March 2017 Update

Hi Everyone!

I hope 2017 is shaping up to be as good as you had hoped! This are going relatively well here except that I have run into some issues with my back within the past two weeks. I have a couple of discs that are herniated and are causing sciatic nerve pain. This is extremely painful. I have seen my doc and have started going to physiotherapy so I hope be to back in decent shape within the next few weeks.

With that said, I have not been able to devote much time to making any new videos or doing much of anything ham related lately. I suspect that will remain much the same until my back heals. The one thing that my back has not stopped me from doing is thinking of new ideas for projects and videos. In fact, I may be making a lot of work for myself.

I’ve very much enjoyed making the first two Log4OM videos and I have some ideas for more to continue the series. I like making these videos because I very much enjoy the program. These videos also help me learn more about how it works and some of the more obscure features.

I have also been interested in doing more with my RTL SDR dongle. I had started playing with a few different software applications (HDSDR, SDR Console, SDR#) prior to my back injury. So once I get back into shape I may make a couple of videos demonstrating some of the things you can do with the dongles.

Apart from the video work I have been doing, I have a few other projects that I have been working on:

  • Our radio club has three Yaesu DR-1X repeaters and I have been working with Yaesu to figure out the logistics of getting the 1.10Q firmware on a model that only supports the 1.oo versions (1.00n is the latest). Due to the complexity of this firmware update, we will likely need to send the unit back to Yaesu to have it done as it is not a process they are willing to release to the public. I also found this same response from another operator on one of the System Fusion email reflectors.
  • Along with a couple other operators, I have been looking into potentially doing a local lighthouse activation in May. That is if everything can be lined up and we can get permission to do so.
  • It is getting close to time for me to start planning the placement and work needed to get my two new towers in the air. This past year I acquired a 45 ft aluminium tower as well as a 3o ft self standing tower.
  • I also have two small kits I want to put together. One is a 40 m CW / crystal transceiver, the other is a component tester (mainly a transistor tester).
  • I will use this line to sum up the other 20,000 little things I want (and maybe need) to get done.

That is it for now. If you have any software or topics that you think would make a good video, please let me know and I will check it out.

73 for now!
VE1XT

 

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Log4OM Demonstration 2 – Setting up real-time log generation

I have posted a second YouTube video in my Log4OM series. This time I take a look at how you set up real-time log generation (webpage) and get it uploaded to your website via the built-in FTP client.

73 for now!

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Log4OM Video Demonstration

Hello Everyone! Happy 2017!

I wanted to post and let you know that I have recently uploaded a video of the logging program that I have been using for quite some time. The name of the program is Log4OM. It is feature packed and is completely free to download and use.

Check out the video below!

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can get it here.

73 for now!
VE1XT

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End of the year update

Wow it has been a while since I’ve posted anything. I guess it’s time for a bit of an update.

The most important thing is that I got my TS-570 fixed! Thanks to a local ham who figured out there was a problem with some of the solder joints on the main board. After trying to figure it out for a few days, he noticed that pressing at a certain spot on the board would reliably reproduce the issue. He then went ahead and re-flowed a the solder joints on a good chunk of the board. The radio now works better than ever.

I also picked up two towers this summer, a 45ft aluminum and a 30ft self standing. Neither one of them is up yet but I am hoping to get to it early in the spring when the ground thaws. I hope to get a good VHF/UHF antenna on the self standing and maybe a hex beam or a Yagi for HF on the 45 footer. We will see how it goes.

Another new endeavor for me is taking over admin duties on Repeaterbook.com for Nova Scotia. It’s pretty fun to be a part of this and I’ve learned a lot about the repeaters. There’s a fair bit of research involved to get things updated. If you know of a repeater that needs updating feel free to use the update feature on the website or use the contact form here to let me know.

I’ve been working on a few other odds and ends as well. I have a Yaesu DR-1x repeater with the matching HRI-200 Wires-X node that I intended on getting set up for the club. I have a DX Engineering log periodic (VHF/UHF) antenna that I need to replace a couple elements on. I also have some other non ham projects I am working on.

Below is my latest video on YouTube. It’s showing some nasty noise I have on 80 and 40m. I’ve already shut the power off in the entire house and shack just to find out that it wasn’t anything in either of those places causing it. I guess I’ll have to get out the AM receiver and take a trip up and down the road.

That is all for now. 73s and I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

VE1XT

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Kenwood TS-570S – Issues with Audio and DOTS on screen

I recently posted this to YouTube. My TS-570S has been having a couple of issues.

The first is an issue with receive audio dropping down very low a few seconds after turning the radio on. I am told (by a local ham who repairs most of our gear) that this is usually caused by bad solder joints on the SSB filters. Often times removing the filters, cleaning things up a bit, and then re-soldering them back in place does the trick.

The second issue is the DOTS issue. I am told this is somewhat common and that it’s due to the VCO not being able to lock on frequency. It seems that there’s a pot on the PLL circuit that can be adjusted to set the correct voltage so that the VCO locks correctly.

I’m not an expert in radio repair, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I might be able to do both of these myself. I’ll post an update once I get a chance to attempt the repairs.

73 for now!
Dennis – VE1XT

 

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Practicing CW / Morse Code by Listening to Real Stations

I’ve come to the realization that it is much more interesting to practice CW by listening to real live stations. Lately I have been tuning around the bands to find a QSO or station that is transmitting somewhere near what I think I can copy. Often times I am not able to copy very much but ever once and a while I realize that I have written down a small word (or two) and maybe even a callsign or name.

Tonight while surfing 40m, I came across W1AW’s slow code practice session. This was great. I was actually able to copy multiple sentences. It was much more fun than using a practice application that spits out random strings.

If you are interested, I’ve posted the current W1AW operating schedule. You can find the original (and updates) on the ARRL website.

Pacific Mtn Cent East UTC Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
6 am 7 am 8 am 9 am 1400z Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code Slow Code
7 – 9 am
10 am -12:45 pm
8 – 10 am
11 am -1:45 pm
9 – 11 am
Noon – 2:45 pm
10 am – Noon
1 – 3:45 pm
1500z to 1700z

1800z to 2045z

Visiting Operator Time
1 pm 2 pm 3 pm 4 pm 2100z Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code
2 pm 3 pm 4 pm 5 pm 2200z Code Bulletin
3 pm 4 pm 5 pm 6 pm 2300z Digital Bulletin
4 pm 5 pm 6 pm 7 pm 0000z Slow Code Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code Slow Code
5 pm 6 pm 7 pm 8 pm 0100z Code Bulletin
6 pm 7 pm 8 pm 9 pm 0200z Digital Bulletin
6:45 pm 7:45 pm 8:45 pm 9:45 pm 0245z Voice Bulletin
7 pm 8 pm 9 pm 10 pm 0300z Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code Slow Code Fast Code
8 pm 9 pm 10 pm 11 pm 0400z Code Bulletin

I think I am making some respectable progress. It’s hard to find time with two kids and a full-time job but a few minutes of practice here and there really does pay off.

73 for now!
VE1XT

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Welcome to 2016 – My Ham Goals For The Year

Happy New Year!

Now that 2015 has come to a close and we have a whole new year ahead of us, I’ve decided to set some ham radio goals for the year. I am probably being overly ambitious but if I can get few items checked off I will be happy.

Here are the goals I have set for 2016. They aren’t in any particular order.

  • Continue practicing CW on a daily basis
  • Make my first CW contact by mid February
  • Make lots of HF contacts (CW, SSB, Digital)
  • Study for, and achieve Advanced Certification
  • Acquire a new tower, hf beam, rotor (and get them installed)
  • Purchase and install new Yaesu System Fusion compatible radio (our club now has three YSF repeaters)
  • Purchase and build a kit radio of some sort
  • Become more involved in the technical side of our radio club operations

What are your ham radio goals for 2016? Feel free to comment and let me know. I will also post updates throughout the year when I manage to accomplish some of these.

73 for now!

 

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Re-Learning Morse Code

Back when I first got licensed (Canadian Basic) you only had privileges on bands above 30 MHz. If you wanted to get on HF you had to learn and pass a Morse Code test. There were actually two tests, one at 5 wpm and a one at 12 wpm. I was able to successfully pass the 5 wpm test, and if I recall correctly it allowed access to some HF bands but not all. Unfortunately I never did master the 12 wpm test. I have now decided that it’s high time to get back into it and re-learn Morse Code.

One might wonder why I would do such a thing in this day and age. First off, it’s becoming somewhat of a lost art. Most of the younger hams that I know have zero interest in Morse Code / CW and the older guys are slowly and surely becoming silent keys. I like the thought of taking the hobby back to it’s roots. Have you ever listened to the lower edge of any band when it seems dead? If not, you should take a trip down. You’ll be surprised at what you can hear on CW when phone seems to be completely silent. That is the second, and main, reason why I want to re-learn code.

In my search for tools to help me re-learn Morse Code, I stumbled upon a piece of software called Just Learn Morse Code by  LB3KB. The latest version is 1.23 and was released back in 2006. However, it still works very well. I am currently running it on two different Windows 10 machines without issue. It uses both Koch’s method and Farnsworth timing to teach and it is very flexible. You can choose random characters (your choice of how many), you can load text files to practice from, it will teach you basic words, and you can also have it spit out Q codes and common abbreviations used in real QSOs.

Another great feature of this program is that you can show the output in real time or you can hide it so that you don’t cheat. You can also type the characters as they are being sent so and the program will score you on what you copied. Of course, you can also adjust the WPM speed and character speed if you so wish.

I am not affiliated with LB3KB or have anything to do with the software, other than being a user. I just wanted to say thanks for the great application. I’ve included some screenshots below to give you a peek at what the software looks like. I will post again later on once I make some more progress. I am currently copying fairly well, albeit at very low speeds, but I hope that should improve with lots more practice.

The splash screen

Just Learn Morse Code

The basic interface. Output at the top. Input (your copy) at the bottom. Click the characters on the right and see what happens.

Just Learn Morse Code

Example of the session results

Just Learn Morse Code

The menu where you can configure the source of the code the program will send.

Just Learn Morse Code

Best 73s for now!
VE1XT

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The 10-Megabyte Computer System

How times have changed…

 

The 10-Megabyte Computer

 

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K1N Navassa DXpedition Official DVD Trailer

I had a blast working K1N earlier this year and from this trailer it looks like the DXpedition team did also. Apparently the DVD is 44 minutes in length and the initial production run is around 1000 units.

I might have to get myself a copy of this video.

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