Review for a "Trail-Friendly" radio – MFJ-9296 (9200) MFJ 92XX (AKA 9296) price point $229/with all 6 band modules. Not a bad price point. Reminds me of the early ATS series (and a couple of the NorCal kits, like the Cascade SSB xciver) with plug in band modules. At this price point I can live with the module swapping. The next choice would have been the Mountain Topper (a KD1JV rig) with 40-30-20 meter bands only and no chance to listen to SSB. These are, mostly, CW only with very tight RX bandwidths – as they should be. This B/W thing matters to me - several nets here in Alaska are a mix of SSB and CW check-ins, so someone showing up on the net with a CW signal is no big. The ability to change the B/W on the 92XX will allow me to monitor/check in on the net(s). The module bandpass in the MFJ 9200 RX are wide allow enough to cover several SW bands as well. The main trouble I see with the Mt Topper, the ATS Sprint series and even the PFR 3 (another KD1JV designed rig at Pacific kits) is that they are all but impossible to find and all cost as much - or more - than the MFJ – as kits. Kits are fun, I built an HW-8 back in the day and other, more recent kits. But if you haven't assembled any SMD kits, you are in for some real fun I don't like that I can't zero beat to the distant station, but this is a portable transceiver after all. I'll initially use my Z series tuner and BALUN to run a EFHW, and then 'upgrade' to a L match tuner a bit later. I went ahead and ordered one of these from HRO – and got good customer service. Specifications: Frequency Control: DDS, with a 60-MHz reference frequency Tuning Step: 100-Hz, 1-kHz, and 100-kHz RIT Step: 10-Hz VFO Memories: 8 per band VFO Display: LCD, 802-pixel, switched backlight (3 lines) VFO Display Frequency Resolution: 100-Hz, 10-Hz with RIT activated Operating Modes: Transmit - A1 (CW), Receive - A1, A3J SSB – the radio shows USB/LSB depending on the band installed. CW Offset: ~700 Hz T/R Switching: Full QSK Frequency Coverage, MHz: Band: 80-M Receive: 3.2-4.9 Transmit: 3.5-4.0 40-M Receive: 5.9-7.5 Transmit: 7.0-7.3 30-M Receive: 9.4-12.1 Transmit: 10.1-10.15 20-M Receive: 13.5-15.8 Transmit: 14.0-14.35 17-M Receive: 17.4-19.1 Transmit: 18.068-18.168 15-M Receive: 18.5-22.0 Transmit: 21.0-21.45 Receiver Min Detectable Signal (MDS) : 0.1-uV, all bands AGC Threshold: 3 to 5-uV, all bands – yes this rig has AGC. Bandwidth: Selectable, 600-Hz CW, 2.5-Hz SSB Audio Output: 100-mW, 8-Ohm load, stereo plug Receiver Current Drain: ~40-mA no backlight, ~80 mA with backlight Transmitter Keying: Iambic automatic, straight-key sensing, CQ memory Speed Range: 3-45 WPM Transmitter Power: 5-W or better, all bands, at 12.6 Volts...mine put out 9 watts at 12.3 VDC on 20M! Harmonic and spur suppression: -50 dB or better, all operating voltages Typical Transmit Current: 0.9-A at 10-V, 1.2-A at 14-V Supply Voltage: 8-15 VDC at 1.5A Dimensions: 4.8"x3.15"x1.34", 120x80x34-mm Weight: 7.4 oz, 200 gm NOTE 1 - It doesn't come with -- A manual - print your own. OK, saves them money and I get an English vice Chinglish document. No power cord/connector. OK, it's a 2.1 mm coaxial connector, real common, saves them money and I have one already. Be nice if this was noted in the ads, but, hey, this age of the Internet – so check for yourself. NOTE 2 - not mentioned anywhere in the radio "User manual" is the need to "align" the individual band modules for best RX MDS performance. There is a one-page instruction, found (separately on the MFJ site) with the modules (like the BM-40) -- print it and put it with the User manual. NOTE 3 - no user serviceable parts inside because there is no schematic. I believe this radio to be the announced but unseen in North America HS-1A (or B model) model briefly seen mentioned on some QRP sites. The photos sure look the same... The MFJ 92XX is the evolution of the HS1A or so it would seem. From what I could find, the HS1A was sold as a single-band kit in Asia for a brief period - a less expensive HB-1A. The band modules I received are different from the ones in this HS1A image. This would also explain the seeming "error" in the 92XX manual on captive screws for the installing the modules. The band modules in the 92XX are not captive, in the HS1A the modules are (or seem to be) held by a screw as shown. The band modules seems to have been redesigned to use cheaper parts - the coils on some of my modules are not all enclosed as seen in the photos. HS1A photos Source (from JA land) (Google Translate from 2010. BTW - A nice review from a French radio magazine. http://www.on6ll.be/NMRevue/2011/QSP-revue_062011.pdf The only issue that I have run into is a lack of a system schematic or any data on the programming.... I was able, in between everything else, to do a detailed examination and perform a basic burn in test/freq test. I went ahead and transmitted into a dummy load as well. Results of basic exam: Seems I was right to be upset about how the unit was packed for shipment. The box from MFJ (China) had the radio and the six band modules, all in separate plastic bags. The MFJ box was then placed in a shipping box by the vendor, with a single layer wrap of bubble pack and a handful of packing 'peanuts'. This arrangement allowed the radio to slam back and forth within the box holding the modules during transit in the USPS. So, I place any blame for damage on both MFJ and the Vendor for the situation. I called the Vendor to alert them to the possibility of damage, dunno if they will do anything about it. Fortunately, the only damage was to one band module which had the header pins bent. I was able to straighten them out with a pin tool I happen to have left over from my days installing telephone/network equipment. I could have easily broken the header pins, so then it would have been on me. NOTE – If you decide to purchase one of these, ask the vendor shipping to either separate the modules & radio and ship in separate boxes or open the MFJ box, fill it with peanuts & pack any outer box full to stop any movement. USPS to Alaska is the least cost and they do a pretty good job, other than using small packages for football practice... I plugged in a power cord – after confirming the polarity, even though the input is diode protected. The battery was reading right at 13 VDC – fully charged. The headphones used were a no-name set leftover from a CD player. The antenna was terminated at the unit with a 50 ohm dummy load. I installed the 20 Meter band module. I left the volume control all of the way 'off' and applied power. More on this in a bit. Hoo-ray, no smoke. If you look at this photo set (HS1A above, MFJ9200 below) (This image may be found on various MFJ sites - compare with the HS1A above) You'll see the module mounts 'upside-down' or solder side out. What isn't really visible (I'll post some images later) is the bottom of the module sits right at the level of the back panel. I was uncomfortable enough with the situation that I added a strip of heavy plastic shipping tape to the back cover. This was done to insulate the area under (or over, depending on your viewpoint) for when, not if, I don't get a module fully seated and apply power.... Having performed radio repair for over two decades, smoke prevention is always a good first step... The display lit up, nice and bright and the text was easy to read. Owners of FT-817s will enjoy the display being 'on top' and large enough to read without a magnifying glass : D The radio gave a MORSE charter of "A" letting me know the radio was in iambic keyer mode. When I powered off, then on again, this time with a non-stereo plug in the KEY jack, the radio gave me a "M" indicating it was set for a manual key. Using my old J-37 key, it had no problem with high-speed keying. Later I'll check for clicks on a second receiver, but reviews to date have not indicated clicks (keying waveform issue) to be a problem. The power out @ 12.8 VDC indicated was 9 watts! This is one hot rig. After heating my dummy load, I'll have to figure out how to set the sidetone level – I suspect a headphone set with an in-line 'volume' control will be needed...and a PITA. Otherwise, I'll just use the rig's volume control, since this isn't going to be a main station rig, I can live with this while in the field. On the receive side, I hooked up a resonate vertical antenna and set the VFO for 15.0 MHz to check against WWV. I was able to hear WWV and WWV-H both, not bad. The rig is close enough to being on frequency for this check, I'm happy. I need to align all the modules – well, peak them anyway, for the band segment of most interest to me. Tuning is easy to figure out, but you will quickly learn to appreciate the 8 memory locations and how easy it is to add/read memory. The one thing I see on this rig as a potential issue is the encoder – which is also a push button. I suspect that the encoder is likely going to be the first thing to fail – IF you tend to be a dial twirler. To be fair, if you use an FT-817, it has an encoder that also makes me nervous. What can I say, I was brought up on a Collins KWM-1 and later, a KWM-2A. If you use the rig to establish a contact then QSY a few Khz, this won't be an issue. The RIT allows enough spilt to work those pesky high-volume stations – or at least try. With 8 or 9 watts, you aren't going to bust any pileups. What's left? I need to go to the local e-store and pick up a new set of alignment tools, mine seem to have evaporated. Once I have those in hand, I can do a detailed RX evaluation. I'll also check frequency stability (drift) over time. One last note. The band modules fit a 35mm plastic film can as if they were made for such. A bit of foam at each end and you'll have a pretty bomb-proof storage/transport container. Address labels on the film cans will make ID'ing the modules in the field/dark much easier. Glue a good quality magnet to your station log clipboard – you'll need it to keep track of the cover screws. Once those become available, I'm buying a dozen or so. I suspect these screws will be the first thing you lose in the field. I've wrapped the rig in a Sham-wow, so when I do any band changing in the field, it will be while sitting on a large blue 'cloth' and that way I'll hopefully catch anything falling – before it gets lost in the weeds. This week I'll be heading for Exit Glacier, outside of Seward AK – It will be interesting to see how much traffic I can attract. I won't be QRP (5 watts) until the battery drops a bit, but it should be great fun. I'll post images of my field trip and rig pics at the same itme. Any questions? EDIT to add I've written a technical guide for the radio, with the kind help of the folks at MFJ. Drop me a email or QSL (KL7KN is good on QRZ database) and I'll send you a .PDF copy of the manual.