Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why RS-232 ports suck in Linux, and how to work with this.....

As people may know , i am quite a lot into every OS other then windows.....
If it is *ux based (UNIX, Linux, mac OSX, free/OpenBSD) i am happy....
I just love the rock solid performance which doesn't degrade like windows to 0 in a year....if you are lucky.......

There is 1 thing which can be a f***ing pain in the @$$ when you wanna be a ham who does rig cat control.... the com port configuration.....
Windows just shows you the com ports which are really in the system (virtual configurations excepted, but if you are doing that, this post is old news ;) ).
So if you see a COM1 its there and active.... USBtoRS232 cables usualy show up around com number 8 , but still, if its there its there.....

so how do we know what com ports we have in our Linux system......
Well, this is a bit tricky... as Linux is flexible as a paper towel, the com port can end up almost anywhere you (don't) want...

Ok lets see how many com ports (not USB stuff) Linux thinks we have.....
Open a terminal (make sure you are root by typing su ) and type this: ls /dev/ttyS*  (this roughly means list all serial tty devices )



Now, don get scared , we do not have 32 com ports in this system.....
Crap , so now we still know nothing.... Well yes we do we actually know what the device names are called and how they are written... (caps is important)

so, we continue...... next command.... cat /proc/tty/driver/serial


We see here that the com1 uart and com2 uart are hooked to ttyS4 and ttyS5.
My TS-480 is hooked up to com1 , which translates into /dev/ttyS4

As soon as i told this device name to cqrlog, it worked like a charm.....

Ok, now the USB2Serial cables..... 
This has to be written as soon as Hans (PD0AC hamgear.wordpress.com) is done with my cable :)

Soo... to be continued.....

Monday, February 10, 2014

New release CQRlog 1.7.3

Again, no i do not advertise stuff for them , i am a too small blog anyway....
But last week CQRLog released an update which is supposed to be the last big update be for the Debian freeze for the Ubuntu 14.01 LTS release.

So what's new..........
As 1.7.3 was a CAT fix, ill post both 1.7.2 and 1.7.3 release notes....

Version 1.7.3
  • TRX control didn't work - fixed
  • rotor control didn't work - fixed


Version 1.7.2

  • after hitting ESC in any window opened from NewQSO, cursor will be returned to callsign edit field
  • frequency in New QSO and QSO list wondow is formated to 0.0000
  • added Help -> Keys and shortcut to menu in QSO window
  • RBN integration into GrayLine showed CW speed instead of signal strench - fixed
  • DXCC entity window didn't show when compiled in Debian Sid and Ubuntu 13.10 - fixed
  • when CQRLOG was run for the first time, two mysqld proccesses opened the same database - fixed
  • upload to ClubLog didn't work after enter QSO and delete - fixed (big thanks to Pawel, SQ5LTL)
  • TRX control window's layout was broken with some font sizes - fixed

The things fixed show that this is getting to a complete and stable piece of software. These are only the things worth mentioning , and other small things are fixed as well.
If you like me prefer Linux in your shack , this is for sure the piece of software that is a must.

If you do not use Linux cause it's so hard to install bla bla bla.....
This is how you install it in Debian Stable.....
  1. open a terminal screen.....
  2. type: sudo apt-get install cqrlog
  3. open a web browser
  4. download latest cqrlog deb package from their website
  5. type: sudo dpkg -i cqrlog<version-you-downloaded>.deb
  6. done!
Now that gives you an installed and updated cqrlog on Debian Stable. Ubuntu should work the same.
If this will not work, just send me a mail with all the info on the terminal screen , and i will help you to solve it.

If you run in to problems inside the program... Petr, one of the 2 coders, spends a lot of time on FREE support on their forum.
He solves most problems, on most distro's and posts the solution's as well.
After 1.7.3 i have hardly seen any remark anymore about bugs...
Also the wishlist for new functions is always taken seriously.... this is a nice difference compared to other software ppl... 


73's
Alex
PA1SBM
 

Looking Back at PACC 2014


Looking back at the PACC 2014 makes me smile....
I never did a full 24 hour contest before as last year i was a bit ill and skipped the whole evening.
Looking at my points i now know how important the evening is as well :)

I spent a lot of time in my shack.... well, shack, the last 2 to 3 hours it felt more like a jail cell to me as i was exhausted.

and , again, like last year i ran into some known people.... which made me smile

  • PE4BAS, Completely in style like last year Bas did not recognize my call, i dis recognize his, but as we were in contest, and more people were calling, i did not mention it.
  • PA6W - PA3GNZ PA7TWO, Tjeerd(PA3GNZ) was contesting in PA6W, and i don't know if it was him who i spoke to or one of his fellow crew members, but they immediately replied with my name instead of my call....
    Now this could be because one of the crew, a good ham friend of mine, Kees, PA7TWO, told him who i was.....
    Later on, when i was scanning 80 or 40m , i don't remember, Kees called out with his own call instead of the PA6W call.... the coincidence....
  • PA6NH - PA3FUN, This call, PA6NH, i actually monitored on the dxcluster....
    As 2 of the people i talk to almost daily worked this contest station. And i actually worked them.
    PA3FUN was operating at the time when i called out for them on 80m.
    As my 80m antenna is not that great, and their antenna's were more pointed to the US, it was just above noise level that i talked to Christiaan(PA3FUN), who was as amazed as me that the contact could be made.
The conditions to me felt less then last year. Also lately there has been a lot of activity on 10M, but that was very low as well. The nice contact i made last year to Australia on 20 was definitely not going to happen.

So what was the most memorable contact for me then..... well, that was not hard....
A certain "small" station was calling at 10... KC1XX
So i called back , and made the contact.... not surprised as i have a fairly decent 10 meter antenna....
So then i ran into them at 15.... and made the QSO there.... still not  surprised....
On 20m i ran into them again , well pleased to work them on 3 bands, this contact was made and logged as well.
Now here comes what made this memorable for me..... Later in the evening.... i was scanning 40m and making a lot of dutch/European contacts. As usual... as i have a end fed wire antenna for 40.
All of a sudden i hear KC1XX calling... and OMFG (excuse my language) they were LOUD!
Against better judgement, thinking i would never make it over the "big pond", i pushed my footswitch down and gave my call twice..... my set shouted through my headset "PA1SBM, you are 59776...."
I almost fell of my chair and gave them my, now known to them, 59FL back....
As soon as the QSO was logged, i jumped up and did a little dance and cheer behind my desk.....
This is/was my first contact to the US on 40 ever!! 
I am not thinking this has anything to do with my station... its 100% them having awesome antennas....

All and all i had a really good time....it is just a big big BIG mental exhaustion to do this all alone....
I did go to bed a little while (UTC) 12:00 to 06:00 and 5 minutes after i woke up i was cq'ing again.

Next year i am so going to do this again......

Till next year ! 59FL from me, good luck in the contest!!

Alex
PA1SBM 
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

PACC 2014 is upon us......

For those who know me it should not be a surprise that i am not a fan of contesting.
With one exception, the PACC.

1200 UTC, 08 February - 1200 UTC, 9 February 2014

That's when it is all going to happen. hundreds or thousands of dutch hams will start to cq to see who will win 1st price. And even more other hams all around the world will start to listen to the hams from our small country.
And this is exactly what makes the PACC fun for me.... I am not a big gun , i have a few small antennas in my small back yard... no beams, no amps... 100 wats in a falcon out-250b, or an end fed wire, or a 5/8 10 meter vertical. But all the hams around the world now will make the effort to hear me. and that makes it a lot of fun.

I took preparations.....

  • Got me a new espresso machine.
  • Got me 8 cans of red bull (energy drink for those who don't know)
  • A VGS-1 speech processor option in my TS-480 as a parrot
  • 3 antenna's wired to the ts-480
  • PACC software made available by the Veron installed.
  • Took some days before and after off from work....
If you wanna know more about the PACC contest , please take a look at http://pacc.veron.nl/

I would like to make a QSO with all of you , and you can each me by e-mail, twitter and skype.
Do drop me a line to see where i am at , or to tell me where you are at so we can make it happen.

Hope to talk to you in the contest !!

73's 
Alex
PA1SBM

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CQRLOG 1.7.0 Released..... The update MANY hams were waiting for....

Hello all,

As the title states, Petr, OK2CQR and Martin, OK1RR, released the next big release of CQRLOG
It's version 1.7.0. So you might be wandering what the fuzz is all about.... I'll explain...
I maintained a virtual WinXP to run HamRadioDeluxe on.... Just for uploading to HRDlog.net
In this release, online QSO upload to HamQTH, ClubLog and HRDLog added.
LotW was allready a feature, but these other big ones were not supported until now.

Release notes:
Version 1.7.0
  • online QSO upload to HamQTH, ClubLog and HRDLog added
  • improved QSL managers import, should be faster a bit
  • "Long Path" button to Rotor Control added (Darek, SP2MKI)
  • COMMENT field is exported to eQSL server
  • Always overwrite info from previous QSO with callbook data option added
  • help updated
  • country files updated
  • membership files updated
  • layout improved (mostly new QSO window)
  • LoTW QSL RCVD was not imported when ADIF didn't include LOTW_QSLRDATE value - fixed
  • CONTESTIA mode was saved as CONSTESTI (increased max length of mode to 10 characters) - fixed
  • ReverseBeacon support in Gray line didn't work - fixed
  • after click to OK button in Preferences, bandmap stopped deleting old spots - fixed
  • bandmap was not updated when any spot was not added - fixed
  • station was added to bandmap when offline mode was activated - fixed
  • big square statistics didn't work in newer versions of distributions - fixed
  • QSO JT65* mode were not confirmed by eQSL - fixed

So for me this now means i can fully switch to logging in CQRlog. Which i now will do as it was a pain in the ... well you know where.... to log in 2 programs.

I cannot state enough how awesome this program is... it's small, fast, and simple, but still FULL of options that will satisfy big gun dx stations, and the casual qso'er like me.

73's
Alex
PA1SBM

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Great or even good service is optional..... or isn't it?

I normally do not want to write about suppliers and their level of customer support or customer service......
But , as everything in live, you have to make exceptions to the rules....

So... As the PACC is upcoming , I wanted a VGS-1 speech processor in my Kenwood TS-480....
This so i can use it as a cq-ing parrot....
So I ordered it on-line at a shop in Holland.... which was closed due to the holidays, but at the 6th of January they would ship all orders if they were in stock. And my VGS-1 was....
So i filled in all my info at the website and i did a money transfer using iDeal payment. (this is probably Dutch only, but you can compare it to a pay-pal payment) and the payment went through successfully.... Only when i pressed the "back to the web shop" button I got his big 404 error.. "Page not available" My first reaction was .... "#$$%&^*&*()&^%#$@#$@#$%"

So i decided to write them an email using the contact form on the website....
And i was surprised that at 10:00 in the morning at the 6th i got an email back, saying that my order came through ok , and the payment was received too... this compagny starts at 09:00, so it took them just an hour to get back to me.... awesome.....

So today the part arived... at the 7th... ohh what a joy , short delivery times :)
But , you need adhesive cushions for the VGS-1, and i should have ordered them seperately....
So i called this company (at 16:45), and the boss himself answered.... He immediatly knew what i was talking about , and told me if i ordered it on the website , payed it , that he would put it in an envelope, and mail it to me... at NO extra delivery charge....
And probably it will arrive tomorrow..... As my TS-480 is already open on the workbench, it will go in quick :)

And even though I know this should be the normal, polite, customer friendly way to handle things, times changed and it is more normal to not hear anything from suppliers, and if you miss ordered something , it's your fault and you are screwed.....

So, Mr Jacobs, thank you for proofing to me that normal shops, where a customer is treated like he should be, still exist... I bought my SSB filter with you , now my VGS-1, and i am quite sure that i will keep on buying stuff at your store http://www.jacobsbredaelectronics.nl

73's
Alex,
PA1SBM

EDIT: the adhesive cushions indeed arrived today...... Awesome!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy new year !!!!!


I want to wish everyone who reads my blog.... well , and everyone else too, a very very happy new year....
That all our rig wishes and dx spots may come true and that the QRM will be as low as possible.....


My new years resolutions for 2014.... (WARNING!!: these might be broken)
- Finish my Bitx20
- Learn  CW

Please do tell me your HAM related new years resolutions !


Well, sorry , but i have to get back to beer and "oliebollen" (dutch typical new years eve food )
:)

73's
Alex
PA1SBM