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Getting Started

End of the year is always busy what with trying to wrap things up at work and getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s. And it’s all crammed into a short time for me as I’ll be on vacation for a few weeks so you can see that time is short. Carving out time to build the new station has been a challenge but there has been some progress.

My first goal with the new transceiver is to get it on the air on FM. That probably seems simple enough but I haven’t had a VHF antenna on the house in more than twenty years so this is a bigger deal than you might imagine. It’s starting from scratch.

I ordered a Diamond X-6000A antenna, a vertical that covers 2M, 440, and 1.2GHz. At the same time I ordered the Diamond MX3000N tri-plexer to handle the intermediate connection with the three radio antenna ports.

There just happened to have been a review on this hardware in the December QST (pages 38-40). I doubt that was fate, the IC-9700 is already a popular transceiver and the publishing team at ARRL is simply on top of sharing the best way to get started with a new tri-band transceiver with its readers.

Specs on the antenna and the tri-plexer were more than adequate for how I intend to use them though seasoned VHF operators may have opted for something different. I intend to mount the antenna at one corner of the house and use a short run of LMR400 cable from there, through the attic, and into the shack. I’ll install it on a 30-foot mast and after grounding and adding lightning protection I’ll call this simple first step, “done”.

Easy as that sounds, within hours of placing my order I got a note from Ham Radio Outlet that the tri-plexer isn’t available at any of their locations and will have to be shipped “later”. Meanwhile, the antenna has already shipped.

That’s not such bad news since the installation of the antenna and running new feed line is the real work. I hope the wait for the tri-plexer will be a short one. I still need to order the LMR400 and a collection of connectors and hardware.

Assuming all that can be installed over the long holiday break, I’ll move ahead with acquiring Yagis for 6, 2, and 440. But having all that in place and functional in time for the January VHF contest is, I’m afraid, just wishful thinking.

Along the way I’m also remodeling the shack. Gone is the big desk as I intend to install a single workbench to serve as the center of operation. That will require a little drywall work to route new power feeds along with antenna and rotor cables in an alternate configuration.

Lots to do and little free time to do it but progress continues, even if it’s difficult to measure.

I did update the firmware on the 9700 to the latest v1.20. That task couldn’t have been easier but it does require reading the instructions. I’m on one mailing list for that transceiver where some have had minor problems with this task, but in the end, that was all operator error due to failure to carefully read the fine manual.