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Author Topic: New guy ~ Curious about your thoughts on IC-7000 vs Elecraft KX3 (or others)  (Read 14888 times)
KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 01:48:35 PM »

Thanks for all the advice, sirs.

Since I've been forced to think more about equipment now, and seeing how much things truly cost, I've had to prioritize my wants & needs.  I feel that I am leaning more towards my first rig allowing mobile operations.  I'll have to get into a more permanent full size base later on down the road. Here's why:

1) One of my main goals for radio is volunteer emergency communications.  I intend to join my local CERT team and look into RACES and whatever else our local hams use for this purpose.

2) I'm an off-roader and outdoorsman. I feel like I would get a lot of joy from taking a radio to mountain tops, camping and other places to play with it.

3) After watching the video of a guy working contacts in Utah from a mobile setup on a beach on Honolulu (his buddipole was almost IN the ocean), I have become intrigued with CW.  I realize it's becoming a lost art, but I still think it's something I could enjoy for a long time coming.

4) If I keep looking at (read: obsessing over) radios like I have been for the past couple weeks, I might just say forget it to save my sanity.. haha!  I think limiting myself down to a mobile rig that can double as a decent base will help narrow my choices down.

5) I live in a typical middle-class suburban neighborhood (for now) with a back yard made largely of concrete and swimming pool.  I won't be putting up any towers here.  I'm sure this is going to limit what I can and can't do in radio from my home.

There's always room for me to expand my equipment into other areas later.  Right now that list above pretty much sums up my immediate needs.  I have many more plans than this, such as getting into SDR (development), playing with digital, and maybe even making a small radio telescope!  But I can't do it all at once without giving up a few other hobbies which I am unwilling to part with.

Budget:  I was hoping to come in at about $1000-1500 for my first transceiver, but that is seeming unrealistic at this point.  If I had to, I could probably take it to $2000 for now.  I'll concern myself with larger investments later.

What do you guys think?  Does this information help you narrow down radio choices for me?  
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 01:55:33 PM by JEEPESCAPE » Logged

73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
KD8MJR
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Posts: 2361




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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2013, 07:11:24 PM »

JEEPESCAPE don't get caught up in the Icom vs Kenwood vs Yaesu argument because most of it is total BS.  All of these companies have really good radios, rarely do they produce a Dud in general they are all good and it just comes down to what you want.  I can tell you want a 7000 and a flex and if that's what you want then get it because all the talk you hear about brands is just that talk.  Each radio has pluses and minuses and tend to cater to different folks.

As one poster said earlier the more important aspect is the Antenna.  If you want to be able to hear and talk to distant stations you need to spend a lot of time and money on a good set of Antennas.

Lastly I just wanted to address your concerns about price and probably help you with some mental justification.  Most Ham Radios unlike most other electronic items retain about 80%-100% of their original value.  Yes you read right, many radios that you pay $1000 for today may sell for as much as $1000 ten years from now because Hams by nature are collectors and as I said before the equipment is made to last for several decades and older stuff is typically constructed better than the newer models.  Don't believe just go on eBay and look up some radios then go to rig pix and see what they cost when they were new and the date when they stopped making them.
The short story is that ham radio gear makes for a very good investment and that makes it a bit easier to justify the purchase.  BTW one exception is the very expensive radios, those $10,000 radios tend to lose value because the list of people who will buy them is very small.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 07:15:17 PM by KD8MJR » Logged
VA7CPC
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Posts: 2388




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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2013, 10:00:34 PM »

Some things to consider:

1.  The IC-7000 is not the best-performing rig in the world, but it works pretty well for most people, most of the time, on HF and 2m and 70cm.  It falls down under "contest conditions", with lots of strong signals close to the weak one you want to copy.  But so do most rigs.

I suspect it's a favorite rig among ARES groups because of its flexibility.  Check that with your local club.  [I own its predecessor, an IC-706.]

2.  If you want to do "mountaintop backpacking radio", battery weight is a crucial factor.  Not only is the IC-7000 a bit heavy, it consumes a lot of power _while receiving_, and its efficiency when transmitting at low power is quite low.  So you must carry enough batteries to feed the beast.

Backpackers tend to use QRP rigs with low power consumption on receive, and limited transmit power -- the Elecraft KX3 is a prime example of the breed.   And yes, you'll want to learn CW.  It's not "a dying art" -- it's very much alive.  CW is the best mode we have for weak-signal work, if you don't have a computer handy.

You're putting the pieces together pretty well.  Keep thinking about what you want to do -- the answer(s) will come.

.       Charles



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KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2013, 12:30:13 PM »

JEEPESCAPE don't get caught up in the Icom vs Kenwood vs Yaesu argument because most of it is total BS.  All of these companies have really good radios, rarely do they produce a Dud in general they are all good and it just comes down to what you want.  I can tell you want a 7000 and a flex and if that's what you want then get it because all the talk you hear about brands is just that talk.  Each radio has pluses and minuses and tend to cater to different folks.

As one poster said earlier the more important aspect is the Antenna.  If you want to be able to hear and talk to distant stations you need to spend a lot of time and money on a good set of Antennas.

Lastly I just wanted to address your concerns about price and probably help you with some mental justification.  Most Ham Radios unlike most other electronic items retain about 80%-100% of their original value.  Yes you read right, many radios that you pay $1000 for today may sell for as much as $1000 ten years from now because Hams by nature are collectors and as I said before the equipment is made to last for several decades and older stuff is typically constructed better than the newer models.  Don't believe just go on eBay and look up some radios then go to rig pix and see what they cost when they were new and the date when they stopped making them.
The short story is that ham radio gear makes for a very good investment and that makes it a bit easier to justify the purchase.  BTW one exception is the very expensive radios, those $10,000 radios tend to lose value because the list of people who will buy them is very small.

Thanks for the advice.  It's also good to know equipment values hold up well.

I came to the 7000 based on best bang for the buck in a small semi-portable radio.  I was comparing it to the 897d for the same reason, and the general consensus seemed to be that the Icom was a better radio due to factors such as IF DSP, larger display, etc.  The 897d was often described as dated by comparison.  I understand that doesn't make it a bad radio, but I would like to take advantage of newer technology in my price range if I can.

Flex radios, yeah, as a computer tech, I understand some of the the potential of SDR, and I also like the idea of having a large screen or multi-screen interface where I can control the whole thing.  I run three 23" screens on my main computer, so that has a ton of potential for displaying all kinds of information.  A lot of people are comfortable with knobs and buttons after years or decades of radio use, but I have two decades of work and play experience with computers, so the mouse and keyboard don't bother me, and I know there are some USB VFO controllers out there now.

As a computer tech and a futurist, it's hard to imagine how *new* radios won't be almost exclusively SDR to varying degrees within 5-10 years from now.  I'm sure there will always be standard radios around too, but as the SDR technology grows, it's likely to blow standard radios out of the water.  I understand there are some kinks in the SDRs now, but those will be worked out in the coming years.

I'm not posting this to start a debate or argument about SDR vs Standard radios, but the fact is, the nature of standard radios limits their ability to expand through future updates and software/interface enhancements, not to mention any experimental features that arise.  I've seen what firmware updates (open source) can do to vastly expand even a simple $50 WiFi device, so I get SDR from that perspective.  One can argue the quality of today's SDR's on the market, but not against SDR as a concept.  For me, that is the direction I want to go when I can afford it.



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73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
KK6GNP
Member

Posts: 158




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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2013, 12:51:48 PM »

Some things to consider:

1.  The IC-7000 is not the best-performing rig in the world, but it works pretty well for most people, most of the time, on HF and 2m and 70cm.  It falls down under "contest conditions", with lots of strong signals close to the weak one you want to copy.  But so do most rigs.

I suspect it's a favorite rig among ARES groups because of its flexibility.  Check that with your local club.  [I own its predecessor, an IC-706.]

2.  If you want to do "mountaintop backpacking radio", battery weight is a crucial factor.  Not only is the IC-7000 a bit heavy, it consumes a lot of power _while receiving_, and its efficiency when transmitting at low power is quite low.  So you must carry enough batteries to feed the beast.

Backpackers tend to use QRP rigs with low power consumption on receive, and limited transmit power -- the Elecraft KX3 is a prime example of the breed.   And yes, you'll want to learn CW.  It's not "a dying art" -- it's very much alive.  CW is the best mode we have for weak-signal work, if you don't have a computer handy.

You're putting the pieces together pretty well.  Keep thinking about what you want to do -- the answer(s) will come.

.       Charles


Thanks for the reply, Charles.  Sorry if I incorrectly made it sound like CW was dying out.  That's sort of the impression I get from some people I've talked to online about radio, and the new FCC code-free licensing leads one to think in that direction as well.  However, after having seen a little of what can be done with it over longer distances, I'll be getting into it for sure.

At this point I'm leaning towards the KX3 for multiple reasons.  I'm still researching and I'm not 100% convinced, but the more I look at it, the better it looks for my current needs.  I think later on I may get into a Flex or a standard full-size base station for home, but right now I need maximum flexibility for my dollars.  I just learned about SOTA today, and that looks like a blast to me as a hiker.  I swear, almost every day I learn some new activity to do with radio.  It's incredible.  I wish more people knew about it, and I'm doing my best to spread the word to my sphere of influence (friends, family, colleagues).   I haven't completely ruled out the 7000 yet, and I'm still open to other suggestions, but the KX3 seems hard to beat for me right now, even with the 2m upgrade and the amp.

I'm planning to play with some small QRP kits as well.  I love to tinker on everything from vehicles to computers, so I'll be purchasing my first soldering iron soon.  Smiley
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73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
VA7CPC
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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2013, 07:31:27 PM »

If you're going to do QRP operating, backpacking the gear, the KX3 is unbeatable. 

I don't know if you've encountered the "HF-PACK" user group at  HFpack.com  , but you should find it interesting.

As far as I know, nobody has put SDR software (and hardware) into a cellphone, yet.  Flex has a very elegant low-power SDR rig, but you'll need a computer to run it.

.      Charles
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2013, 09:05:04 PM »

Depending on your budget, a Yaesu FT-817 might be interesting.   It's all-band (HF/VHF/70cm), all-mode, 5 watts.  It uses "old technology" -- no IF DSP.   It takes about 450 mAmp on receive -- more than the little kits, but less than most "all-band, all-mode" rigs.  It's too heavy to backpack (IMHO), but perfect for "picnic-table portable" operating.  You'll get many hours of operation out of a single lead-acid alarm battery.

I have one with an added 500 Hz CW filter, and it's done a good job for me.  With that, a Jackite windsock pole, some wire, and a tuner, I'm a happy camper.

.         Charles


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KK4CRY
Member

Posts: 35




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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2013, 12:11:01 AM »

curious to hear what you run

New ham?  Welcome.
Here is the advice you have not received on this thread:
The single most important part of your station is the antenna.

Pay attention to that, and, your enjoyment of the hobby will increase logarithmically.

Now, a word about budgeting:
I have a $6000 radio setup connected to a $20,000 antenna system.
That's about the right ratio, observed after almost 40 years in the hobby.
It's not the dollar amount of investment, it's the ratio of how you allocate it.
Think of how well my $600 radio works when I connect it to that $20k antenna system.
Then think of how much value I'd get from the $6000 radio hooked to a $200 antenna.

Take some time to visit in person with local experienced hams. 
The internet is handy ... but nobody learns to drive, or swim, or cook, etc. on the internet.
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KD2CJJ
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Posts: 369




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« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2013, 01:42:55 PM »

I would suggest steering away from the IC7000 based on your priorites.  Like you I had dreams of taking it hiking, etc.  In reality that is not feasible with this unit.  Its too heavy to lug with a car battery, antenna and a tuner (unless your dealing with a resonant antenna).  In addition, its receiver is not all that good compared to high end receivers like the KX3.  I didnt know this until I upgraded to a FTDX3000 and its night and day.  Lastly, for VHF and UHF it works, but my  HT works the same.  And lastly it has VERY VERY poor shielding. 

Now if you wanted a small mobile radio for the car/truck or you had no way to compare performance to another radio than its a great little radio!!! 

In order of priority, I would suggest you focus on:

1. Antenna - figure out what is the BEST antenna you can put up (no attic, no hanging next to the house - I tried this and it was horrible).  I spend a fair amount on antennas.  My first antenna was a wire dipole off the side of my house.  It worked but not all that well, then in the attic also didnt work well.  My second antenna was an End Fed.  It worked but I had a ton of common mode issues and was very noisy -  signal to noise is pretty important for weak signals.  My 3rd antenna was a MFJ Magnetic Loop antenna - I had no luck unfortunately due to close proximity to everything in my back yard - I returned it. My 4th and final antenna was is a mini beam.  Works great but has very limited bandwidth thus I need a tuner for the non-resonant portions of the band!  I was able to put a mast up from the ground up on the side of my house to hold the rotor and antenna.  Ideally go with a dipole its the cheapest best performing antenna.  Even a rigid dipole works great.  If you can put up a hex beam.  Your last resort should be a vertical.

2. Feedline system - Get the best wire you can afford.

3. Determine if you need a tuner or not - this will depend on your antenna.  If you do, get the best you can afford.

4. Radio - Get the radio that has the best receiver you can afford.  It really makes a difference; though the antenna gets you far more bang for the buck.  If your priorities are to be mobile (like Hiking) then the KX3 is an amazing radio.  I also love the fact it can act like a SDR.  Having the band scope and operating from the computer is great (though I dont use this feature all that much with my FTDX3000 and LPAN adapter so I guess I like the idea more than in practice).  I also like the fact it has 2M - its nice when you want to do SSB with 2M.  You have to determine if you can live with QRP also but an AMP can fix this. 

What ever you get above wont be your first radio or your first antenna so your never going to make a mistake.  Buy what you can afford and can get on the air as fast as you can.  Some planning will lower your long term investment.  I will be putting my IC7000 up for sale.  Its about 1 year old now but since I got my FTDX3000 a few months ago I haven't even turned it on; well once in a while I listen to the local repeaters with it.   If your interested PM me.

Dont bother with the Yaesu mobiles that compete with the IC7000.  They have worse receivers.  The only benefit is that they are smaller, lighter and can run on batteries. If thats important then its worth looking into... IMO the IC7000 is a better radio.  And yes it runs warm... but not hot unless you are avid at running AM or Digital then I would keep the duty cycle low.  Again, its a great all around performer and perfect for the car.


Some things to consider:

1.  The IC-7000 is not the best-performing rig in the world, but it works pretty well for most people, most of the time, on HF and 2m and 70cm.  It falls down under "contest conditions", with lots of strong signals close to the weak one you want to copy.  But so do most rigs.

I suspect it's a favorite rig among ARES groups because of its flexibility.  Check that with your local club.  [I own its predecessor, an IC-706.]

2.  If you want to do "mountaintop backpacking radio", battery weight is a crucial factor.  Not only is the IC-7000 a bit heavy, it consumes a lot of power _while receiving_, and its efficiency when transmitting at low power is quite low.  So you must carry enough batteries to feed the beast.

Backpackers tend to use QRP rigs with low power consumption on receive, and limited transmit power -- the Elecraft KX3 is a prime example of the breed.   And yes, you'll want to learn CW.  It's not "a dying art" -- it's very much alive.  CW is the best mode we have for weak-signal work, if you don't have a computer handy.

You're putting the pieces together pretty well.  Keep thinking about what you want to do -- the answer(s) will come.

.       Charles


Thanks for the reply, Charles.  Sorry if I incorrectly made it sound like CW was dying out.  That's sort of the impression I get from some people I've talked to online about radio, and the new FCC code-free licensing leads one to think in that direction as well.  However, after having seen a little of what can be done with it over longer distances, I'll be getting into it for sure.

At this point I'm leaning towards the KX3 for multiple reasons.  I'm still researching and I'm not 100% convinced, but the more I look at it, the better it looks for my current needs.  I think later on I may get into a Flex or a standard full-size base station for home, but right now I need maximum flexibility for my dollars.  I just learned about SOTA today, and that looks like a blast to me as a hiker.  I swear, almost every day I learn some new activity to do with radio.  It's incredible.  I wish more people knew about it, and I'm doing my best to spread the word to my sphere of influence (friends, family, colleagues).   I haven't completely ruled out the 7000 yet, and I'm still open to other suggestions, but the KX3 seems hard to beat for me right now, even with the 2m upgrade and the amp.

I'm planning to play with some small QRP kits as well.  I love to tinker on everything from vehicles to computers, so I'll be purchasing my first soldering iron soon.  Smiley
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73

Mike
KD2CJJ
KK4CRY
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Posts: 35




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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2013, 12:22:03 PM »

KZ1X curious to hear what you run
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NI3S
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2013, 08:26:43 PM »

Jeepsecape,

I'll chime in with a different idea.  If you are not hell bent on new, there are good deals on older used radios.  Many were very well constructed and work like new to this day.  They lack VHF/UHF. Many of the better ones can be had for $350-400 used.  Throw one of them in the home shack.  As you are a hands on guy, build antennas.  Nothing magical about wire and rope, and the price is minimal for a workable antenna.  I use a TS-140S.

For the camping/portable setup, a QRP rig would be good from a power usage issue.  I have used a FT-817 and though it was a decent radio.  That and an end fed dipole would for your desired band would get you a nice campsite setup.  There are countless easy to build 2m/70cm antennas you could take camping too. 

You are giving up a real Jeep motor for a minivan motor?  Sad. Just sad.  Now if Jeep would wake up and build a diesel Wrangler life would be perfect.  I've owned Jeeps from a '44 MB to the wife's KJ CRD.  Currently drive a '00 XJ nearing 200K.   CJs and YJs in the past, last YJ sold last winter after grenading the transmission.  Holding out for a pre-71 CJ5. 

Good luck with whatever you choose. 
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AF6WL
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Posts: 142




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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2013, 12:54:41 AM »

The KX3 is a great picnic table radio.
The end plates and cover by AK6Q provide a bit of protection and make it more backpack stuffable http://gemsproducts.com/ These were instrumental in me finally pushing the buy button on the KX3.
However the KX3 would probably rattle it's self to pieces if you hard mounted it in a jeep and drive off road. It also lacks the grunt needed to overcome the inherent inefficiencies of short mobile antennas.

Bottom line as I see it ; there is no one radio that fits all :

KX3,FT817 or 703 etc. for hilltop portable. Same list plus K2 for picnic table use.
A 100W compact or remote head radio for vehicle use - lesser RX rejection performance probably ok due to the narrow BW lossy mobile antenna.
A IC-7200, K2-100 or KX3 plus PA would work well at home.
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KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2013, 12:56:41 AM »

Jeepsecape,

I'll chime in with a different idea.  If you are not hell bent on new, there are good deals on older used radios.  Many were very well constructed and work like new to this day.  They lack VHF/UHF. Many of the better ones can be had for $350-400 used.  Throw one of them in the home shack.  As you are a hands on guy, build antennas.  Nothing magical about wire and rope, and the price is minimal for a workable antenna.  I use a TS-140S.

For the camping/portable setup, a QRP rig would be good from a power usage issue.  I have used a FT-817 and though it was a decent radio.  That and an end fed dipole would for your desired band would get you a nice campsite setup.  There are countless easy to build 2m/70cm antennas you could take camping too.  

You are giving up a real Jeep motor for a minivan motor?  Sad. Just sad.  Now if Jeep would wake up and build a diesel Wrangler life would be perfect.  I've owned Jeeps from a '44 MB to the wife's KJ CRD.  Currently drive a '00 XJ nearing 200K.   CJs and YJs in the past, last YJ sold last winter after grenading the transmission.  Holding out for a pre-71 CJ5.  

Good luck with whatever you choose.  

Thanks for the radio advice.  I'm wary of buying used with some of the rip-off stories I have read.

As for the Jeep, well, the 4.0 is a good old motor.  The trouble is, it's under-powered for daily driver and road trip use with a lift and 33's on it.  Taking it on road trips plain sucks. It also gets around 10MPG in my current configuration, which is a joke these days considering the HP I get out of it.  The 2012 model year and later Pentastar motor has nearly 100 more horsepower, and gets a little better MPG.  It will suit my needs much better.  They believe in this motor so much they have put it in everything, including their new Grand Cherokees, Durangos, etc. I would love to get the new 3.0 diesel motor (240 hp / 420 lb-ft of torque) they are putting in the GC, but we probably won't see those in a Wrangler until the next model comes out, not to mention it will likely add about $4500 to the sticker price.  If they build one with a diesel in it, I'd like to buy it and just keep it for good.

It's not all about motor either.  I'm getting the Unlimited 4-door for more space, and the JK interior is much nicer than mine. Looking forward to having some comfort and fantastic off-road capability.

I thought about keeping the TJ and buying something else to drive daily, but I'll need the equity in my TJ to set up the new Jeep, and to buy another radio for my shack!  As I said, the TJ sucks to take on road trips, and I have some big expeditions planned for 2014.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 01:02:54 AM by JEEPESCAPE » Logged

73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
VK3LDX
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2013, 03:30:27 AM »

Hi just my humble opinion , for the money I don't think you can go past the 7000 it is a very powerful tool indeed , I don't mean rf wise I mean feature wise !!!! Once you learn to drive it that is ,and when you do boy will you be surprised , I have had many radios over the years and I am talking all the major manufacturers , those who say the 7000 is rubbish are either biased , don't own one or have failed to take the time to sit and learn the manual . Now I know I am going to get flamed for sure with these comments . I use mine 100 percent mobile and there is not a radio that can do this and come within a mile of it for compactability ( sure you can put other radios in your vehicle but are they truly a mobile ,,,, no ) I have literaly made 1000's of mobile contacts with mine ,100w ,6 foot helical tapped whip and still amaze many operators around the world !!! .My previous mobile was a 706 2 g and many say it was a much better radio than the 7000 , rubbish !!! As for the heat issue ,yes it does get warm at a high duty cycle but it has a temp display on the front and have never seen mine reach a temp where I would be concerned. 73 and look forward to hearing you on the air regards Kim
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KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2013, 10:33:18 AM »

The KX3 is a great picnic table radio.
The end plates and cover by AK6Q provide a bit of protection and make it more backpack stuffable http://gemsproducts.com/ These were instrumental in me finally pushing the buy button on the KX3.
However the KX3 would probably rattle it's self to pieces if you hard mounted it in a jeep and drive off road. It also lacks the grunt needed to overcome the inherent inefficiencies of short mobile antennas.

Bottom line as I see it ; there is no one radio that fits all :

KX3,FT817 or 703 etc. for hilltop portable. Same list plus K2 for picnic table use.
A 100W compact or remote head radio for vehicle use - lesser RX rejection performance probably ok due to the narrow BW lossy mobile antenna.
A IC-7200, K2-100 or KX3 plus PA would work well at home.

Thanks for linking me to Gems Products!  Those parts look like must-have items and if I settle on the KX3 I will be ordering them. 
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73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
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