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Author Topic: Icom 7300-a contest radio?  (Read 12190 times)
AF5CC
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« on: August 08, 2017, 08:31:32 PM »

 Is the receiver on the Icom 7300 good enough to make it a contest radio?

I realize that any radio can be used in a contest, and for years I have
contested with radios that really wouldn't be considered contest radios,
and had a lot of fun.  Is the 7300 good enough that serious contesters
would say it is a contest radio?

73 John AF5CC
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K1HMS
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Posts: 467




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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2017, 11:59:48 PM »

Is the receiver on the Icom 7300 good enough to make it a contest radio?

I realize that any radio can be used in a contest, and for years I have
contested with radios that really wouldn't be considered contest radios,
and had a lot of fun.  Is the 7300 good enough that serious contesters
would say it is a contest radio?

73 John AF5CC
It depends. We used 7 7300s for field day 2016 and came in first as N1FD 7A NH, this year we used 5 7300s, a K3S, and a Flex 6700/Maestro with a slightly better score. See the web site at n1fd.org

We may have had some cross interference on the 7300s due to the ADC taking in the full band but 7 transmitters, some in the same band (different towers and antennas) all in a 300m circle is a challenge.

With the CAT and USB interface it worked well with N1MM, and easily supports digital modes. Sensitivity, dynamic range, IM3, and closely space signal performance is on par with radios costing much more. It is on the first page of the Sherwood Engineering test page.

I wrote "depends". If you are a top contester you will want SO2R and that works best with two independent receivers in the same radio.  Otherwise you will be switching antennas, have two microphones or keys, and the interface to the logging software is a problem. The ability to do S&P on a second band while running on a different band or watching a second band to catch when it opens adds to the point score.

I have a 7300 and a TS-590SG. I used the 590SG as a 13 Colonies (K2K NH) op but my score would have been about the same with the 7300.

For most single radio contest operators what matters is a logger interface with a port for the amp band select and good performance in crowded bands. The 7300 has these things. The abity with the 7300 to see the entire CW sub band with CW Skimmer is a plus. The radio that is less fatiguing to listen to for hours is a personal choice. I didn't hear anyone complain about the 7300 at field day which was a 24 hour marathon two years in a row.

Hamilton K1HMS





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K3TN
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2017, 03:44:00 AM »

You can see the Rob Sherwood receiver test results here. The 7300 did not make the top ten, and you can see it is 14 db below the 3rd order narrow spaced dynamic range of the top radio (Flex 6700.)  That also drives the 100 khz blocking spec to be lower. But it is above the TS 590 and many other popular transceivers on the list.

The ultimate filter rejection spec is also a good deal lower on the 7300, even compare to radios below it. That means you may hear more phase noise coming around the filters which impacts pulling out weak signals and might cause more fatigue from long listening sessions.

So, if you are the type of contester who likes to call CQ (run) a lot on crowded contest bands, the 7300 won't perform as well as the radios above it - it will be harder for you to clearly hear answers to your CQs on say 40M CW with other stations CQing 400hz above and below you.

But if you mostly answer other people's CQs (search and pounce) or only call CQ on the high end of bands where it is not so crowded, you will not notice the difference very much. On a $/performance measurement basic, the 7300 stacks up very well.

73 John K3TN
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John K3TN
KB8GAE
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Posts: 227




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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2017, 06:23:56 AM »

John,

Here is a direct link to a Contest University video by Rob Sherwood NC0B that you may find helpful.

At 20 minutes into the video he discusses the pros and cons of the 7300. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owaaT6u4XkY&index=10&list=PLRSwUN4qr1LpU_cjWRYvszhDggoqlEQFF

You can also view this by going to the Contest University web site videos tab and selecting the 2017 Disruptive Technologies video.

73's Rich KB8GAE
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K0UA
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2017, 01:49:54 PM »

John,

Here is a direct link to a Contest University video by Rob Sherwood NC0B that you may find helpful.

At 20 minutes into the video he discusses the pros and cons of the 7300. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owaaT6u4XkY&index=10&list=PLRSwUN4qr1LpU_cjWRYvszhDggoqlEQFF

You can also view this by going to the Contest University web site videos tab and selecting the 2017 Disruptive Technologies video.

73's Rich KB8GAE

That was an interesting presentation.  Tnx for posting
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WC4R
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2017, 03:03:46 PM »

Short answer: NO.
But realize that the contest grade radio standard is always getting higher. So the answer is YES when compared to radios manufactured before the 7300. The Sherwood specs are a good start but there is so much more to the 'contest standard' than just the Third-Order Dynamic Range Narrow Spaced spec.
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KE2TR
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2017, 09:30:55 AM »

I feel that what you would call contest grade depends on your station more then the radio used. When you look around at stations still using FT1000MP's which by Sherwoods RX list would be way down, maybe somewhere in the middle yet there still inn use well unless you have a station like K3LR. W3LPL,KC1XX or many of the top stations with a huge selection of antennas and multi operation type contesting the 7300 may be just fine for you. I think what hurts this radio is the use of a pre amp which traditionally Icom's have always had better MDS figures but at the expense of a higher noise floor, if you look at the HDS numbers of the 7300 without the pre amp engaged its more than good enough for anywhere below 28 mhz. What seems to make this radio go into blocking easy is the use of these pre amp's in line plus most op's have forgotten how to use the RF gain controls on there radio in the first place. The selectivity is more than good enough and for that matter so are many of the radio's out in the market place but please dont compare it to radio's costing many Kilobucks more. The only short comings is the RX input band pass filtering but for the price its only bested by a radio like the FTDX3000 and when you may be operating two radio's at the same location the 7300 second order IMD numbers could stand for allot of improvement, this one spec is why those old MP's still do soo well.
I think if Icom brought out a 7300MKII with tighter band pass filters, a second antenna input maybe just for receive, a output for an external display and be able to be mouse driven without using there outdated software they would keep on the crest of there wave in sales for another few years. It seems that everyone wants the performance of a $13000 dollar IC7851 for the street price of the IC7300 for $1300 dollars, sorry that is not going to happen and many think that the new IC7610 is going to be that radio but I think not.
Getting back to if the 7300 is a contest radio well for a smaller station with a tribander and wires it should do fine but multi op two tower plus station sporting stacks on the top three bands and something big on 40m and 75 M  NO, even with tons of external band pass filtering I feel the need there for better RX performance. As far as FD with the use of external band pass filtering it should be OK.
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K0UA
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2017, 01:06:18 PM »

I have a 7300, so is it a "contest radio".  Yes and No.  I have operated many contests so far with it, and it has performed very very well. I operate single op, and my antennas, while much more than some hams have are nothing special at all.  A 3 element minibeam at 40 foot and an OCFD at 35 feet.  Not exactly a "killer" antenna farm huh? the radio has done very well during busy high occupancy band conditions with the RF load my little antennas can pump into it. Of course take the pre amp off, if you need to use the attenuator, and/or back off of the RF gain then do so, But I don't remember doing that during Field Day.  But the receiver seems to be as good or better than my Icom 756PRO3.

  Would it be my first choice for a high RF environment multi op operation?  I don't think so.  I think there are better much more expensive radios to fill that bill.  After all this is a $1300 radio that is sold as an "entry level" radio.  And I can tell you this, it is one heck of an "entry level" radio.  You will not be disappointed for the money you paid.
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K3TN
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2017, 03:55:19 AM »

You can tell Elecraft has been feeling the sales impact of the 7300 on K3S sales - they put out a comparison table you can see here.

Significant difference in specs and features, but equally significant difference in price.

I'm a K3 owner and for how I like to operate in contests and chase DX, the 7300 would not be my choice. But a great value if it matches your style of operating - which, as its sales prove, it does for many, many ops.

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John K3TN
KE2TR
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 09:18:15 PM »

Well when you add all the extras to make the K3S a super radio it totals out over $4K so why is Elecraft have the need to place a comparo on there site to a 7300 which has a street price around $1250 at this time plus there casual op's package is right around $3200 for a bare bones K3S were two 7300 would run you $2500. Elecraft had there day but its one not easy radio to use, horrible control layout, not even close to the audio reproduction of many other radio's today and to be totally honest its the ugliest radio today in the marketplace. Yes the spec are very good but unless your running a top notch contest station you may have more radio then you need. What is so funny to me is Rob Sherwood doesn't own any of the radio's that are in the top ten on his list but he own's a Kewood TS990 so even ole Rob doesn't buy radio's because of his RX testing. I have been down that road and got roped into a K3 a few years back, after using it for a little over a month I very quickly sold it and if I had to listen to it for a 48 hour contest my ears would be bleeding after the first hour. There is allot more to a good radio today then just great lab numbers.
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K3TN
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 04:00:06 AM »

I switched to Elecraft back in 2009 (after 40 years mostly a Kenwood HFer, a brief try of Yaesu and ICOM) and been loving it. The transmitter is clean, the receiver is great, the audio is clean and tailorable, the front panel is not jammed with controls I rarely (if ever) use and Elecraft keeps improving things with periodic software upgrades. The support from Elecraft is also a strong differentiator.

As with most things ham radio, it is a YMMV kinda scenario - Your Mileage May Vary.
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John K3TN
N3QE
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 08:42:42 AM »

Well when you add all the extras to make the K3S a super radio it totals out over $4K so why is Elecraft have the need to place a comparo on there site to a 7300 which has a street price around $1250 at this time plus there casual op's package is right around $3200 for a bare bones K3S were two 7300 would run you $2500.

I do not feel the Icom 7300 is in the same league as a K3S. Nothing against the 7300, I think it's a fine rig.

Don't forget the FTDX5000. The FTDX5000 comes with second receiver, all crystal filters, 200 watts, etc., all for less money than a decked-out K3S.

There is nothing missing from a FTDX5000! Truly top-spec receiver, very clean transmitter.

I use K3's and FTDX5000's a lot at superstations and I like them both. If I had the money to buy a new rig I would consider them both.

The FTDX5000 is super deluxe on phone in a way that the K3S is not. The K3S could well have a usability advantage on CW. A lot of folks prefer the bigger format of the FTDX5000 especially at a home station. I can see someone going for the K3S if they operate portable or have to move their rig between sites a lot.
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KE2TR
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2017, 01:13:51 PM »

Yes the K3S and the FTDX5000 are both in the same leage yet a K3S fitted with the same filtering as the Yaesu cost much more these days, over a kilobuck more for RX numbers which would only differ by a little in a lab test so why is Elecraft have to post on there site to compare a $3K++ radio to a list price $1500 radio. Icom has done the same thing they did with the early K3 intro but they don't option you to death like Elecraft plus the radio feels like its built not that cheap plastic feel of the K3. I think that the Electraft sales have been dropping off by a huge amount cause of what the 7300 offer's for suck a low price. The receiver is allot better than many more expensive rigs out today that cost more, the TX audio is some of the best I have seen plus have not heard of bad audio coming out of any 7300's I have heard on the air. For many who have a average station like a tribander plus wire's the receiver in the 7300 is more than capable so tell me does that K3S for more than double the price for there basic K3S going to place any more contacts into the log than a 7300 will in most average equipped station. The answer is no cause most of the operating is S&P with some runs when the band gets really open and you would be surprised that many of these average stations are still using FT1000MP series radio's and not just 7300, now you ask yourself why cause these radio's they can listen to for hours on end and dont make your ears bleed.
The Elecraft regime is slowly coming to an end, they are way overpriced today, option the crap out of you, you don't really build it like the ole Heathkit cause the boards are already assembled and tested so you just become the mechanical assembler so its not really kit building, for the cost they still feel cheap and to place a K3S next to a FTDX5000 is like placing chop meat next to top cut tenderloin steak. You can easily take the IF out of the 5K and get a big spectrum scope if needed, its DSP and NR is better than the K3 series rigs and at this time many of the Yaesu radio's DSP and NR systems rival some of the best one Icom has had for a while, hell if you dont like the size of the 7300 even the FTDX3000 would do as well for a main SSB station with some activity in CW and these are under $1600 new with the 5K up around $3600-3800 new loaded. Sorry I don't see the value for the K3S plus its only a matter of time that SDR radio's are going to clean the K3S rigs clock, clearly Electraft's market share is rolling down hill and I am surprised at suck a low blow on there web site against the 7300. Ham's are buying a 7300 for backup/DX pedition style travel radio and using either one of the Flex, Yaesu 5K's or if there pockets can afford it IC7851's for there main station big rig. It used to be guy's would buy a K3 for home and travel with it cause it was light and small and had decent RX but the 7300 has taken a big bite out of there sales in this department.
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KE2TR
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2017, 01:20:38 PM »

BTW I did own a K3, 590 and the FTDX3000 all around the same time plus had use of a FTDX5000 as well. My personal selection would be the 5000 first, the 3000 second, a close runner up would be the 590 and last would be the K3 and this was back three years ago before the 7300 was introduced. I did keep the 3000 and that at the time was a price VS performance but given today it might be a different call cause I feel the 7300 would be close to the 3K but if I wanted a second radio for the shack I would go to the 7300 plus I could travel with that radio as well.
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KE4KY
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2017, 01:47:21 PM »

Lots of good radios out there, and plenty of gently used bargains on the market as well. Some of the bashing of particular brands really comes across as childish and juvenile. You bought a radio you didn't like it....who cares! You felt like you paid too much money for a rig....seems like that is your fault for not making an informed choice or for not knowing what you wanted in the first place.

In radio, as in thousands of other pursuits, some tools of the trade do serve a purpose and are better suited for the different tasks that one may choose to do. One size does not always fit all, and that goes for ham radio as well.

Sometimes, one might get in over their head when not researching the product they are buying or without some A.I.S. time in front the rig they may want to buy. When that happens, the blame goes to the purchaser due to their ignorance (true meaning of the word) regarding the operational aspects of the platform. It's like buying a Corvette then bitching about how much the tires are going to cost when it comes time for a new set.

Back to the topic at hand....

Can one contest with a 7300? The answer is "yes."

Is it a contester's radio? The answer is "no."

Just look at the money the contest mega-stations could save (or re-pocket) if they would just sell all their high dollar radios and buy $900 used 7300s. Just say'n.
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Glenn KE4KY - Ham since 1975
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