Posts Tagged ‘Software’
As you know I enjoy my CW contesting and am always looking to make things more easy. When contesting I use N1MM+ logging software which works great. During non-contesting times I use Win4icom radio control software. As a side note this software by VA2FSQ Tom is great and very well supported. He also offers radio control software for Yaesu and Elecraft as well, I have used the Elecraft radio control software (Win4k3) and it was great as well.
When contesting there are times when radio adjustments are needed such as filter settings, APF settings and digi select. To get to these adjustments you have to dig down a few menu settings to get where you want to be. Then I came up with what seemed to be an easy solution......but as they say, nothing is easy.
Using Win4icom the multi-menu changes could be done with one mouse click! With Win4icom you can use multiple 3rd party programs and N1MM+ is one of them. After setting up Win4icom and N1MM+ to speak with each other via virtual com ports I was good to go.......so I thought.
The communication between the two programs was all good except for the N1MM+ cw macros would not key the radio and send the CW message. That is a big issue when contesting, I contacted Tom from Win4icom and he informed me that Win4icom does not support the use of DTR over virtual ports. He then informed me to overcome this issue I needed the Winkeyer from K1EL. The funny thing is I used to have a Winkeyer but sold it!
I then ordered the Winkeyer and waited for it to come in, when it did I followed very closely the installation instructions for the Winkey. When I started both Win4icom and N1MM+ low and behold all the macros worked like a charm! But as always there is always a hiccup when dealing with computers, software and hardware.
I had my 9A5N touch keyer connected to the Winkeyer port and then I tried to send code from the key it did not work. I have an early edition of the 9A5N key and it does not like the Winkeyer. I solved the issue by connecting the touch key directly to the Icom 7610 radio.
So now I am off to the races and can have Win4icom, N1MM+ and Winkey all happy and working together.
My new SDRplay RSPdx software-defined radio receiver is live, via http://www.sdrspace.com/Version-3, using the SDR Console software (Version 3).
The receivers are online whenever I am not transmitting and when there are no local thunderstorms.
Antenna Port A is a wire antenna (100′), while Antenna Port B is a VHF/UHF discone. Both have an AM Broadcast band reject filter, reducing local AM Broadcast signals by about 30 to 40 dB. I need to use these because the very close KLIN transmitting tower is just miles away and those signals overwhelm the receiver. When I use the signal filters, the local AM Broadcasting signals no longer overwhelm the receiver.
Let me know what you think. Enjoy!
To use my receiver:
Install the latest version of SDR-Console which can be downloaded from https://www.sdr-radio.com/download
Install SDR Console according to the directions given. Once you have the software installed, you will want to add my server.
It takes a little to get familiar with the software, but there are online FAQs on how to begin.
My server is known as, ‘0 NW7US‘ — it will be online when I am not using my antenna systems for transmitting. It will be offline during thunderstorms, or during times when I must use the systems for transmitting.
Software-defined radio is a great way to hear all sorts of communications, from local AM broadcast stations, FM stations, VHF Air Traffic, to shortwave radio stations including amateur radio HF communications.
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This article is part two of the series taking a look at band plans and gentlemen agreements.
See part one, here: Land (er, FREQUENCY) Grab. See part three, here: In Response — Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Displaced and Marginalized
There are some unhappy amateur radio operators in the world of shortwave operations. Users of Morse code, and digital modes other than the highly-popular modes engineered by Joe Taylor, K1JT, feel displaced on the many amateur radio bands where Joe’s wildly-popular mode FT8 has erupted.
Joe (born March 29, 1941), is a friend of hams everywhere, and is an American astrophysicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate (https://g.nw7us.us/2Ptquv1) for his discovery with Russell Alan Hulse of a “new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation.”
Many have asked questions like, “Did Joe Taylor K1JT Destroy Amateur Radio? Did Joe Taylor K1JT, Nobel Laureate and noted friend of hams everywhere, accidentally destroy amateur radio?” This question remains relevant, even as more and more FT8 operators take to the HF bands to chase wallpaper and awards.
FT8 Has Validity and Usefulness
Full disclosure: I administer a Facebook group for FT8 and FT8-related modes, because I believe that the mode has a valid place in our amateur radio technology portfolio. Here is the Facebook group URL, if you would like to join the fun: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FT8.FT4.HF.6m/. Understand, I have used and will continue to use FT8.
Because it has a place, it stands to reason that everyone should become more aware of the impact of using FT8 on the bands. It also stands to reason that it should be used ethically, and in the best spirit of amateur radio.
Many amateur operators use the FT8 digital mode as a novelty when there isn’t much else happening on amateur radio shortwave bands. One of the great things about it is that you can tell when a band is open–even though you don’t hear any other signals of other modes on the band in question, you very well may hear the roar of FT8 on the band where propagation actually exists to somewhere else than your QTH.
Others use it to finally get their DXCC, or WAS, or other award and wallpaper. This is especially popular during this season of the sunspot cycle where there are no sunspots–propagation is limited to lower-HF amateur bands because there’s just not enough solar activity to energize the ionosphere enough to open up the higher segment of shortwave.
FT8 Has Limitations
Can FT8 be used for two-way conversations? No. However, the JS8CALL digital mode is designed from the FT8 mode, by changing the protocol in a way that allows free text. It is designed for ragchewing and the new version 2.0 offers three modes of chat with 50 Hz and 16 wpm, 80 Hz and 24 wpm, and the turbo mode at 160hz and 40wpm with turbo only having a 6-second turn around time. The designated frequency is 7.078, which many find much nicer to use.
However, many find JS8CALL combersome, and non-intuitive. How fast and how reliably can it handle critical messages, say, during an emergency? I’m sure the software will improve, but how good is the protocol?
A mode such as Olivia has been field proven, and time tested. It can reliably handle traffic.
During the early days of widespread FT8 operation that came with the first public non-Beta release of FT8-equipped WSJT-X software, I tried to reason with the FT8 development leadership team. I made a polite attempt at explaining how incredibly rude they were in purposefully programming into the software the default operating frequencies such as 7.075, 14.075, and so on.
One of the main leaders of that team slammed me and stated that “we only suggested those frequencies; the operator is free to change them.” Additionally, he stated that the team used a common QSO/Mode spotting website to see what digital modes or other operations (like CW) were sparser. They perceived that the frequencies they proposed where no longer active because they saw few if any spots. They thought that no one would care.
I explained that a single website-spotting strategy was illogical and very lazy. This is true for several reasons, at least.
I guess you have to have a Ph.D. to know better than any average ham who went by gentleman’s agreements. I have an extremely dim view of JT and his disciples. CW is not the only operating group he’s engineered out of traditional slices of spectrum. Olivia, and other modes, now have been pushed down into PSK subbands, and everyone is feeling the crowding. As far as my thinking of FT8, well, it is radio, but it doesn’t foster goodwill and building serious communications skill. IMHO.
Play Nice, Be Positive and Polite. Smile.
I’ve received wise counsel from a number of fellow amateur radio operators. They implore us to not promote hostility between “us and them.” That even though the WSJT team is playing the playground bully, we should not be vengeful, but polite and willing to negotiate in good faith.
If we don’t play nice with the bully then the bully won’t play with us. And, the general public will side with the bully because the bully has the nice toys…
Good negotiations, though, take a willingness by both sides, so that conversation evolves, resulting in positive, cooperative actions embraced by both parties. There are other amateur radio operators who have made attempts to open up talks with Joe and crew. What are the results, so far?
We can hope that Joe Taylor and his group of developers and leadership take a proactive role and join a conversation that is with a wider group of amateurs than just the WSJT enthusiasts. We hope that they will play fairly, and cooperatively, with the rest of the amateur radio community.
Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to ‘CQ Amateur Radio Magazine’, and ‘The Spectrum Monitor’ magazine.
This is a welfare check on you. Please leave a comment on how you are faring, what is happening in your situation with the lock-down.
Are you quarantined? Working from home? Did you lose your job? How are you doing during this crazy time?
What is going on with you during this challenging situation?
I talk about what I’m doing, too. I’m quarantined at home. I can work from home, as I am a senior software engineer. I can do my job by remote access to a virtual workstation, through a secure VPN connection. I’m blessed that I still can work during this lock-down.
But, I have a medical emergency – a dental problem – and trying to be seen by a dentist is difficult, because all of the local dentists were told to shut down their daily business and quarantine. Only emergency appointments are being made! I was finally, after two days of phone calls, able to schedule an emergency visit to my dentist!
I want to know: How do you use amateur radio, now that we are all stuck at home? Are you using ham radio more, now? Less?
Please leave a comment to let me know how you are doing, and answer the other questions, too. I hope to hear from you.
I hope to meet you on the shortwave amateur radio bands. I am usually using Olivia, or Morse code CW. More information about Olivia: http://OliviaDigitalMode.net.
Be healthy, be safe, stay sane!
|Not what you want to see after a program restart!
This weekend contained some QSO parties to partake in. Almost every weekend there has been a QSO party I wanted to take part as I have a personal goal to see if I can make some contacts in all the QSO parties. I am not officially enrolled in the QSO party challenge as I have no hope of placing anywhere other than close to the bottom of the pile. It is just a thing for me to do during the COVID 19 stay at home order. I have managed to make at least one successful contact in each of the QSO parties up to this point in time (I have a feeling that may end once the Hawaii QSO party happens) But this weekend I thought the streek was going to come to an end. I was having huge issues with hearing anyone in the Nebraska QSO party! BUT I then remembered reading they also accept FT8 QSO"s and not many QSO parties do. So it was off to FT8 to see what I could find. The contest software I use is N!MM+ and it does integrate with both WSJT-X or JTDX software. The issue here was I had not as of yet made the integration. I found online a very nice video of a step by step process and as Picard would say "make it so". Before I ever venture into making program and radio changes I always back up both my PC (system restore) and my radio settings.
I following the setting changes that needed to be made in N1MM+ and JTDX software I then did the smoke test and restarted the programs. I was greeted with an error message and the program stopped working altogether. To save the day I restored the JTDX settings and rig settings back to their previous settings. I then was able to make 2 Nebraska contacts on FT8 using the "old" settings in JTDX. My next step was to figure out how to convert the ADIF file that JTDX gave me into a Cab file which the Nebraska QSO party needed for submission. I went online and found SP7DQR's program called ADIF2CABR program and it did the trick.
The next day it was time to tackle the JTDX integration with N1MM+ so I went back to the video and figuring the issue was I was rushing the day before. Since everything was backed up from the day before I got right down to it. Once done I tried a restart and low and behold all worked fine. I reviewed what I did and it came down to the file location of JTDX I had to enter into N1MM+ I don't believe I enter the exe file last time.
|A much better message.
- N1MM+ my contesting program
- WSJT-X my digi program
- JTDX my digi program I am testing out to see if I like it over WSJT-X
- Amateur contact log my logging program and sometime contest program
- WSJT-X JTAlert
- Win4icom my Icom 7610 radio control program
- Win4K3 my Elecraft KX3 radio control program
After I had finished with all that excitement it was then time to do a Windows update (running windows 7 64 bit pro), virus software which is Bitedefender and malware software which is Malwarebytes.
The first program I tackled was N1MM+ contest program and this was one program I have updated many times in the past without issue. I thought this would be a nice place to start off the whole process. I had everything updated and install. When I started the program I was greeted with the message below on my PC.
I then moved onto Win4icom radio control program for it's latest and greatest! All downloaded just fine and then when I started the program all was well and it connected with my rig no problem. I then tried to connect my logging program and Win4icom was not able to connect to it. I then went to the settings page of Win4icom and was greeted with the message below:
My next task was to upgrade WSJT-X to the latest and greatest 2.1.0 rc7 and once done and I started it for the first time I was greeted with the message below:
To keep track of my ports, order of program start up and some common problem fixes I have post it notes on the PC desktop.
Elecraft KX3. WSJT-X JTAlert was the smoothest off all the programs to update. The windows updates, malware update and scan and the bitedefender scan went off without a hitch. I was going to type that I was "all set to go" BUT software can be a funny thing and so I am just going to just leave to a warm fuzzy feeling inside and that's it.