Having got the ‘shack’ into somewhat more operational functionality I pondered adding back in the MFJ Auto Tuner – I originally purchased this when I was using home-built vertical antenna and in that it could seemingly tune anything to matching the impedence of the antenna to the transceiver. With the 80m end fed, which does a excellent job across all its designed bands, it became a little redundant and sat in the ‘spares pile’.
With the recent ‘ham shack’ rejig and spotting the tuner, I’d thought Id give it another try, as digital modes on top band can experience some interesting propergation and having recently got the weather station back on line ready to start re-building the webtechnologies for WSPR data, seemed a good reason to at least put it back in place.
Fitting in the ATU wasnt as straight forward as planned – the additonal ‘gaps’ in the bookshelf paying off to allow the ‘sturdy’ coax of the ATU to the 7300 to be in place. I did attempt mounting directly underneath, but it was becoming more of a mess than it already is. With a rejig and some persusasion, the ATU was in place and functioning correctly.
I started out on FT8 – there was plenty of traffic on top-band and managed several QSO’s as well as seeing how well the antenna was doing being matched to 160M with 50W of power.
Having enjoyed a pleasent evening out and the fresh air of Poole Harbour, I resumed my work in the shack and started WSPR transmissions on 160M with 1W of power. I’ve been doing 10M during the day, and its been geat to see the data of how the propergation really varies and almost to immediate effect when the sun goes down, so it would be good to see the inverse of that. I was not to be dissapointed !
Suffice to say, the ATU was doing a great job in matching the antenna and still with a decent amount of power being transmitted on WSPR, the MFJ reported between .5 and .7W
Needless to say, as someone who enjoys digital modes and analysis of the data produced, its great to have this added functionality back. With the steady stream of WSPR data becoming available I’m looking forward to updating the webtechnologies site ready for early next year, so the MFJ will be staying for the foreseeable future ! Yes it is worth it !
With my shack getting some actual usage of late, as well as the G4PRS 2M call on Monday nights, it felt like a good time to tidy things up. I’d not been particualy happy with the layout of the radios in the window, in particular it was susceptiable to any rain/water ingress. With that I orderd a budget 3 tier book shelf, having measured the dimensions, it was a nice foot print and my radios should all fit…
Having move the radios from the shelving, I then set about putting them in-situ to see how it worked out – i wasnt 100% sure where I was going to put the book-case radio shack, but the corner seemed a good idea, and put the Apple iPad that was there back into the Alex Loop pack ready for my next /P or /M use. The position worked well, but there was a clear issue of routing power and coax to the radios, so Ihad to do some ‘DIY’ on the shelves. Here goes my warranty…
The cheapness of the bookcase meant the back-walls of the compatments didnt present much work for the dremel, if it was earlier in the day, I would of done this outside tho, it generate a fair amount of dust and smoke, but I kept the windows wide open and also took my time with each section. I didnt need ‘perfectly square’ holes, just enough so that I can route the coax and other cables thru, and as can be seen in the last photo, this worked out pretty well !
The main transformer now had a nice clearance for its rather noisey fan (my only complain of this transformer, its otherwise done an excellent job) then can start placing the radios in place. I started with my 11m CB+manual antenna matcher, this went in easily enough, and then I placed the Kenwood TH-V71E on top of that. I put all the necessary data/audio cables in place in case I choose to use them, but I’m going to be using this as my main 2m/70cms rig. At the moment its using the Diamond X-9000 which has excellent gain on the 2m and 70cm bands. I am looking forward to trying it out on the G4PRS net on Monday night.
I fed in the very chunky cables for the IC9700. Currently I am running a very simple setup, with no mast head amplifier and direct to the satellite egg-beater antennas. This should become a single feed with a splitter both ends once I put the mast-head amp in place.
With the radios all connected and the basic setup up and running, I then set about using the IC9700 for what it was really designed, operating satellites. Luck would have it that the ISS would be passing over, not a particularly high elevantion at 22 degrees, but worth a try. I waited for an hour and was pleased to hear QSO’s from all over europe going into and out of the ISS repeater. I manually controlled the doppler, but there was no need to rotate the yagis liked what I used to have to do. First impressions of the non-amplified eggbeaters is very encouraging and I look forward to continue to setup the annteas and systems in the coming weeks.
Whilst no POTA Activations myself I did enjoy making some POTA Hunter contacts this weekend, albeit on FT8.
Its nice to be part of something, even when I cant get out the shack to do PoTA activations, I appreciate those guys who do go out and operate from the parks !
I noticed I was having some issues with the IC7300, i.e. it kept on rebooting ! With some analysis I was able to find I had somehow knocked the power supply output voltage to 9v ! It was quite something to be making contacts at all, but rest assured 13.8V was soon restored and the 50W available to me soon back in use.
Having been playing/monitoring with QSSTV on Linux, I rebooted my Ham PC and went into Windows to use MSSTV – its been a while since I used it, but I must say I find the interface much more ‘friendly’ than QSSTV. I made really good QSO’s via SSTV.
First EA3AUW, a very nice QSO into Spain, with great signal reports. Looks like a slight typo in my callsign, but I was glad to make the contact and have the QSO on 14.2300. SSTV gets very busy on weekends, so getting clear images and completing was great.
I had another great QSO with IU5KZF on 20M – I was really getting thu with my 50W from the QTH, the RX pics was a true P5/595 for the best part. I think the USB Audio codec drivers under Windows are slightly better than under Linux/Ubuntu – I’ve not really looked under the hood, but I seem to get better pictures from MMSSTV than I do from QSSTV. Still, I was glad to make two really great SSTV QSO’s from the QTH.
Elsewhere I was prepping for my next PoTA – Whilst I find the iPad and SDR Control to be amazingly easy to use and setup, I have used my laptop and IC705 out in the field before, having made a SSTV contact for PoTA (Upton Heath Park), so I thought it a good time to check the laptop and IC705 again. My main ‘niggle’ with the laptop was having to the USB Cable. I installed WFView on the laptop, along with VBAudio Cable and the Serial Com Port emulator – whilst I could connected and hear audio from the laptop, the laptop is just old I think it cannot do all the things I need it to do via WFView – I reinstated the USB Cable and went ‘native’ and everything (SSTV, FT8, FT4) started working perfectly again.
I have now setup my IC705 to hang off my 6BTV doing WSPR on the laptop, I’m running 1W into 40M to do the propergation reports, and its working really well, so I know for my next PoTA I can use the laptop and do/try SSTV again !
I twasn’to be disappointed with how well the IC705 and WSJT~X was doing on 40M and 1W of power, in no less than 12 hours the 6BTV and IC705 had reached all over the planet, needless to say, I was very happy with that the IC705 and 6BTV was working correctly and getting some action, rather than being sat in a bag !
I’m now looking forward to G5TM’s 145 Alive Event on 2M – a way to have simplex contacts via 2M. G5TM has put allot of work coordinating the event and G5STU “should” be within my reach from IO90BS. I’m sure many of us know G5TM excellent youtube channel, but incase you’ve not been introduced, hers the 145 Alive Event posting.
So I’m almost making the postings back on a weekly basis and there is enough in the shack at least to make something interesting to talk about, hopefully I can keep new blog postings going reguarly.
After much consternation about the state of my shack and the amount of equipment in it I took the plunge and decide to sell all my duplicate equipment. That meant my first HF rig, the TS690S, and the DSP Unit, along with the 10M Yaseu would go. I asked at my local club first, people was kind of interested in individual things, but I didn’t want to split the Kenwood equipment. I then contacted the establishment I had bought it from, Lindars in Yeovil, and Justin got back in touch – we got a ‘bundle’ price agreed and I was off to Yeovil !
I had a pleasant drive from the QTH in Bournemouth, taking just over an hour. Some road works meant a minor diversion, but was quickly able to navigate the back roads to my destination!
Once there I met Justin, who was attentively helping another customer – he really is passionate about radio and helping, it was good to see – i knew my equipment would go into good hands and make other enthusiasts happy with their purchase from Lindars.
This was my first visit to a radio shop in person since the 1980’s – Hastings used to have 3 radio shops at the peak of the “C.B.” years – my favourite one being in the marina where we could get sweaters with our ‘handles’ on (yes, “shambles” was my handle..) and next to a shop which had a G Scale model train in the window ! Great times.
The shop was stocked with the most amazing equipment, it was fantastic to see such a great variety – from valves to modern receivers, it was all there in one shop. The temptation to the Icom receiver was great – but had already set my mind on the IC-9700.
I bought some books on QRP and then headed back home, not before stopping off in a great farm shop to get some Somerset cider and local made scones.
Fast forward a few days later and my new IC-9700 had arrived ! The 9700 is some what heavier than the 7300 for sure – for the first time I made an un-boxing video and connection. As I’m using a single feed line, I’m using a multiplexer to split the signal.
I’ve had the 9700 for just over a week now and going back to the G4PRS net on Monday evenings I was able to pull in more signals and get great signal reports back. I’ve made telephony QSO’s on 2M as far away as Hastings in East Sussex ! So the extra ‘whiskys’ are really helping.
I’ve got far more to learn about the 9700 and it will take time but I’m sure I’ve got a fantastic shack setup that is now easier to work and slightly more tidy 🙂
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 !