[CQ-Contest] contest radio

Hanlon, Steve SHanlon at dnr.state.md.us
Fri Feb 6 11:26:32 EST 2004

the Icom IC-746PRO is a great radio for a new ham, which is why i purchased it.  it's all mode HF, 6m, and 2m  is very appealling to someone who is just starting the hobby.  with that said, the shortcomings for contesting are becoming apparent, and from observations and a single contest experience, i feel this radio is not going to fit my future needs.    

coupled with these shortcomings is a possible design flaw that Icom has not addressed to my satisfaction.  i inquired about the xmit failure that seems to plague the radio line and received a rather odd response.  they could not tell me if my radio had the "factory upgrade" installed since they did not record an official starting serial number for those that had been upgraded.  they suggest i take it to my local repair center and have them take a look.  i find this very unsettling.

so then the question becomes, what radio does a budding contester select.  the defacto standard, from many pictures and statements, is the Yaesu FT-1000MP line.  this series is not without it's own design problems and the DSP technology is getting very long in the tooth.  if i commit to the Yaesu line, it puts me in a better position to guest op since i'll be familiar with the unit before.  i loose 2 bands and the band sweep function.  the gains are many and address all of the shortcomings of the 746PRO.  and it doesn't suffer from a possible xmit flaw!

Icom has the 756PROII.  this radio is subject to the same problems in dealing with Icom's customer service.  the features are plenty, but how many contesters and DX'ers are using this radio?  the DSP and design are newer, so there is no fear that a new model is right around the corner.  

my goals for HF operation are chasing DX if there is no contest and working contests with my stick in the mud.  i am not a very skillful operator as i am just starting down this path, but i am taking my queues from many sources including this list.  my main  mode is SSB and eventually hope to increase my CW skills to a realistic speed.  5wpm is fine and dandy, but i'll never work a pile up at that speed.  

my radio budget is roughly $1500-1800.  this puts me in a used 756PROII or FT-1000MP.  if i squeeze a little more, i could bring home the MK V Feild new.  before you tell me to invest in antennas, i am limited to an agreement with my wife.  i need be active in the hobby and contesting for at least a year before she'll agree to a tower.  it's far easier to ship a radio to a buyer than a tower ;)  maybe i'm jumping the gun and should hang onto the 746PRO, but a voice in the back of my head says the longer i keep the 746PRo, the harder it will become to sell. 

and so it goes...

-steve hanlon

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