An easter egg-beater update !

The end of march saw a long weekend and the opputnity to do some work around the QTH. I wanted to make some progress on getting things a bit tider and also migrating the eggbeaters from the current trying/temporary location to up on the main mast. This would take quite a bit of physical effort, so was best done in stages and over a couple of days that the east bank holiday gave me.

first thing first, get the antennas out the trees !

The high levels of rainfall and wind combined to see that the egg-beaters fell victim to high winds, even with heafty guying stake pins and the tilt base, the soft ground wasnt able to hold the egg beaters. Thankfully no damage done and I was soon securing and lowering the eggbeaters to take them off their ‘temporary’ home.

end of the first days work, main mast and egg beaters ready for putting up

I had breaks and a nice time out in the sunshine, quite unusual for a English bank holiday weekend, but it was nice to get out and about locally, we didnt venture too far as to avoid the masses travellign miles to get to Bourenmouth. By the end of the day I had main mast down, and the egg beaters ready to put up. I was planning to put a mast-head preamp for the vertical, but high SWR meant I had to leave it out this time, I will be investigating and probably sending back to the vendor for repair.

Day Two

Day Two I got the Diamond X-30 on the very top of the mast, its is considerbly lighter than the X-7000 and even at half height I was able to get into my favourite 2m and 70cm gateway/repeaters (poole & southampton). I then set about putting the eggbeaters onto the mast.

Initially I put them on a lower (4th section of mast ) but found this too low, so I re-attached the egg beaters to the 3rd section. With plenty of prep I was able to get the egg beaters on and the use of the ratchet spanners really helped in securing the egg beaters both times to the mast. When your a meter up on a thin walking gantry, keping organized is essential and having things to hand ! Sure enough I was soon able to get the eggbeaters and the 70cm mast head up all setup. I put the new LMR400 on the antenna and tested from the base, then extended to the shack, the SWR results where satisifactory at around 2-3 meters off the ground.

Day 3 (Easter Monday)

Having tired myself out the previous day, it was now time to get the antennas up as high as I was comfortable with to start with. This mast will go up to 40ft in the the air, currently I have it at about 33ft (minus one section) – I saw a previous video where I had just the X50 on the mast and fully extended to 40ft, so know I can rig the mat to get higher, but for today I was pushing up to 33ft and seeing how the antenna done. I was higher than in the corner on the temporary mast and had a much clearer line of sight in most directions. The additon of better quality LMR400 probably helped with less signal loss back into the shack and into the antennas as well.

I started out by playing with HRD and the Sat Mode, the UI is really simple and easy to use for HRD and I like the graphics of the sat passes and the real time pass graphics.

HRD Sat module – Tracking the ISS low pass

The trouble i had with HRD is that its very intrusive to the IC9700, it near enough ‘locks’ the radio, even with the ‘manual’ frequency change selected, it would drop / loose the connection to the radio. I imagine the CAT signals between HRD + IC9700 are causing some conflict. Also I found that whilst eaiser to program, it wasnt perfect. THe doppler was good and alot of sats worked perfectly, but the linear sats, where a spectrum of frequncys are used during a pass, seemd more difficult to use. I would get up from my chair to tune the radio manually and then I was able to track the QSO’s, which was very exciting just to hear new and strong signals coming in.

I then tried to track/use LILACSAT-2, the satellite passed near enough right over, so should of been very clear to hear, and others on the satelitte tracking pass had heard it that day. This got me wonder if the tracking/frequencies was good for all satelllites. I turned my attention to SatPC32 – its UI is no means as ‘friendly’ or ‘good looking’ as HRD, but once the technical learning is done, it really does to work much better.

SATPC32 for CAT + HRD for Visual

With some time editing the DOPPLER.SQF and SUB_TONE.SQF I done CAT control via SatPC32 and visuals via HRD. This for me a a nice setup, as i could visually see the future passes and also have the right modes / doppler from SatPC32.

Day – Back to work and in the Shack

I wanted to try something that I was unable to do due to the weak signals from the previous location, so the APRS digipeater on the ISS was a good target. The iSS Crossband repeater gets VERY busy, but I reall enjoy listening to it, but I actually wanted to try out using the ISS from my egg beaters. This wasnt possible before as the APRS packets would be corrupted/too weak to decode.

I was very happy that once I had tuned into 145.825 FM-D I was able to receive APRS packets as clear as day, and unusually the ISS had several passes today, making the chance of actually working the ISS digipeater quite reasonable.

To start with I didnt do any special config for Direwolf, just a standrd 1200BPS and listen / send on the correct audio devices. This saw alot of packets correctly decoded. As I had used APRS before, my favourite, and free/donations is Pinpoint APRS software. I downloaded this and connected it to Direwolf. Sure enough the packets being decoded appeard on the map all across Europe in real time ! It was really amazing to see how well the egg beaters in their new postion was doing, and even on 2m where no mast-head amp was in place.

Pinpoint APRS decoding packets from ISS pass

As I continued to work thru the day, I enjoyed how each pass of the iSS brought in so many contacts on 2M via the APRS digipeater. I was really eager to try and get into the digi peater myself, and there was one more very low pass coming thru in the evening !

I searched the internet on how to setup for APRS via the ISS, the most important thing is to update the PATH, usually this is somethign like WIDE-1, WIDE-2 so other digipeaters will repeat the packets, but fo the ISS DIgipeater, this needs to be RS0ISS. I saw others also using ARISS so I put both in my path to make sure my packets would be repeated by the ISS Packet station.

Direwolf receivng messages at a very low was (9 degrees above horizon) and me transmittingl.

I transmitted a few times, I didnt receive my own signal back but was really please to see that on the ARISS webpage by packets had been received and re-tranmistted by the ISS !

No location, but I was heard !

The raw data lower in the page confirmed my message was processed by the ISS APRS digipeater and am really excited for future passes that I should be able to have a QSO, several of which I had seen other operators do and request logging via LoTW which does Satellitle logging.

Raw data from APRS Digipeater on ISS

So whilst it has been hard work and its still early days with room for futher improvements, it seems all the hard work has really paid off. Heres to more ‘working the birds’ and looking forward to making a QSO.

follow the adventure in this rather long video !

Jan 2024 – Antenna update at the QTH

With some rather nice weather and available time, I was able to get to work on putting up the SOTABeams Travel Mast as a repacement of the DX Commander classic mast which has done me so well for serveral years, and one of the guying rings finally sucumbbing to the storms we had at the start of the month.

Use of electrical tape and jubilee clip to secure mast sections vertically

I put electrical tape and a jubiliee clip on each section to secure and make vertical slipping less of a possiblity. The same method worked very well for the DX Commander in keeping the sections up and those had to take a considerable strain when used in the way to use the split-dipole that the DX Commander is.

Wire up about 2/3s of the full mast height

I attached the wire to the mast via a piece of guying rope about 2/3’s up the mast. I may make this higher the next time I move the antenna, but as is, it clears the house nicely and is a good distance from the ground, I think more height will allow a full half-wave on 20m so something I want to do very much, given I enjoy SSTV on the 20M band alot.

guying and little strain

There is very little strain on the mast and a good level of taughtness to keep the wire from drooping and touching the house, the one set of guying wires are holding the mast very well, combined with some decent ground stakes.

I went into test the mast, 20M SSTV was simply flooded with QSOs – unable to get a QSO in as the band was so buys, but I guess thats a good thing showing that the reception was doing well. I jumped on FT4 on 10M as the band was well open.

FT4 on 10M doing very well on the EFHW antenna

I was very please to test the antenna and have a FT4 contact with JS9DS in St Lucia over 4000 miles away !

I’m very pleased with the mast and will improve upon it as the weather and mast moves to allow us to use the front garden more. Looking forward to catching you on the airwaves !

mast update at the QTH

Egg Beaters – for the hard of hearing

Firstly Merry Christmas ! Its a relaxing day here and not the usual busyness for a Monday! Having an extra two days for the weekend has been really nice, I’ve done loads of other stuff and also playing with IC-9700 with the satellities, or attempting to, would be more accurate 🙂

So far I’ve heard zilch, as in nothing, not a tweet from a ‘bird’ I looked up Amsat’s tracking of sats other had heard, so would be confident that I should be able to hear them too, alas to no avail. I then tried FT8 on 2M, I was getting out just fine with the eggbeaters, but not hearing a thing, I did notice some very high peaks of QRM on the WSJT-X ‘scope’, so my first step was to move the antennas further from the house and a better line of sight of the sky to the horizion, which accomplished, well, nothing.

I then tried SSTV via a my hand held units into the IC9700 and MMSTV, this worked fine, so the 2M antenna was at least receiving and transmitting. I went to 70cm and found a clear frequncy and gave the same SSTV test, this worked fine… so what was going on ? Ok simple test, lets swap antennas between the Diamon X3000 which goes into the Kenwood, put that onto the 9700. Again,


No problem getting out with FT8 and no problem on SSTV. I tried WSPR with 5 watts on all three antennas, the egg beater 2M worked fine.

WSPR on 2M

I then checked thru the IC9700 settings, all good there and used the manual ATT/P.AMP switch on the front of the radio it self, what I noticed was that the internal preamp did increase the signal, but with the external pre-amp there seemed no increase in performance.

What I suspect is happening is that my mast-head pre-amp is designed for a single feed of coax into it, then into a single verticle antenna, where as I have splitters each end for taking the coax and seperating out the 2M and 70cm bands. By the reckoning I can hear local 2m fine (including MB7IPD) on the egg beater, I suspect that the 70cm RX is doing nothing, although the antennas resonent for TX, I think the multiplexer and multiband masthead are not working together correctly.

As its getting dark now, and have the luxury of another day off tomorrow, I will research which sat’s are most common and which band the RX is the most common, then I will setup a single feed for that antenna into the mast-head amp, and run two feeds from the egg beaters, then I should be able to find out if its the egg-beaters/coax/multiplexer causing the lack of ‘ears’.

Until then, 73’s


Egg beaters – SWR Troubleshooting Dec 2023

With no rain and getting the other radios on the air, it was time to tackle the errant SWR on the eggbeater antennas. I lowered the antenna on the tiltbase and with the rigexpert started going thru each connection on the antennas – there are quite a few with the single feedline solution going into the mast head amp, so there is plenty of possiblity for them not to be perfectly coupled/screwed together.

I started with directly connected to the 2m and 70cm eggbeaters, no issue there, SWR was spot on both, almost 1:1 on 2m and around 1.4 on 70cm. I then connected the mast-head triplexer and read the readouts from there, whilst this took some ‘wiggling’ it resulted in getting like-for-like direct readings. I then connected triplexer into the amp and read the output of the amp, the SWR here was higher, but not what i had seen previously, regardless, I re-tighetented all the connectors, this brought the output from the mast head down to the same results as from the output of the triplexer. I then reconnected the feedline from the transceiver back into the amplifier and measured from the far end, again good results. So the issue here was either a single or multiple loose connections. I suspect the the connection between the triplexer and the amp which is a double-barrel male N connector.

I put the title base back up and screwed all the bolts back into the base, feeling my age I was keen to get back into the warmth of the shack !

I measured the SWR from the feedline back into the rigexpert, again good results, so I went ahead and connected another triplexer to split the frequencies out into the 9700 2m and 70cm inputs.

With the results coming from the triplexer looking good i went about reconnecting to the IC-9700. The book-shelf rack proving useful again in getting the coax into the radio easily just by rotating the whole bookcase.

Both 2m and 70cm transmissions from the IC-9700 are looking spot-on – next I will try out getting the amp configured from the 9700 and start testing with some satellities !

Egg Beater Pre Amp – Day 2

The splendid sunny day of yesterday could of been a whole season away – the weather today (26/11/23), bleak. Drizzle, a slight bit of wind so any gaps in clothing easily penetrated, it was not a good day to be outside, but I wanted to progress the mast head amplifier !

The weather station proving useful – preceptation whilst not heavy, was irritating..

First step was to get the mast down, thankfully the barinco tilt base makes this really easy – having help to raise it first time was ace as getting it into the tilt base is great, but once in its easy enough to do on my own, although my aged bones do struggle with bending over and taking the nuts off. This time out I made note of the different spanner sizes required for each bolt which will be useful in the future.

Having got the antennas down, it was time for some ‘fettling’ on the egg beaters – they was slightly off perfect vertical with the mast, so first thing was to straight them up with the rest of the mast. I also moved the 2m antenna further away from the mast so the radials didnt come into contact with the mast.

With the pre-amplifier installation work completed, I then set about attaching the amplifer to the mast head. I let gravity help here and attached the amp in a way i wasnt fighting it trying to drop off all the time – this worked pretty well. I had some issues with routing the cables internally, but otherwise got the feedline in nicely.

The Ultraflex 10 coax from M&P really looked the business, but it took some ‘convincing’ to go thru the egg beater base. Nothing too aggresive, just a firm push into the radial support, but it did go thru thankfully ! I then had to connect all the relevant ends up, I had pre-ordered some of the connectors I know I would needed but also had plenty to choose from in the shack.

After putting everything together and getting the egg beaters vertical it was time to beat a hasty retreat to the warth and a cup of tea in the shack. The rain wasn’t helping me today !

Once back in the shack I tested the SWR on the Rigexpert sitck, which does the majority of bands, alas today wasn’t to be my day as the SWR reports were not looking good.

yikes, thats not good !

With the WX not improving any time soon and a plethora of other things to do (XYL computer upgrades being one of them) I satisifed myself with at least getting the amp on the mast, I willl have to spend some time in investigating and correcting the connectors to find where the issue is !

Still, I’m exicted to be able to start using the egg beaters with an amp, the work will no doubt be worth the effort to pull out those weak signals.

Until then, 73s !

Egg beater Pre-Amps – Day 1

It has been a splendid sunny day down here in Bournemouth, whilst the tempretures have been dropping, it was nethertheless a fine day. My original plan was to get essential bits-and-bobs done and out the way, so i could spend the afternoon working on the antennas outside, however the week had caught up with me and a much needed afternoon rest resulted in 2-3 hours lost, but at least I felt better 😀

overnight temps from the now working weather station

Having had a rest I started work on the mast head amplifier, collecting all the parts I had stored away and the dremel, ready for making some holes. I had left my 9700 on 145.500 and was very surprised to hear a call out for a radio check ! Funnily this would be my first ‘ground’ QSO via the egg beater antennas and a good way to check that everything was working as expected. I had a great QSO with M0ABI who was portable in Barton on Sea, given I was using an eggbeater antenna for satellitle comms I was very happy to make this contact, and Mike had alot of history/knowledge of Satellites as well, it was a great QSO and I got back to work on my mast head amp.

Having place the mast-head amp in the ellectrial box housing and marking out where the bolts to attach it to the beam/scaffold would go, i then drilled two small holes with a dremel do it would line up nicely once in the box. I attached velcro supplied with the box to the back of the masthead amp. Its incredbly strong stuff and affixed the amp to the box nicely. I then screwed on the triplexer via a N-Type barrel connector.

With the triplexer and amp connected, i dremelled out the side-holes for where the feed line from the radio will come and the outputs of the triplexer, I stowed the 23cm output and kept a N-Type barellel connector on the 70cm output of the triplexer, as these are all PL259, hopefully this will make attaching the correct antenna to the triplexer easier once outside.

I checked out the feedline holes and am quitely confident the LMR coax I have will fit in there quite nicely. I have M&P Ultraflex10 for the feedlines to the eggbeaters between the multiplexer, to minimize the loss as mch as possible. I’m hopng tomorrows weather is at least dry so I can get outside and get the amp on the mast, then see if I can hear those birds just a little bit better….

A shack tidy (work in progress)

With my shack getting some actual usage of late, as well as the G4PRS 2M call on Monday nights, it felt like a good time to tidy things up. I’d not been particualy happy with the layout of the radios in the window, in particular it was susceptiable to any rain/water ingress. With that I orderd a budget 3 tier book shelf, having measured the dimensions, it was a nice foot print and my radios should all fit…

Having move the radios from the shelving, I then set about putting them in-situ to see how it worked out – i wasnt 100% sure where I was going to put the book-case radio shack, but the corner seemed a good idea, and put the Apple iPad that was there back into the Alex Loop pack ready for my next /P or /M use. The position worked well, but there was a clear issue of routing power and coax to the radios, so Ihad to do some ‘DIY’ on the shelves. Here goes my warranty…

The cheapness of the bookcase meant the back-walls of the compatments didnt present much work for the dremel, if it was earlier in the day, I would of done this outside tho, it generate a fair amount of dust and smoke, but I kept the windows wide open and also took my time with each section. I didnt need ‘perfectly square’ holes, just enough so that I can route the coax and other cables thru, and as can be seen in the last photo, this worked out pretty well !

The main transformer now had a nice clearance for its rather noisey fan (my only complain of this transformer, its otherwise done an excellent job) then can start placing the radios in place. I started with my 11m CB+manual antenna matcher, this went in easily enough, and then I placed the Kenwood TH-V71E on top of that. I put all the necessary data/audio cables in place in case I choose to use them, but I’m going to be using this as my main 2m/70cms rig. At the moment its using the Diamond X-9000 which has excellent gain on the 2m and 70cm bands. I am looking forward to trying it out on the G4PRS net on Monday night.

I fed in the very chunky cables for the IC9700. Currently I am running a very simple setup, with no mast head amplifier and direct to the satellite egg-beater antennas. This should become a single feed with a splitter both ends once I put the mast-head amp in place.

With the radios all connected and the basic setup up and running, I then set about using the IC9700 for what it was really designed, operating satellites. Luck would have it that the ISS would be passing over, not a particularly high elevantion at 22 degrees, but worth a try. I waited for an hour and was pleased to hear QSO’s from all over europe going into and out of the ISS repeater. I manually controlled the doppler, but there was no need to rotate the yagis liked what I used to have to do. First impressions of the non-amplified eggbeaters is very encouraging and I look forward to continue to setup the annteas and systems in the coming weeks.