Xiegu’s G90 is a relative newcomer to the HF field and one I get a lot of questions about. I’ll state up front that I do not own one- and that’s not a repudiation of the radio but rather a recognition that I have enough HF gear to equip a region as is, and unless anyone is offering one for T&E, I’m not in the market for a new purchase. But that said a lot of other people are indeed asking about them and I’ve got a number of users over a the Brushbeater Forum who’ve had good results so far. At least for me, radio reviews are best when they’re done from an end-user perspective.
AB36, a well versed operator himself and a student of mine from out west, reported:
I have one, IMO it is a good rig especially for the price, awesome tuner, about 600mW draw at rest and full 20 watt output even at lower battery voltages. The radio seems robust, I had a power supply go bad and feed the radio with 25 volts for at least a few minutes, no magic smoke and no other issues from the over voltage. FL Rig supports most radio functions. I get good reports on voice and with the proper cabling the digital modes work well also.
It is not a one cable radio for digital modes, it requires at least a soundcard connected through a data interface of some sort and a CAT control connection. It is sensitive to RF and requires good grounding and clamp on ferrite rings on cables. The FW uploader is clunky and the radio will try to autoboot it if you leave the CAT cable plugged in while turning on radio and computer. The radio runs warm and needs a fan if TX steady on digital modes. I am not CW savy so I can’t comment on that mode. The onboard CW decoder seems to work ok on good signals. The screen is small but clear and the speaker sounds good to me. It can be modded to TX outside the ham bands. Others have said the RX is very good, but I have no other brand of radio so no direct experience. I bought another one to have a spare.
Atlas Shrug, another student and someone’s opinion I trust, also chimed in:
“I’ve played around with it a fair bit. Of course I can only transmit on 10m, which is mostly dead right now, so the vast majority of my experience is receive only. I’ve used a hand me down 10m dipole, but more recently hung an 80m wire off a Balun Designs balun set up for EFHW usage. No digital now, no desire to do CW, so only phone mode usage for me.
The only other HF unit I have is a Yaesu FT-450D that I also got in February. I really like them both, but they are very different. As everyone notes, the tuner on the G90 is pretty much amazing. Also, I find the antenna analyzer to be pretty useful.
As a tool to explain radio to people, that little spectrum display is quite handy. You can illustrate a lot of concepts visually, which can really help. With the radio being portable friendly, this training aspect should not be overlooked.”
That last point is critical, especially for conveying an abstract concept such as finding signals on HF. Its already a pretty steep learning curve, so anything we can use to make it a bit more accessible is certainly welcome. And that of course underscores the need for training. Having a small, power efficient rig with everything on board is certainly worth having, even if all you’re concerned with is listening. Modifications are pretty straightforward as well, should you be so inclined, so I don’t see a reason not to pick up one or a couple if you’re in need.