Last week, I gave a short talk on DMR and Brandmeister at the South Eastern Amateur Radio Group club meeting. There were quite a few members present and there were plenty questions. The full presentation is available from here, but what is new (since the IRTS AGM presentation) is this image taken from Xastir.
This is a track formed by a numberof GPS position information beacons from my Retevis RT8 Radio, the data bursts are received at the EI7CDD DMR Repeater, and then forwarded to the worldwide APRS Internet Service backbone before appearing on the map.
What is interesting to me is that the RT8 was just thrown on the dash of a van, no special effort was made to optimise its position, the terrain is by no means flat, undulating would be the best description, and yet, the RT8 was still able to hit the EI7CDD repeater from up to 20k away.
The suggestion was made to Activate a Lighthouse for the International Lighthouse and Lightship weekend. Given the lack of lighthouses in Tipperary, I made the suggestion that we use Ballinacourty Lighthouse. I had assisted EI2GN with an activation there years before and my recollection was that it was quite accessible.
Due to work commitments, I was late down to the site so kudos to EI3ENB, EI2HI, EI4KN and EI5JF for getting everything set up. I thoroughly enjoyed the operation before I had to head away again.
Andy, EI5JF, made a short film (and took some pictures) of the operation, which isn’t too bad considering the material he had to work with!
In a conversation late last year (at the TAPR DCC) I was asked what is the actual level of APRS activity in Ireland. Thinking about the answer for a while, I realised that I really didn’t know, and that got me wondering how to go about visualising it.
I quickly came across Leaflet.heat, a Leaflet plugin plugin for generating heatmaps, so I bodged together some python to grab packets of moving stations from the APRS-IS backbone and put them into a format Leaflet.heat can read. After gathering about 6000 data points, here is what it looks like:
So, there you go, it is fairly conclusive that Cork city has the most ‘on-air’ APRS activity. This is followed by Waterford area, Galway area and then the main motorways.
I was looking for something to watch/listen to while tidying up my inbox today after being away for three weeks or so. We took in the ARRL/TAPR Digital communications conference while in Florida. As I enjoyed this years DCC so much, i went looking for last years DCC banquet speech. Ward Silver, N0AX, gave an excellent talk on the direction the hobby should take for it’s second century. I particularly liked his comment about contesting and being “able to heard the world turn”. Thanks to Gary Pearce, KN4AQ for attending the DCC and working so hard to make the videos available (feed the pig!).
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get any decent runs going on 20m or 15m which would have helped our score quite a bit, however Eoghan, EI5HBB was at the microphone when we got a decent run on 80m for about 90 minutes in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Since then the first thing I do when I get home is check the post for any new QSL cards, first thing in the morning I’m checking LOTW to see if any new confirmations have come in. I’m even checking LOTW during the day, just in case (94 confirmed this morning). It has become a bit of an obsession!
So there I was early Saturday afternoon wondering what to do with myself before the England-Italy match kicked off. The CQ WPX RTTY contest was on, so I sat down in the shack, installed Fldigi, and configured it to work with my K3. I have a 15m Inverted V Dipole up which is my best antenna, so I operated in Search and Pounce (S&P) for a bit and was working away nicely with no real issues other than the operator hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard.
Last time I operated a RTTY contest from home like this I was using a Kenwood TS-2000X, I was very very disappointed with the radio at the time, so much so that I sold it pretty quickly afterwards. It appeared to suffer badly with strong signals capturing the automatic gain control (AGC) and completely blocking out out the weaker stations. The K3 was having no such issues (thankfully).
This left me with a quandary. What do do about the Rugby? Well, my Intel Nuc has a Mini DP connector so I borrowed the screen from my Mac Mini, opened up RTE Live on it and voila!
I took a break from the contest for the Ireland-France game and resumed afterwards, finishing up with about 130 contacts (QSOs) in the log by Saturday evening.
I did not feel well Sunday morning, so I gave myself the modest goal of 200 QSOs. After a break to watch Scotland get robbed of a win against Wales, I ran for a bit, then hit 250 Q’s, returned to S&P again then 300, finally deciding that I had enough done at 329.
That said, I really really missed having a bandmap. A band map is a display of recent DX spots by frequency. You can see one in the middle of the picture below. This display is user-configurable in many ways including the length of time to display, the frequencies to include, etc. It lets you see at a glance what activity is on the selected band and, if you see a station you really really really want to get into your log. You can pounce with a click of the mouse.
Last year after listening to the LHS guys interview Petr, OK2CQR, I was convinced to give CQRLOG a go. I have gotten so used to its bandmap that really missed it.
After the contest I was chatting to G0HWW on IRC about my issue and he pointed me at an old blog post of his (thanks Darren), initial testing seems promising but rigctld seems to exit with errors now and again. More work is needed I think.
Sunday afternoon, in the melee, I was running and a callsign appeared on my screen that seemed familiar, N9TGR. I responded with my normal report and was trying to figure out how I knew the callsign. I saw the other stations report appear on the screen and at the end of it was “UP THE DUBS”. The penny dropped. In 2009 I travelled to Chicago to present at the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference, somehow Andy Ronan, N9TGR (a dub, and no relation that we know of and also EI6KG), got wind I was going to be there and suggested that I call out for dinner with him and his family one of the evenings while I was there. I also remember joking it would be highly unlikely that we would ever meet up on air! Suffice it to say I spent a most enjoyable evening with Andy and his family, they showed great hospitality, great memories!
Random thoughts — Mostly Amateur Radio, Satellite, Linux or Work related.