Mike is joined by Lou N2TU to talk about your HF station and getting all you can from it, including – starting with the chair! Lou is a very well known DXer and has also been on many DXpeditions.
An edited version of this webinar’s full transcript has been provided below for your convenience.
Mike VA3MW — Hey, good afternoon and thank you for joining us for the QSO Today Expo for September 2022. I’m happy to have Lou N2TU join us for this episode. I’ve wanted Lou for years to talk about some of the things he does with this station. He does a lot of things with the station. If you’ve ever talked to Lou at one of our Hamfests, he’s always demonstrating what we call the everyman station. Well, I don’t think the everyman station that we show there is every man’s station, and everybody can configure it the way they like. Lou’s got a couple of cool features we’re just going to touch on, because there’s so many ways to go with this. Anyway, Lou, welcome. How are you?
Lou N2TU — Oh, we’re doing well. Thanks for inviting me, Mike. It’s good to finally be here.
Mike — It’s good to finally be here. Tell me a bit, when did you get your ticket, what year?
Lou — Oh, 1962. 50 years ago.
Mike — ’62.
Lou — Is that 50?
Mike — No, it’s 40.
Lou — More like 60.
Mike — Yeah, because I’m 48 years and I know 50 is coming up. First HF Radio?
Lou — ICO 720.
Mike — No way. I had a 753, but it was my second one.
Lou — Yeah, that was one of the worst radios out. Boy, that thing would-
Mike — Drift all over.
Lou — It would drift all over, up and down the band.
Mike — If you had a QSO with somebody else, you might have drifted in sync, if you had the same radio. Yeah, they were the ICO… Mine was a tri-bander, 80,40,20.
Lou — 80,40,20.
Mike — You couldn’t select the side band.
Lou — Yeah. The one I had was just the CW rig. Then we got the 730 modulator, which I thought, I mean, by that time it was like, wow, I’m on AM now, this is great. Then I found everybody was sideband. I said, “Uh-oh, we’re in trouble.”
Mike — You were what, 12 at the time?
Lou — Yeah. 12, 13.
Mike — One thing I’m starting, well, I’ve been pushing this for years by the way. You’re watching this, you look over there on the shelf and there’s stuff that’s got dust on it and you haven’t touched it. Give it to somebody. You’re not going to get what it’s worth. Just get it on the air somehow, let them go play with it. Let them destroy it. Let them learn from it. I’m going to stress that. I keep stressing it, so please, and your wife will be happy.
Lou — Well, that’s a very good point. On Wednesdays, we go to a Carolina DX Association meeting, and a lot of times guys bring stuff they’re not using, they just throw it on the table and say, “Who wants it? Take it and have fun with it.” I have an old Drake low pass filter sitting right over here that I picked up about two weeks ago, free because we swap things around and keep each other busy.
Mike — We’re going to talk a little bit about operating, a little bit of contesting. Lou, if you want to bring up your first picture. Then I’ll share that screen. Lou wanted to talk about the thing where your butt goes.
Lou — As Mike knows, and some of you may know that I also do some DX-peditions and I do some contesting when I get around to it. The one thing I learned a long time ago is you’re not going to make a QSO rate if your butt is not in the chair. I consider this my most important piece of ham radio gear. This keeps my butt here. If you notice down on the bottom, it even has a little vibrating pad for your back. Since I’ve gotten that, I can sit here for hours on end and keep the QSO rate going. Don’t think an office chair is going to do it, it’s not. One of these gaming chairs is probably one of my best investments.
Mike — Do you know what make and model that is? Because you actually have to go try it, so don’t buy this one, unless you can return it.
Lou — I think they call it a Blue Whale. I think that’s the name of it, the manufacturer anyway.
Mike — There’s a whole talk on ergonomics, which you do as well. I had told Lou, we were talking about this beforehand. I have a standup desk now when I contest, so I can now run on Sideband or CW, or Sideband actually mostly, standing on one foot because the other foot’s on the push to talk switch. I just flip back and forth. That in itself has been a fun exercise for keeping my lower back moving and my butt less sore.
Lou — It’s funny when you said that, we were out on Wake Island and one thing I told the guys is, “Yeah, you’re going to be working four hour shifts, but I want you after an hour or an hour and a half to stand up and move around.” We’re all of the age where deep vein thrombosis can be a factor. I told everybody before we got on the island, I said, “Look, I don’t want anybody getting sick out there or having a problem, so every hour get up, walk around, come back. Forget the QSO rate. We’ll make sure everybody’s healthy when we get back.” That’s a very good point, Mike.
Mike — Moving forward, there’s a couple of things we wanted to talk about. If you don’t know already the Flex radio infrastructure allows for far more, and no pun intended, Flexibility in allowing computer programs to work with the radio. You’ve probably seen my talks before about how the RS 232 port, its day is done, but we still use it. In older radios, or even some newer ones, you have one port and that’s like one single, we call it a peer-to-peer connection. One thing can listen to the radio easily to get frequency and band and mode and stuff. Flex went a whole other world with this about 2013 when it came out, and it’s been absolutely beautifully exploited and it’s allowed us to run computer programs and screen spaces now cheap and do different things. Lou, what’s the first thing you want to show us here?
Lou — Well, the first thing I want to show you is kind of what I’ve done with my station. Let me move it over and maximize it. Again, everything I can try to be ergonomic. I don’t want to have to get up and reach for anything. As Mike said, the best thing is you have everything right in front of you. If you look at what my setup is, basically off to the left here is SSDR, which everyone I guess is familiar with. Here’s my main screen. Normally the JTDX, WSJT or N1MM is set up there. Here’s Logger32. Here’s my rotator. Off to the right of that is my CW speed key for wind care. It’s the speed control. Rather than going into N1MM and changing the speed, I can do it manually there. Keys right here, so all I have to do is pick my hand up and do that. Mouse obviously, I’m right handed, is there. Antenna switch up to the left. All of that is controlled by the USB port, the pseudo USB port behind the Flex.
Mike — Meaning it automatically switches antennas for you?
Lou — Exactly. As soon as I switch bands and I have an antenna for that band, it’ll automatically switch for me. It’s a Ameritron RCS 12, works beautifully with the Flex. Down here you’ll see my Flexes. One of them was on, one of them was off. I never touched the radios. I never see the radios. I could care less where they are. Here’s my 12 volt power supply for it.
One thing I’ve done with the Flex and everything in the station is I’ve Alexafied the station. For instance, if I want to turn off my LP 100, which is right there, all I’ll say is, “Alexa turn off the LP.” Alexa just turned off my LP, or Alexa turned off my rotator, and Alexa just turned off my rotator. If I want Alexa to turn on my amplifiers, she’ll do that for me as well. I don’t touch power controls. Power controls are passe as the CAT ports are, I should say RS-232 is passe. We really don’t use them anymore.
What else can I say about my station? I have, by the way, I am, as Mike in the intro said, I am a DX-er. I chase DX. If it’s not on my wanted list, I don’t go for it. It’s just since I was a kid, I’ve always just chased DX. The contesting for me is just another way of getting DX. My station is set up primarily for DX. Yes, I have a microphone over here. I rarely use it. I’m a CW and digital operator. My life’s ambition is to work all countries on all modes on CW Sideband and also digital. My station is primarily set up only to chase DX. It’s not set up to rag chew, it’s not set up for PSK-31 or any of those others where you hit my brag list, it’s primarily a DX chasing station.
One other thing is I don’t mess with antennas. I’m not one of these antenna guys that like to play and clip and prune here and there. I have a TH-11, as you can see there. 40 meter rotatable dipole and a six meters short boom, six element antenna. I also have a 30 and 80 fan dipole, basically only to chase DX. I would not consider myself a big gun. I’m somewhere between a little pistol and a Howitzer, somewhere in the middle of that. I’m not a first day DX-er, I don’t usually call rare ones on the first day. I usually wait a couple of days.
That’s some advice I like to give to some of the guys that do not necessarily run power and are just breaking into DX. Don’t worry about these guys on these rare D expeditions. Most of the time they’re going to be there for a week and by the end of the first week or the end of the first couple of days, they’ll be looking for contacts. Don’t get excited if you don’t get in the first day. I am not a first day DX-er. I wait a couple of days and then I jump in.
As far as setting up for DX, I’ve kind of looked at, my mantra is if I’m going to set something up, it’s going to have to be a piece of quality gear. As some of you may remember, I used to be a Yaesu rep, and when I found out what a Flex can do, I swung over to Flex immediately right after the Palmyra expedition, and I’ve been with Flex ever since. There are things you can do with Flex that are just virtually impossible with other rigs. This is not a Flex commercial, but I got to tell you guys, I’ve used just about every rig out there and there’s nothing that compares with what Flex has. When you’re looking to set up to go DX, buy quality. Go for a quality antenna, go for a quality amplifier if you’re going to go that route and definitely go for a quality radio. I got to throw my 2 cents in for Flex.
Mike — Like you, I’ve tried a lot of radios, because I had a brief career in retail as well. The conversation I was having today with another ham, it was like, any radio you buy today new off the shelf all has pretty much the same performance specs. Some of them are better IMD. Some of them are certainly better in a sideman pile up or a CW pile up, and that’s where the extra money comes in. It doesn’t really matter what you get.
The game changer here is exactly what we’re going to show you, some of the things it can do is, the Lunos is cold, but the remote operating is now mainstream. Most of us don’t know anything about how to do it or how to do internet communication where that, unless you’re an old fart like me, you’ve never grown up and had to play with it and you’ve just expected it to work, especially let’s say if you’re under 50 type of thing. That’s why the Smartlink is a plug and play solution and it works really well.
You can really just turn it on, log in and you’re pretty much done. To olden days, we had to do the firewall, port forwards and DynDNS‘s and stuff. This is where they’re headed, this is why we’re doing this. The network communication is what’s taken it to the next level. I think nobody else does it like this.
Lou — No.
Mike — I’m saying that, by the way, as a ham operator. If I walked out the door and I was maybe working for another, like Yaesu or ICO, I might use their stuff, but I might be whining about it too internally. It’s like, we really need to do this.
Lou — Yeah, exactly. There are so many function.
Mike — All due respect to everybody.
Lou — Yeah, no, everybody makes a great radio. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business. It’s just the versatility that you have with the Flex radio that is just unbelievable. If you look off to that one screen, I don’t know if you have that one up now, Mike.
Mike — Here we go.
Lou — The Logger32.
Mike — There we go.
Lou — Okay, with Logger32, if you look down what the Logger32 is seeing right now, you’ll see it seeing that for instance, it just showed some Madagascar spot. Above that on the right hand side, you’ll see where it says N2TU-A.
Basically what I’m using is a program called SliceMaster, a free program written by Don K1DBO, that takes all of the information that’s being decoded by JTDX or WSJT and brings it over to my logging program. If I need any of these, like here’s Dominican Republic, if I needed that one, it would be highlighted and all I would have to do is go to JTDX and work it.
Let me just see if there’s any highlighted stations here. Yeah, I was just looking to see if there was anything that I needed on the band here. If you notice under Logger32, there’s a Pakistan station on 40 meters that I might need, but quite honestly, this time of day Pakistan’s not going to be open to-
Mike — Right, and you can look at the origin,. That was a Japanese station.
Lou — That was a Japanese station right there. The nice thing about the integration of SliceMaster, JTDX, and Logger32 is that I can sit here and basically close JTDX and never look at it the rest of the day. I also close SSDR and never look at it. All I do is look at my logging program. I don’t know any other radios that’ll do that.
Quick note. About two months ago there was a station portable, Georgia, not US Georgia, but Georgia over in the Baltic, I think it’s the Baltic states. He was on top of a mountain running CW on six mirrors. I had two JTDXs running, looking for rare ones on FT8. I also had a slice open. In Flex radios, you open slices, which is basically another receiver. I had that one working with CW Skimmer on the lower end of six meters. As I was working FT8 up six meters. I saw a very vague display come through and I swung over to my CW Skimmer and I saw it was four Lima stroke, delta, lima, whatever. I quickly moved over, worked him for a new one on six meters. I think, I’m not 100% positive, but I think I’m the only one in the US that worked him.
Now, the only way that could have happened is with this radio. Because I was looking at two instances of JTDX, plus one instance of CW Skimmer all off one radio. by the way, it also came over into my Logger32 as a needed country, so I knew when I went over there that CW Skimmer had decoded his call and all I had to do was go work him and I did. I mean, some of the stuff is just remarkable these days. I mean things back when I first started DX-ing, you would never have anticipated anything like this happening. This is just unbelievable what you can do with these radios.
Mike — In the early days, we were using DX, we were using packet clusters to share. In conscious like CQ or watt, especially Sideband, it would be easy for the RF packet cluster to get 45 minutes behind and so you’d miss spots. The advent of the internet, we moved everybody over to that.
Lou talked about SliceMaster. One of the things built into SliceMaster is actually its own DX cluster server. That’s what he’s done here is he’s got it connected to that, and that’s why you’ll see the origin over on the right hand side shows N2TU-A, which means it’s on slice A. If he had another receiver or slice opened on, oh, I don’t know, FT4 on six meters or something and it showed up, it would be a slash B type of thing.
Lou — Yeah, I can move over SliceMaster into that screen and you can take a look at it. If you notice, it will launch, I have a 6600 right now hooked up to it. It’ll launch four different slices depending upon what I want to do with it. Either CW Skimmer, DM780, WSJT, JTDX, and there’s another one FL Digi. All of these have been preloaded and all I’d have to do is hit this and say, launch that by mode, let’s say CW Skimmer by mode CW, it would automatically come up. You do not have to do any configurations within CW Skimmer. You don’t have to do any configurations within JTDX. SliceMaster does all of that for you automatically. It’s a fantastic program written by Don K1DBO. I’m sorry.
Mike — Yeah, I was going to say show the cluster server there, which is a Telnet one, right? Aggregation server.
Lou — Aggregation server. If you notice here where it says Telnet, I hope everyone, let me see if I can open it up.
Mike — Yeah, you’re there more.
Lou — You’re over here where it says Telnet, it says enable aggregation server. Basically what that does is it aggregates everything that it’s listening to.
For instance, I have four slices on this radio, I can be listened to three slices of JTDX, one slice of CW Skimmer and it aggregates that and all sends it over to Telnet port 7320.
Mike — Let’s stop there before you close that. Then you could actually turn on your spot sources in the top. Now Lou’s gone, there’s many ways to do this. He could have it connect to v seven Charlie Charlie, and that would be aggregated into the Telnet aggregation server. Your logging program would only have to connect to one server. Logger32 could do many, but some of them can’t carry that.
Lou — Yep. No, that’s a very good point, Mike. What we’re doing is we’re aggregating the spots that I am seeing locally by this Telnet. This is aggregating everything that I see locally for what I have up on JTDX and CW Skimmer. It’s aggregating that with spots coming over from the internet. You can have worldwide spots coming in to what you can actually hear with your radio.
What makes that very significant is when you’re doing contesting. A lot of times you will get tons of spots coming through, filling up your band map with things that other people are hearing that you may not necessarily hear. By using this type of affair, where you aggregate all of the spots locally as well as globally, you can bring them over to N1MM and go down the list and see what you’re actually hearing and work them instead of going chasing something you may not be able to hear. Which is a extremely powerful thing in N1MM and the rest of these programs that we’ve run with the Flex.
Mike — My DX cluster, I’ve got it limited to only show spots that originate from zones two, four and five, which is essentially east of the Mississippi, North America. All cluster servers have the ability to add filters to say, you could list all the states you want to hear them from. It depends how tight you want to get.
Lou — Yeah, everybody’s got preferences.A lot of guys do exactly what you just said. I kind of keep mine wide open because the way propagation moves and gray line moves, I like to hear what the guys are hearing. Because sooner or later, I’m going to hear them, so I kind of keep it up. I use my brain kind of to do my own sorting. One thing we were saying before about buying quality. You notice not everything in my shack here, maybe I didn’t show you yet, but not everything in my shack is Flex. I would like it to be Flex, but at this point I’m not there. Let me open up something here. As you can see, I have a PGXL, but to the left of it, I also have an Elecraft KPA1500. You ask yourself, well why would you have two amplifiers that can basically do 1500 watts? If you’re going to be chasing DX and you’re going to be serious about chasing DX, try and duplicate the most important things in your shack.
I consider the most important things in my shack my rigs, I have two of them, and also my amplifiers, I have two. I also have an HF auto, but I can bypass my HF auto. Anything that I consider is essential for chasing DX, I normally have two of. I wish I could say everything, I wish I had two PGXLs, but that’s another story. Maybe I’ll do that somewhere down the line, but I also have-
Mike — You don’t have a Tuner Genius yet, do you?
Lou — No, because I’ve kind of been waiting for the customers to get fed, so to speak. I wanted to make sure the customers had theirs before I jump. I personally do not need one on VHF on six meters. Now that six meters is starting to close, I’m going to go back to HF and my HF auto does a great job, but not too good on 40. I’m waiting for my PGXL to take its place. Like I said, buy quality. Quality antennas, quality coax, a quality rotator.
Mike — Coax has a shelf life, correct?
Lou — Yes, it does. Matter of fact, we moved here in 2005 from a very urban environment, very tight constraints on what antennas I could put up. We moved in here in 2005 and I replaced all my coax about two years ago. I would recommend 10 years replacing your coax, even though it says burial grade, et cetera. I would recommend every 10 years to change your coax. Take it from personal experience. If you’re going to buy a rotator, don’t buy the bare minimum.
Buy the maximum you can fit in your tower or fit wherever. I’ve replaced too many lower grade and I won’t tell you the manufacturer of rotators in my life. I don’t want to do it again, so I bought the biggest and the heaviest one I could fit in my tower. Always try and go to the high end. You’ll never regret going to the high end.
Mike — Your coax thing was a great point. I wasn’t happy couple years ago with my 80 meter performance and it’s just an inverted V, but it’s at 90 feet in a tree, so it’s not bad. It’s above average.
Lou — That’s good.
Mike — You just know this should be better. You get that feeling. Come summertime, I drop it down and I take the ballon apart and it’s dry. There’s no corrosion. There’s no nothing. The feed line was some RG8. Nobody’s bought RG8, big thick RG8 in 100 years and it’s like always been the feed line through four moves. It’s been on the 80 meter antenna. I trashed it. I went out and bought, thanks to Bob Morton from Maple Leaf Communications, I called Bob. He’s a Canadian guy and big VHF-er, and he goes, and it’s about a 90 foot run, maybe 80 feet. He said, “Just run LMR 240. A, it’s lighter, it’ll handle the power, it’s cheaper.” I swapped it all out with LMR 240 and honest to god, night and day difference.
Lou — It’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean a lot of people think that just because they’re hearing, it’s okay. It’s not.
Mike — Yeah, I don’t think I was getting full power to the antenna.
Lou — A quick side story, one day I was sitting, this was back when I was up on Long Island. I was sitting there and I was on the air and all of a sudden one of my feet started getting wet. I couldn’t figure out where the heck that water was coming from.
Mike — I know where this is going.
Lou — You know. One of the coax had cracked and water was getting in about 50, 70 feet away and was actually weeping all the way down through the outer part of the coax through the shield and coming out of the coax by the radio and dripping down by my foot.
Mike — I have a test question for the listeners. Lou, don’t answer. You can pause 10 seconds. What do you think the SWR looked like on that piece of coax? Think about it before you answer. Lou, answer?
Lou — It was pretty darn good.
Mike — Flying across the band.
Lou — It was good. Oh yeah.
Mike — Actually that was a good point. On this 80 meter antenna, so I had swapped it and I’m pretty happy with performance. Put the new coax in and the bandwidth was narrower, and that’s what you want to see.
Lou — Exactly. Yep.
Mike — A lot across the band, so is my dummy load, as we used to say.
Lou — For those that are getting involved with DX-ing, don’t worry too much about SWR. I mean, yes, it’s important, you should try and keep it as low as possible. From a personal aspect, I never was able to put up a 160 antenna. We just never had the room where I lived. I still don’t have the room where I live here, so I have an 80 meter Windom that I was using. I said, wonder if that thing will ever load up on 160? I tried it and sure enough it loaded up, but the bandwidth was probably around five KCS wide where-
Mike — Sideband conversation there.
Lou — I said, well let me try it. I think I’m up to 130 countries now on 60 with that 80 meter Windom. That by the way, one end of it is at eight feet above the ground, the other end’s about 30 feet. Don’t just say it’s not going to work, give it a try. It may work, especially with DX stations because they’re trying to hear you, especially on 160 people go out of their way to hear the weak stations. I actually could not believe what happened with that antenna. Don’t give up on anything you have and don’t don’t be constrained by your environment. You can get out, especially with the digital modes they have right now.
Mike — I have two things I want to say on that. As you know, I’ve taken up 10 gig just for something to do. You had told me last year that I’d be able to do 400 kilometers direct line of sight, from ground to ground on 10 gig in the morning. I called you nuts. Not only that, we had an FM QSO doing it.
Lou — Amazing. Isn’t it?
Mike — Just subducting the troposcatter. That this is the power of ham radio, right? We get to try things that work that aren’t supposed to work.
Lou — Sure Just like China was on 10 meters the other morning, long path. I mean, guys.
Mike — I missed that.
Lou — Yeah. It’s just like we never turn out antenna’s long path to Asia on 10 meters in the morning. I did one day just by accident and I worked a BG on CW. With DX-ing, with ham radio, we’re amateurs, we’re experimenters, we’re triers, we’re doers. When you think about all of the technologies that ham radio operators have assimilated through the years, it’s remarkable. I mean, electronics, building, fabricating, propagation studies, you name it. I mean, we are very versatile people and sometimes we forget that. Let’s not ever forget that. We’re good. We are good.
Mike — We’re all good. What else you got to show us?
Lou — One thing I was going to say, and this has nothing to do with the radios itself, but if you’re going to start doing DX-ing, if you’re going to start going after DXCCs and challenge awards and trying to get up there in standings, make sure you get on Logbook of the World. I mean, Logbook of the World is the way most of the DX is going right now. People are hesitant because they say it’s very difficult. It really is not difficult. There’s a step by step procedure on the Logbook of the World portion of the ARRL website. It’s really easy to get on once you get on.
Hey Mike, let me just try something here over on this screen. Under log book 32, I got utilities. Here’s Logbook, Logbook of the World, Update and download. Here’s something that was written by Nick Ellison. Let’s see if his program loads. I’m going to download. Sending the information. Eight records are showing up. Okay. If I go over here, I’m opening it up on another screen right now, the download I just did. Okay, it’s going to come back here. Going to start now. Okay. I just got eight QSOs confirmed on Logbook of the World in that quick, just in that quick setup.
A buddy of mine also wrote a thing called Challenge Check, where if I go and I look at what I just downloaded, let me move that over and minimize this. You can see who I just downloaded. Belgium, Switzerland on six, Some guy in the US, another guy in the US and bunch of Venezuelan stations. That’s how mechanized this Logbook of the World is. It’s very simple to use. Almost every logging program can do exactly what I just showed you and you’d be surprised how quick you get the responses back.
Mike — I did. I use Ham Radio Deluxe, I always have. I’ve told the story a couple times. I spent about four winters ago and I tried every log book and I bought most of them too, just to make sure. I always like supporting the programmers. It’s a labor of love. They don’t make any money on it really. It doesn’t put their kids through college. I went back to Ham Radio Deluxe, but it was only because the workflow worked for me. It doesn’t matter we use this or N3FJB, or et cetera. Whatever works for you. Don’t ever just ask, “Hey, what’s the best one to use?” Because it’s like asking what car to buy.
Lou — Yeah, exactly. You got it.
Mike — It’s be easy to migrate your log book from one log book program to another thank you to ADIF format. You just export it, you keep the file, you go into the new log book, you import it and you’re done. I’ve never used Logger 32. I must have missed it, but I’m going to go play with it because there’s some cool features here I like.
Lou — Yeah, on the PC here I got Ham Radio Deluxe and I also have DX for Windows, which I’ve had since-
Mike — Oh, God, I haven’t used that in forever.
Lou — What I do is I take my Logger32 entire log book and I import it into both of those, because just in case Logger32 ever goes away, I’ll have my latest log in my other programs. Another thing I think we should caution everybody on, if you got something going, you got a log book going back it up somewhere.
Mike — Back it up. I was just. You made me laugh because it’s got to be the only file that I own that I have nine copies of it in eight different places, including the cloud or whatever, because it’s the only thing I can’t recreate.
Lou — Sometimes when you want to go find it, you have no idea where you stored the last one.
Mike — I tripped over one actually the other day. It was on an old USB key that I just stuck it on. How I found it was I was loading a logbook onto GridTracker, which also does Logbook of the World and can be a very good logging program as well. I’m really loving the roster. Sebastian went through that with us. We weren’t really sure what we’re going to talk about. This is just a fireside chat with Lou, but we turned into some of the histories, had some of the things he’s learned in life. You don’t have to get carried away. You just have to be a little smart. We have wonderful people as references that if somebody tells you to do something, you might want to look them up and QRZ. I always look at people and say, some guy who’s providing all this stuff, he’s only been looked up in QRZ 73 times. That’s sort of an indication of how, at least on HF, how popular maybe. Not totally, but it’s just part of a reference. Lou, anything else you want to touch on? We’re just going to wrap this up shortly.
Lou — It’s good that you mention that, because yesterday I was on the phone with one of the guys in the Carolina DX group that’s got some problems with Hand Radio Deluxe, getting it to work with Flex and getting it to work with his other radios. I was on with him for probably about an hour and a half getting everything up and running for him. Mike, myself and a lot of the guys that have been around our time. Yes, it’s valuable. Boy, I’ll tell you, if somebody needs a hand, we all chip in and do what we can to support everyone.
If you hear me on the next DX-pedition, send money. No, just kidding. What got us into this whole talk here was Mike had asked me to come on to talk about RTTY because I think the Flex has got the best RTTY machine around. I need one more country to have them all worked on RTTY. I need Scarborough Reef, which I probably won’t see in my lifetime on RTTY. I’ve done RTTY since the-
Mike — Since mechanical days.
Lou — Yeah. Oh yeah. I had model 15, model 13, model 33, 45, 41s. You name it.
Mike — If you don’t know what those are, Google them.
Lou — Yeah. Teletype. Just go to teletype and you’ll see the old stuff. I have never had a machine that will function like the Flex does. It gives you two rails. You look at the marking space and if you line up a ridi signal on that marking space, you are decoding. There’s no garbling, there’s nothing. It is unbelievable RTTY machine. If you ever get a chance on an RTTY contest, which there’s one coming up, the big one is coming up the end of September. Just get on, You’re going to get quite a few countries just in one sitting. It’s quite a contest.
Mike — RTTY will destroy the front end of a radio, not permanently, but the ability to be able to hear weak besides loud.
Lou — It’s remarkable.
Mike — Example was a number of years ago I was, was in probably one of the RTTY contests and I’m not far from, as the crow flies from K3LR. Great station. They’re probably 300 miles as the crow flies, and on 80 meters that’s next door. I’m copying, I just worked TM and I dialed down, I don’t know, 200 hertz, 500 hertz, and I could see another signal on the waterfall. His signal was going like this and then there was this one halfway up the waterfall. I’m never going to be able to copy that. I line up the two lines and it might have been one, no it was 80, and it was Chile on RTTY. I needed the country too. Perfect flawless print. If I’d done that on a TS 480, as an example, forget it wouldn’t have decoded. That’s the difference between direct sampling radios and super hats and how AGC controls work in a short story.
Lou — Look at the SSE that I have up there. I’m going to switch over from digital upper now and I’m just going to put this guy on RTTY. There’s no RTTY signals around there now, but I’m going to do it anyway. Okay. I’m going to open this up a little bit and you’ll see the two rails, the marking space rails right here and right here. If you notice I have it on 400 hertz, I’m going to move it down to 250, which makes this narrow.
Mike — If we were smart, I’d have gone on and called you.
Lou — Yeah, exactly. What’s nice about it is you can make that your filter anything you want. I’m opening up the filter now really wide. It’s up to like two KCs now. If somebody moves up next to you, all you got to do is take your filter and go like this and they’re gone. It’s a brick wall filter. Where somebody moves down below, you just go like that and you don’t hear anybody that’s down there. It is truly amazing what this rig can do on RTTY, and also on CW. It’s amazing. That’s kind of where, was going to be my introduction, Mike.
Mike — I think we’ll wrap it up with that. We haven’t even talked about tracking notch filters where you could put a firewall on each side of this signal if you wanted to.
Lou — Exactly. Yeah.
Mike — I say that to net controllers, by the way. If you’re a net controller on 40 meters, you could do a tracking notch filter on either side of your signal, of your sideband signal, and it gives you the extra layer of signal rejection. I’m going to get in trouble for this, but I do have a permanent deep notch tracking notch filter on 40 meters on 7200. because every time I dial by, I don’t hear anything. It’s great.
Lou — I don’t know if we’d run out of tracking notch filters on 80 meters, but I’m sure we’d push it to the limit.
Mike — And a tracking notch filter, unlike any other notch filter, stays on the frequency you put it on. Whereas in any other radio, if you go to Nacho to heterodyne or something, the minute you move the dial, the notch moves with you and that’s a game changer.
Lou — Sure is.
Mike — Anyway, so I like your transmit profile is, this your mic profile, RTTY best. That’s the one you’re happy with?
Lou — Best, Yeah. That’s the one I’m happy with. Exactly. You can change your profile any way you want down there. I probably got others in there too. Yeah, I have a default and a best. Yep.
Mike — Anyway. Well, Lou, I wanted to thank you. Can people reach out to you?
Lou — Oh sure. Definitely. Lou, or I’m sorry, N2TU@ARRL.net is the easiest one.
Mike — It’s on your QRZ page, I assume.
Lou — Yeah, it sure is. Yep. You can go on my QRZ or N2TU@yahoo, anything like that. It’ll get to me. Hey. Thank you Mike for inviting me. It was fun. Thank you.
Mike — I’m glad you were able to make it. I’ve been recording this through a thunderstorm, so I was just waiting for the internet to go out. Lou, thanks again. Always a great pleasure. Hopefully someday we get to have another dinner eyeball three hour conversation about we have no idea where the time went. They’re always fun. We’ll say everybody, thanks for listening for the QSO Today Expo 73.
Lou — 73 guys, take care. Bye.