Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019 ~ News from a Knackster

ARRL Announces new Podcast.

[BTW Michelle and Joe, your new found audience may actually want to build some hardware like this totally homebrew FT8 station . But that may put your advertisers in a snit as it means build not buy. Sorry for being so snarky!]

Boom, seems like the ARRL is trying to play catch up... A new Podcast is about to start on March 7, 2019 aimed at the new hams who have questions. It is called "So What Now".

The show premise is Michelle (the newbie) has questions of Joe (the OT) and is sponsored by LDG. Wonder what the ratio of plugging antenna tuners to actual technical content will be.

The show runner states this is the first ever podcast aimed at helping new hams (and ostensibly keeping them in the hobby). N2CQR has been doing this for over 10 years  on his Solder Smoke Podcast and for the past three years I have been riding along with Bill. So maybe ARRL is not the first.

For many segments of Bill's Podcast the subject has been the Michigan Mighty Mite Transmitter ala CBLA (Color Burst Liberation Army) and using this as a jump off point to learn about the hobby. 

So if you are an ARRL Member and SolderSmoke Podcast listener you might want to drop the ARRL a short note and suggest they listen to back segments of Bill's Podcast.

Any effort to keep the ham community strong, vibrant and growing is most welcome and so is this effort by the ARRL. Good Luck Michelle and Joe.

My gripe is that there are many other podcasts (aside from SolderSmoke) that are aimed at helping the new hams get a solid grounding and have been doing so for a long time. It is the arrogance of the ARRL to suggest they are the first that is bothersome.

Pete N6QW  

Knack News!

What happened to FT-8?

I like to use some of the digital modes not for contacts; but for rig testing. For instance if you place a QRP Rig under WSPR control you can have a record of what you are hearing and who is hearing you. It also tells you much about your antenna as to directivity and if what you have actually is more than a "wet noodle".

So it was a natural event to take the rig shown below and to do some testing using WSPR and FT-8. I have the WSJT-X software loaded on a Windows 7 Netbook and  Windows 10 computer that is the size of three stacked CD cases --read small footprint. In doing my tests I started with the Netbook and WSPR did FB and then I decided to test FT-8. Hmmm strange --I could see the signals on the waterfall and I could hear the signal in the external speaker BUT nothing decoded. Back to WSPR and all worked well. So next I went to the Windows 10 machine and the same problem WSPR OK but FT8 --Nothing!

So having been around the pole I thought about a Windows update from Microshaft that might be the culprit; but ruled that out as the WSPR probably would not have worked. So it had to be the WSJT-X. I had downloaded the WSJT-X in the fall of 2018. Well it turns out that in December, 2018 WSJT-X 2.0 was released and so if you want to decode anything you need 2.0. A quick remove software and add WSJT-X 2.0 and we now are decoding the stations. 

The new software looks complex as there are many versions to download -- it seems like they even have a version if you want to sit on the toilet and work DX via FT8 from a iPhone there is a version for that too!

So if your FT8 has stopped working -- check your WSJT-X version number it has to be 2.0 or greater. What a waste of an hour!!!!!!!



  1. Yeah the update to FT8 broke compatibility with the previous versions. Its a trap for young players. You new rig sounds awesome Pete. The wood paneling would look good french polished :)

  2. When N6QW goes to FT-8, that is one of the signs that the four horsmen of the Apocalypse will soon be arriving. Say it isn't so Pete!

  3. Hi Bill as I said it was just to test the Rx and Tx. But a real challenge when it wouldn't decode.

    Did not make any contacts but the software lets you see the distance the station is away from you --so good data.


  4. Hmmm,
    "Sitting on the toilet and working DX"
    This brings a new meaning to the phrase, "submitting a contest log"

    Sorry couldn't resist,

    Bob K6GGO

  5. Absolutely terrific! Yes indeed it is a new meaning.

    Thanks for your post --you have brightened my day.



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