Amateur Radio

RS-44 portable test

The setup

In september 2022 I did a portable test via the RS-44 satellite during a high elevation pass. I was just outside my house.

I did actually managed to hear myself. But… lot of stuff to handle at the same time: Arrow pointing, VFO, MIC… My tripod was to unstable.

I have the highest respect for everyone working linear satellites portable!

I need a lot more practice before making any roving. Practice = lot of time, that I do not have.

Equipment used:

  • Icom IC-9700 (used 10 watts output)
  • Lipo battery (11.1 volt, a little low for the IC-9700)
  • Standard MIC
  • Audiotronica HIFI headphones
  • Arrow Yagi
  • Hyperflex 5 coax cables
  • I tripod that did not work so well…

Amateur Radio

Online elevation profile tool

With this online tool you can see elevation profile. It shows that it is impossible for me to work low elevation sat passes to my east: https://randymajors.org/elevation-on-google-maps

Let’s look at this SatNOGS observation of LUSAT that has a strong carrier downlink. It is not possible for me to receive to the East:

Compared to a West pass:

Amateur Radio

3.5MHz to 50MHz Skyloop Antenna

When my End Fed Half Wave antenna wire broke I decided to try a new type of HF antenna. I google and many seen happy with the Skyloop (or Deltaloop) antenna so I decided to try that type. I will not go into detail about this antenna, there are tons of articles on Internet – just google and read. My primary source of info for my constructions is from this page at HF-Kits.

Wire and support

I used this type of ”robot lawn mower perimeter wire” – it seems to be a good cable for use as antenna wire.

My garden can fit a 80 meter loop, so in the spring 2022 I started to get two wire support point as high up I could throw in two trees:

At the corner of the house I needed two more support points:

This is the actual shape of the loop:

First installation – with Choke balun

For RF choke at the loop feedpoint I made a Guanella Choke:

The antenna feedpoint is as below. You can also see the MFJ RT-100 remote antenna tuner I’m using. This is needed as the loop only has 50 ohm at 3.5 MHz and 7 MHz without use of 2:1 balun (see the SWR charts below). I’m not sure about the exact length of the wire for the loop, around 84 meter.

It was not possible to tune the WARC bands with this setup so in the next installation I used a 2:1 balun.

Second installation – with 2:1 balun and no Choke

In order to be able to work the WARC band (with my MFJ tuner) I decided to try a 2:1 balun. Balun design can be found at many sites but I used this one:

And in the box:

I skipped the Choke balun this time to see if it should work anyway as I’m only working max 10 watts. I can not see any RF problems without the RF Choke. Below in the SWR graphs you can see the result.

SWR measurements

At antenna feedpoint, without Choke balun. I didn’t need to cut the antenna wire much to get a good match. Strange to see the good SWR at 3.5 and 7 MHz, as the loop has 100 ohm impedance.

Without 2:1 balun, only Choke

Next, with first version of 2:1 balun, antenna has the same length. You can see the much better SWR but the antenna is tuned a little low in frequency. At 3.5 MHz the SWR is now higher but better at all other frequency.

First test with balun

Below is the result after the balun is mounted in enclosure and antenna wire is cut/tuned a little. It is very good for 40m, 20m, 15m band and OK for 10m low end of band. 80m and WARC bands can be tuned with the remote tuner, that was not possible before without balun.

With this setup, the loop antenna can be used without tuner on several bands if needed.

Final version with balun and trimmed wire

Results and performance

I’m very happy with the result of this antenna! I have not been able to compare with my End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) antenna, so I can not back up my ”feelings” of the antenna result with actual numbers and facts. What I see when running FT8 and looking at PskReporter is:

  • My signal is heard at the same distance as I can receive, that was not possible with the EFHW antenna.
  • Received and sent signal reports are more equal now compared to the EFHW antenna.

I you have space for this antenna I highly recommend it. A 7 MHz version is just half the size of the 3.5 MHz version. It can be a little tricky to set up as four (or three for Delta Loop) support points are needed. Also, I recommend to use a 2:1 balun. In my case, the Choke balun was not needed.

Some initial results from PskReporter FT8 and WSPR with the second version with balun:

First 5 minutes with the antenna, 2:1 balun – 10 MHz FT8 with 8 watts. I was heard in VK.

WSPR over 24h, aprox. 200 mW. 433 unique spotters heard my signal. No VK this time…
30 min FT8 40m to 10m at 16:00 UTC. Some TX on 30m (10 MHz), as you can see my signal heard in VK.
Same evening, 30 minutes CQ with FT8 on 20m (14 MHz).
Amateur Radio

12h of WSPR with Skyloop antenna

Results from a 12 hour WSPR night test with new 80 meter Skyloop antenna. Transmitter Zachtek Desktop 200 mWatt. 336 unique spotters on 80, 40, 20 and 15 meter band.

Test started 17.00 UTC and ended 05.00 UTC.

80 meter band (3.5 MHz)
40 meter band (7 MHz)
20 meter band (14 MHz)
15 meter band (21 MHz)
Amateur Radio

IC-705 IC-9700 scope setup

On YouTube there are several videos about setting up the spectrum scope of the Icom IC-705 and IC-9700. Last in this post I have linked one of these videos and I have actually done every step. It is now much better then the original settings.

I’m using colours like the one in SDR-Console software because that is how I’m used to have it.

The REF adjustment is very good to adjust when needed, to get the best contrast in the scope.

Also adjusting the SPAN to what you would like to see at the moment is a great function.

But, the best improvement for me was to change CENTER Type Display to Carrier Point Center (Abs. Freq.).

Here is the video from Ham Radio DX channel:

Amateur Radio

XT-60 DIY fused power distribution

Very simple home made (DIY) XT-60 power distribution with fuse, used to distribute low power 12V from the banana plugs of the power supply.

Idea from this video:

Amateur Radio

New UHF SatNOGS antenna direction

2021-12-14: Move direction to south