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RFI

Oh so now I’m giving myself RFI. I pinched a pair of powered speakers from one of the domestic PCs yesterday and wired them to the mixer. One speaker is powered from a USB adapter and it is then wired to the mixer via a 3.5mm stereo jack and to the other speaker. No idea if the wires are screened. There is an amp in the powered unit.

The YT-1200 upsets the speakers when it is operating, most so on 20m (which is the closest match for the loft antenna). But only the non-powered speaker is affected. A truckload of ferrite on the cable between the speakers has quietened it down for normal operation but it is still upset when tuning. The wire is currently wrapped multiple times through two decent ferrites, so much so that the speakers are now next to each other! Hmmm. Looks like I need to take these things apart to see what the cables are actually like.

 

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Sorting the audio out

I’ve whinged before that my ears are naff. I often use headphones to help but now with so many radios it’s a pain, especially when the relevant socket is on the rear of the rig.

Ages back I set up a mini-recording studio to help the kids with their music lessons and practice. Guess what, I have a mixer as part of this and yet left it sat on a shelf forgotten! No prizes for guessing where it is now.

So, I can now mix in all the radios and the PC / SDR and output to headphones or speakers or both. It has two channels so I can play one radio through one speaker and another through the other which is useful. The same goes with output to the headphones but this is less useful because my hearing is so far down on one side that I play everything through my ‘better’ ear. But it gives a lot of flexibility.

One thing I am toying with getting is a decent audio processor. I had a Datong unit which I sold on but that was before the current DSP offerings. Again, the mixer will be useful because it has an FX channel, meaning I could send audio from one rig out through a DSP processor and back into the mixer all without having to fiddle with plugs.

Now if I could just tidy up all the wires…

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Bad timing

No, I’m not taking about clock synchronisation issues and digital modes in WSJT-X, though it has to be said that my PC clock is regularly synchronised via NTP and time.is always says it is ‘exact’ with some very small fraction of a second deviation.

Bad timing in my case is the number of times I manage to find a good bit of DX, usually FT8 as I am concentrating on this right now, only to make contact but not complete because the band dies off from underneath my poor little bit of wet string in the loft. I had a US contact last night who gave up after 6 valiant attempts to exchange signal strengths. Oh well.

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PC screen real estate…

One thing I’ve noticed is the screen required for these digital modes. I have a 22″ 16:9 screen and I had a secondary 19″ 4:3 one attached when I was writing my Ph.D. but it generated a load of RF hash. So now I just have the 22″ and it’s not big enough!

Many shack photos show dual screens or even dual PCs and multiple screens and I can see why. Ok I have the MacBook for logging and other things, but the shack PC desperately needs more screen size and/or more screens. Something else to work on. Unfortunately the PC is a scrapper that has no HDMI output so I am limited to a DVI and a VGA screen. Hmmm… so I need a better PC too…

I am just beginning to experiment with JT65 having set up WSJT-X recently and the screen is full.

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…and a close one.

So far I have totted up 19 countries – finally including the UK. I managed a BPSK63 QSO with a station just a few miles away, on 20m again as this is still my only HF antenna. I’m guessing this was ground wave. Funny, I’ve been interested in, and fiddling with radio for 40+ years and yet I am only now learning about propagation, helped in a large part to the two pieces in TX Factor. See http://www.txfilms.co.uk/txfactor/ – these are really good programmes.

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Noise…

Typical. I tidied the setup today and got everything into a better position for working – as you see in the photo now. And now there are stripes of noise across the waterfall in fldigi – as you can also see in the photo! I’ve moved everything about again to try to cure it to no avail. Something has clearly moved nearer to something else and they don’t get along. Grumble…