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Old 20-04-2020, 17:46   #1
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ICOM M803

Anyone get an M803? Any thoughts or opinions?


I recently removed an old Icom 725 from my boat and looking to replace it. I do like the 803/802.


It is real hard not to consider replacing it with an ICOM 7300 like I have in the shack - super simple and affordable.



I can't believe the M803 did not implement a scope and a soundcard. Talk about an opportunity to promote adoption.



Is the M803 really worth it these days?


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Old 20-04-2020, 18:45   #2
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Re: ICOM M803

For what it's worth I jumped on the M-802 just before they were discontinued and glad I did. I would not spend the money on an 803, and would have kept my M-710 or looked for a used 802. The meager 'upgrades' of the 803 simply were not worth the money. I wrote a blog post about my decision.

IMHO, the 803 is a let-down. The external spkr is optional, the built in speaker is crap. There is no headphone jack on the control head (to satisfy IPX7 ratings), it has a built in GPS (good) but based on NMEA 0183 rather than NMEA 2000 (they could have just taken an NMEA 2000 input). The direct sampling improves rx sensitivity, but technically the 802 and 803 are pretty equal.

IMHO, adding a bandscope and soundcard to a marine radio is pointless. Most people, even hams, do not spend a lot of time on the radio...net check-ins and that's about it. At anchor...maybe more (but, I'd rather sit on the beach with my Elecraft and a Buddipole dipole or CrankIr and a nice cold beverage). At dock...virtually zero (too much noise at most marinas).

If you're spending a lot of time on the radio while aboard, the 7300 might be a better choice for you.
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Old 20-04-2020, 19:12   #3
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Re: ICOM M803

Roger that - I like your style. KX2 or KX3?


Exactly the response I was looking for.



To some, adding a band-scope and a sound card to any SSB radio is useless. I find both extremely useful - so very versatile.



What gets me is that for damn near a 1/5 the cost of an M803 + Pactor you can be receiving weather faxes, sending/receiving email and participating in nets with just an ICOM 7300 and the computer you already have. Not to mention that Vara performance is on par with Pactor. (I run a Winlink station w/BPQ32)



I understand that the 7300 is locked out of the marine frequencies (MARS mod), potential for splatter, yadda yadda and that it is not marine grade. Well buy 4 of them and throw them overboard when they die - and no-one will notice the splatter until more people get on the nets.



Ham radio is so freaking cool and soo useful for mariners - we just make it all so damn complicated.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Discovery 15797 View Post
For what it's worth I jumped on the M-802 just before they were discontinued and glad I did. I would not spend the money on an 803, and would have kept my M-710 or looked for a used 802. The meager 'upgrades' of the 803 simply were not worth the money. I wrote a blog post about my decision.

IMHO, the 803 is a let-down. The external spkr is optional, the built in speaker is crap. There is no headphone jack on the control head (to satisfy IPX7 ratings), it has a built in GPS (good) but based on NMEA 0183 rather than NMEA 2000 (they could have just taken an NMEA 2000 input). The direct sampling improves rx sensitivity, but technically the 802 and 803 are pretty equal.

IMHO, adding a bandscope and soundcard to a marine radio is pointless. Most people, even hams, do not spend a lot of time on the radio...net check-ins and that's about it. At anchor...maybe more (but, I'd rather sit on the beach with my Elecraft and a Buddipole dipole or CrankIr). At dock...virtually zero (too much noise at most marinas).

If you're spending a lot of time on the radio while aboard, the 7300 might be a better choice for you.
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Old 20-04-2020, 20:45   #4
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Re: ICOM M803

I think you get a lot more radio with the 7300 vs the 802/803. There are clear benefits to having a marine radio on board but the 7300 is sweet and capable. If this can help you make up your mind, I am currently developing a Python script that allows sending HF DSC messages from any radio. I am running the script with a Pactor modem but it should be fairly easy to go full sound card mode. This will remove one of the advantages of having DSC built in the 802/3.

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Old 20-04-2020, 21:27   #5
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Re: ICOM M803

Quote:
Originally Posted by maregan View Post
Roger that - I like your style. KX2 or KX3?

Exactly the response I was looking for.

To some, adding a band-scope and a sound card to any SSB radio is useless. I find both extremely useful - so very versatile.
Thank you. I used to take my K2/10 for QRP on the San Juan and Gulf islands in the PNW. 3 years ago built a K2/100 kit for use at my QTH in Vietnam. But, now also considering taking my K3s for longer passages & doing some suitcase DxPeditions on the NoPac Islands later this year/next year. (The K2 is a great radio...the K3s is WOW!)

I agree with the bandscope and sound card. The K3s was easy to setup for digi-modes compared to the K2/100, and the P3 is nice...but won't go with me on my passages....its a shack toy.

Quote:
I understand that the 7300 is locked out of the marine frequencies (MARS mod), potential for splatter, yadda yadda and that it is not marine grade. Well buy 4 of them and throw them overboard when they die - and no-one will notice the splatter until more people get on the nets.
The MARS mod is the best bet. Thought I saw some ref. on opening it up for marine bands, but can't find the 'darkweb' site now.

Quote:
Ham radio is so freaking cool and soo useful for mariners - we just make it all so damn complicated.
Shhhhh.....it's a secret!
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Old 20-04-2020, 21:50   #6
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Re: ICOM M803

@Pizzazz
Rockin - that's awesome - very interested. Let me know when/if I can help test and where I can learn more.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Pizzazz View Post
I think you get a lot more radio with the 7300 vs the 802/803. There are clear benefits to having a marine radio on board but the 7300 is sweet and capable. If this can help you make up your mind, I am currently developing a Python script that allows sending HF DSC messages from any radio. I am running the script with a Pactor modem but it should be fairly easy to go full sound card mode. This will remove one of the advantages of having DSC built in the 802/3.

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Old 20-04-2020, 22:35   #7
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Re: ICOM M803

I have yet to make the leap into Elekraft land - but I am close! Talk about a company that could build a marine rig if they put their mind to it. I called them up just to chat about the durability of their gear and they spent 30 minutes chatting with me. Cool company.


We will be up in the San Juan/Gulf Islands this summer and I plan to put together a QRP rig before then and light up one of those spots. I will have to watch for your DXpeditions.


Boaters (we) are hobbyists by nature but also super pragmatic. Once someone sees the simplicity, and what you can do with modern ham radio gear - it is a game changer. A battery, antenna and a radio - global connectivity - how sweet is that???


For those that get knee deep in this thread - SatCom is a critical communication tool and I will not leave without it. However, SatCom, like other strategic services is vulnerable to attack and will be hacked and poisoned. I rarely see this perspective, but it is worth considering. Just because you have a satellite phone/modem etc, does not mean the constellation will be in service. I also like my Sextant as well - but that is a different story.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Discovery 15797 View Post
Thank you. I used to take my K2/10 for QRP on the San Juan and Gulf islands in the PNW. 3 years ago built a K2/100 kit for use at my QTH in Vietnam. But, now also considering taking my K3s for longer passages & doing some suitcase DxPeditions on the NoPac Islands later this year/next year. (The K2 is a great radio...the K3s is WOW!)

I agree with the bandscope and sound card. The K3s was easy to setup for digi-modes compared to the K2/100, and the P3 is nice...but won't go with me on my passages....its a shack toy.



The MARS mod is the best bet. Thought I saw some ref. on opening it up for marine bands, but can't find the 'darkweb' site now.



Shhhhh.....it's a secret!
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Old 21-04-2020, 16:31   #8
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Re: ICOM M803

A little off topic, but for the fun of it I made my Yaesu FT-857D into an Icom M-802. Well, not really, but I did take the M802's channel list and created a CHIRP file so I could load all the memory channels into my Yaesu. Made a few errors and the radio refuse to load the file until I corrected those.

After all was fixed, I loaded the radio and laughed when I went from channel to channel. In the process I heard zero activity except on one WX channel and one Time channel.

Returned my radio back to my Ham configuration. It was fun for a couple of hours.

OK... back to the M-803 discussion.
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