Posts Tagged ‘Digimodes’

Arduino Projects for Amateur Radio with Glen Popiel – ETH072

Everything Ham Radio Podcast Logo - Arduino

Do you want to get back to the original roots of Amateur Radio? Maybe you are a new ham and you have a DIY side? Maybe you just want to try something new? There are so many things that you can do with an Arduino that cost only $4 or so! Anything from a morse code keyer to a 40m QRP CW Radio and a whole lot in between. You can even do things with an Arduino that has nothing to do with amateur radio but you will find a use for.

In this episode with talk with Glen Popiel, KW5GP the author of the ARRL published books, Arduino for Ham Radio and his new book that just came out, More Arduino for Ham Radio. He is also the author of the ham mesh networking book, High Speed Multimedia for Amateur Radio.

We had a great conversation and it made me literally go to the ARRL website and buy his new Arduino book while we were recording! Check out the show notes of this episode to listen and to get more information about what we talked about. There are also links to his books that you can go to to buy one for yourself.

Check out the show notes!

Field Day 2017 with Ian Kahn, KM4IK – ETH071

Everything Ham Radio Podcast Logo - Field DayThe biggest hamfest is over, but the biggest ham radio on the air event is quickly approaching! Yes I am talking about Field Day 2017! Back in episode 67, I had Ian on and we talked about PSK31. During that interview he mentioned that he was the Field Day Chair for his radio club, the North Fulton Amateur Radio League, so I asked him to come back and talk to us about Field Day.

We had a great conversation about what Field Day is, some general information about it, what its like to be the Field Day Chairperson and be in charge of planning the event for your club and wrap it up with things that his club does during Field Day and what goes on afterwards.

Check out the show notes of this episode for more information about things that we talk about, links that we mention and probably some that we didn’t. The show notes can be found at:

Space Weather, HF Radio Propagation – The Interview on ‘Ham Radio Now’

Why would an amateur radio operator be interested in space weather?  Is it worth the time and resources to forecast propagation, in the daily operation of a typical ham radio station?

Gary, host of the popular ‘Ham Radio Now’ video podcast, talks with Tomas Hood (NW7US), propagation and space weather columnist for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine (and in the late ‘Popular Communications Magazine’ as well as ‘CQ VHF Quarterly Magazine’) and The Spectrum Monitor Magazine. Gary discusses with Tomas how scientists forecast space weather, and how the average ham radio operator can also make predictions, and what propagation forecasting can bring to the daily operations of an amateur radio enthusiast.

Watch on YouTube: ‘Ham Radio Now’ Episode 156: Propagation…


NW7US is the guest, on 'Ham Radio Now' 2014 06

Tomas, NW7US, talks about radio propagation on shortwave (HF) as well as space weather.

There’s a new radio hobby magazine in town!

Recently, a number of hobby radio magazines have either retired, or have merged into a digital mix of several. Filling that void is the new The Spectrum Monitor, a creation of Ken Reitz KS4ZR, managing editor for Monitoring Times since 2012, features editor since 2009, columnist and feature writer for the MT magazine since 1988. Ken offers this digital, radio communications magazine monthly.  The web site is at

There's a new radio hobby magazine in town!  The Spectrum Monitor magazine - get your's, today.

The Spectrum Monitor magazine – get your’s, today.

Ken, a former feature writer and columnist for Satellite Times, Satellite Entertainment GuideSatellite Orbit magazine, Dish Entertainment Guide and Direct Guide, is also contributing editor on personal electronics for Consumers Digest (2007 to present). He is the author of the Kindle e-books “How to Listen to the World” and “Profiles in Amateur Radio.”

The Spectrum Monitor Writers’ Group consists of former columnists, editors and writers for Monitoring Times, a monthly print and electronic magazine which ceases publication with the December, 2013 issue. Below, in alphabetical order, are the columnists, their amateur radio call signs, the name of their column in The Spectrum Monitor,  a brief bio and their websites:

Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF, “Amateur Radio Satellites”

Past president and currently treasurer of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Freelance writer and photographer on amateur space telecommunications since 1993. Columnist and feature writer for Monitoring TimesThe Canadian Amateur and the AMSAT Journal. Web site:

Kevin O’Hern Carey WB2QMY, “The Longwave Zone”

Reporting on radio’s lower extremes, where wavelengths can be measured in miles, and extending up to the start of the AM broadcast band. Since 1991, editor of “Below 500 kHz” column forMonitoring Times. Author of Listening to Longwave ( This link also includes information for ordering his CD, VLF RADIO!, a narrated tour of the longwave band from 0 to 530 kHz, with actual recordings of LW stations.

Mike Chace-Ortiz AB1TZ/G6DHU “Digital HF: Intercept and Analyze”

Author of the Monitoring Times “Digital Digest” column since 1997, which follows the habits of embassies, aid organizations, intelligence and military HF users, the digital data systems they use, and how to decode, breakdown and identify their traffic. Web site:

Marc Ellis N9EWJ, “Adventures in Radio Restoration”

Authored a regular monthly column about radio restoration and history since 1986. Originally writing for Gernsback Publications (Hands-On Electronics, Popular Electronics, Electronics Now), he moved his column to Monitoring Times in January 2000. Editor of two publications for the Antique Wireless Association ( The AWA Journal and the AWA Gateway. The latter is a free on-line magazine targeted at newcomers to the radio collecting and restoration hobbies.

Dan Farber ACØLW, “Antenna Connections”

Monitoring Times antenna columnist 2009-2013. Building ham and SWL antennas for over 40 years.

Tomas Hood NW7US, “Understanding Propagation”

Tomas first discovered radio propagation in the early 1970s as a shortwave listener and, as a member of the Army Signal Corps in 1985, honed his skills in communications, operating and training fellow soldiers. An amateur Extra Class operator, licensed since 1990, you’ll find Tomas on CW (see ), digital, and voice modes on any of the HF bands. He is a contributing editor for CQ Amateur Radio (and the late Popular Communications, and CQ VHF magazines), and a contributor to an ARRL publication on QRP communications. He also wrote for Monitoring Times and runs the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Center at  Web site:  Twitter: @NW7US  YouTube:

Kirk Kleinschmidt NTØZ, “Amateur Radio Insight”

Amateur radio operator since 1977 at age 15. Author of Stealth Amateur Radio. Former editor,ARRL Handbook, former QST magazine assistant managing editor, columnist and feature writer for several radio-related magazines, technical editor for Ham Radio for Dummies, wrote “On the Ham Bands” column and numerous feature articles for Monitoring Times since 2009. Web site:

Cory Koral K2WV, “Aeronautical Monitoring”

Lifelong air-band monitor, a private pilot since 1968 and a commercial pilot licensee since 1983, amateur radio licensee for more than 40 years. Air-band feature writer for Monitoring Times since 2010.

Stan Nelson KB5VL, “Amateur Radio Astronomy”

Amateur radio operator since 1960. Retired after 40-plus years involved in mobile communications/electronics/computers/automation. Active in radio astronomy for over twenty years, specializing in meteor monitoring. Wrote the “Amateur Radio Astronomy” column for Monitoring Timessince 2010. A member of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). Web site:

Chris Parris, “Federal Wavelengths”

Broadcast television engineer, avid scanner and shortwave listener, freelance writer on federal radio communications since 2004, wrote the “Fed Files” column for Monitoring Times. Twitter: @TheFedFiles

Doug Smith W9WI, “The Broadcast Tower”

Broadcast television engineer, casual cyclist and long distance reception enthusiast. “Broadcast Bandscan” columnist for Monitoring Times since 1991. Blog: Web site:

Hugh Stegman NV6H, “Utility Planet”

Longtime DXer and writer on non-broadcast shortwave utility radio. Former “Utility World” columnist for Monitoring Times magazine for more than ten years. Web site: Blog: Twitter: @UtilityPlanet YouTube:

Dan Veeneman, “Scanning America”

Software developer and satellite communications engineer writing about scanners and public service radio reception for Monitoring Times for 17 years. Web site:

Ron Walsh VE3GO, “Maritime Monitoring”

Retired career teacher, former president of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (now the Radio Amateurs of Canada), retired ship’s officer, licensed captain, “Boats” columnist and maritime feature writer for Monitoring Times for eight years. Avid photographer of ships and race cars.

Fred Waterer, “The Shortwave Listener”

Former “Programming Spotlight” columnist for Monitoring Times. Radio addict since 1969, freelance columnist since 1986. Fascinated by radio programming and history.  Website:

Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL, “World of Shortwave Listening”

Founder and director of the charity Ears To Our World (, curator of the Shortwave Radio Archive and actively blogs about short­wave radio on the SWLing Post ( Former feature writer for Monitoring Times.


Doing the splits

At the end of last month I was testing a new version of WSJT-X for Joe, K1JT, under NDA. The program has now been released, so I can write about it.

WSJT-X 1.1 can decode both JT65 and JT9 at the same time

The major new feature is that WSJT-X 1.1 supports both JT65 and JT9. What is even more remarkable about it is that it can decode both modes at the same time! Enabling dual modes is optional, but if you use the feature and double-click on a station to reply to it the program will switch to the correct mode for the reply.

Another thing about this new version is that it can decode signals in a bandwidth 4kHz wide. If you have a transceiver that can receive such a wide bandwidth – Flex SDR radios can do this, as can the Kenwood TS2000 and my Elecraft K3 with FM filter installed – then you can take advantage of this capability. I didn’t think my K3 could go that wide, but all that was needed was to run the K3 Utility and enable the FM filter in DATA mode.

If you’re sharp then you will have thought of a snag. What happens if you reply to a station on the right hand side of the bandwidth? Receiving may be OK through the FM filter but on transmit the 2.7KHz SSB filter is used. The solution is clever: you keep the audio in the range 1 to 2kHz, engage SPLIT mode and set the transmit frequency to shift the signal up or down so that it matches the frequency of the station you are working.

I must admit that this perplexed me at first as I didn’t understand the significance of operating in split mode. My audio tones (heard with the K3 monitor turned up a little) were often lower or higher than the station I was replying to, and I was afraid I was replying on the wrong frequency. In fact, I was: I had forgotten to switch SPLIT on!

To avoid mistakes in future I created a Windows shortcut using a little utility I wrote to send a CAT SPLIT ON command before starting WSJT-X 1.1 and equally importantly, set SPLIT OFF when I had finished a session with WSJT-X. It’s just too much to expect me to remember to do this manually! I suggested to Joe that WSJT-X itself should send the split commands, but apparently it’s not that simple when you have to cater for every transceiver under the sun. So if you are working JT9 or JT65 and  stations reply to you one or two kHz off-frequency don’t be surprised.

I should make it clear: WSJT-X 1.1 doesn’t decode both modes across 4kHz. It decodes JT65 in the lower half and JT9 in the upper half. You get to decide where the dividing line lies.

Joe K1JT thinks that JT9 users will move down a bit into the top end of the JT65 range, to enable people whose transceivers don’t give them 4kHz bandwidth to take advantage o9f the ability to work dual modes. In fact, at the moment, the result seems to be to have enabled JT65 users to spread out over 3kHz or more as is clearly illustrated by my screenshot. Time will tell.

SCSmail using Robust Packet

After my post about using Winlink on HF using a Robust Packet Radio (RPR) TNC Helge DF8LS emailed to say he was trying out another method for email over HF: SCSmail. It sounded interesting so I thought I would have a go too. The software is a free download from the SCS website, but it won’t be any use without an SCS TNC – either the Tracker like I’ve got or one of the even more expensive Pactor jobs.

To install SCSmail all you do is create a folder for it, copy the downloaded EXE file into it and run the EXE. It will create some empty folders as temporary receptacles for your mail.  Next you need to set the program up. This is accomplished by entering the name and login credentials of your POP3 and SMTP servers at your ISP or mail provider. You also provide the details of where to find your TNC (what com port and so on) and can also set up CAT control for setting the transceiver frequency. I used the Kenwood setting which worked fine with the Elecraft K2 to which my TNC is connected.

SCSmail mail client configuration

SCSmail can be configured either as a client or a server. A client is what you will use to send and receive mail and is what I set up. A server is what your client connects to via radio. I used a server set up by (I guess) SCS.

The setup is:

your email client (such as Outlook Express) -> SCSmail client -> SCS TNC -> your radio transceiver —>  the ionosphere —> server transceiver -> SCS TNC -> SCSmail server —> the internet -> your ISP mail server

One advantage of SCSmail is that you can use your own familiar email client (such as Outlook Express) instead of an unfamiliar one like RMS Express. You can also use your own email address instead of having to use a special one But you pay a price in speed for this.

To reconfigure your mail client to use SCSmail you simply change the addresses of the incoming and outgoing mail servers (usually something like to localhost. You can then send and receive mail just as you would normally. This is obviously an advantage if you are setting up an HF mail system for people who don’t want to learn a new way of doing things.

Receiving mail using SCSmail

What happens is the client logs in to your ISP mail server via the radio link to the remote SCSmail server. The first time, it downloads and deletes all the mail from the ISP server so it is a good idea to make sure your inbox is empty before you start. SCSmail supports a list of servers that you can connect to, but none is provided with the program. There is only one server you can use with Robust Packet Radio and that is DB0UAL-9 which uses 3.610 and 14.102 MHz. Having entered the server’s call and set your transceiver to one of those frequencies you click on Connect HF-Server. Then you set Outlook Express to send and receive mail and wait until the client disconnects.

I connected instantly to the server on 20m using 10 watts to my attic dipole. But compared to Winlink’s RMS Express SCSmail is slow. This is probably the penalty for using protocols designed for use on the wired internet over a wireless HF link. Winlink and RMS Express are optimised for HF use. RMS Express creates efficient small text mode emails whereas Outlook Express creates messages that can contain lots of fancy formatting and unnecessary header lines which increase the time to send and receive.

It all worked (or mostly did: the test emails I sent myself and Helge still haven’t turned up.) If I owned a boat or a log cabin miles from the nearest telecoms provider I might find SCSmail a useful facility to have. Even though I haven’t, it was still an interesting thing to try out.

JT-Alert for WSJT-X

The eagerly awaited JT-Alert for WSJT-X has finally arrived! You can download it from the Ham Apps website.

This useful accessory will let you know if you have worked a station B4 or whether a station will fill a wanted band or mode slot. It sends spots of JT9 stations to the HamSpots website, providing a useful reverse beacon for the mode. It also logs contacts to  a few of the popular logging programs including MixW which happens to be the same log format used by KComm. Due to some nifty programming this new version of JT-Alert works with JT65-HF as well.

This new program couldn’t come soon enough for me as I have worked just about everyone who is on JT9 at the moment and it was getting tiresome doing manual log lookups. Hopefully this new program will attract some new participants to this amazing mode.

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