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Sunday 17 February 2019

ISS SSTV - 15th to 17th February 2019

Yesterday I stumbled, merely by chance, on what I thought might be a potential SSTV transmission from the International Space Station, which I did tweet about, confirmed by Trevor M5AKA, and I had a look on the Amsat UK website, my home shack radio for 2-meters is still the QYT KT-8900D and the antenna is currently just the 2/70 TX capable magnetic mount scanner antenna, with rubbish thin coax feeding it, on top of a radiator by the window and received the ISS no problem at all.

Today knowing about this, I was able to decode it, thanks to Carl 2E0EZT who mentioned the Robot36 SSTV app in one of his videos on YouTube (a channel I ended up finding out about thanks to Callum M0MCX of DX Commander fame so both are being credited for this), using nothing more than my phone's inbuilt microphone I was able to decode an image from the ISS when it passed over between 1350 and 1400UTC, my first successful attempt at SSTV rx from the ISS, and pleased is an understatement.

When I initially stumbled on the transmission yesterday purely by chance I had mounted the radio onto something to allow air to circulate around it, and also allow it to be raised a little higher, I have the ISS and a few local repeaters along with both 2-meters and 70cm simplex channels all programmed into the radio, and was turning the dial when I heard the transmission, bearing in mind I was unaware that the ISS was overhead at that time so it really was just luck, and on tweeting about it I got my confirmation.

Though I do plan to do some ATV (Fast Scan) I have for a while wanted to play with SSTV but lacked facilities, turns out to receive it all I need is a mobile phone, perhaps the same to TX it too? we'll see

And this is a screencap from Robot36 of what I received today
Not too bad for a first attempt and with equipment that is certainly not the best.

A good reason to get into the hobby, you aren't limited to receiving communications from stations here on good ol' planet Earth, the challenge with the ISS is, of course, knowing when the astronauts are on air and knowing when it will be passing over, and normally you only have a window of a few minutes. in my case it was 10 minutes and I made that count to receive the SSTV image here.

In some cases it is possible to talk to the astronauts but during this weekend the ISS 2-meter station was being used for SSTV so that would not have been possible.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 11 February 2019

Progress with the shack workbench

My old shack desk was repurposed into a dedicated workbench for construction, repair and disassembly of circuits when I began work on building my current desk, which has not progressed for a while due to financial constraints, however the workbench has had some things done to it though not too much.

Firstly I decided I really needed ESD protection there and have since laid out my ESD mat and connected it to ground, an ESD wrist band is also provided to make sure that I too am discharged before handling delicate components, it turns out the mat is almost the size of the desk, thus pushing my soldering iron close to the edge though not in a place where it will fall off.

Secondly I fitted a temporary lamp (which I will be replacing with a better one once I can get one), it is set up to illuminate the desk but how well it does this remains to be seen, it also may help when I record video for YouTube for my radio or electronics channel though the newer camcorder has a build-in light.

Thirdly my tools that I use are on what was supposed to be the keyboard tray, except the multimeter which is on the top of the desk on the mat so it's easily accessible, larger tools such as the drill and the heat gun are kept under the workbench, and the clamps I have are essentially clamped to the side of the work bench.

Additions I'd like are a "helping hands" PCB and component holder as it proves a bit hard to work on PCBs and some components without such a thing, a rework station (my heat gun would not prove suitable), and perhaps something to magnify small SMD type components as these can be very difficult to see and check for damage.

Given that I have a few projects planned for the coming months I wanted to get things sorted out ready for these, these projects being (hopefully) an igate when I am duly licenced and can apply for the NoV, a video on the 40m Pixie CW transceiver kit, videos for my electronics channel on YouTube that are not radio related of course, my PMCoffee project (which is homage to the Trojan Room Coffee Pot) that will use RF for remote switching by me (in the LPD433 band on 433.92MHz), and a few other things as well.

I will probably also be doing a video on the importance of ESD protection which will go on my electronics channel and website, as it does apply to Amateur radio as well these days as modern rigs come with more and more sensitive parts crammed inside them so when I do it I'll cross post a link over here too.

I have work in about 40ish minutes so will have end here for now.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Uncovering the "secrets" of the Team RoadCom-FS

I have removed the Team RoadCom-FS from the car to redo the power wiring for it before it goes back on the antenna for another test, and while I had it in the house I remembered that it had some jumpers inside, so I had a look to see what these would do.

The jumpers of interest were a set of 4, specifying where the radio would be used, in two settings it appeared the radio only did the 80 German channels (of which 40 match the EU channels), another setting put it into a mode with a few channels with frequencies ending in 0, which I could not figure out where they would be legal, another setting did a block of 40 that were again frequencies ending in 0 (perhaps the Polish market version), another setting that basically rendered the radio locked to the UK 40 and the EU40, and perhaps one or two others, no export mode that I could see and no wideband so not possible to convert to 10-meters as far as I can tell though without SSB, CW and repeater shift it isn't a lot of use on 10-meters anyway, I have since set it back to the configuration it was set in.

There are other jumpers within the unit, one of which is glued though that's not going to stop me switching it to the other position, there could be other secrets this radio holds, I've not seen any documentation suggesting what all the jumpers do however I have noted their factory settings.

All other adjustments within the radio remain untouched by me and therefore it remains within legal specification, at the moment due to feeling a little under the weather due to things beyond my control I will follow this up at a later date.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 1 February 2019

Rallies this year

I have plans to attend all the rallies I make attempts to regularly attend, and I now have some dates on which rallies I can most likely attend this year.

These are:

  • Ripon: 14th April
  • Blackpool: 28th April (though I may go over on the 27th or 26th) and make a weekend of it
  • Bowburn: 26th May (It is taking place this year and it was a good day out last year)
  • National Hamfest 2019: 27-28th September (I regularly attend and will be again camping this year)
  • BARAC rally 2019 at Spennymoor: 24th November
The last two years I've missed the rally at Spennymoor, and last year due to work I missed the Blackpool rally, and I hope to attend both this year, and planning is already underway for Hamfest 2019.

If you see me at any of these rallies, feel free to say hi.

73 de 2E0EIJ