Saturday, 22 February 2020

MY FIRST QSL CARD

IT'S BEEN A YEAR, BUT...

After a year as a licensed Amateur Radio operator, I received my very first postal QSL CARD today and I don't mind admitting, I'm well pleased! 😀

K3LR

Friday, 21 February 2020

TECSUN PL-680 QUICK REVIEW

COMPACT WONDER

I got this wonderful radio as a birthday gift a couple of years ago from my wife (after pestering her) and I've loved it ever since. It reminds me in some way of the FT-818 - it's not the best in the world, but you just bond with it. 

I liked how it looked from the get-go and I liked how it came as a complete kit with leather carry case, wire antenna, telescopic and even an earplug. The whole tidy package cost me £149 from Martin Lynch & Sons. The radio oozes quality and you'll never feel like you've bought something cheap. 


Apart from covering the ShortWave band, MediumWave and LongWave, the radio also receives FM VHF and even the AirBand (something that I often monitor in the background). Additionally it has SSB and automatically switches between USB & LSB.

The radio's sensitivity is extremely good for a radio at this price point and the only criticism I can aim at it is that it can, at certain frequencies, be TOO sensitive when connected to an outdoor antenna - it gets overloaded. But that brings me to the main feature of this radio - it works superbly on its telescopic antenna - even in an electrically noisy household.

 

Broadcast radio from stations on the other side of the world are pulled in easily and with very little fading. The AGC seems a little eager when you first tune into a signal, but it very quickly stablises.  The SSB functions really well and there's been many a time when I've comfortably listened to the HAM bands on the telescopic antenna, indoors. Outdoors with the supplied wire connected, it's amazingly good!



FM VHF is also good but not perfect as far as I'm concerned. The quality of the audio is just missing something, but I'm always quite critical when listening to FM. Airband on the other hand is spot on! The radio isn't too good on batteries, but then I've only used rechargeables - it's probably much better on quality Lithium AA's (4). 

The PL-680 has two very nifty stands - a small pull-out stand at the bottom to stop it being easily tipped over, and a larger one on the back which allows you to have the radio on a desktop at a 45 degree incline. Nice!

2000 Memories make it easy to store your frequencies allowing good spacing. The display is large enough to read easily and has a good signal meter. There's a built-in clock with two timers and a SLEEP function (which drives me potty because I keep inadvertently switching it on). There's also a nice LOCK feature to keep it from being accidentally activated in your rucksack.

So there you have it. A fabulous little radio for around the house or in your rucksack when you're out having a picnic. To finish off, I thought I show how it performs with its telescopic antenna against a £3000 radio connected to a 52ft G5RV dipole.

M7MCQ

I'm no video-editor, lol.




FEATURES

FM-stereo/MW/LW/SW/SW SSB/AIR band with high sensitivity,
selectivity and user-friendliness
FM band coverage: 76 – 108 MHz
Shortware Single Side Band (SSB) with upper sideband (USB)
and lower sideband (LSB)
Equipped with Synchronous Detector and Dual Conversion
technology for MW band; this greatly enhances the receiver’s
sensitivity, selectivity, image rejection, and interference from
adjacent stations
FM/SW external antenna jack sensitivity selector: DX/Normal/
Local antenna gain
Multiple tuning methods
Store up to 2000 stations (manually, semi-automatic and fully
automatic)
Equipped with a high-sensitivity acoustic speaker with treble/bass
tone control switch (FM-stereo via earphone)
Auto Alarm-Off Timer: when the alarm goes off, the preset radio
station will play for 1-90 minutes
Sleep timer (1-120 minutes) to turn off the radio automatically
User-friendly interface
Built-in charging function
Powered by 4 x AA (R6) size batteries, DC 6V
Luxury carrying case
Dimensions: 188 x 116 x 31 mm

OV1CDX

I only just realised that I never put a QSL Card on here from Frank, OV1CDX. That's because I never received one, lol. I first worked Frank in August 2019 when I was sat in my garden with the Yaesu FT-818 and tried connecting the little Elecraft AX-1 telecopic antenna to the BNC connector.

To my utter amazement, I got a contact straight away, deep into Denmark on just 2.5W and had a good chat with Frank. I didn't know at that time that Frank had become blind and didn't get involved with Eqsl but was willing to exchange paper QSL cards (which I didn't do at the time).

So anyway, I'm going to send one off in the post to Frank and thought I'd include his card here.


OV1CDX

Monday, 17 February 2020

SHACK PIC - IC-7610


I spent my weekend putting the shack back together, having removed the ELAD, replacing it with the ICOM. The shack was a mess on Saturday morning and to be honest, I wasn't really in the mood for it, but after a lengthy amount of procrastinating, I got off my backside and started the work.

First decision was what to put where! In the end, I decided that the IC-7100 was not going to be installed - I was going to leave it on the top-shelf disconnected so that I could just grab it and throw it in the truck for mobile/portable work. That decision made the shack-rebuild a little easier.

I had originally thought of installing it permanently in the truck but I just can't be bothered - after all, I don't do much radio work while travelling - in fact, I don't do much travelling at all unless I'm specifically travelling somewhere to play radio from the side of the truck.

Joining the 7100 on the "storage" shelf is the Yaesu FT-818 with its matching tuner. I love this little rig and will never, ever sell it - not even if I bought a 705. It's just an absolute gem!

In the background you can see the lovely TECSUN PL-680, another fine little toy. I like to take this with me if I can't play TX for whatever reason. It's a fabulous portable, with full HF coverage, (SSB), Broadcast and AirBand.

I then found a spot for the HandHelds and their chargers. Both of these run from HotSpots because there are no Repeaters nearby. The Kenwood D74 uses a DVAP Dongle and the Yaeasu FT3D uses an OpenSpot2. When I find time, I'm gonna run both radios from the OpenSpot (more than likely).

So, back to the main event - the 7610. Unlike the DX3000, there isn't a simple "RF OUT" to feed my SDRPLAY RSP1A.   I thought that I'd be able to connect to the RX OUT BNC connector, but using that results in the Main VFO going quiet. The only way around it is to connect a loop through to the RX IN BNC using a splitter like the MINI CIRCUITS ZSC -2-2+ which is quite expensive and not easy to get here in the UK.

So I decided to share the G5RV antenna between the RSP1A and IC-7610 using an MFJ-1708B which I already had in the shack. You can rely on the MFJ's "RF Sensing" or you can feed it a line from your radio's PTT Out. I chose the latter.

So that meant that I had to run coax cables from the G5RV Switch, to the MFJ-1708B, then to the MFJ-993B ATU, then to the NISSEI DG-503 Meter and finally to the IC-7610. What a pain!

With the horrible bit out of the way, I could focus on connecting the other cables to the 7610 and pushing the radio into its resting place on my worktop, directly beneath the bottom shelf. Perfect fit!! In front of it I placed a Logitech K400 Wireless Keyboard with TrackPad. This worked perfectly as soon as I pushed the little wireless dongle into the 7610. Excellent!

With everything connected, I fired up the radio, pressed the TUNE button and the MFJ-993B almost instantly provided a perfect match and an SWR of 1.1:1 on 20M. I tuned around and found OE17AAW, a special callsign for the 17th Antarctic Activity Week 2020. I made contact and enjoyed a very comfortable QSO with a 59 report each way.

Then I spoke with Fred in Austria (OE8NDR) and couldn't believe how good the signal was. Fred told me that I was a beautiful signal back to him and thankfully, I recorded it (below). What I didn't realise at the time, was that my Mic Gain (the physical adjuster underneath the SM-50) was WAY too high!

> VIDEO <


Unfortunately, Fred had some operating difficulties and went off-air, so I carried on and worked CT1BOL in Portugal (57/57) and DJ0AJ in Germany (59/59) on 40M before switching to 80M to have my first contact on that band with G0ORG in England (58/57).


So I was quite happy with that start, but I now needed to get the rig connected to the PC. I thought it was going well - I installed the Silicon Labs USB Drivers and installed RS-BA1 software (V2). The radio connected to the software no problem and all the 'virtual' knobs and dials activated the same on the rig.

BUT the audio and mic was still in the hands of the radio and NOT the computer. It's obviously some settings in the radio's menus, but I just ran out of time and didn't manage to fix it yet. I also need to get HDSDR working with the USB-3 cable.

Something for another weekend :-) 






.



Friday, 14 February 2020

NICE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

IT'S ALWAYS NICE WHEN.....

...someone reaches out to say hi. Apart from the on-air contacts one makes in HAM radio, it's always nice to receive an email now and again from someone across the globe to say that they've enjoyed reading my odd ramblings 😃😃😃


….started with reading about your cheat sheet (AZ silent key originated, God bless him) and have been reading your blog like crazy..
It’s now 10:30 at night here in Miami Florida and I have been reading your blog since 7pm LOL.  Thanks for all the info- especially about batteries, I don’t know enough but your blog has helped me out.  THANKS for all your work Tom its guys like you in this hobby that make it great!!!!!!!!!!!

73,  Todd    K9TWM

USB MICROPHONES???

I KNOW NOTHING!!!

Hey, let's start by me admitting that I'm a newbie and I know nothing! I'm just thinking out aloud here, nothing else.

My new-fangled SDR radio (IC-7610) has 4 USB sockets and you can do allsorts of things with them. So I'm sat here thinking - "why can't modern radios use USB sockets/plugs for their microphones"??

The reason I asked myself that question is that when you connect to your radio remotely using RS-BA1 software, you end up using your laptop's crummy built-in microphone which sounds pretty rubbish (yes, I know you could plug a computer headset in).

But wouldn't it be nice if you could plug that beautiful £200 SM-50 into one of the laptop's USB ports (or even the supplied fist-mic)?

Maybe there's a reason why it's not possible, I don't know. But it sounds like a good idea to me to adopt a common connector on all radios. It might mean adding a little interface-board inside the radios, but boy, it would be amazing to be able to swap microphones from radio to radio to PC, etc.



I'm probably talking rubbish :-D






Wednesday, 12 February 2020

IC-7300 vs IC-7610

"YOU COULD BUY THREE 7300's!!"

Hmm, I've not had the radio two minutes and I've already been told a few times that I could have bought three 7300's for the price of the 7610. Well yes, I could, but then all I'd have is three 7300's and where's the sense in that??

There is no denying that the 7610 is an expensive radio, but there's no point in comparing it with the fact that it's 3X the price of Icom's entry-level SDR transceiver. The 7300 is a Icom's entry-level SDR transceiver and as fabulous as it is, it's still entry-level. That's fine for many people - it does everything they want and more. I'm happy for them. I just wish they were happy for me too :-)

Some lucky people drive around in £75k Range Rover 4WD. Happy days - I'm pleased for them. I don't go around explaining to the owners that they could have had 3 KIA Sportage 4WD for the same money!

The fact is, the 7610 is a different radio to the 7300. For a start it has 2 INDEPENDENT RECEIVERS. It has 2 HF Antenna Ports, it has 4 BNC ports for RX-Out, RX-In, REF-In and TRANSVERTER. 

The 7610 screen is almost 2x the size, It has a DVI-D socket to feed an external monitor to expand the display. It has 2 ACC sockets, 2 USB sockets on the rear panel, 2 external speaker jacks, a socket for external meter and a socket for external keypad, plus a remote socket.

The 7610 also has 2 USB sockets on the front panel which can be used for a variety of things including memory-sticks, an RC-28 VFO, a mouse, a keyboard, etc. The USB-2 socket on the rear panel is split into 2 Virtual Com ports which is useful for RTTY (FSK) using just one cable.

Additionally, the 7610 has a built-in Timer function, Dual Clocks (Local & UTC) and Solid State T/R Switching.

Finally, the 7610 has a built-in Server and a LAN port which makes it perfect for remote control operation without the need to have an active PC connected to the radio!

The radio has a very "top drawer" feel to it and doesn't give you the impression that it was built to a price. It's a good size, without being overly large. The extra real-estate means that it can accommodate some useful physical buttons that the 7300 cannot - such as the BAND buttons and handy RECORD & PLAY buttons.

The 7300 and 7610 are both fabulous radios and considering that I'm relatively new to the hobby, it may appear that I've gone for the wrong radio, but I invested in the 7610 because I am new and because I'm constantly learning. I don't want to be restricted by a radio a year or two down the line.

Someone else suggested that I should have spent my money 'more wisely' and bought the 7300 and the matching 9700. Well if those two radios were the same price, that suggestion might have had some merit, but the 9700 is a staggering £1,800 and I'd rather put the big bucks into the HF side. I don't want to pay £1,800 to talk to "Johnny in Wigan". Anyway, I have my IC-7100 and DR-735 for VHF/UHF (not to mention an FT3 and D74).

So back to the 7610. I love it. It has absolutely everything I want and need. Hopefully, it will give me many years of service and entertainment. I can experiment with all the HF bands, all the different modes including Digital, run FT-8 on one receiver whilst running SSB on the other, etc, etc. With my limited capacity to erect antennas, I need the best possible receiver performance and the quietest floor level to help me to get the best performance from my dipoles and end-feds.

The remote operation (full licence required) is a really nice feature and I've already got the RC-28 plug-in VFO and the RS-BA1 software (V2). This adds a whole new element to operating.

This isn't a dig at 7300 Owners! This, I guess, is a dig at those people who see fit to criticise someone else for investing in a radio which they don't deem to be worth buying. Well hey, you aren't buying it, so don't worry about it, LOL.

I acknowledge that the 7300 is one of the most important radios to have ever been launched! It was (and remains) ground-breaking in terms of what it offers at its particular price point. It's so good that it has seriously impacted the Secondhand Radio Market - why would someone pay over-inflated prices for legacy radios when that price is so close to the cost a a used (or even new) 7300? They won't! As a result, the price of used radios is falling to more realistic levels and will continue to fall as people move to SDR technology.






Sunday, 9 February 2020

INTERMEDIATE LICENCE

GOING UP?

When I passed my Foundation exam, I was encouraged to go straight for the Intermediate and I do see the logic in that, but I wanted to stick with the M7 licence for a while and learn more about the hobby with a 10W restriction. I figured it would encourage me to become a better operator - and I believe it did.

With 10W I've had a lot of fun and managed to work many parts of the world one way or another. After a year though, I am now getting ready to learn more. And when I say learn, I do mean learn - I'm not going to study to 'fluke a pass' - I want to know, not to guess!

So with that in mind, I've got the RSGB Intermediate Licence study book and I'm going to get stuck into it. I'm in no rush and I have no plans to go on any Club Courses - just home-study. When I feel ready, I'll see the relevant people at my local club about sitting the exam.


Saturday, 8 February 2020

ICOM IC-7610

ICOM ALL THE WAY?

I used to think that I was a bit of a Yaesu fan-boy, but I recently became a bit of a turncoat! I'd fancied a Yaesu FT-DX101D since they first announced them and I was kinda sure that I'd one day I'd have one in the shack.


But then when it came down to it, I decided to pull back on the reigns and invest a bit of time in making a proper evaluation of the radio, comparing it as objectively as possible with the competition. I don't mean comparing all the "tech" stuff and the "laboratory" results - all radios at this level are pretty astonishing anyway - I'm talking about the everyday "living with a radio" stuff! I wanted to look at the features and the ergonomics as much as anything else.

So I spent a good few days looking at videos and written reviews of both machines and even some head-to-heads. I was pulled left and right, swinging from one radio to another - and then back again!

I KNOW, I KNOW I'd be better off spending the money on a super antenna system and keep the Elad, but I have no chance of doing that where I live, so I'm gonna go for the best (and most fun) receiver that I can afford and carry on experimenting with wire antennas. A local G4 (who's in a worse situation than me) is going to come over and help me make the most of my QTH.


Anyway, it soon became apparent that the 101's main competitor was the Icom IC-7610. I had also been looking at the Kenwood TS-890S, which is a superb bit of kit, but it only has one receiver and I really liked the idea of having two, so that pretty much ruled it out.

So it was 101 vs 7610.The Yaesu was the definite winner in the looks department, with its Superman bulk and bold styling. The VFO dial looks like it belongs on the front of a bank safe! There's also an attraction to the association with the classic old FT-101 boat anchor. But as much as I love the looks of the Yaesu, I had to put that to one side and focus on other things. Peer pressure too, was a factor. If all your mates love the 101, it often affects your decision-making.




But at this price level, I had to be sure that I was buying what I wanted and not what others thought was the best radio. Sure, I was eager to listen to people's opinions, but the final decision had to be mine.

The radios are virtually the same price, so that issue can be put to one side. The RX and TX qualities are virtually identical even though one is a full-blown SDR while the other (the 101) is a hybrid - a mix of superhet and SDR. Both have different approaches to noise reduction but both are equally wonderful at getting the job done.

I have an MFJ-993B ATU with interfaces which will work perfectly with either radio, so even that won't have any effect on my decision.

The way I finally decided on a radio was to focus on the things which stood out as Likes and Dislikes...


  • I hate the 101's chavvy 3D waterfall!
  • I dislike the 101's 2D waterfall.
  • I love the 101's overall appearance.
  • I love the 7610's contrasty screen.
  • I love the 7610's progressive tuning.
  • I like the 7610's meter options.
  • I like the 7610's screen layout options.
  • I like the 101's 3 antenna ports.
  • I love the 7610's built-in network server.
  • I love the 7610's external monitor option.
  • I love the 7610's  4 USB ports.
  • I love the 7610's RC capability.
  • I love the 7610's QSO recorder.
  • I like the 7610's compact dimensions.
So there you have it, despite the fabulous looks of the Yaesu, I knew I'd find it much easier to live with the Icom. When it came to buying, I was pleased to find a great deal at ML&S where they were selling the radio for £3,000 including a free £200 SM-50 base mic. Result!!






 




Look how the 7610 deals with adjacent signals. This video shows a CW signal, which is then overlaid with a stronger signal which is then moved to the side to see how far away it has to be from the original signal in order for the CW to be heard again. The comparison is between the 7600 and the 7610...


Wow!




--- * ---

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

WANT TO BE A HAM?

If you live in the Greater Manchester area and have always fancied being an Amateur Radio Operator, then watch this video and get in touch!

EXPAND TO FULL SCREEN

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

ICOM IC-7100 REVIEW

AN OWNERS POV


The ICOM IC-7100 was never really on my radar. I guess I just didn't really like the idea of that odd looking control unit. In the beginning I could only focus on BIG radios with a million knobs and buttons and weight and presence!

But after twiddling all those knobs and buttons I soon realised that my tiny shack was getting tinier and the big radios had to be placed at awkward angles on shelves which were at awkward heights. The 7100 soon became more appealing and so I looked further into it and found that it grew on me - so I got one. And I'm glad I did.

First of all, I like the fact that this radio is a "Shack In A Box" with HF, 6M, 4M, 2M & 70cm. It will also do DSTAR on all bands. I also like that it has good computer connectivity and not only can it be controlled directly through a PC, but it can also be controlled remotely through one!


The radio comes in two parts - the Base, which can be stored away somewhere on a shelf or under your desk, and the Head unit which can be placed conveniently closeby. The two are connected to each other by a single cable (CAT-5 I think). The Head unit has a built-in speaker and sockets for a morse keyer, microphone and headphones. The two parts cannot be connected together in case you were wondering.

The Head unit (control-unit) is neat and compact but it still has some weight to it which is nice and it certainly feels like a very high quality bit of kit. Pushing buttons on the unit does not cause it to move around on your desk - it pretty much stays where you put it. Underneath it has four anti-slip feet and the back ones can actually be extended out to make the unit even more stable. There's also a very handy "Tripod Mount" on the underside.



The VFO Tuning Knob is large and comfortable to operate with a nice level of detenting. This can be adjusted by use of a small lever to the side, so that the knob rotation can be tailored to suit your personal preference (either stiff and notched or free and spinning). It's very easy to live with and it's a shame that other radios don't have this - I would have certainly loved the feature on my super-sensitive FT-DX3000 VFO dial!

The screen is nice and crisp and clear. Illumination is good and it can be controlled for brightness and contrast. It is a shame, however, that it's not colour. Icom should have maybe included it as standard or (if they were trying to keep to a certain price-point in the marketplace), offered it as an option. The other downside is that there's no HDMI or DP output to go straight to an external monitor. Now that would have been nice! Having said all that, I am perfectly happy with the 7100's display and when I'm using the radio I never give it a second thought.



The IC-7100 is extremely easy to use - straight from the box, without even reading the manual. It's all very intuitive and the Touch-Screen really adds to it. To me, at least, everything is 'just right' and when I want to do something new, I always seem to find the relevant options quickly and easily. Icom have included some physical push-buttons on the head-unit, most of which make sense, but I must admit that if I had been on the design team, I'd have done something different with them. Still, that's just my opinion and there's probably others out there who think it's spot on.

The Touch-Screen makes the IC-7100 a dream to work with - it's like Point & Shoot! You want to change something? If you can see it on the screen, you can usually change it just by touching that part and an option window appears. At the bottom of the screen is a row of 5 context-sensitive, virtual buttons and these form part of the MENU system - there's actually 3 sets of them - you cycle through them by pressing the physical MENU button.


Once inside the Menu System, it's all very easy to choose your options and then get back to listening to radio. I have hardly ever reached for the Manual and even less so, the advanced manual! And I don't even think it's because I've had other Icoms (I've only had the IC-7400) - it's because the Icom system is just so good!

So how does the radio perform? Well I guess it's all releative to what you've had before and in my case, I've had some pretty fine rigs - Elecraft KX3, Flex 3000, Yaesu DX3000 and currently, an ELAD FDM DUO. So I'll be (unfairly) comparing the IC-7100 to those.

One has to accept right at the beginning that a 'Shack In A Box' is never going to be as sensitive as a KX3 or DX3000, but in every day life, there is very little difference. Sure, the tiniest, most faded signals can better be pulled out of the distance with the premium HF radios, but the IC-7100 is no slouch!! It has really surprised me when making direct comparisons with my other radios. Flicking the antenna switch from one to the other has often resulted in me trying my best to find an advantage that the "superior" radios have over the little Icom.


7100 v 7300
Weak Signal

So yes, there is a difference, but it's of no real significance to rag-chewers and everyday users. DXers will want lower floor noise, more sensitivity and better filters, but they'll have to pay a chunk more money for that and they won't have VHF, UHF and DSTAR. Everything in life is a compromise and so too is the IC-7100.

The  32-bit floating point DSP supports many digital processing features such as digital IF filter, twin PBT and manual notch filters. Of course, these high-grade digital processing features work on all ham bands, from HF to the 70cm band. The Noise Reduction on this radio is superb in IMHO and works wonders in pulling weak signals from noisy SSB bands. I was quite surprised by how good it was. The PBT is another fantastic tool in getting rid of unwanted noise. It works by electronically modifying the IF PassBand width to reject interference and although it took me a while to get the best out of these tools, it was well worth the effort and practise. Up to now, I haven't honestly used the Notch Filters so it would be unfair to comment on them.

On the desk, you soon start to appreciate how very convenient it is to have a compact radio that can be placed virtually anywhere. I tend to have mine sitting just underneath my computer monitor where it's out of the way but still easily within reach and very visible. The 45 degree angle on the screen seems to be perfect wherever you position the radio and there's no darkening of the screen when viewed from the sides. With your wrist on the desk, the VFO dial falls naturally to hand and playing radio is just a pleasant experience.

Most radios have a meter which allow you to cycle through a range of displays such as SWR, POWER, ALC, Etc. But the IC-7100 does one better than that - it will show you ALL of them at once including temperature, current and voltage. Nice!



The speaker within the control-unit is perfectly adequate for listening to VHF or UHF frequencies in FM mode where the signals are generally clean and bright once they've broken through your squelch, but if you are trying to dig something out of the dirt on HF you'll probably want to plug in an external speaker to the base unit (or the control-unit). Alternatively of course, you can plug in a headset or headphones.


My radio came with a HM-151 DTMF Microphone which has some remote-control capabilities including band and frequency changing. The older IC-7100's came with a HM-198 which many people complained about. My ELAD FDM DUO came with a mic which looks identical to the 161 and so I did a recording of my transmissions using the ELAD software and compared the 151 to the 198. The HM-151 was the clear winner!! I have also seen a video on YouTube where a guy spends hours recording transmission and making comparisons between his HM151 and a host of other mics including expensive HEIL headsets - and the HM-151 beat them all!


DSTAR : I use this digital mode frequently on my Kenwood TH-D74 handheld. I find it far more user-friendly and trouble-free than Yaesu's System ConFusion! Because I cannot reach a DSTAR repeater from where I live with the handheld, I use a DVAP DONGLE, but I thought the IC-7100 with a full 10W and connection to a Diamond D300 might manage it - but it doesn't.

Setting up DSTAR was a total pain in the ass on the Kenwood (not helped by the fact that no one at the local radio club had a clue and no one on the online forums seemed to know anything about setting up a D74) but eventually I got my head around it. I was hoping that the IC-7100 might be different but it's not. You basically have to setup memories not only for the Gateways/Reflectors but also to make an initial Connection and then you switch to another memory channel to CQCQCQ (or that's my understanding of it LOL). I've just ordered RT Systems programming software and I'm hoping that it will make the whole process of setting up DSTAR far easier - I'll update this section later.

Another great feature of the IC-7100 is the SD CARD that sits in the front of the base-unit. It can be used to store all the radio's memories and also to record QSO's or even store pre-recorded voice messages which can be transmitted at the push of a button. It's simple to make a backup copy of the card and even share it at the Radio Club with fellow 7100 owners. Speaking of the Base-Unit, there's another small, but sensible feature - the fan is at the front of the case instead of at the back where it's normally stuffed up against a wall with restricted airflow.

The connections on the rear panel are well spaced and easy to identify. The unit works well with a range of ATUs and a simple interface guarantees a fully integrated operation.  I use an MFJ-993B in the shack with the IC-7100 and an LDG Z100 when working portable.


Playing with FT8 and other such digital modes is a breeze with the IC-7100 because the soundcard is built-in and everything goes through a single USB port (my ELAD uses three). Control software like HAM RADIO DELUXE or WIN4ICOM works well with the radio and one of the unique features is the ability to use the IC-7100 remotely using Icom's own RS-BA1 software.


WIN4ICOMSUITE

HAM RADIO DELUXE

ICOM RS-BA1  V2

I have a small shack in the corner of a shared 'Hobby Room' and my desk is filled with Flight Simulation paraphinalea, MFD's, keyboard, mouse, etc. The unit fits in any gap remaining and I can quickly and easily remove it for portable operation.

Using a shielded CAT-6 cable which came with my BT Router, I sometimes just take the head unit into the adjacent lounge and sit comfortably on the couch playing radio. Absolutely brilliant! If I could be bothered to have a cable routed around the outside of my bungalow to the conservatory, I could do the same there. Or with a full licence I could just connect from anywhere using IP software (RS-BA1).

Before I finish, I'd like to discuss a couple more features, one of which is good to have and that's the SWR SWEEP. It's great for evaluating a new antenna quickly. You can set the radio to sweep a band or a portion of it and see on a graph where the SWR is low or high. Almost like having an antenna analyser.


CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO

The final feature is err.. not so great. It's the built-in scope. It's non-active like the FT-991pre-A and pretty useless. Personally, I act like it doesn't exist and instead I use an SDRPLAY RSP1A to provide a large and accurate scope and waterfall. The RSP1A shares the same antenna as the IC-7100 but is protected from the 7100's transmissions by an MFJ-1708B. The 1708B detects the 7100's TX and puts the RSP1A to ground until the transmission is over. Very handy devices and incredibly good value for money.




So overall, I'm really pleased with the radio and I'm very glad I bought it. It fits in well with everything I do. For "serious" HF DXing I can always switch over to the wonderous ELAD FDM DUO, but the fact is, the Icom IC-7100 does 90% of what the Elad does, plus it has VHF & UHF. It can operate remotely, it receives the AirBand (an area of interest to me) and the Scan speed of the memories is nice and fast.

M7MCQ
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SPECIFICATIONS
Receiver:
0.030–199.999MHz*2
400.000–470.000MHz*2

Transmit
1.810–1.999MHz
3.500–3.800MHz
7.000–7.200MHz
10.100–10.150MHz
14.000–14.350MHz
18.068–18.168MHz
21.000–21.450MHz
24.890–24.990MHz
28.000–29.700MHz
50.000–52.000MHz
70.000–70.500MHz
144.000–146.000MHz
430.000–440.000MHz
ModeUSB, LSB, CW, RTTY, AM, DV, FM,
WFM(Rx only)
No of memory channels495 regular, 4 call, 6 scan edges,
900 D-STAR repeater channels
Antenna connectorSO-239×2
(one each for HF/50/70MHz and 144/430MHz, 50Ω)
Operating Temp. range−10°C to +60°C
Frequency stability±0.5ppm
(0°C to +50°C @ 430MHz)
Power supply requirement13.8V DC ±15%
Current drain
(at 13.8V DC)
Tx:
22A (HF/50/70MHz)
16A (144/430MHz)

RX:
1.2A/0.9A (Max. audio/standby)
Dimensions
(W×H×D,
projections not included)
Main unit
167×58×225 mm

Controller
165×64×78.5 mm
Weight
(approx.)
Main unit
2.3 kg

Controller
0.5 kg
*1Showing EUR(#03) version. Varies according to version.
*2Some frequency bands are not guaranteed.

Transmitter

Output power
(at 13.8V DC)
SSB/CW/RTTY/FM/DV:
HF/50MHz: 2–100W
70MHz: 2–50W
144MHz: 2–50W
430MHz: 2–35W

AM:
HF/50MHz: 1–30W
70MHz: 1–15W
Modulation systemSSB:
Digital P.S.N. modulation

AM:
Digital low power modulation

FM:
Digital phase modulation

DV:
GMSK digital phase modulation
Spurious emissionsLess than −50dB (HF bands)
Less than −63dB (50MHz)
Less than −60dB (70/144/430MHz)
Carrier suppressionMore than 50dB
Unwanted sidebandMore than 50dB

Receiver

Intermediate frequenciesSSB/CW/AM/FM/RTTY/DV:
124.487MHz, 455kHz, 36kHz

WFM:
134.732MHz, 10.700MHz
Sensitivity(HF: Preamp-1 ON, 50/70MHz: Preamp-2 ON,
144/430MHz: Preamp ON)

SSB/CW (BW=2.4kHz at 10dB S/N):
1.8–29.995MHz: 0.15μV
50MHz: 0.12μV
70MHz: 0.15μV
144/430MHz: 0.11μV

AM (BW=6kHz at 10dB S/N):
0.5–1.8MHz: 13μV
1.8–29.995MHz: 2μV
50MHz: 1μV
70MHz: 1μV
144/430MHz: 1μV

FM (BW=15kHz at 12dB SINAD):
28–29.7MHz: 0.5μV
50–54MHz: 0.25μV
70MHz: 0.25μV
144/430/440MHz: 0.18μV

DV (at 1% BER):
28–29.7MHz: 1μV
50MHz: 0.63μV
70MHz: 0.63μV
144/430MHz: 0.35μV

WFM (at 12dB SINAD):
76–108MHz: 10μV
Sensitivity for RED (Less than)
Preamp ON
SSB, AM, FM: at 12 dB SINAD
SSB (2.4 kHz):
1.8–2.999 MHz 10 dBμV emf
3.0–29.995 MHz 0 dBμV emf
50/70 MHz band –6 dBμV emf
144/430 MHz band –6 dBμV emf

AM (4 kHz, 60% modulation):
1.8–2.999 MHz 16 dBμV emf
3.0–29.995 MHz 6 dBμV emf
50/70 MHz band 0 dBμV emf
144/430 MHz band 0 dBμV emf

FM (7 kHz, 60% modulation):
28–29.700 MHz 0 dBμV emf
50/70 MHz band –6 dBμV emf
144/430 MHz band –6 dBμV emf
SelectivitySSB (BW=2.4kHz, sharp):
More than 2.4kHz / −6dB
Less than 3.4kHz / −40dB

CW (BW=500Hz, sharp):
More than 500Hz / −6dB
Less than 700Hz / −40dB

RTTY (BW=500Hz):
More than 500Hz / −6dB
Less than 800Hz / −40dB

AM (BW=6kHz):
More than 6.0kHz / −6dB
Less than 10kHz / −40dB

FM (BW=15kHz):
More than 12kHz / −6dB
Less than 22kHz / −40dB

DV (12.5kHz spacing):
More than −50dB
Spurious and image rejection ratioMore than 70dB (HF/50/70MHz)
More than 65dB (144/430MHz)
(except 1/2 IF through on 50/70MHz,
IF through on 144MHz)
Audio output powerMore than 2.0W
(10% distortion, 8Ω load, 13.8V DC)