Tag: welbrook loop

WSPR Reception 24×7

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

 

Computer

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.

Antenna

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.

Transceiver

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

Typically adding 1,000 spots per day

150 spots on 472 KHz and 23 on 136 KHz

I hope to add TX soon, using 200mW from the Ultimate 3S beacon transmitter

 

KiwiSDR 10 kHz to 30 MHz now online.

The SDR is online 24×7 for your enjoyment. If you find the SDR useful consider making a small donation to help with its upkeep.

 

Listen to my SDR

KiwiSDR User guide 

Access other SDR from around the world.

Buy one online.

Background

In April 2016 the KiwiSDR project was born on Kickstarter, the plan was to produce a software-defined radio (SDR) covering shortwave, the longwave & AM broadcast bands, various utility stations, and amateur radio transmissions, worldwide, in the spectrum from 10 kHz to 30 MHz.

Fast forward and the project has now been completed with the first units having been dispatched

 

The first time I used one was when Dave G7UVW added his to the SDR.hu website. Dave has recently moved his SDR to a remote site in the Secret Nuclear Bunker Kelvedon Hatch. You can listen to this  SDR online.

After using it for a few weeks via the web browser I was sold, it was ideal for HF monitoring, and with remote access with up to 4 independently tunable receivers.

The idea of having your own web based SDR always online, and accessible from anywhere in the world was very appealing and coupled with an active antenna the performance if very good. The advantage of the active antenna is it works well over the entire HF spectrum, it’s especially good below 5 MHz.

I use the Wellbrook loop mounted outdoors at around 5m, but you may be interested in a much less expensive project version as detailed by George M1GEO.

The SDR software has a built in WSPR decoded that works really well, and with time they hope to add further features.

I’ve been updating the station text, its work in progress but I’ve added quite a few of the medium wave station names.

Have a listen with my SDR, I understand Safari, Firefox and Google browsers work best. The display is not mobile friendly at the moment, but it does seem to work OK on the IPad.

Be sure to let me know how it works, leave us a comment and don’t forget to include your town/country or callsign.

LF and MF reception in an urban environment

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.

Commercial 

Wellbrook Communication have a number of versions available, comparison of models here.

Cross Country Wireless  with a FAQ

Homebrew

PA0RDT has designed a LF / MF Mini Whip antenna, you can read the fundamentals of the mini whip.

M1GEO has recently repaired a Wellbrook loop antenna, his website includes a detailed teardown.

LZ1AQ has detailed design notes on his website for his wideband active loop antenna.

PA0LUX provides a video demonstrating HF reception on his wire antenna and Wellbrook loop. You can see and hear the difference for yourself.

How well does the Wellbrook work on 472 KHz

Well it outperforms my doublet antenna by some considerable margin. Signals that I cant hear just pop out of the noise and for interest I have included some WSPR data for that band.

Monitoring 472 KHz on the evening of 15th and morning of the 16th Jan 17  provided 19 unique calls.

DC0DX, DH5RAE , DK2DB , DL6RCN , F1AFJ , F6ACU , F6GEX , G3KEV , G3XBM ,G7NKS , LA1BCN LA1TN , LA8AV , M0PPP , ON5TA , PA0A  F5WK, F6HCC , G8HUH.

The best DX was LA1TN at 1346 KM

Its also interesting to look at the reception reports over time of day / night.

 

 

 

© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ