2016-04-22

IC-7300 First Impressions.

Having worked with a 7600, and also with a 7100, for a while, and being very happy with that, I reacted on the very favourable  reviews of the new IC-7300, and I now have one.

The IC-7300 is the first Amateur radio station by the big 3 Japanese manufactures, being a direct sampling, stand alone SDR radio. I have been looking through various reviews by amateurs having the transceiver before me, and I have not seen *any* negative reviews. Minor nitpicks, but absolutely nothing serious. Given the price point of this radio it looked like a very favourable purchase, despite it being this early in the life time of the transceiver.
I emptied the purse and got one.

First of all the noticeable thing that the 7600 does, and the 7300 does not : Dual reception. This is something that I have not yet used much, so I am probably not going to miss it much.

Then a few things that the 7300 does, that the 7600 does not :

1) 70MHz. This was high on my wish list for a multimode transceiver. Yes, the IC-7100 does 4m (and 2m/70cm), but that one does not have the *very practical* waterfall spectrum display.

2) The built-in antenna tuner (OK, matching circuit) has an "Emergency mode" where, at the price of reduced output power (50%) the tuning range is considerably increased. This can be very convenient with portable operation, where cables are usually shorter, and therefore less lossy.

3) The spectrum scope : The waterfall and spectrum scope is *very fast*, it is possible to "read" CW at slow to moderate speeds, and the signals look much cleaner (narrower) than on the 7600.

4) 472kHz : The radio has been opened for the full TX range, since I want to be able to work on the 5MHz band, and I tested, and found that it actually has some RF output on 472MHz. Something that I never detected on my 7600, or any other radio I have owned. It look like I should try to make some kind of antenna for this band, and for 160m, although, given the size of my garden, and the modest antenna height possible, my expectations are not very high. Thinking of it, I should probably check the output on 472 for spectral purity, I might need a (low pass) filter before I start transmitting serious power on the band.

Operation of the 7300 is in between the 7100 and the 7600. It has a few more dedicated buttons than the 7100 (which uses the touch display extensively), and some of the 7600 dedicated buttons and controls have been squeezed into a multi-function knob and the use of the touch screen. All in all, having used it a few days, my only complaint is that the band switching and the band stacking registers need double the operations when compared to the 7600 (but same as the 7100).

Modulation quality is excellent, right out of the box, I have yet to make any adjustments. I might use the tone controls a bit, but, working mostly CW, I have not yet done much about that.

All in all, the operation with the 7300 is easy, although I have only scratched the surface of its possibilities. I am very happy using this in my "living room shack".
The price is less than half the price of the 7600, and still lower than that of the 7100. Impressive !

Now I need more antennas ;)

I believe this transceiver is only the first of many direct sampling stand-alone radios. Icom has impressed me quite a bit with this one. Come on, Yaesu, Kenwood and others ...



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