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

All steam ahead!

So aside amateur radio, my other ‘interests’ is model railways. My fellow rail enthusiast are building this small layout.

Shillingstone prototype

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 !

SSTV

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.

VC-H1 Field Test

The broadcasts from the park resulted in complete susses of received images from my QTH about 1 mile away.

VC-H1 field test results (approx 1 mile max)

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.

Shack Tidy

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.

Shack Tidy Day 1

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.

Bonding

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.

Events

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.

Bike Repair Stand as Antenna Mast

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.

Testing the trolley cart with Sweety.

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.

A busy weekend ! Dipoles, Verticals and repeaters !

So what a busy weekend ! Having been to Poole Radio club this week and catching up with an fellow member received the necessary advice on how to best install my 80m/40m dipole in terms of location in my QTH.

I then set about building the mast to get the dipole up, its a series of videos, so i put them here in order.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

So TL/DR i didnt make all the progress I wanted, having taken care of my health and not getting too tired, i have ordered a new tilt base for the 33ft mast.

Barenco BE103 on order

The Barenco looks a good bit of piece for the price, if it allows me to tilt a 33ft mast up with ease, worth every penny ! For sure there will be a decent video and review when its installed.

With that the Poole Radio Society on 2M I set about getting my 2M equipment setup. I tried to use the Retevis RT90 but wasnt having much luck with programming and operating it. I got the RT90 as its a good DMR radio and works with my Pi hotspot, but for monday i just needed something simple to use for the 2M net, so i pulled my IC-2200H out and done a factory rest on it.

I was soon on the air with my Yagi and making a great local contact. I couldnt reach the 3rd contact in the QSO on the Isle Of Wight, so over night considered how I would best address this for the monday night net.

J-Pole on 2M

I was really impressed that i got the antenna up in less than ideal weather (rain, wind) and had positive S.W.R. readings

I then set about calling CQ on the 2m calling frequency of 145.500 and was able to make a number of contacts thruout the day.

2m contacts in a variety of good distances in and around Bournemouth

I was really pleased that I was making and having really good conversations with seasoned fellow hams in the area, especially another member of Poole Amateur Radio Society remembered me which was great !

Feeling ambitious, i then set about looking for repeaters. Our local repeater is no-more for at least the short term and no real indication of if/when GB3PBR will return. GB3JB appeared to be just in reach, and i setup the 2200H with the respective frequencies and tones to access it, sure enough I was rewarded with the ‘pips’ that I could reach the repeater !

I monitored thruout the day and enjoyed several really good QSO’s via the repeater, which varied to just down the road (ended up with a simplex conversation off the repeater) to many miles away beyond Dorchester !

GB3JB

I continued to add a choke filter and Y-split to the 2200H so i can use the Yagi and J-Pole should I so wish to.

It has been an excellent weekend on the radio, the shack still isnt as tidy as I would like it, but its getting plenty of QSO and 2m action thats for sure ! I’m looking forward to next week and progressing the 40m/80m dipole some more, it will be excellent to be back on both frequencies again.

Many thanks for all of those that had telephony QSO’s with me this weekend and setting up/checking and giving me loads of info about 2 meter operation in the locality, it really has been great to have a ‘rag chew’ with local operators again.

Stay safe / 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

15m DX at night ?!

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 !

FT8 15m contact

There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !

Reaching far on 15m with 50W of power

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 !

10m Telephony !

Having enjoyed a nice drive down to Poole Harbour after work I tuned around after a day of WSPR activity on the 7300. Results showed that the bands where pretty closed from the QTH, so I wasnt expecting alot of contacts.

A relaxing evening down in Poole Harbour before heading home – need to go /M from here !

I was tuning thru some of the programmed memorys in the 7300 to see if there was any activity, but it waws all quite, but then on 10m (28Mhz) a sudden group of very clear conversation, and interesting as well.

I listened in for around 30 minutes as the group discussed upcoming holidays and mobile operating along with the setups to be taken, a very interesting topic as its something I would like to do myself. It was great to hear other operators discuss band conditions as welll.

Having built up enough courage I waited for a gap to get part of my call sign in “2E0” I got out as quickly as I could as not to interrupt the flow. Thankfully on my 2nd attempt I was picked up and introduced to a friendly group of local operators, the furthest being Blandford and exceptionally clear. It was geat to hear that my setup was equally clear and we continued to discuss my Hustler setup. I was also informed of another ‘net’ on 10M lower down the bands, which I then went onto monitor, waited for an opputnity to introduce myself, and then made some contacts. Operating hear was much harder with interference and conditions making the signal barely audiable.

I did put both locations in my 7300’s memory for next Wednesday evening and it was great to have a decent QSO with local, friendly operators, furthermore it was great to see how well the hustler was doing in difficult conditions.

I will be doing further work on the 6BTV hopefully this weekend and puting the feedline underground having ordered 10ms of Extraflex bury so it can go safely underground.

Until next time, 73 !

Alan / 2E0FWE

The ‘coolest’ FT8 contact yet ?

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

DT8A – 8482 mi on the South Shetland Islands

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 !

Uni assignment takes over blog!

Hi all !

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.

You’ll find the code over on github.

In the mean time, stay safe and keep well !

Alan, 2E0FWE

Adding a webcam to the mast

Having had a webcam available to me for some time since I now use a mac which has an in-built camera, I thought I’d put it to good use.

linux desktop now acts as a fancy router, main desktop for me ia iMac Late 2013 model !

There are a number of really good mast-webcams on the Internet/Youtube, so thought I’d give it a try myself. The webcam is a cheap-er Logitech one as I know that some of these cameras can get very expensive (4K/remote control,etc). Im not 100% this from Argos is an identical one, but its a smilar price/looking and all powered via USB.As I’m not sure of the longevity of the camera given its outside, something on the cheaper end of the webcam market is in order !

there was alot of usb cable to go up, or not as the case maybe !

The mast is approximately 10 meters tall and has my 2m/70cm J-Pole on it. It is well rigged and secured with a heavy duty mast vertical and ground stakes which are very well driven into the ground. I do take it down when the weather is predicted to get quite bad, but i can still reach Poole and of course my DRM hot-spot for chatting on Talk Groups via the Internet.

mast with camera and J Pole – one element is wavign around but after checking all is good on 2m and 70cms

The first challenge is that a regular webcam comes with around a 1 meter cable attached to it. I needed a good quality cable that would introduce as little loss as possible. Here the RS USB 2.0 Active Repeater Cable comes into play. I actually ordered 3 of these and to start with did attach all 3 to make sure the cables are not too tight or pulling, but 1 does the job nicely, and I’m left with two very high quality usb repeating cables for other projects.

For software I used free streaming software provided Open Broadcast System, namely OBS Studio which is available here It was very easy to setup and integrates easily with you-tube.

well rigged mast ensures that it will stay up until i wan it to. The USB cable doesnt interfere or go near coax until the feeder.

I entered in the required Token for streaming from YouTube and sure enough the webcam was on air !

The mast cam – for as long as the camera lasts !

I was really thankful for WY7W for checking the camera out and also sharing his amazing webcam video as well – i have to admit i was just ever so slightly envious of his amazing QTH 🙂

Well I’m hoping the camera holds out, be interesting to see how long it last

— additional 25/5

I’ve since had to remove the webcam due to QRM from the USB Cable. When i find time/have reduce all the other QRM in the shack i’ll re-introduce the camera, for now it sadly has to stay off.