73 OM! Thanks for dropping by...
Logging and QSLs: I generally immediately log contacts directly into eQSL. I do uploads to LOTW, QRZ, HRDLOG, and HAMQTH a couple of times a week. Posted snail-mail QSLs will always be replied to (but dont hold your breath). Bureau? What bureau? Dont bother I'll never see it.
Joiner stuff: Active member of the following: ARRL, Huntsville/Madison County ARES, Boeing Auxillary Communications Service, Six Meter International Radio Club (SMIRK #1859), Feldhell Club (FH#4653).
No blog tab on this site... tisk... I guess I will blogitize this page then... my blogography...
IMPORTANT JT-9 TIP: If you call between 2500 and 2700 Hz above JT-65 QRG frequency for band in question you will make more contacts faster. Why you ask? Because that is where folks using WSJT-X in dual JT Mode can answer you without loosing track of what is happening on JT-65. I can see you all the way up to 3600 Hz, the top of my receive filter, but Im just shaking may head. I (and most others) cannot make power above about 2750 Hz because of SSB filter cutoff. Without hitting the +2 khz checkbox that is and loosing sight of the bottom of the band. It is a rare moment that 2500-2700 is too busy to use even on 20 meters. And JT-9 will at least theoretically pack 10 signals into that space. Be sure of this, if I see you up there above 2700 I wont be coming unless I want your QSL badly. If you call in the sweet spot I'll drop by and say hi. If you see me calling JT-9 I will most likely be at 2550 Hz. Update: Just worked a split QSO with a guy "up in the lofts". Wasnt that hard really, just had to stubbornly keep my transmit pip on 2550.
October 18, First Hellschreiber contact
Today I made my first Hellschreiber contact. I worked Lew W8LEW. I have been a member of the Feldhell Club since about April. FH#4653. However, it appears that the community of regular Hell ops is fairly small, and many only come out for contests. I have made many attempts over the last few months, but the main HELL spotting site never seems to have any recent spots on it. This weekend there were two activities, The Spooky Sprint, and Hell in Hell MI where some W1AW/8 operators made an expedition to Hell MI to operate Hell mode. So I thought this weekend would be good hunting and so it was. I heard many stations calling or in QSO on 17 and 20 m including W1AW/8. Most were not printing really well, but Lew was when he called so I answered him. We had a nice little chat, my first on HF.
Speaking of Hell in Hell, Alabama is also active this week operating W1AW/4 for the Centennial QSO Party. When these guys published their note I decided to see if there was some way for Alabama to answer the challenge. So I got on Google Maps and tried Heaven, AL.... nope, Paradise AL... nope, Purgatory AL... nope, what about Hell? Hell Alabama they had an answer for. Must be that infamous Rammer Jammer cheer, dont you know. Or maybe there is an Auburn grad working out there in Mountain View... I suppose we will never know. Anyhow, seeing as how Google thinks there is a Hell in AL, and there is indeed a Hell in MI, I wrote the Station Trustee at W4UAL and suggested that maybe this was sufficient cause for them to operate their own Hell in Hell AL. While I received no reply to this message, I did indeed see W1AW/4 self-spotting their Hellschreiber Ops this afternoon. I may not win friends, but I sure do influence people... :-) .
October 16, W1AW/4
PLEASE BE SURE TO LOG W1AW/4 when you log a W1AW/4 portable contact.
The last two nights I have had the pleasure to represent Alabama as W1AW/4. I operated from 00:00- 06:00 Z October 15 on 40m JT-65 and 00:00-02:00 Z October 16 on 30 m. If you got W1AW/4 during those periods on JT-65, that was me. If I operate W1AW/4 tonight it will likely be after 02:00 Z band to be determined, as tonight is when all the local ARES and SKYWARN nets meet. We shall see about the rest of the Alabama week.
Being W1AW is fun and you should try it. Be a part of history! Channel the spirit of Hiram Percy Maxim for a few hours. He sounds like my kind of guy, liked guns, race driving, and cinema in addition to radio.
The contestistas here kind of sneer at JT-65 as it is a very slow mode (10 Qs per hour is about my best pace) but there are plenty of slots to choose from on www.alabamacontestgroup.org. You can speed things up by calling me with the dB report first instead of the Grid. Grids are lost when you use use a compound call anyway. I am using WSJT-X and compound calls (/4) cause all kinds of awkwardness both me me as the Op using it, and for you the Op trying to work me. Because there are several different software packages for JT I cant offer specific guidance except to use FREE MSG to initially call instead of click-and-go and dont use the /4 in the call. Click-and-go will work for subsequent transmissions. For all Alabama W1AW/4 contacts you can see who you worked on www.alabamacontestgroup.org.
October 11: Alabama State Simulated Emergency Test
We had to select this date instead of the National date because Alabama is an SEC Football crazed community. Both Auburn and Alabama were either Away or did not have a game this weekend. SEC SEC SEC! War Eagle! Roll Tide!
Kellie KE4UAN and I set up our stations at the Huntsville-Madison County Red Cross and ran the county Shelter Net and Liason with the Resources Net during Hurricane Nick (Exercize exercize exercize). I also had my HF station set up for State Liason. Everything went well, except that the inverter running my HF failed and I had to use house power. When the scenario called for wide spread power outages I had to switch off. And I lucked out that the evolving scenario included starting the emergency power at the Red Cross so I was able to still get in HF State check ins and a relay couple of messages. We had HF for voice and NBEMS digital, VHF and UHF FM for voice and UHF FM for digital modes, NBEMS and EASYPAL slowscan. There was steady traffic on all the nets and it was a busy few hours. I was Net Control for Shelter Net for a while. Kellie ran the Resource Net for a while.
September 30, Joe Taylor K1JT
Tonight I worked Joe Taylor JT-9 on 80m (Wowie!). In case you dont immediately recognize the name maybe you will recognize his callsign K1JT. Or particularly his initials: JT. Sound familiar? He's a major ham celebrity, Nobel Prize winning astronomer and the inventor of the JT weak signal modes. The lion's share of my activity on the HF bands is JT modes. Quite an honor to make that QSO! According to his QRZ details he doesnt eQSL alas. Might just have to lick a stamp for that one...
September 27, Hamstick Dipole
I have been working on my Simulated Emergency Test prep. Today I assembled a tripod in my driveway with a 12 foot mast capped by a pair of 40 meter MFJ hamsticks on a dipole mount. I got out my trusty Fox Delta antenna analyzer and slipped the whips in and out until I got resonance on 7243 kHz, the main Alabama State ARES SSB net frequency, then I marked the whip on the inside of the ferrule, and repeated the process for 7110 kHz where AL ARES does digital modes. Then I found and marked your favorite and mine, 7076 kHz for JT modes. I ran a 100' coax down from my second story shack to hook it up to the rig and made a few JT-65 contacts just to convince myself it works. Signal reports gotten were about equal to those given. It all breaks down into a fairly small package. I might have to try some SOTA hill topping with it soon.
UPDATE: The Hamstick Dipole performed wonderfully in the Alabama Simulated Emergency test on October 11. I was able to work Mike WX4AL in Auburn, the state emergency coordinator, on both SSB with 100w and PSK 31 w/ 30w. The short wingspan allowed me to turn it to peak up on signal even though I was crammed into a fairly small space on a sidewalk next to a wall. It operated well in steady rain, with an reasonable SWR. Although it was marked for 3 frequencies, it performed A-OK on 7110 and 7243 set for 7110. Didnt feel like venturing out into the rain to pull it down and retune.
September 16, T2FD
This last weekend I got my 180' T2FD working. It is an olive drab marvel of Homeowner's Association camouflage if I do say so myself. I made my first contact on Top Band Saturday night. It isnt working as well as I could have hoped for, because of at least two conscious compromises - spreader width and proximity to foliage and gutters. But it provides direct 2:1 SWR or less on ham bands from about 75m to 6m and better than 3:1 everywhere from 1.8 to 54 MHz. With the tuner in line I can get it better than 1.4:1 on every frequency Im allowed to use between 1.8 and 54 MHz. If I had used 55" spreaders instead of 16" spreaders I would have expected to see handy resonances in the ham bands too. Might fix that someday.
The pattern seems to be a bit different from the loop which should be a help. Using the loop on 15 meters especially, I hear great DX signals but it is nearly always the SAME DX - Brazil, Italy, New Zealand, Alaska and sometimes a few shorter or longer things along those great circle paths.With just the loop fed like it is I'll never get WAS or DXCC on 15. Maybe the T2FD will fill some holes.
UPDATE: Im finding that the T2FD is great for Winlink2000. I can run right down my VOACAP-sorted GREEN BBS list in tuner-bypass mode and not worry about messing with retuning for band changes. Consequently, I can get my weekly ARES message off in just two or 3 tries hunting for a BBS that will reply. Previously I would tune the loop for the band with the most GREEN BBS stations in it (usually 40m) and work my way through those, then tune for the next (usually 30m) and go through those. It often took me 10 or 12 trys to get on one and a few times no success at all. I imagine I will have another update about this antenna after the next time HFLINK holds a Global HF Interoperability Exercize. This antenna should be great for PC-ALE ops even if my rig is really not - band scanning is hard on your band switching relays. I will give it a try next March and see how it goes.
August 31, JT-65 Swim Lanes
It seems to me if we all made an effort to start our calls on 100 Hz boundries that the busy bands would organize themselves into swim lanes that would help manage the QRM better. Looking at spot reports on pskreporter it seems that modern rigs with synthesized VFOs are all pretty much in agreement within say 10 Hz or so. Swim lanes would work. In fact I see it happen spontaneously on 40m now and then.
August 29, NV is confirmed. AK, ME, ND remain for 40m WAS.
August 27, knocked off UT. But added on NV, several worked there but no eQSL as yet. AK also not confirmed as yet.
AK, ME, ND, NV for 40m WAS.
August 15 update on 40m got AK shortly after local midnight on Wednesday (gotta watch that Greyline like a hawk), and finally tagged up with N1CLG for RI. 73 Bob KV4PC
August 14, 2014 Short strokes for 40m WAS
Im down to AK, ME, ND, RI, UT, and TN which is a mere 15 miles away.
I have a standing schedule with N1CLG in RI who is kindly defending the 40 m honor of his state (Thank you Ken!). AK is on every night but more or less out of reach probably until winter. The rest? Havent seen any ops in the spots for days or even weeks. Anyone up for a DXpedition? Somebody is going to have their hands full of pileup in those exotic locales!
I ought to be able to work TN on my Altoids Tin CW rig...
I am getting pretty close on 80, 30, 20, and 17 too, but not so close I can taste it yet. Gee? Can you submit two different WARC bands for 5BWAS?
August 11, 2014 eQSL Card Rant
Wow. Just Wow. Fellow Hams, there is alot of beauty and interesting things in the world. More to the point, there is alot of beauty and interesting things in YOUR world. You have a beautiful rig. You have a beautiful shack. You have beautiful antennas, family, pet, car, home, homebrew project, civic and natural wonders in your immediate neighborhood. Why I dare say even your face is beautiful (at least to your mother :-) ). Why oh why would you waste your QSL card on the plain yellow card???
My QSLing activities are 98% electronic. I dont care to fool with postage and mailers though I always reciprocate, or send a paper card when required. I use eQSL primarily and LOTW to keep my ARRL awards logging in shape. I REALLY like that eQSL allows the user to design their QSL card. I am breathless with anticipation when some new QSLs show up in my inbox. All those lovely photos!; exotic locales, interesting people, lovely cities and vistas, gorgeous hamshacks! Well... sometimes.
What a disappointment when I get the plain yellow card! Or one of the stock photos that eQSL provides. Fooey. You can do better. I know you can!
Please take a photo of something and build a card around it, something that means something to you. matter of pride, or esthetics, or humor. Something that will mean somthing to the rest of us, or at least grant a moment of surprise or pleasure. Or if you just arent a photographer get something meaningful off the web. Local color, whatever. Something new and different. Just... you know.. something... please?
The good ones make it onto card stock on my inkjet printer and earn a place of honor on my trophy wall. Those plain old yellow cards? I just dont bother. How do you want to be remembered? Really?
Cheers & 73;
April 26, 2014 - Happy International Marconi Day!
Im down to the short strokes on WAS. I have worked every state except ND on JT-65 since I got my HF rig 2 months ago, and I have fumbled no less than 3 attempts at folk in that state - it really doesnt pay to get excited and bump knobs and so forth. I also have yet to get confirmation from IN, OK, SC and WY. So this weekend I am working the Reverse Beacon and PSK Reporter networks pretty hard to see who is on, which band, and if they have made a transmission in the last 15 minutes or so. If you are from one of those states and I seem a little desperate to work you... well... it might be because I am :-) . The hard part is nearly everyone seem to be hanging out on 20m - cant blame them of course, that is where best the DX is. I seem to be having a fair amount of luck seeing folks in the spots for 40 or 30 and cold calling them. A little NVIS never hurts! Wyoming is extra hard though, only about 4 hams using the mode in 2014 in the entire state.
Cheers & 73;
April 20, 2014 I have been trying to operate dual mode JT9 and JT65 using WSJT-X.
Here are some observations....
1) My receive data filter can be set very wide, 3800 Hz. If I do this I can see signals from X.076- X.0798. I can see almost all the usual JT9 and JT65 activity on a givren band at once.
2) My SSB transmit filter is fixed. It is effective for transmiting JT9 out to about 2800 Hz. I can only hold a JT9 QSO with folks between about 2500-2800. If I select a frequency higher my watt meter is stubbornly glued to 0. If something interesting
shows up above 2800 on the waterfall, I need to use the +2kHz button to go work them.
3) The fixed transmit filter issue is common to alot of radios, and the filter width may vary. My advice for JT9 Ops is if you are interested in getting JT65 ops to come up and play, you should call around 2600 Hz.
4) Conversly, it is a pretty good idea to not try to do JT65 higher than maybe 2300. I have seen European DX up there in that zone, and if they are occupying the same space as a JT9 signal guess who gets decoded?
Cheers & 73;
April 05, 2014: I am focusing alot of time and energy to operatuing JT-65 right now.
Here are some operating tips I have discovered. I use
1) [Hugely important and rather counter-intuitive] Reduce your RF gain control on receive until your waterfall is the solid color assigned to no signal. Mow your grass fellow hams! Keep your baseline audio input level near zero. I routinely copy stations that are -25 dB. When I watch the spots of others I see many folks not copying any weaker than -14 or -15 dB. Few are the hams that can copy weaker than -20 dB. I have worked many exchanges where both ends are copying < -20 dB. As I write this in Alabama I am apparently the only station in North America copying YB2HI in Malaysia on 20 meter during the day (@ -23dB). Unfortunately for me he isnt posting any spots weaker than about -16 dB. I cant work him :~ -( . Which brings me to my next point...
2) Turn on your spots. If someone is trying to work you it is very helpful for them to see what you can decode, indeed to see if you are copying them at all. To turn on your spots in JT65-HF software select particularly "Enable RB" which posts spots to this site: http://jt65.w6cqz.org/receptions.html where you can see aggregate spots, by band spots, or enter yours or another call sign and see TX and RX spots only. VERY USEFUL THIS! You can also send spots using Enable PSKR, and I do, but I find the site format rather less useful. These spots go to http://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html.
3) If you must call a station that is actively in QSO, please step off at least 100 Hz. If they have "Enable Multi" selected they will still see your red stripe call and it will be preserved in their list for later attention. Calling split is a courtesy that applies to many modes (even SSB), but very nice here. Also select "Enable Multi" on your setup if you want to see off frequency calls while in QSO. Multi disabled is the default, and is aimed at slower PCs that cant handle the FFT load. Also to make an off frequency call or operate split you may need to deselect TXDF = RXDF. Yes tech purists; I know JT-65 has some insulation from on freq QRM (sync differential for one), but I absolutely had several critical DX contacts blown because some domestic dude started calling me before I received my Jolly Roger. That is the point, when I answer a CQ that I consider the contact legally complete from a contesting or certification perspective. And if I were the initial caller, then when they "73" my Jolly Roger. But I bloody well want to get that far before I attend the next guy.
4) DONT send wonky manual text messages that cant have correct automatic responses computed, a couple of common ones I see are RXCALL RRR 73 or CQ DX TXCALL. Just dont do it. We only have 5 seconds to decide how to reply - less if the band is busy, For one you may not get any replies, and if you do they will not be color coded for you. If you want to end a conversation early to go jump that dude calling from Belarus just send RXCALL TXCALL 73. If you want to filter out your domestic neighbors call CQ TXCALL DX. Makes life easier for everyone.
5) Keep your eyes open for grey stripe messages on your current frequency (DF). Many hams try to spice things up with personal messages TU BOB 73, TNTEC LOOP, TNX QSO, HEX BEAM for a few examples. Expect it, honor it, look for it. Try to acknowledge it. But be advised I have gotten frankly hostile responses when I look people up on QRZ, try to use their first name in a TU 73 phrase. I have stopped trying to "be friendly" on JT-65 or deviate from the established program unless the other ham does first. Also be aware that some hams use a free text response to terminate the QSO. He disappears with out ever sending a Jolly Roger. But you might scroll down in the list to the proper round and find that he said something equivalent in free test on a grey line. I kind of wish there was a color code that could be set on decodes received that are within, say, +-5 Hz DF of your last transmission, a little something extra to call your attention to possible free text from your partner in a QSO.
6) I occasinally see free text SRY NO DECODE. Really, this is a useless transmission. Similar to item 4 above you have made a wonky text to which no automated reply can be made. A better approach is to simply repeat your last transmission. Most ops will understand that something was wrong and they need to try again. And they can make the correct automatically generated reply.
7) Repeats are good but they can also be bad. Do please Halt your transmission when you are finished. JT programs set to use automated PTT will repeat transmission over and over while Enabled until the watch dog counter automatically halts them. It can be handy for things like calling CQ, but frustrating to others for things like sending 73. I have received 73 over and over again and was unsure if the sender failed to decode my reply and is requesting another or got up to get a sandwich from the kitchen and just let it run. Please dont just let it run.
Cheers & 73;
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