Categories
amateur radio

Worked All States – by my standards, at least

So I’ve managed to talk to at least one person in every US state. This is Quite A Big Deal for a new(ish) ham. To be more specific, I’ve done this using one mode – PSK31 – which makes it slightly better nerd-tuned.

But you’re going to just have to take my word for it now. In order to get a certificate, I have to get the 50-ish responds to log their details either on eQSL or ARRL’s Logbook of the World. And this is a bit more difficult.

On eQSL, I’m at 49/50. My lone North Dakotan QSO was from someone mobile from out of state, and eQSL doesn’t handle that well. North Dakota is very sparsely populated, and there’s very seldom anyone on the air from there. Every time I look on PSK Reporter, the emptiness of the state glares at me …

LotW is more of a problem. It says I still have ten more states to go. While it’s a very elegant system, the setup process for LotW is just a bit too complex for most people.

So here are my maps:

VA3PID Worked All States
VA3PID Worked All States: West
VA3PID Worked All States: Central
VA3PID Worked All States: East

I’d like to apologise to Vermont, whose presence is rather noted by its absence from the map. I’m actually surprised that more states ended up with all of their QSOs appearing inside, as:

  • Towns tend to be by rivers, so that’s where you’ll find more hams
  • Rivers often mark state boundaries
  • Ham locations are given as grid squares, which are a few kilometres across
  • Rivers are wiggly, and don’t respect arbitrary boundaries.

Absent making a blocky, 8-bit like political map, we’ll have to make do with these failings sometimes.

Categories
amateur radio

keep it short, keep me sweet

Most of my radio communications use a text mode called PSK-31. It’s popular and survives a lot of interference, but fast it isn’t. I tested sending 1000 random characters, and it took 5′ 33″. That’s about this speed:

Because the mode is so slow, I prefer to keep my transmissions and macros short, stopping just shy of Morse’s telegraphically incomprehensible VY FB CPY OM. My heart sinks when I’m in a QSO, and I see the beginning of a huge piece of macro text being fired at me. A one-way long conversation (like the dude who sent the entire wikipedia article about his hometown) isn’t a ragchew, it’s a barrage. If someone started wittering on at you for 15 minutes without a chance for you to say anything, no-one would want to talk to them. So please, check your macros, think before you type, and we’ll have more and more pleasant contacts.

Categories
amateur radio

QRM Cat

Was having a nice chat with Gary, WB0RUR, this morning on 40m PSK-31. His signal was clear, he’s a very experienced operator — yet he was jumping all over the waterfall with every transmission. I couldn’t understand why, but after his signal jumped, stopped, started, moved again, I caught a very brief TX: “QRM … cat

Gary explained:

“Sorry about that … he stepped on the keyboard and stopped my transmission and also bumped the VFO … so I’m probably moving all over frequency.”

QRM would be a great name for a cat.

Categories
amateur radio

The Accidental DXer

Update: I have a much better Ham Radio QSO Map now.

I had modest expectations when I set up my antenna and rig. I might’ve expected to work some of Canada, the northern US states, and maybe far western Europe, and that’s about it. But this map, extracted from my logs, shows different:

New Zealand, Ukraine, Patagonia, Greenland, Brazil, the Azores … way beyond what I expected.

I know the map’s not quite right. The lines should really be curved to be great circle lines on a Mercator map. Also, the NZ contact path was probably roughly SW through Hawaii. This round world doesn’t work on a flat page.

Categories
amateur radio

G5RV in the mist

There it is – I finally have the antenna installed. Works like a champ on 30 to 6m — when I remember to tune it, that is. I’d really like to thank Bob Morton of Maple Leaf Communications for helping me with the equipment choice. There’s also a J-Pole for VHF-UHF out of shot, but they’re not so interesting.

I’ve spoken on local 10m nets (and probably blasted people away, as I was on 100W and didn’t realize it). I’ve mostly been working PSK31 on 20 and 30m — so far, I’ve reached Poland, Russia, Wales, Germany, the US (from WA to FL), the Canary Islands, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico (and been gently berated from there for using too much power, oops). While it would be easy to e-mail folks in all of those countries, with PSK31, you don’t know who you’re going to get. All these folks can be calling in on the waterfall, and if you and they can exchange messages, they’re your neighbours, whether they’re in Podgorny or next door.

PSK31 sounds a bit like aliens whistling. Here’s what my CQ sounds like: va3pid-cq-psk31.mp3.