About Me

I'm Terry McKnight from the North West of England and a woodworker of many years experience. I have been playing and building guitars/stringed musical instruments for a long time. Whilst looking for a bandsaw tune up video I found Marc Spagnuolo's The Woodwhisperer website. From that I then got interested in all things woodworking and discovered the world of cabinet making. I had my shop totally rebuilt from bottom to top late 2012 and it suits my workflow.
My blog is the everyday ramblings of an enthusiastic and passionate woodworker. I hope you find it interesting. If you are seeing this from another of my blogs then the url is tmcwoodworks.blogspot.com

I work in computers for a day job and have done for many, many years. IT is so last year :)

I'm also a licensed radio amateur G8YPH (since 1979 qualified 1980) and maintain another blog at G8YPH.blogspot.com.

Don't forget to have a click onto the adverts on the site. This helps keeps the lights on.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Is JT65 dying out?

A quick listen around the HF bands this morning while using WSJT-X switched to JT65 mode revealed very little activity using JT65 or JT9. Everybody seems to have switched to the quicker FT8 mode. This is a shame as JT65, albeit a slower mode when you consider how long it takes to do a QSO, is actually much more resilient.

The data portions of the bands are now crowded with hams using FT8. I have JTAlert and set it for a matrix of 32 decodes and it regularly displays 30+ stations showing just how busy FT8 has become.

I await for future modes that may be able to transmit more than just brief details but still be as quick and resilient.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Wouxun KG-UV950P problems

The volume controls on this rig are now playing up. When turning the volume down completely it sometimes goes down to VOL:01 but no further. It sometimes is apparent on VFO B but VFO A is not immune either.

I know that the control uses an optical chopper to convert rotation to pulses to tell the hardware to change value. The result of this is the sound can not be entirely muted. There is also an issue with the channel knob which again uses a chopper. Sometimes it cannot change channel properly.

The rig is permanently in the shack so not subjected to different humidity or heat. The problems are intermittent and sometimes the rig works normally.

I've had a Trio 7500 2m rig for nearly 40 years before it developed any issues. THe Wouxun has been with me for just over 3 years and upto know has been ok. I'm not going to bother getting it fixed and may well just buy a Yaesu rig instead. I never use 10m on the Wouxun and most of the time it is used on 2m or 70cm so even 6m doesn't get a look in.

If anybody knows of a fix for this I am all ears.

Monday, 24 July 2017

First QSO(s) using FT8

I recently downloaded the Release Candidate for WSJT-X v1.8.0-rc1 as I was curious to try out the new FT8 mode.

After ticking the boxes Auto Seq and Call 1st I tuned to 20 metre band and set the program to call CQ.
There was a bit of waiting before a station replied to my call but then the program did everything itself. The whole QSO went like this
    CQ G8YPH IO83
    SP6ECQ G8YPH -14
    G8YPH SP6ECQ R-14
    SP6ECQ G8YPH RRR - at which point the log QSO dialog box popped up. I just clicked OK
   G8YPH SP6ECQ 73
    SP6ECQ G8YPH 73 - this was transmitted automatically as a courtesy

Then the program went back to transmitting CQ again. It all worked seamlessly and the logging was intercepted by JTAlert and passed via QSO Relay to Ham Radio Deluxe logging module. I didn't have to add FT8 to HRD as some people have queried on the HRD peer support Facebook group as it was done automatically.

An initial auto controlled QSO
FT8 Waveform in the waterfall. Considerably different
than other JT Modes
Overs are 15 seconds long so FT8 can cope with fading QSOs. I believe you need a fast PC though to cope with decodes. These tend to take around 1 second at around the 13th second of the receive cycle.

I also noticed it coped well with hiccups in reception where nothing was received or decoded from the answering station in the middle of a QSO. When a successful packet was received the program went onto the next step in the transmission sequence - transmitting two or three RRR's until a 73 was received for instance.

Software versions used at G8YPH

  • WSJT-X Version 1.8.0 Release Candidate 1
  • JTALert-X 2.9.10
  • QSO Relay 1.6.6371.29224
  • Ham Radio Deluxe

Radio Yaesu FT-450D

So far I am impressed but the extra 73 transmission means you don't go back to calling CQ after you have sent a successful RRR and received a 73 from the receiving station.

Friday, 21 July 2017

WSJT-X 1.8 Release Candidate

I've just downloaded the release candidate for WSJT-X from https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html and installed it.
This version has the new FT8 mode and I was eager to try it out.

It seems to be able to automatically establish communications after calling CQ and initiate a full QSO. I have yet to make my first contact with it despite being on 20m for a couple of hours.

There isn't much information available about FT8 (that I have found) but from what I have seen so far it looks like a useful mode for quick QSO's normally associated with fading signals.

JTAlert once again supports Ham Radio Deluxe - but read on

I just noticed this on hamapps.com

"New JTAlert 2.10.0 is available for download.

This version has full support for FT8 and the 15sec T/R period.
HRD v6 logging is again supported. HRD v5 and V6 users need to upgrade their JTAlert version to 2.10.0 to avoid logging and spotting the wrong mode (FT8 spotted/logged as T10 or JT9).

Visit HamApps.com for the download link and upgrade instructions.

Please review these release notes for 2.10.0
  **** HRD V6 logging is again supported by JTAlert.
  **** The HRD V6 logging support in this release is a one-time event.
  **** Releases after 2.10.0 will again no longer have HRD V6 support.

  New Features:
    - Full FT8 mode support and its 15 sec T/R period.
    - All the Wanted alert types support FT8 mode tracking.
    - Scan Log supports FT8 mode for all Alert types.
    - Additional Alert tracking option, "Any WSJT-X Mode (JT65 or JT9 or FT8)".
    - FT8 mode statistics from HamSpots included in Band Activity displays.
    - Call History popup & standalone window support FT8 data from Log lookup.
    - WSJT-X mode character included in JTAlert titlebar (before the Band).
       Character matches that used in WSJT-X, "#" = JT65, "@" = JT9, "~" = FT8.

    - Macros window single instance setting removed. Each JTAlert instance must
       open its own Macro window for each WSJT-X/JTDX instance.
    - End TX/RX Period alert disabled for FT8 mode.
    - Auto-Halt after current TX is disabled for FT8 mode.
    - Confirmed Bands Display (below log fields) right area will display Bands
       worked/confirmed matching WSJT-X TX mode JT9 or FT8
    - Many internal code changes to support FT8 mode and 15s T/R period and to
       correctly distinguish between WSJT-X and JTDX running processes.
       (** The JTDX program calls itself wsjtx.exe which it isn't **)
    - The multi-instance support has also been changed. Running multiple copies
       of JTAlert against both WSJT-X and JTDX simultaneously is not supported.
       You can run multiple instances of JTAlert against either WSJT-X OR JTDX
       only. Both types of applications can be running simultaneously on the PC,
       but only one JTAlert operating mode (against WSJT-X or JTDX) is allowed.

    - WSJT-X docking stops when a WSJT-X Configuration switch is made.
    - DXKeeper Capture window inadvertently populated when DXKeeper is instructed
       to filter its display on a new DX Call change.

de Laurie VK3AMA"

One time event? I'm not sure what is going on there and I actually don't care. I now use the excellent QSO Relay as a go between to allow JTAlert and HRD logging to function

Friday, 7 July 2017

HRD Issue

I thought this was a temporary fault with HRD as reported in a previous post. The latest version 659 still has the same problem.
This is when upgrading from an older version to the current version then the installation routine uninstalls the Microsoft Access Runtime.

Not a major issue as long as you manually reinstall the runtime before you fire up the logbook module.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Making QSO Relay auto start in Windows 10

QSO Relay, if you haven't already tried it out, is a superb piece of software written by VK2BYI. Essentially it bridges the gap between JTAlertX and Ham Radio Deluxe since the author of JTAlert discontinued support for HRD 6.x (the paid for version of HRD).
QSO Relay sits in between the two pieces of software and relays QSOs to HRD.

QSO Relay normally runs in the task bar
near the clock. After a reboot it was found
not to be automatically running.
I found that occasionally it wasn't logging until I found out why. It wasn't running in the task bar after a reboot. On Windows 7 you can just drag the shortcut for any software you want to run on Windows startup into the StartUp folder on the start menu.

Not so on Windows 10 and you have to do a little fiddling to get it to do the same.

Press the Windows key and R simultaneously to bring up the Run dialog.

In the box that appears type shell:startup and press OK

Windows explorer opens in your own AppData location

Next drag the shortcut of the program you wish to auto start into the explorer box, in this case the shortcut of QSORelay.

Close explorer and that is it. Next time you reboot Windows and login QSORelay will be automatically running.