Thursday, 15 March 2018

FT8 - 4 Weeks On

I've been using 144MHz FT8 for about a month now, and it's getting more popular. I've been leaving the radio on 144.174 all day while I've been out, and operating remotely using TeamViewer on my phone.
There must be quite a few people doing the same as if I call CQ at any time of day, someone will have received me and there's a spot on PSK Reporter. Because of the extra range of FT8, there's more activity on there now than on 2m FM. Some days I'll put a CQ call out and not get a reply, but it's not a waste of time as I could have been received by someone new.
At the moment conditions on the HF bands aren't very good above 10MHz so it's good that there's something else to do with an SSB radio.

I put a CPC order in today for a few bits and pieces, and ordered some coax adaptors on AliExpress. AliExpress is usually pretty slow (a month or more) but that means it's a nice surprise when something turns up after you've forgotten all about it. One of the things in the CPC order was a dishwasher cutlery basket, but all the others were more electronics related. Ordered 2 optical audio cables as I'd used one for connecting up a sound bar then realised I didn't have any more to connect my PC up to the amplifier.
With CPC, I tend not to use the website to search or browse through the products because the cheapest of anything is usually in the paper catalogue updates I get through my door, or in the PDFs on the website. Most popular things are in the catalogue update, and I like catalogues, it's sometimes better to have a look through pages with pictures and things ordered nicely, rather than a list of search results.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

VHF FT8

After reading on Twitter that some people were trying the very popular FT8 data mode on 144MHz, I had a go. I don't have anything like a VHF DX station at home, with just a Comet GP15 vertical on the chimney, fed with a bit too much coax.
The frequency for 2m FT8 is 144.174.
I started off using my new SDRPlay receiver and found that I was able to decode a few stations, outside my usual VHF range (G4KUX in IO94 and GM4FVM in IO85).
After connecting up a transceiver, I was able to make some 2-way contacts at this distance, and was even getting reception reports of my signal via PSK Reporter from up to around 300km. This makes the 2m band a bit more interesting, and because data modes software like WSJT-X automatically sends reports to PSK Reporter, even if I'm away from the radio, it's still worth leaving it on all day just in case someone calls CQ.
At the moment, there aren't really any 'lift' conditions on 144MHz, at least not which you would hear if listening to FM or even SSB, and most of the long distance propagation is from reflections off aircraft. Reflections off fast moving objects like aircraft shift the frequency from the doppler effect, and it can be over 100Hz. With FT8, the bandwidth is very narrow, so if there are multiple paths, the same signal can appear on 2 different frequencies. See below for some FT8 activity where there are multiple decodes.

On some days I've received 10 different stations on 144MHz FT8.


Saturday, 3 February 2018

Because I Hadn't Posted Anything Since Last Year


Happy New Year 2018


 USB load - switchable between 1 and 2 amps

 Barrow BBC MF/DAB broadcast site, is the colinear lower down the mast for smart metering because nothing else is from the site ?

Majority Huntingdon DAB/FM/CD system

New drill