Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kent paddle key kit.....

Today the doorbell woke me up from a nap on the couch.....
It was the dutch postal service with a package....


This made my day, cause i was already hoping it would arrive today as i ordered it on Monday.
Now i did not want to order this be for i actually learned Morse code, but i could not help myself, and it felt like the missing part in my shack....

So after i opened the package up, i ended up with this....


This was very well packed... really really really well... And i had read some stuff on the Kent website of parts missing... well mine was complete, and as all parts were in zip-lock bags, i assume they solved any logistic problems there might have been.... everything looked and was packed way above my expectations....

So, after about 45 minutes all the parts transformed into this......

It's not set up yet, nor is there a wire... wanted to put a blog post up first :) .....

What was very obvious from the start is the amount of precision and craftsmanship has gone in to this.
It's amazing to be honest. at the going price, which is really not bad at all, this is as well for a starter as an experienced CW ham. (which was already told to me by my good friends PA7TWO and PA0RHA)

So three cheers for the people at Kent Engineers for making these awesome products.


73's
Alex
PA1SBM



Friday, June 20, 2014

Fielday PA2014CC .......

I had to think a while how to call this post.....

Shameless advertising might be a good title as well....
And as i am shamelessly advertising on my site, i might as well shamelessly copy qrz.com as well... I am sure Raymond (pa7ray) won mind.....
This is about the local chapters of the 2 major dutch HAM organisations Veron and VRZA


On June 21, VRZA and VERON are jointly going to host a Field Day on a dike called Houtribdijk. How Dutch can it be HI. 
The dike (which is 23 kilometer long) is located in between the cities Lelystad and Enkhuizen in The Netherlands. Our QTH is halfway of the dike at Checkpoint Charlie. Coordinates: 52.38'6"N 5.24'56"E.

A Cessna 150 with 2 pilots will fly over our QTH for both our associations especially and will make radio contact with our ground station.See the "Trailer" on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz6IyvvkZC8

The QSL-card is only available via the bureau.





So you might wonder why i am adding this to my site..... well.... i will be one of te operators there and i am hoping to talk to a lot of you guys....
If things go well, i will have an internet connection available and i will post frequencies as they are being used.
Don't forget to watch the dc cluster, and don't hesitate to give us a shout...

hope to hear you Saturday!

73's
Alex
PA1SBM

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why USB to RS-232 suck in windows, but don't in Linux

Hello all,

Well, as Hans, PD0AC, is quite busy lately, i did not get my usb2rs232 cable back from him yet
As i kind of expected him to use it for a while i already had ordered the cheapest ones i could find on eBay.....

And yesterday they arrived.... a bit late cause of the postal services between China and the Netherlands , but... ohh well, they arrived...


So just to be clear... this is the CHEAPEST one i could find on ebay.... including free shipping....
Then you may ask how cheap... well...1.81 USD including shipping...... yes that cheap...


So.... lets get started.... lets plug it in....

Lets check if we allready have a ttyUSB port.....
open a command shell and become root with the command su
when root do: ls /dev/ttyUSB*  (this roughly means list all serial tty usb devices )



hooray!!! we have a serial device

NOTE: I did not, i repeat did NOT install any f*cked up driver at all!!!!

So, next we allready know what device we need to use, but what if i would plug in all , and hook up 1..
Then it would look like this.....


Not much to go by to figure out what is what.....

Well, another command we can do is this...... cat /proc/tty/driver/usbserial


Now, i have 4 identical cables plugged in, but if you have several different you should be able to see different vendors and product numbers...
The first number is the number is the number you will see at /dev/ttyUSB?


In the first terminal screenshot you see "root dialout¨  , and that's the last part what is REALLY important, and i forgot to mention this in the previous post....
Root is the owner of the device.... this is usually root, so this is not weird and should never be your user! Dialout is the group who has rights to this device.

make sure you added yourself to this group....
With this command: addgroup <your user name> dialout
see screenshot below.


This makes sure you have rights to this device.


Now, what makes this better the how windows works....

  • Works out of the box, no installing drivers that don work
    Every windows version has his own crappy driver version....
  • No weird com numbers, linux does not use them, instead they use /device/devicename structure
    The com numbers seem to change a lot as well when you plug them into different usb ports.
    If you only have 1 usb cable, linux will always make this /dev/ttyUSB0
I have heard about people running into problems with these cables, I am not one of them, the cable works like a charm.
Now if you are one of those people who run into some problems, please let me know as i would love to look into this, and try to find a sollution.


73's for now...

Alex
PA1SBM

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