This is an unbelievable radio for its price. This radio has features far and beyond any radio in its price range. With 20 watts output and a built in automatic radio tuner you no longer have to have separate products to make a complete radio system. Just add power supply, coax cable, and an antenna, and you are on the air. Details of some of the features are as follows:
- Detachable Display Unit. Allows you to remotely mount the head so you can hide the radio in the trunk. Useful when the car does not have room for the entire radio.
- Auto Antenna Tuner. No need to buy a separate antenna tuner and manually tune the antenna.
- Up to 20 watts output. Can be adjusted from .5 watts to 20 watts in .5 watts increments.
- Covers most HF modes. Able to do SSB, AM, FM, and CW.
- Software Defined Radio. Allows features to be added by changing the firmware.
- Covers frequencies between 500 KHz and 30 MHz.
- Most features can be accessed from included microphone.
- OLED display allows clear viewing even in sunlight.
- One year Warranty
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Review of Xiegu G90 HF Transceiver (Firmware version 1.71)
By AH6EZ/W7 Nov 7, 2019
First of all, $421 delivered from USA supplier Connect Systems, was a very reasonable price. Delivery was in 4 days. Easy to hook up. I attached PowerPole connectors, a power supply, an R9 vertical.
Up and running in about 30 seconds. I propped it up to see the front panel better, there needs to be some tilt up front feet. I will try to not look at the manual. OK, where is the mode switch, it is on 20m LSB. After scouring the front panel and several menus, I could not find the mode switch. OH, dummy me, it is a button on the top of the radio. By the way, the Connect Systems site has a MUCH better manual than what shipped with the radio.
It tunes my vertical quickly and easily as I would expect. Bypassing the tuner is easy and useful when changing bands.
Let’s see the power… The manual says to press the POW button and then turn the multi-function knob. Wrong, you adjust the power by turning the main tuning knob.
OK, now for some CW. The key jack wiring is unusual. The hot and ground of the key needs to go to the tip and ring, not the sleeve. The cryptic unexplained KEY menu lets you choose between M/L/R (manual says K/L/R). Auto-R works for me.
I tried the SWR band scan. Nice but the manual warned it is not be very accurate.
The CW brick wall filtering is nice from 50-800 Hz. Iambic-B worked for me after the keyer (not me) made mistakes with Iambic-A. Surprise, when you are in the SSB mode, the paddle actually transmits CW if QSK is turned on. Sometimes that is nice to listen to CW with SSB filters. If you set the QSK to off, you have only sidetone for CW practice.
Oh, did I mention that the diagrams in the manual that shipped with the radio have Chinese labels?
Now it boots with my callsign (and just Nordland), in 3 seconds. The boot message is too fast to read it however.
They say to add a ferrite core to the DC power cord. I did not bother.
The spectrum display is +/- 24 KHz. Although not documented in the manual, a long press of the KEY button toggles between a waterfall and a scrolling 26 character CW decoder. The right hand LED under the A/B button performs as a tuning indicator. The decoding was pretty tolerant of noise. The sharp filtering probably helped. Marginal signals did not decode at all and variable sender tempo or spacing created errors. Copying ARRL code practice was almost flawless.
Four levels of display brightness. The idle receive current remained about 600ma (spec 500ma). You can turn off the display by momentarily pressing the on/off switch. Everything is still working and the display turns back on with any control movement.
Interesting that the RF Gain control menu does not change the S Meter or the Panadapter, but does change what you hear. I found that the knee of noise was about 20% RF Gain.
Set at 20 watts on SSB (no modulation), there is a .2 watt carrier. That’s only 26dB down! With full modulation the carrier is 33dB down.
I have to admit that the spectrum display on the G90 is just not the same as the Flex 6700. However when you tune around the band you can identify signals before you are tuned to them.
When the menu or manual says “Handle” that means the hand microphone. The up/down buttons can be frequency or channel, band change, or volume control. There are two programmable buttons that can be Preamp/Attenuator, Split VFO, Noise Blanker, Compressor, or AGC. The default backlight can be set too.
Tuning the radio and the top and right buttons works ok with the right fingers. However the shape and required depth of the bottom buttons only work with a perpendicular angle press.
The AGC scrolls between Slow, Fast, “Automatic”, and a LOUD Off.
Watch out, the 60m band is not channelized by default. It transmitted from 5330.5 to 5405.0. Out of band transmitting caused the power on light to flash. I stored the FCC five 60m channels into memory channels 1-5. However when I tried to recall the memory channels with the V/M button I got a red flashing NO MEMO. It turns out that memory channel 0 needs to be programmed too. That’s where I put 10 MHz WWV. While I was comparing AM and SSB, I could tell there was a very slight difference in frequency. There is a software based frequency calibration mode that I will try eventually.
It seems that the memory channels store many if not all of the channel parameters such as mode, AGC, preamp, and others. I was having too much fun to verify all of the memory capabilities. There are 0-63 memories however.
It was confusing some times where there were four menu selections on the screen but five front panel buttons. The three menu selections were straight forward by just using the left, middle, and right buttons.
The rear panel has a 6 pin DIN accessory connector which includes software controllable transmit and receive level controls, a PTT (input for keying or output for accessory 100w linear amplifier?), ALC for use with the amplifier, band data, and an unspecified data pin. I suspect this radio is just capable of 1200 baud data and not 9600. There is an I/Q output that would connect to SDR software for large screen display. I have not had success with SDR# software so but I have not tried a recommended USB soundcard dongle yet.
The standard Icom CI-V interface and commands are available for rig control.
A USB to mini-stereo RS232 cable is provided that can insert updated firmware separately into the detachable control head and radio chassis using any standard terminal program. The Connect Systems manual has step by step instructions. A 3 foot DB9 cable is provided to separate the control head from the radio. I would hope that it could be extended for mobile use. It would be nice if there mobile mounting brackets available. The microphone plugs into the control head and there is a headphone jack (not speaker level output) on the control head.
There is no noise reduction or notch filter but there is a Noise Blanker that is adjustable in both level and width. It seemed pretty effective but adjacent channel signals did affect the Noise Blanker if it was turned up too high.
I was a little skeptical, but boy I am I glad I bought this radio. so far I've only run it at 15 watts. On a morning 80 meter SSB net everyone across the state of Oklahoma heard me on my dipole. I've worked dozens of CW contacts all over the USA on my Hustler 6BTV with it. I'll be trying it mobile soon. I'm getting great audio reports on SSB and on CW the people I'm working can hardly believe I'm only running 15 watts. Good receive, the adjustable bandwidth is easy and it really works good. The small speaker isn't bad, but using headphones is much better. A longer and heftier power cord would be nice. The provided owners manual is about worthless, but the online improved manual by Connect Systems is really good.
Very pleased with performance of this radio. Just wish it had the "scan" function.
The G90 was well packed and received within just 2 days. All parts were present and in new condition. The radio works perfectly so far. With the only caveat being the small button switches. One of them, the 'FUNC' button is some times hard to actuate ... hence lowering the rating by one star. Otherwise, the G90 has a very good display, a complete set of functions and seems to be built like tank with the steel and aluminum exterior panels that are screwed together .. no plastic! Seems to be a keeper at this point.
I have been putting this rig through it's paces and am convinced it'll compete favorably with my other "Big 3" rigs. It does lack some features but my Jeep has roll-up windows so it's not a big deal. And what can you expect for the money.
This makes my third Xiegu rig and all perform very well. My Xiegu CS108 is my favorite of the three but that may change to the G90 real soon. We'll see how it goes after I install the firmware updates. Connect Systems shipped this unit the same day and are always very helpful.
Great qrp rig. Good receiver sensitivity. Menu system laid out correctly for quick access.
The G90 is a complete HF transceiver with all the US Ham bands including 60m and WARC bands. Is SDR, but not direct sampling. Does the DSP at IF, but has tunable IF filters for each mod, CW LSB USB & AM. Very good FFT band scope and water fall, lets one know what is going on withing +/-24kHz of your tuned freq. Does require working with the rig for many features require multiple buttons to access like mic gain and vox settings, but really once you learn the features it easy to access and work with. My G90 receiver tested to less than 0.15uV rcv sensitivity on all bands. Selectivity is programmable and works very well. The rig is built very well, when one picks it up one is surprised how heavy (3.5lb) it is for it's size. The rig is mostly for QRP although does more than most other QRP rigs with it's 20W. The built in tuner is a most attractive feature, tunes fast, but not sure how wide the range of SWR it will tune. I have FT817 and the G90 is a step up for HF QRP. It is full featured rig and performs very well.
This is a great radio. Wonderful receiver and antenna tuner that could probably tune a wet noodle. With 20 watts I've made several contacts and stations were surprised I was only running 20 watts. Display is great and easy to use. My one negative is the flimsy power cord and connector. They should have used a better connector and better high gauge power cord. I would certainly recommend this unit for QRP or regular use. If the power cord was better it would have received 5 stars.
At Dayton Hamvention 2019, the CSI Group announced a special deal on the Xiegu G90. The G90 is the first model of the new Xiegu G-series and is from a Chinese manufacturer. It is a man pack style portable 20W HF 10-160 meters transceiver with handles. The G90 uses 24-bit digital SDR architecture. It also includes an internal automatic antenna tuner.
Why another QRP radio in your collection?
I wanted a radio that had enough HF power (20 watts) to run off a reasonably sized Bioenno battery (the 4.5 or 9A) to make up for bad band conditions. 20W is about an S unit down from a typical 80-100 watt base station so no penalty for field operating (5W would be another S unit). I have found the military man packs all run around 20 watts on HF and my practical experience shows it to be a great trade-off. I can drop the power down for sanctioned QRP contests but 5w SSB can be tiresome whereas 5W CW works very well. OK, I also wanted something small with a form factor similar to an FT-891 and the G90 does this and adds handles for free ($100 option for the Icom 7200).
I have spent an hour on the radio and am just making some quick comments until Sherwood Engineering gets their hands on one.
A front and center 1.8” Color TFT LCD Display shows: ± 24 kHz bandwidth spectrum and waterfall. It is bright with adjustable levels. The sweep/refresh rate is very fast. The status of all functions are shown on the LCD display. The ability to see SWR and battery voltage is an excellent user feature. This was a selling point for me.
The microphone has two configurable and several dedicated function buttons and looks like the Icom mic from the 7000. I/Q outputs are available. The G90 has a removable display head that can be separated from the main body.
Modes: SSB / CW / AM
RF Output Power: 20W (SSB/CW), 5W (AM Carrier), 13.8VDC, stepping 0.5W
Voltage range: 10.5-16.5 V DC (voltage must be in 13.8-15V if need 20W)
Transmission frequency: All amateur bands in the range of 1.8 to 29.999 MHz plus 60 meters in USA
Receive current draw: 500mA
Transmit current draw: 8A max.
Size: 4.75" x 1.75" x 8.25" (main body without handles)
Weight: 2.3 lbs
Right off the bat I added an Anderson Pole connector to the lightweight power cord. There is an inline fuse on the positive lead. I am not sure if there is any power drop but I would love to swap out the Molex for an Anderson pole connector to simplify my life.
I was able to figure out the radio interfaces in order to make some changes without the manual. The manual is typical of Chinese brands with chinglesh and incomplete sections. However, even the Japanese brands can have bad manuals. Xiegu has released an improved manual with some charts showing the FUNC and Mic buttons.
I tossed a homebrew EFHW wire across the deck and swept up 20m and landed on K1M in a little pile up. OK let’s try this before I run to my base set up, I hit the tune button and the tuner was quite fast and did not make a racket. Hit PTT a few times and added him to the log. WOW That’s Happy Day Ham Radio Today.
K1M is a special event station for the Apollo 11 and 1st Landing on the moon. He was 59 plus and he gave me a 57 for 10 watts (which makes perfect sense).
Therefore, my first contact is truly memorable on this man pack radio.
Like the Icom 703, the battery pack or power source is external.
One thing I noticed right away is the lack of a mobile bracket. I was hoping to mount this radio on a backpack and now I found that the inner foam packaging material fits into a Pelican 1400 box very nicely. Therefore, this radio will live life in a Pelican box. I also do not seem to have any CW memories in the G90 so I will have to use my Pacific Antennas keyer.
The radio lacks an adjustable leg or bail so I just added some rubber feet. Maybe, Windcamp or a 3D expert can solve this problem.
The radio is missing an RIT control. Hmmm, I am not sure if I will miss this or it gets added in the next software update.
CW decoder seems to operate fairly well but the radio only accommodates a Paddle keyer and not a straight key.
Not sure how FM mode works as I cant seem to access the menu for it and it needs a extra device. Who cares about this as no one bothers with 10m FM anymore.
Bandwidth is adjustable for each mode.
I did some basic IMD tests and it seems to hold up OK and will have to investigate further.
No drift was noticed.
Radio was slightly warm after an hour of use.
No external speaker jack. The internal speaker is ok and audio output is very good. I will look into the mic assembly and will have to investigate further (no schamatics) if this is a Yaesu mic interface or Icom. Actually, for a field radio the need for an external speaker jack would mean lugging one more item. I think the audio is louder than the Elecraft KX series.
The external Mic has some feature buttons like direct entry and up/down and they did add a Tune button. This could be a work in progress or a better manual may explain it better.
The spectrum display is always on and not that useful but then I do not bother with that on 7300/7610 or 991 radios. I am forced to use it on my SDR Play but I tend to hunt up and down looking for stations using a VFO knob. The 24 kHz bandwidth is not that great anyways but the display looks nice if not highly functional for those that need a band view.
There are two tuning controls: a 100 KHz and then one that can click in to vary the step that is a bit quirky to use but it just takes a bit of a learning curve.
It receives better than the Yaesu FT-817 and has better front end performance and DSP filters. Whatever I hear on the Icom 7300, the G90 hears.
This a great radio for the price point, has enough power to make it usable for SSB with low sunspots and has a rugged build and feel. I was surprised how heavy it was. 20 watts output at 8A 13.8V is battery friendly and an EFHW with the zippy internal tuner makes it a wonderful field radio.
My version came with the latest release 1.6 and Xiegu has listened to its customers with some incremental improvements and bug fixes. I hope to see some enhancements down the road.
As usual, Jerry Wagner and the team at CSI (Connect Systems) group shipped it out after a quick check over and with awesome customer service. When you call, Jerry answers the telephone and his initial shipments sold out quickly.
I think this Xiegu G90 is going to be a popular little radio.
For a new ham in the hobby with a $1000 to spend could get a G90 for HF $450, a $200 dual band DMR handheld, a $150 Yaesu 2m FTM-3200DR mobile (Fusion), a Zumspot and a local club ham can donate a 2m mobile antenna. Bioenno battery and charger, Add a PackTenna 9:1 Mini antenna by brown bagging lunch for a week and think of all the fun you will be having.
This radio makes for a cost effective SDR Field radio. During a lunch break, take it out to the picnic table, toss a wire into a tree, hit TUNE and go make QSOs
Ham Radio is not a Hobby it’s a Way of Life!
wow- great radio - hooked it up to a random wire and worked 3 EU stations in a few minutes !
It's small, but it's heavy. Controls are laid out nicely. RX is sensitive, I like the adjustable bandpass filter. 50 Hz on CW? We'll see come SS weekend. QSK is quick, keyer is easy to set speed. Tuner would resolve 1:1 SWR on all bands on my 100'wire.
First QSO out of the box was on 40, about 900 miles. I haven't tried it on phone yet.
The display is small, but the resolution is sharp.
My only real complaint so far is the lack of an external speaker jack. I was hoping to put this in my car, but with no external speaker that's not gonna happen. Gonna taken some work to figure out how to mount the control head, too.
I like that it's a SDR and so it's practically obsolete-proof. Firm Ware updates should keep this radio up to date for years.
All in all, I'm impressed with this rig.
If I could just pronounce it's name...
Outstanding radio! I’ve gotten great signal quality reports on USB and LSB. I’ve checked into nets on 20m and 40m and regular QSOs with 20 watts and never had the other station say that my signal was weak or difficult to copy which has surprised me considering the band conditions at times. The cw decoder works as well as any others I’ve seen and really just depends on the received signal and ability of the operator transmitting. The menu functions are fairly easy to figure out with the manual and frequent use. The. receiver audio is outstanding. The waterfall display is useful. This is a great radio especially at this price point. I recommend it to anyone. It’s a fun rig!