Having got the ‘shack’ into somewhat more operational functionality I pondered adding back in the MFJ Auto Tuner – I originally purchased this when I was using home-built vertical antenna and in that it could seemingly tune anything to matching the impedence of the antenna to the transceiver. With the 80m end fed, which does a excellent job across all its designed bands, it became a little redundant and sat in the ‘spares pile’.
With the recent ‘ham shack’ rejig and spotting the tuner, I’d thought Id give it another try, as digital modes on top band can experience some interesting propergation and having recently got the weather station back on line ready to start re-building the webtechnologies for WSPR data, seemed a good reason to at least put it back in place.
Fitting in the ATU wasnt as straight forward as planned – the additonal ‘gaps’ in the bookshelf paying off to allow the ‘sturdy’ coax of the ATU to the 7300 to be in place. I did attempt mounting directly underneath, but it was becoming more of a mess than it already is. With a rejig and some persusasion, the ATU was in place and functioning correctly.
I started out on FT8 – there was plenty of traffic on top-band and managed several QSO’s as well as seeing how well the antenna was doing being matched to 160M with 50W of power.
Having enjoyed a pleasent evening out and the fresh air of Poole Harbour, I resumed my work in the shack and started WSPR transmissions on 160M with 1W of power. I’ve been doing 10M during the day, and its been geat to see the data of how the propergation really varies and almost to immediate effect when the sun goes down, so it would be good to see the inverse of that. I was not to be dissapointed !
Suffice to say, the ATU was doing a great job in matching the antenna and still with a decent amount of power being transmitted on WSPR, the MFJ reported between .5 and .7W
Needless to say, as someone who enjoys digital modes and analysis of the data produced, its great to have this added functionality back. With the steady stream of WSPR data becoming available I’m looking forward to updating the webtechnologies site ready for early next year, so the MFJ will be staying for the foreseeable future ! Yes it is worth it !
Not much happening on the amateur radio front I’m afraid. I did have some very good SSTV QSO’s the other day 80M – quite a few in fact ! With that I have been quite poorly with a cough and a cold, hence the COVONIA which has come to the rescue !
I’ve had a large amount of medicine and allot of sleep which seems to have restored me to at least being able to type up my blog. I was determined to get the BONGO going as well, as the fuel filter had arrived. It took a bit of labouring to get the fuel-filter to fit back on the chassis, but sure enough the bongo is now back in action !
Webtechnologies site updates
Other than doing hands-on radio I made some updates the webtechnologies website which captures all the WSPR transmission reception reports. Basically I’ve made it much simpler and requiring allot less maintenance, with better integration into Git with a fully functional CI/CD pipeline. I had this in place already, but it wasn’t quite perfect, so with a chance to sort it out, I’ve reduced the features (FAX pics and KIWI SDR) and kept it to just WSPR reports and Weather from the the local weather station here at the QTH. This will allow me to develop new features for the site as time allows..
With the Bongo back in operation, i’m hoping to get back out and do another POTA activation soon. I still have a pretty full February now but am determined to get out and on the air, hopefully this time with a UK Antennas 40m multiband end fed. I’m not sure I can squeeze POTA in this month due to commitments, but will see how things work out, rest assured, I will be looking to get back out and on the air thou !
Thats all for this week, please keep well and thanks for reading the blog.
So my biggest constraint of amateur radio activities is, yep, time. Mostly I run WSPR and monitor via the webtechnologies site for how well the IC705 and 6BTV are doing, as well as pull in the automated SSTV broadcasts from 20m available here.
So why the sudden ‘burst’ of telephony QSO’s – mostly thanks to scheduled (scheds) transmissions, firstly the most excellent 145 alive event organised by G5TM and then the regional contacts that setup out in the field.
I was lucky enough to contact G5STU who setup nearby – very line of sight, but was great to hear all the other people in. I did manage to make one other contact on the ‘net’ but left it to those with better setups to enjoy the QSO’s, it was great to listen in !
Not one to rest, G5STU then setup a live stream of his activity on 40M – based in Poole ! I thought I had to give it a try, to me on 2M Poole harbour is complete black spot due to the hills between the east side of Bournemouth and the low side of Poole, so thought it worth a try to have a QSO with G5STU, sure enough, was my first HF contact so near, was great to get in the log book.
So whilst I’ve been manicly busy, its been great to take time out for those that organise live events that are fun to join in with – I’ve scheduled my next PoTA – which will be at night during the week ! So am looking forward to that, I have no idea how I will do, but the main thing is to get out and enjoy radio.
In the mean time, I’ve setup the MFJ993B to get on top-band at home, and am able to hear the various ‘nets’ that occur, as well as get out nicely on FT8 mode, having made several QSO’s on top-band on a non-resonant 80m end-fed antenna, i was very happy that the MFJ993B got some action !
So, hoping the end of January and start of Feburary will allow more time for radio, more project parts are arriving, allow things to progress on the VHF/UHF and Microwave bands, so excited to tell and show more about that 🙂
Whilst no POTA Activations myself I did enjoy making some POTA Hunter contacts this weekend, albeit on FT8.
Its nice to be part of something, even when I cant get out the shack to do PoTA activations, I appreciate those guys who do go out and operate from the parks !
I noticed I was having some issues with the IC7300, i.e. it kept on rebooting ! With some analysis I was able to find I had somehow knocked the power supply output voltage to 9v ! It was quite something to be making contacts at all, but rest assured 13.8V was soon restored and the 50W available to me soon back in use.
Having been playing/monitoring with QSSTV on Linux, I rebooted my Ham PC and went into Windows to use MSSTV – its been a while since I used it, but I must say I find the interface much more ‘friendly’ than QSSTV. I made really good QSO’s via SSTV.
First EA3AUW, a very nice QSO into Spain, with great signal reports. Looks like a slight typo in my callsign, but I was glad to make the contact and have the QSO on 14.2300. SSTV gets very busy on weekends, so getting clear images and completing was great.
I had another great QSO with IU5KZF on 20M – I was really getting thu with my 50W from the QTH, the RX pics was a true P5/595 for the best part. I think the USB Audio codec drivers under Windows are slightly better than under Linux/Ubuntu – I’ve not really looked under the hood, but I seem to get better pictures from MMSSTV than I do from QSSTV. Still, I was glad to make two really great SSTV QSO’s from the QTH.
Elsewhere I was prepping for my next PoTA – Whilst I find the iPad and SDR Control to be amazingly easy to use and setup, I have used my laptop and IC705 out in the field before, having made a SSTV contact for PoTA (Upton Heath Park), so I thought it a good time to check the laptop and IC705 again. My main ‘niggle’ with the laptop was having to the USB Cable. I installed WFView on the laptop, along with VBAudio Cable and the Serial Com Port emulator – whilst I could connected and hear audio from the laptop, the laptop is just old I think it cannot do all the things I need it to do via WFView – I reinstated the USB Cable and went ‘native’ and everything (SSTV, FT8, FT4) started working perfectly again.
I have now setup my IC705 to hang off my 6BTV doing WSPR on the laptop, I’m running 1W into 40M to do the propergation reports, and its working really well, so I know for my next PoTA I can use the laptop and do/try SSTV again !
I twasn’to be disappointed with how well the IC705 and WSJT~X was doing on 40M and 1W of power, in no less than 12 hours the 6BTV and IC705 had reached all over the planet, needless to say, I was very happy with that the IC705 and 6BTV was working correctly and getting some action, rather than being sat in a bag !
I’m now looking forward to G5TM’s 145 Alive Event on 2M – a way to have simplex contacts via 2M. G5TM has put allot of work coordinating the event and G5STU “should” be within my reach from IO90BS. I’m sure many of us know G5TM excellent youtube channel, but incase you’ve not been introduced, hers the 145 Alive Event posting.
So I’m almost making the postings back on a weekly basis and there is enough in the shack at least to make something interesting to talk about, hopefully I can keep new blog postings going reguarly.
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.
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 !
The great thing of having a WebSDR is the ability to monitor a huge amount of the HF spectrum visibly.
Seeing a sudden surge of red comms in the KiwiSDR, I then set about transmitting WSPR packets. And sure enough, I was reaching Italy with 5W on 10M !
I still have my 2M/70cm and 6M beam to complete, but this really motivates me to get that done sooner rather than later, I hope the ‘skip’ season is around for a while, but it wont for me thats for sure !
In the mean time, here is an excellent video from Oxford Shortwave Youtube channel, demonstrating the reach he has on his 2m antenna, something I’d reallly like to do with FT8 as well !
Not sure how many people read this on a regular basis, but needless to say apologies for the absence of updates in recent weeks. I’ve got loads of updates to do, with pictures and videos but my MSc has taken over my life at the moment (outside of work).
Good news one of my modules on Web Technologies i’ve embraced my course and my hobby and am using WSPR data, amongst others, as one of the components of a website I am building.