Friday 20 January 2017

Virtual Build-a-thon part 2

Fantastic second session had tonight, again everyone up and running at the end!

Friday 13 January 2017

Chertsey Radio Club Virtual Build-a-thon 2017 Part 1

Here is the first part of our Virtual Build-a-thon.
Building the Fox3 40 meter transceiver
With thanks to Bob M6FLT our master builder
Also thanks to Ian 2E0IPP for the video camera work 

Here you can see the WebEX working Bob presenting live
Four of our builders on camera

Here are a sample of the finished stage one boards.
We are happy to report Every one has a fully working part one, no issues at all!

Great effort and the soldering is very neat too!

Thursday 12 January 2017

Getting started with FM satellites "the easier ones!"

Christmas 2016 saw a lovely addition to our radio kit, a brand new Alaskan Arrow II dual band yagi style antenna. This can mean only one thing... James is off to try Satellites...

The arrow antenna using only 2 sections (yes it's cold outside today!)

Firstly, go grab your old Baofeng radio, blow off the dust and find that programming cable (Or borrow one) 
Next grab a copy of the programming software called CHIRP from this link  
Then grab a copy of our "code plug" from this link, should work on several radio's

Update your Baofeng in the usual way *search google / YouTube* or ask us if you need help!
We can write a separate blog post if needed, or we can program your radio for you (just cover postage)

Now you will need a decent satellite programme to know when a satellite is going to be passing your location. I use Go Sat Watch on my iPhone it’s about £8, however you can choose / test from the following list at the amsat website  for PC based software.

The most important piece of equipment is the aerial, you can spend a lot of money on the Arrow or Elk type antennas, however you can very easily build your own, I suspect our club will be running another build-a-thon to build a satellite antenna and frequency splitter in the next few months, take a look at this link which shows how to make a very cheap dual band antenna with enough gain to work into the FM satellites.

So now you are armed with your fully programmed radio, some software to predict a satellite pass and an antenna to proudly wave around and amuse the public.

Check the status of the Satellite here: 
Some satellites have 2 modes telemetry(data) and voice, please check to avoid disappointment!

The FM Satellites you will want to look out for are:

ISS (mainly to listen to school contacts / digipeater / SSTV when on)

Initially I would suggest the first several passes get used to tuning the radio and tracking the satellite (pointing the antenna)

from our "code plug" start at sat name in position 3, point the aerial in the general direction suggested by your software / app. Depending on your aerial configuration, if it is crossed you will need to twist side to side a little to get best reception. as you start to hear the satellite slowly track (move the antenna along the horizon) when the reception starts to break up move to the next channel (4) on the radio programme. keep moving the antenna, and tuning the radio for the duration of the pass.

Once you have listened to a few passes it’s time to try and make a short QSO, it’s all about timing and not having enough hands to talk, change frequency and point the antenna...Have your butler help you out.

My first attempt for a QSO on SO-50 satellite, I was heard in Guernsey
Have a listen to the recording here

My first full QSO between Peter 2E0SQL and myself M0JFP was via BY70-1
Have a listen to the recording here (note this satellite is no longer in service)

Here are a couple of recording where I worked several stations in a pass, and what you can look forward to on the FM satellites. I was operating GB1DD

AO91 worked the following:  Sv55mc g0iiq ii2vzme G1EC f8dzy s54l
AO92 worked the following: ea1ciu and f8dzy M/ON4AUC

I really encourage you to have a go and see what results you can get, please share with us either e-mail or via our Twitter feed @m0jfp

73 and good DX


Tuesday 3 January 2017

Gpredict running on Raspberry pi3 with LCD and Yaesu Ft-857

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

sudo apt-get install ham-lib
sudo apt-get install gpredict

Plug in the USB to cat control cable to radio / pi

On the Radio (857) set cat speed to 9600

Next set the radio into split VFO mode:

SPLIT FREQUENCY OPERATION This transceiver provides convenient split-frequency operation, using VFO-A and VFO-B, for DX working and other operating situations requiring unique split frequency pairs. The example below will describe a typical split-frequency DX situation on the 20-meter band, with a DX station transmitting on 14.025 MHz, listening 10 kHz higher in the band. 1. Set VFO-A to 14.035.00 MHz CW (DX station’s listening frequency). 2. Press the [FUNC] key momentarily, then rotate the SELECT knob, as needed, until Multi Function Row “a” [A/B, A=B, SPL] appears on the display. 3. Press the [B](A=B) key momentarily (to set VFOs A and B to 14.035.00 MHz). 4. Press the [A](A/B) key momentarily to select VFO-B, then tune the VFO-B frequency to 14.025.00 MHz (DX station’s transmitting frequency). 5. Press the [C](SPL) key momentarily. The transceiver will now transmit using the VFOA frequency, and will receive using the VFO-B frequency. The “” icon will appear at the left side of the “SPL” indication, and the “SPL” icon will appear at the upper left corner of the display. 6. To listen to the pile-up calling the DX station (so as to align your frequency more closely to that of the station being worked by the DX), press the [A](A/B) key to reverse the VFOs. You will now be tuning in the vicinity of 14.035 MHz, and you can zero in on the DX station’s listening frequency by tuning in on the station in QSO with the DX. Press the [A](A/B) key again to return to reception on the DX station’s frequency. 7. Press the [C](SPL) key once more to cancel split operation; the “” icon and “SPL” icon will disappear from the display.

From the command line check you can access the radio type:

rigctl -m 122 -r /dev/ttyUSB0 -s 9600
(if connects OK)

You can try setting the frequency by typing
F 145800
f (lower case) will read the frequency!
quit this application back to command line

To run the daemon on port 4532 (default for gpredict) type the following command and leave it running, you can use & if you want to ;-)

 rigctld -m 122 -r /dev/ttyUSB0 -s 9600 -t 4532

Next you will need to run gpredict, either click on the desktop icon or run gpredict from the command line.

Configure Gpredict interface as follows

Under the radio settings you can now automate the radio to track the satellite frequency. You should see the radio tracking. Click T, Click Track, Click Engage.

In the above video you can see as I key up (TX) the frequency changes, it on the left side as this is Duel VFO (duel simplex) and not 2 radios (left and right) side of screen.