The ICOM IC-705

Should I Buy an ICOM IC-705?

Thinking of buying an ICOM IC-705 All Mode Transceiver? Maybe you should reconsider. Here’s several reasons why you may want to explore alternatives.

A well known amateur radio store professes that the ICOM IC-705 is THE all purpose radio for the Ham Shack and mobile use. IMHO, I don’t think the ICOM IC-705 is a viable alternative for either situation.

It’s All About QRP:

First and foremost is the fact that the #ICOM705 is a QRP transceiver. If you are new to Amateur Radio and you don’t fully understand QRP, then spend the time to learn about QRP before laying out $1200+ on a transceiver that you may find to be a disappointment.

For novice or veteran QRPers, a way to learn a ton about the magic of QRP is to pick up a copy of Peter VK3YE’s book called Minimum QRP. Peter truly is the Godfather of QRP. If you have a Kindle reader on your phone, tablet, etc. then I believe Peter’s Kindle publication is still free. If not, Minimum QRP is also available in paperback. A link to Peter’s publications are found below.

IC-705’s Purpose:

Since the #IC705 is not IMHO an ideal transceiver for the Ham Shack nor a viable alternative as a mobile rig, what is it good for? It’s really all about backpacking for those portable, “on the air” adventures.

The ICOM brochure mentions #POTA and #SOTA among all the other features of the transceiver. Click here for my Intro to POTA or the Parks on the Air Program. Find more info on SOTA here.

At least ICOM is not attempting to mislead about the intended purpose of their awesome feat of RF engineering. Since I have no personal interest in VHF, UHF, Bluetooth, DSTAR and GPS, it’s best to use the ICOM brochure or other web sites for those details.

More Things To Consider:

The IC-705 only has one antenna port. Read my opinion called the Flawed ICOM-705 for more on that subject.

The IC-705 has no internal tuner. If you bring an antenna like the tunable Wolf River TIA System or antennas cut for the bands you plan to use then SWR is a non-issue.

Apparently Vibroplex is one of the first to rush an IC-705 tuner into production. According to the Vibroplex web site, their $220+ mAT-705 will be shipping in late October.

An Amplifier?

Sure you can rig up an amplifier for the ICOM IC-705 but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a QRP rig? If it’s power you are after, a Yaesu FT-991 or better yet an ICOM IC-7300 are far better alternatives.

The ICOM IC-7300 is about $300 less than the IC-705 and is capable of 100 watts. If QRP is something that truly interests you, the IC-7300 power can be easily set to 5 watts or less.

For the sake of saying it, my ICOM IC-7300 was a quantum leap from my Kenwood days. After a year with my IC-7300, I have no complaints.

One thing to note about the IC-7300 is that the internal tuner is not broad banded. The #ICOM7300 internal tuner handles antennas designed to operate on specific bands or tunable antenna systems.

Since I don’t have the space for an HF antenna farm outside of my Ham Shack, the alternative I chose was the LDG IT-100 external tuner. One nice feature of the IT-100 is that it utilizes the IC-7300’s tune button. LDG also provides live, one-on-one telephone support.

What is Your Opinion of the ICOM IC-705?

Amazon: VK3YE’s Minimum QRP

Amazon: ICOM IC-7300

Amazon: LDG IT-100 Tuner

73 de KE2YK

Nano VNA Network Analyzer Review

I’ve been looking around at reasonably priced network analyzers. My needs are fairly simple. Most analyzers are just way too expensive. I really like the portability of the Rig Expert Stick 230 but the price is out of scope.

The goal was to find a fairly inexpensive network analyzer that covers 80 through 6 meters. Although the Nano VNA covers 10 KHz to 1.5 GHz, I have little interest in anything above 6 meters. I just want something fairly simple that will check impedance and SWR on these weird antenna systems I build and experiment with. Although it’s rather obvious, I feel that I should add that the Nano VNA is a delicate instrument and IMHO would not fair well in a outdoor environment such as field day.

As it turns out, the Nano VNA is pretty much what I have been looking for. For in-depth technical details visit the Nano VNA site. The Nano VNA comes with charging cable and and calibration terminators. Although I have not looked into it yet, software is available at GitHub to compliment or extend the Nano VNA capabilities. I ordered my Nano VNA via Amazon to avoid running into knockoffs.

While the Nano VNA can do a multitude of functions far beyond the needs of the average ham radio operator, the video I grabbed from YouTube explains the Nano VNA usage its most simplest form. For more information about the capabilities of the Nano VNA, a nanovna manual can be found here.

The video demonstrates how to calibrate and use the Nano VNA to measure SWR of a VHF antenna. Running an analysis for HF is just repeating the steps for a different band segment.

Amazon: Nano VNA Network Analyzer

Amazon: Rig Expert Stick 230

73 de KE2YK

W3DJS Ham Pi Project Review

I have been experimenting with Raspberry Pi’s for a number of years. As the hardware evolved, I began using the hardware for various Ham Radio projects.

 SVXlink was one of my first Pi 3 Mod B projects. SVXlink is a Linux based repeater controller and echolink server. I did the project for the Brookhaven National Lab Radio club (BNLARC). At the time of this post, the server is offline due to repeater work.

The SharkRF IPConnector is another project I did on a Pi 3 Mod B. A local group, all running OpenSpot hardware used my IPConnector as a private DMR network. The daemon was very stable and the dashboard allowed me to keep an eye on activity. After getting over some of the configuration hurdles, IPConnector was a fun and useful project.

FT8 Off The Grid Setup

My next project was to create an off the grid FT8 system to take portable for Parks on the Air activations. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I leveraged some of KM4ACK’s scripts for time management.

As anyone who has run FT8 knows the protocol requires an accurate system clock.

Installing a hardware real time clock and an inexpensive GPS unit along with KM4ACK’s software tools insured accurate time.    

I have recently moved onto the Raspberry PI 4 Mod B with 8gb ram. Why? The only real reason I can come up with is; why stop now! The operating system for the Raspberry Pi is now officially called the Raspberry Pi Operating System. The Pi 4 Mod B hardware really is another leap forward for an intro $35 computer. Take a spin over to raspberrypi.org for all the cool tech specs. I see no point in regurgitating them here.

Ham Pi, written by Dave Slotter, W3DJS caught my attention because Dave has dedicated an incredible amount of time to this project. Dave has compiled over 100 ham radio apps in various categories and… get ready for it… it’s documented! Not only is it documented but each app in the document has a link to the app’s home page. Way to go Dave!

Dave has broken down his list of applications into 8 categories: General Ham Radio (41) Antenna Tools (5) Digital Software (including the full suite of FLDigi apps) (11) Software Defined Radio (25) APRS (5) Logging (10) Winlink (6) and Morse Code (12).

Got a Raspberry Pi 3 Mod B or new Pi 4? Why not give Dave’s project a spin? Use the comment section for help or questions?

73 de KE2YK