Jack has been busy once again! This time he takes a look at the all-time classic, the famous Lincoln.
The good old Lincoln has been around for many years now. I had my first once in 1992, and it was an old rig then. They had an almost mythical status when they were new as the most advanced CB radio ever. Now they get a bit of a slagging for having poor performance and poor coverage, just shows you how things progress I suppose. There are a lot of modifications available for this set. Such as more power, loads of minor improvements and there is a “chipswitch” modification available which allows them to tune down to 24 MHz and also adds memories and repeater shifts, among other extras. This will allow them to cover the 12m amateur band and make them a HF dual bander. But this review will only cover the standard set.
The President Lincoln is also found under the name Uniden 2830 and in the United States and many non-European countries it was marketed as the President or Uniden HR2510 which has minor differences in the controls but otherwise operation is the same. There is also an HR2600, which looks identical, but this once has repeater shifts and CTCSS tones, which the Lincoln/2830/2510 doesn’t, and the 2600 cannot be modified to 27Mhz without serious surgery. The Lincoln operates from 28 to 29.7Mhz as standard, but with a simple internal modification is converted to operate between 26 and 30Mhz. However be warned, some HR2510’s are not able to be converted. If the main chip is a UC-1250A it is 10m band only. If it has a UC-1250, UC-1201A, UC-117 or another chip (quite a few were used) then expansion is possible.
Once expanded it works in 8 half megahertz 50 channel bands with a ninth 40 channel band, which are the 40 FCC CB channels in the right order with all the right gaps. Unlike the Albrecht, the Lincoln is a continuous tuning radio. 10Khz, 1Khz or 100hz tuning steps can be selected and the rig will tune up and down, as any amateur rig will.
It does not have the “wrap round” effect at the end of each band and will continue to tune into the next band. The band button is only used to quickly tune the radio in half megahertz steps when required. Also unlike the Albrecht, the Lincoln has a minimum tuning step of 100hz, which is just about the largest step that would be practical for anyone using the rig on 10m amateur band where non-channelised use is preferred.
Lets look at the front panel controls. Predictably starting with volume and squelch. The squelch has an auto setting which just sets the squelch to a pre-set level, which I found to be to high for normal use and preferred to use the squelch conventionally. Above these we have the PA and Noise blanker buttons, the noise blanker working well in AM, but not making any difference in any other mode. And above those is the RIT (or clarifier) which is quite sensitive and covers around + or – 3Khz. This is over twice the range of a regular SSB CB but is fine once you get used to it. Then on the Lincoln and 2830 there is the rotary RF power control. This can set the output power while in AM or FM but not SSB. It can vary the output from pretty much nothing up to full output. These sets are available in 12 watt or 40 watt versions. The two are identical except the 40 watt once has been turned up. The output transistor in the earlier sets is almost impossible to find now and will cost you about 40 quid, although there is now a conversion to fit a different once. I recommend keeping the power turned down to about 10 watts when using FM so as not to over heat the output transistor and cause you unnecessary expense. This control is a rotary RF gain control on the HR2510 or 2600. The output power is not variable on these sets.
Moving to the other side of the front panel we have the mode knob giving CW, SSB, AM and FM. Then the SWR calibration knob. The LCD signal meter can also be switched to read output power, modulation and SWR. The meter is fairly inaccurate while reading signal strength and is very inaccurate in all the other options. Use an external SWR meter if you want to know what’s happening, don’t trust the internal once. Although the modulation setting is good for checking your mic is still working if there is ever any doubt.
Then there is nine push buttons. First in a mic gain button and on the Lincoln and 2830 we have the RF gain button, these are “set and forget” controls, rarely requiring use. on the HR2510 and 2600 the RF gain control is elsewhere so the RF gain button is used as a TX switch. This switches the radio onto transmit without having to press the PTT button on the mic. This should only be of use to morse code fans who might prefer not to use the pre-set once second break in time, and prefer to operate the TX manually. The indication button which cycles through the options on the signal meter. A dimmer to dull the LCD display backlight. A scan button which scans for an active channel, although it only scans within once band of 50 channels. A roger beep button to switch off that normally incredibly annoying end of transmission beep. Which, to be fair, is actually the nicest beep I’ve ever heard, short and a sensible volume. It’s a shame they weren’t all like this once, they would wear less on peoples nerves. Then there is a band button which cycles round the 50 channel groups and a frequency lock button to stop you accidentally retuning the rig when you don’t want to.
Next there is the button you will use most often. The span button. It selects the tuning step. Next to this is the channel up and down buttons, which, in my mind, is a bit of a failing of this radio. The main tuning knob will tune the digit which has the little dash under it. The dash is moved from 10Khz to 1Khz to 100hz steps by pressing the span button, and therefore any frequency can be tuned into, e.g. 28.456.7Mhz. But if you press the up channel button, it resets the frequency to the exact channel e.g. 28.460.0Mhz, which means you never tend to use the channel buttons unless you need to go to a “zero” frequency. The up and down buttons on the mic are the same. They do work well when it’s in its CB band and select the channels properly. Also when using the scan button the rig will only scan the exact channel, e.g. 28.460.0, 28.470.0Mhz etc, except when in the CB band when it will scan the 40 CB channels. There is a modification available, to change the channel buttons to tune in the same way as the main tuning knob, so don’t be surprised if yours doesn’t do this.
Incidentally, this rig is capable of tuning almost exactly to UK-FM channels (well, 50hz away, which is plenty close enough for FM) and the channel number display is coincidentally the UKFM channel number plus 10. Eg, channel 19, 27.781.2Mhz will show 29. So you won’t get completely lost.
On the rear panel are the usual power in and antenna out sockets, plus a 9 pin white plastic multi-plug. This plug is very much misunderstood, especially since the manual does not adequately explain later changes in design. The earlier versions of this radio had no 3.5mm jack sockets fitted. The 9 pin plug has a wire link between pin 1 and 7 which connects the internal speaker. Also supplied with the radio is a 3.5mm jack socket on a flying lead. If you want to use an external speaker you must connect this “flying jack socket” onto pins 1 and 2, then removal of the link between pins 1 and 7 will disable the internal speaker. The “flying socket” can be connected to pins 4 and 5 to be used as a PA speaker and pins 8 and 9 to connect a CW key.
Later versions of the radio have a separate 3.5mm jack socket conventionally mounted in the rear panel for connection of an external speaker. Although the link between pins 1 and 7 still had to be fitted to allow the internal speaker to work. This allowed an external speaker and a CW key to be connected at the same time, as this was not possible with the earlier radios without modification. However, even though this change was implemented some years ago, the radios are still being supplied with instruction books for the early version. Hence the confusion.
The use of a multi-pin plug strikes me as an extremely complex means of saving fitting another 2 jack sockets and is particularly annoying to the second hand buyer who finds that the multi-plug or the flying jack plug is missing after closer inspection. You may find that if the multi-plug is missing that the wire link has been permanently soldered in so that the internal speaker will work. An external speaker or CW key could still be connected, but would then need to be permanently soldered in.
In use, the radio performed well. I always got good reports on my transmitted audio. Eight years ago I thought that the receive performance was just fine, but now after being used to modern Kenwood’s and such I see why the set gets a slagging for poor receive performance. But if you compare any cheaper radio with the best available its never going to seem good. All I can say is that if you’re used to operating CBs rather than expensive amateur gear, you’ll be perfectly happy with it.
A slight glitch worth looking out for is the transmitted audio goes wonky if the battery voltage drops. I noticed this while using it on 10m band with a rather large linear. The linear was taking over 20 amps and causing my vehicles battery voltage to drop a few volts. I started getting reports like “what’s happened, I cant make out a word”. Starting the car was enough to restore the voltage to normal and cure the problem. It only took a drop to 11 volts to cause problems, normally a radio would still be working (if a little dim) at 9 or 10 volts. I also got the same problem if the SWR went above about 2.5 to 1. These are not really problems, just something to watch out for.
This set is quite obviously intended for CB use by the fact it has the FCC or CEPT CB channels included in the set after “expanding”. But because of its continuous tuning and 100Hz minimum tuning step it is quite a capable 10m amateur band mobile and I have used them as such for many years.
There are fancier sets available, but if you want a 10 or 11m mobile set, you could do a lot worse than pick up a second hand Lincoln, especially since the introduction of newer rigs means that the Lincoln is cheap and plentiful. Just make sure to check it out before you buy, if that final output transistor is gone, it’ll be half the cost of the radio to fix it.
Reviewed by Axle Jack
This rig was tested in Australia where expanded 10m rigs are legal to possess if the owner is licensed for 10m operation.
I have received some mail claiming that because I mention the Lincoln can be used to transmit on 27 and 28Mhz, that I am somehow encouraging illegal pirate use of the 10m amateur band. This was never my intention. I would like to state clearly that the frequencies from 28 to 29.7Mhz are an amateur band and should NOT be used unless you possess the appropriate amateur radio license to allow HF use in your country.