Year: 2018

Summer 2018 has arrived (almost)

At last, the warmer weather has arrived, today gave me the first opportunity to operate outdoors without a coat.

It was a pleasant sunny afternoon so I decided to operate outdoors and make the most of the nice weather. Using the Icom 7100 and 65Ah leisure battery and a white stick for 145 MHz and slim jim for 70 MHz allowed me to work a number of local stations.

The 70 MHz Slim Jim is mounted on the fibreglass pole on the right.


















The metal mast on the right had been given to me by Richard G4DDP and it was its first chance to try it out in the field. Its very heavy duty, and I think would have originally been designed to take a speaker at a gig, now upscaled to amateur radio.

On 145 MHz I worked M0FAQ Martin in Braintree, M0WJL Gordon in Corringham.

On 70 MHz I worked 2E0HPA/M Andy in Tadlow, G4YBI Paul Rainham, M0XTA Selim, G0ENN Southend.

Here you can see the Icom 7100 setup and operating on 70 MHz

The Icom 7100 all packed up in its travel box.


Easter Weekend Radio Fun

Easter weekend is often the start of the better weather and lighter evenings, so provides a chance to go out portable for the first time in the year. Unfortunately, this bank holiday weekend in true British tradition was wet and cold with rain forecast and temperatures soaring to a tropical 7C.

This didn’t stop  Chris G8OCV, George M1GEO and myself from camping over although it required careful positioning of the tents to prevent localised flooding!

We set up an 80m doublet sloping from 35 meters off the tower, and a 40m ground mounted vertical with elevated radials. The 40m vertical used a 12m spidebeam pole, although we sometimes used the green push together army poles depending on the weather.

We also had the chance to try out the new Icom 7610 transceiver, and this performed very well on both receive and transmit.

I concentrated on 40m, using the 7610 and expert linear amplifier to develop 400w, and found band conditions to be very good in the late evening and early mornings. On Sunday morning I decided to get up around 6.45am and was really pleased to work some nice early morning DX.

ZL3CHE Willem was the first DX of the morning, located near Christchurch. Willem was using 600w to a ground mounted vertical and was a great signal.

ZL3CHE Willem in Christchurch New Zealand

VK4PDX Colin using just 100w in Brisbane Australia

VK3FT Keith was very strong from near Melbourne Australia, and he was using a rotary dipole at 20m on his tower.

A very enjoyable weekend, and always nice to get some DX on 40m over the weekend I was able to work around 27 DXCC.

PI4 next generation VHF/UHF beacons?

Beacons have like other digital modes moved with the times, making use of the latest digital modulation techniques to improve detectability far beyond the human ear and CW.

The name PI4- PharusIgnis4 comes from the ancient words for a beacon, lighthouse and fire and is a digital modulation that is compliant with the IARU Region 1 VHF Committee accepted 1 minute mixed mode beacon sequence.

The sequence of events is illustrated below, and always starts on a full 1-minute cycle.0 to 24 seconds PI callsign


25 sends CW ident callsign and locator


carrier until 59.5 seconds


To decode the PI4 beacons you can download software PI-RX by Poul-Erik OZ1CKG or MSHV by Christo LZ2HV, they both report being compatible with Linux and Windows.

OZ7IGY beacons date back to 1957, and they are now QRV from 28 MHz to 24 GHz. You can review the dial frequencies and check the operational status online.

Frequency [MHz] USB dial* ERP [W] ASL [m] 99% accuracy [mHz] Year QRV
28,271 28.270.200 10 95 1 2009
40,071 40.070.200 10 97 1 2007
50,471 50.470.200 25 98 1 1990
70,021 70.020.200 25 100 1 2003
144,471 144.470.200 50 102 3 1957
432,471 432.470.200 75 103 9 1958
1 296,930 1.296.929.200 90 95 26 1978
2 320,930 2.320.929.200 30 98 46 1985
3 400,930 3.400.929.200 50 96 68 2006
5 760,930 5.760.929.200 50 98 115 1992
10 368,930 10.368.929.200 80 97 237 1999
24 048,930 24.048.929.200 20 97 481 2012

To support the PI4 beacon project, or to see a technical description of the modulation technique read more on their website.

Other becons to look out for.

PI4 + CW + carrier/Next Generation Beacons platforms
4O0BCG in JP92PK – 70,048 MHz
DB0HRF in JO40FF – 144,475 MHz
DB0IH in JN39HJ – 432,447 MHz
DB0JG in JO31HS – 432,412 MHz
DB0LTG in JO31TB – 1296,7435 MHz
DB0MMO in JN49RV – 144,455 MHz and 432,425 MHz
EI0SIX in IO63VE – 50,005 MHz, SBP 5/0
GB3CFG in IO74CR – 70,027 MHz and 1296,905 MHz
GB3MCB in IO70OJ – 50,443 MHz and 50,005 MHz SBP 5/1 and 3
GB3MHZ in JO02PB – 10 368,830 MHz
GB3UHF in JO01EH – 432,430 MHz
IW9GDC/B in JM78SD – 50,006 MHz (Later SBP 6/4)
KG4BYN in EM75RV – 28,2368 MHz
ON0EME in JO21JG – 10 368,875 MHz and 24 048,875 MHz
ON0SNW in JO21BE – 10 368,965 MHz
OX4M and OX6M in HQ90AL – 70,047 MHz and 50,047 MHz
OZ4BHM in JO75KB – 50,005 MHz, SBP 5/4, later also 50,466 MHz
OZ7IGY in JO55WM – 28 MHz to 24 GHz
PA0AG in JO32GH – 70,095 MHz (personal beacon, 07-21 UTC)
SK4MPI in JP70NJ – 144,412 MHz
TF1VHF in HP94AC – 50,457 MHz
UA1ZFG/B in KP69AK – 144,425 MHz
VA2NQ in FN35NL – 50,295 MHz, 144,491 MHz, 222,295 MHz and 432,302 MHz

FT8 on 144 MHz

FT8 has taken the HF bands by storm, a bit like PSK did in the early 2000s. These days it seems the mode of choice for DX stations, allowing them to make a number of QSO is a short duration. If you haven’t checked out FT8 then I would suggest you head over to Joe Taylor website and have a look at some of the weak signal propagation modes available.

If you are new to FT8 you may find this operating guide helpful.

Connecting my Icom 7100 to Ham Radio Deluxe, and then WSJT-X to “Ham Radio Delux” works just fine for me. It should be possible to connect WSJT directly to the Icom radio, but a lot will depend on your operating preferences.


The agreed dial frequency is 144.174 USB and you will see activity most of the time, probably more in the evenings and weekends


Its quite common to see Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in a few hrs of monitoring under flat conditions.

50 MHz is also popular and works well under short sporadic E opening.


I recently received back my Expert 1.3K-FA linear back from its holiday in Italy. I noticed some months ago that it would sometimes fail to start and require repeated presses of the power button. After a short holiday in Italy, the manufacturer replaced two relays, and I thought WPX RTTY was a good baptism of fire.

Apparently, these are the faulty items, now replaced under warranty. Linear was working flawlessly and allowed me to complete 218 QSO on 7 MHz.

Using the doublet antenna, I wasn’t able to find much DX, but using the club call MX0SNB did provide some interest on the bands.



Even after some prolonged CQ runs the liner was able to deliver 400w RTTY and remained under 50 C

Interesting to see the VSWR at 1.01 and the temperature at 50C.

Bands seemed busy, I opted to only operate on 7 MHz and so conditions provided mostly contacts to EU. I was able to work into the USA, and I did hear China and Indonesia although was unable to work them.

I put together this map showing QSO mostly over the EU.

I managed to work 45 countries, with the best DX being Peru.

Always nice to see the bands busy, and RTTY has never been so popular.

Multi Mode Digital Voice Modem with HAT

Let’s start with the name, MMDVM (Multi-Mode Digital Voice Modem) with HAT(Hardware Attached on Top)

The HAT has been designed by Flo DF2ET and Mathis DB9MAT and is compatible with the Raspberry PI or PI W Zero. The board will support MMDVM so that’s DSTAR, DMR, P25 and Fusion using the excellent software by Jonathan G4KLX.

The Raspberry Pi zero W (WiFi)

The board that brings together the UHF module, the STM32F103 CPU that is plugged directly onto the smallest Raspberry Pi, the Pi Zero W. The hotspot can be configured on the dashboard to operate on any or all digital modes and to operate on the UHF frequency of your choice.

I have mine setup on to provide a digital access point on 435 MHz, but your allocated frequency will vary by local usage and regulations. It has around 10mW of power, so ample to provide access all around the house using a handy.

A close look at the MMDVM_HS Pi Hat

The screen can be anything of your choice, I opted for a small OLED screen but in hindsight, it should have been a little bigger as one’s eyes get older!

Blue OLED Screen

Craig W1MSG has produced some excellent video on setting up your hotspot and on setting up your DSTAR radio.

The project and parts are detailed on Github

Support is available in or Facebook 

Who is behind PI-Star

Here you can see both the DMR and DSTAR radio screen.
















Thanks to George M1GEO for help setting and configuring the access point, and John M0UKD for running over some of the local settings.

© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ