RADIO AMATEUR NEWS & VIEWS, APRIL 2016

RADIO AMATEUR

NEWS & VIEWS

APRIL 2016

IN THIS ISSUE...
Logging Software DXPedition to Morania Operators Needed for VCM
Secretary's Minutes Adventures in JT65 & JT9

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LOGGING SOFTWARE
The April 12th RANV Meeting

There will be multiple presenters showing off different logging programs that are out there for operators to use.

DXPEDITION TO MORANIA

Mitch W1SJ

I've just learned from the DX News that a DXpedition to the Free Republic of Morania will take place April 1 st through April 15th. Morania is an island in the lesser Antilles of the lower Caribbean. They consider themselves independent, but this has been disputed over the years. The DX Advisory Committee has given word that they will accept Morania as a new DX entity if the proper documentation is submitted.

The organizers have chosen an all-star group of operators, many of whom I'm sure we have all heard about. They will be running full Elecraft K3S stations, with amps on 160 through 6 meters. The proposed operating location is on the beach, with an almost 360 degree open view. We expect them to be loud and we expect the pileups to be legendary.

The call sign will be likely be 23SIRQ1A. This uses the rather strange prefix assigned to Morania, but it is likely they might opt to use the unofficial QS1 prefix instead.

Currently the team members are in Puerto Rico getting their gear ready to go. Then they will board the MV Chikenlitle for the 59 hour run to Morania. Get your antennas up and ready to go. This should be an exciting time!

OPERATORS NEEDED FOR VCM

Mitch W1SJ

The Vermont City Marathon will be Sunday, May 29th. With over 8,000 participants and 30,000 spectators, it is the largest sporting event in Vermont. And with 35 ham operators, it is the largest ham radio public service event in Vermont.

The 2016 kickoff meeting was just held by the organizers, Run Vermont. With some course changes, we have even more positions to fill. And with operator shrinkage each year, we need to recruit more operators. Because of security concerns, we must submit a roster of volunteers well in advance of the event. By mid-April, the roster must pretty much be in place.

So if you would like to join the Marathon crew, please go to our survey site and fill out the information. Or if you know of someone interested, please forward that address to them. You will be provided with training and an official 2016 VCM T-shirt. And, as anyone who has done the Marathon before will tell you - it is quite an interesting day! Please, no direct E-mail or phone calls - use the survey site!

SECRETARY'S MINUTES

by Kathi K1WAL

We started with a recap of HAM-CON . Check the links on our RANV website.

Mitch W1SJ gave some stats from the Vermont QSO Party. There were higher scores than last year, mostly due to more multi-mode operations. The top three in Vermont were AB1NJ, KB1FRW, and W1JXN.

Kathi K1WAL will bring a new recipe to try out for snack at our April meeting.

Mark your calendars: NEARFest is April 29th and 30th!

For anyone who is a member of RACES or is interested in RACES there will be an Operations and Training Conference on Saturday May 7 from 8:30 to 4:00 at the Vermont Fire Academy Training Facility (next to the Vermont Police Academy) in Pittsford.

Our presentation was about RFI and Grounding by Mike N1JEZ.

Mike began by identifying types of RFI: differential mode noise and common mode noise.

Typical solutions are EMI filters, Ferrites, and capacitors. For ferrites he suggested using Mix 31 (MnZn) or Mix 43 (NiZn).

Mike told us about an RFI problem he was having at his camp. Since his camp is off grid he runs generators for power. His main concern was wideband noise and a high noise floor. He uses an SDR radio and show slides of his display of 6M interference. He had used a snap on core but it didn't work well. When using ferrites Mike said to shoot for a minimum of 1000 ohms impedance, or even 3000 ohms or 6000 ohms! Wrap multiple times (1 turn is about 30; 7 turns is about 1000).

He used a free app called SDR Touch to help sniff out noise. His generators a Yamaha EF 4500 and a Honda EU 2000. The Yamaha was giving a noise floor of S9+ on 6M. He ended up putting 4 cores with 6-7 turns on his power cord. This helped but the problems still remained. At issue was an inverter board in the generator which was unshielded. The solution was to switch to a diesel general which has not inverter.

Noise comes from many different sources - LED lights, power supplies for laptops, switching power supplies. Ferrites on certain Ethernet lines and ferrites on SB lines (both ends) can be helpful to reduce noise.

Mike also talked a bit about grounding. The name of the game is Single Point!

We discussed some issues with RFI we've experienced at Field Day. Mike suggested grounding the generators and having all the radios grounded to a single point for each tent.

Mike explained how he grounds his station at home. He uses an Alpha Delta polyphaser (surge protection.)

We ended with some questions. It was an outstanding and informative presentation!

ADVENTURES IN JT65 AND JT9

David KC1APK

Like many other hams, I'm limited to 100 watts and a suboptimal antenna. Despite the limitations of my equipment and poor propagation conditions, I've discovered that I can work Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa with 20 watts or less!

Originally designed for EME moonbounce, JT65 has become popular for HF use:

How It Works and Why Is It So Effective:
A complete QSO consists of a simple exchange with each transmission limited to 13 characters.
-Call Sign & Grid Locator - Signal Reports - Acknowledgement & 73

The software does all the work.

  1. Characters are compressed and encoded using a sophisticated algorithm (Reed Solomon - the same technology used for DVD and CD encoding).
  2. Forward Error Correction (FEC) is used to insert and send redundant information - up to 80% of the message can be lost and still be decoded - signals can be decoded many decibels below the noise floor and can be as much as a 10-15 dB gain over experienced CW Operators
  3. Encoded info is transmitted at precise times using Audio Frequency Shift Keying (AFSK) through the use of 65 unique audio tones (1270.5 Hz synchronizing tone and 64 additional tones). - Audio tones are sent randomly in 126 contiguous 0.372 intervals giving it a very pleasant musical sound - Each message is transmitted over and over again for 48.8 seconds followed by a 12.2 gap between messages JT9 is similar, but uses 9 tones and is about 10% of the bandwidth of a JT65 transmission. It is usually 2-2.5 KHz higher in the band and sounds like a high pitched tone. JT9 is also estimated to have a 2 dB advantage over JT65.
  4. Stations transmit on either even or odd minutes and listen on the alternate minute. Timing must be precise to ensure proper encoding/decoding of the transmissions.

    Only 5-10 watts of power is typically needed. The sophisticated software and use of FEC do all the work. 25-30 watts is generally considered too much power and can distort the transmission. In addition, this is a high duty cycle so you'll want to keep your power low.

    In 2001, Joe Taylor K1JT, a Princeton physics professor, wrote the original WSJT program which was designed for high speed meteor scatter and EME. In 2005, it was released as open source software.

    Joe Large W6CQZ, incorporated elements of the open source software and protocols to develop JT65-HF for use on the HF portion of the bands. Today, WSJT-X (X for experimental) also includes the HF protocol and JT9. Although they are similar, I personally found the WSJT-X to be easier to navigate.

    Choose whichever one you wish, download a copy, enter your call sign, grid locator, select a soundcard input/output, configure the rig control for PTT, and you're ready to begin making contacts!

    JT65 and JT9 Operating Frequencies (MHz) - USB
    1.838 5.357 10.139 18.102 24.920
    3.576 7.076 14.076 21.076 28.076

    To Operate
    Tune to one of the established JT65/JT9 frequencies and monitor the waterfall and main display.

    Contacts are color coded:
    Green = stations calling CQ
    Grey = ongoing QSO with other stations
    Red = stations transmitting to YOU

    Just double-click! Answer a CQ by double-clicking on a green station calling CQ. The program automatically selects the frequency and begins transmitting your information for 48 seconds. Listen during the following minute. If your call is answered, you will see your call in red. Advance through the QSO by double-clicking the other station's highlighted text OR just select the next radio button.

    Companion Programs
    JT Alert and PSK Reporter is an excellent add-on that works well with both WSJT-X and JT65-HF to scan for "wanted" call signs, countries, states, grids, etc. When a matching call sign is recognized, an alert is sounded along with a visual cue.

    Lastly, PSK Reporter (www.PSKReporter.info) is another great tool that shows you a map of where your signal is being heard. You'll get an idea about how far your signal is propagating as well as its signal strength.

    For more information, check out these references:
    - Getting Started with JT65 on the HF Bands by Steve Ford WB8IMY - ARRL website
    - JT65 Presentation
    - Wikipedia



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