Saturday, May 18, 2013
Zipping up and down 50MHz this morning to see what was on, I was surprised to note a fair amount of PSK activity around 50.250. So much so that I stopped off there, and started up the Datamodes window in PZTLog. There was even some PSK63. However, all my QSOs were on PSK31, the best DX being IK8YSS down in JN70, who actually, I could barely hear on the speaker (always a test of a good QSO!).
A call that got my attention coming back to a CQ on PSK was YV5JDT/I1 !
Plenty of more traditional CW and SSB QSOs during the opening, but I shall have to keep an eye on the datamodes section during other openings. I did try a couple of CQs on JT9-1 around 50.293, but had no takers - although I notice my signals were heard by IZ0MIT, IK2WJT and my neighbour, Neil, G4BRK. It would be nice to find JT65A activity too.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Since last weekend, I've been keeping a much closer eye on 50 and 70MHz. Being Sunday, having a bit more time made all the difference.
50MHz was already opening as I got into the shack this morning. I checked 70MHz, not really expecting anything and immediately heard my neighbour, Neil, G4BRK working something I couldn't hear. I listened a bit longer and there was propagation to the east. SP2JYR came up briefly, but not well enough for me to work. As the Es closed down this morning, a 70MHz CW contest started up, but this didn't enthuse me!
This afternoon we were out at the village open gardens. By the way, Julie won a prize for her excellent scarecrow, Gardenia De Hessian!
When we came back from an enjoyable afternoon, I checked the bands. 50MHz was going well; EA9UG was a nice one on 50MHz CW. CT8LI was a got away on phone. I checked 70MHz and initially although I could hear some signals, it was all a bit faint.
I spent a few minutes trying to work EA4DS on 50MHz JT6M without success, but couldn't resist working EA4HW on RTTY for my first ever RTTY QSO on the band.
Finally a bit of luck went my way on 70MHz; I had a nice QSO with Jo CT1HZE and also great to work EA7KB.
Lots of other nice QSOs in the log over the weekend; YU6MM and E77OA yesterday, LY1R today - all on six.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Monday, May 06, 2013
The 50MHz and higher Es season seems to have taken a while to get started this year. For the last week or so, there have been some openings, but I've missed them.
This weekend, I've at least managed a couple of contacts. The first, yesterday, with Max the cat's help was a local one; M0RSE. A special call to promote morse code operated by members of FOC. Yesterday afternoon and evening there was some Es, but I didn't get on until later. I was pleased to work CT1BXT for my first Es of the year.
You may remember that MW0IAN very kindly gave me a portable whip to work with the Palstar 50MHz handheld. It occurred to me this morning that it should work very well with the FT817, so I will try that on bike portable expeditions this summer. Thanks Ian!
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Technical specs, provided by the Noble Radio website are as follows:
1. RECEIVER SPECIFICATIONS
Frequency Coverage: 4M: 69.9 MHz to 70.5 MHz
6M: 50.0 MHz to 52.0 MHz
Modes: SSB (USB & LSB) and CW
Dual Converesion: 1st IF: 10.7 MHz 2nd IF: 25 kHz
Sideband elimination using phasing techniques with digitally generated Quadrature carriers and Image Reject Mixers preceeded by 15 kHz crystal roofing filters
Ultimate receiver bandwidth set by adjustable SCAF filters (two 8th order filters used. One for High Cut and one for Low cut)
Sensitivity: MDS = -130 dbm
Dynamic Range Figures:
Blocking: 110 db
IMD (3rd Order) = 95 db
500 Hz to 4 kHz adjustable with the SCAF filters
Ultimate attenuation of filters are 55db or better
2. TRANSMITTER SPECIFICATIONS
Frequency Coverage: 4M: 69.9 MHz to 70.5 MHz
6M: 50.0 MHz to 52.0 MHz
Modes: SSB (USB & LSB) and CW
OUTPUT POWER: 20 Watts CW or PEP SSB
SCAF Filters can be used to tailor SSB Transmit audio.
3. GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
SYNTHESIZER: DDS/PLL synthesizer with 10 Hz minimum step size. Tuning rate is variable depending on the Tuning Knob speed (Variable Speed Tuning - VST)
MEMORIES: 10 Memories per band
ANTENNA IMPEDANCE: 50 ohms unbalanced
SUPPLY VOLTAGE: 11.5 to 14 Volts Regulated DC (Negative Ground) at approximately 3.6 Amps at full output power.
DIMENSIONS: 8 in (203 mm)W x 12 in (305 mm) D- including knob and heatsink x 3.75 in (95 mm) H - including feet
WEIGHT: Approximately 4 lbs (1.8 kg)
4. SPECIAL FEATURES
The NR-6N4 has the capability of being controlled by a standard PC type keyboard that plugs into a rear connector. Once a keyboard is interfaced to the radio, it can be used to directly enter a frequency, skip directly to various functions by a single press of a function key without having to navigate the menus from the front panel buttons as well as being used to send CW via the keyboard. There is also a built in keyer function that operates with a standard keyer paddle for CW operation with or without a keyboard connection.
The low level 10.7 MHz IF signal is also brought out to a rear connector so that it may be used for panadapter or SDR applications.
* All specifications in this document may be subject to change without notice or obligation
No details of availability are provided as yet - no doubt the CE approval hoops will have to be jumped through.
This is sure to be a popular rig. A commercial 70MHz multimode has been long awaited. The fact that it is a dual bander including 50MHz will no doubt add interest, although I guess the majority of people that want 50MHz radios probably have one. Is the power level right? 20W is certainly useful - though 50W would be better still for tropo contacts, I feel. Hopefully datamodes interfacing (JT65A/JT6M/JT9 etc) will be straightforward - I haven't yet seen a photo of the back of the rig!
Exciting news for 50 and 70MHz enthusiasts!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
It occurred to me the other evening that it might be fun to get the FT817 going on JT9. Many of my QSOs using the FT847 have been made using 5 watts or so, really there shouldn't be much difference.
It was a case of ordering an interface lead from my G4ZLP interface unit to the data socket on the FT817 which was a modest amount.
After the lead arrived today, I connected it up and the rig would switch to transmit, but the tones were not transmitted. I soon found that I had to change menu 26 on the 817 to User-U from the default. Also in menu 38 on the rig, I turned off the filtering.
That was all that was required. I tried a test transmission from the FT817 and monitored it on the 847 - it sounded good. I've already some JT9 QSOs in the log and the 5W signal has been heard in North America.
JT9 and the FT817 ought to be a very good combination indeed.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
"Did you decide what you were going to talk about -as we need to put it into GB2RS news"! Ah...
So, a quick decision was needed. I'd been playing with my Raspberry Pi computer a lot at the time and also with the USB receiver dongle for SDR applications. I thought I could probably put together a talk along those lines.
Earlier this month I gave the talk. I think it was ok. I think I was better on the SDR stuff than the Pi stuff, but anyway, it seemed to go down ok.
I promised the Harwell club a link to the slides which is here
As ever, I'd do it slightly differently next time!
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Over the last few days there's been a sense that a few Es openings have taken place. Last Saturday, some people caught an opening on 50MHz, but there was nothing here. It's always nice to get the first 50MHz Es opening of the year in the log - a feeling that Summer is on the way!
This evening when I got back to the car at Didcot, I popped the 28MHz rig on and had a scan around. The EA4Q beacon from Madrid was coming through nicely and down on 27MHz, there were Spanish CBers coming in.
Changing the subject, last night I was on 14MHz JT9, using the WSJT-X program (which has become a firm favourite here). I was really delighted to work the Father of WSJT, WSPR and WSJT-X, Joe Taylor K1JT. Joe's software is in virtually constant use here, so it was a pleasure and an honour to work him for the first time in a two way contact. Joe's definitely one of my Ham Radio Heroes!
Sunday, April 14, 2013
When this month's Practical Wireless arrived through the door, I laughed. For there in Bob G3NRT's Antenna Workshop was the tale of how he'd turned a rotary washing line into an antenna support - and another one into an antenna.
Well, after I'd finished some of my garden work today I decided to take Bob's lead and fashion it into a tripod. It's nice to be able to try out antennas in the back garden without too much hassle and I'd always fancied having a tripod.
And here it is!
EME with the washing line? Maybe not yet, but I have an idea....!!
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Results so far have been good and I have been amazed to receive reports from the other side of the world at the 5W power level or less. Last night, was a nice example - as I worked K0KC and W8BB at around 2130z, it was great to get a report from VK2AJF via the PSK Reporter website.
The new WSJT-X release has a pleasing interface - I like the way Band Activity is split out from the details of the QSO you are having.
This is a good mode and overtime I can see activity switching from JT65 to JT9-1.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Julian kindly emailled this morning to ask whether I'd got it going yet, because he'd heard of someone else having the same problem. And better still, he related how the person had fixed the problem, changing the output audio device to Direct-X.
I received the email at work today and frankly was tempted to remote control to my PC at home and have a play, but alas it was a busy day. However, this evening, I popped up to the shack after supper and had a look.
Sure enough, I had a 'Direct X' output available for my audio, so I mapped WSJT-X's output to that and wondered. And hoped.
I called HA3LI who was calling CQ with a huge signal on 14MHz JT9-1. It sounded good on my monitor receiver. No stuttering.... And then, magic of magic,HA3LI came back and we completed an easy QSO.
Just as good, looking at the HAMSPOTS site, my signal was also copied by VK3AMA and KE5SSH.
It looks like I am in business. I am so pleased! Thank you Julian!
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Over the last couple of days I've been playing some 28MHz JT65A in the late afternoon and early evening. The band hasn't been great but there have been plenty of reports from South America and good to see some other stations too.
I was looking at the PSK Reporter website and the mapping of stations that had heard me and those I'd heard. As I looked at the Pacific Ocean, where I haven't been heard in the last few days, my mind went back to my first QSO with Hawaii on 28MHz.
It was probably back in the late 1980s or maybe early 1990s. I was living in Cheltenham in a house with a garden around 9 feet wide by 20 feet long. I had a Butternut vertical up (26 feet tall). I had to retreat into the house to get it to an angle such that I could then walk out into the garden and get it to the vertical plane!
At the time I was very active on CW on HF. Late one afternoon, I heard an individual sounding morse signal on the bottom end of 28MHz. It was Nose KH6IJ. Nose was probably the most famous operator from Hawaii at the time and I was thrilled to hear him. Even more thrilled and surprised when he came back to my call. We had a brief QSO - a really nice one.
I doubt I have worked Hawaii on 28MHz from the UK since - I don't chase these things anymore. But it's always a thrill to work half way around the world.
Wind forward to this evening. I googled KH6IJ and I found a really fascinating article about him, with lots of facts that I didn't know before. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did!
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Sure enough it can! I followed the instructions on the Imperial College Robotics website then downloaded the code and compiled it up. The default sound file that's transmitted is a simple tone, but you could easily record a WAV file announcing your callsign!
What a clever bit of code by Oliver Mattos and Oskar Weigl! I'm not a bad programmer, but I wouldn't have known where to start with this!
I didn't even bother putting an aerial on the GPIO pin - I wasn't looking for DX! The RF signal was strong enough to be detected by handheld receivers on the desk.
Great fun! Just the sort of thing for a snowy March day.
I am so pleased with the Raspberry Pi. What fun I have had with it, since I got it at Christmas. Unwisely, I have agreed to do a talk about 'Life of My Pi' at the Harwell Amateur Radio Club on April 9th. I'd better get around to preparing it, but there's certainly going to be plenty of material.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
The code is available here
The Readme file at Github says the following:
Makes a very simple WSPR beacon from your RasberryPi by connecting GPIO
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
My replies to loud CQs, as before, went unanswered! I am certain that the stations just aren't decoding me. But why? I am decoding others' signals easily.
This evening I completely uninstalled and reinstalled WSJT-X. I think the next step will be to try a different computer. Remembering that I have so far tried two different rigs, two interfaces, two soundcards - the only thing left in common is the computer. But I don't see what the problem should be.
Fascinating, puzzling and a little frustrating in similar measures....but I am sure in the end I shall get it working!
Update! After chatting to Charle M0PZT about it I recorded the signal off air. It didn't decode for me. Listening to the tone direct from the computer it sounded clicky and horrible, regardless of the audio level. This must be why. Now, what to do...
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Mark looked at my signals and there seemed to be some sort of artefact with the audio. We wondered if that was the problem. Time came and went and I didn't have a chance to look at it properly.
Julian G4ILO's post at RTTY and JT9 earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to try it again. Although this morning, I have tried two different rigs and two different interfaces, no one has yet decoded me! Of course, that could be sheer bad luck - but no decodes on PSK Reporter either.
I've tried reducing the audio output as much as I could in case there was anything causing an issue.No! Bear in mind that I can use exactly the same setup on JT65A and pretty much any other data mode that you care to shake a stick at. It's all rather puzzling.
The next experiment will, I think, be to try a different USB soundcard and see if that makes a difference.
It'd be great to get it going, as it looks an interesting and a useful mode.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
You do need to pop the cover off and remove link LK2 - this allows the rig to cover 25.610 to 30.100 in 'PO' mode (the rig is configured with different settings for different adminstrations' CB allocations, but PO allows the widest coverage).
Here's a video from Simon Parker on the modification required
Here Simon shows cycling through the various modes
I've not tried this, but it looks a temptingly cheap way to get on 28/29MHz AM/FM for the Es season if you don't already have a rig.
Thanks Steve for the tipoff and thanks Simon for the video 'how to'.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
With a couple of brighter days earlier this week and milder temperatures, perhaps it is starting to feel like Spring. Did I mention how much I hate the dark, cold days of Winter?!
Driving home on Monday night from the gym, I switched on the FT8900 and it came to rest on 29.600FM. There, were two huge signals; two Swedish stations talking to each other in a local QSO. Signals were clearly very solid. I wasn't surprised to discover that there had been a few 50MHz ES contacts on Monday evening.
This lunchtime, I was listening around on 28MHz from the mobile and was pleased to hear the band open into Russia and I had a nice contact into the Moscow area.
So it feels like the first few Es openings are starting to take place on HF at least.
I am contemplating running 50MHz WSPR this season when I am not able to be in the shack and see how far that goes.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
A few weeks ago, I heard that there was to be a version of the DVAP Tool software that would run on the Raspberry Pi. That was after I had discovered the image including the G4KLX software.
However, it is always great to have a choice! I found a post from Robin AA4RC from the DVAPDongle group today containing details of how to install DVAP tool onto the Raspbian Wheezy operating system.
Well worth a go!
> > Follow the steps below to install/run:
> > 1) make sure you are running Raspian Wheezy 2013-02-09 and are connected to
the internet with your Pi.
> > 2) open an LXTerminal window and run: "sudo apt-get install qt4-dev-tools".
Answer "Y" when prompted.
> > 3) in terminal window run: "curl -O
> > 4) in terminal window run "sudo tar xzPf DVAPTool-1.04-rpi.tgz"
> > 5) in terminal window run DVAPTool with "./DVAPTool" from your home
> > Note that this is a full GUI version. I'm working on a text only daemon.
> > There are no current plans to compile DVAPTool for any distribution other
than Raspian. It may or may not work on others.
> > 73,
> > Robin
> > AA4RC
After the Raspberry Pi and DVAP experiments a couple of weeks ago, I decided to dedicate a Raspberry Pi to running the gateway. I ordered a new Pi ( with different coloured case) and hard wired it to the Internet router. Connected the DVAP by USB and it all seemed to work well.
Speaking to Martin 2E1THX this morning, he mentioned that the latest release of the software included the CCS capability - which allows you to dial up another DSTAR user by entering a code on your DTMF keypad.
Upgrading the software went very smoothly, although when the machine first came up, the software locked up! I rebooted and all was well.
To accept incoming CCS requests, I needed to open up some ports on my router and forward them to the Raspberry Pi. That worked fine! I opened up UDP ports 30061 to 30065.
I've enjoyed having the dedicated Raspberry Pi for DSTAR gateway activity and have had some excellent QSOs as a result.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Last evening was a good one and I copied a number of new stations; PA3FNY, G0HNW, DL3IKE and PA3EGO. New to me, that is. Nice too, to hear Paul G0HNW. I'm sure it's a coincidence, but most of the stations I have heard up to now have been on an East-West axis, so good to hear someone from the north.
Remember all this is on unmodified, untuned kit, so I hope it serves as an encouragement to anyone else who might be interested to try and hear something!
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Time was when I used to attend many of the radio rallies. These days, I generally attend one a year - and it's usually the Harwell Rally - located about 20 minutes drive from home.
Today was the day! And enjoyable it was. No major purchases - just a bit of aerial wire and some back issues of magazines. I did enjoy chatting with Francis, G7CND of GEO - Group for Earth Observation I could easily be tempted to have a go at some of the imaging that the group are doing!
I had a happy hour or two on the Practical Wireless / RadioUser stand, with Rob G3XFD and Tex, G1TEX - chatting to visitors and selling the odd back issue magazine and archive CD.
It was good to see many friends including Graham G4FUJ (who first taught me morse a very long time ago!), Pete 2E0SQL, Rob M0VFC, Paul M3JFM, Mike M0RBD as well of course the Harwell team who put the rally on - great to see Ann G8NVI, Mike G8CUL, Malcolm G8NRP, Bob G0ADH, Mike G0MJW, John G3VPW, Des G3NNG - lots of other smiling faces too.
A great time inspite of some inclement weather!
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Googling around a little, I found lots of references, but the best suggestion seemed to be to join the pcrepeatercontroller group on Yahoo groups, where there was some good documentation on how to go about it in the Files/Documentation folder.
It turns around that thanks to the hard work of Mark, WD9JEN, Dave, K9RUF and Brian GW6WTK as well, of course, as the software author Jonathan G4KLX, the process is quite easy.
I got a new SD card (actually there was a slight false start as I discovered that not all SD cards work well in the Raspberry Pi). I downloaded the image for the Raspberry Pi of the operating system, Debian, with ircDDBGateway and DVAPNode already installed. You can download it from this link
Most of the instructions I read about copying the image to the SD card talk about using Win32diskimager, however, I could not get it to work with my internal SD card reader on the Dell laptop. I used a utility called Flashnul which worked fine. If you run into the same issues, you can grab Flashnul here
Once the image was written, I checked to see if I could boot the Pi with it and was delighted to find that I could. Following that, it was just a question of following WD9JEN's instructions and substituting my call for his. I did a slight false start and found that though the DVAP node software was working alright, it wouldn't link to anything. I discovered that I had inadvertantly entered a password in the ircDDB tab in ircDDBGateway. I removed that and it all started working.
My Raspberry Pi's network connection is via WiFi but this seems fine and adequate for connectivity, though perhaps it would be even more reliable to take a cable directly to the router.
I have enjoyed some nice QSOs this afternoon, with Peter G0BZX, Dave M0NEY, Ian 2E0VTM (also experimenting with a Pi and a DVAP) and Bob MW0RBL.
Since I can leave the hotspot running without tying up the main computer, perhaps this will result in a few more DSTAR QSOs being made!
Saturday, January 26, 2013
This morning, whilst I popped out for an hour, I set things up correctly and when an came back, I was delighted to see that I had copied M1GEO in JO01 square. It turns out that George has a very nice station on 472khz, detailed here on his Wiki
Later on in the day, I also copied G3ZJO from IO92 and then during the evening I received some nice signals from PA3ABK in JO21.
Clearly there is much that can be done to try and improve the receive performance, but it is encouraging to have received some signals without having to modify any equipment.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
These may both be downloaded from the Sinotel site, along with many other utilities
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Life's never quite that simple though. The lead arrived with Andy and he installed the drivers but on running up the Baofeng programming software, it wouldn't talk to the radio.
At that stage we thought it was a driver issue on Andy's laptop. Andy decided to order a lead and driver anyway and return the lead to me. On a whim, he suggested that he send me one of the radios to see if I could program it.
When I opened the packet, I immediately noticed that Andy's UV-5 was different to mine - it's a UV-5RA. I made sure that the programming lead was working on my laptop and then ran up the software and downloaded the memories from my UV-5. So far so good!
Then I tried to write the memories back to Andy's UV-5. No! Communication fault. It was then that I realised that the Baofeng programming software that I had used to program my UV-5 would not work with the later model!
A quick Google around revealed that this was indeed the problem and that others had got around it by using the CHIRP programming software. It seems that the 'stable build' version of CHIRP (0.2.3) does not support the UV-5, however, the latest daily build does. This I was able to download here
I also found some interesting notes about programming the UV-5 with Chirp
CHIRP installed readily and I was quickly able to download an 'image' of my UV-5R and save it. I then tried to write it back to the UV-5RA. The first time I did it, an error occurred, however, I remembered I had seen this on a first communication before and persisted.
Yes! Second time through and CHIRP was able to write the memories back to Andy's UV-5RA.
So there we have it. Most likely, Andy didn't have a driver issue on his laptop. At that stage we didn't know that the basic Baofeng UV-5 software didn't work with the new style rig, so I suspect that had he installed CHIRP it would have probably worked fine.
Sunday, January 06, 2013
The idea of having a £25 computer which could be tasked with running programs like WSJT or WSPR was very attractive, as well as being a handy machine for web browsing and general internet use (I'm writing this post on the Pi, for example).
Pete 2E0SQL had posted about getting RTL_SDR running on the Pi which was a very useful and interesting. The only issue that I had was with libusb1.0 - because I was compiling it seemed that I needed to install the libusb-1.0.0-dev package. Once I did that, everything worked well.
Initially, I tried the Remote_SDR which certainly worked, although was a little stuttery. What was more interesting to me was the rtl_adsb program, which I was able to use to decode ADSB messages from aircraft and send these across the network to the Windows laptop running ADSBScope. This was done simply by piping the output of rtl_adsb using netcat as follows:
rtl_adsb |netcat -lp portnumber (where the portnumber is where ADSBScope is pointing)
I was impressed and this worked pretty well and the receiver and decoder seemed sensitive - considering the antenna was downstairs and away from a window.
Dave G4FRE had posted about compiling WSPR on his Raspberry Pi which made a great basis for getting WSPR going.
I had to amend my configure statement as follows:
./configure -with-portaudio-include-dir=/usr/include -with-portaudio-lib-dir=/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
Finally, when I ran the make install, I got an error which was quite terminal!
(no rule to make target mept162.f needed by WsprMod.w.so. Stop
However, Googling around a little, I found that a number of people had had the same issues compiling the latest release of WSPR, so I downloaded the 2840 version from the repository using the following command:
svn co http://svn.berlios.de/svnroot/repos/wsjt/branches/wspr -r2840
I still needed to use the amended configure statement but this seemed to work ok. The program compiles up and starts and I was able to select a USB sound card. I haven't yet tried a decode (the Pi is in the lounge and not the shack!) but will aim to do that soon.
Next to compile was WSJT and I used Dave G4FRE's post to guide me. There were no nasty surprises requiring too much thought and the process was simple and straightforward.
Finally, was a new ADSB decoder that could be used with an RTLSDR device. Called Dump1090 it was written by Salvatore Sanfilippo that I saw mention of on Twitter - this was very simple to get going:
git clone git://github.com/antirez/dump1090.git
Once the program was built, I particularly liked running Dump1090 in interactive mode with the RTLSDR dongle in one of the USB Hub slots connected to the Pi
This produces a simple, but interesting list of aircraft that the the decoder is seeing. Unlike any of the other decoders I've used recently, it gives an interesting indication of the sheer volume of messages that are being decoded.
It was good fun getting these different programs working and remembering some of my lost Unix skills!
Thanks particularly to Pete 2E0SQL and Dave G4FRE for their inspiration for these experiments.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Four metres was a real star band for me in the summer and I found more openings than ever before. Having the new Spectrum transverter made things a lot easier and despite having only a simple aerial, I was very pleased with the results. A couple of gotaways, like SV8CS and an EA8. But there's next year...
Lots of six metre openings too and I was particularly thrilled to make several transatlantic QSOs - no big deal you may say, but this was all on the vertical antenna.
I started to use JT65A heavily at the end of last year, but with the new G4ZLP interface that I bought at the start of the year, JT65 and the other WSJT modes have been in almost constant use here. I find the modes both extremely efficient and enjoyable to operate. CW and SSB activity has diminished quite substantially here this year.
WSPR too has been immense fun and I have devoted more time to it than before. 7 and 28MHz have been my favoured bands and it's been fun to have reports from all the way around the world using no more than 1 Watt.
2012 was the year of RTLSDR and what a lot of fun I had! Although the cheap USB dongles are not the most sensitive, I have been surprised and delighted about what they can do. Probably the best use of them so far, for me, has been the Virtual Radar applications which up until now has been the preserve of the expensive, bespoke equipment.
SDR# even on a cheap USB dongle has given me a taste of what can be done and I shall look forward to trying out more advanced SDR technology in due course.
I've been excited to start to use Charlie M0PZT's PZTLog program. It's an excellent piece of software and I've particularly enjoyed the Datamodes and JT65 integration capability. Charlie is constantly updating the software - I even noticed a new release on Christmas Day. There's dedication!
6. Cheap and cheerful equipment
Both the Baofeng UV-3 and UV-5 144/432MHz handhelds arrived this year and have proved a lot of fun, for a combined investment of under £50. Simply, you can't go wrong.
I was fascinated to listen to some 27MHz AM signals in the late summer which led me to wonder about what I would hear on 29MHz. Sure enough there were some fascinating stations to listen to and a handful of contacts. What a surprise to learn that as well as using old 'boat anchor' type gear, some people were using state of the art SDR rigs to generate their AM signals. Very nice they sounded too!
8. Having a message encrypted by an Enigma machine
Having the chance to have a message that I sent, encrypted by an Enigma machine in Cheltenham, sent over the air to Bletchley Park and then decrypted was quite special! Thanks to the Cheltenham ARA and Milton Keynes clubs for making this possible.
9. DSTAR: DCS reflectors
On D-STAR, the arrival of the DCS reflectors brought new resilience and quality, I felt. Some of the innovation was quickly applied across the D-STAR network resulting in less 'black holes' and better qualityQSOs.
10. Remote control
Although it's as simple as using my iPad across the WiFi network at home to control the PC in the shack running the JT65-HF software - remote control has been brilliant and has resulted in a good number of QSOs in the evenings when I've been sat downstairs on the sofa! Highly recommended!