3 Mar 2015

USA on 10m - March 3rd 2015

Well, 10m has opened to the USA today. KB4SC (6560km) was the first to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon at 1418z today. I see there are a few other USA stations in the log who are spotting me since then.

Apart from the USA stations, only 4X1RF has spotted me and locals, certainly no "super-DX".

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today is 65. 10m propagation is expected to be "fair".

2 Mar 2015

472kHz WSPR - very quiet this evening?

I have been on 472kHz for the last 30 minutes or so but activity seems very low. So far I have spotted no-one and no-one has spotted me.Usually I can be assured of activity on 472kHz WSPR. There are between 36 and 44 active stations according to WSPRnet but no-one is actually being copied!

Even my 40m Pixie failed to get any RBN reports this evening. What with no USA stations copying me on 10m, this has been a very disappointing day radio-wise.  Tomorrow may be totally different, such is the nature of our delightful hobby.

The most cheerful thing was the return of our two red legged partridges! They may not be the same ones, but to see two was great.

UPDATE 2200z:  I spoke too soon! 472kHz WSPR reports received from G4SMD (250km) and G3THQ (88m) and I am spotting PA0A (417km).

In the last 2 weeks my 5mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" has been copied by 23 unique stations with best DX spot F1AFJ (607km).
Unique 472kHz spots on earth-electrode "antenna" in last 2 weeks.

No 10m USA spots again?

Despite 10m conditions forecast to be "fair", it looks like this will be the second day in a row when not a single USA or Canadian station will have spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon.  It really does look as if conditions are on the change. This afternoon just 4X1RF and G4IKZ spotting me this afternoon.

Birds at this QTH

When we first moved to our bungalow (19 months ago) we saw 2 red legged partridges regularly in the road and in the garden.  Then we saw 3 for one day.  After that (for the last 6 months) there has been just 1. Now, today, we have just seen 2 again. I hope it is a male and a female and they stop around and have young!  The red legged partridge is an introduced species, but it is the commonest partridge with 82000 territories. It is a very good looking bird. The ones locally seem quite content.   See red legged partridge RSPB page .

View from shack window
Yesterday, there were a couple of mallard ducks in the close. Overall though we see fewer bird species than at the old QTH despite putting out plenty to attract them. I would have thought with an orchard next door, the windmill, allotments and fields close by, we'd see lots. Starlings do roost on the windmill sails and there are fewer starlings around nowadays.

From the shack window I get an excellent view of the birds in our garden.

40m Pixie: a tip I was given

Andy Cutland in the Channel Islands has reminded me that it is well worth checking the Reverse Beacon Network to see if the signal from the Pixie is getting out, even if no replies are received. I must admit I've not yet been doing this. From now on I'll check the RBN although I usually reply to CQs rather than call CQ when using QRP (search and pounce).

Sunspots and 10m - Monday March 2nd 2015

Yesterday was dire(ish) on 10m.   Let us hope today is better.   My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has been on for 20 minutes, but only being spotted l.ocally so far.

Sunspot number today is 66 (not bad) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair".

UPDATE 1000z:   I see 4X1RF (3519km) has spotted me.
 .
UPDATE 1130z:   4X1RF has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon 4 times so far this morning. He is, so far, the only DX station to copy me.  It seems pretty quiet.    

UPDATE 1212z:   4X1RF has now spotted me 5 times today so far. No other DX spots received today.

UPDATE 1410z:   4X1RF has now spotted me 8 times today so far.  Still no transatlantic spots received though. I am beginning to think the long afternoon openings on 10m to the USA are ending.

1 Mar 2015

10GHz WBFM transceivers

The modern way of getting (simply) into 10GHz WBFM appears to be using very low cost 10GHz Doppler radar modules with a 100MHz FM receiver. Whilst with G6ALB for my Pixie tests Andrew demonstrated a working 10GHz link based on these low cost modules. These are useful links Andrew sent me.
Hi Roger,

These are the units I found when I was looking for [definitions of] the 10.525 GHz ISM band.

It looks like 3cm Doppler radar is alive and well,I’d assumed it had disappeared in favour of PIR.

Some data here:

These are very good pages (for wideband FM on 10 GHz).
 Andrew G6ALB

40m Pixie measurements

Pixie harmonic measurements
This afternoon I visited G6ALB to do some more accurate measurements of my completed 40m Pixie kit. Power out with the 12V battery was 400mW and with a fresh PP3 9V battery 200mW. On the 12V battery TX current is around 129mA and at 9V around 83mA. 2nd harmonic rejection was about 20dB. Even the 9V output is a useful level. Maybe the cased unit should include an internal 9V battery pack which is switched off when an external 12V pack is available?

Pixie on the bench
To be more useful, I should add a 7.030MHz crystal and have a switch to select this or the original 7.023MHz one. 7.030MHz is the QRP frequency. My experience is this can be quite busy.

I should also case the unit!  Drilling the case could be a challenge in my current state of health! Just doing the building and testing was exhausting.

USA 10m WSPR spots (or lack of them!)

It is now 1330z and so far not a single USA station has, yet, spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon. OK , it is still quite early and things may well be better later, but yesterday was far better on 10m. Plenty of reports from Eastern Europe and near Asia though.

So far, 10m has been a bit disappointing today.

UPDATE 1445z:  And still no 10m WSPR spots from the USA today yet!

UPDATE 1448z:  In the meantime, 4X1RF (3519km) has spotted me 22 times so far today.

On 472kHz no-one had copied my 5mW ERP so far until this afternoon when G3YAC (12km) and G8LCO (58km) copied me. My best DX on 472kHz WSPR receive is PA0A (417km) who has been coming though during the day.

UPDATE 1530z:  I have the feeling that I'm not going to have my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon spotted in the USA today. If the band does "wake up", I suspect just a handful of USA stations may be lucky.  By now I'd have expected some transatlantic spots. That is the nature of 10m: you can never be sure. No wonder some call it a magic band.

UPDATE 2048z:  So, the day passed and not a single USA station spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon today.  Conditions are on the change?