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!
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!