ZS2EZ RTTY OPERATIONS
Ever since starting HF operation in 2005, RTTY has been a mode dear to me. It did not take me long to establish that RTTY was far more suited to DXing than PSK31 - although I still enjoy the occasional foray into ragchewing on PSK31, the quickfire DXing in RTTY has always appealed to me.
Having made a few RTTY contacts via the AO-40 satellite, running RTTY on HF was always high on my agenda when finally getting going on HF in 2005. Digital mode operation has been a major interest in Amateur Radio for me ever since beginning experimentation with WSJT on 50MHz back in 2001, and has become my primary method of operation since. I am equipped for most digital modes currently available and am currently predominantly operating FT8, but RTTY still comprises around 56% of my overall operation.
I have used a variety of software for RTTY, but have finally settled on WinWarbler, part of the brilliant DXLab Suite by Dave Bernstein AA6YQ. I use DXKeeper for my logging, and WinWarbler works beautifully in conjunction with DXKeeper, SpotCollector and Commander. WinWarbler makes use of the MMTTY engine (by far the best engine available for RTTY, and also used in N1MM Logger, RCKRTTY and Writelog contesting software).
Many of my RTTY QSOs have been made during RTTY Contests.
Recently my DXing emphasis has shifted to the WARC bands, and I regularly call CQ on 18.104, 24.925 and 10.143 MHz in RTTY. Skeds on any band are always welcome!
ALTERNATIVE RTTY DECODERS
I am always looking for ways to improve my RTTY setup, and have tried numerous alternative hardware to provide alternatives to soundcard operation. I own and have tried an AEA PK232MBX TNC, as well as a KAM Multimode TNC. Thanks to Mitch ZS2DK I have also had the opportunity to experiment with a Robot 400 RTTY Terminal (pictured below), but after seeing several postings on the RTTY Mail reflector praising the HAL DXP38 I began a search for one of these units. After several enquiries around South Africa, as well as web postings on the local SwopShop pages, it became evident that I was not going to find one locally
I was planning to visit the Friedrichshafen 2011 convention, and my
friend and colleague Donovan ZS2DL was attending Dayton Hamvention
2011, I put out an advertisement looking for a DXP38 on the RTTY Mail
reflector. The first responses pointed me to the HAL website, where
this model is still available new, at a price that was way out of my
reach. Then came the kind of offer that certainly doesn't come around
very often : I received an email from David K2DSL; he had acquired a
HAL DXP38 at a fleamarket with no cables or software for $5. He had
never even tried to power it up, and was prepared to give it to me for
free - provided I arranged for ZS2DL to get it from him at Dayton! This
was very quickly arranged with Donovan, and upon his return from the
USA I very quickly collected my HAL DXP38!! A brief search of the
junkbox soon located a power connector for the unit, and I connected a
serial cable and fired up the HAL software (downloaded from their
website)... to my delight the TNC initialised immediately. I then
connected an audio cable from the TNC to the speaker output of my
Kenwood TS-870S, and tuned to an RTTY signal... to my utter delight it
started to decode!! To date I have not connected it up to transmit, as
my MicroHam MicroKeyer II handles this for me. The most important part
for me is that it receives perfectly!! I have found that it works
extremely well in a 2nd Receive window in N1MM Logger (which has
inbuilt support for the DXP38), and I have found it extremely valuable
under contest conditions!
My eternal thanks to David K2DSL for his kindness in donating this unit to me!!
recent times I have started using G3YYD's 2Tone as an additional
decoder in both WinWarbler and N1MM Logger. I find that the combination
of MMTTY, the HAL DXP38 and 2Tone very effective - each has it's
strengths under different conditions! While much has been said about
2Tone, in my on-air experiences I have not found any of the three to be
vastly superior to the others - they all work very well!! I have also
tried my old PK232MBX, but this is no match for the others....
I also use GRITTY, the new offering from Alex VE3NEA. My initial impression (based on operation in the 2016 CQ WW RTTY and JARTS contests) is that this is the best performer of the lot! This was reinforced during the 2017 RTTY Roundup, when GRITTY again significantly outperformed both 2Tone and MMTTY...
LAST UPDATED 1 MARCH 2019