Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sometimes the bands can leave a person simply puzzled!

Sometimes the bands can leave a person simply puzzled!

Working the regional 160m net was a chore, with S9+20 roaring noise.

It was only that I was having configuration troubles after upgrading software – much of which I may have avoided by more carefully reading the manuals and making better notes during upgrade setup – that I stuck in the station fussing with settings.

Much of the time I was wrestling with Audio Gremlins and Port Control Software configuration.

In the midst of messing, some listening & some DX Cluster watching suggested that 15m and 17m were moderate to long.


A quick point to the Caribbean brought Martinique and Cuba quickly:

TO5K 31Mar2012
00:40 17M SSB

CO6LE 31Mar2012
00:42 15M SSB

Then a swing to Asia based on DX Cluster reports start with a long listening session interrupted with several reboots as I sorted out software and working Japan, Thailand, North Cook Islands and Cambodia during an hour of much listening a tweaking on the station. A kind fellow ham tipped me off that my Audio was still messed up, so it was dummy load at 10w time with PowerSDR set to monitor my audio output back into my headset until I adjusted out the issues. Here is what I worked in between software tinkering:

JK1MZT 31Mar2012
00:54 15M SSB

HS0ZJU 31Mar2012
01:27 15M SSB

E51M 31Mar2012
01:33 17M SSB

XU7SSB 31Mar2012
01:54 15M SSB

On Software the two recent station changes – upgrade of PowerSDR to the latest v2.3.5 and use of DDUtil integration software – the PowerSDR upgrade has been the most frustrating. It would seem that my cheat sheet of “good settings” from the prior version is not going to work, and many of the Audio enhancements are suddenly so sensitive that I have to either turn them off or cut them back to less than 25% of their prior levels.

Audio settings are important for me, as my natural voice is not a good DX voice, being too baritone and resonant. With the Flex-Radio I sidelined my external processing audio gear and use the various software equalizers, compression options and other enhancements to create a competitive DX Voice.

Basically I filter and process my voice to a broadcast sound that is higher in pitch focus and has a more precise audio core.

One really weird part of doing the monitor of self listening technique is the slight delays in the system – they are minuscule though you do end up talking slower as you naturally wait to hear the end of your phonetics – “kilo niner zulu whiskey” slows down into “keyyylooow nighnnneer zoooolooooo whhhhissskeeee” as instinct creates a feedback cadence slowdown. Sounded link an Andy Warhol painting in audio!

I didn’t work but heard 9N1AA (Nepal) and an Indian station – the pileups were huge and I didn’t want to add to the din with questionable audio & weak copy on receive.

As I didn’t have Thailand or Cambodia in the log under my own call, it was a real pleasure to find that my “Mr Fixit” session had a bonus of a couple new DX Entities!

Sometimes the bands can leave a person simply puzzled!



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Something to tuck away for rainy day: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way

From the good folk at Radio Free Redoubt, this PDF explains how to listen to PSK – a very interesting, and in case of emergency potentially very important, amateur radio digital mode – with a receiver with some earbuds, a computer with fldigi and a piece of tape.

The PDF is “Popeye’s” article with the comments distilled into an paragraph appendix.

Of course other PSK software will work. The fldigi selection is solid and it is available for a lot of platforms.

This works – at our club we’ve done a demo doing it this way, including adding the other link between the computer & in our case transceiver to do the transmit side.

The technique fits very well with the Freecom idea of personal preparedness.

Source URL for fldigi

Download URL for fldigi (Linux, Windows, OS X, Puppy Linux and Source)

Original Post at Radio Free Redoubt

The Radio Free Redoubt main page (expected to change this Spring to – that URL is presently in testing and will make their website MUCH more readable!)

Tuck this away for rainy day. It is worth downloading the fldigi program mentioned, as a “just in case.”

Of course you can try this now too!




LINK to the PDF: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way.pdf

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A More Sensible Digital Ham Publication Strategy – ARRL Announces Digital QST as an Included Membership Benefit

The ARRL ( ) has announced that QST will have a Digital Edition, that will be a included benefit of ARRL Membership.

No separate subscription apparently will needed.

The email news release doesn’t mention how or if a no-print membership option would be available. I know a couple folk have expressed an interest in no-print subscriptions, so perhaps there will be one or perhaps they can simple arrange for their QST copy to be donated to their local library or a needy ham?

As a second Membership perk all of the QST archives will be available to members on-line, with pre-2012 being the same content format of the limited old archives and the new Digital QST Editions being the forward archives!

The archives I can really get excited about, as having all those articles, reviews, build projects and features of almost 100 years of QST at my fingertips is simply AWESOME !!!

I am very enthused that as an ARRL Life Member I’ll be gaining lifetime access to this huge digital repository.

Here is the announcement, with a couple xxxxx edits to deal with my individual user links:

Coming Soon: NEW ARRL Membership Benefits

Dear Steve Weinert, K9ZW

We are excited to announce two new ARRL membership benefits that will be introduced in June 2012.
In addition to the print copy of QST, all members will have access to an online, digital edition of QST at no extra cost. You will be able to accessQST from anywhere–on nearly any computer, laptop, mobile device, smartphone and tablet (including Apple iPad, iPhone, and devices using the Android operating system).

Also in June, members will gain access to archived issues of QST from December 1915 to the present (previously, only issues through 2007 were available to members). If you are familiar with the current periodicals archive (which serves images of pages), that platform will be expanded to include all of QST from December 1915 through December 2011. A second, new archive will be introduced for issues beginning January 2012, featuring enhanced functionality including full-text search.

Be Prepared!
Members must have a valid ARRL website login to access the current digital edition of QST and archived editions. For a smooth launch of these exciting new benefits, and so that you will be able to quickly access the digital version of QST as soon it becomes available, we are e-mailing you some information that will help you login to the ARRL website prior to launch.

Login Instructions

Please follow these personalized, step-by-step directions below to login to the ARRL website:

  • Go to
  • At the top, center of the page in “Site Login“, enter your Username: K9ZW and the password you selected during registration.


Forgot Password?
If you have forgotten your password, here are some steps to help you obtain a temporary password which you can use to Login. We recommend writing this temporary password down prior to logging in, then Login using your username and the temporary password.

Select “Forgot Password” on the Login page

– To reset your password by e-mail:

  1. Select “By Email” from the dropdown menu
  2. Enter your Username: K9ZW and e-mail address. You must use the email address that you used to originally register for a website login account.
  3. Click “Submit”

– To reset your password by member credentials:

  1. Select “By Member Credentials” from the drop down menu
  2. Enter your Username: K9ZW
  3. Enter your Member ID: xxxxx
  4. Enter your Call Sign OR Last name
  5. Click “Submit”

Once you are logged in, select “Edit your Profile” to change your password to something you can more easily remember.

Contact Member Services by email circulation or by telephone 860-594-0200 or 888-277-5289 (US only).

About this Email

You are subscribed to receive monthly notification of the digital edition of QST. If you have an ARRL website user account, you can manage all of your e-mail preferences at k9zwxxxxx, then please Click Here.

ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio
225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111-1494 USA

Exciting news that really adds to the value of my membership!

Well done ARRL!



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Receiving Traffic – Radiograms One Step Off the Traffic Nets

Over the last few months I have had the pleasure of receiving around a dozen Radiograms.

This more messages than I had received in the 20+ years I’ve been licensed!!

Most made it the final leg by telephone, having been picked up off one of the traffic nets by a volunteer who then kindly took time to call me with the traffic.

Joining the Radiogram Yahoo Group is the source of this welcome traffic. An excellent resource, the group supports the traditional Radiogram Traffic ideals as a living & viable testament of “simplicity simply working” in a world leaning towards complex digital protocols & message systems.

You also can join in at

There is also background on the National Traffic System and the ARRL Numbered Radiogram at:

Basically the Radiogram is “shared key” system of reducing the text actually passed along, adding a hash “check” feature, and standardizing the headers & routing information.

The Shared Key is the ARRL Number where saying in traffic, as an example “ARRL 11 K9ZW 1.895” fleshes out as “Establish Amateur Radio emergency communications with K9ZW on 1.895 MHz.”

Standard decoding increases accuracy, as the same ARRL number is always the same core message.

Simple system that is accurate, effective and from the number of people participating a lot of fun!

I’m an extremely rare traffic net participant – those interfering issues like “Work,” “Family,” “Chasing DX” and just “Life” make it very hard for my participation on scheduled nets. It is with great appreciation that I thank those who can do the nets for the extra effort to call the message to me.

Check out Radiograms and the Yahoo Group – you’ll be surprised how active & fun a simple idea is!



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After the Weekend – Two Hours at the Wisconsin QSO Party

Busy weekend – rehearsals, played a concert, family home from school, a couple meetings and somehow I found myself with only two hours to play radio during the Wisconsin QSO Party.

While I did make a boat load of 40m Phone contacts, I didn’t veen work half of the counties (we have 72).

While 40m worked, I didn’t have any joy with the 80m and I massively struggled to make the one 160m SSB contact I made all weekend.

Still working out some station settings – the upgrade to PowerSDR 2.3.5 went well enough, and I was able to use a utility to import most of my old settings. Still there is some tweaking to do and a couple stability issues I am not happy with as they are.

Sent in my log last night as the QSO party was winding down. Good time, even if I missed much of it!



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Impending major PowerSDR Update for Flex-5000A

Flex has been teasing the reflectors all week about a step-ahead update to PowerSDR and this really caught my eye!

PowerSDR v2.3.5 New Feature Alert #7: VAC for RX2

Here is the “big one” and the last one.

PowerSDR v2.3.5 New Feature Alert #7: VAC for RX2 (VAC2).
VAC2 is available only for use with the FLEX-5000 equipped with a second
receiver (RX2). Using VAC2, you can define a VAC input and output audio
stream in PowerSDR v2.3.5 for RX2 (VFO-B) that allows for either simplex
operation, full duplex operation on cross band (satellite) or SO2R
digital mode operation (with the appropriately configured Expert antenna
configuration). VAC1 (RX1) and VAC2 (RX2) can be configured for the same
or different VAC driver types, Direct IQ options and sampling rates. You
can feed wide band IQ spectrum data to CWSkimmer on one receiver using
Direct IQ and feed “real audio” to a different digi mode application
such as Fldigi on the other receiver at the same time. With the use of
the VAC2 input (transmit), you can operate S02R using digital modes when
TX is on VFO-B.

PowerSDR v2.3.5 will be available for download on March 5th. An
announcement will be made on Monday with download details.


Tim Ellison, W4TME
Product Management, Sales & Support
FlexRadio Systems^(TM)
4616 W Howard Ln, Suite 1-150
Austin, TX 78728
Phone: 512-535-4713 Ext. 223
Email: tim

I’ve commitments that make my upgrade unlikely until next weekend – but then, yeah!



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