Friday, August 29, 2014

Relaxing with DX

Fall is pretty much here.  I moved my daughter out to Kansas for her Freshman year in college, a sure sign of the season.  Tonight I got to spend a little time on 40 CW.  I restarted my DXCC this summer using the Flex 6300 and now the Anan 100D.  Here is a shot of the 100D in action, a thing of beauty.

I had it all rocking with CWSkimmer and the diversity phaser (though this guy was so loud I hardly needed diversity)  My diversity set up on 40 is a half wave end fed 40M vert for transmit and RX1 and a 43 ft all band ant (about 3/8 wave) on RX2  I can peak or null as needed.  With a station this loud in the null the station sounds like FM radio as far as static is concerned.  The Anan with HPSDR has a great number of signal enhancements.  I run the bandwidth virtually always at 100hz.  This in itself enhances the S/N considerably.  I also always run the APF and noise blanker since I have a couple of S units of noise worth blanking,  I also tune the AGC-T for best AGC performance.  This is the point where band noise just starts to rise.  The idea is to have the AGC loop not engaged as the best RX performance occurs before compression starts.  I can fine tune AGC-T using the diversity phaser  

I heard SV0XCA/5 on 40 

and he soon showed up in DXLab's spot collector, so I clicked the spot and it loaded SV0XCA into the log program but did not log him yet.  You can see the Map, his S/P distance of 6000 miles, his local time (UTC + 2)  heading etc

I'm surrounded by lightning tonight and the band is pretty noisy

You can see it's clipping in the - mid 90's as far as dBm goes.  Note diversity is disabled.  A gent I met last night, Gary WA1OXT  suggested this on/off switch be added to the diversity form.  I downloaded the latest software release tonight before I started on 40M and low and behold there it was, and it turned out to be quite useful.

I switched diversity on and proceeded to tune SV0CXA for best signal to noise in the headphones.  This wound up being a point considerably weaker than without diversity,  Diversity is not about being loudest its about being most copy-able.

-117 dBm was about the best.  At this point the lightning was down farther than SV0XCA and the AGC-T was optimized.  I called him once and logged him.  

Next came Christian J28NC in Djibouti.  

7800 miles S/P and getting to be his sunrise

I did the same routine of best S/N using the phaser

-97 dBm became -113 dBm when tuned to best S/N.  He was listening up 2 so I clicked A>B which sent VFO A freq into VFO B clicked the khz up 2, set the TX and 2 calls later he was in the log.  I also worked PZ5RA in Suriname

He was a lot closer and a lot louder, only 2300 miles.   He had quite a pileup going

You could tell by all the 599's in skimmer he was working up and down the pileup, so the best bet for him was to figure out where he would be listening go there and tail end.  

Skimmer with this radio through DDUTIL v2 has a nice feature If both VFO's are on and you are running skimmer through the CWS port in DDUTIL and VFO B has the TX set you can click around on the skimmerfall and it will tune VFO B and leave VFO A on the DX.  This means with on click you are ready to tail end, just wait for the 599 to appear and click.  It was an idea I had several years ago and K5FR made it happen in his fine program DDUTIL

I soon had PZ5RA in the log too.  

I switched to 30M and heard YW5D.  On this band the lightning static was minimal so I used the phaser to peak YW5D and to minimize the strength of calling stations since he was working simplex.  I bagged him in one call.

As I said I zeroed my DXCC and started over on June 6th   I'm approaching 5 band DXCC rapidly 

30M and 17M have been a surprise especially 30M.  I hear all kinds of stuff on that band.  I can't wait till winter when the low bands improve.  Not too bad for a bunch of vertical antennas.

73  W9OY

As I was toddling off to bed 3D2TR came up on 30M

8000 mi S/P

2 calls and in the log.  Diversity provides considerable advantage, locking in a solid Q5 signal.  Glad I stopped by the shack!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

V 1.3 SmartSDR

I think Flex has done a very wise thing in publishing this.  It gives the entire enterprise from coder to customer a very clear vision and expectation.  In the past Flex has under promised and over delivered, but in many respects as the road map was delivered upon Flex just delivered on road map items sooner than anticipated.  This release is a couple weeks late and for good reason.  It took a heck of a lot of work to get this out the door as a high quality product.  

I'm on the Alpha team and all I can say is Whew!!  We spent the entire past couple of weeks beating the heck out of the software so you could enjoy the experience, and I think we were very successful


This one took a heck of a lot of work but its here 

This is the profiles dropdown on the title bar of SSDR.  I created 4 memories in this profile.  Virtually everything in the radio is remembered in the Global Profile.  Here is an example.  

This is a mess of a slice.  The waterfall is screwed up, the offset is wrong, the keyer is too slow the NB and APF are off, the filter is too wide etc.  Then I click the 14100 entry in profiles

AS Emeril Lagasse says BAM!!  Everything is changed to the way I like to operate CW

Software update no problem  You can import/export your profiles and store them on your computer.

I found you needed to do a purple light reboot to clear the database in the radio prior to importing a saved profile.  That means you hold down the boot button until the light turns from green to purple and then release and let the radio boot up, then do the import.  I made 2 different profiles for testing purposes.  In addition the transmit profile is stored with the global profile so if you hang out on say 3950 ESSB net you can include your fancy ESSB profile in the 3950 entry.

Here is a shot of the transmit profile screen


This is SmartSDR's Keyboard/Memory Keyer

Click an voila'

You can type and hit enter or click live and just type and what you type will be sent immediately

It has memories 

Just press F1 to F12.  I presume at some point this will become API addressable so it can be used in conjunction with contest programs.  I also presume more features are to be added in the future to better flesh out the keyer's capability.  One thing I would like to see is an ability to link the keyer speed and the CWX speed so they are the same.  Right now they are independent.  Works good!!


A new tab has been added to Radio Setup XVTR.  Name the transverter and fill out the form 

And it shows up in the exteded band switch

Click the button and voila'

I guess there is a way to Putty into the radio and make putty act like a transverter but I haven't tried that yet.  I did use transverters with my Flex 5K and it was very easy to use.  I don't have any transverters anymore, but the setup is clearly dead easy and should dramatically expand the utility of the radio.  I'm sure there are ways to make various switches respond to switch transverters, amps and timing in and out.  The freq band data and mode was correctly translated from the radio to DDUTIL to Commander which means all of the macro function od DDUTIL and DXLab is available

EME anyone?

Finally diversity was added but my radio does not have the second SCU needed for that so I have nothing to report on that front.

An amazing job was done by all and YOU are the winner!   

73  W9OY

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I have everything running and it's amazing!

In this shot the DXlab suite is connected to SmartSDR/Flex 6300.  It's also connected to DDUTIL v_3, SDRmemory6K, CWskimmer (the skimmer on the left) through SDR-Bridge.  I choose the 6300 path by clicking a button on Commander

If I click DX spot in Spot Collector my 6300 changes freq, the callsign of the spotted station is inserted into the log program (DX Keeper) and CW skimmer is brought up to the correct freq

  I can skip around the bands or I can force Spot Collector to view only spots on the same band as my radio.

This way if I have everything tuned up on say 10M with the 6300 and an amp that does not band follow, I'm all set to just knock off whatever I can hear (or see).

My other radio is a Anan 100D.  I can also choose to hook up DXlab Suite to this radio

To see the 100D I just minimize SmartSDR, as PowerSDR_mRX (the 100D's controlling software) resides UNDER SmartSDR on my desktop.  To get the 100D connected I just click the 100D button on Commander

This then connects DXlab Suite to the 100D.  All freq info is shared 

If I now click a spot the data is entered in the log program, Call, freq, time, date. rst both ways, country and any notes like name

Here OA4DX in Peru is clicked.  28020 CW is entered in the log with all the other particulars and it's entered into the 100D

CW skimmer follows, and I can set memories in DDUTIL.  I also use DDUTIL to control the drive power to my amp automatically so I never overdrive.

DDUTIL in this setup has another excellent feature.  There is a specific port in DDUTIL that will allow skimmer to control VFOB 

Note TX is chosen in VFO B so when I click around in skimmer VFO A remains static, while VFO B (my transmit vfo) is tuned where I click (in this case 28.024040.  This is the freq  I will transmit on.  I can click around the pileup looking for 599 or the last station worked and be ready to tailend.  In addition I can turn on MultiRX

which then places the audio from the TX vfo into my headphones in stereo so I can hear the pile up as well.  There is complete control over volume and pan and a blue line turns on to show where I am listening.  I can turn on Diversity since the 100D has 2 completely independent SCU's

This allows me to combine 2 coherent versions of the same signal from different antennas in a complex way that allows virtual beam forming.  I can combine to get a shallow peak or a very deep null.  Quite useful in the land of Florida thunderstorms.  

I mix both stereo audio outputs on one of these:

ART PowerMIX III 3 channel stereo mixer.  This allows different audio levels and I can pan each stereo input and listen to both radios or choose only one radio.  If I turn on the 100D path, the 6300 is still completely active, just not in focus, and vis versa.  This makes a really cool setup to compare radios on the same signals.

You of course can do this with out the second radio as each radio allows independent processing of 2 separate frequencies, so technically I could listen to 4 bands at once if I wanted.  (Actually 5 frequencies since the Anan can hear 3)  The MultiRX needs to be on the same band as RX1.

Here is a shot of 28.010 CW, 28.015 CW, 60M ch1, 18.081 CW and 14.070 PSK all at once.  My ADD has ADD

73  W9OY