Monday, 8 January 2007

Band conditions, low power, minimalist antennas

The ham bands have been busy for a few days now. Makes it good for low power work. Using PSK31 mode of transmission - a keyboard to keyboard mode and I'm using low power and marginal antennas. I was using the Buddipole antenna for a few weeks on my enclosed back porch but a few days ago I installed a 20 meter Hamstick attached to a metal swing in the back yard. If you look hard at the picture at the left you can see the Hamstick attached to the top of the swing - it works extremely well on PSK DX on the 20 meter band.

The log shows stations from South Africa, Spain, Cayman Islands, the Azores and the Canary Islands. Seems like the bands are wide open, not at all like being in the bottom of a solar cycle. Conditions will be improving now as we're right at the bottom of Cycle 23 and scientists predict a really hot Cycle 24. Most of the qso's used less than 20 watts of transmitted RF power.

The software, Ham Radio Deluxe completely integrates with amateur radio transceivers. Most of the popular manufacturers are supported. At VE3MPG, Ham Radio Deluxe supports my Yaesu FT-100 and the FT-817. Complete control of the radios can be exercised from your computer screen, such as digital frequency read out, CW, SSB filters, transmission modes and much more. A program called PSK31 Deluxe can be started from the main interface. New multi-mode software called Digital Master 780, now in beta will replace PSK31 Deluxe in the next few weeks after beta testing is complete. 70 hams across the world are vigorously putting the betas through the wringer for possible bugs and interface tweaks. Ham Radio Deluxe integrates with Google Earth so you can visually see where your log contacts are on the globe

Here are a few screenshots of HRD and DM780 running on Windows2000:

Picture 1 shows the main Ham Radio Deluxe screen.
Picture 2 shows the main Digital Master 780 screen where all the input and output comms take place. Notice the blue waterfall area at the bottom of the screen - this is where the signals are displayed and clicking on a signal in this area tunes the transceiver and begins to decode the PSK31 signals. Signals appear as streaks in the waterfall display. Many signals can fit into the 3000Hz wide bandwidth provided by the software.The main Digital Master Superbrowser screen - one qso is being displayed in browser window - Digital Master can display 60 or more channels or ham qso's in progress - call signs are automatically displayed in the window. Click on an active qso and it takes you back to the previous qso screen where log book integration is available and the callsign is immediately looked up on to give you all the information about the station you are about to work.

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