Sunday, August 31, 2008

Icom IC-7600 Announced

Just a short post today.

About a week ago, I received an invite to a new Yahoo Group devoted to a new Icom HF/6-meter transceiver, the Icom IC-7600. It seems that this new radio has been unveiled at the Tokyo Hamfair. As of this morning, there are only 17 messages on the Yahoo Group, and there is a lot of speculation about this radio. Some people believe it will be quite some time until it hits the U.S. market; perhaps a year from now. Other people are speculating on where in the Icom lineup this radio will go. Some of those people believe that it will replace the Icom IC-756ProIII, but fall somewhere below the IC-7700. With a model number like IC-7600 that makes sense, but you can't trust model numbers. Finally, some of the messages on the group are talking about the price. I would imagine the price would fall somewhere between the IC-756ProIII and the IC-7700.

This brings up a dilemma for me. I would like a nice, small radio for portable operations. The current IC-7000 fits that bill nicely. However, I am also interested in a radio that has a better receiver than my Kenwood TS-2000 (which, by the way, has held its own quite well). I'm sure that the IC-7600 (assuming that it is a 756ProIII "Plus", or a IC-7700 "Minus") has a pretty good receiver, and assuming that its price is not too far removed from the 756ProIII, at least I stand a chance of being able to buy one. I always have my Yaesu FT-897D for portable operations.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Digital Contacts on 30 and 20 Meters

I've been having a lot of fun lately on the HF bands. Of course, I've operated SSB before, both at my own station and at numerous Field Days. But over the past couple of weeks I have operated nothing except for the digital modes, including PSK31, MFSK16, Olivia, and Hellschreiber. Many of my earlier contacts were on 40 meters. Lately I have been using 20 meters or even the fairly unique 30 meters. I would eventually like to try a mode such as PSK31 on 80 meters, and when the sunspots return, I'll definitely be using 15 and 10 meters. 30 meters, as I mentioned, is a fairly unique band. In the U.S., amateur radio operators use 30 meters on a secondary basis to a fixed service. I wonder what fixed service that is. Every evening when I turn the radio on to 30 meters at around 2000Z on roughly 10.130 MHz, I hear a signal that sounds a little bit like RTTY, but this transmission has a fairly wide shift. By playing around with MixW, I can determine that the shift is 850 Hz, but I apparently don't have the baud rate set correctly, because nothing meaningful ever decodes. If anyone knows what this is, let me know. I routinely hear other digital transmissions, including one that I guess is PACTOR. In the U.S., we are limited to 200 watts PEP on this band (presumably to avoid interference to the primary users of the band), and although I haven't looked at the Part 97 FCC rules lately, I know that you cannot use phone or image transmissions. They are just too wide. On the other hand, I have read about people trying Olivia 1000/32 on 30 meters, so I presume that at least 1 kHz bandwidth is allowed; at least in certain segments. I just checked my meager log (I've been operating the digital modes less than a month): I've got five QSOs on 30. Four are PSK31 and one is Olivia (which I assume is Olivia 500/16 since I've never tried 1000/32 and only tried 500/8 once).

20 meters has been somewhat more productive for me. I currently have 13 QSOs in the log for 20 meters. All of those contacts are using PSK31, except for one which was PSK63 (very similar to PSK31 but with double the baud rate and, I believe, double the width). As I suspected 20 meters works better for DX than 30 meters, and 30 meters may be slightly better than 40. Of course, I believe the reason is simple. My antenna is a fixed height above ground and is not particularly high to begin with. Many hams realize that an antenna needs to be a certain fraction of a wavelength above ground in order to have the lower takeoff angles (for the RF energy), in order to work good DX. When the antenna is too close to the ground for the band in question, you have what many refer to as a "cloudwarmer". Going back to my log (which has less than 50 entries, because I have only been doing this less than a month), I have no problem working the eastern provinces of Canada, and I can easily work 500 miles out or so in the U.S. I have no other DX on 40 meters. On 30 meters, I only have seven log entries, but I have Cuba. Station CO8LY is located in Santiago de Cuba, which is 1430 miles from me. Not too bad. On 20 meters, my DX gets even better: Mexico (Cancun), Venezuela, and Colombia. The Venezulean station, YV4OW, is located on Margarita Island (which happens to be SA-012, one of the Islands On The Air). Margarita Island is 2300 miles from me. I can also hear TG9AHM in Guatemala and TI2CCC in Costa Rica. It's just a matter of time before I work them.

I can't wait until the sunspots return, because I suspect that my workhorse DX bands will be 15 meters and 10 meters.

As a final note, I started working on this post about a week ago, after I first worked a station on 30 meters. In the meantime, I received a comment on my post entitled "The Internet and Radio Propagation". David, K2DSL, left a comment for me about another web-based propagation tool (which I plan to take a closer look at and blog about), but he also left me an email where he indicated that he has an amateur radio blog, and that he had similar radio equipment to mine. I was encouraged by his post about the SARTG RTTY Contest that was recently held. David has very similar gear and was able to work all sorts of DX. Good job, David, and it's certainly encouraging for me.

Until next time,

The Internet and Radio Propagation

I wanted to share with you three web sites that I am aware of that can show you how propagation is faring on the various amateur radio bands. These propagation tools don't attempt to explain the propagation modes, such as sporadic-E, tropospheric ducting, F2 layer skip, etc. They just present the user with a map depicting the actual propagation.

Here are the sites:

I'm going to discuss the first one in this post and leave it to a future (but soon) post to discuss the other two sites.

The VHF Propagation Map can display a map of North America, Europe, Australia, Minnesota, Missouri, or the world. I understand the emphasis on Minnesota. If you examine the URL of the site you will notice that the VHF Propagation Map is hosted on a site for a Minnesota school system. I'm not sure why Missouri gets special emphasis. The map attempts to display various 2-meter radio paths with the different color-coded swatches (for lack of a better word). Yellow colors represent shorter paths; orange a little longer, and red being the longest paths. The data behind the map is obtained from the APRS-IS system. Basically in the early days of APRS, the packet-radio system was entirely RF-based, but then the Internet became commonplace, and the data from the RF side of things was fed to the Internet. The "IS" stands for Internet System. It is all of the APRS data traveling on the APRS-IS system that makes sites such as Findu and this propagation map possible. The VHF Propagation Map site does explain that some HF data may be mixed in, but I figure the percentage of HF data is pretty low. I don't pretend to know everything about APRS, but I believe earlier on, HF (and in particular, 30-meters) was used for long-haul transmission of APRS data. The Internet does that now. Anyway, this website looks at the APRS-IS data. It knows where each station is because position is reported as part of the packet, and it knows where the packets came from that the stations heard, because the transmission path is part of the packet. The website analyzes that data and plots the map.

From a practical standpoint, the user of the VHF Propagation Map, clicks on an area of interest, such as North America. If their geographical area is covered by a yellow, orange, or red swatch or blob, they can expect enhanced communications on 2-meters. If the patch is red, they should probably be able to hit distant repeaters, or communicate long distances on SSB, or CW. During the 2008 summer sporadic-E season, I visited this site a few times. Sure enough, large sections of the eastern U.S. where covered with red criss-crossing swatches. Why not the western U.S.? This site does rely on actual APRS stations. There are sections of the country (Rocky Mountain region, Nevada, Montana, and so on) that just don't have as many amateur radio operators.

So try out this site, and when color appears over your location, fire up your radio and try to hit a distant repeater, or see how far you can talk on simplex, or get out your all-mode rig and work on picking up some more grid squares. Although this site relies on data from the 2-meter band (specifically the 144.39 MHz APRS network), you might look at the higher bands such as 222 MHz, or 430 MHz, if 2-meters starts opening.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Back on APRS

After a little bit of a delay, I am back on APRS. APRS is an acronym for the Automatic Packet Reporting System. I've probably been on APRS off and on for about nine years. Nine years ago is about the time that Kenwood introduced their TH-D7A handie-talkie (HT). It was fairly groundbreaking at the time, and until recently was the only HT that could do APRS, let alone packet radio. Around the time of the 2008 Dayton Hamvention, however, Yaesu (Vertex Standard) announced the VX-8R, that promises APRS and packet capability.

Well, anyway, I was an early adopter of the TH-D7A, and used it quite a bit when I first acquired it. A few years later, Kenwood indicated that they were introducing a "G" version of the TH-D7A. I'm not sure what the letter "G" meant, but this new radio added some incremental features to the APRS capabilities. One of the more notably features, if I remember correctly, was the ability to do 9600 bps APRS and packet. Around the same time Kenwood said that for a fee, owners of the non-"G" version could ship their radios to a Kenwood Service Center for a firmware upgrade. I did not do that right away. I probably waited a year or so, but I eventually sent it off. I continued to use the HT off and on, but at some point my usage declined and the radio stayed in my carrying case. When I decided to start using it again, I first discovered that all of the batteries that I had wouldn't hold a charge anymore, so I had to buy a new battery. Sometime after buying the new battery, I used that radio and an Arrow Antenna to make my first contact through the AO-51 satellite. I talked about this in an earlier post. A little more time passed and the radio itself developed a problem. Everything was fine except for the display. The display is a dot-matrix type of display, but it was showing strange characters. They were characters from the ASCII set, but nonetheless I could not understand why they were there, and I tried everything to correct the problem including a full reset. At that point, I decided to sell the radio on Ebay. I fully disclosed its problems and the radio was sold.

Meanwhile, I had purchased a Kenwood TM-D700A at the Dayton Hamvention, I believe. I had every intention of installing the radio in my car, but that never happened and the radio never left the box. I eventually sold it on Ebay.

This spring, however, I was helping my local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) group, the COARES (Central Ohio ARES), provide communications support for the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV). The COARES leaders indicated that APRS would be used this year, and that volunteers would space digipeaters about every two miles along the 100+ mile course (leapfrogging no doubt). I knew that my newer TH-D7A (G)--forgot to mention that I bought this radio brand new to replace my failing TH-D7A--would probably have problems in the hilly areas of southern Ohio. I decided that I would buy a Kenwood TM-D710A (the successor to the TM-D700) and become active in APRS. So I bought the radio a couple of weeks ago and got it set up last night.

I'm currently operating it as a base station under the callsign of N8OIF-9. You can view my position at the Findu site. The position is slightly off because at the present time, my position is hard-coded into the radio. I'm waiting on a GPS receiver to arrive that should provide better precision.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Second SignaLink USB on the Way

I noticed yesterday that my credit card had been charged for the second Tigertronics SignaLink USB that I had ordered. That was nine weeks to the day from when I ordered it. Since Tigertronics is located in Grants Pass, Oregon and I am in Ohio, it will take another week to get here via UPS Ground. I already have one of these devices to interface my Kenwood TS-2000X to the computer. This second one will be for my Yaesu FT-897D. Coincidentally, the wiring and cabling required to interface the SignaLink USB to the 897 is the same required for the Icom IC-7000, which is a radio that I plan to buy shortly.

For those who think that nine to ten weeks is a long time to wait for one of these interfaces, please realize that they are worth the wait. They get their power from your USB port and they have their own built-in sound card. Only two cables are required: one back to your computer for USB, and one to the radio (many times the radio's Data port). You are able to set volume levels once and regular operating system sounds still go to your regular speakers, and not out over the air. I notice in my PSK31 QSOs that many people mention they are using a Signalink USB.


QSL Cards

I've been operating the digital modes on HF for about three weeks now. I've sent out a few QSL cards, and I've received a few. If you are not familiar with QSL cards, they used to be the primary way for amateur radio operators to confirm their contacts with each other. For some people, the cards form a collection and allow the operator to recall contacts made in far-away places. For others, the cards represent proof that the contact did indeed occur, when that amateur radio operator seeks an award.

The methods for confirming contacts got a fairly recent update (within the past ten years or so). An operator can use a service known as the Electronic QSL Card Center, or more succintly, which is the URL for the website that this service runs on. The other method for confirming contacts is the American Radio Relay League's (ARRL) Logbook of the World (LOTW).

At least for a while I think that I am going to use all three methods to confirm my contacts. I don't think that I operate enough that postage is going to be a problem. eQSL and LOTW are free services, sort of. eQSL allows you to custom design your electronic QSL card and grants you access to other features assuming that you contribute a certain dollar amount in a certain time frame. LOTW is free until the time that you need to apply your confirmed contacts towards an award. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods? Both eQSL and LOTW allow for almost instantaneous confirmation of contacts. I've noticed after some of my QSOs, that the other station has immediately loaded the QSO information in eQSL for our contact. That brings up what I see as one of the flaws of eQSL: since the other station shows up on your Inbox, what is to stop you from entering reciprocal information even though the contact was not complete. You will not see the other station on LOTW until you upload your information, or at least that is the way it seems. Other differences: Some consider the ARRL to be more prestigious. To apply for those awards such as the ARRL's Worked All States, you can either make your cards available for possible inspection or you can use the LOTW; you cannot use eQSL for ARRL award credit. Some people might consider LOTW to be more secure and immune from fraud. The normal sign-up process for hams in the U.S. for LOTW involves the ARRL sending a postcard to your FCC-listed address. That postcard has a unique code or password that is used to complete the registration process. Also, to add your contacts to LOTW, you either enter them directly after logging in to LOTW, or you digital sign a file from an ADIF-compatible logging program. eQSL also has its Authentication Guaranteed process. It can piggyback off of the LOTW authentication, eQSL can review your license, or they can send you their unique code-on-a-postcard.

For me, getting my QSOs confirmed will be easiest on eQSL. I just export an ADIF file from my program, currently Amateur Contact Log (AC Log), and upload it to LOTW takes slightly longer to load, because the ADIF file has to be digital signed and compressed first; but then you upload it. Actually, keeping track of postcards back and forth in the mail will probably be the most time consuming, but at least for a while, I'll do it.

On a slightly different topic, if you had asked me a month ago (before I got on the digital modes), if I was interested in awards, I would have said "no", but now I definitely say "yes". First of all, striving for an award, gets me on the air. Second of all, it requires me to hone my skills. I'll probably never have a contest-level station, so I will have to concentrate on my operating skills. I don't care as much about having a certificate or plaque for my achievements, but it would be neat to say, for example, that I worked all 50 U.S. states with my mediocre set-up. Contesters can probably work all states or achieve DXCC in a weekend.

As I receive QSL cards, either from eQSL or in the mail, I plan on posting them to my Picasa QSL album.


my card (front):

my card (back):

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trying to Pick a Logging Program

Now that I am becoming active on the HF bands, I need to settle on a logging program. I purchased a license for Writelog about a year ago, but as I started using it a couple of weeks ago for my initial PSK31 contacts, I noticed that it does not seem to handle general purpose logging. I could be wrong. I admittedly have not spent much time learning how to use it. I then started doing a little research on what program to use for general purpose logging. My first visit was to site that I regularly visit. In the Reviews section of that site under the category of logging programs, I looked for the program that had the highest ratings. The program that had the highest score with the highest number of reviews seemed to be AC Log written by N3FJP (Scott). I went to Scott's website and downloaded a trial copy. Once I started it up I could tell that it was a very straightforward program to use. I've now got about 16 contacts logged so far. This is a trial version and I have about another month to complete my evaluation. Registration, I believe, is $19.

I've noticed in several of my PSK31 QSOs and other in-progress QSOs that some people mention the use of Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) for logging. I was not even aware that Ham Radio Deluxe had a logging capability, but it does not surprise me. It is a quite comprehensive program. I have used it for rig control before. It handles my Kenwood TS-2000X and my Yaesu FT-897D effortlessly, and it is a program that I still have loaded on my computer and have kept up to date.

Before I send off my money to N3FJP, I am going to give Ham Radio Deluxe's logging a try. I am assuming at this point that both AC Log and HRD support the ADIF file format. I hate to make the switch to HRD and not be able to transfer my existing log from AC Log. Of course, I may settle on AC Log and not have to transfer my log. Ham Radio Deluxe is free; AC Log is not, but I have always believed that good things are worth paying a little bit for. After all, the developer had to expend a lot of time and resources (application development software, etc.) to provide the program to the amateur radio community.

I will let you know what program I settle on.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

My First Hellschreiber Contact

A couple of evenings ago I made my first contact using the Hellschreiber mode. The contact wasn't a regular QSO either. I had never used the mode before. I had only decoded a couple of QSOs in progress. I decided to jump right into a Hellschreiber net, specifically the Feld Hell Club 40-meter Net which meets every Thursday at 0200Z (10:00 pm for me in the Eastern time zone). I was check-in number 4 or number 6. I can't exactly remember, and I didn't write it down. I was easily able to copy W8LEW, Lou, the net control station at the beginning of the net and I assume that he also able to copy me well. I also copied a station up in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and a station in Alabama. The net lasted nearly two hours. About half way through the net the conditions on 40-meters deteriorated somewhat. Lou had us switch to a mode called FM105. For the first half of the net, we had been running the Feld-Hell mode of Hellschreiber. When we made that switch to FM105, the readability did improve, however, near the end of the net, the conditions had fallen off so much that I could not read anybody.

I don't know much about Hellschreiber, but I do know that it was patented in 1929, so it is not a new mode by any means. However, until recently it was probably sent and received using an electromechanical device. Now, it is more than likely sent and received using a computer sound card. The sound that the Feld Hell mode makes on the air sounds quite a bit like clicking. This represents each pixel. Hellschreiber is a visual mode. In other words, it paints the pixels on the screen representing the characters. It is then up to the human operator to determine what was said. The human, many times, is better than the computer.

I have two things that I want to do pertaining to Hellschreiber. First, I want to get a firm grasp on what frequencies are most typically used for contacts. It seems that some of the websites conflict with each other. Once I figure out the frequencies, I can start calling CQ, or at least listen for someone calling. The second thing that I want to do is check into more Hellschreiber nets. On Sunday evenings (in my time zone), there is a net that meets on the 30-meter band (a band that I recently started using). I'll see if I can check in.

I did sign up for membership in the Feld Hell Club. I received an email back from the membership person. I am member number 1087.

Hellschreiber is pretty neat. Check it out.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Attended the Columbus Hamfest

Yesterday I attended the Columbus Hamfest. It is a fairly small hamfest. I overheard someone say that about 450 tickets were sold. The hamfest is hosted by the Voice of Aladdin Amateur Radio Club at their Aladdin Shrine Complex. This facility is located in the Easton area for those familiar with Columbus. Things are straightforward. An admission ticket is $5, and tables inside are free, and spaces out in the parking lot are free. The admission ticket is placed in the prize drum. They held hourly door prizes, and also smaller door prizes every fifteen minutes or so. They also were giving away a Yaesu VX-7R as the grand prize. I believe that our local Universal Radio donated many of the items for the prizes. I won one of the smaller prizes and got to take my pick. I choose the 2008 edition of the Passport to World Band Radio. There were two forums: a traffic handling forum, and an ARRL forum. There was also a testing session. I attended the hamfest primarily to help represent the Capital City Repeater Association (CCRA). Our club was able to handle a few renewals and about three former members signed up again.

Initially, I had not planned on buying anything. It was fairly late in the morning before I even left the CCRA table. I took a quick walk around the inside tables. There is never very much that I am interested at those tables: laptop computers (when I already have a laptop), LED flashlights, disk drives, connectors, and so on. I then walked outside. There were only about eight or so people set up out there. There were also a couple of neat static displays. The Red Cross Disaster Relief Services had their communication truck there, and there were two other rather impressive communication trucks supposedly belonging to the City of Columbus, and Franklin County. I did spot one thing that intrigued me however, and I made an impulse purchase. A husband and wife team, S & G Engineering, were selling what they call the Eagle One antenna system. It is designed for 80 through 10 meters. It consists of a wire element inside of a collapsible fiberglass pole (the orange and black poles in the picture below). That pole is clamped to a metal pole that fits inside a tripod. An antenna tuner, and some counterpoise wires attached to the tripod are necessary. We'll have to see how it works.

I received an email before the event from one of the organizers. They implied that this may have been the last year for the Columbus Hamfest. I have attended the hamfest before, and attendance seemed at least as strong as last year. Hopefully, they will continue it.


My First Olivia Contact on HF

Within the past week, I've been starting to use some of the digital modes on HF. I first tried PSK31 by successfully making a few contacts. Then I made a contact using MFSK16. Very early this morning I had a successful QSO using Olivia. Specifically the mode was Olivia 500/16. The 500/16 designation means that the occupied bandwidth is 500 Hz and the number of tones used is 16.

My QSO was with WB8ROL. His name is Gary and he is located in Ludlow Falls, Ohio. It's a town I've visited a few times, when I used to live in Dayton. Ludlow Falls always had a rather impressive Christmas light display at the Falls. The town recently discontinued the display due to funding issues. Ludlow Falls is about 80 miles from me, so this contact was decidedly not DX. It was a memorable contact nonetheless. Gary was using a Yaesu FT-100D and running about 30 watts. I very quickly noticed that Olivia 500/16 is not a particularly fast mode, but my copy on Gary was 100% complete. He explained to me how he has had Olivia QSOs that he could neither hear on the speaker, nor see on the waterfall display of the software. He only knew that there was a Olivia transmission because it started decoding on his screen.

Gary made a suggestion that we each try to lower our power levels to see how well the copy would be. For the last five to ten minutes of the QSO, he was at 2 watts and I was at 5 watts (the lowest the Kenwood TS-2000X will go) and we still had perfect copy on each other. We briefly tried the 500/8 (500 Hz, 8 tones) variety. The copy was almost perfect. I saw on my screen was could have been a typo or was a mis-decoded character. Whatever it was, I was able to figure out what was said. Olivia 500/8 is noticeably faster than 500/16. Band conditions on 40-meters this morning must have been fairly decent as I was able to hear the transmission and see it on the waterfall the whole time. My QSO with Gary was also my longest at about a half-hour. The QSO came to an end at 0451Z on 3 Aug 2008. The center frequency was 7.0733 MHz.

I did briefly have a problem with my station. During the middle of a transmission my radio switched back to receive. At first I thought that a time out timer that I had set on the TS-2000 had kicked in, but I believe that instead RF was getting into my Tigertronics SignaLink interface. At the beginning of the QSO, I was running 35 watts.

You should give Olivia a try. Olivia 500/8 might be a good compromise between perfect copy and speed.


Saturday, August 02, 2008 Announces New Call Lookup

I've been visiting quite a bit lately as I look up the callsigns of stations I might try to work on HF. I noticed on their home page tonight that they are announcing a new callsign lookup designed for PDAs and cell phones. I've been looking for such a tool for quite some time. QRZ does have one of the better callsign lookups in my opinion as it allows you to look up non-U.S. stations. Until recently the only callsign lookup that I was aware of that was designed for cell phones was the one introduced by KC8KOD. I applaud KC8KOD for bringing his search to the amateur community, but sometimes the data got rather old. QRZ does update its search every day with data straight from the FCC. I'm not sure what sources it uses for non-U.S. calls.

When I acquired my LG Voyager phone (on Verizon) about a month ago, its full HTML browser was able to display the regular page, but that included pictures and advertisements. I don't need that on my cell phone. I have an unlimited data package, so it's not about the data, but about the time it takes all of that extra information to download and render. indicates that initially this new search will be free, but will probably be part of its premium subscription service eventually. That's fine with me. It runs about $30 a year. I think I can afford it. They did ask for comments about how the search worked. I noticed what I consider a glitch when looking up club callsigns. I reported that issue in the thread that had been started.

As you may know, I was in the initial phases of developing my own callsign search on the web specifically for cell phones. I will probably abandon most of this now, but in particular I will abandon my attempt to gather the non-U.S. data I was looking for such as Canada, and Australia. I would like to still work on the U.S. search. It gives me the opportunity to learn Visual Basic .NET.

The new search for cell phones and PDAs is at

Friday, August 01, 2008

My First MFSK16 Contact

Last evening I made my first MFSK16 digital contact on HF. What an amazing mode MFSK is! My QSO was with Tom, K5VJZ. Tom is located in Russellville, Arkansas. This location is about 650 miles from me. We were on 40-meters at approximately 7.07 MHz. Our contact specifically ended on 1 Aug 2008 at 0149Z. Tom was running 25 watts from an Elecraft K2/100 transceiver. His computer was running a program called Fldigi and his operating system was Ubuntu, which if I am not mistaken is a Linux variant. I was using my Kenwood TS-2000X. For most of the QSO, I was also running 25 watts, but towards the end I ran 30 watts. The copy was almost perfect on my end which is amazing considering the RF power level used and the distance.

Just a little background on this mode. It consists of 16 tones that occupy a total bandwidth of a little over 300 Hz. Forward Error Correction (FEC) is involved. Some have equated it to a souped-up version of RTTY (radioteletype).

I've only made five digital contacts on HF so far, but I really enjoy them. This particular QSO with Tom lasted about ten minutes. I had the chance to ask him about a Palstar tuner that he uses in his station. He also explained that he did not have the best of luck with the Tigertronics SignaLink interface, which is what I use.

Another thing that I am noticing is that I am starting to get the urge to chase some of the awards. I never thought I would be interested in that, but going awards should certainly help me improve my skills and also encourage me to improve my station.