Icom R8500

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zguy1243

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I am planning on purchasing a high end receiver to add to may collection of scanners for milair monitoring. The radio that I have my eye on is the ICOM 8500 and the aor 5000 and maybe a aor 3000. The icom R8500 is looking like the radio that I want, Does anyone have any expeirance listening to milair with any of these radios? If so how do they stack up against other radios? Looking for better performance for single frequency monitoring. I let my scanner s find the active freqs then I plan on using the high end receiver to listen to single freqs, as I know these are not scanners, scan speed is very slow.

Thanks
Jody
 

eorange

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I have an Icom R7000 that I use for the same purpose.

The BC780 is my workhorse when scanning for mil air, and I park the R7000 on a single key freq.

When I started using the R7000, I would tune it to the same freq that was active on the BC780. I would pick up the same transmission on the R7000 every time. This is all in the 225-400 MHz AM range. I can only assume that the R8500 has similar receive performance.

Hope this helps.
 

FrankJ

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Erik,

Do you ever receive a transmission on the R7000 that you DON'T hear on the 780XLT? How does the receive performance compare on both with the same antenna?

Frank
 
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eorange

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The R7000 always hits when the 780 does. I'd say the 780 pulls the comm in slightly better (less noise), but overall they're the same. They are connected to the same discone through a splitter.
 

FrankJ

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Erik,

Thanks for the reply. I knew the BC780XLT was a great milair monitoring receiver. It's nice to know it performs like a commercial grade unit.

Frank
 

TinEar

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Just my two cents on the Icom R8500 versus other radios...

The R8500 is the most sensitive and selective radio I've ever used for MilAir listening. I compare everything these days to the Uniden 785D which I've always thought was the best MilAir scanner ever made. I originally traded up from the 780 to the 785 for the extra channels and the digital capabilities, found the 785 to be a better receiver so dumped my 780s and now own five of the 785D Unidens. I also recently bought one of the new Uniden 996T scanners, owned it a couple of weeks, became disapointed and sold it. The R8500 can dig out weak voice channels that I can't hear with my scanners - primarily due to the APF (Audio Peak Filter) which can tune out the noise and static on a freq. I use my R8500 for just the purpose you describe because it's not made to be a scanner even though it has scanning capabilities. At three times the cost of the highest priced scanner (the Uniden 996T), it better deliver -- and it does. Another favorite feature of mine on the R8500 is the ability to quickly get to a new frequency. On a scanner, you have to go find an empty channel or spot and then go through the programming routine to get something new. On the R8500, you simply punch the freq you want into the keypad and you're there. In the MilAir world, you always hear references to new freqs that you want to get to quickly to hear who the aircraft calls. Now you can do it. And you can see the freq on 3/4 inch high numbers on the readout. So Jody, I don't think you can go wrong by buying the Icom R8500 as long as you can justify the cost. Let's not forget the HF capability of that radio either. If you're into MilAir, you can also tune the SSB frequencies on HF as the aircraft move around the world. There are two antenna inputs on the back of the radio and it automatically changes to the HF antenna source when you punch in an HF freq. Can you tell I love that radio?

By the way, the Uniden 996T is a great radio with a whole feature set not found on other radios but it's absolutely worthless for MilAir listening. You can't quickly select a specific frequency in the radio and move to it quickly which you must do if you actually "work" your scanner following an aircraft as it changes from freq to freq. After building in all those fantastic features, they forgot one of the most basic functions of all - the ability to pull up a single frequency and do it quickly. The dynamic memory was a wonderful idea to get away from banks and channels but they did not build in a reference point for individual frequencies. So, you can pull up groups of frequencies and manually tune through them until you come to the one you want but the aircraft is three freqs ahead of you by the time you do it. All the new Unidens that utilize dynamic memory programming have that same problem. What a shame. Seems to me like it would have been easy to be able to assign an arbitrary three or four digit number to each freq that could serve as a reference to be pulled up on the keypad when you want that specific frequency.

Anyway, that's my take on the Icom R8500 versus scanners. I think you'll be very pleased with your purchase.

Alan
 
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If you already have scanners like the high end Unidens and want to get a multi kilobuck receiver then you can't go wrong with either the Icom R-8500 or AOR AR-5000 series.

I have the 8500 and an AR 5000+3/SDU5500. I use them probably 80% or more for military air work. They are both pretty close as far as sensitivity as far as I can tell. Mine are fed from the same antenna via multicoupler. On very weak signals the AOR seems to be able to pull the signals out of noise a bit better than the Icom. It isn't dramatic but it is noticeable occasionally. The AOR is much, much more complicated to operate as it has more filters and settings. It is a very complicated radio to find your way around. The Icom is utterly simple by comparison. The Icom just does everything well. Sensitive, more or less intermod proof as far as I can determine, nice ergonomics with nice keys and that wonderful tuning knob. The memory system is a bit of pain. The AOR spanks it on that count.

They both have their good points and bad points. The AOR is more powerful and flexible but hideously complicated. I think of it as more specialized - the racecar. The Icom is much simpler and has wonderful RF properties and is really nice to work with. Makes it really tough to choose between the two. I guess that's why I ended up keeping both of them.
 

b52hbuff

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TinEar said:
By the way, the Uniden 996T is a great radio with a whole feature set not found on other radios but it's absolutely worthless for MilAir listening. You can't quickly select a specific frequency in the radio and move to it quickly which you must do if you actually "work" your scanner following an aircraft as it changes from freq to freq. After building in all those fantastic features, they forgot one of the most basic functions of all - the ability to pull up a single frequency and do it quickly. The dynamic memory was a wonderful idea to get away from banks and channels but they did not build in a reference point for individual frequencies. So, you can pull up groups of frequencies and manually tune through them until you come to the one you want but the aircraft is three freqs ahead of you by the time you do it. All the new Unidens that utilize dynamic memory programming have that same problem. What a shame. Seems to me like it would have been easy to be able to assign an arbitrary three or four digit number to each freq that could serve as a reference to be pulled up on the keypad when you want that specific frequency.
Are you aware of HOLD <frequency> HOLD combination to monitor a single frequency quickly? Available on every dynamic memory scanner.
 
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