Saturday 29 January 2011

An Interesting discovery

Following on from my last post it seems I have found the main source of QRM that was caused by one of my PCs at least. In the pic with my previous post you may have noticed  the "Black box" Icom PCR1000 receiver, sitting on top of my little HF linear amp. That receiver is connected to the main pc-the one I have moved onto another desk.Having moved that PC I found that the S9 of noise on 10 metres which was always there when the PC was on had disappeared. Today I decided to reconnect the Icom receiver. Since the Icom uses a serial port connector I use a USB to Serial lead out of the PC which connects to serial lead and then to the Icom.
Plugging the lead into my USB hub, Windows 7 automatically installed the USB to serial driver and then............S9 of noise on 10 meters. Moving the lead directly into a USB on the PC reduced this to S6 but unplugging altogether reduced the noise to nil.
I don't know why this lead should be radiating noise like this, but I will try and move the Icom receiver to be controlled by the other PC. Perhaps winding the lead around a ferrite ring would help? I think I have one here and will give it a try.If that doesn't work I think I will be moving the Icom on.

Friday 28 January 2011

All change

I managed to find a space to reinstall the Trio/Kenwood TS830s on the Desk. Now all I need is a three way switch so I can switch my antenna between the three HF rigs. Whilst I was about it I moved the main PC further away from the radios. This has greatly reduced the QRM I was getting from that PC. The older PC which I use for PSK31 still generates some noise. In order to move that I will either need to get extension cables for the keyboard and mouse or maybe pick up a wireless mouse and keyboard set.

When I look at all the gear in the picture here it strikes me that the little Yaesu FT857D which you can see on top of my Yaesu FT1000MP could in fact do everything that all of the other gear could do, all in one tiny box. At present I just use the 857 on VHF. Perhaps I should clear the decks and use a minimalist shack based around the 857? :-)

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Learning the hard way.

For the last couple of days I have been using the CW GET software to help practice my CW sending. Although it can be quite distressing to see thaT what you thought was good CW isn't. CW GET is not like the human ear. It doesn't make any allowances. If your timing is slightly out your G will appear on CW GET  as a T and an N and so on.
One thing is for sure when I do go on air for my first (for 20 years) CW I will use my straight key rather than the paddle- results were a bit better with that! More practice needed on the paddle I think!

Tuesday 25 January 2011


Just downloaded and installed the JT65a software I have been reading so much about. It looks really complex! I have also been reading a handy guide to this mode "The Complete Bozo's Guide to HF JT65A ( a work in progress)"by Andy K3UK. I'm not sure I will get the hang of this mode but will try monitoring first to see how I get on. In the meantime I have also been playing around with the Flidgi software and managed to decode an MFSK16 transmission with it today. I have been using Digipan for years on PSK31, I can see Flidgi is a more versatile piece of software but I think it will take me a while to get used to the user interface.

Monday 24 January 2011


When I installed the HF gear in my car last year, it soon became clear that even though the antenna mount was installed on the bootlid (trunk) of my Volvo saloon car with an HF antenna installed it was long enough to hit overhanging tree branches etc. To avoid too much strain on the antenna and mount I purchased a spring on Ebay and installed that. The spring fits between the UNF mount on the boot and the antenna and absorbs a lot of the strain.
Last year I mentioned the disappointing quality of the Sirio antenna mount I had purchased although it still works it is rusting away quite quickly and will need to be replaced soon-not impressive after just around 6 months. That mount by the way is being used for the VHF whip, the 10 year old Diamond mount is being used for HF and still looks as good as new. I can't say the same for the Ebay spring though which had a shiny chrome finish but now looks like this:

Now I didn't pay a great deal for this little item, but it was the only one I could get. It still functions of course but looks awful again after 6 months. Yes it has been outside in all weathers but surely that it what it was designed for! I  don't want a rusty thing like this attached to my car! I have now painted it silver with some Hammerite paint so that it looks a little better. I wonder is it possible to get quality antenna items anymore or should be just accept that things are only going to last six months or so?

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Little and often

I am on leave from work for a few weeks while the YL recovers from an operation.This means a little extra (but not a lot!!) of time for radio in between the household chores and looking after the YL.Some of this time I am using for CW practice, a little time on the CW teaching software on the PC, a little time sending to myself on the paddle key and some time listening to and writing down CW off the air. Added to which when I am in the shack and not transmitting myself I am listening to CW. I am hoping that by doing this for a while I will be able to get back on the air with the key!
In the evenings I am still doing a little work on PSK31, as far as I can see HF conditions are still pretty poor though. I may download and give the JT65 mode a try sometime too.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Software Solution

A couple of weeks ago I posted a note on the Transmission 1 radio forum, commenting on the reports of low TX audio that I had received when using my Chinese made Luiton Handheld.
One of the contributors to the forum "Gladiator" was kind enough to post a link to some software to program the rig.
Now I already had some software but this is the Dealer programming software which has further adjustments available, including the changing of the frequency rang both for transmit and receive and more importantly some settings for the TX audio level.

Changing  some of these settings has resulted in much better audio reports which rather makes me wonder why the default settings were so poorly chosen. The software adjustments have made this little rig a much more useful piece of equipment.
Also through the post today came my second  Shortwave broadcast QSL from another station soon to leave the shortwave bands- Radio Slovakia International.