I have made another contact on my HW-8. Not as easy as I was hoping, but it is coming along. It turns out the iCom IC-s700 is a marine band radio. It does transmit on the amateur bands but it has no tuning dial. You have to program frequencies into it. Was not happy with it, so I sent it back. Waiting for my refund.
Code speed is picking up a little but slooooow.
I also bought a BitX20 half built of of eBay and am finishing it up. We'll see how that goes.