Today KK1W, N1FJ, and myself activated Berlin Mountain, W2/EH-001. Jim and Frandy did CW and I figured I’d do JT9 to do something different. I set everything up, Jim spotted me, and I had my first QSO with M0TAZ on my second CQ. I thought I was off to a great start, but then on subsequent CQs I saw responses coming in on the waterfall but wasn’t getting any decodes. It took me about fifteen minutes of calling CQ to realize, “Hey, I think my clock my be off.” Sure enough, the clock on my netbook managed to gain three seconds overnight while the laptop was off. I’m thinking to myself, “now this is an easy fix.” I pull up a UTC clock on my phone and crack open Windows 10’s date and time settings. “Hmmm…” Windows 10 no longer lets you set the seconds on the clock. I fire up the hotspot on my phone (I’m lucky I had enough service to do so) and managed to get Windows to sync with time.nist.gov. Ahhh, everything’s synced up, and I’m getting decodes. Life is good. Except now, I ran into a new problem. This netbook (about 8 or so years old, 1.6 GHz Atom, 2 GB RAM) struggles decoding signals on a busy band (and my how busy and open to EU 20 was today). It was still decoding up to 10 seconds into the tx cycle! Luckily, JT9 is resilient enough to still be decoded even if you get a late start on your tx cycle. Now we’re cooking. I make it through 7 QSOs and as I’m sending my 73 on the 7th, the radio shuts off. I managed to kill my 6.6 Ah LiFePO4. I wasn’t expecting JT to be way more draining than SSB, but with a 100% duty cycle 50% of the time (so does that average to 50%?), it makes sense. Luckily, KK1W had a spare LiPO kicking around, so I cut back the power from 50 W to 25W and managed to make 3 more QSOs on 40 (I think at least two were chasers!).
I ended the afternoon with 10 QSOs and quite a few lessons learned:
- My netbook’s CMOS has some really bad time time management. If I continue to use it, I need to figure out a way to sync time from the summit.
- Microsoft decided that we have no reason to set seconds manually any more in Windows 10.
- I need a new netbook that can better decode on busy bands. This thing is great for browsing but it has some issues on busy bands. Yeah it’s great on power, but Intel most likely threw away some instructions that would have helped decodes on these early Atoms.
- I need to do some battery drain measuring to figure out the optimal tx power for my Ft-100D and my battery for the higher duty cycle of JT9 vs SSB.
All in all, I’d call the activation a success. I got to play with a new mode and get some chasers excited. I also learned a few things about portable JT mode operations. My question to everyone is this: Has there been a JT mode SOTA activation before, or am I the first?
Thanks for reading!
73 de Nick K1MAZ