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.

March 2019 NAC contest on 144 MHz

Only worked two hours. 28 QSO’s in 18 grids. ODX: GD8EXI (705km). My result: 6th place in the Netherlands.

March 2019 VHF-UHF-SHF Contest

Active on 144, and a bit on 432 and 1296 MHz in the C-SO-LP class.
Temporary results: 1st place 144 MHz, 3th place 432 MHz and 3th place 1296 MHz.

Februari 2019 NAC contest on 432 MHz

36 QSO’s in 20 grids. ODX: GI6ATZ (791km). My result: 2nd place in the Netherlands.

Februari 2019 NAC contest on 144 MHz

39 QSO’s in 22 grids. ODX: SK7CY (639m). Good to hear that Conrad (PA5Y) is back. My result: 3th place in the Netherlands.

WSJT-X: Error Loading LotW Users Data

When startin WSJT-X v2.0, an error is shown saying: “Error Loading LotW Users Data”. Dit is due to Windows systems not hndling Intermediate CA’s correctly when retrieving the LotW user data file thats been served from a secured website.

The solution is simple.
  • Start WSJT-X and click on file -> Open log directory.
  • Than, manually download this file and place it in the WSJT-X log directory.
  • The SSL error should be gone now.
  • Counting down till IC-9700

    In a few weeks from now, the new Icom IC-9700 will arrive. The local HAMShop gave an estimate of beginning 2019. The Japanese manual is ready, but I’m still waiting for a translated English version. I had some questions about the new rig, but most of theme are answered.

    • It does have +12 Volt bias to feed external preamps via coax.
    • It is missing PTT out via an RCA connector.
    • It seems it does not wide-band receive.

    Let’s wait for another few weeks till the transceiver, announced September 2017, will arrive to it’s first customers.

    Good Tropo to Spain

    Today, very good Tropo conditions appeared which led to good activity on the 144 MHz. FT8 frequency. I was able to work multiple stations in Spain. Al stations where 1.000+ kilometers away. Since Spain is new for me on 144 MHz. this brings the total DXCC worked on 25. Total grids is now 73 in 144 MHz.

    November 2018 NAC contest on 144 MHz

    Terrible conditions towards the UK. Stopped early. 35 QSO’s, 15 grids, ODX: SK7CY (639km).

    October 2018 NAC contest on 1296 MHz

    It could be the Dutch Worked all Provences award, so many Dutch stations were QRV tonight. Amongst them some new stations, including Tonnie (PA3GLL) from Losser, which made his first QSO’s tonight on 23cm. Welcome!

    In total I counted 15 Dutch stations and worked 12 of them. I didn’t really spend time on the ON4KST chat since I was busy repariring radio’s. The CQ-slave was on to generate some traffic on my frequency as Run station, which worked quite well.

    Tropo propagation was okay tonight, but I expected to work more UK stations. The score: 28 QSO’s, ODX was SK7MW as always (617km) with 16 locators.

    Half way VUCC award

    The most difficult VUCC award to get is obviously the 144 MHz one. For 50 MHz one summer with Sporadic E should be enough to fulfill the 100 maidenhead grid locators one. For 432 MHz, 50 grids are enough, for 1296 MHz only 25 locators are required, for 2330 MHz only 10 and higher bands only 5 locators will do. For bands above 1 GHz, one active contest weekend should be enough to fulfill the requirements.

    The VUCC award rules

    The VUCC award rules

    In total I worked about 90 maidenhead grid locators on 144 MHz. Via Logbook of the World (LoTW), 52 are confirmed. WSJT-X in combination with JT-Alert as Worked Grid Indicator is really helpful in FT8, since it will also show of the operator is using eQSL and/or LoTW to get your QSO’s confirmed fast without the hassle of sending analogue paper cards you receive after a year to the US. I wish there were more stations using LoTW, in particular on the higher bands.

    Update one week later. Worked 10 grids extra of which 8 already have been confirmed via LoTW. This wek the antenna was heading towards 210 degrees (France).