Sunday, 11 January 2015

A New 'VE' on 630m!

Interest in Canada's newest ham band, 630m, continues to slowly grow. Toby (VE7CNF) in Burnaby, BC, has made his first and second CW contacts on the new band!

Both myself and John (VE7BDQ) had the pleasure of working Toby on 473.000 CW on Thursday afternoon. Here is Toby's description of his station at present:

"I have put together a low-power 630m WSPR transmitter here. I have a USB-TG44A signal generator clocking a phasing-type SSB modulator with WSPR audio coming from a laptop. The modulator gives 45db suppression of the carrier and lower sideband. This drives a ZHL-32A 1-watt linear amplifier. I have a matching transformer and loading coil at the base of my 80-meter inverted-L antenna. Wire height is 10m.

John VE7BDQ has weakly received my WSPR signal. Are you able to receive WSPR?

The antenna series resistance is much higher than I expected, probably due to 10 year old antenna wire and only 4 ground radials. Right now the antenna match is poor and efficiency is very low. I may rewind the matching transformer tomorrow and gain a few dB. Maybe soon I’ll have enough signal to complete a 2-way CW QSO with you.

I have attached pictures of the hardware. After I determine the proper configuration I’ll make a more efficient loading coil."

Courtesy: VE7CNF

Courtesy: VE7CNF
Toby has indicated that he will soon start construction of a dedicated DDS-based transmitter, with more power to work with. Situated on a normal-sized suburban lot, and base-loading his 80m inverted-L, is proof once again that fancy antennas and a few acres are not needed to have fun on 630m. Toby's initial night WSPR tests were copied by WH2XGP (W7IUV), near Quincy, Washington, at a little over 200 miles (325km) and on the other side of the rugged Cascade Mountains!

Here is a short video of VE7CNF beaconing in QRSS mode before our QSO. The distance between us is approximately 53km (33 miles)...not bad for 1 watt!
It's great to see new activity. Both VE7PJR (Chuck, near Kamloops) and VE7CA (Markus in North Vancouver) are constructing rigs for the band at present. As well, VE6TA and VA5LF have expressed interest and both have completed crossband QSO's with me on 630m.

As I mentioned to Toby, I'm starting to believe that 630m is a very forgiving band when it comes to both skywave and groundwave as signals have always been much better than I had originally expected. Moving down from 2200m has been the difference between night and day as there is so much more potential for real-time communications on this band compared with 2200m.

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