Friday, January 17, 2020

IC7300 arrives

After reading numerous reviews and watching half a dozen YouTube videos on the radio-of-interest, I've finally settled on the Icom IC-7300 to take center stage in the rolling hamshack.



Here are the features I wanted:
  • Low cost
  • Small size
  • Built-in ATU
  • Spectrum display
  • Single-cable interface to PC

There are a handful of radios that fit this criteria, most notably the Yaesu FT-991A - said to be the 7300's nearest competitor. I ruled that choice out due to not needing or wanting to pay for V/UHF and for its lack of an included ATU.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

K4 order cancelled; new rig on the way

I actually cancelled my K4 order two days ago, before the today's announcement by Elecraft of the updated delivery schedule of the K4.

My main reason was that I couldn't get an answer to a question regarding dual VFO presentation and control via the external monitor. This is important to me as it would effect how I would operate split. Other questions were answered; this one was repeatedly unanswered.

With no manual online - and no expected date for one - I cancelled the order with the idea of saving the $4k until full info on the rig is made available. To my surprise, one of the issues promised in the email sent out by Elecraft addresses the very issue I was asking about.

Monday, January 13, 2020

$3000+ radios in the Age of FT8?



This morning was typical of other winter mornings lately:

I'm up early (5am) with two things in front of me - a cup of java and a radio tuned to 40- or 80-meter CW. The caffeine is good; the CW bands are barren. Again.

NN4NC is calling "CQ DX" on 7005 but no one answers. Someone else is having a chat on 3528 kHz, and that, dear readers, is it for CW.

No VK's, ZL's or JA's.

The thrill of DXing that has been waning is now, largely, gone.

Everyone's on 7074 but, with the exception of 60m, FT8 has lost its appeal to me. I think it's the lack of talent required for it's participation that renders it superficial. It is utilitarian - I can see where and to what extent a band is open - but working China on 80m FT8 was as fulfilling for me a few weeks ago as having a winning lottery ticket worth $1.

With that in mind, I've begun wondering about the value of all the high performance transceivers on the market. If FT8 is all there is, do I need to pay for receiver specifications that only manifest themselves on crowded CW bands? What use is razor sharp 50 Hz selectivity when all the activity is on a wide 3 kHz spread of frequencies?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

NA QSO Party (CW) today with RGO One

I plan to operate several hours today in the NA QSO Party and will be using the RGO One.

This is a fun contest for several reasons:
  • Lots of participation
  • Only 12 hours long
  • Both high-speed and slow-speed ops
  • Easy exchange
  • 100 watt limit

Details of the contest are here (pdf). It begins at noon CST and ends at midnight.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Localizing source of QRM to weather radar

I met two FCC technicians today at an FAA weather radar site to assist them in tracking down two sources of interference to the radar. See the back story here. This was a "first" for me and I was very much looking forward to learning what equipment was used and how they go about it.

The techs have a full time job as QRM detectors (not their official title!) - they were familiar with ham radio and have experience in tracking down pirate FM stations. We had an interesting conversation as we waited for the clock to hit 1400Z - the time I had coordinated the shutdown of the radar.

Antenna input removed from receiver; spec-an now attached to the N-cable

I had imagined that, with the radar down, they would bring out some sort of receiver with a directional antenna and find the direction to the source of the QRM. I had assumed that the source was more local than it turned out to be and that finding it would be accomplished with the equipment they'd brought with them.