IC-V8000 Review

IC-V8000 Review
PRODUCT REVIEW
ICOM IC-V8000 VHF FM Transceiver
Reviewed by Steve Ford, WB8IMY
ICOM has gone back to basics with the
IC-V8000 transceiver. Gone are the elaborate menus, the multitude of buttons and
the endless features—most of which you
may never use. Instead, the V8000 puts the
focus on simplicity, durability and power—
lots of power.
Although it is designed as a 2-meter
FM mobile, the V8000 does just as well on
your desk (as long as you have a hefty dc
power supply handy). The display is large
and easy to read. You can vary not only
the display brightness, but also the color
(amber or green). VOLUME and SQUELCH
controls are separate. The tuning knob is
sizeable and the speaker is forward firing.
There is enough audio power to overcome
most mobile noise environments. In fact,
one of our reviewers characterized it as
“deafening.”
The HM-133V microphone that’s packed
with the V8000 is particularly nice. Nearly
all front-panel operations can also be
controlled using the mike keypad—even
the squelch level. The 25 buttons on the
keypad are translucent and backlit. The key
size and spacing is generous. The microphone cable connects to the radio via an
RJ45 connector. The mike cable connects
to the mike itself with an RJ45 connector
as well, making it easy to replace the cord.
Extension microphone cables—16.4 and
8.2 feet long—are available as optional
accessories. There are so many functions
on the microphone, you could probably
store the radio out of sight and use the
microphone as the remote “front panel.”
At about 6 × 2 × 6 inches, the V8000 is
relatively compact. But don’t let the size
fool you—this transceiver is built like a
tank. The V8000 has quite a bit of heft at
nearly 3 pounds. In fact, its die-cast singlepiece chassis reminded me of several
commercial marine radios on the market.
offers DTMF “TouchTone” transmission for
autopatch and control functions. DTMF
decoding is available as an option.
Speaking of tones and decoding, the
IC-V8000 makes good use of both audible
and subaudible tone decoding for its
various tone squelch, pocket beep and
paging functions. You can set the V8000
for complex group-calling schemes where,
for example, your V8000 will spring to life
only when it receives your code or the
code of your group. Not many hams will
use these functions in normal day-to-day
operation, but they are excellent for public
service applications.
There is one feature in the V8000 that I
wish was standard equipment in every FM
transceiver. It’s called “Repeater Lockout”
and its function is straightforward. When
it is active, Repeater Lockout will not allow you to transmit while there is a signal
present. Even if you become impatient on
the push-to-talk button, the V8000 will not
let you interfere. Think of it as a courtesy
enforcer. Of course, you have to have the
initial courtesy to turn the function on in
the first place!
I’ve already mentioned the ample
memory channels. The well-written V8000
manual devotes a number of pages to
describing how to program them. In truth,
the process is much easier than it appears.
It follows the procedures that have become
standard in most modern FM radios. I was
able to program the V8000 memories without referring to the manual, although I did
have to glance at the pages when I tried to
transfer the memory contents. Programming the memory channel names (up to 6
alphanumeric characters per channel) also
required a little time with the book. If you
travel with your V8000, you’ll be pleased to
learn that the memories can be stored in
up to 10 different “banks” of about 20 slots
each. You could have one bank of settings
for your hometown, another for the city
where your buddy lives, and so on.
Toggling between the frequency and
name display is easy—just a long press of
the MON/ANM button. And the choice of
showing the frequency or channel name
display is independent for each memory
position.
The memory channels store power
output settings, which is very handy. Repeaters that are within easy range can be
programmed in with low output power
settings. Memory channels for repeaters
that are on the fringe can be set up with
the higher levels.
You can clone memory programming
from another V8000, or from a personal
computer. The rear-panel external speaker
jack functions as a data port in this application. To program from your PC, however,
you need an optional ICOM interface and
software.
When it comes to scanning, the V8000
features the typical full scan (band edge
Bottom Line
ICOM’s IC-V8000 packs a substantial
RF punch in a no-nonsense package.
Features
Repeater input/output offset frequencies are programmable in all of the 207
memory channels, or you can use the
“auto repeater” function to let the V8000
set them automatically. Subaudible tones
for repeater access can be programmed
and stored in the same manner. The V8000
can even scan for subaudible tones and
write them to memory. The V8000 also
Steve Ford, WB8IMY  QST Editor
July 2002 55
Table 1
ICOM IC-V8000, serial number 01825
Manufacturer’s Claimed Specifications
Measured in the ARRL Lab
Frequency coverage: Receive, 136-174 MHz;
transmit, 144-148 MHz.
Receive and transmit, as specified.
Power requirement: Receive, 1.0 A (maximum audio); transmit, 15 A (high power).
Receive, 0.8 A; transmit, 12 A. Tested at 13.8 V.
Modes of operation: FM.
As specified.
Receiver
Receiver Dynamic Range
FM sensitivity: 12 dB SINAD, 0.15 µV typical.
For 12 dB SINAD, 0.15 µV.
Weather band sensitivity,12-dB SINAD (tested at 162.400 MHz):
Not specified.
0.14 µV.
FM adjacent channel rejection: Not specified.
20-kHz channel spacing: 74 dB.
FM two-tone, third-order IMD dynamic range: Not specified.
20-kHz channel spacing: 74 dB.*
10-MHz channel spacing: 87 dB.
FM two-tone, second-order IMD dynamic range: Not specified.
93 dB.
S-meter sensitivity: Not specified.
S9 indication: 1.8 µV.
Squelch sensitivity: 0.08 µV typical.
At threshold: 0.09 µV.
Receiver audio output: 2.0 W at 10% THD into 8 Ω.
2.4 W at 10% THD into 8 Ω.
Spurious and image rejection: 75 dB typical. First IF rejection, 99 dB; image rejection, 93 dB.
Transmitter
Transmitter Dynamic Testing
Power output (H/M/ML/L): 75/25/10/5 W (approximately).
69 / 26 / 9.3 / 5.0 W.
Spurious-signal and harmonic suppression: ≥60 dB 64 dB. Meets FCC requirements for spectral purity.
Transmit-receive turnaround time (PTT release to 50% audio output):
Not specified.
S9 signal, 168 ms.
Receive-transmit turnaround time (tx delay): Not specified.
130 ms.
Size (HWD): 2.0×5.9×5.9 inches; weight, 2.4 pounds.
*Note: Unless otherwise noted, all dynamic range measurements are taken at the ARRL Lab standard spacing of 20 kHz.
to band edge), programmed scan and
memory scan. You can opt to skip channels during a memory scan and adjust the
scan-resume conditions for all three scan
types. The V8000 receiver covers 136 to
174 MHz, so you can eavesdrop on more
than just amateur activity.
Weather Alert
One of the most interesting features
of the IC-V8000 is the “weather channel
operation.” When this feature is switched
on, the V8000 will quickly scan through
the NOAA Weather Radio channels every
five seconds. The V8000 scans through 10
channels:
US—162.550, 162.400, 162.475,
162.425, 162.450, 162.500, 162.525 MHz
Canada—161.650, 161.775, 163.275
MHz
If it detects a weather alert tone, the
V8000 gets your attention by sounding an
alarm and flashing a display message. This
is ideal for hams involved in SKYWARN and
other severe-weather support activities.
You can test the weather channel
alarm by switching on your V8000 each
56 July 2002 Wednesday between 10 AM and noon
local time when the NOAA Weather
Radio stations run their tests.
Power
As I stated at the beginning of this
review, the V8000 offers more power than
you are likely to need. The output is variable from 5 W to 75 W. We found the 5-W
setting to be adequate most of the time,
but when the going became rough, the
75-W punch made the difference. This is
particularly true when you are operating
at the fringe of a repeater coverage area,
or when operating simplex.
We were pleasantly surprised at how
cool the V8000 was when running high
power. Even after a couple of hours of net
operation, the case remained cool to the
touch. That’s thanks in large part to the
sizeable fan on the rear panel. Our reviewers described the fan noise as “moderate.”
Fan operation is adjustable as part of the
V8000 programming.
ICOM rates the 75 W output level as
“approximate.” The ARRL Lab measured
69 W with our V8000. In random tests
ICOM reported output between 71 and
74 W. It’s important to note that you must
use a heavy dc power cord, preferably the
one supplied by ICOM. This transceiver
draws almost 15 A in high-power transmit, so an inadequate power cord may
create resistive loss, resulting in lower voltage and lower output. However, it is highly
unlikely that you or anyone else will notice
a performance difference based on the lack
of a few watts of RF.
Manufacturer: ICOM America, 2380
116th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004; 425454-8155, fax 425-454-1509; amateur@
icomamerica.com; www.icomamerica.
com. Manufacturer’s suggested list price:
$306.65. Typical current street price: $250.
List prices of selected optional accessories:
CS-V8000 Windows 95/98/ME programming software (on CD ROM), $35; OPC-478
cable for computer to transceiver programming, $45; OPC-474 cable for transceiver to transceiver cloning, $18; OPC-440
microphone extension cable (16.4 feet),
$85; UT-108 DTMF decoder unit, $35.
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