Have you ever wondered where the activity on the ham bands is NOW? I have made a
small Python program that receives the spots from RBN and puts the data in a table. Below you see the results for all continents.
If you only want to see your own continent, just click on, well, your continent 🙂 or go straight to the correct page in the menu above. The pages for the separate continents also give some more info on the way the calculations are done.
For now this all runs in beta so you can expect some bugs and some times where the system is not running. For the record, this is my very first Python program.
The calculations are done on a PC in my shack (running Windows 7 for now).
For any comments, bug reports or questions you know how to reach me!
In the last few weeks I have not done too much with the SunSDR except make a few hundred QSOs. This is fun!
The only real thing I changed was to print 2 brackets on the 3d printer to mount an 8 cm fan above the transceiver. For now I have this 12v fan running from the same 15v supply as the transceiver but I put 8 diodes in series to get the voltage for the fan down to about 6v. The fan runs very quiet and the max temp I have seen in ExpertSDR since I use the fan is 30°C while making QSOs in JT65.
If you want to print your own brackets, please let me know, I’ll send you the STL-file. Or for those living nearby I can print them for you.
Due to the lowering in price and the low GBP vs EUR exchange rate I finally decided to offer myself a SunSDR2pro. I know, the SunSDR are not produced in the UK but the price in the UK was about 15% lower than in the rest of the EU.
These are my findings trying to start the transceiver:
- 23+ years in ham radio for now and I feel a complete beginner! This is so completely different from the ‘knobbed’ transceivers I have used in all those years.
- Day 1:
- first things first, installing the software. I downloaded version 1.1.2 from the Expert Electronics site.
- Next came trying to connect the transceiver to the pc. It should be possible to run the transceiver over the LAN/WAN but for simplicity I chose to connect the network cable directly between the transceiver and the pc.
- the user manual says to configure the pc network card so it gets its IP number via DHCP. Well… this does NOT work for me. Of course Google is your best friend and I found this Youtube movie made by ML&S explaining how to set up the pc to the correct fixed IP-address.
After watching this movie I could let the software connect to the transceiver. Finally the spectrum and waterfall screens came to life.
TIP: set your PC to a fixed IP adress in the 192.168.50.*** range.
- after some fiddling and attaching a small test wire to the antenna connector I could listen to the different broadcast stations in WFM. You have to start somewhere 🙂
- Now was the time to connect a microphone to the rig… but alas, a complete flea market in the attick but no microphone that can be connected directly. It was getting pretty late at night so I gave up and went to bed.
- Day 2:
- still no microphone in stock so time to try something else: can I get the CAT interface to work with my DXlab logging software? No luck, DXlab’s commander gives ‘COM4 already in use’. So for some reason the SunSDR is blocking some of my COM ports. A quick search on Google and on the SunSDR forum does not yield a solution so I started a new thread on this forum.
I really need Commander to have my remote antenna switch choose the right antenna. Without Commander running all my coax cables are connected to ground.
- Day 3:
- Vassil RN6LHF the developer of the SunSDR has replied to my question. I should use the latest version of the software. And indeed v1.1.3 RC7 solves my COM-port problem.
TIP: always use the latest version of the software!
So time to connect a real antenna to the rig and listen around on HF.
- A quick trip to the shop today yielded me a computer headset I could connect to the MIC1 port of the SunSDR.
- New problem found: the jumper cable from mini UHF to PL259 works OK but the adapter plugs I purchased separately can not be tightened correctly on the transceivers connectors. I guess I’ll have to send them back to the supplier.
- After connecting my LDG AT-200ProII it’s time to try a qso and, eureka, I manage to work a belgian station on holiday in EA on 40m.
- To get some decent power out in SSB using the computer headset I had to set the mic gain to maximum and compression pretty high. But that should probably work better once I get the correct interface cable to connect my Heil Pro-Set 4 to the SunSDR.
- The transceiver gets pretty hot even in RX. The internal thermometer indicates 46°C at this moment. According to the user manual this should be ok. I prefer to have my electronics running cooler. So lets see if I can find a suitable ventilator in my junkbox.
What does a ham do when the weather is bad and there is nothing exciting going on on the bands?
For some tests I needed a coax switch and I found my old Daiwa CS-201 in my drawer. I vaguely remembered there was something wrong with it the last time that I used it.
As soon as I connected a coaxial cable I noticed one of the N-type connectors on the switch was loose. So it was time to get out the screwdriver.
This is what I noticed:
Look at the contact at the red arrow! Due to the top right coax connector rotating when connecting a cable the contact was barely touching the post it should touch. Not visible on the picture was that the bottom contact had the same problem but of course this was rotated in the other direction.
And, this is a switch rated for 1 kW!
I could pretty easily fix the problem by unscrewing the little black screws and rotating the coax connectors back to where they were supposed to be. But I guess this will only last until I have connected and disconnected the coaxial cables a few times again.