Big wheeling

Seems the Big Wheel 2m antenna in the loft is working ok, at least according to 2m FT8 with a bit of lift. It manages a good spread… (there’s one 4m in there too)

2m FT8

It’s been an impressive two days on 2m FT8. Yesterday (3/march) pskreporter showed that I had been received in GI, EI, GD and GW as well as right down into Devon, and today similarly so with the exception of Ireland and the addition of GM. Not bad for my cobbled together dipole in the loft.

Of course it’s likely that all the reports are from stations with humungous antennas but hey, a report is a report. And yes, tidying the loft is on my to-do list!

Another band bites the dust

Well, sort of. On FT8 I mean. I just received a couple of transverters from the transverters store in the Ukraine. These are not the newer model with the TCXO but are cheap and cheerful. Yes, they do drift a little but it’s a toe in the water for me pending something else later on. I already have the Spectrum Communications 70MHz transverter and that works nicely but these are small units when compared, so I got a 70MHz and a 144MHz one.

I connected the 144MHz one up today and set the FT450D to 28.174 and immediately heard FT8 tones. I’d not even fired up WSJT-X but sorted that quickly and made my first 144MHz FT8 contact within 2 minutes of turning the transverter on – followed by one further QSO and an indication via pskreporter that I had been heard all the way in NI.

Yes, I know this is a minor achievement compared to those of other radio amateurs but it’s still a new one to me…

I now plan to sell off some kit including the Trio TR-9130 which has worked well. The one thing I don’t like about that set is the notchy and fairly slow tuning when in sideband which makes it hard to scroll across the band looking for signals – having the transverter means I can use the FT450D’s tuning which I am far more used to.

FT8

A new mode (to me) – FT8, part of the latest WSJT-X package and widely discussed of late. Having been away from radio for a few weeks I’ve been keeping up on this via a Facebook group and e-mail and itching to get back home and grab the software. I did so late last night and managed to answer one CQ after reminding myself about the mode while watching the band activity. The auto sequence was a surprise the first time I saw it working. I had a ‘proper’ go today with several successful answers to CQs. It all happens very fast!

I have also now started logging QSOs within the WSJT-X package. I had not done this previously because really I only dip in and out of this and other modes, and have plenty of time to log the few QSOs I actually make by hand. But as it’s now rather frantic I decided to have a go and it all works nicely. Of course you will by now be questioning my sanity due to the fact that previously I had no indication of DXCC or callsign worked etc., resorting to my own lookup script that checks QRZ.com to see if a callsign is new. But there was time, plus as I had fiddled with the API for QRZ.com I have a simple bit of PHP that does lookups directly.

I really must find some time to throw more wire into the loft and work different bands, as I still only have 20m and 6m to play with. Hmmm.

 

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