Category Archives: General Article

Icom IC-9700 VHF/UHF (and more) from the Tokyo Ham Fair

Henry VK2ZHE and I were discussing the lack of new high end dedicated VHF/UHF transceivers the other day and it seems Icom heard us (or perhaps it’s just a coincidence?).   The venerable Icom IC-910H is a fantastic rig, but it’s really getting a little (okay, a lot) long in the tooth and satellite / EME operation could benefit greatly from the drastic improvements made in DSP since its release a mere 17 years ago!

Enter the glorious looking Icom IC-9700, for now just a prototype shown at the Toyko Ham Fair, following in the design footsteps of the IC-7300 / IC-7610:

Click images for full size versions.

As it’s a prototype, there’s no confirmation of final product features, cost and availability – though we can surmise it’s probably an SDR based radio.  Photo indicate it’s 2m/70cm/23cm as standard and the photo above of the rear shows LAN (!), Data, USB and Remote connectors.  The inclusion of a LAN port will make for some interesting remote control capabilities.  As expected with a rig like this, you’ve got touchscreen operation, simultaneous two band reception, D-Star and satellite modes.

Also at the Icom booth were the following radios we can expect to see shortly:

  • IC-7610 SDR HF/50MHz Transceiver (Base Station)
  • IC-R8600 SDR Wideband Receiver (Base Station) with updated firmware capable of I/Q output
  • IC-R30 Communications Receiver (Handheld)
  • ID-31PLUS UHF Digital D-STAR Transceiver (Handheld)

All photos via Japan’s FBNews.

Lucas Replacement Wire Harness Smoke

As spotted By Bob VK2BIG who says:

Thought this might be worthy of dissemination.  A bottle in every ham shack, I wonder if they make a negative earth version?

Bob’s right of course, it’s of limited use to us without a negative earth version, perhaps a group buy may be in order?  In trying to track down a group buy price, I managed to find the following information on this product and matching Churchill Tool 18G548BS adapter tube and metering valve from a past auction:

These kits were supplied surreptitiously to Lucas factory technicians as a trouble-shooting and repair aid for the rectification of chronic electrical problems on a plethora of British cars.  The smoke is metered, through the fuse box, into the circuit which has released it’s original smoke until the leak is located and repaired.  The affected circuit is then rectified and the replacement smoke re-introduced.  An advantage over the cheap repro smoke kits currently available is the exceptionally rare Churchill metering valve and fuse box adapter.  It enables the intrepid and highly skilled British Car Technician to meter the precise amount of genuine Lucas smoke required by the circuit.

Unlike the cheap, far-eastern replacement DIY smoke offered by the “usual suppliers”, this kit includes a filter to ensure that all the smoke is of consistent size, It has been our experience in our shop that the reproduction Taiwanese smoke is often “lumpy”, which will cause excessive resistance in our finely-engineered British harnesses and components.  This is often the cause of failure in the repro electrical parts currently available, causing much consternation and misplaced cursing of the big three suppliers.

These kits have long been the secret weapon of the “Ultimate Authorities” in the trade, and this may be the last one available.  Be forewarned, though, that it is not applicable to any British vehicle built after the discontinuing of bullet connectors, so you Range Rover types are still on your own…

This Genuine Factory Authorized kit contains enough smoke to recharge the entire window circuit on a 420 Jaguar, and my dear friend and advisor George Wolf of British Auto Specialty assures me that he can replace ALL the smoke in a W&F Barrett All-Weather Invalid Car( 147 CC) with enough left over to test a whole box of Wind-Tone horns for escaped smoke.  How much more of an endorsement do you need?

More, you say?  Well, I once let the smoke out of the overdrive wiring on my friend Roger Hankey’s TR3B, and was able to drive over 200 miles home from The Roadster Factory Summer Party by carefully introducing smoke into the failed circuit WITHOUT even properly repairing the leak.  Another friend, Richard Stephenson, was able to repair the cooling fan circuit of his Series 1 E-type by merely replacing a fuse and injecting a small quantity of smoke back into the wires. So there!

The history page the above text is from also has a lengthy Q&A section addressing any questions you may have about this miraculous product.  Imagine the ham radio applications!  It’s nice to know that the bottle is easily refilled when emptied too:

Thanks Bob!

How-to: Perfectly Clean Wires in Minutes!

Here’s a quick one that you have to click through to view in detail.  Thanks to Stuart VK2FSTU for the link.  Solomon NH7ZE says:

Here is an old ham radio operators trick for cleaning wires for soldering that are old and corroded.  It is hard to find this technique printed anywhere!  I am a ham, NH7ZE, and learned it from my elmer (mentor).  I am passing it on.  I hope it helps people who need to clean wires  😛

Left: After – Right: Before

See the full article by clicking here (or the picture above), as hosted on

The CAT Mobile Phone Hotspot

Here’s a simple installation that uses an unpowered, passive parabolic dish to provide mobile phone coverage in remote Australian locations:

The CAT are the Centre for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit who’s vision is “Sustainable and enterprising communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People underpinned by appropriate ‘fit for purpose’ technology.”.

The PDF Flyer from CAT describes the hotspot as follows:

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (“CAT”) mobile phone hotspot uses unpowered passive parabolic ‘dish’ antenna technology to focus and amplify the received and transmitted signal strength at the user end, thus extending coverage well beyond the existing footprint to locations where hand held mobile use would otherwise not be possible. A very marginal 1 bar signal becomes 2 or 3 bars and enables calls to be made reliably.

The parabolic antenna is mounted some metres above the ground, and is aligned in azimuth (direction) and elevation to point at the nearest or most suitable tower. In the standard configuration, the antenna height is arranged such that the phone can be either hand held by a user standing with the phone at the dish focus or mounted on the cradle provided, for hands-free loudspeaker mode operation. The phone/device antenna is thereby loosely coupled with the dish antenna, and the overall configuration achieves an effective increase in both-way gain.

This solution works regardless of the user mobile device technology, and can be used in conjunction with any mobile network provider’s network. In situations where a distant town provides multiple (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) services, a single mobile phone hotspot can be used to connect with any of these services.

Whilst other product solutions are available for locations where 240 volt power is available and the associated equipment can be securely housed in an indoor environment, or where solar panel / inverter equipment can be secured and maintained cost effectively and regularly, the robust CAT mobile phone hotspot is ideally suited to the many outdoor situations such as roadside stops, small remote Indigenous settlements and remote tourism locations where the provision of power and the cost of maintenance would make the overall cost of ownership for powered solutions prohibitive.

Very innovative!

Yaesu C4FM line-up and new affordable C4FM handheld

ORARC has embraced Yaesu’s System Fusion (aka C4FM) digital mode in a big way thanks to Yaesu’s generous rebates on their C4FM enabled DR-1X repeaters for radio clubs.  Like all digital modes (with the possible exclusion of DMR), however, the entry price for C4FM enabled transceivers remains high compared traditional FM-only rigs, for obvious reasons.

Thankfully, as time goes on, more and more C4FM enabled radios are popping up in Yaesu’s transceiver offerings.  The traditional C4FM line-up has been the (well represented at ORARC) FT-991 All-Band, Multi-Mode rig along with the high end FTM-400 Dual-Band Dual-Receiver mobile – both fantastic, touch-screen enabled radios.  Both of these radios represent quite the investment at $1400ish and $700ish respectively at the time of writing, despite being fantastic value for what you get.

FT-991 All-Band, Multi-Moder

FTM-400 Dual-Band Dual-Receiver mobile

More recently the FTM-100 C4FM enabled Dual-Band Single-Receiver mobile has popped onto the scene.  These are also well represented amongst ORARC members from a time when they were a mere $399 – a relative bargain to the current (less compelling) asking price of $550ish.  Reports from members indicate that this too is a solid performer.

FTM-100 Dual-Band Single-Receiver Mobile

At the low end of the mobile line, and of little interest to ORARC members, is the 2m only FTM-3200.  With our C4FM enabled repeaters being on 70cms, I can’t see too many of these being sold on the Mid North Coast – even if it represents good value with 65W output for $300ish.  Yaesu, make a Dual-Band version and we’ll talk….

FTM-3200DR 2M only C4FM/FM mobile

The mobile situation is largely echoed in the handheld line-up with the FT2D Dual-Band Dual-Receiver touch-screen handheld (left) at $670ish and the more traditional FT1D (with lacks the touch-screen but is otherwise remarkably similar to its bigger brother) at $500ish.

Like the FTM-100 mobile above, the FT1D (right) got as cheap at $399 at one point, so there’s a few of them floating around amongst ORARC members.  They’re still on Yaesu’s webpage, but they seem to have disappeared from local suppliers.

Irrespective, $400+ on a handheld is a serious investment (as Yaesu are no doubt aware), so now there’s the new $250ish FT-70DR Dual-Band Single-Receiver handheld to fill the void:

  • C4FM and FM TX and RX with Automatic Mode Selection (AMS)
  • 5 Watts of reliable RF power inside a compact body
  • 700 mW loud audio output
  • Rugged construction meets IP54 (dust / water protection)
  • Huge 1,105 channel memory
  • Wide-Band receive coverage 108 – 579.995 MHz
  • 7.4 V 1,800mAh Lithium Ion battery pack
  • Equipped with external DC jack for DC supply and battery charge
  • Equipped with Mini USB port for convenient memory management and software updates

Whilst not Baofeng money, $250 for a quality brand-name transceiver with C4FM capability undeniably represents good value, so if you’re in the market for a quality affordable hand-held this should definitely be on your shortlist.  It’s worth remembering too that C4FM will get you into one of our repeaters in situations where a conventional FM radio isn’t cutting the mustard thanks to the digital cliff.