Whilst enjoying QSOs on 2M and 80M of late, and enjoying some surprisingly good ‘lift’ on 2M which resulted in QSOs further a field. Still my interest returned to the use of AX25, aka Packet as the Kenwood TH-D7 has a built in TNC and capabilities as well as I have an interest to understand and investigate this more.
I started off by setting up Direwolf on Windows. I was quickly able to decode APRS packets from 144.800 – this made for interesting observation of the received information – there was quite a bit of packet data going on in the location and was even picking up data as far north as south Wales and the midlands.
I then went on to try out various visualisation software, starting with APRSISCE/32. Soon the screen started to fill with actual locations of APRS beacons and users, ranging from messaging to location tracking ! It was great to see so much info on 2M APRS.
Soon I was using the THD7 to send my own position data, and sure enough it appeared on APRS.FI website. At this point I knew next to little about APRS routeing and how messages are ‘repeated’ – before the Internet there were many ‘packet’ networks whereby you could jump between packet ‘nodes’ – this is more the ‘connected’ mode, rather than ‘unconnected’ modes where the likes of ‘beacon’ and ‘messaging’ are used tho.
After reading up a bit on WIDE-2,WIDE-1 I was able to get my messages rebroadcast by digipeaters in the location ! It was great seeing my messages rebroadcast and received and the station ID highlighted. I can see why Packet was important/useful before the internet.
With getting a grip with Direwolf on Windows and using clients to beacon and message my THD7, I wanted to do more ‘connected’ work. I was glad to see a AX25 packet station in Southampton of GB7SOU. At this point, I knew nothing on how to connect to a BBS with packet. In the ‘old days’ pre Internet, one would ‘dial in’ with a Modem with lightening speeds of 14K4 or even as fast as 56K ! Connect to a packet node was slightly more involved. I tuned my IC9700 and put the radio into FM-Data mode. I was able to hear the packets from the station and Direwolf was decoding them ! Huzzah packet contact.. but how do I connect – there is a huge amount of AX25 commands, and each BBS has its own set of commands. I edidn’tven know how to get messages out !
Sure enough several youtube videos later I was pulling messages via AX25 ! It was awesome ! I’ve not done BBS’s since about 1995 on an Amiga 1200 – it was great to use again and the BBS had loads of interesting informatin. I was quickly able to sort and filter the messages to make them readable.
WIth that I was thinking – well, I should have everything here to make my own packet-node ! So i set about setting up a raspberry Pi (4) and building a packet node. So far I have direworf working great and the PTT to UV-5R with Vox is doing the job ! Packet radio on a budget ! I’ve got to put up a better antenna, currently I’m using the Yagi and its very directional, so that will be swapped out for a Diamond X50. I will use my ‘starlink’ connection as the IP back end and look forward to running my own BBS ! albeit low power, it will be fun to try it out when going /M and yet another interesting part of the hobby on 2M comes alive !
Well having been busy on a variety of things, probably easier to do a mini-update !
Having received the IC9700 have attached its own PC with dedicated software. Have upgraded the antenna to an Diamond X7000, early results are promising, G4PRS Net results following as of 6/12/21 on 145.450Mhz
G0JJI – 5/9 5/5 G1TEX 5/9 g1uvq 5/9 Trevor 2E0FWE — 2E0GPD 5/6 Clear Signal In 2E0EQD 5/9+20 2E0JPD 5/7 Very Clear; Wind affected antennas – Nothing Heard 2E0OPD G0ODP 5/9 5/7 paul (Corfe Mullen) M0AXM/P 5/9 (Call sign hard to make out) 2E0DJW 5/9 (David) G3MBM 5/9 (John Swanage)
Have been exploring APRS and Direwolf, mostly receiving and decoding packets into Pinpoint software. Interesting and learning more !
SSTV at the weekend on 144.450 so far no other callers, but have setup a return picture service which I used, this went really well with the new antenna and only using a Baofeng UV-5R. Am working on a better mobile solution to have /P operation on 2m/70cm.
Have picked up a beacon on 23cm which I think is the one in Mere, just great to pull something in. I wish the 9700 UK version also included the ATV section of the 23cm band as there is a nearby repeater.
Have setup the MFJ 993B to feed the antennas into the IC7300, allowing use of the end fed and 6BTV at a push of a button with the ATU taking care of the SWR. This had made operation on topband (160M) via the end fed possible. No telelophy contacts , but plenty of FT8 around Europe which I am happy with.
Making more Telephony contacts on 80m, enjoying lengthier QSOs, operators seem not to be in so much of a rush on 80m and have an actual conversation. During the day my friend and I have enjoyed listening to Hack Green SDR to some very amusing QSOs….
My Kiwi websdr is offline for the moment as I am relocating the antenna and feed wire, I’ve had no complaints.
Have my ovid booster jab coming up and am eager to get back to G4PRS club on Thursday nights…
I have had a fantastic weekend, that is that its been busy but fun. enjoying the best of the Autumn weather with XYL out and about in the Dorset and Hampshire countryside.
I even finally made it back to Hengistbury Head, sans radio, but thoroughly enjoyed the walk and exercise, as did Sweety.
Later on that same day, we headed off around the New Forest, ending up in the beautiful Milford on Sea.
Today I really wasn’t in the mood to be vocal on VHF/UHF, but another day I can see myself bringing one of my handhelds and operating GB3IW from here. Its a gorgeous location and would be great to have a QSO. I dare say that /M with the 705 so near the sea would also have benefits, so if anything I have found an exciting new location to potentially operate from. Parking was ample and with plenty of distance, plus a fantastic drive thu great scenery.
Back at the QTH all my antennas have been down for a few weeks, having been away celebrating and the pace of my day job plus getting back to speed with studying, I’ve not had the necessary time to really enjoy with radio, thankfully today I did get the 6BTV back up and the IC7300 back online. There is still quite a bit of work to do, but wanted to get back ‘on the air’, the most important thing is that i have managed to ‘lift’ the shelves on my operating desk to allow the boxes to go under. It may still look a mess, but its getting there, and trust me these things take time !
I still have a fair bit to do as you can see, but am glad to make small amounts of progress. I’m hoping I will have things I really want them to by next week and then continue to tune and tweak the 6btv some more.
I’m glad to at least be producing WSPR data once more for the web technologies site and am getting some interesting reports in the DX10 reports. The SNR on 40m is looking particularly good post 6btv adjustments.
Whilst I have strong SNRs in the list, the SNR of 1 to HE9FER over 853 miles away is particularly impressive on 1w of power.
Hoping for good signal reports in the coming week, will try to be active on SSTV early in the morning, hopefully the 20m band wont be quite so crazy full of contesters bleeding in the SSTV frequency !
Have had a great weekend on SSTV on 20m. Thunderstorms are incoming to QTH in IO90BS so have taken the antenna down for now, but will be back once they pass.
I’ve been able to setup an automated upload. The site is here and can also be found on the tabs of the main site. I’ve also subscribed to World SSTV cams, so other amateur radio users can see their reception at my site easily as well.
I’ll take you thru how I setup the Windows and Linux side.
On the Windows host I download and installed KE5RS FTP Widget which is available free with registration info of call/sign location. Run the setup and let it install in the default locations.
The next step on the windows host is to create the local SSTV directory – this is in *addition* to the SSTV images MMSSTV uses.
I opened a command prompt (Start / Run / CMD) and typed the following
I created a shortcut to the desktop for FTP Widget. This is useful as I found running it as administrator overcome any file permissions issues on the local side. This probably due to the mechanism and file permission settings that MMSTV uses to duplicate the files, running as administrator fixed this.
I then run as administrator from the desktop.
Now if you have not used FTP in the past the cocent of local and remote paths will be new, and each FTP client will have its own interpretation of how to set it. Usually the remote system is a Linux/Unix system and the actual full remote path is typically /home/sstvimagesusename/images but the FTP Widget takes the login from the FTP Server and uses the short path name, in this case images.
You’ll need to set the local drive to the one created in the DOS prompt earlier. In image name properties, only change the name if you really must, this is important as the crude template i will provide below depends on the filenames matching. You’ll also want to keep the Image history to what ever you iike, by default its 3, I upped it to 12 as this gives a better log of the images.
On the Linux side I’m using vsftpd. I dont mind saying that running FTP in 2021 is slightly unusual, most file transfers are done over SSH / SFTP more recently, but FTP still has its purposes.
I would suggest running vsftpd as it has options for TLS/SSL as well as chrooting. ‘chrooting’ is a method of ‘jailing’ a user to their own location, so in the worst case the credentials are discovered, the only space they can easily access is that of their own home directory, not the ntire OS filesystem (old FTPs that allowed system access could easily be used to accessing /var/log/ and from there discovering other usernames and ‘brute forcing’ the credentials).
Here is the full example vfstpd.conf , you dont need all of this, but from the default you can see the deltas.
# Example config file /etc/vsftpd.conf
# The default compiled in settings are fairly paranoid. This sample file
# loosens things up a bit, to make the ftp daemon more usable.
# Please see vsftpd.conf.5 for all compiled in defaults.
# READ THIS: This example file is NOT an exhaustive list of vsftpd options.
# Please read the vsftpd.conf.5 manual page to get a full idea of vsftpd's
# Run standalone? vsftpd can run either from an inetd or as a standalone
# daemon started from an initscript.
# This directive enables listening on IPv6 sockets. By default, listening
# on the IPv6 "any" address (::) will accept connections from both IPv6
# and IPv4 clients. It is not necessary to listen on *both* IPv4 and IPv6
# sockets. If you want that (perhaps because you want to listen on specific
# addresses) then you must run two copies of vsftpd with two configuration
# Allow anonymous FTP? (Disabled by default).
# Uncomment this to allow local users to log in.
# Uncomment this to enable any form of FTP write command.
# Default umask for local users is 077. You may wish to change this to 022,
# if your users expect that (022 is used by most other ftpd's)
# Uncomment this to allow the anonymous FTP user to upload files. This only
# has an effect if the above global write enable is activated. Also, you will
# obviously need to create a directory writable by the FTP user.
# Uncomment this if you want the anonymous FTP user to be able to create
# new directories.
# Activate directory messages - messages given to remote users when they
# go into a certain directory.
# If enabled, vsftpd will display directory listings with the time
# in your local time zone. The default is to display GMT. The
# times returned by the MDTM FTP command are also affected by this
# Activate logging of uploads/downloads.
# Make sure PORT transfer connections originate from port 20 (ftp-data).
# If you want, you can arrange for uploaded anonymous files to be owned by
# a different user. Note! Using "root" for uploaded files is not
# You may override where the log file goes if you like. The default is shown
# If you want, you can have your log file in standard ftpd xferlog format.
# Note that the default log file location is /var/log/xferlog in this case.
# You may change the default value for timing out an idle session.
# You may change the default value for timing out a data connection.
# It is recommended that you define on your system a unique user which the
# ftp server can use as a totally isolated and unprivileged user.
# Enable this and the server will recognise asynchronous ABOR requests. Not
# recommended for security (the code is non-trivial). Not enabling it,
# however, may confuse older FTP clients.
# By default the server will pretend to allow ASCII mode but in fact ignore
# the request. Turn on the below options to have the server actually do ASCII
# mangling on files when in ASCII mode.
# Beware that on some FTP servers, ASCII support allows a denial of service
# attack (DoS) via the command "SIZE /big/file" in ASCII mode. vsftpd
# predicted this attack and has always been safe, reporting the size of the
# raw file.
# ASCII mangling is a horrible feature of the protocol.
# You may fully customise the login banner string:
#ftpd_banner=Welcome to blah FTP service.
# You may specify a file of disallowed anonymous e-mail addresses. Apparently
# useful for combatting certain DoS attacks.
# (default follows)
# You may restrict local users to their home directories. See the FAQ for
# the possible risks in this before using chroot_local_user or
# chroot_list_enable below.
# You may specify an explicit list of local users to chroot() to their home
# directory. If chroot_local_user is YES, then this list becomes a list of
# users to NOT chroot().
# (Warning! chroot'ing can be very dangerous. If using chroot, make sure that
# the user does not have write access to the top level directory within the
# (default follows)
# You may activate the "-R" option to the builtin ls. This is disabled by
# default to avoid remote users being able to cause excessive I/O on large
# sites. However, some broken FTP clients such as "ncftp" and "mirror" assume
# the presence of the "-R" option, so there is a strong case for enabling it.
# Some of vsftpd's settings don't fit the filesystem layout by
# This option should be the name of a directory which is empty. Also, the
# directory should not be writable by the ftp user. This directory is used
# as a secure chroot() jail at times vsftpd does not require filesystem
# This string is the name of the PAM service vsftpd will use.
# This option specifies the location of the RSA certificate to use for SSL
# encrypted connections.
# Uncomment this to indicate that vsftpd use a utf8 filesystem.
Be sure to keep a log of the password, of course you can always reset it, but it makes setting the FTP Widget properties easier.
With the Unix side complete, its time to finish off the settings for the FTP Widget and SSTV.
Follow the settings given above, putting in your FTP address, either the hostname or IP address. i.e. myftpserver.bob52.com, <n>.<n>.<n>.<n>. You don’t ned to put in the URI ( ftp:// ) .
The next step is to configure MMSTV to copy the received files into the FTP SSTVPics directory.
In SSTV goto the History tab and right click the image, select ‘auto copy to another folder’ and assign the folder name to the SSTV c:\sstvimages directory.
With that your received files will now not only be stored locally, they will be automatically FTP’d to your webserver ! If everything goes well, you’ll end up with a page whereby other SSTV users can see how their images are being received and a nice catalogue of recent images for yourself.
Having kept an eye on the Kiwi WebSDR I could see plenty of activity on the 10m band, a sure sign that the ‘skip’ from the ‘E Layer’ had picked up. For those ‘new’ to skip, there is an excellent write up here by VK3FS on the behaviour of this ionospheric band.
Here I’ll be showing over the course of just a few short hours how the E-layer built up, the collapsed.
Tuning to the 10M frequency for FT8, 28.074, there was allot of activity, transmissions from Europe where coming in the strongest, and even as far as Brazil in South America. It was incredble to see the band so ‘alive’
I started transmitting on what had now become a very noisy channel, with plenty of DX around Europe coming in very strong. My own signal from the Hustler 6BTV and 40 watts of power resulted in the QSO’s started to roll in, with little to no reties.
Grid Tracker really came into its own here, making logging to QRZ effortless so I was able to focus on QSO’s rather than uploading ADIF files. This resulted in 2 confirmed QSO’s almost immediately, with an impressive the furthest being 950 miles to IS0SLM in Dolianova.
Just as quickly the band and opened up, the conditions returned back to the regular behaviour for the E-layer, as seen in the 19:22 and 19:39 signal spectrum from WSJTX.
By 20:30 I could still be heard but the 6BTV, a vertical and with that being non-directional, wasn’t pulling in the weaker signals for a QSO to be completed.
My reception reports via Pskreporter showed a big difference. I’d be interested to know if this was a phenomenon of the grey-line as the sun set or just the charge in the E-layer collapsing and limiting propagation again.
I was still really happy in this ‘short’ time to get so many FT8 QSO’s via 10m. It really is a fascinating band, and one I will do more research with as I continue to improve the performance of the 6BTV and also work 6m with my Yagi antenna
I have sadly had to disable comments from my site as maintaining the legit ones from the spam ones had become alot of work. If you see something on my site youd like to comment and for me to post into a page, please email me at alan (at) knipmeyer (dot) co (dot) uk replacing textual descriptions of symbols for words.
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
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 !
Was feeling a bit under the weather (aka sick) this weekend, nothing serious, but not well enough to think that working outside in the cold would help me feel any better.
Undettered I looked at what can be done in the shack (aka my home-office) and there is always plenty to do ! With the Nebula build the tidyness got a big neglected and mutliple things stated but not really progressed in a considerable way.
If any of you rememeber, or care to look back at earlier posts, you can see my ‘shack’ has really evolved. All the synths have move next door to their own mixing desk and imac just for running music related apps, so that has allowed me to fully expand one side of the room with other computer equipment
I am using a smaller ZMX862 mixer into a Yamaha A-S201. I take the line-out from the dual-line BHI noise canceller into the mixer, then into the amp. The sound quality is amazing (should record something when i get time). The down side to this setup is the absence of an integral USB interface that is on the larger mixing desk now used for the synths. To overcome this I’ve ordered a Behringer UCA222 USB Audio interface which will allow me to both record and take sound from the mac (why did they ever remove the optical line out ?!?!).
I’ve also setup my build bench used for kits and linux raspberry pis & servers to faciliate the use of the various SDR’s I have. My aim is to have a number of SDRs setup, ideally I will a full band SDR available over the internet. OpenWebRX is available from github whilst based on Python 2, looks good for the job for now.
I also had a ‘play’ on other frequencies over the weekend and was amazed to make contacts on the 10m band. I had always thought that 28Mhz would be pretty much line of sight, so was amazed to make make contacts in Israel and Spain !
Was making endless contacts on 80, 40 and 30m over the weekend as my QRZ page will show !
Whilst taking the doggo out for a walk i noticed the 80m wire was ‘flapping’ somewhat, and on closer inspection, 20m wire had snapped completely ! I had probably done these too tightly, so for now have taken the mast down. With my health not at the best today, i just got the antenna down so i could inspect it more closely, thankfully 20m had just snaped (easily replaced) and a clip-carabina out of place on 80m had made it very loose.
I still have some fetttling to do on all the bands, so this will provide a good opputnity to get the vertical wires installed better thant he initial delviery.
I’m hoping i will feel somewhat better next week and can continue my exterior projects, esp the UHF/VHF 2m/70cm yagi, but will get the Nebula back up again as soon as possible, weather and my health permitting !
It has been a lovely sunny down here in Bournemouth and have been able to take full advantage of the good weather by getting on with assembling and tidying the gardens.
First off i set about extending the Nebula as far as I could on my own. With much twist I managed to get it to 17m32cm, which is what the docs say is ok to use.
I dont mind saying it took me a few times to get the antenna out fully, the first attempt with trying to get it to lock from the bottom-most sections didnt work out, so i put it all back down, then carefully took out the furthest (top) sections carefull and locked each section. There is a fair amount of flex, but I’m stil careful as the top looksl like it could snap if careless exertion took place.
Once extended, i set about putting electrical tape on each joint of the mast, to give additonal support and minimize any tension scratching from the jubilee clips.
with the mast now ready for the plates, i headed back in and started work on those.
Building the radial and element plates was straight forward. The bolts, washers and wingnuts fitted perfectly with little or no resistance going into their thread – good manufaturing process there. The plates themselves look great and built to last. They are considerably bigger than the ‘classic’ plates, the amount of radial mounting points is great – and its those raidals which really helpin with the direction and ability to ‘push’ the transmission out.
I’m going to follow Callum’s advice and start with 3 elements, namely, 80, 40 and 20 – as those are the bands i use the most. When i have all the SWR for each band as good as they should be i will add all the elements for more band coverage, but walk before I can run so to speak!
Alignment by using the documentation provided was easy enough and one less job to do outside. I dont like littering and despite my best attempts previousy the label-backs have flown off after sticking on, theres a fair bit of nature (birds,insects,etc) and I dont want to ruin their habitat with sticky label backings (what a hedgehog makes of an 18m mast has yet to b eseen.. I did have a robin visitor earlier this year tho !).
With the spreaders in place i was able to take the measurements of the heights to calculate the length of the guy wires. I’m going to use (as per doc) 1, 2 4 spreader points for guying, but will start with #1 first to ensure my measurements and cutting are accurate. All values are cm
Guy rope length in sqrt(x)
I will double check these measurements again, so if your planning to do this between now and tomorrow morning – please do check your measurements as mine havent been applied yet!
I then set about tidying everything up and removing the existing end-fed wire. This took quite a bit of time and the end fed got caught in the tree – thankfully the tree wasnt damaged and a good ‘yank’ set it free ! Here is my video of the tour of the QTH after removing the end fed and the nebula work-in-progress.
And with that I then moved the nebula to the side garden where it will be erected. It was a real handful to move but i got it around the corner of the house from the front garden to the side eventually and have safely mounted it above ground height.
Tomorrows weather doesnt look as good as todays, so progress may be limited, however I’m pleased with what i have acheived so far, and as ever, am greateful for all the hard work Callum has put into creating what I’m sure will become a legendary antenna.
Stay safe and hope to publish more progress tomorrow !
So having not only being able to listen to G5TM on air today, he published yet another fantastic mobile operating video.
I was mulling over what to do today, I always have enough to do, but Tim’s video made the decision for me that I will at least try out my 20M antenna which I had purchased from Thunderpole.
As ever, there was a light drizzle, but i was determined to at least try out the IC-705. My Mazda Bongo already had a fitting for an antenna on it, which hasnt seen much action at all in ove ra year I suspect, but thought I would give it a try.
I headed out with the the Rig Ex[ert AA-55 and started to read results off the antenna. First reading was ok
I took the anntena down and readjusted the bolts, simple enough, especially compared to putting a great big mast/vertical up and cutting/adding lengths each time.
The second adjustments brought very good results with almost less than 1:2 SWR across the band, with a very nice low in the morse area (more motivation to learn morse now !) with the SWR at 1.5 to 2.1 on the telephony side of the band I think this is acceptable, ideally i’d like to get it down further across the whole band but for 30 minutes fiddling, this was good enough to start with.
I continued my fettling and got the SWR down to 1.03 and less than 1:2 on the SSB telephony range. For a £19.99 antenna, i think this is a satisifactory result. I then went about attaching the IC-705 !
So i was very happy with the reception across the 20m band with the whip antenna, apologies for the quality of the video with putting my phone down,etc – i’m not even an ‘amateur’ when it comes to making videos like this, but I will get better 🙂
I tried a test transmit but the SWR was way off the readings the rig-expert had given me, which was slightly disappointing, but if everything went perfectly the first time of trying, it would make it the interesting hobby that it is.
As i said, the mount has been on the bongo for quite some time, and the metal around it has got quite corroded.
So i have brought in the antenna mount and intend to rub-back the rust and treat it before returning the mount to see if the SWR improves.
I still am very happy that the intial experience was generally positive and am very much looking forward to operating mobile.
I’ve ordered an ATU kit from america, but that will take some time to come (Jan 2021), but am looking forward to building and trying it out!