Anyone have any regrets on buying an IC-9700?

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KN4DQE, Jun 14, 2019.

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  1. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    G0KDT, please share your insights/observations regarding how the rig is missing your expectations. Your perspective is as valid as that of anyone else, and we all benefit by discussing specifics. While I am thrilled with the weak signal performance of the rig on 144 and 432 MHz, that is just one opinion. Would like to hear your take, please.
     
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    What exactly is wrong with it?

    I don't have a 9700 yet, although planned to buy one. My aging FT-736R actually still works fine but it's lower powered and I don't have the 23cm module

    I've had the 736R since it was new in 1987 and the only thing that's failed is one of the pilot lamps in the S-meter.:p I've always used the lamps in the DIM position, so that probably extended the life. The MULTI/CH control is becoming slightly erratic and I should probably replace it. I replaced the memory battery just once in 33 years and that was easy, took about 15 mins including removing the covers and dropping the panel. It was a very good design.

    But if I get a 9700 I'll probably replace the MULTI/CH encoder and then sell the 736R.

    BTW my 736R did not come with the factory internal keyer, so I added one: The N0XAS Pico-Keyer, which is about the size of a postage stamp and works perfectly for iambic keying. It's installed with long flex wires and "velcro" attached inside the top cover.:p
     
  3. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    To start with the manuals are roughly 400 pages. If they were any good that would be something.

    They are badly laid out and incomplete with no glossary of terms used throughout. A revert to internet lookup takes you to random erroneous and misleading pages of waffle that only add to the confusion of why what it says in the manual doesn't work. Troubleshooting error messages is pretty non existant.

    Receiver is simply nothing special with its combined squelch/rf gain control its just not nice to use they should have been separate controls. It isn't particularly sensitive and does no better than my 40 year old kit even with the built in preamp.

    Memories are ok, but no better than any old radio except more of them.

    D-star ... its a waste of time without a local d-star repeater and heaven help you if you want to try and register for a local hotspot access.

    I have fought with the thing for several days and am totally fedup and dissapointed with it for the price.

    Nice bits are..

    Autotune on cw (marred by the built in keyer for me)

    Passband filters quite nice but a faff to access in mid qso due to lack of direct control access (knobs).

    Sat doppler control features, I had to juggle two tranceiver controls before.

    I think at the price of it I expected far better snd that is without the schoolboy error they had of blowing hot air ovet thermally sensitive circuits.
     
  4. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You can skip registration and just use XRF and XLX reflectors.

    I think this decision by Icom had mainly to due with the fact if every tweak-able setting were given a knob, the front of the radio would be some like 2 feet by 4 feet.
     
  5. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    G0KDT, thanks for taking the time to reply. I did learn a lot from your reply, and I thank you for that.

    Wow, maybe I am not experienced enough with VHF to notice the shortcomings...my only comparison is the IC-910H and the 9700 sure does better on receive. Plus I like the waterfall and power out.

    Agree with your assessment of the manuals....not as big a deal for me as I use PDF search when I need something...plus I don't learn by reading but rather by doing, so my style is more YouTube oriented where I can emulate hands-on examples.

    I have yet to use DStar. I am struggling a bit with the satellite doppler, but I will work on it and try to use SatPC32 since that's what everyone else recommends. But I have always found the linear birds to be a bit of a challenge because there are so many different ways to tune and no-one uses a standard (it seems).

    Good luck with the rig. Maybe you can swap with Steve/WB2WIK? :)
     
  6. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Mark,

    I would not presume to accept such a statement regarding your experience without knowing you better, you may be pulling my fibbing:).

    There are many features that look great, the waterfall being one of them, but as an old time radio man it isn't something that I have got to yet wanting to get the basics of the radio setup and operable first.

    Ryan W4EAE has a point about size of front panel for knobs but basics like passband filters which are essential to managing signals on receive should not be buried in nested menus on a touch screen. Yes you can configure your own selection and flip through them with the touchscreen but its so much nicer to have a knob to vary at will and that isn't as fragile as the touchscreen that there are failure reports already going around for, That's another reason I very much doubt this transceiver will be around in 40 years time like my old kit which does still work. So if the multi knob is fixable on the FT736, its still working well, I would not leap into spending the disgraceful sum that the 9700 costs.

    As an update on other areas.

    Well D-star operation requires registration. This was achieved using the service described here; https://regist.dstargateway.org/instructions/ a three part process;
    1. Submit Register Request
    2.Receive email back
    3.Log back into that service and setup 'Terminal settings'

    That however didn't help particularly and as Ryan says you can hook to a reflector, an example being /XLX227b is described on some webpages (absolutely NOTHING in the manual about using Terminal mode - but then you may as well use your computer and forget buying the 9700 anyway as no rf is involved). But that wasn't the point. Page 9-5 of the advanced manual gives direction to use 'Simplex DV' except that the manual fails again here. No explanation in a sensible place that is clearly or well presented. So to explain;

    You've bought your 9700 you read the manual and it basically says 'we RECOMMEND you backup your transceiver settings to the SD card from new, and do this periodically'. I did that.

    It doesn't set out what settings are saved in that process but the manual does go on to tell you that you can also import and export settings using csv files. If you go through the manual further it shows you how to save the .icf settings file and to load one back in. So having saved these and backed them up you are sort of happy you did the right thing.

    You try various things getting to know the radio (or so you think - Icom have other ideas about that) a couple of odd things happen and you research them to find, ah! there is a firmware fix for that and hey, the radio was sent out with v1.06 and the current is V1.21 firmware. Yes, you read the manual and it was straight forward to down load the firmware update pop it onto the SD card and update the 9700. However you are given absolutely no reminder that the firmware update does NOT restore the full firmware setting to what they should be.

    So back to page 9-5 of the manual and making a simplex call - you follow the steps with a frequency for your country and it will fail at the point you are instructed to press [CallDR] to be able to access the [DR] screen (not described in the manual - so you guess from the pictures). You get an error message 'No Repeater is found'... ( at this point you think - well I was trying to go simplex that's what the manual said or as Bill Bryson would say 'Are You Sh**ing me!'). Ah but here we go the 9700 lost its repeater list because the firmware install wipes out what you had and doesn't put ANY in at the time its updated. You are so befuddled with the cruddy manual but have to go back again and re-read it all again then go and download the Zip file for Repeater and GPS lists as csv files. ( This is when you realise some of the real short comings of the way the 9700 works and the way the software is implemented ).

    You upload the csv files and try Simplex Page 9-5 again.... huzzar! pressing [CallDR] pops open the guessed [DR] display BUT then you try to continue the process.... Goto the repeater list and select 'Simplex' it says.... ( Another Bill Bryson moment !). I am guessing again that there should be a pseudo repeater for simplex setup on the repeater list, but this is only a guess at the moment. So any purchaser needs to think real hard if they want to go through this process and probably on way more things than I have covered here.

    I haven't started to hook the radio to Sat32PC yet, I can see that it has been attempted and Cat control files help is there so hopefully it will work, but my experiences with the core Icom manual are really exasperating.

    If I had an FT736 or and FT847, I knew its background and it was working or could fix them the 9700 would have had zero chance of prising cash out of my wallet. The disgrace is that there isn't another transceiver on the market with these bands and potential operability for satellites. I can only say potential at the moment as its been such a hassle (not a pleasure) to get the basics going, and d-star isn't working, so as there is so far to go I may not make it. There are 48 pages of manual on GPS …. really its primarily a base station radio and there is no GPS built in. Then do you buy a reference signal and GPS from some cheapo website to plug in and think it will improve the operability and frequency stability.... just no point as far as I can see and there are too many other issues to sort out.

    What I have found is that the adverts and reviews are pushing all the hype. The kit has very poor support and isn't designed with the human user in mind, just cheapness of production. The construction is flimsy in comparison to older kit, so I'm not surprised that some people are finding interference signals that interfere with their VFO settings (posting youtubes of it) and are saying that their older kit isn't affected.

    I have one of these 9700's I am still fighting with it and probably will for a while yet.
     

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  7. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good points.

    Let me say that I am 43 years in the hobby but I won't claim to be an expert on anything.

    First, my VHF experience is very limited, so I don't have a breadth of experience for comparison. So the expectations by me are not high based upon previous experience with VHF rigs (I never really learned the capabilities of the IC-910H, it kinda overwhelmed my patience and I sold it used like I bought it used...near mint with low hours).

    Second, perhaps I am simply numb to poor/incomplete/confusing documentation because I work in the IT field...but your observations are on target. I guess it's like living next to Heathrow...you just get used to it after awhile (or not!)

    Third, perhaps because I have just learned to adapt to the 7300 and settle for what it is, I am now adjusting to the 9700 by settling for it. I have no complaints, but like when I skipped past the Elle McPhersons and Christie Brinkleys at the high school dance and went for the Mary Jane Todds and Debora Henseckers, at least I knew I would get on the dance floor. :p
     
  8. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well some might say respect your elders, but then in my experience there are many cases the other way round....:eek: but what do I know....:rolleyes:

    Now excuse me, the first two names I suppose obviously I know by name and, I'd say some while ago from press etc.... 'married not dead' as the saying goes;):eek:, I have to say I couldn't place the others :oops:.

    Well all fun aside, I've battled on and found my way around the 9700 a lot more. I won't say I have it all figured out yet because I don't and haven't started on the satellite side of things yet. I built a hotspot and have tested that on the d-star side..... well, interesting using a dummy load as an antenna and the internet... did somebody say Skype ;) ... nice to get that working but hardly dx the 1 meter to the hotspot :D.

    So we're getting there. Does anybody know if the .icf settings file you save is compatible across firmware versions I wonder? Does it hold the REF settings that were the calibration of the radio and can you reimport them after a firmware update... like from v1.06 to v1.21? DOes the .icf file hold all the information that the csv import/exports carry too or do you have to get save settings and do exports to fully backup the 9700?

    So far its working ok, it has done a 'windows like' lockup on switching off once --- came up saying switching off and froze so had to power off the psu to clear it.
     
    WD4ELG likes this.
  9. KC1AAY

    KC1AAY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought my 9700 last week. Was on sale at HRO. Cool radio, but so far some things I don't like.

    1. On my 9100 I can dual scan VHF and UHF and see the memory tags. When using scanning on
    the 9700 it only shows me the memory # - Pretty useless.

    2. HUGE ISSUE (for me). All my other ICOM radios (7000, 7100, 9100, 7610, 2300, ID-51A's, etc.)
    allow reception out of band - I have all the local fire/ems, etc. programmed in all my radios.
    The 9700 is very strict on reception and only supports reception of the ham ranges.

    This issue is so big that I wouldn't have bought the radio if I had (I should have) known this.
    It also may relegate the 9700 to my barn/shop instead of my main ham shack and I'll continue
    to use my 9100 for scanning.

    I'm hoping in time someone will publish an article about how to open up the receive bands, but
    nothing yet, except for opening up 146-148mhz for the European models.
     
  10. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well to be fair to Icom, and I am not a great fan, they did specify that the IC9700 was constrained to the bands as designed and cannot be expanded. For those of us in Euro land we could (I have not and won't) remove a couple of components to get the wider US 2m band from 146 to 148MHz but that is all that I have seen documented.

    I have made a good bit of progress with my IC9700 and its ok but that is all. We had biscuit tins that are better built for storing biscuits that would be more sturdy than the 9700 chassis feels. I think it leaks a lot of garbage noise too and is oddly susceptible to showing a bouncing S meter reading whilst not opening the squelch (is that a clever relief form unwanted hash on Rx, or is it something else - I'm trying to ignore it). I'm not keen on the what they setup the squelch/rf gain but I think I'm repeating that, it works but just blinking odd way it got bodged it into the software

    So far its about average for modern built radios with some really flaky bits of design in it. I guess this is just part of what SDR is as far as I can see, minimal hardware, suspect software and probably a short life span for the 'Next thing to come along' at which point it'll be worthless garbage and treated as obsolete as so many modern items are these days.

    If Kenwood had something going that would have been interesting and its a fear that they might one day, at which point the 9700 will probably be bin fodder.
     

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