Posts Tagged ‘Ham software’

Smartphones

I was prompted to write this because of the latest poll on eHam.  It's about smart phones and Amateur Radio apps.  Of course, it devolved from being anything useful into a bunch of curmudgeons blasting the topic to smithereens.

"What do you need a smart phone for anyway? I detest them, they are the mark of the Beast - the Devil's plaything, they are everything that is wrong with society! I use a real radio that has knobs ...... remember what those are?"  I am paraphrasing, of course.  ;-)

And so on, and so on, and so on.  Sigh - heavy sigh.

It's a tool, guys ...... just another tool in the Ham radio arsenal, get it?

I have a pre-owned (sound so much better than "used") Samsung Galaxy S3, which I recently picked up on eBay.  It's my first personal 4G cell phone. (I know, forever behind the times.)  Even though it's an older model, it's in excellent shape and I'm familiar with the S3, as my work-issued cell phone used to be an S3.  For work, they recently upgraded me to an iPhone 5s, which I don't like (or use) - but this post is not about that.

My Galaxy S3 is a great companion for portable QRP ops. It's works much better than the Motorola Droid 2 that I previously used. It has more system memory, so it doesn't lock up or lag on me, like the Droid 2 used to. I have the following Amateur Radio apps on it:

HamLog
SOTAwatch
Morse Trainer by Wolphi
QRZDroid
DX Cluster


HamLog is great! It's easy to use and has a lot of features. If I'm not in a pileup situation (ragchew mode, or even causal sprint operation), it's easy enough for me to type in my contacts. In a hectic pileup situation (think activating NPOTA or the Skeeter Hunt), where things are happening fast and furious, I get flustered a bit. I can start out logging on the cell phone, but inevitably, I end up getting fumble-fingered and have to resort to old school - paper and pencil.  If I'm near a wi-fi source (I have a very limited monthly data allowance, so my data connection is always off), it will even look up the names and QTHs of the operators that I am currently working.  I can easily export the log to an ADIF file, so that I can add my portable ops contacts to my main log on Log4OM.

SOTAwatch - turn it on and it shows you the current activations. Call signs, peak, frequency and mode. It has other features which I haven't even explored yet.

Morse Trainer - This is one of the best Morse Code trainers out there IMHO.  It will allow Morse to be sent as fast as 60 WPM.  I keep mine set to a speed of about 40 WPM and have it send regular words.  I try to listen to some code practice several times a week in my never ending goal to become an even more competent CW op. Boy, 25 WPM sure sounds easy-peasy after listening to 40 WPM for a while!

QRZDroid - QRZ.com in an app. Easy call sign look up.

DX Cluster - Very helpful in tracking NPOTA stations.  The only drawback with DX Cluster is that you can filter it for either all HF bands or mono-bands. It would be nice if I could filter say, 20 and 17 Meters in one shot. But, hey, if wishes were nickels, I'd be a rich man. Wish I was smart enough to write apps like these, then maybe I would be a rich man!

The bottom line is that a smart phone can be a useful tool to compliment and enhance your overall Amateur Radio experience. It's not a replacement or any other kind of bogeyman. It is what you make of it.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Smartphones

I was prompted to write this because of the latest poll on eHam.  It's about smart phones and Amateur Radio apps.  Of course, it devolved from being anything useful into a bunch of curmudgeons blasting the topic to smithereens.

"What do you need a smart phone for anyway? I detest them, they are the mark of the Beast - the Devil's plaything, they are everything that is wrong with society! I use a real radio that has knobs ...... remember what those are?"  I am paraphrasing, of course.  ;-)

And so on, and so on, and so on.  Sigh - heavy sigh.

It's a tool, guys ...... just another tool in the Ham radio arsenal, get it?

I have a pre-owned (sound so much better than "used") Samsung Galaxy S3, which I recently picked up on eBay.  It's my first personal 4G cell phone. (I know, forever behind the times.)  Even though it's an older model, it's in excellent shape and I'm familiar with the S3, as my work-issued cell phone used to be an S3.  For work, they recently upgraded me to an iPhone 5s, which I don't like (or use) - but this post is not about that.

My Galaxy S3 is a great companion for portable QRP ops. It's works much better than the Motorola Droid 2 that I previously used. It has more system memory, so it doesn't lock up or lag on me, like the Droid 2 used to. I have the following Amateur Radio apps on it:

HamLog
SOTAwatch
Morse Trainer by Wolphi
QRZDroid
DX Cluster


HamLog is great! It's easy to use and has a lot of features. If I'm not in a pileup situation (ragchew mode, or even causal sprint operation), it's easy enough for me to type in my contacts. In a hectic pileup situation (think activating NPOTA or the Skeeter Hunt), where things are happening fast and furious, I get flustered a bit. I can start out logging on the cell phone, but inevitably, I end up getting fumble-fingered and have to resort to old school - paper and pencil.  If I'm near a wi-fi source (I have a very limited monthly data allowance, so my data connection is always off), it will even look up the names and QTHs of the operators that I am currently working.  I can easily export the log to an ADIF file, so that I can add my portable ops contacts to my main log on Log4OM.

SOTAwatch - turn it on and it shows you the current activations. Call signs, peak, frequency and mode. It has other features which I haven't even explored yet.

Morse Trainer - This is one of the best Morse Code trainers out there IMHO.  It will allow Morse to be sent as fast as 60 WPM.  I keep mine set to a speed of about 40 WPM and have it send regular words.  I try to listen to some code practice several times a week in my never ending goal to become an even more competent CW op. Boy, 25 WPM sure sounds easy-peasy after listening to 40 WPM for a while!

QRZDroid - QRZ.com in an app. Easy call sign look up.

DX Cluster - Very helpful in tracking NPOTA stations.  The only drawback with DX Cluster is that you can filter it for either all HF bands or mono-bands. It would be nice if I could filter say, 20 and 17 Meters in one shot. But, hey, if wishes were nickels, I'd be a rich man. Wish I was smart enough to write apps like these, then maybe I would be a rich man!

The bottom line is that a smart phone can be a useful tool to compliment and enhance your overall Amateur Radio experience. It's not a replacement or any other kind of bogeyman. It is what you make of it.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

This time it was QRP!

I worked JT1AA/3 in Mongolia again tonight. This time it was different, though – it was on 15 Meters instead of 17 Meters for a new band, and 5 Watts did the trick this time. It took a couple of repeats, even with another station trying to send right over me, but Gan’s terrific ears pulled my signal out of the aether.

Mongolia on 5 Watts – covering a distance of about 6,320 miles. Very cool beans!

In addition, thanks to some helpful direction from Terry G4POP and Daniele IW3HMH, I was able to solve a slight problem with Log4OM that was baffling me.  When I would mouse click on a station in the DX Cluster, the KX3 would go right to the proper frequency – but the radio would change modes and go into CW REV.  It didn’t matter if I was changing frequencies between bands or within a band.  Whenever I clicked, I would jump to the right frequency – but the mode would always change from CW to CW REV.

So on Terry and Daniele’s suggestion, I went into the configuration files for the K3 in OmniRig (the CAT program that Log4OM uses). There I saw the commands for CW and CW REV. The command for CW-U was MD7 and the command for CW-L was MD3. So I flipped them, saved the file, restarted everything and now it works fine. Geez, at this rate, I might become a software problem solver in about a hundred years or so!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Not much doing today

Today was a good day to be indoors. We had some snow today, but not nearly as much as was originally forecast. The weathermen were calling for 3 to 6 inches of the white stuff, but we ended getting around maybe an inch. Just slightly more than a dusting.

I did get on the radio for a bit after handling some house chores. But my radio efforts ended up not being fruitful at all. I called CQ for quite a while on 15, 17, 20 and 30 Meters. The Reverse Beacon Network told me that my signal was getting out just fine, but there were no answers to my calls.  Perhaps every body was busy with the RAC contest.

So I entertained myself by investigating logging programs. The new version of Ham Radio Deluxe is out, but the program went from free to $80. I suppose that given the sophistication of the software that it’s worth it, but I can’t imagine spending that right now. I did sell my K2 and PFR3A recently, but those funds are earmarked for something else. So I will maintain the last free version on my computer. I also noticed that Version 6 is recommended to be run on a Windows 7 machine with dual core processors. Hardly what my netbook is set up for.

Now that computers are becoming such a fixture in our shacks, it almost seems like we are replacing them at faster rates than our radios. There are many Hams out there using boatanchors, but I would venture to guess that most everyone’s computers are not as old. Can’t get away with antiques when it comes to computing power in the shack!

Tomorrow should be less busy as far as chores go. Maybe I’ll bet to spend more time twiddling the dial.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Now THAT was fun!

I participated in the QRP-ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint for only a very little this afternoon.  But thankfully, quality is not defined by quantity, so the QSOs, while few in number were great in fun.

I began by operating on 20 Meters.  The Buddistick was set up with two 11 inch arms, the coil and the super long whip atop the Jeep on the magmount.  With my coil tapped in the normal 20 Meter spot that I am accustomed to, the Autek analyser displayed an SWR of 1.4:1.  I hit the ATU button anyway, for a very short “Brrrrp” and got a 1:1 match.

While on 20 Meters, as I was calling “CQ QRP” for a bit, and much to my surprise I was answered by Fred G4HOM out of Birmingham, England.  He was much louder than the stateside stations that I was working; so I immediately thought “tower and beam”. Nope!  Fred was using his K2 at 10 Watts to a simple wire – propagation, being what it was, favored a QSO between Lake George and Birmingham.  Signal reports were good both ways.

Shortly thereafter, I switched to 40 Meters by undoing the tap from the coil to take advantage of the entire Buddistick coil, and I added two more 11 inch arms.  After a bit of a scare that I won’t go into here (due to my own stupidity), the KX3 had matched the Buddistick to 1.4:1 on 40 Meters. I had several QSOs down around 7.030 MHz, including one with my very good friend Bob, W3BBO.  This was our first QSO while I have been at Lake George.  He had a good 579 signal and gave me a good report as well.

The Buddistick on the magmount, using the vehicle as a ground plane is great combination.  Thanks to W3BBO for getting me to try that.  It works so well that I may just forego using the EFHW wires unless I am on the hiking trail later this week.

Oh, I don’t remember if I mentioned this; but I decided to leave the Lead Acid battery home.  I am going strictly with the Lithium Ion this week.  It held up very well this afternoon.  I never dropped from 5 Watts output throughout the couple of hours of operating time this afternoon, including a few prolonged “CQ QRP” sessions.  I think “The Little Blue Guy” will be quite adequate for my needs.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!


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