Monday, August 24, 2009

PODXS 070 1000th Member Tribute Contest

Recently, the PODXS 070 Club celebrated it's 1000th member. One of the main attractions for me is that the 070 club is active but also free! It's a digital club focusing on PSK operating. I am honored to be their 889th member. Now, this is not a sign up for free and get your certificate immediately type of club, however it's very simple to join the ranks. You actually have to operate PSK and show that you have worked stations using that mode. You also need to submit proof of a PSK contact by sending along a scanned copy of a QSL confirmation. But again, simple. Especially to those who are already using computers to do cool stuff like PSK.

I don't get on PSK as often as I should as I tend to spread my operating activities around the "mode globe". I will operate in "spurts" doing CW, PSK31, RTTY, SSTV and maybe throw a mode in that's new to me like Olivia or Hell (SSB can be hell for me sometimes, too). But when they have contests, I will always try to support the club by getting on the air if my schedule allows. I may not submit a log due to my work schedule and time constraints but I will be there handing out contacts when I can.

I was not able to work the 1000th member but I did work several over this last weekend (32 contacts to be exact). What I like about PSK is the low power perspective. You can work the world on 25 watts or less. It's a great weak signal mode (assuming you have your software configured right). There are several free programs available that support the digital modes so if you have a computer and the ability to hook it to your radio, you can be operating in no time.

One of the things that make me laugh to myself is when I hear on 14.070 or so, someone starting their computer and it transmits across the airwaves the Windows start-up song. Or, you can often hear that annoying Windows error "clunk" when someone tries to multitask and open something that gets them the fatal error sound while sending PSK. And you can even tell when someone's computer is taxing their Ram memory from the sound it makes as the PSK tone skips a beat or two during transmission. How do I recognize these sounds? Yep, been there, done that and have the t-shirt.

I am hand logging most of my contacts as I am using an older version of PSK31 software that I just darn like (photo above). I like using WinPSKse due to it's ability to copy two signals easily and the ease of monitoring and switching between multiple waterfall signals. Yes I know, there is other software out there that can do the same thing but I just like how this plays. I do have Digital Master 780 downloaded and installed for those "other" modes. I had some bad experiences with Digipan sending random crap stuff when using multiple macro's so gave that up. I also did not like it's weak signal decoding abilities. Again, my personal preference and take on it and I'm not trying to start a Ford vs Chevy debate.

But in getting back to the 070 contest, it was a great milestone for the club and even though it's unlikely that all 1000 members are active, it says a lot for the organization. Run by volunteers, who not only promote ham radio but promote a great mode of communication. A day when a dollar does not go far anymore, it's unbelievable the dedication of those behind the scenes of this club that make it so successful. Congratulations on the 1000 members strong and for all that you do to support such a fun mode of communication. If you have not tried PSK31, give it a try. Experience the many callsigns that you can find across the "waterfall".

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