Recently, I was in in touch with Jim (WA7VFQ) who was trying to decide which radio to take on a vacation to the North Carolina coast. He replied with details about the field kit he put together for the trip which will require air travel. Jim writes:
It wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to take my Icom IC-705 over my Elecraft KX3 [on vacation]. I had new foam for the case and last night I did my “foam plucking” and I’m pleased with the outcome. I had a couple of Icom decals and since it wasn’t the Elecraft, one of them wound up on the exterior. Some guy on the internet was touting the Tom Bihn Travel Trays; we have 4 on them, 3 large and one small. All are headed to NC with us. One of them will carry my extra radio gear.
It’s a very compact radio for being so incredibly feature-rich and I love the portability simply using the attached battery pack. Since I operate mostly 5 watts with all my rigs, I rarely bother bringing an extra battery with it in the field.
With that said, I worry about the IC-705 more than any other portable radio I take to the field.
For one thing, it’s a $1,300 US rig. That’s not chump change for most of us.
The IC-705 also has a large color touch screen display. In fact, it’s the only field portable radio I own with a touch screen display. The touch screen has a matte finish and is pressure-sensitive rather than capacitive like most tablets and smart phones. Many capacitive screens use something like Corning Gorilla Glass which is actually quite durable and resistant to scratching and puncturing. It’s not perfect by any means (I think we’ve all shattered or broken a capacitive screen) but they’re more durable than the pressure-sensitive screen on the IC-705.
The IC-705 chassis feels very solid and it seems to be sealed very well, but at the end of the day, the chassis is make of a durable plastic material which is prone to scratching and I have to assume easier to damage than, say, the FT-817ND’s metal chassis.
Ray Novak with Icom America is a friend and when I took delivery of the IC-705 I mentioned how I felt protective of it in the field, fearing I might damage it in my backpack or even tumbling off a rock during a SOTA activation. Ray basically said that, as with everything new, I’ll get used to it and become more comfortable in the field.
I’ve never completely gotten there, though, and I’ve had this radio for a good nine months now.
I mentioned in my review that I eventually wanted to find a better solution.
I’ve looked at a number of 3rd party “cages” and numerous readers and YouTube channel viewers have recommended the IC-705 Carry Cage by Peovi. From what I’ve seen, it looks to be the best of the bunch, but it doesn’t do a lot to protect the lower back portion of the radio–the part of the chassis that meets a surface. I feel like it’s not quite what I’d want, thus hard to justify $135 for it (Peovi, send me a loaner to try out if you wish to prove me wrong.)
Other aluminum and 3D printed cages seem to add too much bulk to the radio or obstruct some of the most common connection points on the sides (antenna, key, ATU control cable, speaker/mic, etc.).
The form factor of the IC-705 is otherwise fine, but its chassis design does make it a little more difficult to protect than, say the KX3 or FT-817/818.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the time I use the IC-705, it’s on POTA activations where it’s sitting on a picnic table. Although I’m a backpack guy, this is the perfect time to kit out a ruggedized, weatherproof case.
I started looking at cases last week and, being transparent, I’m a bit of a snob about these things. I want a case that’s made by a reputable company to protect the ‘705–I’m not going to hunt for one at a Walmart or Canadian Tire.
I’ve owned a few Pelican cases over the years. All have been smaller ones like the Pelican 1060 I’ve used with my KX1s. Pelican has a solid reputation and are certainly the best-known in this market and Pelican still makes all of their cases in the USA.
I’ve also been looking for a reason to try the case manufacturer, Nanuk. They design and manufacture all of their products in Canada and have a great reputation. Their pricing is the same or, at times, even slightly more competitive than Pelican for comparable cases.
Although I rarely care about the color, I decided I wanted a light grey or silver color for this case as opposed to black (my standard default), yellow, or another bright color.
In the Nanuk case line, their Nanuk 915 was probably the correct size to give the IC-705 enough padding, and allow space for all other accessories and items I’d need in the field.
I was just about to pull trigger on the Nanuk 915 via the Nanuk website and decided it would make sense to also check pricing on Amazon.com for both units.
The Nanuk 915 was about $76 (affiliate link) with the pick foam insert–a great price–but only that price in the black color. The silver color was about $97.
I then checked the Pelican 1400. The black case with foam insert was $95, but the silver one was $79.95. Since I really wanted silver and since I had a slight preference for the 1400’s dimensions, I purchased the Silver Pelican 1400 (again, affiliate link).
Amazon offers free no-hassle returns, so once I receive the 1400 next week, I’ll carefully measure and double check everything before digging into the pick foam!
A case for advice…
I’ve never kitted out a larger Pelican case with radio gear. I would welcome any and all advise from those of you who have. Since it’s easy to remove pick foam, but impossible to put it back if done incorrectly, I really want to follow best practices. Please comment!