QRP/Hans Summers (G0UPL) 30m QRSS Beacon Kit

Filed Under (Dayton Hamvention 2010, Digital Communications, Homebrew, Kits, QRP) by Jonathan on 15-05-2010

Ahhhh, those lovely days in May when a QRP’er can go to Dayton a few days early and enjoy the companionship of his fellow knack sufferers.  One of the nice things about the QRP Amateur Radio Club International (QRPARCI) is their annual Dayton “Four Days in May” (FDIM).

FDIM is a great way to enjoy seminars and discussions on a whole range of topics.  There was a really good presentation by Hans Summers (G0UPL) on QRSS.  Many of you may be familiar with QRSS from podcasts such as “Soldersmoke”.  Essentially, it’s CW so slow, it’s pretty much impossible to decipher by ear, but sent at a VERY low power (if you’re using a full watt, you’re probably just plain rude!!!!

You build yourself a little low power transmitter and usually use some sort CW keyer circuit of sorts to send your call, short message or whatever.  The call is usually received by other hams and shared online.  It’s kinda neat to see your low power signal making it’s way over long distances.  It’s really a neat beacon.

Images are available on the web, but examples of reception are like below (from Hans Summers site):

Hans had a great discussion and was nice enough to produce a kit for FDIM (maybe he was earning his flight home, who knows!!!).  The kits were INSANELY popular and I think he might have just made a huge jump in the use of this unique operating mode.

Hans painstakingly took orders from hams and even programmed their Atmel chips with their calls.  What a nice guy!

He has plenty of information, schematics and such on his website.  If you’re interested, point your browser to:


Northern California Contest Club online webinars – neat!

Filed Under (Antennas, Club Spotlight, Contesting, Digital Communications, Educational / Courses) by Jonathan on 02-02-2010

During the middle of last year, the Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) started a really neat online service with free webinars, geared towards contesting (but as with many such clubs, there’s something to learn for all hams).

Some topics so far:

  • “How to set up a Microham keyer”, Ira (K2RD
  • “Homebrewing a micro based (SO2R) station controller”, Jack (KF6T)
  • “N1MM: How To Configure And Operate”, John (K6MM)
  • “WriteLog: How To Configure And Operate”, Mark (K6UFO)
  • “A 160m Helically Wound Vertical”, John (K6MM)
  • “Hints and Kinks for Using HFTA”, Dean (N6BV)
  • “A 160m Helically Wound Vertical”, John (K6MM)
  • “RTTY For Newbies”, (K6DGW, K6MM, N6DE, N6ML

The link to the webinars is:


Here’s a link to NCCC direct:


RTTY – great online tutorial from AA5AU

Filed Under (Digital Communications) by Jonathan on 08-01-2010

Don, AA5AU has a great “Getting started with RTTY” page complete with full tutorials to get you started.

If you have ever wanted to give this digital mode a try, you have no excuse not to anymore.  Don has written a full tutorial on RTTY using MMTTY software.  The screen shot to the right is from MMTTY.

But, what is RTTY?  From Don’s site:

RTTY is Baudot code (see http://chem.ch.huji.ac.il/~eugeniik/history/baudot.html for excellent information on Mr. Baudot and his code).  More specifically, on the Amateur HF bands, it’s 5 bit baudot meaning that every character consists of five bits, either mark or space (in actuality Baudot is 8 bits because a start bit and two stop bits are added for synchronization see http://www.aa5au.com/gettingstarted/rtty_diddles_technical.htm).  In general, a baud rate of 45.45 baud is used on HF.  45.45 baud is the equivalent of 60 wpm.  Even though 45.45 is standard, you will occasionally come across a RTTY signal at a different speed.  Ed, P5/4L4FN, preferred to run 50 baud rate (66 wpm) when he was active on RTTY from North Korea.  75 baud (100 wpm) can also be used on the Amateur HF bands.

The nice thing about RTTY is you don’t need a whizbang station with everything including a linear to have loads of fun.  In fact, in the few times I’ve dabbled with RTTY, low power (50 watts) worked better for me.  You can learn more about why on the tutorial.

The page has detailed instructions on installing MMTTY and making your first contacts with RTTY.  Pages are printable for offline reading (in PDF) as well.  Page topics include:

Page 1 –  Downloading MMTTY
Page 2 – Running MMTTY
Page 3 – Receiving RTTY Discussion
Page 4 – Receiving RTTY with MMTTY
Page 5 – Transmitting RTTY Discussion
Page 6 – Transmitting AFSK with MMTTY
Page 7 – Transmitting FSK with MMTTY
Page 8 – Specifics -USB adapters, EXTFSK
Page 9 – Commercial Interfaces

Check out Don’s site at: http://www.aa5au.com/rtty.html

Historical AMSAT and Packet journals now online.

Filed Under (Digital Communications, Radio/Comm. History, Space Communications) by Jonathan on 06-01-2010

Phil Karn, KA9Q has been busy as of late!  He has received permission to duplicate and make freely available many useful journals for those in the amateur radio community.

These journals go back some 4 decades and are loaded with useful information.

AMSAT journals can be found here:


If you like packet radio, he’s also scanned the old ARRL Gateway newsletters and TAPR Packet Status Register.

If you have any of the missing journals, please contact Phil, he’d like to get them online.  The packet radio journals can be found at:


Intro to digital modes

Filed Under (Digital Communications, YouTube Digital Goodness!, YouTube Goodness!) by Jonathan on 08-11-2009

Here’s another good introduction to digital modes found on YouTube.

So far, this user “Oztales” has four neat videos posted below.  This is a pretty good introduction for those that have never done any digital mode work.

Video four is a short presentation for those of you asking about PSK videos.  I’ll be adding a few more links I’ve found in the coming weeks.  I have a few friends interested in QRP PSK and found a few neat videos.

As always, if you have a few good links, comment below.


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