28 Oct 2010

First "Dreamers Band" UK test next week

As is required by my NoV, I asked the Met Office for permission to transmit in the 8.7 - 9.1kHz band next week Tuesday to Friday 0800-1800 GMT and they've confirmed it's OK.

My initial tests will be a repeat of the earth-mode tests done at 838Hz earlier in the summer using the same kit  with 4W to 20m spaced earth electrodes. I'll also test with the 70m sq wire loop antenna used for 136 and 500kHz. The most likely TX frequency will be 8.750kHz (4.480MHz xtal divided by 512). I'll find a means of getting on 8.970kHz later. Modes will be 12wpm CW and QRSS3 initially.

These local tests are not in the same league at all as DK7FC's and I'm only expecting a few kilometres at best. However, it is a start and it allows me to test TX and RX equipment and different PC packages.

27 Oct 2010

6 countries on 500kHz tonight

Another good night on 500kHz WSPR with several more reports from Finland (OH1LSQ) as well as a report from Norway (LA3EQ) and several from nearer countries. ERP still in the 1-2mW region from the loop antenna.

Protecting power grids from solar storms

NASA Science News reports:
"Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet's topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that if such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers."
There are plans afoot to create an early warning system to protect the US grid system in such events.

26 Oct 2010

More DX reports on 500kHz

Log from early evening Oct 26th 2010 (500kHz QRPp WSPR)
This evening, the QRP 500kHz signal from the small vertical wire loop is doing well with reports again from Finland on WSPR. I still can't quite believe how a loop of thin wire with part of it sitting in the wet grass can work so well with so little power applied to it.

Stable, simple, stand-alone, 8.970kHz source?

What do people think is the simplest way of generating a stable 8.970kHz (kilohertz) frequency that does not require a PC when running? I thought of an HF crystal divided down by 256, but have you tried to buy a "made to order" crystal lately? I need this for my VLF tests this coming winter.

Vertical loop versus earth electrodes antenna

Just done an interesting test comparing my vertical wire loop with an earth electrode antenna. I removed the lower part of the loop and connected the ends to ground. Matching was totally different (low Q antenna) but the performance was only 5dB down on the loop, based on reports from 2 local and one DX station. A similar test on 136kHz as the only station on in range (M0BMU 69km) was unable to copy my signal on the earth electrode antenna suggesting at least 5dB down on that band too.

25 Oct 2010

Amateur VLF update: reception in 8 countries + 1310km DX!

DK7FC's summary of reports on Oct 23rd 2010
DK7FC has now summarised last weekend's test results on VLF (see table attached). His mW ERP signals from his kite antenna were received on 3 different VLF bands at distances up to an incredible 1310kms!
Stefan has certainly shown how to do it.

136kHz ERP

A fairly easy way to increase my ERP on 137.5kHz WSPR is to up the supply voltage to the IRF510 PA. Using a 20-24V supply I was able to get another 3-4dB ERP judging by the reports from M0BMU and G3WCD this morning. This evening I'll give it a go with the higher supply to see if I can get any reports from further afield. I've also thickened up the bottom part of the loop which will reduce the resistive losses by about 15%.

24 Oct 2010

DK7FC's VLF tests a great success

Stefan's latest VLF kite antenna transmissions at 8.97kHz and even lower frequencies were a great success yesterday with reception as far as Eire, Italy, Poland and the UK. The attached shot shows the signal on 2 frequencies as received by Renato

23 Oct 2010

M0BMU receiving DK7FC's 8.97kHz signal 10dB S/N

Jim reports that Stefan's DK7FC's 8.97kHz test signal is visible at 10dB S/N in Tring UK this morning. He is also visible on other grabbers in Europe. This is an excellent report and further encouragement for those of us taking our first (QRP) steps on the 33km band.

22 Oct 2010

More 500kHz 2mW ERP DX reports this evening

This evening I switched back to 500kHz from 137kHz WSPR earlier in the day. Yet again good WSPR reports from GM4SLV and OH1LSQ (1733km) who received me as early as 1716z.

8.7 to 9.1kHz NoV received

This morning I received my NoV from OFCOM to operate legally around 9kHz (see copy on RHS - click to enlarge).

Details are:
  • 1yr duration
  • 8.7kHz - 9.1kHz 
  • 100mW EIRP
  • Modes not specified (long periodic modes preferred by Met Office)
  • Met Office have to be informed of, and approve, operating periods and be sent logs
  • Home QTH or /P locations only with prior Met Office approval
No firm plans yet when I'll start local tests on this band, but within couple of weeks with QRP WSPR and QRSS. I'll put a copy of the NoV on my website in the next few hours.

21 Oct 2010

Struggling on 137.5kHz

Using the same TX output power (5W) and the same loop antenna I'm finding life is VERY much harder on 137.5kHz compared with 500kHz. Last night I was being copied right across Europe on 500kHz but tonight only 2 stations (best DX 69km) are able to copy me on 137.5kHz WSPR. The reason is simple: the radiation resistance is so much lower, so losses become more significant, and the ERP is very considerably lower. There is no doubt that to increase my "sphere of influence" on 137.5kHz I'll have to make some big improvements.

20 Oct 2010

New DX record on 500kHz WSPR

This evening, quite unexpectedly, I got a string of reports on 500kHz from OH1LSQ in KP03sd at an astounding distance of 1733km. To me these are amazing reports pushing my best DX on the band with just a few milliwatts ERP to new levels.  What surprises me is how well a very simple wire loop works as a TX antenna: the wire is just 1mm diameter, with a loop area of around 70m square with part of the loop on the ground buried in wet grass. I now believe almost anything is possible!

Vertical loop success on 500kHz QRP

This evening I've been WSPRing on 500kHz running about 2mW ERP from my thin vertical wire loop with an area of around 70 sq metres. The bottom of the loop just runs along the ground and at the moment is buried in the long wet grass! Despite this, my signal is being decoded in G, ON, PA and GM with best DX tonight 896km to GM4SLV up in the Shetland Is.

19 Oct 2010

Further 8.97kHz test this Saturday

DL7FC, Stefan, is planning another VLF kite antenna test this weekend Oct 23rd. I am assuming he will be on 8.97kHz again.

Additional SAQ VLF transmission

From SM6NM/Lars
There will be a transmission with the Alexanderson alternator on 17,2 kHz on United Nations Day Oct 24 2010 at 11:00 UTC. Start up and tuning from about 10:30 UTC. This time we do not require any QSL-reports and will not verify. We intend to continue with our annual transmission on Christmas Eve (morning), Dec 24, at 08:00 UTC with tuning up from 07:30 UTC. D.S.

Holiday in South Africa - just back

No posts here for the last few weeks as my wife and I had been on holiday in South Africa. It was an amazing holiday organised by Saga and we saw some fantastic places, people and animals. Saga organise holidays for the over-50s and we were not sure what to expect, but the hotels, food, transport, and everything well exceeded expectations and the group we were with was a real mix of interesting people. The whole experience was something to feed on for years to come. For example, seeing the "Big 5" wild animals (and many more) in the Kruger National Park, seeing no less than 6 southern right whales at one spot from the shore near Cape Town and getting to within a couple of metres of wild penguins on a beach near Simonstown. Also, seeing the highlands of Lesotho where people still live a subsistence existence in huts made of dung, straw and sand without electricity and the basics we take for granted.

2 Oct 2010

8.97kHz DX tests Oct 2nd 2010 (DK7FC)

Stefan's latest tests are going well with copy at 902km (Poland) and in Holland and the UK. His signal is stronger than ever before. Well done Stefan. Some stations right across Europe and even in North America are watching.

1 Oct 2010


For a change I went onto 10m WSPR today and was rewarded with a -26dB S/N report from FR1GZ on Reunion Island (9724km away) when I was running 5W to the halo.  Interesting to note the Doppler shift on the signal (and also on the signals from FR1GZ) which suggest movement of the equatorial F layer.

Earlier in the afternoon ZD7FT was a reasonable signal on 10m SSB from St Helena and there were several VE and W's on 15m SSB.

More German VLF radiated DX tests Sat October 2nd

From Stefan DK7FC:

Dear LF/VLF,

My next VLF kite experiment will be tomorrow, saturday, 2nd october :-) After my request to the german air traffic control i got a very kind telephone call at 01:30 AM and later i got the permission to go up to 200 m above ground. See attached mail if of interest for you.

So, if there will be enough wind and no rain, i will try to become QRV at arround  8 UTC.

Tomorrows program:

- (after some resonating tests): Transmitting a short message on 8970 Hz, mode: DFCW-600, hoping to be visible on several receivers in the EU region and maybe Canada and USA (!?)
- Transmitting a CW message (in 12 wpm and in 25 wpm), hoping to be audible at Bernd/DF8ZR (16 km range) and my grabber (40 km)
- Maybe trying a xband QSO 9kHz/144 MHz to DF8ZR
- Transmitting a message on 6470 Hz, mode: DFCW-600, hoping to be visible at many RX, especially Renato Romero who has set up a grabber page at http://www.vlf.it/cumiana/livedata.html
- Transmitting a 30 minute carrier on 8970 Hz which allows long time integration. Paul Nicholson wants to try to record the VLF audio stream from Florida and maybe extract my signal.

- Being visible at PA3FWM at the university of Twente who set up a grabber page at http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/grabber.html
- Being visible at SQ5BPF and maybe a russian station?
- Being visible at Paul Nicholson and Markus/DF6NM, of course ;-)
- Finally reaching the 1 A antenna current limit
- and all i have forgotten

I will record my signal of my grabber and will extract an audible signal, if possible. This will be filtered, frequency shifted to 800 Hz and published here as a mp3 file.

My grabber will show the 8970 Hz signal at http://www.iup.uni-heidelberg.de/schaefer_vlf/DK7FC_VLF_Grabber.html
The 6470 Hz will be visible at http://www.iup.uni-heidelberg.de/schaefer_vlf/DK7FC_VLF_Grabber2.html

It is now on the Canadian and US RX stations to make possible what still seems to be inpossible: A transatlantic transmission/reception. The first time my signal can reach a 50 mW ERP limit (wind forecast announces strong wind, so a high kite angle, so a good efficiency!) on 8970 Hz. It is still not sure how the propagation behaves on this frequency at this time and locations so we may see a surprise. Of course any report is very much appreciated, no matter of what distance or country. Every clear reception above 859 km is a new world record by amateurs on VLF!

So, hope the sun will shine at good wind conds and low QRN and high interest :-)

Best 73, CU, Stefan/DK7FC

PS: Markus/DF6NM, will you be on the phone again to make QSP? :-)