Lab599 Discovery TX-500

Started by bkmoore, September 20, 2019, 01:57:43 PM

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I just stumbled on this new radio from The case is machined from a solid block of aluminum, so it looks like it might be a much more durable field radio than the KX2. Has anyone here seen this radio before?




Yes!  That caught my eye as well.  The receive current drain (critically important for field opns) is a bit over 100 mA , which is superb in a full function, rig and the physical layout and construction is where 'we' really need to be for rucksack radio, because anything can work on a picnic table - which is fun- but robust & survivable is worth the extra expense.   I do hope that this makes the transition from prototype into a retail product.

de Ray  ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry


I have been lusting after a KX2 to take up into the High Sierras. But if this radio turns out to work as well as it looks, I know which radio I'm going to be asking Santa for.  :D I also think having 6 meters is a very good thing in a field radio.


Well, I am still waiting for my Hallicrafters Nine-Zillion, from 1962, but I was one of the lucky ones who managed to put down a deposit, so now it's ALL OVER, except the waiting... (image attached)

"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry


Quote from: Sparks on September 20, 2019, 10:18:03 PM
The Lab599 Discovery TX-500 has been widely discussed in the ham sphere for some months now. Nobody has found any substantial information, and some label it 'vaporware'.....

I guess it may be too good to be true. I know from personal experience that going from a demonstration prototype to a market-ready product is extremely difficult, and I can only wish these guys success and hope they get their radio out the door.

OTOH I probably wouldn't put off getting a KX2. But even if this radio never reaches market status, the design may influence others in building better portable radios in the future. I would love to see a ruggedized KX2 or KX3 for example. But I'm sure the market for such a radio is very small and it's probably difficult to justify the non recurring development cost and still be able to offer such a radio at a consumer-friendly price point. I don't see a market for. $10,000 + QRP radio, outside of the military for example.


The KX2 is a superb transceiver.  The ability to run highly portable at relatively low current drain - well, that's priceless.  Like you, Gil and others have mentioned, having a more 'hardened' construction would be much appreciated, yet, you are correct, the market is very small for such a ham transceiver , with it's extra costs.  Few hams are physically active.  A 100 Watt transceiver drawing many amps, with a huge lead-acid battery, driven by car to a Park for contest/"Radio Sport" style operation seems to be the goal.  Naturally, when grid-down communication is the focus, points and awards are less than meaningless.  I really don't care if I win the Worked-All-Shoe-Sizes award, as long as my actual needs and a few wants are handled.

Related to that is the dependence upon computers. They do a lot of marvelous things, but are generally a significant burden in size, weight and power and are the first to die. As much as I appreciate Winlink, having used it since the AMTOR days, depending upon MS Windows is a REAL problem.  Exapmle: mt laptop just decided that my Windows 7 is not genuine.  Why, after all these years it has done this - and begun the countdown to killing my USB ports & etc. I do not know, but all this began as the last hurricane was approaching... 'nuf said, I'll stick with Morse and to pass formal traffic, use Radio Relay International / NTS nets, of which there are MANY every day. I can't send pictures and file extensions, but health & welfare messaging is their speciality.

Please keep us posted.

73/72 & GL with the KX2/Lab599.

de Ray  ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry


The working prototype is out... Very interesting indeed with the rugged construction. I contacted the company and got a reply suggesting a collaboration but the message wasn't very clear. I don't think they speak English very well. On paper it looks very promising; much more so than the new Icom 705, from an outdoors perspective. That big color screen on the Icom looks currentophage (yep, just made that word up ;-) Lab599 chose a much more efficient LCD screen. Now, I'm not a big fan of LCDs because of cold weather problems, but that said, I don't like cold weather... Even here in the South of France, it can get really cold when you go up the pre-Alps mountains in the winter though. I also don't like big screens because it's just more vulnerable surface.

Now, we need to look at the utility of having a band spectrum display for SHTF... To be able to see a signal is a big plus in finding someone to communicate with. I usually prefer radios without a screen at all but I can see how watching a whole band at once could be very useful. Big screens are liabilities though, and care should be taken in protecting them against impacts.

Ruggedness is big on my list of must-have features, or characteristics... I can't help but compare my commercial radios to my PRC-320. I can throw that radio in my truck without a second thought. If it starts raining while I'm operating outside, I'll just hop in my Toyota and forget about the radio on the camping table outside until the rain stops... It just isn't a hobby-radio... It's a life-and-death radio... Amateur radio manufacturers haven't yet grasped that concept, and again, the market might be small, but something like that would sell like hot cakes because of the cool factor and capabilities. This is why the TX-500 is making a lot of noise right now. There is a demand. Maybe for the same reason we see prepper shows and zombie movies popping up on TV like popcorn in a hot skillet.

If the TX-500 lives up to the hype, I might get one. I loved my KX3 and KX2, but in the end, I sold them. Not because of the lack of performance, they are on top of the food chain in receiver sensitivity, but I was afraid of using them outside! The KX2 is full of holes. I also love my K1 with its superb performance, and I built it myself, so I will never sell it, but the last time I took it out, ants got it it! I still need to open it up and get the bodies out, LOL. Elecraft has never embraced the watertight or ant-proof concept... I am curious about the TX-500 CW performance, because with 10W, SSB contact are not as easy as when using CW. I also like that it has 6m, since that will allow using it with my PRC-351s, PRC-350, VX6/VX7 and VRM-5080, if need be, in FM. A little bit of 6m CW fun can't hurt either ;-) As to 160m, I think it has limited use for prepping due to antenna length. 80m portable is much easier than I thought, but 160m, I have some doubts... I might be wrong... There are fewer people on 160m though, while 80m is the goto band for regional comms.

I am also still waiting for the QSX kit from QRP-LABS. It's a year late... That will be a high performance affordable radio with 160-10m capabilities, and including a computer interface. i am starting to wonder if it will ever be released, but It think it wll... QRP-LABS is a one-man-band and Hans did well with the QCX, of which I built two, a 30m and an 80m version. Ruggedness will depend on the case you put it in... The TX-500 looks better on paper but the price will be high, though probably not as much as an IC-705; more like an FT-818, or a bit more, around $800. Not in the same league though, as 110mA beats 450mA any day... If that number turns out to be accurate...

Another contender in my book is the QRPVer Minion, either the Mini or SDR version. It is much cheaper. The case doesn't look very rugged but it has few buttons and a small screen. 120mA for the mini and 220mA for the SDR. The mini has a direct conversion receiver, so presumably much more discreet as far as unwanted emissions even on receive... Ray, do you know more about DC receivers? The PRC-319 has one, to operate behind enemy lines...

There are always Pelican cases, and I love those, but in the end, you are going to have to open that case, unless the radio lives in it and has watertight connectors to the outside...

Anyway, I am watching the TX-500, looking for new videos on YouTube... We'll see...



This radio is no longer vaporware!!! The Discovery TX-500 is now on sale at  Ham Radio Outlet. There is already a review up on


I like the TX-500 a lot, but I'm just not crazy about the connectors they choose to use. I guess they are necessary to have the IP-67 certification for water ingress. The idle receive current is one of the best out there.



It's now for sale here at "HRO Discount Price" $1,149.95.

Have any of you guys any experience of this one?