26 Nov 2014

Hendricks QRP Kits BitX20A

See http://www.qrpkits.com/bitx20a.html .

If I was looking for a simple, reliable QRP SSB rig for HF use in the coming years then the Hendricks QRP Kits version of Ashlan Farhan's BitX transceiver for 20m would be in the frame. They also do a version for 17m, but there is more chance of QSOs on 20m.  The rig has a useful 5W pep output and looks straightforward to build for most people. The Ashlan Farhan design is well proven. Going from 100W down to 5W is only just over a couple of S-points. 5W will get you plenty of QSOs on 20m SSB. 5W is fun.

A 10m version would be fun, but sadly is not available, but likely to be less useful in the years to come, apart from summertime Es. A 10m design would need better MOSFET PA devices anyway I think.

Last North American on 10m WSPR today

K9AN (6505km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon at 1724z today. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me.

South America

I see CX2ABP (11127km) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon this afternoon. I will have to check my records to see if this is the first time he has copied the WSPR-AXE beacon. I know I've already been copied in South America by a station in southern Brazil.

Climbing sunspots

Sunspot number has climbed back to 120 and 10m propagation is again expected to be "good". So far, what looks like single hop F2 stations (or maybe back-scatter?) spotting my 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon (EA8, OH, LZ, CT and UR). No exceptionally long DX reports on 10m as yet here, but these are quite likely.

At the moment I am QRV on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) only and monitoring dT (timing errors) by receiving locally on the FT817 tuned to 10m WSPR.  So far, dT errors are a maximum of 1.2 seconds.

25 Nov 2014

QRT on 630m and 10m WSPR

This evening and overnight I decided not to go on WSPR at all.  Both my 10m WSPR-AXE beacon (500mW) and my 630m (472kHz - 5mW ERP) WSPR stations have been turned off and antennas disconnected. 

I shall probably resume on 10m WSPR in the morning after breakfast.

50MHz UKAC contest - Nov 25th TONIGHT

Even though my voice is still very bad I may try for a few points in the 50MHz UKAC contest 2000-2230z tonight. The only 50MHz antenna I have is my V2000 vertical, so I am unlikely to work much.  I'll probably not be on for too long.
Just 2 stations worked in 50MHz UKAC this evening with 5W to vertical V2000
UPDATE 2122z:   I was on for about 50 minutes and had to stop as my voice was suffering badly.   Being crossed polarised with most stations did not help. I managed just 2 QSOs with 5W to the V2000 vertical with best DX being G3WIR/A at 116km. With, for example. a 6m halo, horizontally polarised antenna, I'd probably have worked many more stations than I did. Still, it was worth a go.

My brain

I am still puzzled by my brain functioning.

Most mental functions seem fine, but when I do an email or blog post I seem slow to spot errors like spelling mistakes or missing full stops. Usually, I try to correct errors before sending, but looking back I still spot mistakes that I've missed. It is as if my brain needs far more time to actually see the mistake. This must be yet another stroke related thing. Driving seems absolutely fine: I am not giddy and I feel in good control.

If you see blog errors please tell me. I want to correct the errors and know when my brain is not doing its job right.

Last 10m USA spot tonight

K3ZV (5692km) was the last to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE beacon tonight at a very early 1650z. Since then just local G4IKZ (18km) copying me.

Spark transmitters and modern simple rigs

In the early days of wireless, spark transmitters were all they had. Selectivity and bandwidths were not major concerns.  These days it is all so different with sometimes very crowded bands and the bandwidth of both transmitter and receiver being of major importance.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark-gap_transmitter for some interesting reading. I recommend you do not try a spark transmitter as you would be very unpopular because of the wide signal and interference caused.   By all means read about them though.

A modern challenge is to see just how simple rigs can be made yet still function credibly on the amateur bands today.  Rigs like the Pixie are fun, but such ultra-simple transceivers are let down by deaf or easily overloaded receivers. To my mind, the receivers have to be selective, sensitive, have netting, and not be easily overloaded. The challenge is to overcome these issues! Often TX power is not the deal breaker.

UPDATE 1740z:  W5OLF has just shown me a photo of his tiny 1 inch ferrite rod antenna on which he has had some success with on 10m WSPR.  I tried some WSPR experiments with ferrite antennas some years ago on 40m, 30m and 20m. As long as the ferrite does not saturate they do work. See www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Nov 25th 2014

The sunspot number has climbed to 111 today and 10m daytime conditions are again "good". I missed out on 10m this morning until about 1412z, when the band was wide open to the USA, yet again.