Thursday, February 6, 2014

1296 Mhz and 10 GHz transverters

I started documenting the building of some transverter kits for 1296 Mhz (23cm) and 10 GHz (3cm) to inspire others to try (what I consider is) this new frontier of amateur radio.

I say "a new frontier", as the proliferation of kits and surplus of microwave gear, opens the opportunities of experimenting on microwave bands to more people.

If you have never looked, then go look at VK5EME Minikits  and VK3XDK websites.

anyway, here is my microwave page:

SDR update

if you had played with,  or attempted to play with those little USB TV dongles,  e.g. the black dongle that Andrew VK3BQ sent as link for on ebay end of last year.  The black rtl2838 based dongle is more sensitive and less prone to image signals than the white rtl2832 based dongle we had used in the past.

I can advise that the  SDR#  (sdrSharp) website have greatly  improved their download and install package and install procedures, it's now a much easier task. And the site have also improved their install procedures instructions, for those using RTL based dongles.
The latest Zadig USB driver installer is much improved too. Note: two versions of Zadig, one for XP and another version  for Vista,Win7 & Win8.

begin here at the SDR# downloads area:

which includes links to install procedures on for MS Windows and Linux

Somehow I broke my SDR# installation on my notebook last year whilst trying to update it and could not get it running properly, but I did the download and reinstall yesterday and now it all works great, I can even swap between dongles to compare them, both dongles work fine. Really pleased with it now.


last week was pretty good for propagation from Sydney, with the High pressure cells sitting over the Tasman sea for days, we were presented with consistent tropo ducting up and down the coast of NSW and across the pond to ZL as well as trops across the Great Australian Bight which provided paths from vk6 to vk5, vk3.

As far as paths from Sydney, we had openings to Tamworth to both their 146.750 and 439.950 repeaters,  paths to Buladelah 147.100 regularly, good paths to south coast such as 146.825 near Bega, 146.625 Goulburn  was strong on quite a few occassions, in fact one day it was 60/9, with Mt Ginini 146.950, and the local Canberra repeaters 146.725 and 147.175 heard on occassions. One one night I found 147.025 from Mt Canobolis (Orange) accessible, I called someone to come up on it, but that repeater faded into the noise before we could make a contact.

monday night this week, heard activity on 146.700 near Nowra.

Last week several VK2 and VK4's made it across the pond to ZL1 on 2m,70cm and 23cm SSB, even ZL1TPH/p was receiving the Dural VK2RWI 1296.420 beacon on more than one day, that's pretty impressive, but makes me optimistic that more regular 23cm contacts across to ZL are probable. It provides me with more incentive to get 23cm SSB gear active and a dish up and aimed at ZL next summer.

I did note that the tropo just does not extend inland and with enough intensity for contacts on 2/70/23 to ZL, I think the inland inversion ducting is the much more common propagation mode, which of course occurs mainly at night.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kenwood TR9130 and TR9500 modifications

I finally got a round to documenting some mods I did to my Kenwood TR-9130 2metre All-Mode trasceiver and TR-9500 70cm All-mode transceiver.  Basically I replaced the incandescant lamp with green LEDs to provide a better backlit Signal meter, plus some other improvements.

see the modifications here on my website:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

23cm repeater testing

went to Long Reef on the coast, to see if I could key up the Newcastle 23cm repeater, yes, it works, s0, not as strong as I thought it would, comparing to Somersby VK2RAG it was about s4.
It was enough to provide proof of concept of the path.
Could not key Chatswood or Dural 23cm repeaters.
Next will try from North Head.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Newcastle 23cm repeater

drove up north of Terrey Hills to a high lookout  overlooking Cottage Point & Akuna Bay ,  ( 33deg 38.06min S, 151deg 12.56min E, QF56OI  alt.177m)  using the Double-Quad antenna I could key up the Newcastle repeater VK2RTZ 1273.100 / 1293.100 it came back with a signal strength of 10/9. 

In comparison to Somersby repeater VK2RAG 1273.400 / 1293.400 which came back with 60/0 signal. Both repeaters have voice ident.  Gave some calls, but nobody around.

Tried to key Dural repeater VK2RWI  1273.500 / 1293.500, no luck, it is deaf.  But switched  the Double-Quad antenna to horizontal polarisation, I could hear the VK2RWI beacon on 1296.420 ok

Chatswood repeater VK2RWC 1273.200 / 1293.200  was a no show,  but this was to be expected, as I was in its shadow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

23cm repeater update

operational 23cm FM Analogue repeaters:
1273.100 / 1293.100 VK2RZL  at Cardiff Heights, Newcastle
1273.200 / 1293.200 VK2RWC  at Chatswood
1273.200 / 1293.200 VK2RPW at Walcha area.
1273.500 / 1293.500 VK2RWI  at  Dural

Other 23cm repeaters, that are planned or under construction in NSW:
1273.300 / 1293.300 VK2RBM  for  Blue Mountains ARC , west of Sydney
1273.300 / 1293.300 VK2RPL Mt Nardi, Lismore area
1273.450 / 1293.450 VK2RRR at Razorback in Sydney's south west (Camden/Picton area)
1273.700 / 1293.700 VK1RJB in Jervis Bay on the South Coast 

Friday, December 6, 2013

23cm FM activity

I been trying to hit the Somersby VK2RAG 23cm rptr on 1293.400  over the past month or so,  first I tried it  stationary mobile at Terrey Hills about a month ago just after it went live, I could just key it up occasionally, but it was noisy.

Last Saturday  I took a Double Quad antenna with me and tried it portable from Dobroyd Head / Tania Park at Balgowlah Heights, as this location is high and void of trees and other objects,  this time I could hear it  S0-Q5 and could key it and gave some calls, I heard Doug VK2MDC come back to my calls, but I was too noisy to be understood.   Same afternoon, I worked Dave VK2TDN and Ron VK2GO on the Chatswood 23cm rptr. 1293.200.  Also tried some calls on 1294.000 FM simplex to see if anyone was listening, but nothing.

On Wednesday I drove up past Terrey Hills out towards Cottage Point where there are a few high spots along the road and tried again, I found a good spot where I could key the VK2RAG 23cm reliabley, but made no contacts. I'll have to do a trip all the way to West Head and try again.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WSPR & WSJT on Linux

after messing around for several weeks trying to get WSJT and WSPR compiled on various flavours of Linux, I finally discovered that most discussion forums and blogs on the subject missed an important dependancy, being python-dev.

Moving on,  I have now succesfully compiled WSPR 4.0 r3051 (svn3571) on Ubuntu 12.04 x86, Ubuntu 13.04 x86, Debian 6.02 (Gnome) x86,  Debian 7.1 (Gnome) x86  and Debian 7.1 (KDE) x86.   I have been running the two Debian 7.1 instances with WSPR 4.0 back to back to prove they can decode each other correctly, so that is looking good.  I have now have my confidence back in WSPR/WSJT on Linux again.

for the WSJT, successfully compiled  some old and latest version of WSJT on Ubuntu 13.04 x86, Debian 7.1 (Gnome) x86 and Debian (KDE) x86.   I was not expecting different behaviour from the Gnome based and KDE instances, but it did confirm consistency in the  build procedure, which is satisfying to know.
I downloaded and compiled WSJT 9.3 r2589  and WSJT 9.5 r3281 (svn 3564) for the Ubuntu 13.04 x86   and WSJT 9.5 r3281 (svn3571) on the two Debian 7.1 x86 instances.  I had picked the older versions based on what I had seen other people using, as a known stable release, once I confirmed it worked, then went and tried the latest version. That's using the source from the site.

Will do some more testing on the other combinations, followed by some RF testing. Then I will document my experiences on my web page to encourage more hams to switch to a Linux based WSPR / WSJT station.

And I also hope to do some 64 bit Linux compiles on a 64 bit server sometime.

What would be really nice to do in the future is get a Rasperry Pi board, get WSPR running on that, take it and a 2m radio portable up a mountain top.

Flag Pole Contest

my local club  (Manly Warringah Radio Society) VK2MB ran their inaugural Flag Pole Contest last weekend, where you go setup a portable station with something like a flag pole and make contacts with it.

I think they planning to make it coincide with 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' each year.