Posts Tagged ‘Triple Play’

Thoughts on Digital

I have opined in the past (although perhaps not on the blog directly) that CW is the reason I am still an active ham after almost 19 years…actually, I think a week from today marks the 19-year anniversary of passing elements 2 and 3A in the basement of the Stark County Sheriff’s office.  CW permitted me to make interesting, intriguing, compelling QSOs that I simply could not complete on SSB with my meager station as a beginner.

Over the years, I have used this as the argument for retaining the Morse code testing requirement:  Morse code proficiency gave newcomers the opportunity to make exciting DX contacts under all solar conditions (except disturbed, of course) and hook them on the hobby.

PSK31 was the first mode that challenged CW in that arena.  I made a couple of PSK contacts almost 10 years ago now and decided it was harder than CW.  So, I did not pursue it.  Aside from making a half-hearted effort to get ARRL’s Triple Play Worked All States using only unassisted (no cluster, no RBN, no skeds) contest contacts, I haven’t really operated digital modes much and didn’t really understand why anyone would want to because CW is so much easier.  I’ve seen dozens of JT65 posts by fellow AmateurRadio.com bloggers.  And, about a year ago, I met Paul, N8HM, who lives in an apartment in DC.  He’s very active on HF digital modes with a shoestring setup…and he’s very passionate about it.  That’s when it clicked.

Digital modes are the new CW:  the DX mode for the average ham.  I must be slow!

I still think CW is way easier than digital QSOs, especially in contests and pileups:  there is a certain amount of critical humanity (varying timing, sending speed, spacing, or calling frequency) that you can’t apply to cracking a digital pileup…or maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet.  I guess I have years of Morse practice and shouldn’t expect digital to be easy just because the computer is doing the sending and decoding.  But, I think I understand digital operators a little better after this revelation.

You guys are alright.

New Arrival

Early Monday morning, the day after Field Day, we welcomed our son Evan into the family.  We were so right to stay home!  As good friends have opined “your life will change…for the better.”  So far, I would tend to agree.  The blog will receive (even more) infrequent updates, K8GU may be a little less active on the air, and there will be fewer homebrew projects over the next few weeks and months.  A few months ago after building some UHF antennas when I pinched the palm of my hand with a pair of pliers, I watched the blood blister heal and commented to Sarah on how amazing it was for several days straight.  “You think that’s amazing?  Well, I’m growing new life inside of me.”  We laughed, but it’s very true.  Every day is something new:  grasping, gazing, grunting, and gurgling.  This is only the beginning.  That’s pretty amazing.

Triple Play / LoTW status

Happily, Sarah returned from Texas last night.  You don’t always know how much you miss your spouse until they’re not around.  But, she (and the baby—we’re expecting in July—very excited) is (are) home again!

She also brought the Trusted QSL-containing MacBook home safely and I uploaded my RTTY log to LoTW.  Got a whole bunch of matches!  So, the Triple Play award from the Maryland QTH is indeed coming along nicely:  CW 50/50 – PH 34/50 – DG 29/50.  Lots of easy ones still needed.  Also have 31/50 states on 160 (lacking easy confs like VA, for instance?!).  It’s also amusing to have more states on 2 meters than 15 meters.  I guess I should spend some time on the high bands. :)

RYRYRY O RLY?

A few readers of this blog may have been surprised to contact me on a new mode last night…RTTY.  I’ve tried radioteletype once before in the past (also in the NAQP contest) but rather unsuccessfully the first time.  The second outing was a bit better.  I suppose with practice it becomes fun, but the primary motivation here is ARRL’s Triple Play award for contacting all 50 states each three times, using CW, SSB, and digital.  CW was, of course, easy.  And, I’m making good progress on the SSB totals.  So, I figured I would stop putting RTTY off and give it a shot.

As you are probably well familiar, I normally contest with two TS-930s.  Their prior owners (who were CW contest/DX types like myself) made various “improvements” to them, most of which I appreciate, but I have no idea how they affect FSK. One radio simply does not work on FSK (need to look into this) and the other has the passband shifted about 50-100 Hz off-center of the normal RTTY frequencies. So, when I was running AFC in MMTTY, it would “walk” to the point that having a lock on the other station would put me at the edge of their passband. I had a terrible time making QSOs for the first hour until K0TI told me I was off-frequency (thanks, Dan!!!) and then I started paying attention to all of the numbers in MMTTY and turned off the AFC, which had some deleterious effects that I overcame thanks to the occasional repeat. Typical analog op becomes digital lid op.

I sent the MacBook (our “home” computer) with Sarah to a conference yesterday.  Since that’s the only place I have LoTW’s Trusted QSL installed and I failed to export a .p12 file, I’ll have to hold tight for a couple of days until they return.  (This is not entirely true, I have an old .p12 file, but I haven’t backed it up again since I renewed the certificate a few weeks ago.  Bad backup practices…although I just got a new external drive so the old drive can be used to do a Time Machine back up…finally.  Another day, another project.)

This post mostly mirrors my 3830 post, but here are the numbers for the curious.  My grepping missed one QSO on 80 meters when I did the totals (N1MM rounded the frequency up to 3600 kHz) for 3830.  So, these numbers are right, aside from log-checking discounts:

Call: K8GU
Operator(s): K8GU
Station: K8GU

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: MD
Operating Time (hrs): ~3

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   80:   37    21
   40:   58    27
   20:   35    18
   15:
   10:
-------------------
Total:  130    66  Total Score = 8,580

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

Team: PVRC #1

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