Category Archives for "Web Sites"

Ham radio contesting Wiki site

Ham radio contesting has lots of information in many different places — including the most popular articles here on K9JY.com — 30 days, 30 contesting tips. Pete, N4ZR, has spearheaded the creation of a Wiki site devoted to contesting called the Contesting Compendium. The idea for ham radio contesting is to have a single site to point to that will help new and experienced contesters.

A quick look at the table of contents shows a great start:

Ham radio contest operating

This section is devoted to everything operational. Sections are already up on contesting from a city lot, 40-meters, SO2R and my favorite — A sleep strategy for DX Contests.

Ham radio contest technology

Technology for contesting is broad and specific at the same time. Already up are articles on Contest logging software and CW Skimmer with more to come. This one has a potential to grow to monstrous size.

Ham radio station design

How you design a station for contest operations is different than design for DXing or casual operating. This section reflects that design. My favorite? Tours of Famous Contest Stations. And, no, my station isn’t included in the tours…

Ham radio towers and antennas

Antennas for contesting are different than for other modes of operating. Sure, you can contest with a dipole and vertical antennas (and there are many instances in contests where these types of antennas are superior), but contesting requires a broader perspective for which antennas are right for different contests.

Ham radio contest propagation

Let’s just say that you can learn more about ham radio propagation working a single band in a 48-hour contest than you will with months of on and off operating on the band. String a few of those together and you can really sense the difference in propagation without the numbers.

And many more

This is a work in progress from the contesting community. So bookmark the site and check it often (no RSS feeds?) as there are some good contributions there already with more coming.

Props to Pete, N4ZR, for doing this. It’s no small job.

Ham Radio has the UltraDX Web Site

Ultra DX is a web site for ham radio that offers a wide range of services to the DXer or Contester. Set up in 2008 (I think), the site is still evolving.

Here is a review of the major components of the site.

UltraDX Community

UltraDX, like most sites, wants to build a community around the site for traffic and common interests. The Community tab offers articles submitted by users of the site, blogs (although the last entry was from 2008), call sign search, chat rooms, classifieds, forums, links, news, opinion polls…and more.

The fun part of this is the range of services for the community offered. The big disadvantage is that there is a lack of focus for a community (a problem with many sites, including this one – what do you want the site to be when it grows up?).

UltraDX DX Info

The DX Info tab offers a link to the DX Cluster, but no web access to spots. Plus, the DX Rentals gives you a good selection of DX locations where the stations are set up for you ready to go. There is a listing of DXpeditions with links from NG3K, including the source for the information.

Finally, this tab offers a DX Prefix and Zone List that is current as of February, 2008. This is a listing of countries, continents, ITU and CQ zones for each DX entity, not a prefix to country list.

UltraDX Contesting

The Contesting tab offers a contesting calendar done in a traditional monthly view. The contest calendar “has a unique feature that permits amateurs to export events as a Desktop Event to programs such as Outlook or Outlok Express. This sets a reminder on your local computer so you won’t forget a contest.”

There is also a feed from the RadioSport.net site by Jamie Dupree, NS3T, which I have noted here on this site.

The Contest Rentals option that matches the DX rentals area from the previous tab.

UltraDX Services tab

The site offers to host your ham radio blog for free and, if a business site, for a significant discount to the published hosting plans from a specific company.

As well, a Voice over IP service will be offered to ham radio operators in the September, 2009, time frame. I’ll pass on commentary on this one until the service is available.

Finally, e-mail services are offered to members using a yourcall @ ultradx.com format.

Conclusions

UltraDX offers some good services for the ham community. As with most ham sites, there is a lot under construction as we do this work in our “spare” time.

ARRL to update web site?

Stonehenge

When you develop content for a site (like the K9JY WriteLog User Site), you go through some hoops trying to figure out how to organize the information, how to present it, and how to keep it updated. As you do updates, the site becomes unwieldy and more difficult to use.

So it is with the ARRL contesting rules area where there are “general rules” for all contests and rules for specific contests. I could never tell when a “general” rule applied and when a specific contest rule applied. Not that it was tough, but it could be confusing.

On the contesting reflector, Sean, KX9X, notes that the ARRL (i.e., Sean) will be updating the ARRL Contest Rules for easier reading. He notes:

This will include posting ALL rules for any given contest together, and eliminate the need to bounce back and forth between contest-specific rules and general rules.

With the development of the new arrl.org website (underway as I type this), more information such as a contest-specific FAQ will be included, with specific examples of what is allowed and what is not. This will take some time, but it is in the works.

Obviously, this includes the contesting area, but it was nice to see that the ARRL is looking to update the entire web site. It needs to be updated and I’m happy to see they are working on it. Updating websites is no small task as I can attest.

While I would never call the ARRL technology leading edge, in just the past year they have added Twitter accounts, are updating the web site, changed the formatting of the Contest newsletter, and started some blogs (though I don’t define them the same way they do…).

This is an encouraging sign from the League; part of their technology initiative. The fact that they are doing these on-line tasks means they will learn from what has been done and then continuous improvement can take place to make them better.

Maybe we’ll kick the ham community out of the technological Stone Age yet. I sure hope so.

Finding and Converting Latitude and Longitude

Over the IARU weekend, during the lousy band conditions in the middle of the day here in the Pacific Northwest, I did one of my rabbit hole excursions. I wanted to find the exact latitude and longitude of my house and enter that into the ham programs (like WriteLog, DX Atlas, and W6EL Propagation) I use during a contest.

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I’m close, of course. And in the grand scheme of things, getting more precise about the location in ham radio than zip code and Grid Square is a bit pointless. But, it bothered me.

I did that “Google thing” and was happy enough with the answers to pass them along.

Continue reading

New ARRL Site up

image The ARRL has put up another blog site using the same software (but different hosting) as used here at K9JY.com. The site, called We Do that — Radio looks to provide news-type articles about the different aspects of Amateur Radio.

Since there are many aspects to the hobby, their ability to put out content should be pretty good.

One of the articles I found fascinating was the D-Star radio standard. I have seen D-Star mentioned, but I have not learned anything about it. The article gives a brief history, tells us about the standard, and shows us how it is being used at W1AW.

Also included is an interview with local Washington State hams (where I live) about the technology.

The site doesn’t allow comments, but offers good one-way information about the hobby. You can regularly visit the site or subscribe via an RSS Feed like you can here on K9JY.com.

Scot, K9JY

Solar Cycle Web Site

Since we’re starting to move out into the new Solar Cycle, I’m starting to pay a lot more attention to the fundamentals about how sunspots are measured and finding some sites about it.

A cool site I was directed to was VE3EN’s Solar Cycle 24 site with all things consolidated down to a single page. Here’s  snippet of the thumbprint pics on the site:

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Or some more:

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The site updates every 2-minutes and has been around now for about a year.

Any other great sites out there?

Scot, K9JY

CQ WW CW Live Scores

A fun thing to check out while working the contest: Get Scores.

Yes, interfaced into the site are stations who are sharing their live scores on the web. Here’s a partial screen shot from the site as I am writing this on Saturday afternoon at 2100Z:

Get Scores

DX Cluster Telnet Directory Rocks

DX ClusterIn the ever-changing world of DX spotting networks and nodes, it’s nice to know someone is keeping track of all the sites. For those of us who travel the world to the next contesting DXpedition, having a resource for the closest node can be critical for achieving multi-operator nirvana.

So surf on over to DX Cluster. Take your drop down option right in the upper center of the home page and pick your country for the closest DX Cluster near you. You should be able to find one you like — there are 441 one of them listed.

Sweet!

Scot, K9JY

Global QSL — Creating your account

vp9-k9jyqsl.jpgThe first step in working with Global QSL is creating an account for your callsigns, QSL Bureau, and/or your QSL Manager. This is pretty straightforward:

1. Provide the callsigns you want to have Global QSL send out cards.

In my case, I’ve held the callsigns of KA9QVD, NB9C, NB200C, K9JY, VP9/K9JY, and TI5/K9JY. However, I only have K9JY and VP9/K9JY registered with Global QSL. The reasons? Almost all of my NB9C, NB200C, and KA9QVD QSL requests have been accounted for. And I had few TI5 contacts in using my callsign because we used TI5N for most of the operation. The volume is left in the two callsigns.

2. Identify your incoming QSL bureau and how you want cards handled that Global QSL also has on their accounts for you.

For example, if EI7XX wants to send me a bureau card and the card is printed and sent by Global QSL, do I want it sent to my K9 bureau or direct? I answered that the cards should be sent to the K9 bureau like any other bureau card.

As an update, since I uploaded by cards about ten days ago, 81% are already on their way to the correct bureau with the rest in queue for the next printing.

Scot, K9JY

Photo Credit: QSL Cards by LU6FPI on Flickr

Global QSL — The benefits

QSL CardLast week, I said that I’d update you all on my experience with Global QSL during the week. Well, I missed last week due to commitments balanced with time; I’m ending up doing it this week.

What I am going to focus on over the next series of posts is how Global QSL works and why it specifically works for me. Your results may vary, of course, depending upon your needs, time, and finances. But, if you are a contester and gets lots of QSL cards (what contester doesn’t?), then this series will be of interest to you.

This article will look at the benefits to the contester from both the company point of view as well as my contesting viewpoint.

In a nutshell, with a little technology and a few dollars, Global QSL will fully manage the printing and distribution of your bureau (and other) QSL cards. This is no small thing to do.

The way Global QSL works

There is essentially a three step process for handling your bureau QSL cards:

  1. Subscribe to the service. You’ve done this on other web sites — sign up with your user name and password.
  2. Design your personal QSL card. You can do this with the supplied free program from Global QSL using your images — two sided color cards — or have Global QSL design your card for you. Also at no charge.
  3. Upload your ADIF file of calls from your log or enter your QSO’s manually (for example, for SWL cards).

These three steps are what I did to get my 500 or so cards uploaded to the site.

The benefits

There are several benefits to the contester for this type of service:

  • You don’t write QSL Cards or print labels. Because you upload an ADIF file to Global QSL, they will print the QSO information on the card for you.
  • You don’t sort your out-going cards. They do that as part of the printing process.
  • You don’t pay at one QSO per card rate; the print multiple contacts (up to five) on one card.
  • You save a lot of time managing QSL cards. I did my 500 cards by entering them into my log, producing the ADIF file and uploading them to Global QSL in about five hours.
  • They can send you cards to use for direct QSL’s. Might as well get that great picture QSL card for direct cards as well.
  • They send cards to each bureau in the world for you. They know the bureaus and they send to them in bulk — sometimes every day because of their volume.

The features

Global QSL has some features as well that help support the service:

  • Up to ten call signs with unique graphic and picture shots for each callsign.
  • Change the graphic design by yourself at any time.
  • Your cards are printed in full color on both sides
  • Reporting on cards.

The bottom line

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of resistance to sending out bureau cards. They come in bunches, they need to be sorted out, and I tend to put them in a pile over there to get to later. It turns out, much later.

This was the first logical service I have found that makes it easy to send cards.

I much prefer Logbook of The World, of course. But the paper QSL card isn’t going away any time soon and this service gets me to honoring the QSO by confirming it much easier than anything I’ve done in the past.

Next up: working the process. Including screen shots.

Scot, K9JY