SDRPlay RSP1 Metal Case Upgrade

My trusty dusty SDRPlay just received a long overdue upgrade! RTL-SDR blog & KD2KOG teamed up and started providing these cases a couple months ago. They’re even for sale on Amazon now with Prime shipping! Only $39.95, not a bad deal considering it’s 15 bucks alone for the FM stop filter.

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Hey… at least it’s not wrapped in aluminum foil… yes i’ve seriously seen that – to each his own though! šŸ˜› This will provide better RF shielding, a more rugged case, and even a travel case to boot! The SDRPlay is my primary grab & go SDR!

I’ve got an upcoming review on the SDRPlay (12-bit ADC) vs the Elad FDM S2 (16-bit ADC) – I think the results will surprise you! Stay tuned.

73

K5ACL

Congratulations K5URU! Winner of the Bedspring Challenge!

NY7N Bedspring Challenge update: We have our first winner!

K5URU just made a successful 5 watt JT mode contact to Australia on 10 meters using a Bedspring for an antenna! How crazy is that!? 

Blake’s one of the most dedicated hams I know! This is too cool, not only that but at this point in our solar cycle? With geomag storms going on? Using just 5 watts? On 10 meters? You get the point…… MIND BLOWN….! 

I really can’t give too much attention to the “band condition” websites anymore. This is a reinforcement of just get on the air and call CQ! Even if you think the band is dead – you might be in for a surprise!

Congrats Blake!
Johnny

K5ACL

LDG AT-100 Remote Antenna Tuner Installation

I took down my off-center fed dipole the other day to install the LDG AT-100 ATU on the same mast. Being that the antenna is pretty much at the same height, and orientedĀ about the same as my OCF was, I’m not expecting a big boost in performance, but I figured that the antenna might radiate a bit differently, and maybe allow me to work parts of the amateur bands a bit more efficiently than I had been in the past.

The AT-100 is housed in a weatherproof box similar to the ones you find in a hardware store but has a nice built in bracket that allows connection to a mast fairly simple. I have also seen this deployed in a ‘suspended’ type scenario – as the ATU isn’t too heavy (for those of you that might be interested in the ATU – but don’t have a mast to hang it from).

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I connected the output to a DX Engineering 1:1 current balun (experimenting at this point) and ran approximately 170 feet of wire in a ‘sloping’ loop configuration through several porcelain insulators that you find in the electric fence section. I haven’t even checked to see where the loop actually resonates, but it’s a bit longer than a 40 meter full wave loop. I ran a 75′ piece of LMR-400 straight to the shack, and then a 2 foot jumper from the Bias-T controller box into the HF rig. I can tune every band except for 160m – I imagine I probably don’t have enough wire up for that band, though I am planning on making some ‘pruning adjustments’ to see if I can improve the tuning on 80m (can only tune from about 3.700 & up) & on 17m where I can’t get the SWR below 3 to 1.

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Yellow-Loop Wire / Red-Mast

My very first (WSPR) transmission on 40 meters last night I was heard in France… 20 meters was also hopping late into the night, and I landed Asiatic Russia & Canada on 20 meters on the JT65. I was getting consistent decodes and never using anything more than 5-10 watts, whereas with the OCF I always found myself having to crank up the power more and would get very inconsistent decodes. I don’t want to jump the gun, but it also seems as if this antenna is much more quiet than the OCF! We’ll see how it performs in the next SSB contest as i’m interested to see if it makes a difference in being heard!

73

K5ACL

 

Operating QRP with the W4OP Loop Antenna (Video)

Happy belated Easter everyone! Yesterday was such a beautiful day! Took a short drive out to the family casa this weekend to spend some much needed time with everyone! Enjoyed some good ole’ Texas BBQ & was able to sneak in about 30 minutes of operating time with the loop without being too anti-social at a family gathering LOL.

I’m still amazed every time I use this thing… signals just sound so loud & clear for being an antenna that sits on a tripod! Have I mentioned that it’s a cinch to setup? If you’ve done portable any… you know that setup time is critical – i’ve spent upwards of an hour trying to get an antenna in the air before – so I think the loop is certainly spoiling me!

I’ve yet to practice using the directionality of the loop though. I always forget to try turning it to try & make the signal come up in strength a bit, so i’ll try demonstrating that on the next video.

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73

K5ACL

The El Dorado Space Cowboys need your vote!

Reposting from QRZ…

” At our small local high school with a total of 156 students in grades 9 – 12 – we have an Engineering Class with about 10 students that I help volunteer tutor.Ā 

You can read about their activities at the following web sites:Ā http://eldorado-space-cowboys.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Eldorado-S…-Extraordinary-Space-Cowboys-461267087313859/

They are in the running for a $5,000 grant for their work in the Space Program . . . but it is by popular vote.Ā 

Can you go to the link below and vote for them and then share the link with your Ham friends and business & family acquaintances to see if you can get them some more votes?Ā 

http://www.myfoxzone.com/formula4thefuture

Danny Ray Boyer W5AHN “

My vote is cast!

Will you take a moment to vote too? Thanks!

K5ACL

Using a small transmitting loop (W4OP Loop) with the SDRPlay (Video)

A few of my followers asked what it would be like to pairĀ an SDR up with a small transmitting loop (STL) like the W4OP, so figured it was time I do a video! Actually….I’ve been wanting to try this experiment for awhile now! Before I considered getting the W4OP loop, I considered purchasing an active loop for receive due to the difficulty in getting a dipoleĀ for 30 meters and lower at the proper height, but with this loop I still have the ability to transmit and have the advantages that a loop provides.

I have received so many questions on this antenna! Please keep them coming – I’m doing a complete write up on this antenna – but I need more time operating with it to really give it a fair review. I’m hoping I can find someone locally that might have another mag loop that I can compare it to side by side – would make for an interesting video. MyĀ three most asked questions are 1. How does it compare to the Chameleon that you used to own? & 2. Do I recommend this antenna for a first time ham on the HF bands? & 3. How does the loop compare to the end feds you’ve used? We’ll talk more about these points in an upcoming post, so please stay tuned!

73

K5ACL

Texas State Parks on the Air Activation (Video)

This was too much fun! Hope you enjoy the video!

Big thank you to K5JM & N5CFB for all their help & company on this trip!  It was one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a long time.

Another big thank you to everyone who worked us!

73

K5ACL

The BITX40 QRP 40m SSB/CW Transceiver has arrived!

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It has arrived! 36 days from order to doorstep all the way from India – thanks to HF Signals – by Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE. Yup, I’ve done it, hopped on the BITX40 bandwagon. If the circuit board wasn’t built on this thing, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it, lol. This makes it a bit easier of a kit to assemble!

“The BITX40 board is a two board, 40 meter SSB transceiver module kit with digital control!” -(hfsigs.com)

I must say the main board is quite beautiful & soldered very nicely! Now to find a case for it – I was originally considering Legos to give it a ‘fun & colorful’ factor, but I think Legos would be a bit too thick on the wallsĀ – maybe a die cast aluminum closure from Fry’s or Amazon – i’ll have to join in on the discussion over in the BitX40 Facebook group now to see what has worked well for other operators!

Really excited to get the transceiverĀ put together – but going to take my time to make sure its done right! If it’s a good performer – which I’ve heard it will be –Ā It’ll become a regular in my go-kit for QRP outings! It’s no Elecraft KX3 – but for $59? You can’t beat that…. Plus I need some major practice in assembling kits like this, so I can eventually tackle more complicated projects, The only way i’ll everĀ get betterĀ is to start soldering!

HFSigs currently has the uBITX in development – which covers all of the HF amateur bands! Really excited about that one… here’s an article over on Hackaday about the radio! Patiently waiting for the uBITX to go into production!

The BITX radios are about as hackable as your imagination allows! I’ve already seen them modified for other bands, tweaked for more power w/ 24volts, DSP added, etc.Ā – there’s certainly a dedicated & devoted crowd to this radio, which is what really steered me towards it, knowing that if I have any issues or problems assembling it, I know where to reach out to!

Happy soldering šŸ™‚

73

K5ACL

Breathing life into an HP Z1 Workstation

My weekend tinker project…

I felt brave enough to mess with a Windows machine that my mom handed to me weeks ago and said “here take this thing! – it keeps giving me the infamous Blue Screen of Death!” As soon as I saw what machine it was I jumped on it! I couldn’t believe she had such a machine – the MSRP on these things when they came out were outrageous! This machine as built probably retailed for around $5,000USD when it debuted in 2012 – I told her this was too much machine for someone who does ‘occasional internet’ searching šŸ˜›

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HP Z1 Workstation – Intel Xeon 3.3 GHz

Fired it up as soon as I brought it home & gave it a good cleaning. I love how easily accessible the innards are on this computer. HP could have went a bit further with the cooling though – this thing gets hot! I imagine she was experiencing the same issues I typically had with my older iMacs – they lack sufficient cooling when under heavy use – solution – put it in a cooler room or increase the airflow around the PC – not much internal cooling you can add on an all-in-one PC.

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The OS was completely corrupted too – typical Windows 7 registry issues which i’ve fought with before on many of my Windows machines – so I’m throwing Windows 10 on this one… I know.. holding my breath..! No.. i’ve honestly had pretty good luck with Windows 10 as of late – it’s come a long way & the security enhancements are so much better than Windows 7, I’m considering updating the one last machine I have.

So i’m throwing an SSD drive and some more RAM in the machine – and it’ll be like a car that just had a fresh tune up – ready to rock again for thousands of more miles! As much of a techie that I am – i’ll never bring myself to buy another brand new machine – by the time a processor is introduced, there’s already one in the works to replace it. Moore’s Law at it’s finest šŸ™‚

 

-Johnny