Thursday, March 31, 2022

VarAC now with full CAT control


Have posted about VarAC before. One of the disadavantages have been resolved now. the program doesn't need Omnirig and/or any fancy splitter anymore. It can directly be controlled by CAT control from within the software. This makes it way easier for many people to use...

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

#CQWW WPX SSB 2022 contest review

Event: CQWW WPX SSB 2022
Section: SOAB assisted

Logger: N1MM+ 

Station: Icom IC-7300 (100W)

Antenna 1: 160m sloper

Antenna 2: 10m LFA @14m

Antenna 3: Multiband vertical @16m

Antenna 4: 2x20m inverted-V doublet


A historical WPX contest since Russian and Belarussian stations were not counting for point or multipliers. This due to the war in Ukraine. I worked only one Russian station. No other Russians were heard except for some that talked to each other well below 14130 KHz. A very strange experience since normally the 20m band would be crowded with Russian stations early in the morning. 

I didn't work VK (Australia) last year in this contest and actually it seems I always struggle to hear and work VK in contests. But this year they were on the band and I worked a couple of them on 20m and 10m. As a matter of fact propagation was very good Saturday morning with not only VK coming in strong but also  a couple of stations from Hawaii. They were really RS59 at times, captured AH7C in the video below. I concentrated on working DX and multipliers this year and work less Europeans. There is a difference in points. 160-40m 2 points for non-DX and 6 points for DX, 20-10m 1 point for non-DX and 3 points for DX. So it makes a considerable difference if you aim for DX. Besides that I'm not really a contester, I really like to work DX. It went well this year, contacts all over the globe. Although I missed some DX as well. I still receive far more as I can reach with my 100W transmitter. For instance I heard some stations from ZL (New Zealand) and KL7 (Alaska) but they didn't hear me although their signals were at a reasonable strength. On 10m I heard 9N7AA from Nepal with real RS59 (captured on video) I called many times but was unable to work him. I also heard V47T, V31XX, PJ4R and PJ2T on 10m, not really strong but I could understand them well. Unfortunately they probabely all work with a minimum of 1 KW so I had no chance at all. No problem since a lot of other nice DX could be worked well. I was astonished by the strong signals from V31XX (Belize) and V47T (ST.Kitts & Nevis) on 40m, real RS57-9 at times and really easy to work with my system. 

The fun in this contest for me are two things. Working pile-ups on 80m and working unexpected DX and have some chats in between the busy contest traffic. Since my doublet 2x20m inverted-V does well on 80m it is a real pile up creator. No problem to attract stations. Should I try to do a single (80m) band effort in the future? I didn't spend much time on 80m this year because I wanted to work DX on the higher bands. The real surprise for me was a nice chat with Paul 3B8HE (G8AFC) I was clear enough at that memorable moment to capture most of the contact on video.

Friday, March 18, 2022

YU3AWA statement - CQ communications statement


Marija has made a statement and though it appears on other blogs as well I will repost it again. The Netherlands army was involved in a very nasty way in the former Yugoslavian countries as well. All in the name of peace. But war only has loosers. 

One of the biggest contest organisations, probabely the biggest, will exclude Russian radio amateurs from the upcoming CQWW WPX SSB contest at the end of this month.

They are not the only ones doing this. They want to give a signal to the russian radioamateurs that what their country leader is doing is wrong. I understand their statement and understand that the organisation want to do something. I can't really judge if this is right or wrong. What I do know is that many russian people and especially the international oriented radioamateurs do know very well what is going on. However any public opinion will not count for their political leader. You can't talk about the war, you can't protest in Russia. If you do so you will loose your job, income, house, family, radioamateur license or whatever. Probabely end up in jail for a very long time. What would you do in such a situation? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022


 I've experimented with digimode chat software in the past. Remember the V4Chat, FSQ experiments, FT8Call that became JS8 and a few others. Actually first chat software I experimented with was PSK31, I already used that in 1998. And before that we had packetradio which was widely used on CB here, I remember we had some chat software for that as well. Some other modes feature a simple chat as well, I experimented with Olivia and other modes. The fun is that every chat software has some advantages and disadvantages. The ultimate chat program should have more advantages as disadadvantages of course. 


Recently 4Z1AC Irad started to program VarAC, chatsoftware that uses the VARA mode software for transceiving signals. VARA is well known for use with e-mail over radio using Winlink. I wrote about this before last year.

I can write about all features VarAC has on board, but you can read it all on the very nice VarAC website:

Installing VarAC

Installing VarAC is simple. Get it to work together with OmniRig to control CAT/PTT is more complicated. But I managed it well since much of the setup is the same as with previous experiments. Personally I use VSPE to split the USB port to be able to use it for CAT and PTT. You can find some tips about that in this post. I also suggest you read one of the manuals or at least the quick start which you get with your download link.

Problems and help from other users

At first I thought I had a problem with incoming connections, it worked out that a neighbour station was trying to connect me while he had configuration problems. I discovered that after I called for help on the VarAC facebook page. I met some very friendly users including Irad 4Z1AC himself that helped me. As a matter of fact my second QSO was with 4Z1AC, and a day later we chatted again as you can see above. 


I have to say this software is really fun to use, much easier to use compared to JS8. The graphical interface is very clear. Another huge advantage is that there is no timeslot like JS8 (and FT8, FT4 etc.). You don't need the internet or a GPS receiver to keep your computer on exact time. I would rather choose it for mobile/field communications in time of emergency. The internet is vulnerable and GPS is probabely switched off in case of a global "disturbance". But well, although you could use this software seriously in case of emergency it is actually made to have fun. The biggest fun is that Irad is doing constant updates to improve the software and implement new ideas. Ideas you can propose yourself by the way. So far Irad is also a very active user himself as I experienced, I guess he is on 24/7 on 20m. You can always leave him a message. 

In the past chat software like this was not really for the logfilling FT8 community. Well, Irad solved that. VarAC logs automatically. Even when you just send a PING for you report. So, DXing, logfilling and chatting is all in the same package. Now we only need a lot of stations using it. So far, I already saw some stations that experimented with FSQ and JS8 before. I even had a short chat with fellow blogger OH8STN Julian from Finland who also participated in previous experiments. I've had fun with this software package so far and will be experimenting with it when I have some time. I'm curious what new features will be build in in the future and hope to see some more and new users. 


A disadvantage I see so far is the bandwidth of the signal which is 500Hz (or even 2300Hz). It is quite wide compared to FT8/JS8 and other "modern" digimodes. Luckely Irad has made a QSY option including a notify into the software, something that only works when you have CAT control. At least this will prevent collisons in case there are more stations trying to call. I know it is complicated but having CAT/PTT control from within the same package instead of  relying on omnirig would be a lot easier for many people.  What I read on the site is that in the next update the split function I do with VSPE will be build into the software, it is a good step forward.

My personal ideas for the future

What I would like to see in the future is something like a postbox, messages (mail) you can store for certain stations which they can read as soon as your are on air. JS8 has something like that. JS8 also has a relaying feature, I found the use of it a bit complicated. Since VarAC uses a real connected status I think it would be better to use certain stations as a kind of node like the node stations in packetradio. I remember we could kind of DX connecting from node to node and get further away as the normal reach. In the nineties of last century I was quite active on CB packetradio and I had a unmanned TheNet node at my parents house as well. In some circumstances I was able to hop nodes till about 4 or 5 nodes sometimes reaching more as hundred kilometers away instead of the normal 10-20km. I might try to think it over and ask Irad to try implementing it in the future.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

DX Commander

If you're looking for the DX Commander youtube videos you'll probabely find nothing anymore. Please try this link for his new youtube channel DX.Commander.

Callum M0MCX seems to have some issues with google at the moment so his youtube channel is suspended. 

Since blogger is also "google" I had some issues as well regarding adsense in the past. I tried to get it right but "google" doesn't care and I don't care either anymore. If my blog would get suspended I would probabely start over again just like Callum.

Friday, March 4, 2022 blocks Russian callsigns

I personally disagree. But you have to remember is not ours but in possession of an USA HAM called AA7BQ Fred. He can do what he wants with his site. I do remember he had some issues before regarding a "black lifes matter" call. Many USA Hams are very shortsighted and I think it has to do with culture and might sometimes be an education issue.

You might read YO3HJV's blogpost because that translates my vision on it as well. Banning Russian radioamateurs from our community is just as stupid as not working them any more. This does not add anything to peace, it just makes it worse for all. is not the only site to find info on hamradio operators...

Although, not using or removing your QRZ info from the database doesn't add anything as well. I hope Fred will have some regrets and try to help those in need in another way.


Glad Russian HAMs are back into the database...