Monday, July 21, 2014

DDUTIL saves the Day

I use a MFJ 998 tuner almost constantly in conjunction with my ALS-1300 amp

The MFJ auto tunes.  There are several ways to generate a tune event.  First there is a jack on the back that will connect the tuner to a radio that sends tuning data but there needs a cable between the tuner and the radio to do so.  

If it is presented with RF and the SWR is above a given level it will also automatically tune.  This is my preferred method since the 6300 does not have a cable interface.  Finally you can manually initiate a tuning event by pressing the upper right button on the front.  

You notice in the above station picture I have a RCS-4 antenna switch.  I have 4 antennas which I make work on 10 bands (160-6) using the tuner.   Band changing and keeping track of DX was something of an annoying process until DXLab and DDUTIL automated it.

 A spot of a needed band/country comes up on Spot Collector

I double click and the 6300 comes up on freq

This is VU2MV on 14.016.  I enter this freq into DDUTIL'S scratch pad memory for easy recall

DDUTIL can store up to 5 memories so I can track up to 5 DX spots if I am interested.

I also see BY4IB on 21.023 spotted so I open up a slice and write 21.023 into the flag.

So now I can watch both stations.  I enter this freq into DDUTIL by clicking save with slice B high lighted.

VU2MV has been moved up the que into memory 2.  Note how slice B is memorized.  You see it is slice B because the label on the Load button is Load B.  Slice A memories are labeled Load A.  If you hit Load B button, the memorized freq is loaded into slice B.  But wait a minute old VE3VTG is tearing it up on 160.  Its just gray line here so I might be interested if he is working anyone.

So I click on VE3VTG and slice A switches to his freq

And I memorize him by high lighting slice A and hitting save.

So now I have three DX stations on three bands memorized for different reasons.  The first two are for logging and the third is to see who he if anybody is being  logged by him.

I can switch back and forth between VE3VTG on 160 and VU2MV on 20 simply by loading the correct memory into slice A.  All the while I am monitoring China on 15M.  I almost always use 50hz filters which give me the best signal to noise.  The problem with 50hz filters is if you tune just a little bit and the QSB gets you, or you want to tune up a bit and see when the joker he is talking to stops transmitting, you can totally be off freq and missing your shot.  It's simple to just re-load the memory by hitting the load button and be right back on freq ready for the call.

So my next problem was tuning up.  Once I decided to transmit I needed to choose the correct transmitting antenna on the RCS-4, set the amp to standby, hit tune on the 6300, let the tuner do its thing, turn off tune, and turn the amp back on, make sure the amp is on the right band.... for the chip shot into the cup.  WHEW!!

DDUTIL to the rescue.  DDUTIL has a macro function which allows you to command the station do several steps at once.

Here you can see I have button 1 called Tune On which also corresponds to keyboard F1.  What happens when I hit F1 is the TX jack on the back of the radio turns off, thus disabling the amp from transmitting.  I then turns on tune.  The tuner responds and tunes the antenna.   Once completed I hit F2 which just reverses the process.  Tune gets shut off and the amp gets turned back on ready for action.  While all of this is going on automatically I can change the amp to the correct band.  It is the advantage of a transistor no tune amp like the ALS-1300.  It is also virtually instant on so I can leave the amp off until I decide to transmit.  Here is what the macro code looks like

It's very simple and very powerful and makes my life SOOO much easier.  Eventually I will have the amp and antenna switch band follow the radio when I find an adequate interface and all of this will be a matter of clicking on the station I want to work, F1, F2, hit the paddle.  It's easy as pie to work 3 stations nearly simultaneously.  If one DX station is a bit chatty, you can work another one or two who are 599TU types before the first one gets to ditdit.

So how'd I do?  Got India, missed China, and too much noise on 160 to do any good.

dit dit

73  W9OY