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Palstar R30A

 

Palstar is an American producer of amateur radio equipment, such as antenna tuners, amplifiers, active antennas and shortwave receivers.  At the same time when Lowe, the well-known company with its excellent shortwave receivers, discontinued its production, the Palstar R30 appeared on the market.  The idea of operation of this receiver was the same as the Lowe receivers: Spartan. Few knobs and few functions on the one hand, very good reception quality on the other.  For a short time, Lowe sold Palstar radios under its own name. (cf. Lowe HF-350). The Palstar was in the same league as the HF-225.  The HF-225 sounded better, but the R30 had a better strong signal handling capability. Over the years, the R30 was optimized and was sold as R30C or R30CC.  The 'C' means that Collins IF-filters were used, so the 'CC' model had two Collins filters.  The R30 was very practical because it could also be used as a mobile receiver using 10 AA batteries. Inserting the batteries was not as easy, however. The R30 had to be opened, which over a longer period of time can lead to damage of the screws and the case.

Around 2008, the Palstar R30A appeared on the market.  The radio had undergone a slight change of design and the electronics had been altered a bit. But basically, the basic components had stayed the same and the tried and tested circuit concept was kept. Again, high-quality 5.5 kHz and 2.5kHz Collins IF-filters were used. The display lighting can be switched off to save power when the radio is used as a portable.  Unfortunately though, this good idea was not thought through to the end because the S-meter, which requires a lot more power, cannot be turned off. An excellent feature of the R30 is the 455kHz output on the back of the radio which makes it possible to connect the well-known and expensive Sherwood SE-3 synchronous detector and other accessories.

Basic data:
-- Frequency range: 100kHz - 30MHz
-- Modes: AM, LSB, USB
-- Band widths: 2.5kHz and 5.5kHz (mechanical Collins filters)
-- Tuning steps: SSB 20Hz to 100Hz SSB    100Hz to 500 Hz AM
-- 100kHz steps using the push button
-- AGC: Fast and Slow
-- 10dB attenuator
-- analogue, calibrated S-meter, illuminated
-- 100 memories selectable with the tuning knob or the +/- push buttons
--cbattery operation possible
-- 455 kHz IF-jack
-- Very good large signal handling capability (IP3+15dBm)

The R30A was compared to the ICOM IC-R75 because it is in the same price range.

In the long wave and medium wave range it is noticeably more sensitive than the IC-R75 and has a better selectivity in AM due to the excellent Collins filters and the crisper audio. On shortwave, the R30A is on par with the IC-R75. The good AGC is another asset.

The disadvantages of the R30A become noticeable when the frequency is interfered with. Only ECSS operation can cancel out nearby-channel interferences.  The IC-R75 has some features to cope with these problems, which the R30A does not offer. The R30A has no passband tuning or notch etc. Using my BigLoop, reception with the R30A was without any problems.  The radio could handle the occasionally high levels of S9+40dBm without any troubles. I couldn't notice any large signal interferences. Up to the 10m-band, the radio's performance was as good as the ICOMís.  Regarding SSB reception, the R30A had to shed some feathers. The smallest tuning step is 20Hz, which is too coarse for digital modes. The smallest tuning step of the IC-R75 is 1 Hz. The intelligibility of both radios is the same, which shows that the Palstar R30A was made for speech signals.  Sensitivity decreased somewhat with higher frequencies. In the 10m band, the IC-R75 was clearly more sensitive due to its selectable pre-amplifier. Unfortunately, the headphone jack does not work in stereo, so an adapter had to be used every time.

The mechanical stability is good.  The case is powder-coated and can withstand smaller hits. If you want to use the good internal speaker of the radio,  you should not put the volume up too high, because then the case will start to clatter which seems to be typical of American-made receivers. Unfortunately, only a few receivers were produced. The Palstar R30A is one of them.  Because of its underlying philosophy, the radio is easy to operate but offers no signal processing. To have the same features of the IC-R75 you would have to use audio filters, e.g., Timewave DSP 59+. Taking all this into account, you come to the question of the radio's price tag. Directly from the producer, the R30A was 895.00 $. Today, this is a hefty price for such a simple radio. But it does have good receiving qualities.

Hint:
When buying a used Palstar R30, R30C, R30CC or R30A, you should make sure that the tuning coder behind the tuning knob is working normally.  With used radios, the tuning coder is often defect. If this is the case, the frequency cannot be tuned correctly, jumps from frequency to frequency or cannot be tuned at all. This so called rotary encoder costs approx. 30$ at Palstar.

Written at 23.02.2015

 

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