Updated every hour at 07 and 37 minutes.
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Finally finished the Ultimate3S today. Put in an extra two BS170s and it took a long time to get the bias right. At first I ran at 9V for the PA and 5V for the U3S MCU, but I increased the voltage to 12V and then I had the following results....
|Band||Current (mA)||Calculated power (mW)|
The three MOSFETs get hot when on 40m, warm on the other bands, so I am happy that no cooling is needed. Due to the the input capacitance of the BS170s the power decreases when you go up in frequency, but I don't mind that.
We also had an unexpected visitor today......
Now I know who ate all the chicken feed at night. We released it far far away, so hopefully it will not come back.
Today a first spot on 6 meters; JA5NVN got my beacon early morning.
I also received my first high altitude balloon: VE3KCL. Got four beacons in from three different grid squares, all over Mongolia. This was on 20m.
Spend some time boxing up the Ultimate3S, but things didn't go as I wanted, so the job has not been finished yet. But.....at night a nice surprise when 15 meters suddenly opened up and I was received in Brazil and the Canary Islands.
20 meters was brimming with western European stations, but no France.
The U3S has been running 24/7 now since Wednesday (Feb 17) and I was received in Antarctica by two stations. Not bad for 200 mW!!
And I almost made it to the US east coast, but my signal stopped in Indiana.
I'm also getting spots on 15 and 10 meters now, the latter band having a path to VK during the day.
I switched the U3S to 20 meters and got my first decodes.
Still no decodes on 15 and 10 meters, so I took the filter switching board out and examined it. Had a jumper in the wrong place and something wrong in the configuration of the U3S, so I switched in the wrong filter at the right time. After reassembly the first spots on 40m came in, from KFS and VK7JJ.
First day of the Ultimate3S on air. Didn't get any spots, but I was only beaconing on 40 meters. Will have to check the filters.
Chinese New Year's project: putting the Ultimate3S together, adding a LPF switch board and GPS. It's alive!!!
And here the 5 second proof.
The first portable operation of this year. This time to YongAn harbour, a 35 minute drive from Daxi. When I arrived there at 2 in the afternoon it was still quite foggy.
The MP1, this time on a stand and then tuning it to the right frequency was a cinch.
Operating position at the end of the pier.
After 5 it was rapidly getting cold and the sun went down in no time.
Not many stations worked, but there was one really nice QSO with JH3NGD.
Was looking for IDEASSat around 437.345 when I noted a strong CW signal higher in the passband of the SDR. That signal was from KKS-1, but at 13:33 I also noted a different signal next to it with a different doppler shift. That turned out to be BIRDS3 with the call JG6YLE and the message " jg6yle birds3 mahesh 0902 ". So another one for the Gotcha! list.
The screenshot was taken from the replay of the I/Q file, so the frequency is not correct. The MP3 of the BIRDS3 ID is here.
IDEASSat also came in, but no way to decode the packet for now.
Got a lone telemetry packet from Neutron-1 today at 0755UTC @ 435.300 MHz. Was blasting the bird with a 9k6 stream of data which the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory had provided to me in order to get it beaconing more often (now it beacons every couple of hours). The packet I received was only +10dB SNR, but that was enough to decode it (mode: USB, BPSK G3RUH at 1200bd using SoundModem by UZ7HO). Converted it into a KISS packet and uploaded it to the HSFL cloud presence for them to decode further. Here is a short audio clip to show how a 1200bd packet sounds like.
Just for shits and giggles BX2AB and myself decided to buy the cheapest dummy load we could find in China. I don't like to buy stuff from China, but as AB said: "If you buy it in the US it is also made in China, so why not buy direct." Well, they came in within no time and today I picket up mine. Now one fin was bend a little, but for US$15.45 I'm not going to complain.
At home I tested it and the SWR was a flat 1.0:1 from HF to VHF. UHF was slightly higher at 1.15:1, so very much acceptable readings.
Pumping 100 Watts into it from my IC-7200 on 21 MHz and my PSU didn't have any trouble with it, so it is clearly picking up RF via the air. What in a PSU can act as an antenna that picks up RF? The power cord, maybe?
Spent a week on stitching my QSO log back together from different sources, at the same time sorting 10 years of QSL cards out. Job finally done and that feels good. Calling CQ in 14107.5 in Olivia now, but no takers. Still, got spotted in England by G8LZI.
Earlier in the day I decided to do some satellite reception. FACSAT-1 flew by with strong signals and I recorded the GMSK 9k6 data stream. At night I decoded it using HS_Soundmodem and the specialized decoder from DK3WN.
At night surfing the medium wave band. 1278 RKB from Japan came in with very strong signals. 1269 and 1260 surprisingly good signals from Zheng Sheng BC, respectively 1 kW from Taidong and 1kW from Jiayi.
No Olivia takers today, except for JA1RZD, so we had a short but fun QSO.
Then on to the CW portion on 20m and there was an SKCC frenzy going on. Conditions were great and I heard ZL2BLQ working G4PVM, so I worked both after their QSO. Then Bert F6HKA showed up and we had a QSO as well. Then someone called me and it was F5UQE. They are all Ts and Sses, so my path towards T had gained four numbers today!!!
Crazy! It's the middle of the winter and 6 meters if fully open to Japan and Korea. Hearing 50010 JA2IGY/B, a CW station on 50.200 and of course loads of FT8 on 50.313.
Around 0325 I made my first 6m QSO with Australia (VK4MA in FT8), so that was another nice surprise. VR2SIX/B also came in on 50075 around that time. A little later 6l0NJ on 50051 from South Korea.
The rest of the day was also pretty good. Two great CW QSOs on 15m with Japan and in the afternoon a long QSO with Ken, JA1RZD in Olivia. Only at night I couldn't get one QSO done on Lapan-A2: too busy and I couldn't get in a strong enough signal.
The Raspberry Pi4 is not capable enough to be a nice second desktop PC for the HF side of my operating desk, so the alternative is one PC with dual monitors. Bought an el cheapo VGA card today and setting it up was a breeze. So now my desktop looks like this...
For the next step in decoding DRM I bought a 3.5mm splitter which splits specifically between headphone and microphone outputs. Hooked up to my Xiaomi A1 Android phone I was able to get audio output to my active speaker and microphone input from my PC. Then using the Airspy HF+ and GQRX I was able to tune to DRM broadcasts (USB, tuned a little bit below the signal, with a wide bandpass) and feed the audio into the DRM+ app on my phone. With this setup I was able to decode a lot more stations, albeit they were all the same program from the Voice of China (see Jan 1st).
Tonight KTWR had a DRM broadcast which I tried, but failed mostly, to decode. Only snippets of audio coming through most of the time, but luckily just before signing off they had an ID. Here the video of the signal as received on my Xiaomi A1. This is a video of the signal as received by the Airspy HF+/GQRX. As you can see the KTWR signal is weaker than the Chinese DRM broadcast a few kHz lower. That signal was easy to decode.
I tuned around afterwards for other broadcast and found All India Radio on 15.030 MHz and was also able to decode snippets of audio. This is the video of that reception.
This was the AIR signal as seen by GQRX.
On Friday night I also tried the Pyongyang DRM signal on 3220 kHz, but also no luck in decoding that.
I think I had a pipeline directly to France today. After a stellar signal from PY2ZEA (video here) I worked three French stations on 20m: F5IN, F2GL and F6ARC. The latter two were not very strong, but surprisingly readable. F5IN was strong as usual. Although I last worked him in 2012, I vividly remember how strong he was back then, too.
At night I made a resolution: learn Morse code in earnest this time. I started again with LCWO.net, where I left of in 2014: lesson 14. First try a 100% score, but that doesn't say anything. I put the character speed at 25 and the effective speed at 12 wpm.
After six years and nine months I finally reached Centurion status.
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Gather 'round and pay heed to the news of this day!
Tried to decode some DRM broadcasts again and this time I took another route: an Android app called DRM+ SDR. Made in Korea and it did work together with an RTL-SDR stick. Only one station was strong enough to be decoded: the Voice of China on 13.825 MHz. Not very interesting, but the beginning is there. Here is a short video clip.