Testing out an Android CW Decoding APP

February 25, 2015

As you know my CW skills are not the best and I tend to rely on the Decoding Program CW Get (works well for me) for when I am in the shack operating with the Flex.

cwgetppc_big

I am planning to be a bit more portable this year with the FT 817 and the Camper operating from different areas I thought it might be easier if I was to find a decoding program that would work on my Android Tablet,  Its always good to have something to fall back on just in case its too fast for me to try to copy by ear

Looking at the Google Play Store I found  “Morse Code Reader”  and installed it on my tablet.  It uses the built in mic of the tablet to hear the CW coming off the speaker of the radio and decodes it… Seems simple enough….

Early testing has proven to me it works…  but not as good as CW Get.  It managed an approx 60% copy of the W1AW CW Bulletin where CW Get was 95%.  As it uses the audio output to audio input (without wires) background noises can greatly effect the accuracy of the RCV.

At this time I cannot recommend this piece of software.  However I can’t say anything bad about it either.  I have no opinion and feel it deserves better testing.

I hope that I will have a chance to test it out in a contest situation where its basically callsign and 5nn TU so I can compare it against CW Get…

As with all Software Decoders it can only decode a “good fist” or a computer keyer….  If you are trying to copy a bad fist with poor spacing etc… nothing outside of a good operator with a good ear will do it…

morsekey1

It is a free piece of software so nothing ventured nothing gained….  But as always… if you download it…. you do so at your own risk…. The fact that my tablet has not blown up does not mean yours won’t… 

I will play with it for a while longer and then let you know what I think…

73bob

The link to it is here if you want to check it our for yourself AT YOUR OWN RISK

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.jfedor.morsecode

A Couple more QRP DX Contacts

February 25, 2015

For those of you who live on the Eastern Side of North America…. you know why I wanted to spend as much time as I could in the shack today…

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It was Freezing out there….  

Good conditions or bad conditions…. today I just wanted to stay inside as much as I could and stay warm…  It paid off…  I managed a few good contacts….

9A5CW (Croatia) 40m CW – 4100 miles

C6AUM (Bahamas) 15m CW – 1300 miles

KH6/NA2U (Hawaii) 15m CW- 4800 miles

Once again my Flex 1500 and its booming 5watts of raw power came through and contacts were made

LoTW_2

As an added bonus 9A5CW and C6AUM were both on LoTW and already have confirmed our QSO.  C6AUM is also on EQSL as you can see from below…

c6aumEQSL

No more waiting for cards from the BURO or direct….  Make a contact and upload your logs….  If everyone did that it would make the DX Scene much more enjoyable….

eQSLLogo

As C6, 9A and KH6 were previously confirmed by LoTW no new DXCC for me today but….  Any day I can work something with 5w and a wire its a really good day…

As of today’s date I am sitting at 34 QRP CW DXCC in the log so there is still 66 more to go and that will take a while.  I have lots of time left so I am confident that sooner than later the CW DXCC will be added to the list…

picnictablesnow

August23_westonpark4

I am estimating about another 45-60 days before the temps rise enough to melt the snow and then we get to see the picnic tables again for portable operations….  I was hoping to get the Camper out for the Ontario QSO Party but now I’m not so sure that things will be defrosted enough by then…

In the meantime…  Keep the faith…  and try and keep warm…

73bob

Making (Giving out) contacts in the ARRL DX (CW) contest

February 23, 2015

This was a great weekend…

I really needed to make a few contacts after being shut out in the last couple of DXPeditons that have just finished lately… I was doubting myself and my equipment and nothing like working some DX stations to eliminate the doubt…

We always seem to have a full slate on weekends like most other families,  but as I had not blocked off time on our schedule I was limited as to how much time I could spend in the shack but… It was quality time to say the least…

I made contacts on 10m, 15m and 20m and remember that all of them were made QRP CW with my end fed wire antenna…

new_wire_antenna

Above diagram almost correct…  Its actually about 55 feet long and I now use 4 radials instead of 2.

Contacts made as follows:

10m-Spain (3500 miles)

10m- Maderia Island (3200 miles)

10m-Turks and Caicos (1600 miles)

10m- Bonaire Island (2340 miles)

10m- Alaska (3100 miles)

15m- Hungary (4100 miles)

15m-  Germany  (3800 miles)

15m- Maderia Island (3200 miles)

15m- Latvia (4100 miles)

15m- Portugal (3300 miles)

15m- Aruba (2300 miles)

15m- Brazil (4130 miles)

15m- Hawaii (4800 miles)

20m- Italy (4000 miles)

20m- Portugal (3300 miles)

20m- Czech Republic (3800 miles)

20m- Italy (4000 miles)

20m- France (3200 miles)

20m- Spain (3500 miles)

So by my counts thats 22 contacts and 21 multipliers giving me a score of  1388 points if I was submitting anything else other than a check log for this one.

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However for this time its good enough to upload the logs to LoTW and EQSL and just sit back smiling about how great everything seemed to work when it had to…

lotw-logo-c

Hope your weekend went as well as mine did…

73bob

Well the gear still works

February 20, 2015

This afternoon I decided to spend some time in the shack and try to make a couple of contacts…  After not being able to break the pileup for K1N, I was wondering if I was having any antenna issues…

I managed to easily get the State of Kentucky in the log at 800 miles and also get the Cayman Islands in the log at 1800 miles.  K1N on Navassa Island was just over 1800 miles so I have regained confidence in the equipment…  You can make QRP Contacts when someone is calling and listening for you but…  trying to break the mother of all pile ups with 5w and a wire might be a different thing…

This weekend is the ARRL DX Contest (CW) so perhaps I’ll get to make a few contacts…

73bob

I still feel the same way many years later

February 18, 2015

VA3QV:

I will be referencing this over the next little while…. ARES, EMCOMM and FREECOM will be discussion topics in a series of postings coming soon.
Please take the time to re- this one…
73bob

Originally posted on VA3QV's Weblog:

WhenAllElseFailsA while back I wrote the following:

Many years ago when I first got my callsign (I was VE3YBC back then) I attended a presentation that was given to civic officials on Emergency Planning. One of the first things stressed is that they should make friends with the local amateur radio clubs in their areas as the “hams” could do it all!!!

Now in reality we know that Hams can’t walk on water, but we do know where the rocks are hidden just under the water, so it seems like we can.

Now many callsigns have passed (VE3YBC,VE3UAX,VA3RCS and now VA3QV) since I heard those comments and technology now brings new toys. And most of these new toys mean that don’t need us as much as they used to. In most of the urban centers we have been delegated to passing routine traffic between shelters if needed.

Cell Phones, Blackberrys…

View original 368 more words

Where does the time go?

February 14, 2015

I have this thing about remembering stuff…  Birthdays…. Anniversarys  and the like….  Actually I know when they are but I have trouble getting my mind to remember what the dates are in comparison whatever the date is today….

Heres another example…

Feb 10 2008 was my first posting on the blog….  I knew it was in early Feb but after checking today found that I missed it by 4 days….

So after 7 years…. 2137 Actual Blog Postings and  472,150 visitors thanks for hanging in there with me…

73bob

ps….  I did remember Valentines Day….

Discussion topics for the Weekend

February 13, 2015

Today is Friday the 13th…. and I have a black cat…. no ladders though…. and it really could be bad luck for anyone who forgets that Saturday Feb 14th is Valentines Day,,,  Don’t forget to give your “Significant Other” something they will like or life as you know it could suddenly get a bit rougher…

I took care of that last evening when Liz and myself went out to a local Restaurant (one that uses real plates, knives and forks) and had a very nice meal.  If your in my neighborhood the Kelseys at 1910 St Laurent in Ottawa did a great job for us last night.

k1n_map2I am still having no luck what so ever (as of Friday am) getting K1N in the log…  Its still annoying as hell as I hear them everywhere the DX Cluster is spotting them at.

The big problem is that everyone else is hearing them as well.  The pile ups are large and I just can;t seem to break them no matter what I try…

It is very unusual for me to hear anyone so strong who I can’t get in the log but when I am competing with most of Europe and North America its understandable.

Days like these are the challenges that a QRP’er like myself faces from time to time…. I have no doubt (as I have talked all around them in the past with 5w and a wire) the problem is not being heard but more breaking the pile up so I can be heard by them.

Staying on the QRP topic for a bit…

I found a new link to a SDR unit…  The link is HERE and I’ll let you head over there and draw your own conclusions but in my opinion although the specs don’t seem too shabby the $2000.00 price tag for a 2m/6m/HF 20w radio seems a bit much to me.  Remembering that you also need one hell of a computer to run it….

ft817ndNow when my daughter bought my Flex 1500 for me  it  cost her $800.00 with shipping and taxes…. and the Yaesu FT 817 (which I also have) which is not an SDR Radio but also gives you the 70cm band is retailing  in Canada for just under $900.00 plus taxes.

I balk a bit at the price of the newcomer and also remind you that there are lots of QRP SDR Radios out there…  TEN TEC has a few of them at lots less that the 2 grand the newcomer wants but it does look fine to me outside of price.  Flex Radio (remember that the prices shown on the Flex Link are in Canadian $$$ as this is a Canadian Blog…) has some new 100w rigs out there at just over that price so…  Do your homework and make an educated choice before opening your wallet.

After all that enjoy your weekend…

Its going to be really cold here in Ottawa so a romantic walk along the Canal is out of the question so most likely a quiet weekend at home will be the order of the day.  Not sure how much time I’ll spend in the shack but… I’ll try and get a few contacts in just to prove the gear still works after being shut out by K1N

73bob

Wednesday evening Club visit

February 12, 2015

First lets just say that as hard as I try to give out the rare “VA3″ prefix to the K1N DXPedition in both SSB and CW they still refuse to acknowledge my call.  Translation… Still shutout with 5w and a wire… but still trying…

As I have commented earlier….. They are about the strongest DXPedition I have ever heard.  Only 3000 kms (1800 miles) due south of me which is easily in my communications circle…  The problem is that they are also really strong to just about everywhere else in North America making this one of the few times a QRP operator is at a real disadvantage…

But I keep on trying…  3 to 4 days left to go and I’m not giving up on them…

But on the topic of QRP…

Wednesday evening the plan was for Liz and myself to drop in at the Ottawa Valley QRP Society monthly supper meeting.  I had promised to drop off something to a friend and as he was going to be there it would be easy to stop in… say hi to the group and then continue on with our evening… As it turned out Liz was not feeling up to going out so I headed over to complete the delivery and I decided to join the group for supper and a cold one…

This society (once again not a club) has no real rules other than to have fun playing with QRP Gear… No club politics…. no dues…. no constitution…. and no problems….  The founder is also the custodian of the club callsign VA3OVQ…

The Ottawa Valley QRP Society meets on the 2nd Wednesday of every month and also has a weekend camping event called Chillycon normally around the 3rd weekend in September at Rideau River Provincial Park (outside of Kemptville Ontario)  When you visit their website (above link) you can find out more info on their activities…

© VE3MPG  -2750_thumb[9]Chillicon picture courtesy VE3MPG

If you follow THIS LINK you will find some old blog posts about Chillycon

© VE3MPG  -2746_thumb[22]

Another Chillycon pic courtesy of VE3MPG

But…  back to the evening…. I arrived there shortly after 5pm and we had a good turnout of 9 local hams (myself included) and we started chatting about operating techniques and gear over a cold beverage while waiting for our suppers (I love the pizza there)… we took a bit of a break and then after supper the discussion continued… A little before 7pm we called it an evening…  paid our bills… and headed home in the SNOWSTORM!!!!  When I went inside it was not snowing… oh well ….

A bit more on the operators there….  its a good mix of home brew types and guys who really get on the radio….  If you look at the results for most of the major contests for Canada, Ontario and QRP you will find the callsigns of those who have graced our table at a monthly meeting over the years…  CQ WW, ARRL and RAC Contests have all seen OVQRP Society Members constantly scoring quite well over the years…

All in all a great bunch of active guys…

Anyhow… Its cold and snowy here in Ottawa which means perfect weather to sit in the shack and chase K1N…

73bob

ps… if you are wondering about the different spelling of Chillicon or Chillycon…  It started as Chillycon as the Saturday evening meal was a fantastic home made chilli which was provided by VE3XJ…  One year Jim was unable to make it and also that year the overnight temps dropped really low and so some of the attendees changed the spelling to reflect the change in the weather… Chillycon…  Dress warm but its still loads of fun…

Update from “Radio land”

February 11, 2015

The call it “Hump Day”…. because its the middle of the working week…  Its all downhill from here…  Its strange what information you can find on the internet…  I figured Christmas Day celebrates Christmas…. Birthday celebrates a Birth…. Hump Day celebrates….  Never mind… I was wrong…

Over the last week we have seen the Canadian Ski Marathon come and go…  From what I listen to on the local repeaters it seemed to go quite well and I have heard no bad things after the event so….  Once again WELL DONE to the Amateur Radio Community of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec…

The K1N DXPedition is stilll causing pileups…. Its also proving how many people need to remind themselves about operating proceedures…. I spend about 2 hours a day trying for them with my QRP Signals…  I try CW and SSB but so far I’m hearing them on all the bands I can operate on but not being heard…  k1n_map

I can’t blame the DXPediton for the pileups… Narvassa Island is fairly rare…. Number 2 on the DX most wanted list (so I’ve been told) with the North Korea being #1 (and they don’t allow ham radio operations) …

In my case its not that its rare… Its just a new one for me… A new one I can hear and also within the distance that I would consider within my normal operating range

k1n_map2

As you can see from the above map… only 3000 kms due south of me…. Easily within normal range of 5w and a wire but then theres that pile up issue…  The world is all trying to reach that one little island…. and most of the world is doing it with more power, more altitude and better antennas than I have to work with….

Now this is not the crying (whining/b!tching) part of the post…  If you remember my posting from Jan 29 (the link back is here) its my choice to run QRP… its my choice to use a stealthy wire antenna….  I’ve worked all around Narvassa in the past on various bands and modes but its hard to compete with a Kilowatt when the best I can send out is 5w…

I also know there are others out there who have been lucky enough to get them with 100w or less… Lucky not being a good description but skilled would seem better…

I’m happy for them and I will still continue to try till they shut down the station on the 13/14th…I still have 2 or 3 days left to get that new one in the log… Not because its rare but because its new…

73bob

A “Non Radio” Posting

February 11, 2015

Hi…

I thought I would give you fair warning that the following post has nothing really to do about Amateur Radio but to me its important and as its my blog I feel like talking about it…

So here goes….

During the year that I took off from blogging I spent a fair bit of time at the Montfort Hospital here in Ottawa.  Starting in February 2015 with pre op appointements and testing followed by my 1st knee replacement in April…

After that came a couple of months of Physical therapy (Fizzio as I call it if you’ve been following me on Twitter) till the day that I was considered healed and discharged….

Shortly after that Liz and I were made aware of a program at the Montfort for people with Cardiopulmonary issues.  I was an outpatient at the Ottawa Heart Institute about 10 years ago right after Liz had her heart attack and bypass operation.  There also is an issue with COPD so we qualified for the program after being recommended by our family doctor.  After some testing by the hospital, they agreed and so we started the program which included classes and more physical therapy…

The program worked wonders for us….  Our endurance increased… we were eating healthier and along with the  twice a week sessions in the gym I also lost some weight….  Liz was also breathing better…

For me the losing weight was a good thing because in Mid September my other knee “blew out” and in November the 2nd knee replacement happened…

The Physical Therapy started once again and today after 12 weeks again I am considered healed and again discharged….

A lot has happened in the last year… it was hard for us (both of us) for a while but we succeeded….

I want to give the staff at the Montfort a very large “shout out” for everything they have done for us in the last year… 

The Orthopedic and Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy departments were fantastic….  The medical staff on the Orthopedic floor and the ICU (I had to spend a little time there post op ) were kind and caring and good at what they do (as I am still here to talk about it)  Today we can walk further than we could before and handle physical activity without having to catch our breath or in my case without limping….

So there you have it….  We are both healthier than we were before… I can walk without my cane again…  so once again… Thanks to the Montfort Hospital for all they have done for us…

I just had to get it off my chest…  Thanks for listening

73bob

 


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