Nice APRS Tracker project

Just stumbled on this very interesting APRS tracker project one day when thinking about the APRS setup in my own car. At the moment I only have one real APRS device. It is my Yaesu VX-8D. I call it real APRS  because it transmit on real radio frequency (144.800MHz in EU). In addition to that I have also some “fake” ones… like those in my phone and in my iPad. I call them fake, because they are not transmitting on that real radio frequency, but they are just talking to APRS-IS in internet via GPRS data link.

BTW: I have also been working on my HF microphone setup lately, which I will tell you later. Maybe with a video … hi hi…

Working digitally (and remotely)

As I mentioned before, I have been working to get my digital mode setup working in my hamshack. Few days back I finally made it. Actually I’m not 100% sure what I did wrong in the first place, but who cares…now it works 🙂 I also managed to get rid of the bugging RF interference too. I just added some ferrite modules to my cables in the shack (audio card and digimode/cat interface) and that was all. Now everything seems to be working A-OK, which is nice.

First I started working the PSK31 with CocoaModem. I made good contacts with it, but was looking forward for better macros and integration to site. I also had problems in CocoaModem to get the table mode (simultaneously decoding all streams within the audio spectrum heard) and I needed to look for another software to use. The answer to those requirements within Macintosh environment is fldigi. I looked into that and got it working too (as you can see from the picture above). In addition to nice user interface and efficient usage it also is able to report heard (and worked) stations to service, which is really nice thing. From that data you can easily see how well your antenna is working on certain bands. PSK31 mode is nice as it happens basically always within one frequency per band. Therefore you can hear loads of different countries and stations with it. For example I was monitoring only 20m band (14.070 KHz) for couple of days and got 405 reports / stations from 36 countries during that time. Interesting data about the frequency, antenna and all. Also interesting was to see from the same service how far my own transmission went. I’m using only 50w from my 100w transceiver power for PSK. With that power I was able to be heard all the way to USA. And as you can see from the picture above I have been also able to hear USA and Canada…so I just need to be with my radio on right time to make that connection to happen..hi hi.

Speaking of which… I also managed to get my remote working setup up and running. I had my radio gear on with my computer in the shack and worked my PSK31 from the comfort of the living room couch…with another computer or with my iPad .. or even with my Android phone. I’m running TeamViewer for that purpose and it just works great. It enables remote working where ever I have an internet connection. That is btw one benefit also on working the digital need for mic or CW paddle for that matter. 🙂

Maybe I should provide a video about all that, but let’s save that for later.

And yes…Once again..comments are welcome .. as always.

Antennianalyysi (Lafayette MV-2000) [Finnish]

Antennisaaga Lafayette MV-2000 antennini ympärillä sai tänään mielenkiintoisen päätöksen. Mittasimme OH6VM ja OH8JGQ:n kanssa antennin oheisen kuvasarjan mukaisesti OH6VM:n hienolla RigExpert -antennianalysaattorilla. Napsin kuvia mittaustuloksista muistilapuiksi. Kuvista on selvästi nähtävissä, että antenni ei ole vireessä suomen 2m, 70cm ja 6m bandeilla. Antennissa ei ole säätöä sen virittämiseksi. 6m maatasossa (pisin maataso) on joku kuusiokoloruuvi, jolla maatason pituutta voisi tiettävästi säätää, mutta sitä ei ole säädetty tätä mittausta tehtäessä. Ohjekirjassa ei myöskään mainita mitään tälläisestä säätötarpeesta. Ohjekirjassa (A4) ei myöskään ilmoiteta antennin referenssipisteitä, eikä SWR -kuvaajia…mutta tässähän ne tuli selvitettyä 🙂

Antennini lähtee huomenna takaisin myyjälle ja toivottavasti saisin vaihdossa TOIMIVAN antennin. Esimerkiksi Diamondin. Myyjän puolesta vaihto on ollut koko ajan ok, aikataulujeni tähden pääsen vaihtamaan antennin vasta nyt. Puhtaasta kiinnostuksesta ja radioamatöörikokeilun takia selvitimme antennin viretilanteen. SUURET kiitokset vielä Harrille (6VM) antennianalyysistä ja Tuomakselle (8JGQ) mastomiehen vaativan tehtävän hoitamisesta. Ilman teitä tämä vaativa toimenpide ei olisi ollut mahdollinen. 🙂

PSK31 reporter

While trying to get my digital mode setup working, I encountered a nice PSK reporter service. Briefly put it is a web service that puts PSK31 traffic on to Google Maps. To get your PSK into the map you need to have certain digimode software. Most popular software like Digital Master 780 for Windows and fldigi for multiplatform are able to report into this system.

This really is an interesting experiment and nice way to spot how far your CQ for example is going. You can check the map via this link. More information from here.

UHF/VHF antenna problems (Finnish)

This post is in exceptionally in Finnish this time. Ohesa kuvia aiemmin kirjoittamani UHF/VHF antennin toimintaongelmiin liittyen. Havaitsin, että antennin runkoliitin oli löysällä ja pyöri kiristettäessä antennin johtoa. Purin antennin varmistaakseni, että liitokset sisällä olivat ehjiä tästä pyörimisestä huolimatta. Ehjiä olivat. Tässä yhteydessä huomasin (vasta) myös, että antennissa EI ollutkaan spekseissä mainittua N-liitintä vaan UHF-liitin! Tämä oli syynä antennin toimimattomuuteen. UHF-runkoliitin kun toimii aika heikosti kun syöttöjohdossa on N-liitin 🙂 Onneksi ei pääteasteet palaneet.

Tässä kuvasarjaa antennin purkamisesta ja liittimistä. Erikoista tässä on se, että N-liitin käy kuitenkin kuvassa näkyvään UHF-runkoliittimeen. UHF-liittimestä näyttää puuttuvan myös sisäeristeet (vrt. SWR -mittarissa olevat UHF-liittimet).

HamShack almost ready

Couple of weeks ago I finally got my VHF/UHF antenna (in the picture)
also set up in my hamshack. To get it up and running, I bought some
antenna mast and mast fixing supplies from the local antenna shop and
hooked up my Lafayette MV-2000 tri-band antenna. I originally feeded it
with RG-58 coaxial, but yesterday I changed that to Echoflex-10 cable to
avoid signal loss. However the antenna still seems to be a bit off as
the signal is not getting as good as I would like. I need 50w power to
get to local repeaters and to me it seems a bit too much, as I can
operate them with 5w from the house. Hamshack is located lower than the
house, but antenna is about the same height with the house, or even a
bit higher…so something is not right with the antenna
still..Investigations will continue as I have also have bought an SWR
meter to measure the standing wave ratio from the HF to UHF bands. Hope
that helps. One fellow ham also has an antenna analyzer so if nothing
else helps.. 🙂

I finally managed to have some time to also clean up the shack too. It
really have been so much to do there, that everything was a mess. Now it
looks a bit more like a place for a human being (or HAM) so here is the
picture of the actual radio table too. 🙂 In addition to VHF/UHF
antenna work I’m also still working to get my digital modes up and
running..And yes.. I have managed to make some QSO too. All the way to
USA and around EU and it is GREAT!! 🙂

Up inda air!

Jeeee! Finally got my HamShack up and running. Got my 42 meters long Windom antenna up in the tree with the slingshot I told you in the last blog about. The antenna installation was not very easy how ever… It was very windy day and I was operating only by my self. The yard is covered with huge amount of snow, which does not actually help the installation, but I managed. As you can see from the picture (not very well..) the antenna is quite up in the tree and works well.

During the weekend I managed also to squeeze some time to actually work the HF. I managed to get some QSO’s all the way to USA and EU. Ofcourse I had a pleasure to work some OH stations too 🙂 So it seems that I finally have managed to get my station into some real radio action. I have also ordered a DigiMaster Pro Plus -interface for digital mode working. I’m looking very much on that and will let you know as soon as that setup is also up and running.

Shack-Update 4.3.2011 – HF is coming

Long time no see! I have been extremely busy lately and therefore this blog has been silent for a while. Sorry about that and special thanks to Jaakko about asking me to write again soon 🙂 Btw. I have been thinking should I keep on writing this blog in English or should I turn to Finnish? What do you think? Do I have any english speaking readers at the moment…hands up…anyone? 🙂

Well.. I finally made my mind about HF rig. I pondered long time between Kenwood TS-480SAT and Yaesu FT-450AT. Both are great rigs, portable and good. The thing with Kenwood was remoterig usage. But finally I thought that I prefer Yaesu and work remotely with computer assistance. So I bought an used Yaesu. It is actually like new, as it has been used only as a secondary rig. The guy I bought it from has maybe the GREATEST Hamshack I have ever seen. Boy did he have a great place there. He just had a newly built house and ofcourse all HAM related details were considered already when building. Antenna leads, grounding, switches and all…just great. And the place was up high in the hill + he had a nice +20 meters mast for several beams in the yard… WOW! Should have taken a bunch of pictures, but I was only staring the Yaesu FT-450AT on the table.. 🙂

 My friend OH6VM was then kind enough to lend me a power for the rig, as the power I’m looking for my shack is out of stock from the ham shop. Only thing I was missing was antenna. I ordered them and they arrived yesterday. I was supposed to have a W-8010 trap dipole, but it was also out of stock, so I bought the “good ol” Wimo Windom, the 42 meters long beast of that off center fed dipole. Meanwhile I also  made an antenna launcer. I actually made 2 prototypes from which the latter was the best (its in the picture). With the first one we tried to shoot OH8JGQ antenna into the tree, but did not succeed. We used the old army “sling shot style” with success…not too high, but in the tree anyway. 🙂 We must later use this new sling there too.  So today I’m about to shoot my own antennas in top of the trees in our yard. Lets see how it goes.

Loads of things have been happening. Hope to write you soon again. Maybe I will shoot some video about my shack and introduce it as it is ready. I strongly encourage my Finnish readers to look my video/podcast program called HessunKahvila as it also discusses these matters A LOT 🙂 It’s only available in Finnish, so sorry to all my international friends.