Another band bites the dust

Well, sort of. On FT8 I mean. I just received a couple of transverters from the transverters store in the Ukraine. These are not the newer model with the TCXO but are cheap and cheerful. Yes, they do drift a little but it’s a toe in the water for me pending something else later on. I already have the Spectrum Communications 70MHz transverter and that works nicely but these are small units when compared, so I got a 70MHz and a 144MHz one.

I connected the 144MHz one up today and set the FT450D to 28.174 and immediately heard FT8 tones. I’d not even fired up WSJT-X but sorted that quickly and made my first 144MHz FT8 contact within 2 minutes of turning the transverter on – followed by one further QSO and an indication via pskreporter that I had been heard all the way in NI.

Yes, I know this is a minor achievement compared to those of other radio amateurs but it’s still a new one to me…

I now plan to sell off some kit including the Trio TR-9130 which has worked well. The one thing I don’t like about that set is the notchy and fairly slow tuning when in sideband which makes it hard to scroll across the band looking for signals – having the transverter means I can use the FT450D’s tuning which I am far more used to.

FT8

A new mode (to me) – FT8, part of the latest WSJT-X package and widely discussed of late. Having been away from radio for a few weeks I’ve been keeping up on this via a Facebook group and e-mail and itching to get back home and grab the software. I did so late last night and managed to answer one CQ after reminding myself about the mode while watching the band activity. The auto sequence was a surprise the first time I saw it working. I had a ‘proper’ go today with several successful answers to CQs. It all happens very fast!

I have also now started logging QSOs within the WSJT-X package. I had not done this previously because really I only dip in and out of this and other modes, and have plenty of time to log the few QSOs I actually make by hand. But as it’s now rather frantic I decided to have a go and it all works nicely. Of course you will by now be questioning my sanity due to the fact that previously I had no indication of DXCC or callsign worked etc., resorting to my own lookup script that checks QRZ.com to see if a callsign is new. But there was time, plus as I had fiddled with the API for QRZ.com I have a simple bit of PHP that does lookups directly.

I really must find some time to throw more wire into the loft and work different bands, as I still only have 20m and 6m to play with. Hmmm.