A Mixed Weekend

This weekend was not a stellar weekend for operating, for myself. Although the bands were very active, with lots of interesting stations, I didn’t have much luck. I did work one new one, though.

I think the problem was that there were such good conditions, with so many contests going on, I just didn’t have the oomph to break the pileups.

But, on to the pluses! I downloaded and tried the beta for WSJT-X ver. 2, and found the transition painless. The old message format worked flawlessly and so did the new one. I’m quite satisfied with the update, and especially am pleased that “RR73” is the default now instead of being an option. It was a real pain having to set up the change every time I opened the application.

Also, FT8Call is now JS8CALL, and a new version of that developmental software is available. I downloaded the new version, but didn’t see much activity when I checked. More to try this week!

I also downloaded Win4IcomSuite which, if you don’t know, is a control software that works with my IC-7300 and other radios. It allows you to control all aspects of your Icom radio from your computer. It also allows remote control of those radios over the internet. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces. Reviews by users are positive.

Another thing I like about it is that it supports the integration of third-party applications through virtual com ports, and seems to do it very well.

I’ve ordered a rapid charging base for my Icom handheld. I looked at the official Icom offering, but I can get a third party one for less than half the price on Amazon, and it has good reviews. We’ll see …

I’m still looking for an earpiece for my D-Star handheld. Once again, Icom thinks the thing is made from precious metals and gem-grade plastic. I want something that doesn’t require a loan to acquire.

So you can see, lots of new(er) software to play with this week, and that should keep me busy. We’re watching Hurricane Michael, which may bring us some heavy rain and winds this weekend. Lots of variables there, though, and a long time until Saturday.

73 de Dick N4BC

Updates

Last night, we had our monthly radio club meeting. We had a good turnout, with some old friends we hadn’t seen for a while, and some new ones. We even picked up a few new members … HOORAY!

Our Treasurer, who has held that position for over fifteen years tendered his resignation as treasurer due to health and family issues, and I was elected to take his place. I’ve really got some big shoes to fill, don’t I?

We had a good meeting, and the presentation was on mobile radio installation. Well done and very interesting. It’s my turn next month, and my tentative subject will be portable operation … Radios in the Wild.

There were ten checkins to the Tidewater 31515 DMR Net this evening. Topics of discussion were the upcoming Virginia Beach Hamfest and IDing on DMR to comply with FCC Regulations … Section 97.119, to be specific. As I’ve said before, it’s more of a casual gathering than a formal net, and it’ll be nice to put some faces to the calls at the hamfest Saturday. I noticed that a couple of new calls showed up as unknown, so I updated the user database in my MD-380. I hadn’t done that for a while.

I also went into my new DStar radio and added some local non-digital simplex channels. The programming in that radio is still a work in progress, but truthfully, with the GPS and built-in repeater database, not much pre-programming is needed for repeater use.

73 de Dick N4BC

D-Star On Scene

The new Icom ID-51A PLUS 2 that I won in Icom’s monthly drawing arrived late yesterday, and I’ve been exploring the intricacies of programming¬† it. I still haven’t totally conquered the software. I do have it working reliably with my hotspot … Raspberry Pi / MMDVM / Pi-Star. There was lots of reading and watching YouTube! I am experiencing some short momentary dropouts that I’ve got to track down. I’m not sure where the problem lies … there are so many variables in the chain.

The radio itself is so chock full of features, it’s gonna take a while to get familiar with all the menus and where things are located. It took a trip to the manual to figure out how to change the power level to “super low” to conserve battery and not overload the hotspot.

I’ve been sitting here “reading the mail” on REF001C while I’m composing and editing this post. Lots of interesting things going on there. Right now I’m listening to a couple of guys talking about Chevy Camaros. One’s in Texas and one’s in Florida. They’re both pretty knowledgeable about classic cars.

This is pretty solid communications, and I love it! No QRM … no QRN … no straining to hear. It’s either there or not there. Great for laid back chats, especially during these lean times.

73 de Dick N4BC

Pi-Star Update/Upgrade On My Hotspot

I discovered something about Pi-Star upgrading. The documentation was good … I just didn’t pay attention to it!

After I did an upgrade, I noticed I was not at the latest revision. Huh? I just did an upgrade, didn’t I? So what did I do wrong? I ran it again … the revision number incremented by one. Click again on Update and it ratcheted up one more. All in all, I clicked 4 or 5 times until it told me I was at the latest revision.

So … the upgrades are not cumulative. You have to go through them all, one by one, until you reach the latest. It DOES say in the documentation that you may have to press update more than once. Moral of this story … read the instructions! I thought I was current but …

73 de Dick N4BC

Methodical

If nothing else, I’m methodical. If I’m going to buy something … pretty much anything … I’ll spend some time researching and reading reviews. It just makes sense … I want the best I can get for what I have to spend … value for money. This applies to appliances as well as radio equipment.

Recently, I’ve been trying to decide whether to buy a new washer or repair the old one. I think I’ve just about convinced myself to spring for the new one. The dryer is another story … it’s over 25 years old and still going strong. All I’ve ever done to it is replace a fuse about ten years back. Good investment!

I just got notification last night that the Icom ID-51 Plus 2 DStar radio that I won has shipped. It should be here next Wednesday. I’ve spent way too many hours researching DStar programming and operation, but I want to hit the ground running when it does show up. Same principle as above …try to know what you’re doing before you act.

Let me tell you, there’s a LOT of information out there on the WWW. Most is helpful, some is downright UNhelpful, and some is just … I don’t know … wrong is the best way to describe it. You really have to sort through everything to mine the nuggets of information that are useful. I DO think I’ve gained a lot¬† more understanding of DStar than I started with, which was pretty much zilch! I now feel like I can get on the air without making a fool of myself … that’s the goal, isn’t it.

73 de Dick N4BC