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Review of the RCI 6900F TB 10 Meter Transceiver by Bob F
The RCI 6900F TB is a fine looking transceiver. There are two versions of the RCI-6900. First is the RCI-6900F HP. The HP stands for high power. This may be confusing to many operators, but the HP apparently first came along with the Connex 3300HP. High power back then meant a dual final radio. The early export radios had single final output stages and Connex used the HP to show the distinction between those radios and their higher power version. The other is the RCI-6900F TB, which is reviewed in this article. The TB stands for turbo. This designation was first used on the Galaxy Saturn Turbo base station, which was a 100-Watt radio. Instead of having two different part numbers as they do with the 2950 and 2970, they chose this method of distinction. This radio incorporates a main circuit of a newer design. It shares the front-end, mixer and IF stages with the RCI 2950DX. Oh, yes it even shares the problem related to the sideband crystal filter area of the board. This radio incorporates SMT, surface mount technology type circuit board. As I've discussed in earlier issues, this technology is the wave of the future in electronics. This type of construction is far more reliable but more difficult to repair or rework. The advantages are many in using this type of circuit board. The components are much smaller which means more components will fit in a smaller area. This advantage can be used to reduce the size of a product, increase the complexity of the circuitry in a given area, make the unit less congested, or all of the above. In addition, although the components are still a little more expensive, manufacturing is automated reducing assembly cost. Initially I shied from this radio because earlier versions of this 12 band PLL design weren't good in the sideband mode of operation. Strong received signals were garbled and the transmission had a slight warble to it. In addition, there were reports from another radio dealer that in sideband mode RCI-6900F TB would indicate a high level output with no audio applied. Looking at the internal RF meter, it looked as if there was a carrier on sideband. This happened only on certain antennas. Earlier this year a customer sent an earlier version of the RCI-6900F TB for repair of the carrier problem mentioned earlier. After analysis, I determined the 150-amplifier stage was going into oscillation. This occurred because there was no negative feedback on the output amplifier. This was immediately solved by adding a 51W 1-watt resistor in series with a .01 mf capacitor from the base to the collector of the 2SC2290 transistors. The current RCI-6900F TB radios have this negative feedback installed. They use a 47W resistor in series with a .01 mf capacitor. See Photo for location of components.
RCI 6900F TB 10 Meter Transceiver
Initial bench testing indicated Ranger also cured the PLL stability problem; this radio was solid as a rock drifting only 40 Hz from turn on to one hour of use. However, as mentioned earlier, the receiver has the same imaging problem on sideband as the RCI-2950DX tested in our September issue. Testing the receiver on AM and FM concluded this radio performs better in those modes than many other 10-meter radios of the past and present. Testing the sideband receiver indicated very high sensitivity, but low selectivity. Injecting a signal that read 30dB on the “S” meter, resulted in a clear reception of this signal 10KHz on either side of the channel with a reading of “S” 9 on the radio's meter. This signal stayed the same approximately 100KHz on either side of the channel and slowly decreased to a “S” 7 over 200KHz or 20 channels on either side of the channel. It’s important to note that the signal isn’t distorted like ordinary splash or bleed-over, it remains clear, as if it were on the same frequency blending in with other transmissions. This may be why I’m hearing that nobody has complained, the end user may think the signal is on the same channel, because it blends with the other sideband traffic. Removing the filter from the circuit board revealed the same “S” 9 signal on the test channel as on the adjacent channels as well as displaying the same results as if the filter were still in place. The good news is that the same fix works, as I expected, for the RCI-6900F TB as the RCI-2950DX. See the article RCI 2950DX Image Rejection Modification for the information needed to perform this modification. Please remember, you’re on your own. If you’re not sure if you have the soldering equipment or skills to perform repairs or rework of SMT, don’t attempt it. Damaging the radio will surely void your warranty! CB World Informer can’t and will not be responsible for any actions individuals take using our information.  Testing the transmitter on the bench indicated an issue with the sideband ALC. At full power the first second or so of transmission only reached 10-Watts PEP, regardless of mic input or mic gain. It would then reach momentary peaks of 100-Watts with an average of 35-Watts PEP. After every loud syllable the ALC was so tight the next two or three words were reduced to 10 to 35-Watts PEP. This pumping action caused the transmitted sideband signal to sound sporadic and would create problems effectively communicating long range, defeating the reason for the extra power in the first place. This occurred in two RCI-6900F TB radios tested. Don't be disheartened, there is a fix in the RCI 6900F TB Tune-up And PCB Adj. Locations article. Remember, when you buy one of these radios from Bob's CB & Wireless, all this work is done before the radio leaves the shop. Below is a table of non-tuned power readings, tuned up power readings, and the tuned up sideband readings after the ALC modification. The increase in power is designated in red and the reduction in power is designated in green.
Radio Tested Out Of The Box
Front Panel RF Power Control
Clockwise
Counter-Clockwise
AM/FM
Carrier (Dead Key)
70-Watts
4-Watts
AM
PEP Swing
120-Watts
7-Watts
SSB
PEP
100-Watts
28-Watts
CW
47-Watts
3-Watts
Radio Tested After Tune-up
Front Panel RF Power Control
Clockwise
Counter-Clockwise
AM/FM
Carrier (Dead Key)
70-Watts
5-Watts
AM
PEP Swing
150-Watts
100-Watts
SSB
PEP
100-Watts
28-Watts
CW
47-Watts
3-Watts
Radio Tested After Tune-up & Modification
Front Panel RF Power Control
Clockwise
Counter-Clockwise
AM/FM
Carrier (Dead Key)
70-Watts
5-Watts
AM
PEP Swing
150-Watts
100-Watts
SSB
PEP
150-Watts
25-Watts
CW
47-Watts
3-Watts
Packed with features like automatic calibrating SWR meter, 6-digit frequency counter, fine and coarse clarifier controls, roger beep, preset echo ON/OFF, adjustable talkback, +10KHz switch, and a power plant capable of 150-Watts PEP, this radio is a compact powerhouse! The +10KHz switch is used to pick-up those frequencies skipped as discussed in last months General Lee Review. The coarse clarifier moves both the transmitter and receiver frequency more than ±5KHz while the fine control makes tuning sideband signals very easy. Using the 6- digit frequency counter makes finding center slot a snap. See the front panel control locations below.
RCI-6900F TB Front Panel Controls
RCI-6900F TB Front Panel Controls
ON/OFF Volume Control Squelch Control Mic Gain Control RF Gain Control Talkback Control RF Power Control Frequency Pool Selector Mode Switch Fine/Coarse Clarifier Control  Channel Selector
S/RF/SWR Meter RX/TX LED 6 Digit Frequency Counter Echo ON/OFF Switch Hi/Lo Switch S-RF/SWR Switch ANL/NB ON/OFF Switch Roger Beep ON/OFF Switch +10 KHz Switch Channel Display
1
28.245 - 28.685
4
28.315 - 28.775
2
28.695 - 29.135
5
28.765 - 29.205
3
29.145 - 29.585
6
29.215 - 29.655
Frequency Pool (Out of the box)
Although I pointed out issues that Ranger should look into on this radio, I very much like this one. Once the modifications are out of the way, this is one fine radio. The AM has a great deal of punch, just what the guys are looking for in this radio. The AM, FM, and sideband reception are the same as the RCI 2950DX. The modified transmitter pushes a clean 150-Watts PEP and the smooth average is about 120- Watts. I'd say it's the first band selected type radio that has the performance of HF radios 2 to 3 times the cost. This radio is definitely for the guys that like going up or down one click. For Amateur operators, this radio covers most of the 10-meter band, once converted, but stops just before the end of the FM phone portion. Although it can go anywhere in-between, it is a little cumbersome using the +10KHz switch and clarifier to get where you want to go. If you're the type of radio operator that doesn't like the CPU driven radios with memories, or find the buttons on those radios too small to hit while you're bouncing down the road in your 18-wheeler, this radio has the power, modulation, and receiver that you've been waiting for. Bob F
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Review: RCI 6900F TB 10 Meter Transceiver