Note:

Should you wish to follow the G11 'do it yourself' project from the very beginning, then please start reading the oldest posts first. They are located in the Blog Archive.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3B8IK Ian worked with 5 Watts on 40m !

3B8IK from Mauritius was snatched on 40m  / JT65 running 5 Watts.. I am over the moon with this rare one! Thank you Ian, you've made my evening. (Freezing cold here, a true winter atmosphere !)



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Getting rid of plasma TV junk

I am constantly amazed with the 'power' of noise blanker built in GSDR: it is able to 'eradicate' plasma TV junk like no other radio I've operated. It really makes the difference between decoding weak signals (and not).
Here is just another example showing the waterfall 'background junk' with filter off, and then on.
Needless to say, KK4RDI was no decode at all until NB was turned on.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

KA0UNB and his stealth antenna [WAS #49, Nebraska]

The other day I proudly update you on 49th state worked QRP with my G40. This morning I got an email from Phil which I just have to share with you: there is NO excuse for not getting on air, even if you live in antenna-restricted environment.

Hello Nick!
 
Your card is on the way I stopped by my local post office and mailed it today.
I was using a little more transmit power about 25 watts but used my house downspout drain pipe as a stealth antenna.
A picture is worth a thousand words they say so attached is a photo of me standing next to the downspout with my hand on it.
 

 
Hope to work you again on other bands!
 
THANKS!
 
73,
 
Phil / KA0UNB

Monday, June 6, 2016

40m WAS QRP: state #49: Nebraska: Thank you KA0UNB . VP8ALJ. Broken antenna.

Last night KA0UNB answered my JT65 CQ call for state number 49. Now just one more to go to complete the QRP WAS: South Dakota. There are 3 stations which appear on 40m JT65 form time to time: K0ECN, KE0HQZ and KD0S. None of them heard or seen in past few weeks but I am keeping my eyes on them, ready to snatch 'em.

Unfortunately 40m vertical is out of action: this morning strong wind broke the fishing pole (once again!). The new pole is on it's way and hopefully I'll be back in business in day or two.

Could this be my all-time QRP DX on 40m? I can often see Japanese and South American working VP8ALJ but so far no luck seeing his signal on the screen. Until Saturday night, at his sunrise: Mario was an easy copy for about 20 minutes. I got my -24 from Falklands - and I am over the moon!


Monday, April 25, 2016

G11 DIY #7 assembled - congrats to Mark, N5MF, UPDATE : G11 #8: VK2EZF G11#9 OK8EYJ

G11 DIY #7 assembled - congrats to Mark Flavin, N5MF! Well done mate.
So here is the list of all G11 DIY radios assembled so far:
[Builder's callsign, date and first-QSO call]
-------------------------------
G11 #1 K9GQ 20 AUG 2015 KB0PPQ
G11 #2 VK2AMS 20 SEPT 2015 VK4WI
G11 #3 VK2DX 31 DEC 2015 CT1FBK
G11 #4 KF5KOG 5 JAN 2016 KD7H
G11 #5 AB4GS 24 JAN 2016 KB0PPQ
G11 #6 G8YOX 26 FEB 2016 IW3FRF
G11 #7 N5MF 25 APR 2016 KE7II

Update: Jun 6, 2016:

G11 DIY #8 and #9 assembled and on air - congrats to Andrew VK2EZF and Dragan, OK8EYJ.


---------------------------------------------------------
G11 #1 K9GQ 20 AUG 2015 KB0PPQ
G11 #2 VK2AMS 20 SEPT 2015 VK4WI
G11 #3 VK2DX 31 DEC 2015 CT1FBK
G11 #4 KF5KOG 5 JAN 2016 KD7H
G11 #5 AB4GS 24 JAN 2016 KB0PPQ
G11 #6 G8YOX 26 FEB 2016 IW3FRF
G11 #7 N5MF 25 APR 2016 KE7II
G11 #8 VK2EZF 3 JUNE 2016 K4DS
G11 #9 OK8EYJ 6 JUNE 2016 F6GSI

Friday, April 15, 2016

G40 QRP 5W: made it to Reunion Island FR4OO 40m band

I almost felt of the chair when FR4OO answered my CQ call on 40m last night. African contacts are always very special, and even more so with 5W QRP and my baby Genesis G40.

Another curiosity: despite the A index being 26 and K=7 (A and K indices show the fluctuations in the geo-magnetic field) the 40m band was in a fantastic shape.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

WAS with G40: chasing the last 6

A quick update on chasing all US states with baby G40 running 5 Watts:

down to last 6!

The last state from the east is RI. MI form central and WY, SD, NE and MT form the Wild West.

I've started the chase exactly a month ago and the total of US contacts is well over 400. Keep in mind that each contact is over the distance of 14,000-16,000 km. Unfortunately with days getting shorter and spring time in US, the activity on 40m is somehow on down side. Nevertheless, it is just a matter of time and patience before working them all.

My point is this: it does not take much power on JT65 / JT9 mode to work the world. If you only enjoy building your radios but don't really spend time playing with it then you are missing a great deal of action. Build it and then put it in a good use!

Of course some days are better than others, and timing is everything but persistence does pay off. Set your goal: to work all 50 states or to work 50 DXCC (why not 100?).

Knowing that you've achieved what you've planned with a piece of home-made equipment is priceless and you can proudly call yourself an amateur radio OPERATOR.

73 Nick VK2DX

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

JTAlertX : how can you live without it? WSPR-x voice alert.... and much more!

I can't believe it took me so long to discover one of the grates alerting tools for digi modes: the JT Alert ! I can now play with the radio, answer emails, blog- and not miss a thing: the friendly female voice tells me when someone is calling , when a wanted state appears on the band ("New state- Nebraska!") on the band and once the QSO is completed, she even quietly updates HRD log database (HRD does not need to be open!). Use it for just a day and you'll be hooked.

No matter what you chase - DXCC, WAS or WAZ - JT Alert is your best friend on JT65/JT9 mode.

Monday, April 4, 2016

QRP: VK0EK Heard Island DXpedition

...worked QRP!

It has been 20 years since Hear was son the air - and it won't be any time soon before someone mounts another DXpedition to this remote island.

Managed to squeeze in between many JA callers, 20m CW.

Thanks G11 :]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

First DX QRP two-way contact on 80m band with G11 DIY : NA6L Sydney to San Diego

Finally, the first QRP DX contact on 80m band has been completed: John, NA6L from San Diego was at the right place at the right time with a monster signal [-10] right on his sunrise. He got me -19 at the best which is just amazing considering my modest setup. We have exchanged emails after the QSO and I was surprised to learn that he is using just 30W into a low dipole. This just shows that timing is everything and persistence is worth many dBs.

I was also decoded by N6OIL, KF1Z [?] and N7JI. Actually, N6OIL decoded me 24 times.

Very happy :-)

I left the G11 on receive overnight for Europeans.

Number of Eu signals were decoded. The monster signal was IK3PQG who (right on my local sunrise) was hitting -3 and was loud in headphones.

I've called him number of times with no luck. Nwxt time for sure!

Monday, March 28, 2016

30 days on 80m with Genesis G11

Seventeen days ago I've decided to put my G40 on the test- the goal was to work all 50 US states on 40m with 5Watts output.

The current total is 38 states worked!

This is an amazing result but not really a total surprise. I always knew that 5 Watts on JT65 mode is plenty. In 17 days I've made over 400 contacts with all continents on 7MHz including number of Europeans and a few South American. Basically you can work DX on 40m with baby Genesis any time you want. While reports were sometimes just marginal, there were times when I had a steady steam of callers.

I have no doubt that it would be just a matter of weeks before all 50 states will be 'worked'.

In a way, almost, 40m was too easy.

So I am now ready for the next challenge: to move on 80m band and to see if I can make two way contact with US. I am an optimist : I would expect to work at least 10 states in a month and that would be quite an achievement.

Apart form average 16,000 km distance to US, the 80m band is much 'difficult' than 40m. QRN and static charges are present almost daily, and the activity level is only a fraction of 40m. My rig of choice is G11: but make no mistake: 5W or even 10W is not that much.

The window of opportunity for DX contacts is going to be very narrow. Probably just enough to complete a contact or two with a particular state or geographic area. The timing is going to be absolutely crucial.

Another hurdle is the mere antenna size. Of course, a low wire is out of question so today I've reconfigured my vertical antenna to L/4. The vertical section is 16m which is absolute maximum I could get away with on my small city block. The remaining 4m of wire simple slope down under a steep angle. I am yet to find out which neighbor is to complain first.

But even that is not a real obstacle: it is a fact that I have no ground system- apart of 5 short pieces of wire under the base. Barely enough to make antenna resonant on 3550KHz And as a final nail in my 80DX coffin: most of my vertical is surrounded by tall trees.

So this is it friends. If you are man of faith do pray for me :-). On 80m band am not looking for magic but for a miracle.

As I type this I've completed my first QSO with VK7RB. The distance is mere 960km. I've been also decoded in New Zealand which is encouraging.

If you happen to have a very decent antenna for 80m band then we should try for a qso. Or if you live in a very quiet rural area, then tune in- who knows, maybe you'll pick my tiny signal.

Once thing is certain: a DX quest like this one is what makes amateur radio the greatest hobby of all.

73 Nick VK2DX
=== 30 days 80m challenge: CU on the air! ===

UPDATE:

On the first night my low power 80m signal was detected in Canada by both VE9DX and VE3ODZ, then repeatedly by number of US stations. I almost had a QSO with N0JQ who answered my CQ call! Dennis has a short 8m vertical only. Unfortunately the opening was already on its way down to complete QSO. However I am now convinced that is is just a matter of time before I'll have my first two-way DX QRP 80m contact.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

HK5NLJ, Columbia @5W 40m band, GenesisRadio G40

Don't let anyone tell you that G40 is just a toy. The more you use it, the more you'll love it.

I have no idea where the magic comes from : from a bunch of old-fashioned through hole components, from a software which needs an update, from the sound card with flimsy windows driver or is it that piece of wire supported by the fishing rod in my backyard that counts the most? Whatever it is, I bet it has something to do with that magical Colombian sunrise...

73 Nick VK2DX

An hour later, as the greyline passed over the south tip of Chile, another amazing QRP DX contact: CA3SOC !

It really doesn't get much better than this....

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

5 Watts to Alaska: baby Genesis G40 has done it again! State #30

G40 has done it again !!!

State #30 WL7CG Alaska.

Just after local sunset, on a quiet band. I just *LOVE* this hobby.

Monday, March 14, 2016

WAS with 5 Watts on 40m band : 22 states worked !

Thanks to great propagation on 40m to US, 22 states already in the log.
Mssing Rhode Island and Connecticut from the 1st call area.

N5RLM from Louisiana answered my CQ for state #22. Fun!

Friday, March 11, 2016

50 US states with 5 Watts on 40m band : WAS with GenesisRadio G40

I have no idea how long it will take to work all 50 US states but I am ready for a challenge. Starting March 10 I've worked my first 11 states. 39 to go... Digi modes only, 5W output.

AJ6T [CA] WO9G [IL] K9LZJ [IN] W0HUR [IA] WB4SIA [MN] KC7MCQ [MO] W7FIX [NV] KM2S [NJ] KN7AW [NC] K8MCB [OH] K4RDU [VA].

And here is the photo of my G40 SDR transceiver. The otput FET is mighty IRF510 :-)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

QRP and SDR: the best of ham radio

This has been observed so many times over the years: there are three distinctive 'opening' to Europe on 40m band around equinox.

The first one is via the long path which happens late afternoon, around 1 hour before Sydney sunset. The path is unpredictable- some days are better than others - but on a good day my QRP signal can be heard via long path in France, Germany and especially in Spain. The reason is simple: this is the early morning time in Europe, when noise level is low and Central/East European stations are already in daylight so QRM level is not an issue. While the signal path is 20,000+ km, almost entire path is over salt water and loss is minimal. Two-way DX QRP contact are possible thank to two positive effects: lack of interference and low loss. The window of opportunity lasts for 30 minutes or so. Unfortunately I arrive home from work late at night so this opening is often sadly missed.

The second and third openings are via short path. First of two occurs around 1am in the morning Sydney time when grey line is just hitting Easter Europe. At that time, Western Eu stations are still in daylight so Russian, Ukrainian and other Easter Eu's have clear advantage. Their QRM level is rather high (evening time) but mine is low (no plasma TVs!). The beauty of this opening is for the fact that my QRP signal is much stronger at gray-line that at any other time. This opening can last for two hours as the 'sun travels to the west' but rarely produces contacts with stations beyond Central Eu. There is just one problem with this great opening: sitting in front the radio at 2am local time causes serious marital QRM.

After 2am the 40m band gets very noisy. This is combined with another negative factor: finding a clear frequency is almost impossible since EU stations are everywhere- causing each other interference. A problem which they believe can only be 'solved' by running even more power. Slim chances for a QRP DX from down-under to break through.

The final 40m opening to Europe occurs in the early morning and peaks approximately 45 minutes after my sunrise. This opening is daily event and 'happens' all year around, summer or winter, but with various 'intensity'. Some days are better than others, and then some days are just amazing. However most of the time, the opening can be described as spotlight: the band conditions often favor a certain area. You work truck load of Italians on Monday and then bunch of Scandinavians on Tuesday, and HA/YO/S5 are strongest on Friday. You never know your luck- so planning a sked is impossible. And then again, no matter what the conditions are, I can expect to work at least one German station. DL's are everywhere and somehow, DL operators are keen listeners willing to answer even the weakest QRP CQ call.

Due to the nature of openings the best strategy for a QRP VK station is to find a clear frequency and call CQ in hope that someone will answer the call, spot you, which often results in a steady stream of callers.

Today, once again, the magic happened: I started calling CQ on JT9 mode right on my sunrise. I can see the EU signals getting stronger and then once again, bang-smack on 20:00 UTC DJ1TU answered my call for a an easy two-way contact. Yes the signals were just marginal, but the timing was perfect.

And when it comes to QRP DXing, timing is everything. You can have the best QRP SDR radio in the world, but if you don't know when and where to look for DX, then you will be wasting your time. Patience and persistence pays off. Quite frankly, any fool can run a pileup with 5KW and stack of yagi antennas and ham bands are full of them. Such activity requires no skills or expertise. But squeezing out that last dB out of your minimalistic setup and doing more with less is an art form. Nothing beats that magical experience when you work a station located on the other side of the world, when signals are barely audible, running just a few watts of power. And all of that with a radio you've built yourself, from scratch, soldering each component by hand.

73 happy solder smoke, happy CQing and see you on the air,

Nick VK2DX

PS there is one more reason I love SDR: there is no better way to maximize your investment in PC hardware than to turn your already obsolete, written-off machine into a two-way radio station! Your PC is loaded with millions of semiconductors you've paid for, so you may as well put them into a good use. SDR breaks barriers: there are still countries with large population which restricts / or make it difficult / expensive to import amateur radio transceivers. So what a better way to 'crush the oppression' but to build your own SDR hardware. Revolutionary, indeed!

DJ1TU JT9 qso, 40m band. GenesisRadio G40 @4W

A nice run of USA/JA on JT9 mode, local evening time. Unlike with Europeans, American and Japanese stations are 'easy' to work with low power.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

With G40 on 40m to Europe: finally!

G40 on 40m to Europe: finally! Worked two DL yesterday morning and RN2A today, JT65, 4W. My window of opportunity to Europe is just 10-15 minutes around 20:00 UTC and finding a clear frequency is almost impossible. But Little G40 is surely capable of making two-way into EU :-)

The narrow-band JT9 presents even more opportunities for QRP DXing. I can easily decode signals at SNR of -26 which is as good as WSPR. No QRM either! I am missing on so much fun :-( The JT9 frequency is 7.078 MHz plus around 0.5-1K audio.

73 Nick VK2DX

Monday, March 7, 2016

VIDEO: download and installation of GSDR software

This short video is about downloading and installing GSDR software. It will also show how to do some very basic settings: hardware selection, skins, COM port etc.

If you are new to SDR and GSDR in particular and you are currently building G40 or G3020 then I strongly recommend to watch it.

Your GSDR will be set in less than 10 minutes!

What I've failed to say in the video: if you have more than one G** radio hardware then do setup multiple GSDR: one installation for G40, another for G11 etc.

GenesisRadio G40: 4 Watts to Alaska: QSO on 40m with KL2ZZ James from Juneau, AK

GenesisRadio G40: 4 Watts to Alaska: QSO on 40m with KL2ZZ James from Juneau, AK who answered my CQ call... Nice!

12,880 Km. QRP rulez!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How to setup your sound card, Genesis hardware and GSDR software under Win7

It doesn't take much to have fun on-air [40m] QRP with Genesis G40

My 40m antenna is a straight forward vertical with 4 radials, 5m elevated above the ground. It is actually a duoband 40/30m antenna with a home made coaxial trap so the total length is 9m only. Half of it is aluminum tubing, there rest is a fishing rod supporting a wire. The antenna is heavily surrounded by threes and shrubs in the back of suburban garden but works reasonably well to USA/JA (and not so well to Europe).

Here is the photo - to illustrate how simple it is. Despite the total structure being 14m tall, it is very lightweight and can be taken down by one man for repair and maintenance.

So this is my DX antenna -and with G40 @ 5W almost every second CQ on JT65 is answered. When the band is in good shape there are callers from East coast of US, mid and West and of course Japanese in truckloads. Keep in mind that Japan is 7,700 Km from Sydney so Japan is long way away. Yet 5W on JT65 is all it takes. QRP works!

Here is my last night's log (most QSOs were done while browsing internet and checking emails) and each station actually answered my CQ call.

So there you go- with bit of skills and patience you can have plenty of fun even on 40m. Of course, 30m and 20m are even easier. With the same antenna and 5W power I can easily work EUs on both short and long path.

And yes here is the little gem that made my night:
a cryptic message from JE2DLR :

"BLDNG G59 TU". Norio wanted to let me know that he is building Genesis G59 as we speak :-) How cool is that!

73 and have fun- soldersmoke and QRP goes hand in hand, and if I can do it from a small suburban backyard ridden with plasma junk and almost stealth $50 antenna then you can do it too.

Looking forward meeting you on the air.

73 Nick VK2DX

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

G40 to G11: another Genesis to Genesis QSO ! Thank you Peter W1UU

Wow - just got home, turned on the newly built G40, made a CQ on JT65 and second station to answer was Peter W1UU. I've looked him up to see if he is really located on the East Coast- just to find in his bio that he actually owns G11 !

16,000 km with G40 @5W

Small world!

Very noisy conditions on 40m but worked AK1P, W1UU, K5LAM, and two JAs.

Looking forward working YOU soon!

VB Cables with GSDR and WSJT-x

VBCable is a free Virtual Audio Cable software [VAC]. Download from: http://vincent.burel.free.fr/VirtualAudioApps/VBCABLEDriver_Pack42b.zip

1.unzip
2.install

3.Open VB Cable control panel and set sample rate for both cables to 48K max latency 2058 (not sure about this but works for me)

4. Control Panel - Hardware - Manage Audio Device - Sound: set VB Cable

CABLE Input for Playback

CABLE Output for Recording

Right click each Cable, advanced properties: set rate to 48K

GSDR side:

WSPR-x side:

You are ready to rock&roll!

73 Nick VK2DX

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Yet another G40 assembled: live and kicking!

This is my fifth (or maybe sixth?) G40 unit. It is pushing 5W out and my first QSO was tonight with JM1DVI, 7,700km.

There is plenty of action tonight on 40m JT65 mode with strong signals from Asia, North and South America and Pacific! And while typing this, I just made my second QSO with JA1VGV who answered my CQ call. Cool :-)

G40 closeup photo of the PCB with RX components installed. Click to enlarge.

G40 closeup photo of PCB with RX components installed.

Click HERE to enlarge.