Hey! Where’d they all go?

Checked out FT8 last night … started by using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5 … crickets! Where’d everybody go after the contest? Lots of activity on the spectrum display. So I reverted to ver 1.9.1 and voila! … tons of stations!

I think it’s going to be an uphill battle to move everybody to the newer version. Still, when the non-beta version 2.0 is released on December 10th, I may be surprised. I hope so … this newer iteration of WSJT-X really has some good features and Joe and his crew seem to have fine-tuned the decoding algorithm for optimum performance.

73 de Dick N4BC

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

Recap …

I got on for a while late yesterday afternoon, using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5, and had some luck. It wasn’t a lot of luck … just some luck.

You can see, there is more 77-bit messaging showing up on the bands, but it’s still pretty slim pickings. I’m hoping the BIG flip-over will come when version 2 is finally released in its finished form on the 10th of December.

Eighty meter Propagation from N4BC 11/27/2018

Eighty meters propagation was  really good last night. the low bands are the place to be to work stations, but there are still some real gems to be found on the higher frequency bands. I even heard some strong CW signals up on ten meters yesterday evening.

Oh, I got a confirmation from 5T2AI, Ahmed in Mauritania, yesterday. Worked him last week. This LOTW stuff works fine (and fast)! Shame on you if you’re still a denier :-)!!

73 de Dick N4BC


I was just fiddling with numbers this afternoon and was surprised to find that my LOTW account shows a 68.42% confirmation rate. That’s a pretty good number, isn’t it? Had to recheck my cipherin’. I had no idea it was that good. If only the lottery had that kind of return, I could put up that 75-foot tower with multiple beams on it!!

A lot of those confirmations are due to digital modes. Lots of digital operators are uploading to LOTW in near real-time, as the QSO is ending, or very soon after. Logging programs make it so easy nowadays. The software does it for you.

I see WSJT-X 2.0 rc5 is now available. Joe says that it is pretty much what the final release on December 10th will look like. I haven’t had a LOT of luck working stations using the new 77-bit message format. Lots of people still hanging on to the older 75-bit messaging. Hopefully, they’ll move to the new format, but I expect it’ll take a while. Hams can be slow to change …

One incentive is the contesting mode that’s built-in and the ARRL RTTY Roundup on the radar in January. This’ll be the first time FT-8 has been a contest mode, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

73 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