Saturday, July 15, 2017

FT-8 a new digital mode freom K1JT and K9AN

There is a new mode from K1JT and K9AN  called FT-8.  The TX/RX windows are 15 seconds instead of the 1 minute toggle in JF-65 and JT-9 modes.  The downside FT-8 presently has a slightly worse S/N compared to JT-65.  Download v 1.8 rc1 from the K1JT site 

Setup with any 6xxx series Flex is simple.

Under General fill in the your particulars and make your choices 

For radio I use TS-2000 protocol and SmartCat port 4 to get band data, freq and PTT control 

Audio is on DAX 1 and DAX TX.  Make sure DAX 1 is turned on on the freq flag of the panadapter, and turn on RX1 and TX in DAX.  Set mic input to PC.  Set DAX RX1 level to give 50% on the FT-8 client and DAX TX gain to keep you just out of ALC, and use the power control on the radio to set the power level

Go make a contact

These modes require a pretty precise timing so I keep my computer clock trained to the correct time using this program 

73  W9OY

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

13 Colonies Contest

This year I decided to give this contest a whirl.  It is a week long contest with several dozen stations signing the callsign of their colony K2A through K2M, 13 in all.  In addition 2 bonus stations WM3PEN in remembrance of Independence Hall and GB13COL which is a RSGB special event participant are on the air through July 6th

I worked the lot in about 21 hours 20, 40, and 80 both SSB and CW.  So stations availability is plentiful but it still took some diligence.  

I wish I could have swept them all on 40 CW but you fish where the fish are. 

Flex released the latest Alpha version of the  V2 software last night, and I thought this test would prove to be a good way to beat up the software and search out the bugs.  

73  W9OY

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A71EM Quatar

Heard Juma A71EM on this evening from Quatar on 40M  I didn't expect to hear him as he was a good hour into his daylight but he was working mostly US stations one by one simplex at 35wpm   Excellent op, and a nice signal.

Shortly after I started writing this post he was gone.  My good luck!

73  W9OY

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TN5E Republic of Congo

Kenneth TN5E is on from Brazzaville Republic of Congo.  I heard him tonight on 40M while completing some correspondence.  The gray line just hit before I started to hear him.  He is peaking 1 to 5 dB out of my noise but perfectly Q5

About 15 minutes with the 6700 and he was in the log.  Good op!  Well behaved pileup!

73  W9OY

Saturday, May 27, 2017

CQ WPX 2017 CW Goofing Around

I decided to mess  around in the CQ WPX CW this weekend.  The propagation from FL looked promising.  My interest was to make band fills for my DXCC totals and in general  play with the latest Alpha version and try to wring out any bugs in the software.  

I have a new computer with a fresh install of Win10 pro and didn't have N1MM+ installed.  15 minutes before the contest I downloaded N1MM+, did the update, and followed the directions from Flex or at least enough of them to get things rolling.  I used the SO2R guide from Craig K9CT and Eric KE5DTO to set up the ports.  I didn't need this much information for my minimalist install  but this is the correct dope on how to set up the ports.  I've done this before so it only took a couple minutes.  

I use Telnet to populate my N1MM+  I'm running low power and mostly interested in populating DXCC band fills,  so I'm not using internet based spots, only over the air spots from CWSkimmer

Skimmer outputs it's telnet spots on port 7310 of (localhost)  

So I set up Spot collector to gather the spots in the spot collector config screen

and turn off my other spot sources.  Once logged in this causes Spot Collector to populate and lets N1MM+ populate the band map

F1EX-# indicates a localhost spot.  If I had other spot sources active this column would be a mix of sources.  

The Flex ecosystem as a Winkey emulator built in and allows N1MM+ to operate as if it had a Winkey attached.  The emulator coordinates speed between N1MM, the paddle input on the front of the radio and the built in CWX keyboard and memory program.  I pretty much only use N1MM memories for contests but occasionally I'll say hi to a friend so it's nice to have all this functionality.  The Winkey emulator works great smooth as butter.  

Here is a shot of my 15M 2 monitor desktop

And here my 20M desktop, a single click changes bands and repopulates my spots automatically

 I made a quick video of how it all works 

A ton of work has gone into making this setup into a world class contesting platform, but which is also directly accessible to the average Joe ham.  You don't have to be a world class contester  to play.  I'm running a single radio and a vertical with low power and having a blast.  Most of my contacts are single call.  This setup as I've described will work with a 6300, 6400, 6400M (connected to a computer to run the ancillary programs), 6500, 6600, 6600M (connected to a computer as above), and a 6700.  It will also allow you to work remote and when V2 is released allow you access to your radio from virtually anywhere.

 Now back to noodling around 

73  W9OY

Sunday, May 21, 2017

E31A Eritrea

My kid graduated HS tonight.  After arriving home I messed around on 80M and l glanced at the cluster and there was E31A on 40M.  I figured fat chance as it was a couple hours into his daylight yet he was a solid S6 against a band noise of S2.  

Very good op.  I called twice and he was in the log.  I gave a try on 30M but no joy, and though he was spotted not a pee p on 80M.   I'll take the 40M contact!  Give a listen because his station is workin quite well

73  W9OY

Saturday, April 22, 2017

5A5A Libya

RA9USU Dima has been on from Tripoli Libya for the past few days.  He has been loud especially on 40M but thus far I have been unable to crack the wall till tonight.  

He showed up on the cluster on 80M but no copy here in FL, just a little ESP.  I guess he wasn't hearing much either and in a few minutes he switched to 40M.  He was peaking S4 (-96 dBm) with signal to burn and some QSB.  I was about 1 minute into the 40M operation tonight, in other words before the pileup and EU/Russian wall had formed.  I set my TX +1 and called once and he came right back.  Right place right time.

I figured if I didn't get him tonight it wasn't going to happen for me.  TNX OM Dima!

73  W9OY

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5U5R Niger

5U5R Dxpedition is on the air.  Great signals out of Niger.  I started listening on 40M at 2pm local and could just hear them poking out of the noise.  Came back a couple hours later and they are S7 (-85 dBm)  

A robust pileup for sure but a very good op, and with the 6700 it was easy to navigate the pile.

Should be an easy one to add to the totals

73  W9OY

ZD7BG St Helena

Out in the south Atlantic sits St Helena.  It is so isolated it was the Island chosen for Napoleon's exile.

Tonight I worked ZD7BG on St Helena.  He was working simplex on 40M and was steadily picking off callers.  

I often have trouble with the trans-equatorial Atlantic path but we made a go of it.  Keep an easr pealed for Gilbert.

73  W9OY

Thursday, February 23, 2017

LU1ZI South Shetland

Just off the Antarctic coast is South Shetland and I worked LU1ZI tonight at BASE ANTARTICA CARLINI.  Good signal.  

The band noise was -118 dBm and LU8ZI was -106 dBm making him easy pickings.  Fortunately he could also hear me.  My due south trans-equatorial luck is not always great from my QTH but I usually do OK into Antartica.

Here is a shot of the base

Beautiful in its stark isolation.  Were I in a place like that I would thank God for a ham radio station.  

73  W9OY

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I ran the ARRL DX CW contest for a few hours this weekend and had a great time.  I recently installed a W6LVP RX loop antenna and wanted to see how it would work for the low bands., 160, 80, 40.  My set up is as above.  I feed the signals copied by the radio into CW skimmer via DAX where they are decoded. 

Then via telnet to N1MM+ and DXLab Spot Collector.  I turn off all internet spotting, so what I see on the N1MM+ band map and in Spot Collector are strictly signals received on MY antennas.

The countries/multipliers I need are listed in RED and I can click the station and the radio moves there, loads the callsign in a staging area (note the YR8D above the entry window)  If the station is present and workable, I click the staged call and it is loaded into the entry window and I proceed to make the contact.  I then move on to the next RED station in the list.  I can also use skimmer as a VFO of sorts.  Since Skimmer generates the raw callsign data I can use the skimmer VFO controls to quickly click up and down the band 10 khz at a time, and work any RED in a given 10 khz segment.  Once all the RED is turned light BLUE it means there are no more new ones to work and I move up or down another 10 khz.  This allows me to work virtually all the hear-able DX in a 60 khz band segment really quickly.  It's kind of like combing your hair.  With each stroke more and more DX is accumulated.  I keep an eye on the DXLab Spot collector as well.  This database is screened by my wants/need list from my logbook.  If a ATNO comes up it blazes in RED as well.  If a band fill comes up it is in MAROON.  This allows me to increase my DXCC score as well.  I simply click on the needed station in Spot Collector and N1MM+, Skimmer, SSDR and the radio all head to the right freq.  I tune in the station precisely and make the contact.  The data from Spot collector is automatically entered into my logbook.  

Once I finish off all the new DX on one band I start in on another band.  Soon enough that band has been combed out and all the RED has been worked and logged, and on to another band.  I have found this to be a VERY fun and useful way to run a contest and it puts the Flex system to full advantage.  The wide band DAX feed analyzes in my case sends 48 khz of I/Q data into skimmer so my skimmer feed is always updating and as I move up and down that 48 khz window moves up and down with me refreshing skimmer.  

Another way to "tune the system is by the DXView map 

As the radio hears signals the DX stations are populated on a grayline map.   Each dot provides tooltip data to the underlying stations callsign, freq and time heard, so I can click particular stations of interest.  For example the Island stations out in the Pacific.  As the grayline progresses these stations often build until they become workable.  It's a VERY valuable way to fill out what otherwise might be fringe contacts and not miss anything.  Last night I got Asiatic Russia using the map technique.  I hit him just as they grayline flew over his head but before the pileup ensued.  

I added this W6LVP loop to my station last weekend, and decided to wring it out in this contest.  It made a HUGE difference in what I could hear on 160 and 80 and to a lessor extent on 40.  I ran the antenna exclusively on RX.  The DX contest is a good test of any system and there was no overload or distortion products.  My system is set up with a Flex control (aka a knob) which allows fine tuning of the radio and I run generally 70hz bandwidth on my RX so fine tuning is often necessary.  There is virtually no interference.  If you look at the above SSDR picture closely, even though I'm surrounded by many STRONG stations if I'm not on their freq I don't hear them.  My noise level is the same as the band noise in a quiet part of the band, and that is very quiet on the loop.  My band noise was running typically -113 dBm (S2 range) on 160M and -118 dBm (S1 range) on 80M.  Without the loop band noise was up around -95 dBm  or S5.

My results?  I ran for a total of 412 minutes (6:52) over the 48 hour 2 day contest.

In that time I managed to work 141 countries and a total of 162 contacts.  I was not trying to amass the biggest score, but I wanted to see how well the antenna worked.  It was fabulous!  I could hear everything!  I worked out EU until I was so far into their daylight (like at noon in DL on 40M I could still copy stations and at 2PM EST I was already able to work EU this afternoon.  As EU faded JA and UA0 came into focus along with VK ZL KH2 Guam and half a dozen others on both 80 and 40, so condtions here were good.  I have an inv-L on 160M, a vertical wire hanging out of a pine on 80M as well as a 40M 1/4 wave al over the same ground screen, about 4k feet of #14.  My amp is automatically band switched by the 6700 and I have a antenna switch which switches in each bands vertical automatically so it makes contesting very easy.

I managed to increase my DXCC total by 5 countries and several band fills on each band.  Operating the station was so addictive I was up till 4:30 am and eventually had to force myself to put it down. so mu butt is dragging right now.  Without the loop I'm sure the noise would have worn me down hours earlier.  Total score was 67,257 and I worked 24 zones not bad for 412 minutes of operating time and a couple wires hanging out from a tree!

73  W9OY