Got a new VHF/UHF SWR meter in the mail today: a Redot-1051A. Quite a robust little box and it measures forward power (+), reflected power (-) and SWR (r).
With my Nagoya dummy load a perfect SWR of 1:1.
UHF is a bit higher: 1.27:1
The inside also looks well done. This meter has N-type connectors, so ideal for UHF work.
Finished the metal work of the 2m cross-yagi. Beautiful!
P.O. Box 9-50 is closed for BX2ABT mail. Handed in the keys and got my NT$400 deposit back today.
After a suggestion from W3AB I checked both my SWR meters. The Daiwa CN-103LN I bought could never get to 1:1 SWR with a dummy load. VHF was close enough, but UHF not even in the ball park. It might explain why I never got any good readings when measuring my 70 cm antenna creations.
Fox-1Cliff will not be commissioned because of issues with its onboard receiver. AO-85 (Fox-1A) also has issues, so it's not going well with AMSAT-NA's satellites.
Saw myself mentioned on the AMSAT website as one of the first 29 hams having copied Fox-1Cliff's telemetry during the first few eclipses. Cool!
Yesterday a successful launch of the Falcon-9 satellite carrying a lot of cubesats. Fox-1Cliff became active around 0100 UTC today, but I wasn't at home, so I pointed the Arrow clone to NW and left the setup running while I was at work. Luckily I got one frame decoded...
Later that night I heard the bird again, but too weak for telemetry, only the voice ID.
Today some guys were using 145.980 again, just when AO-85 was passing. This time they wouldn't budge, even though they said they would vacate the frequency for a while. One guy refused to give me his call and said the channel would never be left by them because otherwise the "sausages" would use this frequency. The locals here treat ham radio like Citizen's Band and the NCC doesn't care, so no, ham radio in Taiwan is not much fun.
On the other hand I do have a great rooftop for DIY here and since they don't sell mast clamps in Asia I bought U-bolts and made these myself.
On-air encounters don't always have to end in a quarrel. I was trying to catch AO-85 today when some local dudes started a QSO on the same frequency (145.980). Since my reception was bust anyway, I decided to fire up he ICOM IC-820H and see if they knew what they were doing to me. The chap who was loudest (no call as usual) was willing to have a chat with me and I explained that the frequency they used was for amateur satellites. He was quite nice about it and said that the NCC had never told him this, so he wasn't aware. My suggestion was to move to 145.380 permanently and later he discussed that with his buddies, so I hope they did. I also hope I can have more of these encounters, because then there might be some real change in the way 2/70 is used here in Taiwan.
Worked a bit on the cross-boom today. The new drill press already saved me a lot of time and grief.
Bought myself a new
toy tool today.
How to make a folded dipole for the 70 cm band.
Start with 75~80 cm aluminum rod.
From the center (right mark) measure a distance of 13.2 cm (left mark) and from there 2 cm back to the center (dotted line).
Insert the rod into the tube bender. The dotted mark lines up with the beginning of the bending area of the tool.
Bend 180 degrees, but don't over-bend.
Repeat the process on the other side of the center.
Trim the ends so that the center gap is 1 cm.
Repeat again with a second piece of tubing if you want to make an X-yagi, like I do.
Three passes from Fox-sats monitored today and 79 frames received! Moved up two places to 177 on the leader board, so things are working as they should. On the evening pass from Fox-1D I heard my first Indonesian station: YC7VVA
A selfie! From me! On top of the tower looking towards the north (roughly). I changed the pigtail on the Arrow Alaska clone because it was too long and routed all cables a little better. It did improve things a bit as can be seen from this video of Max Valier coming in 30 dB above the noise floor.
Had a bit of a kerfuffle today on 2 meters. Since my Arrow Clone is not functioning I decided to see how well the IC-820H would work with the discone. It worked amazingly well and I had a listen to 144.800, which is the frequency where people from the greater Taipei area meet on air. I asked some people for their call and was told they either forgot or didn't have one. That got me riled up and I had a discussion about it with some people on air. Their claim was that I didn't understand Taiwanese culture and that they had always "played" with radios like this. Yes, they wanted a change, but...ahh....change was so difficult. And I didn't understand the Taiwanese and Taiwan is an island, and VHF/UHF is different from HF and they didn't disturb anybody, and there were enough illegal taxis too, so....... My response was that change begins with yourself, so start using your call, to begin with. Because I wouldn't budge the guy without a call gave up and left. Hate to say it, but "good riddance."
I did have a nice QSO with BX2AFS and later BX2AFR, both in SSB and also talked with BM2NCA a bit.
One of the few advantages of living in Taiwan is that most of the time there is a manufacturer close by from which you can buy stuff in bulk directly. I needed some RG-213U and in the next-next town of Pingzhen there was NFwire making a range of wire and cable products. I paid them a visit today and the vice-president, Mr. Zhang, who also handles sales dug out a roll of Tram RG213U for me. Price per meter: NT$40 (or USD 1.33 / EU 1,15) which is 33% cheaper compared to what you have to pay on our local eBay clone. Granted, it is not Belden, but it will do for this poor ham.
Spent NT$2250 on aluminium today: 6 meters of 32mm square boom, 24 meter of 8 mm tubing, some 4mm thick alu-plate and some left-over L-profile. I last bought some aluminium late August and in less than three months they raised prices by 4%.
After three tries I finally had a near perfect 70 cm dipole.
This is my own designed contraption for the 4:1 balun.
Sold my TS-130V to BV1EQ for NT$7000 (EU 200) today. We met at the NCC offices and it wasn't a matter of simply a new licence, but the rig also had to be tested again. Taiwanese bureaucracy at its best. The TS-130V came with a power lead with banana plugs and the guy doing the test didn't even know how to insert banana plugs into the power supply. Next up was baffling discovery by the NCC people that the rig didn't have the FM mode. There was no CW key in the offices (I doubt that they even know what one looks like) and they didn't have a signal generator, we had to whistle and hum into the mike to generate some output for them to measure something I still don't know what it is. Over half an hour later the guy had his measurements and the licence was issued.
After a week of rain and heavy winds the weather turned and Sunday was an almost perfect day to work outside. Together with BX3AC (Bill), BX2AB (big brother), my son Tim a we were able to put the two tower halves together.
Luckily the top half was not too heavy.
With the help of BX2AB and my son it still took an hour to get all the bolts in the right place.
Then inserting the mast and mounting the bearing.
For the moment the top antenna will be the discone.
The Arrow Alaska clone was also fitted, but no cable attached yet. The discone has 20 meters of RG-213 running to the shack, which was just about enough. The next run should be a bit longer.
Here an mp4 with the setup in action: Roundabout!
BV6HJ came by again, today, to bring a Create CK-46 thrust bearing and some rotator wire. I kept myself busy with maintaining the KR-400 rotator, cleaning the bearings and races and applying fresh grease. On the site of DL3LAR I found a page that proved very useful and thus the work was done in a jiffy.
Finalized the frame that will hold the OM-300 tower and it is rock solid. Made two parts of the L-rails fit and with five hooks the frame was clamped to the plateau.
My son and I finished assembling the two tower parts and put the lower half on the plateau above our metal roof. The frame that holds it down still needs some work, but even in an unfinished state is already holds down the tower pretty tightly, so BV6HJ's idea to use L-shaped stainless rails was a very good one. This photo is of the situation this morning.
And this photo was taken late afternoon.
Had a Line chat with BV6HJ last Sunday and he came up with a clever solution to hook his 3 meter tower to the platform on our roof. Best of all, no drilling needed, because the platform is all stainless steel, which is a pain to drill through. So I ordered his OM-300 tower and he said he could deliver today. So, there is was.....
My son was so kind to help me and before long the upper and lower section took shape.....
Not quite finished yet, but it was getting late and we were getting tired. No need to rush.
One of our little chicks didn't make it. Maybe caught a cold, we'll never know. The other one is also acting a little weird and is quieter than usual. I fear the worst. [Update: the other one died later in the day]
I finished the 70 cm LFA yagi today. The boom is a little wicked, but that can't spoil the fun. Resonant frequency was around 418 MHz, so the loop needs to be trimmed a bit.
Two new little friends joined our family.
Funny, was looking for the Suchai CW beacon on 437.230 MHz when I saw a signal around 437.240 MHz. Thinking that the beacon might have drifted off I retuned and found VZLUSAT1 with its CW beacon. Recorded that and tuned to Suchai again and they just faded out. Murphy's Law!
Then Murphy struck again, because the pass of AAUSAT4 was a good one, but I missed the CW beacon for that one, also! They don't transmit a lot of beacon signals, so you have to watch them closely when tuning. Never mind, at least I have some success on 70 cm.
Transcript: VZLUSAT1 0Hz
Hear three new birds today: Ukube-1 on 145.840 MHz with a CW ID and digital telemetry, but I was too late to start GNURadio.
Transcript: UKUBE1 020A30000000168
At night I tried UHF, which is more difficult. I noticed that the angular width of my (vertically polarized) beam is quite narrow, hence I need true western passes. I did see and hear two signals, one from Suchai and one from VULZsat-1, but tuning wasn't done right, so I missed recording the CW IDs and I also didn't see any digital telemetry.
Finally a western pass for Delfi-C1 (DO-64) and could get some decent signal in. The direct decoding didn't work, despite the Java app monitoring the audio output of the sound card. I did record the audio, though, and using a null sink of Pulseaudio the recorded audio could be decoded. The result....
Only 124 mW output from the transmitter, that is wat makes satellite reception so amazing.
I also had a lucky catch. I was looking for Duchifat-2, but accidentally put in the data for Duchifat-1. I caught their CW ID, so that is another sat on my "Gotcha!" list.
Transcript: HI DE DUCHIFATFirst you hear the morse code ID, then some telemetry and another morse code ID.
I finally succeeded getting GNUradio + gr-satellites to work. I ditched the GNUradio install from Kubuntu and used PyBOMBS to install GNUradio from scratch. After that also using PyBOMBS to install gr-satellites and GQRX and that was it (well, there were some hitches, but nothing major). I first decoded AO-73 (Funcube-1), then EO-88 (Nayif-1).
The ISS was doing an SSTV transmission activity again (145.800 MHz, PD120 format), but the only good pass was in the middle of the night. I left the Gpredict-GQRX-QSSTV combo running on my PC and this morning I saw this:
Time wise these two were received on July 30th. Later today, close to midnight another two images.
Yesterday I noticed a new signal and it turned out to be CAS-4A. Today I got the beacon and saw the telemetry as well. I also received CAS-4b. The first recording is of CAS-4A with the call sign BJ1SK.
Here is a screenshot of GQRX showing the CAS-4A CW beacon in the middle, the linear transponder to the right and the telemetry to the right.
This recording is of CAS-4B with the call sign BJ1SL. This bird was significantly stronger than CAS-4A.
Fox-1B also had a great pass today and I recorded the following ID. The couple of seconds silence before the ID is used to transmit some telemetry (DUV or Data Under Voice).
I was finally able to ID the failing XW2E sat. Call sign is BJ1SF.
Good pass from Fox-1A and recorded this ID.
My operating position got an upgrade today by means of a new desktop. I now have a more comfortable 150x75 cm area to put all my radio gear on.
Today also the first telemetry received and decoded from a satellite: Fox-1B (AO-91). I used the Foxtelem program and although it crashed a couple of times (written in Java, what else?) I got one positive decode.
Later that night strong signals from Fox-1A (AO-85) and got a lot more decodes, plus some readable signals from Japanese amateurs. I heard 7J1ADJ/JR6 in QSO with JR6DI.
After asking on the AMSAT-BB the mystery signals on 145.890 MHZ were IDed as XW2E which came back to life. The CW beacon is on 145.910 MHz. This sat is not in GPredict, so I tuned it by hand this afternoon for an 84 degree elevation pass, but I tuned to the wrong frequency, so I missed it completely,
What I didn't miss was a western pass of Max Valier Sat on 145.960 MHz. Got an very strong signal and could get the complete message down a couple of times. It was even strong up till it was just above the northern horizon at 0 degree elevation.
Transcript: 73 DE II3MV MAX VALIER SAT TNX MANFRED ES CHRISTA FUCHS
I took down the turnstile today and replaced it with the dual DCA and I hooked the LNA up to the 2 meter DCA. I also repositioned the Arrow clone to 285 degrees to see if I can get more out of western north-south passes. The Arrow clone performed very well, but the DCA was noisy, even though it provided lots of signal.
XW2D had a (I hope) strong GMSK telemetry signal coming in at night. I recorded it, not knowing how to deal with it.
I also saw something strange today. It didn't last long, but saw it several times. No idea what it is, or what causes it?
Playing with the AirSpy Mini and I'm getting the hang of it. There is a lot of tweaking with the LNA, mixer and IF gain to do in order to get a decent signal, but it is manageable. I asked some questions on the AMSAT BB and it seems I do indeed get desensing when using the external LNA, so more filtering and a better front-end is needed for the AirSpy. I made an FM band stop filter, but I switched two coils around, so it notched the air band instead of the FM band. It works, so tomorrow I will fix it.
XW2C came in with a terrific signal and I could even see the digital telemetry.
On 70 cm I had a nice surprise when I heard CO-65 (Cute1.7-APDII) with the beacon on 437.275 MHz. I messed up the recording, but at the end of this short clip you can clearly hear the Morse code "cute".
All this was heard with the Arrow clone, because the turnstile is not performing well at all. Will have to put back the DCAs.
I installed two LNAs on both my turnstile and the Arrow clone and didn't get much result at first. Luckily XW2A showed up and with the AirSpy Mini I finally got a very strong signal. The ICOM IC820H did even better with an S9 signal. It seems the LNA is desensing the AirSpy Mini and even the IC820H did need 6 dB attenuation to produce a clean signal.
Today I saw two weak signals on the waterfal of GQRX: the first was a data signal from AO-73 Funcube-1 on 145.935 MHz and the other a very weak signal from Max Valier Sat on 145.960 MHz. The only signal that I received which was readable was from XW2B on 145.725 MHz. I recorded it and dragged it through Audacity to make it a little clearer.
BV2NT pointed out that there were good conditions between Japan and Taiwan. And yes, I heard some J-FM stations for the first time. 76.5 MHz came in very strong around 0300 GMT and this was the 10 kW transmitter from FM Cocolo JAOW-FM from Osaka. This is a multi-language stations and the program I heard was Afternoon Delight. My farthest station heard to date: 1750 km.
77.4 MHz yielded FMK from Kumamoto.
Before I took down my two DCAs I made a quick recording of the two ATIS stations I can receive here. Especially SongShan Airport (127.4) came in great.
And this is TaoYuan ATIS (127.6)....
The ISS was still putting out SSTV images on 145.800 MHz and the only pass today yielded this.
Last weekend they were also putting out SSTV images, but I couldn't get a decent image then. The mode they use is PD120 and it sound really funny:
Heard a strong signal from the XW2D CW beacon on 145.855 MHz.
Some luck in receiving Athenoxat-1, using the Airspy and my Arrow Alaska clone pointing towards 210° with an elevation of 20°.
Strong tropo conditions today and I heard the 10 kW Economic outlet from the Fujian Radio & Television Network on 96.1 MHz. They identify as "Cai-jing 9-6-1" and this transmitter is located in Fuzhou City.
There was also this station from Wenzhou on 100.3 MHz.
And another station from Wenzhou on 103.9 MHz, but no name heard. Later in the day another strong signal from Fujian on 101.5 MHz, this time with an English ID.
Build a little light box with cheap strip LEDs bought on Banggood. Runs on 12 Volts and hardly draws any current, but produces an abundance of white light through a milk white piece of plexi-glass. With the following setup I can now shoot images of the stack of photo negatives I got from my parents estate.
The first results are encouraging. Here is the reason I am interested in everything radio: my late father showing me the first radio my family owned.
This image was taken directly from the 50 year old 120 film type negative (6x6 cm) with a Canon EOS 750D camera with stock lens and a Raynox M-150 macro lens. In the GIMP the levels were adjusted after which the colors were inverted. The camera used at the time was an Agfa Isola, probably the 1, but I'm not 100% sure about that. My first photos were also taken with this camera after my father handed it down to me.
We had a rooster on loan for the last week. A mean fellow, but he was very nice towards our hen. No eggs yet, but we keep our hopes up.
It took two weeks for my PCBs to arrive, thanks to the May 1st break. They look perfect, but unfortunately I ran out of 470 ohm resistors, so I can't put one together.
Last summer I tried growing rhubarb for the first time. They can't stand the heat much and in pots they withered. The only one that survived has now been planted in the soil in a soon to be shady place, so let's hope this one will survive another year.
Kip looking for yummy things near the loofah. The rhubarb is in the background.
Last night I finished my first ever PCB design, a board to neatly connect an Arduino Nano, nRF905 module, a DS1820 temperature sensor and external connections. Nothing earth shattering, but it was fun to make. I used gschem and pcb from the gEDA suite and it was actually fun to learn and use these programs. Here is the gschem produced schematics...
And how the board will look (more or less, because you see both the top and bottom layers in this image).
I sent the gerbers off to iTead.cc this morning and they are already processing them. I hope they work out fine.
Note to self: a virtual audio cable under PulseAudio is made with the following command pactl load-module module-null-sink sink_name=virtual-cable.
Late Friday morning reception of the ISS SSTV activity. This pass was lower at 38 degrees max. The second image was better at around 10 degrees elevation.
The evening pass yielded two images.
This is picture 3 in the series of 12, but some bozo was keying his mike, hence the non-decode at the bottom of the image.
Very strong signal from the ISS tonight and the Russians had some SSTV activity. Pity that the signal dipped in the middle of the pass.
I also got some visible signal from Meteor M2 on 137.9 MHz. It's a little difficult to decode these images and the signal wasn't strong, so this will be a nice future project.
Some photos of our new (old) car: a 2002 Mazda Premacy. 180.000 km on the odometer and we only paid 1900 euros for it. Let's see if we can keep this running for a couple of years.
Note to self: to activate the bias-T on the Airspy when using GQRX use the following settings....
To switch it off use.......
Had some first success with my 70cm DCA: heard a constant carrier from LO-19 around 437.125 MHz and could track the doppler shift from 437.130 to 437.115 MHz all the way until it disappeared over the horizon. No CW ID heard, but this is as good as it gets.
The continuous carrier of LO-19 is clearly visible on the right of the local data stream.
Finally finished my 70cm DCA and fitted it above my 2m DCA. At first I didn't get the SWR below 1:2, so I took it apart and redid the whole build up and now SWR is around 1:5.
Local signals come in well on both 2m and 70cm. Now let's hope it brings in some 70cm satellite signals.
Nice tropo conditions again. Taizhou RGD came in very strong and new was CNR 3 - Music Radio on 100.2 MHz, right next to EBS's repeater in Jilong on 100.1 MHz. On 95.5 MHz was a station from Fujian, probably Fujian Economic Radio from Quanzhou. I made these catches with the Diamond D-130NJ discone antenna I brought with me from my trip to Holland.
On a two week trip to my native the Netherlands I took one morning out to visit visit a ham fellow with the same name: Hans PE1BVQ. He is an expert in working amateur satellites and since I want to get active in that field we hooked up. In fact, he contacted me first because he is a regular reader of this blog. Here he is in his shack.
Hans has various radios, but he uses the Kenwood TS-790 to work satellites.
Nice work bench with some familiar equipment.
His antenna installation is quite modest: a cross-yagis for 70 cm and 2 meters. He also uses an elevation rotor.
While I was there I witnessed Hans make a QSO via FO-29, which has a linear transponder, with UT1FG/MM.
More success: I heard the voice ID of AO-92 / Fox 1B today on 145.880 MHz. I was a little too late with recording it the first time and the second time there was some local QRM, but still a positive ID.
I also found out that the BO2AB beacon is now on 145.560 MHz.
Today some success in receiving amateur satellite. I heard the CW telemetry of Hope/Xiwang XW-2F on 145.975 kHz. I tuned GQRX myself to compensate the doppler effect and in between the fades I could decode the following: BJ1SG DFS XW2 .....KK AVNB IKCA UR4E 6ICK B.....CAMSAT CAMSAT
I used the rtl-sdr with the dca.
I got two TA1090EC 1090MHz SAW filters in the mail yesterday and mounted one in an old box. It did improve ASD-B reception with a lot more beacons per second than without the filter. I mounted it just before the RTL-SDR dongle.
Had to go to the bank in a neighbouring town today and passed one of the biggest nuisances around here: the Chongli relay of Han Sheng Radio. 936/693 kHz with 5/10 kW combined on one tower and putting out spurious signals on long wave spoiling NDB reception.
Had a near perfect pass of NOAA-18 this morning: from north to south and at an elevation of 88 degrees, so almost right over my head. Wxtoimg cut off at 10 degrees elevation, but I could easily hear the bird up to 5 degrees elevation.
First off, what you see appearing on screen when wxtoimg is doing its job.
The HCVT images, one with and one without precipitation.
The MCIR and NO images
Finally the thermal image and the seawater temperature
Had some luck with NOAA-19 reception today. Signals weren't very strong, but the DCA performed well. Will probably need a pre-amp to boost the signal a bit.
Today I saw the announcement about the new rules and regulations for amateur radio use in Taiwan. It's now official: we can use the 2200 meter band with 1 Watt EIRP.
Put my newly build DCA on the roof again. Of course no sat passes that could be monitored, but at least Taoyuan and Songshan ATIS came in and on FM my first cross strait station: Fuzhou PBS's Traffic channel on 87.6 MHz. Power is 3 kW, probably from Fuzhou City itself. This site is a good place to find frequencies.
On the screenshot you can clearly see the stronger signal from Fujian PBS News Channel on 87.6 and the weaker Taizhou PBS on 87.5 MHz.