Drake TR-7 and Icom 7300 Changed Amateur Radio

The Drake TR-7 and Icom 7300 changed Amateur Radio when they came out. I picked up a 40 year old Drake TR-7 from Missouri.HiBid.com and the Schulman Auction for ham radio equipment. It is in excellent condition and came with the Drake PS-7 power supply. In the auction description they said it put out 80 watts on CW, but I am getting over 130 watts showing on my newly acquired Bird wattmeter.

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Drake TR-7 Things to Watch When Purchasing

Firstly, the serial number, because the higher the better. After about SN#10850 they started being the called the TR-7A. They came with a NB and a couple of other improvements. The TR-7A is prized more then the earlier productions. Don't be fooled either. The front panel can say "TR7A", but that doesn't mean it is. It could be a new front panel. Go by the serial number. Mine is SN#10831 so I just missed being a TR-7A. I am not disappointed though.

Secondly, the rear panel in the very early models was one section and later on they divided it into three sections (see photo below). This made it easier to work on. If you see one with one section, you know it is a very early production.

Thirdly, the TR7 requires a Hi-Z (high impedance) type microphone, either dynamic, crystal or ceramic type microphone elements will work fine. For instance, the Drake 7077 microphone, Shure 444 and D-104 all work well with this radio.

drake tr-7 in shack

How the Drake TR-7 and Icom 7300 Changed Amateur Radio

TR-7 - Considered the first commercially available solid state HF Amateur radio on the market. 100% solid state circuits. No tubes, no tuning required and a digital display! This solid state, continuous coverage, synthesized  transceiver was a leap forward back in the day. Drake was setting the pace!

IC-7300 - Considered by many the first entry level SDR transceiver with knobs. Includes a touchscreen LCD and real time spectrum scope where we see activity on the band. The 7300 was a real game changer!

Both of these transceivers changed how we operate.

Were you around when the TR-7 debuted? What are your thoughts and which one made a bigger impact?

TR-7 Photos

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Have you any experience with the Drake TR-7? I'd love to hear about it.

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Icom 7300 Product Brochure

Drake TR-7 Brochure

Drake TR-7 QST Review

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I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I love the hobby and experimenting with radios, antennas and software. On my YouTube channel I upload videos on the Icom 7300 and Icom 7610 along with Ham radio software programs. I hope to inspire people to try new things in Amateur Radio.

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4 years ago

Your TR7 looks very nice. What filters are in it, and does it have the noise blanket? TR7A’s have all filters and the NB standard.

4 years ago

That TR-7 is beautiful.

How I remember the days when I was young and buying a TR-7 was a dream never realized. The first rig I saw was a Hammarland 170. Once I saw the 170, I was hooked. It was another 14 years before I could afford to buy and build a Heathkit and got on the air. I am currently reconditioning a Hammarland 170 for nostalgia purposes.

I think the largest impact the IC-7300 is that it killed the used market making it even more affordable to buy used rigs helping young and new hams.

Ray N6HE
4 years ago

I listened once to a friend’s new TR7 (in 1979?) – always said he cost me $1100 because the (loaded and with the RV-7) radio was a dream. Used it for 30 years. Still have it on the shelf. Ultimately got an Omni VII – still one of the most operator-friendly radios made.

Bought one of the first 7300’s, too, for my “110-volt travel radio.” After playing with it to learn it, I never turned on the Omni VII again, and that’s saying a lot. Too much fun with the spectrum scope/waterfall. That hooked me on the SDR concept. Now have the (the ultimate SDR) Flex 6600 (only 1 knob!) as my home rig and still take the 7300 on trips.

Ray N6HE

Lou, W0FK
4 years ago

Looks very nice Rich. What accessories were in it, such as optional filters and a noise blanker?

Terry, W4ZQ
4 years ago

Hi Rich,
I saw the TR7 when it was first introduced at Dayton and knew that was what I had to have. I ordered the TR7, PS7, RV7, AUX7, and full filters on May 5, 1978 for $1,438 and received S/N 614, 3 months later. The TR7 was a great platform to modify and repair.

In June 2016, I purchased the Icom 7300 and the TR7 was relegated to the shelf. The 7300 was such an amazing radio and easy to configure and use. I built this radio into my second generation Go-Box (as seen on my QRZ page) and use it regularly as my main station, on SSB, digital modes, and 6M FM.

Both the TR7 and the 7300 were game changers for amateur radio.
Thanks Rich for recognizing both of these fine radios.

Steve Gibson
4 years ago

Wow! Small world. Drake wast a few blocks from my QTH. I have one I bought it in 1982 from the factory on Richard St. I picked it up from Bill Frost, WD8DFP. Mike Elliott, W8KRR, was in the MARA club so we had direct contact with the engineer of this great rig. Between Mike and Bill, you could learn anything you needed to know about the rig. We were spoiled to have Drake here in town. I used mine from 1982 until last year. My QRZ pic still shows it (I need to update the pic). I finally bought an Icom 7300 last year and put the TR7 in the closet. Both rigs are game changers and that is why I bought the 7300. It is an awesome radio. 73, Steve N8DNG

4 years ago

I have a Drake TR7A for sale.
July 1, 2019

Drake TR-7A
Drake PS7 Power Supply
Amp Supply Company AT1200 Antenna Tuner

For pictures see:

73 – Bill KA8VIT

Roger Thenot
4 years ago

Purchased a TR-7 (serial number 830) and PS-7 power supply in 1978 from the first HRO store in Burlingame, CA (built on an old train stop platform). Sold to me by the owner W6RJ, Bob Ferrreo who later built the HRO dynasty. A wonderful transceiver which I used primarily on CW to work many countries and Hams. I’m looking at it right now sitting on a shelf in the shack.

I recently purchased a IC-7300 and am still learning how to use this great radio. First QSO was with special station VK19AUS on CW in Australia. An excellent radio.

73’s Roger (K6VIA)

Frank Perdew
4 years ago

I don’t consider the IC-7300 an entry level rig. Because performance is high level.
Maybe because of price.

Entry level: Yaesu FT-450D, Icom IC-718, ext.

Frank WA3RSL

Michael Marcus
3 years ago

Worked for Joe Borsch’s Portland Radio Supply in the 70s. Sold quite a few TR-7s and R-7s, the TR-7 was out of my price range. Purchased a set of fully loaded TR-7 and R-7 in 1996. R-7 went out first, followed by the TR-7. Just finished fully restoring the both. BOTH the TR-7 AND the R-7 had issues with the VCO PCA. Started recapping the TR-7, but the 40+ year old Electrolytics I replaced had a better ESR than the Brand New Electrolytics I was using for replacement! That was quality. KG7M

Michael Marcus
3 years ago
Reply to  K0PIR

I learned on a Straight Key and passed my Extra at 20 WPM at the Local FCC Office in Portland (1981). Been running mostly FT8 with my IC-706, but as soon as I repaired the TR-7, I immediately plugged my Straight Key into it. Even before the Mic! I have the 300Hz and 500Hz Filters in the R-7, and 500Hz in the TR-7 for CW. Will transceive with the pair and plan on working CW w/Straight Key. Hpe to BCNU on CW. Vy 73, Mike KG7M

Peter Schmelitschek
3 years ago

Greetings from VK,
I purchased a TR7 (S/N 9276) from a SK estate.

I wish to use my Heil Pro7 headset with the TR7, and see that the AD-1-D adapter cable is supposed to take care of the plug/plug connectivity for this combination.

What concerns me is whether the ‘Low Z’ dynamic insert in the Heil will have sufficient drive to satisfy the ‘Hi Z’ input quoted for the TR7.

I have seen (http://www.wb4hfn.com/DRAKE/DrakeArticles/InsideTheTR7) that pin1 is for ‘Low Level Audio’, while pin 4 is for ‘High Level Audio’.

Do you think it’s safe to assume that the AD-1-D uses pin 1?

I have to decide whether to import the cable from DX Engineering to VK, or lash one up myself (I have a spare 4 pin plug).

Anyhow I thought you may have come across this kind of issue before.

Peter VK2ZRO

3 years ago

My strongest TR-7 recollection was a field day many years ago. One our friends provided the farm field and a TR-7 for operations. Occasionally the receiver would go half deaf. I remember being horrified when the owner, ( Greg W8XY) would take the cover off and smack the crystal filter with a screw driver. His comment at the time was something like, ‘you don’t respect something you helped engineer’. The rig in question was a prototype or engineering unit. Greg worked at Drake for several years and was on the TR-7 design team. BTW your TR-7 looks like it was in plastic for 35 of those 40 years. 73

3 years ago

Your TR7 looks very nice. I am also using 2.85 kHz ssb filter. I have some pictures on sm5dda.wordpress.com/
73 Kjell

2 years ago

Oh for sure!! I own both. Drake was an amazing company that produced amazing equipment. I am somewhat of a Drake “collector” you could say as I also own a “B” line and “C” line and TR4CW/rit. Drake blazed the trail for all others with the TR7. Nothing would ever be the same again. It is known that many of the developers/engineers etc. at Drake wanted the TR7 to be a “hybrid” like others that were out at the time but a few forward thinkers knew that the future wouldn’t include tube design with new transceivers and so the TR7 as we know it. For me it has the BEST receive audio of anything that came after and as far as I’m concerned is easier to listen to than the tube radios that preceded it even though I am a true lover of tube “anything”! It is truly amazing and so I don’t understand why that kind of audio can’t be found in todays rigs. SDR is amazing in my 7300 but pretty much all SDR radios cause ear fatigue after awhile. The TR7 does not. When the new radios can pull out the weak signals using SDR like the 7300 and sound like a TR7 I’ll buy it. Until now in my opinion we haven’t achieved it, but again that’s my opinion. I have heard the new Elecraft K4 and it’s pretty good but not there yet.

Scott Oakland
1 year ago

Nice article. I have a Drake TR7A with matching R7A Receiver (both mint and gone through by WB4HFN) I’d be tempted to let go if you or someone are interested. They are indeed great radios. I also have a third-party connecting cable that connects the TX to RX as the original cable does.

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