Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Some RTTY contacts

I spent some time doing a bit more work on the latest version of KComm. It has been a while since I released a new version. Truth to tell, I have lost nearly all interest in computer programming these days, partly due to the fact that I am getting old and find it rather a struggle. Programming is definitely a young person's game - you need a sharp mind to keep track of what you are doing.

The problem was that KComm has too many different ways that it can use the sound card and send and receive morse and data. It can display a small waterfall in CW mode that allows quick spotting of a station by clicking on a trace. It can also use the PSK Core DLL - under Windows only - to send and receive PSK31 and PSK63. Alternatively it can integrate with Fldigi to send and receive these and other data modes. But it can also use the built-in capability of an Elecraft K3 to transmit and receive PSK31 and RTTY by sending ASCII text over the serial CAT connection - no sound card needed. If you do have a sound card, though, you can display a waterfall in data mode as well to help tuning signals in so the K3 can decode them. Presenting these options so that a user can select what they want, and then implementing them so the right things show up when the various modes are selected, proved a challenge that made my brain crash whenever I started to think of it. But I think I have finally managed it, although it will need a lot more testing before the new version can be made more widely available.

To test my changes I made a few RTTY QSOs using the K3's built-in RTTY modem, and was pleased to make a QSO with VE5UA in Western Canada running just 60W to my attic dipole.

I really haven't used RTTY very much in my radio career to date. It's interesting how much more brief RTTY QSOs are - no laborious exchanges of equipment details, which is quite refreshing. I quite like to know what radio and antenna people are using and how much power they are running, but I can really do without the information on the interface box, the make and model of PC and what operating system it is running, that so many PSK31 users insist on sending.

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