Friday, September 13, 2019

New QRP radio announcement: MTR-SSB

From LNR Precision's website:

NEW Mountain Topper Radio! – Tentative Name: MTR-SSB

2 bands – either 80/60 (ECM market) or 40/20
Sound card input jack for digital modes. (will need a Y adaptor as input/output is on same jack)
CW mode
10W p-p output typically
12-13.8V supply
60 ma Rx current
LCD display
Pricing – still TBD
Available – TBD but hopefully before end of 2019, in time for Christmas.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Equalize charging my station batteries

It's been 3-1/2 years now since going almost 100% solar power here in the shack (the exception is the KPA-500 amplifier which is powered my 240VAC).

The batteries are two 6V Trojan T105 "golf cart batteries" in series. They are charged by two 100W Renogy solar panels on the roof via an MPPT controller.

The whole set-up has worked great but the one weak link is that there is no easy way to periodically perform an equalize charge on the batteries. According to Trojan I am supposed to do this every 30 days - in 3-1/2 years, I've never done it and didn't know if the process today would take 3 hours or all day.

An equalizing charge puts 16.2V on the batteries for a consistent, uninterrupted amount of time. There are "smart" solar controllers but none are smart enough to know if today's weather will become too cloudy to produce the required voltage for the necessary amount of time.

Equalizing refers to applying a higher-than-normal charging voltage to the batteries in order to cause the electrolyte to bubble and therefore to more thoroughly mix. Over time, the electrolyte tends to settle and the acidic concentration is not uniform from top to bottom. This is particularly true of stationary batteries such as those used in a home station.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Remote operation of FT8 via TeamViewer (Sept QST)

Remoting from 8" Samsung tablet

An article in the September (2019) issue of QST caught my attention and I've been tinkering with the procedure described for a few days now. The article is "Enjoy FT8 From Almost Anywhere" by Bob Witmer W3RW.

ARRL members can read the article here (page 33).

Bob describes how to use TeamViewer to enable remote digital operation of your home station.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Automated FT8 "FoxBot" in upcoming DXpedition - confirmed

Mk1 FoxBot, 2019
UPDATE: the SV5DKL logo has now been removed and the DX team will be in "full compliance" with the mode. Moral of the story: don't advertise your intentions to use a bot program!


Click here for WSJT-Z "bot" (de SQ9FVE) description.


A DXpedition to Tokelau will take place from 1 to 11 October and it may be will be won't be your chance to work an FT8 robot operating in Fox/Hound mode.

Stathis SV5DKL has been working on a "FoxBot" for some time now, is listed as a partner to this DXpedition and has confirmed that the DXpedition will be using his FoxBot.

The ARRL has recently announced that, effective immediately, regarding automated contacts:

WHAT is NOT allowed:
Operator sets up fully automated QSOs that automatically answer and CQ again without human intervention. This is possible with external software to control WSJT-X, modified versions of WSJT-X and third party programs that use the WSJT decoding algorithms but offer fully automatic operation.

In effect, contacts made with robots will not count for DXCC credit.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Using a "bot" for full-auto FT8

Yesterday I downloaded and have been using two versions of Tom SQ9FVE's fork of WSJT-X software. Something Tom calls WSJT-Z.

Among other things, WSJT-Z is a "bot". An automatic CQ-caller/responder for FT4 and FT8. But it's much more than that...

I was curious how well such a process might work and believe that there is room in our hobby for an automated 2-way mode in the same way - and for the same reasons - that we have a 1-way automated mode (WSPR).

Before I get to the "bot" part of WSJT-Z I should mention the other aspects of this program that make it superior to WSJT-X.