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Making contacts and hunting for elusive gridsquares is now a joy!

When you have a task as data intense as FT8 contacts, what you need is a really good tracking system. It needs to be both user friendly and completely safe. It also needs to display the information you need in a timely manner, especially when an FT8 contact window is only 15 seconds long, and in a minute the person calling CQ might have stopped looking and answered someone else’s call. 

Seer's ham shack, upgradedThe standard WSJT-x interface, while giving you enough to make contacts, leaves a lot to be desired. As you can see on the left monitor, it can decode the text of FT8 and tell you which country is calling. It will even change colors based on if someone is talking directly to you or calling CQ. 

But maidenhead grid squares aren’t easy to visualize with out help, and why should I need help when I’m sitting in front of a computer?! 

That’s where GridTracker comes in.

GridTracker map zoomed in on the US, with the waterfall and call roster under it
GridTracker map, waterfall showing 40m active, and the call roster

Now you can see I’m zoomed into the US, showing all the decoded singles in blue, CQ’s in green, and contacts I’ve made in past. It even knows if those contacts are confirmed by one of the big three online QSL clearing houses, which I personally set myself up on. 

That’s right! Social media super star now has an account on HamQTH, Logbook of the World, eQSL+, and even Club Log. But now that I understood what the game was, I wanted to start racking up QSO’s and filling in the map. I’ve never interested in collecting ham radio awards, but I must say that having the overlays built into the software does make it more like a fun adventure. 

The One Little Circuit Board to Rule

My Kenwood was made in the 1980’s and didn’t come with a way to connect it to a computer. You can tell it was a design consideration, as they cut out a notch exactly the size of the board needed to accomplish the task, but it was worth some extra money, so they sold it as an add-on. 

The underside of Kenwood TS-140s

So I purchased a third party IF-10C add-on card from Piexx, who is filling the gap left by Kenwood.  They are a little company who builds to order these little used parts that people like me are willing to spend a premium for. 

Well worth it! Connecting the rig to my computer allowed me to configure Omnirig, which all of my other software uses. It all works so well together. 

Now I’m looking for a way to get my G5RV Jr up higher. Any suggestions? 

Categories: Amateur Radio