Tuesday, October 30, 2012

WSJT-X for LF: Now I really will have to look at a top band antenna...

A couple of days ago, I read a post that the wonderful Joe Taylor, K1JT  was working on a new mode for use on LF. It wasn't until this evening that I read up a little more.



Joe says, on wsprnet.org

"If you are on 160 meters, or perhaps on 472 or 137 kHz, you may be interested in a new mode called JT9, designed especially for making QSOs on these bands. JT9 uses the structured messages introduced in 2003 for the JT65 mode, now widely used for EME and for QRP operations at HF. JT9 can operate at signal levels as low as -27 dB (in a 2500 Hz reference bandwidth), with one-minute timed transmissions. It also offers slower transmissions of 2, 5, 10 and 30 minutes duration, and the slowest mode can decode signals as weak as -40 dB. With one-minute transmissions, submode JT9-1 has a total bandwidth of 15.6 Hz -- less than one-tenth the bandwidth of a JT65A signal. The other submodes are narrower still: a JT9-30 signal occupies about 0.4 Hz total bandwidth.
JT9 is implemented in an experimental version of WSJT called WSJT-X. Some further details can be found at
http://www.physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/WSJT-X_Quick_Start_Guide.pdf ,
and an early version of WSJT-X can be downloaded from
http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/WSJTX_01r2695.exe .
If you want to try JT9, I suggest using dial frequency 1838, which is also used for JT65A, PSK31, and MFSK. In default configuration WSJT-X allows transmission and reception 1 to 2 kHz above the dial frequency.
Please note: WSJT-X is in an early development stage. Your feedback (direct email to me is best) will be much appreciated. And feel free to email me for a sked!
-- 73, Joe, K1JT"

This looks interesting and surely has to be the way for those of us who have never been able to work *anything* on 160m to finally do something interesting on the band. I've just downloaded the latest WSJT-X release, which differs from the link in the post above, but it's linked from the main WSJT home page

The program seems to be running ok and I'm monitoring 1838khz, so I will leave it going this evening and see how things work out.

Thank you Joe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

28MHz WSPR 29th October 2012 - or 'How does Julian hear all those W6s?'

Unexpectedly I was at home today so I ran the 1W 28MHz WSPR again. As ever, conditions were a bit different. VK3XL was a very prominent path this morning, but my 1W didn't get there! Nevertheless, some interesting conditions. 5Z4/VK1UN was a consistently good signal for most of the morning and heard me, which was very pleasing.

The US opening was pretty good to and I was pleased to be heard at K7UEB. Shortly after the band closed to North America, once again, there were some very strong signals from southern Germany, with DK6UG once again being excellent copy.

Looking at the difference between Julian G4ILO's results and my own, I am tempted to take down the Butternut and use a loft dipole! Of course, the difference could be down to all sorts of things, I have a long feeder run of not very nice coax, which could be making a difference. Julian's receiver is probably better than mine! I'm starting to wonder whether the lime tree, immediately behind the antenna in the direction of the west coast of the US isn't shielding some of the weak signals. Who knows! It's fascinating to contrast the results and in any event, I am amazed that 1W is getting as far as it is. But well done, Julian!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

WSPR Sunday 28th October

I ran the 1W WSPR system again today. Pretty similar results to yesterday although less good to South America for me. XP3A from Greenland was a nice surprise and there's some solid propagation into Germany and Italy that's going on quite late this evening. I'm assuming it's Es - as some of the distances are down as low as 600km. Could be backscatter, but it seems unlikely with the low ERP.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

28MHz WSPR 27th October or 'Remember Golf Four Victor XRay Elephant'

I didn't feel like playing in the CQWW SSB contest this weekend particularly. Remember the story of 'Golf Four Victor X-Ray Elephant'? Well, that! So this morning, I thought I'd set the 1W 28MHz WSPR running again for the day.

This was the result


No sign of VK or ZL this morning, but a very solid path into the Ukraine and further east this morning. PY2SDR was a very good path from midday onwards and some quite nice propagation into the US during the afternoon and early evening.W5OLF was the furthest west today. Just before the band closed, there were some very strong signals received from Germany - DK6UG and DB0ZDF featuring very prominently. Some Es, perhaps?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A glorious fusion of old and new on 29MHz AM

When I got back to the car this evening around 1815z I switched on the 10m rig. It was tuned to the CW end and it immediately became apparent that conditions were still good - with a fierce pileup being audible. I didn't stick around to see who it was.

I headed up to 29MHz to look for AM stations. One or two were audible, but the one that caught my ear was Rob W1AEX who was coming in really well. As I drove out of the station and towards home, I listened to Rob making some QSOs. To my surprise, rather than using boat anchor type gear, it turned out that Rob was using up to date SDR gear, a Flex radio. It sounded great! I laughed when Rob explained he was using a $2.79 microphone! There was quite a pileup going, so sadly I couldn't attract Rob's attention, but the story doesn't end there.

I heard Malcolm, G8NRP calling Rob too. When it was clear neither of us had got through the pileup, I asked Malcolm if he had time to QSY and make a contact. We did, and it was a first AM QSO for both of us, which was a lot of fun. Not great DX, being 10 miles or so, but it's a start!

Meanwhile, checkout Rob W1AEX's station here

Monday, October 22, 2012

The things that memories of solar cycle peaks are made of...

When you look back on the peaks of solar cycles, I find that some of the memories usually feature 28MHz. Last cycle I spent loads of time on 28MHz CW working across the US and beyond from a tiny garden in Windsor, with a stealth wire antenna! The cycle before that, I remember listening to mobiles driving around Tokyo on 29MHz FM on my converted CB set with a small antenna in the loft.

I wonder what this cycle's memories will be? Maybe some of the low power WSPR and JT65A. But this evening, driving home would be a contender. The KQ2H repeater was end stop on the Anytone and absolutely jammed with people trying to access it. After a couple of abortive attempts to put a call through, I sat back and listened.

6Y5SJ was working into the UK and Germany. A mobile in London was working a fixed station in Essex- over a path of 7000 miles or so! But what was brilliant was listening to (I think - this is from memory) K2SLJ/P using a UHF portable working another portable in New York through a UHF link. One of them was using 1W from a Baofeng UV-3R. How cool that their signals are crossing the Atlantic and beyond.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A different day to yesterday on 28MHz WSPR

Although the map looks quite similar to yesterday, in fact, it felt quite different. There was no sign of VK/ZL this morning for me, the band opened with Eastern Europe and Russia, although a VK5 was received here around midday - I was not heard there.

Also, many periods went by without my signals being spotted - very different to yesterday. I did wonder if the aerial had a problem, but I am certain it was just slightly poorer conditions. The afternoon did improve slightly with a few reports from the USA, with KE7A being the furthest west.

I've noticed this with low power WSPR before - you are very much at the mercy of conditions - where as with higher power you'd ride out the peaks and troughs.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A great day on 28MHz WSPR

I decided that I would run 1W of 28MHz WSPR through the day today. Delighted that I did and conditions were interesting; reports from Australia and New Zealand as well as a nice opening into the US in the afternoon.

No sign of any signals from Africa or South America today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First steps towards a 29MHz AM QSO...

Coming home from the station this evening I noticed 10m was still open. Bypassing the SSB segment I headed up to 29000kHz and turned the mode switch to AM.

To my surprise, I heard N3GEG in QSO with F6KHM (who was inaudible). Up 10khz there were some more US stations but much weaker. I could see where the CB expression 'in the back of the box' came from. Back down on 29000khz WA8ATF was now working into France. Using an FT101F and a Collins amp, it sounded amazing!

Operating mobile on AM is not without challenges. You hear every powerline, every noisy house, every bus...

Brilliant fun though!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

28MHz WSPR Day

It's ages since I played with WSPR, but inspired by Julian G4ILO's 28MHz WSPR results I thought I would give it a go.

I set the rig up with about 1 Watt out - a little over but I have quite a long feeder run to the Butternut. To start with, I doubted that it was working but then I heard G0MGM and he heard me - so it was obviously working!

Left things running throughout the day. My most distant report seemed to be around 3600km away; UA6AAK and 4X1RF around the same sort of distance. Some great reports from EA8FF in the latter part of the day.

Heard LU and T5 - but my 1W didn't get that far today!

Fun experiment which I will repeat!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

A swap around of the mobile rigs, 28MHz mobile and a lot of JT65A...

I've been working on a review of the Wouxun KG-UV920 for Practical Wireless over the last week or two. All done now and you'll hopefully see the review in around a month. With the Wouxun out of the car I've decided to have the FT-7900 in the car for a while rather than the FT-8900. The 8900 is now in the shack and working out quite well.

For example I can scan a bunch of repeater channels and monitor 145.500. A couple of contacts have resulted already. Interestingly, although the 8900 is on a triband collinear for 50/144/432MHz, on a couple of days when 29MHz has been open, I've heard stations quite well. I may turn the power down and see what can be worked!

In the car, I've replaced another magmount and am back on 28MHz mobile which is good. Heard an A4 on 29.600MHz FM yesterday. Keen to try and work some 29MHz AM as well!

I've been quite active on 28MHz JT65A over the last few days too with some nice QSOs into South America in the evening. I was excited to work A61BK this afternoon - and even more excited when Khalid posted a picture of the QSO on Twitter!

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