This past week I’ve been installing a brand new Icom IC-9100 in my ham shack. I am extremely pleased with this rig — it fits my current ham radio activities perfectly.

Those activities include satellites, VHF/UHF weak signal work, and HF from time to time. I also like to listen to a few shortwave broadcasts and it’s nice to have D-Star and FM repeater coverage built-in. Plus, I’ve got the 1296 MHz option and have just built W6PQL’s 23cm Double Quad to get started on that band.

Why Change?

You can get an idea of the changes I’ve made over the years by viewing the table and photo gallery on my Ham Shack page. And, if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you can tell that I first moved into VHF/UHF weak signal work a few years ago, starting on 6 meters and adding more bands. More recently I’ve been working satellites.

As I considered options for the Elecraft K3 when moving into these areas, the cost kept ratcheting up. Plus, it really wasn’t going to work for satellites.

Don’t get me wrong. The K3 is a fantastic rig. And, over the years I’ve taken full advantage of its upgrade features — moving from the early QRP version to 100 watts, adding filters, second receiver, and more.

But the step up to VHF/UHF was just too much. Yes, there are transverters available, but then you need to add brick amplifiers, supporting power supplies, etc. Like I said, the cost and complications were just too much for me when considering that path.

Why Icom IC-9100?

I was looking for simple and straightforward. The “everything in one rig” was just right. Plus, I’ve been using Icom gear for quite some time. The IC-910H works extremely well for satellites. In fact, I hope to set that rig up for portable satellite operation. Now that should be fun.

You may also be aware that Icom America is a major sponsor of Radio Scouting activities. We’ll be using their gear during the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, including IC-9100s for satellites and our contact with the International Space Station. This was a great way to show my appreciation for everything Icom has done over the years for Scouting. Plus, I haven’t found another rig presently on the market that matches this rig’s capabilities.

How Was Setup?

With all current rigs the challenge is getting everything set up with your computer and all its software. I’ve added a bit of a twist in my ham shack because I’m using a Mac and its software. Even so, I found that what I’d learned setting up the IC-910H put me well on top of things to get the IC-9100 up and running.

For the Mac connections, I used the Digimode-1 interface from XGGComms for audio, frequency control, and PTT along with an external sound card for digital modes. I also use their interface for the IC-910H. The IC-9100 requires a 13-pin DIN connector while the IC-910H uses a 8-pin connector.

Both work very well and are much lower cost that many other options. I also have a Windows 10 PC in the shack and there I used the IC-9100 USB connection. That allows me to use RT Systems software to program the rig. I suppose I could have tried the USB connection for the Mac but I’d read that having two USB ports on the same cable was a bit troublesome for a Mac. Perhaps I’ll give it a try one day.

So far I’m using MacLoggerDX, MacDoppler, MacWinKeyer, Skookum Logger, FLDIGI, and WSJT along with JT-Bridge on the Mac. While all that required a few head scratching moments, it’s working great now.

I like It!

It’s been a big change, but I really, really like it. As I stated at the beginning, it fits my current ham radio adventures just perfectly.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great move Jim! I was wondering when you would move to a Icom 😉 Elecraft makes crazy good radio’s but it’s hard to finance it all. Especially when you’re in Europe. I once owned a K1 which cost me over 450 euro’s. Well enough to buy a great second hand Icom 706.

    I’m pretty happy with my Icom IC-7300 for HF and Kenwood TM-742 for VHF/UHF (included 23cm).

    How is the 9100 performing on HF, did you try that yet?

    73, PA1JIM Jim

    • Hi Jim,

      I’ve tried the 9100 with WSJT on HF. It works great. Glad you’ve picked up a 7300. They are fantastic radios at a very good price. All the best in the New Year.

      73, Jim

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