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Review: Magnum's New Maverick AM/FM 10 Meter Mobile
Last week the good folks at Magnum International sent a pre-production 10-meter mobile for evaluation. Although the faceplate is obviously a prototype, the circuit boards look like regular production units. They also assured me that this unit is electronically complete, as they will be produced. This is an AM/FM 10 Meter radio with dual final output transistors. Out of the box I would expect it to be setup as many of the other 10-meter radios are, 8-10 watt dead key and 25 watts modulated peak power. The front panel on the radio is brushed aluminum with black lettering. I'm told that a second faceplate will come with every A24 that is black with florescent light green lettering. This faceplate will replace the one supplied on the radio. It's a matter of slipping the knobs off and pealing the old faceplate off. The faceplate is a self adhesive backed unit, just peal the sheet off the back and put it in place and slipping the knobs back on. The Maverick A24 came with a Landmatic frequency counter hardwired, which provided a 6-digit frequency readout that had a very fast response to channel changes. The production radio will have a connector in the rear chassis to accept the galaxy and similar type 6-digit frequency counters. It’s unclear at this time whether Magnum will offer their own counter due to the availability of the other plug-in counters already on the market. This radio is quite a departure from the CPU driven line of radios they now produce. It is a PLL type with band selection very similar to the Galaxy, Connex, and General Lee radios. The band selector has 6-bands of 40 channels giving it 240 channel positions and in addition it has a +10Khz switch adding 5 more channels per band selection to catch the A-channel skips built into the channels selector switch that have found their way into 10-meter radios. For those that aren’t aware of it, there are 5 radio control (RC) channels in the lower half of the CB band. The RC channels are located between channels 3 and 4, 7 and 8, 11 and 12, 15 and 16, and 19 and 20, they are referred to as channels 3A, 7A, 11A, 15A, and 19A respectively. Although the CPU based radios offer more features, they are more complicated to use. A large sector of radio operator’s don’t want a complex radio. In mobile operation, drivers and particularly truck drivers want a straightforward radio to operate while driving. They’re looking for radios that are compatible with what’s already out there in use. The most straightforward radios have band switches and no memory channels. It’s much easier for them to go up or down a click on the band switch rather than press a band push button switch multiple times to get where they’re going. This radio is aimed to compete with the best selling radios on the market. The test unit was sent via another CB shop. The modulation limiter was completely disabled by that shop. On the bench the radio transmitter output was 10 watt dead key and with modulation peaks up to 40 watts. The modulation was cleaner than other radios I've tested with the limiter clipped. I put the limiter circuit back and retested the output. The modulation peaks were up to 38 watts with the AMC potentiometer set to minimum AMC and the audio was very natural sounding. The only fault I could find on the bench was in the antenna warning light. It was flickering on modulation peaks while transmitting into a 50 ohm dummy load. Adjusting the warning calibration pot didn't correct the problem. I'm not sure if it was a problem caused by modifications or not, Magnum said they would look into it when they received the radio back at their facility. UPDATE: Magnum has corrected the antenna warning sensitivity problem. They found the circuit was sensitive to RF and made an engineering change that has been incorporated into the first production units. The transmitter audio was tailored by their engineer to have a clear crisp sound and limited low frequency response. The low frequency voice patterns cause a more pronounced square wave when the modulation limiter is disabled or adjusted for more modulation. The higher frequency voice patterns are still squared at the peaks, but for a shorter duration making the distortion less evident. With an old Cobra stock mic the radio sounded great. I'm not sure what mic will be supplied with the A24 as the test radio wasn't supplied with one. If it's as good as the other Magnum stock mics, this radio will sound super. The receiver sensitivity is better than the other Magnum radios I've tested in the past. The selectivity is much better than that of the Delta Force and Alpha Force radios. On the air, signal and modulation reports were very good. The receiver was very clear and distant stations were easy to understand. It's one thing for a receiver to have the ability to receive distant stations, it's another thing for a receiver to have clarity receiving these distant signals. This radio does it both. Magnum has a very nice entry level 10-meter radio loaded with features that the operators have been asking for. The echo has been designed to have a limited range making it easy for finding that sound that just enhances the audio effect without making transmissions difficult to understand. Some call it that "big radio sound". And once it's set, it stays set. The echo ON/OFF switch isn't on the controls, it's on a separate switch. The SWR warning light is a good feature and could save the radio finals from an otherwise unknown bad match. Another nice touch is the front panel displaying the web address and microphone wiring. Other features like adjustable power, front mounted mic jack, separate echo ON/OFF switch, and adjustable talkback will make this radio more desirable than the other radios in this price category. Bob F
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Sneak Preview: The New Maverick A24