Sunday, July 15, 2018

Radioactivities weekend.

1. RaDAR event....went wrong again. I'm definitely not ready for it yet.

2. Hunting the WRTC 2018 special calls, ex-DDR callsigns.

3. Participating in the IARU HF contest SSB 80m Low power.

4. Working S01WS on 6m again...and again.

Wow, it was a weekend with ups and downs.

And at the same time of course household duties and other important things because life is not only radio.

1. The RaDAR event. Setup my "lightweight" station and it worked on SSB. Made one QSO with UA4M in the contest. But since you need a locator exchange contacting contest stations doesn't work. My intention was working digital. I use my broken W10 tablet with a wireless keyboard, However, I can't get any signal out and receiving is a pain. I tried everything in "soundcard" configuration but till now I'm unable to get it right. If all would work well I'd make 5 QSO portable at home planning a trip with the car to the harbour nearby and set this station up again to make another 5 QSO. Then the RaDAR event would be a success for me. But again like last year it didn't happen.

2. Hunting the ex-DDR special calls. Those calls are special and this might be the only opportunity to work Y8 calls this time. There was a downloadable list on the WRTC2018 site. Did work a couple, see the list. They were all easy to work, good listeners and excellent handling of the pile-ups. I've heard about the WRTC but never worked one of those contesters. A first time for me.

3. Summertime is no contesting time for me. I can't remember if I ever participated in the IARU HF contest. A few of my enthousiastic radio friends activated PA6HQ. Lit by their enthousiasm I thought I do some running on 80m saturday evening and sunday morning and in between I search for the WRTC stations. In the end I made about 100 QSOs on 80m about 20 QSOs on other bands. However so far I think there is no single band section in this contest. It doesn't matter, I had some fun.

4. S01WS from Western Sahara seems to be a struggle for me. Early in the evening I saw him calling CQ DX on 6m. I tried but in the end another station took the frequency again and I couldn't see the RR no matter what I tried. A 3rd QSO busted again? Very frustrating! At the time I was downstairs writing this blogpost I check 6m regularly via remote (teamviewer). Suddenly I see S01WS coming up again and then going down.....I decided to wait fully charged to shoot when the signal is coming up again... The waiting was rewarded, My shot was right into the eye....(eye on the screen ;-)). Finally I got the RR.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Get ready for...RaDAR 14 July 2018

What is RaDAR? Well I direct you to my post from last year:

I didn't see much promotion for this event this year. Even not on ZS6BNE's blog. It seems they all moved to a tight community on Google+. However it is organized and a good concept.

If possible I'll see if I can participate. Many do think it's a game with a winner but this is purely a social event with a challenge for yourself. It is not really necessary to participate for 4 hours. You can do 1 or 2 hours as well, pick your time!

At the same time there is the IARU HF champ contest this weekend. I don't think contesters want to exchange the QTH locator. Contesters are only on frequency for themselves and 59 or 5NN is the only thing matters. Not that I hate that but I think you should be more openminded and respect that there are other events as well at the same time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The quest for smaller, lighter and economical portable digital

This is all KN4CRD needs to work
portable digital (and a radio of course).
For a while now I'm following posts on facebook, blogs and instagram from OH8STN, MW1CFN and KN4CRD. They all use a Raspberry Pi 3B+ as computer for use with digital modes. I have other things on my mind at the moment but find it very interesting to see it works well. It's a small computer, low cost (approx 40 euro) and it doesn't use much power. You can buy a small HD 7 inch screen to connect to the HDMI port and it does feature USB ports for GPS and CAT control connecting. Most interesting so far is the 3D printed case for the computer from KN4CRD, it includes a complete computer including battery and touch screen pocketsize.

I've been interested a lot in working portable digital. But there are some things to overcome. You need a light and small economical computer with GPS device to sync the time, you need enough electrical power, you need a place to hide for the sun and rain.

A large crack in the touchscreen...
At first I thought the easiest way for a lightweight economical computer is to buy a Windows 10 tablet. It is cheap, it already has GPS although I don't know if it can be used for sync the time, you can install every digimode software for free. It has bluetooth and WiFi to eventually connect to a phone with internet. And it has a built in soundcard. I bought one, and it works well. I thought "this is it". Then I noticed the micro USB connection is very flimsy and so is the 5V charger connector. 5 minutes later a crack appeared into the touch screen, ok it still functioned. But again 5 minutes later the crack became all over the screen and nothing functioned anymore. Then I realized a tablet is not very rugged and certainly not good enough for portable operation for my standards. I like the way KN4CRD has been developing his computer, very small and economical. The use of linux these days should be no problem for at least the use of well known digital communications. Personally I'm thinking about a small 10 inch laptop with SSD drive and dual boot W10/linux. However, the internal battery will only last for 1 or 2 years to function well. Most laptops need 18-20VDC for supply. For that a Raspberry Pi is much more economical, these days you can buy reasonable priced 5V powerbanks which can supply the Raspberry for hours.

Sync the time with GPS device should be no problem these days. I've been experimenting with it before and it worked, however with the bleutooth device I use now the sync software does lock after some time. The one you see on the photo should be better I guess. They cost about €7,75 including shipping via AliExpress.

Electrical power...I guess you better read posts about that on OH8STN Julian's site. Julian is using foldable solar panels to get power from the sun. He developed his own battery with the use of separate Life4PO cells. It's just how far you will go in buying these things. Most important is the weight. I've been using a 7Ah SLAB, it's cheap but is relatively big and heavy. Building a LifeP4PO pack might be not that expensive but a foldable solarpanel is. It's just what you want to invest. I came across a Einhell cc-js12 Li-Ion 12Ah pack with 12v, 5V and...19V output.  The 12Ah is overrated and I guess at 5V, the manual says the battery capacity is 41Wh. The Ft-817 does need 1A average, sometimes more depending modes (2,2A@5W TX carrier) I expect it to hold about 2-3 hours. With the laptop connected hopefully 1 hour. The battery and radio are considered the heaviest weight on your portable pack you really have to take care of them being as light but as rugged as possible.

If solarpanels will be cheaper I'll invest in one. Till then I will manage and hope I don't have to use it in a emergency situation but just for the hobby.

Then another issue, a shelter. Ever tried to read a tablet or laptop screen in the sun? And everyone knows electronics can't stand rain/water. You need a place with shadow, you need a place that is dry. And preferable in winter you need a place that is warm enough to operate your gear. Well, I guess that's the biggest investment you need to do if you want to run portable over the whole year. If you like to know more about it you really should take a look at OH8STN's site.