Was one of those nights when I couldn’t get my head down after a great Easter bank holiday weekend, so had a little play on FT8 in the small hours. Having used WSJT-X for quite some time I wanted to experiment with other FT8 software, and gave JTDX a try. I followed the setup documents and was soon transmitting and receiving. Some say JTDX has better decode than WSJT-X – I think time will tell.
Tonight (Or is that very early this morning) I had what must be the coolest FT8 contact yet tho
I have never heard of the “South Shetland Islands” until they appeared in the JTDX log – I was quick to click and respond, then patiently wait in the hope my call got responded to. Sure enough, with a few minutes and on 20 watts of power DT8A responded and my signal report was received. What I do with all FT8 contacts is to check the QRZ page and read up to add a little more ‘this is more than just a signal report’ to the QSO, I was amazed at DT8A’s page and the fantastic photos !
In particular as my good lady is South Korean, I found it very interesting that Mr Lee was stationed in such a remote part of the world !
So glad to have reached Mr Lee and I hope his work/research in the South Shetlands goes really well !
Whilst enjoying my studies of Machine Learning I had the radio on in the background. I was very interested to see some ‘patterns’ on the 40m band
Not right at this time, but earlier in the day my fellow ‘neighbour’ ham G7VRD told me these are OTH. What is that ? Well this is Over the Horizon Radar, where radio signals are based off the ionosphere and then measured. They have been around a while, as in the 1950s, but technology has ‘evolved’ and ‘new’ arrays are being built ! These patterns were throughout the 40m band most of the evening ! Whilst annoying if you wanted to use the band for its intended use, nevertheless provided some interesting reading on what OTH was and how it worked.
Whilst I was busy with Juypter Notebooks, and as I now have the antennas plugged in thought it interesting to monitor JS8. Its nearby digital mode of FT8 gets plenty of traffic, JS8 is very sparse, which seems a shame as it looks a good way to ‘chat’ via FT8 digital mode.
I sent out HB and ACK’s and it was clear there are people listening, but not many sending CQ, nethertheless it was an interesting evening and this somewhat ‘dubious’ amateur transmission was observed, whilst interesting am wondering the legitimiacy of it.
I enjoyed seeing JS8 Call in operation though and didnt interrupt my studies, so i could do a bit of both.
So i enjoyed my FT8 and Data Science, having worked thru the night and with work-work the next day headed for bed eventually at 4AM.. 🙂
Have had a great weekend on the radio logging up QSO’s via FT8. I’m now also using LoTW and importing those into QRZ – this has helped with getting more awards. I dont think i will do any more ‘logging’ tho as managing two (and wanting to automate them) is getting enough !
Was really glad that I got another award via QRZ – the grid squared award !
For the non amateur radio users what this means is that the globe is segmented into ‘grid locations’, the reference codes being ‘maidenhead locators’ – for this award there has to be 100 unique and confirmed grids. Was very happy to get this done on my foundation licence.
Also was very lucky and got a QSO in the Canary Islands – which is officially classified as being in Africa, which means I’m now only one continent away from the continents of the world award !
Whilst i have heard south america, i’ve never yet managed a confirmed QSO – so it will be quite a challenge but hopefully with the summer hear propergation will improve and i can make that QSO !
Its been a lovely warm weekend down in Dorset, and that seems to have affected the propagation. I had a great time on FT8 and JS8 Call, reaching amazing distances and really good signals being put out and received. I had many logged contacts and good signal reports.
By the evening 40M got as busy as I have *ever* seen it, as shown in the picture above i switched about the bands and was making contacts on 15M as well, it was the best conditions I had seen so far !
After a break of sometime, I have resumed work on my Kanga Kit – this fits in with the news I’m putting below, but I have a big thanks to John Clements who helped me fix a fault with the kit I was unable to locate. John found the issue (soldered pin-header together – hidden by the plastic) and returned the now working Kanga kit to me ! I have resumed work and am taking my time – I’ve completed more work on the resistors and capacitors on the Active BPF.
I’m taking my time, esp as the board is now quite ‘busy’ – the next step is to add diodes and IC’s. Its really close to completing the build, but taking my time to ensure no more mistakes !
As shown in the picture above from the RSGB site Intermediate exams will be available from the 13th ! (in 8 minutes time as of writing) i’m very excited that i will be able to book my exam and get use more wattage but also gain more insight to a very interesting hobby as I continue my amateur radio development.
Whilst the practial assessment is waived currently, i will continue to build my Kanga Kit, so if the issue did come up of what Kit I did build, this is well recorded and documented.
To close the evening off I had a splendid evening enjoying the good propergation and just listening to the QSO’s on 40m. The ICOM’s filter and noise blanker are amazing, SSB has never sounded so good.
What i really like about the 7300 is the ability to visualize all or in very close range the frequency. I can easily find conversations happening and enjoy what is being talked about and the signal reports. Almost everyone i hear on 40m is using 100W but the distances are still several hundreds of miles – in particular hearing about life on Guernsey was very interesting – seems they are Covid free and back to some ‘normality’.
Well, heres waiting on being able to book my Intermediate Exam and enjoy more contacts around the world !
UPDATE – Have booked Intermediate exam today (13 June) for in August for more time to do a structured revision plan and passing !
Am still planning to finish my Kanga Kit ! making daily progress !
The DX Commander comes with 100m of very good wire, which is enough for making the 4 element (40,30,20,17m) vertical and some for radials. Having already bought 50 meters of wire for 80m I was still down on the count for both radials and the ‘all band’ – having complete the ‘all-band’ construction it was now time to sort the radials !
With the orignial wire and radials I had around 28-30 radials, which whilst much better than only 1 and improvement on 15, is still slighty short for 80m and also more radials=higher Db out at other wave lengths.
So what is the science about radials ? The Calum has a good video to help, and the references are very good, so I’ll put that here first.
So basically adding radials helps (I did try to find a video of a person fallilng off a boat getting onto a pier, but was getting to distracted…) I took 50 meters of wire (the same type I had use on the verticals) and set about making into 3.5 meter lengths, which some great help from my son Paul which saved my back alot in terms of getting up and measuring and cutting !
With the cutting done, it was time to return indoors for strip, crimp and solder !
I then returned outdoors to install the addtional elements. I doubled up on one existing element, but had a pretty decent fan of 3.5m wire elements going on now.
I’d need to an exact recount (will do so later) but I think I now have enough radials to accomodate the 80m vertical.
With having added the radials it was time to test ! For this I use FT8 as it has a great map and includes a signal report when a QSO is complete.
I was now reaching Kuwait on 17M and even better was that I could see the call sign in my WSJTX screen – i had to give it a try ! And sure enough within a few minutes (this guy was was getting alot of QSO’s in) I had made contact !
So i think i could continue to add more radials, but for now I’m happy with how the DX Commander is performing and the radials are performing their function. I will investigate more ‘science’ based ways of radial performance, but his helps for now !
So its been a bank holiday here in the UK and its allowed me to work on quite a few different things (including re-wiring the Mazda Bongo door looms). When I got the DX Commander it came with enough wire for 4 verticals and the radials to support it, but I purchased some more wire from Radio World, namely the Watson Radio Products EQ Equipment Wire which goes for 40 per meter. I used Radio World as I had other bits and bobs coming from them as well, and my word, they are so QUICK to deliver (UPS Everything !).
I checked from the list what additonal wires I would need to make up., in this case only the 10m and 12m. Having learned from trying to measure the wire indoors I now measure all my wire outside. I have 3 meter workmans metal tape which so far has done me brilliantly in getting accurate measurements.
So the first part was to obviously lower the mast, and then remove the existing wires, Going from 4 to 6 requires adjustment as per DX Commanders docs (pg 2) here.
I also reprinted all new labels, removing the existing ones. One thing I didnt do orginally was to put labels on the bottom plate, so this time I would ! First I organized the cables so they was easy to pick up add, not having things on the floor and in a mess really adds to health and saftey when doing this kind of work.
With the mast lowered I followed the instructions and relocated the SO239 feed wire and the 80m connection
What really helps is the DX Commander stickers. On my spreaders i do them so that they should be aligned when looking down the mast, this gives me a good point of reference.
To start with I just feed the 80m wire up to where it would be for 30m and taped it down. I then worked around the mast feeder positions adding labels as I worked in each new wire.
Now the DX Commander/Calum does say that the clips used on the paracord are hard to undo once set, as I found. Having to try and extract one, manage to break a clip, and I had no spares. So, i thought, well superglue it is then ! With using the YOCTOSUN Hands Free Magnifier, i was able to get it to glue pretty much back on. I was then with the existing cut paracorde and elastic cable to add the other elements which required some vertical tensile strength.
I continued to add all the elements and was happy with the tension and how tidy they are. I also took some time to put some tape around the clips where sometimes the wind will blow and wires get caught in the juberliee clips. As I’m not taking the mast down and collapsing, this wont effect me in the short-term.
With assistance from my son, we got the mast vertical and I could start adding the existing radials I have. I add the radials in a N/E/S/W layout starting from the feed point, and adding where i have capacity. I also done a ground-visual of the 2m/70cm with my iphone (10x max zoom) and could see it was in good shape up there after I had raised it on Friday.
Testing and Results
So the next step would be to test. For this i used the two main data modes I currently use, being FT8 and WSPR. I used WSJTX v2.1.2 and finding a ‘gap’ to press the ‘tune’ button. This would give me repeatable results. I am using the TS-690S internal SWR reading and a 2nd hand HF SWR Transceiver (YW-3) for the external readings.
RX is very clear 5/9
To be expected
80m wire ?
Does the VV-3 work at this frequency ?
FT8 Testings with new elements on 10+12m and resonant frequencies/others in WSJTx
5 Watts is the min setting on the transmit
I am really impressed with the S.W.R. on all the bands, whilst 20M gave a high reading, i suspect that the curve on this band is quite specific. Reception is very strong, so the wire is doing its job in selecting the fequency nicely.
Whilst I wasnt expecting 160m and 30m to be available, for thorughness and future recording, added them (should of done 6m in hindsight). I was happy to see 15m and 12m resonating nicely with low S.W.Rs on of 1.6 and 2.1 respectively.
I will upload a gallery as there is so much evidiential data to show,so browse thru at your lesuire.