Icom 7300 Review
The IC-7300 is a complete direct sampling SDR HF radio transceiver in a box from Icom. The technology being used is basically the same SDR processing that has been in use f0r several years by “blackbox” SDR radio manufacturers. The significant difference is that no computer necessary to operate the Icom 7300. Amateur radio users who have had no prior SDR experience will find the IC-7300 immediately familiar to them. Simply connect a 12 volt power supply, antenna, and then turn it on. However, to get the most out of the IC-7300, you are going to need to spend a little time with the manual. The IC-7300 has a 4.3″ color TFT touch screen on the front panel. The screen is used for the frequency display, operational status, waterfall / spectrum display, and entering commands into the radio. The receive frequency range is from 0.030–74.800 MHz. Transmit power can be adjusted from 2 to 100 watts for most modes. AM transmit is limited to 25 Watts. Operational modes in include SSB, CW, RTTY, AM, and FM. RTTY decode and encode is built in but not CW decode / encode. The IC-7300 also includes a built in antenna tuner. Some Icom standard legacy features are also included such a Twin Passband Tuning, Notch Filter, Noise Blanker, etc. CAT control and external audio input and output is provided via type B usb port. The built in audio port allows you to use the IC-7300 with digital applications without the need for an external interface. There is also a very well thought out audio recorder and playback available when an SD card is inserted into the IC-7300. This can be handy for recording off the air or setting up canned messages for transmission purposes. The canned messages can be labeled as to their contents and displayed as buttons on the Icom-7300’s touch screen. The messages can be set to repeat at a certain time interval. Handy for those long sessions of calling CQ. Recorded transmissions can be be played back over the air, if someone wants to know what their audio sounds like. The SD card can also be used to save and retrieve user settings. The SD card can also be used to store screen shots from the built in display. Of course there are other standard HF goodies on board like RIT, programmable memories, scanning, etc. So, on the
surface level the IC-7300 appears to be a standard HF transceiver, however it’s whats under the hood that makes the IC-7300 very different. For you that like numbers, here is Rob Sherwood’s test results. The receiver test results are excellent for a radio in this price category. The IC-7300 appears to be using a 14 bit chip for processing instead of a 16 bit chip to keep costs down. However, the performance difference between of a 16bit processor and a 14 bit processor is not that large. The IC-7300 can display a maximum of 1MHz of bandwidth on the internal lcd screen. This is more than enough for covering most ham bands. The scope can be zoomed in for closer views by changing the Span settings. After using the IC-7300 for a couple of weeks it’s good, very good. Since there is a lot of depth to IC-7300 and this article could go on forever, lets just hit the high points from the end user perspective.
The IC-7300’s bid quality is excellent. Nice compact size with a very sturdy feel to the radio. The buttons and knobs have a nice feel to them. Nothing wobbles or wiggles. The VFO knob has a great feel to it and is just the right size to it. The VFO knob also includes a drag and lock adjustment so you can tweak it to your liking. The IC-7300 is a very solid feeling radio. The back panel is relatively uncluttered and features a large muffin fan for cooling on transmit. The back panel has connections for power supply, ground, antenna, acc connector, type B usb port, CIV remote jack, key, send control jack, ALC input jack, and a tuner control jack. The from panel has a microphone input and a headphone jack. The built in LCD touch screen is also excellent. Very sharp, bright, and also very responsive to touch input. Overall and excellent put together transceiver.
The IC-7300 by using a combination 25 buttons, 4 knobs (technically 6 knobs since the twin pass band knob and the AF / RF/SQ includes a second concentric knob), and the touchscreen makes the IC-7300 a dream to use. No more hunting through a forest of buttons to do something simple. Many features or settings can accessed quickly via the touch screen or the Multi knob. Thus allowing the operator to change settings on the fly very quickly. Icom did a great job of making commonly needed features and adjustments available in an intuitive manner without a lot of clutter and confusion.
The Realtime Scope LCD
Ok, the realtime spectrum / waterfall is one of the big features of the Icom-7300. Icom has done a great job with this aspect of the 7300. The scope is very bright and clear with good color saturation. Off angle viewing is excellent. The resolution of the display is very good, making it very difficult to see any pixels even if you are very close to the screen. You will have to be about 4 inches from the screen to just begin to barely see some pixelation. Unlike most spectrum displays on higher cost transceivers the Icom runs at around 30 fps. There is no delay that is apparent on the scopes of most of the higher end legacy transceivers. The Icom-7300’s scope is smooth and fast. The scope can be turned off if you want to have a larger frequency display and metering display. When the scope is turned on the size of the frequency display and meter display is reduced to make more room for the scope.Touching the meter display lets you quickly switch between the metering type. The two touch types that Icom uses on the LCD is a “short touch” or “long touch”. You may want to try out the “long touches” on the LCD screen buttons, there is a good chance there may be another setting hiding there. You will get the hang of getting around quickly its all pretty intuitive for the most part.