Digital Dive

So … I’ve taken the plunge into DMR radio. I had an unused gift card on Amazon and sprung for a Tytera MD-380 hand-held radio. A ham just a few miles from me has put a UHF DMR repeater on the air. I ordered the radio today and Amazon says that it’ll be here tomorrow. Can’t wait!! (but I’ll have to!)

I keep reading online about how difficult the programming software is, so I checked it out. Maybe if you’re not used to it, but I’ve been building codeplugs for Motorola radios for more years than I care to think. Looks like a piece of cake to me.

I’ve been interested in DMR for a while now, but there was no local repeater within a reasonable range of my QTH. Lots of them to the north, south, east, and west, but none here at ground zero.

There are DStar repeaters near me, but I just couldn’t justify the cost. This little Chinese gem cost less than ninety bucks. Can’t beat that. And … it got pretty good reviews in the November 2017 QST.

I’ve still been keeping up with CW and FT-8 contacts on HF, and the NC QSO Party is this coming Sunday. I’ll be there on HF!

73 de Dick N4BC

Smith Charts

Ah, yes … I remember being in school and sweating bullets trying to understand and use Smith Charts. Plotting and drawing lines … HATED IT!

Last night, at our monthly club meeting, we were introduced to an elegant solution to my aversion … SimSmith by Ward Harriman AE6TY. It’s a Smith Chart software tool that is really impressive … and FREE!

I won’t go into more explanation here, other than to say his website also refers you to numerous videos and writings that explain its uses and and its operation. Check it out (using the link above)┬áif you have any curiosity or any need for Smith Charts.


73 de Dick N4BC


Well, I did a bit of fiddlin’ with WSPR-X this evening. Here’s the results …

Stations that heard me …
Graphic representation of stations hearing me …


I was transmitting 5 watts, using a 31-ft vertical. If you’re more interested in how WSPR-X works, it’s one of the modes included in W1JT’s WSJT-X ver. 1.8.0 software. WSPR is explained at

73 de Dick N4BC

IC-7300 Firmware Upgrade

I upgraded the firmware on the new rig from ver. 1.14 to ver. 1.20. The procedure was painless … fully detailed in the manual. As far as I can tell from their description, there were no changes that affect my operation, but there were “bug fixes and enhancements.”

Conditions were pretty grim whenever I turned on the rig today. Lots of noise and few signals. The propagation charts all show “unsettled” and poor to fair conditions, so it’s a good evening to work on other things. Sunspot count is still at zero. As an aside, I did hear quite a few signals on 160 meters this evening, but my antenna will not tune to that band. The ARRL 160 contest is going on this weekend.

73 and good DX de Dick N4BC

WSJT-X ver. 1.8.0 Released

The final version has just been released and a quick check shows it has all its fingers and toes. Just a couple of features added since the last release candidate, so it seems virtually unchanged.