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Tue 19/02/24 : New Year, New Start

After deciding last year to only concentrate on HF CW to the exclusion of all other aspects of amateur radio I enjoyed a happy few months over the summer of 2023 doing just that - using manual telegraphy on the HF bands. I became comfortable on the Vibroplex bug keys and had many nice CW ragchews.

Winter came and drove me indoors, away from the shack and since I'd vowed only to use CW I found I did nothing radio related for many months. I had a few brief sorties on 60m digimodes using VNC to operate the shack PC without needing to sit in a cold icy shed….

Now as spring approaches I find I miss the variety of other aspects of the radio hobby, and I can't always find the time to sit in a shed using only manual telegraphy (enjoyable though that is). I want to be able to do radio even when I'm not able to spare the time to do cw.

I've found my DMR radios and hotspots and resurrected them. I've had some DMR QSOs, and I expect to have more over the coming weeks/months.

I've had one (so far) SSB QSO on 60m, after finally locating a microphone for my IC-7200.

I've put a V/UHF antenna up, only 2m agl adjacent to the shack, and set up an APRS i-gate (GM4SLV-2) and (after repairing the fan control circuit and fitting a new cooling fan) installed my TM-D710G in my van - for APRS and to monitor other V/UHF activity.

I've decided not to be so narrowly focussed on one (fun) aspect of the hobby, and to stretch myself into other areas.

Plans for 2024

  • DMR Dual-timeslot duplex hotspot
    • More participation in DMR QSOs
    • Take mobile hotspot most days in van and try to have a QSO when possible
  • More HF CW, SSB and Digimode operation.
    • Try to have some/more 60m SSB QSOs
    • Investigate higher bands - 17/12/10m
  • HF Portable operation with Xiegu G90 - kite, fibreglass pole etc.
  • HF CCIR493 Selcall using IC-706 and Jenal SC2 mic
    • modify one SC2 mic to convert to RJ45 connector for IC706
    • Experiment with SC2 and Xiegu G90
    • - make some contacts with HFLink group(?)
  • HF-VHF X-Gate - revist the project
  • HF and VHF APRS - are they worth persuing, or is it rather pointless overall?

I had a 60m QSO with Stuart GM4WMM and Bob GM4VIK this afternoon on 5279kHz. I started by using the MK1 IC-706 at around 30W to get a few reports on the audio quality. The report was “it's quite thin sounding”. That's not encouraging. I seem to remember the original MK1 IC-706 had a reputation for weak audio. I'm not going to expend much effort investigating or trying to improve it. What should I do with the IC-706? It's a handy “standby” HF rig. It's not really for suitable portable use, being a 100W radio and quite thirsty on current, even on receive, and anyway I have a Xiegu G90 for that purpose. I decided to try digimodes using Fldigi via a Signalink-USB sound interface. A quick search of the web and I had the necessary pin-out of the Signalink's internal jumpers to allow a simple Cat5 cable to connect between the Signalink and IC-706 RJ45 Mic socket. A few tests and it all works. No rig control (frequency etc.) yet, but that's not really necessary for simple Digimode QSOs.

I'm making progress…

19/03/24 12:42 GMT · john

Fri 12/01/24 : fldigi bug

After compiling and installing the latest FLDIGI I found a bug - if the radio dial is moved while FLDIGI is running (with RigCAT control operating normally) I found FLDIGI crashes. This has never happened in previous versions. Fldigi should just track the changing rig VFO frequency, not crash!

I ran make uninstall and removed it and simply reinstalled the Debian packaged version 4.1.18, which runs perfectly well enough, without the new esoteric modes available in 4.2.03

12/01/24 17:10 GMT · john

Wed 10/1/24 : WSPR & FLdigi

Ran WSPR for around 24 hours and got lots of Spots - in the USA and Australia…



Downloaded and compiled the latest version of Fldigi (ver 4.2.03) to replace my old ver 4.1.18 that comes packaged with whatever release of Debian I'm running.


Had to install a few additional libraries via APT, but the compile went smoothly and I see some new modes are now included, which I will investigate later.

10/01/24 19:52 GMT · john

Tue 09/01/24 : 60m WPSR

Brrr… it's chilly in the shack. My first trip in during winter.

I've started WSPR-ing on 60m (WARC Channel) to see how the band is performing, and to generate some heat in the shack.

And at 2050 I've moved to 10m at 5W. I heard some USA stations on 10mFM earlier in the evening. The band might be open occasionally….?

09/01/24 20:27 GMT · john

Fri 17 Nov 2023

After a couple of months away from the shack - domestic issues kept me away, and now it's winter and cold - I decided to have a look on 60m Olivia this evening, since I can do this from the comfort of the house without shutting myself away in the cold shed - the outside temp. is 0C and there's frost on the ground.

I made a VNC connection to the shack PC and ran Fldigi - it's been quite a long time since I've played radio like this.

After one CQ call at 1747z I was answered by Alan M0AGJ in Doncaster, which was a big surprise.

We had a nice, short QSO - and I found that his initial reply to me had been at only 1 watt, although he quickly increased to 100W fearing 1W was too weak. I have a feeling 1W would have been ok.

At full power his S/N was always positive, up to 18dB at times.

18/11/23 06:40 GMT · john
public/radio/blog/start.txt · Last modified: 02/05/24 08:12 BST by john