A New Kid in Town

When I started doing portable operations like POTA, my intention was to do a lot of day activations, so I started collecting small QRP radios. Fortune befell me, and I was able to acquire a small camper that allows me to go camping for a weekend about once a month. My paradigm shifted and I found that when I go camping, I usually bring a bigger radio such as my IC-7300. It makes sense since I don’t have to pack it anywhere. I still do the occasional day activity, but those are far fewer than I originally planned. I decided to sell a couple of my QRP radios namely mt TX-500 and my TR-45L. Thanks to Thomas K4SWL, I sold the TX-500 in about 2 minutes. The TR-45L is still for sale, but I may hang onto it as it is a fun radio. My other QRP radio is an IC-705.

I just finished a long-term review of the FTDX10. My reviews are a little different, I do them from the perspective of operating from the field. Besides POTA, I am a regional coordinator for EmComm with my church. I like doing long-term reviews as I get a good feel for the radio and through a good bit of use, it brings out the good and the bad. Shortly after selling my TX-500, I decided I wanted another “big” radio for the field. I tried the FTDX10 but found it was a better shack radio than a field radio. This time I went with the Yaesu FT-710. I almost bought another IC-7300, but after playing around with the FT-710 at HRO Atlanta, I thought I would give it a whirl. I primarily operate CW and Digital with a little SSB thrown for nets. I operate what I call QROp or low power (20-35 watts. Starting today, it will mostly be the Yaesu I bring to the field.

It has been said that Yaesu’s are a thinking man’s radio. In other words, there are many, many things you can tinker and play with on the radio. You will not be seeing much of that here. Once I set up a radio,I make very few changes to it. I’m on the radio to operate and not think about it.

Today, I am home getting the radio its initial setup. Here are some of my first-day thoughts. My comparison will be with the IC-7300 which is a direct competitor to the 710.

They are pretty close in size with the 7300 a little taller.

**Noise Floor** The 710 has a noise floor of -126 dBm and the 7300’s noise floor is -133 dBm (Rob Sherwood).  The lower the number the better it hears and in this case by a factor of 8. I Icom hears better.  To use wide-open SDR radios like the 7300 and the 710, the attenuator and RF are your friends.
**External Tuner** I don’t know why Yaesu makes it so hard to use a tuner.  I have an old LDG Z-11 Pro that I have had for at least 15 years, it works with every Icom radio out there.  I tried a Mat-30 tuner and it has issues that I don’t care for.  You can see my comments on one of my FTDX10 reviews.  There is a workaround.  Change the mode to AM and key the mike.  The carrier is enough to let the tuner do its job.  The Icom has a separate transmit button, but I have to hook the mic up to the Yaesu to make it work  (I normally don’t hook the mic up in the field with the Icom.
**Ergonomics** I’m going to call it a draw. Most functions that I use regularly seem to take about the same amount of button/screen presses. Both screens are the same size. The one exception is filtering.  The Icom has a dedicated knob and ring to adjust the filter passband.  The Yaesu uses a knob and then you have to go through a menu system. I also prefer the RIT/XMIT on the Icom over the Clarifier on the Yaesu. The Icom has separate buttons for each function and uses a different knob than the main tuning dial to adjust it. Handiness. The 710’s controls favor a right-hander. 
**QMB/MemoPad** Same thing, different brand.  Icom wins here because the MemoPad can be viewed and edited.  I use this function quite a bit.  I can delete one channel or all at once.
**Filtering** On paper the Yaesu wins, in use, it’s pretty much a draw.  The Icom’s filter controls allow for more adjustment and are quicker to use.  You also have more flexibility in setting your default filters.  If you look at my FTDX10/IC-7300 comparison during a contest, everything I could hear with the FTDX10, I could hear with the 7300.
**Split** I don’t use this a whole lot, but I find the Yaesu more intuitive.
**VMI** VFO Mode Indicator.  Yaesu loves their acronyms.  I actually kind of like this. It gives a great visual on the status of the VFOs.  Operating in the field often has a lot of distractions. Being able to see those bars on each side of the Main Tuning Dial is an asset. 
**Auto CW** The 710 allows you to send CW while in SSB mode without having to change over to CW.  One of the nets I check into allows for CW check-ins during the SSB net.  With the 7300 I have to either set up a separate memory channel or use the Memopad because I have to offset the CW frequency by about 600 Hz so they can hear me.  Good job Yaesu.
**AESS** I like the idea of a forward facing speaker and in the shack it seems to work really well.  However, in the field, I tend to wear headphones. Most campers, camp to get away from noise.  
**Power Consumption** It’s a wash with a slight edge going to the 7300. One amp vs. 0.85 for the 7300.

Overall, I like the radio.  Nothing in the above is really a deal breaker.  I am going to spend today, setting up the radio and getting it ready for the field.  I will operate from the shack this weekend for the Support Your Parks on the Air Weekend.  One last little niggle.  Portable Zero has not made rails yet for the 710 and RT Systems has not made software. The software makes programming frequencies into memory easy and having rails protects all the things that stick out. I am sure in the near future we will see them.

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