I received word from DX Engineering that the ICOM IC-9700 all-mode VHF/UHF/1.2 transceiver that I had pre-ordered nearly a year ago has received FCC approval and will begin shipping in May.

There has been much speculation about the price since that hadn’t been announced. I expected the price to be about two-hundred dollars more than the $2099 launch price so I was happy enough. Even so, that’s still a lot of money and will require even more for an AZ-EL rotor, satellite antennas, preamps, cables, etc.

It’s a significant investment just to make LEO satellite contacts from inside the house especially considering I can do that right now from the backyard while waving a handheld antenna around with equipment I already have.

But I’m excited by the prospect of future amateur satellites intended for higher orbits. I’m thinking specifically of the GOLF program but there will be others. Perhaps even a HEO project and handheld equipment just won’t cut it in those cases.

Besides, there are other things to do at VHF and above. Weak signal work abounds. And it’s an important building block in the quest for my ultimate radio goal; EME.

I haven’t had all-mode VHF/UHF access in the shack since 1996 and I see this as an opportunity to explore other facets of the hobby during the next, and possibly final, phase of my lifelong ham radio adventure.