Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dismal conditions on 10m and their benefit to construction

I made about 30 hard-won contacts in the ARRL 10m Contest yesterday. No signals were strong and none were DX. Looking at the bandscope now at 1430Z Sunday shows a barren landscape, the RF equivalent of a lone tumbleweed blowing across an Old West ghost town. In grainy black & white. Can you picture it?

Here is what the activity looked like yesterday:

10m activity at its peak

The good part is that shack time yesterday consisted of cleaning and organizing the workbench in anticipation of my Hardrock 50's arrival.

The mailman brought a few items I'd ordered, one being a package of board-mount SMA connectors. This allowed me to finish construction of my QRPLabs GPS-sync'ed clock. The clock and the GPS receiver are separate circuit boards, allowing the receiver to be placed remotely if desired, for better reception.

My experience with the same GPS receiver/antenna being used in my Ultimate 3S is that remote mounting isn't necessary - the GPS receiver will provide a fix anywhere in my house, so with that in mind I decided to install everything into one case including the antenna (which will actually be mounted to the top of the metal case.

First power up was last night, on the workbench, with the antenna supported by the rigid coax connecting it to the board. A fix and the correct time were obtained in less than a minute.

First power-up

In the photo the black object in the back of the case is an inexpensive 12-5V converter (the same model I use in my U3S). The clock/GPS/converter draws 45mA.

Many configuration options are available for this clock. The display shown in the photo is the default, showing UTC time, a 3D fix, number of satellites being tracked and number of satellites used to obtain the fix. I will change that later to show local time on the top line and UTC on the bottom.


  1. Hi John
    I have a QLG1 waiting to finally get assembled. I have no real plans with it, but the more I read your posts, the more I wonder if I shouldn't try WSPR for a change? FT8 is a bridge too far (for now?) HI.

    I like that you mention that the GPS RX gets a fix even inside. That will make whatever I end up using it for, easy from inside. It'll probably be just another 'hey it works and I can retrieve data from it'-project.

    73 from a wet and windy Belgium
    Franki ON5ZO

    1. Good morning Franki (from a wet & windy Texas),

      For me, WSPR is a way to explore a band that I wouldn't normally operate. My receive capabilities on 160m are terrible but I just built G0UPL's low-pass filter for that band so I can see how my vertical is as a transmitting antenna on 160m. And one of "My Amazing Moments in Ham Radio" occurred thanks to WSPR - being received in New Zealand on 475 kHz with less than a watt ERP. I almost bragged about that to the young lady at the store where I was buying groceries, fantasizing that she would pretend to be suitably impressed.

      With you being primarily a contester, you have lots of potential WSPR time.

      73 - John