Following on from the previous post, WSPR reception continues mostly 24×7 with a focus on MF. As previously described the setup has been operating for a couple of weeks now, and its a good time to review the WSPR spots.
Best DX Spotted
52 unique calls received, you can download the complete list online.
WSPR reception 24×7 has always been something I have wanted to try. The problem is trying to find a transceiver, computer, antenna combination that will allow this with minimum fuss.
472 KHz Reception
You won’t need a very high spec computer, but if you are leaving it on 24×7 low noise and power consumption will be high on the priority list. A laptop is one option, although they often have fans and may not be noise free, so you may want to consider one of the new breeds of “minicomputer”. Low power consumption, and low noise with many running on 12v. I opted for a second-hand minicomputer, silent running and powered from 12v. It uses the Intel Celeron J1900 with 4 cores and I added a 128G SSD so it boots in 3 to 5 seconds. These are good value and should provide a reliable machine, with a very small desktop footprint.
If you looking to cover multiple bands then you need a broadband receive antenna and this typically doesn’t work well on a simple unmatched G5RV or doublet antenna. I completed some receiving tests using my doublet and a Wellbrook and found the loop outperformed the wire antenna significantly below 5 MHz. You can read more about receiving loop antenna on this page. George M1GEO has provided a very interesting article and instructions on how to build a low-cost Wellgood loop on this page. The Wellbrook loop I use seems especially good at 136 and 472 KHz, providing some interesting spots on these bands. The antenna is shared with my online SDR providing connectivity to the ELAD and Kiwi via a 2 port antenna splitter.
I use the ELAD SDR, as its very low power consumption, and I can CAT control the band changes to suit the time of day. The radio is connected via USB to the PC running Joe Taylor WSJT-X program.
The transceiver draws around 500 mA on receive and the Mini PC around 600mA at 12V. I have used a 12v SMPS designed as a computer power supply, its rated at 5A and runs cold.
In the last 24 Hrs
Receiver antenna and band changes biased towards MF and LF
SW listening and the ability to receive stations many thousands of miles away on HF has always fascinated me. Reception on HF, more especially LF and MF has always been a challenge due to the high urban noise floor.
The doublet antenna at home while working well on 7 to 30 MHz, is a poor performer below 3 MHz. This coupled with the high noise floor makes reception of all but the strongest signals very difficult. In part the answer is a dedicated antenna for low frequency reception. Options range from very large beverage / directions arrays to small active antenna. I have no experience with large antenna on sub 7 MHz, as the average urban garden will not support such ambitions projects. The answer for many of us comes from a surprisingly small antenna.
Receive only active antenna may provide a solution, the active part providing some amplification in the receive path. Designs are available for both commercial and homebrew, the price can vary from a £20 homebrew solution to £250 commercial antenna.
I was lucky enough to spot a second hand Wellbrook loop on ebay, reasonably cheap and this gave me a chance to compare the performance with my other HF antennas. It also provided me with an opportunity to monitor WSPR signals on 472 KHz and provide some data into the WSPR network.
Having played around with the Wellbrook loop on 7 MHz the other evening I decided to try some 472 kHz reception on WSPR. I had never tried 472 kHz before, as the combination of local noise and poor antenna has always put me off.
The Elad FDM-DUO seems quite sensitive down to 100 kHz (the specifications says 10 Khz), and coupled with the Welbrook this seems to work really well. The signal to noise ratio of received stations has improved dramatically, and the screen was soon populated with stations all over Europe.
The Elad also has 2 antenna sockets on the rear, one is configured as RX only, and the other TX/RX. Although I didnt transmit this type of set-up works well if you intend to use a separate receive antenna.
Radio user completed a review of the Wellbrook antenna, and you can read that on-line.
The Elad is a QRP radio that works on all HF bands from 1.9 MHz to 50 MHz with power selectable from 0.3w to 5w. RADCOM did publish a review in March 2015, available for members to read. Its a SDR that can be run standalone, and works like a normal radio with a front panel and VFO or connected to a computer.
Dial freq for WSPR is 474.2 USB. Using software available free from Joe Taylor K1JT.
Here is a screen shot showing stations received.
After 24 Hrs I had received the following stations. This data can be represented on a map