Sunday, 9 February 2014

An afternoon on 10m WSPR. With an appalling antenna.

Monday, 27 January 2014

80metres on a bit of wire. The VK heard me on 5W. RTTY users, eat yer heart out.

Friday, 17 January 2014

The next challenge... I'vemoved out of the shack for Winter. It's too cold and heating it costs an arm and a leg. I need to make the shack work remotely from the house (don't ask...!) RDP is a good start. I have the shack computer working on an RDP connection, minus sound. I can conrtol the rig, see the SWR, and faff around with WSPR, which is pretty much where my ham inclinations are these days. But sound would be nice.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Torrid day on 10m wspr. 10m has been just awful (it does say "disturbed" in the forecast) and my simple kit was, well, rubbish. sigh

Monday, 7 January 2013


I haven't bought a copy in years. I'd like to try it...again

From the PW webpage:

Practical Wireless magazine is available from UK High Street newsagents such as WHSmith or postal copies can be purchased direct from the publisher using a Debit or Credit card by ringing 0845 803 1979 (Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 4.00pm) – the cost is the same because there is no postage to pay for delivery to addresses in the UK.

Dear PW:
1) I haven't got time to get to WHS in the next week
2) Ringing? rnging? Why can't I buy a PDF copy online and read it NOW!

Practically Witless.....
Rant over......

Comparing antennas on RX

I have three HF antennas - and three rigs: The trusty 817, and a couple of shack rigs. I've been "testing" the setup on RX by running three copies of WSPR 2.0 in parallel, on the same band, one connected to each radio (I use SignaLink boxes as interfaces)

The antennas are a couple of long wires, running similar but not identical routes, and an inductively loaded vertical I bought many years ago from sandpiper aerials - it's been lying behind the garage where it was placed when we moved house a few years ago, and everything is seized. I set it up on a fence at the bottom of the garden. It has now grown its own earth stake. I can't tune it for resonance because of the corrosion so the setup I made when it was new is stuck in place. Two or three of the bands - 12,15 and 17 metres - tune reasonably well directly. 40m is a complete no-go, and the others needed tuning.

A few months ago the winner, on most bands, was a LW/earth stake, tuned through an SGC Mac-200 to my Icom 756 ProIII.

Now, things are very different. I have spent the day with this trio, moving down the bands. So far, I've played with 21MHz,14 MHz, 17MHz and 10MHz. The 817 / LW appears to be deaf. It's generally around 12dB down on the winner. The Winner is the corroded Sandpiper which is, as I write, capturing some Stateside stuff on 30m which neither of the others sniff at. The 756 is pretty effective on the LW, generally turning in about 3-6dB down on the vertical

So what has changed? I'm guessing saturated ground probably has a fair bit to do with it. The earth on the vertical must be pretty effective at the moment, since the ground is sodden.

I'm trying to work out why I now find the 817 deaf. I'm sure I remember being pleasantly surprised by it....

I hope to move down to 3.5 and 1.8 this evening. I am confidently predicting that the vertical, with an immense loading coil on it, will not out-perform a long wire. And, of course, on 160m there is no choice.


The situation on 80m is surprisingly even. All three systems perform around the same level - in each case, one is a few dB up or down on the others, and all three have good and bad moments. I'm surprised the Sandpiper does so well. Or, maybe, to put it another way, are the long wires doing badly?

the next step is to rotate the antennas around the rigs

Sunday, 6 January 2013

2m record - almost

Best 2m WSPR I've had for ever, today. G8MCU bidirectionally (a distance of 137 miles) and G4SMX/FCD (what *does* FCD mean?) one way - he wasn't transmitting.203 miles. He heard me.

And decent antenna systems. I'm now using a 3 element delta, horizontally polarised about 18 feet up, with a reasonably good take-off to the south-east. That's about as good as it's going to get round here.

I distinctly remember, in SOTA days, a session from the High Willhays, Dartmoor. In those days, we drove down overnight. I'd left the family sleeping in the car to go for a walk with the dog:

Date:31/Jul/2004 Summit:G/DC-001 (High Willhays) Call Used:M0DEV/P Points: 4 Bonus: 0   

07:12zG4NRG144MHZFMWayne, Kidderminster
07:20zM3GLF144MHZFMBurnham on Crouch
07:45zM3RSF144MHZFMDudley, W Mids

At least one of these (I can't remember who) nearly lost his eggs and B in his rush to get to the mic. I was on a handheld. Ah, the power of lifts.

So, I'm expecting rather better than this, sometime.