My uncle (actually great uncle) Paul, W9SIZ brought his Collins KWM-2 to my station to try it on my Hustler 4-BTV. He lives in the small town in which I grew up and has used wire antennas on his city lot for many years. He’s 91 years old and has had the KWM-2 station since sometime in the early 60’s. He operates everyday (mostly CW) and is interested in potentially adding a 4-BTV to his station.
We set the two rigs side-by-side and did a bunch of A\B testing with the 4-BTV (and my Cobra UltraLite Senior wire antenna) between the two radios. It was very interesting to hear two radios that are well regarded, though separated in time, operating together.
This was not a highly scientific test. No Sherwood Engineering was involved. What was interesting is that in all but a few cases the Collins could hear about as well as the Kenwood, again no science involved. The Kenwood heard weaker stations consistently better for the most part but that’s not all that surprising as the Collins is 57 years old. Does the Kenwood have more features? Obviously yes, but the Collins stayed with it to large extent in normal operating conditions. One thing that the Collins has that the Kenwood doesn’t is this:
W9SIZ was happy with the test and is more seriously thinking about adding the 4-BTV. He thought his old Collins was hearing better than on his wire antennas at home (given band conditions) and his ears are pretty well calibrated after operating for over 70 years. (Note: the case is off the KWM-2 as he just replaced some capacitors in the power supply and decided to bring it over without the case.)
When we were done with the testing we made a trip to HRO Milwaukee. W9SIZ hasn’t been there since they opened. We’ve made many trips together to AES in the past and this was our first trip to HRO together.
Greeting us as we walked in was Paul. W9KHO. The two Paul’s greeted each other as they’ve known each other for a very long time. It’s my understanding that W9KHO has been at AES and now HRO for 49 years. W9SIZ was impressed with the new store and is glad that we still have an Amateur Radio shop in our area. He was tempted by some of the new rigs but he’s been a Collins man for a very long time and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
What did we conclude? Not a lot. It’s better to have more antenna options rather than less and a well-functioning radio is better than no radio at all regardless of its age. I don’t think we can say anything more firm than that. It was simply a fun thing to do with my great uncle and two nice radios and that’s what Amateur Radio is all about.