Blog

August 05, 2017

Just to play catch up, when I first got on HF I was on phone exclusively. Then I heard about digital modes and had to go out and get a Signalink sound card for the computer to talk to the radio and vice-versa. My first digital mode was PSK-31. It's a great mode, but my typing skills leave a little to be desired, so I wasn't to hot on contacts that wanted to rag chew. I preferred macro contacts (pre-made messages you can auto send).

Looking at spots online I saw a lot of JT-65 spots, so I got informed about that mode and really latched on to it. Most of my DX contacts have been by JT-65. The drawback of JT-65 or JT-9 is the speed of the QSO. Each transmission is 48 seconds and then you wait 48 seconds for a reply and so on until the QSO is done.

Here recently there is a new experimental mode called FT8. It is like JT-65, but each transmission and reception period is only 15 seconds! And the best part is you can set it to auto reply once you start a contact, which you almost have to have. With JT-65 you have a few seconds to pick a contact or choose your reply. JT8 moves so fast you almost have to have the reply automated.

I've been doing pretty good even though the bands have been crap. I worked the 13 Colonies special event and got a clean sweep of all 13 stations plus one of two bonus stations. I also worked all three of the Indianapolis 500 special events. Both send back some really nice cards and certificates!

I started a new log on QRZ.com when I got my new call on May 16, 2017. So far I have made 1065 contacts, 450 have confirmed and have worked 75 countries.

December 26, 2017

Well, almost through another year. I've been working a lot of digital modes, primarily FT-8 for the past several months. I did get on phone for the WWCQ contest. Had a lot of fun and got a lot of new DX contacts on 15 meters. FT-8 as of late has been good. I can work 30 meters pretty late and then move over to 40 meters. I'll be glad when summer gets back and I can work 20 meters later in the day. I'm 13 away from my DXCC award. I have 108 countries, but only the 87 have confirmed. I'm glad I found out I can download my LOTW confirmations into QRZ.com. That has given me several DX confirmations on QRZ.com. I REALLY wish all the online logging programs would be interoperable, one confirmation would carry over to all the others. It doesn't hurt to dream.....

Anyway, getting back to the FT-8, I love it. I can remote into the shack computer and work from the comfort of the warm house.

APRS is still working good on Xastir. I still want to get a Pi 3 and a TNC Pi and run APRX on it and see how much better it is than Xastir. One of my next projects is to get my part of a tower up and move my VHF/UHF antennas. Dumbass me has them on the same plane, so when I transmit I have to turn one radio off so I don't de-sense the other. I want to put my GP-3 on top of the pole, and make a bracket to offset mount the antenna for the APRS. Top of the pole on the tower will put me about 35 feet up. Eventually I'm gonna have to get another tower and I want to put a beam up on it. I also got a new weather station for Christmas that I want to put up on the tower also.

The new year also brings a new experience. I was voted into the Secretary's position for the Fannin County Amateur Radio Club.

I also have been sending more QSL cards out. I finally got my 13 Colonies and W9IMS stuff sent in. I got all my W9IMS stuff back pretty quick. Still waiting on some 13 Colonies cards to come in.

Almost forgot. Over Thanksgiving our family took a trip to S. Carolina. I tried to make at least one contact in each state we drove through. Wound up getting several 4 land contacts and a few in 5 on our way back. I learned that many of the repeaters listed are pretty much silent. It was rare for me to get anyone, even after trying many different repeaters in whatever area I happened to be in. In the future I want to rig our Toy Hauler for HF capability so I can work from other locations. Just another thing on my list of things to do, right?

January 09, 2018

Well, the start of another year. One of my goals is to get the final 8 contacts for my DXCC award. I have 110 countries, but only 92 confirmations.

A couple of other agenda items are getting my 2m/70cm antennas moved to the tower. I have the coax, I just need to order some connectors. I will also move my weather station to the tower.

February 16, 2018

Well, One of my resolutions got checked off the list, I finally got my 100th confirmed DX station! I still don't want to pay ARRL their high fees for their awards. I also got my tower up thanks to my Wife, Son and my neighbors. I have three antennas up on it. My GP-3 on top goes to my APRS radio, a 1/4 wave ground plane for regular radio and a discone for my FTM-100D that I want to hook up as a Wires-X node. I also put my weather station up on it. It more or less doubled the height of my antennas.

Oh, and I finally got off my butt and studied my ass off and took and passed the Amateur Extra exam on February 15, 2018 and passed with a score of 92!! I got the perfect test, almost all of the questions jumped out at me and I could remember the answers. Had to guess at a few and a couple I just had no clue about, but I passed! I have to thank David Reeder, WA0URJ/ Jessie Brown, KF5SOX and Tim Saffa, KB5SSQ (VE's) for taking their time to come in and administer the test.

I had moved my mac mini out to the shack in hopes of running an APRS app on it. I had YAAC running, but never could keep the bluetooth connection to the Mobilinkd TNC connected. I wound up going back to the Raspberry pi with Xastir. I still want to try some other things like APRX and APRSVR. For now it is working fine on the pi. I wound up hooking the radio up to the GP-3 for maximum coverage.

April 04, 2018

Well, I finally made a change I had been wanting to make for a while. As I mentioned, I moved a Mac Mini I had sitting around to the shack. I tried to use it for APRS, but couldn't get my Bluetooth Mobilinkd TNC to stay connected to the Mac. Sooooo, I went back to the Raspberry Pi for my digipeater.

I still wanted to use my Mac and keep everything Apple. I was irritated at the time also because I couldn't even print labels with HRD. I did some research and found a couple of logging apps for the Mac. I tried both, RumLog and MacLogger DX. RumLog is a good app, but I really liked the UI and features of MLDX.

So at the end of March I exported my log from HRD and switched to MacLogger DX! So far it is great! I highly recommend it. I had to download WSJT-X for FT8, JT65 and JT9. I finally got it set up and working with JT Bridge. I also found an SSTV (MultiScan 3B) app and downloaded FLdigi for other digital modes. Eventually I am going to get a Winkeyer USB and try to get into CW. Fun times!


July 30, 2018

Well, I finally went and did it. I upgraded radios. I talked Teresa into letting me get a used FTDX3000, the caveat was that I had to sell some stuff (FT-450D and an FTM-400DR) to make up for the cost. Got them both sold and now I am looking at putting up a hexbeam on the shop roof.

So far I love this radio. It listens so much better than my 450D. Don't get me wrong, I miss that little radio. It was my first HF rig and it did a damn fine job. It has been a little interesting playing with all the settings on the 3000DX. But I think i have it set right for phone, digital and CW. It also came with an Airplay RSP1 and that is nice to use also.

I have in the mean time gotten a few more awards and have started sending out more QSL cards. I have gotten to the point to where I really look forward to getting cards in the mail. I say that, but I experienced the "buro" a few weeks ago. What a pain in the ass. Just send direct please.

March 17, 2019

Been a while since I have posted. Not a whole lot has gone on since last time. I put up an EFHW 10-18m antenna and have been using it exclusively for now. My hex beam blew over on the tripod while on the ground and broke a spreader. I'm not even gonna get another spreader until I get the pole mounted and ready to go.

Yaesu sent out a firmware update so you can use an FTM-400, FTM-100 and FT2D as Wires-x nodes. I tried it, but didn't like that in this config you can only access digital only nodes/rooms. I had and HRI-200 that was loaned from my club, I just needed a 10-pin mini to 10-pin mini to set it up. I got it running using my FTM-100D as a node, (room 43241) and can hit any room or node now.

My Dad, K5YYA, passed away back in October 2018. I am so thankful for him and that he got me into this hobby. If it weren't for ham radio, I don't know what I'd do with my time. He was a great man and I miss him dearly. I did get his ham radios, a VX-7r and FT-7800. The HT sets on my desk and I think of him when I look at it.

My new radio passion is chasing parks on the air. It is a neat program where operators activate various state and nationl parks and make as many contacts as they can. Last I looked I had over 75 contacts with the parks on the air. It's fun to do and highly recommend giving it a try!

I also changed my APRS digi software to YAAC. It runs in Java, so I can use it on another mac mini and retire the raspberry pi. So far it has been working well and the only issue is that the bluetooth for the TNC seems to drop/sleep after a few days. I'm looking iinto it and see if I can fix that issue.

May 17, 2019

So, I've been putting in for several new vanity calls. They are 2x1 and 1x2 calls, for Extra class operators. Hex beam is put back together after a storm broke a spreader. The concrete base is done and I am waiting for stronger people than me to help put the mast up.

June 20, 2019

Well, I gone and done it. I was granted my new call of WA5P on June 15. Now off to re-do my QSL cards and everyting else. I am perfectly happy with the wasp, so this will be the last time it changes. I know Dad would have encouraged me to do it. I also changed my digipeater back to APRX on my Raspberry Pi. My mac would kick off the bluetooth TNC every 3-4 days and I got tired of restarting the app. Now with APRX I can beacon our repeater sites as well as any special event site like Field Day when needed.