30 Apr 2014

10m WSPR this evening and (maybe) PI7CIS UHF?

Because of various non-radio factors I was " late on parade" getting on 10m WSPR today. I did not turn the rig on until 1750z. As yet, no spots given or received, but sunspot count is 80, and 20-30MHz conditions supposed to be "poor" with quite disturbed conditions.

UPDATE 1834z:  At 1832z just spotted CE3YP (Chile, 5W, FF46qn, 11742km) at -24dB S/N.

The other RX (70cms on the 5el beam), may have detected faint traces of the PI7CIS beacon on 70cms. Signals were well LF of the indicated beacon frequency (about 1kHz) and were too weak to copy the callsign. There was something there for about 5secs at RST229. Looks like this beacon will only be copied under lift conditions.

UPDATE 1915z:  At 1906z PY2RN (9550km) was spotted at -14dB S/N. A little later he was -9dB.

UPDATE 2030z:  No further reports in the last hour.  Unless there are very late surprises, like last night, this is probably it for tonight. I was surprised to spot Chile and Brazil on 10m WSPR!

UPDATE 2100z:  I have closed the station for the night.  A last look for PI7CIS (UHF beacon) was not successful.

VHF/UHF beacons PI7CIS Holland

Although I can copy the VHF beacon PI7CIS (144.416MHz) almost 100% of the time on my small 3el VHF beam (callsign clear but S-meter does not move on FT817) I have still to copy the co-sited UHF beacon with the same callsign.  On UHF (432.416MHz) I have the same low loss coax (Westflex) and a co-located 5el beam on the very same beam heading. I know this beacon is not GPS locked, so it may drift, but I am surprised not to have yet detected it at all, even allowing for the additional losses in the feeder (maybe a few dB?).

Indications are this 75W, coastally located (Scheveningen) beacon, is operational, unless anyone knows better? The antenna is reported to be a dipole aiming 90/270 degrees which would be poor in my direction.

Anyone know the PI7CIS UHF beacon's current status please?

The next solar cycle?

Many are suggesting the next solar cycle (cycle 25) will have a very small peak and that we may even be entering a period with very few sunspots, not unlike the Maunder Minimum of the late 1600s. Truth is no-one can be sure. If it happens, the best propagation on 10m will be summertime Es - no bad thing. We will have to use 10m mainly for local traffic - it is a big band and a good choice for this.

29 Apr 2014

Beacon hunting

Maybe tomorrow evening I need to do a good search for 70cm beacons in range under (near) flat conditions. There is a distinct lack of UK 70cm beacons, with even the very good GB3BSL beacon near Bristol now QRT. This would have been copied, I feel sure, at this QTH.  Some of the nearer European ones may be  receivable.  PI7CIS (on 70cm) is probably my best hope. I can copy the co-sited 2m beacon.

10m WSPR - April 29th 2014

Nothing spectacular so far today. Sunspot count 79 with 20-30MHz forecast to be "normal" whatever that means. So far, since turning on at about 1020z, just a couple of spots from 4X1RF (3519km) in Israel.
10m WSPR this morning - very quiet so far.
I have doubts the 10m band will be open to the USA and Canada today, although openings to South America would not surprise me.
Bottom rig on 28.1246MHz WSPR, top one on 2m beacons
UPDATE 1250z:     CX2ABP (11127km), in GF15wc square, spotted my 2W WSPR at 1136z, so the band has opened to South America albeit briefly here.

UPDATE 1720z:  No stateside spots here,  given or received,  today. Others may have been luckier.

UPDATE 1836z:  Just about to switch to MF when I see I've just spotted the 5W from LU8ENU (11208km) in GF05rl square (Buenos Aires) on 10m WSPR. At 1840z he spotted my 2W.

UPDATE 2000z:    Stateside was being worked from GM, UA6 and EA5 but not from here.

UPDATE 2100z:  A few Europeans but little else (Es?).

UPDATE 2114z:  Well, well, stateside at last! AK4T (6733km), EM74vb square,was spotted running 500mW.   I was just about to turn everything off but will leave a bit longer now.  At 2122z his drift was -4Hz suggesting moving F layers.   I suspect spread-F and reflections from near the equator?

UPDATE 2135z:  A most interesting day on this fascinating band.  4 continents after all.  Time for bed!

28 Apr 2014

Moonraker saga - the end?

Today I wrote to Moonraker telling them of my other issues (other end of 20m Westflex patch cable intermittent and one element on the antenna loose) and they were very apologetic, offering me a full refund if I returned the goods. When I explained I was returning nothing as my colleague had soldered good connectors on and glued the antenna it was as if they no longer wanted to know: no more apologies, nothing.

Correspondence just stopped.

Moonraker will never benefit from further business from me unless they can demonstrate their quality control has been smartened up. I was totally disappointed by the goods received and the poor follow-up response.

Sorry, but in my limited experience this is a company that deserves to fail: so little is needed to sort out their shortcomings - get on and fix the issues! In my opinion they showed me a perfect example of how not to conduct a business!

In the end, all my issues have been sorted despite Moonraker rather than by Moonraker. Sorry, but you come over as a greedy care less outfit who need to sharpen up fast.

Super simple FM TX - try on 2m?

See http://makezine.com/projects/super-simple-fm-transmitter/ .

This is a super simple TX for Band II FM using readily available parts.  With a smaller coil (1 turn less) and C4 smaller (and made tunable) I think it could be used experimentally on 2m FM, but stability is likely to be poor, so really only of use for short range and short durations.  From here, I'd expect this to be detectable at least 3km away (next village) even if the power is at uW or low mW levels. A few uW go a LONG way if connected to a reasonable antenna like my V2000 or 3el beam. There is no harmonic filtering either: a small low pass filter is advisable really.

With lower modulation levels (adjust) it should be fine with NBFM. The 2N3904 is a ubiquitous transistor available for just a few pence from many sources. The other parts are just pence.
Image at http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/kogawa_simplest_transmitter.png?w=620&h=354

My thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News for finding this before me.

All systems go

With the 3/5el VHF/UHF beam erected and the Par HF end-fed up again I feel I am "all systems go" again here. Reports from 4 countries on 40m WSPR, a report from WB2TQE (7097km) on 10m, reports exchanged with 4X1RF and received from DK6UG on 10m, the HF system is working fine.

On VHF, the Kent and Dutch 2m beacons were received well this morning thanks to the new small beam.

I now feel I have a decent little QRP station for the bands I'm interested in. Just need to improve the earth-electrode baseline on 630m.

UPDATE 1625z:   Most reports this afternoon are of and from 4X1RF, with just one stateside report on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1755z:   4X1RF and now 4X1DA and M0ITF (170km).  Stateside absent more or less apart from WB2TQE  just once reporting my 2W WSPR at 1228z.

27 Apr 2014

3 el/5el beam

VHF/UHF beam with V2000, 2m halo and HF Par antenna behind
The dual band 2m/70cm beam is erected and is working now the useless Moonraker crimped coax connectors at both ends of the low loss Westflex coax have been replaced by decent soldered connectors. Andrew G6ALB also restrung my Par 10/20/40m end fed back up so I am now operational as follows:

630m Earth-electrode 15m baseline

40m Par end-fed
20m Par end-fed
10m Par end-fed

The Par also matches on 60m and 30m via the auto-ATU.

6m V2000 vertical
2m 3el horizontal and halo
2m V2000 vertical
70cm 5 el horizontal
70cm V2000 vertical

This means I am decently equipped for the bands I am mainly interested in. The dual band yagi is small and cannot easily be seen from the front of the house. The most I run is 5W pep, although I use 2W mostly and just 5mW ERP on 472kHz. 2W is more than enough to be copied all around the planet on 40m, 20m and 10m.

VHF beacons

With Andrew G6ALB's superb and kind help, my manually turned, Moonraker supplied, dual band 2m/70cm antenna is up and working, no thanks to the rubbish patch lead from Moonraker which had 2 dodgy crimped connectors! The N connector at the mast end has had to be replaced and at the shack end the SMA crimp is intermittent. Andrew is going to replace this with a PL259 plug shortly.

With the patch  lead working (by wiggling!) I can copy the following VHF beacons at any time: GB3VHF  Kent (144.430MHz), GB3NGI N.Ireland (144.482MHz) and PI7CIS Holland  (144.415MHz). There may be others too but I have yet to have a good look. The Cornish beacon seems too far to copy, at least so far. I have yet to check 70cm beacons. On the halo PI7CIS on VHF was just nudging the noise floor, so the 2m beam is certainly helping.

The manual antenna rotation method (out of the guest bedroom window) seems to work fine: I can reach the pole OK and can peak beacons by listening on the shack loudspeaker.

When the shack end PL259 is added, the Westflex cable should no longer be intermittent. The Moonraker crimped connectors will then have all been replaced. Says a lot for Moonraker's quality control doesn't it?  Don't think they can ever check crimped patch coaxes, which I assume they buy-in. A simple sampled ratio pull test is called for. If any fail reject the batch.

Now looking forward to Tuesday evening UKAC sessions to try the beam in contests on 2m and 70cm.

26 Apr 2014

Letter to Moonraker

Sent this morning, no reply today:

I recently purchased a dual band 2m/70cm yagi, some mast brackets and patch coax cables with attached plugs. Recently I had a stroke and a local ham has kindly offered to do the erection for me because of my poor health.

Unfortunately the installation has had to be postponed because the 20m long Westflex patch lead is rubbish! The N connector end just fell apart in my hands as the crimping is so poor. I would return the lead and ask for a replacement but have little confidence the replacement will be any better. The current plan is for the local ham to replace the N connector with a proper plug, if he can.

Just want to tell you how disappointed I am. In days gone by, I'd have bought the cable and fitted my own connectors but buying the patch leads was meant to save time and effort being disabled. The patch leads were almost as much as the antenna! I was expecting better quality from a good supplier.

As an absolute minimum, please improve your quality control. Expect to hear from me again shortly.

In the meantime, if I have to return anything (for free replacement under Sale of Goods Act) how do I go about this please?

Roger (Lapthorn) G3XBM"

If Moonraker was really interested in satisfied customers I would have expected a  reply by return. I think the company does business on Saturdays, but I shall wait until Monday before ringing them. I am honestly deeply disappointed in their patch leads and apparent indifference to their customers. I may be doing them a disservice, so must wait until next week.

Is it really too much to ask that patch leads are reliably made? After Andrew G6ALB fitted a proper N connector for the antenna end I have found the crimp joint at the shack end is intermittent. This patch lead really is a heap of rubbish. Even one of the Allen nuts on one of the 70cm elements is stripped.

Moonraker? Sorry I am NOT impressed one bit. I cannot see myself ever doing business with you ever again.

2m/70cm yagi erection

Andrew G6ALB is erecting my new VHF/UHF yagi for me as my health is still too poor. He hopes to return later today. Andrew is hoping to fit a decent N connector to the failed Moonraker patch lead. With luck, the whole installation may be done this weekend depending on Andrew's time and the weather.

I am so grateful for Andrew's help - amateur radio spirit at its best.

25 Apr 2014

472kHz spots from G3XIZ

During the day time I get -15/-16dB S/N spots on 472kHz WSPR from Chris Osborn G3XIZ who is 46km away. G3XIZ is about 20dB stronger here, which is about right for the ERP difference (500mW to 5mW).  At night, my reports are poorer, probably because the local noise at G3XIZ is higher? This all seems about right.

Chris has seen my WSPR on 137kHz from the old QTH, but with the 15m  baseline earth-electrode antenna at this newer QTH 137kHz would be marginal or not good enough except perhaps when the band is exceptionally quiet. A longer baseline earth-electrode antenna may allow the path to Chris to be useable on 137kHz again. It may be some time before I can find out.

UPDATE April 26th 0900z:   G3XIZ says my WSPR sigmal is strong enough for a CW QSO. We must have a go sometime.

Moonraker 20m patch lead is rubbish

Having spent almost as much on a low loss antenna lead (20m long Westflex with connectors) as on my dual band 2m/70cm antenna, I was expecting quality. It was NOT. The N connector end just fell apart in my hand - so poor were these crimped joints, so I am unable to complete the antenna erection when G6ALB kindly comes around later to fix the wall brackets. I want this lead replaced but have zero confidence the replacement will be any better! In days gone by I would have bought the cable and fitted plugs myself but cannot because of my stroke. This was meant to have saved time and effort!

Moonraker  - you score 0/10 for quality control on patch leads!  Folks you have been warned!  So far, the 2m/70cm antenna itself looks fine.  Such disappointment and so unnecessary.

23 Apr 2014

LNR FX-4 transceiver?

See http://www.lnrprecision.com/ and scroll down the page.

This looks "Chinese" in origin and I am wondering if this is a badged product?  It looks a bit like a poor man's KX3. It is a 4 band, 5W QRP CW/SSB transceiver.  In the USA it retails for $450. It is clearly aimed at backpackers.

See https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.519456908132892.1073741827.229134337165152&type=3 for some images of the little rig.

DC0DX on 472kHz WSPR

Several spots during the night of DC0DX (467km) running 10mW ERP on 472kHz WSPR. There may have been later spots but sometime during the night the Win 8.1 PC decided to stop the WSPR software running (again). I have reset the clock and restarted the software on 474.2kHz USB dial.

22 Apr 2014

472kHz WSPR unique reports over last 2 weeks

Looking at the results over the last 2 weeks, I see that I've had reports of my 5mW ERP (15m spaced earth-electrodes) from 8 different stations. Best DX is F1AFJ at 607km followed by reports from 3 different Dutch stations. I'll leave the set-up running overnight in case I get any new stations reporting me.

HF wire fallen down

My Par 10/20/40m end-fed has, this afternoon, fallen down, explaining the high SWR on 10m just now. I think I must have knocked it when seeing if the brackets and pole for the 2m/70cm yagi will fit OK outside the guest bedroom window (they will).   My son, or maybe Andrew G6ALB, will be asked to help re-erection. It has come adrift at the 40m trap I think, so should be easy to fix.  Just need to remake the joint and ask someone to climb a tree (with a small ladder) to tie the end off.  I am just too wobbly for ladders, more is the pity.

I was thinking of fitting the wall brackets for the 2m/70cm antenna myself, but this will prove too hard in my current poor state of health I have decided. I am too clumsy and wobbly (stroke).

For the coming days I'll have to concentrate on 472kHz instead using the earth-electrode antenna.

Interestingly, by about 1516z, there were no USA or Canadian stations being copied here but I was getting/giving decent spots into South America, even with the antenna half down and a poor match on 10m. It appears there was some 10m propagation to the USA for others.

6m super DX

The evening of June 25th 2007 was a very memorable one here: K1TOL (Lefty) was worked on 6m QRP CW from the old QTH when I was using just 2.5W from the FT817 to my V2000 vertical fed by a long and lossy length of RG58 coax. ERP could not have been more than 1W. His big antenna certainly helped, but this was a great contact in the log. The mode was multi-hop Es.

K1TOL's 6m QSL card

2m/70cm antenna

Today I unpacked my 3/5el beam for 2/70cm, the wall brackets and the coax leads. I am missing a small SMA female to SMA female connector  (just ordered from eBay) to join the 20m long Westflex coax to the small patch lead to the FT817.

As far as I can tell, I have everything I now need, when the SMA connector comes. I shall have to wait until Andrew G6ALB can come over to help with the wall brackets. At the moment my health is still too poor (too giddy/clumsy)  to do the erection on my own, sadly.

Better 10m conditions today

With a sunspot count of 168 and a forecast of "good" 20-30MHz propagation, 10m should be good, and it is. I can say with quiet confidence that 10m will be good to S.America very soon and to N.America this afternoon. The good times are very much still with us!

Already this morning I have spotted EX1UN (5423km) and VK8TH (13800km), twice now in Darwin N.Australia, and have been spotted (Es I assume) by IZ6QZB. All between 1016z and 1040z.

At 1038z CX2ABP (11127km) was spotted (Montevideo, S.America).

21 Apr 2014

10m today

10m conditions today are best described as "mixed". On N-S paths at least the band has been open but nothing was copied here from the USA and Canada. Today was much more typical of conditions further down the cycle: NEVER write the band off, but openings are much more likely to be N-S (or S-N) than E-W. Tomorrow conditions could bounce right back or we could see poor conditions for many weeks. It  is only by holding faith with 10m that we will find out how it really behaves in the "quiet years" ahead. This is where WSPR beaconing will prove so very useful.

Just spotted PY2WG (9562km) on WSPR and this sort of path will be typical of the paths likely to be manageable with far lower solar activity. PY2ZX  spotted my 2W at 9555km at 1952z and 2004z..

2004z seems to be when the band died out for N-S DX, unless it was the Win 8.1 PC just going crazy again! I am monitoring WSPR.net on the lounge PC so I can watch TV at the same time. A quick shack visit is needed.

UPDATE 2145z:  WSPR software was working fine, no DX since 2004z, but I have gone QRT now.

RSGB Bennett Prize - G8PF

In the last few days I received my prize from the RSGB for my article last year on earth-electrode antennas for the 472kHz band. Because of my ill health I was unable to pick up my prize at the RSGB's AGM in Manchester. It was posted instead.

The prize was in 2 parts: (a) a certificate and (b) a lovely copy of The Times Atlas of the World.

The certificate
To say I was thrilled is an under-statement: I never thought that my article would merit such an award. I was both honoured and humbled.   RSGB, at times I criticize you, but  I am greatly indebted and thankful.

10m WSPR - local only so far Easter monday am

10m WSPR spots to 0940z today - all local
Only G0LRD (25km) - 13 spots so far -  is copying me this morning on 10m at 0952z.  No signs yet of Asian stations despite sunspot count of 192. The forecast for 20-30MHz is "poor" with disturbed conditions and blackouts.

By lunchtime, only  EA1KV and GM4WJA were vaguely DX stations spotting me. Condition so far today have been very poor indeed  on 10m.  David G0LRD, from Fowlmere, is testing a new 10/6m loft fan-dipole. There were about 24 decent spots from him by lunch, but little else of note. 4X1DA (3597km) was coming through at 1210z, which is very late indeed.

UPDATE 1800z: My Windows 8.1 PC still does odd things with the WSPR program, sometimes not uploading RX spots etc.  Since resettng the clock and program I am uploading my spot of V53ARC and I see I've been spotted in Brazil, S.America.

20 Apr 2014

GM on 10m WSPR: back-scatter?

In the last 2 weeks my 2W WSPR signal has been spotted no less than 55 times by GM4WJA (624km) in IO87mn which is midway up Scotland, not too far from Elgin. Skip this short is not uncommon on 20m but rare on 10m in my experience. This seems too close for Es so maybe it is F layer back-scatter? It is also a bit early in the spring  for Es.  It is too regular too. It seems too far for tropo too or aircraft scatter.

Easter Sunday 10m WSPR

Early morning 10m unique WSPR spots today
A modest start this morning with a few Asians coming through. Sunspot count is 259 (high) but HF conditions are again disturbed so conditions are only shown as "fair" at present. I wonder if the band will open to the USA /Canada later?

UPDATE 1045z/1300z:  UA6AAK  has been a massive +3dB S/N signal here at 1038z.   Single hop F layer I presume. At 1300z he was +6dB S/N with 5W.

UPDATE 1255z:   First spots of my 2W 10m WSPR today from Brazil PU2BFG (8852km) at 1122z and my first spot of CX2ABP (11127km) at 1208z.

UPDATE 1910z: I notice several USA and Canadian stations in the WSPR log for late this afternoon. Most activity seems to have been N-S into S.America, but at least there was a stateside opening after all.

UPDATE 2210z: All the DX now seems to be South American.e..g. spots of my signal from PY2ZX (9555km).

18 Apr 2014

MF WSPR again - 15m earth-electrode antenna

There are a few G's on this evening, so I have returned to 474.2kHz WSPR to see who spots me. So far G8ALS  (126km), G3XIZ (46km) and G6AVK (78km) have spotted my 5mW ERP signal.  G3XIZ is always a huge signal on MF and the difference between his report and mine is about correct for the difference in ERP.  Chris is always a good CW signal on Sunday mornings.

I shall leave the set-up running overnight in case any more distant stations spot me.

In the end just these 3 stations plus PA3ABK/2  copied me. Disappointing.

Wake Is (Pacific) again on 10m WSPR

WA2YUN /KH9 (11946 km) on Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean signing WA2YUN on WSPR has again been copied this morning on 10m WSPR along with an Israeli station 4X1DA. No Australians copied here. Solar activity looks good again (sunspot count 296), although HF conditions are  disturbed and the 20-30MHz forecast only "fair".   Nonetheless, I expect USA and Canadian stations will be coming through soon.

Wake Is was famous in WW2 and is, these days, a US pacific base. It is not that far west of Hawaii and a fair bit east of Japan. The direct path is quite close to the pole from the UK.

Signing without the right prefix or suffix is very confusing and it took the internet, and the QTH locator, to determine exact location last time.

I also notice that PY5EJ (9886km) has been spotted around late morning.

UPDATE 1530z:  so far the only USA/Canadian station copied is VE2PEP  at 5037km A very limited transatlantic opening.  PY5EJ (9886km) is a very good signal at -11dB S/N.

17 Apr 2014

Powerline interference

This appeared on  Facebook today:

"Leaked: EN 50561-3 - the latest revision of the interference-disaster-in-waiting 
Our thanks goes to our spy in the camp who has kindly and anonymously leaked the latest revision of EN 50561 (EN 50561-3) - the highly dubious "Standard" which will allow a new generation of powerline networking devices to produce an extra ten thousand times more interference than the current generations do, exposing innumerable radio services to impossible levels of interference.

The EMC industry remains deeply concerned about the continuing progress of this laughable standard, which makes a mockery of the European EMC regime. We strongly recommend that all interested parties lodge protest with their national representatives for the appropriate service - and do so without delay.

Back-up link, should an attempt be made to pull this from the public domain: http://bit.ly/1e0OXvf 
We recommend you download this without delay."
If this spec is not changed before final release, we will be in trouble if interested in weak signal modes on  HF.

10m stirring into life?

PY2RN spots on 10m mid-morning
PY2RN (9550km) has exchanged 10m WSPR spots with me at around 1030z, suggesting the band is "coming alive" again. It will be interesting to see how it opens transatlantic to the USA and Canada later. Up to now, conditions on 10m today are best described as patchy, certainly not as good as on some previous mornings of late.

Both PY2RN and CX2ABP (11127km)  have been spotted (by me) later in the morning.

UPDATE 1530z: so far, all propagation on 10m here is N-S over the equator into S.America or that way (e.g. EA8) and, as yet at least, not a single N.American station spotted on 10m WSPR. I shall now be surprised if the band opens at all to the USA. Even with a high sunspot count 10m is a fickle band!

UPDATE 1950z: much to my surprise WA9JWL and ND6M in the WSPR log around teatime here. Hardly a massive opening to the USA, but at least 10m did open after all, just.

UPDATE 2050z: no further USA stations spotted. Most DX on 10m is coming in from S.America.

UPDATE 2100z: surprise, surprise WA9JWL just spotted. As I said, 10m is a fickle band!

My OTHER blog

My Miscellaneous Musings blog is my OTHER blog site. This is updated most days and contains my thoughts and views (mostly) on non-radio subjects. As always, your views are as important as my own, even if we disagree, so please add comments where appropriate.

Feel free to take a visit and browse the postings on Miscellaneous Musings.

10m - late finish last night and early start today

Transatlantic spots were being exchanged here with the USA at 2W as late as 2252z last night and with Israel at 0610z (very early) this morning. I have the feeling that today will be good on 10m WSPR. Sunspot count is extremely high (245) but conditions on higher HF are said to be disturbed with blackouts and "poor" .

Recent 10m WSPR spots
Interesting that since 0612z 10m seems to have gone very quiet. Maybe blackouts? Only G7FYO copyable here now this morning (162km) at -19 to-24dB S/N.

I am periodically checking the WSPR software is still running and the clock spot on internet time. Usually there are several Europeans visible as well as FR1GZ if active.

16 Apr 2014

VHF/UHF antenna arrives

A large package arrived today: my 3el/5el VHF/UHF beam, brackets and feeder cable. I must now await Andrew G6ALB to help me erect it.

We have grandchildren here over Easter, so I am hoping Andrew can help next week or the week after in time for UKAC Tuesday evening contest sessions. I am quite looking forward to having some modest gain on 2m and 70cms SSB/CW/digital. I gather there are also Sunday and Wednesday activity sessions on 70cms.

10m update - 2200z

Well, the PC is still running and there are still lots of WSPR spots from both North and South America. I shall reset the PC clock and WSPR software (DONE) before going to bed so I  hope to catch any very late openings on 10m tonight and early in the morning. A few days ago 10m was open until past midnight local time and conditions this evening look good.

UPDATE 2154z:  8 spots as a result of my 2W WSPR burst at 2154z and 7 of these were from the USA.

PC turned off WSPR - again

Yet again, the afternoon appeared very quiet on WSPR until I realised my main shack PC had decided to close the WSPR program yet again.  I have only just turned it back on again and am seeing W4 and PY in the logs. I thought it very odd not to be seeing any USA transatlantic reports: it helps if the program is actually running!

The turning off seems to be a bi-product of Windows 8.1 as this never occurred with my old XP machine. It is not a major issue.

Station seen since restarting the software:

1602 -16 -1.4  28.126026  0 WB4KLJ FM18 33
1602  -5 -0.8  28.126066  0 PY5EJ GG54 40
1604  -3 -0.8  28.126096  0 WA9JWL EN70 37
1606 -11  0.5  28.126161  1 K3NAL FM18 37
1610 -18 -0.8  28.126080  0 CX2ABP GF15 37
1614  -3 -0.8  28.126065  0 PY5EJ GG54 40
1624 -17 -0.5  28.126079  0 CX2ABP GF15 37
1624 -21 -0.7  28.126089  0 KZ8C EM88 37
1628 -26 -0.5  28.126003  0 PY2RN GG66 30

PY2RN WSPR analysis

Bert PA1B has analysed my recent reception on WSPR by PY2RN to see just how little power could have been used and still be successfully decoded in Brazil - the answer is very little for a lot of the time! Most times even 1mW should have been enough. This of course assumes local noise levels allow decoding to the lowest levels for WSPR at around -30dB S/N. In some cases this may not be possible because of local QRN/QRM.

Late evening reports on 10m

Before my program stopped running, 10m WSPR was in good shape up to (at least) 2200z last night. TI3/AB4AW (Costa Rica, Central America) was last reported (by me) at 2200z.
10m 2W WSPR spots last evening until very late
It may well have been open later still, but my WSPR program decided to close! This morning, I have re-opened the WSPR software and reset the clock to internet time. This morning, sunspot count is 149 with "stable/good" propagation forecast. 10m should be good today.

15 Apr 2014

Some building in the shack!

For the first time since my stroke last year I decided to build and test something in the shack (other than a loading coil). For my very wobbly self, this is a major step.  I decided to have a go at the Petitico 10 parts rig from PY2OHH shown a few posts back.

Somewhere I have a 7MHz crystal, but I could not locate it, so I built a bench version, for 3.560MHz instead. I still haven't managed to optimise values yet.

On RX the sensitivity with 600 ohm headphones was, at best -70dBm, so a strong signal is needed to hear anything. It was less sensitive with a crystal earpiece. It is possible that further optimisation might yield a few dB more, but this level I expected. The RX-TX offset seems ideal. The only real operating technique, with this sort of sensitivity, is LISTEN (for a good, strong signal) and then POUNCE. I have yet to check TX output power.

 I'd like to try it on 7MHz really and may buy some 7.030MHz crystals from GQRP club sales. On 7MHz I have an antenna and can listen for my signal on the Twente SDR RX in Holland.

The actual results are almost academic. What mattered was that I actually built something with my soldering iron, didn't burn holes in the carpet and, sort of managed, despite my severe balance problems.

I am wondering if I should open the Ultimate 3 Beacon kit box and build it or wait a few more weeks. At the moment I think I should wait. My confidence levels are still low.

The 481THz NLOS test I had planned will have to wait until I feel less giddy I have decided. Everything for now will be shack based.

Slow start on 10m this morning

Time now is 1030z and so far only DK3SML (733km) at 0854z has been spotted on 10m WSPR.  Sunspot count is 105 with "normal" HF conditions, so hopeful of improvements as the day progresses, but signs are not encouraging: it was better at this time yesterday and yesterday was not a very good day.

UPDATE 1148z: spots exchanged with PY2RN,  also CX2ABP (11127km) spotted here. The band is livening up on N-S paths only so far here. No transatlantic stations yet copied.

UPDATE 1950z: transatlantic spots, 2-way spots by exchanged with CX2ABP (11127km) into S.America with 2W, and a TJ3 - in all a good day on 10m, despite the slow start.

UPDATE 2042z: still being spotted by K1OF (5500km).

Unique 10m WSPR spots of my 2W signal today

481THz RX issue - now fixed

As mentioned in an earlier post, my sensitive non line-of-sight NLOS optical (red LED at about 481THz) RX packed up when I clumsily dropped it yesterday when out in the field at the test site. An investigation this morning revealed a wire had dropped off the battery feed and this was easily fixed. The  RX now works as before.
I shall have to try the NLOS test again when my wife can drive me out there. I shall have to do it soon as tree leaves will soon obscure the path at the home QTH end. Just wish I was not so clumsy still following the stroke last year. In the field I feel so much less able than last year. I feel really disabled and hate being so useless and clumsy.

UPDATE 2050z: for now, all my tests will be shack-based because of my poor health, so no immediate plans to repeat NLOS tests until I feel a lot less wobbly.

14 Apr 2014

10m - mixed fortunes

Today was an odd day on 10m WSPR - some good propagation N-S but very marginal indeed transatlantic.  The band did open up but hardly any transatlantic spots.

I think we are now moving towards summertime conditions and are gradually starting the slide down towards the next minimum. We will have a very long journey downwards and some days conditions will be excellent. On many days, the band will be closed. On some days propagation will be mainly N-S only.

With luck, Es will help to liven up the band in summertime. Just occasionally, mutli-hop Es will support transatlantic 10m and 6m propagation as well as propagation into the Middle East. Also, sometimes the first hop is Es then linking up with F layer propagation further to the south.  Even in the quiet years, 10m has surprises.

At 2142z NA4U (6533km) was spotting my 2W still. Surprise!

Aborted 481THz NLOS test

I am beginning to think that ALL tests outside the house should stop until I am a lot better (stroke). The best description is I feel, all the time when on my feet, as if I have drunk 8 pints of beer and am very drunk and clumsy.

This evening, my wife drove me out to an NLOS test site where I managed to drop the RX head hard on the ground. The head immediately stopped working even before I started hunting for my signal! I could hear no hiss at all. There was no sign of the very visible moon noise in the RX.

The test would have been marginal anyway, especially with a bright full moon, but to be unable to carry out the test at all was a great shame.  It is just that everything is SO hard for me at present and setting up optical kit is stretching the limits of my current abilities. Feeling clumsy nearly all the time is tiring too.

Even getting my VHF/UHF beam up at home will require help. Andrew G6ALB has kindly offered to erect it for me. This should be an easy task for me - normally it would be - but not at present. At least, when erected, VHF and UHF activity should be straightforward at home in UKAC sessions on Tuesday evenings. Sitting down my balance is fine. I just hope this soon improves. Walking is getting better but balance/giddiness are still big issues.

Simple audio filter designs

The PY2OHH pages contain a useful link to a TI paper on active filters. In my experience, virtually any audio or RF transistor (e.g. 2N3904 NPN) can replace the op-amps with little effect. Some prefer "perfect" op-amps whereas I find transistors easier to work with and place. The performance difference is very very small.

2N3906 is a ubiquitous PNP equivalent.  The 2N3904 and 2N3906 devices are available from a range of suppliers for just a few pence each only. A few 2N3904s in parallel with small emitter resistors make a good HF/LF QRP PA replacement for a 2N3866 too. My recommendation is buy 100 of each (2N3904 and 2N3906) and stock your junk-box. Less than £10 and it will be a long time before you run short! Think of all those projects.
See http://py2ohh.w2c.com.br/trx/filtroativo/filter%20design%20in%20thirty%20seconds.pdf for the active AF filter paper.

Good start on 10m this morning

EA8/LA3JJ has already spotted my 2W WSPR 3 times and it is only just after 0800z. Sunspot count is 95 and the forecast is for "stable/normal" HF conditions. Perhaps this will be a good day on 10m?
10m WSPR spots with 2W to 1130z today (basically N-S)

PY2OHH's Pititico 10 parts transceiver for 40m

Andy Cutland has sent me this link. It is from, Miguel,  PY2OHH's excellent site which is full of ideas for QRP and QRPp enthusiasts. I can thoroughly recommend it for ideas.  I would expect this RX to hear signals, but be quite deaf as there is no audio gain apart from that in Q1.

Apparently the headphones were around 500 ohms impedance. I guess a crystal earpiece might work as audio is derived across R2. Maybe then C5 could be deleted?

Q1 must act as a (crystal controlled) regenerative detector on RX with the level of oscillation set by R2. Not sure of RX-TX shift as this will depend on RX and TX current. There is no low pass filter either, as shown. This means harmonics will also be detected and emitted. Still, this is meant to be VERY simple. I must try it.

13 Apr 2014

VHF/UHF antenna ordered

Just ordered  a 5 ele for 70cms and 3 el for 2m which are fed with a single feeder coax and form a single antenna from Moonraker.  This antenna is reduced in price by 30% this weekend.

I intend to mount this dual band antenna on my 50mm diameter pole and hand rotate it by turning the pole out of a window next to the shack. It should mean a couple of S-points extra on 2m (compared with a halo fed with RG58 coax) and on 70cms I have no horizontal antenna.

UKAC sessions on a Tuesday night , GDX and beacon hunting should be a great deal more fun.

12 Apr 2014

Simple 3 transistor DSB transceiver for 28MHz

Stephen Walters G7VFY has reminded me of a simple 28MHz DSB transceiver from Japan . I think I have mentioned this before, but it is so simple and elegant that a second outing is called for.
3 transistor DSB transceiver
See: http://www.cqpub.co.jp/hanbai/books/15/15061/15061_p.180-181.pdf .

Windows Updates and (late start) 10m WSPR

This morning , I assumed I was on 10m WSPR but instead I discovered the (new Windows 8.1) PC was doing a Windows update and was quietly waiting for me to restart the computer! This I did at around 1300z after which I was back on 10m WSPR.  Sunspot count is down to 83 with "disturbed conditions" today so I would expect 10m conditions at 2W to be more difficult.

PY2RN 10m WSPR spots early afternoon today
My first spot today at 1318z is of PY2RN (9550km) running 5W.  Excellent reports both given and received.

Interesting that even at 1822z, not a single spot exchanged with North America, well here at least. All 10m propagation, for me, is in the N-S direction so far today. More like quieter years. Others with better low angle antennas may have done better.

Non line-of-sight (NLOS) 481THz paths from home QTH

Before venturing out, I have been trying to plot possible NLOS paths with the optical TX at home (inside) and the RX at a convenient roadside spot at a moderate (local) distance. One possible path is VERY remote down very uneven fenland roads which would have to be navigated in the dark with my wife driving the car. I am thinking about her driving the car. I am not allowed to drive as a result of my stroke.  Many of the NLOS paths are blocked by nearby houses and trees. It is a surprisingly hard task.

 Back to Google Earth to see where might be worth trying. From previous tests it is necessary to aim very carefully.

11 Apr 2014

Southern Brazil PU3RRW 10m WSPR

PU3RRW (10652km) was spotted 3 times (so far) this evening. This station in GF38tf  is about as far south as one can get in Brazil and was a massive +9dB S/N for 5W on WSPR at times.

I wonder if TEP  propagation was helping to give signals this strong on 10m.

More transatlantic 10m

10m is still (mainly) open to the USA and Canada from just before lunchtime, local time. The sunspot number continues to decline, but 10m propagation remains in great shape. Even 6m should be good for TEP from southern latitudes. The MUF near Brazil was 47MHz yesterday, so only a bit short of that needed for 6m TEP.   

PY2RN (9550km) has been spotted on 10m WSPR several times already today. Southern Brazil is a long way from the UK but it is mostly a sea path.

10m oddity

10m WSPR early morning April 11th 2014
WA2YUN has just been spotted by lots of us in Europe, including me, at around 0908z. His reported locator is RK39hh which is near Wake Is in the Pacific. I suppose this is JUST possible at 11946km (especially early mornings) but it is more probable he is reporting the wrong locator. It is too early for transatlantic propagation - very odd.

KH9/WA2YUN is shown as Wake Is, so this is probably genuine.
See: http://www.dxcoffee.com/eng/2012/03/07/kh9wa2yun-wake-island/ 


10 Apr 2014

A glutton for punishment? 474.2kHz WSPR

I have just gone back on to 474.2kHz USB dial WSPR with 5mW ERP from the 15m spaced earth-electrode antenna. I must be a glutton for punishment!

So far this evening I have seen a couple of different Dutch stations and I have been seen a couple of times by PA3ABK/2 (306km) and once by F1AFJ (607km). The kit will be left on overnight to see if any new stations turn up.

WWV at 25MHz

The Southgate Amateur Radio News Page reports that WWV (Fort Collins) is experimenting at 25MHz for the first time since 1977 for a limited time.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2014/april/wwv_now_conducting_experimental_broadcasts_on_25_mhz.htm#.U0bjPygvk2A .

6m TEP in the Far East and 10m propagation today

Looking at the 6m spots on WSPRnet.com I note the many trans-equatorial spots of VK4TVL by JF1PSS (6176km) with some being of incredible strength (+11dB S/N ) and no drift at all. The VK is running 20W, but even 2W would be enough. Local time looks like early evening.

Over here, I can see no South African or other African WSPR stations active making 6m TEP attempts here a waste of time.
Later unique 10m WSPR spots of my 2W until 1744z.
No great DX here this morning on 10m with EA8/DL9XJ best DX at 2981km  (single hop F layer). There are also a couple of GDX stations at 162 and 184km.

The first transatlantic spot was at 1108z when W4HFZ was copyable at 6819km. He was using 5W. There are other 4 area stations being copied too. The pattern this afternoon is similar to previous days on 10m.

My best DX today is FR1GZ (9724km) at 1550z. Just now I was spotted by VE6ODQ (6640km) in DO34ir (Athabasca).

9 Apr 2014

XP3A - Nook, Greenland on 10m WSPR

For some reason (Win 8.1?) I have had issues today uploading my WSPR spots (that is of others) to the database. I have restarted the software and reset the clock and now all seems to be OK.  Among the first uploads was a strong signal from XP3A in Nook, Greenland at 1932z.. Although strong (+4dB S/N) there was -4Hz Doppler on the signal, perhaps because the signal was coming through the Auroral Oval?
XP3A's QSL card
This was the first time I have seen/heard Greenland on 10m WSPR but I was lucky enough to work Greenland on 15m SSB handheld with my FT817 in my back garden some years ago on just a base loaded whip with  a counterpoise!   I think the mode then was double hop Es. It was an easy QSO. Being able to move the antenna for best signal helps.

Interestingly, a VE4 was suffering -4Hz Doppler just now (signal again passing through auroral oval?). I often see large Doppler shifts on signals crossing the Equator (e.g. on FR1GZ) and I assumes this is due to moving F layers (spread F) as signals cross the magnetic Equator. I would expect TEP signals to have considerable Doppler too.


When I have repeated my over-the-horizon NLOS optical (red LED) tests at 481THz using LEDs bought from Hong Kong, I must remember to try my Phlatlights which are about 10dB stronger.  I bought these nearly 2 years ago and have not yet fired these up! The ones I have already have heatsinks so it should be quite easy to use these for QRSS3 tests. In theory it should mean aiming a little less critical or greater range when "on-beam".

At 8.7km over the horizon with a clear sky, QRSS3 signals were about 10dB S/N with the 10mm HK LEDs, so with Phlatights and the same optics (100mm lenses) signals should be much stronger. More tests for when I am fitter.

10m today - still good

All afternoon I have been receiving WSPR spots for my 2W WSPR transmissions.  Up to now ALL spots have been from transatlantic stations in the USA. The band is still in good shape.   The sunspot count is drifting gradually downwards (94 today) but, for now at least, HF conditions on the higher bands like 10m remain generally good.

This weekend I may make a start on my Ultimate 3 WSPR beacon kit (see image above on Hans Summers' site).  This is a complete (no PC needed) beacon kit for modes like WSPR and QRSS3 and very reasonably priced even if buying the GPS timing kit too. Mine cost £37 including postage from Japan with GPS.

I feel a bit better than I did and less clumsy. We'll see.

10m yesterday - a remarkable day

10m yesterday was quite remarkable here.

Nothing at all was seen until mid-afternoon and then the band just opened wide!  K9AN (6505km) last spotted my 2W signal at 2308z, which is after midnight local time and HOURS after the band has normally died out. It had been dark for hours. One wonders if this was F2 or even multi-hop Es? I wonder what was happening on 6m transatlantic?  I must check.

Even this morning conditions are encouraging with US7ISA (2634km) spotting my 2W as early as 0750z - very early and much earlier than stations were coming through yesterday. This is eastern Ukraine. Probably F layer but could, I guess, be early Es propagation.

8 Apr 2014

5MHz band - RSGB notice

See http://rsgb.org/main/blog/uncategorized/2014/04/08/important-update-5-mhz-band/ .

The primary user is carrying out some exercises in the next few days and amateurs (secondary users) are asked to use the channels we have carefully to avoid interference to the primary users.

So far, I have only used the band for WSPR on a couple of occasions. It was fun.

Successful 481THz garden tests

Today I repeated my optical tests across the garden receiving signals on my RX with both 600 ohm phones and Spectran software with QRSS3. This time the tests were very successful with signals at least 40dB over noise when scattered off distant bushes (0.34Hz BW).   I think we are nearly ready for the NLOS tests again!

10m late starting today

10m WSPR this afternoon
10m was very slow to get going today and it was not until 1404z that OZ7IT was spotted on WSPR.  Then, there was some some choice DX such as TJ3TS (5478km) and PY2RN  (9550km), the latter who spotted my 2W first at 1446z and several times later in the afternoon.  A few hours later K9AN (6505km) was coming through. Most DX is N-S and transatlantic almost absent. There were some more US stations on later.  ZS6PCO (9100km) was spotted at 1712z. After 1834z most spots are of my 2W from stations in the USA.  It is almost as if someone turned the switch on late today!

Some of the early evening 10m WSPR spots by stateside stations
UPDATE 2130z:  10m is still wide open to the USA. This is quite remarkable after the appalling conditions in the morning.

Later in the cycle, when there are far fewer sunspots, the band will come to life only very briefly and sporadically. In many ways these will be MORE interesting times. This is as long as WSPR operators hold faith with the band even when days go by with not a signal to be heard. I have regularly heard S.Americans on SSB in the solar minimum years. WSPR should be a lot easier.

481THz QRSS3 beaconing across the garden

Last night I fired up my 481THz optical kit with poor results: I think the RX unit may have a flat PP3 battery? On the Spectran display the QRSS3 signal bounced off trees and bushes should be very easy to spot, but for an unknown reason, I was struggling.  I shall recheck all the kit today. The kit has to be well focused and working well to work DX non line of sight (NLOS), which is my plan soon.

My stroke symptoms (poor balance and clumsiness) are really not helping: tasks that were very easy last year are very hard this, well at present they are.  Before my wife and I venture out into the dark fens, I want there to be a good chance of success, which means good and thorough preparation.

All quiet on 10m so far today

Overnight I left my 10m WSPR kit running to see what happened overnight, The last logged station was EA8/LA3JJ at 2018z last evening, so no overnight openings and no GDX around. Perhaps people turn off 10m at night. I usually do and QSY to a lower frequency like 472kHz.

It is now 1247z with a sunspot count of 106 and the 10m band is still quiet with me: no WSPR spots of my 2W signal and no spots of other people yet either. If conditions were good I would have expected some activity from the East already. In southern Europe conditions look better.

See later post for what happened in the afternoon when the band came alive.

7 Apr 2014

481THz QRSS3 beacon

This afternoon I dug out my optical QRSS3 beacon, PSU and optics. In the coming days I intend to test this locally from my shack by scatter off local walls and trees with the RX head, 100mm optics and Spectran software in a different room.

If all is working well, I shall ask my wife to drive me to an NLOS (over the horizon) location at 6.18km to see if the signal can be received. This is the first optical test in many months.

At the moment I am struggling with quite simple stuff because of my stroke. I am still so clumsy.

10m WSPR - April 7th 2014

After another disappointing session on 474.2kHz WSPR overnight with lots of spots from G6AVK and PA3ABK/2 but from no-one else, I have returned to 10m WSPR this morning.

Like yesterday, things have started off very quietly, probably as solar activity is just beginning to go past the peak and we are moving towards summertime conditions (less E-W and more N-S plus EU Es activity). The solar forecast is for "normal" HF conditions with a sunspot count of 127. K=2. No doubt the usual suspects will be visible soon?

UPDATE 0906z: Just spotted my PC was not connected to the internet - now corrected.  FR1GZ (9724km) has been seen multiple times and has copied me too. This is N-S propagation. No signs yet of EX1UN who was a consistent signal on 10m yesterday.

UPDATE 1020z:  UA9OTW (5136km) is a decent signal with 1W.

UPDATE 1242z:  No sign of any stateside stations yet,  but a -2dB S/N report from  LZ1OI .

UPDATE 1346z:  At last USA stations are appearing on 10m. The transatlantic 10m path is open today.  N5CSC (8009km) has exchanged spots with me. There are others too. I am still using 2W.

UPDATE 1704z:  10m still well open to the USA.

UPDATE 1848z:   This was the last time I noted transatlantic signals here this eveing.

UPDATE 2020z:    Still good 10m signals from EA8/LA3JJ (500mW) coming through although a few minutes later the band seems to have closed for any DX.

6 Apr 2014

Non line of sight (NLOS) 481THz light

My attention is turning back to 481THz (red light) and slightly lower frequency (IR) light communications over the visible horizon (NLOS). From the new QTH there is a good local marker (roof top chimneys on a house in the High Street) for a 6.18km NLOS path to the place I used to go to check VLF earth-mode at limit range. If I can set things on the right beam heading from home,  I then have to persuade my wife to drive me out there after dark where the roads are VERY bumpy and rough - it is way out in the fens - to see if I can pick up QRSS3 signals using Spectran software. This is where I really miss not being allowed to drive (because of my stroke) myself.

10m WSPR

Not as many stations being copied as in the last few months and only G3JKV (123km) copying me so far today. 4X1RF who always seems to copy me seems not to be on right now on 10m. We'll see how things develop later in the day, but is this the start of the very slow slide down to the minimum? Must just go and move frequency about 10Hz in case I am sitting under a big station.
Recent 10m WSPR spots
UPDATE 1130z:  Just exchanged 10m WSPR spots with FR1GZ (9724km) on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. He is using 5W and me 2W.  Conditions must still be reasonable. No stateside signals seen yet.

UPDATE 1300z:   G7FYO (162km) is being copied  but with -3Hz shift, suggesting aircraft reflection. This is a new direction too (IO82), nowhere near London's busy airports. These inter-G spots will be our 10m "bread and butter" in a few years' time when the long DX wanes.

UPDATE 1425z:  Interesting that not one stateside station copied yet here today so far. A few Europeans are reaching the USA, but not me. It looks as if transatlantic DX will not be seen here today now.
Later 10m spots - note absence of stateside stations

Disappointment on 474.2kHz last night

After a promising start, last night was a damp squib on 474.2kHz WSPR with just 3 unique reports of my signal and all of these from people who have spotted my 5mW ERP before.
474.2kHz WSPR spots overnight with5mW ERP - disappointing
I have now returned, again, to 10m WSPR with 2W ERP. Until I extend my baseline on 474.2kHz, I think there is little new to explore on MF.

5 Apr 2014

Return to MF

As of about 30 minutes ago I have returned yet again to 474.2kHz WSPR with my 15m spaced eartb-electrodes and about 5mW ERP. 

UPDATE 2100z: Already this evening I have been spotted several times by G3WCB (101km) and PA3ABK/2 (306km). A promising start to the evening and night but would like lots more UK reports!

VE3GEN - colossal 10m signal, and G7JVN

Running 2W RF,  VE3GEN is a huge WSPR signal today at +4dB S/N, implying he would be copyable with low milliwatts. LZ1OI is 10dB stronger still.  Even my own 2W is +1dB S/N right now at 1542z with KB9AMG at 6300km. Just goes to prove how good 10m can be on a good day.

Intrigued by me copying G7JVN (JO00) who is 154km south of me. Just what 10m mode is this? -23dB is not too bad a signal.  I'd be surprised if aircraft scatter was involved, so could it be tropo?  Drift on his signal was large at 2Hz, but the actual received signal showed a near continuous, but frequency varying signal, no sign of Doppler or  multiple signal returns as commonly seen with aircraft reflections. Similarly, G3WKW at 134km copid earlier in the day, but we believe this WAS an aircraft crossing the path (no Doppler). I suppose G7JVN could have been an aircraft crossing the path too?

Anytone 5555N and 6666 10m rigs

I am still on the lookout for a decent dedicated 10m multi-mode to use on my favorite band on SSB and CW mainly. There are a couple of new Anytone rigs at around £159 and £199 depending on power output. I need to watch for reviews of these, but both look neat units.

See http://simonthewizard.com/2014/03/14/anytone-at-6666-at-5555n-more-videos-online/ for a few videos.

Both are sold by Nevada, who also sell the President Lincoln II for around £259. The latter seems to have more features but is considerably more expensive.

474.2kHz WSPR overnight

A slightly better session on MF last evening and overnight with a few more UK stations in the log, but still way down on earlier attempts. I am trying again tonight with 5mW ERP from the 15m earth-electrode antenna on 630m, but for now have gone back to 2W on 28.1246MHz WSPR - much easier going!

Unique MF WSPR results overnight 5mW ERP

4 Apr 2014

Wikipedia on QRP

Wonder what Wikipedia has to say about QRP operation?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QRP_operation .

I find Wikipedia a great resource and have, in the past, contributed a few entries.

Back on 474.2kHz - yet again

I am having another go with the 15m earth-electrode antenna and 5mW ERP on 474.2kHz WSPR this evening. Unless UK and near continent activity picks up, it could be another fairly fruitless evening.

Certainly it is a lot easier getting DX spots on 10m.

UPDATE 1810z: Not long ago M0PPP was a reasonable signal at -23dB S/N on 474.2kHz WSPR. He is in the Barnsley, Yorks area (IO93gm) and should be "off the side" of my earth-loop. Midway through his TX burst there was a slight break and frequency shift too.

UPDATE 1940z: My only reports so far are from G6AVK (78km) again. I am copying F5WK (364km).

10m WSPRing again

This afternoon I have returned to 10m WSPR. There are lots of transatlantic reports of my signal, as well as reports of my 2W signal from Russia and Brazil.  Not sure if it is a Win 8.1 issue or just the V2 WSPR program playing up but I seem to be NOT uploading spots I see at my end. Perhaps the internet service is very weak in my shack?

UPDATE 1545z:  Restarting the program and re syncing the clock fixed it. Anyone know how to change how often the PC clock is sync'ed to internet time in Win 8.1? I need to increase the frequency I think. I don't even know how to find the control panel in Win 8.1 !
Unique 10m WSPR spots received so far this afternoon

Oscar 6 and 7

Many years ago when I lived in Cambridge I recall listening for the 2m transponder outputs from thse satellites at the topmost end of the band. Using my "Oscarlator" - a paper based calculator one could predict passes in range.  The best ones were late at night way out west over the Atlantic, when, for a few minutes Ws and VEs could be heard.  Also copyable was HB9HB, a 70cms beacon that got translated to 2m. I never transmitted via satellites then and used a homemade 2m converter feeding an old T28 Codar receiver. Happy days back in the 1970s. I gather Oscar 7 is still up and (sort of) functioning.

See http://www.qsl.net/pe1rah/oscarlator.htm .

630m - quiet overnight

The lack of G stations on 474.2kHz WSPR was very apparent overnight. My log is very sparse.
Unique 474.2kHz WSPR spots oveernight
From reports given and received, a lot more could have been achieved with more activity.  When I install my longer baseline earth-electrode system,  I'll have another try. I am dependent on others to help me with this because of my stroke.

3 Apr 2014

Amateur satellites

I have only ever had one single SSB contact via an amateur satellite and that was one with a 29MHz downlink many years ago. I cannot recall the satellite or the uplink frequency. I have not bothered since but don't doubt I could have QSOs with a 70cm/2m transponder.  I see from the Southgate amateur radio news pages that the transponder on the FUNcube-1 satellite is to be switched on tomorrow for the weekend.

630m - very quiet so far

With so little local and semi-local activity, I am getting no WSPR results so far this evening on the 630m band. This is more to do with low activity than the earth-electrode antenna system. Lack particularly of G activity is a serious issue: I shall have to abandon the band (with QRP ERP at least) unless more Gs and nearer continentals become active.

UPDATE 1830z:  PA3ABK/2  (306km) was a strong -8dB S/N at 1814z. No-one else!

UPDATE 1915z:  a few spots of me by G6AVK (78km).  No-one else so far this evening.

UPDATE 1940z:  F4DTL (431km) and DF2JP (461km) spotted.

MF again and plans for VLF

This evening, I am re-trying my 15m baseline earth-electrode "antenna" on 474.2kHz WSPR (approx. 5mW ERP) but at the moment there is a distinct lack of in-range stations. I shall keep the system running until tomorrow to see who appears.

The next test may be WSPR at 8-9kHz earth-mode with the same antenna. I may persuade G6ALB to appear on VLF WSPR (3km + away). The match here needs better optimising at VLF.  Presently the earth system looks more like 300ohms resistive at 474.2kHz - a lot higher than at the old QTH.

10m WSPR with new PC

10m WSPRing again now, but with the new Win 8.1 Dell Inspiron 15R PC and 2W RF from the FT817. Immediate success this morning with reports from Russia and Japan in the very first transmission slot. All seems to be well with the new PC.

I am spotting lots of EU stations too as well as PY2WG (9562km) and it is not yet 0930z.

UPDATE 1300z: LZ1OI  is putting in a huge WSPR signal today and I am wondering if this is via Es rather than F layer? 

UPDATE 1350z: as well as transatlantic stations, there are more Europeans in the 10m log today.

2 Apr 2014

WSPR with new Win 8.1 PC

I had a surprise today: my Inspiron 15R does NOT have a touch sensitive screen after all. Dell assure me I did not order, or pay for such a screen  This is not an important feature.

The next surprise was a sort of malware program called "optimizer pro" which managed to install itself and wanted me to buy a subscription to reomve hundreds of errors. A free call to 0800 028 2660 ( the FREE Dell support number) soon had this removed and the PC fully checked remotely. WSPR, Spectran and Ccleaner all installed and worked without issues. Ccleaner is a recommended free download to do the same and a lot more. I run Ccleaner regularly to check PC health.

I tried WSPR on 20m and 10m and the software ran without issues under Win 8.1. A nice surprise with Win 8.1 was that the PC's clock is already sync'd to an internet time server so that timing was not an issue with WSPR. No need to install special software for this purposes.

As far as I can see, Win 8.1 seems to do all I need.

1 Apr 2014

Our bungalow from the top of the Burwell windmill next door

Our bungalow from up the windmill next door
In my present (wobbly balance) state of health because of my stroke , I cannot climb up the inside of the fully restored windmill (above) that is right next door to us.  This morning, our son managed a sneak preview and he took some photos of our bungalow from the very top floor of the mill.

You may see my V2000 vertical and 2m halo on the garage roof if you look at the blown up photo. You may JUST be able to see my HF Par end-fed wire too but you will need to look carefully at the full sized photo.

For the second time this year, a party of school children is visiting the museum, and windmill. The windmill has its official opening on Sunday April 13th.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk.btck.co.uk/StevensMill

The windmill, next to our bungalow, is the highest spot in the village. The church, about 400m away, is on the second highest ground.

A friend has suggested I string a 472kHz antenna up to the top of the windmill! Actually I don't need this - I prefer the view as it is.
Burwell Church from up the windmill

AM and SSB available to UK CBers from July 1st 2014?

According to the Rocket Radio website, AM and SSB will be allowed for UK CB users (for the first time) from July 2014. There will no doubt be a spate of multi-mode rig sales before then. I have no data on frequencies yet. Rigs like the President Lincoln II are 28-29.7MHz only and it is NOT legal to modify these for CB coverage. I guess they will have to get OFCOM type approval for CB versions in the next few months?

New PC due any time now.

According to the tracking data, my new Dell PC has been dispatched from their factory and should be here soon. Assuming all is well, I shall load Spectran and WSPR software and start WSPR tests again. My shack is currently out of action as it is housing my little granddaughter's cot. They go home tomorrow. We will miss them as they have been nice company.

UPDATE 1700z: The new PC has arrived.  I shall start configuring it tomorrow when the grandchildren have gone home.