Icom IC-7300 Mini Review

So its a pretty exciting time over here – a new radio has been acquired for my main QTH here in Australia – the Icom IC-7300.

The plan is to setup a remote station in Cambodia so I can work digital modes etc from VK. My previous main radio, the IC-7200, was originally purchased to take to Cambodia on my previous expedition, and when I go back in November I plan to leave it there – hence I needed a new radio for my shack!

So far so good, it is an amazing radio, and I will post a full review soon.  So far, my favorite features are:

  • The Built in ATU.  It will match 3:1 loads at 100 watts, or if the special ’emergency’ mode is activated, it will match 10:1 loads at 50 watts.  This is perfect for digital modes such as JT65, where 50 watts is more than enough, and the 10:1 range is enough to match my 40/20M Fan Dipole on all bands above 40M!  Efficiency suffers, but what a cool feature in a low end radio!
  • The built in band scope.  Whilst a lot has been said about this, being the star feature and all, it is amazing how well it works.  Not only is it incredibly accurate with no noticeable ‘birdies’ (a common problem with RTL-SDR based panadapters), but it also provides a very useful view of bandwidth usage in both transmit and receive. The audio scope is also amazing – you can quickly and easily see what transmit bandwidth the other station is using.
  • The extended transmit bandwidth.  The IC-7300 can transmit from 100Hz to 2.9KHz. Whilst not the widest range, most radios in a similar price bracket only offer 2.3KHz of transmit bandwidth – not 2.8KHz.  Naturally, you can lower the bandwidth if your chasing DX or don’t want to be considered ‘wide’.
  • The ‘Antenna Analyzer’. The IC-7300 comes with a neat little feature that lets you graph your antenna’s SWR performance across a band.  Whilst it isn’t anywhere nearly as fully featured as a standalone Analyzer, its an interesting gimmick.
  • The Receiver.  Whilst not the best receiver available, the IC-7300 is ranked pretty highly up in the Sherwood Engineering transceiver rankings.  With IP+ off, it achieves a Narrow Spaced Dynamic Range (2KHz) of 81dB.  With IP+ on, that figure rises to 94dB.  Rob Sherwood recommends leaving IP+ off, unless needed.  Also worth noting, is that Rob has previously stated that 80dB of dynamic range is more than enough for SSB work in most cases.  In a nutshell, the IC-7300 is good enough for all but the most extreme contest enthusiasts.  See more info here: Sherwood Engineering Transceiver Rankings.

There are many more great features, and I will cover them soon in an expanded / proper review.  Let me know if there are any questions you’d like answered.

73,

Jarrad

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VK3BL

Today came with a nice surprise – I was successful in a ballot for the 2×2 call sign VK3BL!

The paperwork is on the way to ACMA, and within a week or two I will be on the air with my lovely new short 2×2 call sign!

As our regulator only allocates the VK prefix, a 2×2 call is the shortest a VK amateur can hope for.  Unfortunately in VK3, they are all allocated, so there can be quite a wait to get one.

I’m very happy – whilst the suffix ‘BL’ does not mean much to me as such, it is nice and easy to say – Victor Kilo Three Bravo Lima!

Just passed my advanced exam!

Today is an exciting day day for me!  After getting off my bottom and finally sitting the ‘full call’ advanced exam, I passed with 84%.  For those out there who are looking to sit this exam, the Amateur Radio Victoria practice exams are really good.  They can be found here:  ARV Advanced Practice Exams

Although I didn’t really formally study as such (I sat the practice exams and did about 2 hours of revision / cramming), I have spent the last year or so reading pretty much continuously about radio as I am pretty much addicted!

I got a few silly questions wrong, mainly resistor color codes!  I can’t believe I stuffed that up, but to be honest even the assessor thought it was unexpected that it would be on the advanced exam.  The fact is, I’m a little intellectually lazy, and just refer to the color chart or my fluke DMM when working with resistors!

There were a few ‘give away’ questions, like what length a specific band dipole would be, so it is good to make sure you know that stuff off by heart before you sit the exam.  The truth is though, any keen amateur who plays with antennas a bit should find those kinds of questions to be bonus marks!

The ‘hard’ questions on my exam tended to be about linear amplifiers.  When they are needed, what the different classes are etc.  As I am really interested in linears, I found this a breeze!

So there we go, I’ve applied for my full call, and hopefully will have the call sign VK3AGA shortly.  It will be nice having a call that matches my Cambodian one, XU7AGA!

73,

Jarrad

Plans for next XU7AGA Activation

Since returning to VK3, I have been really busy with family stuff and finding some decent employment.  However, I’m glad to announce that I’ve got most of it sorted now, and it looks like I will be returning to Cambodia in October or November 2016!

I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but it looks like it could be quite an exciting year for DX in Cambodia!

My plans for XU7AGA is to focus mainly on digital modes and ssb phone when I return, and help get as many people ATNOs as possible!

I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as plans progress,

73,

Jarrad

XU7AGA QSL Card Update

Note: All XU7AGA Direct/OQRS cards have been dispatched as of 06/10/2015.

Just want to let everyone who has ordered an XU7AGA QSL Card know that my cards have been dispatched by the printer so hopefully I’ll be able to send them out shortly!

My apologies for the delay – the printing has taken quite a bit longer than I expected.

73,

Jarrad

Revised QSL Card Design & QSO Rundown

As previously mentioned, the original QSL Card Design wasn’t compliant for the IOTA awards, so here is the new one.

Basically, if you get a QSL card with ‘Koh Rong AS-133’ ticked, it counts for IOTA.  If ‘Sihanoukville’ is ticked, it doesn’t.  All QSOs made with me between the 19/06/2015 & 21/06/2015 UTC were made from Koh Rong Island, IOTA AS-133.

In total, there were 92 IOTA QSOs. Although I would have liked more, it is wet season here and the weather was absolutely terrible.  Japanese stations collected the majority of QSOs, although even these pile-ups were frequently ended by the WX.

Honorable Mentions go out to: W6CCP, W6ZR, KH6HM, W4DJL, S52LD, UA0FDQ, SP5FCZ, YO8BGE, and Wim (XU7TZG), who managed a QSO on every band (except 160m which neither of us could tune) 😉

If you have any questions regarding whether your QSL counts for IOTA, please email me via my QRZ listed email address.

XU7AGA Back Small XU7AGA Front Small