Monday, October 23, 2017

Another day of outdoor op's

The view from my other spot along the lake
I had the day off work today and it was another amazing day up this way for fall so I headed outdoors again with my KX3. This time I was out and about in the morning and was expecting 20m to be shut down and possible 40m opened up. I found 20m was open and never ended up checking 40m at all. Once again I headed toward the lake and this time my "spot" was taken with someone who also was taking advantage of the great weather. I was watching the weather forecast this morning and it looks like "seasonal reality" is going to set in very soon! This time I set up a little further along the lake at a picnic table. Today I was happy to make 3 CW contacts:

1. WA5OVB Phil's IC 7200 was doing a great job picking up my portable signal I gave Phil 579 report and I was given a 569 with some QSB.
The Chameleon CHA P antenna setup

2. KW7D Paul's signal was strong, he was in New Mexico where the weather is much more pleasent than it is going to be up this way. Paul was calling CQ and I was able to catch his attention with my portable signal.

3. K3PR is Joes call and we had a nice long QSO exchanging as much info as we could. At first my signal was in around a 229 but conditions changed and I moved up the scale to 559! Joe and I had a nice QSO about antennas, rigs, WX and just what we were up too.

I did hear a station 4U1A the United Nations in Austria and when I first heard their CQ call they had not been spotted and I was trying to get their attention from my portable setup. I did not have any luck and even less luck after they were spotted and the pileup began.
Things pack up very nicely. 



Saturday, October 21, 2017

I just can't believe the weather we are getting for it being half way through October. The temperature today was 22C with clear skies and just a gentle breeze off the lake. This is a great time to grab the KX3 and head out for some portable op's. I check the contest calendar to see what was happening in the way of CW contests. I found the NYQSO party and Worked all Germany (WAG) contest were going to be in full swing the same time I was out. I checked to see what the contest report was supposed to be, contesters can add lots of contacts to a portable op. I set up beside the lake (Lake Ontario) with a nice breeze and in the shade as the sun was out and I did not want to overheat. I made 20m my band of choice and it so happens that it was alive with WAG contesters. The band was in great shape and lots of German stations looking for DX stations to fill their log! I was using my Elecraft KX3 at 10 watts and my Chameleon mag loop antenna. I was set up in 10 minutes and on the air searching the band for contacts. I was on the air for about an hour and had the following contacts:
DF0DW           WAG contest
IQ1GE             DX calling CQ
DJ0SP              WAG contest
DL5HIA           WAG contest
DF8AA            WAG contest
W2RR              NYQSO party
DJ6OZ             WAG contest
DL0DA            WAG contest

As you can see the WAG contest dominated the bands and it turned out the NYQSO party participants were just not making it over the German WAG contesters. I did not include the signal reports in the above list as it was a contest so the standard 599 was sent. I knew I was no were close to 599 as the German stations asked on more than one occasion for a repeat.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Going about it the hard way.....WHY??

Last evening I finally had some time to get on the PC and check out what fellow ham radio bloggers were up too. For the past month I have been working every day and only having time to "fast read" a post and drop a short comment. While surfing the blog sphere last evening I came across KG3V's blog, the subject of the blog caught my attention "Updating FTDX-3000 Firmware. Below is a link to what I only could call an "adventure".
https://kg3v.com/2017/10/14/updating-ftdx-3000-firmware/

In the post Tom does a great job explaining how he went about the firmware upgrade and some issues he ran into. Tom also goes over the enhancements this firmware will forward to his FTDX-3000. It's fantastic how far we have come in radio, in the past if you wanted the upgrades it meant selling what you had and purchasing the new and improved version. Today's modern rigs can chat either over the internet or with pre-downloaded thumb drives and magic is worked within the rig to either over come an issue, enhance what is already there or add something new! Having said that I just can't understand what the issue is with the process of the upgrade. It's just not ham radio with our Nikon cameras to upgrade the firmware it's...hold this while pushing that....make sure you don't do this while doing that....and on and on and on. Resources are used writing the rigs new firmware upgrade, time and money is put into it and it's to make the product better for the end user. If this is the case why the %&^* not make the process for the end user easy peasy!!
Having said the above and let me preface this with "I am not going to say what I am about to say just because I am a fan of Elecraft but if the shoe fits......" To upgrade my K3 or KX3 Elecraft has provided via their website a program that sits on your desktop, one of it's functions is for firmware upgrades. The process is as follows:
1. Double click on desktop icon.
2. Click on Firmware tab.
3. Click on "Check versions now"
4. Below you will then see the firmware that is installed in your rig and new firmware that is available for your rig. You then click on "Send all new firmware to K3 or KX3.
Your rig will start to click, there will be "stuff" flashing on the rigs screen, sometimes even clicking noises from the rig and then your rig's screen returns to normal and your done. I have owned Kenwood, Icom and Yeasu rigs and never has it been this easy and my question is WHY NOT!!! Now having said the above it is true I have not owned one of the above rigs for some time now so do comment if the process has changed...but is sure does not seem it has for the FTDX-3000 model rig!
OK I'm off my soapbox now....:))

Monday, September 18, 2017

Digital magazines

Still in the bag
The last time I renewed my QST magazine subscription not only did I get my monthly print addition of QST but I would receive an email about a week or so before the print copy arrived informing my digital copy was waiting for me to download and view. I will admit I was one of those ham's that just wanted to feel the pages, hold an actual copy and ear a page to come back to it later. I had some spare money in my Paypal account and I decided to once again subscribe to CQ magazine but this time I decided to only go with their digital version of the magazine. In the past I had big issues with the delivery of the magazine so I wanted to avoid this again. It was the reason I cancelled my CQ subscription some years ago. As the CQ issues started to arrived I was forced to get used to reading the subscription on line. I found out over time the best method of delivery for me was on my Apple iPad pro. For me it worked seamlessly and to be honest it was the viewing of the occasional QST on my PC that frustrated me with the digital age of magazines. As I read my paper copy of QST each month ignoring the email about a digital copy waiting for me in my inbox! Those at the ARRL who publish the QST magazine are very clever in that they tease you with tidbits "you can view more content in the digital version" "Here is a video of the review that can be viewed in the digital version" I began now and then to download QST's digital version to my iPad pro (once I downloaded the app) After a very short time I was hooked on the digital version. Now the print copy stays on my night stand and sometimes a month goes past and it does not even get removed from the shipping plastic. Why not just subscribe to the QST digital version you ask??  I have now as I found in their FAQ how to unsubscribe from the print version. There is no savings to the member for doing this but I am told that the money saved QST puts that to good use. I have no issue with this and am happy to my this "donation" to the ARRL.
For those of you where like me and have not as of yet jumped into the digital magazine world I will say it's a very interactive way of reading. CQ uses a program called Zinio to view their magazine and QST uses Pagesuite It may just be me but I find Pagesuite easier to use, nice graphics and well laid out and I hope one day CQ will start to use them as well as Zinio.
Some of the advantages I find with having a digital copy are:

  • Ability to view videos (QST often has product reviews and a video to along with it)
  • Web links that can take you to more content. 
  • Ability to enlarge the print which is good for me. 
Some of the disadvantages:
  • You can't just roll up the tablet or PC under your arm and take it with you. 
  • To download a new addition the internet is needed. 
  • To take full advantage of the digital copy again the internet is needed. 
For me I find the Apple iPad pro does an amazing job as I am sure any other tablet would but I am  an Apple fan. As for carrying around my iPad I use the Otterbox product to protect it. The way I look at it if you are going to spend good money on a tablet or phone at least spend 1/4 of the price on something that is going to keep it safe.