Showing posts with label Amateur Radio Software. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amateur Radio Software. Show all posts

February 25, 2022

WSJT-X Tip #2: Call 1st

QSO's using FT8 are often fast and furious.  When conditions are favorable it is easy to end up in a pileup situation with many stations calling you at once.  WSJT-X includes a helpful feature that enables the software to automatically respond to the first decoded responder to your CQ.  Just check the box labelled, "Call 1st".

This is very helpful to keep up with the pace of QSO's.  It is not intended to be a substitute for an operator actively controlling their station.




Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Related articles:
© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

May 7, 2021

WSJT-X Tip #1: JTAlert

An outstanding companion to WSJT-X is JTAlert.  JTAlert monitors the stations you receive and provides feedback to help you choose which stations to select for a contact.  



Helpful alerts include:
  • Identifies stations you worked before
  • Color codes stations that are calling CQ in green
  • Color codes stations in grey that are in the middle of a QSO
  • Flags wanted callsigns
  • Flags wanted US States
  • Flags DXCCs
  • Ignores callsigns
 JTAlert is a must-have companion for anyone using WSJT-X.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Related posts




© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

March 14, 2021

Amateur Radio Computer Clock Synchronization

Weak signal work with modes such as FT8, FT4, and JT65 all require software running on a computer with its time synchronized.  The consequence of running a computer with its internal clock substantially out of sync is to neither be able to decode signals nor have your signals decoded by others.

You may have noticed hearing strong stations that were not decoding.  It is likely that their computer’s clock was substantially out of sync with yours.



With the WSJT-X application, synchronization is measured by the DT value (time-differential).  Small DT values are necessary for effective communication.  If you happen to see an abundance of FT8 signals on the waterfall yet few decodes, or a distinct bias of negative DT values on decode, these are indicators that your computer’s clock is in need of synchronization. 

Curious about your computer's clock synchronization?  Use time.is to get a measurement of your computer's clock against a standard.

On Windows 10, it is fairly easy to manually sync the computer's clock.  Though it is also easy to forget to do this periodically which can lead to the computer's clock becoming unacceptably out-of-sync resulting in lost QSO's.  Computers are supposed to do this type of work for us humans anyway!

Fortunately, there is a handy little utility called NetTime that takes the work out of keeping your computer's clock synchronized within a millisecond.  NetTime is a Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) client and it is easy to install and configure.  The only real change I made to the default settings is setting the update interval to 15 minutes.  15 minutes happens to be the most frequent update value possible in the application.



Hope this helps you make more digital contacts.  See you on the air.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 1, 2021

Configuring WSJT-X with a Kenwood TS-480SAT and SignaLink USB

Communicating on HF using various digital modes is a ton of fun.  There has been a significant shift in the popularity of digital modes toward FT8 over the last couple of years.  PSK31, JT65, and other digital modes have nearly disappeared from the bands.  This means hams need to join in the FT8 craze if they want to operate digital modes and actually make contacts.  WSJT-X is my preferred software for JT65, FT8, and FT4.  In this post, I will share how I have configured my station for WSJT-X digital HF communication.

Station Control

I use a Kenwood TS-480SAT that is capable of 100W on HF and 6M.  The TS-480SAT is interfaced to the computer for radio control through the radio's serial port through a Keyspan USA-19HS USB adapter.  The radio's audio is interfaced to the computer from the TS-480SAT's data port through a SignaLink Integrated USB Sound Card.  I have used this configuration for years with excellent results.

Kenwood TS-480SAT

SignaLink Integrated USB Sound Card

WSJT-X Settings Configuration

Radio
  • Cat Control - Serial Port: COM3
  • Serial Port Parameters: Baud Rate = 57600
  • Data Bits: Default
  • Stop Bits: Default
  • Handshake: Hardware
  • Force Control Lines: DTR and RTS are both blank
  • PTT Method: CAT
  • Transmit Audio Source: Rear/Data
  • Mode: USB
  • Split Operation: None
Audio
  • Input: USB Audio CODEC - Mono
  • Output: USB Audio CODEC - Mono

TS-480 SAT Configuration

Menu 56 Com Port Parameters = 57600
Menu 60 VOX Operation With Data Input = Off


Be sure to check out my article on setting up WSJT-X for automatic logging with Ham Radio Deluxe.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Other related articles:





October 9, 2020

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: 127.0.0.1
      • UDP Server port number: 2237
    • Secondary UDP Server (deprecated)
      • Check "Enable logged contact ADIF broadcast
      • Server name or IP address: 127.0.0.1
      • 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




Related posts:

September 4, 2020

Migrating Ham Radio Deluxe to a New Computer

I have been migrating my applications and data to a new computer.  My old computer served me well for many years and has been exhibiting a growing number of issues indicating it was time to be retired. The next step in the transition process was to migrate Ham Radio Deluxe (version 5.24.0.38) to the new computer running the latest version of Ham Radio Deluxe (version 6.7.0.301).

I am very excited about this upgrade to HRD as I am looking forward to running a well supported high-quality application and discovering new features and enhancements.  HRD has been the rug that really tied the shack together.  This will also be the first version of HRD that I have had to pay for as I have always relied on the free version.


My strategy was to migrate my HRD log using a backup as well as custom DM780 macros and then manually configure the application.  I chose this strategy since it was straightforward and would assure a clean migration.  This strategy would also afford me the opportunity to review the HRD configuration for new settings and features that have been introduced since the old freeware version.

I have shared my migration procedures below in case this information is helpful.  If you have any additional tips or advice regarding upgrading and migrating Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) to a new computer, please be sure to leave a comment.

Migrate HRD Log Procedure

1) Install the latest version of HRD on the new computer.

2) Backup the HRD log files on the old computer and save the backup to cloud storage (e.g. Google Backup and Sync, Microsoft OneDrive, ...).
  • HRD Logbook --> More --> Backup --> Options
    • Change the backup location to use cloud storage
  • HRD Logbook --> Backup
3) Restore the HRD backup files from cloud storage on the new computer.
  • HRD Logbook --> Backup --> Restore
    • Add the cloud storage location of your backup file
    • Click Restore
    • Confirm the number of records to restore and click, "yes"
    • Confirm the number of restored entries and click, "OK"
    • Click "Finish"

Reconnect HRD to the ARRL LoTW

1) HRD Logbook --> More --> LoTW --> Download
2) Add the LoTW username and password
3) Click download to confirm it is working properly

Migrate HRD DM780 Macros Procedure

1) Save the old Macros to a file on cloud storage
  • Digital Master 780 --> Tools --> Macros
  • Save the file to cloud storage
2) Load the old Macros into the new HRD
  • Digital Master 780 --> Tools --> Macros
  • Load the macro file on cloud storage
Confirm the old macros are available

Reconfiguring HRD Procedure

I choose not to attempt to migrate HRD configuration settings from my old version of HRD to the new version of HRD on the new computer.  I didn't want to deal with having to clean up self-created migration messes to save a few minutes of configuration.  Manually configuring HRD would work just fine for my needs and this would also provide me with an opportunity to discover new configuration settings and options.

1) HRD Logbook --> Callsign (My Info)
  • Name
  • Locator
  • QTH
  • E-Mail
  • HomePage
  • Radio
  • Antenna
  • Power
2) HRD Logbook --> Clock
  • Format - change to GMT/UTC

Reassociate Keyhole Markup Language with Google Earth

During testing, I found that HRD would not launch Google Earth when attempting to do a lookup on a contact.  Instead, Adobe Reader was being launched due to a mis-association in Windows with Adobe and .KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files.  The solution was to re-associate .KML files with Google Earth in Windows.
  1. Go to https://developers.google.com/kml
  2. Click on "Half Dome hike" to save a .kmz file to downloads
  3. Right click on the .kmz file in the downloads folder
  4. Select "open with"
  5. Select Google Earth and check "Always use this app to open"


Good DX and 73, NJ2X




Related posts:


April 9, 2016

Updated the blog design

Dear Reader,

The old blog design seemed a bit stale so I went ahead an updated the design and made a few simplifications.  I am pleased with the result.  Hope you are too.  Would love feedback.




Good DX and 73,

NJ2X

April 5, 2013

Smith Charts and SimSmith

The Smith chart, invented by Phillip H. Smith (1905–1987), is a graphical aid to assist in solving problems with transmission lines and matching circuits.

Confused about what Smith charts are or how to use them?  We found a series of videos by AE6TY and a tool called SimSmith that are very helpful.



There is some really good information available at http://www.ae6ty.com/Smith_Charts.html

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 19, 2013

The Ham Whisperer: Morse Code Course

I recently learned of the The Ham Whisperer: Morse Code Course: lessons for the International Morse Code Course.  This free course is a fun way to learn Morse code.

Morse Code with a straight key is fun!

I really enjoyed lesson one.  The video pace was slow enough that I could keep up without issue and fast enough that I didn't lose interest.  I particularly liked the positive reinforcement of the association between the letter and the Morse code equivalent.  For example, while learning the letter "E" a voice would speak the letter "E" after the Morse code "dit" while the screen displayed a large, "E".  This approach worked for me very well.

The duration of the lesson was also about right with enough practice to learn three letters while short enough to again keep the student's attention.

So if you are looking for help to learn Morse code do check out The Ham Whisperer.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

December 23, 2011

HRD DM780 Macros: Curse or Blessing?

The Ham Radio Deluxe DM780 software is unquestionably a wonderful product - large number of digital modes, powerful features, and easy to use.  There is no mystery as to why DM780 has such a strong following among hams.

Monitoring 40m PSK31 activity with DM780

One of the convenient features of DM780 is automation of the QSO with macros.  You can think of macros as an automated form letter.  This allows for quick exchanges of routine information.  There are several very good reasons for using macros in DM780 or any other similarly enabled ham radio software:
  • Macros relieve the burden of typing the same information over-and-over again.  No fun typing CQ CQ CQ .... over and over again.
  • Speed up the QSO and allow the operator to multitask.
  • Provides an assistant to people with physical disabilities which limit their use of a keyboard.
  • Provides a structure to the QSO.
  • Macros are very useful with the hyper-fast modes like PSK-125.  Most people simply can't type fast and accurately enough to keep up with the mode.
  • Macros are a great way to make an exchange in a language you don't speak (see our article, "HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro").
Some hams are put off by macros.  Some even to the point that they avoid using digital modes like PSK31 due to what they perceive as inappropriate overuse of macros.
  • Some hams feel that macro driven QSO are like form letters lacking the human touch.
  • Some hams prefer a short efficient QSO.  They don't enjoy receiving macro-driven unsolicited extensive information about the contact's station, detailed accounts of the weather, long lists of awards, ...
We really enjoy using digital modes and macros definitely have a place in our operation.  We enjoy using digital modes for rag chewing and award hunting.  Sometimes we use macros, other times we don't and sometimes we combine both macros and typing.  It all depends on the context of what we are doing and who we are communicating with.  Here are a few tips for macro use:
  • Don't send station details, weather conditions, or award information unless asked for this information.
  • Keep macros lean and efficient.  Avoid loading them up with unneeded information.
  • Consider combining both macro and typed information together to give the exchange a human touch.
  • Don't use macros for very simple exchanges.  For example, the minimum exchange for a SKED is often call sign and report.  We typically choose to simply type the exchange during a PSK31 sked QSO.
  • Avoid the use of macros during a rag chew QSO and give your communication the human touch.
  • As an alternative to providing unsolicited details, consider sending a simple Internet link to your information.  This allows people to decide for themselves if they want to learn more about your station, awards, etc. by following the link.
We don't agree with those that abandon digital modes because of a few well-intentioned hams who overuse macros.  The art of amateur radio is communication.  We are in the glass-is-half-full camp thus we believe the art will continue to improve as we all gain experience with digital modes and grow with the hobby.  Also, operating digital modes are simply too much fun to just stand on sidelines.  It is much more fun to fire up the rig and get into the middle of the game.

See our related articles:
HRD DM780 Calling Macro
HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro



© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

October 5, 2011

Hunting LoTW Stations

The advantages of the Log Book of the World (LoTW) were apparent to us immediately when we first learned about the system.  The promise of matching QSL's (a confirmation of communication between two hams) instantly instead of waiting months or even years for paper QSL's is compelling by itself.  Automating QSL administration with electronic logging meant more time operating and less on paperwork.  Avoiding the cost of postage and printing paper QSL's meant more money for other things in the shack.  From our view the LoTW promised an all around win-win-win.


The challenges of the LoTW became visible only after having adopted the system.  The primary challenge is to find contacts that also participate in the LoTW.  Fortunately, the ranks of LoTW users continue to grow every day making it easier and easier to find and make contacts and LoTW QSL's.

Our approach in the beginning was a shotgun method - making contacts without concern if the station was a LoTW user or not.  As a result, LoTW QSL's were a minority and our progress toward WAS (Worked All States) and DXCC (DX Century Club) proved to be somewhat slower than we would have liked.

Our next strategy was to call and indicate we were looking for LoTW stations.  This seemed to improve the LoTW contact rate somewhat.  Again the progress toward WAS and DXCC was slow.

Over time, we learned of several resources on the web that can help identify, target, and locate LoTW stations.  Armed with information our LoTW contact rate improved greatly which ultimately help us earn the ARRL WAS and Triple Play (#464) awards.  Here are three excellent sources on the web for finding LoTW stations:

K3UK LoTW Sked - This is a really great site for meeting and making skeds with other hams using the LoTW.

LOTW Online Users Cluster - The purpose of this site is to locate stations who are registered in the LoTW.

HB9BZA LoTW User List -Compilation of information from many different sources identifying LoTW users.

QRZ - QRZ, is a wonderful source of worldwide call signs and data about hams including if they use the LoTW (or not).  How did we hams live without qrz.com back in the days before Al Gore invented the Internet and global warming?

QRZ Forum - SKED - QSO Scheduling - The QRZ SKED forum is a good resource for finding hams looking for a sked or to post your own request for a sked.

Interestingly enough, the ARRL does not provided a comprehensive list of the LoTW users or a database to query for this information.  That makes the above sources positively essential for hams attempting to make LoTW contacts and earn awards though LoTW QSL's.

As the saying goes, information is power.  Armed with the above you are now empowered to focus your search for LoTW stations on the air and hopefully rack up some serious LoTW contacts, QSL's, and awards.  These sites can help you enjoy the full benefits provided by the Log Book of The World.  If you don't use the LoTW, we hope this article will motivate you to get started with the LoTW today.

Stay tuned for the next articles in this series where we discuss various ways to leverage each of these websites to improve your LoTW contact rates.

Be sure to check out our related article, "Chasing DX The Easy Way with HRD DM780".

73,

NJ2X


Related articles:
HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro 
HRD DM780 Macros: Curse or Blessing?
HRD DM780 Calling Macro 




© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

September 30, 2011

HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro

We enjoy working digital modes like PSK31 and RTTY using Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) DM780.  We are always looking for contacts using the Log Book of the World (LoTW).  DM780 comes with useful macros that are easy to customize.



It is fun to close out a qso using the native language of the country where your contact resides.  Additionally, we find it helpful to let contacts know that we prefer LoTW QSL's.  Below are three HRD DM780 macros that we created to illustrate how incorporate various languages.  To use these just copy/paste the macro text into a new DM780 macro that you create.


#++
#
#   English version end of the QSO, 73 and thanks for the QSO.  LoTW preferred.
#   by NJ2X
#--
#
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> <add-log>73 <his:name> and thanks for the <qso-mode> QSO <qso-mode-count> de <his:band>. LoTW preferred.
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> sk <stop>



#++
#
#   Spanish version end of the QSO, 73 and thanks for the QSO.
#   by NJ2X
#--
#
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> <add-log>73 <his:name> y gracias por el agradable <qso-mode> QSO <qso-mode-count> de <his:band>. LoTW preferido.
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> sk <stop>




#++
#
#   Portuguese version end of the QSO, 73 and thanks for the QSO.
#   by NJ2X
#--
#
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> <add-log>73 <his:name> Muito obrigado pelo muito agradavel <qso-mode> QSO <qso-mode-count> de <his:band>. LoTW preferido.
<his:callsign> de <my:callsign> sk <stop>

Good DX and 73,
NJ2X

Related articles:
HRD DM780 - variations of the 73 macro
HRD DM780 Macros: Curse or Blessing?
HRD DM780 Calling Macro




© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.