QRP Radio Fun

At some point over the winter, I started reading Thomas’s posts at QRPer.com. It may have been after I listened to one of his guest appearances on Ham Radio Workbench.

Long story short, last week I got a new Xiegu X6100 from Radioddity. I’ve been playing with it and a MFJ-1984LP EFHW antenna in the front yard for a few days now, and it’s been a hoot to chase POTA activators using only 5W. It’s definitely something I can do for 5 (let’s be serious, more like 15) minutes at a time in between other things.

Some early notes, maybe to follow up on in the future:

  • There are at least two groups.io lists for this radio, either of which might help you find an answer to a question. Please note that if you haven’t bought the radio yet, stay away from posts before Spring 2022–the early adopters had some issues that no longer apply.
  • The thin poly line used by arborists can burn when you release it from your hand, maybe use gloves when tossing (or get a lighter throw bag).
  • My antenna is allegedly good for a bunch of bands, but I’m also not sure how the tuner will tell me that it can’t tune.
  • The detent in the main tuning knob is either too small for my finger, or the whole knob is too small. I tend to just roll my finger around the edge to spin fast.
  • The manual is useful to expand out the menu item names, but you need to know a bit about radios to know what they actually mean.
  • Some weird “birdies” that swoop in from the sides, on some bands. See notes in the groups.io posts.
  • CW decode doesn’t always work, but you may have to toggle between CW and CWR by pressing the mode button. Or it’s random chance that I got it to work.
  • My attic fan dipole, although it covers everything from 40m to 10m bands, is not very sensitive on receive at all (or more likely is catching too much noise from inside the house). Yesterday I could see stations all over 20m when operating outside on the X6100, but only a few of them inside on the IC-7300 (which should have better receive in general).
    • I don’t think this is because of bad coax, but it could be. I made some notes on my Mastodon account (that I need to write down somewhere else) about testing the IC-7300 with the EFHW and checking the noise floor.

Winlink Express and Icom IC-7300

Just like everyone else, I’m going to put down the settings that work for me, but they might not work for you. VARA was easier to get working with appropriate CAT control (changing frequency and keying PTT), but ARDOP was a pain. Maybe this will help someone else.

These settings are DIFFERENT than ones shown by SA7SKY here (at least, that’s where I found a copy). Looks like they were using Winlink Express The images below are from

With these settings, you cannot have flrig running at the same time, because flrig and Winlink are trying to use the same COM port. I’m still working on a solution to this.

Above, note that “Enable RTS” and “Enable DTR” are checked (differs from SA7SKY). Baud is set to match my IC-7300.

Below, the ARDOP_Win_Virtual_TNC window opens when you start the ARDOP session, but it is usually minimized by default.My settings above match SA7SKY.Above, “Use Radio’s Internal Sound Card” is checked (you’ll get an “are you sure” popup if you choose the Icom 7300 and don’t check this box), SA7SKY does not have it checked.

Ham Radio Infrastructure Projects

There are probably more complete and better lists out there, but maybe I can list some off the top of my head.

  • APRS digipeater/iGate
  • Winlink gateway
  • WSPR beacon
  • JS8Call forwarder
    • or is this just everyone running the program?
  • CW Skimmer for Reverse Beacon Network
  • VHF/UHF repeater
    • and repeater network
  • TARPN/AREDN/Broadband Hamnet node
    • I list these together because it seems to depend on the year who is gaining and who is losing ground. Maybe we need to make them interoperable?

These are mainly hardware solutions to get signals and data farther, faster, and in and out of the Internet. Ideas on the software side might be:

  • Standardized packet or digital queries to get information
    • news
    • weather (see Winlink)
    • equipment setup help (???, although I’ve seen talk of Wikipedia access)
    • disaster support (where to get food, water, shelter, etc. after a disaster in the area, although perhaps this fits broadcast best if local broadcast hasn’t been effected)
    • APRS-style location information, without the overhead of APRS
      • E.g., what if I could query a local computer using touch tones to get local information?

What are some other ways to contribute the “infrastructure” of ham radio, to help it remain resilient (and stay fun)?


WSJT-X Setup on macOS

I may add to these notes, but a key one was to make sure to give WSJT-X access to the microphone, even when using a USB cable to control the rig. Thanks to K3DCW for the tip.

I presume that you have a checkmark in the box labeled “PortAudio” next to the USB Audio CODEC device selectors. If so, then the only other thing that I can think of is that you haven’t given macOS permission to access your “microphone.” Many of these programs see/treat that USB Audio CODEC as a microphone input and failing to give it access to your “microphone” will cause it to not hear a thing. Go to the Security & Privacy pane and make sure that Fldigi has access to the microphone.

I also have iShowU Audio Capture installed (for OBS screen recording), which I thought might have been the problem. Here are my current working audio settings (Audio Midi Setup).

The rest of the settings described here work out well for connecting the IC-7300 and my MacBook Pro.

To get the gain right in the software, I used the RF Gain knob on the IC-7300. There is a way to adjust this in the settings but I can’t find it at the moment. It’s the ACC/USB AF Output Level setting under MENU>SET>Connectors (make sure you scroll up and down the menu items as needed). All suggestions are to get the bar in WSJT or JTDX to about 30 dB.

List of #APRS Projects (and interesting alternatives)

I’ve expanded my search beyond what I introduced in APRS tracker/viewer build concept. Here I will attempt to organize projects some other folks have put together.

This has been sitting in draft mode for several weeks, but I’m pushing it out now and hoping to add more as I learn.

Bulk Convert your Dire Wolf logs to GPX

Dire Wolf won’t let you save both a daily and single log file of packets received, but if you log daily with LOGDIR, you can write a script that bundles up all the log files and then produces a GPX file of the output. This is useful if you want an idea of the area your digipeater or iGate is covering without trusting to aprs.fi or aprsdirect.com, which only provide the actual path taken and drop duplicate iGated packets.

Simple script for Linux:

# merge log files
sed 1d *.log > log_merged.csv
# convert to gpx
log2gpx log_merged.csv > log_merged.gpx

(sed tip from Linux.com means you don’t need Python or similar)

Make it executable:

chmod +x merge_and_gpx.sh

Run or schedule in cron: