My purchase of a new IC-7000 transceiver a few months ago was made with a view to modernizing my portable station in time for some of the DA-RC contests later in the year. Ultimately, poor propagation on 11m in the Pacific area over the southern hemisphere winter has meant that everything will need to be working at optimum level on the rare occasions when band openings do occur as we meander into Cycle 24!
In addition to ‘sexing up’ my portable station in order to cash in on DX opportunities in the upcoming summer, another reason why I splashed out on the IC-7000 transceiver is because similar rigs with a cheaper price tag required optional ‘extras’ that would no doubt see their lesser price skyrocket.
Although I bought this one especially for portable use, I decided to set it up in the shack alongside a borrowed Icom 706MKIIG before I installed it in the car. In point of fact, the IC-706 shares some likeness with the IC-7000 as far as navigating around the controls and menus go. It’s roughly the same size also and has a similar layout, though the buttons are slightly larger to aid channel flicking in the mobile which is handy while you’ve got two eyes on the road. These similarities, as well as my familiarity with the IC-706, helped BIG time when it came to exploring some of the other IC-7000 functions too!
Another reason I grabbed the IC-7000 transceiver ahead of those like the TS-480HX (which is also terrific for portable use) is because the IC-7000 is lighter at 2.3 Kg and has a smaller control head. It therefore fits into my car’s dashboard better and so will be easier to slip into the suitcase should I wish to take it on a dx adventure in the future.
Generally, from a user perspective, there isn’t much to be repulsed by with this new addition. The front panel layout seems to be well thought out and is ultra easy to use; the push buttons have a nice tactile feel; it has four concentric easy to access knobs — two of which have indents — and it has a face prettier than a high school cheerleader! The 2.5 inch colour LCD display is bright, clear, easy to read and shows tons of info. It displays power level, ALC and compression level of the speech compressor and SWR too which I found useful for tuning my antenna. It also comes with 3 attractive background colours and 2 font styles to give the rig an individual touch.
On this note, one of the more DXciting features in my eyes is the band scope which I was able to magnify using a 21 inch Dell ultra sharp external monitor from the rear video jack. The colours are tremendous and everything is super sharp, crystal clear and ultra big. The large screen makes the band scope very usable indeed.
While the internal speaker is not what I’d call too flash, the RX audio is first class if hooked up to a quality external speaker or listened to through my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio headphones. On this note, this radio really likes to have solid grounding as without it there was more noise than a room full of complaining YL’s. Out of the shack, proper vehicle bonding and RF grounding, in my experience, is a much underestimated aspect of mobile operations too so I’ll be sure to do a good job on this when the time comes.
Based on radio reports from local ops and a couple from DA members on small Pacific Islands, I also find the IC-7000 TX audio through its original hand held mic to be very good — despite what I’ve read about the original mic on some of the ham forums. Of course, if I was to continue using the rig as a base station though I’d give it an injection of Behringer EQ to make it punchier and give it more of a boom! But then again, I do that will all of my rigs lol.
One criticism of the IC-7000 transceiver from where I sit is that the back of the radio does get toasty after long transmissions. In fact, if you listen for long periods as I often do, you could cook an egg on there as the fan only runs when you key the mic. Having said that, the rig still doesn’t miss a beat and the warmth is pretty handy when the mercury drops below 10 in the shack. There’s a temperature gauge on the rig too and I’d guess it would cut the fan in if it got hot enough…?!?!?!?!
One of my fave features is the digital voice recorder (DVR) which enabled me to record my CQ call in 4 transmit playback memories with alphanumeric labels. This will be especially handy come the DA-RC World Contest later in the year or the Oceania Contest in early January when the throat tends to get a bit sore from continuous CQ calls. A front panel REC control also allowed me to record incoming signals for up to 25 minutes and a couple of these were added to the DA-RC site!
The IC-7000 has lots of bells and whistles in my opinion, but the main one that helped separate me from my cash a few months back was the IF-stage digital signal processing: clearly much improved over the already excellent IC-706 MkIIG. For my part the receiver is awesome and is light years ahead of something like the IC-706MKIIG. The filtering is first class and the notch filters both manual/automatic are an impressive feature. Furthermore, the noise blanker really works, as does the DSP noise reduction too. I love having the ability to adjust the filters as well!
In conclusion, this transceiver has mobile-operation written all over it and is one of the sexiest little rigs I’ve ever met. What’s more, its performance when given a thorough testing in the shack was something to tell the friends about! No doubt it will also kick ass in the field!73 de Darren 43DA001