I’ve been QRT for the last several months due to a severe lung infection. Four hospital stays and one surgery later today is the first day in months that I feel like I’m getting better. So what is the first thing that I did? You guessed it, go down to my shack and turn on the radios!
In the stringed instrument world, especially guitars, there is a terrible disease known as GAS, Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. Sometimes broadened to Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I may or may not have succumb to this disease over the years. I think the broader definition applies to Amateur Radio. Who doesn’t have a list of gear you’d like to have or really “need?” Within reason buying and selling gear, both new and old, is a fun part of the hobby. I try to keep it balanced, typically one out/one in. This time I did it in reverse.
I was overcome by GAS late last year and purchased an ICOM IC-7100. I’d looked at them for a very long time. I really wanted one but I didn’t really need one. I had almost overcome the GAS pressure when ICOM dared me to buy one by offering a really nice rebate ($200). The balance was tipped. Now I have a 7100.
I really love this little radio. It’s form factor is much the same as my TS-480SAT which is joy to operate. I like portable-ish radios. The 7100 is intended to be the camper radio. The one advantage that the 7100 has over the TS-480SAT is 144\440 MHz operation. The ability to receive NOAA weather radio is also very handy. So I have HF, 2m, 440, and weather radio all in one package. Perfect for a camper radio.
While there is some practical element of this acquisition, there is also an emotional component. I have one ICOM HF rig, the IC-718 that I bought years ago as the first step to re-assembling a station after a long hiatus. It’s a great little radio and will always be in my shack. However, I’ve had the opportunity to operate other ICOM HF radios, especially at JOTA events in years past. I really liked the IC-746Pro and came close to buying one a few times but just never did for various reasons. And now they don’t make them anymore. Same with the IC-706. I really liked operating those two radios but they are no longer available. I figured I’d better get a 7100 before I regret that one too! In some ways the 7100 reminds me of both of those older radios. It has the ICOM feel.
Now for the one out. I made an attempt to do this the right way, intending to sell my FT-817ND before purchasing the 7100. I didn’t get any bites and the market seemed to be swimming in used 817’s, so I thought I’d wait a bit and try again. Several months passed and I recently sold it on the second try. I may have a little buyers remorse but not much. I have a KX2, which I purchased after I had purchased the 817. The 817 is a very nice radio but for my operating needs the KX2 is a better fit. I should have just bought the KX2 the first time. Moral of the story, don’t buy two radios to get one.
In the midst of the 817 sale process Yaesu made the announcement for the FT-818. I panicked, thinking that an updated 817 would drive the price down for used 817’s. Thankfully Yaesu blew it. What we’re they thinking? Power increase of 1 (one) Watt? That’s a 20% increase if you’re in marketing. The TCO is nice but I don’t need it. Arguably the finals upgrade is the most important update. I can’t believe they didn’t even add NOAA weather radio receive. The price is odd as well. HRO sells the 818 for $850 while an 817 is $700 while they last. A KX2 is $770. The price advantage tips to Elecraft though you’re likely to add some things to the KX2 (at least the antenna tuner and key) so that will raise the overall cost. While the KX2 and 818 take different approaches, they are both full featured multi-band, multi-mode QRP radios. It seems like Yaesu missed an opportunity. On the other hand, there certainly is a loyal following of 817 users and a fair sized cottage industry of accessories for the radio. They know their market. Maybe Yaesu made the safe bet.
Camping season is upon us and while I’ll likely have a long recovery I look forward to operating portable with the 7100 at camp as the year progresses.