Aircraft Virtual Radar

In previous articles I have discussed receiving aircraft position data Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B).
You can read about 1090 MHz antenna and ADS reception here.

As the HF bands have been so poor recently I decided to try out Virtual Radar, and open source program that can visualise aircraft locations on a Google style map. The program can be used with a number of receivers including RTL SDR, but I opted to press into service the rather old Kinetics SBS1. The SBS1 is a dedicated 1090 MHz receiver, USB powered so no external supply required.

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You can often pick these up second hand for around £100 on eBay and the receiver sensitivity seems very good. The program is free to download from their website and simple to setup, I used it with Windows 10 and it was simple to setup, running in a few minutes.

I configured the program to take its location data from Kinetic SBS-1 Base station program. This does provide some basic location and trail information, but to fully appreciate the data it really needs presenting in Google maps.

Coupled with a 5/8 wave antenna in a poor UHF urban environment I was able to achieve reception ranges of 150 miles. This could be further improved with a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA), band pass filtering and better positioning of the antenna. Virtual Radar can be configured to provide local and internet access to your aircraft data, letting people from around the worlds access your data. Virtual Radar also has the option to aggregate flight data to build up a picture of your reception radius. The data can be presented based on the altitude of the aircraft.VR_Range_HQ

This option can be a little hard to locate in the software. You need to ensure you have a receiver location defined menu Tools/Options/receiver location and then you must have that location selected under Receivers, look for the box “Location”  and then select the name you gave your receiver from the previous steps.

Once this is complete a new option will be available from the aircraft browser map, click on Menu, and look for receiver range. If you don’t have this menu option, then one of the previous steps may be incorrect. You also can’t access receiver range by default from a remote connection, this has to be enabled. You will find some further guidance on the virtual radar forum.

Virtual radar will if connected to the internet display other details about selected flights, routing information and pictures of the aircraft type.

Virtual Radar Server is an open-source .NET application that runs a local web server, and full credit goes to the development team.

virtual radar map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RSGB IOTA contest

Members of the SNB contest group came together to play some radio in the RSGB IOTA contest. Some stations make the trek to far flung Islands in exotic parts of the world, we opted for the contest site close to Kelvedon Hatch in Essex.

The SNB contest site has the added bonus of a 50m onsite mast, making an ideal platform to hang dipoles. George M1GEO and myself decided to operate our respective calls from the two radio setup, using 3.5, 14, 21 and 28 MHz. George also added his 50/70 MHz beam on the mast, and this provided some interesting contacts using MS and JT65.

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Two pump up masts provided the following setup.

Scam 12m – Tri-band Beam A-3S covering 14, 21 and

28 MHz and 50/70 MHz beam.

Clark 10m – 15m 4e homebrew beam

Bunker mast – 3.5 MHz dipole at 30m

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At various times we added some RF power from either the solid state expert 1.3KFA or the hal1200_atlantic amplifier. We had some interaction between the close sited antennas, and at times this dictated the operating modes / times.

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Fred G3SVK joined us as our CW operator, Fred can often be found in the lower pasts of the bands chasing big DX.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a casual operation, allowing time for sleep, meals and frequent cups of tea. The weather was fantastic, so camping out onsite was very enjoyable.

 

 

M0TAZ added around 49 DXCC and 350 QSO over the weekend. The highlight for me was AL7KC Alaska on 14 MHz  and VP8LP Falklands on 21 MHz.

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LEFARS Field Weekend

Once again members of the LEFARS came together at the Rainbow and Dover PH near Harlow to play some radio. George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV had recently serviced a tri band beam from Cushcraft A-3S donated by Bill G0BOF to the SNB group. The event this weekend was its first field day outing, and it performed very well. The antenna worked as a 3e trapped beam on 28, 21 and 14 MHz bands.

The boom length of the antenna is just 4.17m and the longest element length is 8.45m. You can download a manual for the antenna here.

The 3e beam was supported on the 12m SCAM pump us mast, as was the 3.5MHz dipole. We also operated on 50 MHz and 70 MHz using a slim Jim and dipole.

Using 2 x Icom 7100 for HF, one connected to the Cushcraft beam, and the other on 70, 50 or 3,5 MHz. The amplifier was a solid state HAL 1200 delivering 400w to the antenna,

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7 MHz was also in use giving John the chance to try out his newly acquired Icom 7300. The new Icom is proving very popular, with 3 club members recently investing in this new mode.

27904200764_4c40d3a8e2_kOver the weekend we made close on 300 QSO, and combination of CW, Phone and Data modes.

Here you can see Fred G3SVK working a few on 14 MHz CW.

You can read more about LEFARS and GB0SNB both active clubs in the Essex area

 

 

 

 

 

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70 MHz Trophy Contest and QRP CW

George M1GEO and myself took part in the RSGB 70 MHz trophy contest this weekend at the Kelvedon hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker contest site. The weather was ideal for alfresco operating, using the Icom 7100 and homebrew 6e beam at 10m on the Racal PU12 mast. Using 50w and a 85Ah leisure battery we operated from 11am till 4 PM.

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Here you can see the PU12 and home-brew 6e 70 MHz beam. Operating from the base of the mast provided quick access to turn the beam. We managed to work 59 QSO with best DX into Scotland at 518 KM. The QSO map is shown here.

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Meanwhile Rob M0VFC was operating QRP HF on 3.5, 7 and 14 MHz using a range of dipoles. Unfortunately the HF bands have been a challenge at the best of times during the day, and QRP provided to be interesting. After a few hrs operating Rob had completed 30 QSO, and under the conditions that counts as a sterling effort ! Here you can see Rob operating from the boot of his car28269614632_56228cce62_k28371817405_9c30de0d70_k Altogether another great weekend of alfresco operating in the sunshine.

 

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Friedrichshafen Ham Radio Rally

This was my first visit to Friedrichshafen so could be considered a beginners guide ! Friedrichshafen is located on the southern side of Germany, the local airport is Friedrichshafen. While the town has a local airport it only has limited flights from the UK so this wasn’t the route I opted for.

My route flew from Gatwick to Zurich, I then took the train to Romanshorn and then the ferry to Friedrichshafen. This route allows you to see some of the local area before you arrive, the train and ferry combined costs around £27 each way. The train takes around 1Hr, and the ferry around 45 minutes, providing you with a great opportunity to take some pictures on Lake Constance.

Ferry from Romanshorn

An alternative route is to take the train from Zurich to Friedrichshafen, this take around 2 hrs and costs around the same at £25.

The ferry and train seem to be coordinated, so the ferry leaves shortly after the train arrives (and vica versa) . Its only a short walk through the underpass to access the ferry, and the boat delivers you right into the centre of Friedrichshafen, be sure to check out the viewing platform close to the harbor entrance during your visit.

The train can be booked online, using the SBB website and the ferry here. Its possible to purchase combined tickets, and the train leaves Zurich airport every 60 minutes.

The exhibition centreThe main event is of course the rally, spread over 3 days and comprising of over 4 main halls. The halls are split into 3 main areas, projects and construction area, flea market and commercial exhibitors. The rally website contains all the information needed to plan your visit.

The rally entrance tickets are cheaper online, so ordering in advance will save you money and time. You can order you tickets by visiting the rally website, a 3 day pass is around £15. Parking is provided on site, cost is around 4 EU per vehicle. The rally can be accessed by using the free shuttle bus, details are published on the rally website and the bus usually collects from the harbour and main station.

The rally has an extensive collection of previously owned equipment (and some junk) with objects as diverse as a £4k HP spectrum analyser to electronic scales used to weigh fruit in your local supermarket.

LunchThe rally provides a great opportunity to meet radio friends from all over the world, with ample time for eating and drinking. Most of the radio societies and DX groups have stands in the main hall, and it was nice to see the RSGB working hard on their stall. We even shared (metaphorically) lunch with Steve M1ACB the RSGB General Manager and President Nick G3RWF.

With this number of halls and exhibitors it really does take days to take everything in and explore the various stalls and new products.

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One to definitely add to your bucket list, and by far the largest rally in Europe. Thanks to George M1GEO for vehicular transportation, Chris G8OCV, Dave G7UVW and Peter G0IAP for showing me the ropes and Lin (George mum) for booking my travel and flights !

Dave M0TAZ

 

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RSGB #2 Hill Toppers Contest

Today I took part in the RSGB 144 MHz contest operating 10w and a 9e Tonna at 6m. The weather was warm and wet, with light rain. I decided to retreat into the boot for some /P

Operating from the Kelvedon Hatch SNB contest site.27015052133_e00ed7b6b2_k The antenna was supported by the Racal PU12 mast.

The band seemed very active as the contest was arranged to align with the 144 MHz Practical Wireless low power contest.

I started round 45 mins late, and closed the station down by 1pm so only operated for 2.5 Hrs.

Best DX was EI at 527 KM, was pleased to work into GW and France and nice to hear Cornwall.

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© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ