Boot Drive Swap

I swapped out the boot drive in my laptop today. The old drive was a 1 terabyte Western Digital Blue mechanical drive (HDD) and the new drive was a Western Digital 1 terabyte Blue Solid State Drive (SSD).

What a difference! Running a benchmark speed program on both drives, the SSD is over five times faster on both read and write. That’s an impressive number and it’s even more impressive watching how fast things happen. I’m a believer!

Using Macrium Reflect, the drive took 2 hours to clone. Removal of the old drive and installation of the new drive took about fifteen minutes. The hardest part of the job was opening the pop-apart bottom of the Dell Inspiron 5588. I’ve got some special tools that made it easier, though.

The only disadvantage so far, is that my wife wants me to update her laptop now. That’ll be a bit more complicated since she’s still running Windows 8 and I’ll want to upgrade that to Windows 10 for her.

73 de Dick N4BC

Getting My ALC Under Control

I’ve been doing a lot of digital operations, as I remarked earlier. I haven’t done any PSK-31 QSOs yet. I thought I had everything set up, but found that the IC-7300 was hitting the ALC pretty hard … too hard for my preferences.

I started digging with good ol’ Google, and found several solutions, but the best (for me) that I found was this page by K0PIR . There’s a balancing act, and it took me a bit of back and forth to reach a compromise for WSJT-X and FLDIGI. I think I’ve got it now, though.I show NO ALC using WSJT-X and about 50% of the “safe” ALC zone of the ALC meter.

73 de Dick N4BC

Digital Stuff

Let’s try this again … I was just putting the finishing touches on this and I don’t know what I did, but everything vanished … and I couldn’t find any of the drafts. So it’s back to the beginning …

I was looking back through my logbook and noticed that the last time I worked PSK-31 was six years ago! I’ve been cranking out FT, JT, SSB, CW, and even some contest RTTY, and neglecting bunches of those other modes.

So I decided to remedy this oversight. I spent the day updating software (FLDIGI), going through the menus and updating entries, rewriting macros, reading the new documentation, and watching YouTube videos. I must say, FLDIGI has had some nice updates in the past few years, but basically, it’s pretty much the same to operate. I saw Olivia, Throb, PSK, Domino, and several other modes I couldn’t ID. I wish everyone would use Reed-Solomon ID on their signals.

I spent a while this evening “reading the mail”… just observing how other operators are doing things nowadays. Pretty much the same … one old guy was cataloging his aches and pains and medical issues, but there were some interesting conversations, too. It’s going to take some getting used to … actually conversing with people again! LOL!

I’ve also ordered a new solid-state drive (SSD) to upgrade my laptop. It’s not as fast as it used to be, but I figure that a SSD will boost the speed considerably … especially on boot and on disk-intensive programs. Hey, it’s cheaper than a new laptop. I picked up a 1 TB WD Blue SSD for $120. Amazon is a bit slower shipping nowadays with the COVID-19 issues, but everything is supposed to be here by May 3rd. Then I’ll clone the HDD and swap the SSD with it.

We had some pretty scary thunderstorms come through earlier in the evening. Thunder, lightning, wind, and rain.

That’s all from the quarantine hut for this evening. Catch you later!

73 de Dick N4BC

Interesting Times

The old Chinese proverb supposedly says, “May you live in interesting times.” True dat! I’ve been self-isolating at home and working from home for about three weeks now, and still hanging in there. The Governor has extended the stay-at-home order for another two weeks, so it looks like I’ll be here a bit longer.

I had lots of projects that I wanted to do, but it seems that I just can’t get started on anything. I don’t know if it’s because of a bit of depression … or just plain old laziness.

I did decide to change my logging program though. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but I finally (after years of use) decided that it was just overly complex for my needs. I decided to go with something simpler … N3FJP’s Amateur Contact Log. I’ve installed it and have been using it for a few days now and am well pleased. I’m trying it during a 45-day trial period, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up purchasing it.

I worked 30 stations yesterday evening and this morning (FT modes) … mostly on 40, 30, or 20 meters, and mostly US stations. Signal strengths were good, and although crowded, there was room to squeeze into an empty spot.

Our Club, the Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, has decided to have a meeting next month. With the social distancing in force, we’ve decided to do it as a net on one of the local repeaters. The problem is identifying a repeater that everyone can hit reliably. Our club repeater is still down. Our plans to get it on a new tower and on the air have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.

73 de Dick N4BC

Virginia QSO Party

This weekend is the Virginia QSO Party. I participate most years, but have missed the past couple of years, due to various unplanned life interruptions. This year though, it looks like a go!

With the admonition to limit personal interactions and to stay at home as much as possible to help contain COVID-19, I seem to have been made a captive audience. Even if I wanted to get out and do something, most businesses are closed, have reduced operating hours, or are out of basic necessities.

So, if you’re in the same boat this weekend, join me in the VQP. I usually do a search and pounce operation, SSB and/or CW.

73 de Dick N4BC