Posts Tagged ‘Icom 7610’

Part time radio weekend.

In Canada and the U.S. this is a long weekend (Labour Day Weekend) with Monday being a holiday.  I was able to spend a little time on the radio in the late afternoon a few days of the long weekend. I was able to spend a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  For the most part I spent my time on 20m CW and both days the bands seemed to not be too busy. As I spent some time on the radio I found the bands were not that quiet. It was deep QSB that was working its magic to drop an S9 signal just at or below the noise floor. 

Having a radio with a waterfall is a great advantage and my Icom 7610's waterfall came in very handy showing me a signal before they would fade away to nothingness. I heard 4X6FR from Israel calling CQ and I was surprised he did not have a pile up. I gave him a few calls but he answered other stations.  Not a problem I would just wait it out. This is where the QSB kicked in and within a very short time I found only static and no 4X6FR!  The 7610 has 2 independent receivers which is a great advantage. In this case with my headphones I listened for a reappearance of 4X6FR in my left ear or VFO B. The right ear VFO A was scanning other signals that appeared on the waterfall. Needless to say, the station from Israel never again showed up on the waterfall, but he was still out there as he was being spotted by U.S. stations on DX Summit. 

As time went on the best way to describe what I saw on the waterfall was "now you see them and now you don't" When I did tune on some DX and made contact it was touch and go to make a fast and simple RST exchange and if I felt lucky I added my name and location. I was pleased with my radio time and made contact with 4O4T in Montenegro, R5AF, SP6AEG, LZ305AI, IK5OPR and finally TZ4AM from Mali which was a new one for me. I saw him being spotted on 17meters and I decided to venture there as 20m was getting a bit slow. 

The spot indicated "up 1" which meant there was a pile up and he was operating split. I skipped over to 17 meters and then landing myself on his calling frequency just to make sure I could hear him before I got too excited. There he was at S6 and I knew I had to move fast as the deep QSB had robbed me a few times from catching nice DX. I set my radio to split and dual watch which allows me to hear the DX and those who are calling him. BUT strange thing no one was calling him and my waterfall was void of signals. It could be the QSB playing games with me. So when I heard him call CQ I put my call out and he came back to me on my first call. TZ4AM was in the log and I was happy. Very shortly after the contact the deep QSB took the signal from the waterfall. 

It's Monday today and I was busy getting some household chores done throughout the day. Maybe this evening I will be back on the radio and see how 40m treats me. 

The 13 Colineis Event continues……

During my adventure with the 13 Colonies event, I was able to see the advantages my Icom 7610 brings to the table. The name of the game with the Colonies event is to try to log all 13 (Clean sweep) colonies stations. At the get-go of the event for me, the stations were very easy to log but as you come closer to your last 2 colonies it became a bit more tricky. This is were my 7610 gave me a great advantage. During this event, I learned very fast that the best way to log a station is to find them calling CQ before they are spotted on a network. Once they have been spotted the crowd starts to gather and my success goes way down for a contact.
 The 7610 has what is called "Dual watch" this utilizes the two completely independent receivers in the radio. This allowed me to leave VFO A (listening with my left ear)  on a spotted frequency listening for a lull in the activity. VFO B (listening with my right ear) was moving around on the same band or different band hunting for a nonspotted colony station calling CQ. If VFO A was getting really crazy with callers but I wanted to stick it out for the just in case moment, I am able with a push of a button to mute VFO A. With each receiver you have filter, twin passband, NR, NB and antenna choices you can make to help out with you dealing with band conditions. Finally, as you can see from the screenshot above I was able to activate the "Dual scope" option and have a separate waterfall for 20m and 15m or you can do it for the same band as well. I have always been an Elecraft person (I still have the KX3 so I guess I still am) but I am very impressed with the 7610 a great bang for your buck!
At this point, I am looking for K2C out of RI and GB13COL in England and I want to continue using CW as all other stations were logged using this mode. At this point in time I have found that K2C spends little time on CW and as for GB13COL many have said they just cannot hear them and I concur. It 's getting down to crunch time as the 7th is the last day so let's see if the ham gods are smiling on me?

What is wrong with this picture???

I am operating in the CW CQWPX contest today and just can't contact anyone. Yesterday all was good but today NOTHING at all. Have a look at the above picture and see if you can see what's wrong. It took me some time as I kept overlooking the obvious.

Icom 7610 heat sink issue

Bottom cover removed
In the Icom 7610, there are two ADC (analog-digital converters) that in some rigs an issue with the heat sinks have either become loose or all together falls off. There was an issue during production with certain radios where this was an issue. My serial number did not fall into the run that had this particular problem. BUT I did want to double-check to make sure I had no issue with the ADC heat sinks. I have had very good luck with my 7610. As most have heard the Icom 7610 has a notorious issue with their screens. My rig now is over a year old and I have had no screen issues and I hope I am safe to say that I am out of the woods......but if something does come up with my screen Icom has said that all screen issues are covered no matter the date of your rig.
No issues with heat sinks. 
Back to the ADC issue, today I decided to inspect the ADC heat sink to make sure there was no issue. I removed the bottom cover and was thrilled to see both ADC heat sinks were without issue. I know my radio was not one of the production runs that had this issue but it does not hurt to check.

Good old Murphy!!!

Just like every other morning, the alarm clock went off at 7:30 and I made myself a coffee and then sat down at the radio to see how 30m FT8 conditions were. As always I turned on the Icom 7610, the PC and then started JTDX software. Everything seemed to be as it should be until I tried to transmit my FT8 signal into the pool. My radio went into transmit but no power output, now in the past I had the power on the Icom turned down to zero and it was a matter of just adjusting the power. I checked and the power was set properly but something was wrong. I then oped the settings tab in JTDX and looked at the audio sub-tab to my surprise the audio input and output selections had changed. I could not see in the drop-down list my Icom audio selection in either the playback or recording tabs? When all else fails with a PC shut down and restart! I checked the playback and recording tabs and now there was an Icom Codec selection but why was it gone, why did it change in the first place and finally what happen to the custom names I gave these selections? I have no idea why JTDX changed the audio selection and why windows removed the Icom recording and playback selections and then they returned but the custom names were gone. All is back to normal and JTDX is functioning just fine but it is very frustrating when these anomalies happen.

Software error messages…..gotta love them!!!

A drive though town
Good evening from Atlantic Canada, just yesterday we had our first Maritime snow fall in around 10cm or so. That's more or less a dusting when it comes to snow storms I am told down this way. The temperature was in around 0C during the storm but it cooled off after the snow fall down to -5C. Hmmmm so way the weather report......I had a chance to see how the Endfed antenna held up in the snow. When I got up in the morning I noticed the snow accumulation on the wire and caused a major sag. It's funny how a small wire can get such a large (compared to the wire size) amount of snow it it. Just a fast "flick" of the Endfed wire fixed the snow issue and the antenna was back to its normal height.
While on FT8 Saturday morning on 30m which is my normal watering hole these days with a cup of Java as I greet the morning I noticed a message appear on my PC screen. It was a message from my Win4icom software suite. Usually these messages are not a good sign and rarely contain info you really want to see while having fun on the radio. This message was not good news...and  my FT8 stopped working, my rig was stuck in transmit and CAT communication was lost.
Just love seeing these messages
To be fair I did have this message in the not to distant past. The messages informs you regarding a possible RFI issue, it turned out it was infact an RFI issue. After doing some reading on the internet I found others had issues with the USB cable from the Icom 7610 to the PC. The solution was fer-rite chokes on the USB cable which I did and the issue was gone. For some reason it was back and I wasn't   sure way? I did a very fast check of the chokes as they are snap on ones and sometime they unsnap but all seemed to be good that way. I had things to do and had to investigate the cause later in the day or evening. My antenna is an Endfed from and as I have read many times on the internet and user groups that these antennas are prone to RFI issues. Up to this point I have placed a high quality 1:1 balun from balun designs on the coax feed close to the radio.  I have also grounded all my equipment to single point then to an 8 foot ground round. I have tried adding a separate counter poise to the Endfed antenna and that did nothing to improve things. It would seem that I now have some type of an RFI issue or according to the message a software issue but I am inclined to think it is RFI popping up it's ugly head again.
Make shift connection 
My first question to myself is "what has changed with the radio, antenna and computer software"..... nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed was the weather it has gotten very very cold outside. Would the cold affect my ground system....? I have no idea if the cold weather can affect this or not? I went to the internet to seek out ideas from others who have an Endfed antenna. One thing that kept coming up was to ground the shield of the coax feeding the radio from the antenna. It was worth a try so I made a make shift ground on the outside of the PL-259 to ground. I started the PC and radio, I tried transmitting in segments as I increased the power output and low and behold the issue was gone and has been ever since. I did remove the ground and the issue returned right away so this seemed to be the solution that worked. I am now back on the air!

ARRL DX CW 2019 in the books

The setup
Well the ARRL DX CW has come and gone for 2019 and my effort was one of interest only. I knew I had non radio related things to do this weekend and we were out each evening. Actually the contest caught me by surprise as I usually plan ahead and make time. This week I was checking WA7BNM contest site and was shocked to see the contest was this weekend! This was the first real contest run for my new IC7610 rig. Now I am used to the Elecraft K3 but honestly the 7610 preformed for me just as good as my K3 did. I left the filter set at 250Hz and never had any issues when Kilo watt  contesters were side by side belting out their call. The waterfall  on the 7610 was par with my old Elecraft P3 also it was an added bonus that N1MM+ has a spectrum scope fed directly from the 7610. Having the two independent receivers was nice. When I found rare DX but there was a pileup I left one receiver there and checked in now and then. With the other receiver I would continue the search and pounce. I had been away from the 7610 for about 2 weeks regarding CW operating so I at times found I was slow to figure out how some functions were done.
As for the contest I was running 60 watts (not sure of reason for the 60 watt number) and my antenna is the MFJ 1788 mag loop. I am in a condo so it’s a balcony antenna about 180 feet up facing south east. The software was N1MM+ and MRP40 CW decoder for the super fast fisted contesters. On Sunday the winds for some reason really picked up and my MFJ loop was moving around the balcony. I shut the radio down and took it in I would rather save the antenna from damage than taking a chance on getting more contacts.
I made only 25 contact and a score of 1575 BUT my intention was not to blow the doors off  with a great score. Instead after I made contact with a station I would look them up on QRZ.COM and read about either the individual or the contest station. Over all the limited time I was in the contest I had a blast and was very please with the Icom 7610 and the ability of my balcony mounted Mag loop antenna.

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