James Hall N9XLC's blog

LVRAC using a drone during Field Day 2014

Las Vegas Radio Amateur Club using a drone to put up a dipole antenna on Field Day 2014.

Codec 2

I thought that this might interest someone. This is a video of one of the first tests of codec 2. This is an audio compression codec meant to be an open source replacement for the AMBE codec used in D-star radios. It's currently running at 2500bps, while AMBE runs at 2400bps with 1200bps error correction. Codec 2 and AMBE are incompatible and cannot talk to each other. Noone currently knows if Codec 2 will replace AMBE as the voice compression for D-star or if there will be a competing network transport that will replace D-star and carry the Codec 2 audio. There are some Icom radios that don't come with D-star support but you can put an addon card in to add it. There's speculation that it may be possible to make a Codec 2 addon card instead of using the AMBE one.

The audio quality of Codec 2 seems really good in this video. Plus it's small. A 1hr conversation would fit on a 1.44mb floppy disk. It's in alpha stage, so there's still a lot of work to do.

James Hall

My first rig N9XLC


The Realistic HTX 202 was my first radio, I got it in 1994 brand new from Radio Shack. I used that thing everywhere for a few years after I got my license. I had it hooked up to my Ringo Ranger 2 antenna at home and used it as a base radio. After awhile I got a PK-12 packet modem and used it to get on the PBBS systems that existed. I had a gel cell battery from a hospital emergency light that I could run it off of until I finally got a power supply. Probably one of my fondest memories of it was when I got a contact that I even question today. We were in Whitewater state park and I talked to a guy who purported to be in Terra Haute or near it. 5 watts into a rubberducky on the gelcell power. I never really knew about QSL cards back then, I wish I had one to confirm the contact.


I recently got my TS-520S operational.. I don't have an antenna that I trust to transmit on yet, but the other day I was listening to the RTTY roundup on 40m and hearing a lot of people. NY, MI, MO, AZ, VA, TN, GA, etc. I was able to decode at least one side of each of those contacts with my netbook using a program called fldigi. My receive antenna? A CB magmount my dad gave me a while back, stuck to the top of the radio in my basement.. Wow!


 Hopefully I didn't blow any!


If you guys have noticed that the website hasn't been updated very much lately, I've been busy with class and homework the past few weeks. My classes are officially over for the Fall semester this week. Yay! So far, I've finished 3 classes and have 1 to go. It's barely worth mentioning since there's no question that I'll pass it. Last week on 12/8 I took my first A+ certification test and passed it. 860 points out of a possible 900. I obliterated it. I take my second test next week on 12/21, I'm pretty confident. The A+ certification covers the basics of computer servicing, not only troubleshooting but also customer service. It's considered the basic cert many employers require to hire for IT jobs.

In the time off I have between semesters I'm planning on working around the house a little. I've got a Softrock RXTX kit to build. It's a QRP SDR (Software Defined Radio) transceiver. I could put it anywhere on HF but once I build it, it's stuck there. I'm intending on building the 40m-30m-20m option. Wish me luck, there's quite a few SMT components to it, plus winding coils which I've never done. Output should be 1-2w, maybe a future kit I could build would be a 50w amp. :) I've also got a bum TS-520s I want to work on and get going. I've identified a switch in the front panel with a disconnected wire between a couple of it's wafers. I just gotta work out how to get the front all the way off so I can remove the switch, figure out where the wire connected and replace it. Then test and cross my fingers that was the only thing wrong with it. I'm also sitting on the order button at thewireman.com for some stuff to build a 40m dipole. Still trying to see if I can build something for cheaper.

I have a ton of projects I can do over the course of the next few weeks, snow won't get me down!

James Hall

Learn CW Online

 Here's a good website to learn morse code on: lcwo.net

I'm currently trying to learn morse code on that site. They've got a bunch of different practice sessions and an entire 40 lesson KOCH method training. If you create a user account on that website then it will save your progress. There's options to download practice files in mp3 format (which I believe Windows can burn to an audio cd if you want it to). The website has a neat feature where you can create and join groups for the purpose of discussion and competition. Each group will let you compare your highscores with the other users of that group.

Let me know if anyone else uses this website. I've started a group "Whitewater Valley Indiana" on the lcwo.net website if anyone would like to join me.

James Hall

1929 QSO party

  Thought some people would be interested in this.. It's a contest where you built a tube transmitter in the style of those used in 1929 or before and then make contacts with it. The actual on-air portions run Dec 5/6 and 10/11. I guess most of the activity will be on 80m.

See this link for more details. Here is a Youtube video of one transmitter made by w0vlz.


Digital modes?

 Anyone in the area run any digital modes? I hear some APRS packet but that's pretty much it. At least unless you count Dstar, apparently I've heard one of the Cincinnati Dstar repeaters. I have a MFJ 1278B Multimode Data controller and an AEA PK-12 packet modem that are going fairly unused so far. I used my PK-12 a lot back in the 90s when packet was still pretty hopping. Looks like that's all dried up and all anyone cares about anymore is APRS.

I'm thinking about building a sound card interface for software digital modes. I found one here. Pretty simple, I think. Just gotta order the parts from somewhere like Mouser or Digikey and then build it up. Shouldn't take more than an hour to build. PSK31 looks interesting to try. I've been listening on 2m ssb for anything and I hear nothing. Guess I need to build up my Softrock RXTX or get my ts520 going. :)

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