FT8 and other digital modes with ICOM 718

I have built a DIY interface for my ICOM 718 HF radio to send and receive audio signals to a laptop computer and control the PTT keying, for use with various digital modes such as FT8. I used a USB sound card for the audio interface, and a USB-to-serial port adapter for PPT keying. The audio output of ICOM 718 (from speaker out or Pin 12 in the accessories port) connects to the microphone in of the sound card (pink port, microphone port). The audio output of the sound card (green port, headphones port) connects to Pin 11 of the ICOM 718’s accessories port. The USB-to-serial port is then configured in the settings tab of the software WSJT-X to send pulses to the the serial port’s RTS pin, which then controls a BC547 transistor to key the PTT (Pin 3 in ICOM 718’s accessories port) when transmitting a signal.

The circuit board of the USB sound card and the USB-to-serial adapter are then removed from their housing and soldered directly on to a USB hub. This configuration allows both modules to work with just one USB port of the laptop. I then put everything inside the metal casing of the radio, in a section protected from radio interference. To operate in digital modes, I only need to connect one USB cable from the radio.

During my initial tests, I was able to contact a station in Brazil (South America), from the Philippines, at 21.074 MHz (15 meters), using a 40-meter band center-fed dipole wire antenna resonant to the 15-meter band.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines


DUCWNET conducts Philippine Morse Code Net

DUCWNET aims to keep the CW (Continuous Wave) spirit alive by conducting daily nets and training aspiring operators to communicate using Morse Code. It is an amateur radio activity supported by the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) and Morse Code enthusiasts based in the Philippines.

DUCWNET has the following objectives:
1. Set a CW common ground in DU land
2. Encourage beginners to practice and exercise CW
3. Make the local amateur radio community become aware
that CW is not dead in the Philippines
4. Train younger CW operators to be successors
in training future CW operators

Operators of varying levels of Morse Code proficiency are welcome to join the DUCWNET, from beginners at 5WPM to seasoned CW operators who could communicate at speeds above 15WPM. The usual Morse Code net speed is about 15WPM but adjusts to the word speed of the station checking in. Below is a sample exchange during a typical DUCWNET:

QRL?  QRL? V V V VVV (Is this frequency in use? Testing, testing)
CQ CQ CQ DE PARA DUCWNET (Calling any station, this is the PARA DUCWNET Morse Code net)
ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN THE PARA DUCWNET (Invites all stations to join the net)
THIS IS DU1AU UR NCS NW, MY NAME IS ANTHONY, (Identifies the current net control station)
ES QTH IS BACOOR. (Identifies the net control station’s location)
QNI QRU QRZ? PSE K (Please check in, any traffic, who is calling)

Any station requesting to check in may simply reply with their call sign.

DW3QEA or QNI DE DW3QEA (Checking in, this is DW3QEA)

For stations checking in for the first time, please also indicate the station’s name and location in the transmission.

DW3QEA ARMAN QTH NUEVA ECIJA K (DW3QEA Arman, location is Nueva Ecija, end of message)

The net control station (NCS) replies with an acknowledgement, and reports back with details about the NCS’s location, such as weather information:

DW3QEA DE DU1AU NCS = (DW3QEA this is DU1AU, net control station)
VY GE OM ARMAN, TKS FER UR CALL. (Very good evening old man Arman, thanks for your call)
UR RST IS 599 5NN, (Your signal is very good at 599, 5NN)
MY WX HR IS CLOUDY. (My weather here is cloudy)
WID TEMP AT 29C. (With temperature at 29 C)
SO HW CPY? ES QRU? AR (Did you copy my message? Any traffic?)
DW3QEA DE DU1AU NCS KN (DW3QEA this is DU1AU net control station, go ahead)

The station called now transmits and checks in.

DU1AU NCS DE DW3QEA = (DU1AU net control station, this is DW3QEA)
VY GE OM ANTHONY, (Very good evening old man Anthony)
TKS FER ACK MY CALL. (Thanks for acknowledging my call)
TU FER MY RST 599 RPRT. (Thank you for the very good 599 signal report)
UR RST IS ALSO 599 5NN.  (Your signal is also very good at 599, 5NN)
CPI UR WX IS CLOUDY WID TEMP AT 29C. (I copy your weather is cloudy at 29 C)
MY WX IS CLEAR AT TEMP 25C. (My weather is clear at 25 C)
PSE CPI MY QNI QRU. (Please copy my check in to the net, no traffic)
KEEP SAFE AND TAKE CARE ALWAYS, (Keep safe and take care always)
HPE TO CUAGN TMW. (Hope to see you again tomorrow)
73 77 AR (Best regards and long live CW!)
DU1AU NCS DE DW3QEA TU EE (DU1AU net control station this is DW3QEA, thank you)

The net control station acknowledges and replies:

DW3QEA DE DU1AU NCS = (DW3QEA this is DU1AU, net control station)
CPI UR WX IS CLEAR AT 25C. (I copy your weather is clear at 25 C)
QSL UR QNI QRU. (Acknowledging your check in, with no traffic)
KEEP SAFE ES TAKE CARE ALWAYS, (Keep safe and take care always)
HPE TO CUAGN TMW. (Hope to see you again tomorrow)
73 ES 77 AR (Best regards and long live CW!)
DW3QEA DE DU1AU NCS(DW3QEA this is DU1AU net control station)
SK GN TU E E (End of transmission, good night, thank you)

If you are a Morse Code and CW enthusiast or a new ham looking to learn or improve in sending and decoding Morse Code, then checking in to the DUCWNET Philippine Morse Code net may just be the perfect amateur radio activity for you! The DUCWNET conducts daily Morse Code net at 7.102 MHz (HF, CW mode) Monday to Saturday, 4 pm to 5 pm, and at 145 MHz (VHF, FM mode using an oscillator for CW tones) Monday to Saturday, 7:30 pm to 8 pm. Operators who are able to check in to the DUCWNET at least 10 times a year qualifies for a certificate from the PARA DU NET.

Special thanks to the following stations who regularly check in and support the DUCWNET (as of 14 January 2022).

4E1AGW William4H1NZJ LeeDU1FV RamonDU3AT JamesDV3CEP Emerson
4F1BGF Rey4I1AGJ EdselDU1JR JojiDU3GKT JerryDV3SA Fred
4F1BYN Max4I1AWM MichaelDU1KIB JunDU3MR RestyDV3VAA Don
4F1LDR Nards4I1BNC BongDU1LMC LouieDU3RI RodyDV4MDR Mark
4F1OPX Ben4I1DWE ArmiDU1MUS ReyDU3TW TimDV6XCY Joe
4F2AJ Lito4I1EAY DennisDU1NA NickyDU4RER RoyDV9/VE7HQT Sherwin
4F2KWT Gil4I1EBC, DV1J JoeyDU1NC ChitoDU5AOK(/9) NathanDW1TDW Nigel
4F3BZ Boyet4I1LCF DonDU1SVZ RonDU7DVE ChuckDW2ASW Abu
4F3CS Clym4I1MVI RobertDU1TC MarsDU7FCC, DU7X NicholasDW2JHS Renz
4F3FJU Jojin4I1MYV GhieDU1TDG ConradDU7LVH JoeDW3QEA Arman
4F3FSK Jhun4I1RAC AngeloDU1VBY RicheDU7SJF DanDX9EVM Jhun
4F3KT EddyDU1APO AllenDU1VGX RuelDU9CA JhunDY3GTE Garrie
4F5TAG JunDU1AU AnthonyDU1WBX EdDU9JJY TazDY3JAD Jason
4F8RS/DU1 RoelDU1AZ/4DIZ GeraldDU1XX MikeDV1ODC, DZ1R RichardN7ET/DU7 Dale
4G1DIF IanDU1DA DennisDU1YSM LarryDV1XNZ JoelVA7CD/DU7 Daniel
4G1EFB FhordDU1EV, DU1A EddieDU1ZDR, DZ1A JohnDV1YAI, DZ1Z NickyYB7XO Ricky
4G1MDZ JojoDU1EQ EdsaDU2FIS PaulDV2JB Jharwin 
4G1RMC RichardDU1FLA EstoyDU2US FilDV2KBE Jerry 


The DUCWNET started in May 2020, initiated by net control stations (NCS) DU1JR, DU3GKT, 4F3CS, 4F1BYN, DU1VGX, 4E1AGW with help from other NCS 4H1NZJ, DU2FIS, DU7LVH, DW3QEA, and DU1AU.

CW, our way of life, 73, 77! DUCWNET

To download a PDF version of this article, click here.
To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines


DUCWNET holds Kalayaan 2021 Morse Code Net

Philippine CW operators celebrate 123rd year of Philippine independence through a special DUCWNET. Morse code and CW enthusiasts particpated in the Kalayaan 2021 special DUCWNET by checking in and sending the greeting (in Morse code) “HPI 123 PH ID” at 7.102 MHz (HF, 3:30 pm to 5 pm) and at 145 MHz (VHF, 7 pm to 8 pm) on June 12, 2021 (Saturday). DUCWNET aims to keep the CW spirit alive by conducting daily nets and training aspiring operators to communicate using Morse code.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines


Sky-Watcher Equinox 100 ED

The 2011 Sky-Watcher Equinox 100 ED 4 in f/9 refractor serves as my main telescope both for visual observation and astrophotography. The telescope comes with aluminum-lined wooden carrying case. It is supplied with two eyepieces: 25 mm and 5 mm. Supplied also is a 90-degree 2-inch diagonal mirror and an 8 by 50 finder scope.

The Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) features a 4-in f/9 extra-low dispersion (ED) apochromatic (APO) lens design. It has a 2-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser with a thumbscrew underneath for locking the draw tube.

To view sample photos taken with the Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED, click here.
To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines