I bought a Yaesu VX-6R handheld transceiver this week. I like it. Broadly, the features include: tribander with TX on 144, 220, and 440 ham bands, wideband RX, lithium-ion battery, submersible to 3 ft. (something I will not test intentionally), it's lighter and smaller than my VX-150, and many more features it will take time for me to familiarize myself with.
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Rigblaster Nomic sound card interface so I can try digital HF on amateur radio. All the cables I needed were included and all I had to configure on the Nomic was the jumper settings that are specific to each radio.
In order to do digital (modes like RTTY, PSK31, Hellschreiber, Olivia, etc.) you need three basic items:
1. A computer with a software application that functions as your control. The software app I chose was Fldigi which has Linux and Windows versions.
2. A rig that that is capable of data modes, which is most nowadays.
3. A sound card interface. This is the device that allows the computer software to work with the radio.
In the digital modes, your rig is just transmitting and receiving data and the computer and software do all the encoding and decoding and use the sound card interface to control the radio. Digital is just data so you aren't using voice and with the software it basically looks like IRC or IM except that you are transmitting and receiving on a specified frequency instead of using the Internet. On the amateur bands, certain frequencies are restricted for data transmissions only.
Hooking everything up was easy and getting the software to work was easy, too. However, I was using the XP side of my laptop. The Linux side is Mandrake 9.2 and it didn't have what it needed to compile Fldigi and I forsaw a massive dependency problem if I updated that check that failed (gcc-cpp) during ./configure. Plus, my main Linux PC does not have an RS-232 port. A serial cable is used to transfer the data between the PC and the Nomic. I will need to buy a USB to DB9 adapter before I try digital HF on my Slackware machine.
I have 'listened' on both PSK31 and RTTY modes; PSK31 seems to have more activity but I haven't made any contacts yet. I can see the data and activity in the window so I am receiving without a problem. I've put out a few CQ's and answered a few but with no luck yet. I am pretty sure I have everything connected properly and the software configured properly so I'll play with it as I get time and update once I know it's working.
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1. SWR comes in a little higher than on my Dad's Icom 746. The Icom was about 1.5:1. The reading on my Yaesu is about 2:1 with the same antenna. A 1:1 SWR is perfect, even if rarely achieved.
2. Don't like the fact that the microphone was made in China. Thankfully, the radio was made in Japan. Once Motorola's hand gets stronger into Vertex-Standard, I am sure more and more manufacturing will be moved there. I hate Motorola. Motorola just bought a huge share (80%) of Vertex-Standard, which is Yaesu's parent company. I wonder if they will ruin VS like they have ruined themselves.
2a. The microphone is too big and it doesn't have UP/DN buttons to adjust frequency like the standard Icom mikes do.
3. The hidden menu still works on mine. Press and hold ATT/IPO-NB-AGC and then turn it on. Then, turn DSP/SEL and adjust LEDINT1, LEDINT2, and LEDINT3 accordingly. I now have a teal display. I would highly recommend not altering anything else in there.
4. The main tuning knob is too small. It's about the diameter of a fifty-cent piece.
5. My first contact was with a guy near Panama City, FL, so it seems to work. I hope I can still hit the far western states like Colorado, Utah, and California like I could on the 746. Since the antenna is unchanged, I don't see why not, even if the SWR is a shade higher.
Overall, so far so good. I am just learning how to adjust settings to my liking. I will miss the Icom 746, though.
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Once everything was in place outside, we connected the ground wire to the house ground and then the antenna feedline to the Icom 746. Last night I made my first contact. I spoke with a guy in Virginia Beach and he gave me a "5-6 over the noise" report which is good. Receiving seems a little noisy yet but it appears transmitting is good. As play with the radio's settings and make more contacts and get signal reports, I'll get a better idea of what radio settings are optimal and how well the antenna performs.
Update: Worked a guy from the Orkney Islands (Scotland); he told me I was 5-5.
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I had nothing important to radio in but I did get to meet both Congressman Dent and Mayor Pawlowski near the platform at the starting line. I chatted with Hizzoner for a few minutes in some light banter - the demands people put on the mayor, the Iron Pigs, and how the residents at 18th and Linden might enjoy being woken up on Sunday at 8:00 am to the sounds rock music and then a fire truck's siren that starts the runners. After he did his duty to get the race started, I asked him "Yocco's or Willy Joe's?" He responded with a quick "Yoccos" like it was a no-brainer and we shook hands and I wished him a good day.
Speaking of Yocco's, once we were done, some metaphysical force pulled a few of us into Yocco's on Hamilton Blvd. Once again, outstanding; the Hot Dog King reigns supreme over the region.
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chart shows the bands and privileges). I still haven't bought a base station yet but my dad is going to loan me his Icom 746 in the interim. I need to buy a power supply and then set up an antenna and then I'll be ready to go.
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I have no equipment yet, other than borrowing my dad's handheld 2M transciever. So I've been listening; it's like hanging out in IRC but not being permitted to type anything. I will likely purchase a dualband mobile transceiver to use as a base station. I am eyeing the Yaesu 7800R. Once I buy the 7800 and a power supply and antenna, I should be good to go. With the technician class license and that particular transceiver, the range will not be very far so I won't be talking to anyone in Texas or Brazil anytime soon. I will need the next license up (General) and a HF transceiver and the appropriate antenna to do that. So, once I get my call sign, I'll be on the air.
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