Icom IC-7300 External Keyboard

Introduction

Endlessly calling CQ during a contest or special call activation can give you a sore throat. Voice keyers were invented for this particular matter. A voice keyer is even built in in the IC-7300, so at first there is no need for an external device.

This voice keyer has 8 presets and can be used as a keyer for voice, CW or RTTY. The only drawback is that this keyer is only accessible when the voice keyer option is visible on the display. And at that time you can’t see any other screen that might me more of an interest to you than the voice keyer buttons such as a largere scope, the audio in- and output and your meters (SWR, ALC, COMP and I). An external keyboard would be of great help.

Strange enough this external keyboard is not provided by Icom, you are forced to buy an aftermarket device, or… build it yourself. The schematics for this are made available by Icom in their manual on page 12-2.

A prerequisit for me was that I could still use the original mic when the keyboard was attached, and that when I don’t use the original mic, I still have the same capabilities as if I’m using the original mic. So both schematics need to be combined.

Gather the needed components

Enclosure

Except for the resistors all I needed was bought on AliExpress. For the enclosure I choose for a aluminum box measuring 122(W) x 66.5(H) x 39.5(L)mm. Guitar enthousiast use these enclosures to make so call stomp boxes or effects units. Manufacturer Hammond brought an enclosure with these dimension to the market as model 125B/1590N1. If you search on AliExpress with these model numbers, you get some options to choose from.

125B/1590N1
125B/1590N1

Buttons

You can choose whatever momentary switch you like for this project. I went for black plastic 12 mm momentary push-buttons.

Microphone connectors

Icom uses a 8-pin microphone connector. These GX16 connectors, sometimes also referred to as circular aviation socket plug, can be found in abundance on AliExpress. Search for GX16 8 male female because we want two male sockets and 2 female sockets. The male sockets are to be place on the enclosure, the female sockets are needed to build the cable to connect the external keyboard to the radio.

Cable

Finding a suitable cable that has sufficient inner strands, is not to thick and looks good was not so easy. Mini din 8 pin extension cables can be found easily, but they do often come in an ugly beige color. As we only need 6 inner strands, I figured out a mini din 6 pin cable would do the trick as well. I still had 1 meter of this cable in my stock as I once used it to build a data interface for my trusty Yaesu FT857-D.

Resistors

We need one 470 Ohm, one 4,7k Ohm, one 2,2k Ohm and two 1,5k Ohm resistors. All 5% and 1/4 Watt.

Audio Jack Sockets

When looking for audio jack sockets, look for those with a screw on the inside of the enclosure. Not only do they look better, I also have the impression the quality is a bit better.

Preparing the enclosure

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On the top of the box 7 holes needed to be drilled. 4 on the top row, 3 on the bottom row. Each hole has to be 12mm.

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On the left two 20mm holes are drilled for the GX16 connectors and on the front 2 7mm holes were made for the 3.5mm stereo jacks.

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On the back, another 7mm hole was drilled for the 3.5mm jack that will be used to connect a foot-pedal for handsfree PTT operation.

Once all holes are drilled and all components are test fitted, you can start sanding the box and give it some layers of spray paint.

Put everything together

First make sure you solder long ends of wire to the GX16 connectors. It would be a real challenge to solder them when they are already mounted in the enclosure.

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I opened the original Icom MH-219 to know what color code they use and tried to use the same as much as possible.

Pin 1: Mic input = white
Pin 2: 8V = not used for this project
Pin 3: Frequency up and down = red
Pin 4: Squelch = not used for this project
Pin 5: PTT = brown
Pin 6: PTT Ground = green
Pin 7: Mic Ground = Black
Pin 8: AF output = Blue

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Everything wired up.

Now fix a connection cable with two female GX16-8 connectors, using a SP/2 extension cable and some clear tubing as stress relief. The color scheme of this cable is different from that of Icom, but as long as you connect each wire to the same pin on the opposite side of the cable, you’re good to go.

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The finished product

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In this picture, the original mic and the foot pedal are not connected. I’m using an in-ear Sennheiser and a 1€ condenser boom mic from AliExpress. Maybe not the “best” solution, but for the moment good enough.

Everything works as it should and the magic smoke remained in the components where it belongs 😉

I will put this keyer to the test during the March 2019 CQ WPX contest. Hope to meet you on the band!

73 de ON5IA

Paracord Lanyard Knot

How to make a lanyard knot: a photo tutorial.

Step 1: form a loop with the working end under the standing end.
Lanyard Knot (1 of 14)

Step 2: take the other end of the cord. To make it easier to understand I used a different color of paracord. Pull the working end of the desert tan paracord under the loop.
Lanyard Knot (2 of 14)

Step 3: Pull the working end of the desert tan paracord over the standing part of the green paracord.
Lanyard Knot (3 of 14)

Step 4: make a bight with the working end of the desert tan paracord and pull it under the working end of the green paracord.
Lanyard Knot (4 of 14)

Step 5: pull the desert tan paracord over the right side of the loop of the green paracord.
Lanyard Knot (5 of 14)

Step 6: pull the working end of the desert tan paracord under it’s own standing part.
Lanyard Knot (6 of 14)

Step 7: continue to pull the working part of the desert tan paracord over the left side of the green paracord loop. You now see a diamond shape in the middle.
Lanyard Knot (7 of 14)

Step 8: with the working end of the green paracord you make a bight to the top and pull it over the standing part of the desert tan paracord.
Lanyard Knot (8 of 14)

Step 9: pull the working end of the green paracord under both loops into the diamond shape.
Lanyard Knot (9 of 14)

Step 10: pull further and make a bight to the right.
Lanyard Knot (10 of 14)

Step 11: take the desert tan paracord and make a bight to the left over the standing part of the green paracord.
Lanyard Knot (11 of 14)

Step 12: pull the desert tan paracord under both loops, trough the diamond shape and make a bight to the left.
Lanyard Knot (12 of 14)

Step 13: tighten everything up.
Lanyard Knot (13 of 14)

Step 14: and we end up with a nicely knotted lanyard knot.
Lanyard Knot (14 of 14)

Broken Fenix LD20

Right after a battery replacement my trusty Fenix LD20 didn’t function anymore. Even after checking the head and tailcap, the LD20 refused to light. A very bad feeling was coming over me…

Maybe the batteries were dead, although the charger told my other ways. Same result with other batteries and since there isn’t much that looks that might go wrong, my only help would be the internet.

Immediately after entering my keywords I stumbled on a site called Light-Reviews.com. There it was mentioned to tighten the retaining ring that sits inside the tail cap.

Fixing tailcap

A twist of the wrist later, using my Leatherman Charge TTi, my Fenix LD20 was working again. Please note to tighten the retaining ring counterclockwise.

Installing Ubuntu 9.10 On An External USB Hard Drive

Last week, I bought myself a new external Iomega Select Portable Hard Drive. I do not have a laptop of my own, but my employer allows me to use the one from my work at home. That’s ok as long as you want to use it for what it’s intended: to work. If you want to surf the net, or want to use it to download pictures from you camera, you’ll face some limitations. You can’t use or install a browser of application of your own choice.

That’s why I got the idea to install Ubuntu 9.10 on an external USB hard drive. It will be my own operating system and I can configure it how I want. I can even install my own applications. Actually you’re not installing them on the laptop, but on the external hard drive. You are only using the laptop’s hardware.

But as I do own a PC, running Windows XP, I didn’t want to use the entire hard drive for Ubuntu. I also wanted to have some free space to make backups. That free space needs to be NTFS formatted, and to get this done, I took me some time.

Good as I’m, I’ll tell you how I did it in a few steps, beginning with downloading the iso file of Ubuntu 9.10 from this location.

When this is done and before burning the iso on a CD, you must do a MD5 checksum to be sure the iso didn’t get corrupted while downloading. I used WinMD5sum from nullriver.com to compare the UbuntuHashes with the one of the iso.

winmd5sum

If the checksum is ok, you can burn the iso on a CD. For that I’m using ImgBurn.

When your CD is ready, remove al internal hard drives from you laptop, plug in your external hard drive and boot your laptop from the CD. Be aware your BIOS is properly configured to boot from CD.

As of then I followed the step-by-step instructions found on softpedia.

Like described in the step-by-step instructions I created 3 partitions. A swap partition of 2 GB a ext4 partition of 30 GB with mount point / and a ext4 partition with the rest of the available space with mount point /home.

Be sure to install the boot loader on your external hard drive. This is also the reason why I removed the internal drive from the laptop: less chance to screw it up!

After a while Ubuntu will be installed to your external hard drive. If everything went well, you can boot your laptop now from this external hard drive. But if you’ll plug in this drive into a Windows machine, it won’t recognize any free space as it’s not formatted in NTFS.

To do this I rebooted the laptop with the CD without having the external drive connected. Then I did choose to test Ubuntu without installing it, I plugged in the external drive and opened GParted. I unmounted the last and biggest partition, and reside it to about 30 GB. The newly free space was formatted NTFS.

Now I’m having a bootable external USB hard drive running Ubuntu, which can still be used to backup files created on my Windows XP desktop.

ubuntugolb

DIY: Ammo Box Lock

I just finished another very small DIY project, which I want to share with you. I made an adjustment to an ordinary ammo box so you can lock it.

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Things you need: an ammo box, a u-bolt, some screws-nuts, whashers and a lock. Furthermore you’ll need a drill an a file.

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First we mark the spots where we want to drill the holes. We’ll use a puncher to make little dimples to give the drill a starting point and some better grip. We’ll keep the lid of the ammo box closed, and we’ll drill through the lock and the ammo box in once. So we’re sure the holes are perfectly alligned.

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How I do it, I don’t know. But I always manage to srew things up when I’m trying to make / break something when I’m using a drill. One attention point for me (and also for you) the center of the hole you’re going to drill needs to be a little further away than 1/2 diameter of your drill from another hole. If this is not the case you’ll end up with a hole that looks like the right hole and you riks your drill will get stuck and hurt yourself. So the left hole is ok, the right hole could be better.

Now we screw two screw-nuts on the u-bolt and add two washers. We stick the u-bolt in the two drilled holes, put two washers and screw-nuts on the other end of the u-bolt and tighten them.

Close the lid and the u-bolt appears. You can use a file if things are not closing smoothly.

munitiekist foto 8
Tadaa: an ammo box with a lock.

Photographing Water Droplets

It all started after browsing through Strobist.com, and viewing David Hobby’s Strobist DVD’s. I wanted to try to photograph some bouncing water droplets.

Like with most things, the preparation and the cleaning up afterwards take more time than the actual shooting. I used a big black oven plate as a water basin. A big piece of cardboard had to serve as background. I preferred to have a white background, but I didn’t have any, but if you set your strobe’s power high enough, everything will become white.

I tight up a little zip-lock bag on the ceiling’s light and punched a hole in it. The hole however seemed to be to big. I got to many droplets at the same time. Also the bag was turning around, which made it hard to keep the focus right.

I placed my Canon 430EX II camera left on a piece of foam, pointed towards the background and triggered with a cheapo eBay wireless flash trigger.

Of all 360 pictures I managed to make in less then 10 minutes, the following were the nicest.
Water Droplet

Water Droplet

The setup:
LightingSetup

Two days later I found out a way to make a nice and easy Droplet generator, using only a Schell tap and an empty milk container.

Duppel Generator

With this own made droplet generator it’s a lot easier to make all the droplets fall on the exact same spot, and thus enable you to always focus right.

Check out the result:

Water Droplet 2

HTC Touch Diamond: Windows Mobile 6.5

Scoring twice with the same product. Apple did it again. First they launched the iPhone, and two years later they release a firmware update that contains all important functions – which are standard in most mobiles – that the iPhone lacks. To be honest, when I saw my twitter account full of tweets of happy campers who upgraded their iPhone with the latest firmware, I was jealous.

For over a month I could test an Android G1, but as I had to give it back, I was stuck with my HTC Touch Diamond again. I didn’t like the Windows Mobile 6.1 / Touch Flow anymore, so why shouldn’t I try to flash the ROM?

Some trial and error later: tadaa, a HTC Touch Diamond with Windows Mobile 6.5!
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The Home screen

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The start menu

You can hardly operate a Windows Mobile 6.1 device without having to use the stylus. With a WM 6.5 this is much less the case. As you can see in the picture below, the menu options are much bigger, which makes it less difficult to operate it with your fingers. No more fiddling with the stylus anymore if you want to use the basic functions (taking a call, checking your mail, etc.)

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How to upgraden?
http://forum.xda-developers.com/ is the place to be!

1) Create a free account. You’ll need it to be able to download attachments.
2) Read this forum post and carefully follow the instructions!
2.1) Upgrading to HardSPL
2.2) Upgrading Radio
2.3) Flashing a ROM (see point 3)
3) I used this (BsB 6.5L Black) ROM

Starting Af Fire With Birch Bark

Starting a fire with some birch bark is a piece of cake. Even when the birchbark is still wet, it will light as if it was a dry piece of paper soaked in gasoline.

When you are on a hike, and you plan to make a fire later the day, it’s a good idea to collect already some tinder when you find it. Collecting upfront birch bark when you are in a birch tree forest might look stupid, but can you imagine your frustration when you want to lit your fire and you are in the middle of a pine tree woodland, or desert and the last birch tree was 20 km ago.

Always be prepared!

Japanese Waterstones

Last week I bought myself a set of Japanese waterstones. I have some nice utility and bush craft knifes which I want to keep sharp. And since I want to do that myself I had to gather the right materials to do so.

Japanese Waterstone

Tadaa: my complete set of Japanese waterstones. It’s the same set of stones Ray Mears is using in his bush craft video’s. Check it out:

Knowing how to do it, and doing it yourself are two different things. I can’t put a razor sharp edge on all my knives, but I managed to do it with my EDC Victorinox Spartan. Experience through practice…

Ikea Hacking: Take Two: Ingo Table And Lanni Chair

Ikea hacking is fun. And since we liked it the first time so much, we decided to try it again. This time with the big Ingo table and a Lanni chair. Just like the first time we’ll paint these items so that they’ll fit our interior. They are going to be the furniture in my little laptop corner.

We painted them first dark gray, and then we brushed some transparent brown varnish onto it to give it that antique look.
ikea01

And for the chair: the same thing.
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The final result.
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Now I only need to find a decent laptop…