Sunday, 30 October 2011

CQ WW Contest weekend & JT65-HF

It's been a busy couple of weeks for me hobby wise - i have gotten active on a few new data modes - i can now transmit and receive on RTTY, PSK31, and after a few false starts, JT65.

I remember from years ago, that RTTY was a bit of a nightmare to get working properly, and that accurate tuning was critical, but thanks to the modern technology we have at our disposal, and the power of the recent computers, it has become a piece of cake.

All you need to do now is to feed the audio into the computer (either from the headphone socket of the radio to the audio in of the computer, or better still, via a USB box), run the appropriate software, and that's it, you are basically on the air!

It turns out that JT65 is not compatible with one of my USB boxes, but works fine on the other one, and can even be used by holding the radios microphone next to the computers speaker.....very Heath Robinson, but it works!!

So,  have now worked the following countries on PSK31:- Finland, Serbia, Slovakia, Russia, Iceland, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain. On RTTY i have contacted:- Canada, USA, Italy and Ukraine. On JT65:- Italy, Ukraine, Sardinia, USA and Canada.

Nothing particularly rare or exciting there, but a good start all the same. My first RTTY contacts were during a contest - nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end - i had very little clue as to what i was doing, and choose to do it in a high pressure situation where all the other stations wanted to do was complete the contact and move on to the next! I survived the experience though.

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a month or so now - it is the CQWW SSB contest - which is basically the biggest ham radio competition of the year. I have had no intention of entering it myself, but it does give the best opportunity of the year to hear and work new countries.

I spent a couple of hours last night and the same this morning tuning around, and have worked 8 new countries:- The Gambia, Brazil, Albania, Turkey, Crete, Belarus, Puerto Rico and Corsica. (I can remember the time when Turkey was seriously rare, and Albania an impossibility due to the hobby being banned there - how times have changed!)

I have also heard a few countries for the first time, but have so far not been able to get my tiny signal through to them:- United Arab Emirates, Andorra, Chile, Armenia, Tajikistan, Martinique, French Guiana, Saudi Arabia, Virgin Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, St.Maarten, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Turks & Caicos Islands.

All in all a good few hours "work" and i am VERY pleased with these results. After all, in theory, my antenna really shouldn't work........ :-)

Almost midnight - contest about to end - time for bed, but first a quick update on this evening's activity.
New countries WORKED:- Montserrat, Curacao and San Marino. New countries heard but not worked:- Mozambique, Congo, Tanzania, Paraguay, Cape Verde, Peru and Georgia.

My new running totals since moving to this location are HEARD= 113 countries, WORKED = 60 countries.

Time for bed!

Best 73.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New phone

Despite the huge worldwide clamour for the latest iphone, I have come to the opinion that while Apple's phone is a fabulous bit of kit, it is a much better gadget than it is a. communications device.
I have had my 3GS for about a year now, and have spent many many hours using it in one way or another, but have always found the touchscreen keyboard and predictive text incredibly frustrating. Yes, you can turn the predictive text off, but that is just an annoying as trying to type at anything approaching a half decent speed with any form of accuraccy is simply impossible with my fingers.
I may still make spelling mistakes on the Blackberry, but they are only down to my failings, not that of the device.
Thanks to a call from Vodafone last week, I have the latest Blackberry Bold 9900, the one they have been advertising on TV a lot recently. It has both a touch screen and the proper legendary Blackberry keyboard. So popular was this new phone that I had to go on a waiting list and only actually got mine today.
Was it worth the wait? I would have to say yes. It looks quite a bit larger than my old one (the 9700), but when you put them together it is only a few millimeters larger in both width and height, but is also both thinner and lighter than the old one. The screen is larger and so are the keys of the qwerty keyboard, which makes it a breeze to type on - I am using it to type this.
The new operating system will take a while to get used to as it is different enough for it to involve a bit of a learning curve. The touch screen is very responsive and when coupled with the keyboard, it all seems to be the ideal interface - most things can be done with either, and to me at least, this has made it very quick and intuitive to use.
So far, so good then. All I need to do now is to find how to get the basics set up how I had my old one done......ringtones, message beeps etc. That might take a while!!

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device