Ham Nation Reviews the Icom 7300

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As I watch the new Ham Nation. Bob Heil is loosing his mind over the new Icom 7300.  I can understand his excitement over getting a "game changing rig", I however would love for him to get his hands on a "real" SDR radio like a Flex 6700.   If most hams would just give Flex a chance I believe they would be pleasantly surprised.  
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Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

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Posted 3 years ago

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Jd Dupuy

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Knowing Bob for quit sometime, he is a MAC user only. Hates Windows Based PCs. He has a Soft Rock that was sent to him but never has played with it. Plus he is just plan old school operating guy. Some guys just like Fords and would never think of stepping on a Chevy dealer's lot. Mine should be here tomorrow and I will put together a 3 minutes production for airing on Ham Nation. Don't forget ICOM is a sponsor for the show as you already know. I agree about folks just trying one, but cost, computer knowledge and old ways will keep most away from a 6000 series.
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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Well, gosh.  The Flex guys need to get an eval 6500/6700 and a Maestro out to Bob and let him play.  If he likes the Icom, he should go bananas over the Flex if there is not a bias thing going on.
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Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

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Bob is a wonderful guy....If he could play with a Maestro and 6700 I think we could have him hooked
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Burt Fisher

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Heil is terminally boring, Gerald in totally interesting, he gets to the point and not blabby
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Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

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I could sit and listen to Bob or Gerald talk for hours. I have learned a lot about audio by listening to Bob. Also I give Ham Nation a lot of credit for getting old Hams and New People interested in Ham Radio again.
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NX6D Dave

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FRS had fully functional Maestros set up at Visalia two weeks ago.  They had exactly one computer, a NUC, running SmartSDR on a big display, and four or five Maestros running a variety of 6000 series radios. Bob was there and could have come by any time for a hands-on demonstration, which I'm sure Gerald would have been delighted to provide.

I'm in Ham radio now because of Ham Nation and Bob Heil, so I owe him, but I would like to see him take a good look at the FRS gear.
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Burt Fisher

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Lawrence you would have to listen to Bob for hours to get minutes worth of information, whereas if you listened to Gerald for minutes you would get hours worth of information. Ham Nation takes 10 minutes of material and stretches it to an hour (although they have superior technical quality).


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Walt - KZ1F

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I get that people are passionate about whatever product they chose to purchase. What I don't get is people vocally disappointed in and critical of an individual, taking corporate financing from some other manufacturers, not paying the same homage they do for their favorite manufacturer.
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km9r.mike

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I actually think a 6300 would blow his mind after playing with a 7300, but then again icom has been a long time monetary supporter of Ham Nation...just sayin
(Edited)
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Corey/ KC0YNS

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Thank you for speaking up for a 6300,  I'm starting to get a complex because I don't own the 6500/6700......I'm happy with my affordable 6300 & will have lot's of fun when my Maestro is delivered next week.  
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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I have a 6300 as well and it is an insanely great radio.  I would like to get a 6500 just because of the pre-selector filters.  I don't necessarily need 2 more panadapters.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Panadapters abhor a vacuum.  Once you got em', you find operational uses for them in addition to the "cool factor".
(Edited)
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km9r.mike

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Corey

I specifically upgraded to another Flex SS because of goals that I have set for myself in the world of contesting and nothing more. Specifically so2r contesting which can be vitally important but not in all contesting. 

Like Jay said, your 6300 is an insanely great radio. I knew it the day I first turned mine on and still feel that way today. I  simply wanted an insanely great so2r radio and that is the only reason why I upgraded.
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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I had the opportunity to play with the IC-7300 last week:

+Pricing
+Weight
+Portable(fieldday)/mobile use
+All ICOM cables/connections, even CI-V work

-Much too small touchscreen
-Waterfall/spectrum size ludicrous (for a Flex6k5 man at least!)
-Problems with big signals
-No connection for external monitor, should have HDMI
-QSK relay noisy clicking

All in all not bad, but I'm not going to buy it. I wanted to replace
my old and trusty IC-756PRO, which I use for PACTOR/EMCOMM and CW.
OK, I know that the IC-756PRO is way down the Sherwood list near the Drake 8,
and the IC-7300 is at place 12, but - heck - I love that rig and can work with it
at night with no lights on. And it does full QSK with PIN-diode switching.
And it works for months on end when using it as a PACTOR mailbox and
even without an antenna, when that fell down in my absence...

73, Alex - DH2ID
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Kevin Va3KGS

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Suggest Mr. Bob do a live Ham Nation Special with Mr. Gerald at Dayton this year.  After all they will be under the same roof!!

Cheers

Kevin, Va3KGS

(Edited)
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Philip KA4KOE

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Bob is an audio guy so I don't understand the fuss when the transmit bandwidth is hardwired max at 2.9 KC.
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Walt - KZ1F

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My Dad loved the Ford Thunderbird. He got his first in 1959 and got the latest one every two years. I am partial to Toyotas and Hondas. I don't challenge the individual that prefers Ford, or even those few that prefer the Tesla. I believe Bob has reviewed the 6000, several times. Some even prefer vanilla, for some odd reason. And what should not come as a shock to the new Maestro owners, some hams actually prefer knobs and rocker switches.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I find it truly fascinating how many people are talking about the 7300.  It of course is not in the same class of even the 6300.  There is a similar series of threads on the Elecraft reflector where I posted this comparison

Flex 6000 = Tesla Model S

IC-7300 = Nissan Leaf

Elecraft K3s = Porsche

Kenwood TS-590 =Toyota pickup

It was pretty funny because wayne emailed me back directly to say several of the Elecraft principles own a Tesla.  ;-).
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Hopefully Flex' biz model doesn't mirror Tesla's TOO closely. Like, you know, the financial performance of the company.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Elon seems to be able to continue to pull rabbits out of his hat.

And Flex shoots stuff into Space too that improves cash flow.
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Walt - KZ1F

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First name basis now eh? Oh you name dropper you.

I once worked with a guy that was so proud of and would tell everyone that would listen that he actually met (ran into) Dennis Richie at a water bubbler at an at&t facility in NJ. Talk about'basking in reflected glory'.
(Edited)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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I stand by this comparison as I think its a somewhat accurate comparison study all the way down to the software upgradeablility, however I do not personally know Elon Musk..but his factory (Tesla) is around the corner from my office in Fremont CA.
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Philip KA4KOE

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My wife K4SMN once had Bill Gates personally install software on her PC after overhearing her say "Windows S**" in a swanky restaurant before we crossed paths. Lots of stories like this out there....
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Now, if Flex wanted to go the same direction. They could mount the face of the Maestro on the front of a transceiver. All one unit.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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The power of flex, other than its competition grade performance is its eco system.  you want computer control you have SSDR, you want knobs you have Maestro... you want IPAD there is an app for that. you want to use your Mac? theres an app for that too.   
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Roy Laufer

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I corresponded with Bob Heil on these points the other day.

He is a big fan of Icom and that manufacturer sponsors his podcast, HamNation.

He thinks that the IC-7300 will be a "game changer", and perhaps it will be for the 
"usual suspects", the Japanese manufacturers. He likes the "price point" of the IC-7300, although I am sure he also has the Icom flagship radio in his shack and that goes for almost twice as much as a Flex 6700.

I suggested that the viewing public would be very excited by looking at what a more "higher end" SDR were capable of.

He assured me that  he and Gordo have a Flex review planned for the future (I just hope it isn't too much in the future).

A lot of "old timers" really don't like computers, and love their knobs and dials. The only way to get them to use an SDR is to disguise them as a legacy radio. I doubt that anyone could tell that the IC-7300 was an SDR radio without tracing its circuit board logic!

The IC-7300 is a lower end, cut cornered ("entry level"), stealth SDR radio.

I think that "stealth SDR" is the route that the big three Japanese manufacturers are going to go with.
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Walt - KZ1F

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IQ is available thru USB. You could likely remote it will Windows iot on a raspberry pi. Sal, in the decision to sell is also the decision to take, likely, a 30% or more hit so replacing a radio one is unhappy with is a shades of gray decision, not black and white... At least for some people.
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Varistor

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The Icom 7300 is an entry level radio and the $1500 price tag reflects it. The nearest Flex, the 6300, is $1,000 more.

When it comes to designing a radio, engineers must make trade offs. In the case of the 7300, IMHO, the designers have done a fantastic job with the trade offs. To hit the $1500 mark they have decided on a 14-but ADC, a single antenna connector, and a touch screen to replace mechanical buttons and knobs.

The Flex designers, on the other hand, have made choices that impact ALL products, including the top of the line 6700. Again, as a reminder, the capabilities that were omitted include memories, FM, RTTY, NB, NR...all basic capabilities.

Again, the 7300 is only the beginning. As the replacements of Icom's high end models make the switch to DDC, the price tag will go up and the current trade offs will no longer be needed.

Finally, numbers speak volumes. There are 73 eHam reviews for the 7300, compared to 86 for all the Flex models. The 7300 has been on the market for less than two months and clearly captured the minds (and wallets) of hams. I cannot think of a better compliment to the Icom designers and the trade offs they made.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I think Icom is selling in large part thanks to Flex bringing SDR to amateur radio.
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SteveJ

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Got to give Anan credit too.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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True too.
There are many hams itching to try sdr and can't bring themselves to use a networked transceiver such as the 6xxx.
It is interesting seeing negative posts about touch screen on the 7100 become praise on the 7300.
At the very least ,it is very odd that so many jumped on buying an unproven radio.
But it proves that sdr is the future...
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Walt - KZ1F

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I never owned a 5000 but given its cube-like profile I have to believe there is a lot of free space for air to circulate. I've never cracked open the case of the 6500 but, given the whole software replacing hardware thing I'd be surprised if there weren't free air space there as well. I think FRS would have a winning combination by ha ing the 7000 series be a conventional transceiver form factor that had knobs and dials and rocker switches and allowed for smartSDR should someone actually prefer that mode, all for the same price points.


Obviously, any company is free to determine what products they wish to produce. It's not our place to dictate that. As a consumer, however, I prefer a transceiver with a front panel, reasonably massed tuning knob and switches. I suspect, given the preproduction ordering of Maestro, there are an awful lot of people here that concur. Whether they admit to that is a completely different issue.
(Edited)
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AA0KM

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Still looking for the Vhf/UHF/SHF allmode.
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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AA0KM...a VHF/UHF/SHF all-mode SDR would be a niche of a niche product.  No way for Flex to make any money.  Too few customers would be willing to pay what it would cost for this equipment.
(Now watch FRS announce one at Dayton)  :-)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I would buy it.
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Duane N9DG

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Would need to include 222 and 902/3 as well. It is arguable if  902/1.2G should even be in the shack. A fiber connected remote transceiver at the tower base or on the tower would be better. Truthfully, you could make that case for 144/222/432 as well.

Also such a radio MUST support running a panadapter waterfall on each of those bands all simultaneously.  And it should also be able to cover big chunks of those bands and multiple different modes simultaneously as well. So basically it could be monitoring the weak signal parts of the bands while simultaneously handling some 'N" number of addition frequencies / modes for packet and FM etc. comms.

Whenever people start describing the dream multi-band V/UHF radio in discussion threads like this, they inevitably think way too small. The world does not need a one band, one mode, one RX at a time FT-736R replacement. It needs a "Roger's dream station" (which is a lot like mine) total rethink of multi-band multi-mode V/UHF system..
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I think we need to start a thread about this new dream vhf+ transceiver ;)
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Lee, Elmer

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I met Bob when I was a teenager back in the 60's living in Carbondale IL.  I was playing in some garage bands and he had a music shop up in Marissa IL strait up rt.13 about 50 miles northeast of where I lived and I used to drive up there and drool over the guitars and amps.  I also used to  see him at the southern IL hamfests selling off odds and ends from the orange and purple modular recording and sound boards he used to manufacture.  Very interesting guy.

I had exactly the same experience as Bob when I bought a SDR-1000.  I was ready to just get out of ham radio because I was so friggin bored.  I had very good radios Orion and FT-1000D on the desk and amps and antennas, but didn't turn them on for years.  Then that little stack of  boards and a fancy sound card completely revolutionized the hobby for me.  I couldn't leave it alone.  The hook was the level of performance I could get out  of a few hundred bucks worth of stuff, and the ability to customize stuff on the fly, and software upgrades in PSDR.  I hope the 7300 does the same for a lot of hams, and I hope they find their way to Flex, so in some respect it is a game changer for the hobby.  

73  W9OY
(Edited)
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Bill N5TU

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This is in addition to Jd's comments above about Bob's preferences. He is my neighbor, although we rarely have time to get together. Bob feels that it is important to bring new people into our ranks, and one vehicle for doing this is radios that are relatively simple to set up and operate. Once people discover the adventure of Amateur Radio, they may (one hopes) remain and expand their horizons. The IC-7300 certainly seems a cut above the entry-level HF radios of past years. Success will give people a reason to continue; failure will only discourage people and drive them away.

Now, waiting for Maestro to show up on my doorstep early next week.

VY 73,
Bill, N5TU
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Bob - W7KWS -

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The 7300 is an entry level radio per some of Icom's own sales videos but, it is direct sampling with a 14-bit Vs. the Flex 6xxx's 16-bit ADC. The 7300 is small & portable & except for a power source & antenna, it's self contained. It fills a different space than the current Flex line up. I'll probably be buying one at Dayton to play with along side my 6300 & Maestro. It looks like a fun radio.


On the other hand, to buy a transceiver with the same features as a Flex 6300 combined with a Maestro at $3700, one has to spend around $5000 or more with Elecraft or any of the Japanese manufacturers & you still end up with a hybrid; a superhet followed by a DSP. Hybrids are a kind of hardware trap with firmware upgrade possibilities much more limited than with the architecture of direct conversion radios.


It appears to me that the 7300 is only the first of what will be a long line of direct conversion amateur transceivers to chase Flex in this market. It's exciting times. Maestro due here on Tuesday.
(Edited)
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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I can see having a 7300 up at the northwoods cabin where my internet connection is probably going to turn out too slow to permit remote operation with the Maestro, but what I'd really like to see is a '6100' with a 10w QRP board built into a Maestro cabinet.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Now that is an idea! I hadn't thought of that.
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Mark - WS7M

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We could have a small tower mount for the Maestro with a Stepper or Log Periodic mini beam up about 8 feet!!!

(just kidding!)
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Doug -- K0DXV

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I think the comments on the IC-7300 are interesting.  I just sold mine.  I thought it performed very well.  And, indeed, the 7300 did open the SDR door for me.  I probably wouldn't have considered the Flex until experiencing the 7300.

Performance was not the issue for me.  It is usability.  It only took an hour for me to realize that a 20" monitor beat a tiny 4.8" display packed tightly with so much information.  Icom ought to seriously consider a networked box with a good client program.

I might reconsider Icom when their next transceiver comes out.  IC-7500? An 8" touch-enabled TFT would really set the market on fire.

For now I am very pleased with the 6300.  No more eye strain.  I can sit back and see everything in great detail.  Even activity on two bands.

I don't think there can be any doubt that direct-sampling DSP is the future; along with large, touch-enabled color displays.
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Lee, Elmer

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(Edited)
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Varistor

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Just curious, did you try the remote access software that lets you get your 20" panadapter in addition to controlling the radio remotely?
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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About all I can say at this point is that we will be working on it.  On things like this we do JIT design with the whole team when it is time to do the work.  If we spend time designing it in advance, everyone forgets the design and what it's supposed to do and how it works when the time comes to implement.  So we avoid that problem by discussing options as time permits, convincing ourselves we can solve it and then putting off the design until it's required.  When we do the work we will have several engineers working on it that have extensive networking experience.  Some even know how to command a Hayes modem. ;-)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Hayes modem? That brings back memories... I once wrote a GW-BASIC routine to program an S-COM 7K repeater controller via the landline. It translated macro codes into strings of DTMF tones and sent them up to the controller. I had to include a routine to chop long strings into smaller ones on order to get around a string-length limit on my modem that I couldn't solve. (32 characters if I remember). It was probably the last thing I did in GW-BASIC back in the 90's. It worked better in my situation than the program I got from S-COM.
(Edited)
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Duane N9DG

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What I find interesting about the models that support a spectrum display on the RS-BA1 software, is that they each have this notice in their brochures and/or users manuals:
 
"This product includes “zlib” and “libpng” open source software, and is licensed according to the open source software license."

I'm trying to figure out what role "libpng" plays in the screen presentation on the computer screen of RS-BA1 SW. I can't get my head fully wrapped around what exactly libpng actually does just by looking the libpng.org website. My guess is that it simply is the mechanism used to essentially stream a copy of the "video" from the radio's display.
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K6OZY, Elmer

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Given how bad the frame rate is of the RS-BA1 spectrum, i'm not convinced they aren't sending PNG screenshot snaps of the spectrum over the USB for display.  I guarantee that isn't VITA49!  :)
(Edited)
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km9r.mike

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lol
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Walt - KZ1F

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Everybody had stipulated the 7300 and 6700 are not in the same class, not performance wise...or price wise. Me thinks there is way too much hand wringing going on here.

Ya know what has a great graphics display, the ts-990s.

My ts-530sp never overloaded either, but I never lived next to an am radio station.
(Edited)
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Steve W6SDM

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Agreed that the ICOM 7300 isn't close to the performance of even a Flex 6300.   In fact, I believe the similarities stop with the direct conversion receiver.  However, from the reviews it appears to be a great radio with some specific applications.  If I can figure out how to sneak one into the house without being caught, I am strongly considering buying it as a go-box and something to use at Field Day.

  • It's small and light enough to fit into a medium-sized Pelican case.
  • It's self-contained, with voice recorder and keyer built in.  No computer needed.
  • It can be interfaced to a lower-end lap control for use of third party programs - the laptop doesn't have to do anything but display. 
  • It has a built-in tuner.

With the price being $1,000 less than the 6300, it looks like a good choice for a Field Day radio.  I see a lot of clubs latching on to these and giving up their Yaesu FT897s.
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Varistor

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For those of you who genuinely want to understand the overload "issue" of the 7300 and how it compares to other SDRs, I'd highly recommend joining the Yahoo group and reading Rob Sherwood's analysis and discussions with VA7OJ.

Otherwise, here's the bottom line, as summarized by Rob Sherwood:
The Flex 6700 overloads around +11 dBm with the preamp OFF.  -9 dB with preamp ON. The overload is soft, and I have never seen an overload indicator in the Flex software.  I don’t think there is one. The ANAN-200D overloads about -10 dBm.  There are minor variations by band due to the insertion loss of the front-end bandpass filters.
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Lee,

Was the overload in the video due to the on-frequency signal from 1000 miles away or could it have been from something closer like a neighbor ham putting in an S9+80 signal down the band 100KHz. I don't know any receiver that could take that well.

I've had hams next door to me at my last two QTHs & W1YY is three lots away from my current location. Flex 6300 does best but even it suffers occasionally. I sold my K3 because of this.

At one location KC7CDC & I pointed our two element quads at each other & he put a 1500 Watt CW signal on 14MHz. It induced 3-Watts into my 50-Ohm dummy load. Antenna seperation was 150 Feet. It's a tough environment out there & sometimes a simple video doesn't tell much of the story.

Dirty transmitters with lots of phase noise now cause me more trouble than Rx overload does. W1YY traded in his FT1000 for an FTDX5000 & this has helped a lot.
(Edited)
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Lee, Elmer

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Bob

I spent a year trying to find a station that would crunch my 6300.  Never found one even on the 630M band despite 50KW 10 miles away and 10KW 2 miles away.  I recently ran 2 DX peditions simultaneously using the 6500 first FT4JA and VK0EK on 160, then FT4JA on 160 and VK0EK on 40M using full duplex.  My antennas were my broad band loop for receive and a set of individually tuned resonant verticals which auto switch as I change bands.  I use a common radial field for the verticals 160, 80, 40, 30, 20 over about 4000ft of wire.

Running 1100W when I was transmitting on one band, say 40M my transmitted signal was invisible to my full duplex receiver on 160M.  I was able to copy FT4JA who was 2-4 dB out of the noise, while calling VK0EK on 40M.  Frankly I was amazed I could pull this off.  On a split like this the 6500 bypasses the band pass filters so the signal is strait into the ADC.  The transmit and receive antennas are about 150ft apart, and some of the 160M radials in the radial field of the verticals extends to within 30ft of the RX antenna.   Pretty strong!  

73  W9OY
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Thas it a truly impressive front end. I don't know of many other rigs that can do full duplex crossband. I have even been able to to full duplex up a ways on the same band with 100 Watts with separate antennas spaced about 95 ft. Just for testing. And I could even listen to my own signal with a couple of Watts without overload. Pretty tough stuff there.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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My neighbor on CW on 18 Mhz less than 850 yards from my antennas. He is using a Tokyo Hy Power and blasting CW at +500 watts.

No saturation on the front end of the radio. The second panadapter is listening to 17m on phone.

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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A friend of mine lost a FTDX-1200 to lightning last month and has asked my advice and opinion. The 6000 series is way above his budget for replacement. I have suggested a used Flex-3000, or new TS-590SG or IC-7300. He has seen my 6500 but has only been playing ham radio for a couple of years. He feels it might be overwhelming, even if it were in his budget to get a 6300.


Knowing him, and his operating style and interests, I would not have any concerns if he stepped up to SDR via the 7300. My guess is that he would have fun with it and may even some day step up to a flex.


Just as the Flex-1500 has been called a "gateway drug" rig, I think the if-7300 will also be an introductory rig for many people who will develop a thirst for higher performance. And many others will find it to be all that they ever need.


Variety and choice are wonderful things. The competition is going to drive even more innovation. The next ten years are going to be fun to watch.
(Edited)
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Lee, Elmer

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At least as fun as the past ten
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Burt Fisher

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Steve W6SDM

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Ford versus Chevy.  If I had only $1,500 to spend, I would buy an IC 7300 and feel good about it.  If I had the extra money, I would buy a 6300 and feel good about that too.

One radio is pretty much self contained while the other requires a computer and software.  The latter offers a lot more flexibility in terms of operating environment, upgrades, etc.

I don't really see these two products as competitive because they offer a great product to different markets with some degree of crossover.  I have had Flex radios since the 3000 but am considering the 7300 for a go box/Field Day radio solely because of it's portability.
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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I wanted to do just that, get a 7300 for fieldday/EMCOMM use. I got a good look at this TRX
and decided to keep my Flex3k, which does all digital modes including PACTOR and
is much easier to carry - because it is so flat, that I can put my Toughbook on top...
(Edited)
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Bob - W7KWS -

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It will be interesting to see what people are saying about the 7300 after Field Day.

I picked one up just for fun and fun it is. It gives me a nice portable transceiver with a whole-band spectrum & waterfall display in a compact, easy to transport package. It should be nice this summer in the RV. BUT, A FLEX IT IS NOT.

While listening with the 7300 to 20-meters I can put out one Watt on 17-meters using a second antenna and light up the 7300's overload light. Five Watts renders the 7300 deaf to anything else on 20 or on 17.

This is presumably more than -10 dBm, the overload limit for the 7300 but Field Day will become a real test. Break out those bandpass filters Ladies & Gentlemen

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