Ever since I got my ham radio license, just over 6 years ago, I have been interesting in DXing, contesting, and awards. I started out at the bottom of a solar cycle, which helped me learn how to make contacts under less than ideal conditions. I’m not as much into the competition with other hams, but it’s satisfying to set and achieve my own personal goals. Now that band conditions are starting to become more favorable, I was recently able to achieve two longtime goals, which are the 5 Band Works All States (WAS) and 5 Band DXCC awards.
The last band I needed for both WAS and DXCC was 10 meters. The band conditions improved enough over the past few months to make that possible. I was also able to add endorsements for 30 meters, 17 meters and 12 meters. I still need Alaska and Hawaii for WAS on 6 meters, and Hawaii for WAS on 160 meters. Maybe someday!
After a long wait, I finally added an Icom IC-9700 to improve the VHF and UHF capability in my shack. I decided to place an order in late December, but all of the ham radio dealers were out of stock at the time. I placed the order, and the dealer estimated delivery in February. That later slipped to March, and then to April. This morning, April 3rd, it finally arrived!
Initial setup was fairly easy, since I already had the power cable, USB cable, ground wire, and coax routed to the spot on my desk for the IC-9700. Since my current VHF/UHF antenna is a Diamond X500HA for 2M and 70cm, I will not get to use the 23cm right away. I used a Diamond MX-72N duplexer, because the IC-9700 has separate 2M and 70cm connectors.
To make programming the radio a little bit easier, I purchased RTSystems WC-9700 software. I use RTSystems programmers for all of my other radios, and it saves a lot of time and effort. The D-Star Calc feature makes adding D-Star repeaters and reflectors a breeze.
The IC-9700 has lots more features and settings than any of the other VHF/UHF transceivers I used. Even though I am very familiar with the Icom interface and controls, it’s clear that I will have a learning curve to get the best out of this radio. To help with setting up and learning the many features of the radio, I also got a copy of the Radio Today Guide to the IC-9700, by Andrew Barron, ZL3DW. I also have his guides for the IC-7300, IC-7610, and IC-705.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this radio can do. I am going to try out using digital modes on VHF and UHF. My long-term plans include getting a new triband (2M, 70cm, 23cm) antenna to take full advantage of all three bands. I am also considering adding additional antennas to work amateur radio satellites.