Tag Archives: HF Digital

Local Club Seminar on Digital Voice

Our Local club C.H.A.R.R.O. held a seminar on Saturday which I was unable to attend. Part of the presentation was the following presentation by Bruce Perens, K6BP:

 

It is a very well done video by a legend in the open source community.

Advertisements

Changing Band Conditions

For the past three or four months I was having great success early in the morning with 40m JT-65 contacts to Asia on the 1/4 wave vertical antenna. The band would be great at around 6:45 am and be open till around 8:30 am. Japan especially would be easy to make contacts with on JT-65.

I have been noticing a definite shift in early morning 40m to Asia. First, I should note that JT-65 activity has dropped off quite a bit now that FT-8 is getting so rapidly popular. Just in the last few weeks I have noticed a drastic reduction in the number of JT-65 spots showing on pskreporter. The second observation is that the band seems to open to Asia a bit later now from about  7:30 am to about 8:30 am.

So this morning I started out trying JT-65 and made two contacts to Japan but there were very few signals on the waterfall. FT-8 had much more activity overall. I switched to FT-8 and started calling CQ DX and the first response was from Indonesia. The next 8 QSO’s were from Japan.

Overall, I have mixed felling about this. I enjoy the early morning pace of JT-65. I can check my emails while checking the bands. FT-8 takes quite a bit more work and attention. One other effect is that FT-8 is a bit more difficult to close a weak signal QSO. It is easy for the signals to drop below the noise floor and disappear between transmissions.

IC-7300 setting to work with WSJT-X (and others)

I prepared a short how-to on setting up and ICOM-7300 with WSJT-X for working digital modes. If you can get this working, other digital software can be easily configured in a similar fashion. The file can be found on the “Projects” page or from this link:

ICOM 7300 Setup with WSJT-X

ICOM 7300 – First Impressions

I spent some time playing with the new IC-7300 transceiver this weekend on various modes. My first comment is that having used an IC-7100 for some time I was instantly familiar with about 90% of the IC-7300 controls. Most of the buttons are labeled the same and many of the setting menus are also the same. First thing I installed was a headset adapter so I can use the Koss SB-45 headset. I needed a plug adapter (which I luckily had on hand) to plug in my Vibroplex paddles. Rig control via Ham Radio Deluxe was fairly straightforward as the USB drivers are the same as the IC-7100.  I started operating on 20m during the North America QSO party on Saturday with the 1/4 wave verticals.

My first impressions are that the rig works well (and possibly better) than the IC-7100 on SSB. My signal reports were solid 59’s and occasionally 59+ all across the USA. Also made some DX with favorable reports.  Receive options make it easy to adjust RF gain controls and filters to help clean up the signals. I like the overload indicator which tells me to back off on the preamp or RF gain or both. The main learning curve for me thus far is in using the scope screen. Once you play with this awhile you get used to operating more visually. You can see whats going on across the whole band and find signals to tune into or find dead spots where the frequency is open. It is also easy to switch in the audio monitor to hear what you are transmitting.

Also tested digital modes JT-65, FT-8 and PSK31 after configuring the software for the rig. The audio scope helps look at the signal quality on digital modes. I did not find any notable differences in using the 7300 vs the 7100 on digital.

So overall I am impressed by the new rig especially on SSB Phone. I’ll likely expand on this review as I get some more time on the rig but I am happy with what I have seen thus far.

The IC-7100 is now setup as my base VHF/UHF rig and I hope to play with DSTAR on it for the first time sooner rather than later. I will continue to have it connected to my PC for rig control and can switch in HF when needed.

Exploring a New Digitial Mode: FT8

Joe Taylor is testing a new digital mode called FT8. The development version of WSJT-X software now supports this mode. FT8 ( Franke-Taylor design, 8-FSK modulation) works similar to the more familiar JT-65 and JT-9 modes except the T/R cycle completes in just 15 seconds thus greatly reducing the time to complete a QSO. The bandwidth of the signal is 47 Hz and the decoding threshold is -20dB.

ft8

I downloaded the development version this morning and tried FT8 on 40m. There were just a few signals but I did close my first QSO. Pskreporter showed my signals was also being received in Australia this morning. Some things to note: Logging may not work and I understand that LoTW does not recognize FT8 as of yet. Also, the software autoexecutes the T/R sequence once the QSO starts. You have less than 2 seconds to select the station to respond too!

 

Field Day Preps Complete!

My Field Day preps are done. Tested the EFHW and its ready to roll on 20m and 15m. There is 12Ahr of solar charged battery ready as well. I won’t be able to join the club at the NWS office as I have a commitment in the morning I have to deal with. I may start late but I am ready for operations in the backyard. Will get some water bottles and snacks for daytime ops. There is a 30% of rain tomorrow afternoon so I’ll keep an eye on that as well to see if I need to deploy the tarp tent. Rain means clouds so that may help moderate the heat. Today the NWS is advising people to stay indoors between 1pm and 5pm!

Tested the EFHW a bit and am finding Common Mode Current issues if I run higher than 90W. The SWR increases with power and foldback starts kicking in if I try and run at 100W. This should not be a problem on FD as I’ll be running at 5W where everything behaves itself. I’ll be trying computer logging this year as well. If things get real tough on Phone I plan to try PSK31 and have setup some DM78- macros for that.

Looking forward to a great Field Day in the outdoors!

Field Day Preps Continue

I have two more weekends to prep for 2017 ARRL Field Day. Next weekend I plan to test the Homebrew buddistick on 20m WSPR and compare to the 20m Buddipole I tested last week. I need to complete a 1:1 current balun for both of these antennas. I am also reconfiguring my go-kits. I have a case for solar power generation, another to carry gear for digital ops, and yet another for the FT-817ND and other equipment. I have also sourced a “tarp tent” which I hope to test next weekend as well. Just missing a field portable chair and table at this point. Need the shade and will need plenty of water as well.

My plan now is to run solar powered battery operation from start of the event on Saturday, run 20m & 15m through the day then switch to 40m once the sunsets and operate till the late evening. I will not likely operate on Sunday at all. I plan to start with SSB and switch to digital PSK31 if band conditions limit QRP SSB operation.

Email over HF Revisited

I setup the ICOM 7100 to run with Winlink Express (formerly RMS Express) software to send email over HF. The software allows direct use of the ICOM 7100 through it’s on-board digital mode interface. Overall, this was fairly simple to setup and surprisingly I was able to send some test emails in the morning hours on 40m to a server in Houston. Be sure to select USB digital mode in the software. I set my power out to 50% and connected fairly easily. I am going to play with the settings a bit and see if I can improve connection reliability. At some point I’d like to try this using the FT-817ND as well.

Anybody who would like to exchange some test email with me can send their messages to NO5V@winlink.org

Update 4/20/2017: Per request I am attaching screenshots of my RMS Express configuration. Note that you will likely need to adjust your port settings. First up is the winmor settings:

winmor settings

Here are the Radio Settings

radio settings

WSPR tests My Magnetic Loop Antenna

We had a discussion at our club meeting this morning that got me thinking about how to do some antenna testing using WSPR. Turns out I had the cables needed to control my FT-817ND and run WSPR with my mag loop antenna. I have been underwhelmed by the loops performance on 40m and the design spreadsheet indicates that my efficiency is quite low on that band. This is why I am working on building a larger 40m loop.

I setup the magloop this afternoon and ran WSPR on 40m with 5W out. The only station that could hear me was N5CEY, Cliff just up the road from me in the Los Fresnos area. He could not hear me on the lower power levels. This pretty much confirms that the loop doesn’t do well on 40m.

When I switched to 20m I was being heard all the way up into Canada on 1/2 Watt. This was also pretty consistent. I will try this again tonight and see if the band conditions after dark help this out. Meanwhile I am collecting some interesting data that I can use to compare against the new 40m loop when I have it finished.

This was also the first time I ran digital modes on the FT-817ND and this went pretty smoothly. The rigs programming cable also works for CAT rig control and I was using the original USB sound interface I bought to go along with the FT-450D. No issues except that the receive audio looks to be on the high side.

Update 5/22/2016: I ran the FT-817ND on 5W 40m WSPR from about 5pm through 7am. The results were quite different from what I noticed initially. I had considerably more spots during the night including one from Spain. The receive portion seems to work much better as well as I had numerous spots in Europe:

wspr map

This is consistent with what I would expect from decent band opening on 40m during nighttime hours. This leads me to think that the loop as is would work considerably better than I thought during nighttime conditions.

BTW, did I mention the loop was operating indoors?

Never to Early to Start Preparing for Field Day

The title says it all.

I had a great first Field Day last year running as a single op battery power station and made close to 50 contacts on 5W SSB from my dad’s house in Mercedes. I plan to work the same mode as well as add some digital PSK31 to the mix. The main thing is to make sure I can run a laptop on solar power during the contest. The stress tests I am running should all help me decide what I can do for Field Day this year.