Having a great time on SSTV

Recently I started to experiment with SSTV (again) on my IC7300 and Windows desktop.

I’ve not been able to get it to work with the band select, but the audio in, out and importantly PTT fine. I saved the main SSTV calling frequency to my IC7300 (14.2300 USB) and just recall that when i want to use SSTV.

I’ve learned to use, but not to rely on, other KiwiSDRs and other sites that scan SSTV images. Most of the time I am seeing one side of the QSO on the remote sites, a good example of this is the slowscan tv site in the Netherlands.

The conditions have been pretty bad lately, but once in a while I get a really good QSO via SSTV, an example from today below with IV3VBM. I’m using 50W into a 6BTV with conditions being reported as ‘poor’

I am really enjoying SSTV – during the day and overnight I can leave MMSSTV running to receive great pictures, and also look back to see how the propagation has varied. I was amazed to receive these transmissions from the US last night !

As you can see the propergation is clear to see as the quality of the pictures vary.

I’m now working out how to automate the upload and ‘most recent’ pictures to the hamradio website, it shouldnt take me long, but as every life is keeping me very busy !

I hope this encourages other users to try out SSTV, its great way of having a digital QSO with personalized content, so why not give it a go.

Until next time, stay safe and 73 !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Its July already ?!

Where has the year gone, or more accurately where did June go ? Well, having been busy with work, uni and mentoring the month flew by. WIth bad weather alot of the weekends it meant I couldnt get alot of what I wanted to do done, and the time I had was limited. The good news is that alot of my University work for 2020-21 year is complete, I’m just waiting for grades to be finalized. I’ve changed jobs and am glad to say my new role is more suited to me, so Im really enjoying work. I’ve also had a great time mentoring undergrads the past few months, but has made me very busy, but very rewarding – but heres the good news – this weekend I got a number of things on my ‘ham radio’ to-do list done.

Firstly, I got my IC-705 working in the garden on the Alex-Loop ham-pack. It went really well, although setup wasnt as good as I thought it should be. I’ll do a longer more in-depth write up, but needless to say initial operating was fun and exciting.

Recently and friend and I mowed the garden, as I had told our gardener to not worry about it for the moment due to the movement of tents and radio equipment out. With all the rain and sunshine the grass grew at a proflific rate ! I first borrowed a friends lawnmower, then got a cheap electric one from amazon that would do the job. I’m glad to say that having mown the antenna area with all the radials down the majority of the radials have stayed down.

I will continue to mow the grass and keep it short, then look at adding more radials with better wire-pins (I have been using plastic ones). I still have some more work to do on the 6BTV to add 17M to it, but hopefully the weather will hold at the weekend, in the mean time I have been enjoying FT8 and SWL, making interesting contacts and getting ever closer to the DX100 award.

Heres wish you well and enjoy your radio !

73, 2E0FWE

Coaxial Conudrums

So this weekend i really wanted to complete my feed-line for the 6BTV, its been ‘dug up’ for a few weeks and its case of making up the coax to feed into it. I’ve made many feedlines/patch cables with other coax and SO239 and PL259, but the M&P coax and connectors, well, are just really testing my patience.

underground feed line location

The video for making this cable up, makes it look so simple, even this young lady (ND2L) can do it.

looks easy enought (ultraflex 10 being used here)

And the M&P official video makes it look easy enough

Fitting plugs

I’m using ExtraFlex bury, so it requires that 5mm incision to get the collar in.

I tried soldering, cutting and fitting the plugs as per the videos. On my first attempt i didnt get a good result on the resistance, but thought to give a try anyway, but yep, it didnt work.

I stripped everything down and tried again, I only have a metal ruler for measuring lengths, but done i best i could with it, and i dont have a decent knife, i actually ended up cutting my finger and blood was everywhere 🙁

I tried again and was frustated that again i didnt get the resistance outputs that was needed for an installlation. I cut the ends of the cable off. Repeat *4. On the 4th time it was now 20:00 BST and I was getting very tired of doing this, so just stripped everything back and had a rest.

Fast forward 12 hours I took a look at what the problems could be in my method. One the measurement was not good, the ruler wasnt good enough for the job, and more critically the injury from the blade was bad. I’ve ordered a measurement tool and a proper stanley knife. I’m really hopeful I can get this to work, the cable and plugs have cost *alot* and more importantly have cost me alot in time now.

TL/DR – use the right and safe tools when working with coax and plugs (I’m) not familiar with.

15m DX at night ?!

Was just playing about on my radio with FT8, having had one phone QSO on 20m to Italy, then a number of FT8 on 20m as well, thought, lets give 15 meters a try. Having never really persisted at using 15m, it was an ideal time as I could keep an eye on WSJT-X and tidy/file stuff at the same time.

The band looked completely empty when I started, but as the CQ’s keep transmiting, lo and behold I was rewarded with a contact !

FT8 15m contact

There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !

Reaching far on 15m with 50W of power

I was really suprised, and impressed, with how well the 6BTV is doing, its such a great antenna and I’m getting more out of it every time I have time to use it on the frequencys I previously didnt really use.

Moral of the story is, if the band looks dead, still give it a go ! you never know who you might contact !

So long VDSL!

Hi All !

A quick one really slotted between work and uni assignments. The shack is now on fibre-coax to the QTH ! I’ve turned off the BT Router, and this had improved the QRM visibly on the KiwiSDR.

Please see video for a demo.


More updates coming soon, have an exam Wednesday, so updates will be a little more frequent after that 🙂

Posted in QRM

10m skip FT8

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.

10m skip at 18:04 UTC in IO90BS

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’

pskreporter on 10m transmitting 40w

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.

Racking up the QSO’s on FT8

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.

Band conditions at 19:22 UTC showing the changed in the ‘E Layer’ propagation

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.

Band conditions at 19:39 – signals were getting much weaker in WSJTX Wide Graph

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.

10m reach at 20:33 with 40W

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.

9 10m QSOs with some great reports and distances

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

Is skip season coming ?

The great thing of having a WebSDR is the ability to monitor a huge amount of the HF spectrum visibly.

CB Operators on 27Mhz – mostly SSB, heard alot of French and Irish.

Seeing a sudden surge of red comms in the KiwiSDR, I then set about transmitting WSPR packets. And sure enough, I was reaching Italy with 5W on 10M !

WSPR on 10M with 5W

I still have my 2M/70cm and 6M beam to complete, but this really motivates me to get that done sooner rather than later, I hope the ‘skip’ season is around for a while, but it wont for me thats for sure !

In the mean time, here is an excellent video from Oxford Shortwave Youtube channel, demonstrating the reach he has on his 2m antenna, something I’d reallly like to do with FT8 as well !

AlexLoop hampack !

Just a quick one really ! I’ve got an AlexLoop here, and cant wait to try it out.

I saw this excellent video from Waters and Staton

Alexloop Hampack

I was just wow, got to have one, but the price, eek, thats scary, but look at the performance in video i was conviinced this is the right portalable/QRP antenna for me. Ironically W&S didnt have any in stock (step in Nevada) who did, and wow, it was here quick !

The eagle eyed of you would see a number of books on my desk as I’m currently very busy with my AI&Game Design module of my MSc, i’m hoping that I will get enough time to have a play with it over the weekend. I’m super excited thats for sure !

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.