Alinco DJ-X2000

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Alinco DJ-X2000

Post by RF-Bot » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:30 pm

Submitted by: Jason.


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Background:

I've owned or used quite a few 'top of the line' scanners over the years, such as Yupiteru 5000 & 7100, AOR 8000 & 8200 and the Icom R7000, Uniden 9000XLT and 780XLT along with the AOR 3000 & 5000 filling the base scanner role. I've owned several other handheld units, too. Should I admit to owning a Icom R1, AOR1000 and 1500 and refer to them as being top of the line? Perhaps not, but in there day, they were the latest and greatest. I guess you could say that I am somewhat of a well experienced scanner user.

Something that may affect my review of the latest offering from Alinco is the environment in which I have tested it. I am located in Tasmania (Australia) which is not a densely populated centre, and hence the RF environment that I use my scanners in is not terribly stressful. On the other hand, we have some very powerful FM broadcasters nearby, with one particular tower having several services blasting out nearly one megawatt EIRP of RF energy for each service. Also fitting into the balance is the fact that I am fairly demanding and critical of the RF performance of the receivers that I own.


First Impressions:

The Alinco X2000 is a very well built radio - it feels solid; not quite as solid as my Kenwood TK370 two way unit, but it's much better than the AOR8000 that I had. The back half of the unit is diecast metal and the front half is a very tough plastic. The battery slides in to the bottom rear of the radio, and has a positive locking action which is released using a sliding mechanism on the back. There is also a real metal belt clip that can be screwed to the back of the unit. Top marks for this arrangement - the metal belt clip should last for years and years. Come to think of it, the entire radio should last for years and years.

The top panel has a BNC connector, a 2.5mm audio connector 'clone' port for connecting a PC to upload and download channel information to the radio, and a standard stereo 3.5mm connector for earphone connection. This means that you can use a standard stereo set of headphones and hear the audio with both ears without a mono to stereo adaptor which makes a welcome change. You can still use a mono set of earphones if you want, but I do not know if this is terribly healthy for the radio, since if you do use a mono set of earphones in a stereo socket, you short out one of the stereo channels to earth; the instruction manual offers no advice on this matter. Also on the top panel is a rotary control, which is almost conical in shape, which makes it a little difficult to use as a tuning knob. I would have preferred a more 'square' knob in profile or one with larger ribs to get a better grip on it.

On the right side of the unit, there is a power inlet for the radio, and while this does not charge the battery, it will power the radio quite happily if the battery is flat or even removed.

The left side has some standard push buttons, one a function control, one to disable the mute, one to activate the bandscope feature (Alinco calls this 'search' which can confuse you if you are used to terminology from other units) and one to activate the backlight. The backlight is quite good, effectively lighting the display and the main keypad keys. There is also a pair of rocker switches which you will get to know very well. The first rocker switch sets up the adjustment for either volume or squelch. The second rocker switch is an up/down control. To set the squelch, for example, you first set the first rocker switch to the squelch direction to begin your adjustment. Then you actually make the change with the up/down control until you are happy with the setting, and then to complete the adjustment, you go back to the first rocker switch, moving it to the squelch direction once more to end the process. During the adjustment, a numeric value of 1 through to 32 is displayed to let you know what the setting is, and in the case of the volume setting, a small 7 segment bar graph is permanently visible personally, I would have preferred to devote one rocker to a simple squelch up/down adjustment, leave the other rocker as an up/down adjuster for other functions that the X2000 needs this for, and have the volume control as a concentric adjustment with the top mounted dial. As it is now, to adjust either volume or squelch requires a three step process, which can be a bit tiresome if you need to adjust either setting frequently or need to turn down the volume in a hurry. I see this as my biggest ergonomic complaint with the X2000. I would not go so far as to call it cumbersome, but it is fiddly and not as convenient as dedicated controls. Admittedly, after living with this arrangement for about a month I have become used to this process, and it doesn't bother me now.

The front panel is laid out fairly well, with the speaker being up the top, a few buttons surrounding the speaker, and a nice big, clear dot matrix display underneath. The contrast of this display is able to be varied to suit your viewing conditions. If you look closer, there is a tiny LED that lights up green when a signal is received, and this LED will light up orange when the earphones are plugged in and receiving a FM stereo signal. Yep, you read that right - the Alinco can receive FM broadcasts in stereo, but only if a pair of stereo headphones are plugged in. There is also a tiny recessed reset switch which has two levels of operation - a simple reset that should restore operation if things go astray, and a total reset that will erase all memories and restore all defaults in case the unit really gets itself screwed up. The big orange power switch needs to be positively held in for one second to turn the unit on or off, which should prevent any accidental switching on or off. The keypad occupies the bottom third of the front panel and is well labelled. Only these keys are translucent and are backlit, which is a pity - it would have been nice if all keys had some backlighting, but at least the keys around the speaker are fairly easily identified by touch alone in the dark. All keys have a fairly good tactile feedback response, maybe being a little on the 'mushy' side if anything.

One thing I did miss on the keypad was dedicated up/down controls on or near the main keypad. I know, I know, these set of controls are provided as a rocker on the side panel, but still I found myself diving for the keypad every time I wanted to adjust a setting from one of the menus. Still, if all my wishes were to be accommodated in this regard, the radio would need an extra row of buttons, which would make it maybe 2 or so centimetres taller (3/4 of an inch for you imperial measurement folk).

The overall dimensions of the radio, including the standard EBP-37N battery pack, is 15cm tall by 6cm wide by 3cm deep, not including any top mounted protrusions such as antenna connector and tuning knob.

If you are a follower of Alinco radios, you will note that the X2000 is physically nearly identical to the Alinco X10 receiver and DJ-G5 transceiver. The accessories for both units will be fine for the X2000, although a warning should be given here: do not use a battery pack over 7.2 volts - this could damage the X2000. Comments regarding the physical construction of the X10 or DJ-G5 by other reviewers would be equally applicable to the X2000.

Actually, the whole experience of using the X2000 was very much like using the X10 - one person told me it was just like an X10 but with the extra features. The more I tend to use the X2000, the more I tend to agree. The X2000 is not a quantum leap ahead of the X10 in terms of basic RF performance - but it sure has the jump on any unit whatsoever in features.



Vital Specifications:
  • The Alinco X2000 receives from 0.1 MHz to 2149.9999 MHz, in AM, FM, WFM, USB, LSB or CW modes.

  • There are 2000 memories to choose from, divided into 50 lots of 40 channel banks. There's also 20 programmable 'search' (Alinco calls this PMS or Programmed Memory Scan) ranges available.

  • You can choose from 50, 100, 200, 500Hz or 1, 2, 5, 6.25, 8.33, 9, 10, 12.5, 15, 20,25, 30, 50, 100, 125, 150, 200, 250, or 500kHz steps, or you can even specify your own step in 50Hz increments if you want.

  • The speaker delivers 100 mW of audio power, and the supplied 700mAh battery pack lasts for approximately 5 hours of very active scanning.

  • Along with the battery pack just described, you also get an antenna, a belt clip, a hand carry strap, an instruction manual that is OK, but obviously has been derived from the X10 manual since there are hints and references to features that were available on the X10 but have been deleted on the X2000 - which makes things confusing for someone looking for such features on the radio itself.

  • Anyone buying the X2000 T version (USA units) should note that cellular frequencies and their associated image frequencies around the 1400 MHz area are blocked from reception, and no amount of hacking, including with software, will restore reception of these frequencies, since the block is achieved by using a different PLD ROM device - not something that can be altered or replaced.



Features:

One of the things that swayed me to purchase the X2000 was all the features included as standard, some things which are optional extras on other radios. Let's see, we have CTCSS tone decoding, two level attenuator (10 or 20dB), alpha numeric labelling, PC programmability, an audio inversion descrambler (not available on the USA version), a digital audio recorder, frequency counter, RF proximity checker (beeps like a Geiger counter when there is RF of any nature nearby), a 'flash tune' feature which is like a Opto Scout in operation, a bandscope feature and the gimmicky directional microphone amplifier and bug sweeper. Some people might find a use for the AB squelch which ignores transmissions with 2300Hz tones on them, but that feature will not find much use in this part of the world at least.

The CTCSS tone decoder allows several ways of dealing with signals that have CTCSS on them. The first is to search for the CTCSS tone in use if you do not know what the tone is, but you will need to be patient as this process is fairly slow. The second mode of operation is to allow only those signals with a specified tone accompanying them to be heard as they are scanned or searched. The last mode is where every signal except those that have the specified tone on them will be heard, Alinco calling this CTCSS reverse mode. After having used the CTCSS feature, I can report that it works very well indeed, the search feature locking on to the correct tone every time, and once the CTCSS mute is activated, there appears to be no delay in releasing any audio from transmissions that carry the correct tone and no break through of audio was noticed at all with any 'false' tones. Be aware that use of the CTCSS feature, or AB squelch for that matter, does slow the scanning or search (sorry, PMS) operations down a bit.

The two level attenuator is an excellent idea, allowing you to choose one of two levels of approximately 10 and 20dB attenuation. If a signal is only mildly affected by interference, then the 10dB attenuator should fix the problem without sacrificing too much sensitivity. The 20dB attenuator is used for more stubborn cases of interference.

Alpha-numeric labelling is becoming pretty much a standard feature in high end scanners these days, and the Alinco implementation allows up to 8 characters to be tagged to each memory channel, or PMS search bank.

Another feature which is finding itself a standard on scanners these days are the ability to interface to a PC, allowing you to enter all your frequency & name tag data much more easily than through the keypad of the radio. Not only this, but you can store and edit your 'personalities' and download specific information as and when you need it, and lets not forget the value of keeping a backup copy of your information and being able to restore it in the blink of an eye, lest your scanner goes out of it's brain and dump all your hard work into the great bit bucket in the sky. You can even edit the band plan defaults that are referred to when the mode & step are in 'auto' mode. While the PC programmability does not appear to be as flexible as the AR8000s, it does go close and besides it's early days yet, and who knows what will be found at a later date. The best news here is that the software is available for download free from the Alinco web site.

The audio inversion descrambler will enable you to hear transmissions that use this form of scrambling. Importantly, the descrambler is tuneable, allowing you to select the inversion point for descrambling. Other descramblers on the market, notably the optional AOR unit for the AR8000, had only four fixed settings and was not tuneable to the degree that the Alinco descrambler is. Note that this descrambler is NOT effective on any transmissions encoded by DVP, DES, or digital mobile phones etc etc. It might be worth mentioning that this feature is disabled on the X2000T versions supplied to customers in the USA. The X2000's descrambler works very well, with clear recovered audio being the result. You will find that the descrambler and several other features (CTCSS, AB squelch etc) are mutually exclusive and the instruction manual gives clear guidance about this.

Alinco have seen fit to equip the X2000 with a digital voice recorder. This recorder has the ability to record up to 160 seconds of audio from either what is being received or from the built-in microphone, and store it in a non-volatile memory for later playback. This feature can be very handy when you want to record an event or exchange of messages and do not have easy access to a tape recorder. This feature does take a few seconds to set up and make active since the feature is reached via a few key presses, so those impromptu recordings may miss the first few seconds of action, but overall, it is well set up. There are two problems with the digital audio recorder. The first is that you can only record one session of audio - should you leave the recording sub-menu, and then return to record more sound, your original sample is erased. You can leave the recording sub menu and return to play back a recording, however. The second problem is that if you are recording something from the radio with the descrambler active, the recorder will not record your unscrambled audio. The recorded audio itself is of reasonable quality, quite recognisable - not hi-fi, but then again, this ain't no MP3 player, either.

The RF proximity checker can be seen as a bit of a gimmick. This feature will issue forth beeps in harmony to any nearby RF field; the stronger the field, the faster the beeping. In preference to this, you can also set the X2000 to stay silent until the RF field reaches a certain threshold. Interestingly, the RF checker will activate with not only normal transmissions, but with spread spectrum and pulsed digital or other wideband signals, too.

One of the most interesting features of the X2000 is the 'flash tune' feature. This will allow you to lock instantly on to and tune in the frequency of a nearby transmitter, even if you do not know it's frequency. Opto Electronics have devices that pioneered this form of radio reception, the Scout and Xplorer being the two most notable. Now, Alinco have incorporated a similar feature in with this handheld scanner - a very handy idea, if you'll forgive the pun. Instead of tuning into the frequency so you can hear the audio, you can instruct the X2000 to continuously display the frequency, just like a frequency counter. The frequency counter, at least in my unit, was quite accurate, with resolution down to 100Hz, and accuracy seemed to be within 300Hz. I will describe how well the flash tune works a little later.

Other scanners have bandscope features, but none I've seen work as well as the X2000s bandscope feature, which Alinco term 'searching' and 'channel scope'. The bandscope can be set to sweep just once, or to sweep once every 10 seconds (even though the help menu says every 5 seconds) or to sweep continuously, updating in near real time. Each sweep can be made to check either 20 or 3 steps (which is taken from the currently selected VFO) either side of your currently selected frequency. While a sweep is being performed, no audio is heard from the X2000, so in continuous mode, nothing will be heard until you stop the bandscope. Only a very minor break in the audio is heard with the other bandscope modes activated. What is even more interesting, is that the bandscope also works in memory mode, checking not fixed steps above and below your selected frequency, but looking at up to 20 memory channels either side of your presently selected memory, and displaying the results as a graph. I guess Alinco's 'channel scope' description really is accurate in this situation.

The AB squelch is a feature which will command the X2000 to ignore any signals during search (sorry again, PMS mode) or scan that have a 2300Hz tone on them. These sorts of transmissions are not used in this part of the world (Australia) but no doubt this feature would be of some use to someone, somewhere. Just for interests sake, I tried the AB squelch on an EDACS Trunked system to see if it would squelch out the notorious EDACS beeps - it didn't.

There are a few features which will have very limited use indeed - the microphone amplifier will take whatever the built in microphone hears, amplifies it, and then presents it via earphones for you to hear. I honestly cannot think of an application for this, because the microphone doesn't have any super directional properties, and so cannot zero in on any one particular sound. The only thing I can think of is for the hearing impaired?

The last feature, again with very limited application, is the 'bug' finder. Alinco calls this the 'transweeper' feature, which is supposed to help find hidden bugs. It works something like this: you enter the frequency of the bug you want to sweep for, activate the transweeper, and the X2000 issues forth a mind splitting shriek, which the bug, if nearby, should pickup. The X2000 then receives the re-transmitted shriek, and using the feedback generated, determines roughly how far away the bug might be and displays this as a graphical representation. The big drawbacks with this feature is that you need to know the frequency of the bug first, and you need to be within the 'hearing' range of the bug for this feature to have any hope of working. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I tried the feature on a pair of bugs that I have, and found that it worked fairly dismally against both of them, taking some time to decide that the bugs were actually there, and would occasionally lose the bug all together. I would think the RF checker would be a much more useful tool for finding a hidden transmitter, 'bugs' included. Both of these features will only work with 'bugs' in the very immediate vicinity - 3 metres or so.

One feature that I have not mentioned is the transciever function. On one particular version, the "world" version of the X2000, you can set the unit up to transmit an ultra low powered transmission using the built in microphone on frequencies between 250 and 260 MHz. The range for this is apparently very limited; I have heard in the vicinity of 20 metres maximum. My version of the X2000 (the E version) did not have this feature, so I could not test it.

Phew! What a list of features. And remember that all these come as standard on the X2000. I see all these features crammed into a wideband receiver as being one of the biggest selling points of the Alinco X2000. If you consider the nearest opposition radio, the AOR8200, and decide to option it up with all the comparable option cards, and get an Opto Scout or Xplorer in the deal, you would end up spending maybe 2 or 3 times the amount of money being asked for the Alinco, so when you look at it in that light, the Alinco works out to be very good value indeed; a lot of features for your money.



In Use:

If we are going to use the X2000, I guess we should charge the battery first, right? By dropping the battery into the supplied drop-in fast charger, the battery will charge from flat to near full just over an hour. The fast charger will then switch to a trickle mode and continue to top up your battery until absolutely full, which takes about another 4 hours. A very bright LED on the drop in charger shows the charging status: red for fast charge, green for trickle charge, and flashing green for charging complete. It's unfortunate that the power inlet on the side of the X2000 does not charge the battery, too, but at least it can be used to power the radio if the battery is flat.

Another comment about the drop in charger is that it uses switch mode technology - meaning that it is light and generates less heat, but on the down side is that the charger does generate some RF noise, which you will notice, especially on HF, if you are using the X2000 anywhere near the charger, even though it is not actually sitting in the charger.

If the battery does go completely flat while the X2000 is in use, the unit will shut down and will require the battery to be removed and re-attached after about 10 seconds to reset the situation - even if you have since recharged the battery. I found this to be annoying, and at times even gave me near heart failure when I thought "oh NO! I've recharged the battery and the thing still will not turn on. I've BROKEN it!"

Attaching the antenna is a no-brainer exercise with its BNC connector. This also allows for the use of an external antenna or a variety of other models of handheld antennae, too. The supplied flexible antenna is 20cm long, and according to Alinco is a newly developed model that is "exceedingly sensitive" for MW frequencies. I do not know about "exceedingly sensitive" but it did work quite OK. It seemed to work it's best at UHF frequencies, average on VHF and of course is way too short to be of any real use on HF, but it does work better than it's dimensions would suggest at these longer wavelengths. I also found that this antenna is very badly affected if used near anything metal, for example if you use the X2000 with its own antenna inside the cabin of a car, you find that strong signals become significantly weaker - more so than what you would normally expect. HF and VHF reception can be improved considerably by using a telescopic whip of greater length - my 60 cm whip works very well indeed, almost too well in fact since it increases the instance of interference received on VHF from FM broadcast stations. You will almost never have any interference problems when the X2000 is used with its own supplied antenna.

Using the Alinco X2000 takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you are graduating from a 'basic' scanner, but even those who were using something like an AOR8000 will need some time to adjust. A lot of adjustments are buried in menus, but thankfully, most of these adjustments are ones that you simply set and forget. After about a weeks use, you should be fairly familiar with most commonly used features of the X2000, and be able to use them without having to resort to the user manual all the time. Even if you do get stuck, there is an abbreviated help function to guide you on the X2000, which is not too bad at all.

Speaking of the user manual, the translation from Japanese to English was OK - not great, but not bad, either. It was obvious that the manual was adapted from the X10 manual, with references to the time-of-day clock and 'expert' mode in the manual - both features of which have disappeared on the X2000. There are plenty of diagrams to guide you, and plenty of detailed, if sometimes a little hard to follow, explanations and hints along the way.

The audio quality is what I would consider to be very good, crisp, clear and little distortion - not quite as nice as the Yupiteru range, but it still sounds very nice, especially on wide FM signals. Some people have criticised the X2000s audio as having a high level background hiss and this is evident on signals, even noise-free ones, but the hiss is not obtrusive to my thinking, and it can be reduced by selecting the audio tone from high to low. A high quality external speaker or headphones also helps lift the audio quality.

The display of the X2000 is very good, too. It is clear, uncluttered, and displays everything that you need to know without fuss. Some symbols used to show some functions status are a little cryptic, for example, if you activate the CTCSS, a small "T" is displayed - I would have preferred a label of "CTCSS" rather than just "T" but again, there is only so much room on the display, so short cuts and abbreviations are necessary, but at least all the main features are well shown. The contrast of the display is able to be varied to suit your viewing conditions. Like the AOR8000, the display is prone to scratches, so it would be wise to protect the display with a protective carry case.

Speaking of the protective carry case, you will have to remove the X2000 from the case every time you want to charge it, because the case prevents the X2000 from fitting into the drop in charger, and as mentioned before, the power inlet on the side does not charge the batteries; I really wish it did.

One thing I did find annoying was that if you started, lets say a scan and then later decide that you want to go to a PMS 'search', you just can't push the PMS button, rather you have to first stop the scan, and then start the next function you want. Using other key sequences will result in unexpected results.

One thing I do highly recommend that you do with your X2000 is to customise the 'bandplan' with the free software that Alinco has posted at its website. This makes using the X2000 so much more pleasurable in the 'auto' mode; the X2000 will correctly choose the receiving mode and frequency step based on the frequency that you enter for your local conditions. You can still over ride this if you wish, but I have only found it necessary to do so twice since editing the bandplan and activating the auto mode.

Turning on the Alinco you are greeted by a three line welcoming message - which can be customised to your taste. I really love the ability to 'personalise' my receivers in this way, so well done Alinco for allowing us, the end user, to do this.

Once turned on, there are three distinct modes that the DJ-X2000 can use: VFO, Memory & scan mode and PMS searching mode. The VFO mode allows you to have two frequencies on the display, but only the top displayed frequency is actually being received. Switching to the other displayed frequency is a single key press away, which makes it easy to monitor the input and output of a repeater. From VFO mode, you can also activate several of the special functions, such as the bandscope feature, the flash tune feature and so on.

In memory recall mode, you can scroll through the 2000 memories on offer. Each memory bank is divided up into 40 individual memories, with banks A0 to A9, B0 to B9 and so on to E0 to E9. In memory mode, the memory number, bank number, frequency, memory name tag, receiving mode, the 'skip' status of that memory and if a signal is being received at the time, the signal strength is shown on the display. Memory scanning is achieved simply by pushing the 'SCN' button, which will begin the process according to the parameters set such as bank link, mode (as in AM, FM-n) selective scan etc. You can also activate a 'memory' bandscope from VFO mode, too, which doesn't look at adjacent frequencies as in the traditional bandscope, but looks at adjacent channels instead.

PMS searching mode is very similar to the AR8000 - you can search just the one PMS search bank, or link several PMS search bands together and search them in one go.

With either scanning or searching, the mode, frequency step, attenuator and CTCSS but not scrambler settings are recalled with each bank or memory as appropriate. Several 'universal' settings can further tailor your scan or PMS search - such as a mode selective scan where you can specify that only AM mode channels are scanned, or a S-level scan initiated where only signals above a certain strength will be heard, or the scan resume system where a scan will stop on an active channel for a predetermined time and then continue after that no matter if the signal is still there. You can instruct the scan or search to stop completely once it finds a signal, or you can specify in one second increments what sort of scan resume delay you would like. You can even mix 'n match some of these modes for even more versatility.

The standard 700mAh battery will last for around eight hours of general scanning, and when nearly empty, a small battery symbol comes up on the display, but no audible alert. With some use of the battery save feature, you can extend your listening time, and there is no shortage of battery save settings to choose from, to achieve a balance between receiver wake up delay and power saving, with three settings available. You can also call up, via a menu of course, a digital readout of the battery voltage, which allows you to estimate how well charged a battery is.



Performance:

OK, let's get serious about how fast, how sensitive, how selective and generally how well the X2000 does what it does.

First, you will notice that the X2000 is reasonably sprightly when it comes to the PMS 'searching' where it motors along at 28 steps per second. But just like Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde, the X2000 seems to undergo a transformation when scanning memories - a bare 5 channels per second is possible, and even that was paying attention to programming the channels in ascending frequency order. If you do not take heed of this advice, the scan rate drops to an unbearably slow 2 channels a second. It was at this point that I tried an experiment: programming 40 memories with the very same frequency. The scan rate was about 34 channels a second in this configuration. This leads me to believe that much of the problem with the slow memory scanning lies with the VCO switching and jumping between frequencies. The delay is such that if you scan a whole lot of mixed frequencies, even if having programmed them in ascending order, the VCO switching delay is very significant. I also noticed delays when several channels were locked out in a bank - it looks like the internal process of finding the next unlocked channel to scan is not as quick as it could be.

Sensitivity on the X2000 is extremely good between 10 and 160 MHz, and still pretty healthy between 1 and 10 MHz, and 160 to 300 MHz, but above 300 MHz, the sensitivity starts to fall gently away. Let's not make any bones about it, by 400 MHz and through to 800 MHz, the X2000 is rather deaf in comparison to the upper parts of HF and VHF. Sensitivity above 400 MHz on the X2000 reminds me of my Dad's 1980s vintage PRO34 scanner. I actually did a direct comparison of UHF sensitivity of the PRO34 and the X2000 and the result surprised me: the X2000 was absolutely no more sensitive on UHF than the PRO34 was! Having spent $1200 Australian dollars on this receiver, I was rather hoping that the X2000 would have been better than this, at least up to 950 MHz. I see this as the single biggest fault with the Alinco X2000, and would hope that it is rectified in future production runs. If your only consideration is to get a sensitive scanner, buy a Yupiteru MVT7100. Incidentally, I like to use my experience with the MVT7100 as a benchmark when comparing RF performance, since it is my personal opinion that the MVT7100 and the AR8000 are the two best RF performing handheld scanners available. In this light, I have been spoilt by having such good scanners in my possession previously, but when buying a scanner of the caliber of the X2000, I do not think it's too much to ask to have a decently sensitive receiver.

To quantify my above observations, I have created the following table, showing the RF input required to produce 12dB of quieting, all measured in NFM mode. For a 12dB SINAD value, the figures would be about 15 to 20% higher.


Legend: Frequency - RF Level

100KHz - 2.00uV
500KHz - 0.46uV
1MHz - 0.30uV
3MHz - 0.24uV
5MHz - 0.24uV
10MHz - 0.16uV
15MHz - 0.12uV
20MHz - 0.13uV
25MHz - 0.13uV
30MHz - 0.13uV
40MHz - 0.13uV
50MHz - 0.13uV
60MHz - 0.13uV
70MHz - 0.13uV
80MHz - 0.13uV
90MHz - 0.13uV
100MHz - 0.15uV
120MHz - 0.13uV
140MHz - 0.14uV
160MHz - 0.18uV
180MHz - 0.23uV
200MHz - 0.23uV
250MHz - 0.23uV
300MHz - 0.30uV
350MHz - 0.40uV
400MHz - 0.52uV
450MHz - 0.46uV
480MHz - 0.25uV
500MHz - 0.30uV
550MHz - 0.25uV
600MHz - 0.25uV
700MHz - 0.36uV
800MHz - 0.52uV
850MHz - 0.73uV
900MHz - 1.10uV
950MHz - 1.50uV
1000MHz - 1.50uV
1300MHz - 2.90uV
1500MHz - 5.80uV
1800MHz - 8.00uV
2000MHz - 12.00uV
2150MHz - 16.10uV



Compare this to the Yupiteru 7100's sensitivity measurements of sub 0.2uV performance between 4 and 1000 MHz, and often approaches 0.1uV performance across much of this range. The AOR8000 is not too far behind these figures, but the AOR is a bit more resistant to intermod and interference. While the figures on paper do tend to look a bit disappointing above 350 MHz, the real world experience of using the X2000 is not that bad. When compared with an external antenna, the X2000 seemed to be picking up weak signals as well as a Uniden 780XLT (a scanner noted for it's weak signal performance) except for the 400 to 500 MHz segment. Speaking to other owners of the X2000 provided some interesting insights: two people said that their X2000s were very sensitive at UHF bands, at least as good as a Yupiteru MVT9000, and certainly better than a AOR8200, which completely goes against what I've said above. Yet another person has remarked that his X2000 suffers similar deafness on UHF as my review unit. So, from four units we have two that are very good, and two which are decidedly average. It is disappointing to see such variations between units of the same model. My recommendation here would be to do an actual test drive of the unit before you buy - that way you can be assured that you will get one of the sensitive models.

To be fair, I have yet to take up this issue with Alinco themselves. I understand that Alinco is very helpful when responding to queries like these.

Speaking of interference and intermod, how does the X2000 fare in these areas? While I cannot report on how the X2000 handles a very crowded spectrum, I can report on how it handles very strong signals in the vicinity. First, I noted that in the areas where the X2000 is very sensitive, the lower parts of VHF, some nearby FM broadcast stations did bother it a little, but switch in the first stage of attenuation, and bingo - no more problems. This result is about in line with the Yupiteru 7100. Next, in the UHF area, I noted that getting close to a strong, base station transmitter (within a kilometre) caused some break through several megahertz away from the transmitters frequency. This I did not expect, but the break through was not bad - just annoying. Other tests in the 800 MHz band showed that within about 50kHz of a reasonably strong signal, the noise floor level raised a bit masking any weaker signals, meaning that some receiver blocking is evident. Finally, in the ultimate torture test, the summit of Mt Barrow - the location of the 1 megawatt broadcast tower, and several other very active VHF & 800 MHz services. The X2000 actually did not drop it's bundle anywhere near as badly as I was expecting; mind you, there were still some pretty serious problems observed, but not even the near bullet-proof AOR8000 survived this test. I would have to rate the X2000s performance in the adjacent channel rejection area as average, and general intermod and interference rejection as slightly above average. In case you were wondering, I would rate the Yupiteru 7100 as good and average respectively. The AOR8000 rates a good and good in these areas from me.

If you start to add an external, base station antenna into the mix, the X2000 goes nuts receiving all manner of things it shouldn't, but then again, I have learnt long ago that no handheld is designed for this, not in the cities at least, and that includes the AOR8000. You can improve this markedly by the addition of Tandy / Radio Shacks 'FM Trap' for problems on VHF. A simple mobile whip on a car, however, is a different proposition; the X2000 starts to shine when used this way, delivering good reception, so long as you do not drive too close to any powerful transmitters.

So, my overall rating for the raw RF performance for the X2000? In a word: average. Do not take 'average' as a derogatory word, either. Early in this review I stated that I am pretty discerning about RF performance of my receivers, and the scale of terms I would be using to rank performance goes something like: boat anchor then poor, then below average, to average to above average to good. Excellent just simply doesn't exist in my book. I told you I was hard to please!

Now, all the above relates to VHF and above. How about HF? Well! The X2000 is a real surprise package here - it is actually quite good - for a handheld wideband scanner, anyway. Being sensitive in this area helps, and SSB reception is quiet, smooth and clear, and AM doesn't sound all that bad, either. The AM filter is a little wide for proper HF reception, but then again, so was my Yupiteru 7100 and unmodified AOR8000. The upside of this is that AM signals do sound quite pleasant, rather than sounding muffled and restricted if a narrow AM filter were being used. I wonder if it might be possible to route AM signals through a narrower SSB filter to offer a choice? Such a modification is available on the AOR8000, but to be honest, I did not use very much. I think the Alinco's reception of AM and SSB stations on HF is as good as any I've heard from a handheld unit.

Of course, the X2000 does need a helping hand with HF reception in the way of a telescopic whip or long wire, and when teamed with better antennae such as these, it is possible to use the X2000 for some very enjoyable, non-serious shortwave or HF utility listening. If you do go for a longwire, do not go over about 3 metres in length, otherwise overloading starts to manifest itself. In any case, the X2000 is sensitive enough on HF to pick up plenty of signals from all around the globe with such a short length. I did try the X2000 on a nice 'quiet' but short dipole for HF use and was surprised that this worked very well without too much overload.

Strong, local medium wave stations do tend to appear at various places on the dial, so to speak, below 4 MHz, but this shouldn't be seen as a problem - even my AOR5000 shares this trait, and I think it's something that just has to be lived with on all but the very top shelf HF receivers.

The only complaint I have in regard to HF reception relates to a process I like to call 'slewing' - the process of setting a frequency, disabling the squelch, and holding an up or down button to continuously tune up or down at the present step rate, usually in SSB mode. On the X2000, a small step rate of 100 Hz works well, but is a little slow for my liking. Speeding up the tuning rate with a 500 Hz step makes the process faster, but for precise tuning you would then have to revert back to a 100 Hz step. This is only a minor problem as I see it. Another thing which may cause some annoyance is the 'chuff' sound emitted whenever using the up/down control to do the tuning. This noise is most noticeable on SSB with the squelch disabled. To rid yourself of this 'chuffing', simply turn off the key press beeps.

So, my verdict on HF performance of the X2000: it's good. This carries the qualification that it will not rival the performance of a dedicated HF receiver, but if you are merely taking a passing interest in HF, or want to use it as a backup to a real HF radio, then the X2000 will serve you well in this regard.

Now, what about the flash tune feature that I promised I would revisit - how well does it work? It works very well indeed! Once activated, it will lock on to and tune in any nearby transmitter's frequency within about half of a second. Or, you can have the X2000 continuously display the received frequency instead - like a frequency counter. The distance at which the X2000 either locks on to a transmission or displays a stable frequency varies, dependent on how efficient the transmitting and receiving antennae are, and the power of the transmission itself. Some examples are given below:


Legend: Power & Band Tested - Range Achieved

5 watt UHF handheld, stubby ¼ wave antenna - 15 Metres
5 watt UHF mobile, 4.5dB mobile antenna - 25 Metres
25 watt UHF mobile, 4.5dB mobile antenna - 35 Metres
5 watt VHF handheld, stubby ¼ wave antenna - 10 Metres
5 watt 27 MHz base station - 10 Metres



All the above readings were taken using a fairly efficient receiving antenna on the X2000 for the test frequency - the stock antenna for UHF, a 50 cm telescopic whip for VHF and a centre loaded telescopic whip for 27 MHz. I even managed to lock on to a fairly powerful narrowband broadcast signal from about 1km away, but this was an exceptional case. The flash tune feature will not correctly lock on to digital, pulsed or other wideband transmissions. One slight problem was observed, especially in the frequency counter mode, that when the signal was right on the threshold of being detected, the frequency displayed / tuned occasionally comes up as a half, third or quarter or twice or three times the real frequency. Once the signal being measured reaches a reliable detection level, this problem disappears. Some other users of the X2000 have reported that the flash tune feature doesn't work as well as I have described when being used in a RF heavy area; I must admit I never noticed this even when taken to a fairly active, radio-wise that is, hilltop. The above results represent performance when used in a nice RF quiet area; the point here is that your results may vary depending on where and how you use the flash tune feature.



Summary:

The X2000 is the single most expensive handheld wideband scanner available on the Australian (and no doubt worldwide) market today. But look at the features that you get for your money! And that doesn't even consider the huge frequency coverage, and equally huge number of memories. I love all the features and parameters that you can tweak to make it just as you want. Add in a lot of top shelf features & functions that are included as standard, and the very good build quality, and I can see that the X2000 is one heck of a lot of handheld radio for your money.

I do not like the slow scanning speed, the somewhat average sensitivity around the 400 and 800 MHz areas, and one or two things fixed with the ergonomics would make the X2000 just that little more pleasant to use. The other problems I have noted I can learn to live with.

So, overall, what did I think? Well, I am impressed with all the features and gadgets to play with, but take away some points for the negatives outlined above. I think that the more I play with it, the more I like it. I am giving it a score of 8 out of 10.

Forum Robot

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