Tuesday, 27 April 2010

6m Contest

Tonight I had a go at the 50 MHz activity contest. Drove to my favourite spot in IO84KE and set up a horizontal dipole about 3 metres above the ground, facing south east. Using 5 watts SSB from my FT-817 I made 11 QSOs. The furthest was G0LGS/P who I think was in the Cleeve Hill area near Cheltenham (IO81).
All the other stations were in IO83.

It seemed like most people were using horizontal polarisation so it helped using the dipole rather than my usual half wave vertical.
Diversity FM's link on 48.525 MHz (narrow-ish FM) was S8 at my contest site, and there were some quite strong signals (>S5) off various baby monitors (where can't you receive at least one baby monitor signal?). Some other 48 and 52 MHz broadcast links could be heard but very weak. An odd thing I heard was on 50.370 MHz with what sounded like morse in FM, about S2 with some fading.
The Buxton beacon on 50.000 was S0 in CW/SSB and S2 on the FM meter.
Morecambe Bay mast from the contest site

On Sunday I went up Harter Fell (SOTA G/LD-028). For this activation I'd decided I was going to try mostly 144 MHz SSB QSOs so I made a dipole which could easily be set up to be slanted polarisation. This was to give both vertical and horizontally polarised stations a chance to hear me. Often people are limited to either one or the other. It did work OK and I made around 20 QSOs on 2m SSB, with only a couple of people on FM. For those horizontal signals I had to move the dipole around a bit because it was directional but for vertical ones it didn't really matter.
From Harter Fell I got a summit - summit QSO with G4MD and G4OIG who were both on Dent (G/LD-045). This is a chaser unique for me, and a summit which isn't activated a lot. Probably because it's out of the way for anyone who is a visitor to the Lakes.

On 28 MHz WSPR tonight I was received by G0MLC in IO83VJ (Stockport) at -25dB SNR.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

HF Vertical

I'd bought some ferrite rings at the rally last Sunday so decided to have a go at making a transformer for use with a HF vertical antenna.
Wound 9 turns on the ring with a tap at 3 turns for the coax. The wire goes to the other end of the coil. Connected about 7 metres of wire, taped to a 7 metre fishing pole. This had a low SWR at about 28 MHz, and also around 7 MHz (why 7 MHz?).
Went to Kirkby Moor (SOTA G/LD-049) this afternoon and tried it out. On 28 MHz I talked to G6MZX (Thornton In Craven), G6LKB (Ulverston) and G4TUZ (Lancaster). G4BLH and G1KLZ couldn't hear me so it might not have been working very well, I'd expected them to be stronger on that band.

Worked G6LKB and G6CRV (Heysham) on 18 MHz, both were strong signals.
Transmitted some WSPR using the recording stored on my phone, on 7 and 18 and 50 MHz. There was only one report on 7 MHz but on 18 MHz there were a few from the USA. On 50 MHz, I got -28 and -24dB reports from G3ZOD in Stockport, which was about the same as I get from home. As Kirkby Moor is a much better site, the antenna was probably not working that well on 50 MHz either.
Made another 2 QSOs on 145 MHz with other summits (Gummers Howe and Lambrigg Fell) before packing up.

On the way home I parked above Marton and did a test to compare my new vertical with the Watson Multi Ranger 200 on the car. Sent some WSPR on 18 MHz (using the fishing pole) and the reports weren't much different to what other UK stations were getting into the USA.
On 7 MHz I transmitted once from the Watson and then from the fishing pole, 4 minutes later. 2 stations received me both times and there was only 1dB or less difference between the two. A 1.2 metre long mobile antenna isn't going to be very efficient compared to a full size dipole but it was good to know that the home made vertical (which shouldn't work on 7 MHz anyway) worked about as well.
To check the 28 MHz performance against the Watson, I listened to someone in the Liverpool area on 27.800 MHz (CB channel UK21). With the Watson they were S4 but with the fishing pole they were 0.64 wavelengths at 28 MHz).

Another time I'll have to compare my transformer with the red 'long wire balun' and the same length of wire.

Watson HF Mobile

Tried the Watson Multi Ranger 200 on the car yesterday using WSPR. Got 23 reports (18 on 10MHz and 5 on 7 MHz) using 5 watts. Compared to reports of other UK stations at the time, it didn't seem that bad.
In the photo, the antenna is tuned to 7 MHz by shorting out the lowest section of the coil. The whole antenna is only about 1.2m long.

The trackpad on the laptop is affected by strong RF and stops working while transmitting. I couldn't upload any of my received spots because the mobile broadband hadn't got a good signal.

Mull Hill

Mull Hill (SOTA GD/GD-005). Wednesday 7th April 2010.

The 4m antenna fixed to the top of the dual band colinear. Not the right way to do it because the twin feeder is next to metal objects, but nothing else to fix it to. It must have worked a bit though.

Energy FM transmits from Mull Hill.

A view north east from Mull Hill, towards Castletown and Douglas.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

6m wspr

I got my first ever report on 50mhz WSPR today, being received by
G3ZOD in IO83WJ (Stockport) at -28db S/N, a distance of 106km. I received nothing
back though, probably because I get a lot of noise on my loft antenna.
-28db is only just scraping through

Monday, 12 April 2010

Blackpool Rally

Went to Blackpool rally yesterday. I mostly bought antenna stuff, including:
Sandpiper 19 element 23cm yagi (link is to a video)
Watson Multi Ranger 200 HF/VHF mobile antenna
4m/6m dipole
7 metre fishing pole
Also got a 30 watt amplifier for 144 MHz, which I've not tried yet but if it works I'll use it with my FT-817 portable.
Last night I tried the Watson Multi Ranger on my car to check the SWR. To get the resonant frequency within the HF amateur bands, the whip has to be pushed down to its minimum length. But this moves the 2m band resonance up to about 160 MHz.
I've got the 23cm yagi for portable use, with a short piece of RG58 coax to connect between it and my handheld.

Friday, 9 April 2010


1 x 70cm
About 13 on 2m
1 x 4m
I think the 4m antenna wasn't working properly as it seemed a lot
worse than snaefell.
Summit to summit with G6LKB on Kirkby Moor.
That's all 5 GD summits done now, home tomorrow. Not one single
station worked in Scotland or the Isle Of Man.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

GD002 and GD001

Activated summits GD-002 Slieau Freoaghane and GD-001 Snaefell today.
GD-002 : 6 stations worked, 6 on 2m, 2 on 70cm and 2 on 4m. This hill
is behind higher ground to the east, with a few gaps through. Got
G6MZX/M near Skipton on all 3 bands. G6LKB and G4BLH needed SSB for a
proper QSO on 2m.
Vertical SSB might be useful on these more difficult summits as not
all chasers have anything decent for horizontal at home.

GD-001 : A mini pile up on 2m, with 21 QSOs all on FM. Moved onto 70cm
and made 10 QSOs.
On 4m I made 6 QSOs, including a summit to summit with MW0MYA/P on NW-007.
I'm writing this as an email on my Nokia E63, using the Google Mail
app. I've usually got internet access through the phone but here there
are roaming charges (£1.25 per MB!) so I'll send this when I find some
free WiFi.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Mull Hill and Bradda Hill

Went up Mull Hill and Bradda Hill today. On 70 MHz I worked only Nigel
G0MEJ in Barrow from both hills. On 2m Mull Hill seemed the best of
the 2, with 7 QSOs, only 3 2m QSOs from Bradda Hill. This might have
been because Bradda Hill is closer to the other local hills, with a
worse path to the east. I got to Northern Ireland from both hills, and
to Wales from Bradda Hill, including a summit to summit with GW4YSS on
the Great Orme. Snaefell and the one with the funny name to be done

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Isle Of Man

I'm over on the Isle Of Man now. Flew from Blackpool where I had a
roll of insulation tape confiscated by airport security. Tomorrow I'll
be starting on the summits.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Lambrigg Fell 2010

I had a walk up Lambrigg Fell today (SOTA G/LD-046). As it was Easter weekend, I didn't want to go anywhere that might be popular with tourists so Lambrigg Fell it was. This was a really simple SOTA activation, I only took the Alinco handheld with me (with WSMA-270 antenna) and made 5 QSOs. 4 on 2m and 1 on 70cm. The furthest I got was Morecambe and the 2m QSOs were with the 'regulars' G1OHH, G1CCL, G1KLZ and G6LKB. On 70cm I got G1HIB in Morecambe.

On the way back I drove round by Kendal TV mast and Oxenholme, where I had another walk along The Helm.

Kendal TV Mast

The TV RBL antennas are the the vertically polarised troughs pointing at Lancaster. DAB transmit and FM RBL antennas pointing towards Morecambe Bay. The slanted dipole with reflector is for The Bay (103.2) and Lakeland Radio (100.1).

BBC FM antennas (nationals and Radio Cumbria on 95.2) are lower down the mast, above them are the 3 colinears for Airwave.

The GB3LF 70cm repeater is just a bit further north from here, at the same height.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Ofcom Frequency Search

Want to know the frequencies and locations of business radio users in your area? Once upon a time you had to buy a scanner frequency book but the nice people at Ofcom now let you search online.
Ofcom Spectrum Information System

Make sure that "Business Radio" and "Technically Assigned" are selected if you want to filter out all the on-site paging and UK General users (otherwise you'll get a list of everyone in the UK who has a UK General licence)

Results for the whole of Cumbria