First state-side SSTV contact (5/5/22)

Being up and about in the small hours in the UK I was tuned into 20M SSTV frequency of 14.230, thinking just to let it monitor and pull in the overnight SSTV pics only to find a clear as a bell TX start from W2PTH.

For those who are new to SSTV, W2PTH has been doing SSTV for quite some time, his QRZ Page states 1976 ! Those familiar with SSTV would be familiar with the call sign and the ‘Cherry hill’ location appearing in his pictures.

Having heard the call, I thought to give it a try – I’ve never had much luck in reaching the states being limited to 50W but the signals where coming in exceptionally clear tonight, so thought to give it a try!

SSTV QSO with W2PTH

As you can see the stream of pictures came in just wonderfully and I was really happy to have W2PTH in my log book with my first DX contact into the USA.

Propergation differences just minutes later

As can be seen from the picture received just minutes later, the conditions had changed. It was fantastic to have such a great SSTV QSO with a great operator!

Equipment Used :- IC7300 50W power, Multi-band End Fed Antenna, MMSSTV on Windows 10 with KE5RS FTP Widget for uploads

What have I been upto !

So its been a busy couple of weeks with much non-radio stuff going on taking up a fair bit of my time. I did get to enjoy going along the south coast, but no time/equipment with me to do any radio this time out, but nether the less I had a great time.

Waking up without a hangover on the south coast

Whilst radio activities have been minimal, mostly the weekly G4PRS net on 2M and FT8/WSPR on HF, I did give a presentation about “Parks on the Air” to the G4PRS club. This was also shared over Zoom for those unable to attend in person.

This went down pretty well by all accounts, I got plenty of positive feedback the next day which was good to see, but I could see that 2 years of lock down had effected my presentation skills for sure, nethertheless it was a good way to get people into PoTA.

With the longer days I’m sure to do more nearby activations soon, it makes a break from studying/reading. I did have some interesting FT8 contacts on 10M recently.

10M FT8 contact into Hong Kong

I hope I can get in some more PoTA before the end of April and am looking forward to the increased propagation conditions.

QRP – POTA – G-0211 – Upton Heath

With the weather being so lovely and time allowing day time operation, I headed out to Upton Heath – this is just opposite Upton Park but separated by the busy A35. Although once in either, you wouldn’t notice that it is there !

Upton Heath (G-0211) and Upton Country Park (G-0443)

I brought my wagon along to help transport the radio and accessories from the car to the heathland, with just a short walk to find a good bench to operate from it was no problem at all.

I was able to be on the air quickly with the excellent Alex Loop ham-pack antenna, I used a bungee to attach it to a direction post as my bike stand is still in the back of the bongo in North Wales, but the bungee was excellent to use and changing frequency across the 20M band was very easy to get low S.W.R. across the operating frequencies.

I wanted to get better at Telephony contacts so started with Phone on 14.241 and used the PoTA App to self-spot, within minutes I was trying to manage a pile up ! I was getting so many call signs at once, it was hard to distinguish them and get back, thankfully I got most, but some I couldn’t complete, but that’s what experience and patience will teach me ! I managed 6 Phone contacts, whilst I appreciate all of them, it was great to get a fantastic signal report from K1RO in New Hampshire ! I was so glad to have a break and a drink of water with me.

I then moved onto FT8 and completed enough QSO’s to active the park, with reports coming in from all over Europe.

FT8 – 20m

Whilst I had been operating for just over an hour, I wanted to give SSTV a try, my previous attempt was thwarted by a very busy 20m band, but today I was able to get thru a fantastic signal from HA1AD

With my water supply fast running out and time getting on, i packed up having had a fantastic time at Upton Heath. It is definitely a park I will come to again, its nearby, really accessible and lovely location to work from.

Youtube – QRP POTA Upton Heath

QRP POTA – G-0258 Martin Down

Having originally planned to go out PoTA the week before and found that the IC-705 had developed a fault with its SQL/RF/AF Gain knob, that had to be repaired, was fixed and turned around very quickly by Icom UK !

After Sales Service is important

So I lost a weekend of PoTA activation, I did make good use of the time tidying my Mazda Bongo up and enjoying time out with it still around the gorgeous Dorset/Hampshire countryside.

Having got the IC-705 back in re-instated my visit to Martin Down. Having not been there I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent video on Martin Down and more, which gave me enough information about the location without having to visit there.

Lovely video about Martin

I put my planned action on the PoTA website and headed out on the 12th of March, it was a lovely drive up and the location was fantastic. I set about setting up my IC-705 and Alexloop Hampack antenna. When I went to transmit via WSJTX on FT8, the radio and transceiver kept disconnecting ! I went back and checked over the basics, but couldn’t find anything out in the field as to what the issue was. Having not packed an external table/chair and feeling a little despondent headed back home.,

Portable Problems !

After having a nice afternoon out with XYL Monica, I got the 705 and out the bag and started working through the problems I had encountered. In the video above you’ll see how i switch out the antenna, computer and cables finally identifying the issue with the Alex Loop antenna.

Alex loop antenna ‘fix’

Upon closer inspection I was able to find that there was a considerable ‘cut’ in the coax, wether this all three (outer, braid and feeder) hitting each other wasn’t clear, but restoring the shielding by way of some strong tape and its proximity to the inner loop resulted in the transmit issues being resolved

I re-registered my planned activation on the PoTA Website for the 13th and headed back out, full of determination not only to make FT8 contacts, but also SSTV and Telephony.

Come the 13th I headed out early to ensure I got a space suitable for my Bongo where I could park in a good position to the antenna, this was easily setup and getting on everything in position is becoming very routine now. Operating from the Bongo in cold/not warm conditions is really brilliant, and means I don’t need to carry tents,etc to do an activation and keep warm/risk my IC-705 getting damaged by rain/weather,etc.

Once setup the issue with the radio disconnecting happened again ! This time knowing where to look I reapplied the ‘fix’ in the field, and was back on the air in no time. I achieved the 10 QSO on FT8 to activate the park in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes, they ranged around to the world to right here in England. I was very satisfied with how the 705 and the magloop antenna was performing.

FT8 RX/TX Report via PSK Reporter

Using the PoTA app from my phone I could see numerous people re-spotting me which undoubtedly helped in the succession of FT8 qsos.

Having gotten the 10 QSO’s needed to activate the park, I then turned my attention to SSTV on 20m (14.230) – reception was amazing, I got the IC-705 and Magloop tuned in no problem, another technique I have ‘developed’ since going portable of tuning the antenna to the frequency to get the best S.W.R and signal output (where as at home I use multi band verticals and Endfeds). I tried for an hour to have a QSO, but sadly I couldn’t make a contact this time, but did receive some great pictures. For the full gallery of RX, see here

Upon arrival at home I did receive a very nice email that my SSTV picture had been picked up my a KiwiSDR in Germany ! ( Thank you Tommy/ LB6DI )

CQ POTA BW Mode on 10W

After an hour of SSTV I turned to Telephony – I’m not the most confident HF Telephony person, but doing PoTA gives me a real opportunity to improve my HF QSO style. I do find that that with PoTA people do tend to do the ‘rubber stamp’ contest style of QSO, but are nevertheless very enthusiastic to make the contact and really patient in getting call signs out to ‘activators’ (operators in the park).

In the end I managed 6 Telephony contacts all over the globe with a good mixture of reports, I was really really excited to do so well with such relative low power and portable.

2E0FWE – QRP – POTA Martin Down National Park

Once home I had the challenge of getting the log book fully into ADIF format. This is the one thing that some non-technical people may find a challenge, but I have been able to find this excellent page on how to create a mixed log using Excel (on Windows). I was able to complete the spreadsheet and run the macro to produce the ADIF file for submission to PoTA Administrators easily, so now I just need to wait for the file to be processed for my activation to be complete !

I can say that operating mobile and doing PoTA is by far the best part of amateur radio for me now, it is incredibly satisfying to go out with such lower power and in lovely locations to operate from.

POTA log book uploaded into QRZ

QRP POTA G-0157 Holt Heath

Despite the beautiful sunny start to the day and strong winds yesterday with more to come today, I was still determined to get out with the IC-705 and Alex Loop Ham Pack for some Parks on the Air.

Wind speed measured at QTH with Storm Eunice on the 18th

For this activation I only took my Alex Loop Ham Pack bag, with the IC705 in it and accessories. Every thing fitted really well, whilst not as good as the Icom bag, it was good enough for transportation in the Bongo.

I had already visited G-0157 Holt Heath with XYL the previous week to find a nice location to operate from and was easily able to setup the Alex Loop on the bike-stand without any issue. I was soon on 30M FT8 Frequency and making good contacts well into Europe with 10W of power.

FT8 transmitted by Alex Loop being well received on 30M

The QSO’s came in with rapid succession, I dare say that the POTA self spot was really helping this time out as some calls were directly at me.

I take pictures of the 73 Acknowledgement as well to ensure i have logs in triplicate, writing down the logs manually also ensures that I don’t double-up a contact, and makes hunting FT8 calls easier. I found a good mix today of calling CQ and responding to other people calling CQ. Going for stronger signals tended to result in the typical signal report/received/73 QSO. In all it took about 90 minutes to get 10 FT8 qsos on 30m – that is with breaks for fresh air and making coffee, so not bad at all.

I then went on to try SSTV around midday, by this time the wind and rain was really howling around the heathland, it was beautiful and spectacular to be operating in such conditions, and the Alex Loop was doing a fantastic job. Sadly my USB cable developed a fault and with the weather getting no better, decided to leave it for another day (i..e I didn’t want a tree to fall down en-route and get stuck !)

I had a brilliant time at Holt Heath and a place I will very much like to return to when the weather improves to setup a mast and an end-fed antenna.

I am already looking forward to my next Parks on the Air outing, but they are getting more further afield now as the nearby ones are slowly getting done…

QRP Bongo Pota G-0157

FT8 QSO Summary (as uploaded to QRZ and PoTA)

Edit – 20/2/22

Many thanks to CU3BL & CU3HY for ‘hunting’ me ! Was glad to see in the park activation that my self-spot had helped!

CU3BL & CU3HJY ‘hunters’ from Azores !

QRP POTA Bongo G-0079 12th Feb 22

Having originally intending to go out on the 13th, the adverse weather and changes on planning on the home front made the 12th a better day to go. Whilst cold it was a great day to go out and try another park activation.

Weather at QTH and around IO90

The park being activated today was G-0079 New Forest – Kingston Great Common National Nature Reserve. Another nice close park and after researching found a nice place to park up to operate from the Bongo.

Research position to operate from within the park boundary

For this activation attempt I wanted to use the Alex Loop Ham Pack antenna, as I had already used Toy Box antenna the previous week, and with the cold operating from the Bongo would be a good way to get on the air.

The Alexloop and Bike stand was really easy to setup, maybe even easier than the whip and radials, but it was quick to get on air. The bike stand held the alexloop no problem at all.

To start with I used the MAT-Tuner on 20M as I planned to do FT8 then SSTV, so I wanted to see if I can move about the band without re-dialling the magloop, in the end, I removed the MAT tuner and went to 30m. My SWR went up to 1.5 but was making more and more contacts.

By lunch time the QSO’s on 30m where coming in rapid succession, not quite a pile up, but enough to get the park activated. I also enjoyed a ‘rag-chew’ on 70cm via GB3IW, not for PoTA, but it was good to make a /M to /M contact whilst doing FT8 on HF. I also done a SSTV test from the my mobile location to back to the QTH, that came out quite well for 5W

SSTV on 2M received back home from G-0079

With it just being over midday and enough FT8 qso to activate the park, I tided up and headed back for a fantastic afternoon out with the station manager. We really enjoyed the afternoon out and the lovely views across to the IoW

In conclusion i can say that the Alexloop Ham pack antenna is amazing, its incredibly light and very easy to setup. The sensitivity of the dial is incredible, getting the SWR down low to 1.5 on 20M and 17M was no problem. I don’t think I will need an ATU with it, its better to dial it in and get the power into the antenna and a very small increase in reflected power back.

I really enjoyed doing PoTA, just getting out with the transceivers and making contacts is great fun, be it FT8, SSTV or Telephony, every time I go out, I am getting more experience and enjoy operating away from home more and more.

I am looking forward to my next PoTA activation and trying another antenna, hopefully the 40M end fed which I think will return the best results yet in terms of RF performance, but lets see…

POTA G-0079 12Feb22 QRP Bongo

1W SSTV on 80m ?!

When the SSTV band is quite and no one returning CQ calls, I will put out calls and test different modes and powers.

This morning I searched the KiwiSDR Signal-To-Noise list and found SWLJO43/3, City Windom, near Hamburg, Germany with a SNR of 43db. I tuned in to the SSTV frequency of 3730 and started my CQ transmissions, first with 50w and Scottie, then the fastest mode BW8, and 1W of power.

1W B/W8 Mode picture in center

I was really amazed that even on 1W and the BW8 mode I was able to discern a picture from a very low power transmission.

I think the KiwiSDR and more importantly the SNR list at http://rx.linkfanel.net/snr.html are an overlooked treasure for both the Short Wave Listener and the ham radio operator looking to check/hear their transmissions.

The KiwiSDR has many advantages over other SDRs in that it has native plugin which are rendered in the browser, requiring no software on the part of the user, just select the relevant module, and tune to the frequency !

KiwiSDR SSTV Plugin Selection

I do own a KiwiSDR and connected to a Wellbrook ALA provides excellent receive for others that want to use a SDR based in South West England.

QRP Portable + 2M SSTV !

Its been a busy time with radio activities, so much so I’ve barely had time to write up, so today I’m doing two for one !

QRP Portable

So having been inspired by numerous youtube videos to ‘get out the shack’ and being well equipped, I was determined to go out in my Mazda bongo with my QRP setup. The first thing I wanted to do was see if I could use my under-used Alexloop hampack in the Bongo, eliminating the need for any need to be outside of my Bongo.

I tested at home first in my drive way and getting the bongo roof up, IC705 and Alexloop in the Bongo worked well. Receiving signals was not a problem at all !

QRP Bongo QTH

So I asked my fellow G4PRS members a good high location to also do some UHF/VHF operation. I was not be disappointed when Whiteways Viewpoint was recommend by several members. Not only was it stunningly beautiful, and very windy, there was plenty of space to park and setup. I wasn’t alone in operation !

I setup my Bongo, IC705 and Alexloop. Whilst in the bongo I could get the SWR readings down low, but couldnt get my signal out but when putting the loop in the roof, there was some inductance from the small amount of metal in the roof and the SWR would go high.

QRP Operation Day 2 – Whiteways

I had a great time, and was glad that I had brought along my 2m/70cm Kenwood TH-D7, which I was able to put into the external antenna. I was quickly able to have a QSO via GB3IW repeater on 70cm, an impressive distance of 41 miles (approx)

GB3IW (approx) and Whiteways

I then tried out 2M and calling CQ, I was glad to be received by G3TOI in Christchurch who was monitoring during his HF / 80m activites. We have had QSO’s before, and its always good to catch up, but it was great to be so clear and a good report whilst mobile.

I really added to my portable QRP operation experience by this one trip out, I know now that for my antennas they will have to be outside the Bongo. As such I have got a pop-up tent to sit either myself or the antenna in the tent. I’m hoping to do more /M operation on the 17/18th of January – so keep a look out for me on the airwaves !

SSTV 2M

Whislt I still enjoy SSTV on HF (Mostly 20m and 80m) I really enjoy it on 2M also. Being able to use FM and upto 50W from my QTH with the Diamond x7000 antenna means I have the challenge of the terrain but the hope that I will also make contacts.

The SSTV calling frequency (144.500Mhz) is very quite in IO90BS, but I advertised the times I am almost always on via my QRZ page, i.e. 8-9AM on Sunday mornings. Whilst I didn’t get anyone during this specific period, I did leave my 9700 and MSSTV running, sure enough whilst walking in from the garden I heard a signal !

I sat down and had a fantastic 2M SSTV QSO with M0UVM, whose location is not geographically far, but still the other side of a large hill I have between me and Bournemouth Town Centre. I was really happy that someone had taken the time to setup MMSTV and put really good pictures in. We are planning more transmission on Sunday mornings with different SSTV modes and power. M0UVM is using an IC705 and only 10W, so doing really well !

Here are the excellent pictures we sent each other

Received Pictures (by 2E0FWE)

Received pictures by M0UVM

Here is hoping that there is more SSTV on 2M !

Until next time, 73

2E0FWE / Alan

A windy walk and fun on 2m/70cm

Being a long weekend and an extended time off, it seemed right to head out and enjoy the good weather, albeit quiet windy ! After the excesses of Christmas and nice stroll along the coastline at Heingstbury Head would help me feel less guilty about everything I had eaten and drunk in the last few days..

Christmas Dinner and nice bottle of white wine.

Having packed my back-pack with the Kenwood TH-D7 and SSTV unit Sweety and headed off in the Mazda Bongo. It was quite busy when we arrived, but Sweety was quickly off his lead and enjoying a good run around ! The Wind was really strong but I got up the first hill and made a ‘test’ SSTV transmission back home, which worked really well !

Test 2M SSTV Transmission from HH
Isle of White (needles) across the

I didn’t use the replay test this time as I was keeping warm and making it across the hill. Once on the other side towards the Isle of White clearly in view I setup for another test transmission using the repeat function, I got a great picture back, but I think moving the radio caused a few a few interruptions, but no complaints !

interference from moving antenna

I settled down with a nice bottle of water whilst Sweety continued to enjoy running around and having a good sniff.

A nice rainbow and a sniff

I had a nice QSO via the IoW Ventnor repeater, GB3IW some 25 miles away with a good signal report and newly licenced M7 called David, who was enjoying Echolink and how he was getting on the air with a UV5R as well.

I really enjoyed the THD7 in being able to do both SSTV and a QSO, the walk was really invigorating as well !

Hoping I will do more /P and /M in the New Year, in the mean time I have a couple of projects around the QTH to finish off as well… 🙂

73

Alan / 2E0FWE

A summary mini-update

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.

Conclusion

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.

Alan / 2E0FWE