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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | ICOM IC-740 Help

Reviews Summary for ICOM IC-740
ICOM IC-740 Reviews: 33 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $1099.00
Description: 160-10 meter 200-watts input HF transceiver, circa 1984
Product is in production.
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AF9J Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2007 21:31 Send this review to a friend
What a great sleeper of a rig!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got my IC-740 a month and a half ago from a neighbor on my apartment building. He bought it used 9 years ago from AES, with the intention of getting his ham license. He never did get his license, and only SWLed the ham bands with it. Several years ago, it died on him, and sat in his closet. In October, to make some space, he decided to get rid of it. When he learned I had a ham license, he gave it to me, along with some other ham radio gear, figuring I would get some use out of it. He was right. I had sold my FT-897D to pay for car repairs, and had no suitable contesting radio.

The dead radio condition, was traced to a burned out resistor on the voltage control board. One new resistor (which was given to me for nothing at work), and the IC-740 was working. Some DeOxit in the receive preamp actuating relay, solved receive preamp acutation issues. My IC-740 already had 250 Hz CW filters installed in both receive IFs, so all I had to do, was buy the clone of the keyer board MTS sells (the original keyer board has been unavailable for a long time), and I was ready for some serious CW work. The Compressor switch wasn't working, but some DeOxit in the pins from the plug for the Compressor switch tonight, solved the lack of Audio Processor capability my IC-740 had. All of these faults were probably related to the fact they my neighbor is a smoker. When I first got the IC-740, it smelled like an ashtray! So for a very minor cost outlay (a $20 bill I gave my neighbor [all I could afford at the time], and another $64 for the keyer board), I have what I consider to be a very underrated radio.

Why? It's easy to use. After years of wading through menues to change things like keyer speed, receive filters, etc., on the fly during a contest, I can just press a button, or turn a knob to do what I want to do. The tuning movement is nice and smooth. The SSB transmit audio (as long as you keep the mic gain below 12 o-clock) is good even with the stock hand mic. The noise blanker with its two modes of blanking, works better than the noise blankers I've dealt with for at least the past 10 years or so. It actually works (unlike other noise blankers I've used), on the powerline noise problems I have. The IF Shift, and Passband Tuning work as well in many cases, as DSP, without the pinched sounding audio DSP often gives you. And the receiver - I agree with the previous reviews, it's very hot and very quiet. The last time I had a receiver this quiet, was back in the late 80s & early 90s, when I had a Drake R4B (along with a T4XC). On 160m, I can hear signals I couldn't hear with my FT-897D. In a word, this Gen Xer thinks the IC-740 rips! It's a real sleeper of a rig. Are there better rigs?, of course (after all today's radios use DDS which is better than the older synthesizer design in the IC-740), but not by quantum leaps or bounds. After all, many of the improvements in the past 25 years to ham rigs, have been more of the bells and whistles variety, than fundamental performance improvements. In my opinion, a good operator using an IC-740 could give an operator of one of the newer big buck rigs a run for his or her money. I've been a ham for almost 30 years, and active on the bands for 25 of those years. My IC-740 compares favorably to some of the better radios I've owned in the past, and even some I didn't own, but have had the privelege of using (such as the ICOM IC-756 Pro). It's surpising that so few were made (only about 4500 of them). This one's a keeper.

Ellen - AF9J
G7IGB Rating: 5/5 Nov 28, 2007 03:54 Send this review to a friend
Very low noise floor  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've just picked up an IC-740 on behalf of a newly licensed amateur and I'm very impressed with this 25 year old transceiver. The radio covers only the amateur bands, which means that receiver selectivity is excellent and the noise floor is very low. The receiver was so quiet on bands like 40m and 80m that I suspected a faulty antenna. The IC-740 is also very easy to use and ideal for newly licensed amateurs, as there are no complex menus to navigate. A variable noise blanker, AGC setting and switchable notch filter all work very well and the controls are easy to use. Overall the IC-740 is highly recommended if you can find one on the second hand market!

G0RIF Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2007 22:50 Send this review to a friend
Great older rig with wonderful receiver  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I just love my IC-740 - the way it looks like a real radio with knobs & dials for all the features (yet still simple to operate), a lovely smooth tuning dial, great analogue meter and wonderfully quiet receiver, optimised for amateur band performance (the 740 has no general coverage RX).

I have an IC-703, FT-901 and JRC JST-245 for comparison and I prefer the sound of the 740 over all the others (although the JST-245 is my main day to day rig).

I use mine for both CW and SSB - CW with a simple straight key where I'm finding the 740 really does a good job. I use the stock mic for SSB and it seems to work just fine with excellent reports - good audio with plenty of punch (I have the compressor on for phone work).

My radio has no additional filters but they are available from Inrad so I might yet add a few in the future to make a good radio even better. Nevertheless, in its stock form the 740 is a fine radio and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a low cost HF only rig.

Dean - G0RIF
KC7UP Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2007 20:22 Send this review to a friend
Great Rig  Time owned: months
Have owned this rig since new in 1982. Have added 250z cw filter plus 1.8 filter. For Cw I prefer this rig over my IC751. It's a great rig.
KI4PBQ Rating: 4/5 Jun 11, 2007 11:58 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've owned this rig for a little over a month. It is 24 years old as of this review. I wanted an HF rig for CW work as that is my current interest and this model came with both the 500Hz and 250Hz optional filters. It's passband tuning and manual notch provide for an incredibly quiet listening experience. I'm a relatively new ham (a little over a year at this writing) and the only other HF rig I've used is my Yaesu 857D.

Compared to the Yaesu 857D this old IC-740 is like taking a blanket off the signals. Side by side through the same antenna I can clearly hear signals on the 740 that are invisible on the 857. Even with the DSP features turned on the 857 it is far noisier than the 740. The 250Hz filter is just plain wonderful for CW copy on the crowed 40m band. On 20m I rarely find the need to turn the preamp on because the signals just pop out even when the S-meter isn't moving.

The 857 noise blanker is random at best and doesn't allow much variation, only level. The 740's NB has two modes (normal, wide) and really works. Truly amazing it just wipes out the noise.
The variable AGC on the 740 is also a gem. It's variable through a wide range. It can be turned way down for weak signal CW use or cranked up for comfortable SSB rag chewing. This rig has the FM unit but I haven't had a chance to work any stations on FM with the 740 yet so I can't comment on it's performance. I did monitor myself on FM through the 857 and the audio sounded excellent.

Probably my best experience with this radio has been ZERO menus. The 740 has a knob or button for every imaginable feature easily accessible. I felt as though I was continually going into the menu on the 857 and it became quite tiring. I don't think I'll ever buy another radio that doesn't have a dedicated knob or button for the common dozen or so operations while operating.

There are some warts on this old radio... To get acceptable audio I have to use the compressor and turn the gain to 2 o-clock. Even then it barely tickles the ALC. Without the compressor the radio produces very little output. There are probably some dried up caps contributing to that problem but as long as you don't mind your audio sounding compressed it's fine. I've received good signal reports and people who know my voice in person say I sound "normal" i.e. not overly compressed.

The radio had one owner before me and came from a smoker's home. I vacummed it out and used tuner cleaner liberally and it has still taken a full month to stop my room from smelling like a smoker when I fire it up...

The switches were in dire need of cleaning and the "push type" power switch has partly failed to where it doesn't like to latch so I leave it in the on position and turn the unit off with a power strip.

The years have been kind to the rig. It still has plenty of oomph. At full power into a dummy load my RF meter shows 150 watts of output in RTTY mode or if I whistle in the mic (I only do that into a dummy load).

If you find one of these jewels still operating snap it up. If you want a DSP rig just add an external DSP speaker such as the one sold by GAP antenna to clean up any noise not handled by the filters and noise blanker.
KD8DQ Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2006 03:22 Send this review to a friend
Bought mine new in '83  Time owned: more than 12 months
I pretty much agree with all posted comments about this rig. It was an upgrade from the Swan 350 I was using, so you can see why I was a happy ham. HI!
Some have commented on the poor mic gain problem with this rig. Well here is a fix.
Cut one of the leads on Resistor ‘R-77’ located on the ‘MAIN’ board of the IC-740. Your problem is solved. The resistor R-77 is located next to ‘IC-3’. I cut mine so that IF it didn't work I could easly resolder the resistor back into the circuit.
This simple modification has worked well for me some time now. I have noted that my ‘Microphone Gain’ settings have gone down (counterclockwise) when using the various microphones I have at this station. My old reliable D-104 which I originally had to set at the 3 o’clock position now runs with the microphone gain control set at 9 o’clock. I have plenty of gain now and you really need to be careful or you’ll overdrive.
I like to run with headphones and the Monitor switch set at ‘ON’, at least till I get the gain set and everything sounds fine in the headset. I have had excellent reports since this modification was done. I also run SSTV and RTTY modes without any problems.

Enjoy de KD8DQ
SP1EK Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2004 12:54 Send this review to a friend
Old but good RX!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
IC-740 it`s my 3rd Icom TRX.I used to IC 756(for a year but had dark lines in LCD so I sold it), next I used to IC 706MKIIG(nice but as backup rig) and now a month ago I bought 21 years old IC 740 with two filters for CW 2x500Hz and INRAD filter for SSB for 455kHz.With PS740,SP3 and base mic IC-SM5 with Hiel HC-4.Radio is in mint condition.

1.RX only in HAM bands, it`s good for selectivity, RX is very quiet.(as good as in TS940)
2.Easy to use, you don`t need to follow trought complicate menus.
3.You can add 3 optional filters in any configuration with 2 filters in 455kHz.
4.Nice working NB with rotating setings.
5.You can joice AGC settings not as like in modern rig with only fast and slow.
6.Notch filter works incredibly well, sometimes I think that works as a DSP (HI HI).
7.IF Shift and PBT function.
8.You can add optional elec-keyer board.

1.CW Pith on 800Hz, I prefer listening on 450Hz.
2.Haven`t internal antenna tuner.
3.You don`t find band stacking register and you can`t joice directly frequency from keypad.
4.No ATT, sometimes anoing especiallly in lower bands.
5.No AM modulation, FM as an optional board.

If you like old style TRX that could be radio for you, with quiet RX, optional filters, internal power supply and much more if you don`t need timers,dsp etc.

Best Regards
Bart SP1EK
NE0P Rating: 5/5 Aug 23, 2004 15:47 Send this review to a friend
Wow! What a radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked up an Icom 740 recently based on the reputation of having a quiet receiver and a great NB. That reputation is definitely deserved, and at the prices they are currently going for (300-350) this is probably the best buy for an HF radio. This is one serious radio!

First my dislikes, since that is the short list:
1. The CW offset is 800hz and not adjustable. I prefer to copy CW at a slightly lower pitch. You can zero beat a station and then use the RIT to change the pitch, though.

2. You cannot use both the IF shift and the Passband tuning at the same time, and you have to use the PBT to use the narrow filters. I suppose there are cases where you would want a narrow filter and IF shift instead.

3. To use break in keying, you have to push the VOX button in. You then have to unpress it to run SSB unless you want to run in VOX, and then you will probably have to change the vox gain because it is the same knob as the keyer speed.

4. There is a slight hum in the headphones when using the fan on the internal power supply. Not very bad, though. Still worth having the fan cool the power supply.

Now the good points:

1. This is a serious radio, not a computer or calculator. No menus, no function keys, and no pressing and holding a key to get a different function. Most knobs only do one thing, and they do it well.

2. The receiver is outstanding. Much quieter than my FT100D, and the NB works very well, and doesn't introduce any distortion. Receiver also holds up very well in strong signal environments.
It is also very sensitive, and much of the time you can run it without the preamp.

3. No general coverage receive, just ham bands only. This really keeps alot of the crud out of the receiver, since it has tight bandpass filters in it. The only downside is that you cannot add 60 meters to it. Maybe someone will design a transverter.

4. The manual notch is great. They need to put these back on the new radios. It works on all modes, and is great at reducing background noise, and peaking a CW signal. I had forgot how much better a manual notch is over a autonotch.

5. The PassBand Tuning works very well. Almost as well as the PBT on the Icom 720A. I have not installed any optional filters yet, but can remove most QRM with the PBT. It only narrows the passband from one direction, though.

6. The radio has a tone control! You don't find this too much on newer radios. Setting the tone to the low end does help remove some white noise on the signal.

7. Has a continuously adjustable AGC, not just fast and slow.

8. Nice compact size. About the same size as an Icom 746, but a little shorter. And that is with a built in PS and keyer.

Neutral points:
1. No AM. Doesn't bother me, but it might some. FM is an option.

2. No DSP, but I really don't miss it due to the quiet receiver. If you must have it, get a Timewave DSP9 for $75 or so.

3. You can cascade narrow filters for CW or for SSB, but not for both modes. Not too much of an issue, as I have never found SSB filters to make that much of a difference, especially with a good PBT control.

Overall, I love this rig so far, and have been having a blast using it. It takes out much of the noise I hear on HF, and makes it much easier to use. I may get a TS850 to compare it to, but the 850 better eat its Wheaties if it wants to beat the 740. If you find one for $400 or less, you won't be sorry.
RV3APM Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2004 18:23 Send this review to a friend
Really great RX  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Simple and good rig. Very Sensitive and quiet receiver. Best deal for performance /price.
Good compare with modern rigs and sometimes it win ( FT847-IC706-IC-703 ).

NH6EU Rating: 4/5 Jan 28, 2004 03:00 Send this review to a friend
One of the best used radios you can buy  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got my 740 used about 8 years ago. I was replacing a Kenwood 440 SAT. At first I missed the general coverage reciever, but was soon very impressed with the 740's performance. The Kenwood was deaf in comparison. The ICOM had the ability to allow "armchair copy" while the Kenwood could not even hear the same signal. I was also impressed with the selectivity. I am not sure now that I think about it what filters I have in it, but both CW and SSB are pretty narrow. I do like weak signal work. Radios like the Kenwood 440 have a lot of features I never used. I require a really hot receiver that can pull them out of the mud. I also found the passband and IF shift in combination with the notch was especially useful on 40 meters to fight the broadcast interference. I ended up replacing the 740 with a Kenwood TS 850 SAT in the shack and putting the 740 into mobile service where it performs great. I have friends with TS 50s that can't touch it.

On the downside, I do not like the switch. To go from 80 to 10 meters takes more work than I think it should. The audio was a little tinny, but I can fix that with an equalizer and my superscaf. I don't like how the internal power supply routes the power cables out through a hole in the chassis only to plug it back into the DC power input. Seems like an afterthought.

Final word is: if you like to work weak signals and do not need 200+ memories, buy it if you get the chance. You will never be sorry.
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