Saturday, November 29, 2014

6300's turn

Last night I ran my Anan 100D in the contest and had a ball.  I was working only band fills and new ones so I spent my time listening.

Tonight I fired up the Flex 6300.



Using the same antennas as last night.  My radios are set up such that I can pull 2 plugs in the patch panel and switch rigs.  Everything else remains the same including software keyer computer etc.  The bands are about the same as last night.  I ran some test on band noise and the noise is virtually identical

below the band my radio is seeing 104 dBm

This is about 8 khz into the band 

And this one is mid band.  You can see from the wideband shot above there is considerable RF above and below.

My impression is the Flex is a cleaner radio in its operation.  The CW is better and the radio is quieter compared to the Anan and I think the filters are better even though the Anan has more taps.  One thing I miss on the 6300 however is diversity.  I would have to advance all the way to a 6700 to acquire that feature.  The Flex also connects to most of my software via the API as opposed to CAT and this is considerably faster and smoother in operation.  I enjoy either rig, and find them booth superior to my old knob radios like the FT-1000D and the Orion

Here is an example of SDR in action.  The yellow cursor is on V26K who is 3-5 dBm out of the noise.  On either side are stations considerably stronger about 100hz off freq.  V26K is single signal with no QRM QRN or AGC pumping from the other close by stations.  I worked him in a single call.

73  W9OY

Friday, November 28, 2014

6 Centuries and a most wonderful time of the year

I'm sitting here picking off band slots on 80 and 40 in CQWW CW test.  The A is 5 and the K is 1 and SFI is 181.  To say the least things are jumping

For me this is a most wonderful time of the year.  Turkey sandwiches family cheer and DX out the wazoo!!  I looks like it's snowing RF!!

I decided to pull a couple of screen shots which show the S meter reading below the 40 M band 

a few khz into the band 

and in the middle of the CW band

All S meter readings are virtually identical so I guess the RF storm doesn't have much effect on the front end.  These were taken with the front end filters turned off.

I finished off 6 centuries a few days ago.

The saga began when I decided a new direct conversion SDR deserved to see how much could be accomplished regarding DX.  I started on June 6th in the middle of the summer and by Oct 4th had 5BDXCC worked (4 months).  I decided to apply to LOTW and see what had been confirmed in mid November and had confirmed DXCC on LOTW.  I kept whacking at 80M as I had 55 more to go to finish that band.  I completed 6BDXCC a week ago a couple weeks shy of 6 months.  

The Flex 6300 and the Anan 100D both worked beautifully in completion of this task.  About half of of the total QSO's (around 700) was completed with each radio giving me a very good comparison between the two radios.  I pretty much just worked new band slots and spent the rest of the time listening which is my preference.  With the Flex 5000 I had run up my DXCC total to around 287 in 3 years.  With that radio I was pretty much exclusively 160 80 and 40 but it does give a relative idea how well the new radios compare to the older technology.  My antennas are simple verticals but only optimized on 80 40 30 and 20.  17 15 12 10 and 6 were based on tuning the 80M vertical.  I think if I had some kind of beam 9BDXCC would have been easily obtained.

Overall it's been a gas.  Unless I put up some new antennas this is about as far as I'm going to push this project.  I've never been one to chase the paper.  Both radios made making the QSO's like shooting fish in a barrel.  Many contacts even in the big pileups like the FT4TA DXpedition were made in less than 10 calls.  between DXLab suites Spot collector, DXkeeper and DXview, the DDUTIL software, CW skimmer and SDR bridge the whole rigmarole was incredibly efficient.  If you want to change your ham radio life get a SDR!

Hope one and all had a Happy Thanksgiving

73  W9OY  

Monday, November 10, 2014



Off the east coast of Africa next to Madagascar lays a 1 km square island called Tromelin

The entity became active as FT4TA on Oct 30 

The pileups were massive

On 30M which is 50 khz wide the pileup extended a full 20 khz or 60% of the band.  Amazing!  In fact the pileup was so wide it was out of range to be able to click tune the transmit VFO I usually use (VFO B) on skimmer.  To combat the problem I used a different strategy

I switched VFO A and  B sing the A<>B control and chose VFO A as the transmit VFO

I then turned off the audio from VFO A and switched on MultiRX and turned up the audio on VFO B

This put the DX on VFO B and allowed me to click tune on skimmer anywhere on the band tramsmitting on VFO A

This was absolutely invaluable.  Skimmer only allows about 11 khz of the band to be displayed but with this configuration I could place that 11 khz window anywhere.  Using this method and by studying the operators preference I was able to place signal into his receiver passband and my callsign into his conscientiousness in only 1 call.  I couldn't believe how effective this technique was.  I worked him on 30M about 30 min before his sunrise and then saw he was also on 80M.  I switched to 80 and turned on the amp.  He had a good signal and I figured out his pattern and in 15 minutes I had 80M and 30M in the log

I was hoping for a 40M contact but decided I would likely have to be satisfied with 80 and 30.  I listened to him work the pileup for a considerable time while doing other things and soon enough he was spotted on 40M but by now it was deep into his sunrise.  I flipped on 40M and sure enough I could just copy him so I fired things up and in a few minutes I had him on 40 also.

Amazing!  My 30M call was at 1:42 and by 2:53 I had him on 3 bands.  The total number of calls for all three contacts was probably a dozen with careful use of the panadapter, skimmer, and SpotCollector.  This radio rocks!  Today the DXpedition posted their log

I'm not sure how one could accomplish navigating a 20khz wide pileup without the advantage of SDR and skimmer and SpotCollector   None of those are fool proof but each gives a small piece of information allowing one to predict with fairly good accuracy where and when the DX will be listening.  

I also worked him on 80M using my Flex 6300 radio and signal strength and readability were comparable using the same antennas.  The 6300 with 2 panadapters active and 2 skimmers active is a much more efficient setup for this kind of huge pileup but both radios performed FB

73  W9OY