2016-12-05

Antenna for 30 - 80m

The weather has been cool to cold, but a milder spell made it possible to set up a simple antenna for the lower bands.

The antenna consists in a vertical part about 15m long, a telescopic fiberglass with a wire attached, supported inside the branches of a tree, and a few horizontal wires as "radials".

Right now I have 2 wires one is about 5.5m and one about 25m long. at the feedpoint has a 9:1 UN-UN (transformer). The wire lengths are intended to have the feed point at approximately 1/3 wavelengths on 80 resp. 40m. Not perfect, but workable. The tuner built into the IC-7600 tunes at 30, 40, 60 and 80. The high end of 160m is difficult, but it *does* tune.

At a later stage I expect to have some DC power  fed to a tuner at the feedpoint, and get some real radials into the ground (and possibly a few above ground, but the winter weather will probably make me wait until spring to do that. I would expect better results from that combination, but for now, since last night I have worked a bit of DX on 30m and signals are pretty good on 80m and 40m, for local (European) signals it is nicely comparable to my dipole, but for DX more tests are needed. I do not expect miracles, but some DX should be possible on the low bands now.

The vertical part is placed in between the branches of a few trees, so the antenna is fairly unobtrusive, though not really invisible. It will only be noticed if you know what to look for.

Update :

A fault was corrected in the system, resulting in a sufficiently low SWR on all bands 80 - 10m not needing the tuner, and the SWR on 160m being less than 2.5, making it tunable with the built-in tuner of the IC-7300. Very nice. 

2016-11-04

QSL-net page.

I have created a simple web page at www.qsl.net/<callsign>/ . The page will also point to this blog.

The page also comes with an email address - <callsign> at qsl dot net.

It is quite possible that the page will be expanded with info on a few of my projects. Time will tell ...

2016-09-01

Camouflaged Antenna up and Running

We have had some dry weather, so here is some antenna activity :

My R-6000 antenna has been spray painted green, and with some assistance from OZ7OVE and OZ1LH is now mounted with the feed point at 6m height.

Two days later I moved the antenna (alone), it took much of a day, in order to avoid destroying anything, and started camouflage painting mast pieces I have for the next antennas to be erected.

The improvement due to the height is noticeable on the higher bands, although the 6m signals from the R-6000 are still weaker than on my V-2000.

Update : Picture : The contrast between a camouflaged and non camouflaged antenna :


And - the signals from my 4m antenna changed. With two local stations about 20km away one got a bit stronger and the other a bit weaker on 4m.

Looks like I will have to do some 6m antenna building activities later.

Next up for a paint job is my 4m antenna, and that one will hopefully be mounted a bit higher than it is now.

Before the winter season I should be able to run all bands from 80m to 70cm in some capacity, possibly also 23cm. The HF dipole antenna should be back up and combined with the cable for the 4m antenna (yes, with a diplexer or triplexer). Some small 2m/70cm verticals should be mounted discreetly for local QSOs, and possibly I will use one of them as a pure receiving antenna (likely a short out-of resonance 3 band 2m/70cm/23cm vertical).

2016-08-20

Paint Test for antennas.

I got cables made for the test, and got two antennas tested in my garden. Fortunately the weather kept dry for the tests.

Test setup :
Signal generator,
Test antennas, mounted on a 3m mast :
- 10m half wave vertical
- 6m half wave vertical
3 RX antennas .
- The R6000 on a 3m mast antenna in the other end of the garden
- The V-2000 antenna a bit closer, but at 6m
- The 4m half wave, not far from the R6000, also at about 6m

I had intended to use a R7100 RX, but the s-meter had far too much drift, probably due to heat, so that was discarded, I was then using my IC-7100 and IC-7300 in the shack, with a combination of the aforementioned antennas. Much more stable S-meter readings.

The paint is purchased from a military surplus shop, and is spray paint. One can could cover the two antennas.

No significant difference could be detected in the signal levels on either 10m or 6m. The paint had been approved by me for reducing the visibility of aluminium antennas for HF, 6 and 4m. More paint has been ordered.

When I get my R-6000 antenna for 6 - 20m painted, I will make some pictures of the visibility before/after the paint job. This time it is not just a test, so it should be more thorough and even ;) .

Why do I paint my antennas ?

Well, I like to have as extensive an antenna system as possible, but a "normal" system of that sort would be extremely visible to neighbours. A lot of my antennas for HF, 6m and 4m have trees as background (not the sky), so all shiny objects, like aluminium antennas  become all too obvious, especially in bright (and low angle) sunlight.

The paint tested is "NATO Green", and I have also some brown and matte black paint that I intend to use sparingly, probably making some lighter and darker spots on the antennas, improving the camouflage effect.

2016-07-14

4m, 6m and 10m Combi Antenna.

In a Google search I just found an interesting antenna concept for simple antenna capable of running 4, 6 and 10m.

The antenna is essentially a 10m dipole (can be horizontal or vertical) fed by two lengths of twin-lead cable in series, (from the antenna feed point to the coax) 86cm 450ohm and 295cm 300ohm, fed directly (or via a 1:1 balun) into a 50ohm coax cable. The antenna in itself is 2 pieces of wire, each 258cm long (essentially a 10m dipole antenna). The antenna is a relative of the G5RV type, though not identical.

The gain on 10m is, of course 0dBd, on 6m the antenna probably has a gain of 1 - 1.5dBd, and on 4m it is an Extended double Zepp (2x5/8), and the expected gain is around 3dBd. Sounds to me like a neat compromise for a tri-band antenna.

New Antenna and Cable 6m/2m/70cm.

Yesterday I mounted my V-2000 vertical replacing the old Comet (GP-15, I think), and a new CFD400 cable.
The resonance frequencies :
- a bit low on 2m, but but clearly SWR below 1.4 in the whole band
- nice coverage of the whole 70cm band, less than 1.5 in the useable part of the band
- Decent coverage on 6m, the resonance was adjusted to 50.5 and the antenna is easily <2 in the high end, and <1.5 on essentially all frequencies I will use it for

This is now connected to my 70cm/2m FM rig, and tested on 6m FM. Everything works fine, and it is an improvement above my previous antenna system.

Future improvements of this antenna would be preamps near the antenna, though not in the mast, and possibly a power splitter at the outputs of the preamps, in order to use the antenna for reception on more receivers. The preamp system would then be after approx 8m cable and a triplexer. The preamps should be controlled per band, and that will take a while to design and construct, including some programming, sequencers, the preamps per se, and getting some useable coax relays.

Update : The cable is now connected to a MX62 diplexer, sending the 2m/70cm signals to the VHF/UHF rig, and the 6m signal to the IC7300.

This antenna, at the height it is, is better than the R6000 in its current position on the 6m band, so until the R6000 is raised to a higher position the V2000 will be my 6m antenna.

2016-07-07

4m and 6m Antennas

At the beginning of the sporadic E season I built a simple ground plane for 4 and 4m, just using a 6m fibre glass telescopic fishing pole and a bit of wire. The antenna works fairly well on 6 and less well on 4m, mostly due to its low height - the top of the antenna for 4m is only slightly over 5m above ground, so shaded by houses and trees.
The pole influenced the antenna considerably, and I was very happy to have my antenna analyzer when cutting it to the bands.
This antenna has worked about 40 countries on 6m, and 5 on 4m.
On 6m it operates a bit better than the R6000 at 3m height.

It was time for a better 4m antenna for local (FM) and a minimum amount of DX, mostly sporadic E. I decided to use a Sirio CX4 which is an end fed half wave antenna. The 10m half wave came down and the CX4 was raised to about 6m (feed point for the half wave about 7m. As expected this works much better than the low ground plane.
For working local stations in SSB, where most are running with horizontal antennas, I need to mount some kind of horizontal antenna myself. I am considering initially to male two dipoles or delta loops for operation in different directions, just to get it running. More elaborate antennas will have to come later.

Now, what to do about 6m ? I want to raise the feed point of the R-6000 to about 7.5m, and that should put the 6m part of the antenna a bit further from the trees around it, giving a better 6m (and 10m) range. On 6m some horizontal antenna is needed, and, again, I consider starting with 2 dipoles or delta loop antennas. A simple "V" shaped horizontal dipole could provide some degree of omnidirectional radiation, though.

For an omnidirectional antenna a "Squalo" (square halo), or a "Big Wheel" could work, or two "double quad"elements at 90 deg. could be fed in 90 deg phase difference, providing a modest gain.

I would like to generate some more gain on 4 and 6, and some kind of phased arrays for fixed favourite directions are in my thoughts. Older hams may be familiar with the "Lazy H" antenna which has a bi-directional gain of about 6dBd. This antenna can be fed with open line feeder and a tuner, making the same antenna suitable for both the 4 and 6m bands. There are other options, and they will be explored.

For now the 4m antenna is operational, and I am often QRV on 70.450MHz FM, and sometimes around 70.200 SSB or CW.

2016-06-25

R6000 antenna - Initial Results

The R-6000 antenna has been assembled and is in a temporary position with the feed point about 3m above ground.

Initial results show that CW calls to DX stations often are answered after up to 3 calls. Not bad for a low hanging vertical antenna.

Of course, almost all sporadic E propagation vanished the day the antenna was mounted, so the higher bands have been very quiet. On 20 and 17m, however 5 continents have been worked without much difficulty, despite the low solar activity showing the HF bands in rather poor shape.

The antenna is quite visible due to the multiple radiator rods, so some test for losses of "camouflage paint" (yes, green/brown) with another antenna is in order, before mounting the antenna in a more permanent position (higher feedpoint, about 6 - 7 m high, but somewhat better shielded from view).

The 3 m height was the best we could do with only two people. The higher position requires up to 5 people, some for holding guy wires ...

On the higher bands, 10 and 6m, the actively radiating piece of the antenna is shielded by nearby trees, so the results will be modest until the higher feed point has been achieved.

Here are two late afternoon pics from two different angles. First from the corner of the garden, (street view, rather inconspicuous), and the second from near a neighbour (much more visible).

In the morning light the antenna will be like a shining beacon. This is why I want to disguise the antenna a bit.


2016-06-07

R6000 antenna.

The package with the Cushcraft R6000 antenna arrived some time ago, and the unpacking and assembly has started.

Parts 1 and 2 Base assembly, radial rings and matching network :
Part 1 took a few hours, because some parts look a lot alike, screws with only a slightly different length, a few things did not quite look like the drawings and description.
a) The radial ring was supposed to slide over the insulator, but the screws holding the insulator had already been mounted, so they had to be removed before sliding the radial ring into place, then put into place again.
The radials have not yet been mounted for more convenience of making the radiator assembly, it says in the description that the radials can be mounted at any time during the assembly process .
The upper matching network bracket was described having to be mounted tight against the fiberglass insulator. That is not possible, given the assembly as it is, and is not in accordance with the accompanying drawings (showing a short distance between the two) .

Updates to follow :

Radiator assembly, base clamp assembly and mast mounting, then testing the antenna for correct adjustment, and readjustment, if necessary.

2016-04-22

IC-7300 First Impressions.

Having worked with a 7600, and also with a 7100, for a while, and being very happy with that, I reacted on the very favourable  reviews of the new IC-7300, and I now have one.

The IC-7300 is the first Amateur radio station by the big 3 Japanese manufactures, being a direct sampling, stand alone SDR radio. I have been looking through various reviews by amateurs having the transceiver before me, and I have not seen *any* negative reviews. Minor nitpicks, but absolutely nothing serious. Given the price point of this radio it looked like a very favourable purchase, despite it being this early in the life time of the transceiver.
I emptied the purse and got one.

First of all the noticeable thing that the 7600 does, and the 7300 does not : Dual reception. This is something that I have not yet used much, so I am probably not going to miss it much.

Then a few things that the 7300 does, that the 7600 does not :

1) 70MHz. This was high on my wish list for a multimode transceiver. Yes, the IC-7100 does 4m (and 2m/70cm), but that one does not have the *very practical* waterfall spectrum display.

2) The built-in antenna tuner (OK, matching circuit) has an "Emergency mode" where, at the price of reduced output power (50%) the tuning range is considerably increased. This can be very convenient with portable operation, where cables are usually shorter, and therefore less lossy.

3) The spectrum scope : The waterfall and spectrum scope is *very fast*, it is possible to "read" CW at slow to moderate speeds, and the signals look much cleaner (narrower) than on the 7600.

4) 472kHz : The radio has been opened for the full TX range, since I want to be able to work on the 5MHz band, and I tested, and found that it actually has some RF output on 472MHz. Something that I never detected on my 7600, or any other radio I have owned. It look like I should try to make some kind of antenna for this band, and for 160m, although, given the size of my garden, and the modest antenna height possible, my expectations are not very high. Thinking of it, I should probably check the output on 472 for spectral purity, I might need a (low pass) filter before I start transmitting serious power on the band.

Operation of the 7300 is in between the 7100 and the 7600. It has a few more dedicated buttons than the 7100 (which uses the touch display extensively), and some of the 7600 dedicated buttons and controls have been squeezed into a multi-function knob and the use of the touch screen. All in all, having used it a few days, my only complaint is that the band switching and the band stacking registers need double the operations when compared to the 7600 (but same as the 7100).

Modulation quality is excellent, right out of the box, I have yet to make any adjustments. I might use the tone controls a bit, but, working mostly CW, I have not yet done much about that.

All in all, the operation with the 7300 is easy, although I have only scratched the surface of its possibilities. I am very happy using this in my "living room shack".
The price is less than half the price of the 7600, and still lower than that of the 7100. Impressive !

Now I need more antennas ;)

I believe this transceiver is only the first of many direct sampling stand-alone radios. Icom has impressed me quite a bit with this one. Come on, Yaesu, Kenwood and others ...



2016-04-17

Sporadic E Season is Starting, Slowly, on 10m.

Yesterday and today showed Sporadic E spots on 10m WSPR.

Spots from Italy and the UK, as well as a few others popped up. The list for the last 24 hours looks like this :

17 spots:
TimestampCallMHzSNRDriftGridPwrReporterRGridkmaz
 2016-04-17 14:36  G3XBM  28.126125  -27  0  JO02dg  2  OZ9QV  JO65cp  864  60 
 2016-04-17 14:32  GM4FVM  28.126087  -11  -1  IO85wu  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  896  86 
 2016-04-17 14:32  G0VUH  28.126040  +4  0  IO93ji  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  901  68 
 2016-04-17 14:12  G6SSN  28.126141  -25  0  IO92tt  0.2  OZ9QV  JO65cp  875  64 
 2016-04-17 14:10  GM1MSS  28.126138  -21  4  IO85  0.2  OZ9QV  JO65cp  957  83 
 2016-04-17 14:06  DL4MFC  28.126129  -6  0  JN58qb  2  OZ9QV  JO65cp  845  4 
 2016-04-17 13:58  G4CUI  28.126069  -6  0  IO93fi  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  922  68 
 2016-04-17 13:32  GM4EAU  28.126088  -15  -4  IO85  0.1  OZ9QV  JO65cp  957  83 
 2016-04-17 13:28  G3YFG  28.126086  -24  -1  IO83tu  0.2  OZ9QV  JO65cp  955  72 
 2016-04-17 12:42  UT7GH  28.126133  -14  0  KN66hq  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  1727  313 
 2016-04-17 12:18  G4HBA  28.126073  -13  -1  IO93fn  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  914  70 
 2016-04-17 11:44  IK1WVQ  28.126067  -25  0  JN44  0.5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  1263  9 
 2016-04-17 11:32  G0HVQ  28.126117  -13  -3  IO81ux  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  1033  61 
 2016-04-17 11:30  G8VDQ  28.126035  -26  0  IO91um  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  942  56 
 2016-04-16 18:54  PU3WSF  28.126089  -16  -1  GG40kb  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  11242  31 
 2016-04-16 17:46  OZ3GD  28.126097  -7  0  JO65bk  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  24  13 
 2016-04-16 17:06  OZ7IT  28.126138  -4  0  JO65df  5  OZ9QV  JO65cp  47  354
I noticed that there were reports of 6m opening with Es, as well. I am looking forward to se 6 and 4m open to my area, though the main emphasis will probably be on 10m this year.
One further step would be a transmit antenna for the WSPR transceiver. DCTL antenna, or a very short whip/dipole should do for this purpose.

An antenna, mainly for reception on 10/6/4 (including Russian TV carriers on 49.75MHz and FM transmitters in the Russian 66 - 73 MHz band) will probably get mounted soon, just a multi-wire dipole at the gable of the (big) shed.
More antennas are planned, more about that later.

2016-04-14

Small indications of ES, and a small solar flare

10m sporadic E is slowly warming up. The last few days have seen a single spot on several days, of European stations, and today spots from Italy, the Chech Republic and France have appeared on my WSPR screen. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days.
Until now my 10m WSPR activity has been receive only, but I think it is time to build or mount an antenna capable of transmitting, too. I gather that there are probably other stations also just listening, and listening to the other fellow listening is a poor way of monitoring propagation, yes, I know ...
I have been thinking of using a 10m version of the DCTL antenna, not 100% efficient, but the receive sensitivity can be improved with a preamp, and it is, after all, possible to send a bit more TX power into the antenna, in order to compensate for losses in the antenna. After all, the band noise on 10m is quite high, compared to a modern receiver preamp's sensitivity.

A small surprise today was a small solar flare. It was only a C2 flare as reported on Solarham , but I noticed the increased noise level on my 10m receiver, and a bit of waves of noise on the band, audible, and also visible on the spectrum waterfall display. Nice to notice such a small flare in the HF radio spectrum. Maybe I should make myself a solar noise monitoring system, monitoring a few different frequencies in the 20-80MHZ range. All that is needed is a few direct conversion receivers and a wideband antenna, like my active receiver antenna.

2016-04-12

Spring Time and Antennas.

It has been a little while.

I have purchased a Cushcraft R6000 antenna, and it has to be assembled and set up this spring. This should enable me to work with a decent efficiency on all bands between 6m and 20m (yes, also 12 and 17m). The antenna is a shortened end-fed half wave antenna, so the current maximum should be a bit higher above ground than for a quarter wave ground plane.

The other day I had a little surprise. My HF dipole does not work at all on 10MHz. I decided to see if my 10m half wave vertical (without radials, of course) would match on 30m, and with the built-in tuner in the radio it turns out that it works much better than the dipole.
Now, since the antenna is too short, even for a quarter wave on 30m, and the impedance transformer at the bottom of the antenna is a *step-down* transformer, is is quite surprising that the unmodified antenna works on 30m.
I have been working a bit with this antenna, and DX is *very* difficult - no surprise there.
I suspect that the cable shield does its part of radiating my 30m signal, so who knows how the radiation pattern looks ? ...
I would like to work on a more regular basis on 30m, so I have been thinking of a few options :
1) Making a simple ground plane with a few radials above ground, a decent antenna
2) Making a half wave antenna, using a 15m long telescopic fibre-glass mast. This has the advantage that the current maximum goes up to 7.5m, and that the counterpoise only needs to be rudimentary, due to the high impedance of the antenna - this should prove an excellent antenna for 30m
3) Using the 15m mast with 3 wires for quarter wave resonators for 30, 40 and 60m. A little less efficient on 30m, but with the bonus of 40 and 60m operation - and a decent counterpoise is needed - a few radials for 30m and one or two for the 40 and 60m bands will have to do at my place.
4) Using the 15m mast with a single wire, then using a match box (e.g. an auto-tuner) and radials. This could be made to work on all bands form 30m to 80m, possibly, with low efficiency, on 160m.

All has its ups and downs - I may try several of the options over time.

Then there is 4m and 6m.
My only antenna till now is a 70cm/2m/6m vertical is off resonance, and will have to be fixed or replaced. Also, the cable is *very old* and should probably be replaced. For 4m I am considering an end fed half wave antenna - yes, I like those.

Right now I am looking forward to the summer sporadic E skip season, I intend to focus on 4, 6, and 10m. this year, and should I be able to work Es on 2m with the vertical, that would be a welcome bonus.

2016-02-07

10m and WSPR on 10 and 630m

Today was the day with a lot of life on 10m CW. Partly because there was a contest and the FOC members. 5 continents were heard here, and the 6th was detected in WSPR. My TX activity has been limited, since the FC only wanted QSO with FOC members, and most of the other activity was contests. I did work CU3AA, though.

The past few weeks the 4X6TU and 5B4CY beacons, and lots of Turkish beacons have been heard. Also several CB type FM and AM activity has been heard. Further, the past week or so the ZS6DN beacon, and activity from ZS6 and V5 has been heard.

I intend to try out JT65 and/or JT9 on 10m, there seems to be some activity.

Now, WSPR was interesting. For several days in the past week I have detected VKs, and the complete list of unique spots for the last 24 hours looks like this :

 WSPR spots 28MHz (unique for the 24 hours)
 2016-02-07 15:32 OZ7IT 28.126129 -19 0 JO65df 5
 2016-02-07 12:08 EA8/DL9XJ  28.126029 -27 0 IL18sm 2
 2016-02-07 10:30 VK3DXE 28.126184 -22 -1         QF21nv 2
 2016-02-07 09:28 DK1RS 28.126116 -25 3 JO60mm 5
 2016-02-07 09:20 VK2KRR 28.126150 -22 0 QF34mr 10
 4 countries in 3 continents is not too bad. A lot of the openings detected in CW were missing on WSPR, the activity is lacking.

10m in general has low activity, even though there are openings. I wish more people would try 10m, not just listening over and saying "nothing here", but creating activity.
Right now I am looking forward to more 10m activity for the spring season, I expect the band to be open, if not with booming signals, to most of the world during February and March, if the solar activity stays in the same range as it has been for most of the autumn and winter.

Now for 630m (again, unique spots) :
 2016-02-07 06:40 DL6TY 0.475641 -8 0 JO44lo 1
 2016-02-07 04:26 PA3ABK/2 0.475785 -26 0 JO21it 0.5
 2016-02-07 03:44 DH5RAE 0.475755 -22 0 JN68qv 0.5
 2016-02-07 02:44 DL6II 0.475705 -26 1 JO30nx 5
 2016-02-06 23:58 G8HUH 0.475660 -20 0 IO81mg 1
 2016-02-06 23:56 F5WK 0.475652 -28 0 JN18hp 0.5
 2016-02-06 23:40 DK6XY 0.475629 -22 0 JO53jv 0.2
 2016-02-06 23:20 IW4DXW 0.475795 -25 0 JN64bw 0.5
 2016-02-06 22:34 LA3EQ 0.475776 -29 0 JO28xj 1
 2016-02-06 22:24 EA5DOM 0.475785 -26 0 IM98wn 1
 2016-02-06 22:12 DK7FC 0.475683 -3 0 JN49ik 1
 2016-02-06 22:04 DD2UJ 0.475631 -28 -2           JO61wc 0.2
 2016-02-06 21:58 DK2DB 0.475641 -27 1 JN48fw 0.5
 2016-02-06 21:52 DK6NI 0.475731 -25 -1           JN59ln 0.1

This is quite the norm for a night of WSPR on 472kHz. As usual the longest distance heard is EA5DOM at about 2100km.

All the WSPR listening activity mentioned here was done with the active whip antenna. I should do other tests with transmit antennas, and a TRX fully controlled by the WSJT-X program. Some shack re-arrangements are needed.

During the week I managed to work some DX on 80m, now I have worked into 4 continents, the last was 7X4AN for Africa. I also got JA7BXS for my first Japanese station, all with the inverted V dipole antenna.

2016-02-01

Mini-Shack in the Living Room.

I made myself a mini-shack in the living room. A single transceiver and a bit of receiver equipment is there along with the most used computer, in the "office-corner".

Right now the mini-shack runs 10m receiving WSPR by day and 630m WSPR RX by night, uploading spots to WSPRnet.org, and a 2m FM transceiver with an indoor antenna.

The "main" (HF) transceiver runs with a cable from the main shack (upstairs), most often connected to the multiband dipole. Without the tuner I can run CW parts of the bands with a good match on 10-15-20-40-80m. With the tuner it is *possible* to match the 12-17-30m band, 60m is outside the tuning range.

Results have, for now, been fine, I have worked some DX on 80m, JA, UN7 in Asia and 7X in Africa. I am very happy with the JA, and quite happy with the two others.

I should probably set up a VHF station there as well, apart from the small FM TRX I use for local chats, and run another cable downstairs for that one. Otherwise, just some receiving stuff, so it does not take over the living room ;)

2016-01-31

WSPR activity in January

I got the WSJT-X program running on my notebook. The program includes the WSPR mode, ant that is what I have been running mostly, because it can run unattended.
Bands from 630m to 10m have been tested, mostly on receive only, and the results are encouraging.

- 630m have shown spots from Europe, up to about 2000km.
- one night 40m showed and FY5 many times, and just a few days ago VK6XT came through with more than 10 spots in an evening, one evening my 5W signal was spotted by VK6XT once or twice.
- 80m mostly shows European stations
- then there is 10m. This band has shown low activity in December and January, with some local spots and scattered spots from EA8 and a few sporadic E openings into Europe. Today I have had three surprise spots from VK2KRR until now. It looks like 10m is waking up a bit from the winter doldrums.

Having said that, I have also been listening to beacons on 10m, and the 4X6TU and ZS6DN beacons, as well as 5B5CY are frequent visitors in my receiver. Also some Mediterranean fishing buoys have been heard on a multitude of frequencies on 10.
10m is not dead, as such, it just lacks some dedicated operators.

Almost all this WSPR receiving activity has happened with my old Dressler active antenna, not dedicated resonant antennas. Just shows that the antenna requirements for propagation monitoring are not that big. The active antenna, though not as efficient as a dedicated antenna, works surprisingly well.

WSPR receiving is done here more or less continuously. Transmit activity will require a dedicated transceiver and antenna, so will only be active when I am in and around the house. I am thinking of testing some of the cheap Raspberry Pis to do more WSPRing.

Update 1100Z : I just spotted VK6DZ on 10m.

2016-01-10

More weak signal activities.

Signals from the outdoor active antenna have been routed to the desk in the living room. Of course with much better results than with the indoor wire.
For now signals are split to a SW RX and to a VHF RX for 4 and 6m.

The SW receiver is set up for WSPR signals, and some tests have been done.

On 472kHz the system works nicely with spots every night, once as far as SV8 (about 1400km) No complaints about that.
On 30m and 20 spots all day on most days, so not too much activity there.
My daylight time efforts have been focused on 28MHz. However, in the dark of the winter season there is not too much activity on the band at this time of the solar cycle. Mostly I have seen a local station about 50km away, and some scattered spots from EA8.

More activity will be there as the days get longer. Among others, an old HF transceiver (IC-706) will be placed downstairs for some casual CW activity.

2016-01-02

2016 ... Beginning Weak Signal Experiments

This is the first post of 2016, so first of all let me wish you a Happy New Year.

This year started for me with installing the WSJT-X program and start monitoring (again) WSPR signals, and the first tests on receiving JT65 on the HF bands.
Right now the receiving is done by a FT-817, and just a piece of wire strung along the living room max 2m AGL.
In spite of this, the first night on 40m provided reception of FY5KE. The first night of the year was rather poor due to the arrival of a CME, so the magnetic field was quite disturbed.
This is done from a secondary "shack" in my living room. No cables have been extended to this, but soon ... A few practical things must be done in the house, so it may take a little while.
Next year should see some 6m activity, mainly in the sporadic E season, or if some strong aurora propagation appears, and hopefully some 2m SSB/CW activity, possible with an omnidirectional antenna with a modest gain - most likely two (maybe four) stacked Big Wheel antennas.
Several more experiments are planned for 2016, and I will report as I get to do them. One of those will most likely involve a multiband QRSS grabber receiver.


A look back on 2015 :

I moved back to my native Denmark, and got some antennas up in September and October :
- an active receiving antenna covering all bands from 136kHz to 70MHz, not in any way an ideal antenna, but it has provided some interesting reception, and the signal is good enough to split up and provide output to several receivers for monitoring purposes. Further, it should not be too much work to add some amplification for the extension down into the living room, at least on the higher bands.
- a multi dipole for HF, covering, with good SWR in the lower parts of the bands 80/40/20/15m, and a few more bands with a useable SWR
- a 10m half wave antenna with the feed point up 7m.
- there was already an old triband Comet antenna for 50/144/432MHz. This may need some maintenance in the spring summer, or may have to be replaced (I have a replacement antenna, if necessary.

Since I got back I have been pretty active on 10m, and the count at the end of the year was 71 countries and 6 continents worked, mostly with the vertical. On other bands was a QSO with the US on 80m with the multiband dipole - the feed point is only up 7m, so it was a bit of a surprise.

I am looking forward to getting the house in better order, so it will be feasible to receive visitors. The Kitchen/Bathroom is from 1970, so a renewal is in order ...

So I look forward to making my own experiments, and see what others will be doing in the coming year.