Monday, September 15, 2014
The rig produces 10W out - you can see a full list of the specs here
The rig is priced at EU499 in the Netherlands, including 21% Dutch VAT.
I've asked Rob if there are plans to distribute the rig in the UK and what the price will be. I'll update this post accordingly when I find out. The PDF also mentions a 50MHz variant, but I'm guessing that the 70MHz will be of immediately more interest.
Updated: Rob PE9PE replied to say that the rig is available direct from the Netherlands and comes with a 2 year warranty.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Earlier in the week, the nice people from Flightaware got in touch and mentioned they had some software called PiAware. This software runs on a Raspberry Pi which has an RTL-SDR dongle and antenna attached and the Dump1090 software running.
So, if you don't have a copy of PlanePlotter and would like one - this is a nice bonus for setting up and sending your data into Flightaware. I had a copy of PlanePlotter anyway, but this looked like a fun challenge to get working.If you are running an inexpensive Raspberry Pi ADS-B receiver with dump1090 then you can install the PiAware Package from FlightAware to freely view nearby flight traffic and transmit this data to FlightAware’s tracking network. Most aircraft within Europe by 2017 and USA by 2020 will be required to have ADS-B transmitters onboard.FlightAware’s user-hosted worldwide ADS-B receiver network tracks about 90,000 unique aircraft per day and feeds this live data into the FlightAware website in combination with other public/private flight tracking data sources. FlightAware has over 500 user-hosted ADS-B sites online across 60 countries, with top contributors tracking over 10,000 aircraft per day. To see how ADS-B data is put to use, check out the FlightAware Live Map.The PiAware installation process takes only a few minutes. If you don't have PlanePlotter, you can download it and then send FlightAware your installation's serial number and we'll buy you a license. FlightAware will also give users a free Enterprise Account ($90/month value) in return for installing PiAware.
The instructions from Flightaware are good and comprehensive and can be found here
It was a while since I had run Dump1090 on my Pi, so I had to do a bit of work to get things in a state where PiAware would work.
- After some issues, I decided to ensure that Raspbian was updated: sudo apt-get upgrade (this takes a while!)
- I then refreshed rtl-sdr
git clone git://git.osmocom.org/rtl-sdr.git
cmake ../ -DINSTALL_UDEV_RULES=ON
sudo make install
- Having read around a little, I decided to install a Flightaware specific version of Dump1090. It appears that this shouldn't be necessary and you can use a 'regular' version of Dump1090, but I decided that my chances were improved of getting it working if I did this!
git clone git://github.com/MalcolmRobb/dump1090.git
sudo apt-get install pkg-config
Having compiled this - assuming you have installed RTL-SDR and have your RTLSDR stick, with an antenna (the little antenna which comes with the stick should work fine), plugged into the Pi - or a connected USB hub, it's time to see if you can receive any ADS-B transmissions
Navigate to your dump1090 directory (dump1090_mr in my case)
./dump1090 -- interactive
If everything is working, you should start to see some data coming through from the aircraft in your area.
Having got this going, you can install the PiAware software. Goto this page and you can start from step 2. I had some issues (mostly my fault!) with PiAware versions prior to 1.7-1 - but that is working fine.
Before you start PiAware up (in Step 4), stop your Dump1090 if it's still running and restart it as follows:
./dump1090 --quiet --net
I used the quiet parameter to keep resource usage to a minimum. The net parameter ensures that Dump1090 makes the data available to other applications (PiAware in our case).
Start up another LX Terminal window and type
sudo piaware start
Hopefully, you will shortly see a message saying that PiAware has started. You can get a good idea of what is going on by checking the Piaware log file
tail -f /tmp/piaware.out
With any luck, you will see a bunch of messages including 'Connected to Flightware - logging in and so on).
You should then see a message every 5 minutes detailing the number of messages that Flightaware has received from your receiver. If you run into problems, there is a helpful forum thread here
After all this, my Pi is feeding date into the Flightaware network successfully!
It's intriguing to note, running the Pi/RTLSDR combo at the same time as PlanePlotter and the LZ2RR microADSB receiver (on similar antennas). In the same time interval, the microADSB receiver has seen 488 aircraft and the RTLSDR has heard 329. So, the RTL_SDR is not quite as sensitive, but it's not bad at all! It may be worth trying different versions of Dump1090 and see if this can be improved.
Great fun to try - thanks in particular to Max at Flightaware for letting me know about PiAware.
Finally, if you want to see the map that your spots feed into - it's here
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Richard G3CWI at SOTABeams has very kindly sponsored some prizes.
I'm planning to be out during the weekend on one or more of our local summits (there aren't many in Oxfordshire!) and will be listening out for other SOTA activity.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The loss of VO-52 leaves quite a gap. What I enjoyed about it particularly, was that it was the one of the linear transponders that could be used with very simple antennas. My V2000 vertical worked very well for a variety of contacts. I just wish I had started using it earlier.
VO-52 had a great downlink signal and was always in transponder mode (AO-73 is great, but I rarely hear it in transponder mode, or if I do, it's usually brief, as it switches over to telemetry). So, hopefully the new generation of satellites which will be coming on stream soon - some already in orbit doing other things, waiting to be activated into their amateur radio roles - others waiting to be launched.
A good time to remember to support AMSAT (a VO-52 lookalike would work very well, thank you...)
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I didn't have a chance to think about it again until yesterday afternoon when I was in the shack working on a review of the Wouxun UV-8D for Practical Wireless and I noticed that VO-52 was due again. Once again, I heard nothing. Again I checked my receiver and the TLEs. I was now starting to think that perhaps it wasn't me.
On Twitter, I asked my satellite friends if there was any news about VO-52 that I had missed. Ricardo EA4GMZ kindly replied saying that it had been out of order for some days and included two useful links, one satellite status page and secondly to the threads on the AMSAT message board, where if you page down, you will find some messages relating to VO-52.
VO-52 had very quickly become one of my favourite satellites once I got going with it earlier in the year. I hope we shall hear from it again.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
See the news from the ARRL site
See a screenshot from G4SWX at G4CQM's site
Coincidentally, supper had finished around 2013 local time, so I sped upstairs and switched on the FT-847 with the V2000 vertical connected. The UKube-1 CW beacon on 145.840 plus minus doppler was the first target. It doesn't transmit continuously, but I was pleased to hear it around 2018 local up on 846. Shortly after that, I heard the telemetry on 145.915 coming through at very good strength.
Congrats to the UK team responsible for the satellite!
Friday, June 27, 2014
Some would say it was 30 years too late, but here in the UK, today was the day that AM and SSB CB was made legal on the CEPT 'mid' band, with an output power of 4W AM and 12W SSB. Good news as far as I am concerned and it will give me the opportunity to make contact with various friends who are active on CB and not amateur radio.
Not much about in the way of Es today, although I did manage a late afternoon QSO with HA8IB on 50MHz. Pretty quiet apart from that.
Late in the afternoon, I caught a couple of VO-52 satellite passes. The first was a very low angle one, around 2 degrees over Russia. I had a nice snappy CW QSO with Imre HA1SE. I was pleased to find I could work a pass at that distance and elevation, as I'd love to try working UA9CS and potentially even UA0SUN.
The second pass was a bit higher and I had a sketchy exchange - I'm not going to call it a QSO with 4X1AJ, but we heard each other before some noise kicked in here and that was that. As we're both reasonably regularly active, I'm hopeful of making a QSO before long.
Monday, June 23, 2014
A North America group, operating as VC1T plan to try from July 5th to 12th this year. They plan to use good power to a 43 element yagi (yes, 43 elements) and concentrate on FSK441 and JT65b modes.
You can read more about their plans here
Will this be the year it's done? Wouldn't it be great if the answer was yes!
Friday, June 20, 2014
QB50P1 was heard sending CW, QB50P2 was sending QPSK. Down on the 145.865 there was some CW (a sample was B1UARJZB4K - hopefully not too many errors there!) which I think may have been Nanosat-BR
Thursday, June 19, 2014
You can read more about the satellites here
Latest TLEs for tracking here
On Twitter, Dave G4DPZ reported he'd heard P1, so they are both alive and well!
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Clearly, I can't give too much away here - the review will be in the next issue of PW - but it's fair to say that the rig worked out well. As regular readers will know, I've had a Yaesu FT-8900 for a few years now. The TH-9800 follows that pattern very closely and works well (though is not identical). Well worth a look if you're in the market for an FM quadbander. I'll be sorry to send it back!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Although I don't use clusters much these days - especially on HF, this Es season I have been looking at dxheat.com which is a very nice web based cluster and allows me to filter everything except 50 and 70MHz spots. I noticed a 70MHz spot fly by of Martin GM6VXB on 70MHz meteor scatter. I tuned to the frequency in question and did get a short burst from him, but not enough for a QSO. Hardly surprising, given my vertical antenna.
Returning to 50MHz just before getting some chores done, I tuned around the CW end and SV5DKL (KM46) was coming through. With the small antenna, I don't work SV, SV5 or SV9 very often from here, so dropped in a few calls. Signals were quite weak and then, in typical Es fashion peaked up to S7 or so and I was able to sneak a QSO in, which was very nice. The distance is just under 2900km, which I think is ok for the setup here (SV5DKL was doing all the work, of course)
As I frequently do, when I work someone, I tapped his callsign into Google and found that Efstathios has a very nice blog, with information about his operating and QSOs, particularly on 50MHz.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Over the last few days, when there's been not much happening on the band, I have been leaving the receiver running on 50.276 with WSJT-X running JT65A. I don't think there is a huge amount of activity, but there have been some interesting loggings; Iceland, Greece amongst others. Typically the most interesting ones have been when I've been elsewhere, but I have called CQ a couple of times and was delighted to be called by 3 or 4 stations in succession. Signals were pretty small and there was no sign of any CW lower down the band.
For me, that's magic - working stations that you can barely hear! Of course, when the band is well open, JT65A, taking at least 5 minutes to make a QSO, is not the way to go - but when you fancy a bit of magic, it can be fun!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Despite it not being the most active of 50MHz days, it actually proved to be very interesting. Later on in the afternoon there was some Es around and I was pleased to spot and be spotted by CN8LI at a distance of just over 2000km. Not bad for 5W or so.
But actually, the most interesting signals were from Roger, G3XBM over in Cambridgeshire at a distance of around 140km. Roger runs 1W to a vertical, like mine. Pretty much every transmit period he made, I could see his signals, although often insufficient strength to decode. Another challenge was that owing to the amount of aircraft in the skies between us, the signals were often heavily doppler shifted, which is a problem for WSPR.
To our delight, Roger was able to decode my 5W signals several times and I was able to decode his 1W signals on several occasions. Our suspicion was that tropo came up a little and that there might have been some assistance from aircraft, perhaps flying on such a path that there was limited doppler shift.
I did also note that on the couple of times that we exchanged signals, Es had bubbled up a little. Clearly there is no suggestion that the propagation was via Es. However, I did wonder whether there was some benefit from some sort of scatter associated with the Es. At such low powers, I'm doubtful, but will look to see if it happens again.
Monday, May 26, 2014
A few days ago, I noticed a post mentioning a new version of WSPR, WSPR-X which can be downloaded at K1JT's site Realistically, as the main improvement seems to be the addition of WSPR-15, mainly for VLF, I wasn't sure whether there would be any major changes.
As it turns out, the user interface is a bit more modern, folllowing the WSJT-X design.
I downloaded it and installed it and could see noise being received. I set it up to transmit and was surprised when G8JNJ and G8JNJ/A, 80km away or so did not copy my transmission. I tried again, still no. Then I remembered that when I first played with WSJT-X, I couldn't get anyone to copy me, until I switched the output audio device driver to Direct X. I did that and immediately, I was spotted! Not really sure why - but pleased that it works ok.
So far, nothing decoded - although actually, I am seeing G3XBM and G0LRD's transmissions. The screenshot shows one of Roger's transmissions, with a huge amount of Doppler from a passing aircraft.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Nodir Tursoon-Zadeh EY8MM has produced several eBooks based on his photographs from various high profile Dxpeditions which are available for free.
If you are an iPad/iPhone user, simply go to the iBooks store and search for VP8ORK 2011 and you should be able to download and view the book, which makes excellent reading. Nodir has taken some wonderful photographs which really capture what it is like.
It looks like Nodir has published an eBook on the FT5ZM trip to Amsterdam Island, which is available in the Blurb store but I can't see it in the iBooks store just yet. I suspect you can get it onto your iDevice from Blurb, but I haven't tried that yet!
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
I caught a nice little Es opening on 50MHz this evening. Nothing huge, but some HAs coming in on CW with a few other countries audible from time to time.
I realised I had been working a lot of satellite QSOs recently, when I was reaching for the VFO during the QSOs, expecting to have to tweak it for doppler!
Talking of satellite QSOs today, I was pleased to work RA3MAU over in `KO97 on VO-52 this afternoon. A gotaway on FO-29 was UN7CY. Great to hear him on CW - easy copy on the vertical, but I couldn't find myself to call him! Other nice QSOs today with PA3ARK and EI9EW on VO-52.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Although I've been aware of some Es happening on 50MHz for the last few days, inevitably, the openings have been when I have been busy or engaging in good works (cleaning the village church, springs to mind!).
This evening after supper, I popped up to the shack to see what satellite passes might be of interest and I decided to check 50MHz. To my delight there was an S9 CW signal around 50.097. A quick listen and a call and IS0GQX was in the log for the first Es QSO of the season.
I heard him work a few others around this area, but no other stations from the Med were heard, and within 5 minutes, the band was quiet again. Love those early season Es openings!
Sunday, April 27, 2014
It seems to be a while since I stopped and wrote something here.
The simple satellite operation on VO-52 and FO-29, using the FT847, diplexer and the V2000 vertical continues. On VO-52 in particular, I have been surprised how well it works and have made a fair few QSOs, mostly on CW. Some passes are better than others, depending on the direction of the satellite and the vertical nulls of the antenna. I was interested to get decent signals through VO-52 the other day as it was over Greenland and the footprint of the satellite covered VE1 and W1 - so perhaps I may manage a QSO into North America when the time is right.
FO-29 tends to be a bit harder - just in terms of finding my downlink signal - again it depends where the satellite is, but I've managed a few contacts now, which is very pleasing indeed.
Nice to work GS3PYE/P - the Camb-Hams expedition to Lewis (IO68) on SO-50 this evening. I ventured out into the garden with the UV-5R and the Elk.
I've missed them both, but there have been at least a couple of Es openings on 50MHz. Earlier in the week, Ron ZB2B emailled to say that he had worked some stations in G, GW and EI in an Es opening and it looks like the band was nicely open yesterday morning (we were out, cleaning the local village church!).
Finally, apparently, this is my 1000th post to this blog. I enjoy writing it - and sometimes, enjoy looking back a few years to see what I was playing with then. It's interesting to see how things change. Thank you to YOU, though, for reading it!
Sunday, April 20, 2014
And so it was, I felt, the other day when I worked Berend, PA3ARK on FO-29. Berend often inspires me to try something new and so I thought it might be nice to try and create a QSL to commemorate the QSO.
I looked around and found the HAMQSLer program from VA3HJ. I managed to get past the 'the final courtesy of a QSO is a QSL'statement at the top of the website! In my opinion, the final courtesy of a QSO is to say 73, but therein lies why I find myself at odds with the 'every contact must be QSLed' brigade!
The program is free to download and I found it well-designed and easy to use. I did have to install the Microsoft .Net framework 4.5.1 and install it on my PC before I could install the software.
I was able to import a background image of a photo of our village church to use. I really had wanted to try and use one of the aerial photographs I took of the village when I flew over in G3WGV's aircraft a couple of years back. However, I found the colours didn't really lend themselves to overlaying text on top of the photo. Actually, I'm sure a more artistically gifted person would have managed, but I opted for the easy approach - one where I had a nice blue sky, where I could place most of the text.
I found that I was able to setup various static text fields and create a QSOs box, which could be populated from an ADIF file from my logger.
After a bit of resizing and trying various options, I was ready to import my ADIF records. I did tweak the Mode field in the ADIF record, so that I could show that the QSO took place on a satellite. The logger, of course, records that I was (in this case) transmitting on 144MHz, but not that it was a satellite QSO. I wanted this to be clear, so I amended the Mode field in the ADIF field to say CW Via FO-29, which I thought was clearer.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
A little later FO-29 was due over and I wondered if I might be able to hear anything. The pass was quite quiet, but I did hear my Twitter friend, Berend, PA3ARK on CW. I was able to find my signal and place it reasonably close to Berend's and we had a bit of a sketchy, but valid QSO.
Really pleasing to find that some simple CW satellite operation is viable with just a vertical antenna.
Berend sent a nice photo of the entry of the QSO in his logbook!
Evening update: I caught a late afternoon pass of VO-52 and was hearing myself well enough to have a tune around and was able to answer UT3UX who was calling CQ on CW and work him. I've not found too much CW activity so far. I'm sure I can work some SSB, but with the slightly lower signal levels, CW gives a bit more latitude!
Saturday, April 05, 2014
After I mentioned running a PSK program on my iPhone the other day, my friend Simon asked which one it was and whether it was PSKer. That was a program that I hadn't heard of, so when I had a moment yesterday, I decided to investigate.
PSKer looks a very nice program and I decided to give it a go. When I got back to the car yesterday evening, I ran it up and set the receiver running on 28.120. There was plenty happening.
PSKer seems to decode a little easier than the Multimode program I was using the other day. I haven't yet tried it on transmit. However, I did discover that it can be set to send tones through the speaker, rather than the earphone socket, which is what you want when you are too lazy to make up a lead!
Friday, April 04, 2014
Noticing Roger, G3XBM blogging that 472khz WSPR was quiet, last night, I decided to run the FT847/HF6V on 472khz WSPR receive overnight. Sure enough it was quiet, but it was good to hear PA3ABK/2 and DF2JP, who I think is a new station to me.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
This morning, 28MHz seemed pretty quiet as I drove to the station this morning - very little on SSB. When I got to the station, I tried CW which was just as quiet. As I spun up the band to the beacon area, I noticed some PSK on 28.120.
Some months ago, I downloaded the Multimode application for my iPhone which decodes PSK and RTTY. I just fired up the app, held the phone reasonably close to the rig and saw PSK signals appear on the display. To tune the signal in, you just drag the centre of the bar to the centre of the required signal and with any luck it displays.
This morning, it was fun to see 5B4/SQ2MQM working a JA station. And this evening when I got back to the car, LW5ER was coming through nicely.
Obviously you can't have all this going whilst you're actually driving. That would be dangerous! So, I tuned up the band to the SSB segment and the very first signal I heard was TX6G coming through - really great signals. In a perfect world, the next sentence would be that I cracked the enormous pileup running 10W to the whip.
Sadly no! The Anytone can't deal with split frequency operation, so it was just a case of enjoying listening to the signals coming through from the other side of the world. I did stop in a lay-by and text Justin, G4TSH, who's there, that they had a great signal to the mobile.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Imagine that! DMR and DSTAR on the same radio.
Take a look at this post which I found on the VE3XPR site - which is an interview with Jerry Wagner of Connect Systems.
It will be really good to see if this comes to pass.
Good luck Jerry, good luck Connect Systems!
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Browsing around the AMSAT-UK site yesterday, I came across this article by the ever inspirational Ray, W2RS about how he had made QSOs on the SSB satellites using nothing more than a dual band mobile whip, a diplexer and SSB transceivers for 144 and 432MHz.
Well! I wondered if I could do something similar, given that I had the V2000 vertical up on the mast. In some respects, it is a 'long whip' as Ray discusses, putting quite a lot of radiation towards the horizon, which is what's normally wanted for tropo, but not for satellites, but there are certainly some vertical lobes.
So, I fed the V2000 into the Diamond diplexer and then connected the appropriate coax from the diplexer to the FT847's 144MHz port and (separate) 432MHz port.
An initial test to see if there was much desense or crackle was positive.
The first satellite around was AO-73, which was testing its' transponder in daylight. After a bit of fiddling around, I was able to hear my CW, just as the satellite flew over the horizon! Then VO-52 came over and I was receiving good signals on 145MHz and again was able to hear my CW, sufficiently to call CQ. No-one came back, but it's a start! I also managed to hear myself on a pass of FO-29 with reasonable elevation.
This is all quite promising and I'm pretty sure that I will be able to make some QSOs in due course, most likely on CW.
However, all of this enthused me sufficiently that I'm aiming to be able to take the FT847 out into the garden (or out portable) with the diplexer and the Elk to try and make some contacts with the yagi.
Good fun - thank you for the inspiration, Ray!
Saturday, March 15, 2014
I hadn't put the receiver on 145.825 and monitored the packet transmissions from the ISS digipeater for a while. Nice to do so over the last couple of days and see plenty of stations plotted on the map.
I haven't been in shack at the right time to press the transmit button - but it's just interesting to see what's been heard
Gear is the FT8900 / V2000 vertical - UZ7HO soundcard modem software/UISS software
Sunday, March 09, 2014
A more challenging path was the 432MHz one from here to PI7CIS in JO22. At the moment, with the 10el yagi, I am not hearing the beacon all the time, so I left the FT847 running with the beam pointing towards Holland and after a few minutes, I heard a weak signal from the beacon. Sure enough, referring back to the AirScout software, there was an aircraft along the path.
Very interesting! I must look at this software a little more and see if I can learn a little more about how I might use it to make some aircraft scatter contacts.
You can download a copy of AirScout here