ICOM IC-700 - Good first rig?
I'm a relatively new ham, and I'm trying to decide which rig to purchase for my first (base) station. Initially, I was considering purchasing an inexpensive dual band UHF/VHF rig. However, after a little research, I realized that I would end up spending more money in the long run by purchasing separate UHF/VHF and HF rigs. Additionally, a multiband rig would save space on my desk, as I don't have the room for a dedicated operating area. I believe I have decided on the ICOM IC 7000. It seems to provide the most features of any multiband/multimode rig. While most of the reviews I've seen are very favorable, I've noticed two common complaints with the rig:
- the supplied microphone makes audio very quiet and does not provide real-time DTMF input
- the rig can become very hot
I intend to remedy the first problem by purchasing an HM-154T. I am somewhat concerned about the latter issue. While the problem seems to affect a small number of hams, one user reported that his rig got so hot that it began to smoke. Can anyone who has experience with the ICOM IC 7000 provide more information? What other rigs should I consider?
Thanks and 73,
What are you going to use the DTMF for?
I think the IC-7000 is a very good piece of gear, but strongly recommend you use stuff first so you can get a feel for it.
It's a mobile rig. It gets hot because it's so small, so if used at full power, especially on FM (which would be primarily VHF use), of course it gets hot. It can get very hot. That won't happen on SSB, CW or PSK31. It could happen on RTTY if you don't turn the power down.
But still, because it's a mobile rig it will run warm; the controls are very small; and it's pretty menu-intensive, i.e., to change many settings you must go to a menu first, make a selection, and exit the menu. To me this is a huge disadvantage and I wouldn't want a "home station" rig requiring that.
But for those used to iPhones and lots of other small gadgets, it may not be a big deal.
I'd rather have separate HF and VHF rigs...because that allows you to operate HF while monitoring VHF, which the IC-7000 cannot do. I don't mind a small VHF-UHF/FM rig because once programmed, you rarely have to change anything except the "channel" and the volume. Everything else is stored in memories and the rigs can be pretty "hands free." So, using a VHF-UHF/FM "mobile rig" at home is quite the norm. But on HF I constantly change bands, modes, power settings, keyer speed, AGC, noise blanker settings, tuning rates, filter bandwidths and all sorts of stuff -- all the time, sometimes with each contact. To have to go back to a menu to do any of that wastes time and makes it more difficult -- and more effort than I'd like to expend.
As such, for me an HF "home station" rig wouldn't be a mobile rig, it would be something bigger with more front panel controls and less menu intrusion.
That doesn't make it more expensive, necessarily, just "bigger."
The bigger rigs run cooler because they have much larger heatsinks.
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw
I don't even know why DTMF is relevant in 2012.
It used to be, when autopatches were popular in the 70s and 80s. Now that everybody has a cell phone and most repeaters don't even have autopatch, DTMF is mostly used for control functions by repeater trustees, and if they use it for that, I think they're nutz.
The only way to really control a repeater is via landline or internet, or a UHF-SHF link on a different frequency. To think we can control a repeater on its input frequency is folly.
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw
I'm still a fairly new guy. Like you, I thought that getting a 7000 would be a good idea...but in my case it was a concern about having limited shack space that drove me to look for a shack-in-the-box.
It didn't take long before I started saving pennies to get a VHF/UHF rig for my shack. The 7000 does fine, but there were just too many occasions where I wished I could be on 2m and HF at the same time.
Regarding the mic -- Most of the time I use a headset. When I'm not on the headset, I do use the stock mic that came with the 7000. The manual has instructions on how to set up the rig for good tx audio quality. Follow them, and all will be well. Yes, it's true that the stock mic doesn't do DTMF on the fly, but unless you're planning on connecting your local repeaters to random IRLP/echolink nodes on a regular basis, you almost certainly won't notice the loss.
The 7000 does run warm -- there's a lot of circuitry in that little box. The engineers say that it's designed with that heat in mind. If you are long-winded when working AM or FM, or if you do a lot of RTTY (ragchewing or contesting), you'll want to run with reduced power or look for a different rig. Otherwise, just make sure there's a reasonable amount of air circulation around the rig, and all will be well.
It's not a perfect rig -- the small size means that some controls are buried within menus, and that can get inconvenient at times. However, the trade off is that you're getting a lot of rig in a small box. I got mine as a "starter" transceiver thinking that if I really enjoyed playing on HF, I'd eventually graduate to a better rig, and my 7000 would become either a backup/2m rig in the shack, or a mobile rig.
I wish I had spent more time actually playing with different transceivers before I finally bought. I don't know that I would have chosen differently, but I would have appreciated the strengths and weaknesses of the 7000 a bit more when deciding. Also, I do wish that I had been more willing to be patient and wait to find a good used rig. I could have saved a little money, or perhaps started with a slightly better (but used) rig. And if I were repeating the buying a new rig for a first rig experience, I wouldn't have been so quick to write off the Yaesu 950 as "too big", and/or I would have considered if I could stretch my budget up to a Kenwood 590.
Please don't misunderstand me -- I have thoroughly enjoyed my 7000, and it has done very well for me (199 DXCC worked since I got on HF just over 12 months ago). It's entirely possible that even knowing what I know now, I still would have purchased one as a "first rig". But if I had known then what I know now, my decision-making process would have been different (and, in the interest of full disclosure, my developing an interest in DXing and contesting has accelerated my upgrade plans).
I've had a 7000 for quite a while now, and it's been used mostly mobile, but it also lived in the shack for a while. I've finally decided that it's a much better mobile rig than a home station. It does have about the best noise blanker I've seen in a Japanese rig, but I think it's a bit much for a beginner. There are lots of functions I have never used, or only used at home - you would never do it mobile. I'm falling out of love with some of it's 'features'. As good as the receiver is, I think there are better ones out there.
The lab test numbers on the IC-7000 receiver are actually pretty disappointing. The DSP makes up for a lot of sins in the radio design, and I think the dynamic range is much better than Sherwood gives them credit for. The IC-7000 is the only radio I've got that consistently stands up to QRM from a high power transmitter next door, better than a K3, a TS-850, and others. But the close in dynamic range is not so hot. It's hard to copy a weak signal in the presence of a strong one on SSB. CW is much better, and that's how I use it most of the time.
I have mixed feelings about passing up SSB on 2 and UHF, but unless that's something you seriously intend to do, I would recommend an HF + 6 meter rig and a separate VHF/UHF FM rig. I also hate to even suggest that people not try SSB on 2 meters and UHF, because they don't know what they're missing. But you have to start somewhere. An FT-450D would not be a bad choice. The FT-950 would be better, as would the IC-7200, or anything with a Ten Tec logo.
I would second the headset suggestion - get a good Heil, but the IC-7000 does not need the ICOM element. In fact, the ICOM element is much too hot for the IC-7000. I bought the headset for the IC-7000 and now I only use it with my older IC-746 that needs the IC element. I've got a cheap headset I cobbled together that I use the truck now, but I want to get another Heil. A good headset will make the IC-7000 much more pleasant to operate.
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If you must have a shack in a box, I recommend you look for something larger, an FT-847, TS-2000 [not my first choice], or the new Icom all band all mode.
But I like others, suggest you get a separate FM rig for repeaters if that is your main use for 2 meters and 70 CM, and then get an all mode HF and 6 meter base station. You will get more utility out of such a combination.
You pays your money and takes your chances: The contents of this posting are personal opinions. Persons trying to find motive, plot, logic, truth or beauty will be punshed severely under law.
The IC-7000 is a good rig and some have a really good time with it. It isn't the rig for everybody. You need to go somewhere that has the radios setup and you can compare features, easy of operation, receiver performance and even transmit performance. There are differences and you may find the rig for you is not the one you had your eyes on.
Just about all the postings so far tell you to get a seperate VHF/UHF rig. Good idea!!!
There are excellent used rigs that go for a low price. It's not the rig that will make you have a good signal, it's the antenna the rig is hooked up to. You may want to consider your options in the antenna department as part of setting up your station. A bad antenna choice will make you very unhappy.
Everytime I see someone refer to their "home station" as their "base station" I just cringe. I know the term and what it means, it's just that amateurs didn't use to refer to their setup in such a way. To each their own.
Okay to sum it up, your first rig should do the tasks you want it to do. Added bells and whistles are nice but a distraction for most operations. A rig that performs well and is easy to operate is a good choice.
Think antenna, antenna, antenna. Get the best antenna you can. If you want to make it youself there are lots of sites you can search through and just as many books to help. There are plenty of commerical antennas for just about every purpose.
Get two or three rigs, one for HF (maybe it will have 6 meters too), one for 2 meters (or a dual bander) and maybe a 70cm rig. You will be happier in the long run.
P.S. if you haven't done so already go and upgrade your license. Just study the questions and learn why you have a problem with certain ones. When you are doing well with the practice tests then it's time to take the real thing. While you're there go ahead and take the Amateur Extra. It would be helpful to study the question for it as well. You may just leave the test site with a new opportunity for a different call.
Last edited by KO6WB; 04-29-2012 at 05:45 AM.
Sean, head to Universal Radio, it's in your home town! They've got plenty of HF rigs setup. Sit down and spin the dials! If you want to try out a used rig they have for sale, I'm sure they will hook it up so you can play with it too.