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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Testing RX - Starter for 10GHz


Following my last post here about my 10GHz setup:

Starter for 10GHz

Here's a quick video of the RX test:

Local conditions.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Starter for 10 GHz


Due to being rather poorly and  ending up having my thyroid removed, I've not done much in the way of radio.

However, for some time now I have been interested in learning more about the microwave bands and the amateur allocations we have in that part of the spectrum.

I attended a Microwave Roundtable event at Finningley ARS quite a while ago and met some very clever chaps who messed about at these frequencies. As a consequence I have been trying to create a "starter for 10GHz" in the background for a while.

The heart of the system is a transverter from Kuhne Electronics - this is a basic 144MHz to 10GHz transverter. To utilise this device you need a few ancillary bits to create a system, but mainly an antennamabob and a TX RX relay.

Here is the main transverter box with the other bits and bobs completed:

You can see the TX/RX relay - this is a latching RF relay which is fired from 12V using the circuit on the veroboard you can see. There is a BNC socket for an external 10MHZ signal; conviniently just like the one I made here: GPS OCXO, there's an SO239 for the IF (which is 144MHz) plus a line from the IF radio for PTT. A couple of LEDs and that bit is complete.

I managed to find two different antennamabobs for 10GHz, there's this one:

and this one:

I also bought myself an old satellite dish of eBay for £10:

So with a little bit of metal bashing and a speaker tripod, I have ended up with this:

I have simply mounted the smaller of the two 10GHz horn antennas in the same place that the LNB was when I got the dish.

Now, how on earth do I test this???

I will be using my FT-817 as the 144MHz driver and receiver, but I have no test gear for these frequencies so generating a signal to test the RX was going to be tough.

In steps Kevin, G3AAF. He has done some very clever things with a common bluetooth module using software and has come up with an RF source which can be used as a kind of home beacon/test RF source. It's called BTThing:

I've added the box and an PCB antenna from Sam, G4DDK:

So this set to 2592 MHz will give me a harmonic in the 10 GHz band at 10,368 MHz; and lo and indeed behold I can hear this signal on my setup.

I haven't yet tried the horn and dish combination but will set up a test area somewhere in the house tomorrow and give it a whirl.

I've had a kind offer of some elmering in these matters from Peter, G3PHO so I should be able to test this out fully when he has some time.

Here's our Elmo dog for a change:

Local conditions.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

New Anennamabob!


Quite some time ago I was rummaging on the internet and I came across this site:

Now, particularly interesting to me was this antenna:

It's called a Q-52 and is basically a shortened, inductively loaded 2 element beam for 20, 15, 17, 12 & 10 meters.

I ordered one and yesterday it arrived.

The antenna came in 7 parts; 3 part boom plus each side of the elements telescoped into itself - the box was surprisingly small.

Each element (the driven element and the reflector) have a switch controlled relay box which alters the element inductance.

Then there is a central wire connection box which allows you to run a control cable back to the shack where you select the band required on a rotary control unit:

So here it is on the mast, I have removed the MA5BB that I have been using for a few years; this antenna has less visual impact and also less weight. The main reason for changing the antenna is that this will give me 2 elements on 17 and 12, the MA5B is just a rotary dipole on those bands.

Time will tell, but the concept is certainly interesting. The construction of the antenna looks excellent and building it was very simple indeed.

More to follow!

New cats Maggie and Luna are settling in nicely:

Local conditions,

Fn egh?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Israel on 6M? No way!


Here's a quick video of 4X4DK as received at my QTH on 16th May 2015. He was stronger on 14th May when I worked him.

My QSO is already confirmed in LOTW.

Good, egh?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

New Antenna Time


Following all the fun I have been enjoying on 4M, 6M and 2M using Meteor Scatter I decided to upgrade the antennas I have for those bands.

Here's the installation after completion:

Nut's egh? Both the 2M antenna and the combined 4/6M antenna are from InnovAntennas. The 2M antenna SWR is excellent through the whole band, as is the 6M antenna:

The 4M antenna is not so great (due to the proximity of all the other metal):

I've spoken to Justin at InnovAntennas and he has had me pulling elements with cable ties and also wrapping tin foil round elements and sending him plots. I am sure we will get it sorted!

Fun egh?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

They call it the Magic Band....


Been messing about today on 6M. There have been quite a few openings over the past few days due to Sporadic E. This was the sporatic e cloud map from DX Maps earlier today:

The numbers in the boxes represent the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency). This is the resultant QSO map:

How did I do? I worked a lot of stations in and around Europe, my best being 5B4AAB (Cyprus) and 4X4DK (Israel); both contacts must have been multi-hop Es. You can see the spots for 4X4 and 5B4 on the map above. I was particularly delighted to work 4X4DK as G3OCA was calling him and I was the one that bust the pileup! Ken, as usual, had a spectacularly bad signal that was half a mile off frequency. I was unlucky enough to spend some time with 3OCA when I used to go to the Nunsfield House Amateur Radio Group - he is the most arrogant man I have ever met.

This is my all-time 6M log converted to a map:

I am a member of the UKSMG (UK Six Meter Group), and they run a summer marathon on 6M. Here's the log table (before anyone else uploaded today!):

The only thing that I can guarantee is that I won't stay second for long!

good fun, egh?

*** Update ***

Christian SWL in JN77sn has sent me an Audio file of my transmissions from earlier today, take a listen:

Audio File

Monday, 11 May 2015

It's great to be in the fracas!


Today has been an excellent day for 6M Sporadic E. This was earlier this morning:

And then tonight the band opened again:

If you haven't witnessed a Sporadic E opening on 6M before, here's a quick video of Tony, I2PJA received here in IO93GA (that's 715 miles as the RF flies):

I'm no 6M wizzo but here's my 6M QSOs from my log converted into a map:

Good, egh?

Local conditions.