Author Topic: ICOM-R70  (Read 984 times)

myteaquinn

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ICOM-R70
« on: September 24, 2017, 1834 UTC »
Picked up a brand "new" ICOM-R70 today. It doesn't look like it had been plugged in but who knows. No marks or wear on it, yet.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 1839 UTC by myteaquinn »
Northeast Ohio
myteaquinn@yahoo.com

ChrisSmolinski

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 1841 UTC »
Very nice, I have its big brother the R71, which I bought circa 1989. Still works, except for the infamous Icom trimmer cap fiasco, and I replaced the memory board ages ago with a 3rd party board that does not have the battery issues.

Enjoy!
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! Send to: csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
JRC-NRD 545 / RF Space netSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft beverage / 43mb sloping folded dipole / Crossed Parallel Loop

ThaDood

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Re: ICOM-R70? Yea!!!
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 0322 UTC »
       Very nice indeed! You are going to love the ears that rig has, if it´s anything like the IC-R71, or the transceiver side of it, the IC-745. Yeah, SSB audio won´t be anything exciting, however, that rig should pull out some weak pirate and utility DX that many of today´s deaf rigs can´t. And I´m not at all impressed with the DSP technology that today´s rigs employ to make up for that deafness. One question. Even if found N.I.B., wouldn´t the Li battery be well drained by now, leaving the CPU VROM brain dead? Even I had to do the PIEXX board for my IC-745 to keep that from being an Icom paperweight. 

Josh

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 1955 UTC »
The 70 was impressive enough that the nsa went to Icom and said if you built one of these with such and such features we will buy them by the pallet. So Icom did and sold them by the pallet load to 3 letter USG agencies as well as US mil. They also sold to foreign govs, not long ago on epay there was a Chinese seller offering pallets of 71a that had been in Chinese sigint service and showed it. The 71a were commonly paired with the 7000 for full spectrum coverage. When they had been replaced with other rigs, the gov sold em by the pallet, complete with all sorts of options and some even retained their fed mods that were a per mission mod, such as wideband IF or crazy agc mod for digital mode reception, as well as other mods the fedz did to these things. The follow on rx pair, the 72 and 7100 weren't near the radio the previous versions are, and sales showed it.

The 70 comes with the legendary FL44A 455KHz IF 2.4KHz wide and FL80 2.3KHz wide 9MHz IF premium ssb xtal filter pairs and iirc the MuRata CFW455IT 455KHz am mode ceramic filter. The performance on weak ssb sigs is impressive. Add an FL32A 500Hz cw filter and off you go. Also, run the thing off dc if you can, the ac psu adds a bit of heat to the rig.

The 71 did away with the FL44A/FL80 ssb xfal filter pair and went straight ceramic filters for the 455KHz IF strip. They employed the FL30 2.3KHz wide ssb 9MHz IF xtal filter in the 71 as a cost cutting means, and these FL30s (poor skirt response compared to FL80) are inside just about every ssb radio Icom made from that era, the filter performance isn't as spectacular as the Fl44A/FL80 pair in every 70. That being said, I'm not a fan of narrow ssb filters, much prefering to remove the FL44A and FL80 2.4KHz setup and replacing them with the FL96 (9MHz IF) and FL70 (455KHz) 2.8KHz wide pair, a direct solder in replacement. Also, sometime in the production run of the 71, Icom was sued by Collins over the PBT system so Icom wired that out and used a single knob rather than the concentric knobs on the 70 and un-neutered early 71 models. The 71's wide filter position enables the FL70 2.8KHz wide 9MHz IF xtal filter in ssb and cw/rtty modes, and its specs are outspreading.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 1812 UTC by Josh »

Josh

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 2012 UTC »
PS the 70 doesn't have the volatile ram issue in the 71 and similar Icoms, it just loses the freqs stored in vfo a and b if power is cut. Of course the 70 only has two memories/vfos compared to the 32 of the 71, but it's still a very worthy rig. A read of the manual is in order, mainly due to the unusual tuning scheme, I suspect some of the things nsa said to Icom was make the 71 have x number of memories as well as fix the crazy tuning scheme so it can roll from one MHz to the next.

ChrisSmolinski

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 2033 UTC »
I still use my R71A, it is in the basement workshop. It was a great rig for the day and still does a good job, but I do not think it is significantly more sensitive (or even as sensitive) vs the current top of the line receivers. One of these days I need to do some side by side comparisons vs the netSDR and NRD-545 with the same antenna, and see how it really performs.
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! Send to: csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
JRC-NRD 545 / RF Space netSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft beverage / 43mb sloping folded dipole / Crossed Parallel Loop

Josh

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2017, 1542 UTC »
My first pll tuned hf rig was the illustrious R70, after using a Halli 110 that drifted every time the ac or furnace came on. What a revelation. Also, what a novelty to just dial in whatever freq you wanted to listen to instead of guestimating it on a dial of dubious accuracy -  and not have it drift several hundred Hz.
I got it in mint shape from a Omaha radio broadcaster, can't recall his name but he was a big sw dxer back around 89. Living only a few miles from Offut, it stayed tuned to "triple one seven six upper" (11175 now) much of the day, with swbc mixed in, and 5696 nights. Good times.

https://www.facebook.com/hallirestorer/photos/a.1753894727973292.1073741887.850847304944710/1753895054639926/?type=3&theater

WA4FHY

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 0110 UTC »
Ah, yes, what a great rcvr! I still have mine (the one that was "deported" back to the USA) and keep it ready to use whenever I need / want to. I also bought an R-7000 at the same
time and it is also ready to use. I wonder how many other HFUndergrounders still have and use an R-70. While I was overseas, the R-70 and an AEA PK-232 made for a fine poor
man's NSA style listening post. ;)

When reading my story, remember that it was originally written in the mid-1980s and updated in 2000...
Publishing disclaimer: The original version of this story was published in the "AM / Press Exchange" in the mid-1980s

                            The Episode of the R-70

A few months ago I became tired of the lack of availability of good
communications receivers in the middle eastern country where I am
currently working. I decided that the best solution was to bring my
own receiver back with me after a short trip to the U.S. I had been
told several years ago that receivers such as this were not permitted
there , however I had previously bought a Panasonic RF-3100 at a
downtown electronic souq and since it has almost
the same frequency coverage and modes as my ICOM R-70 I
assumed that the restriction against such receivers had been relaxed.

As I prepared to leave the U.S. I carefully packed the R-70 in my
suitcase with plenty of clothes , etc , around it ; not to hide it but
to cushion it.

All was well until I started through customs upon entering the kingdom.
At this point I encountered a very thorough customs official who carefully
examined the receiver and then told me that I was not permitted to bring
this into the country. The reason given that it appeared to be capable
of tuning certain channels that are used by the police and government'. I
assured him that I had very limited understanding of the language.
He smiled and replied that I 'might have friends who are very good with'
the language and with that he motioned me into the airport customs
office and gave me a receipt for the receiver and told me to inquire at the
Ministry of Communications after 10 days.

The next day I took the receipt our translator in my office and asked
him to read it. He said that it stated that I must claim the 'contraband'
within 10 days. Thereafter followed two weeks of trips into town to look for
the Ministry of Communications - which I never found - and many checks with
other offices. I finally went to the main customs office with our
translator and there we eventually found the R-70 ; none the worse for
the travels it had made. We were allowed to see and touch it while it
was carried to various officials who examined it , asked questions about
it and each wrote something on my receipt. Ah,ha,I thought, they are
going to let me keep it! Unfortunately that was not the case.
After several more visits I was told that I could not keep it in
the country but that I would be permitted to send it back to
the U.S. I made the necessary arrangements and it was
returned - all the time under the watchful eye of a customs official to
make sure it really went out of the country - to the U.S. where it now
awaits my eventual return.

I was always very well treated and no one ever mentioned sending
me to jail! In fact I was usually offered tea while we visited the various
officials involved. The standard answer was given with a polite smile
and ' I'm sorry sir, but you cannot use this device in our country'.

I was pleased with the outcome; at least I didn't lose the receiver
and/or go to jail. I later bought another RF-3100 here and am presently
using it. I doubt that I could take it out of the country and then bring it back
even though I have paperwork to prove that it was purchased here. I don't
understand that but the customs people had a LARGE collection of much
less sophisticated radios that had been confiscated.

I think the main lesson to be learned from this is that it could happen
in the U.S. if the 'Spectrum Giveaway Act' er, I mean the 'Electronic
Communications Privacy Act' is passed. Think about it and then be sure
to write to your Representatives and Congresspersons giving them GOOD,
LOGICAL reasons why this bill should NOT be passed.                             
             
Paul Spurlock WA4FHY

Epilogue, June 2000:
The above was written in 1985 or 86 before passage of the E.C.P.A. was
*purchased* by the C.T.I.A. and others.

What did I learn from that experience? I learned to be more careful! On
a later visit to the U.S., I bought a used R-70, partially disassembled it
(love that modular construction!), carefully wrapped the circuit boards,
removed the main board from a C-64 (remember those?) and packed the
front panel in its place, used a Macintosh to make a fake shipping document,
and brought it into the kingdom as "spare computer system parts". Back
at my living quarters, I had it put back together and running in about 2 hours
and got many hours of listening enjoyment from it! I sold it to another
expat when I left and I sometimes wonder where it is today. I guess that the
PC controlled receivers of today would be easier to bring in.
SDR-IQ / IC-R70 / IC-735 / FT-817ND, 5 band vertical & 4 position antenna switch
Near Music City, TN

Josh

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 1817 UTC »
That's a pretty cool story, I can just imagine what a ksa prison is like. Your poor man's nsa comment reminded me of my own setup at the time, a 70 and an infotec m600 complete with metal encased crt.

That setup provided me with catches such as decodes of USAF vft comms (vft is Voice Frequency Telegraphy, interleaved baudot fsk, with narrow shift, all packed in a 3KHz bandwidth) commonly called Barry mode after the company that devised the modem. If you were on hf at the time, you heard barry/vft every day. It was about as common as S4285 is today.
https://www.sigidwiki.com/wiki/BR-6028

 I was over at a friends place as he showed off his new jrc535 and we rolled past a vft sig, I said hey go back to that, we can use your m8000 (the m600s much bigger brother) to decode it. He said there's no way, it's encrypted and you can't decode it with any infotech or other sold to the public decoder, I said hold my beer and watch this!

We went back to the vft sig and fired up the 8k, I looked at the vft sig and figured out the shift and speed and picked out a fsk pair and instantly target weather reports for USAF global nuclear targets umm I mean USAF bases transmitted by KAWN (Elkhorn Communications Detachment weather broadcast, Elkhorn Nebraska) proceeded across the screen in perfect copy.

The setup was also useful to do reception studies of fade in/out of a rtty sig from Rabat Morocco that sent news in English for hours per day somewhere around 18MHz as I recall, often I could copy with no difficulty on vertical but not hear anything at all on the horizontal antenna.

The 70 and that infotec made for hours of nerdfun.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 1835 UTC by Josh »

WA4FHY

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2017, 0158 UTC »
Josh,
Nerdfun, you say??? I resemble dat remark! Really, those were good days with lots of clear text RTTY stations, HF-FAX, and SWBC stations galore. We could always find the real news from the BBC.

The VFT sounds interesting but I don’t recall being aware of it.

I can assure you, from direct observation - not incarceration, that KSA prisons were (and I assume still are) places to be avoided. We had a programmer get busted when he returned from R&R. Due to a misunderstanding / language difference, he returned with a very small amount of weed in his suitcase. It was sniffed out by the dogs in incoming baggage handling and he went straight to prison – he did not pass go and did not collect $200! We would visit him on Fridays and bring him some programming work to do to keep his mind busy and his spirits up. It made a strong impression on me and I immediately decided that it was not a 5 star prison system. Luckily, he was released a few months later in a general amnesty at the end of Ramadan. Of course he was deported straight back to the USA.

It was an interesting time of my life but I’m too old to put up with that stuff anymore. ;)
SDR-IQ / IC-R70 / IC-735 / FT-817ND, 5 band vertical & 4 position antenna switch
Near Music City, TN

Josh

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Re: ICOM-R70
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2017, 1457 UTC »
Shades of midnight cowboy or whatever that moslom prison movie is called! Yeah those were the days, the 70 and 71 were still current and more importantly had large, high quality knobs, and there was much to monitor. The m600 did a fair job even on cw but it didn't keep up with the times and there was no upgrade path for it, venerable as it was. That wetted my appetite for a AEA PK232 that did SIAM mode as well as, gasp, 3rd shift cyrillic! Haha! Them Ruskiis never knew I was watching their take of ryba I mean fish, or Oleg's love expressed so tenderly for Katya.

That being said, SIAM only detected and identified modes it was programmed - a letdown to me when I realised it, but was great for what it was at the time.

I recall wasting many hours watching French ARQ E3 channels as well as FAX of various types. Oh yeah the Cuban fsk sigs everywhere on hf that used bit flipping to encrypt it, the m600 laughed at bit flipping! My gf couldn't understand the interest at all but she accepted it, lol. She said I was her secret spy, but I knew she was jealous of my R70.