Hints and Kinks

Are you in trouble to copy weak signals?

Yes, this technique works.

I learned this in the mid-50's using a WW II vintage Hallicrafters S-20R, predecessor to the S-40B. It still works today. Actually, it is not necessary to turn the AGC off. Reducing the RF gain raises the AGC threshold as indicated by the S-meter position with no signals (or high level noise) present. This leaves the entire receiver in the LINEAR region where any increase (or decrease) in signal level results in a corresponding INSTANTANEOUS increase (or decrease) in audio level.

The benefit of leaving the AGC turned ON, but with a high threshold is that it will still act to protect your ears from BIG signals or static crashes, with the additional gain reduction associated with the AGC action and the associated time constant. For best reception of WEAK signals, it is best to always leave the AGC in the FAST (or OFF) position so that the receiver gain recovers quickly from larger signals (which reduce the receiver gain for the duration of the AGC time constant).

Operators who use SLOW AGC in pileups are NOT able to hear weak signals under the pileup which explains much of the unruly behavior and continuous calling by less knowledgeable operators. (SLOW AGC is recommended for SSB with STRONG SIGNALS in NET operations. It is counterproductive in weak signal reception.)

Operators who use FAST AGC or NO AGC can hear between syllables or static crashes giving them a much better understanding of when the DX station responds, improving their timing and chances of making contact. This is a direct result of the fast gain recovery in the FAST AGC position (or nearly instantaneous recovery with AGC OFF).

This technique of using reduced RF Gain and advanced audio gain to copy weak signals is one of the tricks that has contributed to my 9BDXCC country count (2740 current band-countries confirmed).

de N4KG Tom (receiver design engineer in my other life)

Be a QRQer
Do you want to improve your CW reception speed? Read this.

Did you forget to set the clock?
You are a new CT software user and suddenly you discover that you have forgotten to adjust the computer clock to UTC time!
Don't panic. Just download the file CT_Time e set all the QSOs time.
This file fix the QSO time adding (or subtracting) minutes to ALL QSOs on your BIN file. So, if you found out , during the contest, that you have forgotten to set the computer clock, you must finish the contest with the same time frame you've started. After the contest you may fix all QSOs in a time.
de PY2YP

Save a serial port Serial
I've wired a cable to control the FT-1000MP with computer a few months ago and it has been working fine ever since. Yesterday I decided to take a look on it and found out that the DTR pin was not being used by the radio, so, why not use the same serial port to send CW from either CT and the logging software?
I went to PY2BW's home and discussed with him this possibility. Then he re-wired the cable using the DTR pin (pin 4 on DB-9, pin 20 on DB-25), soldering a 1K resisor and a 2N4401 (or equivalent) transistor.
The resistor was connected to the DTR line and the NPN transistor base. The emitter of the transmitter and the common ground line (pin 5 on DB-9, pin 7 on DB-25) were connected to the ground lead of the keying cable. (please refer to CT or loggin software manual).
This parts were arranged inside the DB-9 with the transistor collector connected to the hot lead of the keying cable which one is plugged into the radio key input jack. The manual keying was plugged in the front panel key jack.
Now I can switch the CW sending by pressing the Keyer button located in the radio front panel. Better yet, no extra cable, no extra interface and one serial port saved.
de PY2YP

Set CT before the contest
CT does have a file to set your standards (CT.CFG) where you can define some data as default. See an example bellow:
Name CWSP - Grupo de CW de Sao Paulo
Address P.O. Box, 1807
Town Sao Paulo
State SP
ZIP 01059-970
Zone 11
Lat -23.32
Lon 46.39
Contest CQWW
Club Sao Paulo Contest Group
Mode CW
TNC COM2, 2400
Radio FT1000MP, COM3, 4800
Network NONE
Category LP
To send serial number change 5NNAA to 5NN#
de PY2YP

Load the CT TSR
To control the TNC and the radio CT does need to load into the computer memory the TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident), one to each serial port. These files must be loaded before the CT.EXE file. The following batch files were written to load those TSR. Please note that the TSR must be unloaded in reverse order.
Inhibit the commands to appear on the screen
Clear screen
Call DOS time command to set the computer clock to UTC time
COMTSR2 -P2 -B2400 -N81 -I3
Load to the memory the TSR COMTSR2 where:
P2 corresponds to serial port 2;
B2400 corresponds to 2400 bauds;
N81 parity none, 8 bits and stop bit 1;
I3 set IRQ 3 to serial port 2;
COMTSR3 -P3 -B4800 -N82 -I4
Load to the memory the TSR COMTSR3
CT CQWW97CW -d -lz -now -tt
Load CT where:
CQWW97CW filename;
-d Load to the memory the MASTER.DTA file;
-lz leading zeroes to the serial numbers, it means that CT will transmit 599001 instead of 5991;
-now Allow CT to jump the initial screen;
-tt Allow CT to erase report and all other information when erasing a call with the keys ALT-W or backspace
After the CT session you must type at the DOS command line COMTSR3 -U and COMTSR2 -U to unload the TSRs from the memory.
de PY2YP

Listen the QSY on CW
Adding the -lta key will let you hear on CW announcement your band change, ALT F1 or ALT-F2.
de PP2BT Julio
Use the Mycall Function
If you logged a station and wants to complete remove it from the log you may type your own call instead of the station call. This will add zero point and zero multiplier so it will produce no effect to your points.
After the contest you may want to wipe ou your call from the log. To do that type at the DOS command line:
FIX_MINE filename.bin and CT will clear up your log.
de PY2YP

Use the Baycom with CT
This hint is intended for those who have a BAYCOM packet modem and want to use it in combination with CT version 9. CT normally assumes a TNC or DRSI card for packet, no support for a simple packet modem. But with a 'trick' it can be done! The trick is to use some drivers that come with the PC/FlexNet package.
PC/FlexNet is node software developed fully in Germany and meant for FlexNet digipeaters that don't use a RMNC controller. The PC/FlexNet package is freely available for download at: http://dl0td.afthd.th-darmstadt.de/~flexnet/
You will need the following .lzh archives:
- pcf.lzh
- ser12.lzh
- tfemu.lzh
Unpack these files (e.g. with lha.exe) in a directory. Start the necessary drivers in the correct order. See the batch file that I use (read the docs of each driver for more info):
CD \
REM Load High the FlexNet kernel
REM Load High the ax25 packet driver for the baycom modem which
REM is connected to com port 2
LH SER12 2
REM Load the previous drivers into memory
REM Set some packet parameters; port 0 at 1200 baud with software
REM carrier detect (you can leave the squelch on the TRX open);
REM TXDELAY on port 0; DIGI call (the call that is used in the
REM ax25 frames, i.e. your call)
REM Start the driver that will simulate a DRSI card at hex address
REM 0xff
TFEMU -DR -I=0xff
REM Start CT
CT wwcw97 -VGA
Tell CT that a DRSI card is used for packet. That's basically it.
When hitting ALT-T keys you'll get into the talk window. The packet user interface looks like WA8DED mode. All 'TNC' commands start with hitting the ESCAPE key. The commands that you must enter before attempting to connect are (each command is executed by hitting the ENTER key):
ESC-i<call sign> between <> is your packet call sign, no space between 'i' and <call sign>
ESC-s1 switch to channel 1; channel 0 (default) doesn't allow connects
ESC-c <node/cluster call> connect to your local node or cluster
Actually you could have MORE than one connect session. Suppose on channel 1 you're connected to pi5ehv-8 cluster but want to connect to another cluster as well, here is how you can do that:
ESC-s2 switch to channel 2
ESC-i<call sign-1> set the call sign on channel 2 with
SSID 1, e.g. pa3ezl-1
ESC-c <node> connect to the local node; from here you can go to the other cluster
ESC-s# where # is the channel number switches between channels.
To disconnect a channel switch to that channel and type:
ESC-d followed by ENTER
The above procedure has been tested on a 486DX50, 8MB RAM with DOS 6.22, CT9.27 and baycom modem connected to COM port 2.
Hope you'll enjoy the combination of CT and a connection to a packet DX-Cluster!
de PA3EZL/AA2WH Aurelio

Generating labels
This may help a bit, but it will only get the label data out of a CT file so you can process it in another database (I use Paradox).
To see the results, put a [contest].BIN file in a test directory along with QSL9.EXE and a copy of CQWW.CTY (yes, I know it isn't used any more, but it's needed here).
No other files in the directory, especially not master.qsl, save.qsl or list.qsl. Make [contest].LAB file by running QSL9 as follows with the -w6go switch: QSL9 -w6go [contest].BIN The [contest].LAB file you get is a TAB-delimited file which is easily imported into a database program which can then process the data and you can design an output from that database program that will print your labels or format the data for whatever else you might want to do with it, like track QSL cards and awards. You run this separately on the BIN file from each contest and do the merging in the downstream database program. Kenny made the switch for me when I was publishing the GOLIST.
I was able then, in Paradox, to identify the stations with managers and process them differently. The switch has been invaluable to my QSL card process here over the years, and it gets used after every contest.
de W6GO Jay

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