Hello (HAM)world…again!

Well well well.. I think we have seen each other somewhere here before, haven’t we? Yep. It was around 2016 when I told you that it has been a while. Well.. little did we know back then. I had just started my studies (again) in the university and things were picking up the speed. Fast forward from there to august 2018, I sold my Icom IC-7300 among other radios. I was done. Time was just flying by too quickly with all that: day job, family and studying. Familiar story, isn’t it?

Fast forward again to February 8th 2021. That was the tipping point when I finally submitted my order of the new Icom IC-7300 to my trusted local radio dealer. Again! History must be repeating itself!? Well..I really liked the radio, back in the day, and the price/feature ratio of it is very nice. However, I seriously considered also some QRP rigs like IC-705, Elecraft KX3 and Yeasu FT-818ND, but.. “Life is too short for QRP”, right? Well not really, but I wanted an allrounder 100w rig and as I had good experience with IC-7300 I decided to get it back to my shack again (no..no..it’s a new one, not the same I sold few years ago). The QRP might follow some time in the future. I’m honing my CW skills as we speak (sounds familiar..eh?).

So here we are. Day job and family are both doing great. I graduated last spring from the university and now I’m ready to be back with the radio again. Feels great! Looking forward on that new rig and hunting DX. I’m in a process of re-building my shack (mostly with already existing components). Need to fix the antenna feed line and check how my Windom is doing there in the tree. It has been hanging there since 2011. Still going strong..I hope. And the computer.. It’s funny how many updates you receive for the Windows 10 when you turn the computer on after 6 years of shutdown. #lol

For all my Mac friends out there..yes..I’m using Windows 10 machine for the HAM Radio now..can you believe.. 🙂 It’s interesting to see how the Windows has evolved. So far it looks actually pretty good. Allthough software isn’t as pretty as it is in the Mac, but the Windows itself looks promising (and functions also..quite ok). The HAM-software in general has always been more versatile on Windows. That’s also nice (HRD integrates to JS8Call and all weird modes, N1MM is killer contesting app..and so forth..ugly as hell, but functional). Maybe more on that later. Now take care! Leave a comment if you wish. It will be highly appreciated. Finnish language works fine too.

73, Hessu

Long time …

So it goes. Fast. The time. I have to admit not being too active here in the blog lately. Nor have I been too active on bands either. One might say better late than never, though. Below you can see how it has been over the years (QSO vise). There sure is some room for activity improvement. But I have been working for that lately. Recently I moved my HF rig from the separate hamshack to the main building. As the rig is now closer to my regular everyday life it might also help me to get more on the air time, as busy the life of a familyman, daily worker and student is.

qsos_per_year

Last summer was my first summer of QRP. In the spring I purchased a brand new Yaesu FT-817ND rig. I also bought all kinds of bells and whistles with it (accessories some might say) and boy .. isn’t that an interesting world of tweeking! Other than that, my activity has been mostly on VHF/UHF on my way to work and back.

Next weekend is the weekend of CQWPXRTTY, one of my all time favourite contests. For some weird reason I just love RTTY contesting. So you might hear me on the air there. No promises made, but might 🙂 I need to rush now. Take care and HAM away! Meanwhile, check my logbooks in the front page to see if we have had a qso. You can now find my Mobile, Portable and QRP logs there too.

Contesting: SAC 2012 SSB worked!

Last weekend it was the great “polar battle” SAC weekend again. I managed to attend to that 2 days contest part-time. It sure was some serious fun once again (like it was last year too). This time I also tested my new N1MM setup first time in the SSB contest. I had recorded all the voice macros beforehand and configured the system to run fully automatic voice communications (CQ, Exchange, TNX, QRZ, AGN…all that). I used full automation in the beginning of the contest while running CQ, but soon noticed that it would be best just to run only CQ automatically and then talk the rest. It is much faster that way…and with my modest 112 logged QSO’s my voice hold very vell too hi hi.

All in all it sure was great fun once again. I really recommend using some real contesting software even if you are a recreational contester (like me). It sure gives plenty of interesting features and helps in the contest in many ways. I have used the N1MM now in CQWWRTTY and now on SAC and would highly recommend it. It is very versatile, robust and best of all..free! As said before: as a long-time Mac –person I just have to admit that Windows just cuts it when it comes to contesting / HAM software. Nuf said. Iloiset kasvot

In addition to automated voice keying and all that fun, I added another dimension on my setup for the contest. As I explain on the video, I routed all audio via my Yamaha G124 mixer. My mic and computer attached to that I was able to route all audio to radio and to my other computer (MacBook Pro handling the videostreaming). The mixer has 2 output busses so it can do many neat things when routing audio. My MacBook then was hooked to my Presonus Fire Studio outboard audio card (receiving the audio from mixer) and using the fantastic WireCast software from Telestream. I have been using that setup for my Podcast production for ages. Now I just came up the idea of using it here too as I wanted to provide a LIVE video/audio stream from the shack to my Twitter and Facebook friends. It worked nice and got some interested viewers. The streaming service (Bambuser) I’m using is a great service as it provides a nicely functioningsteady stream and in addition to that it also records all streamed videos too (if you need to)! So because of that feature you are able to watch those streams from the Bambooser account of mine. You can also browse the stream history from the HamCam pages here in the oh6fxl.com. From those pages you can always see the LIVE stream too as it happens. When ever I start posting the LIVE stream, you would be notified if you “like” the OH6FXL –page on Facebook or follow oh6fxl on Twitter.

So this was my SAC 2012 contest and the wrap-up of it. Hope it gave some ideas / explained how I did it. Contesting is fun!  You don’t have to bee too serious with it. Just play and have fun…and make contacts! I’m atleast enjoying the athmosphere of contests so much that I’m planning to attend them also in the future. I’m also planning of upgrading my radio equipment…and later also antenna equipment…(yes! its getting that serious .. lets see what happens hi hi) but that’s another story for another post. Stay tuned!

HamShack Update and the platform wars

OH6FXL - HamShack 2012

Once again I have updated my shack, or at least the computer system of it. As you might remember I have been switching between Linux, Mac and Windows in the shack within a year. I would say that I have “tested” quite a bunch of the possibilities in Ham Radio Logging and station control on those platforms. For some reason I would always come back to the conclusion that I need to use Windows for my HAM radio. As some you readers know, I’m an Apple “fanboy” so this “coming back to Windows” theme is quite interesting. The reason is just that Windows has it. All the best software (like HRD, DxLabs…) or contest software (N1MM etc) are written on Windows. No matter how much I like to use Mac in the shack, I always come back to that conclusion.

One disclaimer must be stated here: Regular Hamming (and even a bit more than that) can be done fine with Mac. Just download RumLog and/or Rumped for contesting / peditions, or purchase MacLoggerDX (even toghther with MacLoggerHD for iPad) and you are set. And yes … I have done that..purchased both of MacLoggers and used also Rumlog. Digimodes in the Mac work fine with FLDigi or CocoaModem from which the CocoaModem is Apple Scriptable, but something is always missing. It is either log/qsl upload to some service (like eQSL or Clublog) or lack of fancy internet features (like QSY info or QSO info to web / twitter via HRDLog.net) or something else. No software suite in the “Mac world” has all the capabilities of the HRD (in the same application suite atleast). For example the GREAT feature set of digi mode software DM780 is lacking. CocoaModem is nice, but Fldigi has all the needed features…interaction between logging and Digimodes is nowhere near the interoperability of DM780 and HRD Log…phew… 🙂

Long story short: I’m back with the windows in the shack. Running Ham Radio Deluxe (and yes..purchased even the license for support subscription for the upcoming version 6 … and waiting anxiously … er.. patiently on that!) 🙂 If I some time have some time (heh) I would write more on those different platforms as we didn’t tackle for example the wonderful world of Linux here at all. I just say briefly this time that the CQRlog is the weapon of choice there. Highly recommended!!

1st HF Mobile QSO & Summer

It sure has been (and still is) a great summer. Loads of things have been done during my long holiday: Quite a bunch of nice QSO’s have been worked (mainly only portable/mobile HF and VHF/UHF), my HAM Shack/Studio/Man Cave has been renowed and so forth. But in the blog front there has quite quiet for a while. Sorry about that. I have been producing couple of videos during the summer however. I thought I should post them also here. As these pages are still under construction the link roll, pages and all that is just “soon to be here” so please bear with me 🙂

My Windom or the feed line is somehow broken in the home QTH at the moment that is one reason I have been working only mobile HF during the summer. I’m looking forward on fixing that too during my Shack renovation. But the videos… 1st video shows some mobile HF setup as it was just made when visiting the Finnish HAM fest. I bought the antenna from there and we just wanted to test it immediately.. hi hi. The second video is produced fully in iPhone and also shows the setup later on when I have re-mounted the radio and so forth. So enjoy the videos and keep on visiting these pages. More stuff to follow.

73 de Hessu – OH6FXL

The evolution of the remote ham – How I finally made it

HamShack Remote Control Concept

Large picture: Click here

Picture: The missing link (mic+speaker)

It all started some time ago…

Some time ago I wrote about my experiments in remote controlling the HamShack. This has been an ongoing quest of mine for a long time for couple of reasons 1) it is fun experiment and 2) as you might know my HamShack is located in the separate building and this remote controlling might increase my activity and utilize those quick moments I have to operate every now and then.

The first version of my remote control was based on only to listening the bands via Skype and for some digital modes working. After a while I did some experiments with some help from the G4ZLP (thank you for that!!) to route Skype output (my voice) to radio via the digital interface I have. There were couple of problems: 1) powerline mains brumm (due potential difference between hamshack general mains and powerline mains) and 2) audiolevels adjustment. It just was too tricky to configure, especially considering the limited time. I preferred operating instead of configuring on that time, so I needed to figure out something else.

Then came the idea

As you might guess/know/remember my limited time to operate is due the sweet little baby girl we have in our family. This same happy reason actually led me into the development of the next version of my remote shack.

Couple of days ago I bought two pairs of Sony wireless headphones to watch TV with my wife when the baby is sleeping. Those headphones operate on 800MHz band and both pairs have their own transmitter unit along with the headset. When configuring those headphones to my TV setup I noticed that both phones can actually listen one transmitter (ofcourse, silly me). Then I realized that I had one extra transmitter…which said it can transmit all the way to 100 meters…hmm.. HEUREKA! I figured that with this transmitter I can actually broadcast my Ham radio audio from the Hamshack all the way basically everywhere in my house and my yard.

I rushed into my shack, connected the transmitter to my rig and BOOM! Suddenly I was walking around the yard and the house with those headphones on and listening the HAM band all the way. I was jumping when I ran into my laptop to control the radio via the earlier established remote setup. It worked like a charm.

Not too many seconds after that I started thinking of how to transmit my voice and key the radio there in the shack. Then it came to me: I have couple of VHF/UHF HT’s laying around. Yet another rush into the shack (those headphones still on by the way) and connecting my HamShack VHF/UHF radio (Yaesu FT-7900) to an external speaker. By then I had figured out that I need to use VOX to operate via speaker + mic combination. Then rush back to the house and testing-testing-1-2-3. Yet again the setup worked like a charm!

By then I had also alerted my Geek/HAM friend Tuomas (OH8JGQ) for some more testing of this setup. Even it was late night Tuomas too rushed into his Hamshack (in the basement of his house) and after a while we made a contact on HF.

There I was standing outside on my yard, Sony headphones on and talking to my Yaesu VX-8 and Baofeng (yes I was testing both, and yes it was late at night and yes it is winter and it was -20 degrees celsius, but hey..we are HAMs 🙂

I was so glad about this experiment and so was Tuomas (as he is also interested on this remote system for his own setup). I was ready to go to bed, but something bugged me. Need to develop this further. And then…BOOM…(yes yet another serious Steve Jobs BOOM -moment if you know what I mean). I was saying to my self “Am I stupid or what!?!”. Ofcourse this will work without the Sony headphones and the VHF/UHF link…I can utilize the already existing Skype listening setup and JUST ADD ANOTHER SOUNDCARD TO MY SETUP for skype speaker usage. Side note: This 2nd sound card is needed because the 1st card is used for digimodes (however the audio from the radio is coming to Skype listening via the sound card 1 .. see picture above).

Eventhough my dear wife thught Im grazy, I rushed yet again (in my pyjamas) tough the winter into my shack to do this third experiment. What can you do, when you have this moment of enlightment..oh man what can you do.. 🙂

Born of The HamShack Remote Control Concept

There I was. In the middle of the night talking to my Laptop skype and listening my voice from the speaker on the Hamshack table (hooked up on the Hamshack computer and skype). After some McGyver moves with rubberband and all, I was able to key my radio via VOX on this setup. Before I went to sleep I already figured out that I can actually key the radio manually too (via remote setup and Ham Radio Deluxe..it has TX-button you know..silly me :-)).

It was late, but I was soooooo happy! I finally made it. Day after that night of rushing back and forth to hamshack, I had some nice QSO with some finnish HAM’s on 80 meters. I was actually sitting some 20 km away from my hamshack, in my office, and babbling away with them. The audio reports were good. They said they won’t notice I’m on remote.

As simple as that. No brumm, no hassle. Just works. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bicycle HAM – Setup 1

Long time no blog. Sri abt that. Been busy. Also been building my first “bicycle HAM setup”. Next version will have a fixed antenna, mounted on the bike. While waiting for that I will test the setup below. This setup will operate on VHF/UHF and APRS as the rig on the bike is my trusty ol’ Yaesu VX-8 (and it will also provide me a BC radio to listen to, while commuting..and when there is no traffic on local 70cm / 2m repeaters) 🙂

Yaesu VX-8 VHF/UHF/APRS bike setup 1

73 de Hessu and BTU 🙂

SSTV testing

I started testing the SSTV today. I configured my radio to receive pictures and computer to upload them into my web-site. You can see last 4 pictures received at my shack from http://hessujarvinen.com/ham/sstv Pretty interesting experiment yet again in the field of digital amateur radio. 🙂 Maybe later I will start transmitting pictures also, but just receiving for now.

My First Award!

My First Award!

Just browsed today my received eQSL cards at eqsl.cc and suddenly noticed that I was eglible for the eDX award with 31 worked DXCC entities (countries). I applied it immediately (easy as press of a button) and boom..there it was after a while – my first HAM award in my mailbox. Yippee!! 🙂

Yes, I know that these eQSL awards are not as official as ARRL Log Book Of The Wolrd “real” awards, but they are nice anyway. So thank you all for all the nice contacts!! Hope to hear you in the bands soon again!

I’m still in the process of getting my self into the LOTW, but sooner or later I’ll be there too 🙂 To those who are reading, but don’t know about the LOTW and its system, you can read more here. It sure is more comprehensive as it requires heavier systems how the station is recognized (using certificates in the computer etc). That is why it also is comparable to real paper QSL -cards and therefore it is more “real” and allows the application of the “real” ARRL certificates. The main thing why I’m not there yet is the fact that one must send copy of the licence to ARRL (USA) by SNAIL mail when applying to LOTW account …you know a letter … as one inside of an envelope…yes the paper one…huh! 🙂

 

 

My remote-shack 2.0 #hamradio

As mentioned earlier, I have been working remotely and digitally with my Ham -setup earlier this year. But not untill yesterday I was finally able to configure my setup to run also remote setup for SSB/Phone mode. Below you can find a short video about that setup. It still is lacking the transmit side (Vox via Skype), but I will test that later also. This HRD -setup also enables somekind of IP-remote via HRD, but I need to look more into that too.

A brief comment about my  my current Ham -PC setup as it is yet again changed (more about that later): I got my hands on an old AMD / XP machine. Installed 2 gigs of RAM to it and new display card with 2 displays and finally was able to run Ham Radio Deluxe…and boy isn’t that avesome…wow! This is actually my 3rd HAM setup. I have been running this same kind of setup on all major platforms (Mac, Linux and Windows) this year. It sure has been interesting to experiment with digimodes, cat -control and all that. I need to write about my experiences with those setups later…but now this Windows based remote setup. It sure is nice… 🙂