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Author Topic: Icom IC-718 for SWLing and AM DXing?  (Read 2741 times)
DESI
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Posts: 11




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« on: March 17, 2002, 01:25:07 PM »

Hello all!

I got my Amateur Radio (general class) licence a while ago, but I have not yet got a radio.  There are a few basic things I would like to know. I would appreciate your help.

I'm a SWLer and enjoying DXing on AM. That's going to be my primary activity for some time (at least 'til I get to know my way around on ham radio).

To get a rig, I will be selling my SW radio, Sony ICF-2010. Looking around on this site, I understand that ICOM IC-718 will be my kinda first rig (which fits my kinda budget). I may be wrong, please correct me. My questions:

1) When I buy this, do I have to buy a (separate) power supply? (Even when I plan to use it only at home? No basements in San Jose, CA!)
2) How good is this transceiver for SW listening and AM DXing?
3) What is the decent price you think I can get a new ICOM IC-718 for?
4) What do you recommend for a decently priced antenna I can start out with?

Any other comments/suggestions will be deeply appreciated by this newbit. Thanks in advance.

svp
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KG4RNE
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2002, 02:03:36 PM »

I just bought a new IC-718 for $532 at a hamfest, which is by far the lowest price I've seen on that rig.   I can tell you that it's pretty good for SWL'ing, but performance on the AM broadcast band is disappointing, at best - although I attribute that to the number of high-power AM BCB stations in my area.  

You will need an external 12v power supply - the guys at HRO recommended the Astron 35A, which will power the 718 at max current draw (20 amps) and give you plenty of extra capacity to add other equipment. I've been pretty pleased with it, although mine had some  nasty vibration noise coming from the top of the case when I first powered it on.  I stuck a piece of duct-tape to the top to change the resonant frequency and damp that vibration, and the problem went away.  

As far as the antenna is concerned, you can't beat the price/performance ratio of a center-fed wire dipole antenna, cut for the band on which you're planning on operating.  They're dirt cheap, ridiculously easy to construct, and perform VERY well.  My 20m dipole cost about 7 dollars in parts, although it could have been even less had I used cheaper feedline and connectors. Where you put that dipole is dependent upon your QTH - the size of your lot, any outside antenna restrictions, etc.  For example, mine is in my attic.

The IC-718 is a great first (or second, or third) HF rig - you'll love it, and for the features it has, you can't beat the price.
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K1TWH
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Posts: 103




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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2002, 02:06:57 PM »

DESI,
___The Icom 718 requires a separate 13.5 VDC power supply that can deliver atleast 2 amps of current (for receive only).  IC-718's are running less than $600 new and maybe $450 used.
___The stock filter for AM reception is about 8-9 KHz wide (Murata CFU455HT) and has very poor skirt selectivity.  The IC-718 is fine on AM broadcast, but on Shortwave, the 5 KHz 'whistle' is very audible.  However, since the radio is tuneable in 1 Hz steps, it is easy to tune AM Shortwave stations in the SSB (upper or lower) mode and then it does an excellent job.  The IC-718 stability is excellent, so you tune in once and don't have to retune again (after 30 minute warm-up).  The only technical minor problem with the IC718's is in the AGC circuit, which, in a stock unit, will overshoot on strong SSB and CW signals.  The manual gain control can be used to work around the problem, or a few parts in the SMT main PCB can be changed.
___My recommendation for SWLing and general listening is to built a G5RV from 102' of wire and 35' of 300 ohm TV twinlead.  Cut the 102' in the middle and attach one side of the cut wire to one wire in the twinlead, and the other side of the cut wire to the remaining wire in the twinlead.  At the other end of the twinlead attach RG-8, RG-8X , RG-58 coax and run it into your IC-718.  It will do a respectable job right thru the spectrum.
___Good luck.    Tom Howey  WB1FPA@ARRL.NET
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DESI
Member

Posts: 11




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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2002, 03:03:53 PM »

Sorry, I fogot to mention the free "Free UT-106 DSP from ICOM with 718 purchase" on universal-radio.com. Does this enhance SWLing/DXing experience with IC-718?

Also, anyone experienced (and, therefore, can compare Icom IC-718) with Yaesu-FT 840?

Thanks.

svp
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KG6AMW
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Posts: 616




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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2002, 07:46:46 PM »

You'll find that these ham rigs perform much better than most swl radios.  I'm referring to those swl radios that are in the low to mid price range (up to $350.)  You can also consider the Astron SS30M switiching power supply if want something lighter (5lbs versus 20lbs).  Start with a wire antenna.  Finally, I've used the 840 for couple years and its a nice perfomer that's very reliable.  
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W8BYH
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2002, 08:37:34 PM »

All comments posted so far are right on.  I've been using the 718 for over 6 months and it's a pretty good deal.  With the DSP module thrown in for free, it's now a great deal.  My only other additional comment is regarding an antenna tuner.  I've used several MFJ tuners, which worked OK but required lots of knob twisting and fiddling.  I finally got an LDG AT-11MP - a great addition!  Highly recommended.  Makes operating the rig a snap; push the TUNER button and talk!
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RobertKoernerExAE7G
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Posts: 1435




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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2002, 03:16:43 AM »

Congrats on your accomplishment, getting your general ticket!

You might discover that when you are able to talk to people all over the world, SWLing will take a back seat to hamming.  As a result, what you consider important in a ham rig now, might change as you use start playing radio.  Correspondingly, you will want the best rig, for hamming, that is within your budget.

You can make your own fan type dipole or inverted vee antennas, which won't require a tuner.

It will help a lot if you can solder, and have some type of Volt Ohm meter, VOM.

If you don't solder, it is an easy skill to acquire, just by practicing soldering two pieces of wire.

Have FUN
Bob
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KG4NVV
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2002, 02:03:36 PM »

I've had my IC-718 since August (bought it at a hamfest for about $500, plus tax) and used it as a SWL and ham receiver until getting my General ticket about a month ago.  It is a great performer on SWL;  I often listen to BBC's African service on 7160 kHz (virtually always comes in at S9+).  Then I started having a lot of fun TXing on the HF ham bands!  As mentioned previously, a simple dipole antenna gives you the biggest bang for the buck.  Sure, beam antennas give you more gain on both transmit and receive, but it takes a LOT more effort to build one or even put one up.  

The IC-718 is a great choice for a first rig, and packs a lot of features for the price.  Judging from my experience and the reviews here on eHam, it seems hard to beat.  

Congrats on getting the General ticket!  I agree with one of the previous posters who said that you might have so much fun hamming on HF that you won't be doing much SWL'ing.  

73,
Raf
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KD6ELB
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Posts: 48




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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2002, 02:25:03 PM »

You've had lots of excellent responses.  I have an IC-718 as my first rig and am very happy with it.  The G5RV works well - I also have a home made 20m dipole that works very well too.

I don't do any AM though.  It works well on SSB and I have done some PKS31 stuff - seems to work fine.

I paid $550 at HRO with the free UT-106 DSP mail in (good through end of March.)

I live in San Jose and my 1937 house has a basement!

Richard
KD6ELB
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DESI
Member

Posts: 11




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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2002, 12:48:28 AM »

Thanks all, for all the information you've so generously offered. You've helped me decide to go with IC-718.

Now, I would like your advice on antenna for it. I  neither have a big house nor is it on a big lot. I have a small attic, I will try to get some measurements on it this weekend. I'm sure it is not 20m (60'+) long or wide. How can I fit in a G5RV of (102' wire and a 35' 300 ohm TV twinlead) in my small attic and house? I would like to go with a G5RV (looks economical and I hear performance is good, too), like Tom Howey (WB1FPA) explained and Richard (KD6ELB) says works well.

Also, if you folks remember the model of Astron power supply that you are using, please let me know.

Again, thanks everybody. I will email you once I am up and running.

svp

PS: Richard (KD6ELB) when I was looking for a house in San Jose, I was told by the real estate folks that the earth-quake prone area that San Jose is, doesn't have houses with basements. I believed them. Damn!
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KG4RNE
Member

Posts: 6




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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2002, 01:27:07 PM »

If you're not planning on operating on 80 meters, there is a half-size G5RV variant that is only 51 feet long, but will not work on 80.  That might suit your needs a little better.
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DESI
Member

Posts: 11




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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2002, 12:35:48 AM »

Folks, thanks for your ideas/suggestions. They were all very uselful. I placed an order today (3/20/02) for Icom IC-718 and Astron SS-25M. I went with this 20A power supply 'coz it is more than enough to run IC-718 with my kinda usage.

Please continue posting your ideas/suggestions on antenna for IC-718.

Thanks.

svp
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KG8ZH
Member

Posts: 24




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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2002, 04:09:35 PM »

I have had my 718 for about 6 months now. In my opinion it is a great rig for the money. I do have the UT-106 DSP installed, but I also have a Timewave outboard DSP hooked up as well. I like to fool around with both DSP's until I figure out what works best in a given situation. For AM SWL listening, I think the timewave works a little better than the UT-106. If you get the 718 you might want to consider this for SWL listening. Timewave DSP's can be picked up pretty cheap at local swaps since there are a number of disciontinued models out there.
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WE1X
Member

Posts: 317




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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2002, 08:06:36 PM »

Congrats on the ticket.

Have several Icom rigs in the shack: 775dsp, 756 PRO, PW-1 linear and now the 718 for vacation and portable.  The 718 is an excellent rig and outstanding value with respect to performance and features.  Initially, I thought this would only be a marginal radio given the price.  Well surprised.  Love the rig.  Feature packed and with a good filter (I installed the FL-52A 500Hz CW filter) not bad selectivity.  Bought mine at HRO a month ago for $519 with the free DSP.  Can't go wrong.

Agree with all on the antenna.  G5RV, center fed zepp or dipole for multiband with tuner will perform well.  Actually, if you can get ahold of the Icom AH4 antenna tuner and use a long wire with ground radials you will have a very very nice set up.  (I do this with my 718 and it works fantastic)

Power supply: highly recommend the Astron RS-35M or if you want something light the Astron SS-30.  I have both units and the SS-30 is relatively clean of RFI hash.

For SWLing...the 718 will do okay.  It may get overloaded by strong BC stations.  The Sony 2010 is a classic and not sure the 718 will out perform it.

Good luck,

Harry WE1X
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NZ5L
Member

Posts: 220




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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2002, 09:28:13 PM »

Although you've had many excellent responses so far, I'll add yet another, as both an experienced ham and avid SWL'er. Having chosen the IC-718 as the basic rig for my (umpteenth) re-entry into conventional Ham Radio (not counting VHF, mobile op., or QRP) I definitely think the 718 is the way to go.  The shortwave listening capabilities are excellent, and it does a great job on AM broadcast as well, and is less fussy about the antenna for that band than many radios of higher pedigree.  The XYL is happy that it doesn't take up that much space and even at the relatively high price of $569, it was still affordable on my military pension.  The UT-106 is just added gravy (I am using an MFJ 784B unit with it right now, can't imagine the UT-106 will make it all that much better).  BTW, a 2A 12V supply will only set you back $10-15 at most hamfests, fine for receive operation.  (Or a 7-10A P/S would give you true QRP capability).  After dozens of rigs from the classic to the ridiculous I am still impressed by the price vs. performance ratio of the 718. A good choice.
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