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N2SCL USA flag USA

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Ham Member Lookups: 2512

QSL image for N2SCL

Hello Amateur Allies,

I am currently running a 100W Kenwood TS-590S or my Icom IC-751A on SSB, CW, and AM/FM into an MFJ-969 T-match roller inductor tuner, end-feeding a home brew wire antenna, which is comprised of an MTW-insulated 14 gauge stranded copper wire, and is electrically more than a half wavelength long at 3.5 MHz. This allows me to work most lower HF bands, for better or for worse. Essentially a NVIS type antenna due to its "height challenged" location in the yz-plane, I can use it from 160m to 30m generally. I'm also using a vertical for 20m through 10m, with either the 590 or an Icom IC-718. I hope to improve the wire antenna for the low bands and come up with alternates for the 40-15m bands. The current microphones are Icom SM-20, SM-30, Kenwood MC-60A, and the Heil Pro Elite with HC6 element (for Kenwood).

Within the room are the requisite maps on the wall, reference books, et cetera. The grid square map behind the radios is useless there, but makes the picture more interesting, haha. No amplifier is currently being used, so the same for the 800W tuner MFJ-962D, bottom left).

My Icom IC-7200 is setup for digital operations in the other "shack" where the VHF/UHF stuff resides, using Daiwa SS-330W's (switchers) for DC power there. There's a 2m/220/440 vertical in the air for VHF/UHF FM. I also have an Icom IC-290H 2m all-mode, a 2m/440 log periodic (Elk),an IC-375A 220 all-mode, and a horizontal loop for 220, but haven't done much with them. The Cushcraft 4-element yagi (224WB Boomer) that I assembled for the 220 band is much better than the loop.

Integrating the Icom IC-7200 with my laptop computer via a USB cable and running HRD (Ham Radio Deluxe), I can run the rig and all its functions using the computer/mouse while observing activity on the computer's monitor display with HRD's colorful GUI. I'm having a blast with the Digital Master 780 plug-in within HRD, usually monitoring PSK31and making contacts on 30-10m with a less than full size G5RV type antenna in an attic space.

The Kenwood TS-520S (pictured in the upper right corner) was fun for some years, but has been sent out west, off to another operator. I'm glad Dean will keep it in service. It's was a blast of a rig, still sounding good after 35 years ! 2 x 6146 final tubes. I'll have to procure that "old school" tube amp to fiddle with plate and load again.

For CW, I use the inexpensive straight keys from Ameco, specifically the black plastic base K1 (used on the 751A), and the brass K4 (shown, used with the 590). Surprisingly, the plastic, cheaper K1 is actually a lighter, quicker action key than the brass K4, but I use both. No need for anything better and more pricey with my weak CW skills, for lack of practice time in, although I just purchased a Kent Twin Paddle (very cool) for motivation and inspiration.

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I have to say that my breath wasn't initially taken away by DSP, but there are some major convenience perks. There may be operator convenience features and manufacturing issues in favor of digital circuitry in general, but there's nothing quite as alluring (IMHO) as quality analog components and design. Unfortunately, the proliferation of "digital" ASIC circuits in electronic equipment has eroded the quality of requisite analog circuitry in communications equipment, due to the obsoleting of components and compromised analog circuitry, by reducing parts counts and integrating functions all in the quest for the almighty buck, perceiving the less is more concept in a very short sighted way.

On the flip side, buying any expensive accessory filters for the 7200 wasn't necessary, and the performance from this rig is very reasonable considering its modest cost, compared to other current Icom offerings. The 7200 also has high frequency stability standard, a nice plus that's especially useful and convenient to me for digital operation, especially for the very efficient BPSK in the 31.5 Hz BW (PSK31). Not a suitablebox for CW contesting, full bandwidth Tx audio for low band ragchewing, or fancy color displays, but hey, they had to keep the cost down somehow.

I like the Kenwood 590 transceiver better in general, which also can work for digital, but... The HRD setup is a little different, but I do like the 7200 better for the digital modes, with the 7200 having the portability thing working for it, too. The 7200 just does digital mode operation better than the 590. With the Kenwood, you must use data mode in SSB to get the IF BW down to 50 Hz, but the 7200's selectivity in such a narrow IF has the 590 beat. That said, the Kenwood 590 has much better general all around tranceiver flexibility (features) and performance (user experience) than the Icom 7200, but it does cost more and requires more attention, but it is worth it, as far as the less expensive new offerings go. I recommend the SO-3 TXCO and the VGS-1 VR options to round out the 590, although it's almost another $200, and they should have been standard, not "options" IMHO. In any case, every radio has its picks and pans, irrespective of their price point; cost is just another adjustment into the final analysis.

For mobile operation, I am working a Yaesu FT-857D (and sometimes a Heil Pro Micro Single) with an ATAS-120A barefoot for 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, and 6m. It is respectable on all these bands, quite a pleasant surprise, although I still use the Diamond SG7900A for 2m and 70cm, since the ATAS-120A kind of stinks on VHF and UHF. 40m is not nearly as efficient as 20m, but it does well enough, all considered. Using a (where it's tuned) hamstick on 40m kicks it up a notch, although not as convenient.

For 1.25m band, I've been using a TYT TH-9000 and a Hustler SF-220 lately. Also, recent salt, ice, and snow has me using cheap Shark & Hustler ham sticks for the HF & 6m bands other than 160m, 30m, and 12m. I'm reserving the not so cheap screwdriver antenna for the good weather !

HT's include a Kenwood TH-F6A 5W tribander with a Diamond SRH-320A antennna, and an Icom IC-92AD with a Diamond SRH-77CA antenna for accessing D-Star DV mode, which is useless to me without my DV dongle access point (DVAP) for the computer, and the downloadable software, but yet another toy to play with lol, essentially a DV mode echolink using RF, and of course, occasional echolink usage on the smartphone or laptop when appropriate.

Initially licensed in 1992, I lost my original "tech with code" N2SCL call in 2004 due to an extended period of inactivity from the hobby. I got so wrapped up in life's other stuff, that I actually forgot to renew. After coming back into the hobby as KC2UTV, I converted my General to an Extra, and promptIy applied to the FCC to bring the N2SCL call back to its rightful owner. Luckily, the call was never formally requested and my application was quickly(?) accepted. So much more to say, but then there's the ragchew QSO !!

Catch you down the wire [log]! .... 73.

 

87346 Last modified: 2014-04-15 04:10:24, 10048 bytes

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