Wednesday, 30 December 2015

29th December 2015 - 70MHz UKAC

4W Yaesu FT817 and transverter. 4 Ele Yagi from IO91OQ
Strange night. Worked everything I could hear with lots of activity in North and North West. Should have perhaps pointed S more to try and pick up IO90 although by all accounts activity and score were low throughout. It got pretty windy up there and a new electric fence causing S8 noise across the whole band caused a last minute change of locations. Thankfully Gene M0ZRG was there to help with the setting up and he did a magnificent job throughout on the mast - I have no doubt we would have worked less without that teamwork so a big thank you to Gene for that support. Like Anthony no GD, GM or GI. Finger crossed we are still in a good place for the final score - if not no one can say we didn't try. Roll on 2016 - with more members, people improving their stations and activity on increased activity on 23cm and higher we are now in a really good position to hit 2016 running. Thank you to all.
Here's the map from tonight, can really complain with 4W!
Storm Frank takes its toll?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

29th December 2015 - 2m Christmas Cumulatives

Better on 2m for me than yesterday. Hope tonight goes as well!

FT991 @ 25W, 9 Ele Tonna. No SNA but I did hear him S&P. Nice to work GM4JJJ in IO86 (534km). but should have worked a couple of other GM's. Nice to work two stations in IOM today. 73 Carl
With 760 points that currently puts me well at the top of 25W and below stations on 2m today. Claimed score is 38 QSOs, 20 multipliers.

Monday, 28 December 2015

28th December 2015 - 70MHz Christmas Cumulatives

On the RSGB cumulatives today I operated on 4m only in order to test out the portable gear for tomorrow evening: FT817, Microwave Modules Transverter and 4 ele Yagi (mast 4m @ 100m asl). The band seemed pretty quiet so considering that, that I was not working other bands to lead people onto 4m, and the fact that I was only running 4W (at most on the voice peaks) then I am delighted with the final tally in the log - looking forward to tomorrow emoticon

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas Cumulatives - 26th December 2015

Christmas Cumulative 2015. 1st session over and that was hard work. Focused on on just one band - 2m, with 9 Ele Tonna. Antenna not at full height, just 4m up due to moderate wind. Activity levels were low and struggled to work out of IO91 in the first 40m - I guess everyone was on other bands. Things improved towards the end and I netted GM, GW, GD, and GI4. SNA was worked in the last 60 seconds having chased his S&P signal around the band most of the afternoon. Map is below - no IO81, 82 or 93 heard let alone worked - I suspect the poor weather is taking its toll. Hope to work some Rats tomorrow - again just 2m for me although will have 4m up for pre UKAC testing. 73 Carl

Monday, 21 December 2015

Drowned Rats are recruiting!

Proud founding member of The Drowned Rats Radio Group.  We are recruiting now!

Please click the image above for more information.

Bouncing signals off aircraft - Air Scatter

Here's a screenshot showing me running WSJT and AirScout in order to decode the beacon signal transmitted in JT65B - this time GB3NGI on the Slieve Anorra Mountain Co.Antrim, Northern Ireland. I have fixed the elevation data now (green profile at the bottom window - which is interesting in itself). In this image you can see an Air Canada Airbus flying over the south of the Isle of Man, inbound to Frankfurt from Toronto and providing the means for Aircraft Scatter. Great fun.
Next I have been trying my luck decoding the ON0VHF beacon (CW) near Brussels. I managed to copy the callsign briefly, with a great deal of flutter. Remarkable given that I am the wrong side of a big and local hill that basically sits beetween me and Europe!

Friday, 18 December 2015

40m DX with JT65 - Venezuela and India

A couple of nice eQSLs arrived in the mailbox in the last few days both for digital mode (JT65) QSOs on 40m. It's incredible what can be achieved with weak-signal modes using low power and simple equipment. Both these 40m QSO were using <20W (the maximum I chose to use on JT65) with and Off-Centre Fed Dipole.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

My first 23cm UKAC - December 2015

I had fun on 1296 MHz this evening. My first UKAC on 23cm and using just 2W. Sadly I didn't have time to mount the SG-Labs transverter at the mast head so the PEP was almost certainly in the order of mW rather than W at the antenna end of 20m of coax. Moreover, the garden is surrounded by trees and they are drenched in rainwater at the moment.
So, all that taken into account I was very pleased with my 9 QSOs and 2 squares (IO91 and IO92), with the ODX being over 100Km (G4CLA).Remarkably I heard GD8EXI in the Isle of Man and M0MDY near Sheffield - neither workable but they were definitely there.
Using ON4KST to schedule QSOs has been interesting - its going to be interesting to see how that plays out on the other bands subject to the rules changes. I have found using the 'KST2me' software makes things a bit easier, particularly once I got my head around how to do the filtering for UK calls only, and additional alerts for specific calls I was looking for.
All-in-all in bodes well for 2016. I will get the transverter at the mast head for January 2016 23cm UKAC, and by then may also have a little 10W amplifier smile emoticon
QSO Map and screenshot of KST2me is below.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

200mW to Antarctica on 40m!

Delighted that my 200mW 40m WSPR signals are being heard in Antarctica by Russian Research Station RI1ANR. (QRA JB59TE)
Novo Airbase ( Blue Ice Runway ) , Antarctica

At last QRV on 23cm

The new transverter from SG-Labs has been sat here a few weeks but I have just not had the chance to do anything with it. With the 23cm UK Activity Contest looming this Tuesday I was determined to do get onto 23cm and get even just a few points for the team (Drowned Rats Contest Group). With the help of a 35 Ele from Dave M0SAT and a bit of mast clamp fabrication from Anthony G7LRQ I was pleased to be up and running this afternoon. My first two QSO were thus with Anthony and Dave ... S9 reports all around. I had some reports of audio clipping when using the FT817 to provide the 2m IF, with an improvement heard when I switched to the FT991.  I have not had much of a chance to listen for beacons - to be honest i am not expecting much but I can hear Dunstable at a steady S4-5.

There's a bit more engineering to do now to move the transverter up to the mast head, and then in due course to add a small amplifier in order that I can run 'full QRP' at 10W in the UKAC contests.

In the meantime I am looking forward to gaining at least a couple of QSO in the log this Tuesday .... let's see how I do :)

Next I am looking at this preamp:

And this power amplifier (1W in 25W out):

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

8 Dec 2015 - 70cm UKAC

Poor conditions tonight and I suspect the ongoing poor weather kept a number of stations away from their usual /P activies, especially of t'North. Given the conditions I am glad to have worked 11 locator squares and a total of 43 QSOs with just 10 Watts on 70cm. Points, as always, to the Drowned Rats!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

2m AFS 6 Dec 2015

2m AFS on 6th December 2015. A windy day with bad weather across the UK. Much flooding in the North of England no doubt causing many of the usual portable stations to baton down the hatches and stay at home.