Forty Meter Propagation

Propagation was not great last night. Here’s where I was heard on 40 meters FT-8  last night about 1630Z. I was running about 40 watts to a vertical.

Only North America … no South American, European or Asian stations reported hearing my signals. Eighty meters was super noisy and twenty meters was not cooperating with the propagation fairy either. Not a worthless endeavor, but definitely not a great evening on the air.

This evening, we’re expecting our first winter precipitation … snow/rain/sleet mixture. No accumulation but it’s going to be nasty and chilly, for sure.

73 de Dick N4BC

Pretty Much Key-Down Capable

From the specs and what I can research on the internet, the Icom looks to be a pretty rugged rig. Max power on SSB/CW/RTTY/FM is 100 watts. Obviously, it’s not a good thing to run it wide open on the heavy duty-cycle modes like RTTY for great amounts of time, but I’ve pushed it up to 50 watts on FT-8 (15 seconds on/15 seconds off) down on 80 meters and the temperature meter on the display barely went up one teeny division, and I didn’t detect any speed increase on the temperature-controlled fan. AM mode is 25 watts max … that’s pretty standard! I also didn’t detect ANY ALC being generated, so the output should have been undistorted and linear.

Lovin’ this rig!

73 de Dick N4BC

Early Operating Impressions for the IC-7300

Oh, man … this is one smooth rig. Now I’m asking myself why I didn’t buy one of these IC-7300s months (or years) ago. I’ve gotten a bit of cockpit time on it and I am impressed. I’m sitting here reading the mail on some 40-meter SSB nets this evening, and between the PBT, Notch, RF Gain, Noise Reduction, and BP filters, I can tune out pretty much most interference and heterodynes.

Earlier, I was doing some digital operations, and it’s just so effortless. One cable – USB-A to USB-B. Setup was easy … plenty of documents and YouTube videos to help you along. G3NRW has a resource page with loads of information. Click on his callsign to visit.

The audio is superb. It’s pleasant to listen to and not tiring at all. I’ve been listening to SSB nets this afternoon while doing some other tasks in the shack, and I’m not irritated yet!

Tuesday evening is our club Holiday party. We’ll be having dinner along with one of the other clubs in the area. Unfortunately, it takes two clubs to muster up enough manpower to come up with sufficient numbers to reserve a banquet room at the restaurant these days.

More later!

73 de Dick N4BC

IC-7300 Firmware Upgrade

I upgraded the firmware on the new rig from ver. 1.14 to ver. 1.20. The procedure was painless … fully detailed in the manual. As far as I can tell from their description, there were no changes that affect my operation, but there were “bug fixes and enhancements.”

Conditions were pretty grim whenever I turned on the rig today. Lots of noise and few signals. The propagation charts all show “unsettled” and poor to fair conditions, so it’s a good evening to work on other things. Sunspot count is still at zero. As an aside, I did hear quite a few signals on 160 meters this evening, but my antenna will not tune to that band. The ARRL 160 contest is going on this weekend.

73 and good DX de Dick N4BC

Winner! and Winter

Oh, I forgot to mention it, but I won a drawing for a Wolf River Coils Silver Bullet Mini. Bob Plank, KK4DIV, had a drawing to celebrate reaching  1000 YouTube subscribers. My name came out of the hat (literally!). Gonna have to do something mobile with it. Check out Bob’s channel … he’s got some interesting stuff.

This morning when I went out to the truck to leave for work at about 0530, it was in the low 30’s and I had a nice coating of ice on the windows. We didn’t even have a chance to do frost first … directly to ice! My trusty spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and water did the job, though. Take that, ice!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Neat trick

2-inch speaker mod

I saw this somewhere (can’t remember where) and said to myself, “That can’t work very well.” Today I was in Lowes and picked up a 2-inch elbow to give it a try. Place it right above the speaker. Hey, it makes a big difference, especially on CW. It redirects the speaker audio towards the front. Well worth the $1.88 (+ tax) I paid for it.

73 de Dick N4BC

Propagation blues

You know times are bad when 20 Meters doesn’t have a single CW signal  audible during a major contest weekend. I just tuned up there and couldn’t hear ANYTHING! NADA! Forty and eighty are really active … lots of contest activity.

I haven’t done any contesting this weekend. I just worked about 15 stations on FT8 with the new rig, and I did make a couple of QSOs to check out how it handles on CW. As far as SSB, I haven’t even taken the mic out of the box yet!

The IC-7300 is a SWEET rig to operate, but I’m still stumbling a bit with the  controls. It’ll get better with familiarity.

73 de Dick N4BC

Website Issues

I had an issue over the holiday where I couldn’t write any new posts. I take that back … I could post using my cellphone, but that’s not an ideal situation. So I submitted a ticket to NameCheap, my hosting provider. Several hours later, the problem was resolved. It was a WordPress update that somehow just didn’t go right. Good job, NameCheap! They’re a great provider, by the way …

73 de Dick N4BC


I did it!

I knew I shouldn’t have opened that email from HRO … I just knew it! But, of course, I did. That was the beginning of the end. There was that beautiful picture of an Icom IC-7300 staring at me … and at less than a thousand bucks. I deleted the email. but it didn’t work. It just ate at me and ate at me. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video, and they all weakened my resolve to be strong.

Finally, I gave in. I ordered the radio online and then drove up to the HRO at Woodbridge, VA the next day to pick it up.  I got home and unboxed it and admired it. I had to clean up the shack a bit to fit it on the table … so long old faithful FT-450D. I think you’re due to be sold to a deserving ham.

My New Rig

I’ve only begun delving into the features of this radio, but I’m impressed so far. The amount of control you have over those features is great. I think this is going to be a great companion!

73 de N4BC Dick


A Few Contacts, but …

I did a bit of FT8 yesterday evening. I managed one contact on 80M and three on 15M. The other bands were sounding good, but I just couldn’t seem to connect. Not a real dense map either … nothing showing anywhere except North America, and one reception report in Venezuela.

I did have an equipment problem surface, though. My USB hub kept dropping out or resetting. Wiggling the USB-A connector at the laptop duplicated the problem. Over time, with connecting and disconnecting, the plug has gotten worn and is loose. At least, I hope it’s the plug and not the laptop socket that’s worn. I looked for a replacement cord, but the hub end is a USB-B connector … like you find on most printers … sort of a square plug, rather than a rectangular one. Ah well, Amazon Basics … should be here Friday. Love Amazon Prime! The old one is still usable … I just have to make sure I don’t wiggle the cord, though.

I’m looking forward to the loooong Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, conditions will improve a bit. I’ve been reading a bit about Olivia and want to give that a try. Maybe I’ll also have a chance to do some antenna experimenting, too. We’ll see.

Right now, I need to find a plumber. The kitchen sink decided to plug up on Thanksgiving eve, when the kitchen is a beehive of activity. Figures …

Have a great holiday if you’re celebrating it!

73 de Dick N4BC
November Four Big Cheese