Icom 7300 Review

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

Icom 7300 Review

Tuning
The VFO knob can be generally used for tuning but there are a few other tuning aides. Touching the MHz digits on the frequency display brings up the Band Stacking Register feature screen. This will allow you to quickly change to another band or directly enter a frequency. If you “long touch”  a band key  on the screen you rotate through various sections of the band like CW, SSB, etc. Touching the kHz digits lets you change the tuning step size and touching the Hz numbers lets you activate the fine tuning feature. Changing modes can be quickly done by simply touching the current mode on the screen. This will bring a panel on the screen with buttons for selecting a new mode. With the spectrum / waterfall display active, you can tune to any active frequency by touching the waterfall. Icom uses a clever trick to help you work with the small display. When you touch in the general area of the waterfall of the signal, a magnified area will pop up on the screen to you more accurately select the active frequency. However, depending on your accuracy you may still have to reach over and grab the VFO knob to touch it up a bit. The spectrum scope makes it easy to see active frequencies within the band you are using. No more endlessly spinning the VFO knob hunting for active frequencies. The Icom-7300 makes getting around the dial fast and efficient which should be a plus for contesters.


The Spectrum / Waterfall Display

Full Scope Display

Full Scope Display

A quick press of the M. Scope button will switch between no spectrum /waterfall or a mini spectrum / waterfall display. One of the advantages of the mini display is that by pressing the Menu button and selecting Audio you can display the Audio FFT scope that has it’s own waterfall display and the Audio Oscilloscope. These two scopes come in handy for analyzing a received signal or identifying digital signals. They also can be used to help tweak your transmit signal. These two scopes have their own settings. For example you can change the Level and Time Division of the Oscilloscope. When you are in spectrum / waterfall mini display you can press Menu and select Meter, and display the ALC, Compression, SWR, and Drain Current meters along with operating Temperature and Drain Voltage meters simultaneously. A long press of the M. Scope menu takes you to the larger spectrum / waterfall display as well as activating 2 different sets of options along the bottom of the screen. The scope can basically be operated in two modes. Center and Fixed. While in the Center mode, the tuned frequency marker will always be at the center of the scope display. This handy for seeing whats happening on either side of the tuned frequency. The Span can be set from ±2.5, 5.0, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 and 500 kHz on either side of the center frequency. The other mode is Fixed which locks the scope to a fixed frequency range. Three different band edges can be programmed to be displayed on the scope. The Edge feature is super handy if you just want to display a specific part of an band within the 1 MHz display range. For example you could program band edge range to show just the CW portion of a band or a newly minted General class could

Mini Scope with Audio FFT and Ocilloscope

Mini Scope with Audio FFT and Ocilloscope

program a custom Band Edge in just to show the range of a given band they are allowed to transmit in. The IC-7300 comes with three different edges for each band already programed in. Another setting you may want to look into is the REF setting. This allows you adjust the sensitivity of the scope to just display very strong signals or help display weaker signals. There are other tweaks to the scope that can be found by holding the Expnd / Set button under the display. You can tweak several things here. Don’t hesitated to experiment because on most of the settings you can “long press” the menu item and set it back to the factory default. Want a hotter scope? Experiment with the Grid setting. Like funky day glow colors on your scope? Fool around with the various scope color settings. There are also other settings that control how the frequency marker behaves you may want to look into. One cool feature is that you can set the power button when quick pressed to take a screenshot that is stored as a .png or .bmp on the SD card. Handy for sharing some interesting moments.

 

Receiver

Mini Scope with Meters

Mini Scope with Meters

The Sherwood test numbers show that the sensitivity and adjacent channel rejection of the IC-7300 are top notch. Even approaching transceivers or besting transceivers that are 2 to 3 times more expensive. The IC-7300 has a very low noise floor helping to make it a nice quite receiver. The selectable filters are handy for reducing any nearby interference. The Twin Pass Band filter can also help further in reducing interfering signals. The adjustable Noise Blanker can help deal with some types of electrical interference. The Noise Blanker in the IC-7300 is excellent. With judicious use of the adjustable Noise Blanker you can significantly reduce background noise without completely destroying the quality of the audio signal. The IC-7300 Noise Blanker doesn’t have that watery sound or echoey sound that so many Noise Blankers produce. When adjusted properly the IC-7300’s Noise Blanker can actually add to helping copy a weak signal. It’s even pleasant enough to leave on full time. The recovered signal audio quality from the IC-7300 and it’s built in speaker is superb. The audio is very full and rich when listening to a well adjusted SSB signal making the IC-7300 very pleasant to listen to and non fatiguing over long listening sessions. The IC-7300 makes it a real pleasure to listen to a well adjusted SSB audio signal and a real pain to listen the ones that are not (it;s surprising how many or not). This is not always something you find even on more expensive sets without the use of an external speaker / audio system. Listening to AM or Shortwave broadcast is also very nice which may make the IC-7300 appeal to the SWL crowd. This is all without adjusting the Treble and Bass settings found in the setup menu. For now, the IC-7300 is probably one of the best HF receivers you can get your hands on for the price.

 

13 Responses

  1. Keith says:

    I own a Icom IC7300 and it is a very nice radio for the price. However, i think it is only half of what I would consider a SDR without the ability to leverage other than OEM SDR software.

    An I/Q output in the current USB needs to be a top priority for either the next or following firmware. Otherwise, this radio will be overcome by the next Japanese manufacturer that decides to incorporate such capability.

    Maybe Icom won’t care since they have sold so many units as a first mover in the space, but I certainly hope that they add this capability to this rig. There are certainly many reasons why they will hold back (primarily because they will want people to purchase their next higher cost unit that will have more open architecture and capability) but I hope they don’t.

    This rig is super nice but it is a bit of a shocker that this was not included as a capability. I did not buy the additional icom software because because of all the negative reviews and the YouTube videos I have seen demoing it make me really question the need to actually buy it. It appears to be very clunky and the panadapter inflexibility to scale to the computer screen and apparent latency compared to the ic-7300 touch screen panel are a huge turnoff for me.

    • Robert Young says:

      Hi Keith, thanks for your input on your IC-7300. I’m considering investing in one of these rigs. I live in a Very noisy area, and need a receiver that can reject as much noise as possible. In the review above, it says ” Recorded transmissions can be be played back over the air, if someone wants to know what their audio sounds like. ” I looked over the manual and even called Icom tech support, and they said it would not allow you to re-transmit QSO audio recordings. He wasn’t absolutely certain, however. Can you verify this function. Thanks, ’73 Bob

      • admin says:

        Yes it can be done, but not directly from the radio. The RSBA1 software adds that feature. The other technique is to remove the SD card and plug the card into a computer. Move the recording to the voice memory directory , plug the card back into the 7300. Assign the file to a voice memory button. Press the button on the voice memory on screen and the recorded audio will be transmitted. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

    • Joe says:

      Just curious. I’ve been thinking of purchasing an IC-7300 to be used primarily as a replacement for my aging Icom R75 receiver. So aside from transceiver use, and instead using it as a communications receiver, how would you compare it’s receive capabilities in comparison to the R75? Would it be a worthy replacement? Or would I be better off purchasing a dedicated receiver?

  2. David Hartwig says:

    I have an IC-7300 and am very satisfied with the performance. It is easy to operate and does have too many unnesaccery unwanted bells and whistles. ICOM have issued 4 firmware updates which I have installed the last one rectifying problems with the USB port. ICOM are bringing out the IC-7610 which is also a SDR touchscreen but at twice the price which I think is a bit steep but as I say I am very happy with my 7300 and would recommend it.

    • Malcolm Pelham says:

      Just curious about the USB Port problem you are referring to. Mine has the 1.13 firmware and I am having issues setting up the USB Port for both radio control and sending CW. I just got my radio a few days ago (12/23/16). I did notice on the Icom site that there was newer firmware to download so I was just wondering about the USB Port Issue

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m an old style cw op. Wish the 7300 had a bug emulation mode.

    73, K1JHB

    • Jim wa3mej says:

      it does just use the soft menu through I think the cw menu (has the picture of the key on it) I believe to get to that part of the menu… same place to change between fully automatic bug and the old style J38 key

  4. Richard Smith says:

    Refering to Third party software, please confirm that the 7300 will handle NBEMS digital applications such as FLdigi, FLmsg, etc. In addition the recent addition of FSQcall that is gaining in popularity.

    Rick
    k0kex

  5. Licensed HAM says:

    This is a really nice radio, it initially sold well, and ignoring the internal SDR architecture, it’s main competition is the Yaesu FT-991A which adds 2 meter and 70cm transmit and VHF/UHF receiver coverage. Without having a true I/Q output, or coverage above 70Mhz, the 7300 is largely more comparable to the FT-991A than most any wideband SDR. The Yaesu also comes with more options included and you don’t have to spend $100 on the software. The 7300 has an edge in dynamic range on a test bench but real world performance seems to be very similar to the FT-991A. The “A” revision of the 991 fixed the two major problems–finals failing and a realtime waterfall making it a much stronger competitor to the 7300. In short, I think Icom either needs to add I/Q or risk Yaesu or Kenwood beating them to it leaving Icom in the dust. Right now the FT-991A appeals to many more buyers than the 7300 primarily because of the VHF and UHF support. So Icom is already behind in some ways and the far more expensive IC-7610 does nothing to correct any of the above issues.

  6. marshall says:

    what do I need to send cw 40 meters Lower side band
    where you hear most cw using IC-7300
    Thanks

  7. Bob says:

    What are the pluses to the Icom IC-7300 to a medium wave / short wave listener ? I would say the first on the list is it being a “Direct Sampling” Software Defined Receiver design. That’s right….no traditional mixer and IF stages. Right from the antenna input there are 15 bandpass filters then to a 14 bit analog to digital converter, after that there is a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array). Use of a TI TMS320C6745 DSP after that which makes sense being this is standalone SDR device.

    As Adam VA7OJ said: “The IC-7300 is not a “hybrid”. One looking at the simplified block diagram is all it takes. It is a fully-architected direct-sampling / DUC SDR, in which the baseband port of the FPGA is connected to an internal DSP complex rather than an external PC. By converting the baseband to a 36 kHz “pseudo-IF”, Icom have made a very clever move, which has enabled them to use their well-proven DSP hardware platform and code libraries.”

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