Tuesday 28 September 2021

RTTY contesting with N1MM and FLDigi

This weekend I took part in the CQ WW RTTY contest that ran for 48 hours. Not being a serious contester I dipped in and out of the contest using my Yaesu FT-847 and a hexbeam at around 45 feet.

I set up N1MM Logger + to work with FLDigi and once I had the two programs talking to each other it was plain sailing. I have used N1MM Logger previously during SSB contests so I was already fairly comfortable with its configuration and I had also used DM780 previously with Ham Radio Deluxe although it's not entirely suitable for contesting.

Getting FLDigi set up was a little more involved but once I had it configured I really enjoyed using this combination. I think I may give the UKEICC CW contest a try tomorrow evening..!

Friday 5 March 2021


Last November I decided to give Log4OM another try as I was frustrated by Ham Radio Deluxe's inability to handle 13cm band frequencies. It's due to a limitation of the software's architecture to accept 64 bit integers and a frequency such as 2400.220.000 will default to 2147.483.647. I contacted HRD and they are aware of the issue and plan to address this in a future release. They didn't say when but at least it will be addressed.

In the meantime I've been using the excellent and free Log4OM. I dabbled with it previously but always came back to HRD as it was the first logging software I used and was pretty comfortable with it.

The latest version of Log4OM, version 2, is the first major revamp and update of the program and is a very capable piece of software fulfilling the needs of most demanding operators today. Like most logging applications around it does have its quirks and configuring it for the first time can be a little daunting. It does have some annoying features for me, such as the inability to enter a QTH on the main QSO window. It will take the QTH as entered by the operator exactly as they entered it on their QRZ.com page which can include postcodes, CAPS LOCK names and sometimes just plain wrong info!

I've also found that saving the QSO frequency in kHz instead of MHz is preventing me from seeing the correct total number of 13cm band QSO's that I've made via QO-100 in Clublog. I've worked 70 DXCC but Clublog shows only 6! I think Clublog requires the frequency in MHz to show 'worked' entities and this has always worked fine with HRD.

I need to look at this further, maybe try and work a country on a new band and see if that is saved correctly in Clublog but for the most part Log4OM works just fine as a logging tool, best thing of all, it's free..!

Tuesday 24 November 2020

About time I wrote something new...

 It's been almost 3 years since my last post so I thought I'd better give an update.

Since early summer I've been active on QO-100, I'm one of only 6 EI operators that are, as far as I know, licenced to use that portion of the band. So far I've racked up 55 DXCC but given the scarcity of EI calls on the satellite I thought I might have been in greater demand. There are plenty of German stations actiev on the satellite and given their level of involvement in the QO-100 project that's hardly surprising.

Oddly enough I still haven't work any stations north of the border, it seems there is no one on QO-100 from Northern Ireland. Come to think of it, the Isle of Man is quiet too...

Maybe when all this Covid nonsense has eased I may try and activate an island using an 'EJ' callsign, I reckon that may cause a pile up..!

My QO-100 setup is an Icom IC-7000 using an SG Labs transverter on 70cm into an SG Labs amplifier into a PoTY feed on a 1.4m offset dish. I normally use a websdr for receive although I do have a modified LNB which I can use with SDR Console.

Sunday 14 January 2018

FT8, an update

Since FT8 was unleashed on the amateur radio community last summer I've made many contacts using this mode. However, in recent weeks I've noticed an increase in the number of failed QSO's, i.e. where a QSO fails to complete with the '73' exchange and can be logged as a valid QSO. In many cases contact is established with reports exchanged but then an almost endless cycle of RRR's are sent without reply causing me to cancel the QSO and start again.

This is something that is happening increasingly and I would be curious to know if this is something other users of FT8 are experiencing. Given the number of lost QSO's I seem to be experiencing I wonder if it's a mode worth staying with..?

Monday 30 October 2017


Like a lot of amateurs out there I've recently discovered the joys of a recent innovation in the world of digimodes, a new mode called 'FT8'. I had been playing with JT65 as band conditions have been very poor for quite some time and for me, the only way to make reliable QSO's was to run digital mode. I've racked up a lot of contacts on PSK31 and first dabbled with JT65 back in 2013 but FT8 has been a revelation. Each over takes 15 seconds to complete resulting in a QSO that can be completed between 2 stations in 1 minute! As with JT65 there is no extraneous waffle about station equipment, the local WX, etc... just 4 digit locator, signal strength and 73, that's it!
It seems to me that FT8 is taking the digimode world by storm, I've checked the PSK frequencies and they don't appear to be as busy as they once were and this morning I managed to work 14 Japanese stations on 20M using FT8. I wonder how many I might have worked by PSK31..?!

The software is free and can be downloaded from https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

Once your callsign and location details have been entered and you have configured it to run with your rig that's pretty much it. You can call CQ and when a station replies the QSO will be completed automatically with the auto sequencing option selected. Logging is handled by 'JTAlertX' which can be downloaded from http://hamapps.com
I use Ham Radio Deluxe v6 for logging and I had to manually add FT8 as a mode by going into 'Tools > Configure > Modes' and adding FT8 to the list of modes, by doing this each QSO will be correctly logged as FT8.

Enjoy FT8! If anything it's just a great way to rack up your contacts and of course, being a weak signal mode there's no telling who might reply to your CQ!

Monday 12 June 2017

Ham Radio Deluxe

I've been using the free version of the great program 'Ham Radio Deluxe' up until quite recently when I started to notice that the program was becoming quite slow. I uninstalled and reinstalled but this didn't solve the problem and decided that I needed something different, something a bit more reliable that wasn't prone to hanging or the occasional crash, something that could be used as my everyday logger as well as a contest logger.
I searched the web, downloaded various programs, deleted many just as quick but eventually came across a program called AC Log by N3FJP. I liked the layout, it was easily configurable although I was unable to configure the tab order of the various boxes on the logging screen but overall, it did what I wanted it to do. The only real issue for me was because most of my operating is in digimode and I really liked DM780 I found it hard to get to grips with some of the digital programs that would work with AC Log.
I tried to use DM780 with AC Log but found it very frustrating that I could not get the two apps to communicate. Maybe you can't? Maybe I misunderstood how the two interact?
Anyway, after getting a bit fed up with JT-65 (although the software WSJT-X, works flawlessly with AC Log) I decided to look at the more recent versions of HRD.
I downloaded the trial version, installed it, launched the program and imported my logbook. It was like being reunited with an old friend! The familiarity with the app is enough to convince me that I should buy the software despite its fairly steep price.
I have 30 days to play with the program so will look for a possible solution to integrating DM780 with AC Log but I have to say that the ease of use I feel for HRD may mean I have to break out the the credit card..!

Sunday 26 February 2017

Turn your power down!!

I spotted this station SV9RMU in Crete on JT65 yesterday closing with the highlighted message stating he was running 40 Watts into a Hexbeam!

Why so much power?? Anyone using this mode should understand from the outset that anything above 10 to 15W is excessive, in fact somewhere around 5W is the norm for this mode.
Sadly, this kind of behaviour and lack of understanding of the operating protocols of digital modes is leading to increasing levels of QRM in the digital portions of the amateur bands. Once power levels start to increase it becomes a one way street with little chance of normal or proper use of the digital mode used.