Sunday, 27 April 2014

Super fast broadband. Finally

Ok so not a radio related blog entry but its worth sharing anyway.

I have for the first time ever now joined the super fast broadband club. Using BT infinity2 I have for the first time broken through the "Up to" 16Mb/s download and jumped straight up to 76Mb/s download.

For the uninitiated this is accomplished by only installing Fibre cable to the nearest cabinet and then the existing copper to the house. The is known as FTTC. (Fibre To The Cabinet). and going forward its quite possibly the only large scale Fibre Optic roll out we will see in the UK. placing Fibre Optic to the home (FTTP - Fibre To The Property) is prohibitively expensive and the last large scale roll out nearly bankrupted NTL.

So how is it ? well to be honest I haven't really noticed any difference browsing the web. But I have noticed a massive difference when everyone is using a piece of the internet connection. the upload speed has made a massive difference too. Being able to upload videos to YouTube and also working with files (day job) and placing them on remote servers is now much quicker.

The actual speeds I'm getting are not that different to the advertised connection - That being 76Mbs down and 19Mbs up. have a look at the before and after speed tests.

With this new found speed I will hopefully be able to upload more videos, so watch this space. Anyway normal service will resume now, and i will carry on blogging about radio related matters. Although the speed test was completed via wireless. Does that count ?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Update on the WSPR Ultimate 3 kit

I thought i would share a quick update on my WSPR experiments at home. My initial setup of the WSPR included what I though was quite a healthy heartbeat from the GPS module. In fact this was incorrect, i had the Serial Data and PPS lines crossed and the U3 thought the Data was the PPS signal. hence why the recalibration sent the Reference oscillator wildly off course.

Now fixed, i don't have a heartbeat coming from the module, but thats because the GPS module is too close to the U3 and also there is a lack of pull up resistors between the 3.3v and TX pins. both these issues I will fix this week

Another point and is based upon many questions i am getting about the module is what antenna am I running. Well its simple Im using my main shack antenna - this being the MQ26-SR. With the calculated output of the WSPR module(288mW) and the ERP figures of the antenna (6dB), the grand ERP will be about 1.1W-ERP

This 1.1W ERP would account for how well the little module is doing. I have since corrected the DDS instability, by adding a heatSink, only the clock update and calibration need sorting - these both will be corrected when I sort out the GPS module.

This map shows a 8 hour transmission period, transmitting once every 4 minutes. No calibration is done as the GPS module is disconnected. I manually set the Reference oscillator by transmitting a 14Mhz signal and measuring the output on the Oscilloscope. I made the change to the oscillator by making adding the difference to the Ref. Oscillator of how much it was off by. (in my case just 163Hz)

Anyway here is a quick tour around the unit. This video was taken and made before I realised i had the GPS wired up wrong, and before I corrected the instability of the DDS module.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Its quiet. WSPR quiet

If you ever needed proof that QRP is good fun and very rewarding, look no further than my latest project. I just (today) finished building the QRP Labs Ultimate 3 kit. This kit is amazing and I've ordered mine with the 20m BPF as thats the lowest band my home Antenna will go to.

In its current configuration my kit only pumps out 200mW and I left it running while i went out to a party with the family. On my return I was staggered by the reach on the little kit. The longest distance it was heard was a staggering 6408Km ! all that way with just 200mW of RF..

Here is a map I've downloaded of the plots :

and a list of the stations that heard it. You will notice some frequency fluctuation. I have to box the kit up and think about some stabilisation on the DDS. but hey for its first outing - I'm very happy !

Friday, 18 April 2014

Club log integration now available in Ham radio Deluxe.

After what appears to be a life time of waiting HRD now supports Clublog, with automated uploads of your QSOs straight to the Clublog server. Its pretty simple, and runs in exactly the same way as HRDLog and eSQL plugs ins currently do within the Logbook application.. So here is how to do it.

Firstly download the latest version of HRD. At time of writing its version is and is in public Beta.

Back up your files as described on the site, and install this new version.

Once downloaded and installed everything seems pretty familiar. Your logbook, layouts and program settings. will all be the same as they were before. But now you have a few options.

1. Click on Configure and in the drop down you will see ClubLog.

2. Add your registered email address and password to the fields, and you are Done !!

When ever you now log a QSO HRD Logbook will automatically upload the details to the Clublog server. Perfect for keeping an online log and embedding the Clublog log book facility on your web page (Like mine)

You can also bulk upload QSOs that you have not syncronised. You can do this by :
1. Select the QSOs that need to be uploaded to ClubLog.
2. Right mouse click and select File.
3. Select Clublog and select Upload.
4. The results will be loaded into a log file that you can view, by clicking "View" and "Logfile" from the top line menu.

These QSOs will now be uploaded to your Clublog account, and Clublog will send you an email (if you have chosen to receive them) confirming the upload, and any issues.

Again this is pretty simple stuff, but its been a long time coming and I for one am glad its finally enabled. !

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sunday afternoon on the wireless

If you’ve ever needed a good antenna with a quick deploy when you are out portable, you can do a lot worse than using a vertical antenna. My configuration consists of a 9:1 UnUn no grounding spike connected to just over a 10m length of wire.

Ive used a similar deign in the pas that was using just under 10m and it worked really well on 17m. So well in fact that I was able to operate a Japanese station with 30w. (from an FT857D fitted in the car) tho sone is a not quite as good. The wire needs to be shorter, by how much i haven’t worked out yet. But i think that making it shorter by a couple of meters will be a good match for all bands between 40m and 10m.

Anyway here is a video of my exploits. Many thanks for all the stations i spoke with. I had quite a variation on signal reports, some excellent some very poor. And I’m not sure if that was band conditions or down to the antenna performance.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Fun with a Zoom H1

I recently purchased a Zoom H1 for outside audio recording. Ive noticed that the microphone on the
Camcorder is pretty poor when filming in slightly breezy conditions or even when i am not facing the camera.  So to address this a separate Mic / handheld recorder that allows the addition of plug in microphones and being completely separate from the camera is a bonus.

I recorded a film this week (connecting a PL259 to coax) for our intermediate students. I didn't use the zoom H1, instead as i was sat in front of the camera, i used its internal mic. However when i reviewed what i had recorded, I had a dishwasher, kitten running, dog barking, children playing all over the audio. A perfect time for the zoom !!

I recorded a new track to splice onto the video. Which I'm about 70% happy with. I can assure you its a hard thing to do. Making the speech sound correct, with correct rising inflection its a hard task !

Anyway here are the fruits of my labour. Let me know what you think. Room for improvement i think.