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.
Last weekend was the long awaited first RTTY contest of mine, the legendary CQ WW RTTY. Actually I have worked one RTTY contest once. It was national contest and I did not use any “real” software on that, nor was I any successful on that either (just made couple of QSO). 🙂 Well.. I wasn’t that successful this time either. All in all I’m just a recreational contester having fun. However this time I used some real software (N1MM) and best of all.. got the setup working A-OK. Setup is always the most important..hi.. oh well QSO’s are too. 🙂
The contest itself was a very pleasant and fun experience. I didn’t have that many hours to spend in the contest (as usual) so I wasn’t really competing with the “big guns”. I was more in hunting DX and having some fun (like I usually do in contests). Contests are just great fun! But as said, this time was special too: It was my first real (big, world wide) RTTY contest, I had a new setup with N1MM and so on. And boy, I must say, that software really changed how I see / experience contesting. With it’s realtime statistics and results and so on, it really was something different than just plain logging and blind shooting.
During the contest I tested the “running mode” and “search and pounce” and finally figured out that the S&P was better for my small station. While proceeding with the competition I slowly learned the “code of conduct” and got better on utilizing the great features of the N1MM (like the band map to store spots when scanning the frequency and getting back to them later). The software made my recreational contesting experience more enjoyable and I started to feel like a true contester, although I know I wasn’t 🙂
All in all the experience was very very nice and the N1MM worked just SUPER on my old and slow PC (looking forward on the new one soon..). So thank you all for the very nice time in the contest and thank you for the nice (yet quick) contacts during the weekend! 🙂 I already uploaded my log to robot in the contest sponsor (it was a breeze with N1MM..just press of a button and then e-mail upload). I gained 102 contacts and preliminary calculated 20160 points. Not bad considering the time I had available.
The next big contest for me would be the SAC 2012 (within 2 weeks) and then also the CQ WPX RTTY 2013 later on february. Maybe some smaller ones meanwhile.. If I just manage to squeeze out the time 🙂 Below is the video from my shack during the contest (running mode). The ESM feature of the N1MM really ROCKS!!
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!!
I finally made it. I raised the HF antenna of mine to new heights. Or atleast a bit higher than the previous installation. I managed to get the antenna high up to the top of the tree with my new (EVO3) version of the antenna launcher. It sure is more powerful than the old slingshot (picture below)
New (EVO3 version) Old (EVO2) version
The first picture in this post is a picture of my Ugly Balun – an air wound choke, that I made for my Windom (OCF) dipole to eliminate the RF in the shack (actually I converted my antenna to “Carolina Windom” -like antenna”. As the antenna project is still ongoing I haven’t been able to test that balun yet. I let you know how it works. The antenna project is still ongoing because I encountered new tree branches in our yard when rising the antenna higher. Yep, they weren’t there before… 🙂 as the antenna was couple of meters lower.. Anyway, I hope to test the antenna and the balun soon. I’m looking forward to get rid of the annoying RF interference by this. The other thing I need to do is to shovel up few meters (abt. 50m) of ditch for my grounding cable, but that’s another story..but it affects to that RF too, so that needs to be done.