Saturday, August 20, 2016

100mW's of raw power!!

The other evening I was having a cup of tea and checking out my new QST that just arrived and found myself very interested in a piece written by Steve Ford in his column Eclectic Technology. The title caught my eye "When a signal is barely a WSPR" Steve looked at how the Raspberry Pi could be used for WSPR transmissions. Seeing I have the Raspberry Pi3 this sparked my interest. It was pointed out that all you need to turn your Pi into a WSPR transmitter is a board from TAPR called QRPi.  The board is offered at a very reasonable price of 29.00 U.S and it's set for 20m at 100mW. Before I got to excited about this little project  I wanted to see if using 100mW's would net me any results. I have seen other hams in the past net great results with far less than 100mW's and WSPR is known for it's great decode at very low power........BUT.......I do have a challenging setup here. On Friday late afternoon I gave WSPR a go on 20m at 100mW and was I impressed with the results. I was received by DK6UG for a distance of 39383 miles per watt and also ON7KO for a distance of 37285 miles per watt. I was amazed that my setup was able to produce those results! Now another question I wanted to consider is at 100mW how much of that actual power makes it to my antenna? To do this I referred to a coax calculator I punched in the type of coax (RG8X) the SWR (1.4:1) the length (30 feet)  the frequency (14) and finally the power (100mW) The calculated amount I was informed was 92mW of raw power! So this bumped my miles per watt to 42810 for DK6UG and 4053 for ON7KO! It's not timo look more into the TAPR project!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

JT65-HF is now working!

PSK reporter
Over the weekend I tried some JT-65 HF again after getting great feedback from my last blog post, I was under the impression I had some JT-65HF hits and in fact it turns out I netted ZERO contacts. The reports I was seeing on PSK reporter were stations I was hearing and  not hearing me! One of those who commented advised me to listen to the signal WSJT-X was sending. It turns out that was one of my problems, the software was not sending out CQ but a solid tuning tone. Seems this was a software issue with WSJT-X if I was to use the "tune" button on the software to see my ALC it would then send the same tone when TX was enabled. The way around this was to just restart WSJT-X and don't use the tune button on the software. There is a bata test software out now version 1.7 and I may download and try it. My results have been much better once this error was corrected.
Ham spots report

Monday, August 1, 2016

JT-65 signal reports

On Sunday I decided to move from CW to digital and see how my small antenna setup preformed using JT-65.  I first made sure the software and the rig would "talk" with each other. The software I use is WSJT-X by K1JT along with Win4K3 suite for rig control. I find K1JT's software very easy to use, it has been some time since I used it but I had no issues getting it up and running. I then went to PSK reporter to see which bands were preforming well. I ended up choosing 20m, I did bounce around to 15m, 17m and 30m but ended up staying with 20m. My power was set to 5 watts and the antenna was my trusty MFJ 1788 loop antenna. I am in a condo on the 6th floor which seems to be a good hight for the antenna. The only issue I have is other tall condo's to the left and right of me and one right dead centre. I had called CQ for about 4 hours off and on and the PSK reporter did show my signal was getting out. I was pleased with the results as with CW the Reverse Beacon network at the best of times only gave me between 3 to 10 hits that were all state side and fairly local to me as well. I was very pleased to be heard in the Netherlands and European Russia! Below is a screen shot of the results using PSK reporter.
 I also wanted to mention that on Saturday I tried to run WSPR and I say "tried" as I had ZERO spots reported and that was after having it up and running for several hours. I was not sure if something was wrong with my setup. I again was using WSJT's program and it showed no issues. My power was set to 1 watt and I ended up raising that to 4 watts but still no one heard my signal. I was pleased to see a decent response to my JT-65 effort and I then knew my signal was getting out.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

IARU HF World Championship contest

I always enjoy participating in this contest and in years gone past it allowed me add to my DXCC list. This year was a whole other story.......I was only able to contact and hear Canadian and U.S stations only. I came across a VE2 station calling CQ and he sounded like a distant DX station! I was not sure if it was just my station not hearing any Europe stations. I decided to listen in on a few of the big gun U.S station to see who they were contacting. The stations I choose to listen in on were contacting fellow U.S and Canadian stations only.  I made 10 or so contacts all on 20m and with 5 watts QRP.  My station setup was the Elecraft K3, MFJ 1788 loop antenna on the balcony, N1MM+ logging software and Win4K3 Suit rig control software. Also I use MRP40 CW decoding software for the "machine gun" code senders. I found in this contest the top end code speed was in around 35 wpm so no decoding software was needed. I have not been on the radio much as work has been very busy once again. It was nice to sit down and get on the rig again, I knew it had been a long time away from the radio when I wanted to spot a CW station and I had to actually look and look for the spot button on the rig!