FT8 Roundup

This weekend I dabbled in the FT8 Roundup. I was on the air when I had some free time, and made a total of 70 QSOs … not even a big effort, but it was interesting.

When the contest first started, there was lots of confusion, especially about operating frequencies. The normal frequencies were not used … special ranges of frequencies were specified. Also, there were several settings that had to be changed in the software itself, and that confused some. The instructions were well-written, and I had no problems at all.

Contest action!

To do things right, it was necessary to go into the files and create backups and then delete specific files. I was leery of that, but I followed the instructions to the letter … no problems were noted when restoring everything afterwards. I even worked another ten stations afterwards to make sure everything was copacetic (HA! Look that one up!).

SO … everything is back to normal, all the contacts are uploaded to LOTW, ClubLog, eQSL, and QRZ, and I’m already seeing some confirmations, minutes after the contest.

Have you been a ham long enough to remember contests back in the “Dark Ages”? Submitting a log then was a real trial … dupe sheets, deciphering handscribbled logs, counting multipliers, computing scores on your fingers and toes, snail mail submission … like I said, the “Dark Ages”. Soooooo much easier now!

Of course, my mouse quit working during all of this. “Must be the battery,” says I. I replace the battery … still bad. Look all over the house for a spare mouse. Finally, a light went on … I tried another AA battery … success! The first replacement was no good. I need to turn in my Technician badge!

Hope you had a good ham weekend. I had thought about pulling out my manual tuner and making some contacts in the 160-meter contest, but I was busy enough with what I was doing. There’re never enough hours in the weekend, are there?

The next few weeks leading up to the holidays are going to be hectic … banquets, dinners, parties, concerts … all sorts of things to keep me busy. But, I’ll still do radio when I have a chance!

73 and Happy Holidays de Dick N4BC

Alas …

Well, I had good intentions for the weekend … I planned to put in a good (for me) effort in the CQ WW CW contest, and I failed completely. I DID turn on the radio a couple of times and listened, but just couldn’t muster up the energy to jump into the (crowded) pool. I don’t even know why. Laziness, I guess … and lack of enthusiasm. Maybe it was turkey-induced stupor?

I did notice that I still had issues with Win4Icom/N1MM+/WinKeyerUSB operation that I thought I had solved. Back to the drawing board on that. 

It was just a really laid-back weekend … four and a half days. I did watch a couple of movies on Netflix and read a couple of books. So it wasn’t a total waste of a long weekend.

73 de Dick N4BC

Eureka!

I was right about the Win4Icom/N1MM+/WinKeyer USB problem … it was a port conflict. I had Win4Icom and N1MM+ both pointing to the same serial port for the WinKeyer. The simplest solution was to temporarily disconnect the connection from Win4Icom to the WinKeyer, and now N1MM+ works fine. If I’m not using N1MM+, I can just toggle the port back on in Win4Icom and all is well again … easy peasy!

I rushed home from choir practice and caught the last half of the Tidewater VA DMR Net (TG31515). It was a small group tonight and Darrell, KF4HJW was doing the honors as Net Control. Don’t know where Howard was … hopefully he’ll be back next week.

I downloaded the latest version of JS8Call this evening … JS8Call v0.7.5-devel. The main update is a fix for some decode issues, and there are several other fixes as well. Jordan, KN4CRD, is really responsive to feedback and the groups.io site is a good way to provide that interaction.

73 for now de Dick N4BC

Software stories …

I’m still trying to get Win4Icom interfaced with N1MM. I’m close … I can’t get the WinKeyer USB working properly … I think it may be a port conflict, but a bit more study and experimenting is required.

I’ve got JS8Call working OK. That was pretty simple. All I had to do was install a pair of virtual ports with com0com and it worked the first try. It’s still difficult to make a contact, though, with so few users. Unless you catch them on the air, there are long periods of no activity. The mode is still in development and users haven’t reached a critical mass yet.

I went to the SKYWARN class last night. It was interesting … a lot of it came back to me from years ago when I was a pilot and had to learn it for my license, but I did pick up some new things, too. There was a good crowd … probably about twenty people. There were military, CERT, hams, old folks, young folks, in-between folks … just a good cross-section of the population. Maybe the tornadoes we had when the remnants of Michael passed last week spurred attendance?

My shack is getting to the point where I can’t find anything without tearing everything apart. I’ve got stuff on top of stuff. I think this weekend, there’ll have to be a reckoning with stuff!

73 de Dick N4BC

Fail!

Last night was a failure for the Tidewater DMR Net. Not that it was our fault … I think I can lay this one right on the doorstep of the network. There were lots of network dropouts, weird noises, and just general failure. I never did get checked in and all of the stations I heard intermittently were having trouble communicating. This brought home … in an obvious way … that in a disaster, like a hurricane and the resulting flooding, those of us dependent on hotspots and the internet for DMR operation would literally be “up the creek without a paddle.” There’s still a real need for that good ol’ RF!

73 de Dick N4BC