Monday, January 25, 2016

Virtual ham radio...sounds interesting!

For the past few weeks I have been up and down the bands in the evening hours looking for some CW activity and with the current conditions signals have been few and fare between. This has forced me to get a firm handle on the digi modes and to be more specific JT-65 and JT-9. As the saying goes "if you don't use it you loose it" and this is my concern due to the lack of CW activity I have been involved in lately, I have worked to dare hard getting my CW speed up to just see it drop off due to lack of activity. Last evening this got me thinking.....what about the internet there must be some interactive over broad band CW happening out there?? In my travels I came across two programs neither are free but they offer CW (and SSB) operating over the internet. Not really ham radio as such but it helps my CW skill stay sharp until the band slump is over. The first program I came across was QsoNet based out of Canada the cost is a modest 40.00 per year and you are given a free 30 day trial which is great. I looked the website over and found the their discussion forum, the last posting was from 2012 and the latest update was back in 2011. This made me wonder if I was just going to be listening to empty broadband due to the fact no one was around. I also wondered if there was active support for the site as well. I then moved on to another site called Hamsphere base out of Europe. This program was 30 EU per year along with a free trial but I was not able to locate for how long. This site seemed to be very up to date and a new version 4 had come out that looked very professional. Their forum was very up to date with postings from 2016 so it seemed like things were alive and well. Hamsphere seemed to be a very in-depth program with such things as a virtual Ionosphere, DX alert system, awards, contesting, multiple antennas to choose from, you can use your own keyer and DX cluster.....and the list goes on! I checked out some online YouTube videos of the program and WOW it sure is a professional program. I was watching one video when the commentator said "these are the antenna selections I have PURCHASED" I thought.....wait a minute what did I just hear and sure enough that's what was said "PURCHASED". I investigated this and found Hamsphere shop and this was the show stopper for me. It seems the 30 EU per year is not the only cost, at this site you can purchase antennas were the price goes as high as 90 EU!! Check out the link and it seems that there is lots of items for the radio that need to be purchased. I was not able to find anywhere on the home page information about extra purchases. It did say you could build your own rig and that there were a 100 antennas to choose from but again nothing about added cost. Another odd thing was you were never asked for your radio license. At QsoNet you had to fax in a photo copy of your license, it seemed not so with Hamsphere. Has anyone out there used either of these programs?? Do you know of any other interactive CW over the internet programs out there??

9 comments:

  1. Hi....thought I would share a possible solution...it's free...downloads in a snap...and seems to work quite well....might be good to help you keep, or improve, you CW skills. I have not used it yet, as I am still just in the early learning phase....would like to hear if you or your subscribers have found it useful:

    http://www.dxatlas.com/MorseRunner/

    P.S. I learned about it from a great youtube based QRP blog (N4CCB): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tENliEvQwc

    73, Jim K3JRU

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    1. Of course...this is a stand-alone PC program...not something that runs over the internet...

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    2. Good morning Jim, yes this is a great program and I do have it on my PC and I have used it to improve my CW speed. I will look up the N4CCB as well you mentioned.
      Thanks Jim for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      73, Mike

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  2. Hello Mike, at first have been looking at N4CCB's QRP video blog. Better called vlog. Simply the same thing we do on a text basis he's doing on video. Very nice and you can view what he's talking about instantly. Anyway I've never tested these virtual radio spheres but from what you write about it I understand it has been really made commercial. Someone lives from it I guess. Personally I think radio is over the "air". Not via the internet... But if you're restricted with antennas and have no room for radio gear I can imagine you can enjoy a hobby with it. 73, Bas

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    1. Good evening Bas, I too checked out his Vlog and it's maybe the next step from blogging! It seems virtual radio is not going to happen for me with regards to getting consistent CW practice.
      73, Mike

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  3. Good morning, Mike.

    I am not nearly as excited about QSOnet or Hamsphere as I am http://www.remoteshams.com

    The software is downloaded free and one can listen to any remote available worldwide. To transmit, one needs a valid amateur radio license. Once approved, the privileges abound.

    Not all remotes have TX privileges. Not all remotes charge for their use.

    I hope you will investigate RemoteHams

    73

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    1. Good evening Lloyed, thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment. I for sure will look that up and look into it thanks very much.
      73, Mike

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  4. Websdr.org has a list of sdr stations, many of which are covering HF CW frequencies. I listen to K2SDR in NJ on my phone when I'm stuck in a waiting room.

    Also, I'm not sure which frequencies you monitor but 40m and 80m are nearly always busy with CW in the evenings from my QTH so try down the band if you haven't already.

    Another option for working on your skills is to record yourself sending code (just your sidetone) and a day later try to copy yourself. It's very enlightening for me haha.

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    1. Good morning Richard, thanks for the ideas and the Websdr.org sounds great and if time permits I will check it out this weekend.
      Cheers
      73 Mike

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