Taking the digi plunge………again!

Once upon a time my digi experience  
With reports of the solar cycle on the decline and considering I'm not a big gun station that can belt out 1KW into a multi element beam I have to somewhat raise the white flag. I'm not going to give up on CW , getting contacts into the states is great and Morse code is like having a second language and I'm not going to give it up! When the solar cycle is in a low time I find it amazing that during a CW contesst my QRP signal is still able to get across the pond. It makes me think that just the idea of a decline in the solar cycle just has hams not turning their radios on and not giving it a go. For me I'm in a condo with the MFJ mag loop antenna and then to add to it QRP power I figure over the long haul the digi modes are going to be my best option for reeling in some DX. I have reformatted my PC's hard drive and just installed Windows 7 so it's time to start fresh! I have WSPR installed and up and going, in the past I had JT65HF and PSK31 installed and making contacts………..so ham folks what's out there that you have having had great success with?? I have a balcony antenna and QRP power that can go to 5 watts max. Whats nice with the digi modes is the MFJ 1788 will not have to be constantly returned. The bandwidth required is so narrow I can concentrate of making contacts.What programs do you use and where do you get your support when things don't work out as planned? I have always become frustrated with setting up the digi modes but I am going to have to bite the bullet and plow through the up's and downs of setting up the digi modes on my PC along with my rig.     
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “Taking the digi plunge………again!”

  • Charlie G4EST:

    JT9 is the best weak signal mode in my opinion. That and JT65 are available on the WSJT-X software available as is WSPR on Joe Taylor’s website.
    Worked stations using lower than 5w on many occasions when propagation good.

    Enjoy digital (again)


  • Mike ve3wdm:

    Good evening Charlie and thanks for taking the time to comment, last year I did download and tried to give WSJT-X a go. I became frustrated with trying to get the rig and software to talk with each other but now that the band conditions are fading that may be the extra boost I need to get on the air. The max output I have here is 5 watts as I live in a condo and I for sure don’t want to interfere with anyone. I was also hearing that JT65HF is another low power mode worth looking at.

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    I am 67 yrs old and been a ham since 1963. Never did master CW, however I have unlearned and relearning. Even with my bad hearing I am sure I will be using in the years to come. That said I have done a lot of PSK31, some PSK63, and JT65/JT9. I also dabbled with WSPR. WSPR is spooky. I watt and people hear you on the other side of the planet when the band is suppose to be dead. JT-9 and JT-65 will give you DX. But if you like more then a fast exchange you will need PSK31 and PSK63.During the holidays I got to really play with PSK63, and quite frankly I found it to be much better then PSK31 when the conditions were bad. I think it will one day replace psk31 as the default PSK mode… Wayne has announced that the next KX3 release will have PSK63. With the USB Keyboard on the way, a KX3 and PX3 is all that will be needed for digital fun

    I am lucky enough to have more then one antenna. I just rebuilt my MFJ-1786. New motor and microswitches and tightened everything. As soon as I get off of the computer I plan on remounting it at about 20 ft in the horizontal plane just like it was before. My feeling is the MFJ Magloops were deigned for Digital and CW. It is my main digital antenna.

    I have been in a HOA before and I can say this is the antenna I would choose again..I got the 1786 used. I wish I could have found a 1788. If anyone needs a good antenna that is small and will get you out running qrp to say 100 watts I recommend this antenna.

    My 2 cents… now to figure out how to get it back up again without hurting myself to badly….73 harry

  • Mike ve3wdm:

    Good evening Harry it’s always good to hear from you, thanks for the great digi mode suggestion and what work best and when. This weekend Im going to download WSJT-X and get moving on getting that going. I do have the KX3 but not the PX3. I do have the K3 and P3 maybe the same software upgrade will be valuable for that setup as well. As for your MFJ 1786 I followed your posts regarding the rebuild of your antenna. I have the 1788 and as I said in the post and you seem to agree this is a great antenna for digi modes as you can tune it and leave it.
    Thanks Harry for all the info and I will keep the blog updated with my progress.
    73 Mike

  • Harry K7ZOV:


    I enjoy you blog and following you adventures and mis-adventures. Last night I had the IC-7100 fired up, which is now my default digital radio, and tuned 30 meters to see what was cooking. PSK was dead, but JT-65 was active. Very active. I am using WSJT-X, however I don’t know if it is the last one, but I assume that I am behind one or two revisions. Now that I getting back into more digital I need to get up to date and re-learn.

    The KX3 and PX3 will be true standalone digital very soon. That being a functional keyboard and Wayne has promised PSK63. I like PSK63 better then PSK31. Easier to tune and more punch. Keeping up with the K3 and P3 means checking the revision at least once a month. Guess that goes for the KX3 and PX3. As far as ICOM..Maybe once a year..maybe…

    The repair job went smooth. The antenna is at 20 ft horizonal polarize. Just simpler that way, plus less noise. The SWR still drifts a little when it is windy. I suspect it is the spring. If I walk the SWR band and forth a few times the drift seems to be much less or not a all.

    In any case I will be following you and your adventures. Thank you for the kind words dealing with mine…

    73 from the White Mountains of AZ

  • MIke ve3wdm:

    Good morning Harry, my MFJ is horizontal as well and mounted on my balcony and Im on the 6th floor. I find a few things with my antenna….
    1. On days were the weather is very humid or raining the SWR seems to above the “normal” values. I have learned to deal with this and not worry to much about it as when it dries out the SWR goes back to normal.
    2. There are times when I just can’t seem to get a low SWR with the tuning. I have found hitting the up or down button until the antenna is way off the tune mark and then bring it back down does the trick and the SWR is nice and low.
    3. With the antenna being on the balcony and I move it to the side when not using it, I have to make sure it is setup in almost the same spot each time. Also all chairs or small table can’t be close to it or again the SWR is affected.

    I would like to set up my KX3 just for digi and keep the K3 for cw but at this time I am running digi on the k3 just to get it up and going. I have the P3 as I said and that helps. I hope to get the PX3 in the near future and that will be great for a dedicated digi rig.
    Have a great week Harry and thanks for getting back to me.

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