Pizzazz, et al,
I don't want to delve too deep into differing opinions....but I'd like to clarify a few of my words from earlier, and address some of your thoughts here...
Originally Posted by Pizzazz
While I respect John’s love with the Icom 802 and that was really an epic post! I want to offer a slightly more balanced perspective.
I believe the commercial
SSB radios such as the SEA-235, the Furuno
1503, and the Sailor are just as good if not better than the Icom 802. My favorite, the SEA 235 has a really good DSP and the voice quality is excellent. While it is true that they have fewer adjustments than the 802 (I.e, no RF gain adjustment, etc.), this is what the DSP is for, to do these adjustments for you instead of having you fiddle around.
All radios have their issues and the SEA 235 for example can overheat at times and has no DSC
. Both these issues are solvable ($10 computer fan for the heating
issue and an external software for DSC). The 802 has the speech compression
These are minor issues today. The key features in selecting an SSB radio is clean power, bandwidth and software control. Most ham and marine
radios have limited bandwidth of around 2,200-2,400 Hz. This is food
and MT63 but not enough for the 110A waveforms which allow much faster throughout when conditions are good. Radios that support the higher bandwidth are typically ex-military radios. I suggest eHam.net as a review site.
The other major thing is software radio control. With a little bit of effort you can program your favorite software to scroll through a list of frequencies just by scrolling with your mouse. Gone are the days where you play around with knobs, VFO, etc. So, please check some software apps as well.
Of course we all have our own opinions....and none are better than another....and there is nothing wrong with balance...so no worries.
But, I'd like to correct a few points here....some of which are my oversights.
a) The M-802 is not my favorite radio....that would be a Drake TR-7 (or maritime version TR-77 / TR-4310)....next would be the Kenwood TS-830s....and then the Icom IC-781....and then?? (quite a few in a top 10 list, and yes the M-802 is there...maybe #4 or #5 or so...) But, as for HF maritime rigs? Yep, the M-802 then moves to the top of my list...
b) "Speech compressor
bug"??? I think you may be conflating a couple things here....M-802's used to be shipped from the factory with the DSP-based speech compression turned-On....for the past few years, they're shipped with it turned-Off....and the Icom dealer turns it On....or some sailors buy the $25 cloning software and do it themselves....or some buy their M-802 from sailing communications
experts that enable a function allowing them to turn it On from from panel....But, there is no "bug"...
early (pre-2006 versions) of the M-802 had a factory defect in the transmitter APC circuit that caused intermittent voice "clipping" in SSB mode....this took Icom a while to figure out, but once they did, they offered a free service
center / factory fix (and still offer this mod/repair as a free-out-of-warranty repair)....
Perhaps the conflation of these confuses some sailors?
c) SEA has a good rep....started by one of the principals from SGC....but they haven't been close to state-of-the-art in decades (not necessarily a bad thing)....and while nothing wrong with some of the older SEA, Sailor, Furuno, Skanti, JRC, etc., or older Icom's as well....some of them were great rigs in their day (some were dogs)....but these older rigs (not the new GMDSS / DSC rigs from these companies, which are of course great...but wickedly expensive....as well as being 24vdc/110-230vac powered), these older rigs are decades behind state of the art, and yes this includes the SEA 235....yep, it's a nice rig, just not really up-to 21st Century....and, in my opinion, the Furuno 1503 is one dog of a radio, the Icom M-700Pro is 10 times the radio of the 1503...
Now, if you're talking about the Furuno FS-1575 / FS-2575, or the Sailor 6310 / 6320 / 6350, well then they are nice radios (as are the new JRC's), but they cost 3 to 4 times the price
of the M-802....not exactly apples-to-apples comparison...
d) DSP substituting for RF gain? In a really nice direct-sampling / SDR radio, sure no problem (if well designed)....but there are no maritime direct-sampling/SDR radios...so, while ANAN's, Flex, and even the IC-7300 and IC-7610, do use their software for gain control (they also have input attenuators), DSP substituting for RF Gain isn't possible in super-het / hybrid super-het receivers...
Don't forget that even in direct-sampling / SDR's input attenuation (adjustable) is necessary in order to keep the A/D converter from being overloaded....fyi, adjustable input attenuation is the SDR version of "RF Gain"
e) I've seen some tout using an external computer and software for MF/HF-DSC operation? And, while this can be SOP for commercial coast stations, this is not really a viable approach for us...I mean, when in open ocean, who runs a computer 24/7? (few, if any)....but even more on-point, who's going to run a computer 24/7 just to run DSC software for your radios? (nobody)....
And, using a computer and radio-control software to run your radio at home is fine....but, at sea? Not really a viable approach for most of us....(now if you're on a Mega-yacht, well that's a different discussion)
I know, I know....this is just your opinion....but when someone on a small/mid-sized offshore
sailboat, is trying to decide what radio to buy, I personally feel (my opinion) that it is poor seamanship to recommend such an approach, along with an older non-DSC radio....or worse, recommend an HF ham rig with its poor spectral purity, etc., and then say "don't forget a TCXO" and "run some software for DSC", like these band-aids are a "fix" for buying
a radio that isn't suited to the application....just seems like bad advice to me...
Please understand I'm not saying someone needs an M-802....but, if they can afford a new smart phone
every couple years, or a new laptop
every few years, etc. then they can afford the couple hundred dollars additional that a real MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone costs...
If some wish to play with external software-control of older marine radios (or non-maritime radios), that's cool...especially if on-shore....but, recommending this approach as viable for offshore
sailing? Not a good idea, in my opinion...
e) FYI, although in USB and LSB the M-802's DSP-IF bandwidth is 2400hz.....contrary to the manual, the M-802 does have a wider bandwidth....the "wide" data (J2B) is 2800hz...."medium" is 2400hz (or 1000hz?? don't remember exactly)...."narrow" is 500hz....(I've measured it myself many years ago....and when I questioned Icom America, they said "huh?"....a few weeks later got a translated email
from Icom Japan
that confirmed this, although I was told that there may be a few M-802's that left the factory with the very early DSP firmware which they said had "different figures"....no fooling that was their words)
f) eham as a "review site"? Well, to each their own....
I've been a member
of eham for a long time (20 years??) and they're great guys....but most of the "reviews" there are not very "scientific"....of course neither are qrz reviews
I'm not going ramble on much more tonight....just wanted to add a list
(HF ham rigs: I've used in contests, field days, club stations, or owned personally....Collins 75A-4 / KWS-1 32S-3/75S-3...RL Drake TR-7, Drake TX4B/R4B....Kenwood TS-520, TS-120, TS-130, TS-430, TS-820, TS-830, TS-940...Icom IC-701, IC-735, IC-781, IC-706MkIIG....Yaesu FT-101, FT-1000 Mark V....Tempo One... ~~~~ Marine HF rigs: Icom M-700, M-710, M-700Pro, M-800, M-802...SGC SG-714 Intercontinental One, SGC-711, SGC-2000....SEA 235....Furuno 1503....Ray 152 (JRC)....ITT/MacKay 8000....Sailor 5000...)
Out of those, my favs: Drake TR-7, Kenwood TS-830s, Icom M-802, Icom IC-781....(#3, #4, and #5 positions might trade
places depending on application, and my mood....