News items for tag pictures - Koos van den Hout

2016-09-09 First part of the lightweight outdoor radio antenna: the balun 4 years ago
Sotabeams balun After building and testing the Sotabeams dummy load I had time to work some more on the ordered parts. The main part of the order at Sotabeams was parts for outdoor antenna building: an antenna centre and 1:1 balun and linked dipole portable HF antenna kit.

The HF antenna kit does include parts for a simple centerpiece/balun but I decided to get a separate balun that should make these things easier and/or sturdier.

The balun build was doable, but soldering coax on the connectors gave a bit of a problem as the solder did not want to flow on those connectors very well. Maybe clean them next time or even sand them a little to make that easier.

Next part will be the rest of the HF antenna for which I will need an antenna analyzer and time outdoors in the daylight.
Read the rest of First part of the lightweight outdoor radio antenna: the balun

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2016-07-24 My own outgoing eQSL design 5 years ago
I decided the picture of the recent outdoor activation was nice for a personalized eQSL design. It took some serious work with Gimp to make it turn out like I want it, and that was just with one image to work with and I'm still not completely satisfied.

In the result will be an overlay at the bottom with the details of the contact.

I used the Kenteken generator by Remco van Zuijlen to generate the callsign image.

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2015-09-20 Better powersupply for the amateur radio setup 5 years ago
I got annoyed with the PC powersupply I used for the amateur radio setup, output power was dropping below reasonable values at any load. The PC power supply was supposed to be able to give me 40 Ampere at 12 Volts but I saw the 12 volts drop easily to below 10 Volts at a load of less than 10 Ampere. So, time for a better power supply. I kept an eye on any nice secondhand offers and found an Alan K205 powersupply for sale which would give me 13.8 Volts at a sustained maximum of 20 Ampere (22 Ampere peak). I made a reasonable offer which was accepted immediately and went to pick it up.

It's an old-fashioned transformer and regulator powersupply (not a switching mode powersupply), it's big and it weighs a lot. And it works like I want it, with voltage never dropping below 13 Volts even under heavy load.
Radio with new Alan K205 power supply - KvdHout on flickr
Radio with new Alan K205 power supply
This also makes the Yaesu FT-857 radio work better: under 12.5 volt it will lower the output power. I notice it now runs the output fan for longer periods after transmitting.

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2015-09-20 More QSL cards 5 years ago
Radio amateurs exchange QSL cards to confirm contacts. Recently I received a whole batch of new ones. I usually look at the 'backside' first since that has the details about the QSO, but some cards have really nice fronts too!
Incoming QSL cards - KvdHout on flickr
Incoming QSL cards
Incoming QSL card fronts - KvdHout on flickr
Incoming QSL card fronts

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2015-07-19 Received an image from ISS 6 years ago
ISS SSTV image received 2015-07-19 by PD4KH This weekend gave me another chance to receive slow-scan TV (SSTV) images from the International Space Station. These images were transmitted to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Mission.

The usable passes from my home location were at a bit early times: 05:30, 07:10 and 08:43. And I really like to sleep out on Sunday, especially since I'm currently quite tired. So I opted to only go for the 08:43 pass and see what I could get. Timing of images was also bad: when I started to hear the ISS I heard the tones of the end of an image. But later a new image started and I managed to receive the whole image although some noise in the middle (some building in the way probably) made qsstv break the image in two parts, which I fixed using the gimp.

Used equipment: laptop with gpredict for calculating azimuth/elevation and frequency correction, a tripod, the Arrow antenna, the FT-857 radio. I recorded the audio on the laptop with audacity and did the decoding with qsstv later, which gave me the opportunity to try it a few times to get the best decode.

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2015-05-30 Incoming QSL cards too 6 years ago
Sending outgoing QSL cards also results in incoming cards:
I also received nice QSL cards - KvdHout on flickr
I also received nice QSL cards

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2015-05-29 Outgoing QSL cards ready to send 6 years ago
Finally some time to write outgoing QSL cards. 32 of them. Maybe I need to start ordering them, this was after I printed and cut a 'large' batch. Already all filled in and ready to get to the QSL bureau.
Outgoing QSL cards - Kvdhout on flickr
Outgoing QSL cards
The downside of ordering printed QSL cards is that custom starts at 1000 cards. And I know I want to start working on getting my full license (which will change my callsign) later this year so I don't think I will have 1000 QSOs that will result in cards (most don't, it's when the person at the other side requests one or I would appreciate one in return).

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2014-08-16 (#) 6 years ago
Friday evening I had time to work on the 'digimode' interface for the FT-857 radio. I set up a breadboard with the audio transformers and started making cables from the transformers to the USB audio interface. Then I added the cable to the radio on the other side. All of the earlier mentioned interfaces had resistors to regulate the signal level so I started with 12K resistors between the radio and the transformer in the radio to computer audio path. This gave me a weak signal when recording the result with audacity on the computer so I switched to a 6k8 resistor which improved audio but it still wasn't great. So the resistor was replaced by a simple wire which gave me good audio when recording from the PA00NEWS transmission on the PI3UTR repeater. I did notice some low hum while recording, but I realized that was just the CTCSS tone on the repeater output. Normally this tone is filtered out when hearing the audio through the speaker of a radio.
Testing radio data interface, by Koos van den Hout on flickr
Testing radio data interface, The data interface for the new radio on breadboard for testing
Testing radio data interface with USB audio interface
Testing radio data interface with USB audio interface, The data interface for the new radio linked to the USB audio interface

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2014-07-25 I searched for and found a better radio transciever: the Yaesu FT-857 7 years ago
For a while I have been considering my wishes for a more elaborate amateur radio. What I want to do with it is continue and expand the use of amateur satellites, and try to get into PSK31 on HF, starting on the 20m band. So a list of must haves and should haves arose: all-mode, portable, computer assisted tuning, HF support, 2 meter and 70 centimeter and an increas of power from 5W.

Adding it all up and looking for a reasonable price I ended up considering the Yaesu FT-857(D). It's in the middle between the FT-817 (too low power, still 5 watts) and the FT-897 (too heavy: 3.9 kilograms). And a reasonable pricetag, were other amateur radio brands have nothing comparable or at a much higher pricetag. I went looking for a second-hand one and when we got back from holiday a nice one (FT-857 with DSP and installed filter, and a remote control+DTMF hand microphone) showed up from Communicatie Centrum Venhorst - Hilversum and I bought it. Picked it up this week, and I am learning using it. I listened to SO-50 this evening using this radio with a lot of wires on the table in the backyard.
Radio setup
Radio setup - FT-857, PC power supply for 12V, laptop, Arrow antenna: ready for amateur satellites
It was clear I also need headphones to listen to amateur satellites on this radio so I'll get the parts to connect a headphone soon. Cables for computer assisted tuning and interfacing to a computer sound card are already ordered.

This radio also allows me to access SSB satellites, so I'll have to learn how to do that.

The good news about the SO-50 pass: there were QSOs going on, the person just calling CQ and never listening to the answers was missing.

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2013-08-24 (#) 7 years ago
Some soldering work on the HF convertor kit for the rtl-sdr stick today. I noticed I haven't mentioned the progress of this electronics building work yet.
HF active antenna kit PCB printed side
HF active antenna kit PCB printed side.
HF active antenna kit PCB component side
HF active antenna kit PCB component side.

The main board of the HF active antenna kit (a mini-whip, based on the excellent work by Roelof PA0RDT has done) is finished. Soldering the antenna-plate to the amplifier has failed sofar: soldering two bigger areas of copper together with a soldering iron designed for electronics work fails. And a small inductor between antenna plate and amplifier might be a good idea too reading the design, it would improve reception above 20 MHz where I want to have a listen to the 10 meter amateur band too (28.000 MHz - 29.700 MHz). There is also an indicator led included which I will solder in place once the print is tested and ready to be mounted in a housing (PVC pipe seems to be quite popular for this). I plan to mount the led in such a way the housing doesn't have to be opened to check the status.

HF upconvertor kit PCB printed side
HF upconvertor kit PCB printed side.
HF upconvertor kit component side
HF upconvertor kit component side.
Next soldering project is the HF upconvertor kit. I'm working on it at the moment, finding time for soldering and working very carefully. Not careful enough: the kit contains one length of wire for winding 4 coils and I found out at the fourth coil that I took a bit too much wire for the first three ones. Time to visit the electronics shop again, to get wire for winding coils. I checked the collection of parts at the radio club but there was no winding coil wire of 0.8mm.

I ordered the kits from Van Dijken Electronica, a Dutch shop in electronics, quite popular with amateur radio hobbyists.

And yes, it's more difficult than first thought to take usable pictures of printed circuit boards.

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