Tag Archives: HF

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – December 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/12/december-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

In October, I was invited by Medina County ARES to see a presentation about Winlink. I had heard of it as a way to send email messages over the HF bands. There were rumors around whether specialized hardware was needed and I really wanted to see what it was all about. Rick – K8CAV gave a great presentation on how it all works and some tips that really helped me get operating on Winlink.

Winlink, in short, is a way to send email via radio circuits frequently used by RV campers, boaters, and mariners where the Internet may not be available or reliable. It is a store and forward system meaning your messages will be held and delivered when you call into a gateway, much like the dial-up or BBS days. There are a number of ways the software will operate: connect to a remote gateway station over the air, operate peer-to-peer over-the-air, connect via the Internet using Telnet (yeah, yeah ‘telnet isn’t secure’ but neither is your email going out over the air), or webmail. Winlink has regional Central Messaging Servers (CMS) which connect to the Radio Messaging Servers (RMS) over the Internet. The RMS is the gateway your client connects to for sending and receiving messages over-the-air.

There is little privacy as other stations can read your messages but the intent is to have a worldwide emergency email messaging system. Messages can be exchanged with any email address (Gmail, your ISP) on the Internet using the assigned callsign@winlink.org email address. Stations conducting business will likely get blocked from the RMS gateways. Attachments can be included with messages but due to bandwidth, these should be kept to small files like CSV or TXT files – no multi-megapixel images or videos.

There are three pieces to the Winlink client software: RMS Express is the ’90’s looking email client, Winmor – the modem, and ITS HF Propagation is a third party software program that works with Winmor to determine propagation for connection reliability. I got Winlink setup and working with my radio and SignaLink so no specialized hardware is required. A lot of back-and-forth transmit and receiving happens between the client and gateway. The TX/RX turn-around time needs to happen quickly (under 200ms), longer will require a high number of retransmissions. One tip to help minimize the delay: set the SignaLink delay control no further than the second hash mark (8 o’clock position). To get started, go to ftp://autoupdate.winlink.org. Click “User Programs.” Download and install “Winlink Express Install,” and “itshfbc” to their default locations. To get an account created on the system, you need to send one email to an Internet address such as your personal email. In addition, Winlink has an “APRSLink” where you can check for messages, read, compose, forward, and delete all by sending APRS messages. Feel free to send me a message to “my call” at winlink.org. More: http://www.winlink.org/

I’ve also been playing around with a new device from Shark RF called the OpenSpot. It’s a small company with two guys in Estonia (South of Finland). Production is done on a batching basis so there is a waiting list. It seems like they’re shipping units close to once per month. Once I got the shipping notice, I had the device within a week. They say 3-6 business days shipping time and it arrived certainly within that range. The OpenSpot is a standalone digital radio gateway otherwise known as a hotspot. It currently supports DMR (Brandmeister, DMR+), D-STAR (DPlus/REF, DCS, XRF/DExtra, XLX), and System Fusion (FCS, YSFReflector). If the mode or network isn’t supported, they do take requests and will make additions available via firmware upgrades. Since it is a hotspot device a transceiver capable of operating that mode is required. They are doing something cool since DMR and Fusion use the AMBE2 codec. A DMR radio can be used to access the Fusion network and vice-versa (DMR Talk Groups with a Fusion radio).

The OpenSpot has a lot of flexibility, very well designed, and is superior to the DV4Mini. It doesn’t need different Raspberry Pi images for different modes like the DVMega. The device comes with everything: the OpenSpot hotspot, Ethernet cable, USB cable, USB power adapter, and antenna. It runs an internal webserver for device configuration. I even like how they do the firmware update process. The OpenSpot shows up as a drive to the computer and using the copy command – copy the firmware to it and voilà – done. For DMR, it will operate like a DV4Mini with the radio configured in TG 9 (talk-group) or it will operate like a repeater (my preference) where the Talk Groups are push-to-talk. All the TAC groups are available (310, 311, 312, etc) and call routing works. I could not get these to go on the DV4Mini. D-STAR works great too. You can link and unlink to reflectors using radio commands. It does not have a drop down for linking directly to a D-STAR repeater on the network. The only systems listed are reflectors. Forum posts describe how to link to a D-STAR repeater (like a DVAP or DNGL would do) using the “Advanced Mode” screens.

It’s not great for portability as it comes (in a car, for example). I have not tried any of the USB to Ethernet adapters with my smartphone or tried a Raspberry Pi as a WiFi to Ethernet bridge. OpenSpot requires an Ethernet cable connection meaning no WiFi though there are plans to add this and uses USB for power and firmware upgrades. As with these devices in DMR mode, they do not transmit a valid call sign. The radio ID is not valid identification. If you listen to a repeater in FM it will ID in CW. Unfortunately, the cost is about twice that of the DV4Mini 182.50 € which, when I ordered, was about $235 including shipping. More: https://www.sharkrf.com/

Other new tech (Christmas gifts?). With advancements in Software-Defined Radios (SDR) I’m seeing a new breed of devices hams can use as radios: your smartphone. Well, at least something that resembles a smartphone or tablet – still need the additional hardware. A device out of the UK called “MyDel Hamfone Smartphone Transceiver” is available. It offers a 3G cellphone, 70cm transceiver (500mw/1W) with camera, expandable SD card, and GPS. The few reviews are positive but there is some question if its FCC certified in the US. More: http://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-handheld-radio-mydel-handhelds/mydel/mydel-hamfone-smartphone-transceiver-pd-6093.php

Bob – W2CYK and the guys over at RFinder (the online repeater directory of the ARRL) have released the “RFinder Android Radio.” Their device integrates 4G LTE & GSM cell technologies alongside FM (DMR is also available) radios into a device with the RFinder repeater directory database. The directory offers coverage maps and switching repeaters is a point-and-click away. They also boast the elimination of codeplugs for DMR. This is great as finding codeplugs, or the information for one, is not always readily available. More: http://androiddmr.com

This past month, the Parma Radio Club invited me to their meeting to give the Raspberry Pi presentation. There was a lot of good discussion and questions. This is always good to hear because you know the audience is engaged, thinking, and ultimately providing real-time feedback on the presentation. Thanks for having me at your meeting. More: http://www.parmaradioclub.com/

Don’t forget, National Parks on the Air will be wrapping up at the end of the year. According to Tom Gallagher – NY2RF, NPOTA is getting closer to #1MillionQSOs: https://twitter.com/hashtag/1millionqsos. Look out for those NPOTA stations to get your score up for your wallpaper (that is certificate if you don’t operate special events and contests).

Starting this past fall with the kickoff of new TV seasons, the CW is airing a show called “Frequency” loosely based off the 2000 Sci-Fi thriller of the same name. It starred Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as father and son, Frank and John Sullivan. This was big with hams because the movie incorporated something that resembled ham-radio which allowed the father and son to talk 30 years into the past and future. The TV show has gotten positive reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 74% with the biggest criticism being the back-and-forth between now and 20 years in the past. It airs Wednesday nights at 9pm (Ham Nation time so it gets the DVR treatment here) with the last couple episodes available on the CW website and on Netflix streaming. More: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/frequency/

Finally, don’t forget the HF Santa Net through Christmas Eve. Starts at 8:30 pm Eastern and can be found on 3916 kHz for the little ones to have a chance to talk with Santa! More: http://www.3916nets.com/santa-net.html

Thanks for reading. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Use Soundcard Oscilloscope to understand DSP features of an HF radio

As I continue to use Soundcard Oscilloscope in the shack, I find new uses for it.  In a previous post, I showed how to use it to calibrate receive levels for Ham Radio digital modes.  I’ve used Soundcard Oscilloscope to understand DSP (Digital Signal Processing) features of my radio.  I have an ICOM IC-7000 which doesn’t have any of the features the newer/larger radios: waterfall display, frequency display, or oscilloscope.  As a substitute, I’ll fire up Soundcard Oscilloscope to set filters eliminating loud adjacent stations or set a manual notch filter for annoying stations that tune up on frequency.

Soundcard Oscilloscope is a program that emulates an oscilloscope from signal data received from a sound card. It also has a frequency graph which will be used for this tutorial.

Station setup

  • HF Radio and antenna.
  • SignaLink USB and correct cable for your radio (pictures).  Any audio interface will work or even 1/8″ male-to-male audio cable between the audio out of the radio and Line-in on any regular sound card.
  • PC computer where the radio interface is connected.

Program versions

  • Windows 7 – 64 bit
  • Soundcard Oscilloscope 1.46

Download and Installation

This will install Soundcard Oscilloscope on your PC.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-01_soundcard_oscilloscope_website

Go to https://www.zeitnitz.eu/scope_en.

Click the link to “Download the latest version.” Save it in your Downloads folder.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-02_installer-01

Launch the installer.

Click Yes.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-03_installer-02

Click Next.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-04_installer-03

Click Next.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-05_installer-04

Click Next.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-06_installer-05

Installation will begin.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-07_installer-06

Click OK.

hf_dsp_features-01_install-08_installer-07

Click Finish.

Soundcard Oscilloscope is now installed.

Configuration

This will setup Soundcard Oscilloscope to capture audio coming from your audio interface device.

hf_dsp_features-02_configuration-01_language

Start Soundcard Oscilloscope by clicking the Start orb.

Click All Programs.

Click Scope.

Click Scope.

The first time the program is run, you’ll be prompted to select a language. Select your language and click Continue.

hf_dsp_features-02_configuration-02_license

The program is not free and will ask for a License key. Not entering a license will display this screen each time the program is started. The program is less than $12.50 US. Please support the developers by purchasing a license. This is made at the download site by clicking the “private donation license” link.

Click Continue if you don’t have a license.

hf_dsp_features-02_configuration-03_audio_interface_selection

Click the Settings tab.

Under Windows Sound Parameters, Audio Devices, Input is where you select the audio interface device. For SignaLink USB, this would be Microphone USB Audio Codec. Other interfaces: Line In, or Mic In would be selected appropriately and known from my audio interface setup tutorial.

Soundcard Oscilloscope is now configured.

Loud adjacent station

An example using notch functions and filters to remove a loud and stronger adjacent station.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-01_settings

Click the Frequency tab.

These settings will need to be reset after restarting the program. At this point, my radio is off but it doesn’t matter.

Along the bottom is the Frequency graph, click about 1500 Hz (1.5 kHz) on the graph.

Slide the Zoom control over about 5 ticks so that the frequency graph now shows 3000 Hz (3 kHz) near the right edge.

I unchecked Auto-scale.  This is not required and only keeps the vertical graph at the same scale for this tutorial.

Turn on the radio if it is not already.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-02_loud_station_2500-3200

Between 2500 Hz and 3200 Hz is a strong adjacent station to the frequency I’m trying to work.  The station is really coming in between 2100 Hz and 3200 Hz as we’ll see in a moment.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-03_manual_notch_function

I try a Notch Filter (Manual Notch Function – MNF) to notch out the signal.  The wide setting it not enough to get rid of the signal.  The signal is still peaking between 1750 Hz and 3200 Hz.  You can see the notch between 2750 Hz and 2900 Hz.  I tried adding in the 2nd notch filter and it didn’t fully notch out the entire signal.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-04_manual_notch_function_radio

Notch filter settings on the 7000 radio.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-05_filter

I am able to knock out the loud adjacent station by choosing a narrower filter and using pass band tuning to shift the filter.

hf_dsp_features-ration-03_loud_adjacent_station-06_filter_radio

Turn off the Notch Function.  Selected a filter bandwidth of 1.8 kHz (FIL) (SSB-3 default on the 7000 is 1.8 kHz).  I used pass band tuning (PBT) to shift both edges of the filter to the left (on screen).  In this case the Shift Frequency was -650 narrowing the bandwidth to 1.7 kHz.  The filter shape was SHARP.

These settings eliminated the adjacent station as shown in the previous image.  Everything higher than 2000 Hz is completely gone.

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – October 2015 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox.  Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…


Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2015/10/october-edition-of-ohio-section-journal.html

THE TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Jeff Kopcak – TC
k8jtk@arrl.net

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

Where to start?  Lot has gone on the last month.  First up was the Cleveland Hamfest on the 27th.  The weather was great for a change – which, I thought, brought more people.  Seemed to be more flea market and vendor spaces taken up which is always good.  I heard from HAC that it was a successful hamfest this year.  I got to say howdy to a few in the Ohio Section cabinet.  I know I’ll forget someone but thanks to everyone that said hi and congratulated me.  Helped out with some of the local clubs, organizations, and shot the breeze with them.  Spent a couple of bucks too, mostly on connectors and accessories I was looking for.  You can always use more connectors.  Had just as much fun at the after party.

You didn’t know there is an after party?  Oh, there is… just some of my closest buddies getting together afterwards for some lunch.

The following day, I gave my Raspberry Pi presentation for the Geauga Amateur Radio Club and had a blast!  If you’re on the east side of Cleveland, be sure to check them out.  Made for a long day with work but was totally worth it!  There are two versions of this presentation available for viewing on my website at http://K8JTK.org.

The Northern Ohio Amateur Radio Society (NOARS, Lorain Co.) has asked me to put on the Pi presentation for their group too.  I’m scheduled to be the presenter at the November 16 meeting.  If you haven’t seen this thing yet, don’t miss it!  More info: noars.net.

Welcome to Dave KD8TWG as the newest Technical Specialist!  I’ve known Dave since about the time he became licensed because he’s been very active.  In addition to being AEC for Geauga County, he is into embedded systems, computers, and networking.  He plays around with APRS a lot too.

Aside from all that goodness, QSL cards and certificates are coming in from the 13 Colonies and Katrina 10th Anniversary special event stations.  I just dropped off certificate requests and QSL cards for the Route 66 and Pope Francis special event stations.  Groups really put in a lot of work doing these special event stations and do a great job getting the certificates and reply QSL cards out quickly.  The certificates really make great wallpaper for your shack too!  I find special event stations by watching Ham Nation or spots on DX clusters.

The Hurricane Watch Net is celebrating 50 years of service.  It was started in Cleveland by Jerry Murphy – K8YUW as an informal net to provide communication to affected areas.  They activate on the HF bands anytime a hurricane is expected to make landfall.  They can be heard on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz.  Remember to stay clear of these frequencies while the net is activated.  More info: http://hwn.org.

LEARA is in line for a Yaesu Fusion repeater under their promotional deal.  We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the box and can’t wait to get it on the air.  The promotional deal is a great opportunity for your club to replace aging repeater equipment or experiment with digital modes.  I can’t tell you how excited members of the club are to get into System Fusion.  From the other clubs that have contacted me regarding Fusion, the excitement is contagious.  Give it a shot!  The repeater can be configured: full digital (digital in – digital out only), full analog (analog in – analog out only), or auto detect (eg: analog or digital in – analog out, digital in – digital out, analog in – analog out).

Yaesu has extended the promotion once again until the end of the year, so you or your club has some time to decide.  Details and application are available through yeasu.com -> select Products -> click Digital.  Click DR-1X (model of the repeater).  Click the Files tab -> click “DR-1X Installation Program Application form.”

Thanks for reading

73… de Jeff – K8JTK

My Experiences as a New HF Ham Radio Operator

Updated: 5/29/2018

I’ve been licensed since 1999 and upgraded to General and Extra in 2008 but I hadn’t been on the amateur HF bands very much.  When I graduated from Grad School, I bought myself and setup a new HF station.

This post is going to be about my experiences, things I’ve learned along the way, and maybe some things that may not be obvious to someone starting out.  I will add to this post.

This is not meant to be “all-inclusive” by any means and not meant to be a substitute for elmering and experience.  It’s meant to be for someone who has operated VHF/UHF for a long while but just venturing out into HF.

I’m bitter in alot of this post because many points draw on real interactions I’ve encountered.  It’s not to discourage you to operate HF but to be better than the other guy acting like a jerk.  Common sense helps tremendously.  Folks out there who are all about the points, number of exchanges, getting that last contact, and awards common sense almost always goes out the window.  Just remember you have a choice to not work those stations.

A quick note… ac6v.com has a TON of good information on everything from “antennas to zones.”  I think it could be organized a little better and layout is a little 1996ish, regardless 700 amateur radio topics are covered. The Google search at the top really helps finding things.

Let’s get started.