Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's nice when a plan comes together

My contest screen
Ham radio is very diverse and has something that seems to click with each radio operator. One of my "clicks" is contesting and I also add to it the flavor of QRP (another one of my clicks). I enjoy using my PC in conjunction with ham radio and when it comes to contesting a PC is almost a must have. The program I use for contesting is N1MM logger. It 's a great program and works very well, has great support and I'm not sure of any contests that it does not support. Over time I have added some programs to my contest repertoire. I found that controlling N1MM got me used to using my mouse and that is the way to go when it comes to contesting. I then came across N4PY's rig control program. It's another way to incorporate my mouse to allow me control of my K3 during contests. This program is very well supported and the times I have emailed questions and got a reply within 1/2  hour!! This program will allow you to control most if not all functions of your radio with the click of a mouse. In a contest this is great because you are not going from mouse (N1MM logger) and back to the radio. For me it's more of a smooth type of operation using the mouse.  Hold on....my contest hangup gets weirder.....I have a keyboard tray that supports my keyboard,
Begali Contour key and why not VFO control as well!!!  Now comes the Flexcontrol VFO knob. This is a USB device that allows  you to tune your rig (and more) from where you ask.....well the keyboard tray of VSP manager to the mix. This great little program (that is free to hams) allows all the programs to live happily with each other.
FlexControl knob
coarse!  N4PY's programs allows you to interface the Flexcontrol with your rig through his program. I did say the Flexcontrol did more than just tune, it has 4 memory buttons that can be programed through N4PY's program to preform often used radio functions.  Also the VFO knob can go from fine tune to three other tuning choices by just clicking the knob! To do  this the radio, Flexcontrol knob and N1MM all have to be happy coexisting with each other. To do this  I added
You all know how it is when you have had a nice dinner and there is still room for a nice desert......well my nice dinner on my keyboard tray was the Flexcontrol knob, Begali Contour key and the mouse....there is still room for one more item! I added the K1EL USBwinkey which I assembled myself.  The N1MM contest program is able to incorporate the Winkeyer in it's program, so when I program the CW messages into the winkeyer they will be used by N1MM when I mouse click on the N1MM macro button. This is great because the Winkeyer is very easy to program and you can save various keying programs into individual files. This way I will have a file for each CW contest and just a mouse click to program N1MM for each CW contest.  If all files are stored on my PC and the Winkeyer is set up via the PC and CW is set through N1MM logger then why the heck does the Winkeyer have to be on the tray!!! Well Winkeyer has a nice variable pot control that can vary the CW on the fly. This way for op's who are sending slower or faster CW you can be varied  by a simple turn of the Winkeyer knob.
Keyboard tray setup
Finally there are those out there that subscribe to the KISS theory.....Keep it simple stupid......and this is true when you introduce other factors with ham radio. As for me trying and sometime failing is well worth it when in time all comes together and works well.

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