by George, G0JKZ
This radio has one feature that sets it above pretty much everything in its price bracket and a lot of units that cost more... It has a direct USB connection. If you plug a single cable between the PC and the radio it will allow you to control it with most software out there. I prefer Ham Radio Deluxe as it is probably the most complete package and the best part is that it is completely free! Once set up you can control 90% of the radios functions from the pc without ever having to touch the radio itself, almost like a full SDR radio. The radio also functions as an external soundcard so for data modes you need no extra hardware, saving you around £100 on the cost of interfaces and custom leads. The single wire you need to supply can be bought on Ebay for as little as £2.
So what is it like in actual use? The short answer is ‘brilliantly’. The IC-7200 utlises the latest IF DSP technology including digital IF filter, digital twin PBT and manual notch filter as well as putting the DSP functions inside the AGC loop. You can adjust pretty much the whole receiver spec from the pc or front panel. Want to set the filtering so tight only a single PSK31 signal gets through? Easy... want to make the front end as wide as a barn door to get massive spreading voice signals into the passband? Simple. You can adjust both the width and the shape of the front end filter easily and not just in fixed steps but fully variable. This is fantastic, especially when operating the 80m CC contests where 80m becomes a veritable zoo of strong signals. I managed to work the contest on a run frequency that was only 3khz away from another strong signal. My receiver coped admirably, still allowing me to weak signals without much of a struggle. In ragchew mode I find that setting the filter slightly tighter than the default mid setting is comfortable, allowing a good reduction in background noise as well as hearing the full vocal range of the other station. Onto digimodes now. The DM780 section of HRD allows you to work almost every digital mode out there, with the exception of the js weak signal modes. I have made contacts with minimal power using psk, mfsk, Olivia, Hellschreiber, RTTY and even CW. The ease of setup makes it a breeze, just open the mode, type your message and send. Again, use of the filtering makes a crowded band easy to work. Just set your filtering to the conditions and away you go.
Negatives There must be a downside.... Not really, but I will admit to modifying the standard mic. The standard HM-36 Chinese microphone has too much wadding in front of the element and benefits from a change of components in the filter circuit. It’s not saying it doesn’t work, just that it works better after the modification. Early radios have a Japanese HM-36 which doesn’t need modification. I use mine now with a desk mic, the Icom SM-20. The audio reports I get are fantastic, often along the lines of ‘BBC Quality’ and ‘Is that a Heil Mic?’.
The standard radio doesn’t come with the big carry handles on the sides, or the carry strap. These are useful if you go out and about with the radio as they are designed to protect the front panel, the die cast chassis protects the rear sockets. I personally think they are overpriced for what they are, especially as my own radio doesn’t leave the shack. Aesthetically though, you love or hate them.
To sum it up.... Get one. Possibly the best sub £1000 radio on the market.
IC-7200 HF/50MHz transceiver
The IC-7200 HF/50MHz transceiver maintains all the traditions of high quality engineering that you expect from Icom. Rugged in design and easy to operate, the IC-7200 utilises the latest digital functions including digital IF filter, twin PBT and manual notch filter which are normally associated with more expensive models. The IC-7200 is ideal for field operation or at home in your shack and is designed to be one of the most practical rigs available.