I was able to acquire a LNIB IC-703 original production. It doesn't have
6 meters like the plus version, but I rarely get on 6m anyway, so no loss
I wanted an FT-817ND since they still make them, but when this 703 showed
up I jumped on it when it came up on ebay.
The reason I wanted another 703 for QRP are the features in the radio such
- Built in TXCO (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator)
- Built in Automatic Antenna tuner!
- Large LCD Screen
- Ability to turn the transmit power down to 100mw
- Ergonomic and lighted buttons, large tuning knob
- Optional handle and feet, and plug in CW and SSB filters
- Power saving mode enables transceiver to draw just 310 ma on receive
- The ability to operate the radio at lower input voltages, close to 8V
(like other QRP radios).
1st I did a factory reset to set the radio to the factory defaults, then
on to the mods.
The initial production runs of the IC-703, pre-plus version, had a few
problems. Most serious was that many
of the transceivers had finals blow. Even though the SWR was fine, the finals
would fail. This turned out to be
the driver bias voltage being too high. The nominal voltage should be 0.5V.
Many were shipped with settings at .6 to .7 volts.
The other problem was the transceiver would lock up sometimes on CW. The
problem was ICOMs not providing
a ground from the key jack to chassis ground.
After I did basic testing of the radio for function, including a SSB QSO
at 5W (I didn't want to go to high in case
the bias was too high). Made a contact to TX from ME at the 5W! Awesome.
I shut down the radio and prepared
for the updates.
I took the covers off to fix the 2 problems.
I used aero duster to blow out any dust inside the radio, but there really
1st I checked the bias voltage per instructions I
got off the internet. Sure enough it was set at 6.2V ! Yikes.. luckily this
radio was basically new old stock and wasn't
really used more than a few hours so the finals were good. I adjusted the
bias potentiometer for 5.0V. Excellent!
The method of adjustment can be found on the internet. You need a small
screwdriver like the one below.
Next was the key jack problem. This entailed running an insulated wire
from the jack to a circuit board ground,
which went well and came out great.
The green wire is the ground wire I added from the key jack to the circuit
board. I soldered the wire into
a loop before placing it under the screw so it can't slip out and short
So now with both problems fixed, I moved on to the power cord. I have
30A Anderson Power poles on everything,
so I added those to the power cord.
The radio already came with the optional handle and feet, so I didn't
have to buy those.
Next was the bail. I put 5 miniature grommets on the bail to minimize
the radio moving around, and to protect
the bail from scratches if I place the radio on metal or rocks, etc. I put
these on my previous 703 and on my
IC-706MkIIG, and they work great. I put a piece of paper under the bale
so the grommets can be seen easier
in the photo below.
After I put the radio back together I tested power out was 10W, and CW
wasn't locking up when the key was used,
so all was working great. Success on the mods and upgrades.
I tuned up with the internal antena on my 40m dipole and heard a DX station
calling CQ on SSB.
It was a station near Barcelona, Spain. I gave my call at 10W and he came
right back to me with a 59+10!
My first DX contact with the radio.
I received the MFJ-813 QRP meter I ordered from HRO today. They are back
ordered from MFJ 2 months and difficult to find. What a great meter for
the money. I wanted to know the wattage for each setting in the IC-703 so
I did some testing tonight with the calibrated marking on the meter. The
radio has 5 power ranges with 10 levels in each range so I tested all 50
against the meter.. well actually 47, since I didn't want to go over 5 watts.
The lowest power the radio can put out is 100 mw and the meter had no problem
I bought a Pelican 1520 Desert Tan case from Amazon for a great price.
I chose the Tan for it's light color so it won't absorb the heat of the
yet isn't so light as to show dirt or attract too much attention like yellow
or orange does.
This setup will be my travel station for hotel rooms, picnic table operating,
and othe portable operations. Inside the case is:
- ICOM IC-703 HF 10W transceiver with built in antenna tuner.
- IC-703 fused 12v DC power cable
- ICOM hand microphone
- Radio Shack 3Amp Power Supply
- 7 Amp Hour Gel Cell battery
- Coax Cable RG-8/U - 10 ft for antenna connection.
- PL-259 adapters
- IC-703 Operating Card for menu items
- Anderson Power poles on battery, power supply, and radios DC power cable.
I will be adding the following:
- End fed long wire, multiband wire, or wire 20 M dipole
- Portable key or paddle.
- Small trickle charger for gel cell
- Total weight of the case and all contents is a reasonable 20.5 lbs and
with battery only power can operate
about 5.5 hours (1.5 hrs transmitting and 4 hours listening). Indefinately
with power supply.
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