This has been a few days of mildly successful radio fidgeting. Few issues diagnosed in the setup, few things fixed and a few things done.
First up, the 6” cable I use to connect the FT-100 radio to my tuner has broken. This was replaced (thanks to Ed) and things tuned nicely. This must have been borked for some time - I'm now able to tune up my (roughly) 20m dipole on 30m and 40m no bother - both matching with swr of less than 1.1. No bother.
I was able to make a couple of contacts on JT65 just as 20m was closing, but didn't get heard at all on 40m as night came in.
Morning came round and 20m was wide open again - few contacts around Europe - Estonia, Russia, really nice long, freehand QSO with Giovanni IN3GNV in Italy that lasted for some overs. It's fun to leave the macros for a while and just chat about stuff over PSK31! I had to do a fair bit of radio fiddling to keep it going - DSP on and off, little frequency shifts, loud neighbouring stations. It was good fun.
20 meters was super difficult this weekend - there was a RTTY contest on and, contesters are contesters - they took up all the bits of the band that belong to them, and occupied all the bits of the band that don't belong to them. I couldn't really do WSPR, JT65 or PSK in any meaningful manner as there were all these other strong QRM stations about. Disappointing!
After this, I moved on to doing some HF APRS for the first time. HF APRS is pretty cool. It's done traditional HF packet style. 300 baud with a 1600Hz tone and a 1800Hz tone, and there seems to be activity on 30m, which had no contest on it.
I tuned the dipole for 10.14760MHz - tuned nicely with a SWR of less thatn 1.1. I configured direwolf initially as per Iain MM0ROR's advice and connected Xastir to it via AGW. Quick transmit and I was received in Germany. That's super exciting - first transmit and I get a hit on the Continent with an igate!
I heard a station in Sweden, but I didn't have much success outside that. I could query APRS stations and get a response, that was pretty cool. I've proved I can do HF APRS, which is kind of all I set out to do. It's kind of exciting!
I've looked at this kind of stuff for a while. Robust Packet Network looks busy, but I'm not paying £200+ for a special TNC to join their club. It's 8 subcarrier PSK… this must be easy to reproduce, but no one seems to have done it. I don't think I'm software clever enough to do it, and I don't have a permanent setup at home to properly capture and reverse engineer it.
I'd really like to be able to do more packet over HF. 300 baud BBS access tickles my fancy more than a little!
Finally, I've decided my trackpad not working when I transmit is officially a problem. It's probably indicative of common mode currents on the coax transmitting inside my “shack” and making everything stop working. To that end, I need a 1:1 balun of some variety. My research, and friends, suggest a current balun will do the job, so I'll have to extract the finger and get one built.
How Hard can it be!