Tag Archives: amateur radio

20 meters, 200mW & 12,000 miles: WSPR magic!

Weak Signal Propagation Reporter is a global radio propagation monitoring and reporting network comprised of thousands of low power beacons operating on the amateur radio bands. WSPR beacons can be detected from the lowest of Medium Wave frequencies (137kHz) all the way through the HF spectrum (all the bands from 160m to 10m are popular) to the VHF bands, 50 and 144MHz. WSPR receivers decode the tiny beacon packets and upload them to a central database, at WSPRNet.org, where anyone can literally ‘see’ the propagation paths that are currently open. Equally, you can go back and revisit the radio frequency propagation conditions during any previous time window. Running a WSPR beacon from your home allows you to ‘watch’ the propagation paths open, peak, and close each day under the influences of solar radiation, sunspots, and other ionospheric conditions. Arduinos and a few common accessory boards that can be had for tens of dollars make a beacon accessible to just about any experimenter (with an amateur radio license).

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SP-8: a homebrew 28MHz SSB transceiver for a UR3LMZ 144MHz transverter

Ten meters or the 28MHz band is showing glimmers of life from sunspot cycle 25. Even so, its not an obvious choice if you want to build a portable SSB monobander and have lots of contacts. But 28MHz is the IF of choice for VHF and UHF transverters. After noticing the 6, 2 and 70cm transverters available on eBay from the workshop of UR3LMZ and the good reports from buyers, I cooked up the idea to build a 28MHz ‘transverter IF’ transceiver, to be paired with one or more VHF or UHF transverters.

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SP-X, a pocket rig for the CW activator in a hurry!

I’ve long been interested in compact and fairly minimal SSB and CW rigs with good performance. I’m not into bells, whistles or menus. Menus are for restaurants! When hiking, walking or bouncing around summits I want to minimise things that are not absolutely necessary, things that can go wrong. Less is more when it comes to a transceiver for portable work.

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Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003 and Mt Toolebewong VK3/VC-033

Paul VK3HN and David VK3KR.

David VK3KR and I made plans for a visit to Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003, 1255m (8 pts) and Mt Toolebewong VK3/VC-033, 735m (4 pts). This would be our first use of the approach from the north, rather than using the usual 8km round trip via Road 15 (from Acheron Way) then Road 10. While the southern route is a great hike in the Yarra Ranges, it takes up most of a day. But more so, some more skilled cartographers than I have determined that an alternate route in, from the north, has greater clearance from the water catchment area boundary. Two good reasons to choose the new route, from the north.

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Low-band AM Tx: Digital VFO/Controller

Lockdown has made 2020 a year unlike any other. Melburnians were dealt a long and painful period of isolation with a CoronaVirus second wave, from around July to September, still in force, and looking like continuing to (at least partially) keep us housebound for some months yet. Days merge together, work and leisure time is largely indistinguishable. People are rediscovering reading, knitting, and endlessly bingeing TV. Makers are melting solder and stringing wires in the air.

Some winter nights were passed dreaming up an AM transmitter, and this VFO module is the first piece of it. It is designed for use in a two-band AM transmitter capable of around 200 watts carrier power, but could easily be used for other projects, such as a transceiver, or a transmitter for CW or digital modes. This module provides a 5v square wave clock at 1.8MHz or 3.5MHz (or any frequency you desire up to 144MHz), and transmit control lines needed to sequence a transmitter. It also includes a few ‘nice to haves’ including a transmit timer, CW ident, over-beep (or any CW character such as di-da-dit or da-di-dah), and a sleep mode which dims the displays when idle.

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Ten Tec Model 1056 DC Receiver – is it any good, and what to do with it?

One of life’s simple pleasures is to rediscover something that bought you engagement and enjoyment in the past. And in COVID lockdown, stuck at home, it’s the perfect time to rummage through boxes in dark corners to sort, throw out, and rediscover old treasures. So it was that I came across this Ten Tec direct conversion receiver board, built around 20 years ago.

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Something old, something new: A four-band 5W/50W SSB/CW transceiver (‘Summit Prowler 7’)

‘Summit Prowler 7’ is my name for this scratch-built multiband SSB and CW transceiver. This rig covers four of the most popular portable, Parks and SOTA bands — 80, 40, 30 and 20m, at a power level of 5 watts, but with an in-built switchable 50 watt power amplifier, so that you have the option to call up the extra power if the going gets rough. The rig weights in at around 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds, about the same as an FT-817, and is similarly sized. It’s a rig for a wide range of portable situations, and is equally at home on the shack bench.

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Pocket-sized homebrew 40m CW QRPp/QRP transceiver

In May 2019 I activated Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025 with my latest homebrew rig. It was a CW only activation, five QSOs completed, but while I was handing out 599s, the reports coming back to me from the chasers were well down. Over the next few days on OZSOTA (the VK SOTA discussion group) several chasers made comments to the effect that they could hear other VK3s but nothing much from me. When regulars Tony VK3CAT, Ron VK3AFW and Gerard VK2IO reported the same thing, the evidence for a problem at my end mounted.

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Social distancing project #1: Lightweight Linked Dipole

The coronavirus has stopped just about everything, and is undoubtedly changing our lives forever. With almost every group or event cancelled, there are predictions of mass boredom and social isolation. Many people apparently have no idea what they’ll find to do with their time. How odd. That’s never been a problem for makers like me. So in the interests of the bored and isolated, I offer this story of something useful that can be made in an afternoon — a linked dipole.

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