A couple of weeks ago I started to gather my first experiences with software defined radios (SDR) and active antennas. I started with low investment, using the RTL SDR dongle, but I quickly realized that using the direct sampling mode for HF is not an ideal solution and added the Spyverter HF up-converter.
For my first trials I used a Mini Whip from RA0SMS as antenna, but the results were quite disappointing.
Finally, I ended up with an active loop antenna (see featured image), using the Cross-country Wireless Loop antenna pre-amplifier (10 kHz to 30 MHz version). The pre-amplifier is powered with 13.8 V via a bias-tee. Common mode chokes on the antenna line and all power lines helped to reduce noise, especially on the low bands. This is final hardware setup setup:
The setup is now running 24/7 on a Raspberry Pi 3B+ using GQRX and WSJT-X. I was surprised, how many stations and countries can be decoded down to 80 and 160 m.
Last weekend I participated in the CQWW DX contest SSB part under the call sign 4E1A. Propagation was miserable on 40 m and 80 m; with my 100 W low power I was seldom heard by DX stations in EU or NA. On 20 m and 15 m propagation was acceptable, and I got even some openings on 10 m. Finally, I could exceed my points from 2018 and made 852 contacts with 62 DXCC entities and in 30 zones.
Raw score: 2287 QSOs x 191 multipliers = 436817 points.
The results for the CQWW WPX Contest 2018 are out for CW and SSB. I was able to achieve in both modes #1 in the Philippines for all bands, low power. In CW, first time ever, I became continental winner for Oceania.
Equipment: IC-718, 100W, Inv. Vee dipole for 40 and 80 and 3 el Spider beam for 15 m and 20 m. For 10 m I just matched the Spider beam with a matchbox.
Today I tested the first time my new solar power setup for portable operations. I am using a 60 W PowerFilm foldable solar panel and a 5 A MPPT charge controller for a LiFePo4 4S battery. The whole weight is 1600 g including the 5 m connection cable.
It was cloudy day and the sun was most often covered by clouds. The panel is only exposed to 1/3 up to max. 1/2 to the full sunlight, if it is there.
Using a power analyzer, the data show a 1.4 A peak current and 19 W peak power. I was able to charge 10 Wh in about 2 hours. Next time I will try to get the panel under full illumination in the sun and measure again.
The analyzer shows current, voltage and power and in addition peak values for current and power as well as total energy (power integrated over time) in Wh.