Operating notes: odd behavior

Today, several odd things happened.

First of all, something odd happened with my new shack computer. I wandered down to the shack about 11:30 am, turned on the power supply, turned on the radio, and then booted up the computer. After the computer booted, I loaded the N3FJP logging program.

Right away, the computer gives me some error message about COM3, the port to which the USB CI-V cable connecting my IC-746PRO to the computer is assigned. I also note that the logging program is not recording the rig’s mode and frequency setting. I think to myself that I’ll just ignore that for now and troubleshoot that later.

I tune around a bit, and not hearing anyone, call QRL? At that point, all hell breaks loose. Windows start resizing and the mouse pointer starts jumping around the screen. It was as if the mouse, which showed no signs of RF susceptibility before this, suddenly decided to act wonky.

So, I disconnect the mouse, but I still get this odd behavior. Hmmmmmm, strange. I disconnect the audio in from the microphone jack on the odd chance that was causing the problem, but no, that wasn’t it, either.

At that point, the only other thing it could be is the USB CI-V cable. I unplugged that and the wonky behavior goes away. Not only that, I plug it back in, and the rig and the computer start communicating again. Really weird.

Short skip
The next odd thing to happen is that the skip was really short this morning. The first contact I made was with a ham in Wyandotte, MI, which is about 30 miles directly east of me. The second contact I made was with a ham in Grand Blanc, MI, which is about 45 miles directly north of me. I think that these contacts were both made via sky wave, as a) both stations were S9 and b) ground wave signals would have been much weaker.

On the U-M net tonight, someone mentioned that such odd behavior could have been the result of the high solar flux index. This weekend, the SFI is as high as it’s been in a long time.

Odd transmitter behavior
Another odd thing this morning was the behavior of the Wyandotte ham’s transmitter. Whenever he would begin a transmission, the signal was very weak. As the transmission progressed, however, the signal would get stronger until it reached a peak of S9. It was almost as if a capacitor with a really long time constant was charging up, and as the capacitor charged, the output power increased.



  1. Luke - AE5AU says:

    The communications issue sounds as if your computer detected the rig as a serial mouse when it booted up. I’ve had that happen a few times with various serial devices connected (and probably spewing out data that might look like a mouse) when booting Windows.

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      I mentioned this to a friend yesterday, and he said that had the same thing happen with a development board connected to his Windows computer. His solution is to boot up the computer first, then turn on the development board. When he follows that protocol, Windows seems to get it right. At first, I thought it might be a Windows 8.1 issues (I had just upgraded to 8.1), but he says that it happens with his Windows 7 box as well.

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