IC-705 – Do I Have Buyer’s Remorse?

Not. one. bit.

This is a follow-up post to the article I wrote about my decision to pre-order an IC-705. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so first to get where I’m coming from, then come back here to read on.

Photo of IC-705 with Raspberry Pi Zero W

What can I say? The IC-705 has met, and probably exceeded my expectations. I almost titled this post “Would I buy another IC-705? No!” with an introductory line of “…because this radio offers so much, you only need one!”. However, I thought it a bit too click-baity. Keep in mind that this is my first Icom radio – I’m not an existing user of the IC-7300 or similar, so some of my thoughts on this rig may seem obvious to owners of such Icom rigs. However, I believe they are relevant points regardless, when considering this radio amongst its peers.

Let’s revisit some key points for my decision to buy this radio in the first place. Recall that I’ve been wanting to upgrade from my Xiegu X1M Pro for a number of years now. I wanted a portable, all-mode “shack in a box”. The IC-705 is, without a doubt, about as much of a portable shack in a box as you could get. I wanted something with a modern built-in battery; tick. I wanted something I could interface with a laptop or Raspberry Pi for digital modes like JS8Call; huge box-tick there with the single cable interface. (Having CAT control and audio all on one USB cable allows one to send email with this rig with a humble Raspberry Pi Zero; more on that in a future post.) I was also wanting a second D-Star radio to try out more data aspects of that mode (D-Rats, texting, sending photos, etc), so the 705 fit that gap in my kit as well. I’ve already done some fun trials with the 705 and my D74, and more lie ahead.

“The IC-705 has performed excellently and been an absolute pleasure to operate.”

It is also the first rig I’ve owned capable of doing SSB and CW on VHF/UHF. The Multi-meter screen has lived up to and exceeded my expectations. When running digital modes with computer, being able to see the waveform, input drive level, SWR, temperature, and power output all at once is absolutely awesome. Also, having the compression level indication there has saved me a couple of times when I forgot to turn compression off after using voice. The IC-705 has performed excellently and been an absolute pleasure to operate.

Screenshot from my IC-705 during JS8Call transmission. Shown are the power output, transmitted signal, input drive level, SWR, rig temperature, and more.
Screenshot from my IC-705 during JS8Call transmission. Shown are the power output, transmitted signal, input drive level, SWR, rig temperature, and more.

So, the IC-705 has met my needs and expectations for what I was looking for. Let’s talk now about a few aspects of this radio that weren’t selling points for me, but that have proven hugely useful. Firstly, the panadapter screen. When I bought the rig, I couldn’t have cared less if a portable radio had this, whether built-in or as an option. I certainly would never want to lug along a PX3 in addition to other gear on a hike. But boy oh boy has this thing been useful in more ways than I’d thought. Those of you who’ve used a panadapter before are no-doubt scoffing at my ignorance right now, and know how useful this feature can be for hunting for signals – or an open spot – on the band. A real plus for contesting, though I’m not much of a contestor. But aside from the traditional uses, which I’ve unexpectedly found useful, a real help was when I was able to use the waterfall and S-meter to verify and hunt down a couple of RFI-producing devices in my house. My noise floor was previously S7-S9 and is now usually below S3. I’ll share more detail on that in a later post. Another feature that should have been an obvious pull for me: the IF filtering. I knew this would be better than the lack of filtering on my X1M, but it wasn’t a deciding factor for me, as most of the other options I was considering also have filtering. That said, the filtering really works. Even without a mechanical filter, the 705 is capable of really popping signals out from the noise with its filtering.

“They were about -20db below the noise. I put a tight filter around their signal and they popped up to +10db above the noise and I was now getting full copy.”

One example I was very happy with was when I was working a weak JS8Call contact one day. They were way down near the FT8/JS8 limit of about -20db below the noise. I put a tight filter around their signal and they popped up to +10db above the noise and I was now getting full copy for the rest of the QSO instead of several missed frames. Tight CW filtering sounds beautiful as well, and shifting the offset of an SSB filter very nicely cuts out static or nearby stations. This is not new, but was new to me, and I’ve enjoyed using it. Another feature is SWR plotter – this is an awesome feature, and something I haven’t had before. It’s really helped me when adjusting the whip length on the PAC-12 and making adjustments on an off-centre-fed dipole. The fourth and final (for this list) feature that wasn’t a selling point for me, but that I’m happy it has is the built-in GPS. Not a lot to write here, but whenever you’re out portable, it’s nice to have a GPS time source and know your coordinates – the 705 can send both via USB cable, by the way. Off-grid and want to run modes like FT8? You can get CAT control, audio in/out, position, and accurate time all through the single USB cable. How awesome is that?? (I recommend leaving GPS turned off as much as possible, as it’s the #1 battery eater on rigs and other devices. Come to think of it, I should write an article on how I use GPS on my rigs…) Honourable mention goes to Bluetooth, which has been handy both for seeing and controlling the status of the rig, as well as listening to HF nets whilst cleaning up the kitchen.

So, as much as I’ve enjoyed this radio, I know that you’ll also want to know about some of the not-so-positive aspects. I really had to think for this, as they’re pretty negligible and in no-way deal-breakers. These are not things that I’ve ever caught myself repeatedly annoyed or frustrated with. In no particular order: D-Star terminal mode is not as capable or well-documented as I’d hoped; I wish you could send screenshots via D-Star; The rig felt a little heavier than I’d expected when I first pulled it out of the box; the rig has built-in RTTY, but not PSK. As I said, none of these are deal-breakers. Terminal mode and RTTY/PSK weren’t things I was really hoping to use, and the weight hasn’t yet stopped me from taking it anywhere I was planning to. It’s already come with me on a hike to a nearby summit, and several shorter walks as well. I’d perhaps consider something that took up less weight and space if I go on a longer backpacking trip; we’ll see – I plan to give it a go on at least one longer hike this summer!

It may surprise some of you, but lack of internal tuner is not on the list for me – keep in mind that I mainly use resonant antennas, antennas with their own mechanical tuner at the feed-point, and I already had an Elecraft T1, which I’ve used a couple of times with the 705. Also not a list is the relatively small-capacity battery. This one is even a surprise to me. Icom rated the IC-705 as getting about three hours of typical usage on the supplied BP-272, and the first accessory on my list is the larger BP-307, once that comes out. Now I haven’t yet taken this radio out as many times, or for as long of trips as I’d like, but so far, I’ve never run out of juice. This includes a summit hike where we operated all afternoon before heading down. I’ll still get a BP-307 because I want more than one battery, and because I don’t think I’ve given the rig enough of a workout on the BP-272. I do have various power options I’ve used with this rig so far (did you know it can charge via USB?!) and plan to do more trials with power options in the future.

How about the price? I mentioned in the opening that I compare this radio amongst its peers. It’s important to note that its peers are not the IC-7300, 9700, etc. Those are fantastic base station and perhaps vehicle-portable rigs. The IC-705, on the other hand, is a much more portable radio with a lot more built into one little package. So, when considering the IC-705, its price, and its features, one needs to look at it next to tranceivers like the Elecraft KX line, the Yaesu 817/8, Xiegu G90 and X5105, and the Lab 599 Discovery TX-500. I’ll let you have a look at that spread, and their features and prices, and let you decide whether the IC-705 is priced right. I love operating portable more than from home, and I would have bought an IC-7300 a few years ago if I could take it along on a hike. Now, the 7300 has a more portable sibling with loads of extra features.

In closing (for now): I love having gear that is as capable as the IC-705; it’s really turned out to the Swiss-Army knife all-mode/band transceiver I had hoped it would be. For me, this radio has been a fantastic purchase so far, and I’ve no doubt it will bring me joy in several areas of the hobby for years to come.

Still reading? Want to know what’s next? Upcoming content is going to be focused on using gear. Or rather, making the most of gear / using it to its full extent. I’ve got some tips I want to share with you, regarding the IC-705, and other things as well. There will hopefully be some video content coming as well. I hope you’ll join me for the journey!

Thanks and 73,


Why I bought the IC-705

(Updated 22/7/2020 to include larger capacity BP-307 battery in addendum.)

Hi Everyone,

Max here, VK2XOR. Today I’m writing about why I just pre-ordered the IC-705, about a month before it’s due to show up at my local distributor, at the time of this writing.

There has been a lot of buzz and excitement about IC-705 in the lead-up to its release. However, I feel that it is certainly not the end-all radio that everyone is going to rush out to get, especially now that its retail price has finally been announced.

Owners of the IC-7300 or 9700 may see the 705 as a more limited version of those radios, yet with a price that is above rather than below that of the 7300, despite these limitations. Whether coming from the IC-7300, FT-817/818, or a KX2/3, many will be disappointed by either the price, lack of internal tuner, or maximum of five watts power output when using its internal battery.

It seems there are many reasons not to spend so much money on this radio. So, why did I just hand over my dollars for this radio which hasn’t even landed our shores yet? It is truly a combination of reasons. And if my combination of reasons wasn’t what it is, I might very well have not gotten this radio. So let’s dive into it, first with a bit of background.

I love operating outdoors. More so than indoors. That happens to be for a couple of reasons. One is that there is such a lower noise floor when operating away from my urban home environment – especially when I was living in Sydney. The second is that I’ve always loved the idea of still being able to get a message out when far from the reaches of mobile phone towers, and the environment I grew up in shaped this very much.

Since getting back into amateur radio again a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to upgrade from my humble Xiegu X1M Pro. The X1M was my second HF radio (the first was a RockMite 40), and has served me surprisingly well, even making a 2100km contact to the south island of New Zealand on 80m SSB recently. However, I’ve always run it off of a heavy external battery, and wanted a bit more functionality than it offers. So for the last few years, I’ve been having an internal conversation with myself (not without the input of external sources as well) that goes a bit like this:

“Boy, I sure do want a KX2. That would be just the nicest little rig to bring on the trail with me to have my portable radio fun. But it is indeed expensive, and at that sort of investment price range, I suppose I should probably really consider the KX3. It’s not too much bigger, and I could plug it into the computer for all that nice digital work I want to really get into. And the higher power output would probably be nice. But holy cow, does the price jump up if I bought that over the KX2! Especially if I get an internal ATU, etc. C’mon Max, get real. You know you should just keep watching the used markets for an FT-817/818. They’re really great little radios, very capable, and are a bit more rugged than the KXs. There are complaints about the KXs being marketed as such great SOTA rigs, yet having cases that are so susceptible to the smallest amounts of rain or dirt as to make the owner question whether to even take it out of the hiking pack.”

And so went this debate in a loop, many times over the years. And instead of buying any of those three great options, I’ve set my mind to just working with the gear I’ve got, and not spend the money. Now at this point, you may be thinking, “Yes, but the IC-705 still doesn’t necessarily justify itself and its price against those options, given what you’ve just said.” Well, the above was just some background about where I’m coming from.

Other factors in my decision are what gear I already have, and what activities I’m currently interested in doing. The current activities I’m interested in include getting outdoors more (with radio), digital modes such as Winlink, FT8, and JS8Call with a laptop or Raspberry Pi, CW/Morse Code, D-Star, and packet & APRS. Given those activities being my primary interests at the moment, the fantastic-value IC-7300 never made it into those options in my dilemma described above, although its price point/value did play into the arguments of that dilemma.

As for gear, I currently have the aforementioned X1M, an RS-HFIQ, a MTR3B, a TH-D74a, a TM-D710, an AT-D878UV Plus, a T1 ATU, and a few other hand-held and mobile rigs. I’ll also mention a few things I like having: redundancy, multi-use tools, fun. The acquisition of the TH-D74 late last year was a big decision. But after receiving it, I’m so glad I made the purchase. Yes, it’s an expensive radio, but it dropped me into three parts of this hobby that I’d been wanting to get into for a while – D-Star, APRS, and packet radio. All in one little device! I’ve had such a great time with it so far, and I’m still on the gradual journey to utilize all of its functionality. I did also want another APRS and another D-Star radio to partner with the D74 for doing various experiments and trialing those capabilities. The D710 was both an amazing upgrade over my first mobile rig, and also a great APRS & packet companion for the D74.

I’ve got the MTR3B when I really want to just throw something into my pocket for a day hike, or lunch-break/after work walk with some radio fun. So, that means the size of something like the KX3, FT-817/818, or IC-705 could be tolerated for a back-pack-able rig, particularly when using internal batteries. I do already have the RS-HFIQ as an SDR, but I liked the idea of the addition of a KX3 (or now IC-705) to my collection as it would allow me to “bring only one” radio on a trip that could really do all the modes I want. Currently, I have a case that houses the RS-HFIQ and X1M side by side, along with a 6ah or 9ah SLA battery, a tablet laptop for use with the RS-HFIQ, and some cables and things. Not a bad little two-radio station, and I was working on being able to swap the laptop out for a Raspberry Pi, controllable from my phone. Another thing for me is that my only HF SDR (the RS-HFIQ) and my only D-Star radio (TH-D74) are overseas for repair right now, and I really don’t know how long it will be before I get either of them back. The IC-705 may make it to me before they do, and will be able to get me back on the air in both of those aspects. Redundancy, eh?

Photo showing RS-HFIQ and X1M Pro next to IC-705
Left: RS-HFIQ on top of X1M Pro; Right: IC-705; Photo added 25 Oct, 2020

Any of those primary three options described would be excellent upgrades from my X1M, but the IC-705 is an upgrade that brings with it many other things; Like the KX3, it provides great SDR capability when connected to a computer – but with only one cable. And without the computer, it also has built-in RTTY support like the KXs (though no PSK). It also will be a second D-Star radio for me, allowing me to play with more of that capability when paired with the D74. Like the FT-817/818 and KX3 (with add-on), it can also do VHF and even UHF, should those be of use. Now, I’ll generally have a separate dual-band HT with me for those two bands so I don’t require this, but the redundancy is an extra feature that I’m happy to have. The big built-in display with waterfall, etc. wasn’t a requirement for me either but another nice-to-have. And keeping in mind that you’d have the additional cost, weight, cables, and power supply of the PX3 panadapter if you wanted to add this functionality to a KX3.

Finally, I live in Australia. I have often been caught off guard whenever I start looking at the KXs again and think, “That’s not such a bad price. Maybe I’ll get one this year,” until remembering to do the currency conversion, shipping cost, addons (namely internal ATU and attachable paddles)… So the shipped cost of a KX3 with the add-ons required to feature-match the IC-705 would be far greater for me than buying the IC-705. Even the shipped cost of the smaller KX2 with only the paddle and internal ATU options, surpasses the shipped cost of the IC-705 for me, at the time of this writing. Yes, the IC-705 doesn’t have an internal ATU, and that is probably one of its main lacking features for me, but I mostly use resonant antennas or the fantastic T1 ATU. I’d still get the internal ATU for the KX2 so as to have less to pack, but lack of an internal one in the IC-705 is something I can quite happily live with, given my circumstances.

There are several other things that could be said when comparing these radios, which are all fine options. And I can totally understand all the reasons not to get the IC-705, and don’t argue most of them. (I’m sure there are some silly arguments as well.) But as I said, it comes down to my personal circumstances. If I didn’t have the T1, maybe lack of internal ATU would have been a deal-breaker for me. If I didn’t already have the Mountain Topper, maybe the size would have made it a no-go. If I lived in the US and made a similar salary there, maybe the KXs would feel more within reach. If I didn’t prefer to operate portable, maybe I’d have gotten an IC-7300 ages ago. Maybe if I’d looked into this radio last year when someone mentioned it to me, the wait time would have put me off. To me, the IC-705 feels like a lot of radio in one, small, hike-able package that I hope will provide me with years of fun experiences, opportunities, and contacts. Maybe you’ll be one of them!

The KX2 still holds a special place in my heart, and maybe I’ll get one someday, but for now I’m glad that the decision to buy the IC-705 felt like a no-brainer for me and has finally put my little dilemma to rest. I can’t wait to get out there and use it! Thanks for coming along with me on this buyer’s dilemma. I understand the IC-705 may not be for everyone, but I hope you enjoyed the read either way.

73, and take care,


This table shows a comparison of common traits of the four primary options that I was considering as upgrades from my Xiegu X1M Pro. I’ve left out features that are a bit extra and quite specific to only certain radios (e.g. D-star, built-in spectrum display, Bluetooth/WiFi connectivity, MicroSD slot, attachable paddles, built-in microphone).

(The original draft of this table has color gradients for the cells for best through worst. I’ll put that back in soon, if I can.)

Price (now, in AU)CheapestSecond most expensiveMost expensiveThird most expensive
SizeSecond smallestSmallestSecond largestLargest

* Found weight of KX2 battery and typical eneloop AAs to update the KX options. Haven’t found the weight of the ATUs or the KX3 NiMH charger, however.

1.2 kg including batteries

0.5 kg including battery, but no ATU, etc.
*Third heaviest

0.9 – 1.0 kg with typical choice NiMH batteries, but no ATU, NiMH charger, etc.
Second heaviest

1.1 kg including battery
Max power output (internal batt.)5 wattsUp to 10 wattsUp to 5 watts5 watts
Max power output (external 12-13.8v)5 watts12 watts15 watts10 watts
Avg. runtime on internal batt.2.4 – 4 hoursUp to 8 hours4 – 6 hours~3 hours on included BP-272 battery
~5 hours on the upcoming BP-307 battery
Internal tunerNoPurchasable as extraPurchasable as extraNo
Able to take mechanical filtersYesNoYesNo
Computer interface

* Generally will also require the addition of a USB sound card.
*Audio only via audio and CAT cables (3), plus intermediate device (e.g. SignaLink)*Audio only via audio and CAT cables (3)*Audio only via audio and CAT cables (3)Full SDR via single USB cable
Recharge battery in the fieldYes, if using stock battery pack. If external amperage is high enough, can keep operating while charging. Lower amperage can charge the battery, but the rig needs to be turned off. If using higher capacity AAs, they must be removed.No, must be removed and recharged with mains AC wall charger.Purchasable as extra option. Can operate whilst charging.Yes, via USB or 13.8v external source. Can operate whilst charging.
Band coverage160m – UHF80m – 10m160m – 6m

2m transverter purchasable as extra
160m – UHF
Ruggedness of caseKnown for being great in this regard. No big gaps, few buttons/knobs for ingress, small screen.The nice big display on the KXs are simply covered from impact by a panel of acrylic or similar. It’s a tight fit, but there is no seal around it. There are several large gaps in cases of these radios.Aftermarket case modifications are available for both, which can help, although full protection is more around impact rather than ingress, and also only fully in-effect with a cover attached, which prohibits use of the radio’s controls.Aftermarket case modifications are available for both, which can help, although full protection is more around impact rather than ingress, and also only fully in-effect with a cover attached, which prohibits use of the radio’s controls.
Internal real-time clock

* Need to verify whether it keeps time if the main battery is removed.
NoPurchasable as extraPurchasable as extra* Yes, and updatable from GPS
Photo showing IC-705, KX3, KX2, MTR3B
From top: IC-705, KX3, KX2, MTR3B

About this site

This site is a place for me to share my thoughts, projects, and adventures in amateur radio. The content will be largely centred around my current interests, and will also aim to show gear being used for all of its capability, in the field of possible. If this site were to have a motto, it would be “Use your gear!”

Personally, I’m disappointed whenever I see folks use a radio like the TH-D74 only as a wireless speaker-mic for use with their hotspot. It’s too expensive for that, and they’re missing out on so much more that radio has to offer.

So come along with me, as we get out there, use our gear in different ways, and try new things!