Icom IC-775, size: 14.7 MB
Icom IC-775DSP 1
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IC 775DSP OutputPower
User reviews and opinions
|jpkirchner||3:42pm on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010|
|I must be a compulsive headphone buyer. I have a lot of headphones at home, most inexpensive and not all are being used.|
|sfhd||9:46am on Monday, September 27th, 2010|
|I use this in my 1998 car with a tape deck to connect my ipod. I find the fm transmitters annoying, and unreliable. This is much simpler. It was fast fun and easy. Stuck the cassette in plug in my MP3 player and listen to good quality music with no static. Easy Setup","Good Quality".|
|trekkiejt||7:34pm on Sunday, September 5th, 2010|
|Placement of the headset in the ear of the Creative EP630 with coverage from rubber provide a fantastic experience audio in MP3 format.|
|Sunday||12:22pm on Monday, August 23rd, 2010|
|Amazing Creative EP-630 In-Ear Noise-Isolating Headphones (Black) I got a pair of these when I ordered my XPS computer system back in 2008. Small price for big sound For $16.00, what can you say! I was quite pleased with the sound for such a small price.|
|Hans_Portier||12:06am on Monday, July 26th, 2010|
|My first IEM were "Koss Spark Plug" ( 2 pairs ) and I thought they were good, but after trying EP-630 I forgot "Plugs" like a horrible nightmare. These came with my Dell XPS 1530 and I tried them for the first time and really was impressed.|
|paulishuku||2:33pm on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010|
|Creative EP-830 Noise Isolating Earphones Very disappointed with these earphones, i bought them off the back of very good reviews i had read.|
|gogobongopop||1:48am on Saturday, June 5th, 2010|
|Heralded by the headphone enthusiast community as the KSC75 of ear buds. Very good....when they work! Bought my 2nd pair of these in February. Great value, and a decent sound... Headphones Arrived quickly. Earphones work very well but no good if your lug holes are smaller than the average person.|
|LadyVimes||5:37pm on Monday, May 31st, 2010|
|The silicone fittings are changeable so you can choose the right size for your ears. Bad thing about that is that they tend to fall off now and then.|
|Hue||8:07pm on Saturday, May 1st, 2010|
|"This is my 3rd tape adapter for my iPod - first was Monster Cable, then Dynex (?) - which was the worst, and now this Sony one.|
|marmarchi||2:40am on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010|
|The only issue that I have found is that the rubber ear buds can compress at times - I simply pull them back out, but it can be anoying at times.|
Comments posted on www.ps2netdrivers.net are solely the views and opinions of the people posting them and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of us.
By Matt Erickson KK5DR
Jan. 2000 Review unit serial number; 011xx You may ask "why?" QST has already done a review of the IC-775DSP, and it s for that very reason I feel a new prospective is needed. After I read the January 1996 QST review, I see the same "cookie cutter" style of writing reviews. This is a style that is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator in ham radio. A large portion of the article is dedicated to stating the obvious, wasting the reader s time and insulting his/her intelligence with words of little substance. What are they doing? Filling space? Are the writers paid by the word? I take a different approach to reviewing a rig. Getting deeper into the operations, feel construction, comparative observations, etc. Things that QST only gives a paragraph or two on.
I spend very little time describing things that can more easily be seen in a photo or found on an ICOM info pamphlet. My goal in my review is to expose capabilities and shortcomings, then let the reader make their own judgment. Outside appearance Big black box. Very nice finish, light rough texture, thick paint coat, that resists scuffs that might bring a new owner to tears. Real rubber feet, with tilt-back angle feet that flip down in front, good grip on your highly polished operating bench. Rubber rings on the main & sub VFO knobs. The main knob having a nice "spinning" finger cup on it, for "high speed" tuning. The back end has very few protrusions, and a well-spaced and laid-out connector set. Only one exposed fan back here, on the tuner section. Big Bright display! Even on it s lowest setting, in a darkened shack, I can read the paper by the light cast from it. This display is intense! Perhaps a little more adjustment range was in order. Big rig, Big fingers. In the age of the "Incredible shrinking radio", guys like me are happy to see a truly big rig again. A rig of this size can have control buttons and knobs that are noticeably larger and spaced apart more. This makes it easier to make adjustments and quick changes in operation, with out bumping other settings, inadvertently. I am a fan of the "Big Rig" and hope it never goes away. Analog meter. Yes, this is the way many of us "grew-up" with these meters, learned how to read them, and know what certain deflections mean on them. The IC-775 s has all the needed scales, and a very accurate action. Bar graphs be damned! What? NO HANDLES!! No handle on the 775, it suffers from the same sickness as the FT-1000, large size, but nothing to grab, when you move the rig. Rack type handles are sold as an option, but I m
used to the old strap type on one of the sides of the rig. Better to carry it like a suitcase, than a bushel-basket. Big knob, little knob. Nice large "main" VFO knob, but unfortunately it has very little weighted "fly-wheel effect" in it. I would have preferred a nice "feel" like that of the IC-765. Now that was a VFO knob, one could love. It had a silky smooth, heavy weighted action, and a fly-wheel spin that could go for days after a flick of the fingers. The knob on the review unit seemed a bit stiff, even with the "brake" all the way off. But, I guess you could say I m "nit-pickin". Sub VFO knob. Aww, look at the cute little knob, how cute you are. As for usefulness, I m not so sure of that. It seems to me that this knob is more of a "novelty"(ala FT-1000). It s function could have much more efficiently been done by the placement of a button to switch from main to sub VFO near the main knob, that could have allowed tuning of main or sub from the main knob, with one hand, or even a "slave" tune function. As it is, you would need both hands to "slave" tune both knobs. The sub VFO knob is clearly a "bells & whistles" feature, meant to grab the attention of those easily impressed by these types of "trinkets". In practical operations, the majority of us, will see little use in it. Update; After using the sub-VFO knob, I have seen a use for it. It is less of a "bell & whistles" feature than I first thought. That s pretty much it for the outside of the IC-775. All the other features on the exterior can be seen in a photo, and would be tediously boring to try to describe here. If you want to see what it looks like, send for a 775 info sheet. It s a full color fold-out that has a lot of good photo views, and tons of info on it, best part is that it s free from ICOM or your favorite dealer. Under the hood Impressive! Truly fine construction, lots, and lots of heat sink material, practically all of the rig s chassis is cast aluminum and used for heat sinking. From the top view, the largest feature is the massive power amp block, near the middle of the chassis. Looks like a huge cast aluminum brick, with a fan on the inside end, and a small protruding heat sink fin area in the back of the rig where the warm air exits. To the left of the PA, is the equally impressive power supply. A large "computer" type, switching PS, with a very quiet, continuously running fan on it So quiet is this fan, that you are hard pressed to know it even runs. Well done ICOM! Over on the right side of the rig, lays the tuner section, nicely set up, with a fan of it s own. I wondered at first, why, but then I realized that the tuner components are a little
small to handle the 200 watts of PA output, with out the help of the fan to keep these parts cool and efficient; a thoughtful engineering design. This will add to the reliability of the rig under less-than-optimum operating conditions (such as a bad antenna match). The under side of the rig is where most of the control & operation circuit boards are located. This section is laid out in an efficient manner, very high quality boards, a high level of SMT (surface mount technology) components. SMT is the way of the future, very reliable, and precise, but hard to service, by the average ham, with a 40-watt soldering iron. Barring any defective components, or an outside force, SMT should have a service life span of 25-30 years. Filters slots, lots of slots! The 775 has a nice group of optional slots that are open to a number of filter combinations, in the 455khz & the 9mhz IF sections. You like CW, put in lots of CW filters, the 775DSP comes equipped with a 500hz CW filter. SSB lover, drop in both IF filters, or a happy blend of both. Filters are selected from a combination of 3 buttons on the front panel. Very versatile. Amp keying relay. We all have heard of the problems with older (and some newer) ICOM rigs, with very delicate keying relays. The 775 has a much heavier relay, but it is still very quiet, when activated. It is still limited to only 24vdc @ 1amp. Don t try keying your SB-220 directly with it! Use an outboard relay. The manual does not go into any detail about how to activate the relay, but a single entry on a photo that denotes a S-2 switch for the keying relay. One can only assume that moving the switch turns the relay on and off. The review unit was active, but a person using an ICOM amp, or no amp, and did not want to hear any relay noise, could turn it off. The bottom panel must be removed to do this. Defects and updates The review unit had with it a copy of an ICOM service request and work order, from the previous owner. In the request, it stated that the unit would distort on TX after a warm up of 30-40 minutes, but operate normal again after a cool down. The work order stated that the defective IC on the main board was replaced and several factory updates were done, all systems checked for 3 days, and it was done. Factory updates are simple, the replacement of a few diodes and capacitors, this is all for the updates even now. This indicates that the rig was designed very well to start with, and few changes were needed since then. ICOM service is not cheap, but it is very quick and 99% of the time the problem is fixed, the first trip, unlike some of the "other" guys. QST review errors!
My 775 predates the unit used in the QST review, but I didn t see many of the problems that QST found in their review unit. I did find a few errors in QST s article. Display digit size; QST states that the Main digits are 7/16 inch tall. There are not, they are in fact 9/16 inch tall. QST states that the Sub display digits are 5/8 inch tall. In fact they are 3/8 inch tall. The QST review griped about the "flickering" display backlighting. I saw none of this in my unit. Also, QST found extensive audio IMD, but I found little to none of it in my unit. ON THE AIR Now for the really important stuff. How this rig performs on the air, in both receive and transmit modes. First the receiver. DSP This feature is very useful. There is a version of the 775 that does not have a DSP unit installed, this would be the same as buying a Ferrari with a small four cylinder engine in it. With out the DSP unit, the rig is a slightly above average HF rig, but with it, the rig becomes a High performance, powerful sports car, of an HF rig. The 775DSP makes good use of the DSP unit inside it. NR Noise Reduction, I found to be a highly effective feature. By simply turning a knob the NR function is turned on, and level set, with a marked improvement in noise level, very effective, but I m not sure if it can do the same with all noise sources. With the combined use of the other interference fighting tools on board the 775, an Op could do serious combat with nearly any noise on the bands. Several features are tied into the DSP system, and cover a wide area of uses, mostly on receive, but there is a TX DSP function too. AUTO NOTCH Like many other rigs on the market today, the Auto Notch feature is becoming a deeply entrenched, and standard feature on almost all rigs coming out from here forward. This feature on the 775 works well, but it s not perfect. I feel my 756 had a slightly better Auto Notch, but both suffer the same AGC loop problem. This is when the offending
heterodyne is nulled, the AGC still generated a voltage, and desenses the receiver, and indicates a signal level on the S meter. The Auto Notch is simply in the wrong spot in the AGC loop, but it s understandable that it had to be done this way to conform to the design goals for the 775. Which were that the rig is fully functional with out the DSP unit installed. This restriction "tied the hands", of the engineers. Had the 775 been designed as a DSP rig from the ground up, this AGC loop problem would not be present. All in all, the Auto Notch works well, on weak to moderate strength signals. When a strong heterodyne signal is notched the receiver gets real quiet, but many desired signals can still be heard, it s the weaker ones that will disappear at this point. In addition to the auto notch, the manual notch is available at the same time the auto notch is in use, which makes the notch system on the 775 very useful, and unlike most rigs on the market. Compared to the newer 756, the 775 s DSP is more versatile in its function. NB Noise Blanker. Like many rigs out there now, the 775 is equipped with a "wood-pecker" type pulse noise blanker. Since the "wood-pecker" has all but disappeared from the bands, it s questionable why it is still being put in new rigs. I was hard pressed to find any noise that this blanker could remove, not very effective at all. A more useful NB would be tuned to the much more common 60hz "line noise" frequency. The only problem I could see with that design, is that it would distort in coming audio, since most SSB audio has some 60hz components in it. The NB on the 775 has many adjustments that can be made, but I could not find any noise that it could do much with. Rather disappointing, in this area. APF Audio Peak Filter, a feature found on many rigs today, is useful on CW and is tied into the CW pitch settings as to track with each other. The APF is also programmable to different widths, unlike older APF systems. This function is a good asset to the CW man. HPF/LPF High Pass Filter/ Low Pass Filter system, in the DSP version of the 775, this system allows the user to digitally adjust the high and lower frequency response on the receiver and transmitter, independent of each other. The system augments the other filtering systems on board. A very useful function! I found the Transmit adjustments to be very effective, "tailoring" the audio with great precision.
This function on transmit, is where the PSN or Phase Shift Networking, is operating. All reports on SSB say that the audio is very, very good, and the effect of adjustments on the HPF/LPF transmit system have a marked effect, and should allow most any mic and voice combo to work well on the rig. Filter Selection Selecting IF filters, is done through three front panel buttons. By a combination of different button activation s, the user can configure the IF filters in various bandwidths. This whole thing is a bit confusing at times. A "cheat sheet", might be in order, to keep track of what combination results in which filter width. I found this function to be more geared toward sound, than sight. By pressing filter buttons and listening, I found the right combo filters to use in a given interference situation. I have installed the FL-222 and the FL-223, 1.9khz SSB filters. By switching in and out filters, I can get the best audio with the most interference removal. More interference, more filters in-line, less equals less. Actually the 775 works well in this area. TX Audio reports "Well, how does it sound on the air", you may be asking. "Beautiful" is one report. "Broadcast quality", is another. And nearly all reports to date are favorable, from good to excellent. I use an ICOM SM-20 desk mic with it, and have made small adjustments to the transmit audio response, and from what I hear on an outboard receiver, and on the monitor, it sounds just like I do in person. Hams that I have talked to on the air with it, and who know me personally, say it sound just like I do in "real life ". TX audio on the 775 is clean, clear and "lots of it", as one person put it. A rig that can do that, is a keeper. A little more on the transmitter section. I was using the unit on 75meters last night and forgot to tune my antenna for the frequency I was using at the time. I chatted for hours at full output; the rig barely got warm, and didn t put up any objections to this situation. I guess my SWR was just under 2:1 at that time. The 775 s auto tuner has an auto-on function wherein the auto tuner will turn itself on, even if it is off at the time, when a high SWR is detected. During the entire evening of operations under these conditions, the tuner never activated. I guess the rig never felt it was needed, even though I do have the set-up parameters set to perform this auto-on function. The "beefy" PA does not seem to get warm during SSB operations at full 200-watt output. The PA section is the warmest part on the rig, and the rest of the chassis remains relatively cool to the touch. Even so, the PA does not seem to get more than lukewarm; one can very comfortably leave your hand on the rear heat sink, with out fear of blisters. Don t try this in 100% duty cycle modes, like FM, AM, RTTY, etc. It may get to warm for that. Two words to describe the 775 transmitter: Cool, and quiet.
Twin PBT Twin Pass Band Tuning. Perhaps the most useful of all the interference fighting tools on late model ICOM HF rigs. Working in the 9mhz & 455khz IF s, this function is a true pleasure to use, and is highly effective. Versatile and efficient. The 781 developed this feature, and now the 775 carries on, and uses it the same way as the newer 756. Aside from the DSP system, if I only had one feature I could have on any HF rig, TPBT would be it. AGC control The 775 features a continuously adjustable AGC time constant. I love it! I can dial in just the right amount of AGC action, to suit me. AGC timing, has been a complaint on some rigs that I have had in the past: either too fast or too slow. The 775 has fixed that for me. Dual Watch Here again, the 781 developed this feature, and a good idea, keeps going, through the 775 into the 756, and on to the 756PRO. I use this function to listen to two of my favorite frequencies, on a given band, simultaneously. Neat feature, I like it. The balance control on the rig adjusts the level of audio that the main & sub receiver put out, smooth and seamless operation, to smooth, at times it is hard to tell which frequency the audio is coming from, it could get confusing. The S-meter shows the strongest readings, regardless of which receiver it comes from ,while the rig is in Dual Watch mode, but the level is dependent on the balance setting. The main difference on the 775, is that sub receiver can be tuned independent of the main, via the sub VFO. On the 756, the tuning must be done by switching VFOs, and one can t be tuned, while the other is tuning, so regardless, only one VFO can be tuned at a time, on the 756. A small variation, may not mean much to most, but might be important to others. Auto Tuner Typical of ICOM tuners, it s good, real good. Fast, fast, and quite efficient. But, the unit was not designed to tune SWR s higher than 3:1, so don t try to tune your 10:1 ladder-line fed Zepp with it. The tuner is mainly meant to tune an antenna that may be a little narrow banded, giving you more room to run. It should tune into an older HF amp, that has no tuned input, and presents a load other than 50 ohms to the rig. In this case, it is ideally suited to that purpose. Memories etc.
The 775 s memory and scanning system, is very extensive. Band stacking, split operations, memory keyer, quick split, and repeater split, are just a few things this rig can do. The arsenal is well stocked, for most hams, it will be all they need. The operation manual What can I say? ICOM manuals are well known for the poor quality of the instruction in them. Vague, limited, barely adequate, are the words that come to mind. ICOM ranks dead last in the quality and usefulness of the manuals they produce, in my opinion. Much of the actual operation, you will have to figure out for yourself, because you won t learn it in the manual. In ICOM s defense, they do make some of the best "service manuals" in the business, but are rather expensive. 775 vs. 781 vs. 756 vs. 756PRO vs. 765 vs. Etc. On the used market, you may want to know if the 775 is a good buy. Let me put it this way. If you compare the 775 to a 781, it s no contest, the 775 is a better value, it s DSP, put it way out in front of the "Old rig". Compare the 775 to an old 765, the gap widens. If you really love your old 765, you ll love the 775 too. The 775 vs. 756: now it is a little like the old "Apples & Oranges" axiom. These two rigs have different design goals, and it would be hard to fairly compare them. The 775 vs. the new 756PRO, well, the 756pro is so new, and so different from the 775, that the older 775 is clearly at a disadvantage. But, if you look at it from a money outlook, the 775 on the used market, it currently selling at the same or nearly the same price as the new (projected price) on the 756pro. This is where I can t vote for the 756pro. As a personal equipment buying policy, I don t buy a rig that has not been on the market less than a year or two. The 775 has been out there, and has proven itself. What I think would be great, is if ICOM would discontinue the old outdated 781, and update the 775, in the same way they did the 756. Turning the "775PRO", into a total digital IF unit. Cleaning out all the unneeded analog circuitry would lower the cost by a large amount. The performance of the new unit would be greatly enhanced. To keep the new 775 from "cutting into" the 756PRO market, it would be necessary to design it in such a way, that I would be the "bullet-proof", DXer/Contester's rig, and also a unit that appeals to the high-end users. A good feature to add, would be total computer control, (e.g. Kachina or Ten-Tec Pegasus). These are just things I would like to see, my wish list, for what it s worth.
Conclusion My overall impression of the 775, is good, it works well, and looks great. If I had only two words to describe it, I would say: "Flexible & Versatile." I have owned the FT1000D, FT-990, IC-765, IC-761, IC-756, TS-940, and TS-930. The 775DSP ranks right up there, as one of the best I have ever used. I look mostly at the receiver performance, and the 775 does that well. I also look at quality transmit, and the 775 does that well too. I m proud to have it as my main rig. At the used prices these rigs are getting now, it is a lot of rig for the money. Unfortunately, time has passed by the 775, and now the new 756PRO is perhaps the best rig for the same amount of money. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I have given my opinion & views, on the 775, and now it s up to you to make your own judgement. Many thanks to my friend, Adam Farson VA7OJ/AB4OJ for his inserted comments and technical review of this article. Addendum Sept. 2002 ICOM Japan discontinues production of the IC-775DSP. See my "Rumor Mill" page for hints of it's replacement.
KK5DR's review & commentary of the ICOM IC-756PRO
By Matt Erickson KK5DR & Adam Farson VA7OJ/AB4OJ comments & technical data
Serial # 026xx
Introduction: In this review, unlike some I have done in the past, I will make no mention of any other "product reviews", published in, QST, CQ, 73, or any other Ham magazine. I have done this in past articles, but it would be pointless to continue here. As I have stated in my past review articles, I will not be doing any "Lab" tests, as I don t have any lab gear to do it with, and 99% of all hams don t either. Besides, lab numbers mean little or nothing to most hams. My reviews are more realistic, based in a real world user orientated point of view. The "John Q. Ham" approach. Out of the box
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I traded my IC-775DSP for the IC-756PRO I have now. Prior to the 775, I used an IC-756 (old ver.). The "old" 756 was a great rig in its own light, but there was room for improvements. I then stepped up to the IC-775DSP. This was a great rig too, with many desirable features, and an excellent receiver. See my review on the IC-775DSP for more details. To keep the confusion at a minimum, I ll refer to the IC-756PRO as the "PRO" in the rest of this review, and the old 756, as the "756". My first impression of the "PRO", right out of the box, much like the old 756, the color and finish are excellent. The color seems to be deeper black than the old version. I notice that the bare die-cast aluminum rear panel is enamel painted on the PRO, and the 756 was bare. The front panel is basically the same as the 756, with minor changes to layout & labeling. My overall opinion of the exterior layout, color, texture, & finish, is: Excellent! As a standard practice, when I first receive a new/used rig, I put the unit on WWV, to check the rig s frequency calibration. The PRO straight out of the box was dead-on, zero-beat, and in perfect calibration. There are few rigs that I have used that didn t need at least a little adjustment on the master oscillator. Some of the few that didn t need any adjustment are: FT-1000D, IC-775DSP, and now the IC756PRO. The PRO should stay calibrated for a very long time too. I researched the PRO on the Internet, and found a web site that is used by the government for test results on equipment that is proposed to be used by the military/government. This site tells the users the equipment meets the minimum specifications/requirements for that service. Found on this site are the specs for the PRO. The PRO has a built-in TCXO with an accuracy of 0.67 PPM. This level of accuracy is nearly the same as that of an "atomic" clock. Over the units range of temperature there should be little to no noticeable change in frequency error. Power ON! Since the unit is a "used" rig, I decided to do a CPU reset to clear all prior user settings and return the rig to the fresh, "NIB" configuration.
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The reset is: holding in the M-CL & F-INP buttons while pushing the POWER button. After the rig powers up, the first screen you see is the DSP calibration "boot-up" screen. As the system boots up, the screen has a bar graph that counts off 10 seconds, before the rig is ready for operation. The color screen takes a few minutes to reach full brightness, this is normal. After you input your "Call Sign" into the "my call" settings, your call sign will appear at the bottom of this, "boot-up" screen. On my "coolness" scale of, 1-10, this part is a 3, fairly cool, a bit boring. Display Clearly this is the central operating point of the PRO, and it s most intriguing feature. I feel that a sightless or visually-impaired person will be missing out on some of the Pro s finest operating features. Big changes in the display, from the 756, the PRO is full color, very high resolution, and, WAAAY COOL! 10 on the coolness scale. I m not going to tell you everything that the display does, but some of the new cool stuff, and many of the improvements over the 756. The main thing the Pro s display has, is lots of color contrast. One of the main complaints about the 756 was lack of contrast. Thus, the color contrast of the PRO, makes the display highly readable in any light condition. Many people have eyes that see better in some colors, than others. For the "color blind" operator, there are high contrast monochrome screens too. The display has (4) distinct color schemes, so most operators, will find one that suits them best. There is a good selection of "fonts", that can be selected independent of the display type selected. My preference for display type is mode "B", with a blue background, and the spectrum scope has a black background, with yellow "active" sweep, and orange "peak-hold" "shadow". I have changed the fonts several times and found an eye pleasing combination that works for me; your choice is up to you. In the display menu, there are more adjustments that an operator can experiment with to find what
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he/she likes best. New: A user selectable digital multi-meter which can simultaneously monitor all the functions that the full-time analog multi-meter does only one at a time. Spectrum scope An improvement I noticed right away is that the sweep is faster, and more precise than the 756. The vertical calibration is tightly tied to the S-meter readings, and a scope ATT, is available to reduce "over-shoot", useful on the bands below 20 meters. The "peak-hold" function on the scope is excellent. The 756 had a problem with peak-hold, the signals would fill the scope screen and the operator couldn t see the "active" display anymore. The PRO and its contrasting color scope display, are the cure. The Spectrum Scope works on transmit too. I tested the scope to find the sweep speed, which is about 1 sweep per second (faster than the 756), with about 1 second of decay time (longer than the 756). The vertical sensitivity of the 756Pro Spectrum Scope is significantly higher than that of the 756. A signal of less than 1 uV is visible, whereas the 756 required at least 20 uV to produce a spike. A new feature is a vertical attenuator, selectable via the ATT softkey below the screen. The operator can insert 10, 20 or 30 dB of vertical attenuation. The Spectrum Scope can also be used as a simple spectrum analyzer. With SPAN set to +/- 12.5 kHz, the operator can obtain a rough estimate of third- and fifth-order intermodulation products (IP3 & IP5) on a received 2-tone signal. In normal operation, the Spectrum Scope will give a fairly accurate indication of the occupied bandwidth of the received signal and also show any insufficientlysuppressed carrier or opposite-sideband components. A quick look under the hood If you are familiar with the 756 s interior, there are only a few changes that can be seen in the PRO. The same large die-cast chassis that doubles as the unit s main heat-sink; the same cast compartments for the main circuit boards are here; there is lots of shielding everywhere. ICOM did not rely on the outer covers for the sole shielding, there is an inner shield that is bolted to the die-cast chassis. A person who knows what to look for will notice that there are no crystal filter slots - none at all. What you do notice, is that these circuit boards are nearly 100% SMT parts, and are of very highly refined design and incredibly precise layout.
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The only cooling fan is the muffin type mounted behind the front panel, blowing toward the rear of the PA section. With this much heat sink, in the chassis, it does not need much fan to keep cool. Less fan means less noise in the shack, and less dust in the rig. Over all, the interior has the look of high tech NASA type gear. This rig should last many, many years. Receiver Even if you read no farther than this paragraph, I can sum up the receiver in two words: "Amazingly quiet!" Even without the Noise Reduction turned on, the receiver is super quiet, and with the NR on, it s "spooky" quiet. Most operators who listen to the PRO s receiver are simply awe-struck. Digital IF filters Nearly all the digital filters in the PRO are user adjustable, meaning that the operator can change the band-width to nearly anything you want. The skirts of these filters are STEEP, and tough. These are the closest thing we have to the "brick wall" filter. I found that even with very narrow filter settings, there was little to no "ringing effect", such as would be found in crystal filters of the same bandwidth. No need to go into great detail on how it s done, you can rest assured that there is a filter configuration that will suit you. Twin PBT Fully digital, and awesome good. The PBT is usable with any filter configuration. There is a digital readout, and graphic on the screen, that tells you what the PBT settings are. An audible "blip" can be heard when the PBT is tuned to the "centered" position. Neat! If you get lost with the PBT settings, simply push "PBT clear", and your back to default settings on both. A good way to look at the use of the PBT is, as if you are "stretching, squeezing, and shifting", the selected filter. Between the configurable filters and the PBT, the PRO has superior weapons in its QRM fighting arsenal.
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The 756 s Twin PBT was good; the Pro s is GREAT (with the added bonus that there are no filters to buy to make it work better!). AGC Three levels of time constant are easy to select. Hold the AGC button in, and a menu pops-up, to let you configure the time constant of each of the three AGC speed levels. I liked the 775 s variable AGC control, and the PRO is close to variable. There should be a group of settings here that will please every operator. This is another weapon in the PRO arsenal. Can make the listening experience more pleasurable too. New mode "Fine scan" New on the PRO is the scanning mode, "Fine". This mode allows an operator to scan very slowly a section of band around a given center frequency. The scan range is selectable from + -5kHz to + 1000kHz. I can see where an operator hunting weak intermittent signals that don t "show" on the scope, can use this mode for just that purpose. Other receiver observations While using the PRO on 20 meters, under extremely crowded conditions, I found that the PRO receiver held up incredibly well. With strong signals all around my center frequency lighting up the spectrum scope, I was still able to work stations well down to the S-1 level with little or no trouble. I was able to do this with a medium filter setting of 2.4kHz. This would be nearly impossible or at least very difficult with a rig that uses older non-DSP, or crystal filter technology. Weak-signal work is the Pro s true media. Tiny signals buried in noise & strong signals can be extracted, almost "surgically". Where many other rigs are like using a shovel to pick up fleas, the PRO is a laser guided computer controlled forceps. A shovel will get the job done, but you get a lot of dirt with the fleas your trying to pick up. The PRO has pin-point surgical precision, with "Armor plating".
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Cool toys DVR Digital Voice Recorder, DVR, built-in. Easy to use, fun, & very high quality sound. There are memory banks that can be used for various playback needs. Recordings can be made from the airwaves, or the Mic, but airwave recordings can t be played back on transmit. There is no modification to change this. I have used the DVR to ID for me, in my own voice, and nobody could tell it was a recording. That should say a lot for the quality. For the DXer/Contester, the DVR can be used for calling CQ, etc. Neat! Value built-in, not an optional "Add-on". CW memory keyer Much like the DVR, this also has the memory banks, and on air playback. Well designed for the CW Dxer/Contester. Many options here to make most any CW operator happy. You can use a straight key, bug, paddles, etc. Normal or reverse keying polarity are menu selectable. RTTY decoder Built-in decoder for Baudot/RTTY, no TNC or computer needed. Simply switch to RTTY mode, tune in a RTTY signal, push the "decode" button, and the screen will start printing. To help with tuning, there is a bar-graph indicator at the top of the screen that works the same as an indicator on a RTTY TNC. I tried it; it works great. On the coolness scale it s a 9+, or WAAY COOL! Transmitter SSB is the Pro s main design consideration. CW is a secondary design goal, but AM & FM is still good to excellent too. SSB bass & treble adjustments are easy the same as the 756, but have more range and gain. Good audio can be had, even with a hand Mic, which is not the normal result you would expect.
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I use a Heil Gold-line GM-5 Mic on my PRO; the wide range element can give truly "broadcast quality" TX audio. I use an in-line Pre-amp that brings the audio drive up to the same level that can be had from a ICOM pre-amp desk mic, like the SM-8, or SM-20. With my mic gain on the front of the PRO at the 9 O clock position, with the bass at 0dB and the treble at +4 dB. These settings produce "life-like" TX audio. It is not necessary to use outboard equalizing gear. A quality Mic, and careful adjustments of the TX bass & treble levels, will do all you need to do. Compression: personally I try not to use speech compressors on rigs I own. But, I have been taught that the PRO has another "trick" up it s sleeve. The Comp on the PRO has three transmitted occupied bandwidth settings: Narrow (2.0kHz), Mid (2.6kHz), & Wide (2.9kHz). With my COMP level set at 9 o clock, keeping the compression below 10dB. With the wide mode selected, I have been told the TX audio sounds, "Bold", and full. Probably not good for weak signal work, but a quick switch to the mid or narrow comp selections, or switching the GM-5 to the HC-5 element, would fix that, and turn the PRO into a Dxing machine. So, you have a really fine "rag chewing" & "Dxing" rig in one unit. I tried the PRO on AM, on 10 meters. The PRO should be set for about 20 to 25 watts of carrier, I know the manual says it can do 40, but it will NOT sound good at that carrier level. For well balanced AM audio & carrier; the carrier must be from 20-25 watts, then set the Mic Gain for forward power output on the power meter. Also, the spectrum scope is a good indicator of proper AM modulation envelope. If the carrier drops significantly during peak modulation, the Mic Gain is too high or the carrier level is too high. AM adjustment procedure using the Spectrum Scope. 1. Select AM mode. 2. Adjust RF PWR for 20 to 25W carrier output (0% modulation) 3. Speak into Mic; adjust Mic Gain so that sideband amplitude is 6 dB below carrier on voice peaks. Using this method, I got very good audio reports on AM. Pretty good for solid state gear designed for SSB.
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The NR works on AM too, and works very well. A selection of filters 9.0kHz, 6.0kHz, & 3.0kHz, are useful for AM, but are not variable; they are fixed settings. I found the PRO to be, "delightful & pleasant" on AM. CW On CW the PRO has a clean & pure TX note. There is a menu setting that allows the operator to change the CW waveform rise time from 2ms to 8ms. A short rise time will make the CW note sound sharp and abrupt. A long rise time makes the note smoother, but should not really be used unless signals are very strong. Also, the long rise time can distort high speed sending, making the characters begin to blend together at speeds above 20wpm. For higher speeds and/or weak signal CW work, a shorter rise time would be more in line. In full QSK/break-in mode a short rise time is better, this prevents the first part of each note from being chopped off. There is also a dot/dash ratio adjustment that can help the CW operator get his/her fist just right. A CW reverse mode is an option too. This mode has become almost "standard" on many late model rigs. Full QSK is smooth and effortless on the PRO; there are no noisy clattering relays to put up with. So smooth is the T/R changeover, that the operator can hardly tell when the PRO is in transmit, or receive. FM Good on the PRO. But, then this is no really hard trick for most rigs to do. What makes the PRO different on FM, is that the operator has three receiver IF filters to use: 15kHz, 10kHz, & 7.0kHz. Also, tones are built-in, and a preset repeater offset is user selectable. It is very simple to get the PRO up on any repeater, 10 or 6 meters with separate offsets for each band. Finding repeater activity is as simple as looking at the spectrum scope. The PRO has a clear advantage in the FM area too. NB (or lack thereof) If you pressed me to say anything bad about the PRO, it would have to be here. The Noise Blanker exists; there is a button on the front panel. Does it work, I can t tell, I have not found a single noise that it can blank! The manual says that the NB is for "pulse type, ignition noise", but I don t have any of that at my QTH, and I don t plan to take the PRO mobile to find out either.
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Here again, ICOM has totally ignored any new redesign of the NB. They have left the NB as-is for at least 10 years, carried down through several models of rigs, basically unchanged. I m sure that the NB could totally remove the old "Woodpecker", but it has been at least 10 years since anyone has heard that signal. On my coolness scale this is a 0, yuck! (Comment: I have found the NB, in combination with the NR, quite useful in removing power-line and ignition noise on 40m in the evening. VA7OJ) Auto Notch, Manual Notch The AN is good, very good, on the PRO. It is faster and more aggressive than the old 756. But, the AN is "outside the AGC loop" or "post-AGC", which causes the receiver to de-sense slightly when a carrier is notched. The MN on the other hand is "inside the AGC loop" or "ahead of the AGC derivation point", which means that a notched signal does not de-sense the receiver, nor will the signal be indicated on the S-meter. This is a significant improvement over older notch systems. In the PRO, either AN or MN can be selected one at a time, but not both simultaneously. I was a bit disappointed by this. I guess I got used to the 775 system which allows the user to use the AN & MN at the same time. I realize that not every operator will need to use both. A unique situation on 14.317 Mhz, where the ICOM net meets, requires the use of both notches. There is a Cable TV sub-carrier on that frequency, all the time, under all conditions. Some times it is strong, others it is weak, but it s always there. This signal contains multiple audio tones, at least three that I can tell. The AN in my 775 could remove two of the audio tones, but not the third. The MN could get rid of the last tone, making the frequency usable again. The PRO can not use both AN & MN at the same time, so one tone can not be removed. This would be my only "gripe" about the PRO AN/MN system. NR WOW! What a BIG improvement has been made here! This NR system WORKS! Much more effective noise reduction, with far less "echo" distortion effect. Where the NB didn t work, the NR does. I was able to remove or reduce some nasty "line noise" at
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my QTH, but the signals I desired to copy were still heard, with little echo effect. The only other NR/NB system I have seen that can do this, was on a FT-990 Yaesu. The FT-990 NB is the best I have ever used. The PRO NR, coupled with the all IF-level DSP facilities, makes the PRO a powerhouse QRN fighter. Addendum; March, 2001 I have recently notice a strange behavior in my PRO. When I use headphones, and turn on the Monitor, the audio I hear, changes tone & ambience with each transmission. It seems as though the AGC of the Monitor circuit is changing "attack" time from one transmission to another. I consulted with Adam VA7OJ, who thought that it might be RF feed-back into the headphones. My thought is that it has something to do with the way in which the DSP system derives the signal for the Monitor. This behavior is not really a bother, but I found it a little strange. I would like to hear from anyone who has observed this behavior. Addendum; June 2001 The "PRO" on Field Day! I brought out my mint condition PRO, to the Field Day, which a group of guys I have known for quite some time, do each year. I used the PRO on 20 meter SSB in the middle of the night from 1am to 4am and used the 2.0khz SSB filter I had configured for it. The PRO was nothing short of FANTASTIC!! I really didn't have to use the Twin PBT much at all, I didn't even need to use the NR, or the NB. WOW! I used the Voice DVR to send the station call, and the FD exchange, which saved a great deal of wear on my voice, and made my calls very consistent. Way cool! Then my buddy Mike N5JO, came out to run CW(he is an excellent CW op.), I asked him to use the PRO on CW, to give a real work out, and try all the CW features. I hung around while he worked a number of CW contacts. His comments were; "The narrow CW filters, have no ringing at all." "Having an adjustable CW filter is a very cool
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feature." "The Full Break-in QSK is as smooth as I have ever seen, it's not just an extension of my hand, but an extension of my brain." His final comment was; "Using the PRO was like the first time I drove a Mercedes-Benz, you don't forget a thing like that." Dr. Mike Williams N5JO The only draw-back to the PRO on FD, is the fact that the PRO uses a good deal of standby current(about 2.5A.)This makes it a bit hard on the batteries during FD weekend. Aside of this, the PRO performed beautifully. A great rig, in the shack, or out in the field. Addendum; August 2001 I have purchased an "old" 756 recently. This has afforded me the chance to do a side-by-side comparison of the PRO and it's older version. This was not done prior to the writing of this review. Now it can. The PRO does have a noticeably "quieter" receive, than that of the 756. I found that the NB of the 756 is a good bit more aggressive than the PRO, and can remove noise that the PRO can't, however, the use of the 756 NB can distort the received signals, if there is a strong signal outside the center frequency, but still within the I.F. band-pass. The Mic gain on the 756 must be 1/4 higher to drive the output to the same level as the PRO, but my "pre-amped" Heil Gold-line mic has no trouble driving either rig. Timing of the AGC on the 756 is much faster then the range offered by the PRO, but it is still pretty good. The NR system is nearly the same, DSP noise reduction on the 756, can "de-noise" the receive as well as that of the PRO, there has not been a great deal of change to the DSP random noise algorythium. A quick read-thru of the 756 review and the PRO review will show you the rest of the differences. Addendum Dec. 2001 "The cello-phane noise", in regards to CW; It was reported in the beginning, on some of the Internet news-groups, and e-mail reflectors, that a curious audio distortions on CW were noted. The best description was that of somebody crinkling cello-phane wrapper, as on a cigarette package. I have investigated this matter, and have this conclusion; The aforementioned audio distortion, appears to be related to the DSP system overload, which can be a function of the use of either pre-amp 1 or 2 with signals that don't need any pre-amp, and or
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improper AGC selection. I can't stress it enough, DO NOT use any pre-amp, on the PRO, on any band, BELOW 21mhz ! It CAN and WILL overload the DSP ADC(Analog-to-Digital-Converter). A few simple changes will reduce or completely remove the distortion for the receiver. If you are using any pre-amp below 21 mhz, or if the signals anywhere on the band are greater then 10dB-over S-9, TURN IT OFF! If the distortion is still present, change the AGC to a slower time-constant (i.e. 0.1 is TOO fast for non-QSK CW) use 0.2 or more. Use a more narrow digital filter. For high speed QSK type CW, a very narrow filter will always be needed. I found that 100hz was good, even in the face of very strong signals. The worst distortions I encountered, were while using AGC fast, and 1.5khz filter, with signals about 20dB-over S-9. Any time the ADC is overloaded, no matter the mode, or concentration of signals, there WILL be distortion on the received audio. The key to reducing or removing the distortion, is to lower the signal input to the ADC. This is done by; (1) Turning off any pre-amp, in use. (2) Reducing the RF gain. (3) Change the AGC settings to a more suitable time-constant. (4) Use a more narrow filter. (5) Any combination of the above items. When you learn how the PRO's DSP system works best, you truly harness it's POWER! If you try to operate the PRO like any other "Analog" radio, you will not realize this power. January 2003, The "old" PRO that served me very well for over two years, is now serving my Elmer, in his shack. August 2003, the unit continues to operate perfectly in my Elmer's shack, He really loves the radio. Another place to find some PRO info is: http://www.linearlinks.com and http://www.qsl.net/ab4oj/ 73 de Matt Erickson KK5DR
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Copyright 2005 M.A. Erickson, KK5DR. All rights reserved.
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