Now that I’ve decided to go further with HAM radio, I have to pick a radio. My BaoFeng BF-F8HP is usable, but hard to program and not the best radio. I’ve decided that I want to get a handheld (VHF/UHF) radio as well as a base station radio that does HF/VHF/UHF. The base station radios that do HF/VHF/UHF have been referred to as “shack in the box” and don’t perform as well as standalone HF and VHF/UHF radios, but for starting out I’m fine with the limitations.
My criteria for picking a radio is:
- Reasonable cost
- Made by one of the big 3, Icom, Kenwood or Yaesu
- Compact as I have limited space on my desk.
- Has to do a digital mode.
With that list, it helped me narrow down the choices. I’ve asked a few people and I’ve gotten different answers on what to get. All say to check for used equipment which is a great suggestion.
In looking at the Kenwood options, they have one current radio, the TS-2000 to consider. Unfortunately it only meets two criteria and that is made by one of the big 3 and is a HF/VHF/UHF radio. Moving onto Yaesu…Yaesu’s digital mode is System Fusion which seems proprietary to me (more so than D-Star and DMR though some argue that the encoder for D-Star is proprietary) which discounts all their radios. That leaves me with Icom.
I really like the looks of the Icon radios and they have one, the IC-7100 that meets my criteria. The radio was introduced in 2012, so it has been around awhile. Originally it cost about $1600 and now they are about $800 (with rebate). Looking for a used one shows that they are in a similar price range, so there is little reason to get a used one without a warranty.
Picking a radio was a lot easier than I thought even though I have very little knowledge of radios. I figure that the IC-7100 will be a decent entry level radio that won’t break the bank.
If anyone has thoughts about my choice, please drop me a comment!