July Update

Its been a while since I’ve posted, so thought I’d better put something up ! I’m glad to say that at home my shack has undergone a re-jig and tidy up, things are alot easier to operate.

I’ve been making more contacts with telephony and had a great QSO on 80m with F5VHZ, who is setting up in north France. Its great to have these longer QSO’s and esp on HF.

Meanwhile on VHF/UHF I’ve been monitoring the local gateway and repeaters with my Kenwood 2m/70cm transceiver, its been nice to hear the chat and the repeaters still have some life. There are some interesting conversations, esp to the ones linked to Echolink – which I am very much a fan of – in getting a local service able to speak to people in far distant locations than otherwise would be capable.

I’ve also got the Bongo fixed and re-equipped, mostly I’m driving around sending out APRS packets. I’m trying to work out a way to get a Wifi enabled hotspot in the bongo so i can use the 70cms side for QSO’s whilst 2m is on APRS.

I also had my first ever ‘boot fair’ and sold some of the things from the shack that weren’t getting used, whilst I had a whole load of other gubbings, I had a great time and even made a few quid.

Whilst work and academia are no less busy, i’m hoping with the shack tidy I will get back to going out and doing more POTA.

In the mean time, 73’s and look forward to catching you on the airwaves.


SOTABeams masts and WSPR Scraping

Good news on several fronts today – the replacement parts I ordered just days ago from Sotabeams have arrived, and amazingly I ordered the correct parts. I now have a fully functioning Sotabeams Travelmast again !

Sotabeams travelmast restored to operational !

Previous testing of Sotabeams travel mast at home, before I went out and snapped it 🙁

I found another Sotabeams mast in the garden, in this case a Whip10000, its probably been sat outside in all weathers for at least a year, if not two ! upon cleaning it up, I managed to get all the parts apart from one, which has stuck fast ! How do i get this unstuck ?!

I also planned over the holidays to get the WSPR scraping on the webtechnologies set up again, as since last year the format on the ‘old db’ changed, which caused my webscraping program to fail. I decided to re-write from scratch and use Python’s panda’s functions to scrape and sort the data. With a bit more Postgres changes I was then able to push data in again !

Webtechnologies WSPR scraper is back !

As time and interest allow I will add more functions as I enjoy the programming and representations of data in different formats from actual transmissions. When I’m 100% sure the code is working correctly, I’ll post the updates to github.

So a quick update and am looking forward to using the SOTA Masts for at the QTH and for POTA activations !


Alan / 2E0FWE


With getting reading to go POTA next step was to check the PC hardware, I previously used an apple tablet for IC705 wireless connectivity, but this lacks SSTV which I like to use. First step was to get my very old HP Pavillion laptop up and working with the IC705 !

First step was to retrack and setup the settings in the IC705, for this the first part of this video got the required settings. The app to control the radio here is Icom’s own, which I dont own a copy of, but it sets up the Wifi and necessary settings, also like that its a profile which can be easily loaded/unloaded.

setting up the IC705 for Wifi operation (first half applicable)

With the wifi setup correctly (I had to adjust the audio filter bandwidth and CI-V Echoback to OFF) I then set about setting up wfview, using this tutorial.

IC705, Wifi, VBAudio, Virtual COM port

This got me to the point whereby I could receive fine, but transmit didnt produce any audio, I rechecked the settings on the radio that Inputs/Connectors/Data MOD=WLAN and no issue there. I check wfview and the settings are correct, I did notice my version of wfview was 1.5, so check the forums, sure enough, others had the same problem and was fixed by an upgrade.

I downloaded the latest wfview and installed. I did notice this didnt overwrite the previous version, so I found the new version (C:\Program Files\wfview) and made a nice desktop shortcut, the registery settings had kept the config, so no need to re-enter all those thankfully.

I attached a Diamond RH770 2m/70cm antenna to the the 705 in the shack, just for something to transmit into, RX was flooded with QRM from all the computers and screens, but amazingly with 5W of power I was picked up by WESSEXSDR!

So.its now all looking good to use my oldlaptop with newer versions of wfview for at least WSJTX control. Hopefully just pointing MMSSTV and the virtual com port (10) and audio to VBAudio will get that working, but will wait until I have a HF antenna hooked up to test that ;o)

Back on Top Band – is it worth it ?

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.

MFJ ATU under the IC9700 doing its business on top-band WSPR

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.

FT8 on 160M (80m added in for testing)

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 !

WSPR 160M with 1W of power

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

MFJ ATU working well on WSPR with 1W

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 !

A fun evening on G4PRS 2M net

With the 9700 setup on the egg-beater antennas, it was time to test out the TM-V71 on 2M for some Telephony QSO’s using the Diamond X9000. The G4PRS net on Monday nights is on 2M, 145.375, and pulls in a good many callers from around the region, as my QTH is on the aft side of the ‘hump’ between Bournemouth and Poole hearing folk over Swanage and Weymouth way is very rare, but most contacts are very good to at least readable, with only a few which I couldnt make out.

I got in early on the list of callers, (3rd in line I think) and net control (Peter) as G4PRS done an excellent job in getting everyone in. As seen from my ‘scribblings’ there was alot of callers ! I was greatful for the constructive input on my audio and strength, 1st time out was to quote ‘blasting the doors off’ so I got a bit further back from the microphone a second time around, which seemed to help. I will check the manual if there is a in-built setting for microphone amplification to see if thats set, mostly I’ve been using this radio for APRS previously.

It was nice that folk on the net remembered me being in POTA, which sadly I’ve not had much time for this year, but am hopeful in the new year I will be back out again, maybe even December, will see how things go. I’ve packed the 705 in its case for now, so it is a nice ‘go bag’ setup and I do enjoy radio/POTA. Also good feedback on the blog (thanks G6AKJ) and bookcase – its nice to hear that i get at least one reader of the blog ! 😀

I have HRD running on the micropc you can see just under the monitor, the larger PC is a linux box, which I might use for the 7300 to keep the 9700 and 7300 seperate as to avoid any mistaken PTTs,etc.

All in all, the effort to get the radios set back up in the book-shelf-shack has been really worth it, with HRD driving the 9700 and the egg beater setup, as well a nice 2M/70cm radio, I’m looking forward to having more QSO’s on UHF/VHF, as well as digital modes with the 7300, although 80m is very lively of late !

73’s for now and thanks for reading if you got this far 🙂 Hope to catch you on air !

A shack tidy (work in progress)

With my shack getting some actual usage of late, as well as the G4PRS 2M call on Monday nights, it felt like a good time to tidy things up. I’d not been particualy happy with the layout of the radios in the window, in particular it was susceptiable to any rain/water ingress. With that I orderd a budget 3 tier book shelf, having measured the dimensions, it was a nice foot print and my radios should all fit…

Having move the radios from the shelving, I then set about putting them in-situ to see how it worked out – i wasnt 100% sure where I was going to put the book-case radio shack, but the corner seemed a good idea, and put the Apple iPad that was there back into the Alex Loop pack ready for my next /P or /M use. The position worked well, but there was a clear issue of routing power and coax to the radios, so Ihad to do some ‘DIY’ on the shelves. Here goes my warranty…

The cheapness of the bookcase meant the back-walls of the compatments didnt present much work for the dremel, if it was earlier in the day, I would of done this outside tho, it generate a fair amount of dust and smoke, but I kept the windows wide open and also took my time with each section. I didnt need ‘perfectly square’ holes, just enough so that I can route the coax and other cables thru, and as can be seen in the last photo, this worked out pretty well !

The main transformer now had a nice clearance for its rather noisey fan (my only complain of this transformer, its otherwise done an excellent job) then can start placing the radios in place. I started with my 11m CB+manual antenna matcher, this went in easily enough, and then I placed the Kenwood TH-V71E on top of that. I put all the necessary data/audio cables in place in case I choose to use them, but I’m going to be using this as my main 2m/70cms rig. At the moment its using the Diamond X-9000 which has excellent gain on the 2m and 70cm bands. I am looking forward to trying it out on the G4PRS net on Monday night.

I fed in the very chunky cables for the IC9700. Currently I am running a very simple setup, with no mast head amplifier and direct to the satellite egg-beater antennas. This should become a single feed with a splitter both ends once I put the mast-head amp in place.

With the radios all connected and the basic setup up and running, I then set about using the IC9700 for what it was really designed, operating satellites. Luck would have it that the ISS would be passing over, not a particularly high elevantion at 22 degrees, but worth a try. I waited for an hour and was pleased to hear QSO’s from all over europe going into and out of the ISS repeater. I manually controlled the doppler, but there was no need to rotate the yagis liked what I used to have to do. First impressions of the non-amplified eggbeaters is very encouraging and I look forward to continue to setup the annteas and systems in the coming weeks.

Finding some time for radio !

Its been a busy time, and it really still is – but having plenty of work is a good thing, sadly that leaves little time for ‘hobbies’ – as such a recent hardware failure caused me to migrate my existing Windows PC to a micro PC, I’ve kept Windows on it, but have also installed Ubuntu on it. I’m mostly enjoying FT8, FT4 and WSPR, getting a good range of signal reports on 2M and 80M and automated reports via WSPR to populate the webtechnologies site.

Playing with FT8 on the IC9700 and IC7300

The work I started in September on my dual-band rotator has come to a halt, with the shorter days and busy weekends, I’ve not had the time to investigate a high SWR issue. I suspect water ingress on the splitter at the mast-head, but haven’t got around to even unplugging it ! A recent holiday saw it took me well over a week to just reconnect my radios – I did enjoy the holiday, having enjoyed a wonderful long weekend in Switzerland.

The snow in October atop Rochers de Naye near Montreux

I’m slowly working on getting apps on Ubuntu – my other favourite mode being SSTV. I have been receiving images via QSSTV which automatically get upload to the “Live” SSTV Page.

quality pictures via QSSTV

QSSTV appears to have many more features than MMSSTV, no doubt it will take me some time to learn them all. I do like how it has date-stamped and the frequency received of the pictures, I just have to learn how to use the template editor to create my own pictures.

Well, life never stops here and time is very hard to come by these days, but I’ll try updating the blog a little more often.

73 Alan.

Yeovil Amateur Radio Club QRP convention

An ealy start from Bournemouth as we drove upto Sherbourne – I was rewarded with a space in the nearby car-park which was free due to broken machine !

It was a chance to test out the APRS on my Bongo and I took two fellow members from G4PRS along, it was great weather for a nice, albeit bumpy ride up ! The little whip antenna on the Bongo done a grand job of reaching multiple digipeaters to send the APRS packets onto.

It was a nice stroll from the car park to the hall, its a lovely little village and there was even nice sign-posts to the hall.

Once inside for such a small venue there was plenty to see and great people to talk to. It was great to meet so many other radio amateur enthusiasts and those around QRP as well. I registered on the SPRATS desk and got a nice copy of sprats for a 40M beacon which could be a project I build later in the year..

Whilst I didn’t go with the intention to buy anything, one stall caught my attention.. Whilst the Giant Morse Code Key and a working demo of it was great, I spotted a Fluke 8125A multimeter. This was all powered up and it had fantastic NIXIE tubes on it. Knowing the reputation of Fluke kit I knew it would be pretty good. I had a chat with the seller, to get some background, turns out he restored it from broken to operating, and what a fantastic job he done.

Now the reason for the slight delay in this video is that I haven’t yet (up to today, the 25th) actually powered on the meter at home, so today I powered it up and done some basic meter readings with it. As you can see, its a fantastic piece of test equipment and I am really looking forward to use it with my future kit builds.

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 !


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.


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.


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.