Thursday, December 27, 2012

Visiting ham friends.

Yesterday (Thursday 27th) Heidi and I had the pleasure to spend the afternoon with Steve VK2TDX and his wife Alicja.  We had very pleasant barbecue (marinated lamb) and with moderate use of red wine we enjoyed ourselves.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the occasion.  Have to make up for it next time...

Well ... Today Steve and I decided to visit Barry VK2BJ who was the captain of 2012 BERU contest team to receive the trophies.  What a nice visit it was too.

Barry and Steve ... Notice the nice tower and the antennas.

Tilt Nally tower with 40 m dipole and Optibeam for 20, 15 and 10 m.

No wonder Barry can hear and work stations I have problems with (We are not very far apart geographically).

Barry proudly displays the BERU tophy... Australian team came second in the world.

Barry at his Elecraft contest station. K3 plus KPA 500 amplifier and KAT 500 tuner.

Everybody is smiling.

Here I'm sharing the limelight with two very nice guys... and excellent contesters.

It is very handsome trophy.

Yesterday morning I've received this "wallpaper" form US.  Nice surprise too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time to do: Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations at VK2PN

Christmas "lights"...???

***** DOOMSDAY ****

I'm sure that by now you know about:

Very interesting stuff ;-)


Testing the digital voice with Ed VK2JI

Another interesting test.  Ed and I tried the 20 m (14236) and could not make it. But then we QSYed to 40 m and it worked well.

OK it worked... we had some significant QRM


Please note the vertical lines on the side of Ed's signal... that is somebody's switching power supply from Plasma TV at or near of my QTH.

Here you see Ed's pretty strong signal on the computer screen.  Free DV interface.

Here is clean and strong signal as image on my Elecraft P3 panadaptor.  The QRM lines are not as prominent as on the first image.

Conclusion at this stage:
  1. The signal needs to be reasonably strong.
  2. Static crashes do "upset" the decoding.
  3. It is quite resilient to man made interference (QRM)
  4. It is quite sensitive in a way of audio settings (in and out) of the encoder/decoder are set on the computer sound card.
  5. It is sensitive to netting - the TX and RX frequencies most likely need to be very close.
  6. It is "good fun" to test something so very new.
I'd love others testers opinions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Digital voice QSO

The Digital yahoogroup been buzzing for the last few weeks with the new FreeDV and Codec2  

I wanted to try it, but kept putting it off...  This morning Peter VK2TPM emailed me... Hey do you know about this...  Yes, said I... just too lazy to get it and try.   Well he made me to do it... and thanks Peter... it was fun.

To download and set up the program was not complicated... I kept Peter waiting with my problems... I have "complicated" switching system between my Signalink and my SCS PTC-II modems.  Never remember how i left it last time....

What can I say?  It works well.  Most QSOs happen on 14.236 but that frequency was busy at the time so Peter and I tested on 14.230 (the SSTV frequency, but nobody was there).

Peter's signal at the beginning.  Running about 50 watts.

The screen close: you can see the stream of digital carriers

Here I'm trying to "squeeze" the signal through about 1.1 kHz filter without any negative effect.  When I narrowed the filter to about 1.0 or less kHz the dropouts were quite apparent.

Here you can see the detailed view of the signal in the P3.

The interface of the modem.

This signal is by VK4CAG Graeme.  We had not perfect but pretty good link at that distance.


Apology for the video quality... taken with hand held little camera without preparation. 

Please have a look at Peter's blog about our test: 

The same afternoon I "hooked" Horst VK2HL into downloading the program and setting it up.  The test between  him and me was successful .

Apart from Graeme VK4CAG the distances were small, but we used rather low power.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The CQWWCW 2012 Contest

OK... I know the contest happened close to three weeks ago and I'm only now finding the time to reflect on one of the biggest actions on contester calendar.

Well... why comment...  Let's say it was my most successful attempt in a major contest... Pretty happy with my effort and a personal best...

I'm still considering myself as a "contester in training".  It is hard to beat the big boys even in this region:

Steve VK2TDX  is very very good.... and good luck to him... Just to hear him on the air makes one feel: "I wanna be like him"...   (see my previous blogs).

  ARRL Section : DX
        Club/Team : VK Contest Club
         Software : N1MM Logger V12.11.1

        Band    QSOs    Pts  ZN    Cty
         3.5       6            12     6      6
           7     225         658   21    36
          14     393       1148   31   74
          21     462       1347   22   27
          28     507       1493   24   30
       Total    1593    4658  104  173

            Score : 1,290,266

Yes I had a fun...   Now what can I improve for the next time... eh?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Operating portable next to Manning river on Oxley Island

Heidi and I were asked to do "some house sitting" for a friends.  Small "hobby farm" in Manning valley great country and even greater house.

Apart of my duties of maintaining the swimming pool and keeping the grass "closer to the ground" I had plenty of time to play radios.

I've set up the station in the caravan annex

It is amazing difference in QRM and QRN in the country and in my normal home QTH...  One can hear much more out there.

This is my pride and joy... the SpiderBeam... Great little portable antenna.  Five bander and no traps.  Three element on 20 m, 17 m 15 m four on 12 and 10 m.

Aluminium telescopic mast.

Fishing rod supported 30 m vertical with six radials.  This antenna is amazing DX performer.

Detail of the coax termination and the radials.

Detail of the 40 meter vertical termination with the ground plane in a salt water...

The 40 m vertical on a jetty.

I thought that the antenna will be very good for DX, but I found the G5RV as inverted V performed better.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the G5RV and its position.  It's apex was about 15 m high.

I had built also 20 vertical with 10 radials, but did not use it at all (in anger)... The SpiderBeam was always better.

The 20 m vertical in the forefront and on the left is the mast supporting G5RV and to the right is SpiderBeam.

It was also first time when I seriously used Beverage receiving antenna.  I've played with the antenna before, but not seriously.  This time I thought I'll use it a lot.

This photo shows the "business" end of the Beverage containing the 9:1 transformer.  The other end (with the same box arrangement) has the resistor and was on the end of about 120 m of copper wire roughly about 1 to 1.5 m above ground and pointing ENE.  I.e. Should have been good for NA plus some JA.

The antenna was MUCH quieter on receive than the beam.  However the signals were not (nowhere) as strong as signals heard on the beam.  So... I'm not sure if the antenna is as good as said, or if I did not aim or constructed it right.  Still sitting on the fence.  Next time it will get some more testing.

The amazing sunsets in the country.

Even more amazing colours of sunrise on the river

As you can see the operating position was comfortable and airy.

Feeling quite smug after the contest.

They were very interested in Amateur radio.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

VK Contest Club meeting in Hornsby

It is already almost a week since I've attended the meeting, but this is the first time I'm having little time to report on it.

It was my first attendance to a such august gathering and it was very nice to meet the fellows competitors and exchange some ideas and swap tales.

Ed VK2JI  Oscar VK4BOV and Craig VK2KDP

Paul VK2BPL  Tomas VK2CCC and Vlad VK2IM

Husband and wife team

Richard VK2BD and Lynn VK2FLMM

Paul VK2BPL  Patrick VK2PN and Tomas VK2CCC

Oscar and Craig

Vlad and Ed

Keen ideas exchange

Vlad is making a point

Tomas VK2CCC

Vlad VK2IM


Paul  VK2BPL

Oscar VK4BOV

Craig VK2KDP

Great time...  Unfortunately the venue was pretty busy and full, the noise level was a bit hard to cope with... (for my old ears).  Still I'm looking forward to the next one.

Nice to meet you guys in person..


The results of the Commonwealth contest were published.

  As I member of the team Australia 2, I was quite pleased with the result.