Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Tonight I had a go at decoding aircraft data signals on 1090MHz using an RTL USB TV tuner dongle, RTL1090 and Virtual Radar.
I was just using my usual 50/144/430MHz vertical antenna with this, so it wasn't going to work too well, but I decoded a few planes going over the local area.
Also tried the DAB receiver software SDR-J.
A DAB+ station on the 3rd national multiplex (no local sites, nearest is Winter Hill).
I've ordered a new phone, a Huawei Mate 9, to replace my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (which is still OK, and the Note 1-3 that I had before that would probably be OK to still be using).
Why not another Samsung?
  • Samsung and Apple's top of the range phones are now about £750. Even over a 24 month contract that's a lot of money just for the phone before they add on any calls and data. There is serious competition at a lower price now (but not 'cheap'), Huawei etc.
  • At the moment there isn't any version of the Note on sale, after the Note 7 was recalled. There was no UK release of the Note 5 either. 
  • Even though the Galaxy S7+/S8+ are big screen phones, things like the curved screen and the new 2:1 aspect ratio put me off. I think real horizontal screen size is more important than getting rid of a few buttons (I liked the 1280x800 screen on the original Note, the Note 2 actually made it worse by going to 1280x720). 
  • With the iPhone 6+, Apple took the 'phablet' form factor into the mainstream (the big iPhone is just as big as a Galaxy Note). I could almost buy one now, except I don't like iOS.
  • I don't think I'll miss the S-Pen very much, it was a novelty but I ended up using it mostly as another way of taking a screen capture. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

WSPR from Mallorca

A few weeks ago I was in holiday in Mallorca (El Arenal) and took my WSPRLite with me. I'd been thinking about using a balloon to hold up a half wave for the 20m band but didn't see any balloons when I got there so had to rethink.
In the end I used the Snowdonia Radio Company UnUn feeding into the ventilation duct up the side of the hotel, with no idea what the SWR might have been. Some RF did manage to escape though, 106 stations reported me on 14MHz WSPR that week, the furthest being OY1R in the Faroe Islands at over 2500Km away.

We were on the 4th floor, so the feedpoint of the 'antenna' was about halfway up.
I also took my Baofeng handheld to see what other radio activity there was on VHF/UHF. Heard some amateur repeaters in the 70cm band (repeaters over there transmit in the 438-439 MHz range) but they were all digital. For people visiting the island it's a good thing to have digital repeaters that can be linked up.
Repeaters on 438.250 (DMR), 439.200 (D-Star), 438.450 (D-Star). Page with all Spanish 70cm repeaters.
No analogue repeaters or simplex heard at all on the amateur bands, and a lot of activity on other frequencies was DMR.
The FM broadcast band in Mallorca is very busy, with the main broadcast site at Bunyola having 25 different transmitters, and another at Palma with 18. Many transmitters at Bunyola are only 300KHz apart, with a couple at 200KHz spacing!
 The masts at Bunyola, about 25km away to the north.

A few people on HF nearby

Lots of Ubiquiti 5GHz Wi-Fi links