GB-0853 Craigmillar Castle Country ParkGB-0853

I traveled to Edinburgh for Quantum Computing Theory in Practice (QCTiP) and with a chance to use my locator of 2M brought my IC705 and Alexloop along. I had originally planned to go out with my radio on Friday evening or Saturday morning, but not being able to stand another Ryanair flight, opted to go on Tuesday evening and get the train back Saturday.

train back to Bournemouth from Edinburgh

I used the handy google maps app to find my way to Craigmillar Castle park, it was a short ride and easy to do from my hotel near Edinburgh university in the old town.

Route to the park via #2 bus

It was a bit of trek from the bus stop to the park, but after being in all day, quite pleasant to get some exercise.

The views from the park where really nice and the paths not too bad, with all the bad weather of late there was only a few patches of mud puddles, otherwise was easy to follow the trail/google maps to the adventure park which I had seen having a nice table to setup on.

Getting the Alexloop setup required all three bungees, the wind was not strong but enough that the usual bungee around the table wasn’t enough. I used a vertical bungee to secure the mast and sure enough was soon on the air. I encountered some high SWR and found this was due to the power lead and the feed line being in close proximity, so I worked thru all that and re-routed it, then sure enough was on the air with first 5W and then 10.

The QSO’s came in sporadically, one minute there would be a FT8 pile up, then minutes of nothing, I figured that other stations must be on the same frequency so bounced around the available bandwidth on the FT8 20M range, sure enough was soon edging towards the 10 contacts I needed.

At this point i realized I had come quite unprepared for the Scottish weather and whilst I was treated to a beautiful sunset the wind was beginning to really make me cold, thankfully FT8 requires minimal user input. I put my backpack on to keep the wind off me buried my hands deep within my hoodie. A chocopie gave me enough of a sugar rush to keep me going…

With some failed QSO’s (KF9UG) and some completed (VE1JW) I also had a run of 2 almost as I was shutting down (9A4ZM) – i had enough to activate the park. I was able to pack away and head back to the bus stop !

I was really impressed on just how one moment I could be in this seemingly wide countryside of Scotland, and next back in the city of Edinburgh. The walk back to the bus stop was made with much haste and was so glad to be back in a wind-protected shelter. The bus arrived on time and I was so glad to be back in the warm ! The short ride back to the hotel was followed by a very nice bowl of shin-ramyen !

Shin ramyan to the rescue !!

I took my ADIF log and uploaded to the POTA website – I had already setup my 2ME0FWE call sign on the PoTA site before leaving for Edinburgh, so it was easy to upload to the regional locator under my main ‘2E0FWE’ owner call sign.

VE1JW – thanks fo the amazing long distance contact !

I was really please to see a splattering of PoTA Hunters, getting VE1JW in the log from Canada on 10W was excellent. Whilst it was hard work to get the radio, battery and computer to Edinburgh, it was well worth it. Going back on the train removed all the hassle of unload the battery, radio, computer at the airport.

This was by far one of those PoTA’s where I learned alot more other than just the radio. Being prepared for the climate being the key one ! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get back to Scotland and use 2M0FWE again, the scenery of this beautiful country makes it all the more worth it.

A cold 2M0FWE

POTA – FT8, FT4, SSTV, SSB – UPDATE – 18/3/24 –

After a very busy week, I had Sunday and getting out with my radio to look forward to. Thankfully the weather was being kind to me, whilst not warm, it wasnt raining as we had plenty of that over night !

Plenty of overnight rain at the QTH

I headed out to Boulderwood with the magloop and 705 and was on the air very quickly. Setup is quick and easy with the magloop and I actually learned a good wait to tune the antenna and get the SWR down quicker.

place hand UNDER feedline when tuning = better and quicker matching

I did run into issues starting out with WSJTX and FT8, the time on my computer was just ever so slightly out, but enough for a time sensitive decode of FT8 not to work correctly. I tried updating the time using the windows time server, to no avail ! I had to manually set the NTP server to rolex.ripe.net, sync the time and I was back in action !

I had 10 QSO’s in digital modes done in under 40 minutes, shifting between FT8 and FT4 on 20m, with POTA hunters chasing me thanks to the POTA app and RBN.

pskreport – 10W, FT8, 20M
PSK Report – 10W, FT4, 20m

Having completed enough contacts to activate the park, I was straight into Telephony and SSB. I went onto 17m, not that was any contests on, but I found it a good band for QRP operation, and sure enough I made two contacts, with EA1EC being a POTA Hunter, proving how using PoTA makes getting contacts that bit easier – when running QRP it all helps !

I jumped onto 20M, which was quite calm for a Sunday, and was able to tune around the band, making a contact with IK0VSY, with a good signal report. 20 meters really was the place to be today, so jumped onto SSTV and the pictures started rolling in from other SSTV users.

I waited my time and started to transmit and I made my first SSTV PoTA contact for 2024 ! I was really chuffed and excited, so big thanks to IK2QIN for the excellent QSO.

SSTV QSO received and uploaded to MAX SSTV by other SSTV receivers (Thanks MAX SSTV website!)

I then span the dial on 20m once more, and made 3 more SSB contacts, it was really great to make the contacts, with IU3EDQ being Portable !, but thanks again to EA2DT and EA4TL for hunting me and making the contact with excellent signal reports, with a 59 from me and a 5-5 for my reception report.

The IC-705 really done me a great service today, and being able to use the the voice repeat mode in conjunction with the ‘massive’ battery power of the ‘ultra max’ battery ensured I wasnt going to run out of power for the radio.

Sadly some massive QRM came in on frequency, but I was able to shift up and continue making contacts, that is the advantage of 20m over 17m, that it has more space in the band, so shifting isnt a problem. I quickly posted my frequency change on the POTA app and was able to continue making contacts !

QRM on frequency, maybe a new mode I’m not aware of !
the sun did try to come out

As the time approached for me to head to the supermarket to get my essential shopping, i packed up in no time, leaving the bunch and the park as I found it. Bolderwood is such a lovely place to come, its relaxing and gets me ready for the busy week ahead. I had a fantastic time getting out on the radio today.

Big thanks to all the people that made a contact with me today, it really is much appreciated and I really enjoy the amazing hobby that is amateur radio !

thanks for all the contacts !!!

*update 18/3/24*

Would like to say BIG thanks to Alessandro who contacted me with his QSL card, little did I know at the time that IU3EDK/P was up a mountain ! I received a lovely QSL card via email and a link to the activation – how amazing that it was a park-to-mountain activation all on 10W of power !!

Thank you Alessandro ! Please check out the activation from Alessandro here

QSL Card from IE3EDK up a mountain in Italy !

A very enjoyable POTA

With good weather and wanting to get out to test out the ‘unknown dipole’ I headed out to Bolderwood park in the New Forest. I setup the dipole, first I tried with the mast, but the ground in / around the New Forest is very rocky, so improvised and put the antenna in the trees !

Dipole was still in action in the trees !

This took longer than setting up the Alexloop Hampack mag-loop antenna, but I was keen to see what improvements using a dipole in the forest would bring compared to the Alexloop. I was soon setup on my ‘regular’ bench and on the air, making contacts on FT8 on 17m in no time at all !

Bench with the dipoloe feedline going up into the tree

I was amazed at how quickly I was having FT8 QSO’s, it was one after the other, and changing bands with the MAT tuner, made it very easy. I could hardly write down the backup log for FT4 as the contacts rolled in !

the contacts just kept coming and coming !

I also managed a Park-to-Park with M0OVE on FT4 – a real treat and was really excited. It took no time at all to get enough contacts (< 50 minutes) on FT8 and FT4, the antenna and radio was doing a great job. In terms of operation, I found the dipole much easier to use than the magloop as it didnt require me to re-tune each time.

Having made more than enough contacts, I tried SSTV, whilst reception was excellent, getting out on the busy ARRL contest weekend and a busy SSTV CoA was proving difficult, nethertheless I enjoyjed trying !

a busy SSTV SOA – if it was nt SSTV it was ‘CQ Contest’

I tried for some telephony contacts, but the self-presribved midday cutoff was coming up and packing up would take a little while, so tided up and headed home.

Once home I had to work out how to update my ADIF file, which to the thanks of the excellent POTA website, was made easy, so I can add my P2P reference, sure enough,that uploaded without problem. I was really glad so many my digital mode QSO’s where fellow POTA hunters !

Hopefully i will get out again in March and I can enjoy using another antenna, I think its worth experiementing just to see how much a good antenna and 10W can really do !

Until then, 73 !

Unknown dipole testing at the QTH with the IC705

Whilst tidying up, I found an unknown dipole that was looking rather sorry for itself. All I needed was some good weather and I’ll be able to test it out – and today was to be that day, with plenty of glorious sunshine I was able to do some other work around the QTH and also then test out the ‘unknown dipole’.

the ‘unknown’ dipole

I purchased a ‘christmas string light reel organiser’ to wind the dipole onto once I had de-tangled it all. This worked well in keeping the antenna and insulators tidy. I then set about testing the mast having never used it before.

I was impressed how easy it was to get this ‘little’ mast setup, at just over 4m its a reasonable height off the ground, and very easy to pack away. I had the dipole attached and the wires attached to end-points in no time at all.

The SWR of the antenna wasnt spot on 1:1 but at least in the range of being tunable for at least the 40m and 15m bands. I setup my laptop to try testing WSPR with 0.1W of power to see how the antenna would do without any tuner to start with.

WSPR on 17M with 0.1W of power

I picked up serveral signals, so the antenna and 705 worked well together, I wasn’t to be disappointed with the reach on the 705 with just .1W (milliwat) of power.

WSPR reception on 17M with .1W into the dipole

Having proved the antenna, I then wanted to test FT8, but encountered the same issues I had when using the whip antenna, the radio would cause the laptop to cut out. Thankfully with testing at home, I was able to return to the ‘shack’ and pick up a common mode choke to insert into the feed line between the antenna and the MAT 705 tuner. This did require a few adaptors on the choke, but it worked excellently with WSJTX working perfectly on the dipole antenna.

I was soon getting out on FT8 with no problems at all, using 5 and 10W into the dipole, the MAT Tuner, doing an excellent job whilst I hopped between bands, this was a distinct advantage to the AlexLoop which would require tuning each time, where as the MAT tuner coupled to the 705 took care of the tuning itself every time, which results being between good (<1.5) to acceptable (<2.5 SWR).

I was able to have several FT8 qso’s across the bands, and was really greatful for those that persisted in completing the contact with signal reports and 73. The bands, esp 20m, was very busy and getting out QRP it a challenge ! In a short period of time in ‘noisy’ RF environment I was able to make 5 contacts all across Europe and into the UK.

20m PSK Reporter
17m PSK Reporter
40m PSK Reporter

I was able to pack down the antenna and mast easily, whilst taking slightly longer than the Alex Loop, it did make for an antenna I can easily setup and use to jump between bands and seemingly do well having made several FT8 contacts. I was able to get the choek into the accessories bag, so its looking like I can take two antennas out with me when packing the dipole along with the alexloop.

common mode choke packs away nicely

I think I will always carry this antenna and mast with me, its so light and easy to setup/use, it gives the flexibility to operate around the bands without having to re-tune the antenna each time manually. I think it will feature on some PoTA activations soon !

Until then, 73s and hope to see you on the airwaves.

G-0112 11th Feb 2024

Having worked on antenna projects at home and with good weather the urge to get out and get on the air was strong ! This time it was an morning outing to the New Forest and Bolderwood, which was unsuprisingly busy with familes, dog walkers and folk enjoy the lovely surroundings of Bolderwood.

New Forest map in Bolderwood

I setup the 705 and Alexloop, although struggled with getting the loop on securely this time out, just figured it was a case of over familairity – sometimes it just goes ‘on’ but this time it was being a right rascal ! Still, i was on the air quick with the radio setup. I jumped on 20m and started with FT8. No sooner had I self spotted the flow of contacts coming in was amazing !

In no more than 30 minutes the 10 contacts to activate the park was complete – even with a pile up !

The FT8 contacts came in from all over Europe, I was making it into the west coast of the states, but no QSO’s that far today unlike last weeks greyline activation.

FT8 on 20m – great reach with the magloop and 10W of power.

With the 10 contacts needed to activate the park and enough battery for both laptop and radio I tried SSTV, but it was very busy today. I found it slightly annoying that some people seem to serial transmit and dont leave a gap for a response. At least two times there was the same person calling CQ without leaving a gap and just retransmitting, I did however manage to capture a screenshot thanks to the cool CQ SSTV website which pulls in reception of SSTV sites.

received in NL on 10W

I tried a couple of times, but the QRM from interference on the band, as seen by the horiziontal lines on the image, was just getting stronger. I jumped over to 17M being a non contest band and generally good for QRP operations.

My first attempt on the QRP CoA resulted in a partial call sign and no signal report, so I moved further up the band to find a gap. I wasnt to be disappointed and made 3 great telephony contacts on 10W, it was a great experience mix up the PoTA activation with SSB phone contacts, with good reports.

3 Telephony contacts on 17m – DM5MU booming in on 3W

It was great that two of the phone contacts where made my PoTA hunters, showing that the app really worked well. Getting pulled out using low power is a challenge, but great when those signal repots come and the QSO’s are more than the FT8 signal report/ACK. A fine example of this was the SO with ‘Andy’ and DM5MU, who was happy to chat about his amazing Yagi which was running very low power but booming into the new forest with 59+10db! My signal reports was just as good with 5/9!

With all the fun and excitment of making rapid contacts on FT8 and Phone contacts on 17M I felt i had a great time on the radio, I was able to at least get a SSTV decode and enjoyed doing PoTA – one award is the ‘repeat offender’ which is 25 activations from the same location. As the new forest is quite big, its possible to goto other parts and use the same PoTA reference, so something I’m most deifneatly lookin at doing as the year goes on !

Thanks to the PoTA Hunters ! Esp on Telephony ! 🙂

A big thanks to the PoTA huters, esp those who work me whilst I’m only running 10W and patiently give me their callsign and signal reports, it really is a great time out !

Until next time 73 ! 2E0FWE

G-0112 4th Feb 2024 + Webtechnology site updates !

had spring come early ? The sun was out today!

Some lovely sun kept the chills off today with flowers blooming and when it reach mid afternoon looked like turning into a great afternoon evening, I thought it would be great to make an impromptu visit to Bolderwood to try a PoTA activation.

compare to Janurary temptures, I was basking in the winter sunshin at a 12 celsisus !

I had everything packed away, i did one quick check for the power beiing packed, which it was, but had no idea on the battery level of the laptop, I knew I had used it recently so it shouldnt be too low. I headed off and it was great to to Bolderwood which whilst still pleasently busy, didnt feel over crowded. I’m sure this will change even by the end of the month !

I was on the air in no time, with the Alexloop attached to the bench with a bungie and hooked into the IC705, it was easy to tune into 30m to start with for FT8. I chose 30m as I had alot of contacts at home and its not a band I used /P for POTA before, I made 4 contacts within 10 minutes, so wasnt disappointed. I then moved to FT4 on 20M – it was *busy* even finding a gap in FT4 was getting tricky, but I was glad to find a gap and get out. The laptop was down to 40% power by now, so I stuck it in energy efficent mode, which kept the battery going without issue and no adverse effect on the radio/USB connection.

using the laptop energy efficeint mode to extend the life the laptop

I was pleased with a series of rapid FT4 QSOs on 20m, i later learned these where all PoTA Hunters – whilst I’m amazed by them all in the distance, ranging from Austria and Spain in Europe, it was the DX contact with KC1MMC that blew me away – 3217 miles on 10W of power on a mag loop, I was really happy to say the least.

Sun went down and 20M opened up more

As the sun went down the volume of QSO’s on 20M just kept rolling in, from 17:17 to 17:25 I was having a QSO on FT8 every 2 minutes ! I had to call it a day as it was getting dark and wanted to get my equipment put away safely, but I think I enjoy coming out at dusk – maybe a small lamp or pen-light will be worth bringing next time.

14 contacts, 5 POTA hunters made happy !

This was a really enjoyable PoTA outing with minimal planning, I was really impressed how well the antenna done and the PSK Reporter picture shows, it can really reach the entire planet !

Digital modes doing really on 10W of power

I have seen videos of great QRP Contacts and am wondering how well I would do, I really think I should give it a try the next time I am out as the setup really impresses me and think it should be good to make some telephony contacts.

Making contact with KC1MMC on 20m FT8

Webtechnologies website update – WSPR Bands added !

I’ve been making monthly updates to my webtechnologies site, which last month I got back up and running so the code would scrape the data from the ‘updated’ WSPR old-db. I’ve now added sections that allow filtering by band. This is all transmitted via the 6BTV which is doing an excellent job of getting out on all 6 bands it is setup for.

Webtechnologies site – now with spots per band functionality.

I’m aiming to keep building more features for the website each month, just small incremental changes, but I’m sure will keep adding making for a feature-rich site. There is so much that can be done with WSPR data, I really enjoy using this mode and its great ot use my programming skills for amateur radio also. Check it out at the webtechnologies site.

G-0112 – Bolderwood New Forest, Alex Loop to the rescue

With another bright but cold day, it was a good time to get out and get on the air. This time I was packing my trust Alexloop Ham pack antenna along with the IC705, determined to make an activation on my 3rd attempt from Bolderwood.

WX – I caught the ‘warmer’ part of the day at round 9 to 7 celsius

I was no sooner out the car and onto one of the many available benches and quickly setup. The alex loop was out the bag and with a bungee hook strapped pretty tightly to the bench. I tuned for 20m and got a great SWR of between 1.3 and 1.4 but no more than 1.5 and 10W of power. The FT8 contacts came rolling in, and with a busy 20m FT8 was then onto FT4, for even quicker overs.

It was great to get a mobile phone signal as I tethered my laptop to the phone wifi and could upload my contacts directly to QRZ via the excellent grid tracker application, I still kept a manual log so it would be easy to confirm the order and QSO’s I had today. The Reverse Beacon Network and POTA app was doing me a great service, as quite a few of my contact were POTA hunters. Getting 10 contacts in under an hour was great given just how cold it was, it was nice to see 5 of the contacts are POTA hunters.

I gave SSTV a go, but the signal where coming in thick and fast, I started to see a response to my transmission, but another station came in over the top. I try to use Robot72 and BW12 to keep my over time on 14.2300 short, but most people dont QSY on SSTV, and even then we tend to get other people talking over the SSTV CoA on 20m as well..

Still, having uploaded my ADIF file from WSJTX to POTA I was soon awarded my 2024 activation. Just in the nick of time ! A good start to POTA in 2024 !

POTA 2024 Award – a good start to the year

I am really excited about getting out and do more POTA – its a great start to the year !

73, Alan 2E0FWE

POTA from G-0112, cold but worth the effor

First POTA of 2024 – G-0112 New Forest (again)

So with new choke packed away and bringing the battery pack, i headed out to Bolderwood in the New Forest, arriving at around 10:15, it was still pretty quiet and I had pick of parking spaces and benches.

bolderwood on New Years Day 2024

I then setup the IC705 with the Toybox antenna and radials, which I found getting the radials out much easier this time. I was able to get the SWR down on 17m to a 1.6~1.7.

With the antenna setup I then connected the 705 without the MAT Tuner to start with, having the large battery with me was really good as it support the LC IC705 bag nicely keeping the antenna and bag vertical. I then went about attachign the choke-wound usb cable to the laptop.

Uh oh.. this doesnt look good

As soon as the USB cable was attached, the QRM returned ! I could hear the FT8 stations coming into WSJTX without problem, but again when hitting transmit, the audio disconnected. Whilst the QRM was much reduced, there was no doubt it USB cable and laptop was still effecting the radio. I went ahead and the MAT autotuner, to see if that improve the situation, i.e. would it act as any kind of choke between the radio and antenna.

The introduction of the MAT Tuner had no effect on the QRM, although I could see that with the longer coax between the tuner and antenna, I could potentially try putting chokes on here also. I disconnected the radio and just tried calling CQ on 17m QRP frequency, but to no avail. I could pull in signals and I tried jumping on the back on other QSO’s but think I wasnt getting out at all with the little whip antenna.

So I think whilst I have other options, I will explore those as well, I have always done well with the magloop, and its a great antenna, but the one I really want to try is the UK Antenna 40M EFHW, but currently my SOTA Beams mast is damaged from its first and only outing. I explored the website and was able to order the 3 replacement broken parts, which only cost £17.28 with 1st class postage.

The 40M EFHW UK Antenna – the next one to try when the replacement mast parts arrive…

I will continue experimenting with chokes and the Toybox antenna at the QTH before going back out with it again, I think with enough power, it would work well as a portable antenna, with QRP/10W,its giong to be hard work to get on the air with it…

Until the next time, 73s !

2E0FWE

IC705 USB Cable Choke

So a quick update, having received the 5M USB cable and cable ties, i then went on to test out the choke method to reduce/remove the inteference from the IC705 as shown by Temporarily Offline Ham Radio video included yesterday.

The RF Choke comes from here, as I dont suffer RF back into the shack thanks to the EFHW and RF Choke on the feedline, the PSU Choke was not being used. Winding the toride was made quite easy by the fact the choke can be opened up and wound up, once secured with a a couple of cable ties it was easier to put the turns into specifc locations, tighten the cable wraps up, then cut off the excess.

WSJTX in action – no sign of disconnects or loss of audio

I tested MMSTV and WSJTX into the 2M Comet Whip antenna, everything worked fine with no issue of disconnected audio or interference into the radio or the computer. I’m looking forward to taking the setup out and trying again with the Toybox whip antenna to see how it does this time out.

Testing the IC705 with the RF Choke USB cable and laptop with MMSTV and WSJTX

Final POTA of 2023 – G-0112 New Forest

So having got everything ready and with the weather, whilst chilly, was ok to go and venture out with the radio. I scheduled on the POTA activation website, and headed off to the New Forest to Bolderwood.

The drive in the Hyundai i10 was fine after its recent service, and was good to stretch its legs on the lively A roads in the area. For a small car its got a decent enough poke to make the journey without issue, as I was just carrying my IC705 and a few drinks.. I did notice I had left my ‘large’ battery behind – so I would be running real QRP from the 705’s internal battery and limited to 5W – still, i was nearer bolderwood than I was home, so pressed on.

I de-tangled the the 30 meters of radials, this took me a little while, but nethertheless wasn’t too problematic, the ends of the radials have a nice round terminator which makes de-tangling more a case of pulling the cables thru, rather than unpicking a ‘rats nest’ of wire (plenty of experience with the DX Commander and radials there!!!) I used the rig expert on 17m got the SWR across the band down to 2.1:1, which for a compromise antenna was ok.

I hooked up the laptop via Wfview, Virtual Comport and WSJTX. Signals came in no problem at all, and decodes appearing in WSJTX without issue. I then tried to TX, the SWR measurement was the same as the Rig Expert, but oddly the TX ‘pulsated’ as if it was getting disconnected. I went thru and checked the settings once more, no difference between home and here, only delta was the antenna. I tried the USB cable I had packed away to remove wifi/wfview/audio port as an issue, but the noise level went thru the roof! So I went back to trying to get wfview to work, at least at home on 2M I did get out (suprisngly!).

it was not to be my day to make an activation….

As I continued to try to connect, I checked PSK report on my phone – not a single RX. I could only put this down to the combination of the antenna and using wfview, as with a magloop and 5W on an ipad, I would at least get out, and as other POTA activations showed, worked without issue.

With 0 contacts and a slight piece of rain, i forgo the activation and headed home determinted to find out what I could do to solve my WSJTX TX issue.

TX issues with the 705 and using the Toybox antenna

Once home I searched around youtube and found several useful videos and this one demonstrated exactly the issues I faced when using my USB cable.

USB = QRM

With that I searched around the house, the longest USB cable I had was 2M long, and wouldn’t take many wraps of the toroids I have, so have ordered a 5M USB cable and some cable ties from Amazon, hopefully they will be here tomorrow, then I can try USB with a nice toroid to see if that removes the QRM.

a variety of ham specific toroids

I also thought that I should of tried with the ATU between the radio and antenna, as I think that would of also acted as a ‘common mode’ choke, but will try the USB route first as that looks the most promising solution at the moment.

Until next time (which is hopefully early in the new year) 73’s !