RCI-2950DX 10 Meter AM/FM/SSB Export Radio Review
The 2950DX from RCI has become an icon in the radio world. The radio has proved itself to be solid, reliable, and offer excellent performance.
Its older version, the standard 2950, was a very popular radio in its day, but it did have its faults. RCI sought to improve upon that radio with the DX version, and the end result is a very nice radio with surface mount technology.
The 2950DX purchased for this review was picked up on eBay and came with the original box and the included accessories. Used 2950DX’s can usually be found in the $180 - $250 range depending on condition.
The 2950DX is advertised as a 10 & 12 meter radio with AM, FM, LSB, USB and CW capabilities. The radio can be converted for 11 meter use (although there are a couple of models floating around that are rumored to not be convertible).
This radio uses a digital display with a digital signal/SWR/RF bar meter. The digital display also shows the frequency in six digits or it can switch to a channel display mode.
The radio is roughly the size of a Cobra 148 or similar type radio and has a heatsink on the back with cooling fins for heat dissipation. This is a dual final radio and will get warm with use but the cooling fins do an excellent job in keeping the radio at an ideal operating temperature.
When looking for a quality SSB radio for 11 meters the RCI-2950DX is really at the top of the class. It has any number of features and designs only found on more expensive ham rigs such as a double balanced mixer stage and RF shielding over key components inside the radio. A quick look inside and you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about. On the left hand side of the radio is a large portion of the circuit board covered with a metal shield. There are holes in the shield so you can still access the tuning points.
Picture from http://www.cbworldinformer.com/
The other nice thing about the inside of these radios is that the common adjustment points are actually marked with a text description rather than just a number. This means it’s very easy for your average radio owner to open up the radio and make a quick adjustment here and there.
This radio uses surface mount technology which means very very small parts. In most cases the average CBer’s will not want to try to work on surface mount technology as it requires a very fine tipped soldering iron and a good magnifying glass if you don’t have 20/20 eyesight. Luckily these radios are well made and most people will never have to touch the inside of the radio.
Features on this radio are abundant, from split frequency operation, frequency scanning, internal SWR function, to a roger beep, it has everything an operator needs. In some cases its many features scare off the standard CBer’s who prefers the look and feel of the more traditional face CB radio. Don’t let this be the case for you - if you are looking for a solid SSB radio the 2950DX is easy to use and it only takes a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the basic operation.
Let’s be straightforward in discussing the abilities of this radio – if you are a big AM’er this is not the radio for you. I’ve heard some of the 2950DX’s that have had extensive work and mods done to them for loud AM audio and they sound okay, but it’s wasted money if you want to be a big strapping AM audio hog.
These radios have amazing frequency stability and clean audio quality making them perfect for SSB. If you are tired of CB’s or export radios that constantly drift around than you need a try a 2950DX. The only other radios I’ve come across that are on the same level as the 2950DX for SSB stability are the HR2510 and the Magnum 257.
Not a whole lot is needed to tune up these radios for good results. The addition of a good power microphone such as a D104M6B can help bring a bit more punch to the audio. Inside the radio adjusting the modulation pot and SSB ALC will help yield good swing and audio performance. I do not suggest doing the NPC mod to these radios or removing the limiter. These radios have clean solid audio and post good numbers without excessive modification.
On AM the variable power control can be set from 1 watt up to 8 watts on most radios (adjustments to the AM power controls will allow for different settings on the RF control). Make sure not to set your max AM deadkey higher than 10 watts as the radio is not designed to run in such a manner. In most cases in the high power RF setting you’ll see swing in the 20 – 30 watt range. The last 2950DX I had would swing to 35 watts on AM and SSB. With the RF power in the low position deadkey will be around 1 watt with swing to around 12-15 watts. Some people will do NPC type swing modifications to this radio to allow for higher swing from the low 1 watt deadkey.
These radios have a great receiver and can pull in the far off stations without difficulty. Tuning in SSB stations is easy and the clarifier has smooth movement.
RCI-2950DX’s are known for one issue and that is white noise. Although some dealers will perform a modification for around $30 to help correct the issue, the fact is that most 2950DX’s you run into will have a lot of white noise in the receive.
While this white noise doesn’t really have a negative effect on the receiving of signals from other stations, for those who keep the squelch down and RF gain up you may find the noise on the annoying side.
I really like these radios and so there isn’t a whole lot for me to complain about, but nothing is perfect.
- I don’t like the dual control setup on these radios. I tend to find that often when adjusting one of the knobs (especially in the mobile) it’s easy to knock the lower control out of position.
- The display is great when looking straight on, but at an angle or on a really sunny day it can often be very hard to see the frequency or meter.
I can’t say enough about how great these radios are for the SSB’er. Both the 2970DX I’ve tried and the 2950DX’s have performed flawlessly with excellent stability. They aren’t the loudest radios out there and they aren’t the easiest to use in terms of simplicity, but they are far and above a better SSB export radio than the majority of radios on the market.
As someone who uses SSB every day of the year I can be very picky about wanting a radio that doesn’t drift and stays on frequency. This radio meets my requirements. And if that doesn’t tell you enough, take into consideration that while most Ham radio operators despise “CB capable exports” almost all of them will admit that the 2950DX is a great 10 meter radio for the price.
If you're interested in more information, an excellent review was done by cbworldinformer a couple of years ago - Review: RCI 2950DX Dual Band Amateur Radio
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( Note: For non-DX Series, see 2950 Series )
Equipment required for Alignment procedure:
• DC Power
Supply ( 13.8 Vdc, 20A )
• Audio Generator
To view Main PCB Adjustment for location of adjustment points, please see this drawing - 2950DX Main PCB. After viewing, press "back" to return to this page.
steps are required to re-align the RCI-2950DX:
PLL Synthesizer / Oscillator Frequency Alignment:
1. PLL2 -
Receiver Setup: Put the mode selector on AM, the RF gain fully
clockwise (maximum gain), squelch to minimum (unsquelched), volume at 2 o'clock, set frequency to 28.295 MHz, and NB/ANL to OFF.
Connect signal generator set at RF carrier frequency of 28.295 MHz, AM
modulated with a 1 KHz audio tone at 30% modulation level.