A new digital hotspot

My existing Dvmega based hotspot is working well but it is quite bulky especially for mobile use.  So I got myself a jumbospot from China with case and oled display and put a Raspberry Pi Zero (with wifi) inside.  It all seems to be working fine and is tiny – about 3 inches long.  The jumbospot together with the case, display & antenna cost around 48 euros on Aliexpress.


Wild Atlantic Way

Finally the year long Wild Atlantic Way operation has ended with over 160,000 qsos in the log.  It was a great success with help from operators from all parts of the country.  A big thank you must go to Dave EI6AL who selflessly volunteered to undertake all the logging and QSL responsibilities.  Hopefully the initiative helped promote Ireland and will bring long term benefit.


An (old) new shack addition

At the Coolmine rally recently I picked up a few nice items at good prices.  One of them was a Kenwood TM-D710E mobile dual bander for the car.  The other was an almost vintage 2m multimode rig – a Kenwood TR-751E.  It was in excellent working order needing only the backlight bulbs to be replaced.  Its a nice portable rig and will hopefully get good use during the summer.


Yes I’m alive

I had forgotten about this blog until I clicked on it by accident.  I checked the stats and believe it or not I am still getting a few visitors so I thought I’d better update it hihi.  I have been busy enough on HF although the early part of 2018 has not been very fruitful.  New DXCC entities worked since I last posted were Liberia, Bhutan, Franz Josef Land, Republic of Korea, Lakshadweep Islands, Annobon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Mariana Islands, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Philippines, Republic of Kosovo & Easter Island.  October 2017 was great with 10 new DXCC entities but they have petered out since then.

Another toy

A new dual band DMR handheld was being advertised at $86.99 from Radioddity.  I was a bit sceptical at first and thought it might have turned out like the Baofeng DMR HT in not being Tier II compatible.  But initial reports were ok so I took the small plunge (as it cost less than €75 delivered).  It works pretty well although the CPS software is in need of a bit of work.  RF performance is fine although it really does need adjustable squelch levels on analog and picks up too much intermod.  The small screen and inability to load the dmr database are also negative points.  But for the money it is a capable dual band set.


Another shack addition

One of the niggles I had with my new IC-7300 was that it could not drive the dynamic mic that I had been using with the IC-746.  I suppose I could have got a pre-amp but that would have meant another box on the shelf and more wires (and the 7300 was doing a good job of keeping that clutter reduced).  So I decided to go for a headset.  The Koss SB-45 comes highly recommended by a lot of people and has an electret element so it would work nicely with the 7300.  The only problem was getting one this side of the Atlantic at a reasonable price.  Luckily Tony EI7BMB was going back stateside and kindly offered to bring one back for me.  So the new headset cost me less than 30 euros to my door.  Anyway its a great headset and comfortable to wear for long periods and the mic works well too.  I am adding myself to that long list of people recommending the SB-45! BTW Tony got himself the SB-40 with a dynamic element as is equally pleased with it.


ILLW Weekend

I will be QRV at Ballinacourty Point Lighthouse with the members of Tipperary Amateur Radio Group for the weekend of the 19th/20th August for the 20th International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend.  The reference number is IE0018 and we will be using the callsign EI7T.  This lighthouse has not been activated for a number is years so I expect demand to be high.  But we still hope to have a few beers as well!


A new rig…

Finally I took the plunge and splashed out on a new Icom IC-7300.  I didn’t really need it as my IC-746 was still doing its job admirably.  The first hiccup was that I couldn’t use the dynamic vocal mic that I was using with the 746 – the preamp in the 7300 is just not good enough.  I do like hands-free operation using a foot switch so this was a disappointment.  So I made an adapter to use a headset that I had in the shack and that is working well although it is a bit heavy.  I have a Koss SB-45 coming from the States shortly.  Side-by-side tests with the 746 on the same antenna (I split the feed) showed no improvement in signal reception (although NR was better on the new rig) despite the specifications.  Also the noise blanker on the 746 deals much better with the electric fences in my area.  But other than that everything else is positive.  The touchscreen is easy to use and the menus are well thought out.  I didn’t need to look at the manual too many times.  Frequency stability is very good on the higher frequencies such as 6m which is very important for the digi modes – the 746 does suffer from drift.  A big plus is that no rigblaster or similar interface is needed – the radio and pc connect with a single usb cable – no audio cables are needed either.  And of course the band scope is very useful even though it is a bit on the small size – a much larger screen will be on the 7610 but I wont risk getting one – the station manager hasn’t noticed this purchase yet so I wont push my luck.