Tag Archives: FT-450D

Ham Shack Changes – Part II

Configured a Pelican case to carry the FT-450D and an MFJ-4230MVP 12V power supply along with the microphone and assorted cables. The case has two “levels” so there was plenty of room. I plan to use the FT-450D portable with antennas that can be matched with the internal 3:1 tuner. So this is my FT-450D “go-kit”:

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I have a QRP version of this with the FT-817ND in another case. There is also a smaller case now which holds the Netbook and cables needs to connect either rig for digital modes. I have one more smaller pelican case to configure for solar charged portable operation with the LiFePo batteries.

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Ham Shack Changes – Part I

I made some changes to the Shack today. First up was removing the FT-450D and the FT-2900R and their associated cabling. The FT-450D will become a portable station along with an MFJ-4230MVp Power Supply in a pelican style case. The FT-2900R will eventually make its way into my Ford F-150 for 2m mobile operation. The IC-7100 is now working as my VHF/UHF rig. I have kept the rig control and HF connection intact so I can also use it on HF. I have now installed a new Icom IC-7300 for my HF base rig. Installation was stratight forward and operation is VERY similar to the IC-7100. The main new features are of course the spectrum scope and the filtering. I have Ham Radio Deluxe, N1MM+, JTDX and WSJT-X configured and working with the new rig.

Today is the North America QSO Party so there is an active band on 20m to play with the new rig. I’ll review later as I have more operating time built up on the rig. Here is the new “minimalist shack”…so far:

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Addtional changes in the works are:

  1. Swap my ground braided strap connections with copper strap.
  2. Install S9 Antenna and radial plate
  3. Secure the FT-450D and FT-2900R in their new homes

Great DX SSB contact with IC-7100

I have not been on the radio much since I setup the new IC-7100. There is still a bunch of stuff I need to setup on it (DStar, VHF/UHF etc). One thing this new rig has had numerous negative comments on is a rather anemic SSB power output. My new rig has the latest firmware from ICOM that supposedly corrects the issue.I have not seen many comments from IC-7100 owners about the effectiveness of the fix. This morning I had a combination of conditions that lead me to believe that the rig is A-OK.

Tuning around today on 20m I came across a weak SSB signal from a station in Indonesia. This is a desirable contact for me as I do not have that country in the log for DXCC. Propagation has not been good. with a solar flux index of 86 and a sunspot number of 65 and K=2. Here is the prediction map for the time of the contact:

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The map shows that a path was open to that region from South Texas.

I was having trouble copying the station but did make a call a couple of times to no effect. I switched to the FT-450 and had a similar result. I noticed that the 7100 did slightly better on receive and the DSP controls are a lot easier to access. I switched back to the 7100 and found the receive was slightly better to my ear. I called again after hearing his QRZ and was able to hear him copy my signal with a 57 report. We had a brief exchange and completed the QSO. Given the combination of band conditions, and switching between rigs I believe the rig is working SSB reliably. I know this is somewhat anecdotal but lacking a peak reading meter this is the best proof I have.

My Ever Evolving Ham Shack…

I broke down this week and bought an ICOM 7100 rig this week. I have it installed with an A/B switch to the Yaesu FT-450D so that I can use both (though not at the same time). As usual, any changes to my shack wiring has caused issues with RFI. I have resolved most of these except I am noticing my HRD logbook locks up occasionally. This is a sweet rig. I have tested it on SSB on the HF bands and got the internal sound card modes working with PSK31 and JT65/JT9. It has some neat DSP features on Phone that really work. The automatic Notch filter seems to work on most birdies and the noise reduction works quite well. Still learning many of the features and doing some A vs B comparisons with the Yaesu. It has DSTAR built in so I will be trying to play with the local DSTAR repeater. Also looking forward to try and do some satellite work with it as well.

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I asked Cliff, KF5INZ, for one of his Easy Digi interfaces for my FT-2900R so that I can work the weekly digital VHF net. Cliff makes these interfaces in Los Fresnos and ships them globally. I picked it up from him at the CHARRO meeting last Saturday and will likely start getting it setup in time for Wednesdays net. The 7100 has this capability built in but I will likely be using the Yaesu for for this purpose.

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ARRL DX SSB Contest

There were many Ham radio activities in my area this weekend but unfortunately I could not attend most of them. This is after all a hobby and pressing family events and activities ALWAYS take precedence over Ham Radio. I missed the annual ARES Summit in Harlingen on Saturday as well as the Saturday morning coffee at the local club. The ARRL DX SSB contest started in the early evening Friday and continued on through Sunday afternoon. I was not able to tune in until Sunday afternoon at 20:12 and continued until the end at 23:59. During this time I worked over 50 DX stations on 10m, 15m and 20m mainly in Central and South America as well as all over the Caribbean. Pretty fun time and as always it is great to see the bands alive on the panadapter.

First JT9 QSO

Finally got WSJT-X configured to run JT-9 transmissions. I had a few initial problems related to the way I had the rig configured. I sent out a CQ and got a call back from Florida. I was operating on 5W on 40m in the early evening. Overall very similar to JT-65 but with a much tigher bandwidth and much lower noise floor. Looking forward to playing with this mode now as well.

More Practice with JT-65

Continued to play around with JT-65 today on various bands and times. During the day ran at 5W on 20m and made some good domestic contacts. After dark I started to switch to 40m and 80m and have been generally pleased with the contacts on these bands.

20m was still showing activity after dark and with higher power my signals were copied in Antarctica and I was able to complete a QSO with Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean!

PSKreporter.info is a really useful tool for JT-65. It is incredibly helpful (not to mention encouraging) to see that your signals are being received even if it does not result in a QSO.

This mode looks very promising for DX with my setup and I am looking forward to trying JT9 now as well.

First JT-65 Contacts

Installed and setup JT65-HF on the PC and made my first few contacts with this mode. I started with 5W during the day on 20m but increaded power to 15W later on 40m. I was able to decode signals on 80m but did not close any contacts. This looks like an interesting mode and I will likely be playing with this some more in the future as well as will JT9 which I have yet to setup.

ARRL 10m Contest

The ARRL 10m contest started this weekend. I decided to try running the contest as single operator. low power on SSB only. For me, the contest start was right around dusk so the band was closed out of the gate. I did not start working the contest until mid afternoon today and worked till just before dusk. Made 20 contacts on SSB, 17 of which were to South America. All US contacts were to the Pacific Northwest. I found it strange that I did not hear more stateside contacts. I tried calling CQ a few times but got nowhere. After I logged out of the contest for the day, I noticed on the spotter map that most Stateside stations had moved to CW. Conditions for 10m were not strong today so that may have motivated the mode change.I tried using the 10m Magnetic loop on the FT-817 but did not hear hardly any stations.

UPDATE (12/14/2015): Worked 10 more stations yesterday afternoon before the contest ended. Stations were basically oriented the same as on Saturday. All stateside contacts were either in WA or OR and all other contacts were in South America. Checking the HAMCAP maps seem to confirm that propagation is oriented in these directions.

MFJ-939Y Tuner Update

I like the MFJ-939Y tuner over the YT-450 from LDG that I used before. The tune cycle is very fast and works well with my end fed antenna. As I have discussed on my initial post on this subject, the only issue I am having is with getting the tuner to work with the Yaesu FT-450D as indicated in their manual and literature. It is supposed to work just like having a Yaesu FC-40 tuner connected to the rig.The first issue was a bad MFJ-5514Y interface cable to connect to the rig. It took a while to identify this as the problem but MFJ sent a replacement. With this new cable the rig and radio started talking to each other. The radio starts a tuning cycle but never releases control back to the radio. My next call to MFJ and it was suggested that his was a firmware problem and that they could send me a new MCU chip with the updated firmware. I replaced the chip but the problem persists. Next step would be to send the whole unit in for repair. I have decided that I will live with the issue and continue to activate a tuning cycle with the C.S./SWR key. The downside is that I cannot do this remotely and I have to hold it down long enough to ensure a proper match.

I cannot fault MFJ for their efforts to resolve the problem. When you call them you get a real live person and they will make every effort to resolve the problem and ship the replacement parts in a very timely manner. What does concern me is that the cable issue was clearly quality control problem that could be resolved fairly easily on their end.

If anyone else has the SAME problem with this tuner and finds a fix please let me know. For now I am done with messing with this and plan to move on.