The SG-Lab 23cm Transverter
So I finally bit the bullet and decided that it was time to extend my amateur radio boundaries beyond 433MHz. I read various reviews and product descriptions and decided on purchasing a SG Lab 1296MHz transverter. I sent an e-mail to Hristiyan, LZ5HP in Sofia Bulgaria who constructs these units enquiring about pricing. He promptly replied with a return e-mail and a PayPal invoice for 145€ (£132GBP). I paid up (cheaper than expected) and within two days had tracking details and confirmation that it was on its way. It actually arrived surprisingly quickly (about 1 week) using Bulgaria Post and then Royal Mail when it arrived on our shores.
The unit supplied is enclosed in a smart tin case and comes complete with an HB9CV “test” antenna printed on FR4 laminate. Both are shown in the picture above. There is also a DC plug (you need to supply the wire and solder this yourself) for the power. You will also need a BNC to SMA pigtail lead to connect to whatever you choose to use as an IF. I am making use of my mostly redundant FT-817 for this. The IF is from 144 -148MHz.
For a test antenna, the supplied HB9CV demonstrates a rather good match as can be seen from the above Smith Chart produced by my MiniVNA Tiny. With 3.2dBd gain it has quite promising performance as a suitable antenna for local ops too. The instructions are available online at http://sg-lab.com/amateur.html and these will be needed for setting up the unit. Nothing too complex though but you will need to remove the top cover and possibly use some long nose needle pliers. for setting jumpers.
The picture above shows the transverter with the top cover off for the purpose of setting up using the jumpers. Output power (up to 2W) can also be adjusted here using the trimmer visible on the left.
Most functions can be monitored using the LEDs at the side.
After purchasing this then discovered that the completed units are stocked in the UK by Kanga Products (www.kanga-products.co.uk) so I could have obtained it possibly faster and cheaper but we live and learn. I may look at the 13cm (2300MHz) transverter at a later date – also from SG Lab and I will look then to see if Kanga have it first.
Now I am going to build a DW6LP type Yagi Beam for 23cm so I can put the unit to full use.
It’s Sunday November 1st 2015 and I have now completed week 44 of my QRP 365 Challenge. For those who are new to this, this means that for the whole of the year, 2015, I shall use no more than 5W and just CW or Datamodes, no phone at all. At least one QSO a day – hence 365.
So how did I do this week?
Firstly I shall start with a couple of QSOs I had last Sunday after writing my blog update:
25/10/15: HA9RP, 5W, CW on 14.025MHz, a distance of 952mi (1535km) / 190.4mi (307km) per Watt.
25/10/15: M5ABN, 5W, CW on 7.029MHz, a distance of 211.1mi (339.7km) / 42.22mi (67.94km) per Watt.
26/10/15: IK1YHZ, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 953mi (1537km) / 190.6mi (307.4km) per Watt.
26/10/15: SP7SMF, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 843mi (1360km) 168.6mi (272km) per Watt.
27/10/15: E74X, 5W, CW on 14.024MHz, a distance of 1024mi (1652km) / 204.8mi (330.4km) per Watt.
28/10/15: DL0PCK, 5W, CW on 14.020MHz, a distance of 469mi (757km) / 93.8mi (151.4km) per Watt.
29/10/15: E74NT, 5W, CW on 14.016MHz, a distance of 1024mi (1652km) / 204.8mi (330.4km) per Watt.
30/10/15: HA3PT, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 962mi (1552km) / 192.4mi (310.4km) per Watt.
31/10/15: DL0PCK, 5W, CW on 14.022MHz, a distance of 469mi (757km) / 93.8mi (151.4km) per Watt.
31/10/15: OE5PGL, 5W, CW on 14.060MHz, a distance of 771mi (1244km) / 154.2mi (248.8km) per Watt.
01/11/15: IQ2CU, 5W, CW on 14.039MHz, a distance of 676mi (1090km) / 135.2mi (218km) per Watt.
01/11/15: HB9ERN, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 587mi (947km) / 117.4mi (189.4km) per Watt.
As can be seen the best DX this week was shared by E74X and E74NT with a cracking 1024mi (1652km) worked. The QSO with OE5PGL was an accomplishment as it was a 2 way QRP CW contact (both <= 5W) over a reasonable distance. Thank you to Peter for his patience here ;-).
An interesting and enjoyable week using different modes – CW, PSK and JT65 – to obtain several countries. I am getting more and more confident on the key (paddles) now. Practice certainly does make perfect (or at least better).
Until next update..
Next update will be on Sunday 8th November 2015.
Yesterday I ordered an OpenQRP transceiver kit from http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/. The full details of this kit can be found here: http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&Itemid=78. Basically it is a 40m QRP CW transceiver built around the Arduino microprocessor. The kit is supplied as a selection of components plus the case and controls. The full parts list is 6 A4 pages long so I shan’t go into details here.
As I progress through construction of the kit I shall keep a running blog of it and then describe the results as I use it. If completed correctly it will incorporate a CW decoder with a running message on the LCD screen for both RX and TX….