Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mobile WSPR

I'd got WSPR transmitting from a car using my phone to play the tones, but how would it work from a moving vehicle?
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.

Hutton Roof Crags

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 LiPo battery

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

APRS tracker

I've been trying the APRS tracker in the car some more and find that it must be fitted the right way up and on top of the dashboard for it to work (like any satnav). If there is no GPS signal it still transmits about once every 3 minutes but with invalid GPS co-ordinates. Going along the A590, I can receive my own mobile signal at home until I get into Ulverston (about 6 miles away). That's with about 10 watts into a 1/4 wave magmount on the car. On high ground I'm getting received by some other stations.
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.

Gummer's How

On Saturday 23rd January I went up Gummer's How (SOTA G/LD-050). Took the 50 MHz half wave as the main antenna. It was really foggy that day, until I got most of the way up to the car park at Gummer's How.
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

WSPR timing again

Something has gone wrong with the clock in my PC because nobody is receiving my WSPR signals on any band using either XP or Vista. Every station I receive has a -ve DT shown in the program, even after synchronizing my clock with various time servers. The output of the sound card and transmitter power/antenna SWR are all as normal.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Today was 28 MHz day on WSPRnet. I was received by 22 stations, the furthest was EA1FAQ at 1390Km. 8 of those stations were in the UK. Most of these only received my signal one or two times so weren't the VHF type propagation that you might normally get on 28 MHz locally. One station, G0HNW in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, was around the same signal all day so this seems like a direct path over hills of 111Km rather than 'skip'. The next closest station was G4EFS at Kidderminster, 201Km away. At the moment, 200Km is around the minimum skip distance I'm getting on most HF bands.
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

DJ-G7 software, finally working

This morning I got a 'proper' Alinco programming cable (the correct wiring, not an Alinco part) and tried it with the programming software. The cable is USB to 3.5mm 3-pole jack plug and is a standard USB to serial adaptor. The ring of the jack plug has 2.8 volts DC on it (this is the data connection). Connected that to the Alinco speaker/mic converter cable through a 3.5mm/2.5mm jack adaptor.
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

Mobile APRS

Got my APRS TNC today and tried it in the car. It needs to be out in the open to get a good GPS signal. Made a cable with 9 pin D-type connector to a 6 pin mini DIN, and powered it from a small regulated power supply (one with selectable 1.5 - 12v and is built into a lighter plug). Had a drive towards Ulverston to see whether I was getting received by anyone (including my own station at home). On the way there I had the TNC in a bad place for GPS signals so it didn't work, but it worked OK lying on the passenger seat.
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

Gisborough Moor

Had a walk up Gisborough Moor today, (SOTA G/TW-003). Parked near Hutton (NZ597141) and walked through the forest. There was thick snow on all the forest roads and on top of the hill the snow was up to my knees in places. Left the forest at NZ615137 which was a bad idea, it was harder walking on the moorland than along the forest roads.
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).


Tried going on HF from the Travelodge tonight (in North Yorkshire). I'm in a ground floor room and using the FT-817 into a load of wire looped round the room, fed through the 'long wire balun'.
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

North York Moors

I'm in Middlesbrough tonight and today I'd planned to walk up to the highest point on the North York Moors, Urra Moor. After a long drive (I'd read that the A66 over Stainmore was closed so I went down the A65 and via Harrogate and then up the A1/A19) I parked at the top of Clay Bank on the road between Stokesley and Helmsley. The road was clear of snow but the snow on the hill was deep and it was raining so didn't like the idea of being sat at the top of there for any length of time. I walked a little bit up the hill and turned back.
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.

Practical Wireless

I'm in this month's Practical Wireless! Over a year ago Tom M1EYP asked for a picture which could be used in a magazine article. I'd forgotten all about it until I was told my photo was in there in an article about SOTA.
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

Wspr receiving stats

Stats for stations i received-
45% german
Southwest 9%
Northwest 2%
Northeast 8%
Southeast 82%
Under 500km 13%
over 2000km 9%
Other distances 78%
80m 40%
40m 32%
30m 19%
20m and above 9%
Median snr -19db

Sent from my mobile device

Wspr stats

since i started using wspr last month-
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

Vista network time

I've been trying to get Vista to update its time from an internet time server and it just won't work. I've tried different time servers, including ones not on the default list, disabling the Windows Firewall and stopping/starting the Windows time service.
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
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

noise cancelling headphones

i've got a pair of pro-luxe active noise cancelling headphones which i
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.

twitter test

testing twitter updates

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Beacon and Cross Band Repeater

A couple of circuits I built back in 1998
This keys the rig for a few seconds every minute. Useful for testing without transmitting too much.

Cross-band Repeater:
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.

Old Photos

Some old photos of how my radio shack and antennas used to look, taken when I lived at Dalton.
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:

Antennas @ Home

These are what I have up on the house at the moment, photos taken March 2008 when the HF wire was installed.
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.

Portable WSPR test

Tried out my portable WSPR station this afternoon. Parked in a layby on Dalton bypass (SD238750) and ran about 50 metres of wire along the fence up the hill as an antenna, fed through the red 'long wire balun'.

With 5 watts from my FT-817 I was received by these stations:

SNR Call Locator DX Km
-22 PJ4NX FK52ud 7303
-22 SM5LEI JP80rh 1415
-15 HB9AFZ JN46 1208
1 DL1HMJ JO62qk 1116
-7 HB9JAQ JN36su 1106
-21 DH2RAL JO41lu 851
-5 DK5AI JO51go 962
-17 DL2FE JO40vu 950
-7 PA1SOP JO22hh 558
-4 DL1FX JN49gs 937
-17 G7JVN JO00gv 438
-11 DB5BZ JO42kx 807
-15 DL0TUH JO43xl 866
-22 N2NOM FN22bg 5294

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

Aprs i-gate

I've got the APRS set up now to work as an internet gateway, using the
newer version of UI-View. Not much activity round here, mainly
received by G1EUH, G7HEJ and MB7UWC and receiving G7HEJ from the
Blackpool area.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Some other nearby radio hams with blogs:
Dave G1CCL
Linda G0YLM
Mike G6PHF
Martin M0ZIF

WSPR with a phone

I'd been thinking about doing some experiments with WSPR while out portable because it's a good use of QRP equipment. But it normally uses a PC to generate the transmissions. A PC isn't a good thing to carry around up a hill, even a small laptop, so I wanted a way of transmitting a WSPR signal without one.
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):
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594101 -25 0 IO84jc 5 DF2JP JO31jg 743 111
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594081 -17 0 IO84jc 5 F6BIR JN19cf 658 143
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594102 -25 0 IO84jc 5 LA3JJ JO59bh 996 49
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594104 -14 0 IO84jc 5 DO7ML JO31lf 756 111
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594105 -19 0 IO84jc 5 DK5EC JO30or 799 114
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594107 -27 0 IO84jc 5 OH8GKP KP24qt 1978 42
2010-01-07 20:06 M1AVV 3.594118 -16 0 IO84jc 5 DB1NN JN59mo 1096 111
2010-01-07 20:05 M1AVV 3.594113 -27 0 IO84jc 5 IK2CMN JN45oq 1288 132

Alinco cable

I was going try and rewire the plug on my vx-7 programming cable so it
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

alinco cable

I've been looking online and it seems that although the alinco dj-g7
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

DJ-G7 programming

I got a Yaesu VX-7 programming cable (USB to 4 pole 3.5mm jack) because they are meant to work with the Alinco DJ-G7 handheld. Installed the driver (a generic USB to serial driver) but the Alinco software won't communicate with the radio, it just shows a message box with "ERROR", which I'm guessing is a comms error. I didn't want to get a real Alinco cable because you still need to have a 4 pole jack plug adaptor to use it with the DJ-G7.
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

SOTA stats

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.

WSPR timing

I didn't seem to be receiving many stations on WSPR compared with the reports I was getting. I thought it might be because there was so much noise. But often I would get just one station for hours on end. I think it must have been my PC's time clock drifting because after I set the clock to update from the internet once every hour, I started receiving lots more.
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

Kirkby Moor

Photos from yesterday's activation of Kirkby Moor (G/LD-049 SOTA):

And a photo of my charger for the sealed lead acid battery:

Friday, 1 January 2010

6 Metres

Had a 6 metre day today, with an activation of Kirkby Moor (G/LD-049) just on 51 MHz FM and had a 6 metre antenna put up in the loft. 6 metres does seem really noisy here though, even with my PC switched off. Apart from the RSGB news on 51.530 MHz Sundays, the monthly Activity Contest and SOTA activations, there isn't much 6 metre activity in these parts. I can't remember the last time I heard a 6 metre QSO at home.
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.