Meteor M-N2 Images

Monday, 22 December 2014

2014 goals update

Earlier this year I wrote about my thirty years as a radio amateur. I created a to do list, here's how I got on:
  • Have a JT65B QSO - I have completed quite a few contacts on 10W, mainly on 17m, it is amazing how far low power can reach as I have made contacts from Japan to South America.
  • Run WSPR to test antenna configurations - I have used WSPR to check out antennas as I have made changes.
  • Receive QRSS signals - Done, see here
  • Amend my Arduino WSPR system to also transmit QRSS. I've done this, and also added transmission of Sequential Multi-tone Hellschreiber, see here
  • Build a 70Mhz amplifier - I completed my 70Mhz transverter by adding a 10W amplifier made by an amateuamateur in Poland. It now drives a Philips A200 linear to 50W.
  • Erect a 50/70Mhz beam - I built a 4m Moxon but still want to get something better up.
  • Have a go at meteor scatter operation on 50/70Mhz - not achieved, the 4/6m beam is a prerequisite.
  • Receive signals bounced off the moon. Not achieved, I'm going to take it off the list.
  • Do some portable HF operating with my FT-817. Not really achieved, apart from one contact while on holiday.
  • Get my CW speed back up to something usable - I think this is a long shot but it needs to be on the list! It's improving but still a little way to go.


This year I decided to try some operating from our holiday location of Saas Fee in Switzerland (JN36xc, or so the app on my phone told me). I decided to only use WSPR and JT65 on the 40/20/17m bands. These are the bands that I have made loading coils for use with my PAC-12 vertical antenna.

20m WSPR

17m WSPR

Digital only because 5W from an FT817 doesn't go very far when surrounded by 4000m peaks on three sides as Saas Fee is.

It took me a while to make my first JT65 contact (on 17m) because at times the QRM on 20m was very high, with some specific QRM on the 17m JT65 frequency. I didn't track down the cause of the interference but I assume it was something in the village. When it was not present I received signals from Japan to south America as you can see from the PSKreporter screen shot below.

20m JT65 signals received in 30 minutes

20m JT9 received in the US
I was pleased to see that my JT9 signal was received in the US.

 40m WSPR reception was good around Europe.

My 40m WSPR signal was received in VK.

Despite calling CQ on JT65 and JT9 I only managed to make one JT65 contact, this seems odd to me given the fact that I could see that my signal was being logged on PSKReporter. I am happy that my antenna was working well based on its performance with WSPR.

Given the efficiency of JT65 I had assumed that it would be possible to make more contacts but I can only surmise that the reason I didn't was because of the following:
  • 2.5W is too low power
  • Other stations got confused by the different message format that JT65 generates when using a callsign prefix.
Given that the take off was shielded on three sides by 4000m mountains I am pleased with the receive performance of the PAC-12 antenna.

On one day I took the 817 out of the apartment and tried for some SSB contacts on 40m. The beauty of the location I was at is that at 2397m it was about 600m higher than Saas Fee and with a clearer take-off to the north. The noise figures on 40m here was S0 and there were many special event stations loud and clear. Unfortunately, they were generating pile-ups that I was not going to break through with 5W. I did have one contact into north Wales but it was hard going for the other station.

I would like to get my CW skills polished up so I can try some QRP CW for holiday operating, next year we are going on holiday to somewhere with a better take-off which might also help.