VE3LNY's Station

Since I was licensed I have owned and operated several transceivers: Heathkit SB-100 (bought used, not built), Drake TR-7, ICOM IC-746, ICOM IC-746PRO, and currently an ICOM IC-7300. Each radio was sold when the new one was bought, so I don't keep a collection in the shack.

ICOM IC-7300

The IC-7300 is a wonderful rig, and I have enjoyed using it for a number of years. It has certainly gotten rave reviews on EHAM. I really like interfacing with a real radio, with the features of an SDR. I have built a project, the ICOM Commander, to make it quicker to choose the power level and change the key type.

When the radio was new I did not read the manual thoroughly enough, and left it unpowered for too long. The result was a dead clock battery. This has been documented thoroughly in the IC-7300 Groups.IO. The original battery (BT381) is a ML414H, 3V lithium rechargeable, a whopping 1 mAh. The manual says it takes two days (48 hours?) to thoroughly charge the battery, which may then power the clock for a few weeks. This suggests a charging current of about 25 uA (.025 mA x 48 = 1.2 mAh). Looking at the circuit, there is a diode followed by a 3.3K resistor charging the battery from a 3.3V supply (the radio needs power but does not have to be turned on).

I have to say that this is a major engineering blunder on an otherwise remarkably well engineered radio. The battery is surface soldered to the PC board making it really hard to remove without damage. Then obtaining a replacement battery is a major challenge depending on where you live. There are sources in the USA but they do not ship lithium batteries to Canada. There are sources in Canada that are very expensive compared to the US price. I found a vendor in China selling a MS621FE battery (5.5mAh), shipped by surface, for a very reasonable price. The
MS621FE has tabs making it very easy to solder in, once you get the old battery out. There is plenty of space on the board, ICOM should have used a holder there.

When I sold my 746PRO, I lost 2 meter all-mode. I wanted at least FM access to 2 the meter/440 mHz bands, so after some research I purchased a BTECH UV-25X2 mobile radio.

BTech UV-25X2

This is a great little rig for the price. The BTech model comes with an unexpectedly good manual. Programming frequencies using the microphone keypad is possible but not fun. However using CHIRP and a home-brew programming cable (scroll down to mid-page) the job becomes easy.

Unfortunately for me the UV-25X2 maxes out at 25 watts, and I live in an area with lots of repeaters near and far, and 25W wasn't making it in many cases. I decided to get a 50 watt rig, and ended up with this one second hand:


The IC-2730A has been thoroughly reviewed on Eham and Youtube, so I won't say too much here. It runs 50 watts and gives me access to more of the distant repeaters. I sympathize with the users that complain about the lack of mounting hardware, and fortunately mine came with the front panel bracket I needed. I don't mind purchasing a bracket but my complaint is the outrageous prices the radio store charges for them and the programming cable. This is not a new complaint and like buying a car you have to add up all the options to arrive at the final price which may be a lot higher.

Speaking of the programming cable, after some research I realized that the programming port was the same as my old IC-T7A hand-held, which I had a cable for. The only problem was the ancient cable had a serial port DB9 connector instead of USB. My old computer has one serial port so I figured the cable should work like it does for the T7A. I hooked it all up and using Chirp was easily able to download and upload to the IC-2730A. Presumably lacking a serial port, a serial to USB adapter would also work, something I will try eventually.

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