Thursday, 9th May, 2024

So I’m back on the which radio decision again. There’s no perfect radio. There’s no perfect camera. I’m not perfect. etc. The portable radio that I have, the KX2, is probably one of the most highly recommended radios out there. It is absolutely tiny, does 10W (most others only do 5 or maybe 10W but with an external battery - another thing), has an internal tuner that will match anything - basically means you can take a long bit of wire, plug it in and then transmit on just about any band. Is very user servicable, has a nice formfactor, has all the controls you need via buttons and dials and minimal menus needed. Think it’s great for CW (morse) for reasons I don’t know. You can even use it as a big handheld with the onboard mic (I’d probably never do that). I’ve made a tiny mic for it, and it lives in a tiny case. Internal battery is good, and it really is the ideal portable radio.

So why don’t I like it? I do miss a waterfall. Even though I don’t really need one, I’m so used to using one now. All my other radios have it and I just like being able to see what’s going on. It feels wasteful to have an expensive radio mostly sitting around and only getting used when I go out. Now this should start getting a little more frequent but still. My current problem with it is that I never use it except when I go out and I forget how to do stuff. I already have a reasonably portable radio which is 20W and has a waterfall, and was my sole radio for several months, so I know how it works. It does need an external power supply/battery though.

Is it just my brain making me want to buy things?

The thing is, I know what I would buy - the ICOM IC-705. It’s a portable (although bigger than the KX2), 10W (but only with external battery, 5W otherwise), mutliband, modern, digital SDR radio. It can do HF AND UHF/VHF, it has a lovely screen, with waterfall, it has various digital modes, it can be remotely controlled, it has a lot of hackability and interop stuff, it’s also readily available from stores (although not an issue now I already own a KX2 but previously was an advantage).

It doesn’t have an internal tuner. That is the main downside, the 5/10W thing also but probably not that much of a big deal. It’s also more fragile than a KX2 for carrying about.

The thing that attracts me to this radio is the UHF/VHF with sideband mode vs. just FM. So I could use it with SSB satellites, or even try for SSB contacts up mountains. It has more uses, although I’d probably not use them that much. It’s not duplex so technically not suitable for satellites…although you can always cheat 👀. I could also use it as my sole radio. I’d probably want to get an amp at home, but I could plug it into that to use at home and then out portable. There’s several good pieces of software that would let me operate it remotely. So I could sit in the warm house and use it when it’s cold in the garage. If I have the amp in the garage I could also run some cable to the office, use it on my desk but still get 100W out of the amp into the antenna in the garden. So I get the feel of using the radio but not the clutter. It has lots of functions and settings and options but if it was my sole radio, I would learn everything and make the most of it.

The lack of tuner can be overcome with either an external tuner - lots of small ones - or just use a reasonant antenna. Up a mountain? I’d just use a EFHW. In the shack at home? Can get an amp with a tuner or, again, just use my EFHW at home on the bands. 5 vs 10 W? Well that depends on what I want to do when out activating a site. Do I just want contacts? Or am I trying to get places…I think at the moment, I just want contacts. I end up spending an hour on the summit just faffing about and making about 20 contacts on a couple of bands and I’m happy with that. Heck, I’d be happy to make 4 contacts on 2m FM with a handheld and walk back down. So 5W will still get me plenty of contacts in UK and Europe. Probably nothing exciting but not that bothered. There are small amps I could take with me, and get 40-50+W if I wanted to try that. Or take a little battery to get 10W out the box. I was worried about the KX2 only have 10W vs. the 20W of my G90.

I also thought the KX2 would be good for taking on holiday, but I’m still not sure I want to risk a £1000 radio going through security at the airport. Think I’d rather try and pick up a cheaper one (or use my G90 which was £300) and then if something bad happens, I’m not too upset.

Like tools, you pick the right one for the job, so there’s always the case of having multiple radios. But I just don’t like that. I could have one, with supporting items, that would do probably everything I’ll ever want to do with ham radio.

The good news is the KX2 is well sort after so I’ll be able to sell it without losing any money.

So I guess I need to watch a bunch of videos on all this. Maybe that’s want I wanted all along?

Well the videos didn’t really help. I should do something else to distract myself from it all.

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