Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Ordering the Lab599 TX500 - too soon?

A video posted by Thomas K4SWL a couple weeks ago has me questioning the wisdom of ordering this radio any time soon.

I'll admit to being seduced by the machined housing and water resistant nature of a radio designed to be operated outdoors but, after a cold shower and the resulting clarity of thought, I'm now considering cancelling the order for two reasons.

First off is the delay when using the CW memory keyer function. Check out the video posted by Thomas K4SWL:

When Thomas activates the keyer - transmission doesn't start until two seconds later. This might be trivial when operating at 15 wpm or less but at faster speeds, it becomes increasingly significant. Not so much when calling CQ but when the receiving station is waiting for an expected reply to a 20+ wpm exchange, the chance of "doubling" increases as he, failing to hear your reply, sends his part of the exchange again...just as your rig finally begins to transmit.

The second reason is that there's no way to interact with the designers of this radio regarding this issue. And that really is the main reason for the looming cancellation of my order.

Is Lab599 working on a correction to the CW delay? Do they consider it an issue that needs attention? I have no way of knowing. No doubt an IO.group will soon be formed dedicated to this rig. Will the designers participate?

No one knows.

If I cancel this order (I'm waiting on a response to these question from Lab599) it'll be a reversal of the norm - Thomas will have saved me money!


  1. From Thomas, just as I posted this:

    "Hi, John! So Alex fixed the 2 second delay. Turns out, during that iteration of the firmware, the CW memory keyer started recording the moment you activated the recorder (instead of when you started sending). He fixed that almost immediately after I brought it to his attention. Now it works FB. I didn't have a beacon mode at the time, either, but I think he's planning to add that. Also (and keep in mind I no longer have the radio to confirm) but the recorder maintains the speed you keyed--it doesn't speed up if you speed up the WPM. That might be adjusted in firmware later.There is no and likely never will be a voice keyer. I think the biggest thing for you (knowing a bit about your operating style) is if you're okay with a relay-based T/R. It's not full break-in QSK and there are soft relay clicks. When I send at 17-18 WPM, I can't hear between characters, but I can between words which is fine for me. I do think some CW ops might want something more akin to a pin diode T/R. -Thomas"

  2. Hi,
    Thanks Thomas for saving my money! Order declined... I really do not understand why these days the rig such 599 has relay T/R...!
    My best 73
    Petr, OK1RP

  3. I agree with you Petr - I think the rig is designed for those who mainly operate modes other than CW. I can tolerate relay keying for casual operation but I am a bit annoyed by questions going unanswered on Lab599's YouTube and Instagram channels, as well as direct email.

    That is a warning sign for how the rig will be supported by Lab599 if anyone has a problem. I just got off the phone with HRO (Plano TX location) and was told that, if there's a problem with the radio within 15 days of purchase, HRO will exchange it for another TX500. After that 15 day period, the customer deals directly with the manufacturer. They have no further info on Lab599's policy regarding warranties or any other support.

    Despite all that, it's a 6-160m transceiver for $800 and seems to have some unique attributes that no other radio has, namely its weatherproofing and whatever ruggedness comes from being built into a machined housing.

    I may kick myself later, but for now I'm letting the order stand. If the delay is too much past their mid-September ship date, I'll cancel it then.

    73 - John