It’s been a good weekend here at the ol’ hacienda. The weather has been pleasant and on Saturday, the bands were pretty good.
Down at the lower reaches of the bands, the CQ Worldwide CW contest was raging …
It was really crowded and a bit chaotic. I decided not to dive into that and looked at what else was going on.
I saw that the PODXS 070 Club Three Day Weekend Contest was underway … it had started on Friday evening. It’s a PSK-31 contest. Since I had recently renewed my interest in PSK-31, I decided to participate.
It didn’t take me long to get caught up in it. I’m writing this during a lull of poor propagation on Sunday afternoon, and I have made forty-some contacts so far. Hopefully, the bands will cooperate and things will pick up again before the contest ends at 2359Z this evening.
You know, it’s nice to take the “path less travelled,” to quote Mr. Frost. The CW contest would have been great, but I equally enjoyed the alternative. In the immortal words of that great philosopher, Garth, “Party on, Wayne!”
I installed the latest release candidate of WSJT-X this morning for a quick tryout. Seamless install … no problems whatsoever … seems to work fine. I got on the air after installation and made several contacts.
The biggest thing I noticed, right off the bat, is that the decode time on FT8 is markedly faster. That popped out at me, first thing. The second thing I noticed, was that the RX goalposts (the little green thingies at the top of the waterfall), are now a darker shade of green. That has always been a problem for me … on my monitor, the light green goalposts were really hard to see. I would have to squint and lean closer to see them.
As usual, the development team made lots of improvements behind the scenes. The documentation and the software is available on the website here.
Not a lot has changed in the past couple of weeks, radio-wise. I’m still working lots of digital modes (including CW) and enjoying it. FT4 activity seems to be increasing … probably since the FT8 segments are so crowded. PSK and Olivia activity is still sporadic, but I did notice some nice signals on 20 meters around lunchtime today … strong and lots of them!
One of my coworkers just became a ham last week. He attended an outdoor testing session, to comply with the social distancing recommendations. He passed the Technician and General class licenses, and was formally granted KO4DBF after about a week’s time or so.
Our club held its first virtual club meeting last night, using Zoom. Last week I attended our QCWA chapter meeting via Zoom as well. Looks like Zoom is the preferred method of social interaction now. At work, we’re using Microsoft Teams, but I like the Zoom interface better.
As a matter of fact, I’ve got two Zoom meetings later this evening. First, our Scout Troop, and then after that, our church Choir. We’ve been doing virtual meetings for Scouts for several weeks now and it seems to be working well. The choir meeting is more of a social thing rather than musical … just to keep in touch while in-person services are suspended. Our virtual church services are on FaceBook live.
I’ve been doing a lot of digital operations, as I remarked earlier. I haven’t done any PSK-31 QSOs yet. I thought I had everything set up, but found that the IC-7300 was hitting the ALC pretty hard … too hard for my preferences.
I started digging with good ol’ Google, and found several solutions, but the best (for me) that I found was this page by K0PIR . There’s a balancing act, and it took me a bit of back and forth to reach a compromise for WSJT-X and FLDIGI. I think I’ve got it now, though.I show NO ALC using WSJT-X and about 50% of the “safe” ALC zone of the ALC meter.