Xiegu X6100: Scott’s thoughts and impressions

Yes, Scott will freely admit that his sticker is tongue-in-cheek!

Many thanks to Scott (KN3A) who recently commented with his thoughts and impressions of the Xiegu X6100. Scott writes:

When you published your X6100 [field] report, I could not wait to see the video! You tipped me off when we had our QSO that you were using it! As you said in your YouTube comment, a X6100 to X6100 was accomplished at your activation!

I am an avid POTA/SOTA QRP operator and mostly use my Icom IC-705 on activations. It is a superb radio and no intention of ever selling it. The reason I was attracted to my X6100 was the fact it’s an SDR, has a very nice display screen and has a built in ATU. I use many different antennas on activations, and some require a ATU, like my Sotabeams Bandhopper 3. I like using it when I go backpacking and activating due to how easy it is to deploy and lightweight.

To those who attempt to compare the X6100 to the IC 705 is like comparing a Ford F-150 to a Toyota Tacoma. I had an X5105 for a few months and went on a few activations with it. I would mostly compare the X6100 to the X5105 and call it a big upgrade to the X5105.

I got familiar with the X6100 in my hamshack the past 3 weeks, and although I know of it’s shortcomings, which I did share with Thomas prior to it’s arrival at his QTH, I am very pleased with the radio even with the features that are not enabled yet.

On Christmas eve, I went hiking and afterwards did a quick POTA activation inside my car using my IC 7100 and 50 watts. The temperature was getting warmer and warmer out, so I made a hasty decision to go home and get the x6100 and take it to another local park and sit outside on a picnic table. I decided to use my spark plug antenna and use my 17 ft. Shakespeare fishing pole. I had almost 1:1 SWR on 40 and 20 meters and had to use the ATU as I was having about a 3:1 on 30. The ATU kicked in and had a perfect match in seconds, which is also the same response as the G90 and x5105.

Knowing I had to manually call CQ POTA [since CW message memory keying hasn’t been implemented yet] I immediately wished I had my IC-705 with me. However, I decided to go old school long before memory keyers, and I started calling CQ with 5 watts. In just over 40 minutes I made 20 CW QSOs. It was amazing, I was doing 19 WPM with my CWMorse keyer, and calling CQ POTA was not so bad after all, although that’s usually when I take my coffee sips between QSOs.

I set the bandwidth to Filter3 and I went into my Radio Settings2 tab and made the RIT control my default to easily move back and forth to work the stations who were not zero beat on me (thank you to those who do that!!!). It’s so hard to decode multiple callsigns when you’re all zero beating me. It was getting later in the afternoon, and it was Christmas Eve, so didn’t want to fall out of favor with my XYL, so I packed up and went home.

It was such a great feeling knowing that this radio is going to be even better very soon, but I was completely comfortable with it doing CW.

Fast forward to December 26th. It’s Sunday and I ate too much the day before so I decided to hike and POTA at K-4567 along the Susquehanna River here in PA. The X6100 easily packs into my camera case that I’ve been using to transport my IC 705….it is much thinner and fits in better, and I can even put my keyer and my Bioenno 12v 3aH battery inside of it. I decided to leave the mic at the home QTH because I intended to do CW only again. Hiked almost 2 miles and went down to the river and set up the same spark plug antenna with the Shakespeare (I got funny looks because of that inside my backpack from other walkers/runners/bike riders).

I found out my buddy AK9IT was also activating POTA nearby but was doing SSB. I found him on 40 meters and did the PTT on the radio and called him. Bang, got Julius right away. He gave me a really good audio report and started the outing with a P2P as well. I saw on the POTA spotting network that there were a ton of activators on 40 meters SSB, so since I had so much success with Julius, I did some searching for P2P contacts and then found an open frequency and decided to call CQ on phone with 5 watts.

99% of my activations I do CW, so this was foreign to me, but I ended up with 22 SSB contacts (17 of them were from me calling CQ POTA). I did not have a CQ POTA voice memory set up, but I was so busy with pile ups I wouldn’t have used it at all anyway. I then went to CW and made another 10 QSO’s and called it a day.

Count me in as one of the very satisfied X6100 owners, even with the shortcomings that are temporary.

At first I did not like the buttons on top, but after a couple of days of using it in the shack, and learning the radio, I don’t even have to look at the buttons on top, I know what button to press for ATU, band changes, mode changes, etc. As for the feet, I find it’s the perfect angle. I know Josh was not a fan of the feet, and I saw his video a few days before mine arrived, so I was ready to hate it right out of the box. But, to my surprise, I like the tilt on it even better than when I had the X5105. The price point for the radio is $599, which to me, especially as a so called “beta tester” for Xiegu, is a steal.

When I pre-ordered the radio I thought that if I didn’t like it, that it would be very easy to resell on The Zed. Well, that won’t happen and I can’t wait to take it on many upcoming POTA/SOTA adventures, including hopefully some overnight activations on the A.T. next summer.

Folks, if you are looking for an all-band, portable size, 5 watt (or 10 watts with external battery), want a built in ATU for those antennas that are not resonant, and a very crisp SDR display, this is the radio to get. It’s only going to get better, and with the possibility of rooting the device like the old days with my Android phones, it’s well worth the price even in it’s present form. I also want to quickly mention the SWR scan on this is fantastic. So much easier to use than the IC-705 one. I don’t even need my Rig Expert AA 55 anymore with this radio.

Thanks Tom for the video review. I think it was a very fair report and glad you liked it. I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up, and I have a feeling you will eventually purchase one as well!

73 Scott
KN3A


Thank you for sharing this, Scott. Speaking of updates, Xiegu just pushed a new one out that adds WiFi and Bluetooth.

That’s a great tip about setting the RIT control as default. Like you, I really appreciate it when ops spread out the signals a bit in pile-up situations. I also agree with you: the X6100 is more like a proper improvement on the X5105 than it is an IC-705 killer. 

We look forward to any other updates or field reports you wish to share!

21 thoughts on “Xiegu X6100: Scott’s thoughts and impressions”

  1. I’m luck that I can’t afford to buy another radio anytime soon. Just bought a FT-891 so I will be waiting to see how this radio evolves. Hopefully it won’t turn out like the GSOC which nefer seemed to get out of the beta tester mode. I am really rooting for the 6100 as I want one once all the bugs are fixed.

    Congrats to you and to Thomas.

    1. Hi, Marshall,

      I came *so* close to getting an FT-891 during a Black Friday sale. In the end I didn’t only because I so rarely push more than 5 watts in the field. I know you’ve got a fine radio there!

      So I seriously doubt the X6100 will be abandoned. The GSOC, in my opinion, had inherent flaws and I think Xiegu might have realized that a little too late. The concept was a good one, just poorly implemented.

      The X6100 is showing signs of being an effective field radio right out of the gate. I believe it’ll have some excellent market longevity and support.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      1. Hi Thomas.

        I sure hope it doesn’t get abandoned. I almost ordered a 6100 back in mid November but I decided to go with the reliable 891 and use my G90 for QRP.

        I think QRP would make more sense for me if I knew code and could do CW QSOs.

        This was the second year in a row that I have bought a new radio as a Christmas present for myself. If I keep that up then I will have a 6100 next year; plenty of time for it to mature.

        1. Ha ha! Now that’s something to look forward to! A new rig every Christmas. 🙂

          The X6100 will be a mature product by 12/2022 for sure!

          1. We’ll, I’m really looking forward to see how this radio develops further. I know that there are several guys that have bought them and one in particular that has been hacking the the Lenox OS and modifying it with several videos to show us all how to do it. This is right up my alley as I’m a former it guy and love to tinker. Excellent review Thomas. I always enjoy reading your reviews and look forward to playing with this radio a lot more.

            73
            Jim

        2. Well so much for plans. I ordered mine 5 days ago and I’m anxiously waiting for it to arrive.

          I have to quit hanging out on here with you guys as it can get expensive.

    2. Thank you Marshall. I never owned the GSOC, so I don’t know how bad it really was, however from what I read and saw on YouTube, this is already a much better decision to buy the x6100 than the GSOC.

      73 Scott/KN3A

  2. Thanks to Scott KN3A. It’s always a pleasure to work you on CW (and you to Thomas). I received notice this morning that my X6100 is shipping. I am looking forward to using it.

    1. Thank you for calling me when I activate. I now look forward to working you x6100 to x6100 when you get yours!

      73 Scott
      KN3A

  3. Good article on the X6100. I have one on order, but do not plan on it replacing my IC705. But the X6100 does have some good features for QRP POTA operations.

    I am waiting for the X6100. As with all the rigs I do get I put on my bench with service monitor and do near check out, rcvr sensitivity, power output, current draw, modulation, etc Sometimes do a spectrum analyzer check. To me these test really tell how good a rig is.

    But I am looking forward to the X6100 for POTA events. I will build a go bag/box around it with battery and accessories.

    73, ron, n9ee

  4. Being new to ham and QRP I got a X5105 for £300. So unsure if I can justify upgrade until I get to grips with it.
    But certainly think it’ll be my preference to the 705 when I do make that jump. But wifi and Bluetooth could be really good to open up peripherals.
    Would love to know what you are running on tablet and the make of that keyboard.

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      Welcome to ham radio and QRP…..it’s an addiction. I am using a Samsung Tab A on this particular activation in the photo. The keyboard is a Logitech K480 that I purchased on Amazon and I really like it.

      Scott/KN3A

  5. Hello, and thank you for the great review. At 80, and not having been active for the past 30 years,(over crowded bands/traffic) I’m considering going HF again before the sand runs out of the hour glass: )
    An Icom718 would be a good choice, but the features on the x6100 are very appealing.
    First, a stupid question. My eyesight is failing a bit; with Bluetooth/WiFi, can I project the 6100 on my monitor?
    And; having to be able to afford one verticle ant., any suggestions.
    Thank you.. . . . .
    Donald
    N4TFF

    1. Hi, Donald,

      So I would have to leave the X6100 question for others to answer as I’m not yet familiar with any command software that’s compatible. I think you could get basic rig control and a larger display through one of the ham radio apps on the market. This is not my field of expertise, though.

      Regarding a vertical: would this be for multiple deployments in the field, or a permanent one at home? Or a semi-permanent one that you could take to the field? Do you have any restrictions where you live?

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  6. Hi Thomas, how do you think the X6100 will fare as a SWBC DX/SWLing rig?

    I found the G90 good on the broadcast bands, but not in the same league as the IC-705 for this. Maybe Xiegu’s new rig will surpass its predecessor outside the amateur bands…

    73, Guy

    1. Great question, Guy. Your question prompted me to do a write-up addressing this very question. I just posted it on the SWLing Post:
      https://swling.com/blog/2022/01/the-new-xiegu-x6100-is-it-a-good-sw-mw-broadcast-band-receiver/

      In short? While the X6100 is a capable little field radio, it’s not in the same league as the IC-705 (RX-wise) and, in fact, has some issues that would prevent me recommending it for the serious broadcast listener.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  7. The X6100 looks very appealing, and the one thing that holds me back from buying it is the possibility of ever needing to have it serviced after the warranty period expires.

    I understand that during the first year the dealers will just exchange them if a problem arises, but from then on you might end up with a door stop. If you use it in the field, things are going to happen, and it would be a shame to have to throw away a nice radio for lack of a few parts or a simple internal repair.

    Does anyone service these rigs?

  8. I just ordered the Spark Plug antenna. When my 6100 finally arrives I will have everything needed for a minimalist QRP setup.

    Scott, do you connect the Spark Plug directly to your 6100 or do you use a small jumper?

    Do you use a counterpoise?

    1. Hi Marshall,

      I use 25 feet of coax, as that is recommended by the person who created the spark plug. It also acts as a counterpoise.

      I hope you like yours as much as I enjoy mine! Let me know what you think of it.

      73 Scott
      KN3A

      1. Thanks Scott.

        I have a 33′ piece of RG174 so that should work and give me some excess to toll up into a poor man’s RF choke. I am at the limit of my budget (or my wifes’ budget for me) so I will have to wait to get a balun/choke.

        Can’t wait to get this in along with the 6100. We have a house hunting trip planned for May to the NC/SC mountains. Lots of POTA opportunities.

        I’m working towards a small lightweight kit that can be used for quick activations. Easy in and Easy out.

        I’ll shoot Thomas some pics once all the pieces show up.

        1. Marshall,

          33 ft. will be just fine. I also use the RG 174 as well, it’s very useful for backpacking portable. With my EFHW (spark plug), radio and 24 ft crappy pole, total weight is less than 3 pounds and very portable. Send me an email (from my profile on QRZ) and I’ll send you a recent picture I took of all I need to go backpack portable. The radio and EFHW are incredible and yield many many QSOs each activation. And if you’re moving to the NC/SC area, you’ll also have to check out SOTA as well.

          73 Scott

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