Welcome

I’m Randy, a 39-year old ham living in Amersfoort, which is located about 25 miles east from Amsterdam. Licensed since aged 17 (1997) and active on all bands from 160 meters up till 3cm tough VHF, UHF and SHF are prefered in (SSB) voice, ATV, CW and weak-signal/DIGI modes.

On the day to day job I work as Independent technical consultant specified in Linux Infrastructure  solutions. Also doing some hands-on support stuff for repeater group Hobbyscoop, the annual Ballon Fox Hunt and trying to promote HAMNET-activities with a group of ham’s throughout the country.

Achievements:
The 1th station from the Netherlands on 144, 432 and 1296 MHz in the QRP section and the 2nd station on 144 and 432 MHz in de low-power section based on DAC and NAC results during 2018.

Sporadic E opening towards IM76

Today there were some nice Sporadic E openings on 144 MHz from my locator (JO22) towards IM76. I’ve worked 2 stations about 2.000 kilometers away. Normally I always mis Sporadic E openings on 144 MHz but today I was lucky to be in the shack on time to prepare for the 144 MHz NAC this evening.

I also heard CN8LI from IM63 (2300 km) but could not work him.

Also worked EA7SL in the same grid

GridTracker from N0TTL

I stumbled across a nice program for grid hunters on the VHF and above bands, reading an article on the local radio club’s website. The program is called GridTracker and is written by N0TTL. Versions are available for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. Perfect to see if new grids are workable via digimodes like FT8.

VUCC (144 MHz) update, June 2019

The more maidenhead grids you collect, the more difficult it gets. While I’ve collected enough grid squares for the 50 MHz VUCC via LoTW I’m still in need for the last 17 on 144 MHz. It should be doable all via tropo using SSB or FT8 (of Meteor Scatter during the september Perseids shower).

Anyone active on 144 Mhz in these squares: JO00, JN29, IO84 or the German-Poland border (JO71, JO72) and willing to try using a sked? These grid squares should always be workable if you have a horizontal antenna system.

Updated image 29-jun-2019: 89/100 Maidenhead grids confirmed

Update 19 juli: IN98, JN26, JN39, JO43, JN58 and JO66 added. VUCC score is now 95/100.

IARU R1 50/70 MHz contest (part 1)

This weekend the IARU Region 1, 50 and 70 MHz contest took place. For the first hour I was trying to work some local hams in FT8 VHF-contest mod since this is an allowed mode in the contest. and worked some UK stations via Tropo. Then for about 1,5 hour I worked some stations in South-East Europe since there were Sporadic E openings.
I wasn’t active on 70 MHz. Or actually active at all due to the lack of time. Hope to work some more stations during Part 2 of the contest and be active on 70 MHz too. This takes place the weekend of 6-7 juli. But during that weekend there is also an VHF/UHF/SHF contest.

Icom IC-9700 firmware update v1.11

Less than a week after releasing firmware v1.10, Icom just released v1.11. This update fixes an issue where the IC-9700 may hang up on a multifunction dial operation. Two Icom users reported issues with me with there IC-9700 frozen up. I hope this will solve the issue they’ve experienced.

Firmware IC-9700 v1.11 can be downloaded from the Icom Japan website.

Icom IC-9700 firmware update v1.10

Icom just released new firmware for the IC-9700. The version is bumped from v1.06 to v1.10 and should fix the ‘drift problem’ which some experience. Icom also added a new function: The 10 MHz ref. input can now be used to permanently sync the external 10 MHz source to the internal oscillator, instead of only being used for calibration purposes. Thus: the input should now work like expected.

Icom also updated the free CS-9700 programming software, since the file-format had been changed due to some addons. Both software is available for download on the Icom Japan website. Keep in mind this update removes all settings, so make sure you have a backup of them (thanks Glenn for the reminder).

‘RED Adjust’ has been renamed to ‘Sync to REF IN’

May 2019 NAC contest on 432 MHz

Due to a lack of time I was only in the shack for about an hour to work 12 stations. ODX was SK7MW (764km) as always. I worked 10 grid locators.

IC-9700 mod: enable AF out on mic

To enable the AF output on Pin 8 of the MIC socket (AFO line), solder a bridge across test point CP421 on the DISPLAY board.

Schematic: Service manual, p. 10-17.
Board layout: Service manual, p. 7-10, to left of R421

May 2019 NAC contest on 144 MHz

Only worked 3 hours. 37 QSO’s in 20 grids. ODX: SK7CY (639km). My result: 3th place in the Netherlands

May 2019 VHF/UHF contest

Spend some hours in the shack. The (temporarily) results (I wasn’t active on 1296 MHz this weekend):

1st place in the Netherlands (C-SO-LP) on 144 MHz
2nd place in the Netherlands (C-SO-LP) on 432 MHz

Icom IC-9700 Service Manual

The IC-9700 Service Manual is available. Download it here. The document is in English, dated March 2019 and contains specifications, inside views, interface information, the adjustment procedure, the part list, mechanical parts, board layouts, the wiring diagram, the block diagram and a schematic diagram. In total the document is 93 pages and about 10 Mbyte in size.

IC-9700 Fan mod stabilizes TCXO

Another interesting post appeared today on the IC-9700 reflector. It describes how to improve frequency stability.

I have modified my IC-9700 to keep the fan continuously running at a reduced speed by fitting a 6.8V Zener diode across the appropriate switching transistor. (N.B. I have documented the process with pictures of where I installed the diode, and I am trying to get the file uploaded to the files section of this site.)
The fan now runs continuously. I can’t hear it in my shack because I have a number of other pieces of equipment which much noisier fans!
I have done some brief frequency stability tests on CW transmissions using a 1 minute on – 1 minute off cycle. Using an HP 53131A with GPS Disciplined external reference, observing the frequency to approx 0.1Hz resolution (N.B. This frequency counter uses reciprocal measurements so the gate sample time is approx 0.5Hz for this level of precision allowing rapid frequency fluctuations to be observed.)

Continue reading

Spring in the shack

Easter. It means a long weekend off. Time for me to be busy in the shack. I started with a ride to SM/Ikea to buy some cupboards. One to the left of the desk to house the VHF and UHF amplifiers and rotators, the other one on the desk to make more room for radio’s. It looks really clean right now. I only have to find a way to lower the monitor about 15 centimeters, since it’s somewhat too high right now to be comfortable.

Antenna
I also mounted the CG-3000 tuner with about 11,5 meters or wire on a pole. The end of the wire is aggravated with some nuts and thrown into a tree at the back of the house. It’s tunable from 160 meters till 10 meters with about 11,5 meters of wire. I dont have the ambition to be very active on HF, but missing the 30-meters and 17-meters band to keep my CW-skills up2date since there is almost no activity on 2-meters besides the yearly Marconi contest.

The FT8 farmer

Did I already mention rule 1 till 3 if you transmit in digimodes?

  • 1. Check your ALC
  • 2. Check your ALC
  • 3. Check your ALC

Don’t be a farmer spreading out harmics on the complete spectrum like the guy below. Your ALC shout *not* come in red. Or even better: not giving a bar at all. The example below is the audio level from PC to TRX is set way too loud.

The guy is calling CQ for over half an hour and nobody is answering because nobody is able to make any successful decodes.

Icom IC-9700 Firmware v1.06

Icom just posted a new firmware version for the IC-9700. The version is v1.06 and has these improvements:

  • Improved accuracy of the automatic reference frequency calibration.
  • Fixed unintended indication on the DR screen.
  • Eliminated RX audio gap when changing the IF filter in the DV mode.