Tag Archives: HF Digital

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.


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.

Plans for Solar Powered Station Stress Test

I have just acquired an LDG Z-11proII autotuner. This is a low power autotuner made for portable use. I am planning a full power stress test of my solar powered portable station with this. My plan is to deploy the 30 foot vertical end fed wire antenna using the portable fiberglass mast and use the FT-817ND with the 45W amplifier to run at full portable power. I will also run a laptop by powering through its 12V travel adapter. My goal here is to see what my worst case power consumption would be using this configuration. Hopefully I can also try some digital with the FT-817ND for the first time as well. This should be good practice for Field Day coming up in June.

My Ever Evolving Ham Shack…

I broke down this week and bought an ICOM 7100 rig this week. I have it installed with an A/B switch to the Yaesu FT-450D so that I can use both (though not at the same time). As usual, any changes to my shack wiring has caused issues with RFI. I have resolved most of these except I am noticing my HRD logbook locks up occasionally. This is a sweet rig. I have tested it on SSB on the HF bands and got the internal sound card modes working with PSK31 and JT65/JT9. It has some neat DSP features on Phone that really work. The automatic Notch filter seems to work on most birdies and the noise reduction works quite well. Still learning many of the features and doing some A vs B comparisons with the Yaesu. It has DSTAR built in so I will be trying to play with the local DSTAR repeater. Also looking forward to try and do some satellite work with it as well.


I asked Cliff, KF5INZ, for one of his Easy Digi interfaces for my FT-2900R so that I can work the weekly digital VHF net. Cliff makes these interfaces in Los Fresnos and ships them globally. I picked it up from him at the CHARRO meeting last Saturday and will likely start getting it setup in time for Wednesdays net. The 7100 has this capability built in but I will likely be using the Yaesu for for this purpose.



Have I mentioned I am working with JT-65?

I continue o work with JT-65 on HF bands and am learning quite a bit. This mode along with PSKreporter website are very useful for checking propagation. I downloaded an installed a slightly different program called JT65-HF HB9HQX edition. There are some nice features on this program which simplify things like logging. I set one half of my screen to work the radio and the other half monitoring PSKreporter.


If I call out a CQ or answer someone else’s call I can immediately see who else received my transmissions. The results are often suprising. I am also able to correlate my transmissions with what is indicated by HAMCAP propagation prediction. This is incredibly useful as it allows me to predict the best band and times to make contacts in specific regions.


First JT-65 Contacts

Installed and setup JT65-HF on the PC and made my first few contacts with this mode. I started with 5W during the day on 20m but increaded power to 15W later on 40m. I was able to decode signals on 80m but did not close any contacts. This looks like an interesting mode and I will likely be playing with this some more in the future as well as will JT9 which I have yet to setup.