Thursday, November 28, 2013

FUN cubed

I have just received my first telemetry from the FUNcube satellite, a.k.a. OSCAR 73. It was a piece of cake, one of the easiest things in ham radio I have done. What helped make it easy was that I was using a FUNcube Dongle Pro as the receiver (thanks, John!) . The FUNcube dashboard software supports it out of the box. No drivers to install or soundcards to configure. It was a piece of cake.The Dongle automatically tunes to the right frequency.

Of course, the whole project has been designed to be used by teachers with no previous experience of this kind of stuff. So you would expect it to be easy for a seasoned radio ham!

The FUNcube Dashboard software
The whole thing went something like this:
  1. Download and install .NET Framework 4.0 from Microsoft.
  2. Download and install FUNcube Dashboard from
  3. Register your call at the FUNcube data warehouse
  4. Download, read and follow the instructions (PDF files) from the FUNcube site.
  5. Connect dual band colinear to FUNcube Dongle.

Sit back and wait for a pass.

 I was not present when the satellite went over as I was downstairs having lunch.

There are no suitable passes over this location this evening or tonight so I will have to wait until tomorrow for another try. Unfortunately apart from an FT-817 and the dual band vertical I don't have equipment that can operate 2m ans 70cm so I'll have to leave tryi ng to work through the transponder to someone else.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Desk stand for an Elecraft KX3

A surprise package dropped through the door yesterday afternoon. (I do like surprises!)  It was a SOTA Beams desk stand for the Elecraft KX3, customised with my callsign.

SOTA Beams desk stand for Elecraft KX3
In the absence of instructions and with the aid of a couple of the photos on the SOTA Beams website it took my poor brain a couple of minutes to work out how it went together. Actually there are a couple of self adhesive rubber feet and a length of edge trim the purpose of which are still not entirely clear to me.

The stand is robustly made from a laser cut  perspex type material and holds the KX3 at the perfect angle for desktop use.  (I'm not sure how that would be with the KXPD3 paddle. I didn't try it as with my shaky hands I can only send dits at the moment. :)

This stand is exactly what I have been looking for to hold the KX3 when operating sitting on the ground with the rig beside you. The viewing angle is just right for that too - much better than standing your nice radio on the damp and dirty ground. The bright orange of the one SOTA Beams sent me  (they are also available in black or red apparently) makes the stand highly visible and so less likely to be accidentally left behind on the summit or other operating spot.

The perfect angle for desktop or portable operation
Thanks, Richard! This is definitely going in the case with the Alex Loop ready forwhen  my health improves enough for me to take a radio into the Great Outdoors again.

Monday, November 18, 2013


With  smoothed sunspot number of  282 nd a solar flux of 177 we are continuing to enjoy great conditions on the higher HF bands. I can't remember the last time the sunspot number has been that high - though that joins a long list of other things I can't remember either. I'm surprised that more bloggers haven't commented on it - they were happy to spread gloom and despondency when the predictions said that this solar cycle ws going to be a dud.

I've spent most of my operating time on my favourite mode - PSK31. Truth is, I've always felt more comfortable at the keyboard than in front of the mic. But I really should try to get some time in on phone while conditions are this good. Who knows how long it will last?

WebProp- my solar weather web widget is proving to be a bit of an embarrassment with its prediction that HF band propagation will be poor. The algorithm clear places too much emphasis on the effect of high A and K index values.It would be better for users to use the condx=no option which will show only the raw ininterpreted data.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Two 2xK3 contacts in PSK31

Conditoins remain excellent on the 10m band. I made several contacts and even had Stateside DX stations reply to my CQs. Two of my contacts were with Elecraft K3 users - don't often hear K3s on digital though they are the perfect rig for it.

When I'm not actively working stations I like to look at the PSK Reporter reception reports map.  It's more interesting than WSPR as the reports are of actual PSK31 signals. It's a pity there isn't a beacon mode because you have got to transmit or call CQ to see reports of your own signal. At least it is motivation to actually go on the air rather than just lurk!

Interference to 10m WSPR

Take a look at this diabolical interference on the 10m WSPR frequency.

Fortunately it doesn't seem to affect decoding too much. The PSK31 sub band is free of it too.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Out of it

This afternoon I ventured on the air for the first time in several weeks. Indeed it  is the first time I've felt like switching on the radio since my brain tumour removal operation. It was not entirely a good experience.

I thought I'd try digimodes since I would only need to click a few buttons to complete a QSO. But I found the whole experience a bit bewildering. I made two contacts on 20m thinking I was on 10m! And a couple of times I left the other guy waiting for me to send something.

About the only way I can describe how I felt is "out of it" - the phrase sometimes used to describe a person who is so drunk that they don't know what they are doing. Only unfortunately in this case the demon drink was not to blame.

Somehow I think it is going to take some time for things to get back to normal.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Roger, G3XBM - get well soon

I was enormously pleased to see a new post from my fellow blogger Roger, G3XBM Roger is recovering from a severe stroke and  facing difficulties I can only imagine. I'm sure I'm not the only one missing his posts about QRP projects nd accounts of his low power activities. Get well soon, Roger.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A little bird tells me

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