Lab599 Discovery TX-500

Hello operators.
Yesterday I wrote a letter to the team at Lab599, about my experience with the Discovery TX-500 on the weekend of 22/23 October 2021. I thought you all might find this interesting. You are all welcome to share this post as you like. If nothing else, it could help inspire other manufacturers, the titans of portable ham radio and QRP to move in this direction.

Hello Roman, Alex.
Hoping this message finds you well.
Just want to send a very special thank you for shipping the TX-500 to Finland. It is an amazing radio!
Most of the big ham radio manufacturers don’t understand portable ham radio in Scandinavia, Russia, Northern or Eastern Europe. They give us the same old – same old rig designs we have had for the past 20 years. The TX-500 is something different, something unexpected. It can be used as a weapon or a radio, the user decides!

Saturday, October 22/23 we were camping with the TX-500.There was no storm warning but we found ourselves stuck on Hailuoto island KP24IX in a tent shelter with 32m/s (71.5mph) wind gusts and freezing rain. There was no chance for wind power, solar power or doing anything but putting antennas out, hoping the wind would not take them away.

We operated 80/40M NVIS with the TX-500 while waiting out the storm. 62 contacts SSB with 10 watts and the 80M EFHW near the ground. We used a diy 5ah 4S2P LiFePO4 pack I made, operating with it for 24 hours. The pack still had energy when we went home. The efficiency of the TX-500 made it possible to carry a small battery without solar power, staying on-air throughout the storm.

I am extremely grateful for your design. Even more grateful for the reasonable size and weight of this rugged little radio.
Your work is very much appreciated!
If there is ever anything I can do for the TX500, just ask. Very happy to help.

I sent this message to the Lab599 team on Sunday 24 October 2021. This is not about kissing up or trying to get something for “free”. Most of the time, we never get a direct line to a manufacturer. Perhaps a better way to say it is “Most manufacturers never get the benefit of our field experience”. I think to myself what Yaesu would have done with the FT-818 release, if they had better lines of communications between themselves and operators using their FT-81x out in the field. Perhaps if Elecraft had that channel of communications from the field radio op, the Elecraft KX2 would’ve had the wide voltage DC input we are all missing, allowing the internal battery to be charge in the field while in use. Having the opportunity to say “Hey, you’ve done a great job (or not)” is a blessing which needed to be said here. It needed to be said by someone with a bit of field credibility. It needed to be said by someone not worried about losing ad-revenue or afraid to stick their neck out for something different or unproven.

The TX-500 is an amazing little radio. It is efficient, has the lowest current consumption of any all mode HF/QRP rig available, is small enough to take along, and is simple enough to use without ever looking at the instructions. The weekend camping trip was made possible by the low current consumption of the TX-500. A single 5ah battery for a weekend with power to spare.
I’ve seen opinions from ad-revenue driven “labs” ignoring the portable attributes of this innovative new radio. The TX-500 is not “perfect”, but it doesn’t need to be! It achieves goals most QRP portable manufacturers have ignored. It is modular and adaptable with a growing community of makers building innovative add-ons for it. It has real ruggedness for the field, yet still comes in cheaper than the KX2 we all love.
As far as TX-500 opinions go, the only TX-500 opinions I want, are from off-grid field radio operators!
Now you also have mine.
Well done Lab599!

Make sure you’re subscribed to the Channel so you won’t miss my upcoming videos on the Lab599 Discovery TX-500.

Julian oh8stn
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  1. Actually the kx2 had and continues to have good user feedback. The designers conducted feedback and what if talks at various hamfests prior and after. The primary designer is a field op and takes suggestions on line for changes and makes it happen.
    That said, the ergonomics and packaging of the tx500 is terrific, I see it as a part of the evolution of the portable rig. Think of the evolution from the home research backpack rig to the ft817 to the kx3, kx3, ic705, an to the tx500.

  2. Julian, the price of the TX-500 seems to be climbing. On HRO now it’s $949 (backordered). Any idea what’s driving the increase? I was hoping to find the original MSRP of $789.

    • Unfortunately the weak dollar is driving the price up to products which are manufactured in other currencies. It’s simply inflation. This has been a real bummer on the ham radio community for the past year.

  3. just sold all my 100W rigs and now only go qrp /p… i liked the tx-500 so much i bought two in case one needs service… i also had a kx2, but sold it… bad battery design, too fragile, absurd menuing… the tx-500 is a qrp rig designed for qrp ops by a qrp op!

    • Outstanding. It is somewhat liberating to get free of all the extra stuff required for a QRO radio in teh field. It took me some years to understand that. Now here we are.
      The TX-500 is a fine radio! I do wish it had an internal audio interface but that is all I wish for. It is still am amazing rig, one which I will never part with.
      Thanks for the comment.
      Julian oh8stn

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