Welcome to my amateur radio and electronics Blog. My name is Carl and I live between Northwood and Rickmansworth on the Greater London / Hertfordshire border. This new blog was started 26th December 2020 although I am in the process of transferring some of the more interesting posts from my old Blogspot pages. My main radio interests are:
* VHF to SHF DXing and contesting * HF Dxing, digital modes and contesting (particularly RTTY contesting) * Equipment and antenna construction, including homebrew and kits
I am proud to be a founding member of the Drowned Rats Radio Group, if you want to know more about the Rats check out our webpage at About Us | Drowned Rats Radio Group (g3rat.com). We are VHF and above enthusiasts (although we also do some HF!), we do contesting and more.
We are always looking for new members to join the team
We welcome newcomers and old-hands alike, full training is given and we have a lot of fun! If you are in the UK and would like more information including how to get involved in the weekly VHF-SHF activity contests and/or to come out with us on one of our field events please contact us on the link above or feel free to email me direct. If you’re new to VHF and above contesting in the UK check out my beginners guide here.
Look for us on air with our club calls M0HRF, G3RAT and our contest call G2D.
Still being received by RV Polarstern and the Research Station.
Update #16 – 1600 20th Jan 2021
Update #15 – 1930 19th Jan 2021
Update #14 – 1700 19th Jan 2021
Update #13 – 2245 18th Jan 2021
Update #12 – 2200 18th Jan 2021
Two way QSO with DP0POL/MM on 30m FT8 (80W using Icom 7300)
Update #11 – 2130 18th Jan 2021
Update #10 – 0900 18th Jan 2021
Update #9 – 2100 17th Jan 2021
RV Polar Stern now almost at the Research Station and still copying my 5W beacon!
…. about 100Km to go:
Good conditions on 40m, great spots for 5w QCX-Mini:
Update #8 – 2100 16th Jan 2021
Delighted to say that the RV Polar Stern has picked up my 5W beacon, perhaps for the final day as she closes in to the German Antarctic Research Station, less than 1000Km to go! Nice to see that the station itself (GVN) is also continuing to hear me!
Update #7 – 0700 16th Jan 2021
It’s a few days since I posted an update. I’ve not been heard by the ship for a little while now. It’s still a couple of days before she arrives in Antarctica so hopefully I will get another reception report from her before then. In the meantime the WSPR beacon from the QCX Mini is working well on 40m with multiple spots from Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii etc. Pleasingly the German research at Antarctica (DP0GVN) continues to receive my beacon with little difficulty:
Spots this morning:
Update #6 – 0600 11th Jan 2021
At over 10,000Km from London the RV PolarStern continues to hear my tiny WSPR beacon on 40m
From the vessel:
Update #5 – 0015 9th Jan 2021
Interesting tonight to not only be heard by DP0POL/MM but also to hear and decode their transmissions.
For something different this VOCAP ‘wheel’ shows the probability of the path between M0ICR and DP0POL/MM on 40m WSPR as currently 80-90%:
HF Conditions are not great with the current MUF for south England at around 7MHz (40m)
From the vessel:
Update #4 – 2000 6th Jan 2021
PolatStern DP0POL/MM continues it’s journey South and the radio station onboard continues to receive my 40m beacon from the QCX Mini.
The ship is now well over 8000Km away, I wonder if I will manage to ‘reverse’ track her all the way to the Antarctic?
Update #3 – 0700 5th Jan 2021
This time a Google Earth View showing the position from which DP0POL/MM PolarStern has heard my 40m beacon:
Update #2 – 2100 3nd Jan 2021
Update #1 – 1900 2nd Jan 2021 RV Polarstern has just started picking up my QCX Mini 40m WSPR beacon again.
I’ll keep transmitting my WSPR Beacon from the QCX Mini and see if the RV Polarstern can continue to receive me.
0850 UTC 2nd Jan 2021
Felix Riess, DL5XL is currently active as DP0POL/MM from Research Vessel “Polarstern” on route to the South Atlantic and Antarctica to conduct ‘Research Programme 123 and 134’.
It was pleasant to enter the first RSGB UK Activity Contest (UKAC) on Tuesdy night. Being the first Tuesday of the month this contest was on 2m (144MHz).
Activity levels were good although conditions were nothing special with many reporting high levels of QRM and deep QSO. It was particularly disappointing now to work any /P stations (portable operating is not allowed under current VHFCC contest rules, in accordance with HM Government Covid restriction in ‘Lockdown 3’). I did miss working some of the stalwarts of the UKAC like Chris (G4FZN/P) and Pauline up in IO94 and Gordon (G8PNN) in IO95. Despite missing some of these regulars it was a pleasure to work, amongst others Gordon (another Gordon!) GI6ATZ for my ODX at a shade under 500km.
Here is my map of contests map, note that there’s nothing much to the South / South East – I have rotten take-off in that direction.
The marvel that is the QCX Mini is already equipped with a rudimentary electronic keyer for Iambic modes and including memories, beaconing and practice modes but I wanted to add a K16 keyer for increased features.
The K16 Keyer from Steve Elliot K1EL is perfect for both contesting and casual use and fits on a PCB measuring just 38mm x 35mm. I am using the Kanga UK version of the board available here. Detail of the full range of keyers from K1EL (US site) are here. The K16 chip can be purchased separately if you wish to design your own PCB here (US) or in the UK, again from Kanga UK, here.
Further details of K16 features and operation can be found here.
I have previously built a K14 keyer into an Altoids tin but on this occasion I am salvaging a defunct USB soundcard case to build the keyer into (matches the QCX Mini styling) and will be supplying the power from 2 x CR2032 cells (the keyer only draw 1mA when on and uA when in standby mode) rather than the larger PP3 specified by Kanga.
This is the original soundcard and box:
The K16 keyer in progress:
I intend to integrate my old K14 Keyer into my 20m QCX (vanilla).
The QCX mini is a high-performance single band HF QRP CW transceiver kit available for just $55 with a 50W amp for an additional $29.50.
My QCX Mini kit from Hans Summers QRP Labs arrived just before Christmas and was sitting under the Christmas tree for me to open. I’ll be documenting the journey with some links to other useful sites along the way. Watch this space!
Made sure to install the IC holder as far to the top of the PCB as possible to ensure sufficient space for the paddle socket and the TCXO board.
Now for a nice cup of coffee before alignment this evening
Initial findings are that it’s receiving very well and RF output at 12V is just a shade over 3W.
Having a Bud to celebrate progress so far!
Transmit test to follow …
Testing the Mini QCX in WSPR TX mode:
My very first transmission tests on WSPR:
And the results – AMAZING – Decoded in Antractica on first transmission, how excellent is that for something that was a bag of components 2 days ago!
Received on both receivers at DP0GVN – Neumayer Station III Ekstroem Ice Shelf, Atka Bay, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica
Top 50 spots, all over 1000Km in less than 10min (note only ONE station is reporting drift). Ignore the power shown as 5W, it’s actually 3.6W!:
… and also DP0POL/MM the German Ice-breaker Maritime Mobile (at this very moment the Polarstern, a German research icebreaker is presently off the coast of Africa en route to the scientific station in Antarctica. )
Time to play with CW I think …
No reply to CQ call but picked up on the reverse beacon network in USA and Russia.
Now to bed … Looking forward to some CW QSO’s tomorrow 🙂 Anyone for a QCX to QCX sked?
AJD – Worked all (10) Japan Districts / Call areas. WAJA – Worked all Japan prefectures (47 of them!) Click here for a useful map of districts and prefectures: Details of these and other Japan awards are at the pdf leaflet hosted on the ARRL site here. For more details look-up the JARL Awards site here. I am going to use this blog to keep track of progress on AJD and WAJA. Note that presently the JARL does not accept LOTW verification but it does accept EQSL cards (if they are printed out).
Always a pleasure to work the Falkland Islands on any band. This was my first QSO to the islands on 30m (FT4). A nice digital QSO with Donald Betts in Port Stanley on Christmas Day 2020. Over 12,000Km using 100W and a DX Commander Lite vertical. All my previous QSO’s to the Falklands have been with VP8LP (60m, 20m and 17m).
Thank you to Steve Hartley G0FUW and all the team at GQRP for the excellent virtual GQRP Convention run over the weekend 5-6th September.
A thoroughly enjoyable event. I have attended a number of the conventions in person over the years and was a little apprehensive about how well it would run as an online event. Whilst I admit I missed the face to face conversations and annual ‘meet-up’ given the circumstances this year I thought the event was a huge success, so much so that I hope the online element continues in future years – if nothing else it provides a much greater global reach and provided a valuable source of videos to watch over again for ideas and stimulation.