Monday, July 27, 2009

More PropNet Trials and Tribulations

I have been working on PropNet most of the day, and still not a single spot received by others. I have removed all other Radio Control programs from the transmit control computer, and reset tones and frequency to default.

I set up another receiver, connected to a dummy load and -30db of antenna attenuation, and a PSK31 decoder (fldigi) on yet another computer. The received signal looks and decodes fine along with the checks, as:
  • wa0uwh>hg:[cn97bv]PHG2000F4/^A06A

Next I will have to have someone try to receive my ground wave at their station, maybe I am over modulating, but I don't think so.

I found an interesting way to look at the "PropNet Database" received data (just wait and watch):
  • telnet 2023
Anyone can use this to watch what is being received. Apparently, a line with 2 commas before the "*" is a spot report by the listed station, while a line with 1 comma before the "*" is a self report of the text sent by your Radio Control computer via the Internet.

More tests to follow -

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sailing Vessel KatieLee

I have been working and chatting (via email) with a friend, Larry Littlefield - KB7KMO, who is sailing around the South Pacific at the Marshall Islands in a 45 foot sail boat - The Sailing Vessel KatieLee. Larry says; he is eating his way around the world.

I asked Larry to try to listen to my QRSS, WSPR and PropNet signals on 30m around 10.140mHz from his location - so far nothing. Larry tells me that he downloaded Spectran and ARGO to listen on the band, but again, so far nothing. Larry said that he is planning to replace his random length vertical with a Delta-loop - maybe he will get less noise and then be able to pick up the weak signals.

I asked Larry to key-down (actually mic key-down on AM) on 10.140100mHz for about 10 seconds - I did not receive his signal here near Seattle.

We will plan more experiments, and maybe I will talk him into connecting up the remaining wires to his Transceiver so that he can participate in WSPR to collect and provide spots.

Note: you can see Larry's IP address on my Cluster Map - he is the single "dot" out in the South Pacific. You may ask - how did he get an Internet connection? He uses WIFI from his Sail Boat to an Island shore and a local WIFI hot spot - they charge him for his access.

You can read more about Larry's sailing adventures at:

There will be more posted here about our attempts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More tries with PropNet

Today I re-calibrated my receiver for MEPT QRSS, WSPR, and PropNet, using WWV on 10mHz. The best way that I have to do this is to output 10mHz on my AIM-4170B Antenna Anylizer and zero beat WWV - there is a CAL function that make this easy. To receive the zero beat, I use the receiver connected to sound card and ARGO and Spectran. The zero beat can be seen at a higher tone frequency, which is much eaier to match than trying to zero beat the receiver alone.

Then QSY the the receiver close to 10.1386000 and set the AIM to 10.140000mHz, what I look for on ARGO is a 1300Hz tone, if necessary change the receiver so that ARGO sees a tone exactly 1300Hz - All is then calibrated.

At that same time, I also zero beat my handy 30m Band Edge Marker, so that i have a portable marker for later use. This crystal seem quite stable.

But alas, I still do not receive any PropNet spot from any other stations. I have reset the mic modulation control to a very low setting, hopping that I was not over-modulating.

I don't understand, I have done something right in the past as I have received some spots before - but not now!

More work to be done!

Friday, July 24, 2009

My WSPR Sweet Spot

I must be in a WSPR Sweet spot, I alway seem to hear (or heard by) more stations than most other stations in the Pacific Northwest. Here is what I have recorded for in the last 30 minutes.


No PropNet Spots Recived from Others

I must still have a problem with my PropNet Transmission, I am going to try to reset the Transceiver Frequency again - I was transmitting a side tone of 1725Hz, and now moved down to 1700Hz (RF = 1700 + 10.138700mHz Base = 10.140400mHz, which is the North America PropNet Freq). It takes a while to get new spots after a change to anything on PropNet. It is hard to see results very fast.

Note: I use 10.138700mHz for my base receiver frequency, so that some of my other programs will work with ProgNet, all sharing the same transceiver at the same time. Or, at least thats the way most of them work :-)

From the Local News Paper

I am posting this from the local news paper, to record and archive the details of our Field Day event.

Note, they misquoted some of the facts, but the public did not mind.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PropNet Spots are Now Being Received

OK, I now have a PropNet Spots being received by other stations. I think my transmitter was off frequency via the tones from the sound card. I am somewhat at the mercy of the 6 digit display of the ICOM-730 and it frequency drift.

Normally I can set the received base frequency right on the money (via my band edge marker) but things drift over time on the ICOM.

It is kind of fun watching WSPR and PropNet programs compete for the transmitter, actually they share as their sound card tones are different. Due to the two programs slightly random transmitting schedule, they sometime are actually send tones at the same time. The transmitter just turns the two tones into two different FSK RF signals.

I use VOX on the transceiver and all works well with the sound card and the two programs. Except if the computer needs to "beep" (as on an error) - the transmitter is triggered. I try to turn off the VOX if I know I am doing something on the computer that will generate a lot of beeps. It would be best to use PTT via the serial DTR line as documented on the web, but I have not built that connection yet.

In this capture, you can see the WSPR program output started first at (10.)140225mHz, and then the PropNet program started at a higher tone (RF Frequency (10.)140425mHz) .

WSPR signal transmits for 2 minutes, while PropNet transmits for about 20 seconds. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Note: the display program "Spectran" does not support 8 digit frequency calibration scale, so add 10mHz to what you see.

Also note, this image capture was created on another local computer and a standalone local Kenwood R-2000 Receiver - which was somewhat overloaded by the transmissions.

Sound Card Is Now Working

I fixed my QRSS Grabber, WSPR and PropNet Transmit problem - the sound card "Wave" output was muted. The "spots" are now working.

I still have a problem, I do not seem to get any PropNet spots on the PropNet list or map, all spots are from my receiving others. So far, I can not confirm that my PropNet Transmit is working? All look well, and the Transceiver goes into transmit mode with RF ouput as indicated on the meter. Go figure??

Setting Up this Blog

I worked a lot of the day on setting up this Blog, something that I have been planning to do for a long time. I am surprised how easy it is setting up a blog with Google's . Somethings are much different than I would like, that is because, only set of standard templates can be used - but it is free!

Thanks Google!

Using email to post to the blog is very easy (as with this post), the only thing I have to do is create the post (with photos as necessary) in a mail client with a subjuect line (the title) and mail it to a secret email address "your_login.somesecret @". It could not be easier!

Google's blogspot allows you to have more than one blog, in my case; one for my Amateur Radio stuff, and one for my Ranch blog.

Now all I have to do is, try to keep them up-to-date.

Note: if you make a mistake, you can edit your posts online.

My 30m Band Edge Marker or CW QRPP Transmitter

This is a little quick project that I cobbled together, and now, I have found it very useful to help find the 30m MEPT QRSS and WAPR band edge on the Receiver.

It is set to 10.140300mHz, which is the upper limit of the 30m WSPR band. I watch and check the frequency on FLDIGI will tunning the receiver to about 10.138700mHz. This received frequency provides an offset of 1300Hz for my QRSS Grabber (ARGO), 1400Hz offset for the WSPR programs and a 1700Hz offset for PropNet program.

All three programs run at the same time on one computer. Note sometimes WSPR and PropNet programs transmit at the same time, but that is no problem as they are using different tones.

All parts are mounted "Ugly Style", all parts are SMD except the; Cystal, Trimmer, Voltage Regulator, the Output Cap (the antenna) and the Key (switch).

At best guess, the power output is about 45uW.

This Oscillator is surprisingly stable.

My Station is not Transmitting??

For some reason my computer sound card is not working. Therefore I am off the air (not sending WAPR, or PropNet) while I figure it out.

I need to work on my code

The following is from:

The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy
A Manual For Learning, Using, Mastering And Enjoying
The International Morse Code As A Means Of Communication
William G. Pierpont N0HFF

The 100 Most Common Words In English

go am me on by to up so it no of as he if an us or in is at my we do be and man him out not but can who has may was one she all you how any its say are now two for men her had the our his been some then like well made when have only your work over such time were with into very what then more will they come that from must said them this upon great about other shall every these first their could which would there before should little people

Six of these words take the same time to send as the number zero (0): are him men on so no.

Fourteen more of them are shorter still: the its to; us am if; as be we an; me at is; it.

Twenty short words. Listening to, copying and sending the 100 most common words is good daily practice.

Also the 100 words makes good typing practice.

I need to practice these.

Check out the ARRL code practice schedule.

Frequencies are 1.8025, 3.5815, 7.0475, 14.0475, 18.0975, 21.0675, 28.0675 and 147.555 MHz.

ET Phone Home

An archived Letter to Bill - N2CQR - of SolderSmoke fame regarding my entry for the ET Phone Home event. This was sent before I started this blog and I have posted it here as an archive.

Bill, In keeping with the spirit of QRP, QRSS and the minimalist HB challenge of ET-Phone-Home I have enlisted one of my single-transistor-nine-volt (2N3904) QRP rigs.

With the best that I can measure, this system has a DC "input power" of 6.84mw into a 16 inch loop antenna of 30 AWG copper coated-steel MIG welding wire. On previous experiments, the Tx was easily detected from 1500 feet away from on my grabber.  Longer DX experiments have not yet been conducted.

Note as per the photos, I have cheated a little, the Tx rig that I selected to used, was from a previous project, and has an additional active element, a five volt regulator (LM7805) for oscillator stability and battery longevity (i.e the 9 volt battery voltage can decrease down to 7 volts and oscillator requires only 1.8ma before the Tx frequency goes unstable).

Bill, The QRSS frequency modulation technique that I used is the same that I suggested for you to invert your FSK MEPT transmitter signal - for up frequency modulation - increase the "capacitance to ground at the collector" of the oscillator ( which I think cancels some of the normal colpitts crystal oscillator capacitance - and therefore the frequency goes up with increased capacitance ). My modulation requirement does not need a "gimmick" as you have used, because of my use of direct mechanical capacitance coupling (as described below).
To power modulation my system uses about 8 gallons of water in a 6 inch reservoir with trickle flow bypass regulation around a weighted falling piston, which pulls on a string, which turns the encoder.

The Water Colum
The piston is large "Whole Fancy Indian - Cashew - Premium Quality, All Natural" nut container ( obtainable from the actual Kirkland Costco store ) with Velcro (loops) Sticky tape wrapped around the top and bottom bulges providing the snug fit and trickle flow metering in the water column. About 8 lbs of weight was added to the nut container to provide the necessary potential-energy storage.

The Piston
This system of metering and energy storage provides for a run-time of about 10 minutes, before a mechanical reset is necessary (note to potential builders, performance and timing formulas are not included within this document ).

Following ET's example, the encoder is a 10 inch multi-cut rotating disk encoder - model number 9-32636 (only obtainable from Sears) augmented with "replaceable-movable-removable" coding elements attached with tape. Before the coding elements were installed on the modulation encoder, the system produce a QRSS "Saw Tooth" waveform (what else would you have expected?), which was initially used just for testing (see: the additional oscillator mounting hole on the substrate, closer to the pivot point ).
The Turn Table
The Turn Table Drive
Note, this encoder technique requires no actual physical or switch contact with the Tx. Only a ground and collector capacitor plates were extended from the colpitts oscillator to form the modulation active elements. I originally was planning to encode my own call - "WA0UWH", but the encoder blade could not hold that much data. A blade upgrade is being considered (i.e., 12 inch).

The FSK Modulator
For now, I have chosen something shorter and simpler to encode (as ET would have suggested), I will use my QTH as the name of the nearest major landing-site in my area with high intensity approach lights - SEA (Seattle International Airport), besides it was much easier to cut from PC stock - 5 dots and a dash.

"SEA" Encoded
Note: the selected message can be shortened by folding the unused elements onto the center of the modulation blade (Note to self - other messages could be encode using the same elements and a similar folding technique, that is "ET" could be encode from the "SEA" elements ).

The resulting modulation is not as square as traditional QRSS3 digital driven keyers, but, . . . it is very distinctive.
The FIRST major modification to this system was the addition of a rolling cart for transport, I had to move the reservoir to a stairs where I could get above it, to pull up and reset the modulator piston, which by the way requires about a 20 lb pull for about the same duration as the run time (about 10 minutes).

The NEXT major modification WILL BE a maximum flow (3/4 inch) tickle flow "bypass" pipe via a control "valve" to aid in the reset process ( for the European critics, I do not think this should be mistaken nor counted as an active QRP element ).  This will make the resetting process go much smother, quicker, and should require much less external "arm strong" input power (question: where does the input power go?? warming the water??).

The MEPT QRSS operation is simple; Raise the piston (lock it in place), Wind up the draw string around the pulley, Install the encoder disk, Release the lock, and then Wait for the DX grabber reports?

Note: a complete set of construction, operation photos and grabber images will be added to my Gallery when time permits:

NOTE: For others HB'ers interested in this project, Kits WILL NOT be made available.

Bill, watch for my signal on the 30M grabbers - it should be very recognizable as my signal will have a bit of a "Saw Tooth", waveform component.


More details may follow as the project progresses (to where, I am not sure, but I do know that this is enough of this!).
Bill, It has been fun !! 73's - Eldon - WA0UWH - alias "SEA" Phone Home
In Operation with Small Loop Antenna
73's Eldon - WA0UWH
PS: No actual grabbers were harmed while collecting data for this document, but a 30db attenuator was added to the antenna connection on my SA602 DC receiver for its near field overload input protection :-)


Initial Post

I decided to start a blog of my station activities, somewhat of a blog or notes to and for myself.

My current on the air projects include:
  • MEPT QRSS Grabber, via ARGO
  • WSPR
  • PropNet
All of these are running on the computer at the same time, driving the mic input of a ICOM-730 and the antenna is a 1/4 wave 30m Vertical.

My plan is to put up a Field Day Special (FDSP) antenna on 30m, with a 30 degree heading to try to work into Europe. I have purchased the 300 ohm feed line but I am having trouble using the "fdsp.exe" program to find an optom cut and size of the antenna.