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.

2E0FWE

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

An easter egg-beater update !

The end of march saw a long weekend and the opputnity to do some work around the QTH. I wanted to make some progress on getting things a bit tider and also migrating the eggbeaters from the current trying/temporary location to up on the main mast. This would take quite a bit of physical effort, so was best done in stages and over a couple of days that the east bank holiday gave me.

first thing first, get the antennas out the trees !

The high levels of rainfall and wind combined to see that the egg-beaters fell victim to high winds, even with heafty guying stake pins and the tilt base, the soft ground wasnt able to hold the egg beaters. Thankfully no damage done and I was soon securing and lowering the eggbeaters to take them off their ‘temporary’ home.

end of the first days work, main mast and egg beaters ready for putting up

I had breaks and a nice time out in the sunshine, quite unusual for a English bank holiday weekend, but it was nice to get out and about locally, we didnt venture too far as to avoid the masses travellign miles to get to Bourenmouth. By the end of the day I had main mast down, and the egg beaters ready to put up. I was planning to put a mast-head preamp for the vertical, but high SWR meant I had to leave it out this time, I will be investigating and probably sending back to the vendor for repair.

Day Two

Day Two I got the Diamond X-30 on the very top of the mast, its is considerbly lighter than the X-7000 and even at half height I was able to get into my favourite 2m and 70cm gateway/repeaters (poole & southampton). I then set about putting the eggbeaters onto the mast.

Initially I put them on a lower (4th section of mast ) but found this too low, so I re-attached the egg beaters to the 3rd section. With plenty of prep I was able to get the egg beaters on and the use of the ratchet spanners really helped in securing the egg beaters both times to the mast. When your a meter up on a thin walking gantry, keping organized is essential and having things to hand ! Sure enough I was soon able to get the eggbeaters and the 70cm mast head up all setup. I put the new LMR400 on the antenna and tested from the base, then extended to the shack, the SWR results where satisifactory at around 2-3 meters off the ground.

Day 3 (Easter Monday)

Having tired myself out the previous day, it was now time to get the antennas up as high as I was comfortable with to start with. This mast will go up to 40ft in the the air, currently I have it at about 33ft (minus one section) – I saw a previous video where I had just the X50 on the mast and fully extended to 40ft, so know I can rig the mat to get higher, but for today I was pushing up to 33ft and seeing how the antenna done. I was higher than in the corner on the temporary mast and had a much clearer line of sight in most directions. The additon of better quality LMR400 probably helped with less signal loss back into the shack and into the antennas as well.

I started out by playing with HRD and the Sat Mode, the UI is really simple and easy to use for HRD and I like the graphics of the sat passes and the real time pass graphics.

HRD Sat module – Tracking the ISS low pass

The trouble i had with HRD is that its very intrusive to the IC9700, it near enough ‘locks’ the radio, even with the ‘manual’ frequency change selected, it would drop / loose the connection to the radio. I imagine the CAT signals between HRD + IC9700 are causing some conflict. Also I found that whilst eaiser to program, it wasnt perfect. THe doppler was good and alot of sats worked perfectly, but the linear sats, where a spectrum of frequncys are used during a pass, seemd more difficult to use. I would get up from my chair to tune the radio manually and then I was able to track the QSO’s, which was very exciting just to hear new and strong signals coming in.

I then tried to track/use LILACSAT-2, the satellite passed near enough right over, so should of been very clear to hear, and others on the satelitte tracking pass had heard it that day. This got me wonder if the tracking/frequencies was good for all satelllites. I turned my attention to SatPC32 – its UI is no means as ‘friendly’ or ‘good looking’ as HRD, but once the technical learning is done, it really does to work much better.

SATPC32 for CAT + HRD for Visual

With some time editing the DOPPLER.SQF and SUB_TONE.SQF I done CAT control via SatPC32 and visuals via HRD. This for me a a nice setup, as i could visually see the future passes and also have the right modes / doppler from SatPC32.

Day – Back to work and in the Shack

I wanted to try something that I was unable to do due to the weak signals from the previous location, so the APRS digipeater on the ISS was a good target. The iSS Crossband repeater gets VERY busy, but I reall enjoy listening to it, but I actually wanted to try out using the ISS from my egg beaters. This wasnt possible before as the APRS packets would be corrupted/too weak to decode.

I was very happy that once I had tuned into 145.825 FM-D I was able to receive APRS packets as clear as day, and unusually the ISS had several passes today, making the chance of actually working the ISS digipeater quite reasonable.

To start with I didnt do any special config for Direwolf, just a standrd 1200BPS and listen / send on the correct audio devices. This saw alot of packets correctly decoded. As I had used APRS before, my favourite, and free/donations is Pinpoint APRS software. I downloaded this and connected it to Direwolf. Sure enough the packets being decoded appeard on the map all across Europe in real time ! It was really amazing to see how well the egg beaters in their new postion was doing, and even on 2m where no mast-head amp was in place.

Pinpoint APRS decoding packets from ISS pass

As I continued to work thru the day, I enjoyed how each pass of the iSS brought in so many contacts on 2M via the APRS digipeater. I was really eager to try and get into the digi peater myself, and there was one more very low pass coming thru in the evening !

I searched the internet on how to setup for APRS via the ISS, the most important thing is to update the PATH, usually this is somethign like WIDE-1, WIDE-2 so other digipeaters will repeat the packets, but fo the ISS DIgipeater, this needs to be RS0ISS. I saw others also using ARISS so I put both in my path to make sure my packets would be repeated by the ISS Packet station.

Direwolf receivng messages at a very low was (9 degrees above horizon) and me transmittingl.

I transmitted a few times, I didnt receive my own signal back but was really please to see that on the ARISS webpage by packets had been received and re-tranmistted by the ISS !

No location, but I was heard !

The raw data lower in the page confirmed my message was processed by the ISS APRS digipeater and am really excited for future passes that I should be able to have a QSO, several of which I had seen other operators do and request logging via LoTW which does Satellitle logging.

Raw data from APRS Digipeater on ISS

So whilst it has been hard work and its still early days with room for futher improvements, it seems all the hard work has really paid off. Heres to more ‘working the birds’ and looking forward to making a QSO.

follow the adventure in this rather long video !

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 !

Icom 9700 – Leo Bodnar Stability kit

Having being able to do more work on the 9700 and its antennas recently, the ‘drift’ on frequency was getting more apparent, especially so with digital modes with the classic WSPR drift. As I want to do digital modes on the ‘birds’ having a stable frequency would seem like a good prerequisits to fix the drift issue.

WSPR Drift in WSJT-X from the IC9700

I’ve had the injection board for some time, but just never had the desire to open the 9700 until it was really necessary. I have to say that the idea of opening a radio with the price tag the 9700 has to fix an issue does seem somewhat bizzare, but equally I’m glad that leo bodnar solution requires no soldering but stil requires a good amount of care and attention.

I ordered the mini GPS clock and was pleased to see that it included a GPS Antenna and USB cable, its worth noting that you will need a SMA Cable for going between the GPS clock and the radio itself, thankfully I had several good length ones here in the shack thanks to my work on the chipwhispherer capture board.

My reference video, which is also linked from the Leo Bodnar site, is the ‘gps lock you icom ic-9700’, I watched this several times before even opening the radio.

The most excellent how-to video on fitting and tuning the GPS lock on the ic-9700

Having watched the video one last time, I set about opening the 9700.

I waited an extra day before opening the radio as I dont have any JIS screwdrivers and didnt want to wreck the screws on the 9700. I found a nice set for £12 on Amazon that done the job nicely, tho some screws may of been ‘locked’ in, a good strong ‘tap’ of the screwdriver ensured the screws came out easily.

JIS2 screwdriver for exterior screws on IC9700 base

Having got the case open, i then set about removing the thermal protector and existing wire. I was trepidatious about removing the connector, its very small with alot of components around it, with a little ‘wiggle’ it was removed. I used a bike-kit socket set to remove the connector from the chassis and stored in the board box.

I then went about fitting the board, i first sized up exactly where it would go and what screws to use, there are two pairs in the box, I went with the longers set which done the job well of holding the injection board to existing screw holes. I made a visual inspection with my phone to make sure the board was fitted correctly and should work correctly.

Once I had fitted the board, I put the power back and turned on just to ensure nothing had shorted/issues, then put the bottom case back on. I found getting the power connector on and off the 9700 really fiddly ! hopefully I wont have to remove it again ! 🙂

I then installed the software on the computer I use for the ic9700 that has PCSAT32 and HRD installed on it. I didnt see any Linux software for doing this, so was at advantage running Windows in this instance. I liked the GPS Clock had a blinking LED on it as well. I hooked up the external antenna and was soon picking up the GPS signal without issue.

For signal generation I setup my IC-705 with a 2m/70cm whip antenna, and set the power output to 0, i was able to use the morse mode to generate a repeated CQ TEST 2E0FWE as my frequency marker, I could then use this to ensure the injection board was working correctly.

I was really impressed of how well the frequency locked and the stability of it. It only took me a couple of hours tops to watch the videos and fit everything to have a radio which will work well on digital modes.

Hopefully you will see more videos of me using the digital modes on the ‘birds’ soon, but am glad the radio is up and running !

When I’m working during the day, I’m using WSPR to test the antenna and even tho its an eggbeater its doing great with WSPR.

WSPR on 2M

73 2E0FWE

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.

Jan 2024 – Antenna update at the QTH

With some rather nice weather and available time, I was able to get to work on putting up the SOTABeams Travel Mast as a repacement of the DX Commander classic mast which has done me so well for serveral years, and one of the guying rings finally sucumbbing to the storms we had at the start of the month.

Use of electrical tape and jubilee clip to secure mast sections vertically

I put electrical tape and a jubiliee clip on each section to secure and make vertical slipping less of a possiblity. The same method worked very well for the DX Commander in keeping the sections up and those had to take a considerable strain when used in the way to use the split-dipole that the DX Commander is.

Wire up about 2/3s of the full mast height

I attached the wire to the mast via a piece of guying rope about 2/3’s up the mast. I may make this higher the next time I move the antenna, but as is, it clears the house nicely and is a good distance from the ground, I think more height will allow a full half-wave on 20m so something I want to do very much, given I enjoy SSTV on the 20M band alot.

guying and little strain

There is very little strain on the mast and a good level of taughtness to keep the wire from drooping and touching the house, the one set of guying wires are holding the mast very well, combined with some decent ground stakes.

I went into test the mast, 20M SSTV was simply flooded with QSOs – unable to get a QSO in as the band was so buys, but I guess thats a good thing showing that the reception was doing well. I jumped on FT4 on 10M as the band was well open.

FT4 on 10M doing very well on the EFHW antenna

I was very please to test the antenna and have a FT4 contact with JS9DS in St Lucia over 4000 miles away !

I’m very pleased with the mast and will improve upon it as the weather and mast moves to allow us to use the front garden more. Looking forward to catching you on the airwaves !

mast update at the QTH