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.

Tidying the shack

So my last post on tidying the shack i had the radios in place where I thought I’d might like them, but of course I’ve made some changes as the tidying progresses !

I’m more than likely going to put a small adjustable shelf above the TS690S/FT659 and 2200H to allow for the other components that are used in connecting them.

I’ve got the build and electrical test desk with the require microscope and oscilloscope setup. I’ve not got any kits to build at the moment, but I’m glad ive got a decent area to build and test in now. Getting things sorted and into boxes/labelling really takes the most time, but worth it once done, and plenty of capacity. I’ve kept the left side for ‘components’ and the right storage box for ‘hardware’ like screws/tools,etc.

I’ve still got my HF boxes/shelves to go thru and sorting thru the larger container boxes, but slowly the shack is getting better in being tidier and managable. Once everything is in place I’ll be using velcro to tidy the cables up. Next is to get the audio sorted with filter/amp and speakers back in place.

Tidying the Shack / QRM

Good day all ! Making this a quick one as its interspersed with Univserity Assignments and Tidying the shack !

So I have made good progress on building racking and getting things ‘generally in place’ around the shack, its still a right old mess i dont mind saying, but its getting there, and better than it ever was with the old tables.

I had some valuable input from a fellow HAM on my WebSDR that the VDSL interference was plain to see, so after a few years away from Virgin Media, I’m resuming my Internet access from Virgin, once that is in place and all my ‘essentials’ proven to work, I’ll discontinue my IP/VDSL link, hopefully that will reduce the QRM.

QRM Visible via KiwiSDR

I did have a chance to play with the IC705 in the garden this weekend, but results on the portable antennas were slightly disappointing.

results from the ‘toybox’ antenna

I did put on a measured radial for 40m but the nearest resonate frequence was a massive 3kHz away ! If the weather holds up, i’ll try out my buddipole, as for temporary use its worked pretty well, whats more i can configure it for VHF/UHF as well by constructing a JPole, so it might be the best antenna for the IC705 without an additonal outlay on more antennas.

I’m going to be quite busy with a couple more Univeristy Assignments and work-work, but will do my best to keep the blog going !

Until next time, stay safe, 73 !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Tidying the shack Day 2

Its been a busy end of the week in the QTH – generally tidying up, or in the process of ! After doing a number of supporting activties, I continued to tidy the shack up !

The first task was to clear enough space for the new shelving. I used the static space where my current corner desk is to give enough clearance.

Having got a nice clear space, i then set about hoovering – there was so much dust !

As on queue, the racking arrived from Amazon – time for both me and doggo to get some exercise before building the racking !

Sweety enjoying a sniff in the park

Having enojyed a break and a nice walk in the park with Sweety, i set about builidng the first set of racks. These a shelves/racks that can go 1.8m high, i used them in a half-form factor to create two desks. Having ordered two of these, I was able to create two ‘desks’ with middle shelves, and two others with a nice bit of capacity. The build was quite straight forward and was able to complete with just a rubber mallet.

As time and the day drew on, it was time to start organizing the basic placement of where things will live, or thereabouts, freeing up the my desk and allowing me to continue working.

Having applied a number of layers of conductive tape to the top-most layer of the shelving to get started, i was able to return the radios and start placing the other items in their general locations. I was quite satisfied with the days work given the extent of how disorganized it was at the start of the day. I’m hoping I will get the cable management attached to the relevant loctions and hopefully be back on the air by Monday evening, with at least the 7300, WSPR Raspberry Pi and KiwiSDR.

QRM / Tidying the Shack

So for the first time in a VERY long time (aka YEARS) I’ve had the luxury of a week off work. During the week I found a USB extender was producing a horrific amount of QRM. The offending item has since been disconnected.

I went on to survey my ‘shack’ and that I had ‘allowed’ QRM to ‘sneak’ back in. I was a bit disappointed in myself to be honest as I had spent allot of time and money on virtually eliminating interference, both man-made and natural when I had my TS690S setup as my only station. I was just not paying attention to what I was putting in the shack.

So to make up for my lack of attention, I wanted to understand why this had come about. Mostly the biggest problem is the ease to just add things in and not test them, only to find out they are ruining a hobby I really love.

QRM Identified via KiwiSDR

Looking around the shack I really noticed how even tho I had moved much of the music equipment out, it was still as not as organised as I would like it. Did I need all these computers ? Do I use them regularly, is my setup optimal in terms of service ? For many of the computers, especially my older mac, i really no longer needed it and many smaller projects have come and past.

I looked around our whole house and many things had changed since we moved here, so maybe it was just as good to take a holistic look and think ‘how can i solve this’. With that I rented some storage space nearby.

Storage space not far from the QTH

I was really able to take a big “bite” out of all the things around the house and no longer using. I wont share the pictures on here as its not strictly radio related, but fair to say I made good use of the space and freed up alot of space around the QTH.

This in turn allowed me to think about back in the shack. How can I get desks/working areas tidy and serviceable. I’ve been using computer tables mostly that dont really have the best storage on them, leading to problems of not putting RF chokes on them and ensuring the QRM was reduced. I put too much trust in the power strip RF filter to think it would fix all my QRM issues – obviously it would not.

First call – Ferrite, lots of it and the right sort. Whilst I have VHF/UHF transceivers, allot of my work is on HF. I researched the best ‘general’ ferrite for HF, and think that FT140-43 will reduce/eliminate the RF from getting in and out of the devices. With that I ordered 40 FT140-43 from Qubits. Now *everything* that is in my shack will at least have these ferrites on the power supply/leads, if not more.

I then looked at the desks. I need them to be serviceable. The power-tray racking helped, but I was still having cable management issues, and as us radio operators know, having loops of wire here and there is a great way to introduce unwanted QRM into the shack.

I ordered these Garage Shelving Unit from Amazon which can be split to make a nice height desk and storage space, reducing the amount of ‘wire tangle’ and allowing me to have small boxes to tidy things away.

I’ve also got Aluminium Foil Tape to cover the working surfaces with to ‘bond’ transceivers to desks. This had worked really well when i done it with my TS690S and having the cables from the transceiver neatly on the metal conductive surface the cables was reduced loops massively.

So I will have a very busy weekend coming up to finish up my ‘week off’ but hopefully a shack that is not only free from QRM, but is also tidy and serviceable. I promise to upload pics 🙂

Stay safe, keep well.

Alan / 2E0FWE

A spring clean!

So with us coming out of winter into Spring (20/3) I really wanted to tidy up. And tidy up everything. My shack had become a really bad ‘mess’ and as an engineer/student/professional this is my ‘small home office’. I’ve had used these Keter Store-It Out Midi Outdoor Plastic Garden Storage Shed around my back garden for storing various things and they have proved really good, in capacity and being waterproof. With an electric screw driver i was able to put it up and thanks to a mild Friday evening, started filling it. Swiftly I had reclaimed my floor and alot of other space in the shack/office 🙂 I then turned my attention to outside the office !

With the bad weather forecast I had already lowered my Nebula, as it look pretty high wind forecasts. I’m pretty sure my mast would of been ok, but I don’t like to take a risk where its not necessary, so the best part of the week I was without HF on my main right (IC7300). The end fed antenna for receiving Weefax was still doing a grand job thou pulling in the images

I took the opportunity to inspect the Nebula and i noticed the main pivot bolt had got seriously bent out of shape, so I took the decision that i would have to rebuild the swivel base with a much larger bolt for the scaffold pole to go thru. I six hours then tidying down the Nebula and al its components. I think for now I wil keep my DX Commanders (I Now have 4) for when I can construct a full phased array with them. I know how good the Nebula is and the classic, so getting a phased array for amazing DX. What I do have now thou is a lovely clear garden, free from antennas apart from my 40m dipole for WSPR and my end fed an NVIS heights for RX.

I have a staggering amount of uni work going on as well as work-work, and I feel that i could get my shack and all my equipment really in tip-top order before mounting another antenna, be it HF, UHF or VHF. Hopefully the weather and longer evenings will mean that I’m not off the air for long (other than WSPR) and soon trying out a new and exciting antenna.

Stay safe, 73.

Al/ 2E0FWE

IC-705 & Shack Tidying

shack tidying is going well

So it has been a *very* busy week with work-work, uni-work and a ‘test’ at uni (which i done surprisingly well at!). I completed the cable management install last weekend (where did the week go again ?!), and got ‘this lives here’ sorted, but until Friday night havent been able to install the radio at all ! Am glad to say the IC-7300 reinstall was very easy , the one USB cable for the audio is amazing on this transceiver and I was soon back on FT8 & WSPR testing out everything was working again.

I’ve still got finessing to do on the cable management, but thats more about when everything is setup, know where the cables and lengths are – so far I’ve not got any less or any more QRM, and the amount of deskspace reclaimed is massive. Its just nice to have it much tidyer than it was !

IC-705 aimed at mobile operating, also includes VHF/UHF !

One of my favourite you-tube HAM radio operators is Tim G5TM, he always offers good advice and interesting operating. My favourite videos of his are the mobile operating.

G5TM mobile DX

Whilst is transceiver can pack a might punch (100W – mobile !) the Foundation experience of using 10W has taught me to be patient and make use of the equipment and frequencies available. For telephony on 10W I used the local repeaters and digital modes, namely GB3PB (really sad to read this repeater had gone (temp) due to Covid).

I am mostly think at home i will use the 705 on 2m and 70cm, and see if I can re-configure my pistar for DSTAR. I have a fantastic camper van, being the mazda bongo, and following G5TM’s lead will aim to go mobile with the IC705.

I’ve done a basic ‘out the box’ comparison video of the IC-705 being driven by the same end-fed antenna i use on 7300. Not disappointed by the ‘default’ audio quality here.

IC7300 and IC705 switched between multiband end-fed

I’m really happy with the IC705 and cant wait to go mobile with it. I’m wondering what antenna to use, i do have the buddipole, so that will be worth testing, but maybe a verticle fixed to the bongo where I can change the antenna ? Anyhow have loads of settings to tinker on the 705 and continue to tidy the shack and get the cable management tidier still.

Stay safe and keep well

73

Alan

2E0FWE/M7ALU

Tidying the shack

It has been a mixed bag with the weather here, so not as much as chance to do the outdoor work I had wanted to do. Mostly its prep for when the Nebula arrives as in measuring out a 5m circumference for the guying points, no chance of that with the wind and rain !

As is I decided to tidy my shack up. As I’m doing far more software development than before and less time with the synths I’ve moved the music equipment to the ‘spare’ room. Everything has fitted quite nicely back in there, making it into a nice dedicated space for the synths. I will take pics when my lad is back and we have it all working agian !

My main motivation in tidying the shack was to get several of my rigs out and make the exterieor and interior cabling as tidy as possible. I really dislike untidy cables, especially in ‘racks’, so i really wanted to get my shack tidy !

Having moved mac #2 out, i have now moved my ‘build’ station to that desk, freeing up the space near the windows where rigs have tended to go (and will likely stay there). Also i have a nice desk for prototyping and working with my new Raspberry Pi 400. I’ve put in a smaller mixer which i will use for the radio audio and maybe the mac audio (good the occasional movie!)

messy cables ugh ! and i can re-work the PSU correctly 🙂

As you can its a heck of a mess at the moment, but this is after moving computer desks around. There is so much cabling with all these things, its quite amazing how it builds up !

The radio worked fine, but I’ve not reconnected the computer yet.

The fish eye lens gives a good view of the room and the new free space, yes that is an exercise bike ! I actually use it durign the week when working, i have 15 minutes away from the keyboard very hour or so to help me concentrate and also get some safe exercise ! but as you can see its quite a mess in here, but still better than it has been.

I love the new RPI 400. At £100 for a Pi, it wasnt cheap, but i love the functionality. Obviously i have a full-scale mac that I use for all my work, but I think the PI will see alot of Pi R&D with actual device I/O programming. The keyboard is excellent and the mouse very ergonomic. I was able to use Youtube, webbrowsing with no problem, its a very capable unit. I wont be in any rush to remove the OS from it, next steps will be to setup the physical ‘build’ board to do some hardware prototyping with.

Here is the smaller mixer I am using for now. Its not as complex and nor does it have USB input for a mac, but i like the size and simplicty of it. As long as I can descern the radio output from headphones and the speakers, it will do for me.

My next job (and why i’ve not gone crazy/OCD On tidying the upper desks) is to install these under desk cable trays. I think they will help alot as i can put the PSU strips in there and also velcro the cables together. I am not 100% on how to tidy the RX/TX cables – its so overlooked that the sheaths are also conductors, so its important to get things like RF bonding and earthing right to remove any in-shack RFI. I’ve asked a fellow Youtube Ham for help, so wont post on here yet, but hopefully stage 2 will have a link to that video 🙂

In the mean time I am looking forward to the Nebula arriving in the coming weeks and getting a couple more transceivers out of storage. I’m keen to get back onto VHF/UHF and maybe even 6M, will see how the tidying goes and how much space i have.

Until then 73 & Stay Safe !

Alan / 2E0FWE