The Galaxy DX-93T is an all mode 10/11m band transceiver. Galaxy radios have been around for many years in the United States but it is somewhat rarer to find them over here in the European regions. At the time of writing this review there has never been a better time to import from the States with the good exchange rate against the Dollar so I decided to buy the DX-93T and give the Galaxy a chance.
The shipment from the States only took 3 days to land in the UK. I anxiously checked the given tracking details to see if my parcel was out for the delivery only to discover that it had been held up at customs. The package had attracted VAT but this was the only charge. Amateur radio gear is not liable for duty in UK as long as the package has been declared by the sender with the correct commodity code. Finally after paying the charge the package was delivered the following day, and what a great day that was.
Unpacking the transceiver from the distinctive black and white glossy Galaxy box revealed a very fine looking radio with the beautiful chrome fascia. The radio looked impressive on the website but in real life it seemed even better. The first pleasant surprise was that the freshest revision of the radio had been supplied and the channel change, frequency display and s-meter were fitted with blue LED’s and not red ones as pictured on the website. Blue is the most preferable colour and certainly the most in demand colour in the world of CB at the moment. Indeed, the announcement on the galaxyradios.com website states that Galaxy “has gone blue”. Magnum, Ranger, Connex and many other State side brands are converting all their new stock to Blue LEDs. They seem to give a higher intensity glow than the red and some say that they are overpowering but this particular radio is fitted with a dimmer switch so this can be activated if the blue beam is too bright for your preference.
First impressions on the build quality of this set are good. The controls on the front panel feel well made and none of the knobs are loose or wobbly (a common problem on quite a few newer generation radios). The channel change knob is particularly solid on the DX-93T and has a very positive movement, so top marks on that score. Whilst this radio uses up-to-date technology and design it has a slightly retro feel about some of its controls as it uses standard slide switches for a number of the functions such as the power, SWR meter and clarifier control. The volume, squelch, echo and clarifier controls use concentric knobs as found on many other CB transceivers but with a slight twist; three of the smaller inner knobs also have a “push button” action meaning that they are used to switch things on or off such as talkback, echo and not forgetting the noise blanker.
The Galaxy was supplied with an excellent power lead, very heavy duty and high quality cable used and both positive and negative inputs are fused using blade type automotive fuses so they should be easy to replace if necessary. So, we plugged it in!
One of the nicest features about the radio is the “Starlite” face panel. This is a great feature found on some of the higher end models of Galaxy and makes the entire face panel lettering glow blue and green in the dark. This really needs to be seen to be appreciated in a darkened room or whilst mobile in the car at night. It’s the same electroluminescent technique used on the Cobra 200-GTL DX that Cobra called “nightwatch”. As you’ll see from the photographs on this page the effect is very practical as well as attractive since there is nothing worse than trying to find controls in the total darkness of a car at night. It could also be considered a valuable safety feature.
Moving to the back of the radio there is a large heat sink similar in appearance to a lot of SSB radios but with a unique difference – two cooling fans. This is why the radio is dubbed the “Twin Turbine”. These two small fans do a very effective job of keeping the output stage cool even during longer overs at full power. When you think about this they need to be there since this particular galaxy uses a single output made up of a Toshiba 2SC2290 pushing something in the region of 50+ watts PEP at high power and possibly a bit more once your radio in tuned up. The particular radio that I am reviewing was peaked and tuned and the power into a dummy load measured about 65 watts PEP on SSB and around 45w AM and FM. Internally the DX93T has the same PCB as the popular Galaxy DX 2517 base station.
It’s important to note that if you are importing a Galaxy to use in Europe you choose a model that suits your needs, it sounds obvious but some of the Galaxy range do not have the FM mode available. Whilst FM is very popular in Europe and some other countries the dominant mode in the United States is still AM for general chat and SSB for long distance communications. The DX-93T has all modes available and a totally unlocked clarifier meaning that you can get onto the zero ending frequencies or any other strange shift that you choose, for example in the UK you can obtain the 1.25 KHz shift needed for the bizarre channel spacing used here. It’s also useful for DX chasing where stations are increasingly using odd ended shifts to try and avoid pileups on the frequencies. The DX-93T gives you all this plus more. Fortunately the designers gave the radio a 10 KHz shift too so the use of “Alpha” channels can be achieved.
Following on from the points above it’s worth mentioning that the radio has a fine and coarse clarifier circuit so you can be spot on frequency at all times. A number of options are available here thanks to the slide switch above the control. You choose to switch both clarifiers out of the circuit altogether or allow both the coarse and fine clarifier to slide on TX/RX or just simply the coarse clarifier on TX/RX (as in traditional radios). This is a clever and worthy inclusion in the design of this radio.
Moving along the signal meter on the Galaxy is excellent quality and one of the clearest meters I have seen in a CB/10m radio. It gives excellent high visibility markings and backlit in blue thanks to yet another LED. This is a traditional analog S meter and much better than those using LCD/LED techniques, it is commendable that Galaxy have stuck to using tried and tested analogue meters that mean so much more than digital ones do on lower end equipment. The meter is capable of measuring TX power, SWR and of course S units from received signals.
Directly under the S meter you’ll find a red LED with a large lens cover, this is a “retro” style modulation monitor light that has the option of being switched on or off. This works in all modes and illuminates as you talk into the microphone. The louder you talk the brighter the light and is more of a gimmick than an essential test item but is useful for trying to judge how loud your power mic is working or indeed how close you should hold the mic to your mouth. Needless to say that the S-Meter might be a better indicator of modulation but it looks pretty if nothing else.
One omission from the Galaxy is a roger beep, this is intentional in the design since a ham operator would generally never use a roger beep but I think this was more to do with finding room to put a switch on the front control panel since there is already a lot of functions taking up room there.
Power is set by a three stage switch with low, medium and high settings. I found that testing the radio into a dummy load gave 8w, 15w and 45w on AM and FM. The power settings on SSB were less distinct making it difficult to reduce the power substantially.
One of the beauties of this radio is that it contains a 6 digit frequency counter as well as channel display. With this arrangement you have the best of both worlds and so the radio is friendly to both DX’ers and local talkers. Channels are organised into 8 banks of 40 channels and the frequency coverage in export mode is 25.165-28.755 MHz.
The bright blue LED lighting is very effective and can be seen clearly at a substantial distance. The frequency counter on the radio also has the option of 5 or 6 digit display. When running FM or AM there is not a real need to show the last digit so it can be turned off for rounding up the display. This is achieved by using a small push button mounted just below the display window.
Below the channel display window there is a series of three green LED lights that can indicate the status of the noise blanker, 10 KHz shift and also the 40db pad (this is an attenuator since the radio is not provided with an RF gain control). Another interesting feature of the Galaxy is the SWR warning circuit. Should the SWR of your antenna system be greater than 3:1 then the three indicator lights will illuminate red and flash continuously to warn of potential problems. This is a great feature and cannot be ignored and could save your output stage should an antenna problem occur.
Other adjustable controls include the Echo chamber, this is a superb echo effect that is totally switchable and you can vary the intensity of the echo and the delay length. It’s very similar to the one found in the Magnum S9 and the quality of the effect is crisp and clear so it shouldn’t cause too much offence on AM and FM modes.
A microphone gain control is provided along with a talkback circuit for monitoring your own audio. This can be switched on or off by means of push button control in the same way that the echo can be switched in or out of the circuit.
So how did the radio perform on air? The radio arrived to me just before the famous DX super Sunday events across the UK organised by the users of the Citizen’s Band Radio Forum. Members of all different DX groups take to the hills to try and make long distance groundwave and DX contacts. This is a fun event and they happen usually on bank holiday weekends and whenever the mood strikes. It’s a perfect opportunity to test out some new gear so off to hills I headed.
Locally I have a few high spots that yield impressive take off ranges for the 11m band so I fixed the Galaxy up in the car and took my trusty Sirio Megawatt 4000 antenna with me and also an Antron 99 to fix on a tripod stand. The radio was powered from a l10Ah leisure battery and the current drawn on full power was approximately 10 amps. The band was pretty much quiet so I hoped conditions would improve. Luckily 26AT134 was on the air at the time I gave a call on the 555 USB. John told me that the galaxy audio was crisp and clear and gave it a super radio 5 so that was a good start. The receive quality was also very impressive and sounded great with a nice tone quality and very little background noise. We changed to another frequency for a short QSO and after I finished testing the radio I heard a station call me, this was a 30 division station in Spain who had heard our conversation and wanted to tell me that the radio was working fine. I was just using the standard handheld microphone and this is basically the same microphone that is supplied with the Ranger 2950 so it’s a bit cheap but does the job.
Later that afternoon I got into a long QSO with 26TM256, Dave (Tinman off the CBR forums). He was in the peak district and that’s quite a lot of miles away from me here in East Yorkshire (70+ miles). Great signal reports exchanged from Dave and the Galaxy was sounding well. Dave was running the Deltaforce and sounding equally good on my incoming audio on this incredibly hot sunny day.
As I was in some lengthly QSO’s I noticed that the twin turbine fans kicked in but I could hardly hear any noise coming from them and this to me is very important where fan cooling is used since some microphones can really pick up and amplify the sound of the fans whilst on the air, especially when running power or desk mics. I monitored the temperature of the heat sink, it did get quite warm but the good news is that the radio remained very stable on frequency. Bear in mind that it was a very hot day, we were in the middle of a heatwave in the UK (don’t laugh we do have them from time to time) and the outside air temperature was about 27c that afternoon. Inside my car it was much hotter than that. I’m just glad I brought some cold drinks with me otherwise we’d have been dehydrated. Even under these testing conditions the Galaxy performed faultlessly and held it’s own again the bigger signals on the band. The twin turbine fan arrangement is temperature controlled and the fans only kicked in as required so this gets the thumbs up from me as I wondered when I first got the radio if they would run continuously but they’ve implemented this in the correct way. Top marks!
Listening around the bands I did try all modes of operation including AM, FM and SSB. The FM mode audio on the transmit seemed a little bit on the quiet side with the standard mic but the following week I decided to hook up a brand new Astatic Road Devil power microphone and this made the audio from the transceiver even better and I would go as far as saying that there was also a large improvement in PEP output on SSB so a great radio made even better with the inclusion of an Astatic mic. To be fair this is usually the case with stock standard microphones straight out of the box; you can always do better and the microphones included are usually built to a low price as most people change them straight away. One omission from this type of radio is the up/down channel change facility. The wiring of the microphone is standard Uniden style of the four pin variety. This is the same configuration that has been used for over 30 years. No big deal if you use it at home but it would be a nice touch for in the car.
The Galaxy DX-93T is an excellent all round transceiver, it certainly looks impressive, the build quality is fine and it works straight out of the box. Perhaps this is one of the best looking radios with the unique “starlite” feature in the dark hours. The performance on air is as good as others we have tested and the sensitivity is also on a par with radios such as the Magnum S9. Bear in mind that our tests are not based on laboratory readings but actual on air tests talking to real people and asking for honest comments.
The only downside to the radio really is the size, it’s going to be difficult to mount in today’s compact cars and also the lack of up/down channel change facilities on the mic might be slightly off putting to people who do a lot of driving but that’s about all we can knock it for. Also the SSB power output could be more balanced on the low, medium and high settings, especially as this would be useful for a linear amplifier input.
Other things we liked include the Blue LED lighting and the echo chamber. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of echoes this one works really well and doesn’t distort the modulation. The Twin Turbine fan arrangement is a sensible choice at these high power levels and really seems to keep the radio stable in the hottest conditions.
Pricing is around $349 if you hunt around shops in the States but be prepared to pay VAT if you import one yourself and also put $30 on one side for a pre-sale tune up to make sure that it’s aligned perfectly for your needs. This radio has to go down in history as one of my new favourites.