Saturday, 27 July 2013

G100RSGB

Today was 'Last Saturday' so the Codgers had their monthly breakfast get together at the Orwell Crossing Truck Stop. We had a good turnout, once again, with around 35 in attendance. This monthly meeting was started some 6 1/2 years ago and has continued to be very popular with East Anglian radio amateurs. It is very much an eclectic group, with interests varying from LF through propagation, microwave and optical comms.
A large number of very well known and respected radio amateurs are members of the Codgers group.


Codgers is not a radio club. It is just an informal group of radio amateurs and radio interested persons.
If you are in the area on the last Saturday of any month, please join us at 10:00am at the Truck Stop. You will be very welcome.






After the Last Saturday Braekfast I joined the Felixstowe and District Amateur Radio Society at nearby Foxhall Road, for a few hours, to take my turn at operating G100RSGB. At 00:00GMT the G100RSGB call sign will be passed on to the next group to hold it for two days.

Meanwhile Felixstowe club will continue tomorrow with a GB call sign at the Foxhall road site. This is an old Cold War troposcatter station with three tall towers which once proudly sported dishes and a flyswatter reflector.

Disused since about 1992, when the USAF moved out, it is now a museum and hosts regular open days.

The radio club has used the site regularly for a number of years and as it is in the middle of nowhere it is possible to run relatively high power on HF without fear of causing interference to anyone.

The warm weather today meant a good turn out both from the public visiting the Comms site museum and other attractions, and popping in to see the radio club and what we were doing with all that wire in the air.....

The radios include K3 with linear, FT857, IC718 and some other radio that I forgot to note!
The antennas include a G5RV, 3 element triband yagi, some sort of HF vertical and yagis for 6,4,2 and 70cm

A very enjoyable few hours......
73 de Sam







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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Some tests on 3cm

I have been operating my Yaesu G1000DXC mast rotator remotely using an ERC controller and PSTRotator Lite, over WiFI. I realised earlier this week that I could also use PSTRotator to control my Spid Ras az/el rotator remotely from the indoor shack.
With a bit of help from Cudrot, YO3DMU, the author of PSTRotator, I am now able to use PSTRotator to control the dish and PSTRotator Az to control the mast rotator.
With this capability in place I replaced the 23cm feed on my small EME dish with a selection of 3cm antennas, using a 1.2m length of Suhner low loss coax to the 3cm transverter, mounted on the rear of the dish.

This worked well, even over more than 70m of coax, to the shack 144MHz IF rig.
But, I found it difficult to hold the dish on the sun in order to get a meaningful sun noise to cold sky reading, although the less critical pointing at the ground and then cold sky proved that the system was indeed working and on some dish headings I could hear the nearby GB3MHX beacon signal by scatter off local buildings and structures.

The principal reason for doing this was to see if the EME dish could be used for rain scatter contacts.
My conclusion is that it can be done, but will be difficult because the dish is so sharp.

On 6m I have continued to add locator squares to the few I already had when I started this SpE season! I now have 163 locators and 49DXCC. Recent additions have been a couple of USA stations, including Dave Orleans, K1WHS, who I have met several times in the USA and from whom I have bought a number of antennas ( he only recently sold Directive Systems).
This evening I worked a CU1 station ( thanks for the heads up, Graham). Afterwards I was called by CT1DMK. Luis and I moved up the band and had a long chat. It was his first contact on the band with his new log periodic antenna and just 20W. As conditions on the SpE path began to deteriorate we signed.
That is three new locators on the band today!

Coming back to 3cm. Today I was able to test a number of surplus 10GHz, 10W SSPAs that had been donated to our group. Each produced a comfortable 14W indicated output, at 10368MHz, and one ( a keeper!) did an indicated 18W output. These outputs were achieved for 8mW input. Nice!

73 de Sam


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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Remote operation of the shack - update

Several weeks ago I decided to buy an 8 channel ( relay) USB card to plug into my shack PC. This PC is usually left on and by using LogMeIn I can already access my rotator controller and log book, both on this PC, from my indoor shack laptop. Now with the USB relay card I can remotely switch up to 8 circuits on and off, with full isolation.

My current plan is to switch one of my remote linear amplifiers on and off line and to switch one of my antennas to the common feeders. The other channel uses are still being decided.

Although I bought the card several weeks ago it was only last night that I got round to downloading the control application and trying it out. It requires a USB connection to the PC and 12V to power he card. 24V versions are also available as are cards with more channels.

I purchased the Bulgarian made Denkovi card from EBay at $41
With these cards you are permitted to download and use their own DRM (Denkovi Relay Manager) v2.0 control application to switch the eight channels on or off. The state of the relay is then signalled back to the GUI. The name of the control channel can be labelled to reflect the controlled function.

How does it work? I haven't connected the card to the linear or coax relay yet, but I have had fun remotely turning LEDs on and off! It has been extremely reliable so far.





Channels 2, 4, 6 and 8 all turned on.

Sam




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Monday, 15 July 2013

Progress

I have not had too much of a chance to play radio in the last two weeks due to decorating. However, I did get to visit the Finningley Microwave Round Table on Sunday 15th. This is an annual event staged at the Finningley radio club site at the old RAF Finningley site.
It is actually a two-day meeting but since I prefer not to stay overnight I usually only get there on the Sunday. This year it was my turn to drive the 400 mile round trip with a 06:15 start from home and returning at 21:30. A long day for me!
I attended several of the talks and also set up to sell some of my low noise preamps as well as sell some of the remaining parts from the estate of G4PBP.
Overall, I about covered costs, but that was secondary to being there.
My only purchases of the day were a couple of 144-160MHz high power Alcatel (350W average, 2kW peak) circulators for £7 for the pair !

I also purchased a couple of old Aerial Facilities Ltd hybrid couplers for the milled boxes and connectors. These will be stripped out and then turned into diplexers( maybe triplexers) to enable me to combine and then split two radios onto one cable passing through the shack wall and then to split them again to feed an HF antenna and a dual band 2m/70cm antenna.

Don't forget to answer the 9 OFCOM questions on the 13 and 9cm consultation web page!

Sam




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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Friedrichschafen or, three men in a boat!

Now that the dust has settled and I am recovered from the weekend's trip to Friedrichschafen, the story can be told!






This was my fourth trip to FHN. For the second time I travelled by plane, boat and train, arriving at Zurich airport on Thursday afternoon, taking the Intercity train to Romanshorn and then the ferry across Lake Constance (Bodensee) to the town of Friedrichschafen on the German ( northern) bank of the lake.



Arriving into Friedrichschafen harbour


My travel companions were Graham, G4FSG and John, G4BAO.

We met up with a bunch of the Camb Hams on the ferry for the short crossing.





A drink on the ferry with the Camb Hams

After a great breakfast on Friday morning at the City Krone hotel, where we were staying, it was off to the Messe on the free bus.
Since we had previously bought our tickets on line we were able to join the shortish line to get into Hall1

I had some business to complete ( delivering VLNA preamps) on the Friday morning, so it limited my time to look around until late morning.

Hall 1 houses all the clubs as well as the various traders selling 'new stuff'. Traders like Kuehne Electronic, EISCH Electronic, Schubert Electronic, the Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood stands together with lots of smaller and larger traders selling everything from antennas to SDRs, RC helicopters, QSLS cards and computer wares.

Between Halls A1 and Hall A, where the first of the flea market stands were to be found, was the QSL wall, DARC presentation area, food court and A2 talks rooms.





Part of the QSL wall

I met up with Enrico, IW5BCE, at the QSLS wall at 1pm. this is an annual event when all the EME ops get together to either arrange the evening's meal or just meet and say hello in person. Enrico is the organiser for the EME Friday evening meal event on Lindau Island ( on the lake).

After lunch of Curry Wurst and Pomme Frites, washed down with German beer, it was on to the serious business of looking round the flea market stalls.

I have to admit I didn't buy a lot on the first day ( or the second!)

Being very tired and 'hammed out' we went back to the hotel about 5pm, ready for the evening meal with the Camb Hams at a local Chinese-Indian restaurant. To be honest the quality of service left a lot to be desired and I doubt we will be going back there again.
However, the company of the Camb Hams more than made up for the long serving delay and general quality of the food.

On day two it was a repeat of the trip to the Messe, followed by a good scour of Hall A4 and then back to Hall A3. Undoubtedly the quality of the 'items' in Hall A3 were superior, although this may be my perception as a microwaver.

This was also the day when Chris Duckling, G3SVL, presented his talk on 100 years of the RSGB and its association with other societies. Earlier there had been a talk on IOTA, also arranged by the RSGB.




Chris does his talk in one of the A2 convention rooms.

During the day I met up with a number of amateur radio friends from around the world. One of these was Bruce, PY2BS! Visiting from Brazil with his wife and son. in order to have more time to chat we arranged to meet up on the lakefront in Friedrichschafen and have our evening meal together.

We (Graham, John and I) were joined by Bruce, XYL Darsheema and son Max.

Sitting in the restaurant, looking out across the lake at the falling rain ( yes, it rained on the Saturday....) but enjoying a superb Greek meal with excellent wine made I seem like a different world!

Sunday morning and Graham and I elected to spend another few hours at the Messe whilst John went off the visit the adjacent Zeppelin museum.




A Zeppelin flies over the Messe!

All to soon it was time to head off for the ferry and the train and plane. But not before we had a last Kaffee und Kuchen, sitting by the lakefront. Most enjoyable!

The trip home was uneventful and although we were all tired, we all felt it was worth the expense.





John's friend says goodbye as we approached Romanshorn!




Arriving back in Romanshorn.

In all I didn't buy a great deal ( what do you buy a man who already has everything?)!!!!!!!
I bought some adapters, attenuators and GaAs FETs and of course lots of coffee, ice cream and the various meals and beer.

I was also presented with a nice 23cm feed for my EME dish. I want to thank Carlos and Victor for the very kind thought. I will be testing it soon and promise to report back on my results.

I'll be updating the Friedrichschafen blog as and when I think of anything else to cover.

73 de Sam




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