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Author Topic: Bandscopes on newer rigs  (Read 1007 times)

Posts: 42

« on: March 13, 2002, 09:37:55 AM »

For those of you that have/used them, I'm just wondering if the integrated digital bandscopes on the newer 'state of the art' rigs (ala the IC-746 etc.) are indeed that functional/useful.

I think I would almost prefer seeing manufacturers spend the extra design/manufacturing cost on providing an IF (not audio) interface for PC based spectrum analyzers (ala Spectrogram) or better yet, an outboard (?) PC based analyzer option that would allow computer control so you could 'point & click' on an area of interest and thus have the PC control/tune the rig.

While they indeed peg the cool factor meter, what say you owners of rigs with digital bandscopes? Are they truly useful or does the 'novelty' wear thin after long term actual use?

Posts: 55

« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2002, 10:33:45 AM »

I can only give an opinion on 3 of them.
IC-706 and 746(original version): Not useful in any way.
IC-756ProII: The fist really useful real-time spectrum display that gives you information on the traffic on adjacent channels. Downright impressive.

Posts: 413


« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2002, 10:34:12 AM »

Mostly a novelty. I didn't find it to be that useful on HF, because it may miss a QSO because it scanned by during a dip in the signal, like if the OM was in between words. Given the noise levels and things on many bands, you won't see much in the way of a meaningful graph. Looks like an uncut lawn. (Where you get the term "grass" on a spectrum display, as I recall.)

The only place it works real well is on FM, where with proper steps and resolution it will very nicely show where some active frequencies are. On my Kenwood V7A, you can hear the audio on your center frequency while you do the visual scan, but only in VFO mode. If you scan memory channels, audio is blanked out, though it will show what programmed channels have something happening.

Dave AD7DB

Posts: 21764

« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2002, 11:02:29 AM »

IMHO the bandscopes on the IC756 and IC781 (no longer made, but I think the first rig to offer the feature, many years ago) are highly useful.  On the smaller rigs, including the IC746, it's not worth having (no real functionality).

I wish, instead of adding useless features, the mfrs would do such things as:

-Use gold plated PCA contacts for improved reliability/longetivity

-Make the "memory backup" battery accessible and easily replaceable, mounted in a clip under a hatch door

-Always have a "receive antenna" port, on _all_ HF transceivers, not just the top of the line ones

-Always include a MONITOR function for SSB

-Include an input for connection to packet DX cluster data out, so DX spots will appear on the display screen right in front of you, on the rig...that would be much more useful than the scope

The list goes on and on...


Posts: 343

« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2002, 12:35:13 PM »

My initial impression was they are just another gimmick in the bells & whistles category.  When I decided to buy an ICOM 756PRO I fully intended to not use the bandscope and instead use the display option that shows all meter functions simultaneously.

But it didn't take long and I was hooked.  Switch to a band, and instantly confirm whether it's open or not.  Quickly evaluate whether signals are weak or strong. Look at a busy band and get a good indication of where there might be a clear frequency.

As a tool for analyzing received signals, I wouldn't put it anywhere near the category of a calibrated laboratory grade spectrum analyzer.  It is possible to extract some information, however.  I get a kick out of tuning standard AM broadcast and seeing who's naughty or nice or cheap.  A lot of the small stations are too cheap to fully modulate their signals.  Some of the bigger AM stations push the envelope on both modulation and signal bandwidth.  On the ham bands I occasionally note amateur AM signals with bandwidths of 15-30 kHz.  It is possible to observe SSB signals with excess bandwidth and CW signals with key clicks.
On the 756PRO you can adjust the sensitivity of the display which helps manage the noise floor so it shows less "grass" and more signals. You can adjust the display bandwidth from narrow to wide (25 - 200 kHz).  

Overall, as an indicator that gives the operator fast access to additional information about band conditions and received signals, I give it a 10.
73, Mike W8MW


Posts: 10

« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2002, 02:59:15 PM »

I've had a 756PROII for several months. The band scope is of marginal use on SSB other to spot general band activity, but I find it invaluable on CW.

When working a CW DX pileup in split mode all I have to do is watch for the blip of the station being worked by the DX station and I know where to set my transmit frequency. Piece of cake!

Bill Bosler - WF3M

Posts: 3585

« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2002, 05:13:47 PM »

I had not found the bandscope/bandscan useful on any of the many rigs I tried until I recently added a Ten Tec Jupiter to the operating position behind my desk. The bandscope on the Jupiter is not full time, and is therefore less than ideal, but it works and works well.

I understand TenTec's new Orion will have a full time bandscan as well as full dual recieve. If that works as well as the Jupiter's it should be a valuable addition.

And IMHO, I would much prefer a full dual reciever setup to the Mickey Mouse setup in the other "dual recieve" rigs that I have tried. I don't have a problem with RCA plugs since I cap the ones I don't use and color code jacks and cables so I know what goes where.

But I do want to be able to hear the station the DX is working so I will know where to call - and I want enough filtering so I don't hear the DX, the station he's working, and half the 20 Meter band at the same setting.

73  Pete Allen  AC5E

73  Pete Allen  AC5E

Posts: 939

« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2002, 10:24:01 PM »

Let me preface this by saying that I do NOT own any of those rigs....Nor have I used any of them, except for a quick demo in the store or hamfest....
With that little amount of use, I tend to agree with most of the others who answered here...

So, what can I possibly contribute?Huh?

How about a quick comment regarding the use giimicks to operate ham control, dx packet clusters, "band-scopes" (whether the concensus is that they "do" or "don't" work) are all things that are talked about like they are necessities to operate effectively when working dx, or "contests"......
But in my OPINION, they are NOT necessary!!!!!

I own and use "real" spectrum analyzers in my business daily....but I've NOT found one that can scan the "dx windows" and assess "who" is there, "where" they're working, nor "how open" is the band!!!!
That is why there is a human being there!!!!
Take a listen, it'll work better!!!!!

A quick story regarding the recent ARRL Int'l DX contest....
I turned on 75 meters, looking for some friends in Europe in the "dx window", forgetting it was "Contest Weekend", I found myself listening for a few minutes and ended up working some new ones!!!!
After about an hour, I got a call from a "W4" who was very strong.... he asked me if I had a hi-speed internet connection?Huh?
I do.....and I answered "yes"...but I didn't understand why he asked....
His reply was, I was getting all the DX as soon as they appeared.....(usually on the first call!!) and sometimes before he saw them on the "DX Spot List"...
He said that most of the time, I was finishing my contact with the DX station just as he "tuned them in"... and he assumed that it must be a hi-speed internet connection that was responsible....
IT WASN'T!!!!!!!
I wasn't using any DX Spot List, Nor packet cluster, etc...
I was simply tuning my dail, and LISTENING!!!!
I don't know if he believed me....BUT it's TRUE....

Just to show you how completely naive and old fashioned I am, I didn't realise until THAT weekend that this "DX Spot List" and "DX Packet Clusters" were not only commonly used, BUT actually considered the "ONLY" way to operate DX......

Well, it shouldn't surprise you to know that, I think it's not so good!!!!
I won't say that I would not use them...BUT I just don't see the point...

As far as DX is concerned, I generally like the "distance" (or "long-distance") part of the definition of "DX".....
NOT the "rare one" definition!!!!
I guess that's why I work 4500 - 5000 miles (Europe/Russia) everyday on 75 meters (barefoot) and if I stay up late, I work VK's on 75 meters..... and thats about 10,000miles.... (again "barefoot" on 75m)

So, if you want to work DX....
My advice, get a rig with a good receiver and listen!!
But, I doubt that the "band-scope" will help much....
You know they say that the key to success in hf communications is:
 49% operator,
 49% antennas,
and 2% transceiver....

You may argue with the specific "numbers" here...
But I think you'll find many that will agree "in general"......

Good luck.
John,  KA4WJA

Posts: 628

« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2002, 12:28:18 AM »

I've gone down to the local HRO store and looked at them.  The 756Pro seems to have a better scope than the 746.  But these scopes while interesting, might end up taking away from basic listening skills.  I slowly work up bands carefully listening for other stations.  I've been surprized on several occasions by what I have uncovered that would never show up on a screen.  It might be faster locating pile ups and strong stations, but you will miss the weak distant dx station that just lurks under the noise level.

Posts: 21764

« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2002, 01:34:38 PM »

I disagree.  It's hard to take away from skills, they will remain intact and usually continue to grow until some disabling disease stops the process.

The bandscope, like so many other features of modern equipment, is merely a tool to supplement operator skill.  Used with the proper skill set, the bandscope on the 756PRO (for example) is a great supplement.  It won't replace ears, or logic, or intelligence, but rather can use those items to better advantage.


Posts: 628

« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2002, 12:20:54 AM »

Steve, I would have to agree with you on that point.  If you already have the skill, it would help.
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