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Old 03-11-2011, 9:35 AM
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Thumbs up First Impressions: Icom R6 Receiver

Just picked up one of these little suckers and I am impressed! Having previously owned an R2 and R5, as well as a Yaesu VR-500, the R6 seems to fix most, if not all, of their shortcomings. While doing this Icom even managed to increase battery life (running Sanyo Eneloop NiMH cells in mine).

Sitting side-by-side with a Uniden BC346XT and scanning the local aviation frequencies, the R6 is easily pulling the signals out of the sky, followed by the 346XT. Local broadcast AM / FM reception is no problem, although that's a given being in a metro area. The unit does suffer a little from selectivity issues on the FM broadcast band, but that's pretty much expected.

A quick scan of the pre-programmed SW frequencies turned up quite a few weak hits, which is great for a tiny radio running a Diamond SRH815 "rat tail" antenna, sitting inside next to a powered-on computer. Even snagged WWV on 10 MHz. A quick scan of the civilian VHF aviation band (full 108-136 MHz) didn't turn up a single birdie -- impressive!

The display is nice and clear, with a yellowish backlight as compared to the green on the R2 and R5 series. Audio on the R6 is crisp and loud; amazing for such a small speaker. I have not tried to interface the R6 with the computer for programming, but it's nice to know that ARC has some software available. (Supposedly you can also control the R6 from a computer with add-on accessories from Icom.) The linked bank scan is great; finally Icom has fixed this! No more "scan all or nothing" approach.

Overall, I would rate the IC-R6 as a 9 / 10. Definitely a great purchase on its own, while also fixing the quirks of previous models. This is an excellent radio to throw in your bag while traveling or in your pocket around town.
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Old 03-11-2011, 9:05 PM
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Yep, love mine too. Use it for airband.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:42 PM
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Default Thanks for your impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregontreehugger View Post
Just picked up one of these little suckers and I am impressed! Having previously owned an R2 and R5, as well as a Yaesu VR-500, the R6 seems to fix most, if not all, of their shortcomings. While doing this Icom even managed to increase battery life (running Sanyo Eneloop NiMH cells in mine).

Sitting side-by-side with a Uniden BC346XT and scanning the local aviation frequencies, the R6 is easily pulling the signals out of the sky, followed by the 346XT. Local broadcast AM / FM reception is no problem, although that's a given being in a metro area. The unit does suffer a little from selectivity issues on the FM broadcast band, but that's pretty much expected.

A quick scan of the pre-programmed SW frequencies turned up quite a few weak hits, which is great for a tiny radio running a Diamond SRH815 "rat tail" antenna, sitting inside next to a powered-on computer. Even snagged WWV on 10 MHz. A quick scan of the civilian VHF aviation band (full 108-136 MHz) didn't turn up a single birdie -- impressive!

The display is nice and clear, with a yellowish backlight as compared to the green on the R2 and R5 series. Audio on the R6 is crisp and loud; amazing for such a small speaker. I have not tried to interface the R6 with the computer for programming, but it's nice to know that ARC has some software available. (Supposedly you can also control the R6 from a computer with add-on accessories from Icom.) The linked bank scan is great; finally Icom has fixed this! No more "scan all or nothing" approach.

Overall, I would rate the IC-R6 as a 9 / 10. Definitely a great purchase on its own, while also fixing the quirks of previous models. This is an excellent radio to throw in your bag while traveling or in your pocket around town.
Hey that sounds cool. Can you tell me if this model has now been fitted with a stereo jack plug input? Is the jack plug socket now on top or have Icom still insisted on putting it on the side?

Thanks
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Old 05-21-2011, 2:54 AM
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The speaker jack is on the top, and is mono. You might have been thinking of the slimline RX-7 which has a jack on the side. I too wish it was stereo so I could use quality headphones without some mono-stereo adapter kluge.

Still, I think the R6 is a nice upgrade, although it might be just my R6 sample, it seems as though the agc on the R6 is a bit slower than that on the R5. On strong am airband sigs, sometimes the agc won't kick in for about 1/4 second. Maybe the agc speed has been slowed down for HF listening slow fades. Not a show-stopper, but for airband use with strong sigs, the R5 seemed a tad faster with agc.

I'm pretty sure that most of us charge batteries outside the unit. However, if you do charge in the unit for whatever reason, note that the 15-hour timer function is NOT active. The default now is to have no timer. Other than using it without a timer to initially charge larger nimh's, I think it best to change the default (CHG2 - no timer) back to CHG1, which has the 15 hour charge limit. (page 55)

Obviously one can use their own external timer, or better yet an external charger, but good to know just in case.

My Maha charger was tied up with something else, so I baby-sat charging some eneloops in it from a full discharge:

2000 * .20 (individual eneloop capacity times .2 to account for charge inefficiency) = 400
2000 + 400 = 2400ma (total current needed for full charge)
2400 / 140 (140 ma is the rate for R6 charging) = 17.14 hours

So in the case of a totally discharged eneloop, I'd let it charge for 17 hours without the timer in use. CHG2. If not totally discharged, use CHG1 with the timer. Place the unit face-down and take off the battery cover to let heat escape. And there is no way I would leave the charging unmonitored!

Yikes, straying into a charger topic...

Last edited by hertzian; 05-21-2011 at 2:58 AM..
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:42 PM
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Thanks for the info on the R6. I am still not sure about getting it. Why oh why does Icom still stick to a mono socket!!!
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Old 05-22-2011, 4:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NineSierraGolf View Post
Thanks for the info on the R6. I am still not sure about getting it. Why oh why does Icom still stick to a mono socket!!!
It may be Mono audio, but it is not a Mono socket.
The socket is Stereo, with the audio on the Tip and Sleeve, and the CIV programming interface on the Ring and Sleeve.

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Old 06-18-2011, 3:41 AM
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Default Listening Range

New to amateur radio and know nothing about it yet. Thinking of getting an Icom IC-R6 for listening. What sort of listen range do they have; i.e. how close does the source transmission need to be in order for the R6 to pick it up under "normal" conditions?
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Old 06-23-2011, 7:13 PM
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I'm going to take a guess and say that it depends on the strength of the Tx signal...and your antenna.
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Old 06-24-2011, 4:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khumbula View Post
New to amateur radio and know nothing about it yet. Thinking of getting an Icom IC-R6 for listening. What sort of listen range do they have; i.e. how close does the source transmission need to be in order for the R6 to pick it up under "normal" conditions?
As a budding amateur, you'll find that getting any sort of "mileage" figures as shown on some walkie-talkie packaging is just not true.

But very generically, for VHF/UHF, normal means line-of-sight. To extend the range further, amateurs will install a "repeater" on a very high location to repeat signals to each other, so your mileage may vary a lot! Worldwide communications are done routinely on the HF bands, but since the R6 is a very small portable, and does not use CW or SSB (which most amateurs use on HF) it may not be suitable for serious use for amateur worldwide communications. However, for VHF/UHF usage, it works very well.

I suggest getting in contact with the South African Radio League (sarl.org.za) for more information. Check out the faqs and contacts on their site to help you get a leg up. Also visit the Amateur Radio subforum right here on RadioReference and introduce yourself.

You may also want to ring / visit HRO SA (hamradio.co.za) where you can also make good contacts and get info/gear.

The R6 has a LOT of functionality in the keys - each one can do up to three things - so it may not be ideally suited as your first radio. I'm not saying it is impossible, just know your limitations.

Last edited by hertzian; 06-24-2011 at 4:45 AM.. Reason: HRO SA
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:20 AM
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Totally agree with oregontreehugger. Used an R-2 for yrs and this is a nice (and familiar) upgrade.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:25 PM
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Default R6 Rocks!

I think you have given a great assesment of a great little radio.

Here in NYC, I like to listen to what's going on around me, and I have both the R2 and R5, but one thing that confounded me was that it is hard to be "stealthy" with a rubber duck antenna sticking out of your pocket, or from under your shirt. Keeping the radio in a bag with the earphone is cumbersome and if you have to take the radio out to adjust something, there is the tell-tale rubber duck again.

I've tried several versions of "stubby" antennas, but I might as well have used a paperclip, they are so antennuated.

Now, with the R6, I can use the earphone as an antenna and it works like a charm! I have removed the stock antenna and keep it in my bag while travelling, but with the new configuration, I look like any other person with some sort of a MP3 player for all "they" know!

I believe in being as discreet as possible when monitoring outside the home and Icom just made that easier. Great especially while travelling on a train, be it a subway or Amtrak.

I also have ARC6 software and am currently programming the heck out of the radio.

I have also always appeciated the fact that Icom sticks to using AA batt's instead of proprietary rechargables. I keep both extra rechargeables on me as well as alkalines.

Does the IC-R6 follow trunking? Nope. P25? Sorry. That really doesn't matter much in New York City, as most of the city services still use conventional systems and will for a good long time. The trunking sytstems are used for administrative purposes mostly.

If someone comes out with a small, trunking capable scanner with the feature set and capabilities of this little radio, I will consider a switch over.

Until then, I love my Icoms!
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Old 07-26-2011, 2:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimru View Post
I think you have given a great assesment of a great little radio.

Here in NYC, I like to listen to what's going on around me, and I have both the R2 and R5, but one thing that confounded me was that it is hard to be "stealthy" with a rubber duck antenna sticking out of your pocket, or from under your shirt. Keeping the radio in a bag with the earphone is cumbersome and if you have to take the radio out to adjust something, there is the tell-tale rubber duck again.

I've tried several versions of "stubby" antennas, but I might as well have used a paperclip, they are so antennuated.

Now, with the R6, I can use the earphone as an antenna and it works like a charm! I have removed the stock antenna and keep it in my bag while travelling, but with the new configuration, I look like any other person with some sort of a MP3 player for all "they" know!

I believe in being as discreet as possible when monitoring outside the home and Icom just made that easier. Great especially while travelling on a train, be it a subway or Amtrak.

I also have ARC6 software and am currently programming the heck out of the radio.

I have also always appeciated the fact that Icom sticks to using AA batt's instead of proprietary rechargables. I keep both extra rechargeables on me as well as alkalines.

Does the IC-R6 follow trunking? Nope. P25? Sorry. That really doesn't matter much in New York City, as most of the city services still use conventional systems and will for a good long time. The trunking sytstems are used for administrative purposes mostly.

If someone comes out with a small, trunking capable scanner with the feature set and capabilities of this little radio, I will consider a switch over.

Until then, I love my Icoms!
Hey that's a great idea using the earphone wire as an antenna. I thought it only worked on AM broadcast. You say it works on all bands? The switchover is inside the EXPAND data? Is all you have to do?

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 07-26-2011, 2:47 AM
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Here's my R6 on a cellphone clamp to prevent it toppling over with the 40cm whip.

Performance is about 20% better with the whip, especially on vhf Air.

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Old 08-06-2011, 6:34 PM
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Default Earphone Antenna

You don't even need to use the EXPAND setting.

Just press "TS" for two beats and then scroll accross until you get to the "ANT" setting and then press the "FUNC" button on the left side of the unit and you will see the settings, for FM or WFM as either "EXT" (External) or "EAR" (Earphone).

What you were were thinking of is the R5 that only allowed the earphone setting for TV and WFM (broadcast FM) as well as a ANT setting on AM broadcast to switch between "BAR" and "EXT" settings for the antenna.

Big Improvement!



Quote:
Originally Posted by NineSierraGolf View Post
Hey that's a great idea using the earphone wire as an antenna. I thought it only worked on AM broadcast. You say it works on all bands? The switchover is inside the EXPAND data? Is all you have to do?


Thanks,
Steve
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:01 AM
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I have a few questions on software & programming:

  1. What other software is available other than BuTel/ARC6 for R6?
  2. Can you import existing files (xls, csv, etc) into the software?
  3. Are there any existing databases designed for R6 that can be directly uploaded?
Thx
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hertzian View Post
I'm pretty sure that most of us charge batteries outside the unit.

And there is no way I would leave the charging unmonitored!

Yikes, straying into a charger topic...
I would totally recommend charging OUTSIDE of the unit as you have suggested. You just have to look around RR .. to see pictures of wrecked scanners from charging inside the unit.
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Old 12-07-2011, 3:29 PM
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That's news to me about charging batteries in the unit. I have an IC-R5 that I've owned since 2004 and have always charged inside the radio (Energizers, Eneloops). No "incidents," and it's still going strong to this day, but I think now I will just consider myself very lucky and put an end to that practice going forward.

On to the new R6 (which I just got on sale for $200):

I love it. It is everything the R5 should have (and really, COULD have been if you ask me.) The scan speed is wicked fast, and that "Voice Squelch" (VSC) feature is incredible! Where I live there seems to be a lot of interference in the 405-415MHz range, so when scanning the radio will often stop on a frequency with just some static/noise, and during unattended "auto-write" scans this fills up the memory with a lot of useless "hits".) Even frequencies that are in use will do this in between calls, which is very annoying if they don't have a CTCSS/DCS tone. Not so with voice squelch! I've actually found several new (to me) frequencies in that range that I missed in the week that I've had mine.

I also monitor some small LTR systems by simply putting the freqs in a bank and scanning them. Without VSC there is a lot of spurious mic keying going on as per usual when listening to LTR conventionally, but with VSC on, scan pause set to "HOLD" and resume @ 1SEC it is very smooth and pleasant to monitor these systems.

I think it's more sensitive than my R5. There is a local mall a couple of miles up the road and the security (UHF 451.7875) comes through with a lot of background hiss on the R5 + Maldol AS-30. I put that same antenna on the R6 and set it down in the same spot in my apartment and they came booming through! Even with a 1.75" Diamond SMA501 I can get many of my usual UHF frequencies with no discernible compromise in signal strength or audio quality.

Back to the scan speed though... It's just incredible. I made a bank with the list of VHF/UHF "Low Power" frequencies + GMRS + MURS + some other miscellaneous low power freqs I've discovered while scanning. I can take it anywher, scanning just that bank and be almost guaranteed to find traffic. More importantly I don't miss replies, etc.while it loops through over the 80+ in that bank.

I wish the backlight was green like my R5 though, and I do slightly prefer the looks of the R5.
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Old 12-08-2011, 5:10 PM
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MR44, a dumb question, but i just want to confirm something. On the R6, can you change the mode (AM/FM/WFM) freely?

The specs kind of imply that it has an automatic mode setting but the manual implies that the mode can be changed regardless of the frequency.
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:22 AM
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Yes, you can change the mode freely.
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregontreehugger View Post
Yes, you can change the mode freely.
I was fairly certain you could but just wanted to double-check. Thanks! I still want to pick one of these up.
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