Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Digital DX heard on 80m

I'm still recovering from the flu. My head feels stuffed with cotton wool, I get tired after even some slight activity and my throat is dry and prickly. So I have not felt like making any contacts on the radio. Instead, I've been doing a bit of WSPR or leaving the receiver monitoring the digital sector of one of the bands and reporting spots to PSK Reporter.

Although I like WSPR because my low powered signals can be received in some surprisingly far away places, in some respects I prefer spotting to the PSK Reporter. I think the reason is because what I am spotting is people making actual two-way QSOs using a normal digital mode, not something designed to be dug out of the noise by a computer. The stations I receive are stations I could probably have a contact with. I've been spotted in Tasmania on WSPR using 2 watts to a magnetic loop, but I'd be extremely surprised if I could make a CW contact over that distance using the same power and antenna.

Last night I left the K3 and Fldigi running on 3.580MHz, and the screenshot above shows all the stations I spotted in that period. I was extremely pleased to see that I spotted KB1OIQ in Massachusetts and KP4ED in Puerto Rico, both in the early hours of the morning, especially as no other G station active at that time reported any activity from across the Atlantic. My 80m antenna is a 50 foot (16m) long end loaded dipole with about 30KHz 2:1 SWR bandwidth, zigzagged into my attic with the middle section at about 25 feet (8m). I would not expect it to produce very much in the way of DX, and even with the necessary assistance of the MFJ noise canceller the noise level is quite high on that band.

I'm not much of a night owl and the thought of hauling myself out of a warm bed in the small hours to see if I can work some transatlantic DX on 80m does not fill me with a lot of enthusiasm. But if I find myself unable to sleep one night, perhaps I'll try it just to see if it's possible.


Paul Stam PAØK said...

Hello Julian, WSPR is no challenge anymore. I was heard on the other side of the earth. ZL with 2 watts. So I now what you mean. Today I let Fldigi run for PSK-reporter. It's nice to see all kinds of spots all over Europe. Last December when I had the flu I was late up at night and checked 40 meter, two o'clock in the morning when I heard Puerto Rico. He did hear me and we had a nice qso (5 watt SSB) so, it's worthed to check the band at night. But the same here... I like my bed too much. I hope you get well soon! 73, Paul PC4T

Paul Stam PAØK said...

Hello Julian, one question: On my reports which I spot with Fldigi, there is no band only 'unknown' at PSK-reporter. Do I something wrong? I checked all kinds of configurations but I can't find it. 73, Paul PC4T

Unknown said...

Under Configure -> Misc -> Spotting you must tick a box to report rig frequency.

Jorge Luis said...

Yes, I quite agree with you Julian, WSPR is quite a good tool, fun to check while at the office etc. - Please see my similar results from the USA - http://ki4sgu.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-on-wspr-rainbows-in-dark.html

WSPR is the perfect HAM radio mode for HAMs that have nothing to say ;-) but only marginally less than the repeatative PSK31 Macro QSOs!

Many could be worked "traditionally", the S/N ratio math works out, but few HAMs seem to make the effort to monitor real PSK31 or real CW - And tools like WSPR and PROPnet just show what is POSSIBLE with a computer's patience and persistence. Love the Blogs / 73 de ki4SGU

PS. And thanks for the tip on reporting rig frequency config.

Paul Stam PAØK said...

Hello Julian, yes! It works now, thank you. 73 Paul PC4T