ICOM IC-7300: A Revolutionary Radio

What you get for $1000 just can’t be beat – at any level or price point

I had a Yaesu FT-1000D and the Mark V, I had the  Orion and Orion II, I had the Elecraft K3 upgraded to a K3S, and I have the KX-3 and 7300 now. Oh – I had the ICOM IC-7610 too. I do know they are all different and what each does and what each is worth.

Of all of the radios I have had – the IC-7300 far and away at its price point is just astounding. I have been doing lots of A – B tests with the KX-3 – which is AWESOME, and the 7300 keeps up with it and even exceeds it in some situations (more than I had expected). The KX-3 is not far below the K3 or K3S, so by association, the 7300 does compete with a K3.

What is funny is how ICOM has kind created a challenge for themselves as far as pricing their other radios. The IC-7300 is NO “Loss Leader” – its a damned great radio – so many will purchase it and be happy with that and feel no need to “step up”. I wonder sometimes if they have shot themselves in the foot – or maybe, they have opened the door to new lower priced radios that offer performance only seen in much more expensive radios?

I sure hope so.

 

Superhet Receivers are “So 2012” . . .

If the ICOM-705 debuts with an ATU, I will most likely purchase one

I have been doing A-B listening tests between my ICOM IC-7300 and Elecraft KX-3, and in every case, the 7300 is easier to listen to. As I mentioned before, the KX-3 has a much better keyer – I can barely stand the 7300 keyer. That is a moot point though, because I have a WinKeyer USB which is a great keyer.

I have been an Elecraft fan boy for more than 10 years, but I have to be honest, when band conditions are noisy, the KX-3 (or any superhet receiver) is just plain hard to listen to. This morning, the noise level is much lower than it has been – in fact, (with the Harvest Moon), I believe we will soon start getting much quieter “Winter” conditions. I do like the “form factor” of the KX-3, and when we travel and I take a rig along, the KX-3 will go with us. That happens several times a year. But this is the LAST superhet receiver I will ever own. I should take a serious look at a used Flex Radio . . .

We are at a point that reminds me of digital cameras – once they hit 2 megapixel, it was hard to keep my film camera, even though film had infinitely better resolution. With my current 24 mp Sony A6000, I have found that it is still the camera to beat (price / performance wise). For my photography, even though the 6000 is an older camera, I haven’t seen anything in the newer models that has any feature that I “must have”.

The same rings true about my ham radio gear. Gone are the days with all of the super duper DXing features – like dual receivers and a separate RX antenna jack. Once I made 9 BDXCC and clinched DXCC on 160M, that was it – I downsized (eventually) to the ICOM IC-7300. The 7300 is a lot like the A6000 – it doesn’t have some of the fancier features of newer or more expensive rigs – but it has everything I need for my current pursuits and interests.

Speaking of that – I have found that once you really spend some time being “QRP Only” and you work decent DX – even 100 watts seems like cheating.

As far as form factor – I also am now of the mind to only want smaller radios – but very capable ones. If the IC-705 debuts with an ATU, I will very seriously consider it – my 7300 hands down, and in every noise and signal to noise ratio just sounds better than the KX-3. I wonder if Flex Radio would come out with a small hand held HF rig?

Of course, if Elecraft announces a KX-4 with direct sampling technology, then I will wait for that. The best thing about my latest DXing persuit is that time is on my side – I no longer have that crazy “DXCC Honor Roll Burn” that I was afflicted with for 11 years – and 3 years after that.

 

My Patent Story

Someone Elses Patent . . . 

I had a long meeting with some principles of our company and an outside patent lawyer, and found out that what I have designed does have several items that could be patented. These are all things that address the business issue of “Data Protection”, and its a HUGE new market. Google GDPR and CCPA and you will quickly see what I mean.

The one thing I couldn’t figure was why my company would consider a patent for a product that is not part of our core business – and then I learned that patents are very valuable to a company because they increase the worth of a company. That was cool to learn.

There will be a discussion regarding whether or not the CEO and Board is interested, (and I have my doubts) – but I was surprised today, so who knows – I could be surprised in the coming weeks.

What I am most pleased with is that someone thought so highly of what I have designed to even go this far and check. And I learned a lot today and it was fascinating. It already feels like a huge success.

First Major CCPA Hurdle Cleared!

My past year and a half of designing and working on “Data Protection” systems is paying off yuge bigly. I completed annotating ALL database tables that have PII (personal information). I used the Data Discoverer tool that I designed and my small team built this summer – and it has been a pure joy to use and helped make me very productive. In fact, its so good – I am more than 2 weeks ahead of schedule – and the schedule was already crazy aggressive.

The next steps will be to inventory and annotate all file PII data and manage others who will be adding the Business Rules using the Data Discoverer. I also will build a ChartIO dashboard and set of reports and no doubt get pulled into other aspects of becoming 100% CCPA compliant by January 1, 2020.

Other companies whom I have worked for or with – or even interviewed with earlier this year are just barely getting started thinking about this. I couldn’t feel more on top of things than I do right now – and its a great feeling.

In the process I learned React / JavaScript and Functional Programming, Java with Spring Boot / JPA and I have learned all of our database data systems. For only being at LendUp 4 months, that’s a Home Run in my book!

There’s lots of work left to do – but at this point, I am very confident we will clear the rest of the hurdles – and using a tool that I designed an built is just the best feeling. Its like using a piece of Ham gear you built to make Honor Roll.

Maine Fall Foliage Report

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/bulletins/25e61b9

I received my first Fall Foliage Report email from the very fine state of Maine – its a yearly tradition. I have never been there, but if I were ever to move “back east” it would be a place I’d like to check out. I very much like being able to get to the coast or the mountains within one days drive – so the entire West Coast works, and a good part of the East Coast would work too. Add in Fall Color, and I would like a place like that even more – and I bet Maine is a hard place to beat Fall color wise. I also have seen the rugged Maine coast pictures, and like the West Coast from Big Sur on up through Washington – its just hard to beat. I would love to visit Maine one of these Fall Color seasons.

 

 

Direct Sampling SDR vs. Superhet (KX-3 vs. IC-7300)

The KX-3 has the better keyer – by a margin

The IC-7300 has the quieter receiver – by a margin

On 40M – listening to T30L at 0900z – which is normally a fairly quiet time of day – but where this month it has been really noisy – I wanted to just listen to each radio to see its on air S/N response.

http://www.sherweng.com/table.html

Sherwood has the KX-3 ahead of the IC-7300, but there is something wrong with this picture. The IC-7300 has a noise level of S1 – 2. The KX-3 is S7 – 9, and the 7300 is  LOT more enjoyable to listen to in this environment.

I wanted to find out why – and it took just a minute to see that it is the pre-amp. In the IC-7300, I can hear the signal clearly with less noise, but on the KX-3, without the preamp (which is much better noise wise), the signal also drops too much. It just isn’t as clear as the 7300. With the preamp in on the 7300 – the noise level jumps up to S5 – 7 – closer to the KX-3, but still not quite as bad. The point is – I seem to need the preamp in on the KX-3 and on the 7300 – I don’t at all. Signal loss on the KX-3 seems to be a problem where it is not on the 7300. It sure seems to be a signal to noise ratio difference as far as direct sampling vs. superhet designs are concerned.

http://www.ab4oj.com/sdr/apdxc16_sdr.pdf

This presentation confirms my findings. All of this also answers the question “If I were to get the Elecraft K4, which flavor would I buy?”. Its easy – the Direct Sampling, basic stock version. Maybe with the Dual Diversity receive option – IF I were still into having a nice NCC-2 with 2 Wellbrook ALA-1530LNP receiving loops.

But I am not at all interested in 160 or 80M DXing any more – 40M and above is it for me. This means there is NO reason for me to drool over the Elecraft K4. However, like I have mentioned before – if the KX-4 were to be a direct sampling receiver, then Elecraft would beat the IC-7300 and whatever the IC-705 ends up being.

I have to say, ICOM really disrupted things with the IC-7300. For the money, nothing else comes close – it really is an amazing DX rig – and if you don’t need the bells and whistles of say the IC-7610, or the new K4, I just don’t see any other radio offering so much for such a price. In fact, if you don’t care about size or power consumption – the 7300 is the better radio (receiver wise) in my book. You can listen a lot longer without getting the “noise fatigue” that you get with the KX-3.

Sherwood lists the KX-3 higher, and in the slide presentation, the author intimates that the 7300 does as well as legacy superhet receivers (like the KX-3). Personally, I think the 7300 and direct sampling is better – in noisy conditions.

When I saw a demo with Wayne, N6KR, he did discuss how you can add a superhet option to the K4 so you can better block out close in signals. Since I don’t care anymore about DXCC or big DXpedition pileups – this is not of interest to me. Here is a line from the Elecraft K4 product website page:

The K4 and K4D, like other “pure” direct-sampling radios, do not require crystal roofing filters. Digital signal processing is used to provide advanced demodulation, filtering, and signal display. The K4HD can operate either in direct-sampling or superhet mode. Typically the latter is only needed in the presence of extreme signals.

I will continue testing – and will try the close in dynamic range test (by ear) between the two rigs some day. I will also see if in less noisy conditions, how the two rigs compare.

For now – in this simple “Part 1” test – the IC-7300 wins this round for ease of listening in noisy conditions – but the KX-3 keyer is a LOT better than the clunky 7300 keyer.

I do expect that the K4 will be a GREAT radio – since its stock version is a direct sampling receiver. But at $4000, that is too much for my FREQ 300 pursuit.

CCPA (and GDPR): The Coming Storm

I have been very much on top of and involved with preparing LendUp for CCPA Compliance. My management is as savvy and totally gets it as far as how critically important this is. In return for their trust in me and my abilities, they will be ready for CCPA on January 1, 2020, and then in March when you really, really better have it all nailed down. I know firsthand and from very detailed technical and business experience what this is all about – and what it takes to work towards compliance. I might be one of the pioneers on the front lines of this coming tidal wave.

What is shocking is how most companies – and I mean big, successful Data Driven companies are ill prepared – and many in the San Francisco Bay Area. I know of three for a fact who haven’t even started – and two who have been posting the same job for people to work on this since January of this year – I know – I applied for these companies. They still haven’t filled these jobs – its really amazing – and shows how broken IT is and how bad IT hiring is broken. But its worse than just hiring – its a lack of strategic planning.

The hiring process right now in Silicon Valley is the worst I have ever experienced in my 38 year career. Companies are looking for “Unicorns” – basically young geniuses from top tier schools with the highest degrees and pedigrees. Experience is not just overlooked – but frowned on in many companies – and yes, experience comes with age. Its the Shiny New Penny syndrome – and its biting companies in the ass yuge bigly.

I personally ran this gauntlet – and am very, very thankful I ended up at LendUp where they still have a great hiring process and very, very capable management. I hate to say this – but they are the only company I interviewed for this year where I feel this way about. Other companies – companies that have been touted as “Unicorns” themselves – have been so self adored and enamored – that they haven’t been able to find the perfect person or people to lead the charge and get ready for CCPA. They are going to find out the hard way – that they waited too long, and that there is no system you can purchase to quickly fix this problem. Getting ready for CCPA is very hard work – and involves not only strategic and tactical planning – but also a culture change.

The IT industry – which has now become totally data driven – has been able to play “fast and loose” with your personal data. You have no doubt been part of at least one data breach where your Social Security Number and other personally identifying information was given away, accidentally – or sold NOT by accident – but not with your permission. You signed up and didn’t read the fine print – all those selfies that you took with a hamburger at lunch was like a Trojan Horse – slipped by you by all of your favorite Social Media Sites. They literally are laughing all the way to the bank. This is about to change – and these Data Driven Companies are going to have hell to pay in 2020 if they aren’t already well on their way to being prepared.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/technology/facebook-ftc-fine.html

I’ve heard that to Facebook – $5 billion is Trump Change. Go figure – imagine how many companies could be put out of business by even 1% of that fine. Oh – and about that selfie with your hamburger . . . .

Speaking of Trump Change – the great fearless business leader has already started a recession in the US – just read up on what the farmers are losing – but even more importantly – all of the farm equipment suppliers who are starting to have furloughs.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-09-09/a-manufacturing-recession-could-cost-trump-a-second-term

The recession is already here – it took a while for the tariffs to start the chain reaction, but we are in the very early stages of a recession NOW. Brought to you by the “Fuhrer of Finance” – the “Big Fresser of Foreclosure”. Best con artist ever . . . .

OK – back to Data. Why is this important – because just as we will be getting into a recession – these Data Driven Companies – with terribly lacking strategic planning and hiring practices will have a total “Oh Shit” moment – they will want to cut costs – but will find that staying in Compliance will cost them not just hundreds of thousands of dollars – just to prepare, but WAY more time to prepare – and with much larger teams than they ever had bargained for. From what I know – it seems like the quickest way for a company to be fined is when customers report said companies with complaints. The fines will hit unprepared companies as we sink more and more into recession and where these Data companies start having hiring freezes. Their current staff will not have the skills or knowledge – because this sort of Data Management has not been a thing since everyone left Mainframes – where you HAD to manage your data – it wasn’t an option. We now have data lying around all over the place – and most companies don’t even know where it is.

This is where my 22 years as an Oracle DBA and then 20 years as a Data Engineer propelled me into the limelight as a strategic and tactical data management planner – in fact – the very essence of what my career is based on is Proper Data Management. Lucky me!

There will also be a ripple effect – just like the farm equipment suppliers – who provide equipment to farmers – Cloud based Data companies like Google, Amazon and others will take a big hit, and here’s why – when you prepare for CCPA (and GDPR by the way), you realize that the first thing you can do is get rid of any redundant data. The cost savings is HUGE – and while you first cursed CCPA and GDPR -you now realize that Compliance saves a TON of money – that its a Godsend. The only people who will lose in this respect are the Cloud Service companies – because they thrive on a pack rat mentality that is hand in glove with the lack of Compliance (pre GDPR and CCPA). I know this from experience – last year I wrote ONE SQL statement that dropped 45,000 database tables that used many petabytes of (expensive) disk space and even more expensive processing time. Cloud companies sold everyone on “disk is cheap” – and yeah – if you only have terabytes of data – but when you get into petabytes, its not cheap. Where they gave you what seemed like cheap disk – they screw you blind on processing cost. Here’s the rub – when companies thought they were getting Cloud services for “free” – they encouraged things like “Self Service BI”. That lead to data workers and the cherished darling Data Scientist Unicorns to go use as much storage space and processing time – an all you can eat buffet. I also have never seen so much spending on Data Science and AI where the models are based on really shitty data – of poor quality – and so all the math in the world can’t overcome bad quality data. Its the worst ROI I have seen in my career – and again – its because of “Bad Data Hygene”. But those Unicorns – they are everything, man . . . . what a funny culture we have in IT! Its a symptom of too much money I suppose . . . When a $5 billion fine at Facebook is shrugged at . . but I digress. . .

Companies who are only just now posting jobs to deal with CCPA are already in huge deep shit. Their procrastination is going to wipe out the Cloud service savings they could have had by getting their shit together and planning up front. They won’t be able to find enough of the right people to manage this – and their resulting projects will be Death Marches during this 2019 Holiday Season – when people take time off. The first quarter of next year will be a real doozy in Silicon Valley and all points beyond. CCPA is a California Law – but applies to any company who does business in California- so its reach is global.

Just to spice things up – Nevada has its version of this kind of regulation and it fires up in October. New York and other states will be online with their regulations as well.

Its a major, major coming storm – and you can thank all of the fine companies who have had data breaches and who gave your Social Security number away . . .