31 Jan 2010

Good 500kHz DX overnight with 1mW ERP

For the first time in more than a week I ran the WSPR beacon through the night. Best DX reports were from GM4SLV, GM0UDL and Lubos OK2BVG at 1232kms. Lubos sent me this picture of his fine shack. Notice the lovely LF/MF loading coil on the left hand side and the LF receiving loop in the corner. Lubos has a very nice collection of equipment. He has now managed to receive me on several different occasions on 500kHz.

30 Jan 2010

More new ones on 500kHz

A new station has reported my 500kHz WSPR signal this evening: ON4BB in JO21 at 294kms. Later, GM0UDL spotted me from up in IO77 square at 659kms, bringing the total unique WSPR reports up to 76.

AA1TJ's success with the XBM80-2

Mike Rainey AA1TJ has built his version of the XBM80-2, but LESS the audio stage, using instead his 600 ohm magnetic headphones via a transformer, and has managed some QSOs well over 100 miles. He changed the emitter resistor to 15k to reduce the signal radiated on key-up (backwave) as well as made a link coupled bandpass filter output/input circuit. This would reduce the amount of AM breakthrough usefully.

29 Jan 2010

76th unique signal report on 500kHz with 1mW (or less) QRP

This evening, I was WSPR decoded by a new station in the Netherlands PI4Z in JO11wm at 260kms. This brings the total number of stations who have sent me reports on the band to 76 now (72 via the WSPR database, 2 emailed WSPR reports and 2 CW stations) in a total of 10 countries. Best DX report still 1232kms.

CQ-PA article on 500kHz

The Dutch magazine CQ-PA has quite a large article on 500kHz operation this month. I was very pleased to see my little IRF510 based transverter circuit and my small vertical antenna were shown. Amateurs in the Netherlands have recently been granted access to this band.

Nuclear Fusion breakthrough?

Some recent research may have helped the dream of unlimited and pollution-free energy from nuclear fusion become a big step closer. Scientists in the USA have demonstrated that containment of atoms for fusion using laser beams is far less problematic than first thought. Unlike current nuclear fission, nuclear fusion reactions create no radioactive waste materials. Potentially nuclear fusion reactors, if created on a commercial scale, could dramatically help supply clean energy the world so badly needs. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8485669.stm

Super-efficient VHF antenna?

See http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2010_0126.htm#antenna
"The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and partners from industry and academia have designed and tested experimental antennas that are highly efficient and yet a fraction of the size of standard antenna systems with comparable properties. .....NIST engineers are working with scientists from the University of Arizona (Tucson) and Boeing Research & Technology (Seattle, Wash.) to design antennas incorporating metamaterials—materials engineered with novel, often microscopic, structures to produce unusual properties. The new antennas radiate as much as 95 percent of an input radio signal and yet defy normal design parameters."

28 Jan 2010

Mosquito single IRF510 transceiver

EA3GHS and EA3FXF have produced a single IRF510 FET based version of his Mosquito transceiver using a PC as the back end of a software defined radio (SDR). In essence, the FET is used as a regenerative or direct conversion receiver - I think the two are indestinguishable in a single stage RX - with audio coupled to the sound card via a mains transformer which steps up the impedance. The IRF510 is capable of up to about 7W in this application. Coupled with an SDR back-end and this is SOME simple transceiver, especially if the crystal is VXOed.

Web based HF receivers (SDRs)

Web software defined receivers (SDRs) are becoming quite common now. They allow you to eavesdrop on a number of different HF bands and tune around for stations as if you're located at the distant location. The best place to find a list of these receivers is at http://www.websdr.org/ . I have used the one in Twente, Holland to see if my QRP 80m signal got to The Netherlands (it did) and to check activity on bands like 500kHz. Sometimes these SDRs are located in places where the background noise levels are very low too.

27 Jan 2010

Apple iPad tablet launched

Apple has finally revealed its new killer product - the iPad. My son has an iPhone and is very pleased with it. I doubt I will be persuaded to buy either. I have been tempted with the Apple iPod Touch which is a very desirable product.

26 Jan 2010

500kHz again tonight

After a break of a couple of days, I'm back on 500kHz WSPR again this evening with my 1mW ERP. The reports are still coming in from far and wide (G, GM, PA and LA so far), although no super-DX from central Europe yet this evening.

25 Jan 2010

Walford Kits "Fivehead" SSB transceiver

A friend of mine is building a Walford Kit "Fivehead" SSB transceiver. He has got the kit, but was surprised to find the parts placement was not silk screened on the PCB; I guess this is a cost saving measure.

Although there is a not-to-scale layout, a clear colour photo from above of the assembled board from the component side would help him a lot. He's asking Tim if he has one he could email, but does anyone already have one they could email me please?

XBM80-2: a 2-way QSO and report

This morning I worked M0DRK using my tiny 60mW XBM80-2 transceiver I designed last week. It uses just 13 parts plus the crystal, earpiece and optional frequency offset switch. My report for Derek was 599 and he gave me 599+40dB. Derek is in the same village. Also monitoring was G4LHI in Huntingdon 32kms away and he reported my signal was as strong as Derek who was running 5W.  In fact 60mW is only going to be about 3 S points down on 5W. I also heard GM3JUD when listening on the XBM80-2 on 3.560, but was unable to raise him.

23 Jan 2010

Shortwave in the 1960s - interval signals montage

Yesterday I found this wonderful link which is a montage of 40 different old shortwave interval signals from almost 50 years ago. Get a coffee, sit back and listen.  Imagine you are listening on your one valve radio in your bedroom in 1964.  It brings back such happy memories that I am almost tearful with nostalgia.


G3ZJO in QRSS3 on 500kHz

G3ZJO has a QRSS3 beacon sending in FSK built in Altoids tins and running QRPp power. This is is a screenshot (from Spectran) of his signal this afternoon. I have superimposed his callsign, which is clearly visible on the upper line. The first dash of the G in his call is missing in my capture.

Simple 80m CW transceiver

Want to try something really simple?  I am now waiting to have a QSO on 80m CW using my XBM80-2 transceiver that I put together in the week. Pout is 60mW. The only switching between TX and RX is by the morse key. Additional offset can be had with the switch in series with the crystal. Skeds with local stations are being arranged.

ERP on 500kHz (part 2)

Yesterday I did a recalculation of the G3XBM ERP based on the classic formula and re-measurements of my antenna current. My antenna is a 5m long vertical with a spiral top hat of about 7 turns about 1.5m x 1.5m. Not being clear how to model the top hat I assumed effective heights of 5, 4 or 3m. The measured antenna current is 0.12A. My results are as follows:

Assumed effective height 5m     ERP = 1.53mW
Assumed effective height 4m     ERP = 0.98mW
Assumed effective height 3m     ERP = 0.55mW

So, I believe my 1mW ERP previously calculated is not a bad estimate, and it may indeed be lower than this figure.

Rik ON7YD (OR7T) has just sent me this email:
"I simulated the antenna based on your description (with MMANA) and the current through the vertical wire seems to be quite constant. So the tophat works well and the effective height will be more or less the physical height. The simulation gives a radiation resistance of 0.074 Ohm, so with 0.12 A a radiated power just over 1mW EMRP (1.75mW ERP). In the real world it will be some dB's less (as Jim stated recently), probably something like 0,5 to 1mW ERP.  Very impressive that it covers over 1200km."

JT4A mode on 500kHz

The next (operational) project is emerging from the mists..... Several people have started to experiment with JT4A WSJT mode on 500kHz. This allows basic EME/MS style QSO exchanges so should allow me some 2-way contacts on the band with my low ERP. Still to work out how to run the software though: when I tried the other night I could see strong traces but no decodes. Getting this sorted will be half the fun. Then I might try to mode on VHF too. JT4A uses a bandwidth of 17.5Hz with tone spacings of 4.375Hz and can decode down to -23dB S/N. This is somewhat less sensitive than WSPR but would still allow QSOs with quite a large number of the stations who've heard me on WSPR.

22 Jan 2010

QRP Books

International QRP Collection is a new book bringing together articles from magazines around the world on QRP (low power) radio. There are articles on commercial equipment, homebrew ideas, test equipment and operating on bands from 160m to microwaves plus much more. A friend who is not too familiar with QRP thinks it is a good introduction, but I must admit I was disappointed: the collection seems disjointed and, in my view, a better set of articles could have been put together. As an example, the intriguing transceiver on the cover does not appear in the articles inside! Overall, I'd give this one 6 out of 10. The book is available from the RSGB. 

QRP Basics by G.Dobbs G3RJV is a much better book and worth buying.

The Pixie Files

The Pixie and Micro80 are  well known simple transceivers for any HF bands. I've built both in the past and they do work well considering their lack of complexity. The main limitation is the receiver which uses the TX PA as a simple mixer. For those wanting more information on the Pixie and its derivatives check out The Pixie Files which is a collection of articles from SPRAT.

ERP calculation on 500kHz

I've recalculated my ERP based on a better measurement of antenna current. I was using a dust iron core for my current transformer, so swapped this for an FT37 ferrite toroid today and got a lot more current measured now. My antenna current is actually around 0.12A. My antenna is 5m long with a small spiral top so the effective height must be <5m. Even putting in 5m into the classic formula I cannot make my ERP exceed 1mW. I make it more like 600uW. Interestingly this is 20dB more than the original estimate from M0BMU and since then I'd increased the ERP, I believe, by around 20dB which would also make it 600uW. Of course the margins of error must be large.

The Internet in the 19th Century

Yes, the internet was alive in the second half of the 1800s, albeit in a rather more limited form. It was possible to find out information from right across the world in a matter of minutes as long ago as the 1860s by using the very extensive telegraph network that ballooned across the globe within a few decades. There is a fascinating book all about this that I can highly recommend called The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage which is available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you thought it was the coming of wireless that connected the world then think again.

21 Jan 2010

More DX again tonight on 500kHz: 1232kms

Lubos OK2BVG is receiving me well again tonight on 500kHz WSPR. In the last hour two reports received via the database.

20 Jan 2010

500kHz DX with 200uW ERP

Guess what?  Lubos OK2BVG has just spotted G3ZJO's tiny signal on 500kHz. Eddie is running only 200uW ERP. This evening conditions on 500kHz have been truly superb.

Done it at last! 1232 km on 500kHz

This evening, my target of exceeding 1000kms on 500kHz has been exceeded by a great margin. Lubos OK2BVG in JN88ks managed to hear my 1mW ERP signal at a distance of 1232kms. This is by far my best DX and a new country on the band using WSPR. Lubos even moved to his quieter country QTH in order to hear my weak signal. I am SO pleased he has such good ears! This was his message half an hour ago:
Hello Roger, LF!
This moment is just now:
2136  -7  0.2   0.503874  0 G4JNT IO90 23
2142 -29 -0.5   0.503910  1 G3XBM JO02

Lubos, OK2BVG, JN88KS

A little later the signal was even stronger:
2206 -24 -0.6   0.503903  0 G3XBM JO02 0

K4TWJ - silent key

Dave Ingram, K4TWJ died this morning having lost his battle to overcome a massive heart attack on New Year's Eve. He wrote a regular column in CQ Magazine and was well known in the QRP community. RIP Dave.

10m WSPR reports from Germany

This afternoon I've been WSPRing on 10m with either 2 or 5W output to my 5m vertical antenna tuned via the Elecraft T1 ATU. Most spots have been from G4IKZ who is quite local, but I then had 4 spots from Germany including DK6MK in JN68. Even the briefest of openings is noticed using WSPR.

500kHz monitoring by OK2BVG

This email came in today from Lubos OK2BVG who is going to extraordinary lengths to help me meet my 1000kms target on 500kHz WSPR. I do hope he hears me from a quieter country QTH. Last night my best DX was 960kms.
Hello Roger!

I didn´t see your QRPP signal, when we tried WSPR some days ago.  So... I packed my receiver + computer to a car and I moved them on my portable QTH outside of town today morning. I have got EWE aerial for 500kHz there. I started whole set on frequency 502.400kHz. It will be receiving continuously some days and nights. I have got Internet line from my cottage to my home hamshack, so I am able to see what is written in WSPR window there. It will be interesting test, I think.
73! Lubos, OK2BVG, JN88KS

Plessey reborn as UK's newest semiconductor firm

Many of us remember the Plessey name from the range of RF ICs it made back in the 1980s e.g. the SL640, SL641 and the SL6440. In their day they were ahead of the time. Many an SSB transceiver was built around these ICs. Well, Electronics Weekly reports Plessey is back.
"Plessey Semiconductors, one of the most renowned names in the UK’s semiconductor history, has been relaunched as a chip business operating from the original Plessey CMOS fab at Roborough in Plymouth.
Plessey Semiconductors has been created out of Plus Semi, a company set up to acquire the manufacturing facilities of two former Plessey fabs in Swindon and Roborough."
Electronics Weekly is available online and is well worth checking.

Solar Flare and Aurora

Yesterday, satellites picked up the strongest solar flare in almost 2 years. The M2 class eruption came from an old sunspot (number 1039) behind the sun's eastern limb. There is a chance of HF blackouts and auroral conditions today Jan 20th. See http://spaceweather.com/

19 Jan 2010

Overnight 500kHz WSPR tonight

For one of the last times this winter, I'm going to leave the 500kHz WSPR beacon running through the night. Beating the 1000kms barrier seems to be limited not by my low 1mW ERP, but by the absence of stations in the 1000-1200kms range staying active through the night when conditions are quieter. So, a few more tries before I say enough is enough.

If you have a well equipped 500kHz WSPR station in Poland, Sweden, Austria, Czech Republic or at a similar distance from England please leave your RX running for the next few nights and keep a close watch for G3XBM around 503.900kHz +/-20Hz.

Simple 80m rig (not tested on-air yet)

This is the schematic of a little experimental 80m CW transceiver. It puts out about 60mW and is only moderately sensitive, although I have not managed to accurately measure it yet. Offset between RX and TX is about 400Hz but more can be obtained by closing S1. It should be used with a low pass filter really.

Some QRP operating

This is a picture of me in my shack. I had just completed some homebrewing and was having an SSB QSO. See next post for details of the homebrew experimental transceiver I had been working on.

18 Jan 2010

Dutch online SDR now has 500kHz

The Twente University online SDR in The Netherlands has now got a 500kHz receiver. It works well and SM6BHZ's SSB beacon was coming through very well a few moments ago.

Want to launch your own satellite? You can!

Interorbital Systems of California have introduced a kit to allow you to build your own satellite! The price of the Tubesat kit ($8000) includes the cost of a launch into space as well.

More overnight 500kHz WSPR TXing tonight

Tonight I shall have another go at breaking the 1000kms barrier on 500kHz WSPR. If you decode me, be sure to upload your report to the WSPR online database please.

10m WSPR

This morning I've been WSPRing on 10m again. G4IKZ 18kms away is a good signal and he has been heard in Italy. G4IKZ is copying me, but no DX reports yet. There is a great deal of aircraft Doppler on local signals. We have the Mildenhall and Lakenheath airbases some 20-30kms away, so I expect it is because of aircraft taking off, circling and landing.

17 Jan 2010

Transatlantic reception on 500kHz

This evening, early, the transatlantic WSPR stations are coming through well into Europe. So far I've only seen WE2XGR/6, running 100W, appear on the screen on 511.5kHz, which is above the UK allocation. This is a new transatlantic station for me. The signal is varying in QSB with around 8 minutes between peaks of signal.

UPDATE: I eventually moved off 511.5kHz at 8am this morning and WE2XGR/6 had been coming in all night until then. At best it reached -14dB S/N with me on one occasion but usually it was around -20 to -25dB S/N level. Also copied was WE2XGR/2 who was running 50W. He was audible until 0638am

16 Jan 2010

10m WSPR

This afternoon, for a change, I loaded up my 5m vertical on 10m and have started to WSPR at 5W level. So far, only one report received from G4IKZ just 18kms away at -13 to -15dB S/N. He is running 10W and is about -4dB S/N with me.

So near but so far on 500kHz

Last night again produced some decent DX reports with the 1mW ERP 500kHz station, but still I'm 10kms short of the magic 1000kms target. Best was DL4RAJ at 990kms who spotted be many times during the night. A new reporter this morning was M0GNM in IO91 - thanks for the report.

Haiti appeal - our help is needed

It was good to hear that the GQRP club made a donation to the aid appeal for the survivors of the terrible earthquake in Haiti. The sheer scale of this is terrifying but, if we can afford to do so, we ALL need to give something to help these poor people. In the UK donations may be made on-line via the Disasters Emergency Committee website.

K4TWJ (the "One Transistor Marvel" man)

Yesterday I heard that Dave K4TWJ is in hospital having had a massive heart attack on New Year's Eve. His XYL Sandy, WB4OEE, reports that he is improving and getting stronger. Dave writes articles in several US magazines including CQ and his design for a very simple one transistor transceiver appears in the International QRP Collection book available from the RSGB.

14 Jan 2010

Simple LF/MF QRP transmitter

VE7SL has a neat little LF/MF TX circuit on his website which is suitable for QRP 136 or 500kHz operation. Its original application was for 160-190kHz part 15 "lowfer" beacons in the USA. I used the same PA arrangement in my first 500kHz transverter and I can confirm it is very reliable and robust.

Overnight on 500kHz (1mW ERP)

21 unique stations reported hearing me on 500kHz WSPR last night, but still the 1000kms target has not been reached - so close but so elusive. On RX, I was able to copy LA3EQ, PA0A and SM6BHZ as well as the local Gs, but no transatlantics.

13 Jan 2010

Latest sunspot predictions

The recent upsurge in sunspots has been a good sign that we are now strongly on the upward curve of cycle 24 at last: most days there are spots and the solar flux levels are climbing. However, this is in line with NOAA predictions and their latest table of expected sunspot numbers is unchanged, I think, with a peak smoothed sunspot number of 90 expected in  May 2013.

12 Jan 2010

500kHz looking like 30m!

Just look at this WSPR screen from 500kHz at 2330z this evening. There are G, PA, LA and SM signals coming through pretty well. 500kHz is now getting quite busy at night and it's harder to find a clear spot in the 200Hz WSPR sub-band!

Google ads quirk

Since I mentioned the Flea QRP transceiver some of my banner ads have come up advertising Flea spray! As I've mentioned them again I expect they will remain until I use some other key words in my text.

Self assembling solar cells?

Interesting article on the BBC Technology page about a possible technique for "self assembling" solar cells and other electronics products. See http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8452912.stm

Yet another try at 1000+kms on 500kHz

Overnight tonight (Tuesday/Wednesday) Martin OE5HYM will be listening for my WSPR signals. Martin is 1128kms away in Austria and he has a well-equipped receiving station. So, I am hopeful that breaking the 1000kms barrier is now just a matter of time. With luck, there will be more stations in the 1000-1200kms range staying on overnight too. However the solar conditions appear less favourable for LF propagation tonight.

11 Jan 2010

Another try at the 1000kms target tonight

Again there are a LOT of stations in Europe listening on 500kHz WSPR and I've already had reports tonight from stations 685, 701 and 896kms away from me. The beacon will again be run through the night to see if anyone over 1000kms away manages to decode me. Unfortunately I think the main problem will be there won't be anyone listening in the 1000-1200kms range: TF3HZ is much further away (1836kms) and the station in Poland and one near Stockholm seem to have gone to bed and switched off :-(

Sixbox video added

As promised, I've put a small video about the Sixbox 6m AM transceiver on my YouTube channel. You will recall that the Sixbox was a small 40mW AM transceiver derived from the 2m Fredbox. This version is built "ugly style" in a diecast box and has a tunable receiver covering about 5MHz around 49-54MHz. The Sixbox is described in SPRAT 140 and also in the German magazine QRP-Report. It is also described on my website.

500kHz ATU video

Just put a short video of my tiny ATU for 500kHz onto YouTube.

A good night on 500kHz

Last night I ran the WSPR beacon again overnight hoping to beat my magic 1000kms barrier using the 1mW ERP station. Unfortunately there were no reports quite that far (990kms was the best), but it was an excellent night with lots of DX reports. DX is of course relative: G4JNT was copied in Alaska and several stations were heard across the Atlantic. Still for my modest power I was well pleased.

M1KTA's version of the 40m Flea Transceiver

Dom Baines M1KTA has just completed his version of the Flea transceiver for 40m and it looks a very neat job. Dom describes this on his blog and it is well worth a look. He gets 1.3W out from a 2N3866 PA. I look forward to working him very soon.

10 Jan 2010

Gnat-1: 1 transistor transceiver from SPRAT 138

Am I alone in struggling with this design from SPRAT 138?

Today I did a breadboard version for 80m on the bench. On TX I had no problems (as long as I grounded the transistor's emitter directly on TX), but on RX the performance was diabolical and no better than a crystal set with injected carrier. I cannot quite fathom out the function of the transformer T2 or why the key is grounding the secondary of T2. As described in the article I would have thought T2 could be removed and simply key the emitter to ground on TX and decouple a larger (variable) emitter resistor on RX.

Has anyone had success with this design on RX? It may well be me!

500kHz new reporters: DL-SWL and G3JKV

No further DX records broken in the last 24 hours but a couple of new stations reporting me: DL-SWL who is in JO52 some 701kms away and G3JKV who is in IO91. Thank you for your WSPR reports.

9 Jan 2010

Did my 1mW ERP reach Moscow on 500kHz last night??

This evening, Andrey RN3AGC sent me an intriguing screenshot taken from his PC in Moscow 2433kms away from here. It shows a very weak trace on the screen at the frequency which only G3XBM was operating last night. It is just possible this was my 1mW ERP signal. If so, it was too weak for the WSPR software to decode. You have to look very hard to discern the trace.
Hello Roger,

Probably? :)
Yesterday only you on this frequency worked.

73 Andrey

New G3XBM videos on YouTube

Today I've added a couple more videos to my G3XBM YouTube Channel. They are of the Fredbox 2m AM transceiver and of the FETer 80m CW transceiver. The latter uses just 14 parts but works remarkably well. I hope to add more videos about my projects in the next few weeks.

990kms on 500kHz

My 1000kms distance target on 500kHz WSPR has still not been met, but now by just 10kms: last night I was heard quite strongly at -18dB S/N by DL4RAJ 990kms away in JN68kj. The signal report and distance now make me really believe that further really is possible with the 1mW ERP station.

8 Jan 2010

3 new reporters on 500kHz

Last night I left the WSPR beacon running overnight in the hope that I'd break the 1000kms barrier at last. Again, my best report from Germany was 40kms short. However, I did get reports from 3 new stations (DL3NDR, PA0LCE and from SWL Mark in Edinburgh) overnight bringing the total number of unique reports for 500kHz WSPR to 61 plus two reports for CW QSOs. In all then 63 stations have now heard my 1mW ERP signal.

7 Jan 2010

Methane release - higher than expected

From the BBC website:
"Scientists have uncovered what appears to be a further dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas that is seeping from the Arctic seabed. Methane is about 20 times more potent than CO2 in trapping solar heat. The findings come from measurements of carbon fluxes around the north of Russia, led by Igor Semiletov from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks."
See http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8437703.stm

G0IMG (Mike) a silent key

Yesterday I heard that G0IMG, Mike Gotch, from Saffron Walden has died. Mike used to be one of my bosses years ago at Philips. Mike became a keen 10m and 6m DXer. About a year ago he had a serious stroke and was left severely paralysed. RIP Mike.

40m WSPR with 100mW

For a change I put my WSPR beacon on 40m this afternoon and set the output power to 100mW. Within minutes there were reports coming in and some are very good. For example, -9dB S/N from a German station suggesting another 20dB attenuation (i.e. 1mW out) and the signal might still be copied. A few minutes later and there was a log from an LA 1500kms away. Incidentally, several CQs on 40m CW with 1W failed to get a response an hour earlier! I'm now trying 100mW on 30m.

500kHz 1mW ERP DX record: 960kms

Last night, a new personal DX record was set on 500kHz WSPR with a report from DG6RCH not far from the Austrian border in S.Germany. He was located in JN68 square and the distance was 960kms. Just 40kms more to beat the 1000kms barrier!

Also last night I heard EI6IZ for the first time.

6 Jan 2010

500kHz good again tonight

Switched on my WSPR station earlier. Already had reports from 9 different stations on the database as far apart as the Shetland Is (GM) to the north (896kms) plus PA and ON to the east (337kms).

Last night I partially decoded WD2XSH/17 (just QTH locator), who I received twice in December. Still hoping that my 1mW ERP signal will break the magic 1000kms barrier (just 49kms more to go). There are LOTS of stations listening on 500kHz WSPR at the moment, so this must be one of my best chances tonight.

The 500kHz antenna was coming down to make way for the 28MHz halo, but I think I'll wait a few more weeks, not least because the roof is frozen and the antenna is covered in snow!

5 Jan 2010

Another new report on 500kHz

Conditions on 500kHz have been good again this evening. F6CNI near Paris was receiving me at an incredible +2 dB S/N on WSPR. I cannot understand how my signals can be this strong so far away! Also tonight, a new reporter, DL2SEA heard me 442kms away in JO30 square. The screenshot shows my signal as he received it.

4 Jan 2010

Web SDR locations

There are now a number of places on the internet where one can find and operate on-line software defined radios (SDRs). For a list of these go to http://www.websdr.org/. One of the best, now streaming 7 different bands, is http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/ which is located at Twente in The Netherlands. I have used this one to hear my QRP signals on 40m from the UK. There is a very slight delay but I was able to hear my 400mW signal very well. Another has a recording of the 23cms band during an ARRL EME (moonbounce) contest using a 25m dish: you can tune the band and hear some amazingly strong CW QSOs via the moon.

500kHz transverter video

There is now a short video clip on YouTube describing my 500kHz QRP transverter. Sorry the quality is not brilliant but I had problems holding the camera, pointing the pointer and deciding what to say! Still, it gives you some idea what is inside the box.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86K19chQ06Q

3 Jan 2010

Another new report on 500kHz - EI6IZ

Thsi evening, conditions on 500kHz are good again with reports from the G, ON, DL and EI. The Irish station was EI6IZ in IO53 square at a distance of 669kms. This brings the total number of stations reporting my 1mW ERP 500kHz WSPR beacon to 56 in 9 countries.

1 Jan 2010

Welcome to 2010

A very happy and peaceful New Year to you and your families. Do you have any New Year resolutions? Mine are:
  1. To complete my QRP DSB/CW transceiver for 10m (possibly SSB using a phasing TX)
  2. To make a DSB version of the Fredbox for 6m or 2m
  3. To design and build some more very simple "micro-transceivers" for HF and 6m use
  4. To do one long walk once a week
  5. To give up sugar in tea and coffee
We'll see how well I succeed this time next year!

2009 countries worked

At the end of the year I've been through the logbook to see how many (few?) countries I worked in the sunspot minimum year with QRP.  Overall I worked 47 countries with 34 worked on 10m and 15 on 6m. This is fewer than previous years as I spent quite a lot of time in the second half of the year on WSPR beaconing, especially on 500kHz. With improving HF conditions I expect to better this total in 2010.

On WSPR, I was very pleased to end the year with 54 unique reports on 500kHz from stations in 9 countries and all with just 1mW ERP to a tiny antenna.