One of the good things about the amateur radio hobby is its diversity. If you begin to become bored with one particular activity there are always plenty of other things to try. And so I decided to try something completely new (for me anyway) – HF Slow Scan Television or SSTV for short.
I downloaded the mmsstv software from http://hamsoft.ca/ and read through the instructions on setting up. All very simple really, much like setting up JT65, RTTY or any other soundcard based system/software. It does come with a few standard templates so I used these for a while until I got my head round the file size and clipping tools to create my own.
fig 1. My transmitted SSTV CQ message and control panel.
I have now made several contacts around Europe and Russia and the variety of images received is quite amazing. Contrary to popular belief, they are not pictures of nakedness – they are images of nature, wildlife or screen grabs from cartoons.
fig2. Image received at M0CVO from SP5SMY.
It’s Sunday April 12th 2015 and I have now completed week 15 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?
06/04/15: IK1BES, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 953mi (1537km) / 190.6mi (307.4km) per Watt.
06/04/15: SG3TGQ, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 904mi (1458km) / 180.8mi (391.6km) per Watt.
06/04/15: UA3LHA, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 1851mi (2985km) / 370.2mi (597km) per Watt.
07/04/15: IZ0UIJ, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 957mi (1544km) / 191.4mi (308.8km) per Watt.
07/04/15: C35MF, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 717mi (1156km) / 143.4mi (231.2km) per Watt.
07/04/15: R120RX, 5W, PSK31 on 21.07015MHz, a distance of 1851mi (2985km) / 370.2 (597km) per Watt.
07/04/15: SP2CBS, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 797mi (1276km) / 159.4mi (255.2km) per Watt.
07/04/15: IW1APE, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 656mi (1051km) / 131.2mi (210.2km) per Watt.
07/04/15: UR7GO, 5W, JT65 on 21.076MHz, a distance of 1343mi (2150km) / 268.6mi (430km) per Watt.
07/04/15: UW1HM, 5W, JT65 on 21.076MHz, a distance of 1343mi (2150km) / 268.6mi) 430km) per Watt.
08/14/15: 9A4FS, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 896mi (1434km) / 179.2mi (286.8km) per Watt.
09/04/15: M0OBL, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 3mi (4.83km) / 0.6mi (0.97km) per Watt.
09/04/15: IZ2ODN, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 953mi (1537km) / 190.6mi (307.4km) per Watt.
10/04/15: UX0KR, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 1149mi (1854km) / 229.8mi (370.8km) per Watt.
11/04/15: SQ4OJL, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 843mi (1360km) / 168.6mi (272km) per Watt.
11/04/15: DC7TO/P, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 585mi (944km) / 117mi (188.8km) per Watt.
12/04/15: UA1CDI, 5W, PSK31 on 14.07015MHz, a distance of 1258mi (2029km) / 251.6mi (405.8km) per Watt.
12/04/15: OH6FSO, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 1069mi (1742km) / 213.8mi (348.4km) per Watt.
12/04/15: LY2BOS, 5W, JT65 on 14.076MHz, a distance of 1006mi (1622km) / 201.2mi (324.4km) per Watt.
As can be seen the best DX this week was shared between UA3LHA and R120RX both with a cracking 1851miles (2985km) worked. It was also interesting to work M0OBL again on a different band this time, just 3 miles down the road on 20m (probably on a ground wave) showing that local contacts are possible on the higher HF bands.
I am still continuing to call CQ using CW for the first 1/2 hour of my daily session and still not getting replies most of the time . If we do wish to keep this mode alive it really does need using. People may consider it difficult and out of date or unnecessary but it is all part of the history of what is a fascinating hobby and means of communication. It is also a much cleaner signal than many, taking up just a few hundred hertz as opposed to kilohertz and is much less likely to cause TVI or EMC. Give it a try, you may be surprised at just how easy it is. It is also much easier to build a CW transmitter and receiver than it is to build one for phone so if you fancy a go at homebrewing some kit, this is probably the first thing to look at – a crystal oscillator, a buffer, an amp and a key to turn it on or off (not forgetting harmonic filters after the final stage so as not to annoy other users).
Until next update..
Next update will be on Sunday 19th April 2015.
This year I have set myself a challenge. That is, every day I shall aim to make at least one HF QSO, on any band from 80m – 10m, and this shall be using very low power, or QRP. In fact, I shall use no more than 5W.
All this is fine but it does mean that I shall need to pick my mode of operation and times to suit best. Generally this means using a very narrow mode of operation such as CW or data.
CW is a mode that I have used little over the years since taking a 12wpm test in 2000 to get my HF licence, and even less since having a stroke in 2013. However, my dear wife kindly bought me a new iambic twin paddle for Christmas so I am determined to get back into using it properly again.
In fact I now have a line up of 2 iambic paddles – one from Kent and one from MFJ plus a straight key of unknown origins (I believe it was from France). These can be seen in the picture below:
Anyway, I made a start on the challenge on Thursday 1st January 2015 and worked S56IPS using PSK63 – a data mode – on 20m with 5W and 599 each way. On Friday 2nd January I worked G4AJA on 40m using CW, again with just 5W this time with a RST of 578 each way. Not bad considering how “rusty” my CW has become.