Showing posts from 2016

Bringing new life to my station - SDRPlay & SDRuno

I have decided to explore the world of SDR and my first venture into this arena was with the rather sensibly priced SDRPlay RSP at £127.20 including VAT and delivery.
I have been really pleased so far with my experience and even more so that I have been able to sync the new RX up to my existing FT-1000mp Mark V setup to give me a band scope and additional RX using SDRuno software and the Ominirig connection server to share the CAT data with the radio. 

I have already been asked how I have setup the station so produced this graphic to help explain how I set it up. The PC is nothing amazing and is an old cast off from a family member as I usually am a Mac user and wanted a PC to run some basic software in the shack. 

I have made use of the RX antenna in and out from the FT-1000mp Mark V to split the RX and return it to the main radio and send half to the SDR. OK there are some losses but then they are marginal and can be turned on and off using the RX switch on the front of the Yaesu. It a…

RSGB field day changes 2017

I have been reading September's Radcom this morning and read that there are changes due to RSGB field day contests. I personally would like to see catagories for small stations and short term ops. Say 8 hours and QRP and battery efforts with additional points for the hard time these stations face. Perhaps similar to the catagories used in ARRL field day. 
I am appealing for QRP users who are RSGB members to support my thoughts and see if we can get a section more supportive of the types of operation we do. 
Here is a copy of the email I sent to Steve  White G3ZVW
Dear Steve, (

I have been reading about changes to field day contesting and would like to offer my input as a keen field day opp who has given up going out and about. 

I would like to suggest provision in both contests for small short term stations rather like the ARRL field day with a score multiplayer for QRP and battery power alone encouraging individuals such as myself to head out into the countryside…

Oh eBay why do you tempt me so...

I was casually looking through eBay looking at the QRP gear and I discovered a Youkits HB1A that was going very cheap indeed. I have a HB1B but thought about a second radio because they are great fun and easy to use. 
All things went well and the radio became mine for almost a quarter of what you would expect them to fetch. Two downsides though, It was from a silent key and had the knobs missing but for the price I thought I'd take a risk. 
The risk was a risk too, the radio turned up and was low on RX and TX power, I opened up the rig and saw instantly what the issue was. The marks of burning gave it away instantly. 

Those of you with a trained eye will spot a rather sorry looking 10uH inductor. Heaven knows what had melted it away but replacing it has left the rig working fine and outputting full power on TX too. Thankfully I had a well stocked spares shelf and a steady hand. I also had a couple of dodgy left over knobs from other projects so please excuse it's Frankenstein'…

Portable preparations

I have been really enjoying working with the you kits HB1B and have used it most days to make a QRP CW contact by the bedside station or out portable. So far I've been using a 12v SLAB as a power source but it has proven to be a pain to carry around with such a weight. I emailed you kits to see if I could buy an internal battery pack and was told this is not possible because of shipping issues. What to do? Make my own...
I found lots of great information online and set about making a 18650 lithium battery pack to put inside the rig but the more I learnt about balanced charging the more I felt this should be a consideration so I also purchased a small PCB from an eBay seller that allowed balanced charging and voltage limit on discharge too. It was not hard to make a pack that charged nicely from 12v and allowed me to fit the whole thing internally. 

Please ignore my messy bench but here is the pack and control board as I soldered all the connections up. I did a dry run on the bench a…

Video of the working Pixie 2 QRP CW radio on 30m

Below is a copy of the video I made showing how the 30m Pixie behaved in testing and how I modified it for the band. I have yet to test it better as conditions have naturally gone bad since it was complete. I did get a few reverse beacon network spots form Europe last night but nothing worth shouting about. I hope to have a half decent contact with it soon.

More Pixie fun

I haven't been on my blog recently but that doesn't mean I have not been actively seeking more QRP adventures. I had been enjoying messing about with a Pixie 2 given to me by M0SIY when he almost died laughing at the strange chirping signal it produced. The good news was I was able to get it to play ball and started to modify the little rig to cover more frequencies with switched crystals and a ceramic resonator to allow me to cover more frequencies with the little gem.
The picture shows, left to right,my amplified speaker, 30m, 40m and 20m versions of pixies lined up next to the key. Indications on my meters suggest I'm getting 500-600mW from the rigs with 12v input voltage about 200-300mW with a 9v battery.
So during my trials I was enjoying the fact that the kits are so cheap that you can mess about with them until you can't find anything else to do with them but without adding any stress on the bank balance. I ordered three other boards, some inductors, crystals and …

To the beach

My wife suggested we have a family trip to the local beach and I took that as an opportunity to put the new rig in my rucksack and see how it worked portable.

I took the HB1B, Palm mini paddle, 12v SLA battery, a multi band 40m EFHW design antenna and a 6m pole as well as all of the family picnic related kit. 
It was easy to find a spot out of the wind and set up, initially I thought something was wrong because of the lack of noise but it wasn't long before the signals on the band gave me confidence. I put out a CQ call at the 14.060 QRP watering hole and was answered by OH5LP and also worked HA0HH further down the band who was calling CQ and a decent signal to me. I didn't spend much time playing radio with having the family but did try the new station and work a few contacts. 

I took some video that I will try and edit together for YouTube but my early findings on this rig is that it is certainly a FB radio and just perfect for what I needed. I hope to get a few more portabl…

New toy - Youkits HB1B QRP rig

My new toy arrived today, I spotted an eBay bargain at the weekend and accidentally hit the buy it now button (well that's what I told my XYL) 

Early indications and quick tests including a couple of quick QSOs tell me I'm going to love the basic simplicity of this radio. Tomorrow I have even negotiated a trip to the beach so I can check it out by the sea. 
I hope to make a few videos of this and the pixie kits soon and get them on YouTube and linked to the blog. 
Please listen out for me and excuse my terrible CW skills. 

More building kits and home brew

I finally got going on another pixie, this time on 20m. It needs the experimental touch but for now I was happy having the two frequencies on a switch adding In capacitance to shift by about 4kHz. In an unusual twist for me I even made some effort to make it neat and tidy by putting it in a box I had laying around, it had enough room for internal batteries too. 

I was tempted to build in a VXO but with a youkits HB1B due here in the morning I might save the efforts and stick with two frequencies for the fun and simplicity of it. 
By the time I finished the build the band had started to close and certainly wasn't up to much on low power levels obtained from a 9v battery. Tomorrow I will give it a whirl and see where I'm spotted on the RBN and hopefully have some calls reyurned. 
73 for now M0TEF

Milliwatt madness, frogs, pixies and QRP adventure.

I have had a wee break from radio related activities and blogging. Work has had large demands and my young family have taken up the rest of my time, I also had my FT-817 stop working as it should do and left without a decent QRP setup.

I wanted to play radio as QRP again and bought the frog sounds QRP TRX as shown in previous posts but it spent much of its time sat in a drawer as I felt my CW was too rusty to get on air and make contacts. Well I bit the bullet and got the frog on the air from home using my CG keyer and palm mini paddles to save the world from my bad straight key skills, or lack of skills should I say.

The evenings have been kind to me and the kids climbed into bed early giving me some time in the shack, I unplugged the FT-1000mp Mrk V and plugged in my bargain crystal controlled Frog. I never made any contacts after 30 minutes of CQ calls but the reverse beacon network managed to report me as being heard as far away as Estonia at just over 1000 miles. I was using a 9v…