2015 Field Day – New IC-7200

Well 2015 Field Day is approaching and I’m the captain of the digital station. My personal HF station has been down for about 6 months now due to antenna issues and me not able to climb my tower to fix those issues. Well I did manage to climb on Sunday as black clouds where looming south of my QTH as a thunderstorm was heading my way. I pulled the Icom AH-4 down from the 45 foot mark down to the ground so I can get a look at it and see what’s wrong. Was going to put up my Cobra Senior but it seems that my ropes and pullys in the pine trees have some issues… like me not being able to lower the AH-4 wires down and pull the Cobra Senior up. Weather turned to crap shortly after I brought the AH-4 down so the Senior install will be another day (maybe today!)

Once the antenna is up, I plan on trying out my new toy… IC-7200 Camo Edition. Don’t know why but I’ve had a thing for this rig ever since I saw the first one down in Orlando at Hamcation. Gigaparts is the only supplier that has the painted versions available and only those are available now for some reason. Do a search for IC-7200 and all major suppliers are out of stock. Supposed to be a “parts supply shortage”. Who the heck knows…

This is a good rig for digital ops which I mainly operate so I’m going to be testing it out before Field Day. Have to get use to not having to hookup a Signalink USB device like I use on my IC-756ProIII and IC-718. Now that I have this rig, I’m going to have to cull out some of my Icom stock. Currently I have 2 IC-718 rigs, IC-746Pro, IC-758ProIII, IC-703 QRP rig and an ICOM M-710 marine rig for Amateur use.

I will have to say that I have ordered quite a few things in the past few weeks and I have nothing to say but good things about ordering on-line from both GigaParts and HRO. All the orders were at my doorstep within two days of my order and both provided updates via email. Nice to do business with those folks!

I’ll report back later when I’m on the air!


Digital Modes after Field Day (2012)

Ok… after the 2012 Field Day, I got my digital edge back on. After taking a 6 month break and operating the digital station at FD, I decided to fire up the digital home station. Most of my digital operations previously has been Hellschreiber (FeldHell) which is a really fun mode. Mainly because it’s different from any other mode. Instead of seeing text on the screen such as RTTY or PSK31, FH is “painted” on the screen almost looking like a horizontal fax document. Check out the FeldHell Club for more info

My new love is JT65-HF by Joe Large, W6CQZ. A good resource with documentation and software links for this mode is IZ4CZL’s site. This is not a QSO mode but a structured mode. Each transmission last about 48 seconds, followed by 12 seconds allowed for decoding. A typical QSO with the structured exchanges last 7 minutes. An accurate clock is a must (actually required) since you have to be able to decode within the alloted time and then reply at the top of the next minute. A drift in the PC clock greater than 2 seconds will render the QSO useless. I’ve had good luck with Dimension4 NTP software.

I usually hang out on 30 Meters (10.138) or 17 meters (18.102). When conditions are permitting, you will find those two frequencies really active. Big solar flair yesterday caused most of the HF bands to die!

(Courtesy of US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/xray_5m.html )

My primary digital station is an ICOM 756 Pro III and a SignaLink USB sound card interface. It’s a little pricey but in this case, you get what you pay for. Customer Service is A+! as well. Currently running a random wire dipole fed up 65 feet on the tower with an ICOM AH-4 remote tuner. That puppy works like a charm… a little pricey as well but worth it.

Enough updating for now… fire up JT65-HF and meet me on the bands!