Sunday, October 18, 2015

SDRPlay receiver with SDR Console

Since eliminating the annoying interference I was suffering, I've returned to the pleasure of tuning around on HF. A while back I bought the US$150 SDRPlay receiver. Getting it going with some of the common software is a bit of a trial due to the proprietary driver that's needed.

SDR Console is a very nice SDR receiver program that works out of the box with SDR Play. (Be careful on their site, they accept ads that portray themselves as bogus "download" buttons).

SDRPlay is more expensive than the RTL-SDR TV dongles but it's really worth it. They have a 12 bit A/D and capture a much larger part of the spectrum so it's easier to see the whole band and find stations.

Here's what AM shortwave stations look like.

And here's 40m LSB on an active Saturday afternoon.

A tiny snippet of video shows how it looks when running.

I'm running this on a Lenovo ThinkPad X201 with Windows 10. It's a Core i5 processor at 2.4GHz with 4GB of RAM. The software reports only about 4% CPU so there's plenty of headroom. You would struggle to run this on a cheap netbook.

One tip - there are keyboard commands for moving the IF and tuning up and down but they're disabled by default. There's a setting and then you can use PageUp and PageDown to move IF and arrow up and down to tune. Fine tuning is by holding the Control key.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Locating the source of local HF interference

In recent weeks my reception of HF radio, particularly on 40m (7MHz band), has been marred by nasty broad band interference. I had thought it was from a neighbour's TV.

Using a portable shortwave radio with a strength meter, I walked around the house trying to find the cause but it just seemed to be strong everywhere that mains wiring went.

After shutting down all computers I turned off the house main switch and the interference was gone.

By plugging things back in, one by one, I found the culprit.

Many of us suffer HF interference and the more computers and appliances we have the more likely it is, but this experience shows that it can be located and removed.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Sydney meetup with Peter VK3YE and Stephen VK2BLQ

A rare pleasure today to meet up with home brew hero Peter, VK3YE, who was visiting Sydney.

Stephen, VK2BLQ and I caught up for a chat and Stephen brought along a phasing receiver for Peter to inspect.

We had an entertaining discussion on many topics and I hope one day to get Peter along to an ARNSW Home Brew Group meeting for some sort of chat.

Thanks Peter for all your great work to help ham radio and home brew on the web sitevideos and all the articles in various magazines - we really appreciate your efforts and encouragement.


Peter mentioned that he was close to publishing a book about QRP operation and that book is now available on Amazon. Minimum QRP is well worth a read.

Peter shares his considerable practical experience of ham radio in an easy to read and informative book. It covers equipment (including commercial and home brew), antennas, bands, propagation, modes and operating procedures that give the reader valuable tips on how to enjoy success in the challenging art of low power operation. The focus on QRP is, of course, valuable for operators working at all power levels.

Peter has always been generous with his contribution to the hobby of amateur radio and this book adds to the information available to newcomers. I look forward to more from VK3YE in the future.

Great cover by the way.