The new Icom IC-705 All Mode Transceiver which is a QRP rig is now out in the wild. As an owner of an IC-9700, in some ways, this radio is very similar in operation, but in other ways, it’s so very different. The menu structure is almost identical with the exception of additional options such as Wifi (WLAN) and Bluetooth. Like most modern radios these days it’s solid and well-built. Most of the functions of the radio are accessed via the touch screen which can be easily seen in direct sunlight.
The radio is supplied with a battery, mic, spare fuses a 3.5mm stereo jack and a mic clip. The mic connection is a bit like what you’d expect for a handheld radio, not a radio that looks more like a base rig and nothing like a portable. It’s certainly going to create its own niche in the market place. The only radio on the market that sort of compares is the Yaesu FT-818, but it doesn’t.
The IC-705 is the perfect IF radio for microwave. It’s going to leave the Yaesu FT-818 in its wake. Through the SEND/ALC port, a TX ground allows simple switching of transverters. Adding a waterfall to microwave is going to be a game-changer. A 5 watt output is perfect for driving SG Labs transverters.
Icom Australia offers a 5-year warranty on your radio but ONLY if you ask for it! If you do nothing you’re entitled to the standard warranty (3 years) as well as your rights under the Australian Consumer Law. If you want to extend your warranty to 5 years you MUST register at the Icom Australia website.
If you sell your radio within the warranty period, the extra 2 years does not transfer to the new owner. The same if you buy an IC-705 second hand. You only have that statutory factory warranty, not the extended 5 years.
Before you start customising your radio, apply the latest firmware. See the how-to video below. It’s almost inevitable that when you get your radio, the firmware will not be current. Not only does this add features and fix bugs, but it also saves you having to reprogram the radio as all settings are normally erased with a firmware update. Sure you can save it to the SD card before you upgrade, but only if you bought a card for the radio!
Set the date and time on your radio. It comes in handy for a lot of things like time/date stamps on files.
If you own an IC-9700, then the hard work you’ve done in programming memories is not lost on the Icom IC-705 All Mode Transceiver. The memory operation is a little different from that of the IC-9700. Using the CS-9700, open up say the 2m memories in the software. Right-click and export these memories to a local file on your computer
Open the CS-705 and create a group called 2m or 144, then import the file you just exported into the group. Then do the same for 70cm. Job done.
The IC-705 has a capacity of 500 which can be grouped as required. It also has 2 call channels for VHF and UHF. These can’t be left black so use ’em. It’s by far easier to program by the CS-705 software, but if front panel operation is your thing, go for it.
Memory operation is a little different to the 9700, although programming is the same. Strangely the basic manual for the IC-705 doesn’t really cover memory operation, you’ll need the advance manual for details.
Icom, where’s the 5 GHz wireless LAN? The radio only supports 2.4 GHz wireless operation. This is a PITA for those operating 2.4 GHz (13cm) Microwave. You’ll have to set your channel high to avoid QRM on 2403.1 MHz or turn WLAN off all together.
The IC-705 allows TX delay on 4 bands with a separate delay for each band. HF, 50MHz 144MHz and 430MHz. The manual states “If an external equipment rise time is slower than that of the IC-705, a reflected wave is produced, and it may damage the IC-705 or the external device. To prevent this, set the appropriate delay time so that no reflected wave or timing damage occurs” This is a terrific option for those wanting to use this transceiver with microwave transverters.
The DC connector on the IC-705 is an L-type Φ5.5mm plug with an inner diameter 2.5Φmm. The Icom part is OPC-2421.
While you wait for your radio to arrive, you can contemplate and purchase a few accessories. Firstly you’ll need something to store your investment in. I nearly fell over backwards when I saw the price of the Icom backpack. At over $200 that’s a VERY expensive backpack. I can’t say whether it’s worth the dollars yet as I haven’t physically seen one. It may well be. If anyone buys one please let me know.
I’ve decided to go town the Pelican path and build the 705 into a very solid and proven carry case. This is the same gear that I store my professional production gear in which can stand up to any rough treatment an airline can dish out when checking your luggage!
You will need a Micro SD Card. 16Gb should suffice as this is not supplied with the radio. You’ll need this to update the firmware on the radio, especially in these early days of the transceivers life. If the IC-9700 history is anything to go by, there will be a few early on.
You’ll also need a USB cable to go between your PC and the radio. The free companion CS-705 software, which can be downloaded from any Icom website, allows you to program and save all settings and frequencies to a local file on your PC. Sure, you can program the radio directly from the front panel, but it’s just so much easier from the CS-705.
The IC-705 is a well made, quality radio from Icom. Everyone will look at this transceiver coming from different aspects of the hobby. My passion is 10m up, with an interest in microwave. I’m planning on giving the IC-705 a go as an IF radio to complement the FT-818 pictured above. Going portable on local hilltops is also top of mind. So with that in mind, here’s what I like about the radio.
The IC-705 is not for everyone, and this is the same for the IC-9700. It’s an expensive radio which is feature-rich. If you’re not going to use those features then there are cheaper alternatives like the Yaesu FT-818. It too is a battery-powered all mode portable radio that covers HF to UHF. There is no other radio that the IC-705 can be compared to. The nearest may be the Elecraft KX3. This transceiver cover 160 to 6 meters. No 2m or 70cm.
The IC-705 is a hybrid of the IC-9700 and the IC-7300 with a few exceptions. Because it’s a battery-powered radio it’s 5 watts – 10 watts if you plug it into an external supply. If you look after your radios and seek out and operate at a remote destination it’s the perfect shack-in-a-box radio. It’s not a radio to work while you’re in motion despite the Icom backpack option. If you want to talk on VHF while walking, get a handheld. It’s not designed to be mounted in a car. It’s not a beach radio. It’s a radio for SOTA. It’s an IF radio for microwave. It’s a radio for a field day. There’s no built-in ATU, so antenna resonance will be important. There are a few 3rd party ATUs available if you really need one.
The receiver sensitivity for 2m and 70cm is just as good as the IC-9700. As for HF, I don’t have an IC-7300 to compare to.
What Icom has packed into this slightly larger than palm-sized radio is amazing. It certainly lifts the bar for portable operation. If you’re used to waterfalls and scopes, then you can’t really go back. That sounds like a first-world problem, but I do think this type of radio is going to become the new normal if it hasn’t already.
Power usage is important for QRP operation. The battery life is pretty good too, although I haven’t taken it out just yet. The DC connector is not your average 2.5mm DC jack, but connecting an external battery is easy if needed.
In conclusion, if your budget allows you to purchase the IC-705 and you’re planning on using the features on this radio, then it’s value for money. If you travel or SOTA, or even get out for field weekends, then it’s a perfect addition to the kit. If your passion is FM, this radio isn’t for you.
Consider how you’re going to physically transport and use the radio. Its form-factor is like a rectangular brick that sits flat. Cables come out of it from both ends. The screen is robust, but not indestructible. Storage should also be considered. Check our my storage option.
I’ll add to this review as I get more use of the radio.
From HF to 50/144/430 MHz*, you can enjoy a variety of bands in D-STAR DV, SSB, CW, AM and FM modes. The IC-705 receives continuously from the medium wave broadcast band to 144 MHz band. You can also enjoy FM broadcast and air band reception.
The IC-705 employs an RF direct sampling system, where RF signals are directly converted to digital data. Then processed in the FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array), making it possible to simplify the circuit construction as well as reducing internal noise that can mask weak signals.
Performance seen with the IC-7300 and IC-9700 spectrum scope is at the tip of your fingers for field operation. You can quickly see band activity as well as finding a clear frequency, all in the compact radio and not as an expensive add-on.
The large 4.3” colour TFT touch LCD, the same size as the IC-7300 and IC-9700, offers intuitive operation of functions, settings, and various operational visual aids, such as the band scope, waterfall, and audio scope functions.
“Base Station” performance in the palm of your hand! You will quickly see how this compact radio is rugged, for outdoor use, in a small, lightweight package, weighing approximately 1.1 kg.
Utilizing the high capacity Li-ion battery from the ID-51A and ID-31A handheld radios. A 13.8 V DC external power supply can be used for operation and charging of the BP-272
In portable mode, the IC-705 has the maximum output power of 5 W from the BP-272 which can last approximately 3 hours*. This is perfect for true 5 W QRP as well as the 0.5 W QRPp operations. Once you setup with a 13.8 V DC power source, you have up to 10 W.
An internal GPS receiver and antenna enhance your operations by providing location logging*, RX/TX locations via D-PRS , “Near Me” repeater search/scan, QSO recording with metadata*, and internal clock synchronization.
The microSD card slot enables the storage of user-profiles, QSO recording, TX voice memory keyer, RTTY logging, GPS data, screen capture, firmware upgrades, and programming.
In addition to the two COM ports, radio control plus audio, the IC-705 can be charged via the micro USB port.
Check out the IC-9700 review. If you’re thinking of buying the three radios in the set, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. No other manufacturer comes close to the specifications. I guess that’s why you don’t see many if any of these radios on the 2nd hand market.
• Keep the battery pack attached, even when using an external power supply.
• Even when the transceiver power is OFF, a small current still flows in the transceiver. Remove the battery pack from the transceiver when not using it for a long time. Otherwise, the attached battery pack will become exhausted.
• When the temperature is around 0°C (+32°F) or below, the battery protection function automatically sets transceiver power to 0.5 W, and disables power selections (1 W, 2.5 W, 5 W, and 10 W*).
* “10 W” can be selected only when using an external DC power supply.
Icom has announced an ATU for the new IC-705 transceiver. There has been much talk in recent times about an ATU for this portable transceiver. Questions were being asked as to why Icom didn’t build an ATU into this QRP radio, and maybe that question will never be answered, but now we have the AH-705 a Compact Antenna Tuner for the IC-705 capable of tuning a 50 Ω antenna as well as long wire antennas.
・Covers the 1.8 MHz to 50 MHz bands
・SO-239 antenna connector for 50 Ω antenna such as dipole or Yagi
・“Terminal connector”, binding post socket adapter supplied for a long wire antenna
・2-way power sources using alkaline batteries or external 13.8 V DC
・IP54 dust-protection and water resistance construction
・Full automatic tuning, just push the [TUNER] button on the IC-705
・Latching relays used for saving power consumption
・190 × 105 × 40 mm; 7.5 × 4.1 × 1.6 in, 450 g; 15.8 oz* compact design
The AH-705 is supplied with a 2m BNC terminated BNC patch lead to go between the IC-705 and the AH-705 as well as a 2m control cable. It also comes with a terminal connector which is a PL-259 to binding post socket adapter for a long wire antenna, a mounting bracket and a DC plug.
Finally found the time to get FT-8 running wirelessly on the IC-705 with the radio’s own internal WiFi access port. It’s an expensive process as you need to have Icom’s $140 RS-BA1 Version 2 software to create the virtual com port and audio driver. A USB cable is much cheaper! Having said that, if you’ve got all the toys, give it a shot. It works really well.
Here’s my step by step guide.
The IC-705 is a very versatile radio, and because it’s a QRP device, it’s an ideal radio for driving microwave transverters.
When it comes to optimising a signal path, beepers make life so much easier. The IC-705 can be easily configured to generate a loop of beeps by using one of the CW keyer memories, BK-IN, and a TX loop. Here’s how.
Test your programming skills by pressing the M5 key. You should hear all the ‘T’s and your callsign. Notice it stops after your call. To make the message loop indefinitely, PRESS and HOLD the M5 Key. After a second or so, the radio will start your programmed sequence again. This time you’ll see to red looping arrows. The radio will now loop your M5 text until you press the M5 key again to stop it.
Finally, to get your beeper on air, the radio must remain in the CW mode. Press the VOX button located under the power switch which is the BK-IN function in CW, then press and hold M5 to get your Ts on air. Press the M5 key again to stop then return to SSB. It’s also worth noting that you can fiddle with the mark/space ratio to alter how your beeper sounds on air. For a detailed look at how the CW features of the IC-705 work, have a look at page 2-3 in the IC-705 Advanced Manual.
The shape of the Icom IC-705 All Mode Transceiver is like no other radio, and this lends itself to the perplexing question of how to store it, and even transport it? After all, it’s a rather expensive radio which you probably don’t want to throw on the front seat of the car.
After thinking long and hard about it, I figured I’d do the same as I do for my production equipment that has travelled the countryside for years without any incidents. Pelican cases come in all shapes and sizes, and here I’ve used a Jaycar copy due to travel limitations during this pandemic but you’ll find the Pelican 1400 case is ideal. (WLH 30cm x 22.5cm x 13.2cm Internal Dimensions)
The case has several layers of pick and pluck foam which can carefully be removed to house the transceiver. External plugs and sockets can easily be mounted on the side of the case. The hard plastic is so much easier to work with compared to metal equivalents. I’ve extended power, RF, chassis ground and even USB and GND TX to the outside of the case.
Updating the firmware in any radio keeps it running at it’s best. New features as well as engineering tweaks are added regularly, especially in radios that are new to the market. You can check the current firmware version by looking at the number in the lower right-hand corner of the display when you turn the radio on.
You’ll need a micro SD card to copy the new firmware to and you’ll have to head over to the Icom Japan site and navigate to the Firmware slash Software tab to download the latest update.
Icom has released a new firmware version 1.24 for the IC-705. You will need an SD card formatted in the radio. Chances are you’ve already done this previously. Once formatted, you’ll have a directory structure on the card suited to the IC705.
Copy the dat file which is inside the zip file you downloaded for the Icom site into the top folder on the SD Card and follow the process on the video.
This version adds more functionality to the waterfall by adding a scroll mode, a preset menu for FT8 where you can save and recall radio settings for digital operation, and support has been added for the new AH-705 antenna tuner.
Be sure to download the new Icom IC-705 version 1.24 firmware features PDF from the Icom site for instructions on how to best use these new features.
Don’t forget to download and update the new version of the CS-705 programming software as well. You’ll need this for compatibility with the new firmware.
The Icom IC-705 All Mode Transceiver uses the RF direct sampling method (down-conversion IF sampling method for 25 MHz and above) which greatly reduces distortion. The high speed & high-resolution real-time spectrum scope and waterfall display are incorporated in a compact design for the first time in this class. A whip antenna for VHF/UHF and speaker-microphone come standard. The speaker-microphone is equipped with programmable buttons assignable to various functions, such as frequency adjustment and volume control.