Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

That’s all Folks…

Posted: September 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

Thats all

After a lot of thought, I have decided to end my Blogging. For the most part, it has been fun and interesting. I have most enjoyed my interviews of fellow DXpeditioners and I had hoped to include many others. But just like anything on the Internet there is a dark and seamy side of putting your thoughts and views out there. I have grown tired of the negativity and attacks, some from my fellow amateur radio Bloggers. I have decided to focus on other more positive aspects of my life.

Best wishes and 73,

Paul N6PSE

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Are you ready for VP6D Ducie 2018?

Posted: September 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

vp6d_logo

Final preparations are being made for the upcoming VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition. The Perseverance DX Group has shipped their gear to the venerable Braveheart and it is being loaded aboard in Tauranga New Zealand.

This should be a really good activation with an experienced and highly skilled team. Let’s hope that propagation allows for an effective activation and that everyone has a good time working them.

VP6D_Gear

Some of the VP6D gear in California about to be flown to New Zealand.

Vp6D_W1SRD

Steve W1SRD prepares the logging gear.

VP6D_Nigel

Braveheart Owner Nigel Jolly and his son, Captain Matt Jolly ensure that the gear is properly loaded and stowed aboard the Braveheart.

VP6D_Braveheart

The gear is stowed and the voyage will soon begin. For more information on the VP6D DXpedition, their website is: http://www.vp6d.com

They are also on Facebook as VP6D-Ducie-2018. You can make a donation to support the team’s mission at: https://www.vp6d.com/index.php/support/donation

Good luck and safe travels for the VP6D Team!

 

The future of DXpedition RTTY?

Posted: August 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

RTTY1

Occasionally, one of my Blog readers will submit a topic or question. This is a very timely topic submitted by an anonymous author:

Like the decline of phone patches; the aging QSL Buro; and free lunch, the times they are a changing.

The recent FT8 success of KH1/KH7Z Baker Island DXpedition may have sounded the death knell for DXpedition RTTY.

DXpeditions live and die on rates and unique call signs. There’s no question SSB and CW operators drive the rates, where RTTY is typically far behind. While an experienced RTTY operator can hold their own, the real fact is most DXpedition operators are not experienced. Putting an inexperienced operator at a RTTY position is sure to create unhappy callers who send e-mails complaining about the RTTY operator. DXpeditions will sometimes sacrifice an SSB operating position and use it for RTTY. With rates and unique call signs being important considerations this strategy is less than optimum. Some people may say it’s not all about rates and unique calls, they’ve probably never been on a DXpedition.

Let’s look at the Baker Island numbers:

With two dedicated FT8 positions they made 16,661 contacts, a stunning 24% of total. Nearly 1,000 of those contacts were with unique call signs who made only one contact with KH1/KH7Z. That’s ~1,000 people that would not have had a KH1 QSO. These alone are stunning statistics. While FT8 represented 24% of all their contacts RTTY was 1.3%. Why did this happen?

RTTY is a tedious and boring mode. After a few days into a DXpedition the operators are suffering from sleep deprivation, adrenalin highs / lows, and they’re handling other ancillary tasks. Put an inexperienced operator in front of a RTTY terminal, making one QSO every minute or so and the operator eventually tires and loses interest. And we all know how the pile-up will respond.

The FT8 Fox / Hound implementation keeps the operator busy, selecting calls to place in the queue and monitoring the system, etc. During KH1, at one point a single operator was running both FT8 positions at the same time, maximum productivity, try that on RTTY. Being a new mode, not requiring high power and large antennas FT8 has drawn the attention of many who never dreamed of operating on HF or working a DXpedition.

I think that RTTY will quickly fade away as a DXpedition mode to be replaced by FT8.

What do you think?

 

What is your dream Rig?

Posted: August 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

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If you could formulate the specs and design your dream rig, what would it be?

I like the appearance and ergonomics of the Expert MB1. The size and the feel is just right for me. Not too big or too small. In contrast, my long sold Icom IC-7800 was too big and heavy. My Elecraft K3 is just the right size and it’s light weight makes it travel very well. I think the Icom IC-7610 would travel and perform well but I have yet to try one.

As much as I like the looks and ergonomics of the Expert MB1, I would be hesitant to buy a radio manufactured in Russia for various reasons.

I would call my dream rig the K4 and I hope it would be manufactured by Elecraft which is local to me here in Northern California. Elecraft has long been producing and supporting world-class radios and accessories with phenomenal support. As a K3 owner, they have spoiled me with their high standards and performance.

I would also like the ability to use external software such as Flex Radio’s Smart SDR. While Smart SDR is proprietary to Flex Radios, there is plenty of room for competing technology in that realm. The Spectrum display or “fish finder” in Flex Radio’s Smart SDR 2.0 and above is just spectacular.

Any radio that meets or exceeds the performance of the Elecraft K3S would certainly be a big hit and would meet the needs of many of us.

What would be your dream radio?

ready

There has been much written over the years about “the Deserving” and their ability to work DX vs the “Undeserving” who fail to get the DX that they seek.

The Deserving:

The Deserving optimizes their station as much as possible for best performance.
The Deserving is ready and prepared for that sudden rare activation.
The Deserving hones their operating and station building skills.
The Deserving listens before calling and studies the pileup.
The Deserving gets up in the middle of the night to work the DX.
The Deserving takes a vacation day from work to work the DX.
The Deserving uses CW/SSB/RTTY and FT8 to maximize their toolbox.
The Deserving provides some level of support to DX Foundations and DXpeditions.

The Undeserving:

The undeserving neglects their station as it falls into disrepair.
The underserving believes their 100 watts and a wire should work anything/everything.
The underserving whines and complains when he/she can’t work the DX.
The undeserving complains that the DX didn’t accommodate their busy schedule.
The undeserving fails to recognize the value of CW to boost their skills and increase their chances for a contact.
The undeserving does nothing to help or support DX Foundations and DXpeditions.

The vast majority of DXers are among the Deserving. They are ready and able to work any rare DX that comes along. Are you among the Deserving?

What do you think?

KH1/KH7Z Wow!

Posted: July 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

baker2-1000.300

KH1/KH7Z has just concluded after nine days of on the air activity. Wow! This was tough! I found that all of my contacts were difficult to extremely difficult to make. Propagation was about as bad as it can get! There were no sunspots!

Still, the team pushed on. On six of their nine days, they made in excess of 8,000 contacts per day! That is a tremendous effort. They had four days where they made in excess of 9,000 contacts per day and one day with 10,737 contacts! That takes a very intense, focused effort. I wonder if they got up to do bio breaks?

Their signals were never really what I would call loud and clear. They were most workable right before and after our West Coast sunset. On 40 meters they were fairly good copy at our sunrise. Contacts on 30/80/160 meters were very tough!

The operators were excellent for the most part. The CW Ops were “World Class” often making out full calls very quickly. Two of the SSB Ops appeared to be learning the ropes. Lets hope they had fun and go on another DXpedition soon!

KH1/KH7Z was really tough for Europe. I can attest that the KH1/KH7Z team was on the right bands at the right times and was actively listening and calling for EU stations. Propagation just did not cooperate to the extent that any of us would have liked.

All in all, KH1/KH7Z was great effort and I am grateful for this team’s efforts and the contacts that I was able to make with them. I really had fun working them, particularly with FT8 on various bands.

What was surprising from my West Coast perspective is that DQRM seemed very minimal to me. I did not hear the endless hours of jamming and deliberate interference that I have heard on top of so many other high visibility DXpeditions.

Maybe that can be a new trend?

Thank you KH1/KH7Z Team! I can’t wait to hear your stories.

What do you think?

Win10UpdateHell

I have three HF radios in my shack. My 1990’s Yaesu FT-1000MP gets little use these days but remains one of my favorite all time radios. My venerable Elecraft K3 has travelled the world with me and has been to Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia, Myanmar and many other exotic places. This K3 has made somewhere over half a million contacts. While I have never been crazy about the K3’s menu and ergonomics, it is a very solid and reliable performer. On CW, there is no better radio in my opinion than the Elecraft K3 (or K3S)

My newest radio is the Flex 6500 with Smart SDRv2.2.8 and the Maestro. I like the Flex 6500 very much. The SmartSDR is dazzling to display on a large LED display. The learning curve for the Flex technology is quite steep. I have often wished that Fred Cady who writes “How to” books on the Elecraft gear would do the same for the Flex gear. My Maestro does not get much use as I prefer the larger display of SmartSDR. I look forward to that time when I can use my Maestro in conjunction with SmartSDR at the same time.

As great as SmartSDR is, it must rely on a Windows PC. As great as the Flex hardware is (and it is really great) the weak link in the system is the Windows PC. Currently, I am in what I call “Windows Hell” as the last three Windows10 updates have seriously modified my sound card configurations and I have spent considerable time and effort trying to restore them. If it were not for my “Flex Elmer” Ria-N2RJ and the Flex user community, I would have dumped my Flex gear. None of this frustration is Flex Radio’s fault. It is just that it relies on Windows and Microsoft has made Windows an unreliable product/platform.

I’ve had minor frustrations with the Maestro. Because I don’t use it often, it seems that nearly every time I turn it on, it too needs an update of some sort. I end up using my K3 as I await my Maestro to complete its 15-20 minute update and restart.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I clearly prefer radios that are not dependent on any sort of computer as the computer and Windows is the weak link and source of difficulty.

If I were to buy a new Flex, I would consider the stand-alone models that can operate independently of a computer or Maestro. I would also use a PC that is insulated from the Internet and the rest of the world and run SmartSDR on that. That way, I could turn off updates and have a more robust and reliable PC/SmartSDR experience. I regret using SmartSDR on my main PC that is connected to the Internet and is used in many different ways outside of Radio and Logging.

So as things stand, my PC’s sound card settings are seriously hosed and I am spending a lot of time trying to restore them so that I can use and enjoy SmartSDR. In the meantime, I am using and enjoying my trusty K3. Lets hope that Microsoft stops screwing around with Windows 10 so that we can enjoy other activities besides fixing our computers.

What do you think?