Sunday, 31 January 2010
I used the FT-817 and phone, this time with a 32 minute .wav (22KHz, 8 bit mono) with 50% transmit cycle, keying the rig by vox. The FT-817 was putting out 5 watts on 28 MHz into a Sirio ML-145 CB antenna on a magmount.
At home I had the WSPR program going, receiving through my IC-7000 and Solarcon A99 vertical. The noise level was about S3 on the Icom's meter in USB.
Here are the SNRs that I received my mobile signal at home (location where the transmission started):
Backbarrow TV mast = -1dB
Haverthwaite Crossroads = -8dB
Arrad Food = -8dB
Ulverston town centre = -7dB
Pennington Lane Ends = +7dB
Dalton Bypass = +9dB
Park Road, Barrow = +12dB
Parked by the TV mast at Backbarrow, it was +2dB.
The A590 beyond Ulverston is difficult to work from the Barrow area.
The start time was synchronised by pressing play when a GPS receiver showed the correct time. Nobody else received my mobile transmission.
Yesterday (Saturday) I went for a walk at Hutton Roof Crags (SOTA G/LD-052). Parked at the south end of the crags, on the road between Burton and Hutton Roof (SD552761). I don't think I'd ever walked from that side before, other times I'd parked at Hutton Roof village and walked up the north east side of the hill, stopping at a part of the hill (SD561780) which was a few metres below the real summit (but still within the 25m SOTA activation zone).
I took the Watson W50 antenna for 2m/70cm and also the Wouxun 4 metre handheld. It was also a chance for me to try out my new Lithium Polymer battery on the FT-817. I'd fitted a fuse holder in line with the battery, one of those where you cut the wire and just snap the fuse holder closed with some pliers.
There wasn't much activity on 2 metres, even after a spot was put on Sotawatch. I made 3 QSOs on 70 MHz, using just the rubber duck on the handheld.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Charging a Lithium Polymer battery. I put the battery and charger on a plate in case they get hot, there are lots of horror stories about these batteries overheating. What's more scary is that you've probably got one in your phone in your pocket (unless you're planning on being the next Pants Bomber)
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
This picture shows an installation which didn't work, the tracker box has to be lying flat. By the clock is a better position, sitting on top of the air vent cradle.
I've got the FT8900 fixed to the ashtray using a binder clip taped to its head unit. The rest of the 8900 is fixed inside the glovebox with velcro tape. Everything runs from the lighter socket so I never use the full 50 watts. The white box inside the glovebox is the connections for the power and audio to/from the TNC.
Made 3 QSOs on 6 metres (G6LKB, G1CCL and G0TDM) 2 QSOs on 4 metres (G6LKB and MW1FGQ) with the Wouxun handheld and its own antenna, as well as some on 2 metres just using my handheld.
4 metres isn't very good with just a handheld, the rubber duck antenna is like 1/20 of a wavelength on 70 MHz and contacts which would be easy on 2 metres are a lot worse. But there are CB handhelds and they have even less efficient antennas, except the ones which had telescopic antennas. That reminds me of the Eurosonic ES-7N CB handheld (the link is to Ebay, it might not be around for ever) which I bought in 1994. It had 2 channels (14 and 31 UK on a slide switch) and 1 watt output from 6 AA cells. The antenna was a telescopic about 60cm long. I got mine from Tandy in Barrow (remember Tandy?) for £25. The bad thing about them was the IF filtering, there was hardly any rejection of the other 38 CB channels so if anybody else was on nearby, the receiver would go quiet. A good radio if you were able to go on channel 31 all the time or if 14 was the local calling channel (it wasn't round here).
Not long afterwards I got a Eurosonic ES200LCD (another Ebay link) which had 40 channels and an LCD display. That one took 10 AA cells and that was before the high capacity rechargables came out.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
There is another station who I think I've got a direct path to on HF and that is GW4SDO near Wrexham, on 10MHz. The signal doesn't change over time and there isn't very much in the way. But like G0HNW on 28MHz, the SNR as shown by WSPR is very low (-20 to -25dB).
I'm interested by short distance HF propagation like this, probably from using CB where you need a HF band to behave like a VHF band to make local contacts. Apart from CB, the upper HF bands aren't used much for local communications in the UK, we have a 29 MHz repeater in Northampton but not much local activity on that band. With most of us living in built up areas, there is a lot more noise on HF than on VHF/UHF. The 25MHz broadcast band isn't a lot of use for international broadcasting at the moment but there is talk of using it for local stations with the DRM digital format (tests are being run in London from the Crystal Palace and Croydon sites). The sooner the better, and then we can get rid of the DAB system which is already outdated and of no interest to most people (in this area there is no local radio on DAB, neither BBC or commercial).
You could have 25KHz channel spaced stations using a decent codec which would give "mp3 quality" audio at 40kbit/s HEAAC sounds good at 40K). Hundreds of stations could be fitted on Band 3 in one city, with more room in Band 1, HF and unused TV channels. There would also be the old 88 - 108 MHz broadcast band if they ever do clear it of the analogue stations. Maybe it would be possible to run side by side in that band, with the digital transmitter on a frequency which would not be usable with a wide FM signal.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
I still got an error message in the programming software when trying to connect to the radio.
Using Filemon I checked whether the software was missing any DLL files (the old Puxing 777 5-in-1 software needed MSFLXGRD.OCX to work and this isn't part of a standard Windows install - it was included with the Yaesu VX7 programming software so if that was installed then the Puxing software would work). The Alinco software was trying to open MSCOMEN.DLL but the file was missing from the Windows\System32 directory. Downloaded the missing file but this made no difference, there was still the same error.
Next I tried copying the firmware to the radio, to make sure the cable was working. Downloaded the DJ-G7E firmware updater but this said the region was wrong. So I don't have the normal DJ-G7E. Tried the firmware for the universal model DJ-G7EG and that worked OK (a search for the DJ-G7EG returned mostly German results so I guess the G is for German).
Installed the correct version of the programming software for the universal model DJ-G7EG and it connected to the radio (very slowly). It takes about 10 minutes to read the data from the radio (and that's supposed to be at 57.6Kb/s!).
I bought my DJ-G7E(G) from Nevada.
With this software you can export/import CSV files which makes editing memories a lot easier (sorting them by frequency, finding duplicates etc.). This is better than the Icom IC-E91 software which had no way of sorting them. Also the bank sizes can be changed from the default of 100 memories, which is good because I don't like memories in fixed banks, it wastes memories. My UBC3500 scanner is better, it has no channel numbers, only groups which can be any size (up to a limit of 2500 channels in total).
Monday, 18 January 2010
As well as receiving my own packets I was received by G7HEJ and G1EUH.
I wasn't able to change any settings in terminal mode because I didn't have the right connectors on my serial cable but when I've got the right cable I'll make sure everything is configured properly. It had already been set up for mobile operation with my callsign when it was sent to me.
Saturday, 16 January 2010
Set up the gear by the trigpoint as this is only 5 metres lower than the proper summit but about 2km closer. The hole in the trigpoint hasn't been blocked so I could put the pole in that. Made 5 QSOs on 2m FM (2 were with people in the same house).
On 10 MHz WSPR at around 5pm I was received by:
N0FP (6275 Km)
I tried last night but the building must have had a metal frame because I couldn't receive anything at all on HF.
When I was checking in this Travelodge I noticed their PC was running Windows 2000.
Friday, 15 January 2010
Instead I tried using WSPR in the car with my laptop and a wire antenna going up the hill from the road. I got some reports on 10 MHz. Used the Edirol UA-25 USB audio which I normally use at home, because the rig interface has 1/4 inch jack plugs. No serial port on the laptop so had to use a USB-serial adaptor to operate the PTT (I used the 6 pin data socket on the FT-817 instead of the mic socket, like you're supposed to).
Tomorrow I'll try Gisborough Moor, which should be more sheltered as most of the climb is in trees. On the way home on Sunday I might try one of the hills near Skipton like Sharp Haw or Cracoe Fell.
Ordered an APRS tracker with built in GPS receiver and 2 other GPS units.
Cross Country Wireless APRS TNC - I'll connect this to my radio in the car and it will send APRS messages with my location.
Globalsat BU-303 - USB GPS for software which uses serial GPS data
Emtac Mini S3 - Bluetooth GPS
I should have the TNC on Monday so watch out on 144.800 for M1AVV-9.
From what I've seen so far, there isn't any other APRS activity in Cumbria - at least that which is being received by one of the I-Gate stations. The nearest station to Barrow which gateways APRS messages is G7HEJ in Blackpool, and further south there is G1EUH in Ormskirk. There are probably some mobiles going along the M6 through Cumbria too.
I don't really notice radio magazines in the shops any more, or take much notice of magazines at all now almost everything can be found online. Once upon a time I'd be stood in the local WH Smiths reading the magazines and maybe buying one if I had saved up the £2. Ham Radio Today, Short Wave Magazine, CB Magazine, Radio Active and Practical Wireless. The other good source of information in the pre-internet days was the Maplin catalogue. It had listings of all the TV and FM radio broadcast transmitters at the front (this was in the early 90s and had stopped by the time they started a catalogue on CD). This was one of the first things that got me interested in radio, I now knew where all the stations were being transmitted from. The Maplin catalogue didn't have grid references of the transmitters though, I had to write to the BBC and ask for a book with those in. I wrote to them for some coverage maps of local transmitters too. That's something which they never put online, but a few have found their way onto the internet at MB21's Transmission Gallery which also has photos of almost every UK broadcast site.
The best thing about the radio magazines were the reviews where they used proper test equipment, like Chris Lorek's reviews in Ham Radio Today.
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
71% of stations receiving me are between 90 and 180 degrees (south east)
6% to southwest
8% to northwest
15% to northeast
42% are in germany
76% are between 500 and 2000km away (mainland europe)
14% less than 500km
10% over 2000km
Median snr -17db
33% on 80m
29% on 40m
24% on 30m
14% on 20m and above
Best dx 17532km, and that was on 40m at 7:42pm xmas eve to australia.
Sent from my mobile device
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
When I click the "Update now" button, it waits for about 10 seconds and then says there was an error updating the time. No description of what the error is, just that there was an error. I used Wireshark to check whether Windows was sending anything out over the network when I clicked Update Now and no, it does absolutely nothing, even with the firewall disabled.
I'm now using About Time 4.8 to update the time from pool.ntp.org
About Time is quite old software, since XP came out, this sort of program isn't much use to most people. It was no used to me either until I started using WSPR and need a clock which is accurate to within a second.
XP updates its time with no problems on the same computer.
Monday, 11 January 2010
use on the train. But they pick up any nearby 900 mhz phone signals.
they're not bothered by 1800 mhz and 3G signals so my phone doesn't
affect them but i'm surrounded by iPhone users on O2! I'm going to
have a look at maybe adding some screening (foil?) to the right
headphone as it seems to be direct pick up by that (where the
amplifier is) rather than through the cable.
Sunday, 10 January 2010
This keys the rig for a few seconds every minute. Useful for testing without transmitting too much.
This is for connecting 2 handhelds where the PTT and microphone are on the same wire.
Both rigs must have some output which goes high when the squelch opens. I connected the squelch control to the positive battery terminal through a diode so the battery could be removed and a wire clipped on.
Here's one from Summer 1999. This place always seemed to get strong winds, both the pole on the side of the house and the chimney have been damaged by the wind at some point. On the side of the house is the A99 on what must be about 20ft of pole. Below that is a dipole for 2 metres. On the chimney is a Watson W50 dual bander which is leaning over quite badly.
A99 on back of house, with Watson W2000 tri-bander in the background, and a half-size G5RV going from the house to a tree.
My computers in 2004. On the left is an Athlon XP2400, on the right, a Duron 850. The Netgear would have only had a 512K ADSL connection at the time, which seemed fast but not now when I'm getting connection speeds of 10 times that.
The feed point of the half-size G5RV was quite close to the house, so the feeder didn't come away vertically.
The front of the house in 2003. The dipole was for the FM broadcast band. That pole was also to be damaged by the wind in the storms of early 2005.
Radio shack in 2004. Icom IC-2800 dual bander. Alinco DX-77 for HF. Yaesu VX-7 triplebandheld. Yaesu FT-817 hiding in its case.
Old car, January 2006. I had a better magmount and antenna but I'd just bought the car the day before and I needed something to put on it quickly:
Solarcon A99 CB vertical
Watson W300 2m/70cm colinear
Jaybeam 7050 folded dipole
MTFT Multi transformer with 10 metres of wire
Cheap TV aerial with water dielectric coax which was there when I moved in. This now gives DTT reception of Roose, Moel-Y-Parc and Winter Hill.
With 5 watts from my FT-817 I was received by these stations:
I didn't use any tuner, the SWR meter on the 817 showed 1 bar or less on all bands. A few metres of the wire was along the ground between the transformer and the fence. I used a Garmin Etrex GPS for timing when to press play on the phone. There was no connection between the radio and car electrics/body, the radio was powered from a separate 3.3Ah SLAB.
The cable between the phone and the microphone connector on the FT-817 had a resistive divider made from a 47K and 2 parallel 2.7K resistors. I also connected capacitors across the input and output of this divider (47nF and 22nF) to remove any RF that might be picked up. With this circuit, the phone volume had to be at half way to give full RF output (with the 817's mic gain at 70). I set the VOX gain to 50, it didn't seem to work any lower than about 50.
View from the top end of the antenna towards the East.
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Thursday, 7 January 2010
What I've done is record my own WSPR tones through the sound card's digital loopback. The transmitted message is always very simple "M1AVV IO84 37", so one 2 minute recording is all that I need unless I change grid square from IO84 or use a different power level. I saved the recording as a 22KHz, 8 bit mono .wav file (didn't want to use an mp3 because the mpeg codec might affect the tones).
To play back the sound, I connected a very short cable between a 3.5mm jack plug and an RJ45 plug. One end goes in my Nokia E63's headphone socket and the other into the mic socket on the radio. With the radio in VOX mode, all I have to do is wait until the correct time (a multiple of 2 minutes) and press play. As long as the volume is set just high enough to give the full output power on the radio, it is OK.
I tried this with my Icom IC-7000 on 80 metres tonight and some stations received my signal so everything must have been working. I'm going to try it with my FT-817 another time out portable or even when mobile. If I add a few minutes silence after the tones and put it on repeat, I'll have the proper tx/rx cycle and could leave it going while driving around.
This still doesn't give me any receive capability but it's useful for a beacon. Another idea is to use the phone's alarm clock function to trigger the sound, so it can be automatically synchronised to the time.
Here are the results from my Nokia generated tones (a single 2 minute transmission):
would work with the alinco but the plug was moulded on, with only a 2
core cable. I've got another 4 pole minijack plug but the plug body
needs filing down to fit the alinco.
tested the red 'longwire balun' i'd been using for my 12m vertical. I
put 2 resistors in series between the wire terminal and the outside of
the coax socket. These added up to about 490 ohms. Then i used my
antenna analyser to measure the input impedance. At 10mhz it was
showing 36ohms no reactance, so an impedance transform of around 14:1.
I've gone and ordered one of the Alinco microphone adaptors now to convert a 2.5mm and 3.5mm jack to the 4-pole jack.
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
and yaesu vx-7 programming cables both use 4 pole minijacks, the
alinco has data on the 2nd ring (the mic input) rather than the 1st
(which has 3.3v dc). i'll have a go at rewiring the plug later.
my 12m signals haven't been received on wspr today, but i did receive
someone in south africa this morning on that band
Sent from my mobile device
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
When plugged into the PC, there is 3.7V on the 1st ring of the 4-pole jack plug. Is that right? The Alinco cables only seem to have 2 wires.
Made at least 4 QSOs in the 2m activity contest tonight. Tomorrow's special band on WSPR is 12 metres and I like that band so I'll be on there some time tomorrow.
Used a repeater tonight which is a rare thing for me, was on 70cm repeater GB3CR because I couldn't get Alex G7RNX on 4 metres when he was on Runcorn Hill.
Sunday, 3 January 2010
This graph shows the number of SOTA participants with annual scores over a certain level. This is for the G (England) region only. Since we are just out of 2009, some people may not have put all their logs in the database, this might explain why 2009 is down slightly from 2008.
I used this program to change the update interval from weekly to hourly.
Last night I had another go on the Samsung N130 netbook which I'd borrowed recently. Every 30 seconds when it's running on external power, the CPU usage spikes up and everything freezes for half a second, including the sound. On battery power, this doesn't happen. I've searched online and it could be something to do with the WiFi. This one is being used only on mobile broadband so the wireless could probably be disabled for now.
Saturday, 2 January 2010
Friday, 1 January 2010
The 6 metre antenna is on the left in the pictures, it's a Slim Jim with the main half wave section coiled round a fishing pole (there isn't quite room for a full half wave in the loft). The matching section is left trailing along the floor. Supporting the fishing pole is an upturned table which had somehow found its way into the loft.
On the right is the lower half of the 70 MHz dipole.
I've ordered 2 11.1v 4Ah lithium polymer batteries and a charger, to use with my FT-817. At the moment I use a 12v 3.3Ah SLAB but these will be lighter and from what I've read, the FT-817 will be fine at that voltage.