Posts Tagged ‘icom’

Just Get On The Air! (A Makeshift Temporary Dipole Shortwave Antenna)

It might not take as much antenna as you may think would be necessary to make two-way contacts on shortwave radio (as an amateur radio operator putting an HF transceiver on the air). However, often, makeshift antennae are effective enough to be viable–just look at all the contacts many amateur radio operators make with their low-power (QRP) rigs (transceivers) using short, helically-wound, mobile antenna sticks. If they can work magic with such inefficient antenna setups, surely your effort at an antenna would pay off to some degree. Right?

Of course, I want to make a proper dipole out of this example antenna. But, while I wait for the rest of the parts I need to complete this antenna project (pulleys and a ladder, and maybe a potato launcher), I’ve put this makeshift antenna on the air, with it just high enough so that I can enjoy some time on the shortwave bands.

With this antenna, I’ve made successful two-way voice and Morse code contacts (QSOs) with stations in Europe and across North America. I am able to tune it on the 60-, 40-, 30-, 20-, 15-, 17-, 12-, and 10-Meter bands. Reverse beacon detection picks up my Morse-code CW signals, especially on 40 meters (the band on which it is tuned physically).

The bottom line: just get something up in the air and start communicating. Improve things over time. You’ll have much fun that way.

73 de NW7US dit dit

Contest Morse Code, Computers, and an Icom Rig

This past weekend (third full weekend in February, February 15-16, 2020) is the ARRL International CW Contest (ARRL DX CW link: ). This is interesting to my study of radio signal propagation as a columnist and as an amateur radio operator​ because of the contest objective: “To encourage W/VE stations to expand knowledge of DX propagation on the HF and MF bands…” This contest is a good way to get a feel for current propagation–though there are caveats.

Speaking of Morse code and the CW mode on our amateur bands: those of you using CW during contests, do you send by hand or by computer?  Do you copy the code by head, or do you use a computer for decoding?

Do you use a computer for Morse code operation?

Just curious about those of you who use CW. Do you send by hand or computer? Receive by head or computer?

In most contests like the ARRL DX CW contest, I copy by ear, and send mostly by rig keyer. If needed, I use a single paddle key with the Icom rig’s internal keyer to answer unique questions and so on.

Below is a quick demo of using the internal Morse code keyer in my Icom IC-7610 transceiver.

V47T, in the Saint Kitts and Nevis Island in the Caribbean, is calling CQ TEST in the ARRL DX CW contest.

Using the programmable virtual buttons, in which I programmed my callsign, NW7US, and other info, I answer and make a complete contest QSO.

In activity like the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC – K3Y special event, it is all manual. I send my Morse code using a WWII Navy Flameproof Signal Key, and decode with my ears.  It is contextual for me.

How do you do contesting Morse code?  Bonus question: How do you do logging while doing contest operation?

73 es best dx = de NW7US dit dit


How Did You Fare in CQ WW CW Contest Weekend?

Man, lots and lots of Morse code on the ham bands, this weekend. The CQ Worldwide CW Contest weekend was hopping with signals!

How did you do this weekend? How were conditions on the various contest bands?

Comment here and your report may make it into the propagation column in an upcoming edition of the Radio Propagation column in CQ Amateur Radio Magazine.

Here are a few moments as heard at the station of the CQ Amateur Radio Magazine propagation columnist, in Lincoln, Nebraska (yeah, that’s me, NW7US).

Here are the results of my dabbling with the Icom rig and this contest:

 NW7US's Contest Summary Report for CQ-WW
 Created by N3FJP's CQ WW DX Contest Log
 Version 5.7

 Total Contacts = 55
 Total Points = 8,979

 Operating Period: 2019/11/24 10:23 - 2019/11/24 22:51

 Total op time (breaks > 30 min deducted): 3:58:46
 Total op time (breaks > 60 min deducted): 4:45:17

 Avg Qs/Hr (breaks > 30 min deducted): 13.8

 Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
 ----       --   -----     ---   -----     ---
   80        8       0       0       8      15
   40        7       0       0       7      13
   20       25       0       0      25      45
   15       15       0       0      15      27
            --   -----     ---   -----     ---
 Total      55       0       0      55     100

 Total Contacts by State \ Prov:

 State       Total     %
 -----       -----   ---
                52    95
 HI              3     5

 Total = 1

 Total Contacts by Country:

 Country                      Total     %
 -------                      -----   ---
 Canada                           6    11
 Brazil                           5     9
 USA                              5     9
 Argentina                        3     5
 Costa Rica                       3     5
 Hawaii                           3     5
 Bonaire                          2     4
 Cayman Is.                       2     4
 Chile                            2     4
 Cuba                             2     4
 Japan                            2     4
 Mexico                           2     4
 Aruba                            1     2
 Bahamas                          1     2
 Barbados                         1     2
 Belize                           1     2
 Curacao                          1     2
 Dominican Republic               1     2
 French Guiana                    1     2
 Haiti                            1     2
 Honduras                         1     2
 Martinique                       1     2
 Montserrat                       1     2
 Nicaragua                        1     2
 Senegal                          1     2
 St. Kitts & Nevis                1     2
 St. Lucia                        1     2
 Suriname                         1     2
 US Virgin Is.                    1     2
 Venezuela                        1     2

 Total = 30

 Total DX Miles (QSOs in USA not counted) = 151,407
 Average miles per DX QSO = 3,028

 Average bearing to the entities worked in each continent.
 QSOs in USA not counted.

 AF =  83
 AS = 318
 NA = 124
 OC = 268
 SA = 137

 Total Contacts by Continent:

 Continent   Total     %
 ---------   -----   ---
 NA             32    58
 SA             17    31
 OC              3     5
 AS              2     4
 AF              1     2

 Total = 5

 Total Contacts by CQ Zone:

 CQ Zone   Total     %
 -------   -----   ---
 08           13    24
 03            7    13
 09            7    13
 07            6    11
 11            5     9
 13            3     5
 31            3     5
 04            2     4
 05            2     4
 06            2     4
 12            2     4
 25            2     4
 35            1     2

 Total = 13

New D-Star radio from Icom. Icom ID-5100

I maybe the only one that still gets excited about all new rig announcements especially Icom D-STAR. There is a new radio that was announced on their website in Japan. I did a little tools translation to pull up everything I could about the new Icom ID-5100.

Osaka Hirano, President: Tsutomu Fukui headquarters) Icom Inc., will be released (20W type), ID-5100D the (50W type) for amateur radio transceiver ID-5100. Of course, digital <D-STAR>, ID-5100 is a vehicle-mounted transceiver that provides an advantageous evolve in operation in the analog mode of conventional.

Here is my full post if you would like to read more about it.

An editorial about the current state of Amateur Radio manufacturing

A reader sent this comment on my post about Heathkit’s demise:

“It would be a limited customer base, as with all the China crap coming in
hard to compete. Also noticed that they are selling 2mt/440 ht’s and
advertising that you do not need a license!!!look for interference to
public service and emergency com, reports against amateur radio, going
to be a tough nut to crack”

I have to disagree.  First of all, some of the “crap” from China is actually pretty good, and giving the “big 3” some serious competition.  You know, there was a time, back in the early seventies when everyone referred to the influx of Japanese-manufactured electronics as crap too.  I remember this first-hand, as my interest in SW and AM DXing started in 1972.  Look where that has gone.  The Japanese are now the manufacturers of choice for our radios.  Now, I cannot say that all of these new low cost radios are good (first-hand experience with a radio from FDC backs that up for me), but the BaoFeng UV-3R has set a new bar for value in a low-cost mini HT, as well as the highly-regarded Wouxun radios.  It should be interesting as these companies evolve.  Mobile radios are just starting to trickle in now, and who knows what’s next.  Outside of radio, what about smartphones?  Where are most of them made?

I watched this same thing happen with Shortwave receivers over the last decade.  Companies like Degen, Tecsun, and Kchibo, first got into this market by being the manufacturers for labels like Grundig-Eton.  The early radios were not good, but then a funny thing happened.  The engineers listened to the public and made changes.  They adjusted the performance and feature-set of these radios based on what the users were asking for.  This is something that their predecessors never did.  Sony, Panasonic, Philips, and even Taiwan’s Sangean, rarely made changes based on the enthusiasts comments and reviews.  The result is that some of the best performing portable SW receivers for the money now come from China.  Panasonic, and Magnavox, are out of the market here.  Sony only makes one viable offering now, and Sangean continues to get mediocre reviews, after such a promising start.  I personally own a few Tecsun, and Degen radios and although the build quality is not quite as good as the Sony, it’s VERY close now.

As far as selling to the non-licensed public, that problem has always existed.  I don’t think that you were required to produce a license to buy any of the HTX radios at Radio Shack in the eighties and nineties, as well as the various commercial offerings they had.  You were told by the packaging, and again in the manuals that you were required to have a license.  Very few people at hamfests and flea markets ask for licenses before taking the cash from their potential customers.  Add to that garage sales, and classified ads, and you can see that the ability to buy un-authorized radio equipment has always been there.  Recent experience with jamming in my area led me to a small history lesson while investigating the source of the interference.  This has been going on for a VERY long time, and you’d be surprised how much of the problem is caused by licensed Hams.

Craigslist, and eBay have made this easier, yes, and I believe that the equipment being sold should at least be restricted to its intended purpose (limiting Xmit frequencies for Amateur equipment), but we will never stop the sale of equipment to the unlicensed public, just as we will never stop music and software pirating.

The biggest travesty here is the existing players not recognizing the changing market.  Kenwood’s new rig is gorgeous, but is another multi-thousand dollar rig what this hobby needs?  What the HF side of the hobby needs is a competent, basic 160-10 (or 6) transceiver that can keep the interest of a newly licensed ham going, with a target sell price UNDER $500.  50-100 watts would be ok at this price-point, with the option of adding some power later.  I honestly feel that if Kenwood, Yaesu, and Icom don’t wake up, and adjust to the changing market, they might go the way of the classic Shortwave manufacturers.

Sorry for the long editorial, but this is a sensitive subject for me.  I have only been a ham for 9 months, and with all of the obligations I have, and trying to make sure there’s something left for retirement, plunking down $1000 on a radio at the moment is out of the question.  Many of our new hams are in this same position.  Instead of having most of us stay as Technicians, it would be nice to get these new hams interested in something other than their newly acquired VHF/UHF privileges.  A General ticket is a fairly small step from Technician, and having some economical starter radios would help

Some of the kits, in my Kit Roundup post fit the bill, but most are CW kits.  The SSB kits available are usually low power.  There are a couple of examples with a bit more power, but fully assembled the price is already in the Alinco DX-SR8 range.  Having said that, the Alinco is probably the closest rig to what I’m thinking of price-wise, but seems to get rather mediocre reviews.  I guess for $519 you can’t be all that picky.

This is all my own opinion of course.  Feel free to discuss in the comments.

–Neil W2NDG

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