Softrock Lite II arrive!

On Saturday, I sent a check off to Tony Parks, KB9YUG on Saturday along with my order for two Softrock Lite II receiver kits: one for 40m, and the other for 30m. I hope eventually to liberate my FT-817 from its current beacon duties on my grabber site and replace it with this simple little $12 receiver. Not sure I’ll get to it this weekend, I’m a little out of practice for my surface mount soldering technique, but I’m hoping to get to it soon.

In the mean time, here’s a link to WB5RVZ’s awesome builder’s website to show you what it all entails.

Softrock Softrock Lite II Builders’ Notes

Your Daily QRSS report

Well, overnight, I didn’t get a whole lots of activity. I saw a single brief opening arout 2:15AM local time (10:00 UTC) where I got some very marginal reception from VK2ZAY and VK6DI but that lasted only for about 8 or 10 minutes, then both faded into the background. It’s now around 15:30, and I’m getting pretty good signals from W8LIW and W1BW, with maybe a hint of VK6DI just below the flying W.


Overnight WSPR spots were really terrible, with very few spots, and no real dx until just a few minutes ago. At 15:28, I got another spot from WA2YUN on Wake Island.

Addendum: Hmmph. I’ve uncovered a problem with wordpress. The thumbnail image above doesn’t match what you get when you click on it. Apparently WordPress isn’t smart enough to notice that two images have the same name, and their thumbnail filenames can collide if they occur within the same month. Lame. Strange! It seems to have resolved itself. Perhaps a caching issue?

Visible this morning on W8LIW (dimly)

This morning, I saw this on the W8LIW grabber…


You can see the usual suspects toward the bottom: the flying W of W1BW, the FSK CW of WA5DJJ, and at the bottom, Vern’s (VE1)VDM. Above and to the right you can see my dim DFCW signal, and higher above the matching WSPR. W8LIW isn’t reporting any WSPR decodes, so apparently my signal levels are still quite weak.

Addendum: David, WA5DJJ had me probably about the clearest to date. He sent me this screendump.


New mode received by AA5CK

I had been experimenting with using S/MT Hellschreiber as a beacon format. It worked, and I got a few reception reports, but it’s copyability seemed pretty weak. I saw glimpses of it occasionally in the W8LIW and even VK6DI grabber, but it really wasn’t strong enough to call it decodeable. So last night, spurred on by a test that AA5CK had done, I decided to shift to DFCW.

DFCW is like FSK CW in that we send slightly different frequencies for dot and dash elements, but unlike FSK CW, DFCW uses the same timing for both dots and dashes. A small gap is inserted between elements (I used 1/3 of the dot time). Characters are separated by 1 dit time.

Because I simultaneously send a WSPR identifier, I wanted something that would fit in the 162 bit times that are specified by WSPR. If you write out K6HX and do some math, you will find out that you can use 8 WSPR bits per dit, and this comes out to dot timing of about 5.5 seconds, about 4.0 seconds of which are voiced.

Anyway, it turns out that if I just changed my S/MT table to a new table, I could do DFCW without change. This morning AA5CK sent me the following reception report from Oklahoma:


There I am, right above Larry’s Snake. The higher frequency should be read as dash; the lower, dots. Hence, you can read of “K6HX”. This should be much more copyable, and yet still fits in my 110 second WSPR message. I’ll leave this up for a few days, and we’ll see how it goes.

Addendum: I haven’t seen my signal on any other grabbers, but I think I am going to double the frequency offset. I think you should be able to see it clearly in most cases, but as I have seen with my most dx contacts, you can get a little bit of frequency instability that might make it more difficult to read.

Addendum: Chris sent me this screenshot:


Addendum2: Alan, VA3STL sent this screenshot of my beacon from his QTH near Ottawa:


Testing New S/MT Hellschrieber Beacon ID…

I am currently running my 2w beacon with the following sequential multi-tone Hellschrieber ID on 30m:


As Colin, G6AVK pointed out, this is likely to be a lot less effective than my previous MV identifier, but if it does work, people might have a better chance of knowing who the beacon actually is. I’ll let it run for a while and see how it does. Propagation is falling off a bit for me now, but might get better later.

11 Hours of 30m Beacon Band…

Well, last night, I tweaked my recording program to produce recordings in 15 minute chunks and started it running. This morning, I had a bunch of recordings, a short run of which produced the following spectrograms (never tried this WordPress functionality before hope it works out!):

Addedum: Sigh. WordPress insisted on converting my nifty names (which told you what time they are recording) to shorter things, which didn’t preserve their relative ordering. Grump. Oh well. I think I got them sorted. By hand. How tedious.

Addendum2: Here’s W8LIW’s beacon, booming in quite strong.


VK6DI spots my MEPT beacon…

I just got mail from David, VK6DI. He’s reported spots of my WSPR beacon a few times in the last few days, and I’ve been trying to see if his grabber shows my MEPT beacon (the MV”). He sent me an email today, with the following screen grab:


Yep, that’s my beacon. Running an output power of about 2 watts into my low dipole (average height maybe an astounding 12 feet).


Yesterday, I recorded a couple of hours of signals off of 30m, and ran them through my homegrown spectrogram code for fun. I found the following FSK CW signal (click on it to get it larger):


(The blank regions are the two minute intervals where I am sending a WSPR beacon message.)

With a bit of work, I identified the call, and exchanged email with Ted, AA5CK, who verified that it was his signal. He was operating from grid EM05eh with a power of 50mw into a vertical antenna. From my QTH in CM87ux, that works out to about 1250 miles. Very nice!

Aircraft reflection? Or something else?

This duplicates a posting I made on the website.

Aircraft reflection? Or something else? | WSPRnet
On Saturday, Jan 10th, I had my transmit-only beacon that I wrote sending both a visual MEPT indicator (the MV that you can see in the attached image) and the WSPR beacon, and tried out a simple program that simultaneously records, and later makes an FFT display of that portion of the band.

It seems to work!

I’m curious though about the brighter of the wspr messages visible here, which seems to have a shadow which arcs down to meet it. Is this the result of an aircraft reflection? There are some fairly close stations here (such as NN6RF) which conceivably could be reflecting off aircraft landing at Oakland airport, but I’m surprised that the signal level could be so high on the 30m band. I believe that such reflections can only occur if the source is reasonably close to the aircraft, correct?


I see a couple of other, similar traces in the 2 hour recording I did, which you can peruse here.

K6HX beaconing on 30m with WSPR/MEPT

Okay, I hadn’t been doing any WSPR beacon operations since before Thanksgiving (which was also before my new callsign) and I was kind of bored today, so I dug out my power supply, tuner and interface and set my computer beaconing again on 30m. It’s a combination beacon: using WSPR above 10.140100, and a visual “MV” written as part of a sawtooth in the visual MEPT portion of the band (between 10.140000 and 10.140100 Mhz). Output power is about 4 watts, split between both signals.

I’d be interested in any reception reports.

Addendum: Click this link to examine the reception reports I’m getting via the automated WSPR logging.


Today, on Jan 2, I got a reception report from W1BW, and I could faintly see my “MV” appearing on his grabber:

MV on the W1BW grabber

You can see his “flying W” very strongly, and if you stare really close (click on the smaller image) you can see my MV which looks like part of a sawtooth around 23:22 (and other places).

Addendum2: Alan, VA3STL in Ontario also noticed my signal on the 2nd. Here is his screen grab, showing both my MV and my MEPT signal.