Bringing you the best on amateur radio antennas, circuits, techniques and related topics. One post per weekday. By Peter Parker VK3YE.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Will I be getting a new Icom IC-705 QRP rig?
News of Icom's new IC-705 QRP 160m-70cm rig has just come out. It was displayed at the Tokyo Hamfair. All I've done is read various accounts so I don't have personal experience of it. Will I get one? Probably not. I don't think it suits my style of beach, salt and sand portable operating (below).
There's chatter on QRZ forums. In no time an IC-705 Facebook group was set up. Already that's providing some answers to questions that portable QRPers would want to know. Eg receive current consumption. More on that later.
So what is the IC-705? You could say it's a sort of cross between an FT-817/8, an Elecract KX3 and Icom's own IC-7300. Like the FT-817/8 it has 160m - 70cm all mode coverage (but with a wider range receiver). It inherits its 'brick' type size and shape from the Elecraft. And the front panel and display looks a lot like an IC-7300. In fact from a distance they look the same except when you look at the distance to the rear (bottom) panel which is very short. And, more substantially it has DSP architecture like the IC-7300.
The cost is likely to be nearer to that of the Elecraft than the FT-818. But if you already have the very popular IC-7300 then you might want a junior lookalike to use in the field. And if you want a bigger screen and likely better receive performance compared to your ageing FT-817 then you might wish to go for the IC-705 if you value the VHF/UHF coverage that the Elecraft lacks. The microwave crew might also consider it for driving their transverters (especially if they're used to the IC-9700 at home).
What other things are worth knowing? The IC-705 has lot of computer and network connectivity stuff that other QRP rigs don't. Even Bluetooth (that apparently makes everything better!). People will like the top-facing speaker. Although for a harsh environment people will be looking to see whether its holes attract sand, something I've always been dubious about the 'Swiss cheese' Elecraft.
There's only one antenna socket on the Icom. That's a big minus for VHF/UHF contesters compared to the FT817/8. With the latter you can have a 2m beam on one socket and a 70cm beam on another and never have to switch. An understated benefit. Also there seems to have no inbuilt antenna coupler, which the Elecraft KX-3 has. It's not hard to make your own but for people who want an all-in-1 package for use with end-fed wires it could be a deal breaker.
Power consumption. That's important for the portable QRPer. Surely that big display and the DSP would use a lot of juice. All I could find was a note on the Facebook group that says it's about 1/3 amp on receive. That puts it similar to the FT-817/8. Not outrageously high but not low either. On this the Elecraft scores better with drain around the 150 mA mark. The Icom's transmit power output is 10 watts - a shade higher than the FT-818's 6 watts but less than the Elecraft's 15w.
The IC-705 won't be out for a while. But I can see that it could be attractive to some. On a price basis it's nearer to competing with the Elecraft but on a band capability basis it might take some market share away from the FT-818 (which despite the new model number is only a slightly altered FT-817 from 18 years ago).
What do you think? What will be your next big QRP purchase? Will you wait for the IC-705, get something else in the meantime or keep going with what you've got? Please leave comments below.
PS: Having a QRP rig like the IC-705 is great but how do you get the most from it? That's why you need Minimum QRP - the world's top selling manual on success with low power amateur radio. Available in ebook or paperback formats you can find out more here.