in RI. With travel and work I’ve only a dozen or so contacts with it so far, and the initial impression is of excellence in transceiver design. Everything is first rate – the power supply/speaker and cables are lab equipment grade and supply the 50v DC allowing for 200w performance. More as I get some Qs on the rig.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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