Whispering with 20mW

Many people who operate the weak signal mode WSPR use too much power. If you don’t use very low power (QRPp) you’ll never find out what this mode is capable of. So to remind myself I thought I’d do some whispering on 10m using 20mW of power. It’s easy to use low power with the Elecraft K3 as the power level is adjustable in 0.01 watt increments.

10m stations hearing or heard by G4ILO on 8 Jan 2015

It’s a pity that the WSPRwebsite can’t display a map showing only spots of one callsign. The map shows spots involving one callsign. sent or received. So the map shows WSPR signals I decoded, not only those who heard me. Some of those stations were using as much as 37dBm – whatever that is in watts. Here are the stations that decoded my tiny signal. My 20mW into an attic diopole made it across the pond on several occasions

 2014-01-08 15:44  G4ILO  28.126104  -24  0  IO84hp  0.02  W9HLY  EN70mt  5930  291 
 2014-01-08 15:24  G4ILO  28.126112  -21  0  IO84hp  0.02  KZ8C  EM88pm  5973  287 
 2014-01-08 15:24  G4ILO  28.126104  -27  0  IO84hp  0.02  K4RCG  FM08xl  5688  284 
 2014-01-08 15:06  G4ILO  28.126103  -24  0  IO84hp  0.02  W8AC  EN91jm  5649  289 
 2014-01-08 15:06  G4ILO  28.126110  -18  0  IO84hp  0.02  KB9VLR  EN54vj  5845  296 
 2014-01-08 15:06  G4ILO  28.126144  -19  0  IO84hp  0.02  ND6M  EM55se  6594  289 
 2014-01-08 14:56  G4ILO  28.126106  -21  0  IO84hp  0.02  KB9AMG  EN52tx  5964  295 
 2014-01-08 14:46  G4ILO  28.126167  -22  -1  IO84hp  0.02  KC9YSR  EM69il  6175  291 
 2014-01-08 14:38  G4ILO  28.126106  -18  0  IO84hp  0.02  VE3SWS  FN06ge  5201  293 
 2014-01-08 14:18  G4ILO  28.126098  -26  0  IO84hp  0.02  K9AN  EN50wc  6175  293 
 2014-01-08 14:00  G4ILO  28.126101  -28  0  IO84hp  0.02  ZR6LU  KG43av  9468  152 
2014-01-08 13:40  G4ILO  28.126015  -7  0  IO84hp  0.02  LZ1OI  KN22id  2470  113

Watts conversion

The original version of K1JT’s WSPR software had pop-up “tip” windows that showed the power in watts when you hovered the mouse over the dBm setting. Very useful for duffers like me that can’t do a watts to dBm conversion in my head. The new version WSPR-X doesn’t, however.

I found (or more truthfully Google did) an online watts to dBm converter on the web which I have duly bookmarked.

Struck by lightning

The night before last Olga and I nearly jumped out of our skins after a tremendous thunderclap which sounded as if it was just a few feet away. I wasn’t concerned for the radios as I didn’t think attic antennas would suffer from a lightning strike unless the house itself was struck  but in any case  both antenna switches were in the grounded position after I had heard thunder a few days earlier.

I checked both the K3 and the FUNcube Dongle which was the only other radio connected to an antenna and both seemed to be OK so I thought I had got off scot free.

That afternoon Olga noticed that the Netgear DECT Skype phones were not displaying the amount of money in the account. Later I tried to make a Skype call and was informed that Skype was offline We could still make landline calls from the phones but only if we dialled manually. Any attempt to call a number in the Contacts list  using the landline received the message “The number you have dialled  has not been recognised.”

Poking the Netgear base unit’s Reset button with a sharp stick didn’t solve the problem. It looks as if the SPH200D base unit is broken. I’m rather sorry about that because it’s an obsolete product and new ones are unobtainable – although eBay has a used one on offer for  several times what it cost when new.

Olga uses Skype a lot to talk to relatives in Ukraine so it was very useful to have Skype connected all the time and not just when she was using the computer, but it’s looking as if we will have to live without that facility.

That evening we turned on the Humax Freetime box to watch some TV  and there was no picture. We checked the voltage from the power supply, which is a small 12V 4A  “brick rather than internal switched mode supply. Zero volts. We checked the fuse and that was intact. Unfortunately the Humax power supply has an unusual type of plug so I can’t use one of the collection 0f wall warts that I have in a box in the garage to test if the satellite receiver itself is working or whether it’s just the power supply that has failed.

There is no proof that lightning really did cause these items of equipment to fail – everything else including the broadband router are still working – but it’s quite a coincidence it it isn’t.. SoNow all I can do is wait until next week and order a new power supply from Humax. Oh happy days! At least we can still watch TV as I kept the old Freesat box as a backup.

Postscript. According to a neighbour a house a few streets away was damaged by the lightning bolt. Doesn’t seem near enough to have blown up two items of equipment though.

WebProp is broken

Many of you will have seen these propagation banners on many ham web sites. They are generated by a script on the G4ILO’s Shack website.

WebProp propagation banner

It appears that NOAA changed the format of the wwv.txt solar data file with effect from I January . When I turned on the computer I was greeted by a pile of “bad data” messages from the PHP script that processes wwv.txt and turns it into an intermediate data file which is used by WebProp (and also VOAProp) to display the current solar data.

Unfortumately I cannot fix iy. My vision is too confused to read  type very well and my brain is too befuddled to deal with technical compouter stuffany more. Even typing a blog post is a trial for me at the moment. I have hade to make dozens of corrections even to get this far (one reason for the dearth if blog postings recently.

Is there anyone who knows PHP who would be willing to take a look at the script and fix it so tyhat it will work with the current bersion if the wwvntxt file?

I foolishly thought that if I just left erything as it is then it would juat carry on running without any work from me. Unfortunately things get updated and require changes to be made. Maintaining this website has become  burden I could do without right now It causes me a lot of stress and upset that I can’t manage to do things i could easily do before. The easiest solution might be just shut down g4ilo.com for good.

Website woes

The tranquility of my morning was disturbed by receiving an email “Disk Usage Warning” from the web hosting service for the g4ilo.com website.

This was worrying as I had not made any significant changes to the site for several months. I was concerned that hackers might have found a way to upload files to the server so that it was serving porn or some other equally objectional stuff.

After a look around using the disk management tools in cPanel the public_html directory seemed to be excessively large.

I FTP’ed in to the server with FileZilla  and found that the error_log file was astronomically large. I took a look at it and the file was full of warnings about a deprecated PHP function:

PHP Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/g4ilo/public_html/lib/classes/class.contentoperations.inc.php on line 881

A sI hadn’t changed anything my suspicion was that the web host had changed some global PHP setting. When I submitted a support ticket they didn’t admit to anything but with a bit of help I was able to turn error logging off. This seems to have solved the problem so I am crossing my fingers that ‘s  the end of it.

It was fine maintaining and supporting a website when my mind was sharp and my eyesight good. But I don’t find messing with this kind of thing very easy nowadays and I could do without the hassle and stress of things like this.

10m still lively

Still seeing plenty of transatlantic stations on 10m WSPR. I wonder how long it will last?

WSPR spots on 10m band at G4ILO

Messages from space

Messages decoded from the FUNcube-1 satellite

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor