Public Service

I volunteered to help with communications for the annual Boys & Girls Club Smart Smiles 5K race this coming Saturday. I got the email for assignments, frequencies, duties, etc. yesterday. This’ll be the first time I’ve done one of these public service events in years … maybe even decades! Looking forward to it!

However (there’s always a however, you know) … that means I’ve got to program a couple of radios to contain the repeater and simplex frequencies we’ll be using. It’s probably been over a year since I programmed any radios. It’s a shame that every radio has its own proprietary software and unique programming cable as well. First, I have to find the cables and then, try to remember how to manipulate the software. None of it is very intuitive!

One radio uses Chirp for programming, so that’s not too bad … I can handle that. The other is a D-Star radio, and I remember how much sweat and tears I shed the first time I tackled programming that 🙁 . Hopefully, it’ll come back to me! Everything I have to enter is analog, so maybe it’ll be easier.

I’ve also got to add some repeaters to my hamshack base radio. I don’t have some of the SkyWarn backup repeaters programmed, and I need to get that done with hurricane season approaching.

Anyhow, wish me luck. I’ll report back and let you know how I did.

73 de Dick N4BC

A New Tool

This afternoon, I downloaded the new version of WSJT-X ver. 2.1.0, and gave the new FT4 mode a try. What can I say? Fast!! Here’s an excerpt of my log …

First FT4 Contacts

Some will say, “That’s not REAL ham radio … It’s computers talkin’ to each other.” And you know, that’s partially right. BUT … it’s another tool that’s available to use where needed. And we all know you can NEVER have too many tools, right?

To each his own. It’s there … it’s available … if you like it, use it … if you don’t like it, don’t use it. I see it primarily useful as a contest or Field Day mode (and there are those that would argue with me about that). So be it!

73 de Dick N4BC

LOTW

I sat down this evening and calculated my percentage of QSOs confirmed in LOTW. It’s surprisingly high … 70.28 percent! That’s a pretty good return on investment 🙂 .

I think a lot of that can be attributed to digital confirmations. The software used for the digital modes will usually interface with logging programs to automatically upload QSOs to LOTW. I use the combo of WSJTX, JTAlert, and DxLab/DXKeeper. All seamless.

I just got in from Choir Practice, and had to drive home through a thunderstorm. So much for getting in some operating before bedtime 🙁 .

73 de Dick N4BC

Doin’ the Contest Thing

I spent a good part of the day working stations in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. I decided to use “classic” RTTY, rather than one of the new modes (FT8, PSK31, etc). I had to fiddle a while to get all the software working together, but nothing serious. I used Win4Icom, my IC-7300, FLDIGI, and N1MM+ Logger. It all played well together. I was running about 30 watts power out.

My first contacts in the contest …

I had tried to use a different RTTY engine before (MMTTY), but had a few issues with it. It worked … but I was less than impressed with some aspects of it and that’s what led me to try FLDIGI.

I operated AFSK (Audio Frequency Shift Keying), using the sound card in the IC-7300 and the only little nag there, is my ALC was at about 50 percent on transmit. The manual says this is OK, but I’ve always tried to get it as close to zero as possible. I think there’s a way to use both the USB and CI-V cables to use FSK (Frequency Shift Keying). I’ll have to research that.

The IC-7300 will do FSK in the RTTY mode, and there’s lots of memories for preprogramming contest messages, so I guess you could work a contest just sitting there reading the display and pressing buttons, but then you don’t get the integrated logging that N1MM+ gives you. Synergy, I think they call that!

I probably would have continued on a bit more, but !!MAN!! — did that stint at the radio do a job on my lower back. I definitely know I’ve been sitting in a “not too comfortable” chair for a long time. I definitely need to take more frequent breaks and walk around a bit.

So that’s the story! Maybe I’ll get on the air a bit more tomorrow afternoon … we’ll see. I have good intentions …

So far, my stats are 75 QSOs and 2,625 points … only 3 DX QSOs … all the rest USA and Canada. Pretty pathetic, huh? Hey, don’t judge me … I’m playing radio!

UPDATE: I ended up with 161 QSOs, 7 of which were DX stations, and 8,050 points. I had fun!

73 de Dick N4BC

Post-Christmas Stupor

So, Christmas is over for another year, and, as usual, I ate too much! We went over to the kids’ house on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. In addition to a gut-busting meal, the snacks were present in great abundance. Every year, I say it’s going to be different, but once again – I had no willpower!

Oh well, next year it’ll be different!! HA!!

It’s been quite a while since I worked any JS8Call, so I downloaded the latest version and found quite a few changes … keys moved. new functions … lots of new stuff. Plus, it’d been so long, I really had to figure out what I was doing all over again. Interesting mode, to say the least!

I’ve been working a bit of CW and FT8 over the holidays, but nothing to write home about. I’ve just been doing family things. I’ve got a dozen days off and go back to work the 3rd of January, and only had to take 4 days of leave with all the holidays. Haven’t got cabin fever yet!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holidays in their own way. No matter what you celebrate, I wish you the all best!

73 de Dick N4BC