CLE186 – Perils of Perseus

ZVR - 368 Vancouver -  Middle Marker Rnwy 08R - reported as far as California
Now that CLE186 has come and gone, worldwide results will soon be posted by e-mail (to all those submitting reports) as well as to the CLE website. CLE organizer and data-cruncher Brian Keyte (G3SIA), indicates that 50 logs (and over 2,000 reports) have been submitted, including two first-timers - Graham (VE3GTC) near Ottawa, ON and Hans (BX2ABT) in Taiwan. It's always great to see new activity, especially on LF!

As is usually the case with CLE's, propagation conditions begin to deteriorate shortly after the announcement of the upcoming event. By the weekend's arrival, conditions are usually much worse than earlier in the week and such was the case once again! In North America, lightning activity and mediocre propagation dominated the three-night event, with the consensus of opinion giving the nod to Saturday night and early Sunday morning as being the best period.

Courtesy: http://www.lightningmaps.org/

Here on Mayne Island, Friday night was pretty much a wash and only the stronger signals made it through the din and into the log. A twilight check on Saturday evening indicated improving propagation and less lightning, renewing optimism that the entire weekend would not be a wipeout.


Since purchasing the Perseus SDR earlier this year, I have been using it exclusively for the past few CLE's. I have been exploiting one of it's main features....the ability to record the entire band overnight and then tune through the band the next day, as in real time. I no longer had to prop my eyelids open until 0100 or later, or to leave a sound sleep to journey out to a cold shack to hunt the pre-sunrise band for anything new....yes, Perseus has made it possible to DX while I sleep!

Now the very concept of this horrifies many of the 'purists' and I myself held-out for several years before venturing over to the darkside...but...embracing new technology along with its associated new learning is what is important. If I get to sleep-in because of it, even better!

So....that's the way it is supposed to work, but due to operator error, Perseus failed to launch on Saturday night, and the best conditions of the CLE were missed altogether. Having seen the error in my ways, the perils of Perseus will, hopefully, not strike again!

Conditions on Sunday night were noisy once again, although not as bad as Friday, and the following log was gathered after parsing through my overnight recordings.

                                      09 27 0400 350 NY  Enderby, BC
                            09 29 0900 350 OKT  Yoakum, TX - new catch
                            09 29 0700 350 RG  Oklahoma City, OK
                            09 27 0400 350 SWU  Idaho Falls, ID
                            09 29 0900 350 VTR  McGrath, AK
                            09 29 0800 351 YKQ Wasaganish, QC
                            09 27 1330 353 AL  Walla Walla, WA
                            09 29 0800 353 CY  Cheyenne, WY
                            09 29 0800 353 DI  Dickinson, ND
                            09 29 0800 353 IN  International Falls, MN
                            09 27 1330 353 LLD Lanai, HI
                            09 29 0800 353 PG  Portage, MB
                            09 27 0400 353 RNT  Renton, WA
                            09 27 1330 353 ZXY  Whitehorse, YT
                            09 29 1100 355 AUB  King Salmon, AK
                            09 29 0800 355 YWP  Webequie, ON
                            09 27 0700 356 MEF  Medford, OR
                            09 29 0700 356 ODX  Ord, NE
                            09 27 0700 356 ON  Penticton, BC
                            09 27 1330 356 PND  Portland, OR
                            09 27 0700 356 ZF  Yellowknife, NT
                            09 29 0800 356 ZXE  Saskatoon, SK
                            09 27 0400 358 SIT  Sitka, AK
                            09 27 1300 359 BO  Boise, ID
                            09 27 0500 359 SDY  Sidney, MT
                            09 27 1300 359 YAZ  Tofino, BC
                            09 29 0800 359 YQZ  Quesnel, BC
                            09 29 0800 360 SW  Warroad, MN
                            09 29 0900 361 E3  Wabasca, AB
                            09 29 0800 361 HI  Holman, NT
                            09 29 1000 362 6T  Foremost, AB
                            09 27 1300 362 BF  Seattle, WA
                            09 29 0800 362 CD  Chadron, NE
                            09 29 0600 362 RPX  Roundup, MT
                            09 29 0800 362 YZS  Coral Harbour, NU
                            09 29 0800 364 4D  Helmet, BC
                            09 27 1100 365 AA  Fargo, MN
                            09 29 0800 365 DPY  Deer Park, WA
                            09 29 0800 365 HQG  Hugoton, KS
                            09 29 0800 365 MA  Mayo, YT
                            09 29 0800 366 YMW  Maniwaki, QC
                            09 29 0800 368 ZP  Sandspit, BC
                            09 27 1330 368 ZVR  Vancouver, BC

I have, over the years, logged all of these beacons before, except for one..."OKT" in Yoakum, Texas...new catches are always nice and are harder to find  it seems. The Google Map's 'street view' shows what appears to be a nice top-loaded "T" antenna at OKT:

Courtesy: https://www.google.ca/maps/


My CLE186 beacons - Courtesy: https://www.google.ca/maps/

It was nice to salvage Sunday night but I'm still a little bummed about missing the best night of the weekend...at least I had a good night's sleep.







Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

School Daze

A daze, that's what it was.

Last night was the second session of our eight week Technician class license class. I think some of our seventeen students walked out of the building with dazed expression on their faces. And I guess that's to be expected right now, as we're out of the introductory "This is Amateur Radio" feel-good fluffy part and we're now into the heart of the course, which is basic electricity and components and all the good stuff.

The concepts of current, resistance, voltage were easily digested by their inquiring minds. The concepts of capacitance, inductance, reactance and impedance? Not so much. But Marv K2VHW and I broke it down into the simplest "lay terms" that we could and I am pretty confident that they have a basic, rudimentary (if not shaky) understanding of the concepts.  I am trying pretty hard to find "real world" equivalents that they can relate to, so these concepts don't totally fly over their heads.

I have to admit that back in Ye Olden Days, when I was studying for my Novice license, I wore the very same expression on my face when I left those sessions each Tuesday evening in October and November of 1978.

If you have no concept of electricity and electronics, it CAN seem daunting. But if our students do the required reading, and maybe even do a little Googling on their own, they will have that "Aha moment!" when it all comes together.

As a class, they have several things going for them. The first is that our young students are whizzes at note taking.  While Marv is handling the teaching part of a segment, I try to keep an eye on our charges, to watch facial expressions and such.  The younger students have their highlighters and pens going at warp speed, taking notes and marking pertinent paragraphs and sentences in their license manuals. The older adult students are no slouches, either.  But there's one important difference - their facial expressions are more telling.  While the "kids" are sponges, absorbing all this stuff, every now and then, I will see one of the adults screw up their faces as if to say "What?!?"  It's at that moment when I will try to pause things for a bit and try to interject an example or some such thing that they're familiar with that brings the concept home to them.

The important thing that we try to stress as much as we can (without beating them over the head with it) is that they HAVE to do the required reading homework.  This way, we can answer any questions on any sticky points that they might have. We also give them the reading material that will be covered in the next week's lesson, so that they're not walking into the material blindly.

These two weeks will probably be the very hardest of the eight week class.  Electrical concepts and components last night. And next week, electronic and basic radio circuits.  After that, we'll get into "the good stuff" - propagation, antennas, operating procedures, setting up a station, etc.  That material is probably more in line with what they expected when they were signing up for an Amateur radio course.

I will make it my business during this coming week to make up a handout with some Internet sources that they can refer to in order to make the "meat" that they were fed last night just a little more palatable.  As any licensed Ham knows, this is an ongoing process that doesn't end with passing the test. In fact, it's just the very beginning.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

The Spectrum Monitor — October, 2014

october-2014-tsm-cover

Bear Hunting: Tracking Russian Air Force Flights via CW and SSB
By Tony Roper

When Tony Roper talks about bear hunting, he’s not referring to tracking furry creatures around the countryside using sophisticated radio devices as aides. He’s referring to monitoring the Russian Air Force Strategic Bomber networks on HF. The Bear networks use both CW and USB for communication; CW is Duplex with ground stations on one frequency and the aircraft on another; while in USB mode, the networks are simplex. Tony shows you when, how and where to find these bears of the air.

Free-to-Air C and Ku-band Satellite Signals in North America
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR

As the current solar cycle continues its fade and international shortwave broadcasters continue chiseling away at their budgets and on-air schedules, wouldn’t it be great to have a radio that picks up the latest English broadcasts from around the world in full fidelity audio, without fading, static and other atmospheric problems and cost less than $200 with no monthly fees or Internet connection? And, what if this same system could tune in dozens more TV and radio signals? That’s the advantage of Free-to-Air C and Ku-band satellite monitoring in North America.

The Summer of ’42 Radio
By Rich Post KB8TAD

Rich Post had promised a fellow ham, to whom he owed several favors, that he would look at an old radio that he would like to have working again. Rich had just opened the front door as two friends were carrying a small console radio up the sidewalk to his house when he glimpsed the back of the cabinet and immediately recognized the Philco from a distance. “It’s a Summer of ’42 special,” he yelled out. The radio was a Philco model A-361, first sold in April 1942. His friends understandably looked a bit puzzled at his comment, so he proceeded to explain the history behind the set’s existence.

Pirate Radio Superlatives
By Andrew Yoder

Over the years, radio listeners have asked Andrew, “Who was the first pirate?” or, “Who was the first pirate to broadcast from a ship?” Unlike Major League Baseball, which has kept meticulous records for more than a century, pirate radio is a largely empty record book, with few dots to connect. But this article isn’t cast in bronze, like the plaques at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s more like the senior superlatives from your old high school yearbook. Andrew has been researching old loggings, newsletters, magazines, and books for information and here are a few of the things he’s found.

The Spectrum Monitor is available in PDF format which can be read on any desktop, laptop, iPad®, Kindle® Fire, or other device capable of opening a PDF file.  Annual subscription (12 issues, beginning with the January 2014 issue) is $24. Individual monthly issues are available for $3 each.


Ken Reitz, KS4ZR, is publisher and managing editor of The Spectrum Monitor. Contact him at [email protected].

AutoCAD files for Ultimate 3

I’ve used AutoCAD for a while (because I had a work licence) but since being promoted I didn’t need CAD software…boooo (I also had an inventor licence but that wasn’t used as much). Anyway, back to the point.

U3 small

I made a couple of front and rear panels for the QRPLabs ultimate 3 WSPR transmitter and thought that someone else might like to make one. Well if you do the dxf files are below. You can modify them easily in Draftsight (A free 2D bit of CAD software) that accepts AutoCAD files. The file shows the parts embedded on a sheet that can be used for laser cutting and your local FabLab or similar.

Anyway enjoy

AutoCAD Files


Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

Noble Radio NR4SC update: strong signals

I had a few minutes to play in the RSGB 70MHz activity contest this evening. Although I was still only using the vertical antenna which is not ideal for such activity it proved a useful session.

Neil G4BRK my nearest 70MHz neighbour was on and going well. His signal was well over S9 and it is a compliment to his signal and to the NR4SC's receiver than he was gone within about 4khz either side, which I was quite happy with. M1PRO, a little further off were also rattling the s-meter and easy to lose a few khz either side.

Most distant signal heard was from Keith G4ODA in IO92/Spalding.

A 70MHz HB9CV antenna arrived today, so I'll put that together at the weekend and see what can be done.


Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

CLE186

With the temperature in the shack finally down to a more comfortable level I decided to get ready for the winter season and set up my medium/long wave outfit. The PA0RDT mini-whip was put in the mast, the Jackson Harbor Press long wave converter installed and all cables checked. I have been DXing NDBs on and off since my teenage years, and Steve’s (VE7SL) inviting announcement about the CLE186 made for a good excuse to check the whole setup with some NDB DXing.

Of course, there were a couple of snags. When I hooked up the mini-whip I remembered why I didn’t really like the original version: too much signal coming in resulting in some overloading and intermodulation products; LORAN C could be heard all over the place. Last year I made the alternative version of off PA0NHC’s hand, which performed much better. Alas, it fell a few storeys down from the balcony, which is not good for the health of electronics. I will have to build a new one these days. But after reviewing all the documentation on these whips I had my “duh” moment: I hadn’t filtered the coax and my ground connection was in the shack, not outside. Half a pound of ferrite clamps later and things sounded a lot better, although not perfect.

The other snag was the receiver. Originally I wanted to use my KX3 to free up my IC-7200. With both the mini-whip and the 12 meter vertical connected to the long wave converter reception was very disappointing. The IC-7200 did do a lot better, although not as good as what I remembered from using my TS-440S. The IC-7200 also did a good job without the converter, so I used both configurations.

But when Saturday came I was ready to do some serious listening and check out which NDBs could be heard. CLE186 focused on 350 to 369.9 kHz, but only a few stations were heard there. I found that conditions weren’t that great. Here is my entry:

0800 357.0 LU TWN Keelung S3
0802 362.0 HL TWN Houlong S5
0834 363.0 LA ? ? S4 1x ID then 7 sec pause
1139 369.0 ZF CHN Helou S3

I checked the whole long wave band and found plenty of other signals and I compared with my log of last year. Couple of new unidentified stations and two heard for the first time, the others being regulars. Our powerhouse NDB AP on 250 kHz was strong on Saturday, but off air on Sunday. I also heard TEST being keyed on 290 kHz instead of the regular BM from Makong, so I suspect there are some changes going on in the Taiwanese beacon scene.

Lots of fun and my focus for the coming weeks is clear: get better reception by building an improved mini-whip and improve my filtering. Who knows, maybe this season I will be able to receive some Japanese NDBs or radio amateurs on 2200 meters.


Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

Back to basics with the IC740

For the last few weeks, the IC-740 which was sitting quietly under the bench had been niggling at me. I had no HF rig on the operating bench, other than the FT-847 which gets used on VHF mostly. I'd taken the FT1000MP off the bench a while ago and didn't feel that excited about using it. In fact, I'd thought about selling it - though haven't really thought that through yet.

But the IC-740. There was an appeal to getting it out and going again. It was my HF rig when I first got on the air back in 1983. I knew it worked ok as I'd had a handful of contacts on it a few months back. Chasing DX, no, that wasn't really wanted to do. Perhaps some CW - just run of the mill stuff - there have been times when I've found working around the UK on 7MHz CW good fun. Maybe something like that?

Finding a few minutes this afternoon, I hooked it up - plugged an aerial and a paddle in. It puts out the 85W or so that it always did. Tuned around 28MHz and quickly made a few QSOs across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America (not great conditions, but good). I listened to my old pal G3TXF doling out the QSOs as ZD9XF. Although it would be lovely to work Nigel, I don't really feel the need to play pileups.

So maybe you'll even hear me and the old IC740 (31 years old) around 7030 playing low power. Who knows! It's nice to be reunited with my old friend!

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

The PAØRDT Active Whip….On LF

The Mini-Whip at University of Twente's (Netherlands) Remote Receiver

I think many hams believe that they need big antennas and lots of space to operate on 630m or even to listen on the band. I can assure you that big antennas are definitely not needed to listen or for that matter, even to transmit effectively.

You might be surprised at just how well you can hear on 630m using one of your low band antennas, such as an 80m or 40m dipole. Best results will be had with the coaxial feed's shield lifted from ground and connected to the center pin. This, in effect, allows your dipole to act as a top-loaded 'T', with the coaxial feedline now acting as the vertical element and the dipole section as a capacitive tophat. With a few ground radials, such an antenna can even be used for transmitting, if suitably resonated, but that's another topic altogether. Even untuned, this system will allow you to receive suitably on 630m providing your location is not inundated with high noise levels. High noise levels can often be overcome by using loops, either resonated or broadband. Loops can be very effective at nulling noise, particularly if it is coming from one direction, and vastly improving LF receive-capabilities.

Another popular solution and one that can be quite effective at lowering noise levels and improving overall signal-to-noise is the use of a short active (amplified) whip antenna. One very popular and proven design is that of Roeloff Bakker, PAØRDT. His simple-to-build active whip has been employed around the world and is being used by many LF'rs for dependable reception on the NDB band as well as on 630m. Roeloff himself operates from a noisy urban area yet manages to hear amazingly well on LF and MF with this simple antenna. Unlike a much larger wire antenna or large loop, the small active whip can be easily positioned in the quietest part of your backyard or rooftop. Often just moving such an antenna a few feet one way or the other can make a huge change in the noise level if you are operating from a typical city or suburb location....the PAØRDT whip may be all that you really need for long-term, reliable LF reception.


Courtesy: PAØRDT


Common practice is to mount the PCB inside a small weather-sealed PVC pipe and erect it atop a mast, after taking the time to "sniff-out" the quietest location for its placement.


Courtesy: http://www.leeszuba.com/projects/

With very few parts needed, the whip can be built for just a few dollars...even less with a good junkbox and the needed transistors.

Courtesy: http://www.leeszuba.com/


You can read Roeloff's own information on construction of the active whip here, with additional information here.

I even see the parts and PCB available on e-bay. As well, Roeloff himself, can provide finished units ready to mount in the air.

Courtesy: http://countingradios.blogspot.ca/2014_01_01_archive.html

There are plenty of informative Mini Whip articles and construction stories on the web should you wish to learn more:

If you're stuck with limited space for an LF-receive antenna, this may be just the answer!

      Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

      ZD9XF from the Pemi

      It’s been Indian summer the last couple of days. That’s what we call it when we get a spell of summer weather during the cool fall days. It’s generally the last warm weather of the year.

      I rode my bike along both sides of the Pemigewasset River yesterday and today. I worked Spain, Idaho, Madeira Island, Greece, Germany, Belgium and Tristan de Cunha.

      river

      Today was in the 80s! I rode my bike north along the Sanbornton side of the river. What a day… I rode about a mile and a half to the old bridge abutment and set up the KX3 under an oak tree in the shade. I tossed a 33 foot wire over a branch and started operating. I worked three stations in about 10 minutes on 17 meters.

      rig

      First EG4ATB in Spain… it was a special event station and we exchanged 599s. The next was W1AW/7 in Idaho, and then I worked Madeira Island. Cedric CT3FT was just finishing up a QSO and I called him. He gave me a 579. “FB QRP WRKING VY NICELY,” he sent. He was running 500 watts to a 4 element beam.

      The day was perfect. The trees are just starting to change color. The fields have recently been mowed and the scent of fresh hay fills the air.

      On the Old Hill Side of the River

      Yesterday, I was on the other side of the river. It was a beautiful day. I started out at Needle Shop Brook and headed south toward Franklin.

      brook1

      I rode south a couple of miles and set up at the edge of a large field in the sunshine just under a maple tree. I used the 33 foot wire and the KX3.

      I started out on 15 meters and quickly worked SX7AMF, a special event station in Greece. We exchanged 599s and I tuned up a bit and worked W1AW/7 in Idaho. Then I switched to 12 meters and had the surprise of my life. There was ZD9XF in Tristan de Cunha calling CQ. This is a DXpedition on one of the most remote islands in the world! I got him on the second call and we exchanged 599s. I never expected that.

      I switched to 17 meters and worked DJ9IE in Germany. Uli gave me a 579. He was 599. Before riding back, I worked one more… OP37AEF in Belgium.

      trail

      These last few days of September are precious. There will be many months of snow and cold before we can enjoy the luxury of days like this again. I’m getting out every chance I have.


      Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

      APRS Maps

      I’ve had a little play about whilst avoiding the household viewing of ‘Strictly come dancing’ aka ‘celebrity showing off’ with the APRS maps you can embed through APRS.fi

      I’ve added a little map to the site here

      Just a bit of fun but I do like APRS. Great for the fells.

      Trouble is it seems to default to Helsinki regardless of the lat / long you put in the script


      Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

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