Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Handiham World for 16 December 2009

Welcome to Handiham World!

What's on your wish list for the holidays?

Pat at HRO poses with big Icom rig that he can't possibly afford.

Besides world peace, I mean? If you have asked Santa for some new ham radio gear, I hope your wishes are fulfilled. (I'm not holding my breath about getting one of those most excellent $11,000 Icom transceivers like the one I posed with for a photo op at HRO, but then again, I might rate something more affordable for Santa's budget.)

Yes, I have placed a new HF rig on the wish list at the WA0TDA QTH. The reason is that I'm tying up my Icom IC-706 M2G on 2 meters and 70 cm, sometimes using it as an Echolink node, and that leaves me only an old Yaesu FT-747 for HF. Alas, the Yaesu has seen better days. I had acquired it around 20 years ago as a result of a lightning strike on my tower. My wife and I were at home when the storm moved through the Twin Cities, and we about jumped out of our shoes when the blinding flash of lightning lit up the neighborhood like a million camera flashes. The thunder was instant and loud, and that meant just one thing to me: We had just taken a lightning strike, because the thunder came at the same time as the flash of light. I opened the door to the ham shack and my old FT-101B was smoked. Literally. There was even an outline of the metal louvers on the bottom of the rig burned into the wooden desktop.

So I replaced that rig with the FT-747, which worked like a champ for 10 years. It started flaking out in subtle ways. Once I called CQ on what I thought was a clear frequency, only to be chastised by some guy whose QSO I'd interrupted. A bit of sleuthing with a plastic probe led me to an intermittent on a circuit board that had muted the receiver. After that fix, I had a couple more years of trouble-free operation out of the 747 until the display started to disappear at random, accompanied by a total receiver failure. That was also an intermittent, because you could prod the rig and wiggle connectors to get the display and receiver back to normal. Many tries later, both by me and our shop volunteer CJ, K0CJ, and the problem still crops up at random. But the rig really started to annoy me when it would decide to suddenly shift frequency about 500 Hz or so, also at random. This thing was definitely getting on my nerves!

In the 23 years since the FT-747 came out in 1987, the technology built into ham radio transceivers has evolved - a lot! Although the Icom IC-706M2G is a decade newer, its design is still dated. I would like a better receiver section and more options for signal processing. So a new transceiver in the $1000 class went on my Santa list.

Will Santa deliver? Have I been a good boy? Stay tuned to the Handiham podcast and weekly e-letter news to find out!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice,