Where has the year gone, or more accurately where did June go ? Well, having been busy with work, uni and mentoring the month flew by. WIth bad weather alot of the weekends it meant I couldnt get alot of what I wanted to do done, and the time I had was limited. The good news is that alot of my University work for 2020-21 year is complete, I’m just waiting for grades to be finalized. I’ve changed jobs and am glad to say my new role is more suited to me, so Im really enjoying work. I’ve also had a great time mentoring undergrads the past few months, but has made me very busy, but very rewarding – but heres the good news – this weekend I got a number of things on my ‘ham radio’ to-do list done.
Firstly, I got my IC-705 working in the garden on the Alex-Loop ham-pack. It went really well, although setup wasnt as good as I thought it should be. I’ll do a longer more in-depth write up, but needless to say initial operating was fun and exciting.
Recently and friend and I mowed the garden, as I had told our gardener to not worry about it for the moment due to the movement of tents and radio equipment out. With all the rain and sunshine the grass grew at a proflific rate ! I first borrowed a friends lawnmower, then got a cheap electric one from amazon that would do the job. I’m glad to say that having mown the antenna area with all the radials down the majority of the radials have stayed down.
I will continue to mow the grass and keep it short, then look at adding more radials with better wire-pins (I have been using plastic ones). I still have some more work to do on the 6BTV to add 17M to it, but hopefully the weather will hold at the weekend, in the mean time I have been enjoying FT8 and SWL, making interesting contacts and getting ever closer to the DX100 award.
Good day all ! Making this a quick one as its interspersed with Univserity Assignments and Tidying the shack !
So I have made good progress on building racking and getting things ‘generally in place’ around the shack, its still a right old mess i dont mind saying, but its getting there, and better than it ever was with the old tables.
I had some valuable input from a fellow HAM on my WebSDR that the VDSL interference was plain to see, so after a few years away from Virgin Media, I’m resuming my Internet access from Virgin, once that is in place and all my ‘essentials’ proven to work, I’ll discontinue my IP/VDSL link, hopefully that will reduce the QRM.
I did have a chance to play with the IC705 in the garden this weekend, but results on the portable antennas were slightly disappointing.
I did put on a measured radial for 40m but the nearest resonate frequence was a massive 3kHz away ! If the weather holds up, i’ll try out my buddipole, as for temporary use its worked pretty well, whats more i can configure it for VHF/UHF as well by constructing a JPole, so it might be the best antenna for the IC705 without an additonal outlay on more antennas.
I’m going to be quite busy with a couple more Univeristy Assignments and work-work, but will do my best to keep the blog going !
Having got the 705 which is DSTAR capable spent the afternoon/evening with getting this setup. I already had the components, it was a question of getting it all together !
Register your callsign with DSTAR!
To be able to use the reflectors on the DSTAR network, you need to register your ID. This took only a few hours, so if your waiting on your MMDVM, do this now and you’ll hit the ground running when both your registration and MMDVM arrive!
Register here, you will need your email, callsign and dont forget your password !
Once your registration is acknowledge you can then setup your gateways. You should add the ‘Z’ prefix, as this ensures the account will stay open (any left without modification for 2 weeks will be expired).
Add B and C for UHF and VHF frequencies to your callsign (which will be automatically populated)
This will take time to propagate across the DSTAR network. For DSTAR Administration this is all I had to do to allow my hotspot to attach to the DSTAR network.
The MMDVM being used is a popular one available from Amazon. This comes as a kit to assemble and includes all the necessary parts to get up and running – although I would recommend getting a dedicated power supply rather than depending on just USB ampage
70cm Antenna using Buddipole
I do have an external 2m/70cm antenna attached to a mast but was unable to get that to work (although later checks via SDR proved it was ok, will detract from the thread). I setup first in 2M configuration then ‘played’ with various lengths to get the VSWR down to 1.1. I used the IC705 internal SWR analyzer.
Lengths used and respective colours –
Buddipole antenna lengths
Configure the IC-705 via Software
I used the IC-705 configuration software on Windows to be able to recreate the configuration steps. I’d advise you to first download your current configuration and save it to ensure you can recover to your pre DSTAR config.
The software is available to download from here – its a simple Windows Instal. The USB cable interface on the IC-705 is located just under the power cable.
This is the full video on how to configure, but snippets of the essentials are shown below.
Once loaded, the essential configuration is the Digital/My Callsign. Although its called ‘your call sign’ it contains anything but (for this configuration). Add in the following table
Essential ‘your call sign’ entry. 7 Spaces for 2/3/4 then the character.
All, apart from CQ, DSTAR commands are 8 Characters long, so where you see the white-space these are created by 7 spaces, then the character, i.e. for Echo Test <SPACE><SPACE><SPACE><SPACE><SPACE><SPACE><SPACE>E
You will then need to configure the radio for the new pistar hotspot
I created a new group called ‘hotspot’
I then added the configuration for the hotspot to match the DSTAR configuration and the frequency of the radio (obtained from Amazon page – in this case, 433.550.000)
You don’t need all the entries, the signifiant ones are as follows
Repeater Call Sign
Gateway Call Sign
Settings for my call sign and MMDVM
I then pushed the configuration to the radio and rebooted. This completes the IC-705 Configuration.
The next step is to configure the Pistar for DSTAR. If you havent configured your PI for Wifi yet, you’ll need to do that first. Probably the easiest way is to use the PiStar configuration tool, but that means sending your Wifi username and password, which some may not like, alternatly I connected a keyboard and screen with configuration on the commande line.
Once reachable on wifi, you will be able to reach the pi-star administration pages. Most routers running DHCP will allocate a record in the .local’ domain, so simply htttp://pistar.local/ will get you to the portal, default logins are username pistar and password raspberry. I suggest changing this on the admin page right away.
Restart the pistar and login with the new password.
First configure to use DSTAR. from the panel. For now, keep it at DSTAR only.
If you make any changes, you must click on Apply Changes for *each section* else your changes will be lost.
The essential part here is to get the radio frequency and call sign correctly, i.e. 433.550.000 for frequency and your own call sign in place of 2E0FWE. I’ve removed my exact Long/Lat, but you can put your own in. Once complete, click apply changes. I believe in the UK we are required to put ‘Mode Type’ to Private as we cannot ‘broadcast’ as amateur radio users in the UK (which I think ‘public’ effectively does)
Here we match our hotspot config with the DSTAR network. As the node is on 433Mhz, Channel ‘B’ is the one to use, if it was 144Mhz, then C. Hit apply and that wil complete your configuration !
With the DSTAR Registration, PiStar and IC-705 Configuration complete, its now time to enjoy using the IC-705 on DSTAR via your own hotspot !
PRess the CALL button situated on the left side of the radio and change from FM to DV. To use the hotspot tap ‘from’ on the screen, select ‘repeater list’, ‘hotspot’ then the hotpot added via the configuraiton tool, in my case 2E0FWEB.
To start using right away, tap ‘to’, select ‘your call sign’ and ‘use repeater’. You should now be able to key-up and call CQ on DSTAR ! Of course you can test using Local Echo and Status commands (just adjust the last step in ‘yor call sign’.
You will be able to confirm your radio is communicating with your hotspot and the DSTAR Network.
The DSTAR ‘last heard‘ feature can then confirm you are on the DSTAR network.
Finding talk groups / repeaters,etc.
With your IC-705 now on DSTAR you can choose which Talk Groups and Nets to join. There is an extensive list available on here. You can configure the group via the Pistar admin page and putting or selecting the reflector.
I hope this helps people use the IC-705 on DStar, it took me a little while to piece together all the pieces (including the antenna !) to get it working, but is worth the effort. There seems to be an increase in simplex D-Star usage on HF with the IC-705 being able to do the full range of HF, VHF and UHF.
So it has been a *very* busy week with work-work, uni-work and a ‘test’ at uni (which i done surprisingly well at!). I completed the cable management install last weekend (where did the week go again ?!), and got ‘this lives here’ sorted, but until Friday night havent been able to install the radio at all ! Am glad to say the IC-7300 reinstall was very easy , the one USB cable for the audio is amazing on this transceiver and I was soon back on FT8 & WSPR testing out everything was working again.
I’ve still got finessing to do on the cable management, but thats more about when everything is setup, know where the cables and lengths are – so far I’ve not got any less or any more QRM, and the amount of deskspace reclaimed is massive. Its just nice to have it much tidyer than it was !
One of my favourite you-tube HAM radio operators is Tim G5TM, he always offers good advice and interesting operating. My favourite videos of his are the mobile operating.
Whilst is transceiver can pack a might punch (100W – mobile !) the Foundation experience of using 10W has taught me to be patient and make use of the equipment and frequencies available. For telephony on 10W I used the local repeaters and digital modes, namely GB3PB (really sad to read this repeater had gone (temp) due to Covid).
I am mostly think at home i will use the 705 on 2m and 70cm, and see if I can re-configure my pistar for DSTAR. I have a fantastic camper van, being the mazda bongo, and following G5TM’s lead will aim to go mobile with the IC705.
I’ve done a basic ‘out the box’ comparison video of the IC-705 being driven by the same end-fed antenna i use on 7300. Not disappointed by the ‘default’ audio quality here.
I’m really happy with the IC705 and cant wait to go mobile with it. I’m wondering what antenna to use, i do have the buddipole, so that will be worth testing, but maybe a verticle fixed to the bongo where I can change the antenna ? Anyhow have loads of settings to tinker on the 705 and continue to tidy the shack and get the cable management tidier still.