Ham Radios

For many, many years the ham radio to have was Icom’s 781. (I think it actually cost a bit less, but there was a saying, “Just add a zero to it and you have the price.”) Among the hardcore contesters, it was sort of like Photoshop: incredibly expensive, and yet ubiquitous.

The 781 is no more, and has been replaced by something even more incredible: the Icom 7800. (“Just add a zero” indeed.) They’re selling for a little over $10,000, and they’re apparently selling well, too. Besides an amazing LCD, it mostly boasts technical improvements: a non-ham probably won’t be interested in knowing that it has a +40dBm Third-order Intercept Point, for example.

They’re not one of the “big 3” manufacturers, but TenTec has nonetheless been a pretty popular radio manufacturer over the years. (Especially with those who don’t have $10,000 to spend on a radio.) Enter the TenTec Omni VII, which jumps on the big LCD bandwagon, apparently boasts incredible performance in tests, and finally brings a new concept to ham radio: it has an Ethernet port. You can control it from a computer remotely. Computer-controlled rigs aren’t new, but until very recently they were kludgy serial-port based ones, meant to let you use a computer-based logging program to query the frequency, or to let the computer tune the radio for you. Routing audio (including transmit audio!) over Ethernet, and allowing (apparently) full control remotely is something that no other radio on the market can do, or even come close to.

Of course, Yaesu has entered into the fray, with their line of ‘luxury rigs,’ such as the FTDX9000D (that’s a mouthful) with the obligatory big LCD. (Yaesu’s been a little less eager to throw huge LCDs into all of its radios, though.)

Of course, a great HF rig can still be had for under $1,000… But now you have the opportunity to spend an order of magnitude more.

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