As I sit here I am working FT8 on 160 meters. It's a great mode to kill time and get some DX, states or new friends in the log. But this mode is not without controversy. Let's explore some of the controversies and see what can, and should be done. Or not. What's the big deal about FT8 anyway? If you haven't heard of the mode, I am thinking that maybe your radio isn't working or you haven't tuned up into the digital portion of the HF bands lately. So, briefly - FT8 is a digital "sound card" mode jointly developed by two really smart people - Joe Taylor, K1JT and Steve Franke, K9AN. It's not a rag chew mode. Instead, it provides basic QSOs exchanging grid squares and signal reports. One can optionally send a short message (13 characters) but the mode really isn't for this. FT8 was born out of other similar modes such as JT65 and JT9, which were also short QSO modes, developed for weak signal work. In fact, Joe initially developed the JT65 mod
Last week I became really scared because I turned on 40 meters and there was AC buzz all over. I have a relatively quiet noise floor which is advantageous for contesting and DXing, and my fear was that my neighbors had bought some cheap device with a switching power supply that would spew noise all over the HF bands. Or was it the new fridge we bought? Or was it something else? Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I went about finding the noise source methodically. Watch how I got it done! Troubleshooting The very first thing I did was to get a shortwave radio and verify that the noise was there. Indeed, a portable shortwave radio confirmed that it was there. Actiually, I used my Kenwood TH-D74A in general coverage shortwave mode. It works well for this purpose. The next step was to shut off the main breaker in the house. We did that, and the noise was gone. This alone was a huge sigh of relief! The noise was inside this house, and this means I had full control over it, at leas
At long last the next release of SmartSDR 2.x is here. You may download it from here . As you may remember, Flex had released SmartSDR 2.0 in Summer 2017. This made the Flex-6000 series the first ever amateur radio transceiver platform that can become an internet remote base out of the box. Other systems have had remote capability but Flex was the first to do it without having to add firewall rules (for most people) and incorporated modern technologies like social login and multi factor authentication (MFA) for enhanced security. The backend for authentication is powered by Auth0 , one of the leaders in the industry. SmartSDR 2.1 is the next incremental update, and is mostly designed with new hardware in mind. That said, I don't have one of the new radios, but I do have my 6700, and for us with the previous generation of radios, we have inherited the new features that are non-hardware dependent. This includes visual enhancements like shaded panadapters and tuning guides.