Thursday, December 09, 2010

Death of 20m incorrectly reported

It's a good job I looked at the beacon reports this morning or I wouldn't have noticed that there were no reception reports for the 20m band. The problem was that I had visited 20m yesterday and put the K3 into data mode. An annoying feature of the K3 is that when you change bands it restores the mode you last used on that band. It does that even if the band change is being made under software control, even if the mode it is restoring is inappropriate for the frequency you are changing to under the band plan. This is totally bonkers logic because no computer program worth its salt should make assumptions about the state of the radio so when changing the frequency it should also set the mode. Unfortunately if it sets the mode too quickly, or before the frequency change is sent, the K3 "feature" overrides the mode set by the software. Consequently the option in Faros to "force CW mode" doesn't work on the K3 and you are left in the mode you last used on that band.

Faros is not alone in experiencing this problem. Complaints have been frequent on the Elecraft reflector that when clicking on DX cluster spots in various programs the radio changes to the right frequency but is in the wrong mode. One of the reasons I wrote KComm specifically for the Elecraft radios was that I could make it work the way the radios work instead of being stuck with some generic logic. But there is nothing I can do about programs I didn't write. I wish that more ham radio applications were open source so you could fix problems like this yourself instead of having to ask a developer to make the necessary changes (and very often getting nowhere.)

5 comments:

VE3WDM said...

I could not agree with you more Julian, there have been many times my K3 I thought had a problem. I would check the manual, cycle the radio on and off and in fact the rig was in a mode that I was using the day before. Another one that upsets me is the antenna A/B. More times than I can count I have changed bands and instead of being on my dipole in the attic I am on the vertical (that is not hooked up at the time) as that was the last antenna on that band. I key and the SWR is out of this world. I am used to looking for the A/B antenna setup now but at first it really threw me.

Julian said...

I agree about the antenna switching as well. Most of the time my B antenna is connected to my K2. I really would like an option to disable the unused port, not just to avoid the problem you mention but also to prevent accidental activations.

Lynn (D) said...

And why is it always the software that has to fix or work around the hardware's "features"? Personally, I'd consider a radio that changes modes to whatever I last used on the band to be obnoxious and overly protective. If I'm doing CW on one band and switch to another band, why should the hardware make assumptions about what I'm going to do on that new band? Which is more likely, that I'd want to do the mode I did the last time I was on that band or the mode I was doing just before the band switch. Personally, I believe it more "correct" to let the user at the controls control the radio and not be switching modes with the bands.

But then, software is always easier to change than hardware, so we programmers always get to pick up the slack and work around the hardware "features" (a euphemism for "defects").

Just my $0.02 for whatever it's worth these days...

Lynn (D) said...

On re-reading, I should have worded that like...

"This is totally bonkers logic because no" HARDWARE "worth its salt should make assumptions about the" SOFTWARE "so when changing the frequency is should" ONLY CHANGE THE FREQUENCY AND NOT "set the mode" which was NOT requested by the software.

Julian said...

Oh I totally agree. Whether it's hardware or software any device or program that tries to second guess what I want to do gets it wrong at least 50% of the time and is unintuitive. For example why do so many programs assume if I click in an edit box containing text that I want the entire text selected, so that as soon as I type it replaces the entire text instead of inserting where I clicked. If I click in an edit box I'm trying to insert the cursor there. That's all.