Fatigue and Waking Up Again

Photo by Isabella Fischer on Unsplash

So last summer I had a significant change in my career. It was overwhelmingly positive, but it also was overwhelmingly….overwhelming.

Time became constrained. Thoughts turned to getting my head above water while simultaneously trying to wrap said head around all the new things I have to drive.

That along with still having two teenage sons at home, a wife, two dogs, and everything else meant that priorities had to shift.

Ham radio took a backseat.

How it is feeling like time to wake up again and get out of my radio slumber. I dusted off my radio and found that winter had not been kind to my vertical antenna out back, so I’ll spend part of this weekend figuring out what happened.

In the meanwhile I have started listening to Morse Code Ninja’s 25wpm practice files again to get my brain back to functional. It’s amazing what 8-9 months of not listening or using CW has done to my comprehension, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much is coming back.

Baby steps…..

Have you ever had to take a break from the hobby and if so, how did you get back into “fighting shape” again?

Xiegu x6100 Firmware Update 1.1.6

It’s been a while since an update was last provided for this transceiver, but this looks to have quite a few enhancements and fixes provided so that is probably why.

From the release notes:

V1.1.6 Release Note
Image File SHA256: 1D5D97118E34963B0BA338CD974BD456577E21475F487F0154D9537112A8A64B
APP:  V1.1.6 Nov  2 2022,13:10:22
BASE: V1.1.6 Nov  1 2022,17:37:32

1. Add CI-V instruction:
   1A 01 (C1) (C2)
   C1: band index, See IC-705 CI-V Command Table
   C2: bandstack register number(not use), See IC-705 CI-V Command Table
   X6100 send back         description
   FE FE                   # 2 byte, CI-V header
   E0 XX 1A 01 01 01       # 6 bytes, The command payload, XX is the rig's address
   00 00 80 01 00          # 5 bytes, Operating frequency setting
   03 02                   # 2 bytes, Operating mode setting
   00                      # 1 byte, Data mode setting 
   00                      # 1 byte, Duplex and Tone settings
   00                      # 1 byte, Digital squelch setting
   00 08 85                # 3 bytes, Repeater tone frequency setting
   00 08 85                # 3 bytes, Repeater tone frequency setting
   00 00 23                # 3 bytes, DTCS code setting
   00                      # 1 byte, DV Digital code squelch setting
   00 50 00                # 3 bytes, Duplex offset frequency setting
   58 36 31 30 30 20 20 20 # 8 bytes, UR (Destination) call sign setting
   20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 # 8 bytes, R1 (Access repeater) call sign setting
   20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 # 8 bytes, R2 (Gateway/Link repeater) call sign setting
   FD                      # 1 byte, CI-V tail
2. Add CI-V instruction: 
   1A 06
   See IC-705 CI-V Command Table
3. Add CI-V instruction: 
   21 00
   21 01
   21 02
   See IC-705 CI-V Command Table
4. Add CI-V instruction:
   26 (C1) (C2) (C3) (C4)
   C1: VFO index
       0:     Foreground VFO
       other: Background VFO
   C2: Operating mode
       See IC-705 CI-V Command Table
   C3: Data mode
       0:     OFF
       other: ON
   C4: Filter setting
       1:     FILTER1
       2:     FILTER2
       3:     FILTER3
       other: Invalid
   *Note: [LSB/USB mode]         with Data mode ON -> L-DIG/U-DIG
          [Other operating mode] with Data mode ON -> No effect
5. Add bluetooth SPP, virtual serial port for FLRIG, Omni-Rig or other CI-V based software
6. Fix the Fc marker bug in modem mode (there will be two markers in the audio FFT scope in some cases)
7. Optimize the fw updating process via sd card, the user data (configures, voices, channels) will not be cleared after updating
8. Some adjustments of the main window
   8.1 Add LOCAL TIME / UTC TIME widget
   8.2 Add RIT / XIT widget
   8.3 Add audio oscilloscope
   8.4 Add filter icon (shows filter group as will)
9. Add auto-level for the waterfall
10. Fix bluetooth issue (stuck in the startup screen or the bluetooth setting window)
11. Fix ntp update issue (make sure X6100 can access to the internet via built-in WiFi or USB to Ethernet dongle)
12. Show MAC address in the Bluetooth / WiFi setting windows (in the title of the window)
13. Optimize the TIME SETTING operation logic
14. Optimize the FFT SPAN (or FFT ZOOM), now it has four items: 100k,50k,25k,12.5k
15. Optimize the "Flat-Menu" operation logic, Press "MFK" to select the current item to the fast-access tag and return to the main window
    example 1: In "RADIO SETTING1" page, "TX POWER" is selected, press "MFK" then "TX POWER" is added to the fast-access tag
    example 2: In "DISPLAY SETTINGS" page, "FFT SPAM" is selected, press "MFK" then "FFT SPAM" is added to the fast-access tag
    *Note: "selected" means the item get the focus
16. Optimize AGC algorithm
    16.1 AGC time constant is more accurate
    16.2 Background noise is much lower without antenna plugged in (except FM mode)

Tips & Note:
#### Most of the CI-V instructions compatible with ICOM-705
#### Ham Radio Deluxe may not recognize the bluetooth virtual serial port
#### Serial port remap (could be critial when working with the bluetooth virtual serial port):
Why remap:
   FLRIG/WSJTDX/JTDX may fail to connect to the bluetooth virtual serial port (due to the mechanism of rfcomm itself)
Roadmap and Tools:
1) install com0com
2) Run "Setup Command Prompt" (the CLI for com0com)
   install protname=COMxxx -
   xxx is the port number, choose a unoccupied one, for example: 88
3) Close the CLI
1) Enter hub4com dir, looks like this:
2) Input the command in the MS CLI
   hub4com --route=All:All \\.\COMyyy \\.\CNCB0
   COMyyy is the bluetooth virtual serial port number, for example: COM4
   hub4com --route=All:All \\.\COM4 \\.\CNCB0
   The CLI's output should be look like the below:
   COM4 Open("\\.COM4", baud=19200, data=8, parity=no, stop=1, octs=on, odsr=off, ox=off, ix=off, idsr=off, ito=0) - OK
   CNCB0 Open("\\.CNCB0", baud=19200, data=8, parity=no, stop=1, octs=on, odsr=off, ox=off, ix=off, idsr=off, ito=0) - OK
   Route data COM4(0) --> CNCB0(1)
   Route data CNCB0(1) --> COM4(0)
   Route flow control COM4(0) --> CNCB0(1)
   Route flow control CNCB0(1) --> COM4(0)
   Started COM3(0)
   Started CNCB0(1)
1) Com port for CI-V should be the one we choose in the com0com, which in this case would be COM88

I have just downloaded and haven’t applied it yet, but will circle back if anything seems significantly improved.

You can download the latest from this link https://www.radioddity.com/pages/xiegu-download

Xiegu G106 In The House

Or my house at least.

I quickly jumped on the first available orders for the new transceiver from Xiegu as sold through Radioddity, the Xiegu G106 HF Transceiver.


First off, the stats from the manual:

Receive Range0.55-30 MHz, 88.0-108.0 MHz (FM Broadcast)
Transmit Range3.5-4.0 MHz
7.0-7.2 MHz
10.1-10.5 MHz
14.0-14.35 MHz
18.068-18.168 MHz
21.0-21.45 MHZ
24.89-24.99 MHz
28.0-29.7 MHz
Operating ModesSSB/CW/AM
Transmitter Power>= 5 Watts
Operating Voltage9-15 Volts
Standby Current Draw0.37 A
Max Current Draw2.8 A
Weight720g | 1.6 lbs

Looking at the Transmit Range row above, something stood out right away – where is 7.21 – 7.30 MHz?

Checking the website showed the range as 7.0-7.3 MHz as I would expect, and I can confirm that you are indeed able to transmit between 7.21 and 7.30 MHz.

While I am generally a CW operator, that would have been a serious omission.

In the Box

Not much.

You get the radio, an non-terminated power cable, a handheld mic, and some papers that include a printed manual.

I’m not huge on the “unboxing” type experiences. For me it is a once-and-done experience. If that is your thing….sorry. This is a fairly spartan box.

The Radio

Now on to the main course.

The radio is smaller than I expected, but feels quite heavy and robust in the hand. Here is a soda can for reference:

Controls are minimal:

  • Two knobs (that double as push buttons) that control volume and tuning
  • 4 faceplate buttons (what these control changes depending on what menu page you’re on)
  • 4 top buttons (power, mode/preamp, band adjustment/lock

Moving towards the back panel we have a BNC antenna interface, ground lug, key interface, comm interface, acc interface, and power input port.

The display is simple, well laid out, and gives the important pieces that I use most: mode, frequency, S-meter, and spectrum display. The background is a white with slight blue tinge color, and the foreground is almost a dark navy blue. Not quite black.

The back light is either on or off, no adjustment available.

Tuning the radio is very pleasant. The large knob has small palpable steps that provide feedback but do not impede tuning when you’re trying to move fast.

Underneath is bare except for 4 rubber feet that it sits on. The side panels are equally bare.

The Good News

Most of the things I expect and use in a radio are there today.

CW settings for type, speed, tone, and QSK are all adjustable. CW filtering bandwidth is also adjustable in increments of 50/250/500 Hz.

It is multi-band and multi-mode, including digital.

The spectrum display reminds me quite a bit of the one on the Lab599 TX-500. If you’ve seen the Xiegu x5105 then you’ve seen this one as well.

With volume adjusted, the audio was surprisingly clear. The onboard speaker can (as noted below) become overwhelmed. I’m working on recording some audio samples and will upload when ready for reference.

Operation is quite simple and I think the controls are a bit more intuitive than their other transceivers. The menu navigation is easy to do and I didn’t have to reference the manual once in order to do basic operations. Their UX is getting better in my opinion.

Missing in Action

There are a few things missing from this radio, at least in my opinion.

Memories – there are frequency memories but not the type one might use a lot with a portable radio for SOTA/POTA operating, namely memory banks to store recorded messages. I’m not a constant user of such, but they are nice to have in cooler weather when my fist becomes an ice block.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of automatic gain control and the onboard speaker can quickly become overwhelmed on strong signals.

Beware if you’re using a headset!

Unlike their other radios, there is no built-in battery. This isn’t necessarily a con for many, but want to call it out.

Also unlike the x5105 and x6100, it does not have a automatic antenna tuner.

There may be other things that you depend on that are also missing as well. This is certainly not an exhaustive list.

Setting my callsign to display on startup


Coming in at half the price as their current top-end HF transceiver, the x6100 and in a form-factor that is more like the Yaesu FT-817/818, it is an interesting radio.

Having just received it today I haven’t yet had it out in the field, but I have to say I’m both pleased and a bit torn. On the one hand this I see myself much more likely to take this out when I may be places that would be a bit more dangerous for something like a KX2/3 or the IC-705 (I’m paranoid about my radios). It performs what is generally needed and is simple to operate.

It is small and seems quite robust.

But I’m struggling to see why I’d grab this one and not the x5105. Yes it is smaller, but having charged the x5105 I can grab that and a wire antenna and go.

I think I’m gonna keep this one though. There is potential here and who knows what Xiegu will add in a future update, but this may not be something that meets many operators’ needs.


Lab599 CW-500 Iambic Paddle

Looks like the folks at Lab599 are producing a paddle that fits their TX-500 radio, similar to the keys available from Elecraft for their KX2/KX3 radios.

While not available yet, the details are available in a PDF file here (link).

Here is their mockup image from the PDF:

Curious about everyone’s thoughts here. I personally am very interested. It would remove the need to carry (and not lose) the small adapter cable that comes with the radio, but I worry that they would need to get the feel and performance just right.

Lab599 TX-500 Firmware 1.14.05

Another firmware drop from the folks at Lab599 for their excellent portable transceiver the TX-500. From the changelog:

v1.14.05 (2022.08.08)
- Improved CW decoder function 
  * Increased maximum decoding speed
  * Font fixed
- Added CW encoder function — character input of CW messages
- Improved work with memory cells: the transceiver saves the current memory mode when turned on/off
- General fixes and improvements

It’s great to see a company continuing to improve features in their products. Looking to get this loaded up later today and take it for a test drive.