Friday, 24 May 2019

160 metres

160 metres isn't really a band I have ever done much operation on. When I was first licensed I suppose I had the space for a decent 160m antenna but wasn't really interested in that band. These days space and local noise are the main problems. Having recently rediscovered WSPR I thought I would try 160 again.
Whilst my Drake MN4C tuner will tune my G5RV antenna OK, an evening on WSPR showed that the antenna was pretty useless on that band with nothing heard and nobody hearing me. In any case reception was all but impossible with S9+ of noise on the WSPR frequency.

Plan B was to insert a ground rod outside the shack (easy enough as my shack is on the ground floor) and strap the two sides of the G5RV together and tuning it against ground. The noise I experience on 160 at the moment is pretty bad, S9+ so receive is difficult. I did however manage to get my 10w WSPR signal out as can be seen below

Additionally I managed to receive two German stations and one Swiss. I will experiment again with WSPR on 160, tonight I closed down just as darkness was closing in, a later session may enable some more distant reports. I would be happier running a maximum of 5 watts on this mode so will reduce power in future.

So it seems it was worth hammering in that ground if only I could trace the source of the noise.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

6 Metres

When I first moved to this location, just over three years ago one of the first antennas I put up was a tri band 6/2/70cms vertical. I found it to be rather noisy on 6 metres and since I could only hear one 6 metre FM repeater, very noisily and there wasn't much else going on 50 mhz I took it down.
I replaced it with a dualband X30 vertical which being smaller I managed to get up higher in the air. The X30 works very well, as well as an antenna can work in this very poor VHF/UHF location in the bottom of a valley.
A couple of weeks back, when there was a sporadic E opening on 10 I found myself wondering whether 6 metres would be open too. I renmebered that I had a 6 metre dipole lying in my shed, one had had successfully used loft mounted in a previous location.

Today I dug it out, connected it to some spare RG8X cable I had and put it up outside. Its less than 5metres up at the moment but should work OK if the band opens.

Since my main HF rig, the FT10000MP doesn't cover 6 I have put the Icom 7000 back on the operating desk for this band.

Lets hope I haven't missed all the SP E openings this year!!!

Radio on the cheap?

Despite the old saying "you get what you pay for" I have been pleasantly surprised with  the handheld pictured above. Its a Baofeng DM-860 dual band VHF/UHF FM and DMR handheld.

Form factor is almost identical to the more expensive Radiodditty GD-77, in fact the batteries and chargers are interchangable between the two radios.although the programming lead and CPS software is different.

I have had this radio for a couple of months now and it has become my daily use handie. I have had good audio reports from it on both DMR and FM. Probably the best radio I have seen from Baofeng to date. It's not perfect obviously, the receiver on FM is not as good as my Icom ID51 for example but real world tests (i.e. using the radio) show it to be superior to both the Baofeng UV5R and RD5R.

At a price (direct from China) of just over £40 though it is hard to beat, particularly as it allows a degree of programming from the front panel which is not something all DMR radios allow.