I was reading reviews and postings around the internet of the IC-7000, and I was quite disappointed. Since this radio came out when I finished college and started graduate school, I had been salivating over one for a while. Now that I'll soon have one of those jobs where you get money in exchange for long hours in the office, I wanted to get one really bad.
The IC-7000 looks really impressive on paper. Its sexy, it does 70 cm down to 160 m. It has IF DSP like the IC-756 Pro. But:
1. The DTMF mic can't send DTMF tones, really?
2. The jacks on the back are not stress protected, so any bump to the cable puts the full load on the SMD PCB, seriously?
3. Many, many people report a blown driver stage occurring.
4. The display is hard to read in sunlight since its not a reflective LCD like in the Kenwood TS-480, etc.
5. The tuner jack a shares a pin with the temperature sensor, seriously?
6. The mic jack doesnt have an audio output in the pin, making headsets cumbersome to use?
7. Power output sags considerably when used from a battery. Most car batteries don't put out anything close to 13.8 volts, especially pushing 20 amps.
8. IMD and dynamic range performance was reviewed to be pretty poor by QST.
9. Radio is very sensitive to RFI due to unshielded design for remote mounting cable.
10. There is no automatic power off feature, leading to dead car batteries
11. Complex menu system that makes mobile operation tedious
12. Overheating problems since fan doesn't spin unless you key down
13. eHam rating (4.4/5.0) is pretty poor for a radio that is supposed to have such advanced features and coverage
14. Poor stock mic TX audio unless professionally modded
These are the issues I have gathered.
What gives? I really wanted this rig, but will be going with a TS-480HX instead. Is the IC-7000 really this bad? Some people even talk of a recall being necessary.
Last edited by KC6F; 09-11-2011 at 05:09 AM.
You got it right. Stay away from it. It looks a magnitude better on paper than operating it in the real world, especially in a mobile, portable situation.
I got rid of mine after 2 months. The FT857 is better, as far as the overall package is concerned.
As an IC7000 owner, I can offer a couple of comments:
1. As is true with so many things in life, everything is a compromise. The IC7000 is a shack in a small box, and so some compromises are necessary.
2. No, you can't send random DTMF tones. You can preset four DTMF sequences. With cellphones significantly reducing the usefulness for autopatch, and IRLP/Echolink seemingly abused more than used....this might not be as big a limitation as you might expect (especially if you're looking at a 480 instead -- is there even a need for DTMF if you don't have 2m or 440?)
3. It does run hot, but it allegedly is designed for that heat. I wouldn't install it anyplace where airflow is constricted, and I frequently keep a fan on it. I also would look to a different rig if you were planning to be key-down for extended periods, or if you are long-winded in your QSO's.
4. Regarding headsets -- it's more cumbersome in that you need to need to plug a headset into both a mic and a speaker jack. I personally haven't found that to be much of a bother.
5. Yes, if you're planning to run off a battery, the 7000 is probably not the best rig for you. This wasn't a concern for me.
6. Menus are cumbersome, but they are a necessary evil in any rig this size. The alternative would be umpteen bazillion buttons and knobs which would have to be incredibly tiny to fit something this small. I use my 7000 at home, but I predominantly control it through Ham Radio Deluxe. If I were operating mobile....well, I question the wisdom of fiddling to fine-tune certain settings while also driving a vehicle. With practice, you get used to them, although there are a couple of settings (TX power, in particular) I wish were easier to access.
7. The stock mic has been changed since the 7000 was first released. The current problem is that the 7000's default settings lead to poor audio. With the current mic, if you take the time to set up the rig properly, you will likely get good audio. I've been complemented for my audio, and the folks complementing me generally are shocked that I'm only using the stock mic (especially with the 7000's prior reputation).
8. Auto power-off would have been a nice addition. Not a concern for me, as I'm not really interested in operating mobile, and because my driver's ed teacher adequately drilled into my head the mantra of "park, brakes, accessories, keys" when stopping a vehicle.
9. Issues that you missed (since you seem to be looking for reasons to justify not getting a 7000):
-- Audio quality from the built-in speaker is lousy; I'm tolerant, but others might not be
-- Squelch doesn't work over a data connection, creating issues for remote operation
-- In certain configurations, the mic doesn't auto-mute when TX-ing data; in other configurations, the 7000 data ports are extremely sensitive
-- The 7000 is a little deaf on VHF/UHF (I haven't personally noticed/had a problem, but it is a complaint I've heard before)
-- While the 7000 has two VFO's, it's not true dual-VFO, making the rig imperfect for split operation, and a poor choice for satellite work
-- While the ability to have a remote display on the video-out port is nifty, resolution of that video is poor -- you don't want to put it up on a big screen
-- No built-in autotuner
-- The S-meter isn't over-inflated the way some other rigs are
The 7000 is not a perfect rig, but I'm not sure there is such a thing at least among new rigs. Admittedly, I've been licensed less than a year, so I don't have a wide array of experience with different transceivers. I picked the 7000 because it seemed to be a good balance among features, price, and size, and I still think that.
If I were shopping today, my priorities would be a little different, and I might have picked a different rig. In particular, I think I overestimated my need for a small shack-in-the-box (it's cool to break my station down into a small computer bag, but I would probably been content with a full size HF transceiver and a 2m rig to the side), I didn't expect to develop an interest in working satellites, and I didn't appreciate the implications of some of the quirks mentioned above. But I do like the filters (since I like working digital and CW), and that when combined with the price point would have kept the 7000 on my short list.
Despite its quirks, I really like my 7000 (and it's served me well -- 127 DX entities so far). But I am saving my pennies to upgrade at some point in the future. When that happens, my 7000 will probably still be around, albeit as a secondary/transportable rig.
Excellent analysis! I didn't have the time to get into the details. The rig gets so hot you can literally fry an egg on it. Electronics don't like heat. I question it's long term reliability.
Here's my take:
1. The DTMF mic can't send DTMF tones, really? For some, this is a draw back. I've owned a 7000 since it came out, and have never needed to send TTs.
2. The jacks on the back are not stress protected, so any bump to the cable puts the full load on the SMD PCB, seriously? The later units have a protective strap across them, so it is not as much of a problem as it used to be. If you use 90° plugs, it isn't an issue.
3. Many, many people report a blown driver stage occurring. I keep hearing this palaver over and over, but the repair data from Icom doesn't support it. What does fail, is the finals primarily due to open coaxial cables, particularly on VHF.
4. The display is hard to read in sunlight since its not a reflective LCD like in the Kenwood TS-480, etc. I have mine mounted face up. While it can be a problem with any LCD display, even an orange one, it isn't a problem for me.
5. The tuner jack a shares a pin with the temperature sensor, seriously? That's not the case at all. One portion of the LSI CPU controls several functions. They include, but not limited to, ALC, final bias, the fan, and the tuner protocol. Every function works just fine, as long as you don't try to use devices made for the 706 on the 7000. Most of the former devices, pull the TKEY line to 13.8 volts typically through a 10k Ω resistor (it is pulled up internally to 3.3 volts through a 1 megΩ resistor). If you do that on a 7000, the CPU can't pull the line low, so the fan doesn't run until the temperature gets too high. While you might fault the design, you also must fault the user.
6. The mic jack doesn't have an audio output in the pin, making headsets cumbersome to use? You can move the solder jumper from one pad to another. This negates the stock HM-151, enables the audio, and allows use of the optional TT microphone. It also allows use of the original Heil Traveler headset which plugged into the microphone jack of the 706.
7. Power output sags considerably when used from a battery. Most car batteries don't put out anything close to 13.8 volts, especially pushing 20 amps. This statement doesn't make sense, as it would be apply to any nominal 12 volt transceiver. Using the stock power cable, with an input of 13.8 volts (Icom's spec), the voltage under full load at the transceiver's power connector is 13.4, or just under the recommended .5 volt drop.
8. IMD and dynamic range performance was reviewed to be pretty poor by QST. And, so are most other transceivers designed to operate at a nominal 12 volts.
9. Radio is very sensitive to RFI due to unshielded design for remote mounting cable. This is not true! Most mobile installations I have seen, are so poor in execution, that common mode is the root cause of 95% of the problems experienced. There is a problem with the longer cable, but it isn't related to RFI.
10. There is no automatic power off feature, leading to dead car batteries. This is incorrect! It is item 6 under the Time Set Mode, and is factory preset at 60 minutes.
11. Complex menu system that makes mobile operation tedious. If you set up the controls correctly, there is no need to ever use the menus. The HM-151, with its two function keys, will satisfy the vast majority of users.
12. Overheating problems since fan doesn't spin unless you key down. This is not true. The fan will run anytime the heat sink gets warm. However, high speed operation only occurs on key down.
13. eHam rating (4.4/5.0) is pretty poor for a radio that is supposed to have such advanced features and coverage. It does have some drawbacks, and the major one you missed entirely. Which is understandable, because most mobile operators don't suppress RFI like they should, so they run around with the NB on all of the time, which masks the problem.
14. Poor stock mic TX audio unless professionally modded. This is the most inane of all. The reason most folks have poor transmit audio isn't caused by the DSP. It is caused by improper use of the microphone, and way too much microphone gain and/or running excess compression levels. When you do one of the mods, you essentially defeat the noise canceling property of the microphone, which adds even more insult to poor audio.
Alan Applegate, KØBG
I had to laugh at this one because its so true. Another funny one is when people complain that their 100 W rig only puts out 97 Watts. Oblivious to the fact that all but the most expensive lab grade power meters are not more than 10% accurate.
Originally Posted by AB1OD
The 7000 is actually a very nice rig. I've always considered it too nice to be a mobile rig, but it works very well in that mode. I operate mostly mobile CW, so a lot of your concerns have never been a problem for me, and the rig works well on SSB, too. It's been used at Field Day for the last few years, and in spite of the IMD ratings from both QST and Sherwood, the rig is better able to operate in a multitransmitter environment than a lot of more expensive rigs.
My biggest beef is lack of audio output. I need a lot more for mobile use. Actually, the internal speaker sounds pretty good - just not enough audio. I will use a headset when practical, to eliminate the problem.
EchoLink, IRLP, Allstar and DSTAR linking - adding interest to repeaters worldwide 24X7
You're correct, Bill, about the audio which I failed to mention. It is low enough with the short remote cable, but becomes a big problem with the long remote cable. This said, with a good quality speaker, properly placed, it is adequate for most vehicles. If you're nearly deaf, you could use an amplified speaker I suppose.
Alan Applegate, KØBG
The reality is that any amateur radio made today is very nice. The technology is just that mature. But I do notice a very high number of hardware failure complaints with this radio. I am wondering if anybody out there can say if its true or not.
With respect to over heating......
Far too many amateurs install their mobile radios incorrectly. Some of this is due to a great fear of theft. As a result, they get stuffed into a cubby hole with no ventilation. I've seen units velcro'd to the carpet, sans the mounting bracket which essentially insulates the radio. I've seen them mounted underneath the package shelf which is the hottest part of the trunk. Worse yet, are DIN slots. I saw one installation where the radio heat sink got hot enough to melt the plastic around the hole.
There has to be a dozen articles on the web about adding a fan to blow on the heat sink, which in reality doesn't do anything, but make the owner warm and fuzzy (excuse the pun).
The real killer of radios isn't heat, it's open coaxial lines. Modern transceivers handle short term coaxial shorts fairly well. Transmit into an open circuit, and it won't take long to blow the finals. Why this is so is multitudinous, but the obvious one is too many don't know how to install UHF connectors.
It pays to remember, when it comes to installing radio gear in a vehicle, there is no instant gratification. If there was, you did it wrong!
By the way, once again, the IC-7000 does have an automatic shut off. The factory default is 60 minutes, but may be changed.
Alan Applegate, KØBG