Monday, April 30, 2018

Testing APRS messenger again (transatlantic)

Since I have no time to be physically in the shack I decided to install the newest HF APRS messenger software and monitor 30m again this weekend. Checking it out once and a while via Teamviewer with my Iphone. This weekend the software did perform well, I had no problems with W10 locking and the whole system ran for about 50-60 hours without any problems. It was also the first time I actually received stations from USA/Canada. I still think this is interesting software although without many users here in Europe it could be useless. This system is a communication tool that is ment to use with several options to communicate. So far I only used PSK63, MFSK16 and MFSK4 but you can also communicate via APRS-IS which is going over the internet. You can connect the program via a software or hardware TNC to a radio on VHF APRS and it is capable of doing APRS via the AX25 protocol. The last version is 3.54 and now you can monitor all the receivers as you can see in the small screen in the picture right side. In the USA there seems to be a Igate with e-mail capabilities, not shure how this works but it seems you can send short e-mail over HF to the Igate then it sends the message to the given e-mail address. So far over the weekend I only exchanged messages with Ari OH5KUY, I noticed I have a path to him almost the whole day.

Interested? Find the program on the internet. But be prepared that it is experimental. The goal of this software is not to make contact after contact and fill your log. The goal is to exchange messages like SMS or Whatsapp including a beacon that gives your location. Best use for it would be during emergency, when everything fails including the internet. Since there are not many users on the air most of the experimenters are disappointed after trying this software. Remember to test and view it like a experimenter and don't expect reliable contacts or receive anything at all...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Visiting PB7Z to fullfill a promise

Last winter PB7Z Bernard asked if it would be possible to remove some branches from a tree behind his house. The problem was that he couldn't safely tilt his antennatower without damaging his antennas. So, I promised to do the work as soon as the weather got better. Bernard is a well known contester and DXer on the HAMbands. Before he and I were licensed we were already fanatic DXers on the 11m band in the ninetees of last century. It was fun to met him and be in his shack.

Sure it was good weather, so far the hottest day of this month. So we did the work we had to do with a lot of sweat and of course a lot of drinks. In between we discussed the radiohobby and the forthcoming CQWW DX SSB in oktober at the same location as we went last year. Thanks Bernard for the nice visit, we will meet again both on radio as in person.

PB7Z is using the same versa tower as me and well, you see the amount of antennas that are in there. I can't show a picture of all the wires and radials in his garden. This photo was made just before cutting the branches. Hopefully it will be enough to safely tilt over the tower now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Is FT8 damaging hamradio?

Currently there is a poll going on at DX Is the new FT8 digital mode damaging hamradio? I remember reading same discussions about SSB when it was new. Personally I don't think this mode will kill hamradio but it changed the whole game. However, there are hamradio operators that take this hobby far to serious. They probabely forgot that hamradio is all about experimenting and it doesn't matter what you experiment with. It is fun to experiment and see that others do the same so you can share your experiences. Most experimenters don't share the experiences via radio anymore but via social networks on the internet. And still it is fun! I remember gathering information about antennas before the internet, it was more difficult to get information on any topic. When packetradio was introduced to me it became easier to share and get info and with internet it became a way of life. Our hobby will evolve if you like it or not....

If you like to read SV5DKL's statement about FT8, you think about how serious the whole thing is becoming even for the developers.  I've been writing about Stathis his experimental FT8 robot and later my thoughts about a DXpedition robot (less operators needed, cheaper DXpedition). Stathis will continue his experiments and was unfortenately prevented from using DXpedition mode for 2 days within the WSJT-X software because of this. Suddenly I was thinking about years ago when I was banned from using a certain digital wide band mode called ROS when a number of bloggers commented the bandwidth was just too large compared to other modes. Well, just like I wrote before....some of us take this hobby far too serious....luckely the WSJT development team realized that as well...

Remember this: hamradio is just a hobby, it should be fun. Learn from your experiments!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Log4OM as QSL processing logbook

Last year I wrote about replacing HRD V4 for Log4OM to process my logbook. I got a few comments how I was progressing and if it worked well. I use Log4OM only to process my log and QSL. It's not the only logbook which has features like bulk uploading to LoTW, eQSL and clublog. But for my needs it's perfect. Still I don't like the statistics you can view with this logbook but still have my HRD logbook installed and it's not the most important thing. These days clublog give you a perfect view on your DXCC status. Below a short (boring) video shot from the features I use to process my log.

Log4OM is free to use software and has so many features you can use. For example it has a very good DX cluster analyzing tool. I'm shure many operators are having a great tool with this software. However, I'm used to the old HRD and for me it is still the most simple but effective logbook software around.

Update 20-4-2018: After discussing Log4OM with PB7Z Bernard I realized I forgot to write that this software does support downloading of QSL card images from eQSL as well as importing your own QSL card scans. LoTW downloading in Log4OM results in a different approach regarding QSL confirmation, if a QSO is confirmed in LoTW the software will ad V (Validate) to your QSL rcvd status. Clublog does support this for your DXCC status.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


How come I never heard of this software before? I really don't know but I only heard about this gridtracker software last week.

"GridTracker is a Windows (XP or above) companion program for WSJT-X. It listens to WSJT-X or JTDX decodes and displays them on a map.

A great way to visualize communicating amateurs around the world!

Display on a large second monitor in your amateur radio club, hamfest or as a demonstration in a classroom. Everyone gets excited when they can see what you’re doing!

You can also load your ADIF log files from WSJT-X,, LoTW, PSKReporter and others to get a visual view of ‘stations worked’, stations that can hear you and more!"

Unfortenately it is not working together with JT-Alert, it has to do with the multicast UDP protocol which is not yet supported by other software involved. However to visualize, for instance to visitors or at a demonstration, it is a great piece of software...

Find it at:

A small demo at PE4BAS. Made out of the box, didn't have time yet to tweak everything. We, as radio enthousiasts, do like this kind of software. However, my daughter of 7 has seen it and telling me it is .....boring.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Into the future: What will happen with all those radios?

I was just thinking. Today most radioamateurs are grey old men. I consider myself as one of the
younger ones amongst them. If I look around the average age of a radioamateur is between 50-70 years old. Despite of doing our best to interest young people in a antique hobby I don't think it will see the numbers of radio operators we have seen now and in the past. At my job we have some young people just getting into a working life. When I practise some CW at lunchbreak they ask me what game I'm playing. When I ask them if they ever heard about morsecode they really don't know what it is and I have to explain it over and over again. Really....those are young people aged 17-18 years! So, what was I thinking about? Well, I just read some posts from "Top Band Chordal Hopper" KY6R. About looking around for another rig, the IC-7610 or the Flexradio system. There are so many OM with money that buy rigs like that and have big towers with big antennas. What will happen with all this stuff within 10-20 even 30 years when most radioamateurs are at the end of their lifetime? The towers and antennas will get recycled. But what will happen with all those "state of" technology radios? Perhaps a museum?
I remember when legal CB radio just got started here in the Netherlands in the early eigthies of last century, that's about 35 years ago. All those nice CB radio's cost a lot of money at that time, and what did you get? A 22 channel box with only 500mW output....the price about 599 dutch guilders (equivalent 200 euro now approx.) You can still buy these radios second hand or even new in a box if you're lucky. Prices between 20 and 50 euro. The really nice ones end up in a museum or in a private collection like the picture above...