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Author Topic: Icom IC-7000 or Kenwood TS-480HX (SAT) for a new HAM  (Read 24565 times)
KJ6PVR
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« on: July 20, 2011, 09:12:45 PM »

Hello ,
I'm a fresh holder of a license and I'm thinking about buying my first HF radio. I narrowed my pick down to IC-7000 and TS-480 and I'd like to get some input from seasoned HAM's to help me decide. Both radios are in my price range and I really don't want to spend more right now. I just bought two of Kenwood TH-F6A for me and my wife for emergency purposes. But I want one radio for "fun" as well and HF is a must.

What I like about IC-7000 is the multi band operation and small size, seems like a great overall radio for mobile and first base station (based on reviews I red) . But TS-480 has some great features as well, as 200W on HX model , speaker in front panel, clear audio etc etc. But it's lacking VHF/UHF.

Decisions decisions...
I'd appreciate any help or pointers...
73
Tom.
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W6RMK
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 07:24:07 AM »

I have a IC-7000 in my car, and I like it.  Radio sits in the trunk (next to the battery), front panel is mounted on the center console.  IN this kind of setup, you need an external speaker hookup of some sort.  I've done 2 different schemes:
1) a speaker in the front plugged into the speaker jack on the front panel
2) a hookup to the car audio system using an aftermarket adapter designed for the purpose

Both work.  If you do #2, then you can't listen to the regular car radio while you're using the ham rig.  If you do #1, you can.. I've contemplated going to a headset and footswitch for PTT

If you're really going to use it in your car, you need to either fit check with a sample or  make exact scale copies (I printed out the brochure at 1:1 scale and cut it out to make a mockup) and see if it's going to fit.  Keep in mind how you'll need to operate it.  Will you be able to see the display, reach the buttons, turn the knobs.  when it comes right down to it, all the radios "work" about the same, so it's matter of fit and user interface.

Sure the IC7000 has a fancy mic with a keypad, but hey, you're probably not going to be looking at all those keys while driving down the road. I find all I use, while driving, is the band select (on the radio, not the mic), the tune up/down (or reach down and turn the knob) and volume.  (And gosh, I wish radio mfrs would allow you to program in settable tuning ranges for each band.. so you could spin the knob without looking to go to the bottom of the band.. even better would be a "virtual band".. Set "20m DX" for instance.

Bear in mind that while the IC7000 has 2m and 70cm (which work just fine), it doesn't have a decent interface for generating DTMF tones, so no dialing up random IRLP or Echolink nodes.  Works fine for hitting the local repeater with CTCSS tones, though.
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KJ6PVR
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 08:45:39 AM »

Thank you for your detailed input. I'm not sure I'll be using it as much in the car, but I would definitely want to make a setup for it in case I want to take it mobile. I think the main usage will be at home experimenting with HF.
I'm not sure if I should include more radios in my line-up for pick, I was considering as well Yaesu FT 857D and 897D , but I narrowed it down to Icom and Kenwood. 
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AK4KZ
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 10:21:20 AM »

For what it's worth, I wrote up my take on the IC-7000 after I bought it. I'm still pretty pleased. Unfortunately, I can't talk about the TS-480 since I don't know anything about it.

My blurb on the IC-7000
http://kj4ywj.chrislonsberry.com/?p=37

Oh.. one more thing.. I have yet to have any problem with heat but it is indoors and my transmit is probably below average use. Like everything else, your mileage may vary. But I've gotten over worrying about heat.

I'm not a professional critic so take my review with a grain of salt along with all the others. Hopefully, it's just a little more information to help you decide. Good luck with whichever way you end up going.

73,
Chris
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K0BG
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 10:44:45 AM »

I have owned both of these radios, and have used them side by side. The receiver close in specs on the Kenwood are a bit better than the 7000s, but in the real world of mobile operation, you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference.

The DSP in the 7000 is IF based, and is a lot better than the audio one in the Kenwood. That said, the Kenwood AF based one is somewhat better than the one in the 706, as it should be.

I don't need to use a noise blanker in my installation, but if you do you'll find the Kenwood's a bit better, but not as adjustable as the Icom's.

Two hundred watts is a lot of bang for the buck, and you sure won't need an amp. However, wiring is critical, as the radio draws a bit over 40 amps peak.

Personally, I don't like the ergonomics of the Kenwood, but I suspect you can get used to anything.
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W8JX
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 03:20:32 PM »

I have owned a 480 SAT for 2 years now and love it. Hard radio to fault for money. Granted DSP is AF based but it does a fine job once you learn how to use it in varying conditions. It has NR1 and NR2 which have 10 steps or adjustment, a noise blanker with 10 steps and a DNL (digital noise limiter) than has 3 settings. Also optional SSB filter is a new design and has much steeper skirts than older models and even some other new radios in its class. Good sounding receiver with adjustable DSP/sound on it too. Funny thing is until 2 years ago I did not have any interest in one but after playing with one i was sold. Mine has voice syn/recorder and optional SSB and CW filters too and can pretty much loose/cut out SSB signals 2KC or more away pretty easy once you learn it and use optional filter.   
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KJ6PVR
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 04:20:13 PM »


Thanks, one more review to read, the more the better. If you look past VHF, do you see it as a pretty good HF starter radio?
What I might do is perhaps later buy one dedicated mobile 2 band TX and install it permanently in my car. HF functionality would be the most used of IC-7000 if I decide for this model.
(I'm already changing my preferences..)
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KJ6PVR
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 04:24:42 PM »

I have owned a 480 SAT for 2 years now and love it. Hard radio to fault for money. Granted DSP is AF based but it does a fine job once you learn how to use it in varying conditions. It has NR1 and NR2 which have 10 steps or adjustment, a noise blanker with 10 steps and a DNL (digital noise limiter) than has 3 settings. Also optional SSB filter is a new design and has much steeper skirts than older models and even some other new radios in its class. Good sounding receiver with adjustable DSP/sound on it too. Funny thing is until 2 years ago I did not have any interest in one but after playing with one i was sold. Mine has voice syn/recorder and optional SSB and CW filters too and can pretty much loose/cut out SSB signals 2KC or more away pretty easy once you learn it and use optional filter.   

I was almost sold on IC-7000  Smiley , I knew it would come to this eventually, they are both really good rigs it seems. Kenwood even has a discount $250 until the end of July.
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WD5GWY
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 04:44:27 PM »

I have the ICOM 7000 and a Kenwood TS-480SAT. Both are very nice, dependable radios.
Both have excellent noise and interference handling abilities. The 7000 is much smaller than
the 480 and does not come with an internal auto tuner (as the 480SAT does) nor does it have
200 watts output (like the 480HX does). I too have ran both side by side and no one has been
able to tell me which radio I was talking on at the time. 
  The 7000 seems to run a little hot, but, it is not outside the design specs for the radio.
It is as close to a "shack in a box" as you can get. And works very well.
  IF I only had the 480SAT and wanted VHF & UHF as well, I would buy a separate dual bander
to go with it. You cannot monitor a local repeater and be on HF at the same time with the 7000
like you could with that setup. It all depends on your needs and preferences.
If you have the chance to try out both radios, I would suggest that you do. As has been mentioned,
the ergonomics of the 480 are different than that of the 7000. The 480 does not have a "removable"
faceplate/ control head like the 7000 does. It is intended to be separate from the radio. And should you
have to mount the main radio very far from the control head, you will need an extension cable for the
microphone as there is no microphone connection on the remote, unlike the 7000. 
With the 7000, you can mount the radio anywhere you want (within reason) and run a single cable to
the control head and connect your mic to it. To me, that's one less chance of stray RFI getting into the
system and causing problems. ( I put ferrite beads on mine in my big truck and have not experienced
any problems)
Either way you go, both radios are great and really hard to beat considering what they offer.
james
WD5GWY
 
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W8JX
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 09:27:05 PM »

Be advised that Kenwood sells a optional MB-480 mobile carry bracket/case. It mounts head in front of radio body and make it easy to pick up and use anywhere and even comes with a short cable for head too. Strangely the MB-480 is included with models sold overseas but not in US. It is about 45 bucks to buy.  I have one for mine. Also I would not have a radio without a built it tuner these days. Granted it will not match a open wire but given the way a SS rig throttles back with SWR you need a matching unit handy at times and built in is a nice first line of defense.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 09:28:42 PM by W8JX » Logged

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KJ6PVR
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 12:18:39 AM »

Be advised that Kenwood sells a optional MB-480 mobile carry bracket/case. It mounts head in front of radio body and make it easy to pick up and use anywhere and even comes with a short cable for head too. Strangely the MB-480 is included with models sold overseas but not in US. It is about 45 bucks to buy.  I have one for mine. Also I would not have a radio without a built it tuner these days. Granted it will not match a open wire but given the way a SS rig throttles back with SWR you need a matching unit handy at times and built in is a nice first line of defense.

What do you think about HX model with 200W output? If you only could have one of those, which one would you pick? SAT wit 100W or HX model with 200W ?
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W8JX
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 05:13:23 AM »

What do you think about HX model with 200W output? If you only could have one of those, which one would you pick? SAT wit 100W or HX model with 200W ?

Tuff call as they both have their own advantages. While HX lacks a built in tuner it is a 200 watt radio and if you run high duty cycle digital or RTTY or the like you will be able to run twice the power key down with same heating or less heat with same power vs SAT because HX has two cooling fans and SAT 1. Also HX can function as a 100 watt rig with just one power connector used (one is master and other is for second set of finals) so it is not a deal killer that you cannot use radio without a 40 amp power supply. SAT has a built in tuner which is nice at times when antenna is less than perfect. If you are comfortable with keeping antennas well matched or using a external tuner and have no plans for a amp get HX model. It will only be on S unit down from a 600 watt amp in field vs 1.5 S units for SAT.
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N5MOA
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2011, 05:19:17 AM »

If you only could have one of those, which one would you pick? SAT wit 100W or HX model with 200W ?

Both. Tongue

I've used a TS-480SAT for 3 years. After about a year of taking it in and out of the pickup (I built my own version of a MB-480) to also use it in the house, I bought a HX model for the pickup.

I don't need the internal tuner with my mobile antenna, and the extra 100w is nice to have.

For in the house use, if you don't already have an antenna tuner, the one in the SAT will help with "tweaking" an antenna mis-match. Just don't expect it to tune a barbwire fence.

If you plan on needing/wanting an antenna tuner, I would buy a separate, outboard tuner. The tuning range will be much greater, and you will (depending on the tuner) also have the ability to use ladder line/end fed wires if you want.

It really depends on what you are wanting to do. Just starting out, if I could only pick one, for mobile operations, it would be the HX. For the house, probably the SAT, because I would also eventually (after doing all I could as regards antennas) buy an amp, and wouldn't need the 200w from the HX. The HX requires a bit over 40 amps at full output. Bigger (more $$) power supply.



I like the layout of the control panel on the TS-480. The buttons are very well placed. Commonly needed functions are not in the menu, they are a button push away.
 The display is big, uncluttered, and easy to read in any (or no) light.
The menu is very intuitive, easy to access, and you don't have to access one menu to access another.
If you add one of the cw filters, you can also enable it to work on ssb. They are too narrow The is no wrong choice with either, imo. for phone, but work great with psk.
There is also a set of filters built in the radio for data you can turn on/off via the menu.
The AF dsp works fairly well on ssb, very well on cw.
The receiver is excellent.

The only difference is tuner/100w, no tuner/200w. If I were you, I would buy the SAT, it is a few bucks less expensive than the HX, and spend the left over funds on my antenna(s). 

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KJ6PVR
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2011, 02:34:41 PM »

Well, I guess I'm back at 50:50
Right now the cost is much more favorable for Kenwood, I can have TS-480SAT for $939 free shipping, where IC-7000 will set me back $1239.
You guys are helping, thank you, more opinions I read, better shape my final picture will have.
I'll ask another question. How desirable is it to have VHF/UHF in your base station rig ? Originally I really liked it and I still do, it will give the rig flexibility, but after seeing most of the "pricier" rigs without it, maybe the better route would be getting HF only (TS-480SAT) and then later something VHF only for my car. And if I ever want to take HF mobile , I guess I still could since it would be smaller size for mobile usage as well.
Does it sound like reasonable thinking?

With IC-7000 it would be little simpler, one radio, all bands in the car or at home, just a matter of grabbing the radio... 

As far as power supply, I don't find that to be $$ question, I converted my ATX PC power supply to a desk power supply with 12V at 25A , my cost was a few bucks for banana plugs, switch etc...
I can buy one at 750W and make the same thing that will give me 50-60amps for $60-70 . I don't see an issue here. It's a clean power too with protection built in. On top of it I get -12V , +5V and -5V as well.
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WD5GWY
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 02:56:49 PM »

While your thoughts about the 7000 are good, again, having VHF & UHF along with HF in a single
package is nice. BUT, you cannot work HF and listen to your favorite repeater at the same time.
(well, as little activity that happens on local repeaters lately, that's not a big deal......at least around here!)
 As a previous poster mentioned, the 480 (either one) has a big, nice , easy on the eyes , display.
The 7000's display is much better than other HF mobiles I have seen and used (other than the 480 series).
And it has the ability to output the display to an external video monitor. I would not use anything larger
than a 7" monitor as anything larger looks bad due to low video resolution of the output.
And yes, you can take the TS-480 SAT/HX mobile. Either get the MB-480 to mount it, or roll your own like
another poster mentioned. (I won't describe my "custom" mount for my 480SAT in my big truck.......too many people will laugh!!)

As for the power supply you mentioned, as long as the supply will provide the required amperage(with some cushion) and does not introduce noise into the received signal, then modding a computer power supply or building your own (hardly anyone does that anymore  Sad , you should be fine.  It's tough to say get this one or that one, the best is as I mentioned before, try both out if you can. If not, then try to find a local ham that has at least one of the rigs. At least that way, you will have some idea on one of the radios. And, if you buy used
then you can always sell one and purchase the other, should you not like your first choice.  (well, you could do the same buying new, but, personally, I go the used route and then if I just absolutely have to have new, I get a new one and sell the used one)
Oh, and don't worry, one of these days after you make your decision you'll be thinking about the other rig!!
I have, that's one reason I have both!!
james
WD5GWY
 
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 02:59:39 PM by WD5GWY » Logged
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