Updated at 07 and 37 minutes passed every hour. My blog starts below this image.
Spotted JU1WP on RS-44 just before the Mid-Autumn Festival barbecue and worked him without any problems. Mongolia is my 20th DXCC!!!
No complaints from me about Falconsat-3 tonight. Beautifully strong signal, almost 20 dB over noise and many packets downloaded.
Still getting used to the new LFA 70cm yagi. Seems to give a little less signal than the old one, but S/N is better.
Dhabisat/Mysat-2 tonight at 1044 UTC 436.500 MHz. Got a fair amount of telemetry in, but the DK3WN decoder couldn't handle the gr_satellites kss file. Nevertheless, got a good ID in plain ASCII.
A High Voltage capacitor suitable for Aerial Traps can be made using Type FR4 Fibre-glass Copper Plated, Double sided, Printed Circuit Board. The board should be filed along the edges to prevent the high voltage arcing over. The Capacitance of the finished item can be calculated using the formula:
0.0885 x K x A
C = -------------------- pF.
'A' is the Area of the PCB in Square Centimetres,
'd' is the Thickness of the PCB in Centimetres, (which for the FR4 PCB is 1.6mm), [0.16cm].
'K' is the Relative Permittivity of the dielectric (which for the FR4 PCB is 4.7).
For example, an area of the PCB that is 3.5cm x 6.0cm:
0.0885 x 4.7 x 3.5 x 6.0
C = -------------------------------- = 54.6pF.
This home made capacitor measured 54.6 Picofarads.
I've just had the worst Falconsat-3 pass ever: 14 degrees elevation, which is not much but usually yields some decodable signal. The 10 minute pass just now got me......0 frames. Not even one!!! What is wrong with this bird?
Arduiqube (DIY-1) RTTY telemetry coming in fine, even when Doppler correction is a bit course. 100 Baud, 450 Hz shift and 7 bits ASCII for character set. Call is apparently "CONDOR". Can't find any decoding info on this; it's not on DIYSatellite's website.
Here are the FLdigi's settings for decoding the RTTY stream.
And a short video to show it in action.
Got only 2 decodes from UVSQ-SAT (LATMOS-1). Signals were only some +10dB over the noise floor. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Mode used was USB.
Downloaded the official decoder and when replaying the IQ file I actually got 7 beacon signals decoded. Not bad and the message is clear: "NEXT TRANSPONDER MODE WITH UVSQSAT: 12 SEPTEMBER 2021 12:00 UTC"
Last day of freedom before getting back to working full time and I'm feeling great after 5 weeks of chronic sinusitis treatment. My energy is back and I used it to put up the last antenna: a converted 5 meter CB whip on top of the tower, connected to a CG-3000 remoter tuner.
With buildings all around now it's difficult to take good photos of the whole setup, but I managed some. I didn't realize the 2m beam is turned upwards more than the 70cm beam, so we'll have to correct that later.
The V-dipole & discone are mounted pretty close to the roof, but putting them up much higher is difficult and they would still be blocked to the north anyway. With the strong winds we have here it also means extra precautions. They work, so not worth the extra effort.
Was looking for BOBCAT-1 and noted this CW signal a little further up the pass band. Message was "6CB091026033600" so nondescript.
Can't find any bird in the 437.390~400 range in CW.
My 73th satellite received, decoded and IDed: UoSat-2 or UO-11. Already received on August 6th, but didn't get around decoding it until today. With the IQ file and MixW it was pretty easy. Here is how it sounded.
Shortened the coax runs today to 14m today. Instead of running to the top of the tower they now run from the shack to an IP-66 box at the base (for the preamp, etc). From there 7 meters to the top. Saves me a lot of climbing. Color coded as usual: green = 2m, yellow = 70 cm.
I already finished putting up the antennas yesterday, but I was too tired to take any photographs. Yesterday blazing sun, today overcast. It really should have been the other way around.
The 70cm 2x13 element X-pol yagi has been swapped out for a 2x16 element X-pol LFA yagi. More than 4 meters long and a little heavy, but first impressions are good. RS-44 coming in without a need for a preamp. Elevation has been fixed to 20°.
I really like this photo of the guy wires I put up today.
As usual here I had a heck of a time finding stuff: they don't sell thimbles in Taiwan, no turnbuckles with O-rings and I had the choice of 3.2 or 6 mm steel cable. I chose the latter because 100 m was only US$21 so I can put up another set of guy wires if I want to.
Progress has been slow because by 10 am it's already too hot to work on the roof. You literally burn yourself touching any flat metal surfaces. I'm also in week 4 of antibiotics treatment for my sinusitis, which just drains most of my energy.
In-person classes have resumed, so I'm teaching again, even though only a few hours a week. But with a bit of luck I can get the rotator reinstalled today and put the antennas back up tomorrow.
Step 3 in resurrecting my satellite antenna tower. Thanks again to my son who did a marvelous job in helping me get the tower up on its feet.
The tower itself is 5 meter high, with top mast 6.5 m total heigth. I will only put back in the V/U yagis and maybe a GP. We have most northerly winds, but the house next door will shield a bit. So the question is: to guy or not to guy?
Step 2 in resurrecting my satellite antenna tower.
Step 1 in resurrecting my satellite antenna tower. My son and I did the move and extension of all pipes in a little under three hours. Kudos to him, because he really doesn't like to spend time on the roof
If you guessed the dent you are right.......
And down it had to go! So sad!
But you can say what you want, I do make sturdy antennas! This home brew 2m X-pol LFA yagi has been up for 20 months now and not a single thing wrong with it. Even the SWR is in the ballpark.
I know, it could be better, but
- I'm measuring under non-ideal conditions
- the VNA has a .05 deviation
- it's a X-pol, so added complexity of having two 50 ohm yagis connected together with a coax transformer.
The other side has my new 70cm 2x16 element X-pol LFA yagi and I tuned and measured it for the first time today. Very happy with the initial reading.
Progress report: all antennas are now down. BX2ABT is QRT.
Antennas moved to our terrace facing south-west. Haven't hooked up a rig, yet, but RS-44 QSOs should be possible.
This afternoon's "SWR" is excellent. (Only pipe smoking hams will get this joke).
Unfortunately, something is missing...... To fix that will, unfortunately, require a trip to the electronics store tomorrow.
Had to take down my HF V-dipole today. When I moved the VU beams I noticed a broken N-socket, then I pulled a muscle in my back.
So how is your day going?
Not a good way to begin the week. I know already for 2 years they would build houses next to us., but what we didn't know was that they would build right next to us and higher than us. Today they started with the 4th floor. Of course they thought my antennas wouldn't interfere with them, so they didn't warn me. Luckily I check every day what they are doing and I saw there would be a possible collision. Would I not have seen it I would have damaged my antenna and/or rotator, so thanks for the heads-up, morons. QRT for now, cause I can't turn my antennas 360° anymore.
Only Kenwood TS-2000 owners will understand this. And yes, I missed a Falconsat-3 pass because of this.
But I had a nice ending to the weekend: a new satellite DXCC! Had a terrific QSO with 4J6D, Andrey who is 6718 km away in Azerbaijan on RS-44. We had already tried several times before in July, but either I couldn't hear him or he couldn't hear me. On tonight's 9 degree pass everything came together.
BTW, JK2XXK is a hardcore satellite operator!!!! He wants that QSO so much he moves closer to the birds.
"No Hans, you're NOT going to tidy your shack, you're NOT going to reconfigure your system, you're going ON AIR, otherwise you can't call yourself a proper ham."
Number one on my list of satellites I want to work today is MIA. The bottleneck with satellites more than often seem to be the batteries. Granted, Falconsat-3 has been going strong for 14 years already.
AO-7 is also a no-show. Lowish pass, but 16 degrees elevation at 45 degrees azimuth should be possible.
Almost nobody here in Asia works this old bird, I guess because not many have a setup capable of working linear sats and its signals are quite weak, even at higher passes.
First QSOs of the day on PO-101 Diwata-2 at 0609.
Worked @ja6pl, JR6DI, JR6UEK and 9W8DNX.
Heard: JA6JAM?, BD5UEA, 6K2JPM and JJ1GLK.
A busy pass. I could hardly get in.
Second time AO-07 at 0725 and this time better signals. High 70 degree pass, so I only could get in during the beginning and the end, but I heard myself in CW and SSB.
This pass covered most of Russia, but not one OM who came back to me.
AO-73 (CW) at 0750 was no fun at all. First half of the pass nobody, then all the Japanese came in. One repeatedly answered me "599 TU" without telling me his call. Then another came back with his call but at a speed I couldn't take. My CW isn't great, so I do 12 wpm only.
Lilacsat-2 didn't have its FM transponder on today, but I did get some telemetry and gr_satellites was able to send some frames to Satnogs' database.
I'm actually still tidying up my shack today, but in between sat passes.
Good news: the US$5 Kenwood TH-205 is still alive (but won't tune).
The bad news: the US$5 Kenwood TR-2400 started smelling funny after I put batteries in.
XW-2B sounded very good tonight, but no takers for the 1040Z pass over east Asia.
I'm going to skip XW-2C and XW-2F. Dinner time now. Back for the 1910 ISS pass with hopefully some SSTV.
Amazingly two very decent images from this ISS pass. I decoded them directly with QSSTV.
FO-99 pass at 1125. Nobody on the first half, but then two perfect QSOs in CW with JA9KRO and JA1IRH, both of whom I've never worked before. They matched my CW speed and it went fabulous.
Why do I show you a blank GQRX waterfall?
You're not looking close enough.
See that faint white band?
That's RadFXsat-2's telemetry stream.
Could open the linear transponder with a CW signal, but it was so faint that is was all but usable.
No one on the XW-2A pass to have fun with me. I guess my Japanese friends are all watching the Olypmpics.
Can we squeeze out one more? We could but the timing wasn't in my favor, so I only got two partial from the 3.5 degree elevation pass. Still impressive that it is possible to get clear images at only 1.4 degree elevation.
EO-88 is great because the transponder is always on at night (eclipse), but unfortunately not many stations work through it. Heard and worked DU9JJY in CW, so that is the second time tonight. The rest of the pass I decoded telemetry with gr_satellites, which worked until 1° EL.
The sixth satellite worked today was JO-97 at 1350 with nice signals from JR6RMK and DS2BWU (whom I saw on the ISS digipeater two days ago, but couldn't work him). Both in CW and both fabulous QSOs.
Cannot skip an RS-44 pass. Worked UA3TJC, a new one for me, in CW. Then SSB and HS18IARU was calling CQ. He couldn't get my call right (I know X-ray sounds like Echo!!!), so I went on to JR6RMK and DU9JJY in CW. Both are regulars on the birds, and both are always fun to work.
The QSO with UA3TJC is going to be the best for today: 6959.4 km between us. Not my distance record, but happy with it anyway
CAS-4A and 4B: worked Steve JS6TMW on the first and JR5FPG on the latter, both in CW.
Better call it a day. My CW is getting sloppy and my butt is sore from sitting on a wooden chair all day. Had fun, worked 8 birds and had 19 QSOs in all. I hope I am a proper ham now.
PSAT2/NO-104 with good signals today, but despite saying "Digi in ON" I couldn't get myself digipeated.
Staying tuned to one frequency all day has its advantages. UoSat-2 or Oscar-11 flew by today - first time I heard them - and I was impressed with the signal levels from this old bird. Is there still anything you can decode from this data stream?
Yesterday I thought I wasn't successful in digipeating myself via the ISS on 145.825. But in fact I was. I just didn't take a good look at the time stamps, because from those you can see that my own packets came back with a one second delay. Normally UISS would use a different color for your own digipeats, but since I am running this under Wine it messes things up. Better get used to yellow and aquamarine. Thanks to JA3FWT who saw me and wished me a GE. Next time a better QSO.
Later on a western pass only 10 degrees elevation, but I heard and worked HS6KLJ and saw E22WWZ.
But just before the ISS came on I saw another beacon, this time from PSAT-2 (NO-104).
Exciting!!! Heard voices from outer space for the first time today. The ISS had a school contact with Japan, but all I heard was a crew member calling another station (he said NA3ND, then later 8N3ND, he was probably confused). But I heard NA1SS and that counts!!!
Pity we have a local f#cknut (excuse my French, but there is no other word for this OM) whose mission is to keep 145.800 and 145.825 MHz free by broadcasting SSTV, APRS and voice messages 24/7.
So instead of keeping these frequencies free he interferes with the ISS himself.
Two years ago I dared to say something about it in a local chat room and he threatened to sue me. Mind you, he has a PhD, is a medical practitioner, but you won't find his name anywhere, only his surname. He is too afraid people will harass him. Hams are funny people.
Mars is very bright tonight.
Today I got a new bird for my Gotcha! list: RAMSAT spewing 9600 baud data packages on 436.300 MHz, which is a very busy local frequency, so only one packet received. The pass was at a low 6 degrees elevation, so this one is putting out a great signal.
Struggling with my Ham PC this weekend. Nothing seems to work right: audio devices are moving around, dual monitors won't work, random freezes......
What I did find out was that with Kubuntu 21.04 my Nvidia GeForce 210 graphics card is not supported by the official Nvidia drivers anymore. The open source Nouveau driver works, but it will produce random freezes when the display is to busy rendering many different windows (think 2 SDRs, a video, YouTube, etc).
So I tried another distro, namely Manjaro, which is the easier version of Archlinux, the rolling release distro where everything is compiled from source. Couldn't get my card working with that distro either, but I did get a usable software setup within no time, despite not being familiar with their installation procedures. A big plus is that you always get the latest versions of the software your installing, so I got the latest Hamlib, which supports full duplex Doppler control for the TS-2000. The destop itself doesn't look very nice and is not very efficient in its use, but Archlinux/Manjaro is worth considering switching to.
Was testing SDR++ today in combination with the Airspy HF+ Discovery. The latter performed very well on the 3 meter FM band (even better than the Airspy Mini) and around 87.5 MHz there were some Chinese stations coming in via sporadic E propagation. The strongest was Guizhou PBS with their general program on 87.7 MHz. CPBS Zhongguo zhi Sheng (Voice of China program) came in on 87.5 MHz, but weaker. Still good catches since I can't hear much from China on FM. The local scene has been clogging up for years now, with every 6 months or so new stations popping up on empty frequencies.
We also have an incoming typhoon. This is the NOAA18 apt image.
A lot of testing going on with DragonOS, a Lubuntu 20.04 loaded with SDR and amateur radio software. SDR++ is doing great now with the latest RTaudio library and there were sporadic E conditions.
Had a sked with 4J6D Andrey from Azerbaijan today on RS-44. He came in strong, but I not so much and he didn't hear me. Still great to hear another country on satellite.
Falconsat-3 is back, but is seems the batteries are showing their age and dropping below 8V every now and then, which means a shutdown.
Falconsat-3 went down again around 16UTC on July 4, according to SATNOG records. Mark (N8MH) is on holiday, so this time it will really take a few weeks to bring the bird back. Let's hope it stays in good shape till then.
Today I did the first outdoor test of the 1 meter DIY dish antenna in combination with the portable rotator. I only put the whole setup together yesterday and found out that the torque of the stepper motors was not enough to keep the dish horizontal. So I quickly improvised some counterweights (thank you Blue Band) and that did the trick.
I had four antennas to test with (a square patch antenna for Inmarsat, a round patch antenna for 1.7 GHz weather sats, a helical antenna and a logper antenna. I started out with an RTL-SDR stick since I couldn't get the Bias-T to work on the Airspy Mini. There were two NooElec LNAs I used, one for Inmarsat and one for the 1.7 GHz weather band. I also had a wide band LNA, but the lack of filtering made it almost useless because of local noise. My only goal was to see if I could receive anything and how well. I didn't have high expectations, although I knew I could receive at least some Inmarsat signals.
I was on the small field in front of our house and this was the temporary shack. There wasn't much horizon, basically only south to north-north-west.
After finding the right azimuth and elevation for Inmarsat I fired up Jaero and got some decodes from the 600 and 1200 bps signals. The 10 kbps signals would lock, but not give any data. I used the square patch antenna for this.
The noise floor varied enormously, between -95 and -65 dB SNR and was often very unsettled. Still need to find out why and when this is.
I also noted lots of artifacts, like this one. Steady in strength and no matter what direction I turned the dish, these things were always there. I wonder if this is generated by my PC or other electronics in the vicinity.
Here you can clearly see the jittery noisefloor when receiving Inmarsat with the RTL-SDR dongle.
I swapped the square patch antenna for the round one and turned to the 1.7 GHz weather band. First signals in were from FengYun 3C. Not strong and noisy, but clearly pulsating. I guess this kind of signal is too weak to be decodable.
MetOp B was next and weaker than Feng Yun 3C. I wonder how much difference the Airspy would have made.
After the MetOp pass I switched to the Airspy Mini and I turned to Geo Kompass 2A, the geo stationary satellite I monitor 24/7. I saw a nice bump from the LRPT signal on 1692.14 GHz, so very pleased with that.
The HRPT signal is a little higher on the band. This is what I saw and since I don't know what its HRPT signal looks like I hope this is really it.
Another geo stationary satellite on my list was ElectroL3 and I was surprised how easy I could find this bird and how clear the signals were.
Any chance to decode this?
The NOAA15 pass this morning was too early for me to catch, but NOAA18 came by close to 11 am. I didn't know NOAA18's had trouble, because all I could detect was a 20 dB strong carrier doing its doppler shift over the band. This pass was from NNW to SSW and I could detect the carrier till about 2 degrees elevation, which I think is very good considering the trees and buildings that were in the path.
I did some other tests like different settings for GQRX, I tried some other software like SDRAngel and also the two other antennas, the logper and helical. The latter was able to pull in some signals on the 1.7 GHz band, but weaker than the round patch antenna. The logper was the weakest of all, not being able to pull in much, even with the filtered LNA attached.
I'm pretty pleased with the result. The signals of the LEO sats need work, but the geostationary birds came in well. The rotator proved to be reliable and accurate and the dish sturdy enough to withstand being mounted and dismantled.
Wanted to put in some on air time, but the TS-2000 is having another audio issue. Luckily not via the headphones or external loudspeaker connections, but nontheless this is another bummer.
So with FS-3 back I tried to get my new station setup to communicate with it. Receiving telemetry was fine, but I couldn't get any signal across to open the bird. It took some methodically testing and thinking, but in the end I found the source of the problem.
These are the steps I took:
It's funny, because I've been using these audio isolation transformers (Atech ATS-131) for the last eight years without any problems. I've got a dozen or so from an old commercial modem. Even in my last setup with an IC-820H I used them and transmitting 9600 baud signals was no problem at all. So the combo of this transformer with the sound card and the TS-2000's ACC2 audio in is creating trouble. ACC2 audio out is no problem, because that path also has one of those ATS-131 transformers in it. So for now I use a direct connections until I can find some other isolation transformers.
Since I got my TS-2000 there was an annoying hiss/crackle coming out of the speaker, even when the volume was turned down completely. It also came from the rear loudspeaker ports and out of the headphones.
I was about to start investigating the audio amplifier, when I stumbled upon a YT video of YO2ER, who had the same problem and fixed it by replacing a single electrolytic capacitor. As luck would have it my local electronics store had this component, so today I fixed it. Here is a photo overview.
This is a screenshot Audacity recording the loudspeaker out signal before the replacement of the capacitor.
And this is a screenshot after the replacement. You really don't hear any noise coming out of the speaker anymore when the volume is turned down and you can see the evidence here.
To hear how it sounds like.....
And.....YEAH!!! Falconsat-3 is back on and Mark N8MHsaid on the AMSAT-BB that it's open for use. Was so nice not to uplink anything on the pass - because we were told so - but next pass I will. Thanks Mark!
Operation "SoundSound" was a success. Changed the mediocre sound card for a C-Media chip one and everything is AOK. Just had a low pass of the ISS, the beginning a bit noisy, the rest was fine and...no more warping. Lucky me: got the same image as 2 days ago.
Still no news about the problems with FS-3.
The ISS floated by again. Used my TS-2000 with new audio interface to get the image. No fading, no interference, but now my image is warped. I suspect the USB audio interface. Better look for another one to test this.
There's always this one fade.........
When I heard of OM Garriot being the first amateur radio operator in space, and you could talk to him with your own radio, I was like "I want to do that!" Took me 26 years to my license and I am still waiting to talk to someone in space.
Showed my sister-in-law today how to receive images from the ISS and this is what we got from the pass we monitored at noon.
At night I tested the new CAT/Audio/PTT interface with my TS-2000 tonight and it works! Contrary to my beliefs I did some testing using FT-8 because I compiled WSJT-X from source and I needed to know if my audio out was right. It was and I worked XE1KK and CE1PTT on 40m. Two first on 40m for me.
This weeks project: an interface for my TS-2000.
But.......a sudden a deep sadness came over me when I found that I missed two solder connections on the audio interface I built. Never happened to me before. (It did: yesterday)
It's official now: I'm sliding down the slope to senior citizenship. (He said at the age of 54.)
Just had a pass where I didn't see any signal from Falconsat-3. Last AMSAT status update is from 02 UTC. Let's just hope the bird didn't like me and turned its back to me.
Can we please shoot the person who invented the 13 pin DIN plug?
You know, the one where the pins on the inside don't have holes to put wires in.
Lower portion of the Japanese FM band right now. Fun times!!!!
Just heard Kiss FM Kobe on 78.4 MHz. Luckily they have a nice coverage map on their website, so now I know it's their relay in 香住 Kami.
Perfect ID from Radio Cube in Mie. Wish all JFN stations would ID as clear as this. At 0300 it's their midday network show with no local IDs at all.
And an hour later at 0400 UTC many mainland Chinese stations took over. Caught this one with some sort of ID, but no idea about the location.
[Bd4RHV gave me a reply on Twitter, which said: Shaoyang County, Shaoyang City, Hunan Province. Grid OL56px 湖南省邵阳市邵阳县
I hear it is a County radio station, 70-87MHz is School FM radio band in China.]
I made two L-band patch antennas, but have no VNA with a high enough range to test them. So why not go "scientific" and measure it with an ADALM-Pluto, SATSAGEN and a Logper antenna. I taped the antennas to two chairs and started experimenting.
SATSAGEN has a spectrum analyzer with tracking and I calibrated with a 50 ohm dummy load. Then hooking it up to an antenna and did a broad spectrum measurement. The round patch antenna was designed for 1.7 GHz and the square for 1.5 GHz.
They were both a bit lower than the designed frequency, but overall in the ballpark and that's what I wanted to know.
Reducing the sweep range the measurements were quite consistent, with the round patch antenna peaking just above 1640 MHz and the square one around 1395 MHz.
Conclusion? I don't know. But I think I made two antennas that are both working - more-or-less - in their designed bands, so I'll take it. At least I had a fun night.
The only DX catch today was this one from FM Niigata.
Replaced the 20 year old fan for a new US$17 Noctura one. A major improvement. And is it not true that a rig is only really your own after your first modification?
Nothing special going on today. Playing with my new TS-2000, noticing 13m is still open at night. Station coming in S9+20 dB is HZ1TT. So I hook up a straight key and call him only once and he comes back. According to my logbook this is DXCC 145 worked.
You can see the MUF rise this morning. FM Cocolo 76.5 MHz is already coming in like a local. Before that the Philippines VHF channel 3 audio carrier on 59.75 MHz.
Here a screenshot of VHF TV channel 2, with the video carrier on the far left, the audio FM carrier on the right (left of the red line) and in the middle an unknown Japanese broadcast signal (feeder, maybe).
Another unknown Japanese broadcast station, perhaps feeder on 63.17 MHz. On 60.20 MHz there was also a broadcast being heard, that IDed as NHK.
Today's sporadic E catches. There were strong signals in the morning, nothing much in the afternoon. I heard Zip FM before, but this time they also used their call sign in the top of the hour ID.
Kiss FM Kobe is another first for me. Their main frequency is 89.9 MHz (as you can hear in the ID), but I heard their relay in Himeji.
I've been trying to ID this one for a while now and finally today at the top of the hour they had a fade-in.
I normally don't go up the band much, because my FM rejection filter starts kicking in above 80 MHz. Still, today FM Osaka made a first appearance on 85.1 MHz.
Another reason not to go above 80 MHz is that most of the stations there are networked NHK stations, so IDing where they are located is next to impossible.
This is sweet: North-Korean VHF TV channel IV's audio carrier on 83.75 MHz. The video carrier is smack-dap in the middle of the Japanese FM band on 77.25 MHz.
Channel III (59.25/65.75) is also coming in, but weaker.
Raining, tired and not feeling well, so I worked a lot of satellites today. Came across JK2XXK a couple of times and he was working portable near Gifu.
Will this be enough cooling for the Airspy Mini to work reliably around 1.7 GHz? #overkill
Just before going to bed I got an email from Hans PE1BVQ's wife telling me he has passed away May 30. I'm truly sad as he was my satellite Elmer and always interested in what I was doing. He had a couple of rough years, but he was still in good spirits and always told me of his new radio plans. I will dearly miss having contact with him.
A lot of progress on the dish antenna.
Today I started with my next project: a mesh dish antenna. I made a separate page on this site for it and you can find it in the menu above.
The TS-2000 is not an easy rig to understand. So many buttons and you really have to study the manual if you want to understand how the sat mode works. I figured it out and at 0802 UTC I had a first try on RS-44 and had a QSO with.......of all people: Kob E21EJC.
Sis-in-law came back from the US today and I picked up the transceiver she brought along: a brand-new 20 year old Kenwood TS-2000, bought from John, K5JBT, who happens to live only a 25 minute drive away from sis. I hooked it up to see if everything was still working and it did.
After three years finally my own VHF/UHF rig.
No great sporadic E conditions today and only a few stations from Japan came in. I heard some community stations as well, but no IDs. A good page to check for community stations is this wikipedia page.
All stations were heard at 0300 and recordings were made from the IQ file.
FM Cocolo 76.5 - Osaka, usually coming in first and almost always strong.
A lot going on today as well, but not much from Japan. Instead I heard the FM audio carrier from the VHF channel 4 station on 71.5 MHz, which is DWGT-TV, the People's Television Network, with the video signal on 67.25 MHz also visible. Another TV carrier was visible on 77.250, but no audio heard.
I also checked the FM band and heard a Vietnamese station on 94.0 MHz, which is about the only place on my local FM band that is not occupied. I didn't get an ID, but the program was parallel to a web stream of VoV1, the first national program. QTH maybe Van Don, which is some 1500 km away on the coast of Vietnam. The top of the hour sounded like this, but it almost seems there is another station mixing in.
There was a lot going on between 55 and 66 MHz as well, all stations from Vietnam. It seems this is their community radio band. Here is a video of a short scan.
After Falconsat-3 in the morning I checked sporadic E conditions and there was a little. First heard a lot of Vietnamese stations in the OIRT band and also around 55 MHz, but it sounded like these were feeders of some sort. Around 0430 UTC conditions towards Japan were reasonable and I heard a bunch of stations, beginning with Tokyo FM on three frequencies, the main one being 10kW from Tokyo Tower.
Other stations from in and around Tokyo also came in and from the IQ recording I made around 0500 UTC I got the following....
After almost two years I finally finished my portable rotator. Today the finishing touches to the controller, so I officially declare this project finished. The (still incomplete) write up is here, here and here. It works, is accurate and looks cool, too, so I am more than happy. Now time for some antenna work!
The first time in my life I have May 1st off. Went to the coast and had an hour long QSO with my friend Ken JA1RZD in Olivia. Otherwise too tired and only made a few FT8 QSOs to see if the setup was working. Conditions were lousy and I didn't hear much. QTH: 24.91856581818315N, 120.9689649551858E.
A gorgeous sunny spring day, so I took my scooter for a ride in the mountains. I guess I'm too Dutch: after an hour-and-a-half I had enough of those high rocks and went back home. Next time the coast instead.
TO-108 QSOs with RZ0CW and JS1SJV.
Today a sked with A65BR in the UAE and we pulled it off without any difficulties. This is the video from his side.
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.