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Old 02-01-2018, 11:10 AM
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Default IC-R8600 Initial Observations, Comments, and Gripes

I'm "offline" thanks to a torn meniscus, but every dark cloud has a silver lining, and as a result of this it's giving me time to sit down and learn my new IC-R8600. I'd rather be up and running around as usual, but I'll make lemonade where I can when lemons are introduced into life.

Initial observations:

1. As everyone else has mentioned, audio sounds outstanding. P25 audio is superb. Jury is still out on NXDN audio. I haven't tried DStar as I honestly have zero interest in listening to it, and the other two modes are nonexistent here.

2. Excellent sensitivity, pulls out some weak signals as it should. I have it connected to a Comet GP-15 at the top of my tower, fed via a Digital Loggers multicoupler right now.

3. Firmware update was easy. This one arrived with 1.20 on board, but the process is quite painless and was done in no time. There are detailed instructions in the manual.

4. The radio is easy to operate although there is a LOT to learn about it. Navigating the menus is a simple task; the system is very intuitive.

5. I love the spectrum scope and the ease of changing the span width. One thing that got me the first few times was changing from center mode to fixed width mode, and then changing bands. When it's in the latter mode the scope reads "out of range" until you press the CENT/FIX button.

6. I've conducted a lot of operations thus far without referring to the manual but #5's screw-up is a good reason to have it handy!

7. Once I flashed to firmware 1.30, setting up for using HDSDR was a breeze. The instructions are clear and specific; I had it running in about 5 minutes. I agree with Eric Cottrell that it's kinda like having a pretty expensive dongle, but it does work well if you care to take that route. I can also of course use it to send audio via Virtual Audio Cable to DSD+ and thus recover DMR mode. I wish HDSDR had dual sound outputs though; if I'm viewing a band that has mixed analog and digital signals I have to manually switch the soundcard output. I know, whaaaa whaaa, but still....pretty neat option overall.

8. My brief visit to HF involved stopping at 11175 where I almost immediately heard some USAF activity. It sounded fantastic. I'll visit that area of the spectrum more as time permits. I'm using a Wellbrook Magnetic Loop for HF due to lots of noise in my tight neighborhood.

9. I have not really even scratched the surface of this receiver's operation but I must say I like it overall thus far, except for...

Gripes:

1. Well #1 is the same one that just about everyone else has. NO DMR. Fix this, Icom. Good God what a terrible omission. For the price paid for this I should not have to rely on #7 above to recover DMR audio. I could not give a crap less about DStar, DCR (non-existent), or dPMR. Nice to have NXDN and that's appreciated, but no DMR is as glaring an omission as I've ever seen. Of course I went into this fully knowing that was the case, so I'll hold out hope that it'll be added at some point or live with #7. I also read in a Facebook post about one user that was sending the 12 KHz IF output of his receiver to SDR# with that software tuned to 12 KHz, and then sending the audio to DSD+. In that manner he could leave the software running in the background and when he found a DMR signal that would do the trick. I haven't tried it yet but plan to.

All of this said though? ADD DMR, Icom! Please.

2. I'm disappointed in the CTCSS and DCS decoding setup. If a $200 scanner can provide fast decode of these subaudible tones, why can't a $2500 receiver? Short of some patent that prohibits Icom from doing so this is to me more idiotic than not being able to decode DMR. Being able to quickly see CTCSS and DCS tones is of course a huge help to identifying unknown signals when searching, which is something I love to do expecially when Tropo DX is in.

3. I'd love to see some "auto" mode functioning added. In other words if I land on a P25 system, having the radio identify it and decode automatically would be dandy. Unless I'm missing something this option does not exist. I'm still in the very early stages and could quite easily overlook the obvious with this or any of my comments!

4. I'm sure I'll have more gripes but I understand that no radio will ever be perfect and that my interpretation of "perfect" is different than other users. We are lucky to be in an age where firmware updates can address shortcomings, and I hope Icom will consider some of the gripes put forth by said users going forward.

Miscellaneous Comments:

1. Screen protectors. I found some on Amazon that are for the IC-R7300. I believe they will work with this radio as well. Has anyone tried these or does anyone have other suggestions. Also interested in ease of applying. My big dumb hands hold a beer well but sometimes can come up short with intricate operations regardless of my current patience level! Here's the link to the ones I found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lexerd-IC-730.../dp/B01FPRX2DY

2. I have not connected this receiver to an earth ground. This has historically not been an issue for me, but when warmer weather comes I may give it a whirl. My shack is in the basement adjacent to an outside wall so it would not be a difficult matter to do so.

3. I am running straight to an Astron RM-35A power supply that takes care of just about all receivers/scanners in the shack. The fewer switching power supplies the better.

4. My receiver is on a rack mounted shelf with plenty of clearance on either side of it, and about 3 inches clearance above. After being on for about 4 hours it is "warmish" but not anything to be concerned about.

5. I am not a big fan of the HDSDR interface. My favorite software of that nature for VHF and above use is SDR#, but I highly doubt that will afford the use of this receiver. Simon Brown may work on an interface for SDR Console and that would be welcome.

6. I am considering the RS-R8600 remote control software but it appears from reading that it has some glaring omissions as well, such as no full screen mode, has no interface with the programming software (I'll opt for RT Systems when there's is ready anyway), and is almost prohibitively expensive.

Phew, that's long enough for starters. I am looking forward to learning more about this receiver and to possible improvements as time passes. I also look forward to any comments from fellow users. Thanks.
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Old 02-01-2018, 2:25 PM
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Hello,

The other omission is a detector (Discriminator) output. My Kenwood TH-D74A has audio, 12 KHz, and detector output on the USB. The 8600 will run audio out one USB port and 12 KHz IF out of the other USB port.

Hope you get back on your feet quickly.

73 Eric
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Old 02-01-2018, 2:37 PM
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Followup: I have successfully used the rear USB port set to output the 12.5 KHz IF output to SDR#, and then send the audio from there via Virtual Audio Cable for decoding with DSD+.

1. Ensure the USB drivers for the IC-R8600 are installed.
2. Configure the connector you wish to use (USB rear in my case) via the menu to use IF out. All other settings seem fine left where they are.
3. Tune the radio to a known DMR channel.
4. On your PC ensure that the default sound card is set to "USB Audio Codec" in the sound "Recording Devices".
5. Run SDR# and set its source to "IQ from Sound Card".
6. Start SDR#, you'll likely see two peaks of data centered at plus or minus 12.5 KHz from center. Click on either so SDR#'s frequency display reads 000.000.012.500.
7. Start DSD+ either by the plugin or manually. Ensure that DSD+'s input is set to Virtual Audio Cable and that the output is set to your PC speakers. When you install the Icom drivers they may take over the soundcard playback properties as the default.
8. At this point you should see data streaming and be able to recover DMR audo (or any mode that DSD+ supports).

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyegCMqU8lQ&t

Thanks to William Hepburn who made the Facebook post in the IC-R8600 group there for providing the outline to accomplish this.
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Old 02-01-2018, 2:39 PM
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Yikes, how did I overlook THAT one! It is a biggie!

Thanks Eric.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricCottrell View Post
Hello,

The other omission is a detector (Discriminator) output. My Kenwood TH-D74A has audio, 12 KHz, and detector output on the USB. The 8600 will run audio out one USB port and 12 KHz IF out of the other USB port.

Hope you get back on your feet quickly.

73 Eric
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Old 02-01-2018, 4:36 PM
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So I was just sitting here thinking (often a scary prospect in and of itself) and it dawned on me that there is a nifty little utility software out there known as KG-Tone that decodes CTCSS, DCS, and DTMF tones. I recalled that it has an option to accept a 12 KHz IQ input....

It runs perfectly fine alongside the aforementioned SDR# setup and appears to be doing a fine job of decoding both CTCSS and DCS for me thus far. There is one minor issue; the software puts out its own stream of audio that doesn't seem to be able to be 100% defeated other than turning the PC speakers down. It has volume and squelch sliders but even with the volume at rock bottom I still hear some audio. Naturally this audio is some milliseconds delayed from the actual audio coming from the IC-R8600.

So, while not perfect here is a (hopefully temporary) solution to the fact that the receiver does not provide fast decoding of these subaudible tones.

ƒVƒOƒiƒŠƒ“ƒO‰ƒ\ƒtƒg@KG-TONE

Edit: I know that link looks scary, but it's fine and translates from Japanese to English (for me anyway) when the page loads.
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Old 02-02-2018, 10:53 AM
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DMR might be a hard sell for getting Icom to include it as they are the owners of IDAS (a type of NXDN), which is a competing set of protocols.

Same for including Fusion, which is owned by competitor Yeasu.
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Old 02-02-2018, 11:47 AM
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Default 12 KHz, NOT 12.5 KHz!

In my posts, YouTube video, etc. I've been referring to 12.5 KHz when in reality it should of course be 12 KHz. I've got 12.5 KHz on my brain because it's a step size I frequently use when searching. Sorry about that. When I realized this and fixed it I noticed that the CTCSS and DCS decoder plug-ins for SDR# started working better. This may eliminate the need to use KG-Tone and deal with the audio issues although it is a neat little utility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
DMR might be a hard sell for getting Icom to include it as they are the owners of IDAS (a type of NXDN), which is a competing set of protocols.

Same for including Fusion, which is owned by competitor Yeasu.
Well Dave you may be right but, and this is just my opinion, this is a receiver. No one is transmitting on it using a competing protocol. It would seem to me that it would benefit Icom to include this protocol given that both professionals and hobbyists may have a "need" to receive it. The 12 KHz option works well but obviously becomes problematic for situations where a computer might not be handy. Hopefully they will include it at some point. I for one also have no interest in decoding Fusion (or DStar) but others may see a need to do so.
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Old 02-02-2018, 8:48 PM
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KG-Tone is the winner for subaudible tone decoding. SDR#'s plug-ins keep up on strong signals but bonk on weak ones. KG-Tone sees everything from what I can see, so I'll stick with it. Icom really needs to make easier decoding of these tones available. They display P25 and NXDN information to the screen, they surely ought to be able to do so with CTCSS and DCS.
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Old 02-03-2018, 7:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scancapecod View Post
Well Dave you may be right but, and this is just my opinion, this is a receiver. No one is transmitting on it using a competing protocol. It would seem to me that it would benefit Icom to include this protocol given that both professionals and hobbyists may have a "need" to receive it. The 12 KHz option works well but obviously becomes problematic for situations where a computer might not be handy. Hopefully they will include it at some point. I for one also have no interest in decoding Fusion (or DStar) but others may see a need to do so.
It's not all about what the customers might want. It is also about cost/benefit. Icom would have to pay licensing fees to the owners of the other protocols, which would be recovered in the price of the receiver. (This assumes that the competing manufacturers would even be willing to sell licenses to Icom.)

At some point, the product becomes too expensive for the target market. This is not a transceiver, so the target market is not primarily hams. There may be little (perceived) market demand for additional expensive ham protocols in a radio intended for the upscale SWL.
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Old 02-03-2018, 7:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scancapecod View Post
KG-Tone is the winner for subaudible tone decoding. SDR#'s plug-ins keep up on strong signals but bonk on weak ones. KG-Tone sees everything from what I can see, so I'll stick with it. Icom really needs to make easier decoding of these tones available. They display P25 and NXDN information to the screen, they surely ought to be able to do so with CTCSS and DCS.
That could be a patent issue. GRE products did an instant decode-and-display. Other manufacturers had to find other ways to find subaudible tones, such as the lengthy repetitive tuning of each possible tone during a transmission to see which one matched. Some (Uniden?) did this automatically. With others (Regency, Yeasu, etc.), the user had to do it manually.
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Old 02-06-2018, 1:10 PM
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For what it's worth and at the suggestion of Barry at HRO in Salem NH after a discussion with him, I emailed Icom with a list of my gripes both with the receiver and the RS software. I found a web based form instead of an actual email address at the American website. There is a Captcha at the bottom and despite successful entry of the words in the pictures there it never gives the indication that the form was submitted.

Apparently it was though as I received what appears to be a somewhat canned response from a Rick at Icom a short time later:

Quote:
Subject
R8600 Hardware and Software Observations

Response By Email (Rick) (02/06/2018 07:31 AM)
Greetings Scott,

Thank you for contacting Icom America.

ICOM America appreciates all customer suggestions and yours are on file for consideration in future updates and products.

Click here for information regarding Warranty Registration, Service/Repair Authorization form, Knowledge Base & Technical Support: Support - Icom America

Note: Mention of third party products or services is provided for customer convenience and does not imply an endorsement or quality assurance by ICOM America.

Sincerely,
Rick
Technical Support Representative
Icom America, Inc.
12421 Willows Road NE
Kirkland, WA 98034
I think this is the point of this post where I am supposed to indicate something akin to "I'm not holding my breath...."
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Old 02-25-2018, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scancapecod View Post
Followup: I have successfully used the rear USB port set to output the 12.5 KHz IF output to SDR#, and then send the audio from there via Virtual Audio Cable for decoding with DSD+.

1. Ensure the USB drivers for the IC-R8600 are installed.
2. Configure the connector you wish to use (USB rear in my case) via the menu to use IF out. All other settings seem fine left where they are.
3. Tune the radio to a known DMR channel.
4. On your PC ensure that the default sound card is set to "USB Audio Codec" in the sound "Recording Devices".
5. Run SDR# and set its source to "IQ from Sound Card".
6. Start SDR#, you'll likely see two peaks of data centered at plus or minus 12.5 KHz from center. Click on either so SDR#'s frequency display reads 000.000.012.500.
7. Start DSD+ either by the plugin or manually. Ensure that DSD+'s input is set to Virtual Audio Cable and that the output is set to your PC speakers. When you install the Icom drivers they may take over the soundcard playback properties as the default.
8. At this point you should see data streaming and be able to recover DMR audo (or any mode that DSD+ supports).

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyegCMqU8lQ&t

Thanks to William Hepburn who made the Facebook post in the IC-R8600 group there for providing the outline to accomplish this.
Though late in adding this reponse...
I do this differently.
1. Install dll in HDSDR for R8600
2. Send MPX output from HDSDR to DSD+ via VBCable (or VAC). (And of course that DLL will tune the radio!)
No messing with 12 kHz.
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Old 03-07-2018, 6:33 PM
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Programming Software options for R8600?

Anyone have recommendations for programming software for the R8600?

I see the ICOM CS-R8600 has good reviews but is expensive.

Also available is a program from RT systems
https://www.rtsystemsinc.com/IC-R860...ble-s/2739.htm

Has anyone used both and can offer input?

Matt
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Old 03-08-2018, 3:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
DMR might be a hard sell for getting Icom to include it as they are the owners of IDAS (a type of NXDN), which is a competing set of protocols.

Same for including Fusion, which is owned by competitor Yeasu.
Why I would never spend 2600 dollars on a radio that cannot demodulate 80% of the traffic in my area that a 20 dollar dongle can do. and to boot you get a much bigger screen and future feature updates.

They should just pay the licensing fee, the extra 10-20 dollars per radio will pay dividends when they expand their customer base. And for HF I already have an FDM-S2 and it works great and looks great on a 27 inch monitor.

Seems to overload on Airband, lots of clutter on the screen on transmit receive. About as good as a 20 dollar stick.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePVnTUU0M1c

Last edited by prc117f; 03-08-2018 at 3:36 PM..
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Old 03-09-2018, 5:46 PM
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pcr117f.....you should change your handle to " Doctor Negative " I don't think I've ever read a positive comment or post from you. Geez....lighten up a bit. Half my family has died this year, puts things in perspective. Take a " chill pill " hth999
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Old 03-09-2018, 8:21 PM
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Why would you spend $500 on an FDM-S2 that doesn't have any knobs??? The Icom R8600 does not overload on any band that I have found and it works better than any radio you own or will probably ever own unless you buy one.

If putting down a really great receiver makes your little receivers seem better to you in comparison, I can accept that. Otherwise your not making any sense with your comments.
prcguy

Quote:
Originally Posted by prc117f View Post
Why I would never spend 2600 dollars on a radio that cannot demodulate 80% of the traffic in my area that a 20 dollar dongle can do. and to boot you get a much bigger screen and future feature updates.

They should just pay the licensing fee, the extra 10-20 dollars per radio will pay dividends when they expand their customer base. And for HF I already have an FDM-S2 and it works great and looks great on a 27 inch monitor.

Seems to overload on Airband, lots of clutter on the screen on transmit receive. About as good as a 20 dollar stick.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePVnTUU0M1c
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Old 08-04-2018, 3:00 PM
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Default R 8600 "AUTO" mode

I saw in the OP's post that the R8600 does not have the ability to automatically detect and decode the proper digital radio traffic. (See his Gripe #3). Is this true? I have the AOR DV1 which has auto detect and decode capability--- it would be something that I would miss if the 8600 did not do that as well. Can someone please clarify this? Thank you in advance.
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