29 Oct 2008

OK0EMW beacon on 505kHz

The OK0EMW beacon on 505kHz was audible last night just slightly LF of the DI2AM beacon and visible as a QRSS trace on a waterfall display. This is the first time I have positively identified this signal which is a new country for me on 500kHz listening.

Work on my 500kHz QRP TX has now started, so I hope to have a few mW ERP on the band within a few weeks.

27 Oct 2008

M0KHW was 579 on 502kHz

Ken, M0KHW in Luton was a solid 579 on CW this evening at 1735 when calling CQ on 502.4kHz with 90mW ERP. I did not hear him get any replies though.

26 Oct 2008

G3XIZ on 502kHz RTTY

Using my old pocket PC next to the IC703's LS with Pocket Digi software running I am getting very good copy of G3XIZ over in Biggleswade on 502kHz RTTY. He is only running 250mW to an inverted L antenna. Currently he's sending a list of NoV holders.

25 Oct 2008

CQWW SSB contest - 10m poor so far

Listening on 10m this morning in the CQWW DX contest it sounds a bit marginal with just weakish stations from across Europe audible plus a few Russians and 4X4s. Worked with my QRP EC7AKV, 9A5D, G2F, G0AEV (in Wiltshire by groundwave). Conditions on 10m were even worse after lunch so I called it a day and went out instead. SUNDAY UPDATE - sounds pretty dead on 10m so far apart from G stations plus tropo to ON, PA and MS pings from further Europeans.

These have been the poorest CQWW SSB contest conditions for many years. Next October just has to be better, HI.

23 Oct 2008

Main G3XBM webpages updated

http://www.g3xbm.co.uk has been updated tonight to include the FETer 14 parts 80m QRP rig and to add information about my start on 500kHz transmitting.

SAQ 17.2kHz VLF - testing Oct 24th

There is to be a transmission with the VLF Alexanderson alternator transmitter in Sweden on United Nations Day (Oct 24th 2008) at 09:30 UTC. Start up and tuning from about 09:00 UTC.

This is a good opportunity to try out VLF converters.

22 Oct 2008

500kHz band - my plans

As I've a very small garden and don't like antenna "monsters" which upset neighbours, I'd like to see what results can be achieved on 500kHz with my 15m long wire and a few watts of RF applied to it. So, my next project is a VFO controlled 500kHz TX running a few watts and a simple 500kHz ATU. If I can work 30 miles or so I'd be thrilled to bits.

21 Oct 2008

500kHz band QRP QSO tonight

This evening I made my very first QSO transmitting on 502kHz with my NoV. My TX was unusual: an old Farnell LFM4 audio/LF generator tuned to 502kHz putting out just 20mW with a morse key in the RF output lead then crudely matched with a ferrite rod matching network to my 15m long end-fed wire and central heating ground.

Only a few microwatts would have been radiated but 2 miles away the signal was copied weakly, but solidly, by M0BXT. My signal was slightly chirpy. Listening to the signal on our 50.55MHz talkback link it sounded a decent, solid, signal.

A small 501kHz 1W output transmitter simply matched (i.e. no huge low loss coils wound on dustbins!) to even a short length of wire inconspicuously strung down the garden is likely to give quite solid contacts on normal speed CW out to several miles. Using modes like QRSS there is no doubt that such a (low tech) station and antenna would be able to span much greater distances.

Incidentally, the SK6RUD beacon on 500.3kHz was a good signal this evening.

Best DX yet with the FETer 14 parts transceiver

This morning managed a QSO with Dom M1KTA at 18kms on 80m with the FETer ultra-simple transceiver (1 FET - 18mW and regen RX). Dom was perfect copy on the regen RX when running 500mW to his FT817. Another 10dB lower would have been OK. Dom is no CW expert and I am grateful for his perseverance. See Dom's blog at http://www.m1kta-qrp.blogspot.com/

A sked last night with Richard G3CWI "up north" failed though: Richard was a good signal on the regen RX but could not hear my 18mW.

So far, there are 4 two-way QSOs with 3 different stations in the log now with the ultra-simple FETer transceiver (see http://g3xbm-qrp.blogspot.com/2008/10/2nd-qso-with-feter-80m-micro-rig.html)

20 Oct 2008

2-way QSO - "1 active device transceiver" at each end!

M0BXT's 1 valve transceiver (see left)

Last night M0BXT and I had a nice two-way QSO with a difference.

Andrew used his 1 valve 300mW transceiver (see http://tetrode.co.uk/ ) and I was using the FETer 1 FET transceiver. Reports both ways were good over the two mile path.

With the help of Andrew's RF test gear I was able to accurately measure the sensitivity of the FETer rig and its power output. Sensitivity is better than -100dBm (around 2uV) for a reasonably comfortable level in the crystal earpiece. Signals could be detected (just) at around -105dBm sensitivity. The TX has a bit more power than I was able to measure crudely - around 18mW output with a 12V supply. These figures are really quite remarkable for the few parts used.

Next aim is to work some further distances with the FETer. I am sure this will be possible.

19 Oct 2008

Our grandson

Here are a couple pictures of our little grandson, taken in Paris late last week. He is a real character who has given us so much joy and happiness. This is the first time he's seen and enjoyed the autumn leaves.

18 Oct 2008

Heard of the FLEA yet? (Ultra simple rig)

http://ea3fxf.googlepages.com/flea has details of the superbly elegant rig from EA3FXF. Basically this is a simple QRP TX converted into a neat transceiver. The link has lots of information on this rig including a PCB layout and a SPICE (electronic simulation) file. There is also a Google Group on this little beauty although the correspondance is in Spanish. A full article on the FLEA is available at http://ea3fxf.googlepages.com/SPRAT-FLEA.doc . I think Eduardo and Joan must have prepared a SPRAT (G-QRP club mag) article.

Excellent stuff Eduardo, EA3GHS, and Joan, EA3FXF - a wonderful addition to the "ultra simple transceiver" line!

14 Oct 2008

2nd QSO with FETer 80m micro transceiver

This morning I had a second QSO with the FETer 80m CW "micro rig" which uses just 14 parts in total plus earpiece and morse key. The QSO was with M0DRK in the village and the report again S9 suggesting contacts at further distances are certainly possible. I would welcome skeds with stations between 10-30 miles from my QTH (JO02DG in East Cambs) to check daytime range.

This is SUCH fun and proves that solid, reliable contacts can be made with next to nothing. In all, the parts cost about £5.

13 Oct 2008

1 FET transceiver .....QSO No 1

Managed a solid RST598 (yes 8 - a little chirp) QSO on 3.579MHz with M0BXT tonight when I was running just my 14 component MPF102 FET transceiver tonight.

The regen RX in this works extremely well and is pulling in loads of 80m CW and SSB stations at good volume in the crystal earpiece. The TX uses only 4 parts including the crystal!

Now THIS is real ham radio - solid contacts with a tiny, simple, rig that can be built, with brand new parts for about £5.

12 Oct 2008

Cycle 24 ....starting at last??


If you look at the solar flux and sunspot count I do believe, at long last, there are real signs of a climb out of the long sunspot minimum. There have been several false dawns already, but I think this is really it.

LATER: more spots have appeared!

Early "through ground" communications experimenter

http://earlyradiohistory.us/1902stu.htm has some details of Nathan Stubblefield's early (late 19th/early 20th century) experiments with conduction (earth mode) telephony communications through the ground.

Sometime soon I want to try some more experiments with this mode using QRSS or PSK31 at frequencies below 10kHz.

1 FET transceiver built

Today I built a single FET transceiver for 80m using just a handful of components (see pictures)

Currently it puts out 10mW on 3.579MHz (will be changed to 3.560MHz when I get another xtal) and uses the same single MPF102 FET in a tunable regen RX covering 3.50-3.62MHz. On RX it is picking up plenty of CW stations on the FISTS net so must be reasonably sensitive. The first QSO should be tomorrow on a sked with a local station a few miles away. If you want to try to work me using this rig please let me know via email at rogerlapthorn(at)gmail.com.

7 Oct 2008

VLF/LF converter

The VLF up-converter on my website (used to receive SAQ last year) has a new box and had a tidy-up! It works well and is sensitive from around 2kHz up to 200kHz. It should be useful on 137kHz receive. The actual circuit is built ugly style on a small piece of copper clad PCB material and this is about half the size of the 9V battery used to power the converter. The circuit uses a "back to front" SBL1 mixer with a 2N3904 oscillator and post mixer buffer.

The original lash-up received SAQ at RS58 and a QSL card was received for this historic 17.2kHz CW transmission from Grimeton in Sweden.

The various time signals (on 50, 60, 75 and 77.5kHz) are audible as are the Russian Alpha beacons below 15kHz. There are various unidentified data transmissions from 17kHz to around 80kHz audible but not identified.

3 Oct 2008

New UHF/SHF super-DX mode?

The ARRL Propagation report (link on my website) today reports some interesting findings about very high altitude noctilucent clouds reflecting radar signals, raising the possibility that extreme, INTERCONTINENTAL, UHF/SHF DX might be possible using reflections from such clouds. See

"...the clouds contain ice coated with sodium and iron from micro-meteors and sit at about 53 miles (85 km) altitude, mostly between 50-70 degrees latitude, and sometimes as far south (or north, in the southern hemisphere) as 40 degrees latitude or less.

The clouds are highly reflective of radar signals, and instead of diffraction as we see in ionospheric propagation, ripples in the clouds seem to reflect in unison, reinforcing each other.

Noctilucent clouds are sometimes visible at night, because their altitude is so high that they reflect sunlight into areas of darkness. They are also known as polar mesospheric clouds, and appear most often at twilight during the summer."

Imagine working many thousands of miles on 10GHz QRP by a mesospheric
reflection mode. Now that would be something REALLY different!

GI4DPE on 501kHz

501kHz was in a reasonable state a couple of evenings back with Finbar GI4DPE being a steady signal down here on CW in East Anglia. I must get some QRSS software as there have been a few stations on which I have not been able to decode. QRSS "by ear" is not easy!