Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gummer's How

Activation of Gummer's How G/LD-050 yesterday. The pole just about stayed in the ground, giving mixed polarisation. Got 5 QSOs and then the hail started.

I had a look at my SOTA log data to see exactly how many different stations I'd worked while out on the hills (over the last 12 years). I was most interested in how many UK stations I'd got so I removed all but those starting with 2, G or M. Then took any /A, /P or /M off the end of the callsigns. I left the regional locator in (GW, MM etc.).
This gave a total of 4098 contacts, and 1062 unique callsigns. Most of those were on VHF/UHF FM, and about half of the QSOs were from LD region summits (533 callsigns from LD summits).
Just under half of those callsigns began with G, so these had probably not been replaced by a newer one for the same person (unless they got a Class A licence between 2002 and 2003). The other half of the stations may have had more than one callsign for the same person (M6, 2E0 then M0 etc.) so the total number of people rather than callsigns will probably be <1000 .="" p="">658 of the 1062 callsigns appeared in my log only once in 12 years, I'd guess many of these were from the more distant summits I've only activated once, where they were beyond the VHF range of the local hills.
51 callsigns (5%) were responsible for 50% of the contacts.
The top 5 in descending order were:
(G1OHH, G1KLZ and G1CCL had taken 3-5th place more recently over the last 1000 QSOs).
 If someone regularly listens to VHF/UHF FM AND answers CQ calls, they will probably be in my activator log at least once, so this gives some idea of how many active stations there are on these bands. This is only part of the UK, I don't know much about the south or east of England. There will also be people who avoid any SOTA activity or never use their radio during daylight hours but I can't imagine they would answering many other CQ calls either.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Finsthwaite Heights

Activation of WOTA summit LDO-104 Finsthwaite Heights today.
This is one I'd heard of but never looked at where the summit really was, apart from knowing it was somewhere near Finsthwaite village. It's just north of Finsthwaite village, and to the south west of High Dam, and as only the very top is above the trees, it's probably not a hill you would notice from anywhere. Any paths to the top look like they have been made by animals but even though it's off the proper footpath, I never had to climb over any fences or walls.
I just took the handheld radio up there and made 2 QSOs, with M6CVD on Walney and G4PF near Preston on 145MHz.
Is it just me or have people stopped listening to 145.500 at weekends? Not long ago there were quite a few people around the Morecambe Bay and north Lancashire area who were chasing SOTA/WOTA summits regularly and would be able to work such lowly hills as Finsthwaite Heights. It could be that people are switching off because of the few local activations being posted online (it's not the best weather for going out anywhere at the moment so wouldn't expect loads of activity).
Other people have also commented on the drop in 145MHz activity in this area, maybe with the improved HF conditions in the last few months they are busy elsewhere.

The summit of Finsthwaite Heights

 View north of some trees. Lots of trees.

 Helvellyn with a little snow

Langdale Pikes, with Grizedale Forest in front and the Coniston High Man radio/TV masts

Saturday, 29 November 2014

WSPR 4.0

I've installed a new version of WSPR (4.0 r4171) and it's more stable than 2.21 on Windows 8. The old version would run for about 8 hours before stopping with the scary sounding Fatal Python error. This one has had no problems so far.
It can be downloaded from here
I've tried WSPR-X a bit but it doesn't have band hopping and that's something I use a lot.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

WSPR Presentation

Here is a presentation on WSPR which I gave a few months ago:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Homeplug Noise on 27.245

A video I made of noise from the Netgear homeplugs. A single adaptor waiting for a connection.

The amateur bands are supposed to have some more filtering with these but it won't be perfect.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Plug 'n Talk

A pair of Homeplug power line networking adaptors arrived in the post today (no, they're not for use here!) and it reminded me of how far we've come with power line communications in the last few years - who would have imagined that we would have 500 megabit networking down mains cable (or over any other sort of cable)?
I tested the Homeplug (200 megabit) adaptors copying a large file, from one side of the house to the other and the real throughput was more like 35 megabit (around 4MB/s). This is still about twice as fast as WiFi (even using type-N speeds) over the same path though.  Good enough for what they will be used for (extending an ADSL internet connection to a garage).

Back in about 1992, I was playing around with a pair of Radio Shack/Realistic/Tandy Plug 'n Talk intercoms. They used 230KHz FM to transmit down mains wiring. That was in the Long Wave broadcast band, and even though they used FM (narrow deviation), they could still be received on 225 and 234 KHz AM broadcast channels (by slope detection, being a few kHz off the centre frequency).

I don't have them any more but here's a picture of what the box would have looked like. Model number 43-207

They had a locking PTT button, so could be used as a baby monitor and one of the ones I used had been modified to have a line in jack socket. This made it a really lo-fi version of today's iPod FM transmitters, I could broadcast to Long Wave radio receivers in the house. The signal actually extended beyond the house, either along power cables or direct radiation. It could get up to around 250 metres depending on where the power cables were coming from, also holding a portable radio by telephone poles improved the signal greatly.
At that time there were also some intercoms that used lower frequencies of around 80 - 140KHz (a 4 channel model with 20KHz spacing?) but these would have been no use for my microbroadcasting activities, being below the Long Wave band.

Eurosonic Ultimate

Bought this Eurosonic Ultimate 80 channel CB handheld in 2000, I think it was cheap as Barrow Tandy was closing down.
The short antenna had a TNC connector but the plug was glued tight as if they didn't want anybody to use it with an external antenna!
There was also no external power connector, the battery pack (8 AA cells) had a charging circuit built in and a power jack. I've connected this directly to the battery contacts so it can be used with external 12V DC, as I don't think I'll be using it on the battery very often.