Let’s just say learning C/C++ has been a desire since my time in the service back in the early 90’s. Well as time went by and life happened, it kind of fell off the radar screen.
Well life is starting to slow down a bit now, and I actually have a personal CW program project I want to work.
Having used several CW programs, plus advising on a couple of CWOps classes I noticed most of the programs are very old and only run on Windows. So one of the design goals is to be able to run it on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. As for the other goals, well they’ll have to wait until I make some progress.
I’ve already installed and test QT6 on my home Mac and Windows box. A linux installation has been on the back burner. I figured no time like the future.
After some trial and error I decided on a Mint linux distribution. Mainly because that is what my online QT class instructor is using. The following are some notes on the build process, issue, and resolutions.
I figured I’d use some of home vSphere environment resources. The target machine will have 2 vCPU, 8 GB Ram, and a 100G Hard Drive. I’m not going to explain how to deploy a machine on vSphere.
glxinfo name of display: localhost:10.0 libGL error: No matching fbConfigs or visuals found libGL error: failed to load driver: swrast
To fix those errors export LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1, then add it to your .bashrc
glxinfo name of display: localhost:10.0 display: localhost:10 screen: 0 direct rendering: No (LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT set)
Now download and install Qt6 community. You can get the current version at qt.io/download. Using a custom install, I only selected Desktop gcc 64bit and QT 5 Compatibility Module to limit the size of the download. Selecting everything will result in a LARGE download (Several Gigs). These two limit the download to around 1G.
Mint has openssl version 3.0+ installed, which is incompatible with the version QT 6 uses. So you’ll need to install version 1.x+. The directions are available on howtoforge.com. I’m going to use the latest 1.1+.
Here is the error you will see in the logs.
qt.tlsbackend.ossl: Incompatible version of OpenSSL (built with OpenSSL 1.x, runtime version is >= 3.x)
You can get the current openssl version by using the openssl version -a command.
openssl version -a OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022 (Library: OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022)
And you will not be able to open the Marketplace in the GUI.
After changing to openssl 1.1+ the marketplace will work properly.
There you go. Down and dirty installation of QT 6 on Mint Cinnamon 2.
I will be operating as W7Y for the upcoming 7QP contest on May 7th 2022 from Guernsey State Park WY (DN72). I’ll be the air starting around 0000 May 6th.
The 2021 7QP was a first in several way. First it was my first portable contesting effort. Added to that it was the first contest where I would primarily be running CW.
And if that wasn’t enough I was the first to activate POTA K-3298 and K-6114 (Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site).
Preliminary operating schedule.
0000 – 0200. CW on 20 and 40
1200 – 1500. FT4/FT8
2100 – 2359. CW/Phone
0000 – 0200. CW/Phone
1300 – 2359. 7QP. CW
0000 – 0200. CW
1200 – 1500. FT8/CW/SSB
The rig setup consists of an FTDX-10, POTA Hex, and 10-40 EFHW. Heck I may even setup the FT891 and run S02R for 7QP (Dana you are nuts!).
Please feel free to email me if you would like to schedule a contact. I’ll do my best to work with you. I’ll also have my Allstar node with me. I will also be monitoring the K0PRA repeater network. Their Allstar node ID is 410460. My node is 54516, but it is doubtful my internet will allow inbound access.
I’m not planning on returning to Oregon trail ruts again this year, but intend to focus my efforts on K-3298.
Guernsey State Park is WWFF also (didn’t know that last year). WWFF site KFF-3298.
I’ll upload the logs to LOTW, POTA, and WWFF by May 15th.
Those sending paper QSL’s should do so with SASE. I’ll get some custom W7Y QSL cards printed up. I need to get some new pictures to make it pretty.
You may also monitor my progress at https://acme.nn0g.blog. It should display the current operating frequency, contact count, and a map with the last 10 hours of contacts.
The original idea of a portable ‘POTA’ hex beam came as desire to improve my antenna situation when activating POTA sites and portable contesting.
My go ‘go to’ antenna over the last year and a half has been an EFHW (Either 40 or 80m model), which works very well. But there is always room for improvement.
Several goals drove the design. It had to be setup quickly (30 minutes or less), is relatively inexpensive, and something I could build.
After considerable research I decided on the following design. I uses 6 carbon fiber crappie fishing poles, a home brew or manufactured hub, lightweight cord for the supports and other parts from the local hardware store.
The spreaders use a Goture, 15 foot fishing rod. I choose this size as I didn’t what know the finished antenna would eventually need. It is actually too long, I eventually ended up using the bottom 5 sections. I would recommend ordering 4 of one color (Brown), and two with of a different color (Green). The two green ones can be used for the driven elements, making it easier to see which direction the beam is pointing.
Rope selection. After some thought I decided 550 cord would be overkill, so I opted for some 1.18 mm cord. It has a 125 pound breaking point, and is very light. I opted for a darker color to help make the antenna more stealthy (didn’t work).
Length / Number
6 x 124.5 (+ 24″ for loop and knot)
Driven element support
1 x 115 (+ 24″ for loop and knot)
36″ 1″ PVC pipe
1″ PVC cap
5″ 1″ PVC
6 to hold end of fishing pole on
3/4 inch Stainless Steal 1/4 screws
2 per wire set
1/4 locking washers
4 per wire set
1/4 SS nuts
2 per wire set
1 1/4 PVC (for baseplate mounting). Adds additional padding between baseplate and center post
14 Gauge wire
Wire set dependent
1/4 SS Eye bolt, with washers (2) and nuts (2)
Top of center pole
1/4 Thumb Nuts (To connect wire-set to feed point)
2 per wire set
NiteIze #0.5 S Carabiner (Wire and support quick connect)
1/4 ring terminals (Coax, wireset, feed feedpoint)
8 per wire set
Black wire ties
12 per wire set
At least 3 foot.
1″ hose clamp (To mount on the mast)
At least 1
24″ RG8X coax with PL259 on one end
Yo-Yo hand reel (To store the 20m wire-set and support cords)
Cut the support cords to length. This took some trial and error. But ended up with 6 x 124.5″(between the loop ends) lines to support the poles, and one 115 (between loop ends) to support the gap between the driven element spreaders.
Now on to the wire sets. I started with the lengths from hex-beam.com ‘s chart for 20M, adding an inch to each driven element and two inches to the reflector. Some additional tuning finally brought the antenna up to where I wanted it.
Loops were tied on to the wiresets about 124″ inches apart, allowing a quick connection to the support cord. I’d recommend a temporary loop, then adjust the location of the stays.
The center post was constructed using the instructions from the hex-beam page, with a couple of changes. The first being the 20m mounting screw holes where drilled in 3″ from the top. My second build also allows me to add other bands as needed (Hence the extra pole length).
Drill a hole in the end cap, and attach the eye bolt with one nut and one washer inside and outside. Then slide two S-Caribiners inside the eye bolt and hammer shut (They will slide out if you don’t).
Using a 1″ piece of 3/8 clear tubing at the end of pole, I tied on an 18″ piece of cord. This allows for several loops to adjust the tension of the lines. WARNING: Do not use wire ties to connect the rope. The tubing is very thin and will collapse with enough pressure.
Now on to the spreader support cords. Using the 6 124.5″ cords, connect one loop to the center post, and the other end to the free end of the spreader using an Carabiner.
Finally take the 115″ cord, and connect it between the driven element spreaders.
Lay the wire out before trying to connect it to the antenna. Trying to unwind it from the spool as you connect each stay will eventually end up as a hair ball (Trust me).
Connecting the wire set is actually pretty easy. Connect one end to the center pole, then connect the wire to the end of the spreaders using the existing S-Caribiner.
Finnish by connecting the other end to the remaining feed point.
Tearing down (Important)
Tearing down and storing the wire and cords in the proper order affects how quickly you can set it back up.
Disconnect the wire set, and lay it out on the ground. This allows a free end to allow the twists to ‘spin’ off the end as you coil. Using the Yo-Yo reel, wind about 10 turns on, then flip if over and wind the opposite way. This helps untwist the wire as you reel it in.
Disconnect the spreader support lines from the center pole.
Starting with the end of one of the spreader arms (The one with an Carabiner), clip the carabineer into the wire set ring terminal. Wind the support cord on. Clip the next support cord into the loop (Repeating 6 times) until all of the long support cords are stored.
The last cord that should be store is the driven element. You may want to clip and extra Carabiner in the loop (for quicker setup)
Remove and store each fishing rod
Extend each fishing rod and place it the center plate PVC pipes.
Connect the driven element support (This is between the two driven element spreaders)
Connect each spreader support cord, starting at the middle. The Carabiner connects to the end of the spreader furthest away from the center pole.
Run the wire set out on the lawn.
Connect the wire set to one of the feed point screws.
As you walk around the antenna, connect the antenna stays to the end of the spreaders (using the previously attached Carabineer).
Connect the other end of the wire set to the remaining (open) feed point screw.
Mount and POTA
I use a Max Gain 25′ pole to get this up in the air. I picked this one as I felt the shorter sections would make it easier to reach the end. Well yes and no. The whole collapsed mast is almost 6′ long, making a bit tough to slide the antenna over the end. I finally opted to get a small folding ladder to make it a big simpler.
My trip up to Wyoming to activate a couple of POTA sites and participate in the 7QP contest would be considered a success.
I really had two goals for the trip. 1, get at least 200 CW 7QP contacts, and 2, activate up to three All Time New POTA sites (Sites with zero activations).
The weather was surprising calm Thursday through Saturday afternoon. There was no wind to speak of. In fact it was so calm we could see the reflection of the National Guard helicopters practicing water dropped on the other side of the lake.
Weather forced me to QRT around 23:00 Saturday, as a line of thunderstorms approached the camp. This was followed by a strong cold front Sunday morning, bringing cold temps and strong winds. The last POTA site on my list will have to wait until next year.
The first goal was definitely exceeded. I ended up with 273 CW and 3 Phone contacts in about 5 hours of operation. N1MM spit out 6:41 but my brief breaks for this and that were less than 30 minutes.
The second goal was also successful. I ended up with 273 CW, 3 Phone, and 86 digital contacts at Guernsey State park (K-3298).
The POTA activation at Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site (K-6114) netted 23 contacts, including Spain and Scotland. Still not bad for about 30 minutes behind the radio.
We are already planning on another trip up there next year.
Well I finally finished my CWOps intermediate class last week.
To be honest it was starting to get to me, especially when we started on the 25 WPM QSO’s and Short Stories.
Basically I listened to both several times at 25, then at 20 so could get the gist of each one. But no pain, no gain right?
I talked to my Advisor about it (as did the other classmates). He made a point of discussing this during our last session. The net net being, we really didn’t have our Instant Character Recognization (ICR) down. Made sense to me.
He suggested using RutzXP improve ICR. Essentially set the mode to Training, select Letters / Figures (numbers), with a speed of 30 WPM. Also set the Group Length to 3 (to start), and the Number of Groups per attempt to 50.
Start the session, then head copy all three characters before typing them in. Besides helping with ICR, it also helps with copying behind.
I’ve tried it a few times and did some improvement. I’ll continue to update my progress in this regard.
Now as for my final personal assessment. My goals where solid 20 WPM conversational speed, and mid 20’s for contest mode. My conversational goal is questionable. I can do 20 or so if the sender has a good fist, little if any QRM/N or QSB. Otherwise I’m pretty comfortable at 18 under normal conditions.
As for contest mode, I think I exceeded my goal. Just last week I pulled down S&P 35 contacts on the mid day CWT. Plus I’m running about 40 (Run) for the Sunday SST. Plus I can handle a busy POTA activation at 17 WPM, with a solid 60 Q’s per hour.
My plan is to not take any more classes until this fall or early next year. This will give me time to apply what I’ve learned, plus work on my long list of to do’s.
Sorry for not updating my progress over the past few weeks. Let’s just say I was busy and leave it at that.
We are up to Session 11 now, and the speeds are slowly rising. The advisor keeps reminding us that the goal is to learn words. I’ve found that knowing the words by sound gives me more time to figure out new words, and keep track of the gist of the QSO.
The class assignment has us listening to the Short Stories at 18, but I’ve started listening to them several times at 25, then 20 before trying to keep track of the words for the report.
I activated a POTA site yesterday on CW and absolutely noticed an improvement in my receiving and sending. Heck I even picked up a couple of Park to Parks (P2P) contacts. I ended up with 40 CW and 12 Phone contacts. Not terrible considering the QSB on 20 and the fact that I was using a Hustler RMS-20 on the truck. One treat was working one of my class mates from Alberta. He was running QRP into an EFHW.
My best RutzXP Toplist sits at 6188, but are averaging around 5000. Those darned double slash call signs drive me nuts.
The Morse Runner scores are staying fairly consistent. I’m currently running the single call mode at 27 WPM with QRN. My average over the last weeks is about 32. Not to bad. I’ll probably stay at 27, but add QRM in the next week or so.
We another week in the books. Still making some progress, but there is plenty more to do.
Did really well with RutzXP with score of 10,000 and a top speed of 31.
Morse Runner was 36 verified with at 26 WPM.
No major issues with the Short Story or QSO. But do need focus on the first few letters of the word.
RutzXP score was 8772 at 29 WPM.
Morse Runner was 31 verified at 26 WPM
Notes from the advisor.
Reviewed how to run Morse Runner for training. This includes the basic Single Call mode, and using it to work on memory skills.
He reiterated that one of the goals at this point is to take words from the big unknown bucket and move them into the smaller known word bucket. The smaller bucket will get bigger over time. We must be patient.
I record a video about how to use Morse Runner for single call training.
Made some progress this week, but realized that I’m still getting distracted with other Ham Radio stuff. Specifically tinkering with my new radio, and contests.
The major distraction was setting up for the NAQPCW contest. Mind you, nothing is wrong with contesting but it consumed way to much time. Just this week I added a Winkeyer III, a line from the headphone jack to the computer Line In, hooking my FTDX 3000 back up (For SO2R). I easily spent over 20 hours tinkering with stuff instead of studying.
So, with that in mind I’m going to forgo contests until the class is done. Well not completely, I’ll still try to get on SST every week. Its only an hour, and the station is already setup for it.
Ok, on to the update.
Sending the Warm up and Drill at 26 WPM. Still making some errors, but that is expected.
My Morse Runner verified score was 30 @ 25WPM. RutzXP score was 8230 with a max speed of 34.
Had to slow down to 13 WPM to copy 70+ percent of the short story and QSO.
Per the advisor, the goal is to learn the words. Not speed.
Continued sending practice at 26WPM. Also started using CW Get to check my sending and spacing.
My Morse Runner verified score was 32 at WPM. RutzXP was 8951 with a max speed of 35 WPM.
I also started tracking my progress on a spreadsheet. Here is what I have to date.
Some observations and advisor inputs
RutzXP and Morse Runner are windows applications. You will need to figure out how to run these on a Mac (Using Wine) or Linux.
You will need some keyboard skills to be remotely successful with these applications.
The advisor recommended the CW practice speed should match the speed that you can RX. His logic is you are training your ear to hear what is on the air. A word at 25 WPM sounds different than at 13.
That’s enough for now. Time to dig into Session 3.