Sunday, 23 March 2014

Fishing for DX

My "fishing pole" antenna (Pro Whip) at the alternative QTH works reasonably well for what it is. After all its just 6 metres of wire with a 9:1 balun at the end and a wire counterpoise. Its not as good as a wire doublet or dipole which would be difficult to put up at the same location but it does seem a lot more efficient than the little "Buddistick" vertical I have used in the past.

Anyway today I had a short period of operation on 10 metres. 7X3WPL gave me a 59 on SSB and I bagged PU2OAJ with 25 watts of PSK31. Not bad for my temporary set up. I have a copper earth rod which I intend to put at the base of the pro whip plus I intend to run some extra radials which can be hidden and left semi permanently which will also speed up the erection of the antenna in future.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Having an hour of radio time at the YL's while the Sunday roast was in the oven I fired up the TS450, having put up the pro whip the previous evening. Whilst I had a coffee i tuned round on my remote SDR rx so I could see what the bands were like from home before comparing it to this location.

I noted that on 18 Mhz at least a burst of RF from the TS450 did not kill the wifi connection on my netbook. I found a clear 18Mhz frequency and gave my callsign whilst listening on the sdr rx. To my suprise I heard my signal, weak but readable.  I would say about 3 and 3. I think conditions may have been a little odd as I wouldn't expect the groundwave on 18Mhz to make the approx 30 miles (48Kms) trip back to my home QTH. If I can solve the problem of the wifi cutting out as soon as I transmit on the other bands this would be an interesting experiment on the lower frequencies. I have read a little about NVIS propagation and I guess this is the effect that I am hearing, however for NVIS a horizontal antenna is normally required rather than the vertical Pro-Whip. I hope later in the year to be able to put up a low slung long wire or dipole of some sort at this location later in the year which presumably should result in a stronger signal over this sort of distance.

Whilst on the Higher bands I was pleased to work KB2ZVP on 18Mhz and Z63MED in Kosovo on 28Mhz. Both with the Pro-Whip vertical about a metre from the ground.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

TX Factor

If you have a spare 30 minutes or so have a look at the new UK produced amateur radio Videocast

"TX Factor" "TX Factor is a professionally produced programme presented by radio amateurs for radio amateurs "

Looking at the first programme I was very impressed. The quality of the video was extremely good and the whole thing was very interesting and most professional. I am looking forward to the next episode.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

A little bit of operating time

I managed an hour or two of radio work from the /alternative location today (the YL's house) having dodged the showers of heavy rain to get the pro whip vertical set up.

As usual from this spot 40 metres was pretty much unusable due to S9+ of noise but the higher bands were OK. I made a few contacts on 10 and 12 metres but the highlight was a nice QSO with HB9HFB, Chris in Basel, on 17 metres band conditions allowed us to have a nice contact, much better than many of the "59 QRZ??" type contacts that seem to be so popular at the moment.

Below is the pro-whip antenna, behind it and of course much larger is the nearby mobile phone mast which I suspect is the source of much of the QRM I suffer at this location. It makes me appreciate how low my noise level is at home.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Alternative Shack

The YL kindly found me some space to store a little radio gear at her QTH.

So I have A Kenwood TS450 (my Spare rig), MFJ ATU and PSU for occasional operating there.

For an antenna I will use the Pro-Whip which is quick to set up and covers 80-10 metres, not the most efficient of antennas but should be fine for the odd short spell of HF ops. The main barrier to operation from this location (apart from the lack of time!) is the high noise level.

Just to test the setup I hooked it up to the Buddistick" portable vertical Indoors. Surprisingly it picked up quite a few signals and even more surprisingly the TS450 auto ATU tuned it. I didn't fancy transmitting however, not with the antenna that close by.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A different way of listening

Although I have been a licenced Radio Amateur for some years (thinking of it actually it will be 30 years this year!) I have always been a shortwave listener at heart. I entered the hobby through my interest in tuning around the shortwave bands in the late 1970s/Early 1980's. Those were the days, long before satellite TV and internet when the only way to hear news and views from foreign broadcasters was via your shortwave radio.

Times have changed of course and many, if not most of the big international broadcasters have left shortwave, even it seems the Voice of Russia is considering winding down its shortwave operations. The SW bands are now dominated by China but most of the familiar European stations are gone.

Around 8 or 9 years ago I purchased an Internet Radio which hooked into my WIFI and enabled a choice of I think around 20,000 Radio Stations worldwide. Most are local or National stations but some are the old international Broadcasters.

The selection of broadcasters available depends on the Internet "Portal" used by the receiver manufacturer. Some Portals carry more stations than others. My Original Logik radio uses the "Reciva" portal

Using some money I received for Christmas I have invested in a new WIFI radio a Roberts Stream 83i

This receiver uses the "Frontier Silicon" portal and whilst it doesnt appear to have as many radio stations listed as the "Reciva" portal there is still a fair selection. The radio itself is Superior to my old Logik with better sound quality, improved wifi sensitivity and the option of DAB and FM bands also.

I thought it would be interesting to see how many of the international broadcasters were available to listen to on internet radio with the results below, over both Reciva and Frontier Silicon portals:

Radio Slovakia
Vatican Radio
Voice of Russia

Deutsche Welle

Radio France International
Radio Exterior (Spain)
RRI (Romania)
Radio Tirahna (Foreign Service)
NHK Japan
Iran IRIB World Service
Radio Cairo

There are probably many others but these are the ones I have stumbled across. Its not the same as real shortwave of course but its nice to hear some of these familiar voices. It is slightly concerning that these days if the state wished to control our listening habits they could simply block the internet. There would be very few "Real" broadcasters left on the bands.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Some Progress

A little while back I posted about the problems I had with remote operation of my CCW SDR4+ SDR receiver.
Originally I had set the receiver up on my main PC, running windows 7 and I (and others) were able to access it over the internet using the SDR-Radio software. All was well until a problem with Win 7 on the PC meant I had to reinstall the OS, after that whatever I tried I could not get the remote access to work. After many fruitless hours I pretty much gave up.

Yesterday I dug out an old Windows XP laptop I have. After a bit of tweaking, to my surprise I was able to connect the SDR receiver to it and operate it remotely

The important part of the screenshot above is the little "OK"  near the bottom of the left hand section. That means the SDR server program is accessible online. I don't think I can use the laptop as a permanent solution. Whilst I am happy enough to leave PC in the shack running for a day or two am I a bit concerned that a laptop would overheat. Maybe I am over cautious? In any event I have at least proved that my router is ok and the settings I am using in the SDR software are correct. Clearly something in my Windows PC is blocking access. Finding out what is the difficulty.