And another two SSTV images from the ISS. The second one was LOS at 2 degrees elevation towards SSE, which means the ISS's signal is strong enough to 'hop' over the mountains in that direction. (LOS is mostly at 4~5 degrees elevation).
Commemorative SSTV images from the ISS. Got two on the 1400UTC pass.
And another one. Hams on FO-29 are really good at sending out QSL cards.
Another FO-29 QSO confirmed.
I suspect that one of the antennas of my 70 cm cross-yagi is not working. I tried both CAS-4A and CAS-4B today and could only get in using 45 Watts and then the signal was puny at best. The fading also suggested that I was not putting out a RHCP signal. Took a look up on the roof, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary to see there (no loose or broken cables), but I didn't have the energy to investigate further. Maybe tomorrow.
On the other hand. I recorded an I/Q file of CAS-4B and tried my hand at decoding it. I finally worked out why I wasn't having success: for decoding 4800 baud signals you need the K9NG/G3RUH baseband and that needs a special setting in Direwolf, namely in the modem entry. Normally the modem entry looks like this....
Change it to the following and it works....
MODEM 4800 0:0
This info can be found in section 9.2.2 "Radio channel -Modem configuration , general form" of the Direwolf user guide.
The whole Direwolf config file looks something like this then.....
############################################################# # Configuration file for Dire Wolf # # Linux version # ############################################################# ARATE 48000 ############################################################# # FIRST AUDIO DEVICE PROPERTIES # # (Channel 0 + 1 if in stereo) # ############################################################# ADEVICE UDP:7355 default ACHANNELS 1 ############################################################# # CHANNEL 0 PROPERTIES # ############################################################# CHANNEL 0 MODEM 4800 0:0 FULLDUP OFF ############################################################# # VIRTUAL TNC SERVER PROPERTIES # ############################################################# AGWPORT 8000 KISSPORT 8001
Steps to decode are as follows:
1) start GQRX, play an I/Q file with telemetry and stream it via UDP
2) start Direwolf with the config file as above, in my case from the command line:
direwolf -c direwolf4800.conf
3) start agw_kissonline.exe
Check if the Winsock indicator has turned green, then press the big "Connect AGW" button.
You will see something like this...
4) Now if GQRX tuned to the telemetry you will see output from Direwolf and AGW_kissonline will write a KISS file.
5) You can open the KISS file in the appropriate decoder from DK3WN and there you will have the telemetry data.
I don't get this. I can't get into AO-92, I can't get into EO-88. I do receive fine on 70 cm, so why can't my signal travel into space?
Another beautiful APT image from NOAA-18: from Mongolia to Indonesia. This time with highlights for precipitation. The south of Taiwan got the brunt of the rain, again.
After installing glrpt yesterday I tried my hand at decoding Meteor M2 on 137.900 MHz. Lots of QRM, so the final image was nothing to write home about, but at least the software works.
NOAA-18 was another story. Beautiful image and that proves that my old PC was to blame for not letting WXtoImg sync.
At night a good pass of AO-92 over the Philippines and China. Worked DU9JJY and DV2JHA. 66 DUV frames received.
QSL in the mail from HL4BPL
QSL in the mail today from JA2MYA.
QSL in the mail:
Today AO-92 was putting out a 9600 baud telemetry/photo stream. I caught it on a low 20 degree pass, but wasn't able to decode it.
Also a QSL in the mail.
QSL in the mail today.
Not feeling great. Guess a student gave me an unknown bug yesterday. Headache and sore back. Still did some passes in the afternoon.
CAS-4B/Rev11366/CW JA3FWT, JK1AFI, JA6UMJ. What a great pass, with three stations worked among which two I've not worked before. JA6UMJ was at LOS, so a quick QSO, but we made it.
CAS-4A/Rev21003/CW JH4DHX/3 at low angle, so weak. Sorry to the other station calling me: LOS.
FO-29/Rev13008/CW Called CQ for the entire pass, but no takers. This pass was west of me, with 20 degrees of elevation. This covers all of Thailand and the eastern part of India. Still, from past experience it seems that south Asia is not keen on working FO-29.
AO-91/Rev8814/FM Thanks to DU9JJY, DU6REN and JA6PL for the nice QSOs. First time QSO for DU9JJY, DU6REN.
After a hard day teaching yesterday a day off, but very tired. Did some statistics in the morning: since I started my satellite career on April 28, 2019 I have made 88 QSOs on 12 different birds. FO-29 ranked top with 15 stations worked. IO-89, AO-91 and AO-92 all with 10 stations worked, and CAS-4A with 5 different stations worked. I worked JR6DI the most, namely on 5 different birds, so he's clearly no. 1.
Joe, 7J1ADJ/JR6 also had a day off and we worked each other three times today:
Last year July I started to log DUV frames from AO-85/91/92/95 and just under a year later I passed the 10,000 mark.
The pass of SO50 also yielded BD4SDY, JA3FWT and JA6PL.
The FO-29 pass was also a success with JA4FVC in SSB and JR2TZJ and JA3VQW both in CW. Nice to meet JR2TZJ for the first time on air.
Another SSTV image of PSAT2, this time also not that great in quality, but it says "PSAT2" at the bottom and that is all that I need.
At night I was monitoring Athenoxat-1 when I saw some data and CW just above 437.500. After googling for half an hour I found out that this was Polysat CP9 with short 9600 baud data bursts and IDs in CW as WI2XTB. Their frequency is 437.505 and they were launched on June 25 with the Falcon Heavy and 23 other satellites, amongst which PSAT-2.
G0KLA/AC2CZ did some modifications to the PSGS code (now at v0.24) and this morning it ran fine. Download of the directory listings was very fast and I managed to upload two messages during the pass. It took a while, but is seems that things are alright now.
The afternoon pass of AO-85 netted me 16 DUV frames. Long time since I last had those from Fox-1. Also QSOs with DU1ELT and JR6DI. Otherwise this bird is rather empty.
Monday is usually quiet on the satellites, but I did catch UA0SUN at fade out on FO-29 for the afternoon pass. Thanks Vlad!
At night I had two passes of the new PSAT2. The first one yielded a mediocre picture from the SSTV broadcast, but the pass at 1247 UTC was at 58 degrees a lot better and I caught this......
Now that is good quality. Luckily I recorded the raw IQ signal, so after replaying I played around with the FM deviation and at 25 kHz I got the best noise/signal quality. QSSTV was used to decode it.
AO92 pass just before 1400 UTC: early in the pass I caught DU1ELT at a very low angle, so very pleased with that. Also worked BG5UTE for the first time, although it was difficult due to QRM. Why do people keep keying up even though they don't say anything?
New SSD drive in my shack PC. Almost all the software is re-installed. We're back in action on the satellites.
So to celebrate I went on FO-29: JA4FVC in CW was the only one today. Quiet pass.
Big sigh. After less than two weeks the "new" second hand SSD in my shack PC died. Luckily nothing major lost, except for the time it will take me to install a new drive + installing all the software again from scratch. Oh well, that's life.
Luckily the rotor is fine. Unfortunately one of the switches on the control box is acting up. It works again for now, but I doubt if it will hold for long. Need to find a replacement switch.
One of the few days I have off and the weather looks like this......
So I spent the morning doing this....
And then Murphy struck: my KR-400 rotor refuses to move left. I'm stuck with two yagis pointing south. With more rain predicted for the entire week I'm afraid I will be QRT for quite a few days.
I took some measurements and between terminals 5 and 6 (right turn) I measured 31 Volts, which is normal. Between 4 and 6 (left turn) only 21 Volts. The rotor was not connected to the controlling box when measuring. My thoughts are that it must be in the controlling box. However, there is simply nothing there in the circuit that I think could act up. From the transformer one terminal carrying 29 Volts goes to two switches. The other terminal is neutral. There is the light bulb between the two terminals and a 70 uF/50V capacitor between the two switches. We'll pry it open tomorrow and see if the good folk at AMSAT-BB have any tips.
So, for a change, I hooked up my TS-440S to see if it would still work. It did and with an end-fed wire for 40 meters I made two QSOs at night.
7150 kHz - 1230 UTC - YB7OO - in SSB. He was 59+40, I was 57.
7023.8 kHz - 1308 UTC - 3W1T - in CW. 599 exchange.
Lazy Sunday afternoon: on FO-29 I met JA3FWT in CW, first time on this bird.
AO-85 this afternoon looked a bit like it was back to normal. Signals were weak, however, and although I heard some voices (was it JR6DI?) I couldn't get in myself, even with high power.
XW-2A: I called CQ in SSB, but BD5EUA answered in CW. Still fun, always nice to meet him, so we had a short CW QSO.
A little later the pass of CAS-4A. I had never worked JK2XXK before, but tonight I did in CW, so thanks Tone. A little later EO-88 and again in CW we met again. So thanks for the second QSO today and also thanks to JR6RMK for the second QSO. We were both at LOS, but nevertheless a valid QSO. Cheers!
Lastly CAS-4A came by again and this time the pass was very difficult with weak signals and deep fading. Heard and worked BD5EUA, but the QSO was not complete.
Been trying all day to get GNURadio installed with pybombs. It always tanks with UHD not wanting to compile. CMake problem? pthreads problem? Who knows? Googling for two hours, but no answer popped up. Back to "apt-get install gnuradio" for an older version from the repos. :-(
Evening pass of IO-86 (Lapan) only 4 degrees above the horizon. Was lucky to get YD5YC as only QSO for today. Thanks Dave.
0812 UTC's pass of AO-7 and I'm not lonely anymore: finally a QSO on this old bird with.........BD5EUA!!! Of course in CW. Incredible that after so many years this bird is still alive: I was just a kid in primary school when it was shot into space!
Good pass from IO-86 early evening. Thanks for the QSOs: E21EJC, YC8NYJ and YD1SCC. Luckily E21EJC called me on Twitter for a sked, otherwise I would have missed this pass.
Then the evening pass of SO-50: I really don't get why SO-50 is such a great sat, beloved by many. Signals are not strong and frequently drop out. Had a good signal into the bird today, but still not one QSO possible (Sorry JR6DI). Not going to bother with this one anymore.
First Indonesian station worked today, via IO-86: YC7VVA from Samarinda in Kalimantan Timur. That means I crossed the equator for the first time using satellite.
Sometimes the birds just line up in perfect order. Tonight was one of those evenings:
Now to round it off waiting for a pass from Falconsat-3 to see what's on the BBS. Can't get any better than that.
Wow, this was fun. IO-86 had its transponder open for the early evening pass (1140 UTC). Max elevation is only 6 degrees here in Taiwan, but what a signal that bird has!!!! I didn't even have to point my antenna in the right direction to be able to get in. But of course, I called CQ just before a huge fade. Still was able to work V85AN and DU1ELT, so two new countries to add to my satellite tally and the 31st satellite heard/worked up till now. Here is the MP4 of the QSOs.
Yes! AO-85 is back, although a little handicapped. The transponder is on all the time, no telemetry, but you are able to work through it. Woke up early this morning and caught a good pass where I made one QSO with JA4FVC. Another bird to cross of my list. (Screen cast: QSO starts at 01:45)
One QSL in the mail.....
And two images from the ISS at night...
Last one of the week: JA3FWT for a CAS-4A QSO.
Birthday present: 76.5 MHz FM Cocolo is coming in. Not spectacularly strong, but it's there.
Another present: QSL from JH4MGU
QSL card from JR6PL.
An 86 degree pass of Falconsat-3 this morning and signals were very strong. After the directory update - which took ages - I managed to upload two of my messages just before the bird faded out. SUCCESS!!!!! I finally joined the Packet Radio movement.........30 years after.
The postman was nice to me today: three letters from Japan with QSL cards. JR3KQJ/3 and JJ1BMB for FO-29 CW QSOs and JA1FMU for a PO-101 FM QSO.
I removed all the data from PSGS and monitored two passes this morning. The first pass only had 17 degrees elevation, but I got most of the headers for the last 10 days. The second pass was south of me, but it finished getting the final headers and downloaded two messages, one from N6RFM for me and one from WA7FWF for ALL. I had given them priorities of 1 and 2 respectively and they were downloaded automatically. Didn't put a message in the queue, so that is for next time.
The morning pass of AO-92 was a mess again. Called CQ, 7J1ADJ/JR6 answered, but we were drowned out by QRM. A JA1 station also called me, but same thing. Early afternoon pass of AO-91 was better and 7J1ADJ/JR6 and I were able to have a short QSO.
In the afternoon I installed a diplexer between the 70cm yagi and the preamp in order to mitigate desensing. Cheap solution, because I bought a NOS DX720D from our local eBay clone, including very yellow packaging. After ripping the PCB out of the casing I ordered an aluminium case and mounted it in there to protect it from the weather.
Works a charm! No more hearing and seeing my own signal on FO-29 or Falconsat-3.
Talking about FO-29. I did immediately try to get a QSO on that bird, but signals were not great and I only managed one with JA3VQW.
The second pass was equally disappointing. Every time I contacted a station it would fade out. I only managed JH4UCM.
Immediately after FO-29 came SO-50 and with the diplexer in place I decided to try this bird. What a mess! I could hardly hear stations and was constantly dropping out. JR6DI was strongest and I managed to have a QSO with him, so a first for me. But otherwise I don't understand the attraction that everyone has for this bird.
Lilacsat-2 came after SO-50, but couldn't open the FM transponder, even though telemetry was strong. CAS-4B to round it off and I did manage to have another QSO with BD5EUA, so that was good.
Evening passes from AO-92 and AO-95 and both were quite good: signals +25 dB above noise and not much QRM. Received 69 DUV frames on AO-92 and 8 DUV frames on AO-95.
Another FS-3 test. The problem was not with PSGS but with Direwolf not in duplex mode. Downloaded the latest version last night and added the FULLDUP ON option to the main channel and it worked fine. Still, a lot of TX request and not much materializing. Did get the message from Bob N6RFM downloaded, after manually hitting the button. Uploads still not working.
Two tests today with the PacSatGroundStation software this morning, both unsuccessful. It will receive, but not transmit. I suspect the fault is with the software as I know Direwolf's link with the rig is good. Tomorrow morning another two opportunities.
At night no takers for my CQ on XW-2A, although signals were strong. CAS-4A was better and JR6RMK came back to my CQ (1st QSO with him) and afterwards BD5EUA.
Congratulations to me! On this day ten years ago I got my first call sign: PD3WHO. Not long after I started dabbling with amateur satellites, but got no further than building an Arrow clone and hearing good old birds like RS-30 and VU-52. I didn't have much success and HF was more appealing at that time, so I didn't pursue it further.
Here a photo of my shack back in 2009. Rigs then: a Yaesu FRG-7, Kenwood TS-130V and a Kenwood TH-F7 HT. Fldigi is happily decoding RTTY, which was (and actually still is) my favourite mode.
In the garden trying to catch the birds. My daughter is probably wondering why I put a rake on a stand, swiveling it in the air.
My Arrow clone. I've had this till recently when I build a better one out of aluminium pipe.
My Kenwood All Mode 70 cm rig. Oh I wish I still had that thing.
Four days without a QSO, so today caught PO-101 and had a quick QSO with BH4ESB and JA6PL. Signals were not strong. In the afternoon FO-29 and one CW QSO with R0CM, my first Russian satellite contact. In the evening I heard KKS-1 on 437.390 MHz with their beacon. This satellite was launched 10 years ago and is now in safe mode. The message is simply the date and time, but is obviously not correct
Another very disturbed N-S pass from AO-92 this morning. Lots of flutter fading in the beginning. Got stronger during the middle, but faded quickly afterwards. Called CQ once, but the JA station that came back was drowned out.
At noon AO-91 took the reverse path from south to north and I saw the same sequence as AO-92, but in reverse. Weak in the beginning of the pass, strong in the middle and flutter fading at the end, when the bird was over Korea. There was strong Es over Japan this morning, so that might explain the flutter fading I saw then both birds were hitting the latitude of Japan/Korea.
The noon pass of PO-101 was also weak and couldn't even finish the QSO with JR6DI.
During CAS-4B's last pass tonight I had a short QSO with BD5EUA. It seems we are the only two regularly using this bird this time of night. I guess JH4DHX/3 has already gone to bed by that time, hi hi.
There really must be a connection between ionospheric activity and satellite propagation. All morning passes of the Fox birds and not one DUV frame. AO-91 at noon, max SNR <10 dB and one DUV frame received. PO-101 at noon avg SNR 10dB. This is not normal.
Strong evening pass of AO-92, but loads of QRM. Nice QSO with Joe @7J1ADJ/JR6, and JR6DI. Heard JA3FWT and BH4ESB calling me but couldn't get back to them due to QRM.
To round of the evening a really nice QSO with JH4DHX/3 on CAS-4B in CW. My keying wasn't the best, but so wasn't his. But we made a complete QSO and signals were great! CAS-4B is really a nice bird to work over.
Noon pass of AO-91 with a new station for me: JR6DRQ. At night AO-92 was a mess, so no QSOs, but CAS-4A immediately after was better with the second QSO between me and BD4EUA in CW.
Mother's Day, but afternoon mock tests for me, so the only QSO I managed today was CAS-4A in the evening 2207LT with HL4BPL in CW. Signals were weak, but we managed.
AO-91 pass this morning, strong but noisy. A DV2 station replied to my CQ, but was drowned out by QRM. Worked JA6PL, BH4ESB and new one JA4GVA.
Mailed out QSL cards for QSOs up till May 5th today.
Much stronger signals today, but no takers on AO-9. CAS4A had some CW signals, but they were drifting all over the place and towards the end of the pass. At night the AO-92 pass had really strong signals right from when the bird came up over the southern mountains. Had a QSO with JR6DI, but the rest of the pass was Chinese only and they were not strong on the uplink at all, except for BH4ESB.
FO-99 Nexus has a strong CW beacon, but today I caught their 9k6 telemetry signal. Deep fades and lots of QRM. Pity you can't decode it.
AO-92's morning pass was lousy. Signals not strong, lots of QRM from terrestrial stations despite a good elevation. Only had a short exchange with JA6PL, but heard DU2XXA and DV1XWK. First time working AO-92, though.
AO-95's pass was also rather lousy. It's raining here, so might the condition of the atmosphere have something to do with it? On the other hand, JA6PL on Twitter also noted a lousy pass of AO-92, so.......
Finally a decent signal from SO-50 on its late night pass (2155). This birds audio does sound very good and all the regulars were there. Will try next time.
As my old-colleague Ashley used to say: "There is a god and he does love me." Today's weather outlook was rain in the afternoon, so I made a dash in the morning and did the following: put the cross yagis higher up in the mast, mounted the Mini70 pre-amp, put the 6 meter LFA yagi in the mast, connected everything and rearranged the cables. By the time I was finished it was already early afternoon and winds started to pick up. Tired but satisfied and happy to get everything done.
After fixing the washing machine and a well deserved nap I monitored the second afternoon pass of FO-29 and called out CQ. Back came JA1CG, JJ1BMB, R0CQ (but we didn't complete the QSO, maybe it was too late in the pass for him) and E21EJC from Thailand. All in CW. I haven't had so much fun in a long time. The evening pass of CAS-4B yielded JA3FWT and JH4MPR, both in CW also.
Third time's the charm: the one o'clock pass of PO-101 and I finally got in. Worked BH4ESB, JA6PL, JR6DI and JA1FMU before it faded out. First time around I had the wrong CTCSS tone, second time Gpredict said I had to transmit on 437.700 MHz instead of 437.500 MHz (duh!).
Afternoon pass of FO-29 one QSO with JH4UCM in CW.
On Fridays Lilacsat-2 is supposed to switch to FM, but I only got through in CW. No takers on the pass around 5 pm LT.
Evening pass of CAS-4A and JA3FWT came back to my CQ.
Finally a decent pass from AO-91 without any interference from illegal taxis and other lids. On the pass just before noon I encountered three of the regulars there and exchanged 59s with them: JA6PL (mistook his call for JR6PL), JR6DI and BH4ESB. JA3FWT also called me, but I couldn't reach the bird anymore as it was the end of the pass.
AO-91 is back to normal again after a reset. The pass this morning was spoiled by lids occupying the frequency, so I didn't make an attempt to have a QSO. Otherwise the morning passes of the Foxes was lousy, although I netted 9 DUV frames from AO-95.
In the afternoon my first try at FO-29 and I made two QSOs.
At 1507-1509LT with JH0BBA on 435.830MHz in CW and we exchanged 599.
At 1512-1513LT with JR3KQJ/3, but he didn't get my call right and it was during the end of the pass, so he faded out.
With doppler correction it is much easier to do these kind of QSOs, although signals do sound a lot like weak CW signals on shortwave, so you do have to be very concentrated. I also found that signals were not as strong as CAS-4B on Sunday.
An hour later AO-7 came flying over and I was able to hear my own signal coming back. Unfortunately no other people around, but it would have been difficult anyway, as signals were very very weak. No wonder, this bird is already 45 years old. And this is what the AO-7's beacon sounded like:
The second afternoon pass of FO-29 I tried SSB. Not easy as signals were weak, but after a few CQs JH4MGU came back to me (at 1652 LT) and we had some sort of QSO, both giving out 55s. For some reason doppler correction didn't work, so it was a difficult QSO.
AO-91 in trouble. No telemetry, no voice. Hopefully a reset will fix it.
Morning pass of AO-92 yielded 92 DUV frames, a record. Another 6 from AO-95 and 68 from AO-91, so a very good morning.
Otherwise the day wasn't well spent. Tried for a long time to get Direwolf to engage the PTT on the IC-820H, but it just wouldn't work. The Rigexpert Tiny had a blown transistor, so we'll need to fix that and hopefully it'll work then. My own USB-to-serial dongle also acted strange and I couldn't find the other one, so an afternoon wasted.
At night another good pass of Falconsat-3, couldn't get any packets out when using manual PTT. The whole system isn't that robust, so for the moment I'll leave it at that.
But close to bedtime I saw a CAS-4A pass and tried to see if I could get some CW over the linear transponder. It worked very well and I saw BD5EUA calling CQ, but near the end of the pass, so no time to reply.
Not long later CAS-4B had a very good pass and BD5EUA was calling CQ again. He was drifting, probably due to the fact he didn't use doppler correction on his uplink, but I still managed to get my call out and we exchanged 599s. So, my first ever satellite QSO was with BD5EAU 邵沛 from Huzhou in Zhejiang. Details: 2155 local time, 145.927/435.279, CAS-4B. Funny detail: I was using a Chinese army straight key, which is kind of appropriate, I think.
Here is a short screen capture of the whole happening and I am actually a bit embarrassed when I look back at my sloppy keying. I know I can do better than that. But it is really weird to hear yourself back with a delay and it threw me off a bit.
For the last week or so I have been trying to get PacSat Ground Station, written by Chris Thompson (G0KLA/AC2CZ), to work. After a tip from Scott (K4KDR) I got the reception side working. Turned out my deviation setting in GQRX was wrong (was set to 2.5 kHz, should be 17 kHz) and after that telemetry started flowing in. Getting the transmitting side working was trickier. Since Falconsat-3 uses 9600 baud I had to open the IC-820H and flip a switch, so audio would go directly into the varactor, which is necessary for 9600 baud packet operation. BX2AB had given me a Mixw Rigblaster Tiny to connect the rig to a PC, but audio wouldn't get through. Plan B: I had a DIN to RCA cable lying around and fed the audio in directly from the computer into pin 4 of the ACC socket on the back. That worked and I decided to do PTT by hand instead for the moment instead of letting Direwolf control that.
Tonight just after seven a rather low pass of FS-3, but I was still able to get a request for a directory through. It didn't materialize, because the signal wasn't strong enough, but at least the bird heard and acknowledged me. Later that night another pass, but also not that strong. Did get a directory listing back now and saw that Scott (K4KDR) posted a message for me. Not enough time in the pass to download it, so maybe tomorrow.
QSL card in the mail today from Move-II.
Had half a day off and worked hard to finish the 6 meter LFA yagi, which I have been working on for the past 6 weeks. Now waiting for an opportunity to put it in the roof tower.
Put the FA VA-5 in a nice enclosure to protect it. It's a 200 Euro piece of kit, so better be careful with it.
After working for 10 days finally some time off and nothing pressing to do all day (except for one evening class). I first tested the SHF-electronics Mini-70 pre-amp. After prying it open and giving it some power I connected it to the Airspy mini. Even in the shack the difference was huge. Stations that would hardly come in were very much readable when using the pre-amp. Athenoxat-1, which is usually only audible with high passes and only from SW to S came in loud and clear, even at 10 degrees and even in the S to SE corner.
There was one mystery signal I couldn't find in any list. Clearly data and only for a few minutes.
Then there were two Fox passes I monitored, one from AO-92 and then one from AO-91. Because nobody was calling CQ I keyed the mike and for the first time I was able to open the sat by myself. Collected some DUV frames after that, so that was nice. AO-91 was busy, but I was able to open the sat in the lulls. On AO-92 I shouted my call a couple of times, but the audio was too weak and I wasn't heard. Need to check the mike and the IC-820H's settings.
Then the postman delivered something I have been waiting for for three months already: the FA-VA5 antenna analyzer. Got a mail last week that I was first on the waiting list, so I could order one, which I did immediately. Six days later it was in my hands. Looks fantastic.
Complete with very comprehensive manual.
Minimal assembly required.
And one hour later it was done. Now the only thing to do is RTFM.
There also was an earthquake today during lunch: 6.1 in Hualien, but over here it was a whopping 4. No damage, but still scary.
Raining cats and dogs and it seems it has a huge influence on the interference between 145.820 and 145.870: almost 30 dB over the noise level and extended to well above 145.900. The same noise can be heard between 135.385 and 135.445. Signals peak at 45 degrees (NE) from my QTH. Really have to start doing something about this.
Saw signals today from INNOS, CSIM-FM and Reaktor, all on 70 cm. Reaktor had a very fast CW ID (in CW mode, not FM) on 437.775 around 1404 UTC.
Found some software to decode LRPT transmissions from Meteor M2 written by 5B4AZ, but couldn't get it to work. Mailed Neoklis, but his hints didn't resolve the problem. Ditched the ham PC and used my laptop and everything worked fine. Used my Airspy Mini for reception and rotated the beams by hand. No doppler correction needed since it is VHF. So at night I received my first image from Meteor M2, albeit the infrared channel only, because it was dark, duh!
UHF yagi didn't work because the coax got disconnected (loose BNC connector). Easy fix, so 70 cm is good again.
The Fox birds netted me 115 DUV frames in the last 24 hours. Passed the 5000 mark yesterday, now at 5127. Position 175.
What a lousy Sunday! Everything that could go awry, went awry. All my computers crawled to a halt (thanks FireFox), the MoveII telemetry software wouldn't install, nasty interference on both shortwave as well as 2 meters, Wxtoimg wouldn't decode weather-sat images even though signals were great, but what made me maddest of all was this....I tried to connect the ICOM IC820H to my computer. The CAT part worked, but not the audio IO. I tested the PTT and put some RF in the 70cm X-pol Yagi, after which it wouldn't receive anymore. SWR was 2.4:1 all of a sudden and no reception at all. Now I have to start troubleshooting another problem for which I don't really have time. And I was so happy that everything was working well.
Luckily I didn't put RF in the 2 meter yagi and luckily the evening pass of Fox-1D was a good one and netted me 80 DUV frames, which means I'm back at position 177 again (last time was Nov 19 of last year). Then when typing this my CMS acted up! Aarggghhhhh!
After five days of sporadic listening it seems that I really need a pre-amp for better 70 cm reception. There are signals coming in, but meagre at best. For telemetry reception a substantially louder signal is needed.
Had some luck on 2 meters today. Got a positive ID of the MOVE-II sat on 145.950 MHz. Every 10 seconds a beep and after three beeps a CW ID. Also some telemetry, but I haven't got the decoder installed, yet, so that will have to wait till next time.
Transcript: E DP0MVE (In the recording you can hear the original speed of the CW ID, then a slowed down version).
The MOVE-II site is a really well made one and they even have a Linux decoder for telemetry. Unfortunately no other use of this satellite for us amateur radio users.
Start of spring and the end of a very mild winter. Normally we use over 150 liters of kerosene for our heater each season. This year a mere 50 liters. Our electricity bill is also much lower than usual.
Good enough weather in the afternoon to put both the cross-yagis back into the tower. This time my sweet wife was helping me out with the lifting work. After some elbow grease they were proudly pointing at the sky again. Tested them out and heard/saw signals from CO-65, CO-66, Lilacsat (all new to me) and strong signals from FO-99, all on 70 cm. On 2 meter I monitored two Fox birds and got over 50 DUV frames to boost my score on the leaderboard. Everything seems AOK this time, so let's start enjoying.
My first satellite QSL card from the good folk at the Max Valier school. It's still my 'go to' beacon for testing 2 meter satellite reception.
Miracles do still happen. Lots of rain today, so the power lines were quieter as usual. My newly installed end-fed picked up lots of stations in the ARRL SSB contest on 40 meters at night and despite an awful SWR of 3:1 I still managed to work some stations; the first time I've been on HF in over a year!!! Two CA stations, two Japanese and two Filipino stations in half an hour. Not bad and even my wife was surprised that I took the mike and went on-air.
7153.5 1132 K6NA 59-CA / 59-100 (Glen from near San Diego)
7181 1132 JH4UYB 59-KW / 59-100
7196 1140 NO6T 59-CA / 59-100
7176 1143 DU3T 59-500 / 59-100
7171.2 1147 JE6RPM 50-? / 59-100
7179 1159 DU3ZX 59-500 / 59-20 (after tuning forgot to up my power)
Very good signal from the FO-99 Nexus CW beacon on 70 cm. Came in 20+ dB above noise level, so very much readable. Heard them on the 22nd, but not as good as this time.
Transcript: js1yav nexus 030065808E000178010101100a00d6ff9900530180015d
AO-92 was a disappointment, though. Hardly 20 dB over the noise and only 4 DUV frames decoded.
The coax transformer of the 70 cm cross yagi acts fine when receiving, but not when transmitting, so I took it out for further inspection.
Starting to test the 70 cm yagi again. Two signals identified tonight: FO-99's CW beacon and Athenoxat-1, both on 70 cm.
Because of the disappointing performance of both cross-yagis I took them down on Feb 10. I started rebuilding the 2m one from the ground up and found that by removing D4, the front most director, SWR improved dramatically. I tried spacings for other designs and opened a QRZ.com thread about it. The conclusion: first off, the design I made using the VK5DJ software is for long yagis and mine is not (too short), hence the disappointing SWR and most likely also radiation pattern. After removing D4 I also removed the coax transformer stub and used a coax switch to switch between horizontal and vertical and the AO-91/92 birds came in full quieting; never heard them so loud. SWR is fine on both horizontal and vertical yagis, so I'll take it for the moment and keep on using the yagi as a 5 element instead of a 6 element.
The 70 cm yagi was a different story. I removed all the plasti-dip from the elements and the resonant frequency dropped a few MHz. I also re-balanced the antenna, although I actually took it off balance by moving the mast clamp to the back. This meant more coax lead and I routed the horizontal yagi lead to the back and got a perfect SWR in the upper 70cm band. The vertical yagi has an SWR of 1.5:1, which might be due to the influence of the rebar in the terrace floor. In a cross configuration the SWR is 1.5:1 now, so acceptable. For reception it doesn't matter that much anyway.
Today little success with the new antennas. Had a close pass of FO-29, but saw only faint signals which couldn't be decoded. Then I noticed some CW at 435.780 MHz and caught the following.....
Transcript: BJ1SA XW XW AAA TTT AVD A4T ETT TTT TTT TTT TTT TTT TTT TTT TTT XW XW
Hope-1 or HO-68 still putting out a beacon signal. First time reception for me.
Sunny and 25 degrees today, which is unusual for Chinese New Year. Put the finished yagis onto the tower with help of Tim. It took a little elbow grease but it was done by noon. Disappointment came when I measured the SWR at the antennas: the VHF beam was resonant around 139 MHz and the UHF beam around 441 MHz. Due to my design parameters I already guessed the UHF beam would be a bit high, but at 436 MHz SWR is 2.4:1 and that sucks. At 145 MHz the VHF beam also has a SWR higher than 2:1 which sucks even more, because when I took the last measurements before putting it up it was 1.4:1. It almost seems antenna building is a black art.
Monitored two passes of AO-85 in the afternoon, but both times signals were weak and only one DUV frame was decoded. CAS-4a also came in, although not with stellar signals, but at least I could hear JR6RM in CW calling CQ without much problem (nobody answered him). Before the depression set in I monitored the evening pass of AO-92. It went from south to north and the first 15 degrees of elevation were lousy. But then signals started stronger and they peaked at +30dB over ground noise. Never heard AO-92 that strong and over the whole pass I decoded 80 DUV frames, which is also a record. The last frame was decoded just above 0 degrees elevation and when signals were strong I could even hear the DUV tones humming from my amplifier. So for reception the VHF side is working well and that is a great relief, because I am more into listening than transmitting anyway.
And with 20 meters of coax between the antennas and the shack my rig-on-loan is still happy, because the SWR is around 1.5:1 in the shack. I know this is cheating, but still.....
The final stages: everything but the leads are mounted and most of the nuts and bolts have been covered in PlastiDip.
Lousy weather, so time to do something in the shack for a change. Finished boxing up the impedance stubs and mounted them as well. SWR 1:1 across the 2 meter band, which makes me very happy. Another thing to cross off the list.
The box that will house the impedance transformer.
After a lot of prepping classes I started late working on the antennas. I finished mounting the N-connectors on the alu-box and mounting that on the mast plate. Did some other small adjustments, but then dusk already set in and no time (and light) to take photos. Will have to wait till Monday.
Sunny and warm, so I cut some tubing and finished the vertical 70cm yagi. Unfortunately I ran out of element clamps, so I have to wait for BV6HJ to bring them along when he gets up north.
Luckily I don't go to Taipei often: an hour parking cost me 75 NT dollars, but I did find some LMR-200 coax cable, which was "only" 170 NT dollars per meter. Better than RG-142 which was 380!!! Still, I spent more money than I should have. The shop where I found the LMR-200 is called JMO and I almost forgot about them. They have everything a ham could wish for, as long as that everything is cables and connectors. The owner is very knowledgable and will go out of his way to find the right product for you. It comes at a price, because everything is pricey there. But better have a place where you can find what you need than being without.
Last Saturday night I started with the build of the 70 cm yagi. On Sunday I finished the mast clamp and today I had a productive morning where I drilled and threaded all the holes for the elements (56 in total). I fitted the mast clamp and the remaining element saddles and the result looks like this.....
Will have to go to Taipei tomorrow to get some extra aluminum rod because I don't have enough to finish the build.