About Me


I'm Terry McKnight from the North West of England and a woodworker of many years experience. I have been playing and building guitars/stringed musical instruments for a long time. Whilst looking for a bandsaw tune up video I found Marc Spagnuolo's The Woodwhisperer website. From that I then got interested in all things woodworking and discovered the world of cabinet making. I had my shop totally rebuilt from bottom to top late 2012 and it suits my workflow.
My blog is the everyday ramblings of an enthusiastic and passionate woodworker. I hope you find it interesting. If you are seeing this from another of my blogs then the url is tmcwoodworks.blogspot.com

I work in computers for a day job and have done for many, many years. IT is so last year :)

I'm also a licensed radio amateur G8YPH (since 1979 qualified 1980) and maintain another blog at G8YPH.blogspot.com.

Monday, 24 July 2017

First QSO(s) using FT8

I recently downloaded the Release Candidate for WSJT-X v1.8.0-rc1 as I was curious to try out the new FT8 mode.

After ticking the boxes Auto Seq and Call 1st I tuned to 20 metre band and set the program to call CQ.
There was a bit of waiting before a station replied to my call but then the program did everything itself. The whole QSO went like this
    CQ G8YPH IO83
    G8YPH SP6ECQ JO71
    SP6ECQ G8YPH -14
    G8YPH SP6ECQ R-14
    SP6ECQ G8YPH RRR - at which point the log QSO dialog box popped up. I just clicked OK
   G8YPH SP6ECQ 73
    SP6ECQ G8YPH 73 - this was transmitted automatically as a courtesy

Then the program went back to transmitting CQ again. It all worked seamlessly and the logging was intercepted by JTAlert and passed via QSO Relay to Ham Radio Deluxe logging module. I didn't have to add FT8 to HRD as some people have queried on the HRD peer support Facebook group as it was done automatically.

An initial auto controlled QSO
FT8 Waveform in the waterfall. Considerably different
than other JT Modes
Overs are 15 seconds long so FT8 can cope with fading QSOs. I believe you need a fast PC though to cope with decodes. These tend to take around 1 second at around the 13th second of the receive cycle.

I also noticed it coped well with hiccups in reception where nothing was received or decoded from the answering station in the middle of a QSO. When a successful packet was received the program went onto the next step in the transmission sequence - transmitting two or three RRR's until a 73 was received for instance.

Software versions used at G8YPH

  • WSJT-X Version 1.8.0 Release Candidate 1
  • JTALert-X 2.9.10
  • QSO Relay 1.6.6371.29224
  • Ham Radio Deluxe 6.4.0.661

Radio Yaesu FT-450D

So far I am impressed but the extra 73 transmission means you don't go back to calling CQ after you have sent a successful RRR and received a 73 from the receiving station.

Friday, 21 July 2017

WSJT-X 1.8 Release Candidate

I've just downloaded the release candidate for WSJT-X from https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html and installed it.
This version has the new FT8 mode and I was eager to try it out.

It seems to be able to automatically establish communications after calling CQ and initiate a full QSO. I have yet to make my first contact with it despite being on 20m for a couple of hours.

There isn't much information available about FT8 (that I have found) but from what I have seen so far it looks like a useful mode for quick QSO's normally associated with fading signals.

JTAlert once again supports Ham Radio Deluxe - but read on

I just noticed this on hamapps.com

"New JTAlert 2.10.0 is available for download.

This version has full support for FT8 and the 15sec T/R period.
HRD v6 logging is again supported. HRD v5 and V6 users need to upgrade their JTAlert version to 2.10.0 to avoid logging and spotting the wrong mode (FT8 spotted/logged as T10 or JT9).

Visit HamApps.com for the download link and upgrade instructions.

Please review these release notes for 2.10.0
  **** HRD V6 logging is again supported by JTAlert.
  **** The HRD V6 logging support in this release is a one-time event.
  **** Releases after 2.10.0 will again no longer have HRD V6 support.

  New Features:
    - Full FT8 mode support and its 15 sec T/R period.
    - All the Wanted alert types support FT8 mode tracking.
    - Scan Log supports FT8 mode for all Alert types.
    - Additional Alert tracking option, "Any WSJT-X Mode (JT65 or JT9 or FT8)".
    - FT8 mode statistics from HamSpots included in Band Activity displays.
    - Call History popup & standalone window support FT8 data from Log lookup.
    - WSJT-X mode character included in JTAlert titlebar (before the Band).
       Character matches that used in WSJT-X, "#" = JT65, "@" = JT9, "~" = FT8.

  Changes:
    - Macros window single instance setting removed. Each JTAlert instance must
       open its own Macro window for each WSJT-X/JTDX instance.
    - End TX/RX Period alert disabled for FT8 mode.
    - Auto-Halt after current TX is disabled for FT8 mode.
    - Confirmed Bands Display (below log fields) right area will display Bands
       worked/confirmed matching WSJT-X TX mode JT9 or FT8
    - Many internal code changes to support FT8 mode and 15s T/R period and to
       correctly distinguish between WSJT-X and JTDX running processes.
       (** The JTDX program calls itself wsjtx.exe which it isn't **)
    - The multi-instance support has also been changed. Running multiple copies
       of JTAlert against both WSJT-X and JTDX simultaneously is not supported.
       You can run multiple instances of JTAlert against either WSJT-X OR JTDX
       only. Both types of applications can be running simultaneously on the PC,
       but only one JTAlert operating mode (against WSJT-X or JTDX) is allowed.

  Fixes:
    - WSJT-X docking stops when a WSJT-X Configuration switch is made.
    - DXKeeper Capture window inadvertently populated when DXKeeper is instructed
       to filter its display on a new DX Call change.

de Laurie VK3AMA"

One time event? I'm not sure what is going on there and I actually don't care. I now use the excellent QSO Relay as a go between to allow JTAlert and HRD logging to function

Friday, 7 July 2017

HRD 6.4.0.659 Issue

I thought this was a temporary fault with HRD 6.4.0.646 as reported in a previous post. The latest version 659 still has the same problem.
This is when upgrading from an older version to the current version then the installation routine uninstalls the Microsoft Access Runtime.

Not a major issue as long as you manually reinstall the runtime before you fire up the logbook module.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Making QSO Relay auto start in Windows 10

QSO Relay, if you haven't already tried it out, is a superb piece of software written by VK2BYI. Essentially it bridges the gap between JTAlertX and Ham Radio Deluxe since the author of JTAlert discontinued support for HRD 6.x (the paid for version of HRD).
QSO Relay sits in between the two pieces of software and relays QSOs to HRD.

QSO Relay normally runs in the task bar
near the clock. After a reboot it was found
not to be automatically running.
I found that occasionally it wasn't logging until I found out why. It wasn't running in the task bar after a reboot. On Windows 7 you can just drag the shortcut for any software you want to run on Windows startup into the StartUp folder on the start menu.

Not so on Windows 10 and you have to do a little fiddling to get it to do the same.

Press the Windows key and R simultaneously to bring up the Run dialog.

In the box that appears type shell:startup and press OK


Windows explorer opens in your own AppData location

Next drag the shortcut of the program you wish to auto start into the explorer box, in this case the shortcut of QSORelay.

Close explorer and that is it. Next time you reboot Windows and login QSORelay will be automatically running.



Thursday, 25 May 2017

QSO Relay 1.3 - An update

Chris Fredericks VK2BYI responded to a support email about an issue I was seeing with QSO Relay.
I was seeing a popup message saying that QSO Relay could not verify if a QSO had been written into the HRD Database.
I switched on "Enable Tracing" as per the troubleshooting guide.
This Created a Session log and also should the Exception logs. After turning off the enable tracing tick box it wrote all the issues to the session log.

I then sent Chris the contents of my c:\users\<my user name>\AppData\Roaming\VK3BYI\QSORelay folder to the email stated in the guide

He replied back the very next day with the solution to my problem.  When I looked at his advice I indeed hadn't created a connection string to the HRD Access DB. I had not configured QSO Relay correctly - DOH. I'm not sure how I missed that but a few clicks and I was done.

Next right clicking the QSO Relay icon in the task bar brought up the "Synchronise Databases.." option.

This synchronises the JTAlertX and HRD databases. I clicked it and got a message back saying that I had a duplicate record in my HRD database. It wrote the actual error into an exception log which is human readable. There it was in plain sight. I had a dupe in the log from back in 1980 that I hadn't noticed!
I deleted the dupe from HRD logbook and ran the synchronise process again. It ran without error.

Next, while still having the "Enable tracing" option checked I made a WSJT-X JT65 QSO.
QSO Relay intercepted the ADIF log and parsed it through to HRD without any error. I disabled the "Enable tracing" option and the session log was written to and closed. Examination of this log found that communication had worked and all was good.

I can't emphasise just how useful this small program is in your radio arsenal. When using WSJT-X and Ham Radio Deluxe Version 6.x in conjunction with the latest JTAlertX it is an essential addition.

Great thanks go to Chris VK2BYI for adding this superb program to the ham radio community and his fantastic support.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

QSO Relay Version 1.3 review

I have been using JTAlertX 2.8.7 with Ham Radio Deluxe and decided to stick with that configuration due to the author of JTAlertX withdrawing support for HRD V6 (the paid for version).
This has been to the disappointment of many radio hams worldwide as the community thought that the two packages integrated well together. For whatever reasons the olive branch to make up was offered to the author from HRD LLC and was ignored.

Anyway new on the scene is a small program written by VK2BYI that enables usage of the later versions of JTAlertX to function again with Ham Radio Deluxe. Hurrah I hear you say.

I installed version 1.3 of the software this morning along with the latest version of JTAlert. QSO Relay comes with quick installation instructions and an in depth manual. It makes use of MicroSoft .Net Framework 4.6 which is pre-installed on Windows 10. Older versions of operating system may require you to install .Net Framework 4.6 if it hasn't been installed by other programs on your system.

JTAlertX needs to be changed to log to a standard ADIF file. The Quick Install pdf file shows you how to configure this.When firing up the QSO Relay software the first time after installation you need to configure it.
The pdf file shows you how to do it and then synchronize your HRD database with QSO Relays own SQLlite database.

Operation

In use the QSO Relay acts as a proxy between JTAlertX and Ham Radio Deluxe logbook.  It runs as a system tray application that listens for contacts being forwarded from WSJT-X/JTALertX via a UDP port. As datagrams are received they are logged locally in a SQLLite database and then relayed using TCP to the Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook (Version 6.x) database.
I found this worked well but there was a popup message saying that the QSO had not been entered into the log. When I looked at the HRD logbook it was there. I was unable to capture the popup box as it was partially obscured by another window. Another QSO brought the same popup box but again disappeared before I had time to look which program was generating it.

If you want to try out the software yourself I can recommend it and it is available from www.vk2byi.com.au/qsorelay