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!