Tuesday 2 March 2010

hb/m0xpd on QsoNet

This week I find myself back in HB-land (just for a change), where there are boring evenings to kill...

I thought I'd re-visit HamSphere (regular readers - if there are such things - may recall I tried this in a bored moment in ZL a few weeks ago). Unfortunately, my three day trial of HamSphere had ended and I was limited to using phone mode on 40m in HamSphere or paying €21 for the privilege of using the program for a year. The same regular readers will know my views on phone modes (Pugnus est vires quam vox vocis) and that I am a proud cheapskate - so won't be surprised to hear that I took the third option of signing up with the competition QsoNet, who are generous enough to offer a 90 day trial period!

After a slightly frustrating delay (you need to upload an image of your license to QsoNet before they'll admit you) I was, this evening, "on air".

Like HamSphere, you download a piece of software which emulates a transceiver - here's the skin...

Like HamSphere, you can elect to type in characters on the PC keyboard for translation into morse. However, unlike HamSphere, there is no textual display of the typed characters - so I found that a bit tricky! However, there is another exciting possibility mentioned in QsoNet's help file - you can input morse as audio from e.g. the sidetone output of a keyer. Not surprisingly I didn't happen to have a keyer with me - but I did have my trusty iPhone - so I downloaded an app which gave me a morse key on the iPhone. Called (imaginatively enough) MorseKey...

Now I could send morse by tapping on the iPhone, the sound of which was detected by my PC's microphone, which triggered the VOX on the QsoNet "transceiver". I tried a hard-wired connection from the iPhone into the PC - but that lost my "sidetone", so I abandoned the idea and went back to the acoustic interface.

MorseKey on the iPhone has a bit of latency between keying (i.e. touching the screen) and the resulting sound output - which limits your speed - but it works well enough for ~12wpm. Also, the complete lack of any haptic feedback from the touch screen makes it surprisingly difficult to use - but nil desperandum.

I banged out a quick CQ, identifying myself as hb/m0xpd (in honour of my QTH in Lausanne) and was rewarded by a quick reply from Alex, rz3by, in Moscow.

Good fun - makes me feel like I should travel with a keyer to avoid the shortcomings of MorseKey - but perhaps that would be taking it all a bit too seriously!

73 de hb/m0xpd

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