środa, 8 października 2014

Pixie !!!! (2)

I was looking for the smallest and simplest transceiver ever invented and found ...Pixie 2.

There were a few versions of this transceiver (now is version 2). Just received the kit which contains the pcb and all the necessary parts. The coils look like regular resistors. The whole transceiver contains two transistors and one amplifier. I can imagine to build a transmitter on one transistor (quartz plus transistor and we have CW transmitter) but how to build a receiver?

O ordered kit on eBay. Cost: a few dollars. It is not only the smalles but also the cheapest transceiver ever :)

The schema of the Pixie:

Ready to start

And the result:

It really works !!! Great fun :)

wtorek, 15 lipca 2014

IARU 2014 - photos

Some conclusions from this year.

Again many, many thanks to Herr Müller who let me use his field for my station setup. 

Every year I think that this time I have everything ready. And every year when I start preparations (usually 2..3 months before) the task list contains tens of issues..

This year I was quite prepared however main improvement - SO2R - didn't fulfill my expectations. I made maybe a few qso(s) from CQ sent from the "second" radio. It definitely needs more training and maybe some additional equipement (like some smart radio switch). I had many ideas how to build it ...just before the contest when it was much too late... Maybe if I read this text before next contest (what I usually do) I will start to think about some solution early enough in 2015..

This year preparation last: 
Friday, 11:00-21:00 (antennas built, spiderbeam ready and erected, GP ready on the ground). 
Saturday: 9:00 - 13:30 (erect GP, station build).
First time I decide to use specially designed desk that could carry two radios and the laptop. This configuration took more time to assemble but was much comfortable to use.

Probably for the first time I was ready before begin of the contest :)))

This was my main nightmare before. New, more powerfull notebook (I planned to use RFSpace-IQ SDR for bands monitoring), new radio - KX3 and device increasing voltage from 12V to 24 for the rotator (much faster heading) required more energy then year before. Estimated demand was around 150..200 Ah for 24h contest. 

I was using three bateries - AGM 107 Ah and 2x100Ah (from the car).
AGM was powering: K3, KX3, RFSpace-IQ
Auto batteries: rotator, laptop (Dell)

Total capacity was around 300Ah but I could not use 100% of car batteries (they dont like it). In fact I wanted to use not more than 50% from them (100Ah) and up to 80% from AGM 107Ah (80Ah).

I had to start the engine a few times for 20..40 minutes to be sure that will have enough energy later to come back home. My biggest concern related to these batteries was that they are already 7 years old and need to be replaced soon.  

RF-IQ was almost not used. Much better idea would be probably using some panadapter for KX3 (it has IQ exit so could be used with some good sound card). I tried such setup with EMU0404 but this didnt want to work. Should be tested before next contest.

Storms: I lost around 90..120 minutes due to lightnings nearby. 

This year result - can I publish this before log deadline? Probably yes - around 67000 points (last year 64000). Slightly better :)
I did some North and Sout American stations (States, Canada, Brasil, Argentina). This year I had not far East stations - this direction seemd to be closed.

More pictures and films in progress...

The film from the contest station preparations. This film is awaiting for permission from Warner Music for the music used - Pat Metheny Group-Finding and Believing. Hope to get it but in meantime Youtube has right to remove film any time. Enjoy. 

sobota, 21 czerwca 2014

niedziela, 1 czerwca 2014

Monitoring amateur stations activity... without antenna

I dont have enough time to monitor bands during a day or sometimes even just every day..

On the other hand I would change my daily plan if I know that conditions are better than usual and there is a chance to have some interesting QSO...

I was monitoring the ionosphere parameters hoping to find "gold rule" when I should pack the radio and assemble antenna in the middle of forest. So far it haven't succeed.

I was considering monitoring of beacons, WSPR network, DX clusters activity and many others. I decided to do some research how band conditions are reflected in amateur stations activity which at least in some way is shown in DX Clusters spots. I cannot have a transceiver with huge antenna in my QRL but why not to have a computer or even smartphone with some software..

The first step was building a client software which can receive spots from DX clusters. This is already basically done. I would need (and currently looking for) a file with spots from last months or even better years. This is necessary to compare current activity with past activity to take into account some "social" factors as day of the week, time, contests, national holidays in Europe or States etc.
Client application storing spots in local database

If anyone reading this post knows how to get such data please help. Below there is a picture with my email address, please contact me this way.

Next step will be some kind of visualisation of current activity - currently working on this.

If I decide that it gives reliable results I will write more about this project.

please stay tuned, 73!

Update 6.06.2014

I have the first spots on the map!
Maybe not exactly where expected but everything is possible in pilot phase...

Update 9.06.2014

Ok. First spot more or less where expected...
Big job behind me (map calibration).

Update 13.06.2014

Yes, Friday and 13... Tried to show this app on our HB9RR meeting. Application was starting for 5 minutes and then immediately crashed. What a shame... And was working quite well recent days...

Update 17.06.2014

Don't have too much time (difficult project in my QRL, IARU HF 2014 preparations, bicycle/foot tours to the nearest hill - Uetliberg, some photo contests deadlines soon, radio escapades in the evenings, family life...).

poniedziałek, 26 maja 2014

The first radio Uetli adventure...

...with some delay  (3 days) I write about my Uetliberg adventure... I would like to write: "about my first Uetliberg adventure" as want to repeat this more often...

We try to visit Uetli twice a week - so far Tuesdays on bicycles and Thursdays on our own foots. Last Thursday we started from my home around 6p.m. with Oliver and Eduardo (friends).

Weather was oook in that moment but was raining before and some rain was expected later in the night. Well, one of the good things I had learned in this country is that "there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing" I had appropriate rain coat in my backpack so I seemd to be prepared. If that would be the only contents of my bagpack - that would be easy... No, together with the rain coat there were: KX3, power amplifier Midland 747B, MFJ antenna tunner, two Lipo batteries (3S, 2.2Ah) and buddipole antenna with 2.5m mast. This time no tripod which is nice and light as long as you didnt have to carry it on your own back 8 km (constantly up)...

this time climbing was harder than usual..

We reached "top of Zuerich" around 8pm. The view from there was spectacular as usual...

click to see full

I mentioned last time that one of aims to go there is to spend some time with friends and - as everybody knows - the time is even nicer when some beer(s) are involved - we couldn't resist also this time. So beer was involved and finally I started my radio activities some time later...

I also mentioned that I had spent some time the day before checking that I don't miss any important cable, element etc. Yeeees. I checked all the cables that I usually forget (connecting radio with amplifier or changer PL/BNC). This time I had everything except ... central element of Buddipole.

Without this element Buddipole antenna just doesn't exist. At the beginning I wanted to build any antenna from some piece of wire but I didnt have any... Finally I managed to connect both arms of Buddipole directly with the cable. That definitely was not perfect as both arms touched the bench however such built antenna could be tuned and I did even some QSO.

The propagation was not exciting this day or just my new antenna was just deaf... I did one nice QSO with Marco HB9ZAG. Maybe it was not DX (abt 20km) but at least I had opportunity to test this specific setup - power amplifier powered by Lipo battery. Definitely such setup works - the only problem is for how long Lipo battery can last. It is only 2.2Ah and amp returns something abt 100w... The good side of such batteries is high possible current (in this case - 2.2Ah - 20C - 12.6V - even 40A !!!). The bad side is that they explode sometimes.. (never happened to me but if anyone wants to use them please read about them before!!!).

We did some tests - how to drive the power amplifier to get more power but without distorions. It seems that (at least on 14MHz) I should use no more than 1W output to drive the amp. I need to find some power meter to check what the power is in such setup (from the gauge in tuner looked like around 100W).

Finally around 23:00 I decided to leave - around 5 minutes after I had packed everything it started to rain... I went down by train..

Next 2 days my muscles didn't let me to forget about this interesting adventure...

I'm thinking about some wire antenna which should be smaller and lighter than Bud...


środa, 21 maja 2014

hb9ega/p, op: Marcin, QTH: Üetliberg... @22.05.2014 20:00 CET

...one of the biggest turist attractions in Zürich is Üetliberg - the hill just next to the city with stunning view to city, Zurich lake, Alps and countryside on the other side. Uetliberg has about 950m over sea level (I live at abt 430m) and is very popular place for trips by foot, bicycle or train (no car access). 

With some friends we visit it regularly (if possible twice a week - once by velo (bicycle) and once on own transport (foots)). It about 18km going there and back (unfortunately the first 9km "going there" is also "going up"...).

Tomorrow (Thursday) is walking day but this time instead of having beer on the top (and now the secret - why we do it - was revealed...) I'm going to have some QSO(s). As the hill is already quite high I will not take the 15m mast with me (yes, nice 15m high and less nice 20kg...) but just basic buddipole mast (2.5m) which I will mount to something (fence..?). Radio - KX3 with portable power amplifier and very portable Lipo battery. These Lipo batteries have best capacity/weight ratio and therefore are used in flying planes models. Such battery maybe will not survive too long (2500mAh) but is able to deliver power for 100W operations (even more) for a few QSO(s). Maybe I will take two of them so I can have 2x a few QSO(s)...

I didnt check so far how heavy radio plus antenna and plus all this stuff is going to be.. In the worst case still there is the train...

So now the batteries are charging and I'm trying to collect all these necessary cables, microphones etc. It happened to me (luckily once) that after assembling huge antenna on even bigger mast I discovered that didn't take ...radio..

So stay tuned (somewhere around 14.275 tomorrow after 20:00 our time...) and hopefully see you tomorrow :) If anyone would like to join - tomorrow or every Thursday 8 p.m. @Üetlibrg...

poniedziałek, 19 maja 2014

Night trip to Buchenegg

I think I mentioned already that most of my Radio activities are related to trips outside Zurich. First the noise level in Zrh is terrible, second my antenna located 4 meters over the ground between other buildings does it's best but ... When I leave Zurich instead of 3..5 stations in the band I can hear 20..

So that evening I packed some equipement and visited Buchenegg - the small village (very small) on the top of some hill located on the left (West) side of Zurich Lake.

There is a parking there which is my "base". It is usually quite empty at night - visited by nice couples in the cars who stop there to discuss the film that they just had seen in the cinema (I guess because what else they could do there in such darkness ...:)))

For some reasone they prefer to be alone there because when their car's light "see" my antenna they usually stop for 40..90 seconds and  ...leave the parking. Even worst film could not be discussed so shortly :)))

As you may see on these pictures Im not always QRP. So far have no idea what the output power from Midland B747 power amplifier is... But definitely not QRP because the gauge in the antenna tunner almost bends sometimes at the end of the scale (strange, scale is to 300W but this is not possible).

Need to check it.

czwartek, 8 maja 2014

First "field test" of the new KX3..

First "field test" of the new KX3 happend on 7th of May.. 

I have some nice picnic place near Zurich where usually test new antennas/radios/ideas. This time the conditions were perfect - rain had a break and for one hour I could build my station (Buddipole on 5m mast) and try to make some QSO with a new KX3. 
Why rain is "just perfect"? Because then the picnic area is really empty (who would like to have a barbecue when all around is wet) and I can practice the witchcraft in peace...

I had a few qso. At the end I was called by Kevin M0XLT and we had really nice chat. Kevin gave me very good feedback related to my audio and signal (55). I had the output power between 5..10W
but seems that my signal was really good in Southern England. Thanks Kevin, that was great QSO especially that one of my really first with this radio.

Finally the rain decided to come back again there so I decided to come back home...
I was really happy with the results.

poniedziałek, 28 kwietnia 2014

New baby arrived ... :)

Yes! Finally it has happened. I have a new little baby!!

Oh no, don't call my wife with congratulations, she doesnt know anything about that yet...

Oh no, don't call my wife with this news,  dont think that what you just think - it is not what you think :)))

My new little baybe is ...KX3. Came a few days ago, nicely packed. I had opportunity to test such radio before - Piotr SP2SWR visited me last year with this precious little thing. I remember I was amazed with audio quality, features and portability.

I reviewed the documentation.. Radio is similar for me to K3 (which I also have)  just much more tiny. When standing next to K3 looks like younger brother.

I did first comparisions to K3 and my impression is that with simple antenna and in good conditions the reception is similar. I guess that in more extreme situation (contest, pileup) the "big brother" (K3) must win...

sobota, 1 lutego 2014

HB9EGA #7 in IARU HF World Championship 2013 :))

Yeees !!

My best result so far :))

Last year I wrote: "Need to consider how to double it to be always member of TOP TEN :)"

This year (2013) I  doubled+  64.000 points versus last year (30.000).

So what is the goal for this year...?

Maybe TOP 5 :)))

Wish me good luck ..


sobota, 4 stycznia 2014

SDR radio wanted...

Following my notes from last year IARU contest I noticed that the elecraft P3 panadapter was extremely helpful - did let me to monitor most of the band just on one screen.. 

Sometimes I just move the cursor to some transmissions which I could not hear (listening somewhere else) but I could see them, tune there and just wait that somebody will repeat the CQ. 

My idea is to have possibility - to go back in time - for some transmissions that happened some time ago and the are visible only on the screen - have possibility to ..listen to them. Then I would immediately know if is it worth to call/wait for them to make CQ again or .. I have them already. 

Theoretically SDR receivers have such possibility - not directly but they can save some part of the bandwidth in the IQ file and this file can be played later. You can scroll thru this file and listen to it like normal radio - tuning, filter applying, change mode etc.

This is not exactly what I need - I would like to go back immediately and hear transmission that happened a few seconds ago. So far I didn't find such software that has such possibility. I started even considerations to write my own but first research showed that used algorithms for signal processing (FFT) are not really friendly to use :))

I consider to get some SDR receivers for testing.....