Category Archives: Scanners

A photo tour of the 2017 Shelby Hamfest

My Labor Day weekend was free of travel again this year, so I was able to make another pilgrimage to the Shelby (North Carolina) hamfest with my good buddy, Vlado (N3CZ).

The Shelby Hamfest–referred to, locally, as “The Grand-Daddy of them All”–has long been regarded as one of the largest hamfests in the southeast US. This is the third year I’ve made a concerted effort to publish a photo tour of the event.

I sold both my Hammarlund SP-600 and Hallicrafters SX-99.

Like last year, we set up a table in the flea market to sell a few items along with other good friends from the NCDXCC. In other words, once again, I was in selling mode, not buying mode, as I need to downsize some of my collection and use the money to offset costs of review radios, and some of the conferences I’m attending this year (including the Radio Preservation Task Force Meeting in Washington DC on behalf of our Shortwave Radio Audio Archive).

Overall turnout was a little less than last year, I believe. No doubt, this was due to the possibility of rain that never materialized. By lunch time the sun was out and the foot traffic increased.

Shelby Photo Gallery

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or comment on the photos:

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Dave reviews the Icom IC-R8600

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO) who writes:

Just FYI. My Icom IC-R8600 “Wide Band” Receiver Review is now available. Mind you this is subject to more updates than usual at least for awhile. For any questions, yes please send them along.

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/icr8600.html

“The excellent ICOM IC-R8600 “Wide Band” SDR communications receiver. Direct Sampling SDR below 30 Mhz. Hybrid Superhet / SDR above 30 Mhz. It is NOT just a IC-7300 “receiver” section with VHF / UHF Coverage added on (however overall HF receiver performance is similar). In our view the best receiver Icom has produced to date (“Wide Band” or not). One MUST remember this is NOT a “scanner” type receiver, so no Trunking etc. Audio quality while very good, we detected some minor harshness and or spurious gremlins that we could not put a handle on in the AM / FM and WFM modes (with all 3 test speakers, Firmware 1.10, see text) ?? This was not an issue at all with the IC-7300 Transceiver cousin, but it has much less dynamic (flat) audio in comparison.”

Many thanks, Dave! Post readers, please bookmark Dave’s IC-R8600 page for all updates.

Icom IC-R8600 pricing and availability

The new Icom IC-8600 at the 2017 Hamvention

At the 2017 Hamvention, I spent a little time checking out Icom’s latest wideband communications receiver: the IC-R8600. Check out the photos above and below.

The IC-8600 Back Panel

I spoke with Icom North America at Hamvention–the representative told me the MSRP of the IC-R8600 would be about $2,999 US, but that retail pricing would be lower.

Universal Radio now has the IC-R8600 in stock with a retail price of $2599 US. HRO has the IC-R8600 in stock as well and selling for the same price.

No doubt, at this price point, the ‘8600 is not ideally placed to compete with other receivers and SDRs. I do, however, believe this product will do well with government sales. No doubt, it should deliver benchmark performance (at least one would expect benchmark). Icom has offered to send me an IC-R8600 on loan for a review–it is tempting to see how it might stack up against some of my SDR arsenal.

I’m very curious Post readers: assuming benchmark performance, how many of you would purchase the IC-R8600 at $2,599 US? Please comment!

2017 Hamvention photos: Saturday Flea Market

While looking through photos I had backed up on my laptop, I discovered a set I took at the Hamvention Flea Market on Saturday morning (May 20, 2017). I’ve gotten tremendous positive feedback from the photos I posted of Hamvention Setup, the Friday Flea Market and Inside Exhibits, so I thought I’d post these as well.

Below, you’ll find 84 additional flea market photos. Click on the thumbnail to expand each photo. I’ve tried to include price tags when possible. I’m sure some of these items are also featured in my Friday flea market photo album. Enjoy:

The versatile Kenwood TH-F6A

In reply to my recent post about the Yaesu VX-3R, SWLing Post reader Tha Dood comments:

[The Yaesu VX-3R] is a neat little HT, but the Kenwood TH-F6A is way more versatile.

How? Full 5W on 2m, 222MHz, and 440MHz, and will RX 150KHz to 1.3GHz in AM, FM, FM wide, NBFM, USB, LSB, and CW. All that in a size of a pack of cigs. Yes, it will overload easily, but something that wide banded and this small, I kind of expected that.

However, want to hear what your wireless FM innercom sounds like on 175KHz? You can do that. Want to hear what your 222.1MHz transverter sounds like on SSB? You can do that. Need to tune-in to local AM / FM radio when power goes out? You can do that. Want to listen to CB CH19 truckers gripe about traffic conditions? You can do that. Want to listen to aircraft traffic at an air show? You can do that. You want to monitor 6M 50.125MHz USB to hear when that band opens? You can do that.

No, it doesn’t have D-Star, DMR, Fusion, or even SW’s DRM, but analog-wise this HT is so versatile, what else is out there like it?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the TH-F6A!

A couple more things I like about the TH-F6A:

  • it meets MIL-STD 810 C/D/E standards for resistance to vibration, shock, humidity and light rain
  • It has a dedicated number keypad for direct frequency entry (something, sadly, the VX-3R lacks)

I’ll put the TH-F6A on my “wish list” this year and perhaps give it a thorough review. (Perhaps Santa Claus is listening!?)

Here’s a snapshot of TH-F6 pricing at time of posting: