Thursday, 11 February 2016

WSPR in Linux

I'm typing this from Linux Mint 17.3, while running WSPR. It was quite easy to install the Windows version of WSPR 4 using Wine. The only problems were no choice of sound devices (I have both internal and USB audio, often a different radio application is using each one) and the list of serial ports for CAT control of the radio still showed COM1 etc. which don't exist in Linux. I think these can be set up to use the proper device but I just chose VOX to transmit.
When I was installing Linux Mint I chose to install it alongside Windows, and it installed itself on an external USB HDD (with the boot menu on the internal HDD).
You can see on the screenshot where I had to turn the input level up from its default of 0. It still managed to decode 2 stations with only half the time slot though.

Friday, 5 February 2016


Everyone else seems to be getting DMR equipment so I thought I'd get one myself - a Retevis RT-3 UHF handheld. It's a clone of the Tytera MD-380 and one of the cheapest, at under £120.
I've used it on my local repeater GB7MB (Heysham, Colour Code 1, 439.700 MHz) and also simplex where there is quite a bit of activity on 438.5875 MHz round the Barrow-In-Furness area.
I've not been much of a repeater user but I like the way you can see the activity on any repeater using the DMR live monitor
GB7MB log 
I can also receive a few other DMR repeaters at home:
GB7PN 439.425 Prestatyn (2nd best)
GB7CA 430.925 Douglas, Isle Of Man
GB7TP  439.6875 Keighley

Friday, 11 December 2015


Some radio related photos from our holiday to Lloret De Mar last month:

Radio mast above the town - some FM broadcast on here

VHF antennas on building across from hotel. Are they for transmitting? They look like around 150MHz. 

Never heard one of these working but they have some UHF antenna on them

Lots of buildings have long distance Wi-Fi access

More Wi-Fi 

Fire station

Band 1 TV reception

Telemetry link from electricity substation

UHF folded dipole on some museum or information centre - could be to do with the remote controlled loudspeakers seen along the beach

There is an amateur repeater on 438.950 near the town of Blaines, a few km west of Lloret De Mar. Never heard any activity on it except it giving it's ID. Further away there are some Echolink gateways around 431MHz and I heard some APRS activity on 144.800.
The area has a lot of air traffic and also business radio users seem to be mostly between 152 and 154MHz.
One thing you think about when outside the UK is how much more effort they have to put into receiving TV broadcasts. Because there are lots of tall apartment and hotel buildings, along with land rising up sharply inland, it's hard to get a line of sight to any mast, even if it close by. Going along the motorway towards Barcelona I saw some blocks of flats which must have had a large TV antenna on 20 metre guyed mast on top of a 30 metre building, to get over the hill. The same goes for satellite reception, no little 45cm dishes, even when they are not trying to get UK channels. But we're a small island which can be covered with a narrow beam.
We're lucky with our little Sky dishes and cheap 10 elements. But I think a lot of people would have gone over to internet streaming or cable - when I was in Malta 2 years ago, it seemed to have gone that way with no RF receivers at all in houses.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

GP15 connected again

After nearly 6 months of the coax from my 6m/2m/70cm antenna coiled up in another room, I finally got round to connecting it into the new shack, by running it up into the loft and joining to an extra piece of coax I'd put in for a temporary 2m dipole.
It's not perfect - it's 7 metres of RG58 I'm adding, giving up to 3dB loss on 430MHz and 1.5dB on 144MHz, RG58 being what I had handy and easy to wire into a dipole centre.
When I put the GP15 up, I'd left enough spare coax (Westflex W103) to reach out of the room and across the house, but I wouldn't be very popular if I just trailed it along the floor through open doors to reach the shack.
I'll do a direct run of coax some time and get the Comet GP15 down to check it, it's still working fine but it doesn't sit exactly straight so I hope the screw holding it into the tube hasn't snapped (they often do on that kind of antenna).

For HF I'm still using a wire along the gutter, fed with an UnUn and sticking mostly to 10 and 14MHz. The other wire is still up in the back garden but the coax is left coiled up in the old shack.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Dipole in loft

145MHz dipole in loft to use until I connect coax to new shack location. No hurry, only moved rooms about 6 months ago.
Noise from devices in the house is a bigger problem on VHF than the signal loss, a lot of it is from networking gear and the printer. Noise isn't just a HF problem any more.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

PC Specs

Main PC:
Lian Li PC7 case (bought in 2006, none of the original contents remain)
Be Quiet PSU
Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 motherboard
AMD FX-8350 CPU @ 4GHz
8GB RAM (2 * 4GB PC3-10700)
Onboard graphics (DVI) - Radeon 3000 series
iiyama ProLite B2409HDS 24" monitor - 1920*1080 pixels
250GB SATA HDD - pinched the old 1TB drive for use in the NAS
2 * DVD writers
Windows 10 Pro

Lenovo B50-30
Intel Celeron N2840 CPU @ 2.16GHz
15.6" display 1366*768 pixels
Windows 10 Home

WD 2TB USB HDD (usually connected to main PC for backup)
D-Link DNS-320 NAS, with 2 * 1TB HDDs in RAID1 (for music and video)
Integral Neon 32GB USB3 flash drive (almost permanently connected and backed up, for everyday files)
Toshiba 640GB USB portable HDD
Seagate 250GB USB portable HDD

BT Openreach VDSL (FTTC) modem
Technicolor TG582n ADSL modem/router/WiFi (ADSL not used)
Edimax CV-7428nS WiFi Bridge (to connect the wired office/shack network to Wi-Fi and internet)
Zyxel GS-105B 5 port gigabit switch (to keep main PC and NAS on a gigabit network)

Other networked devices in the house:
2 * Now TV streaming boxes
Sky+ HD box
Measy Android TV stick
Brother MFC-J265W wireless printer/scanner
iPhone 4
iPhone 5S
iPad Mini 2 (with Retina Display)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Kirkby Moor

Had a walk up Kirkby Moor (SOTA G/LD-049) today, and it was 6 years ago today that Alex G7RNX and myself took part in the 70MHz contest from there.
Here are some photos from September 2009:
 Even though this is nowhere near the summit, it's still in the 25m activation zone for SOTA, less of a walk with a load of batteries and has more fence posts to fix antennas to.

 Yaesu FT-847 with 70MHz conversion
 Sirio 70MHz vertical

 M1AVV also on 2m/70cm for any SOTA chasers
 G7RNX with home built yagi