QRP Projects

Notes on the Yaesu FT-817ND & ICOM IC-703Plus radios

Feb 2015

The Yaesu FT-817ND home QRP Station

The Yaesu FT-817ND, LDG Z817 tuner, MFJ ClearTone Speaker, MFJ-4230MV switching power supply.
I'll also be taking this out for excursions when spring time rolls around. I'm still looking for the rightt carry bag.

I added the Diamond RH-3 BNC antenna so that I wouldn't transmit to the empty BNC front antenna connetion,
causing a risk to the finals. The RH-3 is resonant on 2m, 70cm, and 23cm, and it has wideband receiver so the
broadcast FM comes in great.

 

I finally found a 90 degree 50 ohm BNC connector (American Radio Supply) to fit onto the front antenna
connection, so the Diamond SH-3 would be vertically polarized. So now I get even better WFM broadcast
station reception.

 

I added larger rubber feet than came in the FT-817ND box.

 

Palm Peg Legs will be installed so I can raise the front when needed.
(I have to buy them 1st!)

 

Here is the W4RT 2.3 KHz Collins Mechanical SSB filter installed.

 

See my Portable Battery / Solar page for FT-817 battery options

 

March 2015 Manpack / Portable FT-817ND project

> coming soon..

 

Feb 2014

The ICOM IC-703

I was able to acquire a LNIB IC-703 original production. It doesn't have
6 meters like the plus version, but I rarely get on 6m anyway, so no loss there.

I wanted an FT-817ND since they still make them, but when this 703 showed up I jumped on it when it came up on ebay.
The reason I wanted another 703 for QRP are the features in the radio such as:

- Built in TXCO (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator)

- Built in Automatic Antenna tuner!

- Large LCD Screen

- Ability to turn the transmit power down to 100mw

- Ergonomic and lighted buttons, large tuning knob

- Optional handle and feet, and plug in CW and SSB filters

- Power saving mode enables transceiver to draw just 310 ma on receive

- The ability to operate the radio at lower input voltages, close to 8V (like other QRP radios).

 

1st I did a factory reset to set the radio to the factory defaults, then on to the mods.

Necessary Mods:

The initial production runs of the IC-703, pre-plus version, had a few problems. Most serious was that many
of the transceivers had finals blow. Even though the SWR was fine, the finals would fail. This turned out to be
the driver bias voltage being too high. The nominal voltage should be 0.5V. Many were shipped with settings at .6 to .7 volts.

The other problem was the transceiver would lock up sometimes on CW. The problem was ICOMs not providing
a ground from the key jack to chassis ground.

After I did basic testing of the radio for function, including a SSB QSO at 5W (I didn't want to go to high in case
the bias was too high). Made a contact to TX from ME at the 5W! Awesome. I shut down the radio and prepared
for the updates.

I took the covers off to fix the 2 problems.
I used aero duster to blow out any dust inside the radio, but there really wasn't any.

1st I checked the bias voltage per instructions I
got off the internet. Sure enough it was set at 6.2V ! Yikes.. luckily this radio was basically new old stock and wasn't
really used more than a few hours so the finals were good. I adjusted the bias potentiometer for 5.0V. Excellent!
The method of adjustment can be found on the internet. You need a small screwdriver like the one below.

 

Next was the key jack problem. This entailed running an insulated wire from the jack to a circuit board ground,
which went well and came out great.

The green wire is the ground wire I added from the key jack to the circuit board. I soldered the wire into
a loop before placing it under the screw so it can't slip out and short something.

 

Upgrades

So now with both problems fixed, I moved on to the power cord. I have 30A Anderson Power poles on everything,
so I added those to the power cord.

The radio already came with the optional handle and feet, so I didn't have to buy those.

Next was the bail. I put 5 miniature grommets on the bail to minimize the radio moving around, and to protect
the bail from scratches if I place the radio on metal or rocks, etc. I put these on my previous 703 and on my
IC-706MkIIG, and they work great. I put a piece of paper under the bale so the grommets can be seen easier
in the photo below.

 

After I put the radio back together I tested power out was 10W, and CW wasn't locking up when the key was used,
so all was working great. Success on the mods and upgrades.

I tuned up with the internal antena on my 40m dipole and heard a DX station calling CQ on SSB.
It was a station near Barcelona, Spain. I gave my call at 10W and he came right back to me with a 59+10!
My first DX contact with the radio.

March 2014

I received the MFJ-813 QRP meter I ordered from HRO today. They are back ordered from MFJ 2 months and difficult to find. What a great meter for the money. I wanted to know the wattage for each setting in the IC-703 so I did some testing tonight with the calibrated marking on the meter. The radio has 5 power ranges with 10 levels in each range so I tested all 50 against the meter.. well actually 47, since I didn't want to go over 5 watts. The lowest power the radio can put out is 100 mw and the meter had no problem measuring this.

April 2014

I bought a Pelican 1520 Desert Tan case from Amazon for a great price. I chose the Tan for it's light color so it won't absorb the heat of the sun,
yet isn't so light as to show dirt or attract too much attention like yellow or orange does.

This setup will be my travel station for hotel rooms, picnic table operating, and othe portable operations. Inside the case is:

- ICOM IC-703 HF 10W transceiver with built in antenna tuner.
- IC-703 fused 12v DC power cable
- ICOM hand microphone
- Radio Shack 3Amp Power Supply
- 7 Amp Hour Gel Cell battery
- Coax Cable RG-8/U - 10 ft for antenna connection.
- PL-259 adapters
- IC-703 Operating Card for menu items
- Anderson Power poles on battery, power supply, and radios DC power cable.

I will be adding the following:
- End fed long wire, multiband wire, or wire 20 M dipole
- Portable key or paddle.
- Small trickle charger for gel cell

- Total weight of the case and all contents is a reasonable 20.5 lbs and with battery only power can operate
about 5.5 hours (1.5 hrs transmitting and 4 hours listening). Indefinately with power supply.

 

 


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