Picked up a vintage Kenwood TS-520s last week.

timbo

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The TS-520s was probably one of the most popular transceivers made in the mid 70's to the late 80's. They were hybrids meaning it was mostly solid-state but the transmitter section had a tube driver and finals. It was my first "real" radio, which I bought to celebrate my getting my general license in 1984(ish). Foolishly (and regrettably), I sold it to buy a computer in the late 80's...that computer is LONG gone but I'll bet that TS-520s is still chugging along somewhere. Before buying this radio, my novice rig was a homemade "chirpy" crystal controlled transmitter built on an old TV chassis with a cheapy receiver but hey, it worked...usually.

I have been working on it. Though physically in great shape for being 40 years old, it needed the typical cleaning switch contacts with DeOxit. I also removed the VFO subassembly and disassembled that and flushed out all the crusty grease in the bearings in the variable capacitor and re-lubed it. Acetone and white Lithium grease are my friends. I ordered new power tubes for it as the ones that it came with were pretty soft. Once those come in on Monday, I'll re-bias and neutralize them and get it on the air. It has a great receiver in it, very sensitive and very quiet. No WARC bands but I have more modern transceivers for those.

For those unfamiliar with the radio:

 
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ToddDubya

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I always appreciate restoring old things and putting them back into service. And it's cool to get one you had before. If you can, post some pics of the internals. I'm always impressed with how simple the older electronics are. You expect them to be packed with stuff, and usually they are just simple(ish) circuits.
 

timbo

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I always appreciate restoring old things and putting them back into service. And it's cool to get one you had before. If you can, post some pics of the internals. I'm always impressed with how simple the older electronics are. You expect them to be packed with stuff, and usually they are just simple(ish) circuits.
I'll do that when I open it again to install the new final tubes, probably early next week. I took some pictures of the VFO internals so I could remember where things went :). Not great quality but not bad. It actually is pretty packed...very few IC's. Mostly discreet components.
 

TC McQuade

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Cool find!

The TS 520 is a great radio. I bought 3 TS 520s a few years ago with mikes and speakers and 1 VFO-520 along with a TS 820 and a TS 120, The seller was done with Hams :(
 

timbo

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Cool find!

The TS 520 is a great radio. I bought 3 TS 520s a few years ago with mikes and speakers and 1 VFO-520 along with a TS 820 and a TS 120, The seller was done with Hams :(
In a way, I can understand being done with hams...Back in the late 80s and early 90s I worked at a ham radio store and when I finally left 8 years later, I sold ALL my equipment except one transceiver that didn't see the light of day for almost 15 years.

I love the hobby (mostly the technical aspect) but so many of the hams I saw come in that store were people that I really didn't want to be associated with...entitled, sniveling brats who wanted everything for nothing. I don't wonder why the hobby (service?) seems to be in a death spiral.

I really enjoy reading about and being with the younger folks that do try to do it differently using today's technology and work with what they know and have. For too long, amateur radio has been touted as a rich man's hobby...it doesn't have to be but damn, look through QST magazine and see the radios and their prices advertised and the radio "shacks'" of so many of the big gun stations. Kids look at those and say eff that. I haven't got that kind of money.

Many of them don't realize you don't need a king's ransom or be independently wealthy to have fun on radio. My first station transmitter was made out parts gleaned from an old TV set and built on the same chassis I pulled the parts out of. It was crystal controlled (I had 3 crystals) and put out around 15 watts figured out by doing the math. No power meter...too expensive. I seriously wish I still had that old peanut whistle transmitter...and my receiver was a regenerative receiver I built as a kit...I had a blast that first year as a johnnie novice.
 
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It would probably be a good idea to take the radio to someone competent, and have it properly aligned. As radios get older, they go out of alignment. Having someone set it to factory specs could make a huge difference. My two Icom 706 MKIIGs were so far out that they would not transmit any longer. After alignment, they were as good as new.
 

timbo

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It would probably be a good idea to take the radio to someone competent, and have it properly aligned. As radios get older, they go out of alignment. Having someone set it to factory specs could make a huge difference. My two Icom 706 MKIIGs were so far out that they would not transmit any longer. After alignment, they were as good as new.
I am that person. I've been doing radio repairs since my avionics tech days in the Navy, 40+ years ago.
 

BOBL

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A TS-520 was my first good radio, and it replaced a bunch of boat anchors that I was using. My next upgrade was a TS-830, a radio I used until a freak March storm took my 50' tower and Cushcraft A4 to the ground. I haven't been active since, but my license is still good. Maybe someday I'll set up another rig. Good radios those older Kenwoods. Good luck with the 520
 

mcshooter

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Some of the people I've seen at ham shows or nearfest are......interesting, so I understand that sentiment.

Most people in ham clubs are those in old school gun clubs or gun shops, just sit and shoot the shit.

It needs a young injection of folk who haven't seen too much radiation before becoming involved.



One guy I saw had horns, pink long hair through a hole in a hat.

Another was in a Ramboesk attire like one would think of the guy who lives in a bunker and only comes out once a year
 

drgrant

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In a way, I can understand being done with hams...Back in the late 80s and early 90s I worked at a ham radio store and when I finally left 8 years later, I sold ALL my equipment except one transceiver that didn't see the light of day for almost 15 years.

I love the hobby (mostly the technical aspect) but so many of the hams I saw come in that store were people that I really didn't want to be associated with...entitled, sniveling brats who wanted everything for nothing. I don't wonder why the hobby (service?) seems to be in a death spiral.

I really enjoy reading about and being with the younger folks that do try to do it differently using today's technology and work with what they know and have. For too long, amateur radio has been touted as a rich man's hobby...it doesn't have to be but damn, look through QST magazine and see the radios and their prices advertised and the radio "shacks'" of so many of the big gun stations. Kids look at those and say eff that. I haven't got that kind of money.

Many of them don't realize you don't need a king's ransom or be independently wealthy to have fun on radio. My first station transmitter was made out parts gleaned from an old TV set and built on the same chassis I pulled the parts out of. It was crystal controlled (I had 3 crystals) and put out around 15 watts figured out by doing the math. No power meter...too expensive. I seriously wish I still had that old peanut whistle transmitter...and my receiver was a regenerative receiver I built as a kit...I had a blast that first year as a johnnie novice.

While all that is true I think the massive skinflint factor has impacted radio negatively. There's people like me that dont want to run junk but now we have nobody to repair decent gear because of the f***ing skinflints who wont put out a few hundo to a good guy to fix an HF rig or whatever. And on the "wealthy" side you have guys who basically just constantly buy new shit or just replace it as it breaks. I can "kinda" afford to do that but it is aggravating. Like for example I have a glorious IC775DSP sitting on the floor of my shack, sideways, on its rubber bumpers, for about 2 years now... because nobody works on them anymore. The problem it has, is pretty simple too, I just dont really want to rip the rig apart. (the series of relays that switch in and out the preamps and the attenuator buffer network are "on the fritz" and they start chattering, effectively resulting in the RX being partially deaf or whatever.

At least some of the more modern stuff is pretty solid. I have an IC7300 thats built like a brick shithouse, and my 7600 is pretty nice too

I think the biggest thing though that has impacted radio is... TIME. people don't have free time anymore, or seem to have less of it, as a commodity. Radio is designed for burning
up time. When I was younger I would think nothing about taking an entire saturday and doing a mobile radio install on a new car or whatever or this or that or upgrading something that
needed upgrading, etc. Now its like "meh I have other crap to do" or just too damn lazy. You have to want it badly enough.

It also doesnt help that modern contrivances like chinese pot grow lamps etc are huge dick-punching things for ham and CB people alike. Good luck pulling DX when all you can hear is a hash of garbage because your neighbors have a half dozen chineseium flamethrows spraying RF everywhere.....
 

drgrant

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It would probably be a good idea to take the radio to someone competent, and have it properly aligned. As radios get older, they go out of alignment.

Meh, not usually, not unless some component is deteriorating. I've seen some of @timbo work on here, I think hes probably competent enough to do it on his
own. Nobody is going to touch one of those rigs these days anyways, so nearly all that stuff is DIY at this point.

Having someone set it to factory specs could make a huge difference. My two Icom 706 MKIIGs were so far out that they would not transmit any longer. After alignment, they were as good as new.

As someone who is an icom nutbag I don't really understand how this could happen unless you bought them used and some golden screwdriver type played with them. The MKII and MKIIG were generally built like brick shithouses. My MKII I ran for thousands of hours and talked all over the world on 10 and 11M with it. I sold it to a member here a long time ago. I had a backup MKII as well but never had to use the thing. My only complaint was the noise blanker attack isnt variable and the ALC spikes on the MKII is a little rough if you had an amp.

not transmitting.... = probably blown PA components at the time (which was a common issue on the G I think from some reason or another, on certain serial # runs).
 

timbo

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While all that is true I think the massive skinflint factor has impacted radio negatively. There's people like me that dont want to run junk but now we have nobody to repair decent gear because of the f***ing skinflints who wont put out a few hundo to a good guy to fix an HF rig or whatever. And on the "wealthy" side you have guys who basically just constantly buy new shit or just replace it as it breaks. I can "kinda" afford to do that but it is aggravating. Like for example I have a glorious IC775DSP sitting on the floor of my shack, sideways, on its rubber bumpers, for about 2 years now... because nobody works on them anymore. The problem it has, is pretty simple too, I just dont really want to rip the rig apart. (the series of relays that switch in and out the preamps and the attenuator buffer network are "on the fritz" and they start chattering, effectively resulting in the RX being partially deaf or whatever.

At least some of the more modern stuff is pretty solid. I have an IC7300 thats built like a brick shithouse, and my 7600 is pretty nice too

I think the biggest thing though that has impacted radio is... TIME. people don't have free time anymore, or seem to have less of it, as a commodity. Radio is designed for burning
up time. When I was younger I would think nothing about taking an entire saturday and doing a mobile radio install on a new car or whatever or this or that or upgrading something that
needed upgrading, etc. Now its like "meh I have other crap to do" or just too damn lazy. You have to want it badly enough.

It also doesnt help that modern contrivances like chinese pot grow lamps etc are huge dick-punching things for ham and CB people alike. Good luck pulling DX when all you can hear is a hash of garbage because your neighbors have a half dozen chineseium flamethrows spraying RF everywhere.....
I agree with you drgrant...my biggest nemesis when I get on HF out here in farm country is electric fences and the noise they cause. I usually hear it on 40 meters and it's an incessant ticking noise. Not "S" meter pegging noise but it does get bothersome when I'm trying to dig a signal out of the noise floor. I can't tell the farmers around here to turn their fences off, because, well, they're my neighbors and good people but the electric fences not only keep livestock in but some predators out.

I found a DSP AF noise reduction kit that works well on my analog radios which I can adjust to essentially algebraically sum out the offending noise and the newer radios I have, three TS-850s (amazing receivers) and a TS-590SG, have pretty decent DSP engines built into the IF stages of the receiver itself which knocks the noise down by about 90%. In the winter, they turn the fences off because most livestock has been sent to the stockyards or moved to barns. 160 and 75 meters is dead quiet out here in the winter which is sublime.

About your IC-775, there is a guy over in the SE part of NH that does repairs and at least on Kenwood stuff, he's quite good and won't rape you. I'll see if I can dig up his name for you if you'd like. I think I've seen where he has done work on Icom and Yaesu stuff as well. The biggest problem with fixing radios that are getting long in the tooth is finding replacement parts for custom IC's specific to those radios.
 

drgrant

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I agree with you drgrant...my biggest nemesis when I get on HF out here in farm country is electric fences and the noise they cause. I usually hear it on 40 meters and it's an incessant ticking noise. Not "S" meter pegging noise but it does get bothersome when I'm trying to dig a signal out of the noise floor. I can't tell the farmers around here to turn their fences off, because, well, they're my neighbors and good people but the electric fences not only keep livestock in but some predators out.

I found a DSP AF noise reduction kit that works well on my analog radios which I can adjust to essentially algebraically sum out the offending noise and the newer radios I have, three TS-850s (amazing receivers) and a TS-590SG, have pretty decent DSP engines built into the IF stages of the receiver itself which knocks the noise down by about 90%. In the winter, they turn the fences off because most livestock has been sent to the stockyards or moved to barns. 160 and 75 meters is dead quiet out here in the winter which is sublime.

About your IC-775, there is a guy over in the SE part of NH that does repairs and at least on Kenwood stuff, he's quite good and won't rape you. I'll see if I can dig up his name for you if you'd like. I think I've seen where he has done work on Icom and Yaesu stuff as well. The biggest problem with fixing radios that are getting long in the tooth is finding replacement parts for custom IC's specific to those radios.

Yeah, I dunno who is around anymore. Last radio i had repaired was a ProIII (ironically a radio im about to get back) by N1EQ but it looks like hes not fixing stuff or at least his site is gone. I used Beltronics in Hollis but sadly they're gone, too.
 

one-eyed Jack

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I'll always remember my first radio back around 1966. A Clegg 99'R. 6m AM. I made up a 4 element gamma match beam which I could rotate. The rotor was in the basement and turned the beam via a st st tube which went up thru the house and roof to the beam in duplex bearings. I had some xtals and made a tubeless VFO for the radio. For mobile I had a Saturn 6 on a mast with a bracket to mount on the rear bumper of the 1955 Chevy. For a spare, I copied the Saturn 6 using better alum. tubing. To tune the antennas I had a 6m "bridge/indicator" unit. Forget the make. For 120AC I had an inverter in the mobile. Never got around to PTT the Clegg, but I made a plastic coated steel wire bracket that hooked over my shoulders and held the mic just right. I also made a wooden cradle that sat on the Xmission hump of the Chevy to set the radio on. I really like to make stuff. Jack. W1FKG. CQ6.
 
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timbo

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Yeah, I dunno who is around anymore. Last radio i had repaired was a ProIII (ironically a radio im about to get back) by N1EQ but it looks like hes not fixing stuff or at least his site is gone. I used Beltronics in Hollis but sadly they're gone, too.
The guy that has done Kenwood repairs (and may do others) is Hamilton Stewart, K1HMS. He's helped me in the past. If you look him up on QRZ.com, his address and email info is there. He's in Amherst, NH
 

timbo

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I'll always remember my first radio back around 1966. A Clegg 99'R. 6m AM. I made up a 4 element gamma match beam which I could rotate. The rotor was in the basement and turned the beam via a st st tube which went up thru the house and roof to the beam in duplex bearings. I had some xtals and made a tubeless VFO for the radio. For mobile I had a Saturn 6 on a mast with a bracket to mount on the rear bumper of the 1955 Chevy. For a spare, I copied the Saturn 6 using better alum. tubing. To tune the antennas I had a 6m "bridge/indicator" unit. Forget the make. For 120AC I had an inverter in the mobile. Never got around to PTT the Clegg, but I made a plastic coated steel wire bracket that hooked over my shoulders and held the mic just right. I also made a wooden cradle that sat on the Xmission hump of the Chevy to set the radio on. I really like to make stuff. Jack. W1FKG. CQ6.
My first "real" transceiver was a Heathkit crystal controlled AM 6 meter "Benton Harbor" lunch box...also called the sixer which I bought in high school. A school friend of mine bought one at the same time, we built the kits together and had a blast. We lived about 5 miles apart and talked almost every night using old TV antennas that we repurposed to the 6 meter band. I still had that box up until 10 years ago when I lost track of it. I must've sold it or gave it away. Later, I had a Hallicrafter's HA-460 6 meter AM transceiver that was a cut above the Benton Harbor lunch box. I still love 6 meters.
 

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Yeah, the D5 really gets in there and gets rid of the "crunchies"...
 

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>>I used Beltronics in Hollis but sadly they're gone, too.<<

They put up my 40' tower sometime in the 80s. I wish they were around now to take it down!
 

timbo

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>>I used Beltronics in Hollis but sadly they're gone, too.<<

They put up my 40' tower sometime in the 80s. I wish they were around now to take it down!
There's a guy in Marlow, Matt Strelow (KC1XX) that does tower work. Back when I interacted with him in the 90's, he was the go to guy in New England for tower work. I'm guessing he still does it.

 

RUT

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>>There's a guy in Marlow, Matt Strelow (KC1XX) that does tower work<<

Thanks for the heads up. There was a guy in Fitchburg who did it too, but I lost track of him. I think my tree guy may take it down for me using his bucket truck, which would probably be my best bet.
 

RUT

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In checking, he's actually in Mason, NH, which is closer yet to me! I dropped him an email.
 
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