Sunday, 23 December 2012


Got to MB7UQ in SW Scotland on APRS from High Newton.
Other pic is Windows 98 running in Limbo PC emulator on my Galaxy Note 2 phone. Takes about 5 minutes to open Internet Explorer, and that's on a fast processor.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

APRS on 28.800

Today I did a test using APRS on 28.800 MHz FM from the car using a Springer CB antenna (which was actually resonant around 28.800 without cutting anything off).
The background noise in an 8KHz bandwidth (for narrow FM) was around -99dBm all day. This is very high compared to what you would get on VHF.
The FT8900 in the car was set to 20 watts like I usually do on VHF APRS.
Receive antenna was the Antron 99 27MHz vertical on the back of the house.
I drove through Dalton but no APRS data was received from there. At point A, I was receiving my mobile signal at -91dBm over a 7km path (with 70 metres of obstruction) but this was too low to get any data through. At points B (3.5km) and C (2.5km), the signal was around -73dB which is 50uV (the standard S9 signal).
To get the signal readings, I transmitted on the mobile radio whilst watching my PC desktop remotely via Team Viewer.
The APRS tracker device transmits every 110 seconds, but 1 in 6 messages do not contain any location coordinates (it just transmits "Simon, Barrow-In-Furness") so there are some places on the map where there was data received but nothing displayed. One of them is around the Sowerby Woods area on Park Road. I've checked the raw packets and nothing at all was received while I was in Dalton though.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


D-Link ShareCenter NAS and ZyXEL gigabit switch. NAS has 2x1TB drives configured as RAID 1.

Vertical with SRC UnUn

Used about 4.5m of wire taped to a fibreglass fishing pole, fed through a Snowdonia Radio Company UnUn. Resonant frequency came out lower than I thought it would, either the ratio of the UnUn meant that the best length was less than a half wave or the pole was altering the resonant frequency.

The resonant frequency was 23.680 MHz with a 3:1 SWR bandwidth of 15.680 to 29.120 MHz.
That was with no radials and a 30cm patch lead between the UnUn and AA500 analyser. I was holding the antenna vertically above ground in the garden for this test.
It should work OK on the 21 and 24 MHz bands, and should be able to get away with 18 and 28 MHz without a tuner.
I think about 7.5m of wire would be needed to get the resonant frequency on 14MHz, using either a 7m fishing pole, or coil the wire around the pole to get the extra length. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

HF from the caravan

Got another USB to serial converter from Maplin in Llandudno and set up a small HF antenna on the caravan. Using the 'long wire balun' and about 7 metres of wire.
Noisy 4 amp 12 volt PSU (bought off Ebay to power a TV) that I was using to run the FT-817 made it impossible to receive anything though.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Drove to the top of the hill at Gwaenysgor (above Prestatyn) this afternoon. The road turns into a track after a bit. A good view towards the north (could see Blackpool Tower).
What is the broadcast type antenna on the small mast (funny looking dipole)? Real Radio is from that site on 107.3 but there is a slant polarised yagi on the tall mast which is what Real Radio should be using.
Spoke to G4UXH/P on Burney (WOTA LDO-075) on 145.300 from up there on the car radio.

After this we went for a walk at Mynydd y Cwm (SOTA GW/NW-076) where I made one QSO with 2E0MIX/P on WOTA LDO-058 (Raven's Crag Stickle Pike) using my handheld only. No replies to my CQ calls on 145.500 so that's the 2nd time I've been up there without getting an activator point.

Netmonitor Kinmel Bay

Using Netmonitor (Android) with 3G turned off on the O2 network at Kinmel Bay, North Wales.
Active cell and neighbour cell channels. Channel 121 is 959.2 MHz (935+(channel*0.2))
There is a menu item to manually select what frequency to put the phone on but doesn't seem to be supported on the Galaxy Note.
I brought the FT817 with me but forgot the USB to serial cable to get the data cable to work with my laptop.
The caravan site I'm staying at is using a 169 MHz simplex frequency for their radios (I'm not staying at a school or a kitchen appliance factory so you have 4 choices to guess from!).

The white colinear is for public Wi-Fi around the site. The dipole looks like it's for 169MHz. There are also 2 UHF dipoles round the other side of the building, but haven't seen anyone using UHF radios.

A big caravan site across the road is also using VHF Hi-Band but with a repeater.

Sunday, 22 July 2012


Noise levels on the Solarcon A99 at home, Sunday morning. In a 2.5KHz bandwidth with the antenna tuned up on transmit before taking the measurement.
27.990 MHz = -103dBm
24.990 MHz = -103dBm
21.440 MHz = -98dBm
18.165 MHz = -100dBm
14.350 MHz = -100dBm
Measured on the Flex 1500. (-73dBm or is usually the S9 signal reference).
On the 14 MHz band, the noise level is around 3dB higher on the wire antenna, with 3dB higher wanted signals.
At night, noise levels are a bit higher.

For some reason, my PC clock has started drifting by 9 seconds per hour. Changing the BIOS battery hasn't improved it at all and I need to update the clock at least once every 10 minutes now to keep it accurate for WSPR and JT65.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

New Antennas

The wire is working as a half wave on 10MHz and a full wave on 21MHz.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Antennas Down

Yesterday I got the antennas taken down from the old house.
The Watson W300 still looked in good condition after over 5 years on the roof (it wasn't new when I put it up either). I'd covered anything that could move in bathroom sealant and none of it had moved. When I first had the W300 up, the screw that would stop the main part of the antenna rotating in its tube had come loose, so I didn't bother putting another one in (I've heard of this happening to other people) and just used the sealant to stick it in place.
The only thing which had started to work loose was the bolt in the middle of a Jaybeam folded dipole, which must have been my fault for not tightening it enough, as aren't these things supposed to last forever in 150mph winds, 300 metres up a mast?

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Trying JT65-HF tonight, on 14.076 MHz. Not had any 2-way QSOs yet but I've been received by UT7KF, OH7AZL and AK4TP with my 5 watts from the Flex-1500.
I've put a wire antenna inside the loft just for something to use on HF until I get the outside antennas sorted. It's a bit less than 10 metres of horizontal wire fed with the red "long wire balun", with coax going into the loft. The best SWR is on 29 MHz but it works on other HF bands with the auto tuner. On 28 MHz the PC mouse stops working when transmitting, and because it's a PS/2 mouse, it's goodbye mouse until rebooting.
Tomorrow I hope to get the Comet tri-bander on the chimney.

Testing at new QTH

First transmission from new house, using wire from upstairs window down to washing line.
Wire is a half wave around 24 MHz.

Friday, 6 July 2012

New house vs Old house

Here is a prediction for 144 MHz showing how the new house should compare to the old one.
Yellow is where the new house should give better VHF signals than the old house.
Red is where the old house would be better.
No colour is where signals from the new house would be bad.


I've moved overseas (well over the bridge) to Walney Island, about 3km away from my last address and a bit lower down. It should still be quite a good radio location though, there are views of the Lake District hills and as it is further west, better for the west coast of Cumbria.
The house is about 10 metres above sea level and about 400 metres from the beach. Locator square is IO84IC and WAB is SD16 Barrow-In-Furness.
Got a new Comet GP-15 tribander waiting to go up, and new coax. Going to use Westflex 103 for the Comet and LMR200 for the HF antennas. For HF I'll use the Antron 99 and end-fed wire from the old house.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

WiFi channels

These days its almost impossible to find a clear channel to put a wireless network, with neighbours using channels 1 and 6, and the house round the back using 11.
But which are the most popular channels? (only 3 or 4 of the 13 available on 2.4GHz are usable in one place as one signal also uses the 2 channels either side, so using channel 9 when next door is on 11 is no better than just sharing the same channel).
The data is from driving around over the last few weeks, using Wigle Android app on my phone.
1 = 1223
2 = 37
3 = 23
4 = 25
5 = 22
6 = 830
7 = 243
8 = 37
9 = 43
10 = 71
11 = 768
12 = 11
13 = 38
With 802.11g or n systems its possible to have 4 channel spacing so 1,5,9 and 13 can be used. But it looks like most access points still come with the old 1,6 or 11 plan. The large number of systems using channel 7 are mostly BT HomeHubs, why many use 7 I don't know.
12 and 13 weren't in some older equipment as they weren't used in the USA.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Blawith Knott

Walked up Blawith Knott (WOTA LDO-092) yesterday afternoon. The last time I'd been here was about 5 years ago, before it qualified for Wainwrights On The Air.
Used my Alinco handheld with a dual band whip.
QSOs made from the summit (all on 145 MHz):
MQ6AYY/P Chris, on Kirkby Moor (I could see the top of Kirkby Moor but he was on the other side of the hill).
G4UXH/M6UXH Milnthope
MQ0XSD/MQ6EPW on Pike O Blisco (SOTA LD-024)
MQ0XMC on Carnedd Llewelyn (SOTA GW/NW-002)
M0CZU/M Don, near Carnforth

On the way down the hill I worked GQ1JTD and M3XJV on Harter Fell (SOTA G/LD-028)
 Black Combe
 Coniston Fells
 Looking towards Fairfield

Sunday, 3 June 2012

PSK reporter

Left DM780 running on 14.070 all day, receiving PSK31. The best finds as seen on PSK Reporter were:
PT2ZXR, Brazil
Z21BB, Zimbabwe
4S7BRG, Sri Lanka
BD6JJX, China
W3WY, Pennsylvania, USA
and also MQ6AYY, M6DHV and M1TXI from nearby.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

50 MHZ

50 MHz WSPR tonight using the vertical in the loft. Noise was about -107dBm.
I think the Antron 99 outside is about as good on 6 metres, and less noisy. Need to check it on some baby monitors though.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Portugal WSPR

Using WSPR from our apartment in Alvor, Portugal IM57QD, I was received by 69 stations in 7 days.
Most of the time I was using 14MHz. The antenna was somewhere between 5 and 10 metres of wire run along the curtain rails, fed through a "long wire balun".
Because of the S9 noise on all bands it wasn't possible to receive much but I was picking up a few stations, including those in the UK. I had no internet access to upload the spots in real time.
The apartment was on the first floor and faced north east.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


This looks like a 3G900 signal in the 930-935 MHz band, used by O2. As received in Barrow-In-Furness. Using Netmonitor on my phone I've found 3 different O2 cells in Barrow which I think have 3G on both 900 and 2100 MHz bands.
The sites seem to have 2 separate CIDs (which for O2 is usually a 4 digit number prefixed with the sector number). E.g. 31181 and 36181 are the same site, in the same direction but on different bands (it's like they add 5000 to the number when adding a 3G900 transmitter). The CIDs are totally different from those of 900/1800 MHz GSM at the same site.
In this area, only Barrow has the 3G900 cells, Dalton and Ulverston have O2's 2100 MHz 3G service only.
Not all phones do 3G on 900 MHz (my Galaxy Note does). On O2's coverage maps, when switching between from 2100 to 900 MHz the coverage outside the town is increased slightly.

The local O2 3G cells are:
x1181/x6181 Thorncliffe Playing Fields, Barrow (mast)
x2195/x7195 Howard Street, Barrow (on building)
x3877/x8877 Bridgegate Avenue, Barrow (pole)
x9205 Unknown location, Barrow area
x2582 Dalton TV Mast (2100 MHz only)
x3468 Ulverston area (probably 2100 MHz only)
x8830 Ulverston area (probably 2100 MHz only)
The LAC for this area is 30279

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Friday, 17 February 2012

Flex 1500 settings

PowerSDR setup for audio and CAT. COM6 is a virtual serial port.

TX audio is set to -5dB as this is the level which gives just under 100% output power on SSB when fed through a virtual audio cable from WSPR. I got an email from someone telling me my WSPR signal was spreading all over the (200Hz wide) band, so trying to be careful to avoid any distortion. I think the distortion might have been to do with getting 20ms breaks in the audio though, sometimes the receive audio was getting clicks and whatever was holding up the USB interface would have been doing it on transmit too. Re-installing the Flex1500 driver sorted that out. To WSPR, these clicks made all the received signals look like they were spreading over a wider bandwidth.
The RX audio might not need to be so low but anything higher usually puts data software into the red on waterfall type displays.

Had a problem with the radio recently where the transmit power was next to nothing (it just about moved the needle on my power meter). I thought the PA might have gone (the software was showing 100% output power and a normal looking spectrum) but when I installed an older version of PowerSDR (version 2.0.19 instead of 2.2), it went back to normal.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Flex 1500

Flex 1500 SDR and LDG auto tuner. The tuner and radio are supplied from the 4 way splitter cable. Another useful little cable I have a few of is a 2.5mm into 1.7mm power lead, with which you can run an FT-817 (or Alinco DJ-G7) from the more common power supply connectors.

The photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note

PC Clock

Changed the BIOS lithium cell in my main PC tonight as the clock had started to drift by about 10 seconds per hour. With this amount of drift, WSPR worked for about 15 minutes and then received nothing until About Time adjusted the time on the hour.
The voltage of the cell was about 3.1 when I took it out.

The CPU (Phenom II X4 955) isn't officially supported by Asus with this motherboard (this is an AM2+ board so has some support for the newer AM3 CPUs but uses DDR2 RAM). Even with the newest BIOS version I still get this message.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Winter Hill

On Saturday I did a SOTA activation of Winter Hill G/SP-010
I used 70cm FM from my FT-817 into a W50 colinear. The pole is so short because I brought the wrong sections, so I could only use the top one.
Afterwards it was tea at Taybarns, Wigan.

Photos taken on my HTC Hero phone camera.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

80m noise

Flex 1500 on 80m on the wire, about -91dBm of noise in a 2.4KHz bandwidth.
It's what I've always wanted, a radio which displays proper signal levels (dBm).

Connected to the WSPR software using Virtual Audio Cable (2 lines) and Com0Com (WSPR using COM5 for CAT, Flex 1500 using COM15). PTT and frequency changing is via CAT, the Flex 1500 appears as a Kenwood TS2000.

I've been trying remote control of the radio using TeamViewer and Skype. Set up 2 different Skype accounts, one at home and one on my laptop. Set the home one to auto-answer and use the audio from the Virtual Audio Cable. So now I can tune the Flex 1500 and listen to it from anywhere.
TeamViewer has an Android app, so I can still check up on the home PC using my phone, even if it's hard work scrolling around my 1920x1080 desktop on a 320x480 phone screen.