Your Questions Answered and May, 2018 Update

It’s been quite a busy couple of months and I’ve slacked on the videos. The springtime tends to get very active with antenna orders and I’ve had some other projects going on. So I apologize for the delay. So to catch up with everything that’s been going on, I’ve dug through the list of questions and comments I’ve received over the past month and will share a few of the interesting ones with you.

In the video Icom IC-718 Transceiver controls, Hamradiocomms writes:

Excellent video, beautiful hi-def view of the radio. The only correction I’d mention is you said filters are to narrow your bandwidth on CW or SSB. Actually add on filters can narrow or expand the bandwidth.. on CW it almost always narrows it from the stock filter, but on SSB the stock filter may by 2.4khz and the add on filters can be 1.8, 2.3, 2.9, 3.3khz for instance, so many are wider than stock.

You are correct, thanks for the clarification. Filters can be used to narrow or expand the bandwidth. I think in my explanation I only said narrow as that’s the way most people use them.

And on the followup, Hamradiocomms writes: Yes, totally agree on usually narrower… I only see the wider on SSB locally in the Northeast for NVIS 300 – 400 mil contacts for nets and local ragchews with hams who are into audio, want the greatest fidelity so 3.3khz are common, but as you know this is the opposite from what we want for DXing, where we can get more punch out of the 2.3khz.  I have a 2.9khz option in my FT-897D and I can use it for receive and/or transmit, so I can sound good (fuller) at the other end on NVIS contacts.

Narrow filters do help with DX reception and High fidelity HF ham radio is another whole can of worms, and those super-wide filter settings can cause interference to others. So just be mindful of that.

Be sure to check out Hamradiocomms Youtube channel, I’ll throw a link up on the screen. It’s filled with Ed’s personal ham radio experiences, so you might find them interesting.

Speaking of the Icom IC-718, Binoy asks:

Hi do you prefer IC-718 or FT-450 D as a first HF ..? please advise TNX.

That’s a great question. I’ve had some experience with the FT-450, although I’ve never owned one. It has some nice features such as the built in tuner and the DSP is a lot better than the IC-718. Downside is that the Yaesu has most of the functions buried in menus, so it takes more button pushing to activate a feature. The Icom has a much simpler control structure. What I like about the IC-718 is that you can sit down in front of it and start operating with a minimum of instruction. I’ve taken it to Field Day and had no problems teaching a new person how to use it.

The built in tuner on the FT-450 is nice, but it only tunes to 3:1 or less, so it isn’t going to be too useful if you are using a random wire or non-resonant antenna. I’d still look for an external tuner for that. When I bought my Icom, the FT-450 wasn’t available, but if I was going to do it over again, I would take a very long, hard look at the Yaesu and may lean that direction.

Finally, Brian asks:

What is a good power supply for this rig?

Any 13.8 volt power supply capable of at least 20amp output will work well for this rig. I’m using a 25 amp Astron switching power supply: https://amzn.to/2ICDrMG, but MFJ and others make good, affordable, units that will work well. I prefer the switching supplies over the transformer based regulated power supplies. The switching supplies are lighter and more energy efficient. And the newer switching supplies are a lot cleaner than what they used to be, so they don’t create RF interference like they used. to.

In my Pi-Star digital radio hotspot video, I received a message from John Beatty:

You may have heard by now, the Zumspot development/developer has paused sales.  Apparently he wants to devote time to next iteration of the Zumspot, which is good news.   Maybe Dayton announcement?  That would be cool.

Thanks for the heads up, I hadn’t heard the news yet. I know from experience that it can be tough to be a small developer and handle all aspects of design, production, sales, and support. Maybe taking a break will allow him to step back, rework the plan, and explore licensing the product. I think part of the problem is that the Zumspot was released as an open source project and was quickly copied and knocked off by Chinese manufacturers. These Jumbo type hotspots don’t quite have the same level of quality and some users have experienced issues in getting them running. So my recommendation is to stick with one of the legit boards like the DVmega for a kit and the SharkRF for an all in one approach.

In my video: Skywarn Severe Weather Criteria and Report Format, Lync writes:

Found the SKYWARN net in my area and had the chance to report on severe weather. Was extremely cool, but still need a ton of practice on it.

That’s how I got started with storm spotting. I picked up a severe weather net on the scanner, kept listening in, and soon got my license. But if you are new to storm spotting, I recommend some online training if you are unable to make an in-person class. The online training is a good substitute. I believe SKYWARN.org has an online training module. Otherwise this is the training course that our local NWS office recommends: https://www.meted.ucar.edu/training_course.php?id=23. Whatever training you complete, let your local SKYWARN organizer know so they can expect you on future weather nets.

That’s it for another month, keep those questions and comments coming. In a couple of weeks I’m going to do a Your Questions Answered Field Day special. I’ve participated in ARRL Field Day in some way, shape or form for close to 20 years, so if there is a question you have about the world’s largest operating event, I probably have the answer.