Posts Tagged ‘RTTY’

CALLING ALL RADIO AMATEURS – THIS IS W1AW IN NEWINGTON, CT

I would suspect that if you have done even a bit of tuning around the HF dial in the last few months, you have probably heard W1AW/0-9 making contacts. This week W1AW, the ARRL mothership in Newington, CT, has been on the air as W100AW in celebration of the ARRL anniversary.

As busy as that sounds, W1AW is consistently on the air with a great variety of activities. Yesterday I took the opportunity to copy their digital modes broadcast. http://www.arrl.org/digital-transmissions

ARRL has various means of promulgating a great deal of information. The primary way I usually receive a good portion of it is via email. I thought it would be interesting if I could try and copy their digital transmission of their bulletin, which I was able to do yesterday.

Every weekday, W1AW sends out a bulletin twice a day on multiple bands while rotating through three different digital modes: Baudot (RTTY), PSK31, MFSK16. The first broadcast kicked off at 5pm (local) which I was able to copy of 17M (18.105 MHz). It appears to be ARRL’s propagation bulletin. Here is what I copied:

Please find my full copy here.

Later in the evening (8pm local), I copied the next broadcast which looks like their DX bulletin:

…. and the complete text is here.

During the 8pm transmission, I was able to copy the bulletin on 10M, 15M, 17M, and 20M. I could not find it on 40M or 80M.

Although these bulletins are easily obtainable via email or from ARRL’s website, I enjoyed copying the broadcast from here in eastern Kansas.

Build a Zork Teletype Machine

I thought this linux teletype project was pretty amazing. If you have not heard of Zork, read up here.

Are there any amateurs still running old teletype equipment for regular RTTY QSOs?

A rant about RTTY

I just worked Iraq for the first time. YI1RZ on 20m using JT9-1 mode.

YI1RZ

What was remarkable about this QSO is that I worked YI1RZ despite the presence of heavy RTTY QRM. My Elecraft K3 has great filtering but it can do nothing about a RTTY signal that is straddling the QSO frequency.

Why, in this age of DSP, do people persist in using this antiquated mode? Dating from the 1930s and the age of mechanical teleprinters and analog modems, RTTY is by any definition an outmoded mode. It requires far too much power and occupies far too much bandwidth for the data transmission rate (45 baud.) PSK31 has existed for more than a decade and is a far more efficient mode. If PSK31 is too slow then there is PSK63 which is faster than RTTY and yet still manages to occupy less bandwidth. Not to mention the plethora of other modes such as MFSK and Olivia that have been invented in the last 10 years offering far greater reliability than RTTY and, like PSK, the ability to use the entire character set not just capital letters, numbers and a few punctuation symbols. And which don’t print up garbage because a shift character wasn’t decoded.

It feels good to get that off my chest! I’d better put my asbestos suit on! It is interesting to note that as I have been typing this WSJT-X has been pulling JT9-1 out of the air in the teeth of RTTY interference so great that you cannot even see the JT9-1 signal traces. JT9 rocks! I doubt if the RTTY operators even know the JT9-1 signals are there.

Armed Forces Day Crossband Test

I had a fairly successful day participating in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test. To recap, I am currently at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for a brief period of time supporting a National Guard exercise. Normally when I go around to different Army units and assist in their exercises I fly. But I decided to take my Toyota Tundra on this trip and re-installed my HF rig. I have never preiously particpated in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test and have always wanted to…. this was my chance.

The AFD Crossband Test has two components to it. The first is to receive a message from the Secretary of Defense which is transmitted in various digital modes from different military stations during the day. The second part of the Test is to make contact with the military stations with the military stations operating in their band and the amateurs in their band (hence the term “Crossband”).

For the Secretary of Defense message I hooked my Rigblaster Plug & Play to my IC-706MKIIG and brought my laptop into the truck (which has fldigi installed). The Rigblaster worked like a charm and I was able to copy the SECDEF’s message from WAR (at The Pentagon), AAZ (Fort Huachuca, AZ), and AIR-2 (New York). All these transmissions were in RTTY, which fldigi was able to read without issue. Now I need to print out copies of the messages I copied (which are the same, except the header information which reflects what station was transmitting the message) and send them in to the corresponding station. In return, I believe, I’ll receive a certificate from the SECDEF (suitable for framing, I’m sure).

The crossband contacts caused me to take a crash course in split frequency operations for my IC-706MKIIG. Fortunately I had my Nifty “Cliff Notes” version of the manual and was able to figure it out pretty quick. Although the actual execution took a bit of time to get down. First, obviously, I had to hear the station calling. MARS HQ publishes ahead of time a list of each station and the frequency that they will transmit from. I built a spreadsheet that allowed me to sort by frequency which made it easier to search for the transmitting station. The searching was done in the IC-706MKIIG’s VFO A. Once I found the station, I had to listen for them to announce the amateur frequency they were listening to… which most stations did periodically. Once I got their listening frequency, I flipped over to VFO B, dialed up the frequency, tuned the Tarheel screwdriver antenna, flipped back to VFO A, then hit the Split function, and waited for a chance to call. In the end, I was successful in contacting five different stations: WAR (at The Pentagon), NWKJ (located on the USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC), NMN0CQQ (located on the USS Midway, San Diego, CA), AAZ (good ol’ Fort Huachuca, AZ), and NWVC (a Navy MARS station in Indiana). For these contacts I get to send in my QSL card and hope for a response.

None of this was exotic DX but it was fun and exciting… and a bit challenging trying to do it all from inside my Toyota Tundra. I hope I am able to particpate again next year.

$3 AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS

RYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRY
RYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRYRY

DE AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

ARMED FORCES DAY 2012 MESSAGE

TO AMATEUR RADIO AND
MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM
OPERATORS

QUOTE

FOR THE PAST SIXTY-THREE YEARS, OUR NATION HAS RECOGNIZED
THE DISTINGUISHED GLOBAL SERVICE OF OUR UNITED STATES
MILITARY DURING THE ANNUAL ARMED FORCES DAY CELEBRATION.

AMATEUR RADIO AND MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM OPERATORS
PROVIDE ESSENTIAL CONTINGENCY COMMUNICATIONS TO RELIABLY SUPPORT
OUR NATIONS MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. YOUR SUPPORT OF
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEPLOYED SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AIRMEN,
MARINES, SUPPORTING CIVILIANS, AND THEIR FAMILIES IS DEEPLY
APPRECIATED.

ON BEHALF OF ALL UNIFORMED SERVICES, I EXTEND MY SINCEREST
APPRECIATIMN FOR YOUR HARD WORK, SELFLESS DEDICATION, AND
VITAL SERVICE TO OUR GREAT NATION. WELL DONE!

/S/ LEON E. PANETTA

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

UNQUOTE

APPROVED FOR TRANSMISSION,

DE AIR-2 AIR-2
SK

RTTY Roundup Fun

If you were within earshot of an HF transceiver this past weekend and especially tuned through the data portion of the bands, I’m sure you heard the tell-tale signs of a digital contest taking place.   You really can’t miss it.  The quick bursts of RTTY signals going back and forth is music to some and a nightmare to others. 

Between a heavily packed weekend consisting of an amateur radio breakfast on Saturday morning, taking the Christmas tree down along with the lights outside before the snow started falling and a few other misc. items on the “honey do” list, I managed to find about 3 hours of spare time to spend in the shack working the ARRL RTTY Roundup.  During this time I logged 79 RTTY QSO’s mostly on 20 and 40 meters. 

I must admit I don’t work a lot of RTTY contacts outside of contests and while I started getting serious about contesting in 2011 and actually submitted logs for several, digital contesting isn’t something I get overly excited about.  This fact may sound odd, especially coming from someone who spends 75% or more of his on-air time working the digital modes. 

In any event, as the title states….I did have fun and this is what matters to me.  I’ve mapped out many of the contests (mostly State QSO Parties) I hope to operate in throughout 2012.  I hope to make 2012 and my involvement in the radio sport  aspect of the hobby a memorable one.  So between many of the upcoming on-air contests and my SOTA involvement.  You’ll be certain to hear CQ CQ CQ from KD0BIK throughout the year. 

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

2010 SCC RTTY Contest

It seems that I’ve been doing more RTTY contesting lately, and on Saturday, I spent about 8 1/2 hours participating in the SCC (Slovenia Contest Club) RTTY Championship contest. This was a 24 hour contest, running from 8AM Saturday to 8AM Sunday (local time), and it’s one of the contests where anybody can work anybody. I like those, because even if propagation isn’t cooperating, I can usually work someone in the US. This is a good thing, because propagation wasn’t all that great, and as it turns out, just about 50% of my contacts were with US stations.

There are some interesting scoring rules in this contest that I haven’t seen before. In many DX contests, you get more points for working DX which favors certain parts of the world where there are literally dozens of countries in an area the size of the US. However, for this contest the rules are set up so that within “big” counties (like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Argentina, and others) you get extra points for working stations within that country but who are in different call areas, provinces, or oblasts. I wish that some of the other DX contests would use this system which seems to level the playing field a bit. One other scoring rule that is fun is that the multipliers are the year that you were first licensed. I worked a few stations who were first licensed in 2010 (all of which were, I believe, specially issued callsigns), but it was fun working stations who were licensed in the 1940s and even in the 1930s. I worked a couple of stations who were licensed in the 40s, but both of them turned out to be using club callsigns, which of course were issued when the club was originally founded. (Still quite impressive to be sure). The oldest non-club call that I worked was Charles, W0HW, who was first licensed in 1937. According to the information on qrz.com, he was born in 1922, so Charles, who is now 88 (and obviously still active on the air) got his first license at age 15. I’m sure he’s got a lot of interesting stories to tell.

As with a lot of my contesting, I tend to fit it into the “space available” on a weekend. For this contest, I didn’t get started until around 3:30PM (local time), at which point I configured my contest logging program for this contest and got on the air. I listened briefly on 15m but since I only heard one very weak signal, I decided to start off on 20m. For about the first half hour, I ran in Search & Pounce (S&P) mode, working just under 20 stations. As I was tuning, I found an open frequency right at the lower end of the 20m RTTY sub-band (14.084Mhz), and I figured that I’d try to see if I could switch to Run mode. As I’ve mentioned previously, being able to run stations really improves you rate and it’s also a lot more fun. It’s usually difficult for a low-power station like mine to hold a run frequency for long (because usually a higher-power station will just sort of take over, despite the fact that it’s poor operating practice, at best, so do so; it’s arguably illegal as well), but I was thrilled to be able to stay on that same frequency for around 4 hours. I can’t say that I had huge numbers of stations calling me the entire time, but there were periods where I was working about 2 stations per minute continuously for several minutes. For this contest, it seems that 2 per minute was about the maximum achievable because the rate of information exchanged is fixed (a characteristic of RTTY), and the amount of information that had to be exchanged was of a certain length. Unlike a CW or Phone contest, you simply can’t go much faster. (Yes, there are some shortcuts, but they don’t make that much difference, especially when you don’t have a continuous pileup.) I was very pleased to be able to continue my run for that amount of time.

I took a break and went out to dinner with Sharon (who, as usual, was being very understanding about the contest), and got back to the radio at around 9:30PM, worked a few stations on 20m, then moved down to 40m. The conditions on 40m seemed to be surprisingly good, and I was able to work a good number of European stations first running S&P and then later when I had a run frequency. (That run wasn’t nearly as good as the 20m run, but it was still quite productive). After a while, I seemed to have run out of stations on 40m, so I moved down to 80m to see what I could find. During the summer, 80m isn’t great for DX because it’s noisy due to the thunderstorms that are common during that time of the year. After a while, including a period where I had a rather unsuccessful attempt and running station (plenty of frequencies were available, but apparently nobody could hear me), I moved back to 40m again. Somewhat to my surprise, the propagation had improved, and by that time, some of the early-risers in Europe were awake to work the night-owls in North America. (It was around 1AM at that point.) I continued to work stations on 40m, but at 2AM, I finally threw in the towel and finished up with 207 (non-duplicate) QSOs in the log. As it turns out, I was up for over an hour after that acting as the family “IT guy”, fixing a problem with Sharon’s BlackBerry. Needless to say, I didn’t get up early enough to put a few more QSOs in the log the next morning, so that was my final total.

Here’s my detailed score summary for the contest:

Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec
 3.5      29      57   25
   7      67     168   42
  14     111     268   50

Total     207     493  117

            Score : 57,681
    

This was my first effort in this contest, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I was very happy with the results.


LHS Episode #010

That’s right, everyone. We’ve hit Episode 10. I know it’s hard to believe. We can hardly believe it ourselves. This one has been sitting in the editing room for a while due to life conflicts once again. It also spent a lot of time going through the editing machine. All that said, it’s finally produced, mostly coherent, and occasionally informative.

As always, thank you so much for listening to the program. Please help spread the word about Linux in the HAM shack by tweeting about us, posting on your blogs, telling your fellow hams and just getting the word out. We appreciate it, and we’ll do the same for you if you send us your information.

Tons of feedback in this episode and then we tackle digital modes from RTTY to Throb. Enjoy.

73 de Russ


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