WCARES members were out in force for this year’s Winter Field Day.
So, a few hours before midnight; 30 degrees at best; Traffic on Moores lane is near zero; the small tent is keeping us warm; On 80 meters; Three portable antennas in the field; The operator (N4CCB) decides to run a frequency (call CQ); I’m logging and chomping at the bit; Tuned up; Boom! …Two, Three, then four contacts a minute; Canada, Wisconsin to Alabama, Ohio, Western New York inbetween.
Talk about a RUSH! The CW station had similar runs at kick-off time.
A Flex 6500 radio was used along with a number of software packages including SmartSDR, CWSkimmer, Slice Master and DAX:
CWSkimmer is the software that takes the I/Q output from the radio and decodes the CW
Slice Master 6000 which sits between SmartSDR and CWSkimmer (SDR Bridge is another option here)
Slice Master does a number of things but is primarily responsible for syncing the radio and CWSkimmer. This lets someone click on the CWSkimmer waterfall and have the radio automatically QSY to the frequency on which the user clicked. In the same way, a user can click on the SmartSDR panadapter and CWSkimmer will automatically scroll to that signal in its display. Slice Master is the “glue” that makes these two programs stay in sync when the user clicks either.
DAX is Digital Audio Transport
It’s Flex software that creates virtual audio cables for the signals coming into and out of SmartSDR.
It does this by creating a virtual soundcard for the incoming, outgoing, and I/Q signals.
By having these signals show up on your PC as soundcards, you can use any off-the-shelf ham radio software and configure that software to use the DAX signals. So, in your ham radio software for digital modes like PSK-31, FT8, etc…. if you want to tell the software where to get the incoming audio for decoding, you’ll select the “soundcard” in your PC’s audio picklist called “DAX Audio RX 1”. And, to tell the software where to send the encoded audio for transmission over-the-air, you’ll pick the soundcard called “DAX Audio TX”.
N1MM is the gold-standard software used by contesters
At the January, 2019 Monthly Meeting, Paul, WD9IOK gave a talk on his experiences making and using loop antennas mounted to fences. Check out the attached PDF and discover how to find those stations previously lost in the noise while complying with your HOA.
His talk covers some of the history of transmission line transformers leading to the development of baluns, ununs and choke baluns as well as definitions and theory. Some discussion on chosing the right balun included ideas on measuring common mode current, consequences of high- vs. low-power wiring, misconceptions about ratios, use of ladder line with baluns and grounding. Finally Dave walked us through a number of examples based on different antenna configurations including some being used by WCARES members.
If you missed the presentation or just want to review, Dave has provided his slides and text; You can find PDF copies at the following links:
During the preparations for Field Day 2018, Carl KB9DKR had talked about the “moonshot” possibility of WCARES breaking into the Top 10 list in QST Magazine. Well, the results are in and we did it! WCARES placed 9th overall out of 2903 groups participating with a score of 14290 and we were 1st among the 186 EOCs that took part this year.
A HUGE thanks to Cliff, N4CCB and Carl, KB9DKR who inspired us and coordinated and managed our effort this year along with all the station captains – Jeff and Peter (SSB), Tim and Cliff (CW), Phil (Digital), Al (VHF), Janise and Joe (GOTA), Jon and Jason (Satellite), Dave (fantastic Welcome Table) – and everyone who participated or volunteered to help.
We’d also like to thank Commissioner Dana Ausbrooks, of course Bill Jorgensen, Director of Williamson County Office of Public Safety and our EC, Randy Moore, KK4SRO along with the many visitors and GOTA participants for taking part and making this possible.
The December issue of QST has all the 2018 Field Day results, starting on page 71.
At the recent October Chew & Chat meeting Tim Kreth, AD4CJ, gave an interesting talk introducing members to WSPR and the WSPRlite. The presentation included discussion on using WSPR to learn about HF propagation, the WSPRlite and related resources. Tim also discussed the calculations necessary and presented a spreadsheet tool useful for converting WSPR signal levels to a relative approximation of what might be needed for other modes such as CW or SSB. The presentation and the spreadsheet are available via the links below: