6 Jun 2013

Good results with new VLF earth-mode RX system

Today I carried out a test with my new simpler RX system for VLF/LF earth-mode "through the ground" communications, testing with a 5W TX into 20m spaced earth electrodes at 8.976kHz.

The new preamp is just a single MPF102 impedance converter feeding into a small,low cost, external USB sound card (£3) that feeds my baby Asus X101CH netbook (£172) running Spectran software to display the received QRSS3 signal. The external soundcard was only needed as I didn't have a 4-pin jack to use the audio-in socket on the Asus.

Tests were carried out at the usual test sites at 1.6, 3.6 and 6km as well as one further (unsuccessful) test at 6.2km.
In all locations, decent signals were copied, even at 6km. The little Asus netbook has an SD card running Readyboost and behaved perfectly well during the tests. Now, the whole system is very simple to deploy in the field to take measurements. The preamp is only tuned by the loop and its resonating capacitors (a capacitance decade box), so the very same preamp can be used right across the VLF and LF spectrum with a suitable receiver.
Today the weather was dry and has been for around a week now. I believe signals by earth-mode are stronger after a period of dry weather as the soil conductivity is lower. Results are as good, or better, than I have ever experienced before with earth-mode at 8.976kHz.

The next test will be to repeat this test at around 1kHz and possibly lower frequencies.I also want to try WSPR and repeat the tests at much higher LF frequencies around 72-73kHz. For the latter test, I need to build a simple down converter to audio.


SIDdetectorNLD said...

Nice results, thanks for info. Do you have some additional info abt. the TX antenna and the design of the RX loop ?

Roger G3XBM said...

TX: TDA2003 audio IC (5W).
TX antenna: 20m spaced earth electrodes (1 rod at bottom of garden, second is connection to house copper pipes. TX matched to earth electrodes with 3C90 toroid transformer.
RX loop: 30t wire on 80cm sided square loop. Wire about 1.2mm diam PVC insulated. Parallel tuned with switched capacitance decade box. Fed into gate of FET source follower.