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Reviews For: Icom IC-703

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Icom IC-703
Reviews: 181MSRP: 400.00
QRP HF and 6 Meter all mode radio. Comes standard with Antenna Tuner, DSP, Keyer, Memory Keyer, Power Conservasion system.
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
AA4YU Rating: 2007-05-04
Features I wish the others had Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I purchased a used IC-703 from Ebay. It was not the "plus" model so there was no 6 meter coverage. The unit was in good shape when it arrived so I put it on the air with a G5RV up 20 feet.

I am not a good CW operator and have been off the air for a number of years. The memory keyer helped get back on the air. A great feature that just does not seem to be available in other low end Icom rigs. I added a W4WB 500hz filter and find the radio very enjoyable for small amount of CW operation I do.

The tuner is another big plus. I am able to work most bands with just the one antenna. I have some mobile antennas that I intend to try out in a few weeks.

The one downside of the rig is that 10 watts is very marginal for most SSB work. QRP is a lot of fun but you can't work a lot of the nets with what I have. I ended up purchasing a second rig for QRO.

A surprise option was using the rig for PSK31. After connecting the rig to my computer with the right interface I have a fully computer controlled station that has allowed me to work a good many DX stations. If I work things right I should be able to set up a mobile station with a laptop and take the show on the road.
VE7ETS Rating: 2007-04-30
for its niche - excellent! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have a later-issue 703+. It has several revised circuits that apparently correct some earlier design flaws.

Icom did a very good job of balancing the various design compromises with this radio. It is not a backbacking rig - mine does duty on canoe trips and other excursions where the equipment has to be light, but not ridiculously-so. It draws low current on receive, but still isn't the best in class. What it lacks in pure QRP performance it makes up for with all-round versatility.

With 10W on SSB I was able to report my position to 'home base' on 40m most evenings. Install an INRAD CW filter and this radio really starts to shine. In this configuration the 703 becomes an excellent CW rig with its hot DSP receiver and internal keyer.

To enjoy this radio:
- plan on working CW
- install a narrow CW filter
- use good feedline and some low-power baluns to gain antenna flexibility. I tend to use longwires when camping.

It shouldn't be your first radio, but on a canoe trip in Saskatchewan it could become your most memorable.

Highly recommended.
NU4B Rating: 2007-03-18
One Sweet Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
First let me say that between the big 4 all HF band QRP rigs each has it good points and each has its bad points. So this is not to disqualify the other rigs, but rather to esplain why I think the IC 703 is close to QRP heaven. (one note -nothing beats making a QSO with a rig you built yourself)
I bought my 703 new with the 250Hz filter. I installed the filter myself which is very easy, so save yourslf 30 bucks if there is a charge to install it at your favorite dealer. Having followed the 703 reviews here I opted for a new one over a used or reconditioned rig hoping to avoid the problems associated with the earlier models. I am heavy into DXing and contesting so although this is not a DX pro or contest pro rig, it does lend itself quite nicely to those activities.
So on the plus side -
1) Price - If you tried to compare all the big 4 QRP rigs (and even out the features), the 703 would probably come in second. And you don't have to build it.
2) Built In Autotuner - works great and no extra charge. Easy to set - no turning knobs trying to find the right match.
3) Multi functional keyer, also no extra charge. I really like the QSO number counter and that it has a button right there to decrease your QSO number if you end up with a busted QSO or have to repeat the exchange. The "dial a message" feature is interesting. Rather than input your message into memory via your paddles you just dial the letters and numbers in your message and save. With the default settings it appears to send out very good code. In the recent Russian DX Contest I had very few requests for a repeat exchange. Running 5 watts to a carolina windom and a solar flux of 69 or 70, I would have expected different.
4) Milliwatt operation - The rig easily goes down to milliwatt operation for all those QRPpers while still having the advantage of a full featured rig. What can be more exciting than DXCC QRPp? - you choose the level.
5) Portability - No it doesn't come with the battery and charger but the size is great for traveling and it does have a detachable front panel. It also has a 9.6 volt mode that you can set. (it will enter low voltage mode automatically when it detects voltage dropping below 11 volts)
5) All HF band operation + 6 meters. Yaesu has more, Ten Tec and Elecraft have less , unless you buy converters and in the case of Elecraft the 160M option.
6) Full featured - Its a small package so many features are accessed via menus rather than buttons. The menu system is not to difficult to remember, especialy the ones you use most often.

On the minus side -
1) 250 Hz filter - My HW-9 has that and it didn't cost 170 bucks to get it. It was standard. Its not variable and it only goes down to 250 Hz. This is 2007!
2) Relay keying. Not a big deal, but its not a Ten Tec!
3) Power setting can be confusing to some folks at first. First you set the power range, then you set the percentage of that range you want to operate at. For QRP purists an accurate wattmeter is a must. (They probably already have one)
4) And Finally - For QRP purists - the power output indicated might be a tad off. Not uncommon on any rig. The rig may indicate 5 watts out, but it maybe a tad over or under. To be true QRP by today's definition you would want to adjust down a little. Once again a purist will want an accurate wattmeter to verify power out.

Overall , the rig has a nice combination af features and performance that makes it exceptionally versatile in the shack or traveling. I have had no problem making QSO's (as long as the band is open) running at 5 watts to a carolina windom. (A good propagation program is a handy tool.) One of my first non contest QSO's was on 80 meters with IK4WMA. He did not seem to have a problem getting the info I was sending. (for us QRPers 80 meters can be a struggle)
Those are my initial impressions. I hope they won't change after a yeaor two, but will let yuo know.
K8QV Rating: 2007-03-07
My Current Favorite Rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It's interesting that AB5CC should mention that 5 watts on SSB isn't quite enough to be practical. I don't usually operate QRP phone, but a couple of weeks ago I had some time in a fishing cabin with the 703 and a Buddistick. I easily worked DX with 2 watts or less on CW, but when I tried to contact anybody on phone, 5 watts couldn't make it, but 10 watts usually could.

I bought my used HF-only 703, did the mods, added an Inrad narrow CW filter, and entered QRP Nirvana. Great receiver (with CW filter!) and clean transmit. Audio reports are great, memory keyer works perfectly, auto tuner matches damn near anything you can hook up to it, and I'm still using the 7 Ah battery from a couple of weeks ago.

I am a diehard Kenwood guy, but this little Icom I'll gladly make an exception for.

Life's too short for QRO - take the QRP Challenge and be amazed what a little power, a little skill, and a decent antenna can accomplish! The IC-703 is the perfect tool for that.
AB5CC Rating: 2007-03-05
Outstanding Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I too have owned 2 FT-817s and they are amazing radios, but for me 5w wasn't enough on sideband. With the IC-703 and 10w, I don't feel handicapped at all. I was talking to a ham about 100 miles away on 160m at 5pm 2 days ago. He gave me a 20 over S9 report and couldn't believe I was using only 10w. I had the same experience on 17m earlier in the day. I am in Oklahoma and he was in Washington state. I got a 58 report and the guy said he couldn't believe I was only running 10w. I am sure 5w is more than enough on CW, but I felt I needed a little more power on SSB. This radio does the trick. All Audio reports have been outstanding. The built-in tuner is just icing on the cake! I can't wait to get this thing into the backcountry. On PSK31, it is fantastic. If I can see them on the waterfall, I can work them. 20 watts on PSK is the norm anyway. I can run full power (10W) and see absolutely no ALC indication for a very clean signal. I am the second owner of this non-plus radio. I think this is a keeper and you can get one for $400 shipped at this time, used of course. The 703+ is going for $700 used and I didn't see the $300 just for 6m since I already have an IC-746 for 6m.
AK7V Rating: 2007-02-20
Would be great if driver was better Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Would be a near-perfect rig if it weren't for the driver failure I (and many others) experienced. Cost about $130 to have Icom fix it out of warranty. If it was a freak event, I'd let it go, but it seems to happen fairly often and I don't trust the radio's design. I don't want to pay to fix it every year or so either.

For what it's worth, I had an early-production non-plus IC-703.

I wish the design and/or Icom's parts supplies were better.
W8KQE Rating: 2007-01-25
OUTSTANDING portable rig! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Wow! What a great, lightweight, 'grab it and go' compact rig! 6 meters and a tuner too! I've been using this one for mainly portable work (pedestrian mobile AND outdoors on the patio, etc.), using simple to put up end-fed wire antennas (like the PAR 'End-Fedz'), and a car battery charger/power supply combo unit. Results have been spectacular, having worked many stations with good reports even with the sunspot cycle at a minimum. Another plus with this radio is that you can go down to QRP levels or up to a 20 watt level, which often makes a difference. The receiver is excellent in all respects as well, and no different than the latest incarnations of the more recent Icom 706 series models. Easily the best compact, QRP rig out there!
HA5REM Rating: 2006-12-27
I love Her! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I had few 817 before I meet her.
I Love Her!

-Easy to use, light enough, but at the other hand it has usable controls, such as "big" vfo dial.
-The receiver is sensitive, and works fine even next to big broadcast stations, but if one likes to use cw mode, the optional filter is recommended. DSP is only to avoid terrible headache of loud noise, but doesn't help too much.
-Low current at receive and transmit as well, intuitive menu and many useful features, like memory el-key built in, graphical swr metering and alphanumeric tags to freqs.
-The big good point is the compressor, what can increase the average power, giving plus 2 "s" in ssb!!!
-The bulit in tuner works fine as well, even with longwires.

(Not really) bad points:
-No built in battery. (You can't use them in the 817, because 3A on transmit is too big deal for even an 1500mA pack.)
-Bigger size. But if you have smaller fingers than my 1.5 year old son, buy an ft 817:)
-No VHF and UHF bands. Anyway, it is a HF trx.

So I can recommend this small rig. If 10 W is not enough, you can use a small pa. The output of the transmitter is so clean, with no unwanted harmonic products.

Have fun!

WB4JHS Rating: 2006-12-02
I'msatisfied! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I got mine from AES and have used it in Honduras /HR2 with a gell cell and a 6-20 meter dipole and I did lots of Dx from KH6 to Eastern EU. If you can hear them you generally can work them w/ a 703. I must have got a late serial number as it doesn't say plus but has 6 meters and no known mods or problems so maybe they worked them out.
HB9BGG Rating: 2006-11-19
Very rugged portable rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
using the IC703 for some years now, I am still happy with it. Equipment has hard life, because I took and take it always with me on holidays (Serveral mediterranean islands and for skiing in the mountains) Great advantages are: low power consumtion, relatively light weight, built in tuner, nice demontable front, rugged case. With a bit more investigation in a good portableantenna all DX and inner european QSO were possible. Orig Mic was modified by drilling a whole of 0.6mm from backside into the mictube. Its almost invisible from the front and audio is much better now.
Best rig I had for portable pleasure.
vy 73 de HB9BGG, Marco