The Yaesu FT-70G: Where the FT line met Milcom

Note: this is a cross-post from the SWLing Post.

Earlier today, I stumbled upon a very unique transceiver in Universal Radio archives: the Yaesu FT-70G.

Here’s the description from Universal:

The Yaesu FT-70G is a portable HF transceiver covering 2 to 30 MHz transmit. Receive is from 500 kHz to 30 MHz. Frequency selection is via BCD switches to 100 Hz. There is a clarifier for fine tuning. Optional FNB-70 NiCad Battery. Please note that the optional 10F-2.4DL filter is required for LSB opeation. The Yaesu FT-70F is similar, but is a channelized fixed version offering up to 11 frequencies.

Two hours ago, I was not aware that the FT-70G existed.  Now? I want one!

I’m a real sucker for vintage rugged field radio gear, so I never discovered the FT-70G until today. Turns out, they’re relatively rare. A little light research reveals that it’s a highly-desired transceiver in the world of HF Packers–those radio enthusiast who like “manpack” commercial and military gear.

The FT-70G has a distinct military look and feel with the BCD switches to change frequency, rugged toggle switches, chassis extensions to protect the front panel, and attached screw-on connector caps.

What’s really surprising is that the FT-70G has a general coverage receiver (500 kHz to 30 MHz). Admittedly, it would not be fun band-scanning with those BCD switches…but still!

This website has a number of photos. They also have a product description likely from the original Yaesu/Vertex Standard FT-70G description:

“The FT-70 series HF field portable manpack transceivers are designed to provide reliable communications under rugged conditions in the military and commercial environment. The frequency synthesized, all solid-state circuitry and die-cast anodized aluminum enclosure and battery pack make a highly portable, weatherproof station. Flexible operation for optimum communications under a wide range of propagation conditions are assured by SSB (USB, LSB), semi break-in CW, AM, or audio interfaced Data modes. All controls, antenna, and interface ports are available and selectable via the front panel for maximum effectiveness and ergonomics in field, base, and manpack applications. The companion antenna tuner FC-70 is compatible with walking manpack, field portable, or base configurations. The highly effective vertical tripod mount antenna system YA-70 is deployed and stowed easily and quickly, pulling double duty by converting to manpack whip while on manuevers. High quality handset YH-70 provides communications privacy and clarity.”

Again, check out the excellent photos of the full manpack kit.

As I researched pricing, I discovered this FT-70R with accompanying FC-70M antenna tuner on eBay right now with only 6 hours left of bidding:

At time of posting, the bids are at $520. I fear this will soar well above my comfort level before bidding ends. (Like I need another field radio anyway, right?)

Post readers: Please comment if you’re familiar with the FT-70G and especially if you’ve ever owned one.  I’d love to hear about your experience with this unique rig.

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QCX+ QRP tranceiver video by Hans

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who shares the following video from QRP Labs with a detailed overview of the new QCX+ transceiver:

Click here to view on YouTube.

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QRP Labs new QCX+ QRP CW/WSPR transceiver kit

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

QRP Labs has just announced the QCX+ which as the name implies is an upgraded version of the very popular QCX line of transceivers

To date almost 10,000 kits have been sold, here’s a brief overview of the the differences and new features made to this popular Transceiver.

The QCX+ is the almost same circuit as the QCX, with two very minor changes. QCX+ runs the same firmware as QCX, and has identical operational and performance characteristics. QCX/QCX+ firmware will always be compatible with both the QCX and QCX+. The evolution of QCX to QCX+ provides several improved features in physical layout, as follows:

1) Physical layout of controls and connectors

2) Optional enclosure

3) Additional and changed connectors

4) More spacious PCB, more than double the board area, with less densely packed components, and more test/modification points

5) Improved heatsinking

6) Three minor circuit changes

7) No microswitch key

Price has gone up slightly to $55, still no other QRP Transceiver on the market today comes close to the features offered by the QCX+ at this price point.

More Info:

https://qrp-labs.com/qcxp.html

Thank you so much Pete! You’re an enabler! Since I’m not at Hamvention right now, those radio bucks are burning a hole in my pocket. The QCX+ looks like a fun transceiver to build! Thanks for the tip.

Posted in Announcements, Hamvention, Kits, Portable, Product Announcements, QRP, QRP Radios | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Missing Hamvention? Yeah, me too.

My friend Piero Begali (I2RTF) winner of the 2019 Hamvention Technical Achievement Award.

Note that I originally published this post on the SWLing Post:

If we weren’t all in the midst of a global pandemic, today I would be at the first day of the 2020 Hamvenion in Xenia, OH.

Since I would not be hosting a table for ETOW this year, I was going to Hamvention for the first time on Press credentials. While I absolutely loved hosting the ETOW table with my friends and fellow volunteers, I was certainly looking forward to being a bit of a free agent this year and visiting vendors and friends with no time pressures. This would have also given me much more time to do live postings.

For me, Hamvention is first and foremost an excuse to hang with good friends I only typically see once a year. Between Hamvention and several other associated events like the QRPARCI’s Four Days In May, I connect with hundreds of people. It can be a bit daunting–even draining to this “socially adept” introvert–but I still love it and look forward to it every year.

One of my favorite things to do at Hamvention is to see what new innovations individuals and companies have introduced. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the “mom-and-pop” innovators in our radio community and Hamvention is certainly one of those places where they showcase their goods.

Of course, I love the Hamvention flea market–easily one of the largest outdoor hamfest flea markets in the world. Although I have found some outstanding deals at the Hamvention flea market in the past–like my BC-348-Q ($40) and Panasonic RF-2200 ($70)–I’m more likely to find that obscure rig or accessory I’ve been looking for rather than a proper bargain.

This year, I would have kept my eye out for a Kenwood TR-9000 or TR-9130 VHF transceiver.

The Kenwood “Trio” TR-9130

I’ve seen the TR-9000 and TR-9130 at past Hamvention flea markets–a near ideal place to locate vintage transceivers like these. (On that note, contact me if you have one you’d like to sell!) 🙂

I would have also been on the lookout for classic shortwave portables, of course, and accessories like enclosures, antennas, Powerpole connectors, coax, ladder line, and wire. Many of these I would only buy new.

2020 might not have been a great flea market year anyway. The weather forecast calls for quite a bit of rain and possibly thunder storms over the weekend. Likely, the flea market grounds would have been a bit wet and muddy thus less vendors would have shown up.

See you next year!

Calling off Hamvention made sense this year. Even if state restrictions would have allowed for a gathering of 30,000 people, I imagine turnout would have been anemic at best. The typical Hamvention attendee also happens to be the target demographic of the Coronavirus. Many would have not wanted to take the risk. I doubt there would have much of any international attendees or vendors there either.

You can bet I’ll be at Hamvention next year and you can bet I’ve already started my shopping list! If the pandemic is no longer an issue, I willing to bet Hamvention might have a record year in 2021. I look forward to finding out in person!

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Icom IC-705 International Availability

(Icom Press Release)

Icom Inc. will begin to ship the IC-705, a new all mode portable transceiver covering HF, VHF and UHF, for the Japan domestic market from the middle of June 2020. Shipments of the IC-705 for international markets will follow the release of the Japan domestic model. Timing of availability depends on the schedule of type approvals in each region. For the latest information about the availability in your country, please contact to your authorized dealer in your country. Icom Inc. is continuing to effect delivery of the IC-705 in the soonest time possible under the current circumstances caused by COVID-19. We thank you for your patience.

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Lockdown Lunacy is sending me down the path of QRP EME

Note that the following post first appeared on our sister blog, the SWLing Post.

When my buddy, Pete dives into a project that would have otherwise been placed on the backburner, had it not been for sheltering at home during the Covd-19 pandemic, he calls it an episode of “Lockdown Lunacy.”

Lockdown Lunancy

I don’t think there could be a better name for the bug that has bitten me.

Since my earliest days of reading ham radio magazines–well before I was licensed–I found the concept of EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) communications absolutely fascinating. I mean, communicating with someone across vast distances by bouncing signals off the freaking moon?!?

What’s not to love?

After becoming a ham, the reality set in about how much equipment and financial resources it would take to set up an EME station in 1997. I would need big X/Y/Z steerable antennas, big amplifiers, and very pricey transceivers. Even if I built half the system, I couldn’t imagine piecing it together for less than $3,000 US.

Plus, HF/shortwave signal work was what really pushed me into the world of ham radio.  Once I set up my first dipole and started making DX contacts with my Icom IC-735, I never really looked back…that is, until, I met Bill.

In 2016, my family spent yet another summer on the east coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada, in an off-grid cottage.

The cottage living area.

I brought along my Elecraft KX3, of course, with a LiFePo external battery and PV panel for charging One day, I hopped on the 17 meter band to work a little DX with a large dipole I’d set up in the trees behind the house. After turning on the rig, I heard a PEI amateur radio operator working another strong station in Europe. As he sent his 73s to the other station, I quickly interrupted and asked where he was located. Turns out, he was only 5 km way as the crow flies! After a quick chat, he invited me over for coffee the next morning and to talk radio.

That next morning I discovered two things about Bill (VY2WM / VY2EME):

Firstly, he’s a coffee snob…just like me. Best coffee I’d ever had on the island.

Secondly, the man had been bitten by the EME bug. Indeed, the mission to build a station to do moon bounce communications is really what energized him to play radio.  We spoke at length about EME and it was then I realized that QRP EME was an actual “thing.”

Bill informed me that, with the advent of weak-signal digital modes like JT-65, QRP EME contacts were possible for almost anyone and the investment in equipment, much more modest than in the past. I was truly impressed with how, over the course of a few years, Bill slowly and methodically built his station and started making contacts. Bill gave a lot of credit to his EME Elmer, Serge (VE1KG)–just check out Serge’s big gun station on his QSL card below:

Though Bill didn’t know it at the time, our little talk re-ignited my interest in EME.

Bill and I have kept in touch over the years and only last week, after talking EME a bit more via email, I realized it was time I start my own little QRP EME station.

One thing that pushed me to commit to EME is the fact that both of my daughters are studying for their Technician licenses at present. Both are into all things astronomy and space, so I thought it might be rather fun to give them a chance to play radio off the moon with their Tech licenses!

Like Bill, I plan to take time assembling my QRP EME station. I would like to have all of the components together by December and perhaps start building things like a long yagi and some sort of antenna support by next spring.

I’m facing a big learning curve here. Other than what I learned on my ham radio license prep, I know little to nothing about signals north of 30 MHz!

But that’s the thing about radio in general: I love learning new skills and exploring the world just a little outside my comfort zone!

I’m already putting out feelers for a good transceiver (thinking a used Yaesu FT-897 or FT-100D).

Yaesu FT-897 via Universal Radio

How committed am I? A QRP EME station has been officially added to my Social DX bucket list. That’s pretty darn serious!

Post readers: Any EME enthusiasts in our community?  If so, please comment with any suggestions you may have as I dive deeper into the world of moon bounce!

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FCC is crystal clear: Remote ham radio licensing exams are absolutely permitted

Note: This post was first published on our sister site, the SWLing Post.

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, amateur radio VECs in the US have been experimenting with remote testing sessions–meaning, administering ham radio license exams via real-time teleconference apps like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet.

Amateur radio operators in support of remote testing have been contacting the FCC asking for formal approval of remote exams and the ARRL has also been exploring and experimenting with the process.

Today, the FCC posted a public notice, making it clear that FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests:

We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests.  The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.”

I’ve pasted the text from the body of the public notice below (click here to download the full PDF doc):


DA 20-467 Released: April 30, 2020

WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU CONFIRMS THAT AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE OPERATOR LICENSE EXAMINATIONS MAY BE HELD REMOTELY

The Amateur Radio Service provides opportunities for self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations for qualified persons of any age who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. To operate an Amateur Radio Service station, an operator must have an FCC license. The Commission issues three classes of operator licenses, each authorizing a different level of privilege. 1 The class for which each licensee is qualified is determined during an examination by the level of skill and knowledge in operating a station that the licensee demonstrates to volunteer examiners, who conduct this testing on behalf of FCC-certified volunteer examiner coordinators.

Many potential amateur radio test takers and volunteer examiners have contacted the Chairman and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to request that the Commission allow remote testing in light of current public health guidelines regarding social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests. 2 The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.3

We recognize that some volunteer examiner coordinators may not have the immediate capacity for widespread remote testing. We expect those volunteer examiner coordinators with limited remote testing capacity to work closely with those requesting such testing to prioritize any available remote testing slots.

– FCC –


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Ham Radio Friedrichshafen 2020 has been cancelled

Many thanks to Harald Kuhl (DL1ABJ), who shares the following announcement from Ham Radio Friedrichshafen:

Radio silence due to coronavirus COVID-19: Ham Radio not taking place as planned 15.04.2020 Friedrichshafen – Due to current developments in regard to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, Messe Friedrichshafen has been forced to make a very difficult decision: the international amateur radio exhibition Ham Radio will not be taking place in the planned period of June 26 to 28, 2020, but instead from June 25 to 27, 2021. The Federal Government and the Minister-Presidents of the Länder decided yesterday, April 15 that no major events shall take place until August 31, 2020. “Due to current developments relating to the coronavirus, we have the unfortunate duty of announcing that we cannot hold the 45th edition of Ham Radio as planned,” explains Klaus Wellmann, Managing Director of Messe Friedrichshafen. In recent weeks, it was already necessary to make the same decision in regard to other events (Aqua-Fisch, IBO, AERO, Tuning World Bodensee, and Motorworld Classics Bodensee). Project Manager Petra Rathgeber also expressed her sadness about this turn of events: “We very much regret that this event cannot take place as planned. However, the health of all exhibitors and visitors is of utmost importance to us. Unfortunately, our trade fair calendar and the dates of other industry events leave no room for postponing this fair to another date this year.” Christian Entsfellner, Chair of the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC), adds: “Our members, domestic and foreign guests, and we ourselves have been hit hard by this decision, which now became necessary to make on short notice. Until we get together again in Friedrichshafen, we as amateur radio operators are looking forward to keeping in contact with one another using amateur radio.” However, radio amateurs do not have to do without everything the Ham Radio fair normally has to offer: On the Ham Radio website, exhibitors will be presenting product innovations in the form of a virtual trade fair. DARC will also be offering presentations there. The exhibitors, visitors, and partners involved are currently being informed about this opportunity.

Thank you for sharing this, Harald! Not a surprising development, but sad nonetheless. I assume Covid-19 might also lead to the closure of Ham Fair 2020 in Tokyo.

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Icom IC-705 delivery delayed

Please note this is a cross-post from our sister site, the SWLing Post.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

As you’d expect, Icom has formally delayed the delivery schedule of the IC-705.

Here’s the announcement from Icom Japan: https://www.icom.co.jp/news/4720/

The following is a machine translation of the announcement:

“Thank you very much for your patronage of ICOM products.

We have received reservations from a large number of customers about the IC-705, a 10W walkie-talkie with HF~430MHz all-mode, which was scheduled to be released in late March 2020. Some of the parts involved in the production of the product are delayed due to the new coronavirus issue, and production has been delayed due to this.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused to all of you who are looking forward to our products.

As for the delivery of the product, because it is a situation in which the arrival schedule of the part does not stand now, I will guide it separately as soon as it turns out.

We will take a while to deliver it, but we will do our best to deliver it as soon as possible, so please understand us.”

Thanks for sharing this, Paul. No doubt, delays are due to the affects of Covid-19 on both manufacturing in Japan and throughout the IC-705 supply chain.

For updates, bookmark the tag IC-705.

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K-5589: Attempting rare POTA activation Tuesday

If you’re involved with the Parks On The Air program, you may be interested in a park I plan to activate on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

I plan to activate K-5589, Seneca State Forest in West Virginia.

I thought I’d give a heads-up here in case you need this park–it’s only been activated once before and only a handful of contacts logged.

I plan to start around 22:00 UTC (Feb 25). Time is approximate as this activation will take place after a long day of driving. This activation is in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone thus I will have no mobile phone reception to self-spot or provide tips to chasers. I do have approval from the NRQZ coordinator to operate, however.

I will pack my Elecraft KX2 and Mission RGO One transceivers. I plan to deploy a long wire antenna with the idea that perhaps I can serve up 80 meters as well. I will also bring the W4OP loop in the unlikely event I’m not allowed to use a tree to support my wire antenna (this would certainly restrict me to 40 and 20 meters).

Look for me on 3,986, 7,286, and 14,286 kHz.

If, for some reason, I can’t activate this site due to access, I will attempt to activate K-1808 (Cass Scenic Railroad State Park) instead. Both are rare.

If time allows, I’ll attempt both!

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