Xiegu G90 Honest Review
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Searching for an in-depth and honest review of Xiegu G90?
In this review I will dive into the specifics of the Xiegu G90, exploring its features, performance, and how it stacks up against other popular models in the market.
So, if you have questions like:
What sets the Xiegu G90 apart from the multitude of transceivers on the market?
Is it the right choice for your specific needs and operating style?
This review aims to answer these questions and more, offering a comprehensive insight into what the G90 brings to the table.
- High Performance
- Plenty Of Features
- Value for Money
- Lack of Digital Noise Reduction
- Button Visibility
Detailed Specifications of the Xiegu G90
Key Features and Technical Specifications
The Xiegu G90 is a 20-watt SDR (Software Defined Radio) portable radio that has been praised for its performance and versatility. Its key features include:
- Software Defined Radio with a Waterfall: The G90 is a software-defined radio, which means that its functionality is largely determined by software rather than hardware. This allows for a high degree of flexibility and customization. The radio also features a waterfall display, which provides a visual representation of the radio spectrum and signal activity.
- Built-in Antenna Tuner: The G90 comes with a built-in antenna tuner, which can be a significant advantage in portable operations where antenna conditions can be unpredictable.
- Morse Code Decoder: This feature can be particularly useful for operators who use Morse code.
- Speech Compressor: The G90 includes a speech compressor, which can help to increase the effective transmit power of the radio by compressing the audio signal.
- Sensitive Receiver: The G90 is noted for its sensitive receiver, which can be a significant advantage in challenging reception conditions.
- DSP Receive Filters: The G90 has fully adjustable DSP (Digital Signal Processing) receive filters, which can help to improve reception in the presence of interference.
- Customizable User Interface Settings: The G90 allows for a high degree of customization of the user interface, which can help to enhance the user experience.
The Xiegu G90 is the successor to the X108G. Compared to its predecessor, the G90 has several significant improvements, including a software-defined radio architecture, a waterfall display, a built-in antenna tuner, a Morse code decoder, a speech compressor, and a more sensitive receiver.
Physical Attributes: Size, Weight, and Build Quality
The Xiegu G90 is a compact device, measuring just 120 x 45 x 210 mm. This makes it highly portable and perfect for use in a variety of settings, from a home station to field operations. Despite its small size, the G90 is surprisingly heavy, weighing in at 1 kg. This is due to its robust construction and the quality of the materials used.
The build quality of the G90 is excellent. The device feels solid and durable, with a metal casing that can withstand the rigors of regular use. The knobs and buttons have a nice tactile feel to them, and the connectors are gold-plated for optimal signal transmission.
The G90’s compact size and excellent build quality make it a great choice for those who need a reliable, portable transceiver. Whether you’re a seasoned ham radio operator or a beginner, the Xiegu G90 is sure to impress.
Table 1: Xiegu G90 Physical Attributes
|Size||120 x 45 x 210 mm|
|Build||Metal casing, gold-plated connectors|
Setting Up the Xiegu G90
The Xiegu G90 is a compact and powerful transceiver that is easy to set up and use. Whether you’re a seasoned ham radio operator or a beginner, the following step-by-step guide will help you get your Xiegu G90 up and running in no time.
Step-by-step Guide on Setting Up the Xiegu G90
- Powering the Device: The first step in setting up your Xiegu G90 is to connect it to a power source. The device operates on a 12-15V DC power supply and draws about 0.6 amps on receive and up to 4.8 amps on transmit at 20 watts output.
- Connecting the Antenna: Connect your antenna to the antenna port on the back of the device. The G90 has an in-built automatic antenna tuner that can tune a wide range of antennas, making it versatile for various operating conditions.
- Adjusting the Display: The G90 comes with a high-contrast, adjustable display. You can adjust the brightness of the display by pressing the ‘Function’ button and then the ‘Lock’ button. This will allow you to adjust the brightness level using the VFO knob.
- Setting the Frequency: You can adjust the operating frequency by turning the VFO knob. Pressing the VFO knob allows you to cycle between different steps for fine-tuning the frequency.
- Setting the Bandwidth: The bandwidth can be adjusted by pressing the ‘Function’ button and then the ‘Compression’ button. This will allow you to adjust the bandwidth using the VFO knob.
- Using the Tuner: The G90’s in-built tuner is highly efficient and can tune a wide range of antennas. To use the tuner, simply press the ‘Tune’ button. The tuner will then automatically tune the connected antenna for the best SWR.
Tips for First-time Users
- Understanding the Menu: The G90 has a multi-function button that allows you to access various settings. By holding down the ‘Function’ button, you can access settings related to the hand mic, backlight, aux-in volume, and more.
- Using the Spectrum Scope and Waterfall: The G90 comes with a spectrum scope and waterfall display that can be very helpful in identifying signals. The spectrum scope shows the signal strength across different frequencies, while the waterfall shows the change in these signals over time.
- Using the SWR Scanner: One of the unique features of the G90 is its SWR scanner. By holding down the ‘Power’ button, the device will scan the SWR of the connected antenna across the operating frequency. This can be very useful in understanding the performance of your antenna.
- Decoding CW: The G90 comes with a built-in CW decoder. To use this, switch to CW mode and hold down the ‘Key’ button. The decoded text will be displayed on the screen.
Remember, the Xiegu G90 is a powerful device packed with features. Take your time to familiarize yourself with its functions and settings. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to operate the G90 with ease and confidence.
Performance in Various Conditions
The Xiegu G90 is a 20-watt SDR portable radio that has been praised for its performance in various conditions. Users have reported that the increase in power from 5 watts to 20 watts makes a significant difference in its performance. The G90 is equipped with fully adjustable DSP receive filters and several customizable user interface settings, which contribute to its versatility in different operating conditions.
The power consumption of the G90 is not explicitly mentioned in the reviews. However, it’s worth noting that the radio operates at 20 watts, which is considered a “sweet spot” for portable HF radios. This power level is substantial enough to make a difference in performance, yet not so high as to require large, heavy batteries.
The G90 has been lauded for its signal reception capabilities. One user reported being able to call two SOTA activators using just the radio’s 20 watts, and they responded to his first call. The receiver is described as both sensitive and selective. However, it’s worth noting that the G90 lacks digital noise reduction, which is present in its smaller sibling, the X5105.
The audio quality of the G90 is generally well-regarded. The radio produces quite loud audio, and the receiver is described as crisp. The G90 also features a speech compressor, which one user found to significantly improve the audibility of his signal.
While the G90 has been praised for its performance, users have also noted a few areas for improvement. For instance, the text on the buttons is small and difficult to read, especially for users with impaired eyesight. The radio also tends to get warm after some time of operation, despite its large heatsink. Finally, the G90 is heavier than expected, which could be a consideration for users who need to carry it for extended periods.
Unique Features of the Xiegu G90
The Xiegu G90 is a portable transceiver that stands out due to its unique features, which significantly enhance the user experience. These features include a waterfall display, a built-in antenna tuner, and a Morse code decoder.
The G90 is a Software Defined Radio (SDR) with a waterfall display. This feature allows users to visually observe the frequency spectrum in real-time, making it easier to identify signals. The waterfall display is a significant advancement over the G90’s predecessor, the X108G, and is comparable to the features found on the classic ICOM IC-7300, albeit in a much more compact form.
Built-in Antenna Tuner
The G90 comes with a built-in antenna tuner, a feature that is highly appreciated by users. This tuner helps to match the impedance of the antenna system to the radio’s requirements, thereby maximizing the power transfer and ensuring optimal performance.
Morse Code Decoder
The Morse code decoder is another unique feature of the G90. This feature is particularly useful for amateur radio operators who use Morse code for communication. The decoder translates Morse code signals into text, making it easier for operators to understand the messages.
Enhanced User Experience
The G90’s unique features significantly enhance the user experience. The radio’s receiver is highly sensitive, and the device comes with fully adjustable DSP receive filters and several customizable user interface settings. The G90 also includes a speech compressor, which can significantly improve the audibility of transmitted signals.
The G90 is compact and portable, making it ideal for outdoor use. However, due to its compact size, the display and control buttons are small. To address this, Xiegu offers an optional “GSOC” external controller, which provides a larger, tablet-like screen.
Despite its compact size, the G90 is quite robust. It has a large heatsink, which forms half of its case. While the radio does get warm after some time of operation, Xiegu has addressed this issue by offering an optional stand with a temperature sensor-controlled fan for cooling.
The G90 also supports remote control over the CAT interface, which is responsive and allows users to use an old Android smartphone as an external controller and display. This feature enhances the portability and convenience of the radio.
While the radio has many unique features, it is not without its shortcomings. For instance, it lacks digital noise reduction, a feature present in its smaller sibling, the X5105. However, Xiegu has indicated that they may add this feature in future firmware updates.
Despite these minor issues, the G90 has received positive reviews from users, who appreciate its features, performance, and affordability compared to other portable transceivers. The G90’s unique features, combined with its enhanced user experience, make it a compelling choice for amateur radio operators.
The Xiegu G90 for Portable Operations
The Xiegu G90 is a highly portable device, making it an excellent choice for field operations. Its compact size and lightweight design, weighing only 2.1 lbs, allow for easy transportation and setup. The built-in handle further enhances its portability, ensuring that you can carry it around with ease.
Battery Life and Power Requirements
When it comes to power consumption, the Xiegu G90 is quite efficient. On receive, it draws about 0.6 amps, and on transmit (at 20 watts output), it draws approximately 4.8 amps. This low power consumption means that the radio can run for an extended period on a 20 amp-hour battery, making it ideal for field operations where access to power might be limited.
However, it’s important to note that the actual battery life will depend on several factors, including the battery’s capacity, the mode of operation (receive or transmit), and the output power level. For instance, if you’re transmitting continuously at 20 watts, the battery will drain faster than if you’re mostly receiving.
In terms of power requirements, the Xiegu G90 operates on a 12-15V DC power source. This flexibility allows you to power the radio using various sources, including a car battery or a portable power pack.
Powering Up and Tuning
The Xiegu G90 comes with an automatic antenna tuner, which is a significant advantage when operating in the field. This feature allows the radio to work with a wide range of antennas and to adjust itself to ensure optimal performance. The tuner is capable of tuning antennas on all bands from 160 meters to 10 meters.
The tuning process is straightforward. By holding down the power button, the radio scans the SWR of the antenna and adjusts itself accordingly. The SWR scanning feature can also be used as a basic antenna analyzer, which is a valuable tool when setting up your antenna in the field.
User Experiences and Reviews
Compilation of User Reviews and Experiences
After a thorough review of various sources, including eHam, YouTube, Amazon and Xiegu’s official website, we have compiled a comprehensive overview of user experiences and reviews of the Xiegu G90 HF SDR Transceiver.
- Performance: Users have praised the G90 for its crisp receiver and responsive controls. The radio’s 20-watt output power is considered a “sweet spot” for portable HF radios, providing a noticeable difference compared to 5-watt QRP radios.
- Features: The G90 is appreciated for its built-in antenna tuner, Morse code decoder, speech compressor, and sensitive receiver. The fully adjustable DSP receive filters and customizable user interface settings have also been highlighted.
- Value for Money: The G90 is often compared favorably to more expensive radios like the Elecraft KX-3 and the ICOM IC-705. Users have noted that the G90 offers a similar feature set at a significantly lower price.
- Size and Weight: Some users have found the G90 to be heavier than expected. The compact design, while advantageous for portability, also means that the display and control buttons are small, which can be a challenge for some users.
- Lack of Digital Noise Reduction: The G90 has been criticized for not having digital noise reduction, a feature present in its smaller sibling, the X5105.
- Button Visibility: The grey-on-black text on the buttons has been noted as difficult to read, particularly for users with impaired vision.
- RIT Setting Control: The RIT setting control changes receive frequency by 1 Hertz at a time, which some users have found to be too slow.
Comparing the Xiegu G90 with Other Portable Transceivers
When choosing a portable transceiver, it’s important to consider several factors such as performance, portability, power requirements, and unique features. In this section, we will compare the Xiegu G90 with two other popular models: the Elecraft KX-3 and the ICOM IC-705.
Xiegu G90 vs Elecraft KX-3
The Elecraft KX-3 is a highly respected transceiver in the amateur radio community. It is known for its excellent receiver performance and robust build quality. However, it’s important to note that the KX-3 is significantly more expensive than the G90. The KX-3 also lacks some of the unique features found in the G90, such as a built-in antenna tuner and a waterfall display.
Xiegu G90 vs ICOM IC-705
The ICOM IC-705 is another well-regarded portable transceiver. It offers a wide range of features, including a large color touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and support for all mode operation. However, like the KX-3, the IC-705 is also more expensive than the G90. In terms of power requirements, the IC-705 has a maximum output power of 10W, which is lower than the G90’s 20W.
Conclusion: Is the Xiegu G90 Worth It?
Performance, Features, and Price
The Xiegu G90 has proven itself to be a reliable and versatile transceiver, offering a range of features that make it a strong contender in the portable transceiver market. Its performance, particularly in terms of its receiver sensitivity and signal clarity, has been praised by users across various platforms. The unique features such as the waterfall display, built-in antenna tuner, and Morse code decoder enhance the user experience, making it a practical choice for both beginners and experienced operators.
The G90’s price point is also a significant factor in its appeal. At around $450, it offers a competitive alternative to more expensive models like the Elecraft KX-3 and ICOM IC-705, which can cost upwards of $1000.
For What Types of Users Is It Recommended?
For Portable Operations
The Xiegu G90 shines in portable operations due to its compact size, lightweight design, and low power consumption. Its built-in antenna tuner and SWR scanner are particularly useful for field operations, allowing users to tune a wide range of antennas and analyze their performance. The radio’s power requirements are also manageable for portable operations, with a typical current draw of around 0.5-0.6 amps on receive and up to 4.8 amps on transmit at 20 watts output.
For Home Station Use
While the G90 is designed with portability in mind, it is also suitable for use as a home station. Its performance and features are on par with larger, more expensive transceivers, making it a cost-effective choice for those looking to set up a home station. However, users should be aware that the G90 does not have a built-in power supply and will require an external one for home use.
For CW Operators
The G90’s built-in Morse code decoder and adjustable CW bandwidth make it a good choice for CW operators. However, some users have noted that the decoder’s performance can be hit or miss, particularly with weaker signals.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Xiegu G90
What is the maximum output power of the Xiegu G90 when connected with XPA125B?
The Xiegu G90, when connected with the XPA125B amplifier, can achieve a maximum output power of 125 watts.
Is the data cable included with the G90 also suitable for other Xiegu machines?
Yes, the data cable provided with the Xiegu G90 is also compatible with other Xiegu transceivers.
How long can the remote head cable be extended?
The length to which the remote head cable can be extended depends on the specific use case and the quality of the cable used. However, it’s recommended to keep the extension within a reasonable limit to avoid potential signal loss or interference.
Is the headphone output mono or stereo?
The headphone output of the Xiegu G90 is mono.
Can I connect the G90 to an external amplifier or a PC without using the CE-19?
Yes, it’s possible to connect the G90 to an external amplifier or a computer directly. However, using the CE-19 expansion interface can provide additional connectivity options and make the setup process easier.
What is the power consumption of the Xiegu G90?
The power consumption of the Xiegu G90 varies depending on the mode of operation. In receive mode, it typically consumes around 500mA, while in transmit mode, it can consume up to 8A at full power.
Does the Xiegu G90 have a built-in antenna tuner?
Yes, the Xiegu G90 comes with a built-in automatic antenna tuner, which can be very useful for optimizing signal reception and transmission.
Can the Xiegu G90 operate on all HF bands?
Yes, the Xiegu G90 is a general coverage transceiver and can operate on all HF bands from 0.5 to 30 MHz.
Does the Xiegu G90 support digital modes?
Yes, the Xiegu G90 supports various digital modes when used with a computer and appropriate software. This includes modes like PSK31, RTTY, and FT8.
What type of microphone connector does the Xiegu G90 use?
The Xiegu G90 uses an 8-pin modular (RJ-45) connector for the microphone.
Does the Xiegu G90 have a built-in sound card?
No, the Xiegu G90 does not have a built-in sound card. For digital modes, an external sound card interface is required.
Can the Xiegu G90 be powered by a battery for portable operation?
Yes, the Xiegu G90 can be powered by a 12-15V DC power source, which includes suitable batteries. This makes it a good option for portable operation in the field.