Easily Heard Signals

QEX Update

QEX291QEX July/August 2015 just arrived in my ham shack. WOW! It sure has changed. A larger layout < 8 x 11 and only 45 pages. Very thin. The contents appear to be as good and technical as before but the advertising is rather light. Still looks like a good cutting edge technical journal. The first editorial on page 2 explains why the paper and even the cover of QEX has become so thin. It's all about economics. QEX is struggling to stay in print. The previous issue explained the financial reasons, but I haven’t read that issue.

Right on the cover is a subject of interest to me. A stable VFO which at first inspection looks like it can be a good basis for building a 10 MHz frequency standard for my microwave system. If stabilized with GPS it will indicate its location with a GPS information and accurate time in UTC.

I am glad I came back to QEX before it gets lost. Hopefully it will continue to exist as a digital publication and not just go away. I prefer reading the hard copy but I have adjusted to other low volume publications that were forced to go digital or die. The nice thing about digital is it can be searched and hyper-linked and parts of it like schematics can be printed out for actual shop use.

Netbook Improvements

DSC05869In the SDR tab you will read that I have upgraded my ASUS Eee PC1005HAB “Netbook” computer from WIN 7 Starter to Windows 10. I posted an article in Ramblin' Dan on the change. No need to repeat it here. Follow the link.

I also found a small registry change that allows my little netbook to have a much higher screen resolution from the original and mostly inadequate 1024 x 600. The new 1024 x 768 actually looks good on the screen but is slightly "squished". I assume the physical screen matrix actually is 1024 x 600 so that was set as the limit in design. Perhaps 600 vertical is a spec to qualify (?) as a netbook.

There is also now 1152 x 864 available but the screen display is even more “squished”. I'll probably never use it.

My plan is to stay at the original 1024 x 600 and jump to the 768 when I need to read something long on the screen. The FLEX-1500 display is what drove me to make the change. Here is a link to the FlexRadio suggested modification. Only the registry edit would work on my netbook. (second option). Use at your own risk (minimal) as you are meddling with the registry. Not a problem for a true hacker…

There are several other hacks for optimizing a windows PC for use with FlexRadio Systems from the link provided above. Look around while you are there and you may find other computer tweaks that may interest you. All at your own risk of course...

Just Thinking

thinkingMy mind has been busy with no NEW radio hardware with which to play. That should change soon enough.

I have both the flex-1500 as well as the the first up converter kit on order that will get me into a 2 meter (144 MHz) second IF range. That 2 meter conversion, a DEMI L144-28IAC, will NOT make a good stand alone 2 meter rig as the receiver section does not include a low noise pre-amplifier. The receive amplifier stage is not needed when converter is intended to be fed with the output from the microwave converter.

10 GHz is my target microwave band for my first rig. There is a lot of activity in North Texas and the antennas are small for portability. I figure there will not be much operation from home except for testing.

I am thinking I will be ordering another DEMI (Down East Microwave, Inc.) kit for the 10 GHz module. I'll be saying more about that when I make that move. Then the next important item needed is some sort of antenna.

Here is where I think I will be able to make use of my machining skills. I can make just about anything from suitable chunks of metal. I think even waveguides if I put my mind and skills to the task. My current thought is I will be making a horn antenna for starters. Then will come some sort of dish design. There are many variations in dish and feed design. Antennas are a whole area of microwave experimentation unto itself. The initial hurdle to overcome is getting some usable RF energy at 10 GHz with which to experiment.

So I am going with proven kit modules so I can get on the air with a suitable signal. Future experimentation will be toward refining my initial equipment toward whatever my operational goals will be. I am wide open to everything at the moment.

The stable single point 10 MHz frequency standard is on my list of “things to have” but I have moved it from what I have mentioned was my first step priority so I could work harder and faster on getting a 10 GHz signal out.

I will now have two 28Mhz transceivers from which to choose for the front end. The superior flex-1500 which requires a computer to operate and a HTX-100 single band 10 meter rig, which will probably be just fine for portable rover use. I will certainly find out.