Year: 2018

FT8 on 144 MHz

FT8 has taken the HF bands by storm, a bit like PSK did in the early 2000s. These days it seems the mode of choice for DX stations, allowing them to make a number of QSO is a short duration. If you haven’t checked out FT8 then I would suggest you head over to Joe Taylor website and have a look at some of the weak signal propagation modes available.

Connecting my Icom 7100 to Ham Radio Deluxe, and then WSJT-X to “Ham Radio Delux” works just fine for me. It should be possible to connect WSJT directly to the Icom radio, but a lot will depend on your operating preferences.


The agreed dial frequency is 144.174 USB and you will see activity most of the time, probably more in the evenings and weekends


Its quite common to see Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in a few hrs of monitoring under flat conditions.

50 MHz is also popular and works well under short sporadic E opening.


I recently received back my Expert 1.3K-FA linear back from its holiday in Italy. I noticed some months ago that it would sometimes fail to start and require repeated presses of the power button. After a short holiday in Italy, the manufacturer replaced two relays, and I thought WPX RTTY was a good baptism of fire.

Apparently, these are the faulty items, now replaced under warranty. Linear was working flawlessly and allowed me to complete 218 QSO on 7 MHz.

Using the doublet antenna, I wasn’t able to find much DX, but using the club call MX0SNB did provide some interest on the bands.



Even after some prolonged CQ runs the liner was able to deliver 400w RTTY and remained under 50 C

Interesting to see the VSWR at 1.01 and the temperature at 50C.

Bands seemed busy, I opted to only operate on 7 MHz and so conditions provided mostly contacts to EU. I was able to work into the USA, and I did hear China and Indonesia although was unable to work them.

I put together this map showing QSO mostly over the EU.

I managed to work 45 countries, with the best DX being Peru.

Always nice to see the bands busy, and RTTY has never been so popular.

Multi Mode Digital Voice Modem with HAT

Let’s start with the name, MMDVM (Multi-Mode Digital Voice Modem) with HAT(Hardware Attached on Top)

The HAT has been designed by Flo DF2ET and Mathis DB9MAT and is compatible with the Raspberry PI or PI W Zero. The board will support MMDVM so that’s DSTAR, DMR, P25 and Fusion using the excellent software by Jonathan G4KLX.

The Raspberry Pi zero W (WiFi)

The board that brings together the UHF module, the STM32F103 CPU that is plugged directly onto the smallest Raspberry Pi, the Pi Zero W. The hotspot can be configured on the dashboard to operate on any or all digital modes and to operate on the UHF frequency of your choice.

I have mine setup on to provide a digital access point on 435 MHz, but your allocated frequency will vary by local usage and regulations. It has around 10mW of power, so ample to provide access all around the house using a handy.

A close look at the MMDVM_HS Pi Hat

The screen can be anything of your choice, I opted for a small OLED screen but in hindsight, it should have been a little bigger as one’s eyes get older!

Blue OLED Screen

Craig W1MSG has produced some excellent video on setting up your hotspot and on setting up your DSTAR radio.

The project and parts are detailed on Github

Support is available in or Facebook 

Who is behind PI-Star

Here you can see both the DMR and DSTAR radio screen.
















Thanks to George M1GEO for help setting and configuring the access point, and John M0UKD for running over some of the local settings.

Receiving HF Weather Fax

If you have spent time listening to HF you may have noticed the distinctive sound of HF Fax, something I thought had disappeared 20 years ago.

FAX seems like a very old technology now, although before the days of email the FAX machine was the only way to send near real-time images between people. HF Fax uses the same principle, but instead of squirting the tones down a phone line we modulate them onto an HF carrier.

It’s still very slow, but if you are on a yacht in the middle of the Atlantic its a very low-cost alternative to using a Sat phone and data. The charts are still transmitted from a number of locations around the world, using very high power 5 to 20 KW HF stations, so reception is easy even with a modest antenna.

How to identify Wefax on the HF bands 

The history of Radiofax

Worldwide Marine Radio facsimile broadcast Schedules

You can use one of the online KiwiSDR to display the maps, this allows you to select the FAX overlay option in the top right-hand box, then region and download the image.

FLdigi can also be used to display the images on your screen. Using the schedule of transmissions tune your HF radio to 4608.1 KHz USB and set up FLdigi to your sound card. You will need to set the OP Mode to WEFAX then WEFAX-IOC576,

If you miss the start of a transmission don’t worry, just leave the receiver and program running and it will sync and start decoding on the next image. The transmission schedule is quite extensive, so you never have to wait long to resolve an image.

Here is an example from 4608 KHz decoded at 12:58 Hrs on 1/1/18

The transmitted images change based on a schedule, one typical example is included below.


TIME   Chart                                  Valid   I.O.C.
03:41  MSLP ANALYSIS FOR 00:00                00:00    288
04:31  500 HPA CONTOUR/TT (1000/500HPA) 
       ANALYSIS FOR 00:00                     00:00    288
04:40  MSLP 24-HOUR FORECAST (VT 00:00)       00:00    288
08:06  MSLP 48-HOUR FORECAST (DT 00:00)       00:00    288
08:12  MSLP 72-HOUR FORECAST (DT 00:00)       00:00    576
09:29  SEA/SWELL ANALYSIS FOR 00:00           00:00    288
09:35  SEA/SWELL 24-HOUR FORECAST             00:00    288
09:41  MSLP ANALYSIS FOR  06:00               06:00    288
10:00  500 HPA CONTOUR/TT (1000/500HPA)
       T+24 FORECAST                          00:00    288
10:10  SEA/SWELL 48-HOUR FORECAST             00:00    288
10:31  NORTH ATLANTIC INFERENCE               00:00    576
10:42  MSLP 24-HOUR FORECAST (VT 06:00)       06:00    288
14:12  UK SEA TEMPERATURE ANALYSIS            00:00    288
15:41  MSLP ANALYSIS FOR  12:00               12:00    288
16:02  NORTH ATLANTIC SEA ICE CHART           00:00    576
16:22  SCHEDULE: MARINE PRODUCTS              05:00    576
16:30  GENERAL NOTICES (if any)                        576
16:41  MSLP 24-HOUR FORECAST T+24 (VT 12:00)  12:00    288
17:08  500 HPA CONTOUR/TT (1000/500HPA)
       ANALYSIS FOR 12:00                     12:00    288
20:12  SEA/SWELL  ANALYSIS FOR 12:00          12:00    288
20:18  SEA/SWELL 24-HOUR FORECAST             12:00    288
21:41  MSLP ANALYSIS FOR  18:00               18:00    288
21:52  SEA/SWELL 48-HOUR FORECAST             12:00    288
22:22  MSLP 48-HOUR FORECAST (DT 12:00)       12:00    288
22:30  MSLP 72-HOUR FORECAST (DT 12:00)       12:00    288
22:41  MSLP 24-HOUR FORECAST (VT 18:00)       18:00    288
23:33  MSLP 96-HOUR FORECAST (DT 12:00)       12:00    288
23:40  MSLP 120-HOUR FORECAST(DT 12:00)       12:00    288
© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ