Having enjoyed a nice drive down to Poole Harbour after work I tuned around after a day of WSPR activity on the 7300. Results showed that the bands where pretty closed from the QTH, so I wasnt expecting alot of contacts.
I was tuning thru some of the programmed memorys in the 7300 to see if there was any activity, but it waws all quite, but then on 10m (28Mhz) a sudden group of very clear conversation, and interesting as well.
I listened in for around 30 minutes as the group discussed upcoming holidays and mobile operating along with the setups to be taken, a very interesting topic as its something I would like to do myself. It was great to hear other operators discuss band conditions as welll.
Having built up enough courage I waited for a gap to get part of my call sign in “2E0” I got out as quickly as I could as not to interrupt the flow. Thankfully on my 2nd attempt I was picked up and introduced to a friendly group of local operators, the furthest being Blandford and exceptionally clear. It was geat to hear that my setup was equally clear and we continued to discuss my Hustler setup. I was also informed of another ‘net’ on 10M lower down the bands, which I then went onto monitor, waited for an opputnity to introduce myself, and then made some contacts. Operating hear was much harder with interference and conditions making the signal barely audiable.
I did put both locations in my 7300’s memory for next Wednesday evening and it was great to have a decent QSO with local, friendly operators, furthermore it was great to see how well the hustler was doing in difficult conditions.
I will be doing further work on the 6BTV hopefully this weekend and puting the feedline underground having ordered 10ms of Extraflex bury so it can go safely underground.
Whilst i enjoy a ‘ragchew’ on the IC-705 via D-STAR, the Internet and ‘Bit Encoding Rate’ (BER) has more to do with the quality of the received signal than an actual radio wave. (I use a Pi-Star hot-spot as there is no DSTAR repeater nearby IO90).
With that I know that the IC-7300 is a very capable radio on its own, but even with previous antennas having access to all bands did I ‘try’ telephony that much, preferring to stick to digital communications via the computer. I thought it was time to give it a try and get used to operating telephony on the IC-7300.
The inspiring video section !
I checked out this video and it gave very good examples of setting up the audio for various transmit types. If you have a 7300 it well worth the watch and I’m sure the same principals apply to other radios.
Tim, G5TM, has a great video on calling CQ. Having watched the video I was up for trying calling CQ on the 40 meter dipole I am currently using !
I started calling CQ not expecting any replies, but amazingly on 50W on a dipole I did ! My first QSO on 40m was with IZ6TGS. He was obivously a really experienced operator and it was amazing to reach him ! I was immeadilty drawn to how unprepared I was to ‘log’ – when doing FT8, its so well setup it make it easy. Suddenly I was trying write down the call sign and any other details. Thankfully Adrio was a patient and great operator, we managed to give a report each way and I had made my first HF SSB contact !
It did really show I needed some ‘help’ with logging and operating. Having seen both M0MCX and G5TM operate live on air (its great watching a live stream!) they use a free piece of software called N1MM Logger. You can see them both as they start the QSO they are typing in the call sign and any details they can garner. My problem was that I was restricted to the hand-microphone and my Windows PC neither has a screen or keyboard attached as I connect via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Whilst having recently tided my shack-tables up, there is still limited space on my 7300 table.
I was able to come up with the following solution !
Keyboard and Screen Technology
They keyboard and mouse come as a set from Amazon, the Perixx PERIDUO-212 Wired Mini Keyboard fits nicely on the keyboard shelf under the 7300, along side the BHI Dual In-Line Filter. For £16.99 this was a really good piece of kit, obviousy its not as good as the keyboard i use on my mac, but then i’m mostly using it for typing out call signs and reports, not developing stuff 🙂
I combined this with the 7 Inch Small HDMI Monitor with VGA which cost £36.99. Even at 7 inches and a respectable 1024×600 resolution, I could easily see NIMM with no problem when using my radio. It fits very nicely on the desk and comes with a fairly decent stand. I’ve not even had to fix it to the table and its staying up nicely.
The last part of the equation, is no doubt, the most important. Whilst having a QSO i struggled to write down the call sign as my hand had a handmic in it. Whilst there are many microphones out there, the SM-50 is the recommended microphone within the 7300 manual and importantly receives very good reviews on eham. It is not a cheap microphone, nor is it expensive, as my son can attest in his experience of sound engineering, microphones can get *Very* expensive depending on what you want to record and where.
I orderd the SM-50, i was very impressed with how sturdy the base and the flexability of the neck. I could bend this perfectly over to me a few inches from my mouth to make operating alot easier.
I went about setting the 7300 following the videos above and adjusting the microphone gain on the underside of the SM-50 to match the 7300. I also read the manual on how to setup recording my ‘best’ voice for 7300 so i could replay my CQ call.
This also made listening via Wesbree WEBSDR very easy and amazingly i could hear myself ! During this time my CQ call on repeat was picked up by DK4EI. We had a great QSO, his setup amazing, but i was happy with 50W and a dipole to come thru with a 5/9 report into Germany!
If you have been on ‘digital modes’ during the solar minimum, and also maybe slightly nervous of going on HF, i can say its worth putting the effort in to get onto SSB/Telephony.
My key points are
As per Tim’s video sound enthusiastic/engaging – I took my time and made a ‘good’ recording/playback feature of the 7300 – it works !
Set up your audio/microphone well and for the audience/conditions, the pileup busting video is really good for this. I’ve not had to change my settings, and i get great audio reports
Get your logging software, or pen/pad easily to hand, fill in details as you go, it makes the QSO more rewarding and you can spot people again !
Get a good microphone, for me the SM-50 suited *my* needs and had good reviews. You may want a different type of microphone and use it in a different way (VOX/PTT/Foot PTT, up/down buttons, on a bracket.. SO MANY FACTORS).
I am getting (braver?) better at HF QSOs and am currently limited to 40 meters, so you might hear me put the shout out during the evenings and night. Until then I really hope to have a QSO with you !
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.
Whilst enjoying my studies of Machine Learning I had the radio on in the background. I was very interested to see some ‘patterns’ on the 40m band
Not right at this time, but earlier in the day my fellow ‘neighbour’ ham G7VRD told me these are OTH. What is that ? Well this is Over the Horizon Radar, where radio signals are based off the ionosphere and then measured. They have been around a while, as in the 1950s, but technology has ‘evolved’ and ‘new’ arrays are being built ! These patterns were throughout the 40m band most of the evening ! Whilst annoying if you wanted to use the band for its intended use, nevertheless provided some interesting reading on what OTH was and how it worked.
Whilst I was busy with Juypter Notebooks, and as I now have the antennas plugged in thought it interesting to monitor JS8. Its nearby digital mode of FT8 gets plenty of traffic, JS8 is very sparse, which seems a shame as it looks a good way to ‘chat’ via FT8 digital mode.
I sent out HB and ACK’s and it was clear there are people listening, but not many sending CQ, nethertheless it was an interesting evening and this somewhat ‘dubious’ amateur transmission was observed, whilst interesting am wondering the legitimiacy of it.
I enjoyed seeing JS8 Call in operation though and didnt interrupt my studies, so i could do a bit of both.
So i enjoyed my FT8 and Data Science, having worked thru the night and with work-work the next day headed for bed eventually at 4AM.. 🙂
Having seen the video on splitting the audio source from the main antenna and using a secondary ‘receive only’ antenna for the MFJ-1028 I thought this was an excelllent idea to deal with the QRM I have.
This video gives an excellent example of how to install the RX7300 and all the necessary connections. However, I use an MFJ-993B on 160m although my end-fed antenna is only designed to goto 80m. The internal ATU is good upto SWR of 3.0 approx, so an external ATU becomes essential.
My first ‘issue’ was getting the case off. I read comments that others had suffered this as well, beit from overight screws, or using the wrong screwdriver. I found a screwdriver that worked perfectly, but one screw (speaker screw, top left from the rfront) wouldn’t budge. In the end i relcutantly used a dremel and a small drill bit to remove the screw.
I do not understand why manufactures put screws in so tight. I wasnt happy about using a dremel on such a new piece of equipment.
I looked at the ATU cable and where it could fit. I wasn’t going to cut the case, thats for sure, and whilst i dont use the other sockets at the moment, i may do in the future. It felt like i was gaining one feature, i.e. to tap the RX circuit but had to lose another. The Instructions for the tap kit specify that the ATU cable be tucked away and kept away from the fan. However, this gave me an idea to look at could I route the cable around the fan enclouser and not-tighten the screws quite so much ?
I carefully fed the ATU wiring around the fan enclousre, not thru it, but between the fan case and the chasiss of the transceiver. I put on electrical tape onto the wire and the chassis to provide a degree of protection to the cable.
I was able to get te ATU cable and the RX Tap out of the casing nicely. The next step was to do some basic testing of the transcevier, firstly without the ATU to ensure receive was working correctly, then to test some low-wattage (WSPR) and then higher (FT8) transmissions.
I was able to receive WSPR no problem and also transmit and see my transmissions were being received via WSPR.net map. This was on 1W of power. I then proceeded to FT8 on 40m, as this is a popular frequency any time of day with generally good propergation. With 20W I was quickly able to make contacts and confirm my RX tap was working correctly and my TX was working correctly.
I attached the external ATU via the power and re-routed the antenna feeds to go via the ATU. I kept the RX tap still in a close loop to ensure my previous setup was working correctly.
I was pleased to see that I was reaching Europe on 80m and low SWR, so the transceiver was working well.
I will monitor the fan on the IC-7300 to ensure the the wire between the PCB and the ATU are not being ‘clipped’ or any other damage. Next step is to fit my receive only antenna and test the phasing/nulling of the MFJ-1026.
So apologies for the lack of posts – having passed my Intermediate, I then found myself with quite alot of work/other commitments, but heres a condensed update – i’ll do a lengthier one on each topic at a future date.
Up until recently I have been using a vertical di-pole, namely the DX Commander multibander. Whilst I’m happy with how good this antenna is, part of the hobby is learning and trying out new things ! After reading several very promising reports, I ordered the UK Antennas multiband end fed antenna. This product does deserve a write up of its own, which I will do in due course.
Needless to say, I am amazed at how well this antenna performs. It requires quite an extensive amount of space and I was able to re-use my DX-Commander masts as supports. I had ordered and tried to use Sotabeams, but for extended operation, they just didnt seem as stable and well built as the DX Commander. Good news is that I’ve ordered a DX Commander SOTA edition – looking forward to building and trying that out. The Sotabeams will probably stay in storage until i can go out /P /M and use them as ‘temporary’ mobile antennas.
Having built and used my own ‘V’ dipole for NOAA and METEOR and was really happy with the results, i went to the next level and ordered a helical antenna for improved reception.
This came from the US and I think is hand built to order by National Antenna Whilst I could build a DIY version, I’m averse to going to large shops unless its essential at the moment, the reviews of this antenna are fantastic.
I setup the antenna and started on my mac to start with, and was impressed with the results, as this is somewhat manual and labour intensive, i then setup a raspberry pi running raspberry-noaa Whilst I looked and tried other installations, this was by the far the simplests and easiest to setup. The combination of an amazing antenna and good programming produced frankly astounding results, including my first ever METEOR-M2 decode – all full automated !
First HF QSOs with 2E – new Digital and Telephony
I was very happy to make a QSO with G7VRD. Having metup via the reddit talkgroup and being ‘local’ in terms of radio, we had never been able to reach each other. With the new installation of the end-fed, I was able to make contact on 80m via firstly WSPR then we tried out a variety of different modes. G7VRD was really great in helping me thru and testing various types, having varying degrees of successes across them.
I was also able to make contacts for the first time via Telephony. I had a great QSO wtih G8MNY who gave me a very detailed signal report, including play back of how i sounded, which was really useful. The combination of end-fed and additonal power is really helping me more on HF.
Whats Next ?
So i have a couple of other immediate things I want to do and are in progress, probably the most important is getting a receive-only antenna setup to restore use of my MFJ-1026 which performed really well previously.
Here is the video from youtube which shows what I’m aiming for – with VDSL in the UK i’m hoping this will help eliminate the QRM in my urban setting.
Now i can also run a beacon, i want to get my PI-WSPR station going on 40m, so will see if i can get the 40m inverted v dipole up !
Until next time (which will be sooner !) take care, stay safe and 73 !
Its been a lovely warm weekend down in Dorset, and that seems to have affected the propagation. I had a great time on FT8 and JS8 Call, reaching amazing distances and really good signals being put out and received. I had many logged contacts and good signal reports.
By the evening 40M got as busy as I have *ever* seen it, as shown in the picture above i switched about the bands and was making contacts on 15M as well, it was the best conditions I had seen so far !
After a break of sometime, I have resumed work on my Kanga Kit – this fits in with the news I’m putting below, but I have a big thanks to John Clements who helped me fix a fault with the kit I was unable to locate. John found the issue (soldered pin-header together – hidden by the plastic) and returned the now working Kanga kit to me ! I have resumed work and am taking my time – I’ve completed more work on the resistors and capacitors on the Active BPF.
I’m taking my time, esp as the board is now quite ‘busy’ – the next step is to add diodes and IC’s. Its really close to completing the build, but taking my time to ensure no more mistakes !
As shown in the picture above from the RSGB site Intermediate exams will be available from the 13th ! (in 8 minutes time as of writing) i’m very excited that i will be able to book my exam and get use more wattage but also gain more insight to a very interesting hobby as I continue my amateur radio development.
Whilst the practial assessment is waived currently, i will continue to build my Kanga Kit, so if the issue did come up of what Kit I did build, this is well recorded and documented.
To close the evening off I had a splendid evening enjoying the good propergation and just listening to the QSO’s on 40m. The ICOM’s filter and noise blanker are amazing, SSB has never sounded so good.
What i really like about the 7300 is the ability to visualize all or in very close range the frequency. I can easily find conversations happening and enjoy what is being talked about and the signal reports. Almost everyone i hear on 40m is using 100W but the distances are still several hundreds of miles – in particular hearing about life on Guernsey was very interesting – seems they are Covid free and back to some ‘normality’.
Well, heres waiting on being able to book my Intermediate Exam and enjoy more contacts around the world !
UPDATE – Have booked Intermediate exam today (13 June) for in August for more time to do a structured revision plan and passing !
Am still planning to finish my Kanga Kit ! making daily progress !
So I’ve had a very busy week or two both on day-to-day 9-5 (+!) and around the shack.
I am lucky enough that I get a gardener once a month to do all the lawns and bushes, and I used the opportunity this time to take down all the antennas allowing for a very good tidy lawn.
I also wanted to try out a method of increasing gain and reception using a 2 Element Parasitic Array on the 40m band – the youtube video here is really good at explaning how the setup works. I was already lucky enough to have another DX Commander on order before Calum goes on his holiday, so I set about measuring the distances and getting the 2nd DX Commander setup for just 40m
The main difference between a parasitic array is that its just for a single band and the distance between the two is 1/4 wavelength, in this case 10m. The wire *should* be a little lower on the 40m frequency than the ‘driven’ – but I am going to double check that when it comes to more fetteling (cant ever get an antenna too perfect imho !).
As you can see in the pictures, I have followed Calum’s advice pretty much and put the radials down, doesnt matter on the 360, but the length is there for 40m. The main difference is that the radials are directly connected to the driven element plate and there is no physical wired connection between the two antennas. I did check the S.W.R. on 40m (and 15) and it was a more than acceptable 1.4:1 across the band *before* moving the radials up. (Note will be finding a cover for the SO239!)
I need to find a ‘good’ way on proving the parasitic is having the desired effect. Out of interest i did attach my rig master to it whilst transmitting WSPR on 40m and sure enough the SWR did go up, which does at least prove that its resonating a transmission on the right frequency.
In practice I gave trusty FT8 a go, and sure enough I was getting far more +db on the map than i have ever had. Now this isnt particuarly good ‘science’ as there could be so many reasons why that was happening, so i could of got lucky. But I will find (and if someone wants to add a comment please do !) on how to test the effectiveness (i’m expecting something like +3-5db gain) I’d be glad to accept it !
I have also upgraded my ‘main’ tranceiver, the reasons are multiple, but mostly the Icom 7300 got very good reviews and the price/performance balance looked amazing.
That is not to say that all the hard work and effort put into the Kenwood TS690-S will be wasted, absolutely not ! I have actually made another addition from Japan, this lovely microphone unit !
I am hoping i can use the output switch between the Kenwood and Icom as this looks such a gorgeous microphone and the reviews of it are very promising.
I am going to put an end-fed multi bander on the TS-690S and having seen UK Antennas posted on the DX Commander Discord, done some research and went for it !
I have yet to install the antenna as I have moved my 2m/70cm mast to the rear garden. Putting out a big thanks to the after-sales support from Moonraker as I wanted to fully extended my 40ft antenna so i can use the 30m point as a ‘fulcrum’ for the end-fed antenna, creating a nice inverted ‘V’ to use.
Here is the mast I bought from them – the TMF-2 – it really is an amazing mast, yout get what you pay for with this. I looked at several sites, including this one on how to guy a mast. For 40ft it seemed i would need more guys – but gave the chaps at Moonraker a call to explain my mast, antenna and use, and re-located my guy-ring to a centre point on the sectional mast would be ok for a temporary antenna, with the obvious warnings for wind,etc.
I set about with my son (always good to have some help!) with getting the mast up and really well guyed in. I’m made up with the results, I’ve never seen the antenna looking so good and secure. The heavy duty base will be getting some additional ground-pegs but trust me that thing is HEAVY, its not going anywhere 🙂
I was able to reach all the local repeaters as before, but have yet to get a contact to check my signal report (such is VHF during the day time).
So there has been alot of change in the shack, but i’m really happy with the direction its going in !