Thursday, 4 June 2015

Your comments (thanks)

SP3RNZ, IU1DZZ, G0MJI and GI4DOH have been in touch by various means recently. They have been interesting discussions.

Greg, SP3RNZ has an IC-7100 and has all the same issues as I have. That is sad but at least it means it is not just me who imagined all this.

The big issue with the 7100 for most people is the low average to peak SSB output. "Weak modulation" you might say, though if you say low power the world falls in on you. Mention low power and a queue of folks line up to say that it does produce 100W peak, your meter is wrong, and you are a disgrace to the ham community for suggesting the Icom make anything other than perfect equipment. Or say something unpleasant about my Irish heritage.

Well, yes, it does produce 100W peak, but some of us were expecting an audio and compression system which was equal to other rigs. No amount of tweaking the audio output produces a satisfactory result for me. If you have a rig which works fine for you, great, but mine is weak for me. All we ask for is a performance equal to other rigs, we are not even asking for something better.

As even mentioning this subject on the net brings waves of criticism, people are going onto Youtube and trying to show the real results. That just brings more criticism of their meters, or plain racism if they happen to be from outside US or England. So one guy did this comparison (it takes him a while to prove what he wants, but remember that he has the whole angry world to convince)

If you scroll down you see he gets the racist blast too. Not fair.

He reckons that the IC-7100 on 100W SSB is roughly equal to another rig on 50W. I would agree with that. Just as well I use it as a linear driver.

I tried to go onto many of these Youtube sites and offer my support. But it is a waste of time. The "powers that be" have decided that constructive comment is to be ignored.

For two years I have been saying that there is an audio output problem with the IC-7100. Not a big enough problem to totally spoil a very good rig for me. All I got for saying this was being thrown off a site for expressing it. Ah well.

Icom should issue a firmware update to fix this.

Sorry Greg, it is a very good rig otherwise. See you on 4m again soon.

Gianfranco, IU1DZZ asked me on another site had I ever tried meteor scatter on 10m. Well, no, but what an interesting idea. Maybe someone can tell me this goes on all the time, but I do not know about it. I would like to try. Gianfranco asked about ISCAT or JT6M. They should work over the path between us and at that frequency. Maybe we would get ionoscatter propagation too. I like that idea. We should try.

Brian, G0MJI sent me a very interesting email about WSPR. As you all know, I use WSPR on 12m, 10m and 6m regularly. Every day really. I have also worked Bri on 4m  WSPR. But we agree that going to 2m and above is not very effective for us. OK, if you want to try, fine, but aircraft scatter gets in the way. I know that WSPR is being used in USA and Australia for long path work, but it seems a bit unsuited to European settings where the aircraft scatter is a bigger problem.

This idea provoked a discussion about Opera mode. I have never tried it. I know that some people are passionate about it. As an on/off interrupted carrier mode like CW you would expect me to like it more than WSPR which is constant carrier FSK. It should be less affected by things like aurora and aircraft scatter. True, but it just does not seem to work very well. Opera should be less inclined to blow up linears, Flex 1500s, etc than continuous carrier modes ...

What Bri's views also sparked off in me was a thought which built on some comments by Richard GI4DOH. There is a bit of philosophy here. You see, although I do set targets and try to beat them, these targets are not about me as an operator. They are about the propagation. I am trying to set a target for the ionosphere. I want to work smarter rather than harder (because at heart I am lazy?).

"I am not a dx-er", and I am proud of that.

I could be the sort of operator who, faced with not getting any QSOs, moves down in frequency. So, if the MUF is not high enough, I can move lower. But, I rarely do that. I only move lower if I am interested in the lower band, in which case I experiment there for years.

Here is the map of every station in the entire World using WSPR on 12 metre band lately (clue - you need two stations to have much chance of working anybody).

Click on it to enlarge, if you think you missed some stations.

I would rather sit and listen to silence on 4m, 6m, or 10m, or all three, than go to 20 meters where I could work a pile of stuff. And I sleep on a bed of nails and wear a very nasty hair shirt, take the stairs rather than the lift or elevator, and if I ever have a heart attack I have a packet of Asprins here ready for work the next day.

Oh the agony of it! I have joy and pain, sunshine and rain (Frankie Beverly and Maze, "Joy and Pain", great record). I have all the great gear, and nobody to work. Hey, go to 20 metres, young man. NEVER!!! I want to learn something, not sit and work 340 countries on any band you like.

After replying to Richard along the lines that it was 38 years, 2 months and 10 days since we had a CW QSO (more now), I have been practising my CW! Gasp. I am surprised, but I am not as bad as I thought. Maybe one day I might actually try it on the air. I mean a serious session, not just half a QSO.

I have Paul, ON4ADI to thank for this. During the St Patrick's Day Aurora he just called me on CW. Perfectly formed and not too fast. It was a joy to copy. He just assumed that I could read it, and he was right. I did not have much choice. But I did not have the key handy. Now it is plugged in.

What really, really, bugs me, is those people who are so certain of their competence that they sit just below 50.099 and call CQ endlessly at 20 wpm+. Grand so. But that excludes me and a lot of other people. So I cannot call them, and they may still be calling CQ now, for all I know. I post a "hrd" message on the cluster to let them know I have copied their callsign, but as they are going too fast I will not call them. I cannot call them. So let them be, again, I have no choice.

Thanks for the contributions, folks.

The Flex 1500 went today to Norbert Wrede in Germany. Hopefully he can fix it. Certainly, he replied to my email in a very helpful and friendly way. Whether it is economic to fix it we shall see. It is not like the FT-817 or the transverter, both of which have been delved into by me many many times. It is too baffling for me to tackle. Let's see.

It cost £15.01 to post, so the taxi meter is already clocking up money.




  1. Sorry to hear about the Flex problem Jim and hope Norbert can fix it for you. If it is any consolation, 350W just below 50.099 at 20 wpm+ yesterday afternoon killed my preamp because my new super K3 synth board switches so much faster than the old one and the relays didn't have enough time to switch. Ironically I went on to have 17 QSOs in 12 countries after changing the K3 Tx delay parameter despite the dead preamp. Fortunately it was the usual diodes gone in the preamp and it is now repaired - not for the first time.
    But isn't this part of the adventure of amateur radio and why we still do it? The challenge is to keep going in the face of adversity - a bit like the lives that ordinary people have :)
    73 Richard GI4DOH

  2. Well it certainly looks like that. I did not know you were on 50.099 too (I cannot hear you). Maybe the stations I cannot read are working you.
    Yes it is true that this battle against the combined forces of the electron and photon which we are engaged in is a challenge. Sorry to hear about the preamp situation, but you seem to be used to it. I did reach a few on 6m with 2W, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Finland. Not exotic. Normal 6m service should be resumed soon.
    Keep working the DX. 73 Jim