Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If you've never used an oscilloscope before...

Back when I posted about my recent purchase of a Siglent oscope, (now $20 less than what I paid for it) Kelly WB0WQS asked if I could make a video demonstrating how a ham or other hobbyist might use such an instrument. I never did make such a video but there are a few good ones already on YouTube, most notably by Alan W2AEW.

If, after watching Alan's videos (particularly those that pertain to how you might use a scope), you decide to get one yourself, one of the best First Uses of such a device is to look at various signals on a simple, functioning radio.

If you have a QCX from QRPLabs, you're in luck. Hans G0UPL has written a 25-page guide to troubleshooting the QCX. Throughout those pages, he has placed images of oscope traces expected to be seen at various points in the transceiver along with descriptions of how those traces were obtained: oscope settings, circuit/rig prerequisites, etc

From Hans' troubleshooting guide

It is an excellent tutorial, not just on troubleshooting the QCX, but on how to use an oscope and interpret its results - lessons that can be applied to any transceiver.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Finished product WSJT-X 2.0 now available; testing by the 3Y0I team

The -rc experiments are over and V2.0 of WSJT-X is now available. Download it here.

As with the -rc versions, my download went smoothly and is now running on the desktop (Flex) with plenty of activity and decodes, meaning that others who may not have participated in the -rc upgrades have now put 2.0 on their machines.

Putting it the laptop (Anan-10e) as we speak.

Come on in, the water's fine.

And this from the 3Y0I Bouvet DXpedition team:

"Today, December 10, starting at 1700Z we will conduct 24 hours of testing via FT8 Expedition Mode version 2.0 on our listed 3Y0I Band Plan frequencies. We welcome all Hams using version 2.0 to participate in this 24 hour test. This will be helpful for us and all who make contact when we land on Bouvet. Our Callsign during this 24 hour test will be E51DOM/mm.
Frequencies while on Bouvet are listed on our Band Plan."

Point your antennas toward South Africa for this test.

For those getting LoTW errors:


Sunday, December 9, 2018

CW: Zero-beat (matching sidetone to received station) helper

Using audio spectrum analyzer app to assist in tuning
My recent build of the Hilltopper QRP transceiver, and its subsequent operation, have reminded me how important it is to zero beat a station you intend to call. The sidetone of the Hilltopper is ~800 Hz - a bit high for my preference and a tone I'm unaccustomed to matching.

Most modern rigs allow the owner to set the sidetone to their preference. For me, 550 Hz sounds good.

Why is this important?

In almost every radio, even inexpensive kits like the Hilltopper, the sidetone serves as an indication of when you are properly tuned (zero beat) to another station. When their pitch matches your sidetone, you're tuned to them in such a way that they'll hear your pitch at their preferred sidetone. Or, better yet, at the center of their receiver's passband.

Dismal conditions on 10m and their benefit to construction

I made about 30 hard-won contacts in the ARRL 10m Contest yesterday. No signals were strong and none were DX. Looking at the bandscope now at 1430Z Sunday shows a barren landscape, the RF equivalent of a lone tumbleweed blowing across an Old West ghost town. In grainy black & white. Can you picture it?

Here is what the activity looked like yesterday:

10m activity at its peak

The good part is that shack time yesterday consisted of cleaning and organizing the workbench in anticipation of my Hardrock 50's arrival.

The mailman brought a few items I'd ordered, one being a package of board-mount SMA connectors. This allowed me to finish construction of my QRPLabs GPS-sync'ed clock. The clock and the GPS receiver are separate circuit boards, allowing the receiver to be placed remotely if desired, for better reception.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Video: Spectrum analyzer feature on upcoming QSX from G0UPL

I'm very much looking forward to the availability of this kit. In the video below, Hans describes a feature of the QSX not previously mentioned: