Sunday, March 27, 2016

VK0EK Heard Island logged - ATNO and DXCC #319!!

A short time ago I finally made it into the log of VK0EK, the Heard Island dxpedition. I have had poor receive on them since the dxpedition began the other day, and was beginning to wonder if I'd get a QSO at all. They were very weak on 30 metres CW on my home-made inverted v dipole, but I called them 2 Khz down and got into the log at around 23:35 local time (22:35 UTC). This is DXCC number 319 for me, and is of course an All-Time New One (ATNO).

Obviously getting the ATNO in the log is of paramount importance. I will try to chase more QSOs, but now that I have them logged (and confirmed in the log via their wonderful "live" online log service) I can relax a bit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

T88IR Palau finally logged on RTTY after three-day battle!!

Above is a video I made just a few minutes after working T88IR, Palau Island in the Pacific, on 20 metres RTTY. This has been a three-day struggle for me. I had tried unsuccessfully to log him yesterday and the day before. Today, despite the fact that the pile-up was the biggest I've seen, I eventually managed to get him in my log after about half an hour of trying. As you can see, I had a good decode on him. I worked him about 3.5 Khz up. This was a great joy for me, as I've recently been trying to improve my digital tally and have put more effort into this goal, especially since setting up MMVARI for use within Logger32. 

I was rewarded with a similar chase last night, when I managed FH/F2DX on 30m RTTY. I had been chasing him on 30m CW last night and the previous night with no success. The fact that I got him on RTTY meant that I had a new country on 30 metres and a new country on digital modes, which was nice.

My digital total now stands at 171 countries worked.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Now digital modes have just got easier

For a long time now, I've been using Logger32 as my main station logging software, but I was using Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) and Digital Master (DM780) for my digital QSOs. This has been a bit of a labour, because HRD won't connect to the rig while Logger32 is running. The solution is to either shut Logger32 down or to go into Setup -> Radio -> Close Port every time I want to try a digital QSO. So what, I hear you say.

My QSO with V21ZG on 15 metres RTTY using MMVARI.
Well the problem is that although I like digi modes and I like to chase DX on digi as well as CW and phone, having to go through this process is a bit of a chore. And then when I'm finished with digi I have to shut down DM780 and HRD and then make sure to open the port in Logger32 again. So a few days ago, I decided to finally check out MMVARI, which is the digital engine that is already included INSIDE the Logger32 software. I had looked at it previously, but didn't know where to start.

As it transpired, I was able to get signals up on the waterfall really easily. It detected my sound card without any issue and within no time, I was decoding PSK and RTTY signals. Great so far. The problem was that I appeared to have no macros, and didn't know how to set them up. My friend Google soon showed me how to program the buttons along the bottom of the MMVARI window. I looked up the Logger32 help documentation for the macro terminology, and soon I was creating new macros, similar to the ones I use with DM780. All good so far.

I ran a test and everything seemed to work. So I decided to try to make a QSO. So I called A71EM on 17 metres on RTTY and he came back to me and soon he was in the log. My first use of MMVARI bagged me a new country on digital modes. How about that?

One major setback to this newfound joy at having a digital program that worked within Logger32 was that when I changed mode, all my macros disappeared. I couldn't find a solution to this online. (If anyone has a solution, please do send me an email to hamradioireland (at) gmail (dot) com, or alternatively leave a message/reply under this post.) I had to copy and paste my macros into a document and them paste them manually into the various buttons in the different modes. I can now, as a result, make QSOs on PSK31, PSK63, PSK125 and RTTY-U. I still have to enter macros for RTTY-L.

Anyway, since getting all this up and running I have found it to be a joy to use. I did a side-by-side comparison with DM780 (v4.0 build 1901) and I have to say that MMVARI definitely has the edge with weaker signals. MMVARI is able to decode at times when DM780 is not. So this is another advantage to making the change.

One of the really sweet things about MMVARI is how quickly it pops up, in a new window, in front of Logger32. No waiting like I had to do with HRD/DM780. It's not quite instantaneous, but it ain't bad.

Another advantage (and this is a major one) is that MMVARI logs straight into Logger32, with the correct mode, QRG, etc. Previously, I had to manually export QSOs from DM780 as ADI and then import the ADI into Logger32. It made making digital QSOs a bit of a pain in the butt.

Now, digi is a real joy. And my country count is up. I've already worked a few new ones on digital. I now have 164 countries worked on digital modes.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Some very nice eQSLs received recently

I've received a few new eQSL cards in the past week, having done a log upload. I've gone from 201 countries confirmed via eQSL to 206. Now I know it's not an "official" QSL service, but I like using it, and I especially like the virtual cards that you get, which is something I think LoTW could incorporate. Probably the best of the bunch was the above card from Pat when he was active in St. Brandon. He gave me a brand new DXCC with that contact on PSK63, and I'm very proud of it. I've recently sent him a direct card too so hopefully I will receive a physical QSL from him.

Some of the other cards received are below. I'm also very delighted to have received an eQSL from Willis Island.

T32DX - East Kiribati.

VK9WA - Willis Island dxpedition November 2015.

Special event call sign VK100ANZAC from Australia.

Some nice DX action on 12 metres using just my Antron-99 and 100 watts

I caught some nice action on 12 metres when there was a morning opening into Japan. In this video I was running just 100 watts into an Antron-99 vertical. It was a great opening. Hope you enjoy.