A little RTTY, some JT

I had a lot of fun in the CQ WW RTTY contest so I have been key shifting now and again to pick up some more QSOs. That got me LOTW QSLs from KG4HF and YN5Z for new mode/countries. and KI7MT and N2ADV for new mode/states, with Triple Play in mind.

Tonight I heard some 10m RTTY but was unable to make any contacts, so I moved down to 076 and tried some JT65. I made two QSOs with stations in Washington and California, but the PSKReporter showed I was being heard in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and around South America with my 20 watts.

Meanwhile, my web host has upgraded to PHP 5.4 which has had a less than desirable effect on my log page. A lot of the features have stopped working, and I am waiting to see if they can sort it out or tell me what changed from one version to the other so I can get it going again. Hope I can post this.

UPDATE: PHP 5.4 removes register global variables completely, which breaks the phphamlog view.php and logentry.php. After flailing around trying to convert the necessary variables (and failing, and nearly corrupting my log database in the process), I went here and used that script to restore my register globals and now everything works as it should.

And as far as getting help from my webhost? Their response was “We don’t do scripts, we just host. You should talk to the software vendor.”

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CQ WW RTTY Contest


My station setup for CQ WW RTTY.

Final result: 66 Qs for 8,906 points, 15 zones, 30 countries, 16 states and provinces. The little Acer netbook worked pretty well, except it could not run N1MM and MMTTY together so I had to manually log the contacts.

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This, and that, and the other thing

That’s what you title a catch-all post, I think.

So the phone bands have been so atrociously bad lately that 90% of my recent QSOs have been CW, with a fair mix of countries in the group. Most of this has been on 15, but the last few days 17 meters has been a better choice in the 14:00 – 17:00 Zulu times when I am out in the truck, and most active.

Anyone who worked me on CW the last few weeks and thought my keying was a little strange? I probably was trying to merge into freeway traffic while sending. I can pull that off very well, but have to sacrifice some of my accuracy.

One happy score was today’s contact with BD4CQ on 17 meters. He must have amazing ears to pull me out of the noise.

I just recently received an Acer Aspire One from Amazon.com to be my main ham laptop. The Aspire is a neat little netbook with a 1.6 GHz Atom processor and is running VE7CC, MMTTY, Digipan, and JT65HF successfully under Windows 7. The only software that is not running correctly now is N1MM logger, which times out on the COM port. I hope to have that rectified shortly. It runs MMTTY with the EXT-FSK plugin with no problems in true RTTY mode on the IC7000, no worries about audio levels. But it also runs JT65 and PSK31 without any problems. The Dell laptop that is my main PC had big problems with RF and would freeze if the audio level was turned up too high.

I am very happy to be back into digital modes, and have already added some new countries to my count on those modes.

I will be walking around HAMCOMM in a few weeks so if you see me there, say hello.

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Powerpole Frustration

I spent way too much time yesterday replacing a PowerPole connector whose wire had pulled out.

I have one word of advice to anyone using these: go ahead and spend the 40 bucks for the crimp tool. That’s got to be better than what I went through.

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New QSL cards


Ordered these online from Office Depot.

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K5GJ at LSDXA meeting


Talking SDR and Flex Radio

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Playing with the R4020

I haven’t really done anything with my new R4020, so today I decided to see what it would do. I don’t have a wire antenna for 20 meters handy, so I hooked up the magnetic loop to experiment.

I heard some stations here and there, and decided to try my luck up in the QRP portion, just above 14060 KHz. I tried answering a CQ, but he couldn’t hear me.

I used the automatic CQ feature of the 4020 to see if I could get someone to answer me, with no luck. The batteries were starting to fade, so I was outputting maybe 2.5 -3 watts. After a few tries with no answer, I packed it all in.

Once back inside, I had a look at the Reverse Beacon Net just for grins. Here’s what I found:

Reverse Beacon Net

Apparently I was getting out after all.

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September VHF Contest (AKA Dead Air)

18:00 UTC: I’m sitting in the truck with the HO Loop up 15 feet or so listening to the static noise on 50.125 MHz. I expect this September VHF will be like last year – few if any stations heard.

At least the weather is cooperating – a cold front passed through last night dropping the temperatures into the 80s, a 15-20 degree drop. This would have been unbearable otherwise.

I suppose the band could come through and get me some contacts, although this year’s sporadic E season would suggest otherwise.

19:00 UTC: 1 hour in and I’ve heard a few stations in the noise, nothing that would support an actual QSO. Barring a miracle, I expect I won’t be submitting a log this year, because I won’t have any contacts in the log. The last three VHF contests have really given me an appreciation of the June 2010 contest, when 6 meters was open late into the night both nights and I was able to make 160 contacts in 100 grids without really putting much effort in. Big contrast to the more recent ones. In this year’s June contest I managed 44 QSOs, with a lot of tuning between contacts.

20:00 UTC: Stations heard: 1 QSOs: 0
That sums it up pretty well. I am a casual contester at best, and the only thing keeping me here is the time it will take to take down the antenna, coax, etc.

20:15 UTC: I am officially out of the contest.

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Adventures with a TenTec R4020

I recently picked up a TenTec R4020 to try as a traveling QRP rig. It looks nice:


It comes with battery holders so you can go true portable in the field:


The instructions say to install the battery holders with double sided tape and wire in series. Straight forward, except for one small detail:


See those crystals in the center of the board? No way, and I mean NO WAY can you get those battery holders in and clear those crystals.

Any one who has done this, I would appreciate knowing how you accomplished it.

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New Wallpaper

Just received my WAC certificate.

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