December 7, 2017
Posted by on
Back in July, I did some work to get packet winlink working over the local HF packet nodes. At the time, the local digipeter was not operating so I was not able to make a solid enough connection to exchange mail. The digipeter node is now operational here in Brownsville. I gave it a try after reviewing how I had done it before using the IC-7100 and a software soundcard modem. Quick review:
- CAT7200 software is installed and then run to create a com port that the IC-7100 will recognize for CAT control.
- UZ7HO Sound Modem software performs the TNC function via soundcard mode.
- RMS Express is run in packet winlink mode to exchange mail.
The radio is set manually to the digipeter frequency which in my case is 145.01 Mhz. An ultra important step is to set the mode to FM-D. Once all this was set I was successful in sending and receiving email at 1200 baud. Not bad for a soundcard mode.
August 23, 2017
Posted by on
I spent some time playing with the new IC-7300 transceiver this weekend on various modes. My first comment is that having used an IC-7100 for some time I was instantly familiar with about 90% of the IC-7300 controls. Most of the buttons are labeled the same and many of the setting menus are also the same. First thing I installed was a headset adapter so I can use the Koss SB-45 headset. I needed a plug adapter (which I luckily had on hand) to plug in my Vibroplex paddles. Rig control via Ham Radio Deluxe was fairly straightforward as the USB drivers are the same as the IC-7100. I started operating on 20m during the North America QSO party on Saturday with the 1/4 wave verticals.
My first impressions are that the rig works well (and possibly better) than the IC-7100 on SSB. My signal reports were solid 59’s and occasionally 59+ all across the USA. Also made some DX with favorable reports. Receive options make it easy to adjust RF gain controls and filters to help clean up the signals. I like the overload indicator which tells me to back off on the preamp or RF gain or both. The main learning curve for me thus far is in using the scope screen. Once you play with this awhile you get used to operating more visually. You can see whats going on across the whole band and find signals to tune into or find dead spots where the frequency is open. It is also easy to switch in the audio monitor to hear what you are transmitting.
Also tested digital modes JT-65, FT-8 and PSK31 after configuring the software for the rig. The audio scope helps look at the signal quality on digital modes. I did not find any notable differences in using the 7300 vs the 7100 on digital.
So overall I am impressed by the new rig especially on SSB Phone. I’ll likely expand on this review as I get some more time on the rig but I am happy with what I have seen thus far.
The IC-7100 is now setup as my base VHF/UHF rig and I hope to play with DSTAR on it for the first time sooner rather than later. I will continue to have it connected to my PC for rig control and can switch in HF when needed.
August 19, 2017
Posted by on
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:
Addtional changes in the works are:
- Swap my ground braided strap connections with copper strap.
- Install S9 Antenna and radial plate
- Secure the FT-450D and FT-2900R in their new homes
I spent some time reading the manuals for WSJT-X & JTDX to ensure that I was optimizing recieve. This seems to have improved after making the following changes:
- Make sure the PC is set for 16-bit 48,000 Hz sound card sampling.
- Turn off AGC
- Properly set microphone level. This is a two step process. In my case, I dropped the microphone level in Windows to 1%. Then using the Connectors–>ACC/USB AF Level control on the rig, dropped the level until I could get to 30dB receive with the slider at mid-scale. In my case the AF level was set to 10%.
These changes have helped with receiving weak signals. JTDX in particular typically decodes 15 to twenty stations when the band is busy.
April 12, 2017
Posted by on
It took long enough but I finally setup the IC-7100 for VHF/UHF use. The rig was programmed with the local repeater frequencies using RT-Systems programming software and a download from Repeater Book. Pretty straightforward overall. I should be able to use the IC-7100 on digital VHF nets run hear locally. There is a 6:30 net on Wednesdays through the repeater and a Simplex net on Thursdays at 7pm. I will still share the discone between this rig and the Yaesu FT-2900R.
One thing I noticed thus far is that he IC-7100 is hitting the repeaters in Harlingen and in South Padre Island. Not sure why this is but glad it seems to work.
Next up I’ll try and configure DStar.
August 25, 2016
Posted by on
I setup the ICOM 7100 to run with Winlink Express (formerly RMS Express) software to send email over HF. The software allows direct use of the ICOM 7100 through it’s on-board digital mode interface. Overall, this was fairly simple to setup and surprisingly I was able to send some test emails in the morning hours on 40m to a server in Houston. Be sure to select USB digital mode in the software. I set my power out to 50% and connected fairly easily. I am going to play with the settings a bit and see if I can improve connection reliability. At some point I’d like to try this using the FT-817ND as well.
Anybody who would like to exchange some test email with me can send their messages to NO5V@winlink.org
Update 4/20/2017: Per request I am attaching screenshots of my RMS Express configuration. Note that you will likely need to adjust your port settings. First up is the winmor settings:
Here are the Radio Settings
July 30, 2016
Posted by on
Talking to Cliff, N5CEY, at coffee today about WSPR. He pointed out that there is a power control on the WSPR software that lets me crank down the transmit power. I had been running first at 5W then down to 2W which is the minimum the ICOM 7100 can put out. I have now used this control to bring the power down to 1/2W. I am being heard the afternoon across the US on 20m.Thanks for the tip Cliff!
April 27, 2016
Posted by on
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:
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.
April 4, 2016
Posted by on
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.
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.