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Re: VR-5000 thoughts?

"C. Wilkinson" wrote:
> I was reading the "L-Band Pod" notes that Eric, WB1HBU, sent with interest
> and I couldn't help but wonder what he thought about the mentioned "VR-5000
> whiz bang receiver." I have been eyeing this receiver since I got the latest
> batch of catalogs this last month, particularly since it does all modes up
> through 2.6GHz. With my new interests in satellite "sniffing" and Mode-S, I
> can't but help have "delusions of grandeur" when I look at the specs. I
> really  can't help but think it looks like a nice rig, at least on paper.
> So I wanted to put it to the folks that have the receivers: How does the
> VR-5000 perform in your uses with the birds, what sorts of things do your do
> with yours, and is it worth the money?
> Thanks for the report on your finds with INMARSAT, Eric. Very interesting.


It still too soon for a complete review as I got the S Band antenna but
have not tried AO-40 S-Band on it.  There is a mailing list for the receiver
on eGroups (now Yahoo) that has some good information.

Overall I like it so far.  It has some problems with images 13.5 MHz up but
it seems to be mainly a problem with FM Broadcast images on the aircraft band.
I have similar problems with my PRO-2004 and had to use a FM trap.
The AOR AR5000 +3 may be a better receiver but it is also 1100+ dollars more
expensive.  My ICOM R100 was about 570 dollars but only goes up to 1.8 Ghz
and only has AM/FM/WFM.

I noticed that the SSB injection frequency may be alittle off or it may be
the skirts of the SSB filter.  If I tune through a AM radio station I can
hear the carrier for about 1 khz on the other side of zero beat.  This does
not seem to affect SSB reception on the Ham Bands.  SSB reception is decent.
I do not know if the DSP option improves this at all.  SSB tuning defaults
to 100Hz steps but it can be changed down to 20 Hz.

The bandscope feature is really handy.  One limitation is that the scope
will not scan over a band edge so at certain frequencies part of the screen
will be blank.

The PMR board feature is where up to 50 memories are displayed on
a checkerboard.  The receiver scans the memories and puts a black square up
if the frequency is active.  It has built-in maps for Radio Control stuff
(even gives the color codes).  The indicators are only visual.  I find it
handy if I want to monitor channel activity in a trunked radio system.
You cannot hear the receive audio in this mode (it is not like a scanner)
since it just keeps scanning the frequencies.

You have to jump through a few hoops to store memories.  The memories
are real flexible with some interesting features not documented well
in the manual.  Memory banks can be alpha tagged.  There can be up
to 100 banks and can be of various sizes.  The menu system on the FT-817
seems alot better than this radio.  I actually like the alpha tagging on
my new BC-780XLT and FT-817 because each frequency can be tagged.  Another
annoying menu thing is even simple actions can come up with a confirmation
message so extra keystrokes are needed.

It has a RF Tune feature that can be used to peak up the front end or
to shift it to eliminate interference.  This does not work for getting
the FM images out of the aircraft band.  It works like a tracking

The Attenuator works good.

There is a 10.7 IF out for a SDU (Spectrum Display unit).  I am wondering
if it could be used for 'wide' digital modes by building a special IF
and demodulator in a outboard box.

I find it interesting that it has a +8V output and a mute input (like receivers
of old).  In general I find the choice of connectors interesting.  It does
not use a 'N' connector and uses two phone jacks for the +8v, 10.7 IF, and
mute.  I would rather at least some of them into a mini-DIN.  The CAT connector
is a DB-9 (9 Pin RS-232) and has the level convertor built-in.  The manual is
not too imformative about the CAT commands.  My new Bearcat BC-780XLT scanner
also uses a DB-9 for serial communications.

It has a Shortwave Broadcast station memories that has four frequencies
for the major SW stations.  These can be changed but there are only
four.  I suppose you can set two banks up to gain more.  My Sony SW-77
has more slots for each station.

This receiver may end up replacing my ICOM R100 as it is at least equivalent
to it for working with SCPC on TVRO satellites by spliting off the incoming
LNB signal (950-1450 MHz range).  The band scope feature is useful for
scanning TVRO satellites for SCPC.  You can also do WFM from 100 KHz up so
you can do FM-Squared as well by connecting it to the baseband out of the TVRO

73 Eric eac@shore.net  WB1HBU
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