Naming Radios

Men in general, have a habit of naming things. All sorts of things, cars, body parts, you name it, we will cast our own nickname on it. I thought I would share some of the names I have given my radios. Typically, I don’t just throw a name on something. I am around it for a while, before I decide what I am going to call it. My poor dogs, when I first get them, I go through a plethora of names until I find one that fits. My latest dog, a boxer mix from the pound was named Hawkeye by them. I got him home. I had to get to know him.

He ended up being Andy but likes to be called pup-pup. Maybe his last owners called him that. He’s still very much a pup but is going to be a great dog.

I will start with my main radio which is an Icom IC-7610. It is my workhorse radio. It is probably the best radio I have ever owned. I have worked the world on it and it does everything I need it to do. I call it Zeus, the king of all my other radios. I believe there is not a radio out there that can do anything that Zeus cannot do. Any improvements over Zeus would be marginal.

Next up is another Icom, the IC-7300. I’ve had this radio the longest. It is simply called Peter, after the Apostle Peter. This radio is my rock. It can do everything my other radios can do. Not as well, but if I could only have one radio, the IC-7300 would be it. I’ve used it as a base, I take it to the field, run it off of batteries, voice, digital, CW, it does it all.

The last Icom in my stable is my IC-705 whom I call Jack. Jack with the AH-705 can do it all. Jack is short for Jack-of-all-trades. It does everything quite well. Because the user interface is similar to my other Icoms, it is easy to use. I think Icom has some of the best ergonomics out there for modern radios.

The next radio on the list is my Lab599, TX-500. This is a fun radio with a simple interface in a small package. What sets this radio apart is it is weatherproof. I have taken out on cold rainy days without issue. Its name is Baal (pronounced bale) which is the Canaanite god of weather. This one doesn’t see as much use as the others, but when bad weather is in the forecast…

The last radio in my current quiver is the FTDX10. My most recent radio and one I wanted to try over a long period to see how I like it and how it compares to my other radios. I named it Sheldon after the main character on The Big Bang Theory. Like Sheldon, the radio has its moments of brilliance, but along with that an awkwardness that can’t be ignored. I will continue to use the radio and try to keep the firmware updated. Yaesu could easily fix some of the issues so we shall see. One thing that I do like about the radio is the roofing filters including the 300hz one.

The last radio on my list is a Penntek TR-45L This radio was due to be delivered last Thursday but has now been postponed until Monday (thank you USPS). This radio is already named Apollo, after the Apollo moon missions back in the 1960’s. I was fortunate enough to be alive then and watched the actual landing on TV. This radio has a 1960’s vibe to it so Apollo it is. More about the TR-45L once I get my hands on it.

These are my radios. I like them all and I try to rotate them as I go to the field. The past couple of months though has had horrible band conditions during my trips so I tended to bring the bigger radios for more horsepower. That and I was working on my POTA N1CC award. When I was at a faraway park I wanted a little insurance working 10 different bands. Gas prices were killer back then so I wasn’t sure about a return trip. Upcoming trips should see a more normal rotation. 73 — Scott

Split Operation Up 2, Up 2

On HF radios operating split means you are transmitting on one frequency and receiving on another. This is beneficial when pileups become large and unruly. Often, hunters or people wanting to work a station (activator or DX) will step over themselves so much that the activator can no longer pick out call signs and the hunters are transmitting so much that no one can hear the activator. Running split keeps the activator’s transmit frequency clear and the activator can vary their receive frequency up and down a little to pick out individual calls.

When an activator decides to operate split they add something like “up 2” to their CQ or QRZ. What that means is they are transmitting on one frequency and receiving on another. Typically CW split is 2 kHz and SSB is 5 kHz. For example, if an activator is transmitting on 14.064 mHz and calls “up 2”, they are receiving on14.066 mHz. The activator can now vary his receive frequency a little to pick out call signs while all the hunters can listen to the one frequency the activator is transmitting on. The hunt is finding the frequency the activator is listening on. Smart activators will move up and down a little to reduce the pileup.

For activators, the split setup is a little different than for hunters. Activators may start out on simplex and then decide the pileup is more chaotic than they can handle. When an activator decides to split he is starting out with the transmit frequency. Hunters on the other hand start with the receive frequency which will be discussed later. For activators, I suggest the following for the FTDX10. Push the A/B button until VFO B is the same as VFO A. Press the split button and then use the Main tuning dial to set the receive frequency.

This will give you the “up 2”. The radio sets VFO B as the transmit frequency and VFO A as the receive frequency. This allows the main tuning dial to change the frequency of VFO A.

For hunters, it’s a little different. Hunters start out on the receive frequency. A hunter hears an activator on 14.064 calling for “2 up”. The easiest way is to dial in the receive frequency, touch the A/B button to equalize the VFOs, and then briefly press the Split button. Use the MPVD (outer) tuning ring to adjust the transmit frequency. Be careful not to hit or bump the main tuning dial. You can also use the Quick Split Option. To use it, set the receive frequency in VFO A and press and hold the Split Button. This will add (or subtract) the offset programmed in the radio. To change the offset, press the function button and go to the Operation Setting menu and then to the General Tab. Scroll down to the Quick Split Freq. Typical offsets are 2 kHz for CW and 5kHz for SSB. The offset can still be adjusted by the MPVD.

Now let’s talk about Icom and in this case the IC-7300. The Icom does not offer a built-in split offset like the Yaesu. As an activator, you start your activation on one frequency 14.064. When it is time to go to split operation.

Press and hold the Split button until VFO B equalizes with VFO A.

This sets up VFO B as the transmitting frequency. Turning the main tuning dial will change the frequency for VFO A, the receive frequency.

For hunters. Set the receive frequency 14.064 and then Push and hold the Split button until the VFO’s equalize. To set the transmit frequency (up 2) push and hold the XFC button under the Multi-Function Knob and using the main tuning dial, set the transmit Frequency. Every time you wish to alter the transmit frequency you have to push the XFC button.

Icom does have a Split Lock function which locks the receive frequency. To enable it, go to menu > Funtion > Split > Split Lock and turn it on.

While in Split Mode if you push and hold the Speech/Lock for one second, you will lock the main tuning dial so you cannot change the receive frequency. You can still alter the transmit frequency by pushing the XFC button and turning the main tuning dial. You will see a little key by the hertz numbers

That’s the basic how-to for split operation. It can be a little confusing. Shown here are the FTDX10 and the Icom IC-7300. Different models from each manufacturer should be similar. Which one is better, that depends. I think in general, when it comes to split operation, it’s a toss-up. I like things from both manufacturers. In general, I find the ergonomics of the IC-7300 better than the FTDX10 however, for split operation, the FTDX10 may be a little easier.

Why I’m keeping my IC-7300

I know there’s been a lot of hoopla over the new Yaesu Radios. I am sure they are fine radios and do a great job. These will be fine radios for those invested in the Yaesu environment.

I have owned Yaesus in the past, the last being the FTDX-3000. However, I always seem to gravitate back to Icom. I am not necessarily an Icom fan boy, just that currently, Icom suits me better.

I was tempted to buy the new FT-710. I looked at it long and hard. I schemed about how I was going to buy one. Part of my justification was looking at the specs where I discovered something…

The IC-7300 hears better. The noise floor for the IC-7300 is -133 dBm vs -127 dBm for the FT-710. Rob Sherwood defines noise floor as “Noise floor measures how weak a signal one can hear.” I can work signals on my IC-7300 and IC-7610 with an S0 (zero) on the meter. I’m working a station and the meter is not moving when receiving.

I hear comments about the FT-710 being quieter. It could be possible that Yaesu has a 6 dBm high pass filter creating an artificial noise floor above the actual one? This is just my opinion based on what I see in the specs. That may be why the Icom hears better and the Yaesu is quieter. Ah, but the FT-710 has better close in dynamic range. This is true. The FT-710 has about a 10 db better close in dynamic range then the IC-7300. The question becomes, do you really need it? From Rob Sherwood “What do you need in the way of close-in dynamic range? You want a number of at least 70 dB for SSB, and at least 80 dB for CW. A 10 dB safety factor would be nice, so that means you would prefer 80 dB for SSB and 90 dB for CW.” Unless you’re a hard core contester or chasing DX, the answer might be maybe not. Rob Sherwood put an IC-7300 through its paces during an ARRL 160 meter CW contest. His comment was “I have zero complaints about using it in a CW contest.” This contest would be a good test for any receiver. Like Rob I have no issues with my Icom the way I use it.

Am I telling you not to get a FT-710? Of course not. It’s a fine radio in its own right. Like I said, I was tempted. But, if you already own an IC-7300, the extra expense of buying a FT-710 and/or selling your IC-7300 may not be worth the effort. I’ve owned my IC-7300 since 2017 and can make it dance and sing. I would have to relearn the Yaesu menu architecture and it may take me a while to get the same results as the Icom. I have 4 Icoms with the same/simular menu system so for me it’s a no brainer to keep the Icom. I believe either radio is well suited for the task it was designed to do. I am not really saying the Icom is better than the Yaesu, what I am saying is that the Icom is better suited to me. YMMV. 73 Scott.

IC-705 Stand

I bit the bullet and ordered an Icom IC-705. It really was a no-brainer for me as I already have several Icom radios. I have had other brands, but I keep going back to Icom. Anyhow, once I got the radio I needed a stand to keep it tilted at the right angle. There isn’t a whole lot out there. The commercial stands are rather pricey, and the 3D printed versions are nice but my son’s 3D printer is down for maintenance and upgrades.

I had a $30 gift card from Tractor Supply I received for Christmas, so off I popped. The stand is made from 1/16″ thick, 1″ x 1″ angle aluminum cut to 2″ long. I got a 48″ piece for 10 bucks. While there I picked up some M4 x 10 machine screws and some M4 washers (about another 2 bucks. Icom gives you the dimensions for all the mount holes in their manual.

I cut it to length, drilled the holes and then did a nice deburr on it. Needle files and a Dremel work great here. I then lightly sanded the whole piece and cleaned it with non-chlorinated brake cleaner (great stuff and cheap at any auto parts store).

The next step was a coat of primer, in this case zinc chromate, a throw back to my Army Aviation days, followed by a coat of high temperature flat black. It’s what I had on hand.

Finally, I added a clear coat and let it sit over night. Here is the final product installed on the IC-705.

It was a fun little project and only took a couple of hours time. The 705 sits back on that angled section at the back of the radio — perfect. I found a padded telephoto lens case that should fit it just fine for about 20 bucks. I’ve taken Icom radios to the field before and they hold up well. I’ve made some CW contacts from home and the radio works as well as my other Icoms. I made out to California and up into NY. I am looking forward to getting this in the field.