Hello there ! Well its been a while since i sat at the desk to do a blog-posting rather than a video and of antenna related results, so this evening I thought I would return to the blog and give a summary mini-update of what I have been upton !
How do I approach this.. hmm, well, lets go for by bands of operation and then methods as a subtext !
HF Operations (80m to 10m)
Well I have mostly been busy on improving the performance of my main 6BTV antenna, this is following a fantastic field trip with G4PRS (Poole Radio Society) to have a great day out and with so much learning about antennas.
As an outcome of that, I decided to improve my 6BTV and understand more about the tools that I have. I’ve made several fundamental changes to my 6BTV and initial results, well, are seeming promising. I have yet to take the X&Y measurements I wanted to take due to the inclement weather, but I think that will be this week.
I have been doing more and more telephony work on 40 and 80m. 40m via the IC-7300 and 80m via the Kenwood TS-690 into the excellent UK Antenna 80m multi band end-fed. Although its below its optimal height, it is functioning brilliantly.
Specific Modes – FT8
You would of seen from my QRZ page I used to spend allot of time on FT8. It is an interesting and exciting mode to start making contacts with. I found myself wanting more thou, so I found another digital mode to move onto. I am still doing occasional FT8, but really for what it was designed for in my opinion, getting signal reports and checking propergation/antennas, rather than solid FT8 only.
Specific Modes – SSTV (HF to start with)
I have been enjoying SSTV massively on 20m (14.230USB) – you will see on this site my most recent received images uploaded to the SSTV section. I use SSTV early and the early evening (grey line times) during mon-fri and where i can during the weekends. I have had some fantastic contacts and enjoying the pictures / QSOs massively. It is very rewarding to get a good 595 / P5 report from another operator well into DX terrority.
I continue to enjoy SSTV in making great contacts, I hope you could be my next one !
Specific Modes – Telephony on HF(voice)
Whilst on UHF/VHF I tend to be more comfortable with the longer QSOs via repeaters and even simplex on 2M, I still find HF QSO’s challenging, but very rewarding. At home I’m limited to 50 Watts, and when up against even legal full licence holders who can typically run 100W+ making a QSO and getting a good report, is really rewarding – lets not start about the Italians who are doing a great job of warming the atmosphere in what seems like an almost unlimited use of power of the HF airwaves.
I am doing more telephony on 40m and 80m recently (Sep/Oct 21) and really enjoying it. I’m using N1MM as a logging tool, which really helps me get the call sign down – i still don’t mind asking multiple times for a call sign until i get it right thou ! I have had great contacts with the ‘secret nuclear bunker’ and also Germany – I’m hoping the solar cycle continues to improve propagation on 40m
Specific Modes – Telephony on VHF & UHF
I use my IC705 on occasion from home on 2m and 70cm. I am very lucky to get into Southampton and the Isle of White very easily from my QTH in IO90BS. This gives me the opportunity to what must be one of the best repeaters on the south coast, namely, GB3IW. This repeater has excellent coverage with people connecting to as far west as Somerset and as far east as Brighton, inland I have heard people from Uckfield, Haywards Heath and also closer to my QTH in Bournemouth. I can take one of my handhelds out with 5W of power and get into it, with varying signal reports. From home with the X50 and 10W I am always 5/9+10 without problem.
I am working on a packet radio project for 2M based on the excellent Kenwood TH-D7 and the raspberry Pis I have. I am also into setting up a local ‘SSTV’ night,so if you in/around IO90BS and hear SSTV on 2m, it can well be me !
QRP / M / P
I continue to use my IC-705 both at home and mobile as a QRP transceiver. I have no interest in adding an amplifier to this fantastic and amazing transevier. For me QRP is almost becoming a sub-hobby in its own right. I have several very exciting antennas to use /M and /P and (/PP)
I’m hoping in the autumn and winter months to get out more with the IC-705 and my other UHF/VHF handhelds for some exciting and interesting field experiments.
Well I am keeping incredibly busy, its my final year of my MSc and am enjoying a new contract with a fantastic team who keep me wholly engaged thruout the day. I do hope to return to my local club when i can safely, until then i am keeping in touch with several of the members via email and hopefully when the weather gets better, back on the 2M net !
I have probably gone on for too long due to absence of recent postings, but thanks for reading and staying with me. I am hoping to do more frequent updates, no matter how busy i get, even if its just a short write up with some theory and application.
Until then take care, stay safe, and enjoy your radio.
So after a rather nice lay-in I headed off to hengistbury head with Sweety, Kenwood TH-D7 & VC-1, Baofeng UV-5R and with the IC-705 setup to receive and upload photos at the QTH.
It was a lovely start to the day with great weather. Coming later in the day sure does get busy down there, but it was nice to see so many people out and about.
It was great that everything fitted nicely into a compact box, which I carried on a backpack with some water. I think i will bring a small box/bowl for sweaty next time as well as some ‘treats’.
Here is setup video, apologies for the windy noise, goes with the area and using a phone. My bag tried to make an escape as well, but i caught it ok 🙂
The other reason i come to HH is that it has enough hills and a decent length walk to give me some decent exercise, i don’t mind saying my knees and legs really feel it, but I’m glad to push myself that little bit and am rewarded with some great views and operating conditions.
We reached the far-end of HH (from the car park perspective) and I set about checking the results of the SSTV` broadcasts I had made, unusually I couldn’t see any at all ! Not even static.
I packed the Kenwood equipment away and kept the UV5R in my pocket for any simplex contacts. I called CQ on 2m (145.500) and had a great QSO with G3TOI who was working thu his great 2M VHF home-brew antenna. We had made contact before but when i was at home on the IC-705 and Diamond X-30, it was great to make a simplex contact on 5W /P.
Coming home it was clear what had occurred ! I must of knocked the transceiver when leaving and it was set to 144.375 for receive – doh ! Anyhow, glad it was a simple issue rather than anything untoward.
I headed back out in the afternoon as XYL was at a training course, which gave me 2 hours to do some local tests. I headed out to West Howe and made a good contact back to the QTH
Whilst not P5 quality, i can at least see the picture and where I am, so I’d say that was pretty good on 5W and about 2-3 miles from the QTH.
I then headed off to Poole Harbour, sadly (and predictably) no SSTV contacts, i think 5W and the dip is asking a bit too much, however i did have a great QSO via the GB3IW repeater on the UV-5R
Having driven around west of Poole to higher ground, i could still not make contacts, it was interesting trying tho. In some locations i could still make out the GB3IW repeater as well, and this well in-land. My first good retest was at the Kwik-Fit at Bear Cross.
The image came out pretty well from about 2.2 miles away.
I then continued driving towards Hurn and the final test location of Ringwood.
The results from Hurn are very good, a P5 image quality from about 2-3 miles away. Heading to Ringwood did get a receive, but only static in terms of the picture. As I know where it was taken I can make out features, but with no call sign and clear image, its not useful as a radio amateur.
Results 2nd time out with the TH-07 and UV-5R was much better than in the morning now that the IC-705 was in tune to the /P transmit frequency. Optimal results seem to be around 2-3 miles currently based on the reception of images.
I think the best/quickest upgrade will be swapping out the TH-07 stock rubber duck antenna and returning to the locations where I had static to see if there is any improvement in reception from the QTH.
So aside amateur radio, my other ‘interests’ is model railways. My fellow rail enthusiast are building this small layout.
Whilst that hasn’t been taking all of my time, it has taken a fair chunk in trying to find all my N-Gauge track and equipment. I have how ever been very busy in and around the shack !
I have got the VC-H1 working. Getting all the cables from around the world (Korea, Portugal, USA) was quite an adventure and took a fair amount of ‘google-fu’ to source. I have a number of videos, but this one is probably of the most interest where I done a field test and the results.
The broadcasts from the park resulted in complete susses of received images from my QTH about 1 mile away.
I was using a Baofeng with 5W and other tests around IO90BS really showed how the height/hills in the town effected the reception. I think my best chances for long-distance are away from the SE direction where I am behind a steep hill. I will spend some time and do some VHF reception modelling in the coming weeks.
So with the 2nd year of my Part-Time MSc coming up time was limited to get the ‘shack’ (aka Home office) into some semblance of tidy. Getting a Radio Shack tidy isn’t just making it ‘look’ tidy, its about getting RF right, every thing that requires ferrietes to have them and good cable management, all whilst be useable, manageable and allowing for further development of other projects.
I started outside and installed good coax, as well as a general tidy up around the antennas. I then installed a thru-window panel, allowing the feed lines to be tidy into the shack. From there I took out all the transceivers, receivers and other radio devices. The bulk of the work was done over the weekend as it took a fair amount of time.
As you can see from ‘Day 1’ there was allot to do just to things in place.
I’m now have installed the transceivers onto the bonding and am looking forward to test out the bonding/grounding results.
My next step will be to get my Windows computer re-installed with the necessary chokes and filters to operate well with the computer with no effects from RFI. When that is installed I should have a good idea of how to tidy the cables best as described in the Grounding and Bonding book.
With re-opening of the Poole Amateur Radio Society and enjoying regular on Thursday evenings, I’m getting more out of my radio and understand them than ever. Its great to have good and productive conversations with fellow hams, although the conversation sometimes does drift to non-radio activities, I have been grateful to receive several courgettes which XYL Monica made into a lovely meal for me !
The club is having a field day event away from the QRM of the urban environment. I’ve very excited to be going with my IC-705 and Alexloop ham-pack. I got a new ‘mast’ for the antenna, as you can see here.
Results are really encouraging !
With all the equipment that will be required for the field day I got a hand cart. Sweetly and I had a great time testing it out.
So I’ve been super busy, but very happy with all with all the amateur radio activities. It will be harder after September to spend weekends like this as I start my MSc Computing Research year in earnest, but undoubtedly the model trains and amateur radio will make a welcome break when time allows me to do so.
Despite several operators infringing on the SSTV calling frequency of 14.230 and poor conditions I wasnt put off calling CQ. Whilst I didnt get a response, i was amazed to see that I was received at about a P3/P2 clarity by VE1DBM.
I’ve had several great QSO’ s on SSTV around Europe, I’m really happy with getting on with this ‘new to me’ method of making contacts. I particularly enjoy making new photos and sending them out. I have received some, which I though a little risky in terms of nudity, but still good quality pictures and well received by the Wellbrook Antenna in poor conditions.
I’m getting my 2m transceiver setup over the weekend, and will try and connect it back up to the computer, i’d love to try SSTV on 2M with a Yagi !
I have a few more write ups to do on learning, local nets, but that will be later in the week.
Having owned the IC-705 for quite some months this was my first time to take it portable. With the weather looking slightly dodgy our group of friends headed to Boulderwood in the New Forest.
Our risk taking with the weather was rewarded with a fantastic, albeit slightly cooler than of late, evening in the New Forest.
It was great to go with a friend as although the setup was minimal a helping hand was greatly appreciated. I attached my Alexloop Ham Pack antenna to my Buddipole mast with a bungee which done an excellent job of keeping it secure
I brought along a couple of fold up tables, one for the ladies ot have their pic-nic on the other for me to setup my radio. I started with just the IC-705 first and tuned to 20m. The quality of the signals away from the QRM of my QTH was simply amazing.
I did try to reply to the CQ calls, but couldnt get a response this time, but was nethertheless glad to just be trying.
Operating the the Alexloop Ham pack was everything it should be, really easy to tune into the frequency. I was getting SWR of 1.3 to 2 on all the frequencies i tuned. I dare say I could get better as I get more expericned with it, but the gauge on it is fantastic.
As seen in the picture above the LED on the tuning unit shows the power/matching of the antenna to the transceiver. I also used the SWR meter on the IC705. I did bring along my rigexpert (HF) but didnt need it in the end.
Having run 5W on the internal batttery, i then switched to a Lifo battery and got the full 10W portable. My connections to the battery need improvement, but are functional.
I was able to test FT8, and received plenty of signals from around the world. I explained to my friend how FT8 works and our signals on PSKReporter. It was amazing how far we was getting out on 10W and the Alexloop !
I was unable to make a contact, but I was still gald to be getting out. I need to learn how to adjust the volume control on my linux laptop, as the signal was overloading, i suspect i missed some DX/RX opputnities.
Next we tried WSPR – with the portable battery it was no problem to keep going. I checked the database and my own site and could see that we was getting out nicely, albeit with 10W which is probably the most power I have ever used on WSPR.
I must rememer to update my callsign for Mobile operation next time as I only changed it later in WSJT-X.
After digital modes and with the sun / grey line coming in I made one more try on telephony just calling CQ, but alas no responses. I dont feel disappointed, i had limited time and wanted to make sure we got back home all feeling well and having an enjoyable evening, so packed up. Again having a friend help was great, everything was put away with no damage and easily into my camper van.
This was a great first experience of being portable. I really enjoyed it and am sure to keep on trying and will probably make Boudlerwood my goto place. If you ever see me there, dont be shy and am always happy to talk to people who are interested.
This has really added so much more to this already amazing hobby. I can thorougly recommend portable operation !
Have had a great weekend on SSTV on 20m. Thunderstorms are incoming to QTH in IO90BS so have taken the antenna down for now, but will be back once they pass.
I’ve been able to setup an automated upload. The site is here and can also be found on the tabs of the main site. I’ve also subscribed to World SSTV cams, so other amateur radio users can see their reception at my site easily as well.
I’ll take you thru how I setup the Windows and Linux side.
On the Windows host I download and installed KE5RS FTP Widget which is available free with registration info of call/sign location. Run the setup and let it install in the default locations.
The next step on the windows host is to create the local SSTV directory – this is in *addition* to the SSTV images MMSSTV uses.
I opened a command prompt (Start / Run / CMD) and typed the following
I created a shortcut to the desktop for FTP Widget. This is useful as I found running it as administrator overcome any file permissions issues on the local side. This probably due to the mechanism and file permission settings that MMSTV uses to duplicate the files, running as administrator fixed this.
I then run as administrator from the desktop.
Now if you have not used FTP in the past the cocent of local and remote paths will be new, and each FTP client will have its own interpretation of how to set it. Usually the remote system is a Linux/Unix system and the actual full remote path is typically /home/sstvimagesusename/images but the FTP Widget takes the login from the FTP Server and uses the short path name, in this case images.
You’ll need to set the local drive to the one created in the DOS prompt earlier. In image name properties, only change the name if you really must, this is important as the crude template i will provide below depends on the filenames matching. You’ll also want to keep the Image history to what ever you iike, by default its 3, I upped it to 12 as this gives a better log of the images.
On the Linux side I’m using vsftpd. I dont mind saying that running FTP in 2021 is slightly unusual, most file transfers are done over SSH / SFTP more recently, but FTP still has its purposes.
I would suggest running vsftpd as it has options for TLS/SSL as well as chrooting. ‘chrooting’ is a method of ‘jailing’ a user to their own location, so in the worst case the credentials are discovered, the only space they can easily access is that of their own home directory, not the ntire OS filesystem (old FTPs that allowed system access could easily be used to accessing /var/log/ and from there discovering other usernames and ‘brute forcing’ the credentials).
Here is the full example vfstpd.conf , you dont need all of this, but from the default you can see the deltas.
# Example config file /etc/vsftpd.conf
# The default compiled in settings are fairly paranoid. This sample file
# loosens things up a bit, to make the ftp daemon more usable.
# Please see vsftpd.conf.5 for all compiled in defaults.
# READ THIS: This example file is NOT an exhaustive list of vsftpd options.
# Please read the vsftpd.conf.5 manual page to get a full idea of vsftpd's
# Run standalone? vsftpd can run either from an inetd or as a standalone
# daemon started from an initscript.
# This directive enables listening on IPv6 sockets. By default, listening
# on the IPv6 "any" address (::) will accept connections from both IPv6
# and IPv4 clients. It is not necessary to listen on *both* IPv4 and IPv6
# sockets. If you want that (perhaps because you want to listen on specific
# addresses) then you must run two copies of vsftpd with two configuration
# Allow anonymous FTP? (Disabled by default).
# Uncomment this to allow local users to log in.
# Uncomment this to enable any form of FTP write command.
# Default umask for local users is 077. You may wish to change this to 022,
# if your users expect that (022 is used by most other ftpd's)
# Uncomment this to allow the anonymous FTP user to upload files. This only
# has an effect if the above global write enable is activated. Also, you will
# obviously need to create a directory writable by the FTP user.
# Uncomment this if you want the anonymous FTP user to be able to create
# new directories.
# Activate directory messages - messages given to remote users when they
# go into a certain directory.
# If enabled, vsftpd will display directory listings with the time
# in your local time zone. The default is to display GMT. The
# times returned by the MDTM FTP command are also affected by this
# Activate logging of uploads/downloads.
# Make sure PORT transfer connections originate from port 20 (ftp-data).
# If you want, you can arrange for uploaded anonymous files to be owned by
# a different user. Note! Using "root" for uploaded files is not
# You may override where the log file goes if you like. The default is shown
# If you want, you can have your log file in standard ftpd xferlog format.
# Note that the default log file location is /var/log/xferlog in this case.
# You may change the default value for timing out an idle session.
# You may change the default value for timing out a data connection.
# It is recommended that you define on your system a unique user which the
# ftp server can use as a totally isolated and unprivileged user.
# Enable this and the server will recognise asynchronous ABOR requests. Not
# recommended for security (the code is non-trivial). Not enabling it,
# however, may confuse older FTP clients.
# By default the server will pretend to allow ASCII mode but in fact ignore
# the request. Turn on the below options to have the server actually do ASCII
# mangling on files when in ASCII mode.
# Beware that on some FTP servers, ASCII support allows a denial of service
# attack (DoS) via the command "SIZE /big/file" in ASCII mode. vsftpd
# predicted this attack and has always been safe, reporting the size of the
# raw file.
# ASCII mangling is a horrible feature of the protocol.
# You may fully customise the login banner string:
#ftpd_banner=Welcome to blah FTP service.
# You may specify a file of disallowed anonymous e-mail addresses. Apparently
# useful for combatting certain DoS attacks.
# (default follows)
# You may restrict local users to their home directories. See the FAQ for
# the possible risks in this before using chroot_local_user or
# chroot_list_enable below.
# You may specify an explicit list of local users to chroot() to their home
# directory. If chroot_local_user is YES, then this list becomes a list of
# users to NOT chroot().
# (Warning! chroot'ing can be very dangerous. If using chroot, make sure that
# the user does not have write access to the top level directory within the
# (default follows)
# You may activate the "-R" option to the builtin ls. This is disabled by
# default to avoid remote users being able to cause excessive I/O on large
# sites. However, some broken FTP clients such as "ncftp" and "mirror" assume
# the presence of the "-R" option, so there is a strong case for enabling it.
# Some of vsftpd's settings don't fit the filesystem layout by
# This option should be the name of a directory which is empty. Also, the
# directory should not be writable by the ftp user. This directory is used
# as a secure chroot() jail at times vsftpd does not require filesystem
# This string is the name of the PAM service vsftpd will use.
# This option specifies the location of the RSA certificate to use for SSL
# encrypted connections.
# Uncomment this to indicate that vsftpd use a utf8 filesystem.
Be sure to keep a log of the password, of course you can always reset it, but it makes setting the FTP Widget properties easier.
With the Unix side complete, its time to finish off the settings for the FTP Widget and SSTV.
Follow the settings given above, putting in your FTP address, either the hostname or IP address. i.e. myftpserver.bob52.com, <n>.<n>.<n>.<n>. You don’t ned to put in the URI ( ftp:// ) .
The next step is to configure MMSTV to copy the received files into the FTP SSTVPics directory.
In SSTV goto the History tab and right click the image, select ‘auto copy to another folder’ and assign the folder name to the SSTV c:\sstvimages directory.
With that your received files will now not only be stored locally, they will be automatically FTP’d to your webserver ! If everything goes well, you’ll end up with a page whereby other SSTV users can see how their images are being received and a nice catalogue of recent images for yourself.
Recently I started to experiment with SSTV (again) on my IC7300 and Windows desktop.
I’ve not been able to get it to work with the band select, but the audio in, out and importantly PTT fine. I saved the main SSTV calling frequency to my IC7300 (14.2300 USB) and just recall that when i want to use SSTV.
I’ve learned to use, but not to rely on, other KiwiSDRs and other sites that scan SSTV images. Most of the time I am seeing one side of the QSO on the remote sites, a good example of this is the slowscan tv site in the Netherlands.
The conditions have been pretty bad lately, but once in a while I get a really good QSO via SSTV, an example from today below with IV3VBM. I’m using 50W into a 6BTV with conditions being reported as ‘poor’
I am really enjoying SSTV – during the day and overnight I can leave MMSSTV running to receive great pictures, and also look back to see how the propagation has varied. I was amazed to receive these transmissions from the US last night !
As you can see the propergation is clear to see as the quality of the pictures vary.
I’m now working out how to automate the upload and ‘most recent’ pictures to the hamradio website, it shouldnt take me long, but as every life is keeping me very busy !
I hope this encourages other users to try out SSTV, its great way of having a digital QSO with personalized content, so why not give it a go.
Was just playing about on my radio with FT8, having had one phone QSO on 20m to Italy, then a number of FT8 on 20m as well, thought, lets give 15 meters a try. Having never really persisted at using 15m, it was an ideal time as I could keep an eye on WSJT-X and tidy/file stuff at the same time.
The band looked completely empty when I started, but as the CQ’s keep transmiting, lo and behold I was rewarded with a contact !
There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !
I was really suprised, and impressed, with how well the 6BTV is doing, its such a great antenna and I’m getting more out of it every time I have time to use it on the frequencys I previously didnt really use.
Moral of the story is, if the band looks dead, still give it a go ! you never know who you might contact !
Having kept an eye on the Kiwi WebSDR I could see plenty of activity on the 10m band, a sure sign that the ‘skip’ from the ‘E Layer’ had picked up. For those ‘new’ to skip, there is an excellent write up here by VK3FS on the behaviour of this ionospheric band.
Here I’ll be showing over the course of just a few short hours how the E-layer built up, the collapsed.
Tuning to the 10M frequency for FT8, 28.074, there was allot of activity, transmissions from Europe where coming in the strongest, and even as far as Brazil in South America. It was incredble to see the band so ‘alive’
I started transmitting on what had now become a very noisy channel, with plenty of DX around Europe coming in very strong. My own signal from the Hustler 6BTV and 40 watts of power resulted in the QSO’s started to roll in, with little to no reties.
Grid Tracker really came into its own here, making logging to QRZ effortless so I was able to focus on QSO’s rather than uploading ADIF files. This resulted in 2 confirmed QSO’s almost immediately, with an impressive the furthest being 950 miles to IS0SLM in Dolianova.
Just as quickly the band and opened up, the conditions returned back to the regular behaviour for the E-layer, as seen in the 19:22 and 19:39 signal spectrum from WSJTX.
By 20:30 I could still be heard but the 6BTV, a vertical and with that being non-directional, wasn’t pulling in the weaker signals for a QSO to be completed.
My reception reports via Pskreporter showed a big difference. I’d be interested to know if this was a phenomenon of the grey-line as the sun set or just the charge in the E-layer collapsing and limiting propagation again.
I was still really happy in this ‘short’ time to get so many FT8 QSO’s via 10m. It really is a fascinating band, and one I will do more research with as I continue to improve the performance of the 6BTV and also work 6m with my Yagi antenna