Month: March 2016

MX0SNB takes part in the CQ WW WPX Contest

The Easter bank holiday weekend and the WPX contest provided an ideal first field day in 2016.  The event was located at Kelvedon Hatch SNB near Ongar in Essex and used the club call MX0SNB. On arrival at our contest site close to the mast the recent wet weather had made the grass boggy to say the least. It soon became apparent one of the vehicles was stuck in the mud, and after much pushing and pulling we decided another location would be required,

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Luckily the owner of the site offered us another location, higher up on the hill with the added advantage that once onto the hill your vehicle only need to slide down to the bottom of the hill to exit.

Using George M1GEO 14 MHz homebrew beam and my 21 MHz beam  we setup our stations on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon. Power was provided by 2 x Honda EU20 generators coupled together and providing 4 Kw of power. 26111379835_31761daa16_k

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Dave M0YOL kindly offered his awning and copious cups of tea, bacon sandwiches through the event.  We had completed the setup before sun down on Friday, allowing us to complete some testing with both of the solid state amplifiers. George had recently purchased a Expert 1.3K FA amplifier and I have been using the hal1200_atlantic for the last few months.

Both amplifiers are capable of providing over 1KW of RF power, more than enough to meet the UK full legal power of 400w.

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George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV have designed and built a 3 element 14 MHz beam, the design uses roach poles and provides a light portable beam. The 21 MHz beam I constructed was based on DK7ZB design, and the construction details have been previously discussed in this article.

Audio clip working India AT5R

The setup inside the awning provided a dry and mostly windproof operating position, although at this early in the year the evenings are somewhat chilly !  The weather provided a real challenge as the weekend progressed, with a high exposed location  and storm Katie approaching the south of the UK. katieOver the course of the next 48 Hrs the rain and the wind increased to storm force with gusts in London of 50 MPH and in our exposed hilltop location more like 70 MPH. We lowered the beams and continued as best as possible using a vertical and doublet antenna. Late on Sunday night, early hours of Monday morning the storm really hit, the awning was in danger of parting from the caravan so the decision was taken to quickly move all the equipment into the safety of the caravan.

The wind caused some damage to George and Chris beam, this now requires some TLC.

m1geo_beam_sale

Unfortunately the beam is not likely to make any further contests, but team GEO do have plans for a aluminium version soon.

My 21 MHz beam fared a little better with the weather and survived the storm, unfortunately the mast will require a new guide rail (a plastic wedge that stops the mast rotating) due to the wind loading put upon the mast in the storm.

Despite the awful weather conditions we did manage to work 744 QSO in 94 DXCC in the main on 14 and 21 MHz.

 

The following maps show QSO made on 21 MHz (Red pins) and 14 MHz (Yellow pins) showing North America, South America and Asia.

You can view the log and further statistics online using the excellent SH5 contest log analyser software.

caribbean CQWPXEU CQWPXUSA

73 Dave M0TAZ

Rosmalen Dutch National Amateur Radio Rally

This year I attended for the first time the Dutch National rally in Rosmalen. George M1GEO, Chris G8OCV, Dave G7UVW, Peter G0IAP and myself left via Harwich ferry port for the overnight crossing. The ferry journey was excellent, with a full English breakfast to set you up for the day.

George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV sample the excellent breakfast

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The rally is located in a large hall, with all the stands in one single location. The space also has an elevated section, with a number of traders selling from the balcony.

The rally and flea market is mostly populated with previously owned equipment and parts, with a wide selection of new and second hand components. Here is a view inside the hall. The rally was very well attended with thousands of amateurs from the Netherlands and beyond.

A view inside  the hall at Autotron, Graafsebaan 133, 5284 NL Rosmalen.

25869219541_dbf122d637_k (2) Although the hall was in the main filled with second hand and components sellers you could find some new equipment on sale, including a working display model of the IC7300 at  the Hamshop NL.

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Here are a selection of pictures from around the site. Dave G7UVW purchased a very nice large 23cm aerial that needed a new home.

No rally would be complete without a stop for refreshments, and Rosmalen has a good selection of fast and not so fast food. I selected a healthy fruit based snack.

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I purchased a waterproof / outdoor mounting box and some antenna hardware. As one amateur said to me, i’ve had fun and purchased more than my entrance fee! It was much busier than I expected, and the scale and attendance was much better than anything I have seen in the UK. Thanks to George M1GEO who completed the driving and aunty Google for her navigation. On the route home we even had time for a 3 course dinner and a beer on the overnight ferry.

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Here you can see us sharing a drink with the some of the  Cambridge Hams, Gavin M1BXF, Rob M0VFC and Martin G3ZAY.

73 Dave M0TAZ

Sorcerer Decoding Software

Whilst looking for digital decoders I read a review on the software package Sorcerer. The software can be used with any HF receiver and allow you to decode a multitude of digital modes. You will find the standard FAX, CW, PSK and olivia decoders, but also the Nato standard Stanag.

Whilst testing the software I centered the receiver on 127.5 Khz and decoded the European EFR data signal. The European EFR system is described on their website, and uses 3 x 100 KW transmitters at Mainflingen 129.1 Khz, Burg 139 Khz and Lakihegy 135.6 Khz. Your dial frequency may vary a little depending on the location of the signals in your passband.

The EFR signal sounds like this.

You can download the free software. To decode EFR, run the program and select “Add Decoder” select EFR.

A setup guide is provided by the UXDF group.

Once received the decoded signal and  Sorcerer software should look like this.

EFR_time_signal

The development of Demand Side Management (DSM) and the history of Radio Ripple control and load management is also explained here.

The decoded text shows the time, date and hex address, and the message is transmitted every 10 seconds. The system is described in some detail in this PDF file.

The system can be used to remote control street lights and power load management.

The decoding software Sorcerer would seem to have been developed by Avonlea Services, although the web provides no trace of this company today.

I cant find any trace of the described website in the help file and therefore cant credit anyone with the software. I have hosted the software for free download on my site, although if you are the author please get in touch.

The software is capable of decoding many modes including

DPRK 600 bd FSK* EFR Telemeter
Facsimile (FAX) 60-90-120-240 LPM
Facsimile (FAX) B&W – Gray Scale
France-Inter Time Signal
Globe Wireless Dataplex Marker
Globe Wireless FSK & PSK
G-Tor ARQ G-Tor FEC
Greek 145bd 1265 Hz FSK*
Grintek DT-309
Harris RF-3560 PSTN TIU
Hart PRIME
Hellschreiber – Basic Hellschreiber – FELD
Hellschreiber – FM Hellschreiber- MT
Hellschreiber- Duplo Hellschreiber – PSK
HF Datalink (HFDL) ARINC 635
IRA-ARQ (ASCII-ARQ)
Israeli Tadiran Burst Message System*
Italian FSK Burst 600 bps*
Italian FSK 300/600 bd*
Italian FSK 1200 bd*
IRA-ARQ (includes Zip archive recovery)
MD-513B 16PSK MT63
MD-674 Asynchronous FSK
MD-1061 16PSK MD-1239 16PSK
MD-1268 16PSK MFSK8 & 16
Mil-Std 188-110A App A 16DPSK
Mil-Std 188-110A serial
Mil-Std 188-110A serial HRS variant
Mil-Std 55529A NB Asynchronous FSK
Mil-Std 55529A WB Asynchronous FSK
MSF Rugby Time Signal
Nokia M85200 M90*
OLIVIA (all submodes)

 

Dave M0TAZ

ADS-B Reception using 5/8 wave 1090 MHz aerial.

I recently purchased a 5/8 wave antenna for 1090 ADS-B Reception from eBay. At the time the antenna are being sold by stranislavpalo130 in 2 versions from a 30cm 5/8 wave to 60cm 2x 5/8. The are priced between 20 to 25 pounds and are really well constructed.

1090 5-8 waveThe 30 cm 5/8 wave version is shown here, and comes complete with waterproof raydome and radials. The mounting bracket will take a standard small pole, although the antenna is so light its never going to present much of a load. I mounted mine for this test on a 12 m spiderbeam roach pole, and if its not too windy it can easily be mounted near the top.

I this time configured virtual radar to work with the Kinetic SBS-1. You can download the manual for the SBS-1 or visit their website for more information on their product range. If you havent see or used virtual radar I would suggest you review the setup information described earlier.

I compared the 5/8 wave with my home brew co-linear and the 5/8 wave won ! To be fair the co-linear I built was never vswr tested or even checked for a 50 OHM match as I have nothing that operated on that frequency. The home brew antenna worked out to a range of around 60 to 80 miles, the 5/8 is 80 to 100. The number of aircraft tracked (I know this varies by time / day) seemed to increased from 80 to over 100. The indications are the 5/8 wave represents an increase in range and number of aircraft received at anyone time.

Virtual Radar Screen

virtual radar map

Kinetic Base Station Radar

kinetic base station radar

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1090 MHz ADS-B Aircraft Radar Reception

ADS-B Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast. The system broadcasts on 1090 MHz and with a suitable antenna and receiver the position of each aircraft within range can be downloaded and displayed on a map. Broadcast data may include.

  • Flight Identification (flight number callsign or call sign)
  • ICAO 24-bit Aircraft Address (globally unique airframe code)
  • Position (latitude/longitude)
  • Position integrity/accuracy (GPS horizontal protection limit)
  • Barometric and Geometric Altitudes
  • Vertical Rate (rate of climb/descent)
  • Track Angle and Ground Speed (velocity)
  • Emergency indication (when emergency code selected)
  • Special position identification (when IDENT selected)

ADS-B dedicated receivers typically cost £100 to £600 pounds, although recently low cost TV style SDR dongles have been used to good effect. The 820T2 dongle seems to be most sensitive on 1090 MHz and these can be purchased on ebay or ham goodies for around 7 to 15 pounds.

You can build a coax based co-linear antenna by following my homebrew guide.

1090mhz_coax_antenna

Its best not to install any of the standard windows drivers, just plug in and follow the instructions below. I have only tested these on Windows 7 and Windows 10 but both worked without any fuss. Be sure to check the version of software / driver you select is compatible with your operating system.

An excellent quick start guide is available here.

 

The basic process is to configure the dongle via Zadig and install the correct drivers, once thats working install RTL 1090 and then virtual radar.

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You can download the software needed Zadig,   RTL 1090 and Virtual Radar. Reception will depend on a number of factors, but having the antenna correctly built and mounted high above local obstructions while keeping the coax run as short as possible.

Virtual Radar will provide the visualizations of the aircraft locations, and best of all the software is free.  You may find the following supporting documentation helpful. Guide to setting up RTL1090 and virtual radar.

You can see an example of how Virtual Radar will look once its tracking aircraft location here.

BrowserExample

Hopefully the following articles and links provide you with a basis to experiment, building the antenna and then putting it to good use receiving ADS-B signals.

I have included a couple of youtube videos on antenna construction and signal reception. Please leave me any comments, would be interested to see how others get on.

 

Virtual radar usage with Kinetics SBS-1

Using RTL Dongle 1090 and Virtual Radar

© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ