Oct 152012

This weekend I decided to get back on digital modes and see what kind of QSOs I could nab on my spare time. Once I got the kinks worked out of the interface I fired up fldigi and putzed. I putzed and putzed, for two hours I putzed on 14.070 while other stations destroyed my waterfall and I perilously sent my signal into the cacophony of radio waves.

The noise level wasn’t too bad, but the 817 is not very good for this sort of thing right out of the box so I was working within some constraints. I’m not sure if it was Ubuntu and the pulse audio driver or what, but despite selecting between two inputs I was not able to get clean enough audio out of the back of the radio. Some quick handy work and I was using the audio out of the speaker jack to drive into the computer (though I was without the musical din of PSK31 signals).

Another challenge is the passband for the 817. It’s not the prettiest and really starts at 1kHz to about 2kHz. Every time I would see someone outside of that range I’d have to tune the radio and update fldigi, slowing down a quick jump to a new CQ. Eventually I want to have a full CAT interface, but that’s a project for a wintery day.

After all of this and ready to give things another go, I was able to have a QSO with Tony, CT4RC, out of Faro, Portugal. Almost 3,900 miles on just 5 watts, not too bad and a fine confirmation my antenna was still doing well. I was also now pumping my line through an antenna switch and hadn’t yet checked it out on the analyzer for any additional loss but that didn’t seem to affect a thing.

A couple more hours of intermittent checking and I made another DX contact, a new entity for me, Panama! It was a short QSO but I was happy to get another such great contact for the afternoon. I kept at it here and there trying to get other DX stations but the band fell out and I had other things to do and so ended day one of my return to digital modes.

Now that the set up was quick to fire up and ready to go, just prior to leaving for a birthday party the next day, I checked the band to see what was up.

Within a minute I saw an AA1 station call CQ and I quickly answered. Mike, AA1XQ, out of Jamestown, Rhode Island, gave me a 599 report along with an IOTA QSO for the log book. We chatted for a few minutes, which is always nice on a traditionally ‘hit and run’ mode, exchanged weather reports, talked sports, and then signed off so I could go on my way.

My father repaired an interface I had built up a couple of years ago (had a wrong resistor) and I’m anxious to put that to use. It will stand in while I build out my own interface into the mint tin. Perhaps tomorrow evening I’ll give that a go.

As is always the case, it never ceases to amaze me how far a small signal can go with a minimal setup.

73 de W8FI