9V1YC-James Brooks OPINA DEL ICOM IC-7300

Texto extraido del foro de usuarios del ICOM IC-7300, enviado por Carlos EA8ZT, sobre la opinión del conocido dxista y expedicionario James Brooks 9V1YC, acerca de dicho equipo que comprò nada más ponerse a la venta en Japón.

With all the misleading information I am reading here I thought it was time to chime in with some real-world, actual field reporting on the 7300.

I picked up one of these cute 7300’s in Tokyo in mid-January (¥120,000, approx US$980 at the time). I just got through using it on a 10-day DXpedition in Timor-Leste as 4W/N1YC. This was a true ‘blind-date’. I wouldn’t normally take an untested, 1st production, low-serial number rig on a DXpedition in a less than ideal environment, but I figured here was my chance to put a brand new radio through the paces. As a seasoned user of many radios (SDR’s included) and 250,000 QSO’s in the log from my home QTH of 9V1YC, I feel I’m pretty well qualified to give this a try. (Certainly more than most of the complainers I am reading on this forum, some of whom haven’t even touched a 7300 yet).

NOTE: The 7300 is also not a contest-grade radio with sub-receivers, external RX antenna inputs and other useful features, so its not fair to measure it against a K3 or other high-end radio. This mini-review is just letting you know how Icom’s new SDR performed in a tough DXpedition environment, and how it felt to me.

The setup was as follows: We had two stations, side-by-side, running full tilt for 10 days. The second station was a K2, and we also had another K2 as a backup rig just in case the 7300 turned out to be a disaster. Each station had a Tokyo Hy-Power HL-550fx running 500W and a set of Dunestar bandpass filters. Both stations were using Hustler 6BTV’s with 60 radials each. We were at a nice location facing North – about 50m from the high tide mark, and 30m up on a hillside. (We’ve used this spot on two previous trips, and clocked up about 35,000 QSOs on 2014 and 2015).

Our shack location was on a covered outdoor deck facing the sea, in a high-humidity, high-dust, high electrical noise area with sea-spray, wind and rain thrown in for good measure. Just about as tough as it gets. The previous trips used a K2 and a TS-590, but this time we swapped out the TS-590 for the 7300, and brought an extra K2 as both a backup (and an a A-B comparison). We knew the K2 could take this nasty environment, but we had no idea how the 7300 would perform.

The 7300 was an immense pleasure to operate. I mean that in every way. I was expecting the worst but this little radio was a sheer joy to operate. The receiver was simply beautiful – especially to my ears with are normally used to the sound of a K3, IC-7600 or TS-590 in a contest. Pileups were smooth and easy to run at high rate. The 7300 definitely has amazing ears. On the few times I swapped it out for the K2 as a comparison I noticed that the 7300 was more sensitive than the K2, but nothing that was heard on one radio couldn’t be copied on the other. In fact, I felt the 7300 had the edge at times – especially on 10/12 and 15m. For the record, I do love the my old analog K2, and for extended periods of non-stop pileup shoveling I feel the K2 is probably gentler on the ears. (Any K2 owner will know what I am talking about).

We did have some inter-station interference from time to time (as we always do on these trips). The first thing we did when that happened was swap out the 7300 to the backup K2, just to make sure it wasn’t the 7300 which was dirty. No major difference was noted on any band, so we concluded the 7300’s TX was not the culprit.

The filters were as good or better as anything I’ve used on other high-end Icoms, and the settings are easy to manage through the touch-screen menus. Any 7600/7700/7800 user will have no trouble using this rig out of the box. No manual required. The touch screen was something new to me, but after a while I found myself really enjoying it compared to a regular radio. Especially the Elecraft push-and hold kind of situation which I hate.

The scope is not something I really use when behind a pileup, but I did play with it every now and then when the rate dropped and I was bored. Its extremely sharp, but that’s to be expected from an SDR.

The real stand-out feature of the 7300 is the noise blanker. Being in a poor, 3rd-world country with badly maintained vehicles and terrible power distribution means there was noise all over the place. Really bad, S9 crap almost all the time. The 7300’s noise blanker cut through just about everything that was thrown at it, and I was able to clock over 8000 QSO’s in 9 days. I even managed to run the last few hours of the ARRL DX contest without any problems (which is no small feat from 9000 miles away and a crummy Hustler 6BTV). I have never heard a noise blanker this good, and on that point it left the K2 in the dust. Literally. (yes, I know the K2 has a pathetic noise blanker…..)

BTW – I noticed none of the complaints «ZENKI» is talking about on this forum, so perhaps his 7300 is from a different batch? Not sure where he got his test rig from. Anyway, for the record I noticed no PA power spikes, no spurs, no ALC overshoots, no IMD problems, and the S-meter was bang on target when compared to my TS-590, IC-7600 and two different K2s back here at home.

The rig was run at 90W all the time, and the PA temperature reading never really moved upward the entire trip. The heat sink felt cool whenever I touched it. The 7300 was also coated in dust and sea-spray almost non-stop, and had to be wiped down almost every hour. At times the touch-screen was so coated with crud that I could write my initials on it. None of these external annoyances interfered with the rig’s operation, and it never missed a beat.

Again, this review is not meant to compare the 7300 against the K2 since the two are entirely different radios, and that’s an apples and oranges type of situation. This review was also not meant to compare it against a K3, 7600, 590 or any other rig. This was simply to see how Icom’s new SDR would perform under pressure, and how it felt to my own ears. (Everyone has their favorite radio, and everyone has their own «my rig is better than your rig» story, so lets leave that for another thread, ok?).

There are lots more things I can say here that are technical (like PC interfacing) but I will answer those questions if anyone has them.

Bottom line: I made a ton of QSO’s, had a great time, and simply love this radio. Its a real gem.

Feel free to ask me any questions. Happy to reply (with what I know so far….).

73 James 9V1YC

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