JT65! Kuwait! HRD!

Well despite my last post, a rant about Windows 7, I’ve managed to get my new laptop set up the way I like it and everything is moving along quite well now. Windows is staying out of my way for the most part. The lion’s share of updates have all been done. Most of the annoyances have been turned off or disabled and the machine is running smoothly.

Ham radio-related programs installed include: Ham Radio Deluxe, JT65-HF, Fldigi and WSPR. For the most part, they are all working well (except WSPR, but I haven’t really dug down into that yet).

Also, I purchased a new USB-serial converter (TRENDnet TU-S9, $10, Amazon.com) and it works great. The included drivers did NOT work, but Windows was able to update it to working condition, much to my amazement.

HRD is such a large, complex suite of utilities. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it’s capable of, but the rig works fine with it and I’ve managed to import all my QSOs into the HRD logbook. I logged a handful of contacts over the weekend into HRD and there are MANY things I like about it over the Mac-based solution I’ve been using. I also signed up for HRDlog.net and I enjoy being able to display my last few QSOs here on the website using that service. It’s also nice being able to upload to LoTW with a mouse click.

Overall, it was a decent weekend for radio. Despite a busy Saturday that included a ham radio swap meet, a freelance photo job, and a visit to the office to help shoot some group shots, I nailed some nice contacts on sideband, and made my very first JT65 contacts.

QSOs of note Saturday included:

  • OE3WMA, out of Austria, on 20 meters
  • 9A209A, out of Croatia, on 20 meters
  • 9K2UU, out of Kuwait (!), on 20 meters. I’d been trying for this contact for a while and propagation was amazing to the Middle East on Saturday.
  • Several stations from the Michigan QSO Party on 40 meters
  • PY2LED, out of Brazil, on 17 meters; PR8ZX, also Brazil, on 20 meters
And on JT65, 20 meters, running about 15 watts out to the antenna, with a purely “acoustic” radio interface, I contacted:
  • WD0DMO, Nebraska
  • KF5MDZ, Texas
  • UX2SB, Ukraine (!)
Some notes about that “acoustic interface”: I have a mono audio cable running out my rig into the mic input of my laptop to process the incoming signals. My rig gets keyed via the CAT interface. I don’t have an audio interface, like a Signalink, so I don’t have a great way to get the transmit audio from my laptop back to the rig (yet). My solution was to simply place my desk mic as close to my laptop speaker as possible and hope for the best. The lash-up seems to work, as long as there’s no QRM from our barking dogs, hehe. I had a decent signal report from the Ukraine, which was my longest contact on JT65. But I do see a Signalink in my future.
The verdict is still out on JT65 for me. It’s an interesting mode for sure, albeit one that seems to lack a soul. I can’t complain though. There is something deliriously fun about communicating across the globe on such little power. I look forward to seeing what else is possible!
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