Thanks to Larry McFarland, KY5S, for setting up a website for me to post additional items related to radio in general and 630-meters in particular. It is a work in progress but may be accessed at http://njdtechnologies.net/
Read the ARRL's account of my recent TX --> VK Transpacific transmission on 630-meters: “US to VK Transpacific Reception Reported on 630-meters”
There is an upcoming special event on 630-meters from October 31 - November 2, 2014 commemorating the 106th anniversary of the signing of the Berlin Treaty. Details are still being finalized but the formal announcement may be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/special-event-planned-this-fall-on-630-meters
Thanks to all the stations who submitted reception reports for the Field Day 2014 greetings sent in CW on the 630-meter band. Your reports are important and much appreciated.
Thanks to all who attended my presentations, "Using existing HF antennas on 630-meters" and "Practical considerations for implementing and operating a station on 630 meters" at Hamcom 2014 in Plano, Texas. The response has been overwhelming and its encouraging to see the level of interest for 630-meters as the responses seem to suggest. If I may be of service in helping you prepare a Part 5 application for 630-meters or assist in setting up a station, please don't hesitate to contact me.
I hold 9-Band DXCC, DXCC MIXED/PHONE/CW, 5-Band WAC with 160m and 30m endorsements, WAZ CW, and WAS CW. I have also completed 160 meter WAS and 160 meter DXCC on CW. I have also actively worked on 160m WAZ in the past and lack just a few zones. Also numerous awards for CW Sweepstakes, IARU HF World Championship, Low Band Monitor WAC, The Stew Perry Topband DX Challenge and Texas QSO Party.
My current passion is medium wave operation on 630 meters as a Part 5 experimental station with the callsign WG2XIQ. Station details below.
I was first licensed in 1989 and have held an Extra class license since 1990. I also hold General Radiotelephone and 2nd Class Radiotelegraph commercial operators licenses (with radar endorsements) and do some engineering consulting work as time allows. I'm currently working on a PhD in Physical Chemistry and have a fascination with heavy and super heavy elements and their synthesis.
Primary transmit antenna for 630-meters is an 80 foot tall vertical with 300 foot top loading wire over 130 - 100-ft radials. The vertical is resonated by a motorized variometer controlled from within the ham shack. A matching network is in place to allow the system to also be used on 160-meters. I use dipoles for 10m-80m. Antenna base current monitoring of the 630-meter vertical is done remotely from the hamshack. Short beverages in popular directions, K9AY Terminated loops, multiturn resonant loops and coaxial shielded loops are used as low band receive antennas.
I enjoy MF and LF propagation research and have spent a significant amount of time playing with WSPR, an automated beacon system on steroids. Learn more at http://wsprnet.org/drupal/
I recently went back to paper logs for everyday QSO's. Its just more enjoyable for me to be able to thumb through those logs and review contacts. I still use electronic logging for contests and even transcribe the paper log to electronic logs if I or someone else need an LoTW QSL. I still prefer getting snail mail QSL cards. Its an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you go to the mail box and that card is there from some far off place. Its also the final courtesy for any QSO.
Main HF station: Yaesu FT-1000 Mark V Field, Ameritron AL-811, various ICE bandpass filters and receive processing systems
Portable station: Elecraft KX3 with a variety of portable antennas including End Fed's and doublets for routine portable operations. I am also basing this setup around a portable 630-meter station for use in the field. More information about this will be forthcoming.
630m station: Receiver: Yaesu FT-920 and a HeathKit HD-1420 VLF upconverter with a homebrew bandpass preamp or a direct connection to the receiver (no external upconverstion). Transmitter PA: single IRF540 MOSFET running class-D, max output 125 watts. A zero degree hybrid combiner is also available to allow two separate, identical IRF540 amps to be combined for nearly 250 watts of power to the coax (approximately 10 watts max ERP possible on current antenna system). Output is actually controlled by separate variable, current-limited power supplies. One way of operating CW is via homebrew CMOS-based VFO with 3.6 MHz LC that is buffered and divided by 8 to give 12v P-P at 472kc-479kc to drive main PA. PA/VFO are GW3UEP's design http://www.gw3uep.ukfsn.org/index.htm. Transmit downconverter for CW and PC-based digital modes uses a 3.2 MHz LO and RF from the FT-920 between 3672kc and 3679kc to generated a difference frequency of 472kc-479kc utilizing a 2N3904 transistor as the mixer. This is a variation on the design of G3XBM http://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp/Home/472khz-transverter . Thanks to the ITU, the ARRL, and the 630-meter research group for their efforts to make this new band possible in the near future.
I have written many articles chronicalling the construction and operation of my 630m station and would be happy to make those available on request. I am also available to speak at your club meeting or convention. Just email me to discuss scheduling.
On May 1, 2013 I began using the MF Solutions 630 meter transmit downconverter as my primary signal source on 630-meters for CW and PC-based digital modes. Developed by John Molnar, WA3ETD/WG2XKA, this board has drastically improved spectral quality and can produce 20-22 watts with a 12v and 2 amp power supply. Additionally, the board's output easily interfaces with my larger PA. The kit utilizes few parts and has a number of very low cost add-on options, including a GPS-disciplined LO input port. I am a very happy end-user. Contact John Molnar directly for details at WA3ETD@gmail.com.
On February 25, 2014 my original MF Solutions transmit downconverter was retired to backup status and replaced with a new MF Solutions downconverter that has the 10 MHz external reference option installed (pictured above). The addition of a Trimble Thunderbolt GPS Disciplined Oscillator has stabilized my output frequency tremendously. Rather than chasing two moving targets (FT-920 oscillator freq + crystal LO freq on the original downconverter), I now only have to worry about the stability of the FT-920 oscillator. When warmed up, the FT-920 shows to be about 15-20 Hz high using the stock oscillator which is fine as long as it is predictable. Removing the instability of the crystal LO in the downconverter by adding the thunderbolt has been very nice when operating the low baud rate computer-based digital modes. This system is also used to generate CW signals.
For Christmas 2013 I received a Hans Summers "Ultimate 3" DDS/Arduino QRSS kit. This kit, including LPF for 630m and 2200m and GPS module, as well as the arduino, DDS board, and display were under $70 shipped. This is a neat little kit and gives me some opportunities to play with very low S/N modes that I don't otherwise have the stability to operate. While I still consider the MF Solutions converter and GW3UEP QTX based system the basis of my QSO operating, this neat little kit covers all bands from 0-40MHz and adds another option to my tool kit. Square wave outputs make driving an amp a breeze but the LPF allows you to put a virtually pure sine wave on the air from 300mW to 2.5 watts with the additional PA FETs and higher PA voltage. Details at http://www.hanssummers.com/
Effective 9/12/2012 Part 5 experimental license WG2XIQ is on the air between 465-478 kHz
WG2XIQ grant was renewed June 10, 2014. Modification was filed on July 7, 2014 to increase frequency range to 465-480 kHz, allow 10 watts ERP on all modes, and add 62HJ2B as an operating mode (PSK-31). Modification granted on August 12, 2014.
Typical 630m frequencies include:
CW calling / CQ frequency: 474.0 KHz or 474.5 KHz are common here stateside. Many stations in EU operate near 472.5 KHz.
WSPR: 474.2 KHz USB Dial Frequency + 1400 - 1600 Hz
JT9: 474.2 KHz USB Dial Frequency + 1000 - 1200 Hz
Note regarding WSPR: It is not enough to simply set the radio on 474.2 kHz and open the WSPR 2.11 program. The proper band must be selected AND the text boxes marked TX and Dial on the left hand side of the window must be accurately populated in order to allow the decoder to listen in the correct portion of the passband. Set "Dial" to ".474200" and "TX" to ".475700". Even if the band is very noise, resist the temptation to use filters and noise blanker. The program has algorythms in place to deal with noise. Using these can inject artifacts into the signal which can prevent decodes. The system really can hear signals weaker than you can hear. ALSO, 99% of the problems that people have with WSPR is that their clocks are not properly synchronized. WSPR needs a very accurate PC time. Windows Internet Time update, even with the registry hack implemented to update hourly, is not very accurate because of the high degree of failed updates that occur and there is no process for retrying another time server address automatically. Consider using a program like Dimension4(http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/features.htm) or Meinberg NTP (http://www.meinberg.de/german/sw/ntp.htm), both available free online.
Check out the ARRL's 600m research group at http://500kc.com/ .
600 meter research group mailing list: http://w7ekb.com/mailman/listinfo/600mrg_w7ekb.com
File a 630m reception report: http://w5jgv.com/enterlogs.htm
Check out the ON4KST "2000-630meter kHz chat" where many of us arrange skeds: http://www.on4kst.org/chat/index.php
Why not see what your existing antennas can hear on MF? You would be surprised what works sometimes. Or have a look at these links with info on receive loops and preamps:
VE7SL's lowband notebook: http://members.shaw.ca/ve7sl/
G4FRE/WW2R's table top, multiturn RX loop: http://g4fre.blogspot.com/2013/10/building-477khz-loop.html
K9AY's Terminated loop page: http://www.hard-core-dx.com/nordicdx/antenna/loop/k9ay/k9ay_orig.pdf
Looking for some information on antenna calculations associated with 630m? Check out the website of Neil, W0YSE/WG2XSV: http://w0yse.webs.com/wg2xsvpage.htm
Check out the 630-meter BSEF 8-circle array constructed at the NO3M/WG2XJM contest station: http://no3m.net/index.php?page=600m-8-circle . This monster fills 30 acres!
Here is the most recent addition to the WG2XIQ receive arsenal - the VE7SL multiturn RX loop with single turn pickup (See VE7SL link in the above section to get to Steve's site for further details). This is nothing more than a parallel tuned circuit with an isolated pickup consisting of about 15 turns, each 19 feet long with 1 inch spacing. A parallel capacitor bank of around 250 pF resonates the system. I use a relay to short across the loop while transmitting to avoid the generation of high voltages in the vicinity of the transmit antenna. While this loop does exhibit a bidirectional pattern, it does not seem to couple to surrounding objects like the K9AY loops do, negatively impacting the pattern. In the shack, a W1VD MF optimized preamp based on the W7IUV design helps bring the receive level up above the internal noise of the receiver. This is a high performance preamp based on the 2N5109 and offers about 20 db of gain and a noise figure of around 2.5. So far I am very pleased.
Interested in getting on 630m now? Its only $60 for a 2 year renewable Part 5 experimental grant! Contact me for details on the very easy and quick online filing process! Most people don't realize just how easy it is!
Using scopematch, I can resonate (X=0 or close to it!) my 630 meter TX antenna by adjusting my remote control variometer so that voltage (top) and current(bottom) are equal phase on the scope (ELI the ICEman is applicable here!) Equal magnitude of the waveforms means that the real part of the impedance is 50 ohms. This concept is applicable for any RF spectrum. Its much better info than an SWR meter and more accurate than most consumer-grade antenna analyzers. Details at http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/wgtaylor/LFTA.pdf
Support the ARRL! They may use poor judgement and make bone-headed decisions sometimes, but they are the only representation we have. When they disappear, we likely won't be too far behind!
How I came to be a Ham
As I was first licensed while in high school in the late 80's, I am very fortunate to have learned directly from a large number of very experienced real radio men. I would not trade that experience for anything in the world and most of them are silent keys now and are truly missed. My primary elmer was Jimmy Miles, KA5V (he is still alive, living on the golf course in Gatesville, TX from what I understand). Jimmy was a top of the Honor Roll DXer, complete with well equipped station and tall tower at the highest point in north Texas. He was the perfect radio role model for me. His son was one of my close friends so one day while I was over at their house, I asked about ham radio - I had wanted to be a ham since elementary school when I saw a film strip (remember those?) at school about it. My uncle, an electronics man in the Navy and CBer, encouraged me to do it as well. Within a month I had learned the code at 5 wpm and the Novice test material. Jimmy had gotten another ham, Bill Smith, KO5Y (SK), and we sat at his kitchen table as I took a hand written novice exam. The test was literally written on a lined, "Big Chief" note pad. There were no multiple choice questions - this was all fill in the blank.. I was up to the challenge because I was passionate about what I was doing and being a kid, I knew everything HI! After acing the written test, Jimmy sat me down in front of his TS-840 for the code test. I had to copy the W1AW 5 wpm code practice. I was ready for the test, but I was nervous. Somehow I fought through the test and Jimmy and Bill were satisfied (a lot more to this story to be expanded upon later). I was going to be a ham! I remember the day my novice ticket showed up. I was working as a student intern at the Superconducting Supercollider's forward development complex in Desoto, TX that summer and rushed home daily to check the mail - it took about 6 weeks then! Remember the 1980's movie "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie is waiting on his "Little Orphan Annie" decoder pin to arrive in the mail? It was like that. I opened the envelope from the FCC and was in awe of the official FCC document, complete with smeared carbon imprint from the impact printer. These were not nice laser forms like we have today. These were only a step up from a mimeograph sheet! I actually had a hard time reading my call sign at first but a little effort revealed that I was KB5NJD and I knew I would be for the remainder of my life. I worked phone on 10m and remember my first QSO was KC4ASM in TN. He sent me a QSL card on a 3 X 5 note card as he did not have anything else at the time. I was very appreciative. I also operated 15, 40 and 80m CW because I was preparing for the general code test (13 wpm). I loved 80m Novice CW on a cold winter night using the Swan 500CX. I had been bitten by the DX bug and had also heard the DFW traffic net on the Dallas repeater while listening on my scanner. In fact, hearing that 2m net piqued my curiosity about traffic handling. This was something I wanted to do. After a few months I upgraded to Technician and could check into the traffic net. I learned a lot and it was not too long before I was a net control station. I wanted to be a net liaison for the HF nets but they operated outside of my operating privileges so I started working hard on the general upgrade. Like before, I had no problem passing the theory. And no, I did not memorize the material like so many do today. Those were different times and I was a homebrewer with a lot of positive technical influence surrounding me. I struggled getting over the 10 wpm hump, however, but finally passed the 13 wpm code at a test session at Hardin Electronics in Fort Worth one monday night. That was an interesting test session. There were several of us sitting in the back room waiting to take the code test. I was the youngest followed by 3 or 4 old men. The code test started and I felt like I had solid copy. Judging from what I wrote down, that was the case. I got the test and nothing looked right! I knew I had the right answers! I emphatically raised my hand and said, "uh, this is the wrong test!" The old men and testers kinda laughed and insured me that I was wrong. I emphatically stated again that it was the wrong test and they looked at what I had copied and agreed... The sad part is that one of the guys had already turned in his test. He had guessed on all of the answers and I don't recall if they gave him the chance to try again. I, however, aced the code test and had greatly expanded my privileges. I was very active chasing DX on phone and CW, acting as an NCS station in the local 2m NTS net and functioning as a liaison station on HF for the Texas CW Net and Texas Traffic Net. Being a high school student about the enter college, I have no idea how I had time for all of this! A few months later, I passed the Advanced exam, which I consider to be the hardest of all ham exams. As an avid CW operator and someone with technical experience, I was ready a month later for the Extra exam. The theory was no problem and neither was the code. I sat across from Jim Bellamy, WB5NOF, at the TU Electric building in Duncanville, TX and we copied the 20 wpm test with no problems and we both upgraded to Extra that night. It was the summer of 1990 and was the start of a lifelong adventure. I was an armchair traveler and I was ready to get out of town... There is a LOT more to this story and I hope to chronicle those experiences and adventures going forward. I have written volumes about my personal on-air experiences and hope to some day transcribe those stories for public consumption. Ham radio is more than a hobby. It is a way of life. If you don't understand that, you just have to look harder.
Below is the first tower that I had at my parents house while in high school from which all those great DX adventures occurred. My ham life read like Bob Locher's book, "The Complete DXer". Such great times...
My Opinions on Modern-Day Emergency Communications In Ham Radio
I consider myself an opponent of the current state of emergency communications in the ham radio community. When I started in this hobby in 1989, operators still built quality stations that they understood and could maintain and utilized those stations regularly to determine their real capabilities including their shortcomings. Operators learned to be operators by getting on the air and through the school of hard knocks. When an emergency came about, operators knew how to respond, they knew the in's and out's of their stations and if there was a problem, they understood how to fix those problems, or at least work around them. Unfortunately today I see a lot of operators that are project managers and supervisors who treat emcomm like a social event or evening down at the lodge with little or no interest in the technical aspects of the hobby that are key to ensuring in a time of need they can be available and on the air in the public interest (I reject the notion of team building as an excuse). Part of this phenomenon seems to stem from a lack of leisure time to spend operating and station building and also the prominence of the wireless devices, the Internet and social media. In short, people are busy today with other things and are not amazed by the idea of oscillating an electric field that then magically leaves a radiator and propagates to a far off location. That's unfortunate. After all this time I still get a chill when I think about what we are doing and what we have done in such a short time using minimal equipment.
In closing, I am NOT an emcomm operator. I am an amateur radio operator with a proven track record whose station is ready, willing and able to help out anytime a need arises. I am prepared to deal with the technical and on air challenges that might arise in the course of using my station. My hope is that the future brings more amateur radio operators of a like mind.
73 and see you in the pile up!!!
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