Getting my digital operating off the ground has been off and on the last month as we have had relatives visiting from the UK so we have been out and about with them. The latest is I have been able to download and install WSJT-X's software. There is an online install guide that is just great and I followed it slowly step by step. In the past I have found when the digi modes have tripped me up it's been my own fault in most cases. I rush the process and something along the line is overlooked and problems arise that cost me time and frustration. The WSJT-X software is up and running and I have been able to get my Elecraft K3 to communicate with the software. This has always been a challenge in the past to get the proper settings so rig and software get along. Next is to get the Signalink USB own sound card to be the stand alone card for my digital operations. The PC's sound card can look after all windows 7 tasks. The Signalink USB is a very nice unit and in the past I did have one and sold it....story of my ham career! On their site they have some very detailed easy to follow setup instructions for most if not Windows OS's and most but not all digital software. Well it's off to the next step in my digital adventure.
My digi adventure is slowly coming along, I have decided to start off with WSJT-X this will give me JT9 and JT65 to start off with. I found a GREAT user guide that takes you step by step through installation and setup. Right off the bat the guide stresses the importance of your PC's clock being spot on! With these modes the timing of transmissions and reception can make or break your success with this mode. The user guide suggests using Meinberg Network time Protocol and gives you a link to the web page. That for me is just way to easy to turn down, for me its "KISS....keep it simple stupid". Not wanting to search all over the web for a program I went with Meinberg NTP program. In the past I have found the internet can be a great resource and at other times a HUGE waste of time. With this program right at my finger tips time can be saved and I will be able to speed up my setup and that's all I needed! This user guide walks you through each step with suggestions regarding best directory locations. As with most programs as you install them you come across "suggested" install options, this user guide makes it very clear as to the best choice to make. Nothing bothers me more when you install a program and click through the options only to find out via trouble shooting that other options should had been chosen!! I have have used other time protocol programs in the past and to be honest I was not sure if it was working or not. With Meinberg NTP program you can go to your Windows command prompt and type in ntpq -p and see what's going on with the program. Now having said that after entering this code and hitting the enter button you are shown a screen of numbers, letters and columns such as ST, T, WHEN, POLL and REACH.........if your like me this is a foreign language! Fortunately the Meinberg Network time Protocol link also explains very simply what all the numbers mean and how to tell if what your reading is correct and if not suggestions needed to fix the program so it's running properly. So my clock sync program is working great it's now time to get to the install of the actual program!
With reports of the solar cycle on the decline and considering I'm not a big gun station that can belt out 1KW into a multi element beam I have to somewhat raise the white flag. I'm not going to give up on CW , getting contacts into the states is great and Morse code is like having a second language and I'm not going to give it up! When the solar cycle is in a low time I find it amazing that during a CW contesst my QRP signal is still able to get across the pond. It makes me think that just the idea of a decline in the solar cycle just has hams not turning their radios on and not giving it a go. For me I'm in a condo with the MFJ mag loop antenna and then to add to it QRP power I figure over the long haul the digi modes are going to be my best option for reeling in some DX. I have reformatted my PC's hard drive and just installed Windows 7 so it's time to start fresh! I have WSPR installed and up and going, in the past I had JT65HF and PSK31 installed and making contacts………..so ham folks what's out there that you have having had great success with?? I have a balcony antenna and QRP power that can go to 5 watts max. Whats nice with the digi modes is the MFJ 1788 will not have to be constantly returned. The bandwidth required is so narrow I can concentrate of making contacts.What programs do you use and where do you get your support when things don't work out as planned? I have always become frustrated with setting up the digi modes but I am going to have to bite the bullet and plow through the up's and downs of setting up the digi modes on my PC along with my rig.
I was on the HF bands today and there was a QSO party happening state side but other than that the bands were dead. Is this what I have been missing for the past few months?? I am thinking the way to go at this point in time may be the digi modes? Once again I will have the joy of setting up my sound card modes…..thats always "fun". I ordered Win7 64 bit and according to the online tracking it should be here Monday. Not wanting to really setup any radio related programs on my desktop PC as when I install Win 7 64 bit it's going to be a clean install. Time to head out and pick up my better half from work, hope your weekend is going well out there!