I made the big switch from my Elecraft K-Line to the 7610 a week ago, and I am even more sure that this is the right move. Just before selling the KPA-500 and KAT-500 I thought I should take another couple of days to see if I would regret getting rid of the amp and tuner – but au contraire – I love having everything I need in a new rig. Because I mostly listen to others going crazy in pileups and do a lot of BCB DX-ing with the fabulous Wellbrook Loops phased through the DX Engineering NCC-2, its a total blast.
I can’t honestly tell if the 7610 is a better rig performance wise – it seems quieter than the K3. Sensitivity wise – they seem the same – at least to my ear. There are no relays on transmit as I remember older Icom rigs – its full QSK. Ergonomically its better than the K3, and feature for feature – it has even more than what I had in my K3 – so adding adding additional features to a 10 year old rig just didn’t seem like a good idea. While chasing DXCC – and especially 160M DXCC, I am very glad I had the K3.
I purchased the ICOM IC-28 tuning pod and the SM-30 microphone, and I must say, the fit and finish are better than the K-Line, but not by any amount that matters that much to me – but there is a difference. I like the touch screen (which surprises me), and I also like the video out port. The large screen monitor scope is nice – probably not as nice as the Flex, but the screen has all of the status checks for everything I care about. The multi knob and filters are very nice.
I absolutely love my antenna farm now – I have a really great coverage from 80 – 6M, and I do want to see if 6M offers anything at this low part of the cycle. 10M had been dead for a while – and I think 12M pretty much the same. But the switching and controlling and the fact I don’t have to worry about high power issues is a joy. The built in antenna tuner is something I can’t say too much about since my antennas are ALL resonant – and I highly recommend it. It saves a lot of pain that you have when you are trying to use a tuner to tune bands that your antenna just wasn’t designed to efficiently radiate at that frequency.
I also downloaded Ham Radio Deluxe – and its a very nice logging package. Its a shame there was some debacle a while back – but HRD really is a great fit for the 7610. More on that later – I probably will purchase a license.
All of the things that I wanted in my “post DXCC” rig is in the 7610. The SD card and recorder is a real kick – something I will make good use of when BCB DXing – just because its magic. And hearing 3B7A this past weekend as well as I did was the best performance test – for the radio and the UrbanBeam. The French team is having similar conditions that FT5GA had, but its pretty obvious who are the better team is as far as knowing and caring about West Coast propagation.
If and when they go to Glorioso, I could work them with this station – but will most likely run to Oliver, W6NV’s station for the last 2. While I wait – I’m having a ball with my new antennas and new rig.