Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Non-Satellite Post about BPSK31

This Thanksgiving, we went camping.  Part of the week we stayed with my family on the Frio River near Concan, TX in Uvalde County.  In between satellite passes, I decided I'd play a little PSK.

Here's the end/feedpoint of my End-Fedz 10/20/40 dipole.  It's a good little antenna.  It wasn't any higher than 10 feet off the ground at its lowest point.  I was able to work North America with 20 watts.  The antenna will handle 25.

My modest PSK31 portable station: HP Laptop, SignaLink USB, Yaesu FT-857D, and MixW.  I really like MixW.  It lets me run most digital modes easily.  Logging is embedded in the software.

The master operator himself W5PFG making contacts:

I made contact with "Sat Hero" Wyatt, AC0RA in Iowa during this little operation.

Friday, December 12, 2014

My thoughts about Logbook of the World

First, a short story:  I know this one guy who railed and ranted against Logbook of the World for a period of time.  He had nothing but choice words for the system.  I'm glad he has come around and is encouraging people to use it.  People can change their attitude and reflect positively on things when they choose to do so.

For every contact I make and log in the shack, I upload the QSO to ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) system.   In today's instant-gratification world, this is the fastest way to get a validated QSL eligible for ARRL Award purposes.   You can have a confirmed contact within minutes if the LoTW is playing nice and not bogged down from a contest weekend.

I like paper cards.  It is fun.  It is traditional.  QSL cards are something real you can hold in your hand.  For generations QSL cards have been a staple item in almost every amateur operator's shack. That being said, I have two QSL cards in my repertoire.  One card I use exclusively to QSL contacts made from home.  The other card is designed for my rover/portable operations.

For a long while, I was being very diligent in uploading all my portable operations to Logbook of the World.  Then I got lazy and quit.  Lately I have noticed some new operators are moving around and confirming grids via LoTW.  WN8QGV and KG5CCI are two good examples.  Even some more seasoned ops such as N8RO are uploading their rover contacts to LoTW.  Very cool.

This has gotten me to re-think my laziness and start uploading all my portable contacts to LoTW.  You never know when someone will come around and want a QSL electronically.  If they upload the correct QSO details, Viola!  - they have a confirmed contact with my rover/portable station.

If you have a contact with me that is not being validated with a QSL in Logbook of the World, email me.  I will gladly look into the situation and rectify it if possible.  Unfortunately if I cannot find evidence of our contact in my log or audio recordings, that means we need to try for another contact.

I highly encourage you to consider uploading your contacts from both shack and rover/portable operations to Logbook of the World.  It's fun.  Cards aren't so bad, either...Keep sendin' em.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Typical FO-29 Usage

Here's a classic example of how everyone crowds around the center of FO-29's passband even if there is bad QRM.  Either the stations don't mind an obnoxious buzzing sound in their ears or their station just can't hear the satellite very well.  I tend to vote for the latter, considering who they were.  

The big green bar just north of 435.855 is some awful noise we periodically capture on FO-29.  It is some kind of terrestrial interference.  This particular pass was directly overhead for me in Texas, EM21hs.  In typical fashion, the stations don't seem phased by the QRM and continue to call CQ repeatedly.  These are the generally the people to whom you answer their CQ and have to repeat your callsign 5-6 times.

Friday, December 5, 2014

W5PFG and W5CBF operate from Texas' Big Bend Region

You might have heard that I like to travel and work satellites from different grid squares.  One of my favorite areas to visit is Texas' Big Bend region.  It is along the Rio Grande River south of Alpine, Texas.  Most of the Big Bend is either in Presidio or Brewster counties,

Last week, Hector CO6CBF/W5CBF operated with me in this area on our camping trip.

"Dueling Arrows" on a small ridge near our campsite in Lajitas, Texas DL89:

W5CBF operating an FO-29 pass from the Upper Madera Canyon Primitive Camping Area, part of Big Bend Ranch State Park. TX Farm-to-Market Rd 170, Grid DL89

Yours truly, W5PFG operating the same pass.  Yes, we worked each other.

W5CBF working SO-50 from the "Hoodoos" trail and rest stop along TX FM-170 in the Big Bend Ranch State Park:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Using Twitter to Post Grid Operations for Rover and Portable Stations

I post all updates for my grid expeditions on my Twitter account @w5pfg.  Generally I will post the pass date and time in UTC, the satellite name, and the grid from which I'll operate.  I try to do this in advance of a grid op as much as possible.

Twitter is probably the most versatile tool for notifying individuals about grid operations.

You can access my Twitter feed by web at: http://www.twitter.com/w5pfg

If you create an account on Twitter, you can configure email and text (SMS) alerts.

It is not necessary to have Internet access to send notifications.  I can post a Tweet simply by sending a text (SMS) to a special phone number.  Alternatively, I can send a Tweet even if I don't have cell coverage but do have Internet access.   To do this, you will need to have Twitter validate your mobile phone number with your account.  It is painless.

Twitter provides a lot of flexibility.  There is no cost for this service and it is generally as reliable or better than email service.  It does not rely on an individual relaying information for you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spotted: Building your own satellite station by N4UFO

Kevin, N4UFO has moved some information he had about the construction of his satellite station from his QRZ.com biography to a dedicated blog.  He has a bunch of really good stuff there.  I highly recommend you read about the construction of his station.  I am particularly jealous of the workmanship, time, and detail he put into the station and his write-up.

Kevin, N4UFO's blog:


Dave, KB5WIA's blog, another worth visiting:


One of these days I'll grow out of my laziness and write-up something a little more detailed about my own station.  In the mean time, check out these two fine gents' blogs for ideas.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The "1,2 - We hear you." Incident

During  John/K8YSE's western grid expedition to fill in the missing "holes" on his son Doug/KD8CAO's grid map, it was not uncommon to hear John saying "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2" to "find himself" while tuning his SatPC32 configuration.  John was utilizing computer control on his expedition.  I am not a huge fan of using computer control when operating rover/portable since it adds to the complexity of your setup and violates my belief that KISS is best when on the move.

Listen carefully to this recording made by AC0RA and you will hear one of our resident comedians answering John's "1, 2"'s.  It makes for a good laugh.