Tuesday, 8 February 2011
XYL gets the portable PSK bug
Recently two of our five children became licenced and have joined in our SOTA expeditions. Rather than share contacts Helen wanted to try something different. When we met up with Norwegian SOTA activators Mads LA1TPA, Aage LA1ENA, Kjell LA1KHA and Halvard LA1DNA, Helen was fascinated by the NUE-PSK Digital Modem that Halvard was using to do PSK from the summits. The NUE-PSK digital modem could easily be used in the shack but is perfect for field portable operations. I offered to get Helen one and when a unit appeared recently on eBay it was duly purchased.
On Sunday night I disconnected the 80/40m trap dipole from the main stations and set up the Yaesu FT-817 and using the NUE-PSK unit we trawled the bands looking for some PSK to decode. After two hours we had not got the unit to decode anything and I even had pocket digi running on my PDA as a cross check. I was convinced the unit was not working. I left Helen to it and went for a shower. When I came back downstairs I asked if she was coming to bed and she said no, she was having fun. Sure enough she had it working. She was only listening (or should that be reading) because the antenna was tuned higher up the band and without pulling the shack apart I could not feed the antenna through a tuner.
Monday I was on nights and I never saw Helen before I left for work, but spoke to her on the local 70cm repeater. Had I sorted out the tuner she wanted to know, but I had been somewhat busy doing other things, she sounded disappointed. When I arrived home this morning she was full of what she had been able to decode with the unit and gave me a list of callsigns from across the globe, maybe there is something to this PSK thing I thought as I slumped in to bed. She seemed most pleased to have decoded error free a Canadian station and I tried to remember when she last got this enthusiast about the radio.
Tonight I got the same question "had I sorted out the tuner?" This is getting serious.
Just a couple of problems; The small format keyboard we bought does not seem to want to work, even though it is a PS2 plug and the firmware needs updating. The easiest way to up date is if you have the USB board add-on so it looks like I will be sending for one of those soon. The mod also allows for automatic logging to a USB memory stick which can then be uploaded to your PC when back in the shack. The latest firmware allows you to converse via RTTY as well as PSK and a CW mode is in development too.
Helen was talking of trying out the set-up with the Miracle Whip. If it works it will be a miracle I have never managed a two way contact on that glorified dummy load yet. I guess using the 9:1 UnUn for a vertical is on the cards, as is a linked dipole for the WARC bands and maybe an LDG tuner for the 817. Digimode SOTA here we come! "What do you mean, we?" I can hear her saying.