Trying to squeeze in some radio hobby when propagation is cooperating / 2015-12-13

2015-12-13 Trying to squeeze in some radio hobby when propagation is cooperating
This weekend I wanted to play some radio but it was hard to find time and cooperating propagation. At the moment propagation seems very limited and it only happens during the hours the sun is up for the amateur bands I am active in (20 meter and 10 meter).

On Saturday it was rainy most of the day which ment the roof was wet and my signals weren't getting out when I got around to trying. I had enough incoming signals and had nice overviews on PSK reporter but nobody heard me when I had time to call/answer.

On Sunday it was dry and I made five PSK31 contacts, and one SSB contact. After sunset the 20 meter band dried up quickly for me so I hung out the endfed to try my luck on 40 meter. Calling CQ in RTTY mode on 7051 MHz got spotted on the reverse beacon network but nobody answered. What frequency on 40 meter is good for PSK31 varies, but the only frequency where I hear/see it active is 7.040 MHz which is currently outside the frequency range I'm allowed to use.

So I tried something else: JT-65 since I did hear the JT-65 tones above 7.076 MHz. The software was readily available via the Ubuntu ham radio software repository: wsjtx. It took me a bit of work to configure it to use hamlib via localhost: I can select the right rig type (NET rigctl 2) but I can't select a network host. Entering 'localhost' gave me a 'connection refused' error which I did not expect. I used strace to find out and the connection was only attempted to ::1, the IPv6 localhost where rigctld does not listen. I entered 127.0.0.1 as port and CAT control (controlling and monitoring my radio) started working. I saw some activity, and even tried answering a CQ call, but my answer was not received.

JT-65 takes time: transmitting a message of maximum 13 characters takes around 50 seconds(!). A full QSO including signal reports takes at least 6 minutes, it's really not a mode for chatting or for fast contacts. On the other hand: it is a weak-signal mode, JT-65 can dig up signals deep from the noise!

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