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Sunday 26 February 2017

Magnetic loop antennas–a follow up

As I have mentioned previously I have a desire to build a magnetic loop antenna for HF use, primarily with my CRT SS9900 on 10 metres, though something that could cover 12 through to 10 metres meaning will work on CB as well as I still have a keen interest in that side of things despite holding an amateur radio foundation licence and hoping to go for my intermediate exam very soon, as alluded to in my last post.

My antenna situation as you know is very poor right now, made worse due to the fact I live in a first-floor flat, though I have a CB antenna in the attic it functions very poorly with high SWR readings and the need of a tuner to prevent damage to rigs connected to it, though this antenna works on 10-meters as well the tuner does not and to get the SWR to safe levels requires it be tuned with both sides turned all the way up to 10 (the unit is a Euro-CB EM-110 and is really suited to 11 metres rather than 10 metres), 2 metres is currently done with an antenna on a biscuit tin, also poor but it does work.

This is where the magnetic loop comes in, and I saw a YouTube video showing a design made out of copper tubing, with a power meter on the larger loop itself, a variant of this design was also on YouTube by an English member of Charlie Tango (of which I am a member with the callsign 26CT730) for CB use, with the right capacitor and correct dimensions I should be able to build a loop to this design (without a power meter fitted to the loop itself as I intend to fit the loop with a remote tuning system utilising a stepper motor and gearbox) and be able to start using 10 metres, despite the poor conditions at this time on that band I am eager to give it a go, also as I have not played with 11 meters since I scrapped my old car this would be a good opportunity as I understand CB is alive and well and there are regular nets held now, even on the midblock using AM and SSB since those modes became available to UK CB operators in 2014, but naturally I am keen to give 10 metres a go, whether I get a working magloop before or after I get my intermediate remains to be seen however I intend to make sure I get on 10 metres regardless, I have invested in equipment for that band I may as well use it.

I know I can get copper and plastic tube locally but for a suitable tuning capacitor I may have to look to rallies to do so, the requirements are that the tuning capacitor will work happily up to 4kV (though I suspect 50 watts is far below this but I like the idea of a safety margin).

The antenna will be connected with a suitable SWR meter in line almost permanently, my Zetagi Mod. 203W is perfect for this as it covers a frequency range of 26-30MHz for TX power measurement and 3-200MHz for SWR measurement.

I will post more on this subject as it progresses


73 de M6RSQ

Monday 20 February 2017

Upcoming rallies–planning

As you know since I was licenced in 2015 I have attended whatever rallies I could, notably these have been the Blackpool rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel and the National Hamfest, though in December I was also at the Bishop Auckland rally in Spennymoor, this year that is to be improved on and plans are already underway.

It comes as no surprise that the first rally I will be at this year is indeed Blackpool on the 9th April again at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, only a couple of weeks later I plan to be in attendance at the Ripon rally as I missed it the last two years, of course I will also be at the National Hamfest again this year, as well as the Bishop Auckland rally in December.

one of my main aims is to get hold of a suitable tuning capacitor for building a magnetic loop, for this I will take my multimeter with me as that can measure capacitance, if I can also find some other materials suited to building a magloop that will be even better as I am very keen to get on 10-meters (and HF in general) and if I can source the parts at rallies that will be excellent, of course I need to know how much power I can get away at putting through a tuning capacitor, so I shall ask of course.

Hopefully I can complete my aim at either Blackpool or Ripon.


I’ll post an update once I have attended the first rally, of course that is Blackpool.


On closing I hope to take my intermediate exam soon, wish me luck


73 de M6RSQ

Saturday 4 February 2017

APRS map display on tablet

I found that it is possible to connect a tablet to the Yaesu FTM-400 to display the data on a map (in a similar manner to, this only uses the data cable that the radio is supplied with and a USB-OTG adaptor.

APRSDroid isn't reported to work with this in this manner, so a different app and approach is needed, after a little bit of searching on Google (other search engines are available) I found a suitable app that reportedly works with the FTM-400, and needed only two setting changed, both in "DATA" in the main menu.

Before venturing down to the car to test this out I tested my tablet (a Huawei MediaPad T1, the 4G and WiFi model supplied by EE) with the USB-OTG adaptor I had spare and the data cable supplied with the FTM-400XDE, the tablet operated as it should have, I then went to the car to connect the radio and tablet together and it worked again as it should have, each station received by the radio was displayed on the tablet, and if it contained location data it would also appear on a map, exactly as intended.

Now I know this works I have to solve a second problem, running the tablet like this with the USB-OTG adaptor plugged in means it cannot be charged, I need to find a way to allow the tablet to charge and at the same time run the interface between radio and tablet to display the APRS data on a map, at the moment my efforts to figure this out have come to nothing, replacing my car's stock head unit with one that runs Android is a possibility but these are usually double-din and are expensive so I have ruled this out, modifying an OTG cable may also be possible but I have not found any schematics that do this, safely or otherwise, of course I shall investigate this

My third problem is a mount for the tablet so it won't get in the way of anything while the car is under normal operating conditions, though for obvious reasons I'd not look at this while driving, of course I have to figure this out owing to the car's lack of useful space and where the data cable will need to run, this is now a work in progress,

Now I have it working I'll see how it pans out

73 de M6RSQ