Hi there !!
Have been IN-active on hamradio since 1990 !!! Mainly due to living & working abroad, and maybe also the internet has caused my absence in hamradio-land in all those years. I officially suspended my licence in december 1999 because I didn't want to pay the licence-fee for nothing
(this triggered a ham-pirate to use my callsign, and made SSB qso's while I'm a CW operator mainly, got loads of QSL cards from QSO's made by that pirate. Folks: if you have logged/heard PA3BKL with SSB qso's during my absence, please email me the opr. name that he used, and I'll kick his silly ass!!)
I re-activated my licence in June 2008 (wow, that's almost 10 years of OFFICIAL suspension!!) as I was ready to jump back into this wonderful hobby!!
I was quickly up and running on VHF/UHF, thanks to my good old Kenwood TM-741E tri-bander that was still working great, using a DIAMOND X5000 stick together with a Comet 3 bander multiplexer (2m / 70cm / 23cm), nicely connecting the three TM-741 outputs to that single antenna (no space!!)
Unfortunately my HF 'department' was in BAD shape. From the old days (I'm talking 1982 here!!) I still had the complete DRAKE TR-7 and DRAKE R-7 line, but in 2009 I decided to sell that via eBay. I sold the TR7 line to Juan / EA3NJ, who is very happy with it (check out his website via qrz.com). The Drake set works like a charm. Quality allways pays off !!!
The only 'HF left-over' there was my beloved Kenwood TS-940S-AT (which I bought in 1985), which was (and still is) a great HF unit, but just Google for 'TS-940 bad soldering' and you will see the reason why my TS-940S didn't work well anymore.
As I didn't want to part from this great machine, I have sent my unit to a guy in Germany, who would completly refurbish my good old TS-940S to it's original ''glory'. During the process, he emailed me, that he already had done around15 THOUSAND resolderings!! Amazing!! Can't wait until I have my TS-940S back !!!
In the meantime, I just needed a new HF set, so I started looking around and focussed on the Yaesu FT-2000D. Just ready to buy one, I visited Marcus from http://www.hamshop.nl, and suddenly I noticed this black beauty sitting beautiful on a table in his shop: the ICOM IC-7700.....
I just fell for the IC-7700 immediately, and I put that very unit on my shack-shelf right in front of me. Never had such a great HF unit to play with. As a former radio-officer you don't go for less...... and it's eye-candy too!!!
In the old days I could control my TS-940S via a PC (using commands in a Excel spreadsheet, serially 'printing' the matrixed commands via a RS-232 cable to the TS-940S !!!). I also wanted to remote-control my spanking new IC-7700, so I downloaded 'Ham Radio deLuxe' beta 5.0 and that is REALLY awesome. Much better than TRX-Manager ( which I could NOT even get up and running, apart from the fact that TRX-Manager looks plain UGLY!! and is way to expensive!!). First I used the USB Digibox 3 (by PE2RMI), and later I got a MicroHam USB Interface II (with built-in soundcard). Works like a charm.
I used to be a CW only guy, but when I found out that the IC-7700 has built-in PSK and RTTY modems, it changed me into a PSK fan. I just connected a small iMac keyboard to the USB port of the 7700 and I was in business. Amazingly great stuff!! I missed out almost 20 years of ham-development, and now this is how far the new technology has come. In the old days I was ony using RTTY (TONO 9000) and AMTOR (I still have the ICS AMT-2 designed by Peter / G3PLX). Unfortunately AMTOR seems to be exterminated, but I'm hoping for a revival. Come on guys, brush the dust off your TNC's, and get back chirpin'...
Some time later I learned that you need a good mike for voice QSO's. I had a very old mike (from my dad), but that didn't work quite well. To maintain the level of equipment-quality that I had reached now, I ordered a Heil PR781 Microphone, seems specialy made for the IC-7700. Goodie!!
O yeah, for CW I still had this very old ETM-4C (bought it second hand in 1980), and even a AEA CK-1 contest keyer, but I have them replaced with a Logikey K-5 (amazing!!), and my Bencher BY-1 paddles were replaced by one of the BEST handmade paddles in the world: The Morse Dirigent, personally handcrafted by Ulli Scheunemann / DC2SO.
As a CW freak, I found out that Begali [http://www.i2rtf.com/] added a Limited Edition version of their STEALTH key to their productline.. There were only 59 available, and I quickly phoned Bruna Begali (Piero's daughter) and managed to get STEALTH Limited Edition #33 on my name!! It has the same looks as the Begali Sculpture key: polished antimagnetic stainless steel in ONE piece!! (heavy like a brick!!)
Unfortunately, morse keys gather DUST!! So a nice plexiglass cover would be nice. From the Begali site I learned thatIgnacio / EA2CTB can supply custom designed Plexiglass keycovers.
|Well, I contacted Ignacio and sent him the EXACT (!!!!) dimensions of my Begali Stealth LTD. After some weeks he sent me the nicest CW paddle dustcover I have EVER seen. If you want a dustcover for YOUR paddles, just send him an email. I was so happy with that cover, that I also wanted to have a key cover for my good old Bencher BY-1 paddles, and again I Ignation made a GREAT keycover for my Bencher.
Check out reviews for his keycover here:
And, finally I traded in my beautiful IC-7700 for a IC-7800.
Having used the IC-7800 for some months now, I'm still flabbergasted by the amazing performance/quality of a IC-7800!!.
I topped it off with two SP-20 speakers. Awesome!!
Well, seems that I'm 'reasonably' back on track, all geared up for some serious ham-action.
Maybe I'll meet some of you on the bands!!
Check out my shack here:
Catch me on the bands, I'm QRV for you!!!
Best 73's from Robbert / PA3BKL