TX-500 Field Review by RM2D

Mats Strandberg RM2D recently purchased the Discovery TX-500 from Lab599 to get a durable transceiver for portable operations. In this blog post Mats share his experience of this ultra-compact HF adventure transceiver from a recent WWFF activity and why he prefer the TX-500 over his KX3 in the field.

RM2D, over to you:
The TX-500 was of course mainly purchased to be a durable radio for usage in portable operations like WWFF, SOTA and similar activities. As I already have a KX-3 and know that this radio is excellent both as a fixed radio at home, I was curious to see of I could find an even better radio for the field operations. I was ready to compromise with some of the obvious bells and whistles that the KX-3 has (true dual receivers, QSK). The TX-500, at least in this first version, lacks QSK, but it has a very fast setting for Semi-Break In. I don’t feel I need to have more than two VFOs and rarely would find the need to operate with two independent receivers in the forest or on a mountain top. Therefore the TX-500 has basically all I need for these type of operating conditions. It is lighter and also clearly more field operations adapted compared with KX-3. And the price difference is also quite considerable.

Today, Dec 5th, I decided to try the TX-500 out in a portable environment. I drove to one of the closest WWFF (RFF) references, walked 2 kilometer, carrying the radio, a 10 Ah LiFePO4 accumulator, headphones, UR5CDX CW-paddles, a DX-Wire 9.5 meter telescopic glass fibre pole and a wire vertical for 20 meters with 3 resonant elevated radials. This along with a portable camping table and a small camping chair. No issues at all to carry that stuff on my own.

The radio and the antenna was installed in approximately 45 minutes and I was excited to see what the feeling was being in a completely undisturbed radio environment. I worked SM5CBN as first contact on 14045, and remained on that frequency for a little less than 2 hours, with shorter breaks to somehow heat up the fingers that got a bit stiff in the minus 4 C temperature.

I used 200 Hz filter initially and when the pile got stronger I reduced to 100 Hz, that made life even easier. The filters (300, 200, 100 and 50 Hz) are extremely sharp and pleasant to use.

So, after 62 CW contacts with the TX-500, I agreed with myself that this will be MY portable radio and the KX-3 will remain as an excellent second radio to my TS590S in contests. If I would go on a holiday style DX expedition, I think I would no longer use my TS 590, but instead bring the KX-3 as the fixed radio in the holiday bungalow and the TX-500 as a radio I would travel around to SOTA-summits and IOTA islands. I would not say they compete with each other, but they are super complements, the KX-3 and the TX-500. If I did not own a KX-3, I am almost sure I would not have invested the money in such a rig, if the TX-500 was my first portable rig. Lab599 has really created a super radio, well worth waiting for, in COVID times. I know the demand has been really high for this radio, so guys, be patient and wait for it. You will not regret it!

73 de Mats

Info: Discovery TX-500 is currently undergoing CE certification including testing with a certified body. Once this has been completed deliveries to EU customers can begin. Pileup is the exclusive EU distributor and dealer and we are currently accepting preorders for TX-500. The first deliveries are expected in early 2021 and pre-orders will be filled on a first come first served basis. Once all preorders have shipped, TX-500 will be available for delivery from stock.

More information about the TX-500 on the product page.
TX-500 video review by OH8STN.