Thursday, October 18, 2012

new APRS digi

I bought and supplied a TinyTrak TT4 as a digi for VK2JDS-1, it covering the area well, plus  identified issue with VK2ABP-1 digi,  a poor Rcvr, we'll sort something out that in the future. Probably a better location for that equipment one day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

DX Farm October longweekend post mortem

Last weekend went well,  the trip up yielded good APRS track all the way to the farm via APRSDroid on my phone, as Optus has improved 3G coverage at Monkey Hill, so now have 900 Mhz 3G signal along the road and now have data feed from the farm, as opposed to only having coverage from top of the mountain previously, as in the past, we relied on Mt Canobolis for Optus coverage. Telstra signal already there, so not an issue. Did discover there is no Vodaphone coverage on the farm, except for the mountain top.

Mt Canobolis also provides 2100 MHz Optus 3G service, could run a directional yagi from the mountain top if required to access that service, otherwise, it is just the 900 MHz from Mt Aquila and Monkey Hill that provide 3G feed whilst at the farm. Anyway, this time, we had good data service so I can access the vklogger and other DX clusters and of course email. Telstra run 850 MHz 3G service from Mt Aquila and Monkey Hill too. I forgot to run Speedtest on both services to see how they compare. As for Bathurst, too many high ridges in between, so no service from Bathurst.

APRS on RF, Sydney to Lithgow fine, but limited coverage past that, next to nothing in Bathurst, as Bob VK2ABP's digi suffering interference and is deaf. Once the new APRS digi is on the mountain we should be good.

First day, did some EME chasing, worked Brett VK2CBD on 1296.070 on JT65 via the moon.

The farm now has antennas on the mountain top covering 160m through to 23cm, predominantly horizontal polarised for DXing. Made use of the 80m loop for 80m and 40m, mainly sitting on 7045 LSB to keep in contact with club members back home, such as Rob VK2MZ, Horst VK2HL/m, Ted, VK2FLB, Greg VK2VGM/p

2m SSB, missed the Sunday morning AE net on 144.200, as we slept in, but on the Monday morning did get up early enough to get on the AE net on 144.200, worked a good handful of stations, Rod VK2TWR in Nimmitabel, Ian VK1BJ and Rob VK1KW in Canberra, Col VK2KOL in Sydney, Colin VK2BCC in Blackheath, Gordon VK3EJ in Cobram and Mark VK2EMA in Tottenham. This time was running close to 150w into the 8el yagi via 10m of coax, last year only getting 40w. Also attempted a contact into VK5 without success.
It was very breezy and had a hard time keeping the yagi pointed in the correct direction, the issue there was that the TH3 HF yagi is above and gets pushed around by the wind.  Damned cold in the morning with -3 deg C, at night it was down to 4deg C, making it hard to keep warm in the tin shed.

Other times, gave some calls out on 144.100 but nil activity. Did not get around to trying 432 MHz.

Monitored 50.110 MHz, but quite dead.  Nothing on 52.525 MHz either. Although 10m was flying.

We spent a good part of the time fixing an old car and getting it running, taking the girls driving around the farm, motorbike riding, etc. Thanks to Carmel VK2CAR for providing me with a battery to go in the old car.

Looking forward to next visit. I want to build a 1296 MHz Xvtr to do some terrestrial DXing for the mountaint top.

Adding some more photos  to Flickr.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

upcoming activities

Building a APRS digi to go out at the farm, a TinyTrak4 for 145.175 MHz, this should provide good coverage for Hill End area and back towards Bathurst, hopefully complete by end of October.

Visiting the farm for October long weekend, will do some terrestrial DX for VHF, UHF & SHF

Seriously thinking about installing a 70cm rptr for the farm too, to fill in those dead spots around Hill End, Turon Rriver, Macquarie River,  Bridal Track, much the same coverage as the  APRS digi will provide. Except using a binary array for the 70cm, a little more gain, it should provide coverage up to Coonabarabran, maybe Dubbo. This idea has been on and off for probably 15 yrs now, but put it back on the drawing board recently due to lack of coverage from other local rptrs.

I'd also like to get to the farm for a VHF Contest this summer. Always hard to find the time, but its almost 2013 and the last of the good sunspot cycles, so got to make the best of Six metre DX across 2013-2014.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Echolink node back on air

after two issues,  one being interference in March, which has now been resolved, followed by the PC crashing, (do not use Windows XP for mission critical applications) we have the Echolink Node 1494 back on air. Currenlty on 2m simplex, but need to relocate it to 70cm simplex, which is in progress, plus a better antenna.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Echolink node 1494 update

setup the alternate PC for my Echolink node, different type of motherboard and different type of built-in sound card. Had it all running last night, RF audio coming into the node from the radio (Line-In) port now sounding much better.

six metres FM activity

some good E's activity on the weekend, after the WIA broadcast on Sunday mornimg there was talk of 6 metre opening to VK3, tried out the repeaters and found these repeaters coming in with good signals,
53.550  VK3RMH    Melbourne  30km NE of Melb
53.600 VK3RMR Gippsland Aberfeldy, nth of Morwell
53.675 VK3RAD Melbourne East , this has a electronically generated voice ident
53.725 VK3RGV Mt Wombat near Shepparton
I called on all of them several times, but nobody to be found, but I did work vk3NUG and VK3ALZ both in the Gippsland area on 52.525 simplex. Heard VK3NUG again several times later in the afternoon on 52.525

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Echolink update

My Echolink node is back on air after a lengthy absence, ran some tests, realised the noise of the incoming audio from the radio is still noisy, did some testing to isolate the source, I thought it was a noisy receiver, but after testing realised it was the Line-In port to the inbuilt sound device of the Dell PC, I adjusted the audio levels from the Windows drivers and I can vary it.

Not really a problem, as I built a new PC up (more precisely, I stripped down an old server, to
make it run 24x7 with minimal power usage, with extra fan, so it will run cold) so hopefully, the audio device in it will not have internal noise issues as the old Dell PC had.

Hoping to build the new PC using SVXLink (a linux based Echolink server).

Also, I eventually uploaded the latest version of Echolink client app for my HTC phone, now there is athe option for headphones or speaker, so I can now use the headphones for working the Echolink app from the phone. I was getting desperate and thinking I would have to get an iPhone just for the sake of working Echolink from a mobile phone.

Speaking of mobile phones, looking at my next replacement, heavily considering the Samsung Galaxy S II (Android based) for a phone and a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tab for a tablet PC. Yes, the iPad, iPhone and iMac are very nice devices, but I just don't like the idea of being told what you can and can't do when it comes to those devices, or being bound & locked in to the latest Gen-Y fad, I prefer flexibility. I like the idea of Linux and Android where the tools are available, it's up to me if I want to change things. (back off the soapbox)

Finally, I understand the concept of the Echolink Proxy, I was led to believe that it would let someone run two Echolink nodes from the one IP service, but after reading into it, that is not the case, so that squashed the idea of multiple nodes (for now). The idea for the 2nd node was to have a 6metre FM receiver scanning 52.525 plus all the repeater frequencies, now this could have been fun for someone interstate during 6metre E's season, you could be calling on 52.525 or one of the 6metre repeaters in the Sydney basin and hear yourself coming back through the Echolink connection, handy for testing propagation when there is nobody listening.

Monday, January 16, 2012

VHF/UHF Field Day Contest 14/15 Jan 2012

I didnt operate the contest, but I certainly had a listen, on 144.150 SSB, 146.500 Fm, 439.000 FM, 1294.000 FM, 52.525 FM, certainly plenty on 144.150 actiivity compared to the contest last November, I heard VK1BG in Canberra, and VK2ABP/p near Shooters Hill, not bad, considering I was listening to 2m SSB using a 1/2 wave dipole on 25m of RG58. Quite a few portable stations out, particularly up the Blue Mtns.

Heard four stations on 1294.000 FM making contacts, pretty good since I only had a Double-Quad sitting on the window sill beaming south across Sydney.

Dave VK2JDS worked VK1BG on 1296.150 which is a good haul.

I must make the effort to get organised this time next year to go up the farm and work the contest, maybe even the Spring Field Day contest in Nov.

6metre FM over Xmas break

Some good E's about over the Xmas/New Year period, I was active across 27,29 & 31st Dec.

On 27th worked VK4NT who was mobile near Ipswich via VK2RMP 53.650, VK4JV in Gold Coast via VK4RGO 53.800

On 28th worked only worked Jack VK2XQ on 52.525

On 29th receiving jack VK2XQ via the Auckland rptr 53.725, Jack was receiving it at s8 via a 1/2 wave vertical ringo with 3m of rg8, I was only receiving the rptr at s1 with 1/4 wave and 22m of rg213, at this point, I knew something wrong. This wasn't the first time, as a few weeks abck, Jack was working oen of the VK7 rptrs and I couldnt even hear it.

on 31st, started off speaking to Jack VK2XQ, he was working the Christchurch rptr 53.850, I couldnt hear it, then I was able to activate 53.700 VK4RSN, then 53.725 somewhere in VK4 (no ident), then 53.775 somewhere in VK4, (no ident), again, gave calls but no replies, then VK4RGO 53.800 , then found VK3RHV 53.625 Melbourne, but nobody around.
Then worked VK2HC and VK5RO via the Brisbane 53.725 rptr , then VK4UT via the Gold Coast VK4RGO 53.800 rptr. then found the VK4RBX rptr at the Knobby 53.925, but nobody around.

During that time, I kept hearing VK4HJS (I think it was) out at GinGin west of Bunderberg on 52.525, he was there for a couple hrs, working one after the other, 60/9 signal, whereas all the other rprts were in & out, his signal did not stray for a moment and he was working people all over VK2. I remember the same for a VK4LMB last year, up in in far north Qld being on 52.525 for a couple hrs and rock solid.

Jack was speaking to ZL's to find out that the Otago rptr should be on air, but he didnt find it, also Wellington 6m rptr should go back on air when the low band VHF TV transmitter goes off air for the digital switchover.

Also, Jack noted that 52.100 is also a good place to check out, when it gets too heavy on 50 MHz, switch to 52.100 to work the ZL's who are not permitted on 50 MHz due to restrictions against local NZ TV. Plenty ZL's sitting there looking for contacts, but who are not permitted below 52 MHz.

Noted on vlogger some good DX hitting VK & ZL for 50 Mhz, people working the U.S. and Mexico, A35 as well as E51EME was in almost all day everyday. 2013 looks promising.