[pskmail] Aw: (Long) Report of "extensive" use of PSKmail while crossing the Pacific Ocean

  • From: "Rein Couperus" <rein@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: pskmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2012 12:46:33 +0200 (CEST)

Hi Christian, tnx a lot for this super report, and the interesting ideas... this is the stuff 
we need!

Comments below...
(Long) Report of "extensive" use of PSKmail while crossing the Pacific
ocean from Panama to the Marquesas May/April 2012

in the first half I used PSK250R a
lot- it is a very reliable mode and it also is reasonably fast. In the
end I had to use a lot of THOR22, mostly because of the QRMers. Slower
modes weren't used because of the longer duration of transmission
which resulted in drained batteries. If THOR22 didn't work, I tried
another day.

This is also my experience. I use the slow modes only when absolutely 
necessary. E.g. when the noise is > S9, which is often the case in 
harbour or on a busy camp site...

Generally I found the 20 meter band much more reliable than 30 m. But
this was the case in the carribean also.

Bottomline: we need more servers in the Pacific. Would it be possible
for some of the US- servers on the west coast to switch to 20 Meters?
I will be happy to do some testing when my other internet connection
is better so that we can coordinate a bit better?

Since we will be spending the Winter/Summer in New Zealand I hope I
can convince some of the local OMs to start a PSKmailserver of their
own to get a better coverage the South Pacific.

We use 30m as a default because it is a good compromise between 20 and 40....
Moreover there are no contests on 30. Unfortunately the WINLINK users think this 
also. The answer to this is for the servers to open a channel on 20 for 
traffic (14.111); just scan 20 during 1 minute of the freq. scheme... 
Of course that necessitates a multiband antenna or an auto tuner...
This is very efficient if servers scan 20 on a different minute, so you 
get full coverage when 5 servers do it...

Automatize some tasks like up-/ and download of multiple emails:
The place on my boat where I do the PSKmail stuff is not very
comfortable, especially in heavy weather, so not being there helps a
lot in keeping your sanity.
The problem is that when using PSKmail I find myself glued to the
screen and watching modechanges, general traffic and especially, to
minimize total airtime, the end of one downloaded email to immediately
start the next. This could be automated:
I like the way PSKmail first downloads the headers and then lets you
choose which mails you really want to download.
But couldn't one choose the emails you want, all at one time, and let
the client download them one after the other without user interaction?
Also, why couldn't you just upload all of your mails in the outbox
without user interaction? (Something like an "upload all" button)

When dowloading mail you can now simply select more than one mail in one go,
they will be properly queued. I will provide an 'upload all' item in the menu...
The philosophy behind single document upload is to favour non-automatic 
operation, unlike the way WINLINK operates (hit the button and 
forget about the consequences, see below...). 

BTW, IMHO the little "involvement" with the process is precisely the
reason why they don't give a sh*t about QRMing over existing QSOs-
they just don't listen if the frequency is in use (OK, here I'm
probably exagerating by extrapolating from two use cases I whitnessed.
Idon't think allthe Winlink users are like these particularly folks.)

In my experience 90% of them are.... 70% of my downloads will be 
clobbered by automated WINLINK or ALE transmissions...

Bug in Header/ Inbox panels:
After reception of a mail the view changes to inbox while the Folder
Headers on the left is still highlighted. If you then click on an all
ready downloaded mail (Get or Open), it will send a command to the
server to download it again.

Agree, I came across this this myself... (Per?)

Mails should be sorted by date- latest on top! I scrolled like a
thousand times down all the Headers and Inbox folders.

Agree fully...

The mails in the outbox folder should be editable. Due to my brain I
forget quite a lot of stuff, so it happens with about every other mail
that I want to add something after I wrote the original version.
Currently this is only possible when I copy & paste the old mail
content into a new mail draft and then delete the original version in
the outbox folder.

You can just edit the mail in the Outbox folder using windows Notepad, 
or nano or Leafpad on Linux....
Just edit the file inside  ~/.pskmail/Outbox. As long as you leave the 2 dots at the 
end intact....

Grib file center position should be chosen independently from your own
position. Because, quite often when on the move you are more
interested in the weather ahead of you, not centered on your current
So why not have a little popup window there it lets you choose the
grib files center position, probably have default values allready in
the input fields with your current position.

Good idea....

Pos. Button has to move to the APRS Tab. I'did so many wrong positions
because my GPS- mouse lost contact at the USB plug (salty environments
make for bad connections) and jpskmail defaulted to an old position
which I didn't realize because I have no indication of that in the
Terminal tab. Also the current position should be entered right in the
fields of the APRS tab to streamline the whole operation. Right now
the workflow looks a bit like this on board of our ship:
If you enter your position manually you have to go to
1. Edit -> Preferences, click on dd.mm to convert and then go back to
2. APRS tab to check position, enter your short message text (e.g. all
well on board etc.) and then go back to
3. Terminal tab and hit Pos.- button.
It would be much nicer IMHO to go to APRS tab, enter your current
position and the short message text there and hit Pos. Button, all on
the same tab.

Good idea, will be implemented...

Current Modes in use on my client are:
PSK250, PSK250R, MFSK32, THOR22
Ultra robust modes (read: ultra slow) are probably nice to have
academicaly, but PSKmail is there to transmit data, so you want speed
as well, because you want to be finished before next year also.
I found that FSK modes are much more robust than PSK- why not
implement MFSK64 for example- anybody tried that one?

MFSK64 is 1 kHz wide, and we are limited to 500 Hz on 30m in Europe.
We may decide to allow its use on the other bands, provided they are used 
in the broadband (SSB) part of the bands...
By the way, WINLINK users don't give a sh*t, as they use PIII on 30m...
But we want to be 'good citizens', so we don't get the same reputation....

For non- American Servers I'd suggest something like that as a default:
PSK500, PSK500R, PSK250R, MFSK64, MFSK32, THOR22
Forget the slower modes...
On the other hand, I found that we ended up with THOR22 quite often,
so in practice, the propagation wasn't very good over the long
distance. So I don't think mobile stations gain much from the
development of even faster modes.

It may be advantageous when you are at the right distance from one of 
the servers.... I can use PSK500 often at 500 Miles from OE5RTL...
but only during those times of the day when there is little or no multipath.

Sometimes, due to stupidity on my side, I downloaded the headers
multiple times- this should not be allowed by the client. Something
like a warning that "you already requested new headers from the server
and do you really want to proceed or something".

I will look into it...

BTW, just out of personal interest: PSK500 can't be used in the US
because of some weird law I read somewhere. What about Pactor3
stations- much more baud, much more bandwidth. Aren't they are banned

They are cheating.... PSK500 uses 1 carrier with 500 Bd, Pactor uses 
multiple carriers with lower Baud rates, and the FCC won't allow 
Baud rates above 300 Bd. They pretend 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, 
whereas in other countries it is 4...
John, VK2ETA has developed some mode which could be used there, but 
we have been too busy to take the decisions...
It would be SO NICE if we did not have to bother about these things...

Cheers, Christian

Tnx again for the excellent input,,


Rein PA0R

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