Friday, June 05, 2009

Short skip on 10m

After lunch I switched on the K3 which was tuned to 144MHz. I switched on the transverter and had a quick tune around in case some Sporadic E was about, and was surprised to hear an ON station near to 144.430MHz, the GB3VHF frequency. Since that was an odd place for an SSB signal I was suspicious, and switched off the transverter. The ON was still there. It appeared to be IF breakthrough.

I pressed the K3 ANT button, which switches between the two HF antenna ports. Although in transverter mode using the KXV3 interface the K3 doesn't use either of the HF antenna sockets, and the front panel doesn't even indicate a selected antenna, this button still appears to function. It switched from the multiband (including 10m) dipole to the magnetic loop, which does not cover 10m. The ON immediately disappeared. Obviously the isolation between the HF antennas and the transverter interface is not very good on the K3. One might have expected it to ground the HF antennas when the transverter is selected, which ought to avoid this problem. It's a potential nuisance for keen VHF operators any time 10m is active.

I managed to make several nice contacts with near Europe - ON, HB9, DL and F - on 10m SSB. My Griffin PowerMate remote tuning knob on the desk beside the keyboard is really convenient. It's particularly nice that you can tune the radio while another application, such as Firefox, is in the foreground. The little program that makes this possible is called KTune, and I just spent a few minutes adding a page for it to the main website.

However, the as yet unreleased KComm 1.6 is still troubled by an inexplicable bug that seems to have appeared since I added the DX Cluster spot facility. If you spot a station to the cluster, then save the contact to the log, the log fields clear, but then some time during the next half minute - usually while you are not looking - certain fields like the name and locator become filled with a previous contact's details again. It's one of those things that have convinced me I'm too old for this programming lark. When (or if) I finally find this bug and get KComm 1.6 released that will definitely be it. I'll be giving up programming for good.

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