Hamfest In 3

February 1, 2012

The Charleston Hamfest is in three days. That’s good.. in a way. I’m ready to start throwing down on my satellite station and I really need to hold off until the hamfest. I know I’ll buy something today and find a cheaper one on Saturday. So.. I have to exercise a little patience. I just don’t have time for that. 🙂

At last count, I had 39 states toward Worked All States. I’m getting there.

My Uniden BCT15x scanner is here. I’m digging it. Took me a while to figure out how the trunking systems got programmed in but I got it. This thing would be AMAZINGLY tedious to program without software. I downloaded a copy of FreeScan and it works fine for me. I do need to get a sideband antenna though. Maybe someone will have a discone at the hamfest.

I got my QSL cards in from K4JSG. As you can see, VERY nice. Great service. Heavy stock. Full color. What’s not to love? (Thanks, Jeff)

Closed on the new (used) house but no ham projects going on yet. Too busy with walls and floors. But soon.

Oh.. speaking of satellites.. I’m going to start posting.. well.. posts.. about the satellite project.

73 – Chris


January 25, 2012

Oh my gosh! I just realized that all my cable is RG8X. Bwwhahahaha!! Okay, it’s not the worst cable… but lots of loss. And being a non-amplifier kinda guy, loss is bad.

Scanner day!

January 25, 2012

Okay, I know this isn’t for those hardcore die-hard ham only hams but.. I ordered a Uniden BCT15X scanner that should be here today. I’m  all kinds of excited. I’ve been using my Kenwood TH-F6 to scan but it’s REALLY slow compared to a real scanner. Also, the Uniden trunks so following police conversations should be easier. I’ll also use it to monitor the local repeaters while I’m on HF. All kinds of uses and I’m looking forward to them all.

I also ordered QSL cards! I’ll tell you more about those when I get them.

73, Chris / AK4KZ

This New Year

January 9, 2012

While I wouldn’t call them resolutions, there are a few things I’d like to see happen this year (in no particular order)..

  • Build a killer satellite station… tracking antenna, dual-band radio.. the whole shooting match. AND.. I’d like to video the whole process as a reference for others who may want to do this.
  • Build a packet station… I’d like to set up a packet BBS on 2 meters
  • Get my code speed up to 15WPM.. I’m about 5 now (I send about 13WPM) but I don’t put enough time into it. I’m hoping to overcome that this year
  • Run 3 miles at a time. (Okay, that’s not ham related but it’s a goal)
  • Get QSO cards made up.

With our house closing looming on the horizon, half my gear is packed up. Soldering iron’s in a box somewhere.. so I can’t even wire my new straight key. If it all works right, next month should be back to normal in the new house. And my patience will be rewarded with being able to get my dipole off the ground. That’ll be awesome.

Oh. and speaking of awesome.. I have 26 confirmed states toward my Worked All States goal. Ironically, I haven’t gotten SC confirmed yet. I got Alaska on JT65 last week! Maybe I can do the same for Hawaii.

Either way.. it’s gonna be a great year.

Chris / AK4KZ

Satellites and stuff

November 30, 2011

I have to admit.. I’m being sucked into the world of satellites. It calls to me. I was checking out rotators the other day and I see one in my future. Of course, AO-51 has gone quiet but there are plenty of others. There are a lot of videos on YouTube to go through.

Right now, I’m tuning into satellites using my j-pole… which is pretty much the wrong antenna for this. But I can hear some chatter on the birds that pass overhead. Really looking forward to getting something automagically directional. And the beauty part is that I don’t need high power. Uh.. winning!

I’m also still looking at putting up a packet node. I have an Icom IC-7000 (which I love) but it’s not really possible to work HF AND listen to VHF. So I’m also looking at a new 2 meter radio. Thinking about the Alinco DR-135TP, which has a 1200/9600 baud TNC built in. I like the idea of having it inside the radio. Of course, it’s a little limited in functionality.. no mail drop, etc. But part of the exercise is to do some programming on the backend. So.. that’s ideal.

But none of that’s going to happen until we close on this new house and I can have my “antenna farm”.

Watched “Contact” again the other night. Had to look up the call signs they used in the movie (because.. yes.. I’m one of those people who would have to call 867-5309 to see if Jenny really was there). If I had a call used in a popular movie, I’d HAVE to have special QSL cards and every weekend would be a “special event”. Actually.. that would be a fairly cool special event.. get a list of call signs used in movies and have a “Hollywood QSO” marathon collecting movies.

cocoaModem and MacLoggerDX

November 3, 2011

I’m working on moving from running Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) on Windows in a VM Fusion session.. to using native Mac OSX apps. I found that MacLoggerDX from Dog Park Software is the absolute bomb. It’s exactly what I want for workflow and has all the bells and whistles to keep me happy for a long time.

For digital modes, I’m currently using cocoaModem. It makes me happy and is easy to use.

Running HRD, I’m spoiled by the integration built into it. You make a digital QSO and.. boom.. you can log it directly to the logger. My two super cool Mac programs really don’t do that.. unless… you use Applescript. There were a couple scripts around but I had problems with them or they didn’t do what I wanted. So I wrote my own. To make a long story short, it works good and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

Here’s the script if anyone wants to use it or add to it. Paste this into your Apple Script Editor, under Utilities, compile and save it out. (You cannot use a text editor). If you go into Preference in cocoaModem.. under Applescript / Log QSO, you can point to your saved script. This’ll activate the Log button on the bottom of the cocoaModem screen.

(Note: It’s best to have MacLoggerDX running and connected to your radio before you log.)

-- Log a QSO from cocoaModem to MacLoggerDX
-- Chris Lonsberry / AK4KZ
-- 11/03/2011 v1.0
-- This is a revised cocoaModem to MacDXLogger routine. I had problems
-- with the others. If you modify this and add something cool, please
-- let me know so I can use them too.
-- Notes:
-- I'm not pulling the operator name over because I'm relying on MLDX
-- to pull it.
-- I'm also not pulling modem info for CW. USB or LSB is fine. Nor am I
-- pulling mode for Sitor or stuff I won't be making a contact in.
-- I only pick up transceiver 1. I don't really use the second. If you
-- want to do so, you'll have to add the code.

tell application "cocoaModem 2.0"
	set cocoaModemCall to qsoCall
	set cocoaModemName to modemName
	if cocoaModemName is "psk modem" then
		set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of psk modem \
as text else if cocoaModemName is "mfsk modem" then set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of mfsk \
modem as text else if cocoaModemName is "hellschreiber modem" then set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of \
hellschreiber modem as text end if end tell tell application "MacLoggerDX" activate -- Get the initial mode to restore it copy mode to FirstMode lookup cocoaModemCall delay (1) -- Parse thru the modem and modulation strings to -- determine what to stuff into MLDX log. It ain' -- pretty.. but it works fine. if cocoaModemName is "hellschreiber modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " HELL" else if cocoaModemName = "rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" else if cocoaModemName = "wideband rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" else if cocoaModemName is "dual rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" -- This is required because the other PSK lines don't -- parse right. It doesn't break.. but it doesn't work. -- Help would be appreciated. else if cocoaModemName is "psk modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" -- else if cocoaMode is "bpsk31" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk31" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" else if cocoaMode is "bpsk63" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK63" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk63" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK63" else if cocoaMode is "bpsk125" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK125" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk125" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK125" else if cocoaModemName is "mfsk modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " MFSK16" end if -- Log the call log -- Set the mode back to the original. I did this so that I could -- shut down cocoaModem and log more entries with the log setup -- for th right mode.. USB, LSB, etc. setModeMapping FirstMode & " " & FirstMode end tell

A little frustrated

October 25, 2011

I’ve been wondering for a while why no one has been matching my LoTW logs. not gonna get Worked All States at this rate. Turns out.. I’ve been signing all my logs as my old call. Ugh. I changed my program when my license changed. But, apparently, the default cert was still the old one. So I switched it to the other. But that one’s invalid because I had requested another cert for the same call on a different computer. So.. this morning, I applied for a new certificate ON the right computer WITH the right call. <sigh> This isn’t ham radio. This is computer problems.

Those contacts might be gone. I dunno yet.