After browsing the web for designs, I stumbled on the website of Onno PA2OHH. Besides lots of other interesting QRP projects, I found his NiceRig 40-30 QRP Transceiver. I immediately fell in love with this design and decided to build this thing.
Building this rig takes quite some time, so I publish this project in different posts, showing you the progress of this project. — more →
The HB9CV has been a popular antenna for decades, especially on the 2m band where it is commonly used for direction finding (foxhunt). Others create arrays of HB9CV antennas for DXing. Since I needed a simple antenna for 23cm (to uplink to the local ATV repeater PI6ATV) I thought it would be nice to use this HB9CV design.
I’ve got a Raspberry PI for a while already, but it hasn’t been very useful until today. I recently started setting up my own ATV (Amateur TeleVision) station. I needed a simple solution to generate a test pattern, something to broadcast when testing my ATV transmitter. Since the Raspberry PI has a composite video output, there must be a way to let the PI do the job.
I found several projects on the internet. However, they produce only HDMI output, no composite video. After browsing the web, I found a very easy solution using the Linux fbi command. This command allows you to load a picture in the frame buffer of the graphics adaptor. — more →
Last weekend was the yearly ARRL 160m contest. Adrian PA0RDA and I were still a bit in doubt about our HEDZ antenna for 80 and 160m: is it suitable to work American and Canadian stations at 160m? So far we never heard any station from that area on that band, so Adrian decided to bring his Drake TR-7 for the weekend and try to work these countries during the 160m contest, probably the best opportunity for this test. — more →
“Spijker” is a dutch word for nail, which you would normally use to hang something on the wall, or to construct wooden stuff. However, (brass) nails can also be used as as solder pad. PA0KLS used this idea to construct a receiver, called the “Spijkerradio” (nail radio). It is a nice project for starters to build their own radio.
The receiver is based on the good old 0V1. This was a very simple receiver with only one tube. PA0KLS redesigned the schema to replace the tube by transistors. He also added a small audio amplifier to allow usage of modern (low impedance) headphones or a small speaker. — more →
All antennas are in place already for the 2014 PACC contest. Meanwhile they allow me to work HF bands during the Winter season.
Last year the field was in such a bad shape, that we were not able to setup the half extended double zepp for 80 and 160m. This year we had some nice weather in November, allowing us to get all antennas up in a rather short time.
We get used on erecting all those poles, since we do this at least twice a year: at the start of the winter and at the REC fielddays in June. Except the HEDZ, all antennas can be setup by one single person.
This year Adrian PA0RDA and I hope to be back in the PACC contest. Our main goal is always to improve our own score, combined with having lots of fun on the bands and test our homebrewn antennas. This will be the antenna setup for PACC 2014:
- 10m: monoband J-antenna
- 15m: monoband J-antenna
- 20m: monoband 5/8 vertical
- 40m: monoband 1/4 vertical
- 80m: zepp (new!)
- 80/160m: half extended double zepp
- Beverages to Southeast Asia and Australia (not sure yet)
I’ve been using J-pole antennas on the 2m band from the first day I got licensed. They perform very well, are easy to construct and are cheap. Since Adrian PA0RDA and I have been experimenting with vertical antennas for HF, we came to the idea to try those J-poles on HF.
Since Adrian PA0RDA was ill during the contest weekend, and we were not able to setup all antennas due to poor condition of the field, we decided to skip the PACC contest. However, on Sunday morning I could not resist to give away some points, so I made a bunch of CW QSO’s on 15m. We hope for more luck in 2014.
The PACC 2012 contest was a great success for us, we doubled our score of last year! Our claim: 843 QSOs x 153 multipliers = 128979 points.
The replacement tube for the 20m vertical arrived. I immediately fixed the fibreglass pole and erected the antenna again. It’s working great again. I also moved the guys to the top of the third element (instead of the second element), as advised by the supplier.
December was a very windy month. Most antennas did held, however the fibreglass pole of the 20m vertical broke. We contacted the supplier (DX-Wire, Germany) and luckely spare tubes were available for a few euro’s. So we ordered a replacement tube, and also ordered 2 more masts for future use.
We were not able to do lots of testing on the antennas, since work lasted too much time. So that has to wait for the next month.
November starts with 2 weeks of mild weather, with lots of sunshine and no rain. This means that the corn field is rather dry now and easy to walk on. In the first weekend I put lots of tonkin poles in the ground to mark all antennas. I also rolled out the HEDZ (100m) and the beverages (2x 80m). The beverage is nearly ready already, including matchbox and feeder. Wytske helped me to erect the 15m center pole of the HEDZ. Within a couple of hours a kestrel already liked the pole and is now regularly seen sitting on the top.
The Arduino board is a fantastic tool for rapid prototyping, and can help radio amateurs in lots of homebrew projects. I wanted to demonstrate that it is very easy to build an automatic antenna tuner with the Arduino. I connected an old SWR meter to one of my Arduino boards. Furthermore I build a simple L-tuner with a fixed coil and a rotating capacitor (400pF). The capacitor is driven by a servo, also connected to the Arduino. By doing a full sweep with the capacitor, the Arduino tries to find the position with the lowest SWR. After the sweep it turns the capacitor to that position. You can view the video below to see the tuner in action. Mind the SWR meter (right needle) in the back while the capacitor is rotating. — more →
We had some nice weather in the last weekend of October, so I went into the corn field to do some long walks: setting up the new beverages (length: 80m each) and the HEDZ. We bought some new, higher poles this summer for the HEDZ, the center pole will be almost 15m tall now. The poles are not erected yet, but I was on my own that weekend while I need 2 or 3 people to get the poles up.
What are the plans for PACC 2012? Well, we will set up all antennas of 2011 and add some new ones. We built 2 beverages during the REC fielddays, which will be used in the contest now. And we will build a small array of verticals for 10m, since it will be likely to have some propagation on that band during the contest.
Adri PA0RDA, a friend of me, is trying to do some DX on 6m for a while now. His antenna position is very poor: he lives in the bottom flat of a 5-floor building. He has a balcony on the rear (south) side, but high buildings are very close, he has no direct sight in any direction. At the balcony he has a Diamond V2000 vertical antenna for 6/2/70, and an MFJ loop antenna for 15-40m. The 6m band is his most popular one, since he get best results on this band. However, since most DX on 6m is horizontally polarized, he needed a horizontal antenna. I remembered an all-direction horizontal antenna made by Jan PA3EGH (one of the members of the local radio club). So I contacted him, and he pointed me at his website. It was the “Squalo” antenna, or square halo. In fact, it’s just a square folded dipole. It radiates in all directions, with -4dB gain on the sides (compared to the front and back side).
The first weekend of February was really windy. The rough wind ruined the just finished HEDZ, and nearly nocked down the other antennas. And there was nothing I could do, since I was suffering from influenza. I recovered during the next days, and on Friday (just one day before the start of the contest) Adri PA0RDA helped me to fix the antennas. The main pole of the HEDZ was broken, but luckely it was easy to repair. We checked all pins and guys, measured all the antennas, resoldered an inductor in the 40m matchbox, etc. In the afternoon the antennas were in top condition again, so we could start rebuilding the shack.
Thanks to a interesting article about the so called Half Extended Double Zepp (HEDZ) by W5DXP we managed to get our EDZ working om both 80m and 160m. The antenna is working fine now on 80m. I couldn’t test in on 160m yet, because my own rig (IC-730) doesn’t work on that band, but the measurements with the MiniVNA show a acceptable SWR between 1800 and 2000 kHz. When breaking up we will do some physical measurements to see what the exact size of the dipole and feeder is. The (H)EDZ is also a little bit lifted now, the center is 12 meters above the ground, the endpoints 8 meters.
We also erected the remaining antennas: the 1/4 wave vertical for 40m, and the HyGain AV-12AVQ for 10/15/20m. In the upcoming weeks we will extend the number of radials for the 40m vertical.
Setting up antennas on a corn field is not really easy. Ok, there’s no corn in the winter, but the field is very wet and muddy. When the temperature drops below zero, the field becomes icy, and above zero the amount of mud under your (wooden) shoes grows with every step.