I got the 746 back!

Well, it's back. Instead of sending it to the mothership in Bellevue, Wash, as I did when lightning bit it, I sent it to the ICOM Service Center Michigan. Matt, the tech there (I think he's the proprietor) couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. As they say on eBay, "would do business again!!!!!"

This all started a couple of Wednesday nights ago as I was getting ready for our local 10 m net. Pushed the tune button and got ... nada. Uh, oh. Fiddled a bit more: nada. Called one of the regulars who lives about a mile away. He could hear me, but could tell something was wrong with the transmitter.


Even before I bought the IC-746Pro ($1050 on eBay in 2004, with the PS, which I sold for about $125!), I knew of the dreaded IC746Pro Sudden Death Syndrome. Full details at the link, but suffice it to say, there is an issue with IC-151, "a broadband medium power amplifier IC", and it occasionally pops.

Some folks have hit this within months of buying their radios, so I figure that nearly 4 1/2 years of trouble-free operation is pretty good. As a result, I'm not sore at Icom the way some are.

So, off to Michigan it went.

Talked to the tech after he'd had it a few days and found that repairs to IC-151 were covered under an "extended warranty" and that they'd also do modifications to "increase the transmitter's reliability".


I figured that while the tech had the patient open, I'd see about getting the CR-338 high-stability crystal oscillator installed as well. It's only money, right?

The crystal oven gives the radio a stability of 0.5 ppm versus the stock radio's "< +/-7 ppm" for the first hour and after that, +/-1 ppm. At 3.6 MHz, that's 25 Hz, but at 144 MHz that's over 1 kHz of drift. And I like 2 m SSB DXing. So the tech put one in.

When I talked to him again a few days later and guess what? It wasn't the usual IC-151 issue, but failed transistors in the final amplifier stages. Neither of us had an explanation.

Nonetheless, he applied all the factory modifications to improve reliability (see the link above, many are related to ESD which some hams dispute as the reason for the failures) and had replaced the finals.

So, now it's back in the radio room. Listened to some DX station on 20 m this morning(I think it was RL6-something), but didn't have time to try to bust the pile-up. Tonight. :-)



I'm not sure I heard NK7U on the air last weekend - probably wouldn't have worked them if I did, unless I needed Zone 3 on whichever band they were on (US Qs are zero points in CQ WW).

Anyway, todays's Contester Rate Sheet pointed me at a good write up of NK7U's effort this year.

In the write-up, they mention the "East Coast Wall". No kidding! And from here, the East Coast is right in the way of all those mults in Europe. Bah.

NK7U himself played for the A's (in KC and Oakland), the Angels, and the Red Sox from '67 to '82. I have his QSL card, but I should look to see if I have his baseball card. :-)


I have always kept a paper log.

Not for contests, of course, but for everything else. Well, not 2m FM contacts, for the most part, and certainly not those 2m FM contacts made while portable. But everything else. Contests are logged, first in CT (a backup copy from someone else), and since 2004, N1MM Logger.

All of those paper logs, and all the ADIF files from N1MM, end up in DXLab Suite's DXKeeper.

The DXLab Suite lets me track things like DXCC progress, WAS, and VUCC. But to think of it as a logger that track awards would be a gross miscarriage of justice. There are 7 or 8 different modules in the suite, all of which are independent programs, but all of which function together. It's pretty cool.

Examples of what it does:

  • Logs contacts
  • Tracks award progress and creates submissions
  • Collects DX spots from net-based or packet clusters and announces them by voice
  • Tracks solar reports from WWV and predicts propagation
  • Displays a map of the world and plots logged contacts or DX spots ... or the country you are working
  • Digital interface that will do at least PSK31 (and others - not one I use)
  • Controls your radio via CAT or C-IV
  • Generates and prints QSL labels, envelope labels, or actual QSL cards
  • Discovers QSL routes and managers and enters them in the log
I probably need to do a demo of this program for the local club. It really is a DXLab Suite.

Did I mention that AA6YQ distributes it free? You still have to pay Bill Gates to run it, but otherwise, nothing.

As for always keeping a paper log ... I kept one of stations heard on the AM broadcast band when I was a kid and later, of stations I'd talked to on CB.


10-77, Manhattan Box 471, fire is at 200 E 15th St, corner 3rd Ave, K.

All hands working, K.

Extra Engine, extra Truck special-called, K.



The Amateur Amateur

KBØH is my favorite columnist on ARRL.org. This month's topic? Zombies!


Interesting article on RFI

Best of all, it pins the blame where it belongs: Part 15.



Sweepstakes is next

Next contest I plan to play in is the ARRL November Sweepstakes. The CW part is next weekend, and then 'phone is two weeks later. I don't see me doing the CW weekend, but you never know (the only time I did CW Sweeps was in 1994!).

Unlike CQ WW, SS is only a 30-hour contest and further, stations can only operate 24 of those 30 hours. CQ WW is 48 hours. If you want a high score, you have to "stay in the chair". I'm not so good at that, especially if I'm not making a lot of QSOs (i.e. propagation isn't favorable). RTTY 'tests are better as my station seems to do better (on all bands) with that mode versus 'phone.

My goal this year, as it is every year, is to get a Clean Sweep by working all 80 ARRL/RAC sections. Haven't done that from home yet but am extra motivated this year since this year the League is giving away Clean Sweep brooms ...

I'm done

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Class: SOSB(A)/15 LP
Operating Time (hrs): 12

Band QSOs Zones Countries
80: 4 1 2
40: 1 1 1
20: 1 1 1
15: 66 18 37
Total: 72 21 41 Total Score = 9,075


746 is in the shop so had a different radio without an ATU. No boom mic/foot
switch either. Took a while to get the hang of it. A couple New Ones, though.

Posted using 3830 Score Submittal Forms at: http://www.hornucopia.com/3830score/


Another new one - TO4X. That's 124 worked.

Edit: No it's not. Apparently, I've worked FS already. But VP2V is new.


Number 123!

Single Op Assisted

Decided to engage the cluster, which moves me from Single Op to Single Op Assisted.

I don't have the same power as a real SOA station, but since I'm really only in this for new countries (none yet, though I have heard HB0 and GD, both of which I need) and new CQ Zones, what the heck.

With 34 Qs, I'm not headed for a certificate let alone a Top Ten box. :-)


Ha. D4C, Cape Verde Islands. That gives me "WAC" for the contest, despite less than 30 QSOs (pretty dismal, actually).

Zone 14

Fifteen is open again this morning (I gave up on the low bands last night). G, GW, EI, CT. Also 8P in Zone 8 and a VE2 in Zone 2.


Low bands

Well, the high bands are pretty well gone (not that 10 was open). On 40, most stations work split, with the European stations down well below 7100 and the US stations above 7125. Its not hard to work split, but it's generally hard, for me at least, to make Qs on 40.

Below that, on 75/80, it's a little better, as the bands in the different ITU regions line up, so not as much, or no, split. Not getting out here, either.

Hear an EA8 calling, but he doesn't hear me. Too bad - that would give me all continents even though I've only made 18 QSOs!


Well, things got better, later. Fifteen opened up around 2200z and I was able to work ZL, PY, a couple KH6s, HI, and a couple of JAs (!).

About an hour later (just now), I got Jim, on Raratonga (E5/s). I've worked him before and QSLed him direct. He sent back a nice card, of course, but also a coin from the Cook Islands. Very classy. :)

I miss my 746

I'll write it up another time, but I blew up my IC746Pro the other week. It won't be back until next week and CQ WW SSB is now. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, I'm using a radio that's better than the IC725 that we also have ...

Unfortunately, the borrowed radio, while including DSP filtering, has no auto tuner. Apparently, I miss the 746's AT. A lot. I have an MFJ Versa Tuner II, but trying to get the trap dipole tuned up is much harder than I remember. The other odd thing is that the tuner's SWR meter reads differently than the one in the borrowed radio. I don't know if the tuner is "too low" or the radio is "too high", but if the radio thinks it's more than 1.7 or 2.0:1, it backs off the power. Oh, and I only have the hand mic and don't have the adapters to use my Heil BM-10 headset. I miss that, too!

So, not having fun. Four countries in the log so far (can't work Ks for points other than Zone mults).

Ah, well.