October 24, 2020

Fun completing 18 five-band-WAS contacts today

Conditions were pretty good this morning on the 10m,15m, and 17m bands.  I had a blast completing contacts with 18 different new states that I needed for five-band WAS.  This was an unusually high number of needed-QSOs in a single operating setting.  It is amazing how well amateur radio works even at the bottom of the solar cycle.  

My five-band WAS is ways off yet as I need to make some improvements to my 80m antenna capability first.  I also need favorable conditions on 10m to return.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 19, 2020

2020 Jamboree on the Air

My daughter (KN6JYE) and I (NJ2X) had fun this past weekend (October 16-18, 2020) participating in the annual scouting Jamboree on the Air.  JOTA is the world's largest scouting activity and involves scouts all around the globe getting on amateur radio and having fun.

We had a blast talking with scouts and scouters in The Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, and the USA.  Scouting and amateur radio make a great combination.

JOTA 2020

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 16, 2020

What is a radiogram?

A radiogram is a formal message routed by amateur radio operators through the National Traffic System (NTS).  A radiogram is initially written down using a paper form to help organize and normalize the information.  The radiogram is relayed to volunteer radio operators who also use the radiogram paper form to copy and pass the message onward.

The radiogram has been in use for a very long time in amateur radio and retains its usefulness in emergency situations when fragile infrastructure-based communication such as Internet and telephone fail.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 9, 2020

Digital DXCC Completed!

The digital door to DXCC is available to hams with a transceiver, computer, TNC, and software

I completed my DXCC Phone award back in 2015 and DXCC Mixed award (#57,420) in 2012.  I have been working casually on the ARRL's Digital DXCC Award for the last decade with all contacts confirmed exclusively via the Logbook of the World.  Today (October 9, 2020), my 100th digital DXCC contact was confirmed on the LoTW with BI4XDT.  Woot! Woot! I did it at last!

The award requires completing 100 contacts using only digital modes.  I really enjoy digital radio communication and the various digital modes.  Browsing my log, I noticed I accumulated my contacts using the following digital modes:
  • FT8
  • JT65
  • MFSK16
  • PSK31
  • PSK63
  • PSK125
  • RTTY
It is amazing that we amateur radio operators have access to so many digital modes.  My list above is only a few of the possible available modes.  Digital modes are fairly easy to use and available to hams having transceiver, computer, communications software, and a terminal node controller (TNC).

Looking forward to exploring new digital modes on more bands with more countries on my way to the DXCC Challenge award.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Calculating the line-of-sight radio path

VHF and UHF radio communication are most commonly based on line-of-sight propagation.  Line-of-sight is the thus the ordinary limiting factor which determines how far your signal will reliably travel.  There is a really great free tool for visualizing the line-of-sight path between two GPS locations.

Recently, I worked a station through the W6CX Mt. Diablo repeater from the summit of Mt. Lassen 292 km (182 miles) away, using my 5W Kenwood TH-F6A HT.  Below is the line-of-sight plot between the two summits using scadacore.com.  I simply entered the GPS decimal coordinates for the two locations and scadacore.com automatically produced the the radio path study and a google map showing the two locations.  This was quick and easy to do.

Radio path study between the summits of Mt. Diablo and Mt. Lassen

You can find GPS decimal coordinates for a location easily using Google Maps.

  1. On your computer, open Google Maps
  2. Right-click the place or area on the map or type in an address in the search
  3. Select, "What's here?"
  4. At the bottom, you’ll see a card with the coordinates
  5. Click on the card to open it
  6. Highlight the GPS decimal coordinates on the card to copy

The scadacore.com google map is interactive which allows you to move the points around and instantly see the plot.  This is a very helpful way to explore possible paths between two locations.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 2, 2020

WSJT-X Automatic Logging Into Ham Radio Deluxe

Ham Radio Deluxe DM780 supports an excellent selection of digital modes.  There are several popular digital modes that HRD DM780 does not support including FT8, JT65, and WSPR.  To run these digital modes, additional non-HRD software is required.

I have found WSJT-X easy to work with especially when combined with JTAlert.  WSJT-X implements communication protocols or "modes" called FT4, FT8, JT4, JT9, JT65, QRA64, ISCAT, MSK144, and WSPR, as well as one called Echo for detecting and measuring your own radio signals reflected from the Moon.  These modes were all designed for making reliable, confirmed QSOs under extreme weak-signal conditions.

However, by default WSJT-X writes only to its own log when only basic configuration is setup.  This is inconvenient to Ham Radio Deluxe users as there doesn't seem to be an easy way to export/import the WSJT-X log into Ham Radio Deluxe.  Even if there were a manual export/import, who would want a two-step logging process anyway?  Spend less time logging means we have more time for making contacts. 

Fortunately, WSJT-X and Ham Radio Deluxe can be easily configured to work together to enable WSJT-X logged contacts to automatically update the Ham Radio Deluxe log.  The integration involves enabling and configuring "QSO Forwarding" in both applications.

Step 1: Configure HRD QSO Forwarding

  • Navigate to HRD-->HRD Logbook-->Tools-->Configuration-->QSO Forwarding
  • UDP Send - uncheck "Forward logbook changes using UDP to other logging programs"
  • UDP Receive
    • Add a check to "Fill in missing fields on Receive"
    • Add a check to "Lookup missing fields on Receive"
    • Uncheck "Receive logbook changes using UDP from other logging programs (TR4W, N1MM)
    • Receive QSO notifications using UDP from other applications (WSJT-X)
      • Receive Port: 2333
      • Target Database: My Logbook
      • MyStation fields should be: Merged

Step 2: Configure WSJT-X QSO Forwarding"

  • Navigate to WSJT-X --> File --> Settings --> Reporting
    • Check "Prompt me to log QSO"
    • Network Services
      • Check "Enable PSK Reporter Spotting"
    • UDP Server
      • Check "Accept UDP requests"
      • Check "Notify on accepted UDP requests"
      • Check "Accepted UDP restores window
      • UDP Server:
      • UDP Server port number: 2237
    • Secondary UDP Server (deprecated)
      • Check "Enable logged contact ADIF broadcast
      • Server name or IP address:
      • Server port number: 2333

Step 3: Test QSO Forwarding from WSJT-X to HRD

Note on rig control: I have configured rig control in both WSJT-X and HRD.  This means that I can only use one or the other at the same time to control my station.  With this approach, I simply disconnect HRD rig control when I am going to run WSJT-X.  When I am done with WSJT-X, I close the application and then click the "Connect" button in HRD to re-enable HRD rig-control.  If I attempt to run rig control in both applications at the same time, they conflict and generate an error.
  • Complete a contact in WSJT-X
  • Log the contact in WSJT-X
  • Confirm that the contact was logged in HRD

VoilĂ !  You have successfully configured WSJT-X and HRD to automatically log WSJT-X contacts in the HRD logbook.  This will save you tons of time from having to manually type your WSJT-X QSOs into the Ham Radio Logbook.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

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