An Online Alternative For Comparing Antenna Performance

Over the past few years, the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) has been utilized by thousands of amateurs to gauge the performance of their antenna systems, to check propagation or to compare their station's antenna performance against another nearby amateur's system.

For those not familiar with the RBN, it is the opposite of a network of 'on-air beacons' and consists of a network of 'on-air receivers', usually SDRs, that automatically skim a wide range of frequencies within the CW bands and report back what they hear, along with a definitive signal strength report ... all posted immediately back to a central website where you can read the data from the various stations that have heard your signal. Calling 'CQ' or sending a few 'TEST de' signals, followed by your call sign, will trigger the desired network response.

I have recently been testing a new 40m antenna, an inverted-V dipole at 80', against my long-used half-sloper, but have been using a different online receiver network to make my real-time comparisons ... the KiwiSDR receivers, mentioned in previous blogs. I'll have more to report about the new antenna and its performance in an upcoming blog, once everything is finished and the antenna is fully optimized.

When it comes to real-time 'A-B' antenna comparisons, I found the KiwiSDR network much more interesting and informative than using the RBN. If hard data is what you want, then the RBN will provide it, but not in the same real-time, 'A-B' style that the Kiwis can offer. Once set up so that the two antennas may be fast switched, 'A-B' style, you can actually hear the difference immediately, with your own ears, as if sitting at the online receiver hundreds or even thousands of miles away. By sending a continuous series of dashes while switching between antennas, the comparison can be strikingly obvious, as the propagation variances experienced in an RBN comparison are no longer a factor. One might argue that using longer RBN comparisons, averaging the signal strength over a period of minutes, may yield a truer picture of antenna performance ... but this method lets you hear the second-by-second differences as they happen.
My antenna testing is not yet complete, as much of the initial time was spent trying to determine which online receivers were suitably quiet enough to utilize. Many of them were rejected for being far too noisy to be useful while many others were found to be ideally quiet. I am slowly working my way through the list!

So far, I have been able to listen to my transmitted signal and compare the two 40m antennas on numerous receivers from coast to coast, both near and far, as well as into the Caribbean and South America. I have found the best power to use is between 1 and 5 watts, as making the signal intentionally weak at the receiver end makes subtle differences of just a few db easier to detect.

The gathering comparisons are fascinating as often the signal strengths between my two antennas are very different. Often the sloper and the inverted-V are neck and neck, while in different directions or at different distances, one or the other is a clear winner. On many far-off receivers, I was easily able to detect my signal with all power controls set to '0' with no indication of any output showing on my meters, a rather surprising observation and another reminder of how RF just loves to radiate ... even at very low levels!

If you want to try this yourself and can quickly switch antennas 'A-B' style, here are the direct links to a few of the receivers that I have found to work very well so far ... with low noise levels and no man-made crud, while listening on 40m.

KA7U SDR - Idaho

K1RA/KW4VA - Virginia

W0AY - Montana

K2SDR - New Jersey

G8JNJ - England

K2ZN - New York

WA2ZKD - New York 

KD4HSO - Kansas

VE6JY - Alberta

W3SWL - Pennsylvania

N6GN - Colorado

N8DTT/6 - California

VE6JW - Alberta 

Kingwood - Texas

TWR - Bonaire

EA8DGL - Canary Islands

Wellbrook ALA1530LNP - Southern Finland

NO2CW - Florida

Pardinho - Brazil

I will continue to update this list as more receivers are tested ... now back to some outdoor antenna tweeking!

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

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 207

Going ham for Ham Radio
Lawmakers are making a multi-pronged push to drive the bipartisan Amateur Radio Parity Act through Congress and finally bypass objections from top Senate Commerce Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida, whose allegiance to his state’s homeowners’ associations drove his panel to yank the bill from consideration last fall. Editor’s note: Scroll toward the middle of this article for mention of the Parity Act.

Operating Rover in the ARRL June 2018 VHF Contest
First June VHF contest as a rover. Route worked well. Good QSOs from contest stations. Heat burned me out. WSJT burned me up.

Could a P5 DXpedition happen?
Based on what I saw on the news coverage of yesterdays Summit, I would have to say that “anything is possible” and it seems that the possibility is more likely today than it was yesterday.

Iran radars on ham radio 28 MHz band
Iranian radars have been very active in the Amateur Radio primary 28 MHz (10m) band every day.

RAC 25th Anniversary Challenge Coin Program
Radio Amateurs of Canada launched the special RAC 25th Anniversary Challenge Coin program.

Tropospheric DX on 2m SSB (with video)
I’ve never really experienced a proper tropospheric opening on 2m before. It’s a propagation mode I’ve been fascinated in, but I’ve just never been on the air at the right time.
Adventures in Ham Radio

Bench Testing HF Radios with a HackRF
This post describes how we implemented an HF channel simulator to bench test a digital HF radio using modern SDRs.

Series & parallel wiring your solar array
So you’ve had your fun with small single solar panels and are ready for a larger multi-panel system that can handle beefier loads.
Off Grid Ham

Raspberry Pi as an SDR – without the SDR
This has been made possible through clever use of the on-board Broadcom 802.11ac WiFi chip. The result is a TX-capable SDR.
Hack A Day


2 Days Off Grid – PowerFilm Solar Ham Radio & Raspberry Pi
During March 2018 I took a short trip to 66 degrees North to field test the solar powered ham radio field station.

ARRL on The Weather Channel
Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams interviewed ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey on how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
Facebook / ARRL

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Deputy Fife: Radio Operator

Some of my ham radio habits are focused on operating mobile.

Some of this probably came from watching the Andy Griffith show when I was a kid.
Deputy Fife is a great role model.

Click here to watch the video.

The post Deputy Fife: Radio Operator appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2018 Jun 11 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2018 Jun 11 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2018 Jun 11 0344 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 04 – 10 June 2018

Solar activity was mostly at very low levels with an isolated C-class flare observed at 06/1100 UTC from Region 2712 (N15, L=176, class/area Csi/080 on 28 May) from just beyond the West limb. The solar disk was spotless from 06-10 Jun. No Earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were observed during the reporting period.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit reached high levels throughout the period with a maximum flux of 19,491 pfu observed at 06/1705 UTC.

Geomagnetic field activity ranged from quiet to active levels over the period. Solar wind speed was in decline from a negative polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS) on 04-05 Jun with solar wind speeds declining from approximately 630 km/s to near 450 km/s while total field ranged from 2 nT to 9 nT. The geomagnetic field was at quiet levels on 04-05 Jun. By midday on 06 Jun, an enhancement in total field was observed reaching a maximum of 11 nT at 07/0635 UTC. The Bz component reached a maximum of -8 nT at 06/1820 UTC. The geomagnetic field responded with quiet to active levels on 06 Jun and quiet to unsettled levels on 07 Jun. By 08 Jun and through the rest of the period, solar wind speeds were at nominal levels with solar wind speeds at 400 km/s or less and total field at 5 nT or less. Quiet conditions were observed on 08-10 Jun.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 11 June – 07 July 2018

Solar activity is expected to be at very low levels with a slight chance for isolated C-class flares from 11 Jun-01 Jul with the return of old Regions 2711 (N06, L=288) and 2712 (N15, L=176) to the visible disk.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels on 11 Jun and again from 28 Jun-07 Jul due to CH HSS influence.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at unsettled levels on 12-14 Jun and 19 Jun due to weak CH HSS effects. Unsettled to active levels are expected on 27-30 Jun with G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm levels likely on 28-29 Jun due to recurrent CH HSS effects.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at:

Live Aurora mapping is at

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. 2.

Check out the stunning view of our Sun in action, as seen during the last five years with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO):

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BOOK SALE: Space Weather and Sun Science – get these from Amazon, and help us stay online!

NOTICE: When you buy this (or any item after starting with this link), you are helping us keep our and other resources “on the air” (up and running!). In other words, you are helping the entire community. So, check out this book:

Here is the link to Amazon:

We’re on Facebook:

Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on

Spread the word!

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BOOK SALE: Space Weather and Sun Science – get these books from Amazon, and help this service stay online!

NOTICE: When you buy this (or any item after starting with this link), you are helping keep and other resources “on the air” (up and running!). In other words, you are helping the entire community. So, check out these books:

Here is the link to Amazon:

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If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users:



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I am working on launching a YouTube channel overhaul, that includes series of videos about space weather, radio signal propagation, and more.

Additionally, I am working on improving the educational efforts via the email, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and other activities.

You can help!

Please consider becoming a Patron of these space weather and radio communications services, beginning with the YouTube channel:

The YouTube channel:


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

ICQ Podcast Episode 268 – 2 HF Rigs, Some SDR and WRTC

In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Martin Rothwell M0SGL, Dan Romanchik KB6NU and Ed Durrant DD5LP  to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature covers interviews from Ham Radio 2018 with Kenwood, Yaesu, ELAD and the World Radio Team Championship.

  • Brown University CubeSat Now in Space

  • Ham Kids Build - Learn Tech Skills

  • Chinese Equipment Driving Down Prices?

  • Hamvention Used AM Information Radio Station

  • Young Radio Ham Makes Own Integrated Circuits

  • FREEDV v 1.3 - 700D Mode HF Digital Voice

  • ARRL Articles Of Association and By Laws

  • FIFA Football World Cup Amateur Radio Special Event Stations

  • Bulgarian First CubeSat Deployed from ISS

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

AmateurLogic 118: Hamvention Wrap Up

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 118 is now available for download.

No matter how many hamfests you’ve visited, it’s hard to top the excitement and variety of gear you’ll find at Hamvention. Join AmateurLogic as we visit Hamvention 2018. We found some unique new products you won’t want to miss. How about a LTE PTT handy talkie that covers all of the US, Canada, or Mexico. Or an Android cellphone with built in DMR radio. We’ve also got the scoop on one of this year’s top food choices. As well as visits and updates from a few friends you’ll recognize.



George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 206

FT8 Adoption: The New Cool Thing
Making QSOs is king.

Trouble Free HF Antenna For The Apartment Dwelling Ham
One enterprising local amateur has combined early established antenna fundamentals along with sound engineering to arrive at an elegant and highly successful solution.

FCC proposes $2.8 million fine against manufacturer
The FCC proposed a $2.8 million penalty against HobbyKing, a provider of audio/video transmitters that are intended to relay video to unmanned aircraft systems and other devices.

Tom’s Backpack Shack
The goal is to make a field-deployable DX kit that isn’t cumbersome or time-consuming to set up on site.
The SWLing Post

Raspberry Pi Vintage Radio
Converted 2 vintage radios by replacing the analog electronics with a Raspberry Pi and python software to emulate the tuning of vintage radio content from the golden age of radio.
Maker Share

Student grilled for carrying VHF radio
A 19-year-old ham was detained at Nagole Metro Station and questioned for almost one hour.
Telangana Today

Classifying crystals with an SDR dongle
That’s generally a job for an oscilloscope, but if you’re clever, an SDR dongle can make a dandy crystal checker too.
Hack A Day

How to tell if you have a fake Nagoya antenna
A number of ways to tell if your NA-771 is a fake.

When antenna tilt matters
Ever wonder how sensitive our mobile antennas are to antenna tilt? Data from a previous test of antennas on my small SUV show a pattern tilt correlating to an approximate 5 degree antenna tilt towards the centerline.
Ham Radio . Magnum Experimentum


Altair 8800 as AM SDR transmitter
Sending radio wave interference to a nearby AM radio.

Getting ready for the VHF/SOTA Contest
The ARRL VHF contest is this weekend, so I am heading out to the George Washington National Forest to activate some 10 point SOTA summits and finish it up with the VHF contest. All these sites qualify for the Parks on the Air as well.

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