April 11, 2016

CLOSING DOWN

I will be closing down. A very popular site reached out to me today and asked if I wanted a contributor account. I can now release information (without breaking NDA's) to a much larger world wide audience.
Getting hurt and then terminated at my job is the best thing that ever happened to me. I can now focus on the things I'm extremely passionate about. Electronics and Radios.

It has be a wild 6 years posting all kinds of things to my blog. Thank you to all the viewers for stopping by. I would like to thank a fellow blogger (Brickolore). He has been a faithful reader for many years.

UPDATE:

See you all on the swling.com

April 10, 2016

Soft66RTL3

Kazunori Miura sent me one of his new soft66rtl3 SDRS a couple of months ago and I did a quick overview for swling.com.

Kazunori just emailed me about another brand new design in the works. Sample should be here in a week or two.

Kazunori is that force to recon with when it comes to low cost $8.00 dongles and mid-range $200 SDRS. For $40 you really can't go wrong at all before you move to a 12bit SDR (SDRPlay, Airpy or Afedri).

April 9, 2016

Propagation


One of the least understood areas of radio for most is the subject of RF propagation. Most propagation is based on a 11 year solar cycle. How much a radios energy will either be absorbed or refracted due to the relationship between the earth and sun is an amazing science.

We have so many variables involved in  propagation. The major one being the year in reference to the current solar cycle. The month of the year. The time of day. Then we have our location along with the transmitted frequency in use & your antenna. These all play a vital role in being heard or picking up broadcast stations.

It can be broken down even further with buzz words such as Solar Flux, K & A Index's along with the number of sun spots. I am by no means an expert on the subject of propagation. I'm what you would call a newb or newbie. I know the basics but have been reading as much as I can about it and I find myself checking propagation forecasts charts regularly and really enjoy learning about it.

 I came across an app called VOAProp which was written some time ago by Julian Moss (G4LIO), Julian built a front end propagation forecaster that sits on top of the world class VOACAP HF propagation prediction software written by the NTIA/ITS for the Voice of America. VOAProp kills two birds with one stone. VOAProp will try and predict propagation for the shortwave listener along with predicting propagation for the amateur radio operator for any given band based on your location and antenna in use.

In order to get VOAProp running on your machine you will need to have VOACAP installed first. Both programs must be installed in the root folder of C:\ and without spaces in the folder names you choose. You can not use C:\ Program Files or C:\ Program Files (x86). I have them both installed in C:\Ham. The install files are available at the following locations.

VOACAP http://www.greg-hand.com/versions. Scroll to the bottom of the directory and click on the latest files itshfbc_151021.exe to download.

VOAProp http://www.g4ilo.com/voaprop.html. Scroll to the bottom and select Download VOAProp 1.1 Setup (1Mb)

Installation for VOACAP require zero configuration from the end user. Install it and leave it alone. For VOAProp you will need to do the follow by right clicking on the map,

Important Note: 
VOAPROP NEEDS TO HAVE THE DATA URL IN THE SOLAR DATA FIELD SHOW http://ok1dub.cz/wwv/wwv.txt OR THE APP WILL NOT FORECAST PROPAGATION PROPERLY 



Main settings

Home location. Right click on the map and select Set home location. Enter your Latitude & Longitude or your Grid location. Having your grid location is the easiest method.

Solar Data. Click on the Solar Data button. Cut and paste this into the Data URL: http://ok1dub.cz/wwv/wwv.txt  Put a check in the Auto update box and click Update. Click the Close button.

Shortwave or Amateur use: Right click on the map and select from the first two choices Amateur bands or Short wave bands. (both are based on the Home location you provided in step 1)

Misc: Right click on the map and select Show signal Strengths (for the bottom right color bar on the main screen) & select Show UTC time in the title bar

Main screen settings.

High Medium and Low slider. This is for use in the Amateur bands of the program predictions and they are based on the following output power and antenna being used, This is a rough guide, you can take High as 4KW+tower mounted beam, Medium as 100W+dipole, Low as 1W+low dipole. I usually have mine set to medium.

Auto-Update. You will not have to input Date, Year & time. If you want to look at future predictions just select the month and the time. Remember to re check Auto Update to have a near real-time forecast.

March 29, 2016

3 Weeks

I have only been a ham for a little over 3 weeks. I have made a few contacts on 2m FM simplex which I really enjoy. I tried the local repeaters and they really are not for me.

Yesterday my HF rig came in (ft-450d) and today was my first time keying up on HF. I made my first contact at 7:00pm EST on 10m (28.405) with a Dominican Republic station HI8JQE. He was calling CQ and the pileup came. I threw my call out a bunch of times in between and finally heard KD2 standby. I freaked out. Then he called KD2 station. I replied with his call them mine and he confirmed. I could not believe it. My first station worked was DX. I'm hooked now.

2m FM Simplex
First confirmed HF Contact
This is HI8JQE my first confirmed HF contact on 10m