27 February 2013

DXpedition videos - VP6T, 3D2C, BS7H, 5A7A, AH1A

 Ever since the beginnings of my ham radio adventures i've been curious about operating from parts of the world the civilisation hasn't reached yet; I guess it's one of the few ways you can still be a hands-on pioneer these days. Dxpeditions, SOTA, IOTA, you name it, I want to see how it has been done and how was the feeling to do such a thing, what equipment did they use and what challenges they had to overcome, how they laid out their antennas or how much planning was put into.

Recently have been published two videos of DXpeditions that took place last year. The first one is 3D2C in Conway Reef, wich doesn't have an embed option so you need to check this link out in order to view it:

3D2C Conway Reef 2012

 The second one is VP6T Pitcairn Island, you can check it out below:

There are also older DXpedition videos that I really enjoyed, made just like a documentary with plenty of info:

26 February 2013

Over the Horizon radars and ham radio interference

Since the early days of the cold war and culminating with the Russian Woodpecker, ham radio operators have reported powerful jamming-like wideband signals creating disturbance in the amateur short wave (HF) bands. These are created by powerful over-the-horizon (OTH) radars that use the HF spectrum to "visualize" significant portions of the entire planet in just one sweep by using the all-so-loved (by us amateurs) phenomenon of ionospheric reflexion.

WSPR and antenna radiation pattern

WSPR seems to be not just a tool for actively monitoring the propagation status, but it can also help you trace the radiation pattern of your antenna. Of course, for a reasonable trace we would need WSPR stations all over the world using all types of antennas, but I guess we will have to make do with what we have for now.

22 February 2013

SDR Basics explained

I just found a great video that explains exactly how Software Defined Radio (SDR) works, directly from the guys at FlexRadio. If you're interested in SDR, in ham radio or radio communications in general, this is one educative piece of material you can't miss. It's about 1 hour long though, so you might want to bookmark it for the weekend.

18 February 2013

Kenwood TS-990S revealed

The long awaited contest-class rig from Kenwood, the TS-990S, is bound to make the grand debut probably this month, after a series of teasers have stirred up the spirits and imagination of amateur operators all over the world. Kenwood openly states they tried to put their best into the TS-990S, trying to achieve the ultimate contest and DX legend transciever status, and this reflects just by having a quick look at the black button-fest beast.

16 February 2013

Flex SmartSDR revealed

SDR technology is probably the biggest thing in ham radio in the years to come, and the direct digital sampling based transcievers can offer a whole new range of posibilities to the avid amateur operators. The Flex-6000 series looks to be a great exponent of this technology and probably a key turning point in amateur radio equipment history - for us folks that follow such a thing of course, and recently FlexRadio has released more details about how the new concept will work and how the software needed to operate the new transcievers looks and feels.

Tmate2 - external CAT console

SDR recievers and transcievers often suffer from the lack of a proper interface with the user;  the computer's mouse and keyboard do not offer the same warm feeling of direct control as a proper knob and a nice set of firm buttons for some users, therefore external consoles have found their way to the market.

15 February 2013

Elecraft KX3 vs Yaesu FT-817ND

Update:  After a few years of owning the FT-817nd and using alot of other equipment, I revisited this topic: Yaesu FT-817, Elecraft KX3 and other portable HF radios

I am looking lately at a transciever for portable operations this summer, and after some reading and thinking I also found a discussion on one of the blogs I follow, where Roger G3XBM posted about the FT817 vs KX3

This is an interesting issue as the Yaesu FT-817 is basically the definition of portable QRP transcievers, and the Elecraft KX3 is one of the hottest ones out there at the moment, offering a very high-performance reciever in a small and medium-priced package due to SDR-based technology, wich is one of my main interests in ham radio.

04 February 2013

Lightweight beam antennas: Moxon vs Spiderbeam

The 2013 solar maximum is almost here, the 10 meter band will be booming soon and you cannot let it go by without using a decent antenna; it would be a shame, considering how cheap it is to build yourself a decent performing beam in this band.
Today I am looking at two of the most efficient designs that a homebrewer can use for such an antenna: the 3 element Moxon and the Spiderbeam; both are variations of the 3 element Yagi and require just a mast, 4 fiberglass fishing rods and some wires to get going.