Digital Dive

So … I’ve taken the plunge into DMR radio. I had an unused gift card on Amazon and sprung for a Tytera MD-380 hand-held radio. A ham just a few miles from me has put a UHF DMR repeater on the air. I ordered the radio today and Amazon says that it’ll be here tomorrow. Can’t wait!! (but I’ll have to!)

I keep reading online about how difficult the programming software is, so I checked it out. Maybe if you’re not used to it, but I’ve been building codeplugs for Motorola radios for more years than I care to think. Looks like a piece of cake to me.

I’ve been interested in DMR for a while now, but there was no local repeater within a reasonable range of my QTH. Lots of them to the north, south, east, and west, but none here at ground zero.

There are DStar repeaters near me, but I just couldn’t justify the cost. This little Chinese gem cost less than ninety bucks. Can’t beat that. And … it got pretty good reviews in the November 2017 QST.

I’ve still been keeping up with CW and FT-8 contacts on HF, and the NC QSO Party is this coming Sunday. I’ll be there on HF!

73 de Dick N4BC

FrostFest 2018

FrostFest was last Saturday, so I made my annual trek to Richmond to attend. It was clear, but cold, and waiting in the line outdoors to enter was not pleasant for me. I was bundled up in a heavy coat, and I was amazed at the people standing with me in just a T-shirt and seemingly comfortable!

The first thing I noticed was that the layout in the exhibition hall was different this year. All of the empty space was moved to the center aisle, making it a wide expanse and much easier to navigate than prior years. I was told the real reason was to allow less chaos with vendor vehicles coming in to offload equipment … evidently in prior years, navigating the narrower aisles was not pleasant.

One consequence of the wide open center of the hall was that it gave the impression of a smaller crowd this year. I read that the organizers have unofficially said that this year’s crowd was the largest yet. We’ll have to wait for the final count, I guess.

The only significant manufacturer there was Elecraft, but there were lot of second-tier vendors there, and LOTS of “tail-gate” individuals with tables. There was much nostalgic equipment there, and I did see quite a few “boat anchors” being carried out to waiting vehicles.

I spent most of the day attending the forums … DMR, Puerto Rico recap, ARRL, SkyWarn, and I did wander the sales floor several times, too. I actually didn’t buy anything this trip … my big purchase for the winter was a new IC-7300 onĀ  Black Friday last year. I was looking for a shielded USB A-B cable, but didn’t see any, so I ordered one from Amazon when I got home.

It was a pleasant day, and worth the trip. I did take some things away from the forums, and I reconnected with several friends and acquaintances that I only see here every year at FrostFest. My congratulations to RATS (Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society), the club that puts all this together and coordinates this. Well done!!

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