1st “NUE” contact in the log

February 11, 2016

Last (Wed) evening after getting the 1st macro programmed with the traditional ” CQ  CQ  CQ   de VA3QV   VA3QV   VA3QV    pse K”  I hit F1 to test it and found out that it worked.  It sent out my 5w signal from the FT 817 (using my home wire antenna) and to my surprise I got a response from KA1LMX (Bill in Rhode Island)  According to QRZ it was a 330 mile contact and it was not pretty…

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)

Bill had the patience of a saint trying to make sense of my typing direct to make the rest of the contact happen.  I did get my point across and he understood I was running a FT 817 and using the NEU PASK Modem.  I had to read fast as the display scrolls by fairly quickly,  but he was using a TEN TEC Jupiter and he had his power dialed back to 5w so it was actually a QRP to QRP PSK Contact.  My 2nd 2 way QRP Contact of the day actually as I had worked WX9RR/qrp (Roman in Chicago) earlier in the day on 20m.

So now I know it works and the only thing left to do is some fine tuning on the Macros…  I have 7 macro slots that can each take 255 characters (seeing that I can do lots on twitter with 140 characters) that should be good enough to get my point across while operating portable.

It will be exciting to be operating “Picnic Table Portable” using this new mode once the snow melts…

But NOT TILL then…

73bob

More shack time

February 11, 2016

With the weather being a bit colder than I prefer,  time has been spent indoors in the shack rather than in the great outdoors…

tongue_stuck99

The log book counts are increasing and I noticed today that I made my 100th Digital QSO this afternoon.  It took me 25 days in total to make those 100 QSOs and there were some CW contacts and SSB contacts made in the same time frame….

Of those 100 Digital Contacts 63 were already confirmed on EQSL and 43 of those 100 Digital Contacts were Confirmed on Logbook of The World (LoTW). 

This came as a bit of a shock to me as in my SSB logs and my CW logs normally LoTW is used more.  However my confirmation rate for LoTW is close to what it normally is for the other modes.  I did notice (it would be hard not to) that my EQSL confirmation rate at 63% was more than double what it was on the other modes.

My only explanation for this is that most of the operators I have contacted are using the Ham Radio Deluxe Suite and with that comes the DM780 Digital program.  HRD works quite well with its other programs and the end result is that I can transfer data from my Digital Program to my Logbook.  When the QSO is finished my entering it in the log also immediately enters the information in my EQSL account and sends out an EQSL.  For this to work you have to configure your EQSL Account to work with Ham Radio Deluxe but once that’s done the rest if really painless.  I think more Digital ops are using EQSL because after the initial setup there is no other work to be done.

The only problem is that as LoTW and EQSL do not play nicely you can not use EQSL confirmation for LoTW (ARRL) awards and vice versa. So sometimes it does take longer to achieve your goals but….  even then its faster than the QSL Bureau and still cheaper than QSL Direct.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)Going back a bit to catch up on “stuff”….  I decided to put the CW Decoder/keyer combo on hold till I can get some better information.  Although it seems like a great idea a few who I have run it past have give me somethings to think about.

For now I’ll just work on getting the NUE PSK Modem up and running.  I was able to scrounge an old ps/2 keyboard and I had it receiving and decoding PSK 31 signals with no trouble.  All that left to do now is RTFM and figure out how to get the macros programmed and then I can give it a test drive and see how easy it is to make contacts with…

That is my next quest….  to take some time away from making contacts with the Flex 1500 and get the FT 817/NUE Combo up and running. 

procrastinate

Given the way I have been known to procrastinate I should have it done by the time the snow melts…

For those of you who are still “wage slaves” today is also “Hump Day”…  The middle of the week and its all downhill from here….  For us retired old pharts…. its just another day to play radio…

Check back before the weekend and I’ll have the weekend update posted sometime on Friday…

73bob

 

 

 

Too cold for playing outside

February 9, 2016

Did you make any contacts in the Vermont QSO Party or the BC QSO Party this past weekend?  I gave it a try on Friday evening but did not hear anyone calling for either contest.

qrpnotforsissiesI was hoping for a Vermont Digital contact as I need VT for my ARRL Triple Play award.  I reality I need about36 more states confirmed in Digital for the award but I’m getting closer every day.  As I said before its always easier at the beginning as just about every contact is a new one…  Now its getting a bit harder to find those new states and getting the contact is just part of the battle.

Confirming it is always a bit harder it seems…

I spent part of today working with the Flex making a few QRP PSK 31 contacts and then I worked on my FT 817 station in anticipation of getting outside to make a few Portable PSK 31 contacts with my NUE PSK Modem.

slidingbearI did add the words in anticipation as its got to warm up a bit before I will sit at a park bench again.

The temps do make a bit of a difference but I also have to watch out about falling.  After spending a small fortune of the taxpayers money to get both knees replaced….  It would be a shame if I fell and damaged the parts.  Yes they would be replaced but the damage might affect my mobility so….  I would prefer not to fall …  But in the same breath its also more fun to be sitting at a picnic table when there is no snow on it…

Mar_11_2014_Mer_Bleu

It is mid February and within about 60 days or so most of this will be melted…  The days will be longer… The temps will be warmer and the camper will be my perfect portable operations base again.  I’m already thinking of where to go for the Ontario QSO Party in mid April.  Not sure yet but the plan is to be somewhere to play radio from.

CleanSweep.

Most likely I’ll look at last years participants and try and set up in a location that was not operated from last year in an attempt to give the Big Guns a chance of a clean sweep…

 

Back to the 817 for a moment.  I was able to connect all the pieces and now as soon as I RTFM and figure out to program the macros I will be testing it all out.  From an earlier test I know it decodes fine.  Hopefully soon I can test it out on Transmit.

More on this after it happens….  Till then…

Have fun in our hobby

73bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It continues…

February 4, 2016

Well here we are and its Thursday already…  I lose track of the time when I’m just sitting in the shack making contacts…  That’s been my week so far….  How has yours been?

I did mention to you that the NUE PSK Modem had arrived but I had not taken it much further.  I can report now that the Modem has been hooked up to my FT 817, powered up and with the help of my Buddistick on a tripod in the kitchen has easily decoded PSK 31 signals with great ease.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)I now have the keyboard adapter for it and next on my list of things to do is get the macros programmed and then give it an actual test.  Things might seem to be coming along slowly but…  I’m not in that much of a rush.  I am adding to my portable station and to be honest its about 20 degrees too cold to be thinking of playing in the park.  I’ve got time to get it set up the way I want…

I also have seen a little “gizmo” that has caught my attention and I have to do a little more research but there is a very good chance that something resembling the MFJ 464 Keyboard Keyer and Decoder could also be finding a spot in my Portable Stations Bag.

decoder


 

This in effect would allow me do do CW (at a speed that is respectable) and decode it while operating portable.  Yes thats the same way I do it here in the shack with the Flex and its worked for me so far.  Now the 817 can work with me in the field the same way.  Good for giving out points in contests and grabbing that rare DX when the opportunity arises.

VE3SOTA_1I can power it off the FT 817 battery pack and the same keyboard that the NUE PSK Modem uses will plug into the MFJ.   I can squeeze the MFJ into the radio bag with room to spare.  Imagine sitting at a picnic table in the park and having the option to switch between SSB/CW/PSK….  It does add something to an afternoon outing.  How many Islands or SOTA events can offer that many modes ?


UPDATE-(Feb 5th)  I just found out that the MFJ unit uses an “AT” style keyboard which has a different plug than the PS/2 Plug on the NUE modem.  I don’t really want to bring two keyboards with me in the backpack so my plans could change.  More on this when I get the information needed to make my decision.

I am seriously considering the purchase but there is no rush as the Radiobag won’t be getting much use till the snow melts…

Now back to current events…

My “digital quest” is ongoing…  Its easy at the beginning as everyone you work is a “new one”…   So far the totals are slowly but steadily rising:

LoTW-  WAS 13 and DXCC 7

EQSL- WAS 18 and DXCC 8

I can’t control when the operators update their logs on line so…  It is always a pleasant surprise when I log into LoTW and EQSL and hopefully see the totals higher than they were the last time I checked.

The DX Deity has been smiling on me as this morning I managed to work Belgium, England and Slovenia all for new one (Belgium confirmed already on LoTW) along with several contacts in the USA including one new WAS (KY already confirmed).  Yup there is nothing like starting with a clean slate to watch your totals rise and rise quickly…  Its good for the ego…

vermont-physical-map

On the topic of WAS (Worked all States) I should remind you that the Vermont QSO Party  is this weekend.  Here is a link to the Vermont website with all the information you need should you decide to participate on a serious note or should no need Vermont for your WAS or Triple Play.  Seeing where the State is in relation to Ottawa I will be looking for Vermont in the evenings (40m and 80m Digital) as I need them for my Triple Play award.  VT is already in the log in SSB and CW…  I’m hoping for short skip this weekend on the lower freqs…

2016_bcqp_banner.gif

And for those of you who are hoping for longer conditions…  The BC QSO Party is also this weekend…  A bit further away from Ottawa…  The link to the BCQP is here so you can check out the rules.  I have given out points in the is Contest and if 15 and 20m are open you will have a great time…

Well that’s it for now…

Hoping your having fun in our hobby…  CU on Monday…

73bob

The “Nue Toy” has arrived

February 1, 2016

WOW….  Canada Post came through a day early…  I was expecting it to be delivered Tuesday at the earliest and much to my surprise it arrived this afternoon…

This gives me one day longer to find all the pieces needed to get it on the air.  Although I do not use the 817 in the house I guess once I find a PS/2 Keyboard I will get things up and running to test it out

I did put 12v to it and the display lit up but right now the 817 need to have the tuner mounted back on it and then I can get the modem attached and everything should be up and running….  One drawback was that I was sure when I did the spring cleaning in March that I had not tossed out the old PS2 keyboard….  Oh well…..  I’ll be picking one up later this week…

As far as the world of radio goes….  Nothing seems to happen on the weekends as I have mentioned before but this morning bright and early I was in the shack and making contacts in CW and PSK even before the coffee started working its way through my blood stream…

va3qvcoffee


 

So far today I have managed contacts in:

Haiti…  HH2/N3BNA… 40M CW

hi8css_eqsl

Dominican Republic… HI8CSS… 20m PSK63

Puerto Rico… WP4PGY… 20m PSK63 (already confirmed on LoTW)

n5pu_eqsl.jpg

USA… N5PU…20m PSK31


By my count so far I’m up to:

6 DXCC and 10 states on LoTW

7 DXCC and 15 states on EQSL

Like I mentioned earlier…  The EQSLs seem to come in faster but I still believe that its mostly due to HRD playing so nice with EQSL…  One day I have the dream that EQSL will play nice with LoTW….  I have my doubts but it is a dream…

winterfieldday

Other stuff:

From what I have heard from various groups the Winter Field Day was a good time.  I think it will take a few years to get up to what it was in the past but….

I have no doubt that it will happen.

This week my time will be split between getting more contacts in the log and trying to get the NUE Modem talking nicely with my FT 817.  The making of contacts is more fun but sometimes I have to work on the tools I use in my hobby rather than work on my hobby…

More later….

73bob

 

TGIF

January 30, 2016

Well the weekend is upon us and once again it means that for a couple of days I am banished from the shack….  In the greater scope of things not a big deal because the boss does let me play radio for 4 or 5 days a week as much as I want to….  But requests I surface from the shack for Saturdays and Sunday…

Outside of the contesting….  I can’t really (or have no reason to ) b!tch about it…

Today was an other great day for a newbie playing PSK 31…  DX contacts were made in Brazil and Cuba…. 

My 1st Canadian Contact (outside of Ontario) was made in New Brunswick (VE9) and with my confirmed (EQSL) WAS totals have advanced to 13 with the addition of UTAH on  20m this afternoon….

VE9UN_EQSL

w7RIV_eqsl

Now most of my contacts on EQSL… are also on LoTW (according to their QRZ pages or what they told me during the QSO) but the EQSLs seem to come in a bit faster….


 

iglooradio

Don’t forget Winter Field Day

Like I hinted to earlier…. 

Its the weekend and that means that I will miss the Winter Field Day event…  Part of me is sad….  However not freezing for 4 hours is not a hardship so… 

I know that a few Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec clubs will be participating and I wish them all the best. 

winterfieldday


 

However if you can’t make it for the Winter Field Day the FYBO QRP event is just around the corner…

brass01

How cold was it????

Click on the Brass Monkey to go to the 2016 FYBO Site

Martin VA3SIE and myself from the FYBO 2009


So as you can see there is lots coming up to keep you frosty and busy…  So enjoy your weekend and have fun…  I’ll be back on Monday and the week starts again…

73bob

Today is “Radio Day”

January 28, 2016

After serious talks and negotiations with the family it was decided that today they would let me hide in the shack and play radio…  In effect making today “Radio Day”

I made the most of the situation and proceeded to head downstairs to the basement with lots of coffee and here are the results so far:


 

CALLSIGN–BAND/MODE–DXCC——STATUS

———————————————————————-

CU7AJ__20M__psk31__Azores___Confirmed- EQSL

CU7AJ_EQSL

N9AVY__20M__psk31__USA______pending confirmation

KE9CK__20M__psk31__USA______Confirmed- EQSL

F5GGL__15M__psk31__France_____pending confirmation

NO2CW__15M__psk31__USA______Confirmed- EQSL

F4GXW__15M__psk31__France____Confirmed- EQSL

F4GXW_EQSL.jpg

KD8NV__15M__psk31__USA______pending confirmation

CO6WD__15M__psk31__Cuba_____pending confirmation

TF5B___17M__psk31__Iceland____Confirmed EQSL

tf5b_eqsl

K4DZQ__17M__psk31__USA______Confirmed EQSL


Now the Confirmed/Unconfirmed status is accurate as of the time posted.  It could change 5 min after or 5 days later.  It just depends on how many of the contacts upload their logs to a service I use (LoTW or EQSL)  But there are some new QRP Digital DXCCs in there along with some new States for my WAS.  The totals should rise soon…

I’ve worked Cuba quite a bit in SSB, CW and Digital, but it seems all of the Cuban stations  I have contacted are using direct or a QSL Manager for Paper QSLs and so I have not been fortunate enough to run into on of the few operators who use an Electronic QSL Service.

Normally I do work into Europe on 40m in the evenings so the day is not over yet… 20m should be good for another hour or so before it starts to fade for me…

So that’s been my day so far…  Its been lots of fun as the bands have been cooperating so far…

More later…

“Happy Radio Day”

73bob

ps…..

Don’t forget Winter Field Day this weekend…

 

 

 

 

 

New “Toy” on the way

January 27, 2016

Well the E-transfer of funds has been successfully completed according to my bank so next week some time (but I am thinking about the handheld that is still missing in the postal world) my new (to me) NUE PSK Modem should arrive.  I bought it with confidence from a ham I have known for more than a few years now.  He is a VE3 and also a QRP’er and a portable operator and was upgrading some of his toys and so I get the old toy.  For him it was an old toy… for me its a new toy…

PSKMODEM

For those of you not sure what I bought…  It is a modem that I can plug a keyboard into and then plug into my FT 817 so I can send and receive PSK 31 Signals (its a ham radio digital mode) without having to carry my laptop into the field.  I operate this mode from home using my Flex 1500 and software that’s installed on my desktop in the shack.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)

I can now operate the same mode from a portable location (picnic table in the summertime) and all the gear will still fit in my trusty backpack.

The modem and keyboard will fit in easily.  The Modem will draw 12v power from the same 10ah battery pack that powers the FT 817 itself and my LDG QRP Autotuner.  Under my normal portable operating conditions I never run out of power so I am not expecting the current needs of the modem to make any changes in my style of operating.

The modem itself will also plug into most of the Yaesu line of Radios that I either have used or plan to use in the camper in the near future so it will be all plug and play when Liz and myself head out for our summer trips…

And to make things even better…  I have between now and when the snow melts to actually figure out what I’m doing…

I’ll give you a report on how things work out once I get it here in the shack and set up and a big thanks to VE3FAL (Fred in Thunder Bay) for selling it to me…

73bob

 

 

 

Your rules or my rules?

January 26, 2016

Here in North America, Canada and the United States of America shares a very long border…  In some locations you can drive across and be across the border in minutes…  In some villages you leave your house and drive to the store down the street and cross a border and in some rarer cases just moving in your driveway could cause an international incident…

CanadaFlagSunset1

Strange but true…

americanflag

And in most cases we have a very similar lifestyle

sarcastic flag

But we do have our differences….

One of our differences comes in Amateur Radio where our bandplans are different.  To my non amateur readers the Band Plan is determined by our respective Goverments  to inform us on how we may use our little bits of spectrum that we affectionately call the Amateur Radio Bands.

logotpnThis morning I was listening to 7.055 lsb in the 40m band to the weekly gathering of the CLARA Net.  The frequency itself is used by the Trans Provincial Net but they encourage other groups to come in and take an hour to keep the frequency active.  Every Tuesday at 9am eastern (1400 UTC) the Ladies of Clara run the net.

clara-logo-web

 This morning a bit after 9am est (forgot to check the actual time) when the NCS called for any stations checking in… a gentleman came in (giving no callsign) and informed the net that they were in the CW portion of the bandplan and should change frequency.

To her credit the NCS station advised the gentleman that according to the Canadian Bandplan she and the net were operating where they were allowed to be.  She then properly identified herself with her Canadian Callsign…

There was no reply from the unknown station and operator. (Who I am guessing was not operating from Canada)


 

Here are pictures and links of our respective bandplans…

Canada-Bandplan-300x158

And here is a link to a clearer picture

usbandplanColor_Band_Chart_Image_1

And here is a link to the web that the graphic came from


Now there are a few areas across our bands that there are conflicts… The example above on the 40m band is one.  Another that immediately comes to mind is the 20m band where every Sunday Canadian Amateurs conduct a voice net on 14.140 usb.  The net is called the “Trans Canada Net“.  Canadians are allowed voice communications there but our American neighbors are not.  Their voice ops start at 14.150.

In the preamble to the net and during the net announcement are made at various times stating something close to this:

The main Trans Canada Net (TCN) focus is to provide a nation wide informal HF radio forum for Canadian radio amateurs.
However check-ins from other countries are welcomed as long as radio regulations are complied with.
To protect operators (including Canadians in the USA) from citation exposure USA located stations are only permitted
to check into the TCN on CW. This is because the USA FCC regulations do not permit voice transmissions on the 20M band below 14.150 MHz.

Now this is not picking on American Amateurs…. This is just reminding everyone of the rules for those of us operating from Outside Canada.  When I was in Florida with my camper a few years ago Icould not check into the Trans Provincial Net or the Trans Canada Net using voice because I was camping on the beach in Florida and had to follow the American Rules and Regulations as they pertain to Amateur Radio…

For the two weeks we were in the warmer climates, VA3RCS/w4 did not check into those nets.  I did make contacts… Just made them in the areas of spectrum that I had operating privs…That’s just the way it was and for that matter still is…

As amateurs we have to operate with the rules of the country that we are transmitting from and not the rules of where our licence was issued…

A simpler way to put it would be

“When in Rome… Do what the Romans do…”

At the end of the day it was really “No harm… no foul…” and it was just a reminder that there are some differences in the rules depending on what country you are operating from…

buddistick

And I’m hoping that all the snowbirds on their way down south for some warmth remember that as well…

73bob

Another week starts

January 25, 2016

As usual it was a quiet weekend although I did manage to make a PSK 31 contact on Sunday evening and this morning the EQSL Confirmation was waiting for me.

np4jl_eqsl

I do enjoy those “instaconfirms” via EQSL…

I did not get as much time in the shack as I hoped as Liz needed to get to a Doctors appointment and I needed to be there…  All is good on that topic…

Once we got home I did make a couple more PSK 31 contacts (another in PR this time on 20m and also on 20m Georgia.  Both were instaconfirmed via EQSL…  The recent contacts being confirmed on EQSL means my dual counts are getting closer….

eQSLLogo

4 DXCC confirmed on EQSL along with 4 States confirmed (all PSK)

LoTW_2

2 DXCC confirmed on LoTW along with 6 States confirmed (all PSK)

Now despite my apparent success making all these contacts and getting confirmed in the new digital modes we should remember that when you are starting at 0 its fairly easy to get the count to rise rapidly.  In most cases all you have to do its make contacts and as most digital operators use either LoTW or EQSL and in some cases both the confirmations come in very quickly.

When you have 40 states confirmed or 75 plus DXCC confirmed those last few seem to take forever to find and even harder to confirm.  Years ago I heard someone say that its easy to work DXCC and WAS….  its hard to confirm them…  Years later I think he was right…  But no matter how easy (or how hard) it is fun and its my hobby…  I have no regrets…


 

winterfieldday

Just another reminder that the Winter Field Day event is happening this coming weekend.

I will be missing this one but as I don’t agree with the cold at times… I’ll get over it…  But I hope you give it a try…

iglooradio

 

Its a great contest and a good test of your communication skills….

saint-bernard-0038

Nice puppy….  Good Dog….

2012wfdwestonpark

Wish I had one of those Pooches when I participated a few years ago…  2012 Winter Field Day from Ottawa.  Park Bench Portable…


The rest of the week will be spent in the shack trying for a few more new ones… I’m about to order a psk set up for my 817 so I can operate the digital modes while portable in the parks and such.  No computer needed for this set up…

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)

More on that when it arrives (If I’m the successful bidder…) but the above is the setup.  FT 817 on top…  PSK Modem with built in display in the middle and a mini keyboard to complete the package…  It will all fit into my backpack quite easily and let me make some contacts without being tied to my home desktop computer…

I hope I have better luck with this one than I did with the Handheld which is not 2 months overdue and declared missing from China.  My daughter was given a refund but I figured that it might show up sooner or later…  I’m giving up hope on this idea now…

For new enjoy your week… get ready for the Winter Field Day…. Make lots of contacts…

73bob

 


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