I was fortunate enough to be able to operate GB19SG for the Cricket World Cup RSGB event, the call being managed by Rich GW4BVJ. As a member of the small team I operated many times from the home QTH, friends QTH on both SSB and FT8/4, and portable. It was very enjoyable indeed. Below are some pictures from the portable activities. 73 !
Grosmont, Abergavenny – IO81nv 13th + 14th July 2019
So, unless you have been living under a rock you will have heard of DX Commander. M0MCX, Callum, runs a micro antenna business producing mostly multiband vertical antennas. He also runs a very enjoyable YouTube channel.
Based on a ‘fan dipole’ idea, half of the the dipole is taken and turned on end, and driven elements for each band run up a vertical fibreglass flag pole. With a suitable ground system deployed a multiband HF vertical can be achieved very quickly. Research paper after research paper shows that diminishing returns are reached with roughly 4 times the amount of copper down as the wavelength of the lowest frequency band. So, if you want to reach those diminishing returns on 20m for example, you need something over 80m of ground radials, and don’t stress making them 1/4 wave or anything, just any old length, 20 to 30 radials of 4m each would be fantastic. Just chuck them down and get on the air !!!!
Anyway, with the ‘technomagic’ aside, I decided to built my own home brew version. I am using an aluminium plasterers hawk, upturned to act as the ground plate to attach all the radials to. Drilled and tapped, suitable bolts and an so239 attached, it is very easy to deploy. A couple of holes can be made to push tent pegs through.
I picked up a DX Commander 10m fibreglass pole. The end cap can be removed and it sits nicely over the handle from the plasterers hawk.
In Part 2 I will build the ‘spacer plates’ and get the elements cut for each band I want to operate on.
So, my friend had problems with his IC-7851 doing strange things. After hours of diagnostics the issue was found. The interlink cable between the STEP-iR control box and the CI-V port on the back of the radio seemed to be causing the USB disconnects and other gremlins. With the interconnect removed, all problems vanished.
We tried ferrite after ferrite on that cable to no avail. Either the early generation STEP-iR control box has insufficient RF attenuation, or there is some other issue, perhaps with the ic-7851 or the data/control cable from the tower to the STEP-iR control box. Either way, with the interconnect removed, and consequently no auto control of bands, then the problem goes ‘away’.
A friend has been having some issues with his new, rather gorgeous, ICOM flag ship radio, the IC-7851. CAT issues, com port issue, cw keying issues, STEPir tracking issues. This post is really to act as a record, and perhaps help anyone else with similar problems. All related to configuration, possible conflicts and other such annoying gremlins.
So, after removing the icom usb drivers, unplugging the usb cable, and reinstalling the drivers, then reconnecting the usb cable, the radio and computer seemed happy. COM7 and COM8 showed up in device manager. However, there does seem to be an issue where upon reboot, sometimes the USB devices will not be recognised. This issue is to be monitored and some more work perhaps required figuring out what is happening.
Moving on, we managed to get the radio talking to HRD and Logger32, at 19200 baud, 8n1, no handshaking, on COM7.
We then looked at CW keying over the USB cable, instead of running a separate cable and related serial interface. The IC-7851 presents two com ports as mentioned above, COM7 seemingly the CAT control, COM8 the keying port perhaps. Another friend did mention that COM8 might be second RX, but not entirely sure on that. Anyway, COM8 was used in the keying config of Logger32, and the 7851 was configured to use USB2 DTR as its CW keying source. All worked great, with CW and break-in selected on the radio.
We then looked into getting the STEPir auto tracking the vfo frequency. The STEPir control box is quite an old version, pre-dating the current SDA100’s. After much head scratching, we decided to use the remote (ci-v) port on the radio. The TIP of the 3.5mm jack, going to PIN9 (ttl rx) of the 9way d-type female that plugs into the STEPir box, and the RING to pin5 (gnd). A quick solder job and it was all working. Note: the pin out of the STEPir 9 way is not standard serial, certain pins are there to be connected to different makes of radios.
It has been noted that the STEPir will only track when the vfo on the radio is adjusted, and not when Logger32 tells the radio to move frequency. The IC-7851 needs to have CI-V transceive turned on.
Some configuration settings recorded here as a record.
So, one of my Tannoy Reveal 502 speakers kept blowing its T500mA fuse. I purchased some replacements, tried a new one, and pop. Something was obviously wrong.
The cabinet was a bit awkward to open, but I needed to get in there and have a look. The outer screws removed I poked something soft(ish) through the front port and ‘persuaded’ the back panel to come loose.
After a quick visual inspection I noticed that C11, a 100nF decoupling? capacitor, looked very hot and burnt. I did a quick check at this point and sure enough there was a short somewhere on the +ve and -ve rails.
Out with the soldering iron, I removed C11 and C6. C11 disintegrated as it was being de-soldered, and was obviously defective. I also removed the two 3300uF caps and gave them a quick test, they seemed fine. With those two re-soldered as they were ok, I replaced C11 and C6 with some 104’s (100nF) ceramics, and ran some tests with a new fuse in place. All seemed to working fine, sounding great. I left C6 and C11 on long legs to move them into some free air to try and reduce the chance of over heating. The yellow ‘hot snot glue’ was a nightmare to remove and was more like epoxy.
I must say, the ‘psu’ board did not seem to be of high quality. It looked as if it had been put together on a Friday afternoon, caps at all sorts of angles, rectifier twisted, just shoddy workmanship. I didn’t remove the amplifier/filter board so I can’t comment on that.
Anyway, a simple fix and I once again have a right speaker ! Happy days.
I had the beam pointed at GB3VHF but noticed another signal on the waterfall around 144.415.590Hz. I moved the beam to 80 degrees, and it was the PI7CIS beacon on the sea shore of Scheveningen, around S3-4.
Using CWGet I decoded the following CW around 11:36UTC, 6/6/18 :
Well after having the new 13ele tonna up for a couple of weeks I recently noticed a signal around 144.430Mhz. After some quick research I discovered it to be beacon GB3VHF which outputs a JT65B signal.
I can copy the beacon on the beam S5-S6 seemingly 24hrs a day, so quite a good path between us. SNR’s of -1dB to -2dB in WSJT-X are the norm. I decided to listen with the x510n collinear vertical and to my surprise I could decode it with varying snr’s.
I ran it from around 3am on the 21/05/18 through to mid day, recorded the results and plotted them. You can easily see that the SNR improved from around 6am through to around 8:30am.
An SSTV image from a pass of the ISS @ 14:23z today as part of the “Expedition 55 Interkosmos” mission. I didn’t get set up in time so only managed to get the end of the last transmitted image. ISS was over north France at the time, at about 250 miles up. 145.800MHz +- some doppler. SunSDR2 Pro and the X510n vertical. 30dB over 9 signal.
The next pass at 15:50z ish was going right overhead, so I was all set up for this one. The first image (with the green noise) was received over the middle of the Atlantic (amazing 800-1000 miles away?), the second when overhead here in S.Wales and the third when passing over the east side of Poland.
The last pass of today, around 17:30z resulted in the following two images. Signal strength on the last was around S5-S7 with qsb.
Most of the time signals were around s9+10 or so, with very little qsb. I did notice some flutter/phasing/qsb on the final image as can be seen by the noise lines over the image.
Anyway that is all for now. I will put any new images below.
So, I decided to have a dabble on JT65 last night, had a listen to the bands and opted for 17m.
The frequency was quite busy but I found a spot where I could call some CQ’s. 7X3WPL came back to me, but as you can see he failed to give me a report. In fact, he ended the contact with a 73 and then started calling CQ.
So this station did not give me a signal report (look at the times), and he then went about calling CQ. I double checked back through the call/band history and could not see his call sign. Unless there was some serious QSB or some sporadic propagation openings he was not on that frequency calling cq prior to me.
So, this morning, I checked QRZ, and unsurprisingly there was a QSL waiting for my approval from 7X3WPL.
Now, as I am only a year or so on the air with this callsign, I would have liked to have had that QSO confirmed and add Algeria to my country’s worked, but no, I refuse to add something that has been so obviously made incomplete. Why bother even operating and trying to make contacts if you cant even be bothered to send a report ? Obviously it could be, and probably is, an operating mistake but to then call CQ as well ? As it happens according to QRZ he gave me a -14 report.
Is this a sign of things to come, with more and more automation, and the 59 73 mentality ? I read about the up and runs where the last you hear from a station is R-02.
Please for the love of god, if you are operating a slow as hell mode (5-6 mins per qso) then at least send a report and see the qso through to completion. I am slowly getting fed up of wasting my time.