Tag Archives: Icom

Could the Icom IC-705 be a shortwave listener’s Holy Grail receiver?

I just published an announcement about the new Icom IC-705 portable transceiver, but omitted an important question for SWLing Post readers:

How well could the IC-705 serve shortwave listeners and DXers?

Keeping in mind that the IC-705 is not yet in production, we can only go by the features and few specifications Icom has revealed so far.

Since the IC-705 is a general coverage receiver with a frequency range from 0.5 to 148 MHz, it covers all of the shortwave bands and more.

We also know the IC-705 is based on the same direct-sampling architecture as the excellent IC-7300 (click here for our review), thus I expect the IC-705 will sport a capable receiver.

Icom’s other direct-sampling radios have excellent sensitivity and selectivity, so I assume the IC-705 could as well.  I would also hope that, like the IC-7300, the AM bandwidth could be widened for full-fidelity AM audio–this has been one of the few criticisms I’ve had using the Elecraft KX3 and KX2 for shortwave listening.

The IC-705 sports other features that could make it an outstanding package for for DXers:

  • It has built-in audio recording to a MicroSD card. (Woo hoo!)
  • It has a useful, full-color, configurable spectrum and waterfall display
  • It uses the same BP-272 Li-ion Battery pack as the ID-51 and ID-31 series handy talkies. In receive-only, I would expect long battery-powered listening sessions. Of course, you can also plug in an external 13.8 V battery to increase off-grid listening time.
  • It’s incredibly portable and lightweight

In short, the IC-705 has all of the makings of a fully self-contained shortwave listening station–a grab-and-go DXpedition-grade rig. The IC-705 even has an (optional) custom Icom backpack!

The Icom LC-192 backpack (Source: Universal Radio)

Let’s just hope the IC-705 performs as well as its larger siblings and that its price is competitive.

Again, I plan to review the IC-705 once it’s released and in production. Both pricing and shipping are yet to be announced. Follow the tag IC-705 for updates.

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The new Icom IC-705 QRP portable, backpackable transceiver

This weekend at Tokyo’s Ham Fair 2019, Icom announced an innovative transceiver to their line-up: the Icom IC-705 QRP transceiver.

The IC-705 introduces several industry firsts for a backpack portable radio:

  • It uses the same BP-272 Li-ion Battery pack as the ID-51 and ID-31 series D-Star handy talkies. To my knowledge, this is the only HF transceiver that uses battery packs that can be swapped so easily in the field–like one would swap an HT battery pack
  • It has a general coverage receiver that spans a whopping 0.5 to 148 MHz
  • It sports a full color, touch screen with spectrum and waterfall displays
  • It includes the D-Star digital voice mode
  • A GPS receiver
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • A MicroSD card slot for memory storage, screen captures and recordings

All of this appears to be included, not add-on options.

The only IC-705 omission, in my opinion, is an internal ATU (antenna tuner). Something I would have expected, but not a deal-breaker for those of us who could really benefit from the amount of features this radio offers.

Side and back panel view noting ports and connections.

There is no word yet on pricing or availability, but you can count on us to post these details once they’re available. If you would like to follow updates, bookmark the tag: IC-705

We will also review on the Icom IC-705 as soon as it’s available.

Video from Amateur Logic/Ham College

Ray Novak (N9JA) with Icom America did a live video interview with Amateur Logic/Ham College TV yesterday. The video includes a full announcement in English from the Icom Booth:

Click here to view on YouTube.

IC-705 Pre-Release brochure

Many thanks to Ray Novak for snapping a few photos of the pre-release brochure:

Update: click here to download the full IC-705 brochure. Hat tip to Dave Zantow!

A surprise from one of the “Big Three”

The “Big Three” transceiver manufactures–Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood–have not shown a lot of interest in backpackable QRP radios over the past two decades.

By “backpackable” I mean QRP transceivers specifically designed for portable use in the field–radios that typically have built-in battery options, internal ATUs, and designed to be lightweight shack-in-a-box units.

Yaesu introduced the FT-817 almost twenty years ago and it lives on today (with modest upgrades) as the FT-818. Kenwood has no portable/backpackable HF QRP radio at this point.

I bet the IC-705 is being introduced today because Icom sees a strong market among field-portable operators who enjoy travel and outdoor radio activities like SOTA (Summits On The Air) and POTA (Parks On The Air).  In addition, many ham radio operators live in neighborhoods that are either plagued with radio interference (RFI) or don’t allow antennas to be installed outdoors. Portable radios liberate ham radio ops from their shacks and allow them to set up a station far away from noise or home owner’s associations.

Looking forward…

Again, I’ll be in touch with Icom about the IC-705 and will share updates here when they’re available. I’m looking forward to evaluation this rig when it hits the market!


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Dave’s review of the Icom IC-R75 HF receiver

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

My Icom IC-R75 review now posted. Being on the market for over 15 years of course they are available on the used market without too much trouble. Yes : Kiwa Electronics (Craig) are still doing the audio modifications.

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/icr75.html

Thanks for sharing, Dave! The R-75 enjoyed a longer market life than most other tabletop receivers of the past. As you state, there are deals to be found on the used market!

Click here to search eBay and also check QTH.com’s classifieds.

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Black Friday Radio Deals: Icom IC-7300 $959.95 after rebate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, James (W4AMP), who notes that the excellent Icom IC-7300 general coverage transceiver (click here to read our review) is currently $959.95 after coupons and rebates at GigaParts, DX Engineering and Ham Radio Outlet. 

DX Engineering

Click here to view at DX Engineering.

Ham Radio Outlet

Click here to view at Ham Radio Outlet.

GigaParts

Click here to view at GigaParts.

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The Icom IC-7200 has been discontinued (yet again)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dave Zantow (N9EWO) and Larry W who both note that the IC-7200 has been discontinued once again by Icom. Universal Radio has even listed it as discontinued on their website and doesn’t appear to have any in new inventory.

You might recall that Icom discontinued the IC-7200 in early 2016 and re-introduced it exactly one year later in 2017.

I consider the IC-7200 to be one of the best general coverage transceivers for broadcast listening under $1,000 US. Used IC-7200s can be found for excellent prices–I’ve seen many at hamfests for $650 (like new) and much less.

Spotted at a local hamfest earlier this year: The IC-7200

It appears that GigaParts and Ham Radio Outlet still have the ‘7200 in stock and shipping for $749.95 US after rebates. Of course, you can also find them on eBay.

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Dave reviews the Icom IC-R30 Handheld Wide Band Receiver

The new Icom IC-R30 handheld wideband receiver at the 2018 Hamvention.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that he has published his comprehensive review of the Icom IC-R30 handheld wideband receiver.

Click here to check out Dave’s review.

Based on Dave’s evaluation, it sounds like this is one of the better wideband radios, although like similar models, its utility in the HF and mediumwave bands is somewhat limited. He gives the R30 good marks for AGC and notes a lack of spurious emissions on MW. Unlike other wideband handhelds, he noted no mediumwave stations overloading the HF bands. With the unit connected to an external HF antenna however, intense overloading occurred on these bands.

As I tell anyone considering a wideband handheld, don’t buy it with the intention of logging weak signal DX on the HF bands–it’s just not a great receiver for this. It shines on those higher frequencies starting in the VHF band and moving up.

Thanks for sharing your review, Dave!

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Guest Post: Mark’s Micro Go-Box for the ICOM IC-7100

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who shares the following guest post:


Micro Go-Box for the ICOM IC-7100

by Mark Hirst

You’ll be familiar I’m sure with the IC-7100 base unit and separate head unit design. It lends itself very nicely for vehicle installation.

Using it in any ‘portable’ situation however has always presented something of a challenge. A FT-857 or FT-891 can be carried as a single physical package with the head unit integrated into the body. The radios can sit and potentially operate on their tail in a backpack, with products like the Escort from Portable Zero making that process even easier.

I’ve had a few attempts at solving this portability conundrum, driven by a concern that there could be long term problems continually connecting and disconnecting the component parts for transport and operation, but knowing that a permanently assembled IC-7100 will always be an awkward dispersed structure.

My first solution was a Stanley 16 inch toolbox, which is fortuitously sized to accommodate the base unit and provides enough space to loop the original connecting cable and head unit. The box is not a bad fit, but certainly bulkier than necessary and leaves enough room for things to rattle around. When tilted vertically, the head unit can start moving.

Fast forward to this week when I discovered that the IC-7100 base unit will also fit inside a 5 litre XL storage box made by Really Useful Boxes:

http://www.reallyusefulproducts.co.uk/usa/
http://www.reallyusefulproducts.co.uk/uk/

The XL version of the 5 litre box has a taller lid, and as you can see from the accompanying photos, accommodates the base unit with the head unit sitting on top of it in a ready to use configuration. The tolerances for height are also exact, the VFO knob very lightly touches the lid, so don’t put something heavy on the box:

Once the lid has been removed, the radio can operate directly from the container:

To make the whole thing fit, I used a 25cm CAT 6 cable in place of the original connection cable and a significantly shortened power lead. As luck would have it, I created the shortened power lead a while ago because I often put the battery right next to the radio.

You can see that I removed a section between the power plug and the fuses, and now use the removed length as an extension should the battery be further away. Although it wasn’t my intention at the time, the main part is about 2 feet long, the secondary about 8 inches.

For transport, the power cable is coiled behind the head unit, ensuring the fuse holders sit in the void immediately behind it, while the microphone cable is coiled on top leaving the microphone resting inside its own coil. You can see the arrangement below:

In the next photo, you can see how the cabling emerges from the back of the base unit:

There’s just enough space for the power cable to leave the base and bend around without undue pressure, and likewise for the CAT 6 cable to curve round into the back of the head unit. Two angle connectors make the antenna ports accessible from above, while a short USB external drive cable provides access to the USB port for data modes and CAT control. A longer USB extension cable is attached to this short cable only when required, and the extension uses much more substantial ferrite chokes to mitigate noise from the computer.

To complete the transport package, I’ve cut out a kaizen style foam insert to make sure the base unit can’t move back into the cabling space, and another to make sure the head unit doesn’t slide towards the front.

The last problem of course is cooling. The fan is located in the front of the base unit, with slots along the sides and top to allow air flow. The box unfortunately is exactly the right size for the base, leaving no gaps for air to circulate. In the absence of a proper workshop or professional tools, I opted to use a hole cutter designed for putting pipes through wood panels. It turns out that plastic has a tendency to deform rather than cut under the blades due to friction heating. A sharp knife was essential in dealing with the effects of that deformation to produce the final smooth edges around the holes:

While I’m happy with the port exposing the front fan, the two holes on each side do not completely expose the side slots. Do I drill out the space between them knowing how tricky and flexible the plastic can be, and would a larger hole compromise the strength of the box? For now, I’m going to keep a careful eye for any temperature issues.

The current arrangement is to carry the box horizontally in a cheap travel bag:

Could the box be tilted vertically with the base unit nose down and carried in a back pack for longer excursions? Yes, but experience has told me that the lid latches on Really Useful Boxes have a tendency to pop open when you do that, so a luggage strap around the box may be required to prevent its very expensive cargo from spilling out. I’m also mindful that the box lid gently touches the VFO knob, so might put load on it in the vertical position.

The final result is something of a Swiss watch, and there isn’t much room for error. Things have to be arranged ‘just so’ to fit, but it does mean I can pack and pick the whole thing up in a handy container. The radio only needs a battery and antenna to be connected on site and then it’s ready to go.

There’s something oddly satisfying when unrelated objects come together like this. Who knew that this box was just the right size to fit the radio?

So, what do you think?


Thank you for sharing this project, Mark!

I love your Micro Go-Box: it’s practical, affordable and makes an otherwise awkward field radio easy to deploy and use. Looking at your photos, I realize that the IC-7100 does have one strong suit for field use. The IC-7100 front panel is tilted at a very comfortable 45 degree angle for use. 

Post Readers: What do you think?  Any other IC-7100 owners out there who take their rig to the field? Please comment!

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