Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to Work

Lately, I've spent most of my limited radio time playing with a new antenna and tweaking my QRP rigs. It dawned on me this past weekend that I haven't worked on my CW in quite a while.
If you've read anything on this blog before, you'll know that I am new to CW and that I have been trying to learn the code at 13-15 WPM in hopes of getting on the air without the need to immediately re-learn at a faster speed. I knew at the start that this would make the learning slower and more challenging, but I was dedicated to the process...for a while.

Life has a way of getting between my responsibilities and my hobbies, but things in our house have quieted to a dull roar. The kids are back in school and there is a sense of "normal" again. "Normal" means regular bed times for the kids and an extra hour or two of uninterrupted time for me and the wife. I've been trying to remember to turn off the TV and work on the code. I think it's beginning to pay off.

I jumped back onto this morning. It has been over a month since my last login, so it took me a few minutes to remember where I was. I dialed the speed back from 15 WPM to 13 WPM and started over at lesson one. Twenty minutes after beginning, I was back through lesson three with 100% copy and 70% copy on my first attempt at lesson four.

I plan on spending the next two weeks, "hitting the "books" hard." I really want to be able to work some of the upcoming sprints and contests on CW. Also, with my tower project on financial hiatus, I want to have a better shot of completing my DXCC before the 2014 Dayton Hamvention. Obviously, CW will help greatly in that regard as I am limited to two wires and possibly a home-brew vertical for operation this winter.

Learning the code is difficult, but I can already feel the glory of knowing it. In fact, I'm becoming so enamored with CW that I find I hardly even pick up the mic anymore in lieu of listening to the slower speed sections of the bands. I'm sure that I will fully embrace the life of a dedicated Morse operator, but I need to focus on really learning to hear over the next two weeks. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ten Tec Rebel 506 Has Arrived

Here is a very quick look and listen to the new Ten Tec Rebel 506. I literally un-boxed it, made a few connections, and shot this video in a hurry. Check back in a few days to see my progress in making this rig sing

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Your Ten Tech Order Has Shipped

Woo Hoo! I've been waiting for my Ten Tec Rebel 506 since Dayton. I'm so excited to delve into this new experimental QRP rig and see what kind of awesomeness I can pull out of it. I have so much planned already.

I've been experimenting with an Arduino Uno for the past few months in preparation for this rig, which has a chipKIT Uno 32 (Arduino based but much more powerful) micro-controller as a brain. I've learned a lot about what can be done. There is a LOT that can be done to personalize this rig and make it a QPR Holy Grail.

I'm planning on getting started as soon as this my new rig arrives. Here is a quick laundry list of add-ons and upgrades I'm considering:

  • LCD display (maybe replaced by a touch screen display in the near future)
    • Frequency Readout
    • Power Output
    • Battery Level
    • SWR
  • CW Memory Keyer with a knob speed control
  • Morse decoder (Wait for it...)
  • On board one-button logging, using an internal clock and the decoded Morse (BANG!)
  • A waterfall display
  • Built in QRSS 
Anyway, there are a few of my dreams for the winter projects. Hopefully, I'll be rporting on their successes here shortly.