Icom IC-9700 Inside Pictures

Today, Robin (G1MHU) posted some pictures on Facebook. Embedding the pictures doesn’t work but follow this link to see them. Looks like Icom already added a foam block on the TCXO for stability. But. There is enough room to add a heater, cooler, whatever inside the box.

Pluto SDR hack: Add a 2nd CPU core

The Pluto SDR is easily ‘hacked’ to extend the frequency range from 325-4000 MHz to 70-6000 MHz as described earlier. Another hack is to enable the 2nd CPU core on the ADALM Pluto. After logging in to the unit, ‘cat /proc/cpuinfo’ shows only one core. Now enter ‘fw_setenv maxcpus’ in the console and reboot the Pluto with the command ‘pluto_reboot reset’. Now the 2nd CPU core is enabled.

Icom IC-9700 and 10 MHz GPSDO lock

Many people are confused about the 10 MHz reference lock input on the IC-9700. And so was I. While all of us expected the VCXO was locked to the 10 MHz input (which in most cases will be locked to a GPSDO) it isn’t. Unlike the new IC-7610, which is locked, the 10 MHz input on the IC-9700 can only be used to calibrate the transceivers’ VCXO. And even this doesn’t seem to be most accurate.

According Rex (VK7MO) tests, he had a 4 Hz error on 144 MHz, a 40 Hz error on 1296 MHz. Icom has work to do to fix this (and the ALC / Power Overshoot) error. A fix could be a (more) permanent lock/sync, but a fix could also be made in the fan controller, since the temperature is directly involved with the IC-9700’s drift.

People using the IC-9700 for FM (repeaters), satellite, FT8, etc. should not worry. People using the IC-9700 for weak-signal modes and EME should, and not putting the old locked IC-910(0) or TS-2000 on sale, yet.

IC-9700 receiving from a GPSDO signal source. RX only but with case temperature above 30 degrees so the fan turns on and off.

April 2019 NAC contest on 1296 MHz

Only worked for 1,5 hours. 8 QSO’s in 7 grids. ODX: SK7MW (617km). I had to run low power due to the IC-9700 Power Overshoot. 🙁

Icom IC-9700 Power overshoot

Damn you Icom. Again, and again, and again. Yes. Alse the IC-9700 is equipped with the famous ‘power overshoot’ or ‘ALC overshoot’ issue most modern Icom transceivers have. Apparently Icom can’t get a grip on this issue. Bad news for people using transistor based amplifiers (SSPA) in SSB mode.

Since the IC-9700 had a ‘TX PWR LIMIT’ function, setting this to 7%* will prevent the amp from going in protection mode. The bad side is that the amp only running about 50% of the effective power.

* In my case I’m using a Gemini 2-500 amp with 4W drive level requirement. If your amp needs 10W input, raising the 7% to [try something like 13%] the value you need. And no. 7% does not mean 7 Watts, thus overloading. The value (percentage) isn’t linear. Measuring the (avg) output will tell you.

Update: Setting the tx-delay to 20 ms solved the issue tripping the SSPA.

Icom IC-9700 frequency modification

The first IC-9700 frequency modification appeared online. Marcus (PA2DB) from HamShop.nl posted this. The modification only works on European models and by removing 2 diodes the frequency can be expanded by a few MHz to the USA market. That means 2 MHz extra from 146-148 MHz (which is a welcome modification for UK users since they have temporarily access to 146-147 MHz) and extension from 440-450 MHz. No wideband or MARS/CAP modification available yet. I guess the diodes can be found in the front.

April 2019 NAC contest on 432 MHz

The most remarkable tonight were the very poor conditions. I was able to work Dan (OZ1BEF) as usual, but with 55 signals maximum, with the help of airplane scatter. Normaly his signal is always 59+.
Another stations further away that should always be workable is SK7MW but tonight I didn’t hear the Swedish club station, tough they were spotted on the cluster.
Later on in the evening the openings towards the UK were a bit better but still very moderate.
Totals: 16 QSO’s in 7 grid locators. ODX: OZ1BEF with 510km. I could work more but did not gave CQ myself. Just busy with the new IC-9700, pre-amp settings, compressor settings, etc.

EAntenna 5070OWA9

April. The Sporadic E season is about to start. And since my last antenne for 50 and 70 MHz didn’t survive a storm it is time for a new one. This time I bought the 5070OWA9 fom EAntenna at the local Hamshop. It is a 4-element antenna for 50 MHz and a 5-element antenna for 70 MHz mounted on a 3,55 meter boom. The driver for 70 MHz is passively feeded from the 50 MHz driver.

Mouting
Mounting the antenna was quite sraightforward. I needed extra tools like a 5,5mm socket and a 2,5mm Allen key, and a 7mm wrench to mount the coax, the rest of the tools are provided. But… the guys at EAntenne forgot to drill some holes in the 5 supplied mounitng plates to put the 70 MHz elements on the boom. So I had to drill 20 M6 screw tap holes (the holes itself are there). To bad, but the local Hamshop already mentioned it on the webshop.

The balun
I still got a Current Balun with ferrite clamps from the old antenna so I decided to recycle this one. Else I’d suggest to make an ‘ugly balun’ or ‘air wound rf balun’ with some coax windings. The balun I use is from Innovantennas and bought a few years ago together with baluns for 144 and 430 MHz.

The G0KSC Innovantennas Current Balun
The antenna mounted. It will be removed in the winter to reduce wind impact on the mast.

Icom IC-9700 hidden telnet service

My Icom IC-9700 is connected to the network. And, as a freelance linux and infrastructure (security) engineer, I could not resist to do a port-scan on the box. The first result was port 23, used for the legacy telnet service. Loggin in was easy. No username and password required to get a shell. Quite shocking and a real security risk for devices directly connected to the Internet. That’s a receipe to get hacked within hours.

Since the # would suggest it’s a rootshell, the available commands are quite limited (yet…). But I assume it’s an RTOS shell. I’ll find time to figure it out.

Icom IC-9700 and N1MM+

The problem with new transceivers is the lack of support for drivers in programs like Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT-X (OmniRig), N1MM+ and MicroHam drivers. Just to name some programs I juse often. After playing around I found a way using the IC-9700 with N1MM+ by emulating an IC-7300 wich has about the same architecture.

All you need to do is change the default CI-V address from A2h to 94h. It will help to change the CI-V Baud Rate from Auto to 19200 but this step is not mandatory. Now confugure N1MM+ to use the IC-7300 and it will work out of the box when the right comport is selected. Good luck!

Update (8-apr): An experimental buid (v1.0.7598) is available on the N1MM website with initial support for the IC-9700 added. Keep in mind this is beta but it seems that both VFO’s work.
Update (9-apr): A new build with IC-9700 support is ready. Update, Set, Go. Good luck!

Icom IC-9700 and WSJT-X

The problem with new transceivers is the lack of support for drivers in programs like Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT-X (OmniRig), N1MM+ and MicroHam drivers. Just to name some programs I juse often. After playing around I found a way using the IC-9700 with WSJT-X by emulating an IC-7300 wich has about the same architecture.

My IC-9700 settings:
MENU -> SET -> Connectors -> CI-V
CI-V Baud Rate: 19200
CI-V Address: 94h
CI-V Transceive: ON
CI-V USB Port: Link to [REMOTE]

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON EVER(!) WITH FT8 -> Check your audio!
When starting to make a QSO, check your audio level. Use the Meter section and be sure the ALC does not more more than 1, 2 or 3 blocks. If you’re running to much audio, the ALC will kick in, crating harmonics, splatter, etc. I’m sure people will just ignore your CQ, if they are able to make a decode anyway. Use the slider on the bottom right. In my case it’s set to about -25 dB.
For receiving: Use AGC slow and change ‘6 sec’ to ‘off’. This is by far the best setting to receive digital signals (also on the IC-7300) in crowded bands and it avoids strong signals (or people disrespecting the ALC setting, we call them egoists) wiping weak signals away.

The ALC should (almost) NOT come out of the (left) corner. Don’t mind the low power setting. My 500W SSPA requires only 4 Watts of input.

The new Icom IC-9700 is in

The frst batch of the new IC-9700’s arrived today at Hamshop. I was the first one to collect mine, ordered back in September 2017 hours after the announcement during the Tokyo Hamfest.

After unboxing I notice the DIN connector is missing. From all Icom transceivers I’ve bought in the past, the DIN connector for accessoires was always delivered (as pitail). Since PTT-out is mandatory for me to control the SSPA I hope to find a suitable connector in the junk box.

  • The transceiver is delivered with firmware v1.04. A newer version (v1.05) is availlable.
  • It has PL259 connector for 144 MHz. I’ll change this to N in the future.
  • No PTT out via RCA. I’ll open up the box soon to see if there is space in the chassis to mount an RCA connector to act as PTT-out to key-up the SSPA.
Let the unbox party begin…
Left: IC-7300, Right: IC-9700

April 2019 NAC contest on 144 MHz

Only worked 2,5 hours. 25 QSO’s in 17 grids. ODX: SQ6POM (716km). My result: 4th place in the Netherlands. It could be the last NAC with the FT-817 since the IC-9700 will arrive today. If this Icom doesn’t have the ALC / Power overshoot like all Icom’s have, it should be safe to feed the SSPA with it.

DAC and contest prices 2018

144 MHz: 1st place QRP section
432 MHz: 1st place QRP section
1296 MHz: 1st place QRP section
144/432 MHz: 2nd place C-section (up to 100 Watt)

Again good tropo to Spain

Today, there is good tropo propagation to Spain, again. Last time activity went up in FT8 on 144 MHz, this time stations also moved to 432 MHz FT8. Spain is a new DXCC for me on 432 MHz. Also one new grid already confirmed via LoTW on 144 (EA1MX in IN73). Loud signals from stations 1.000km+ away.