Project 5 of 7 for October, 2020 – projects to keep sane during Covid-19 Lockdown
Status: Completed and on the air as of June, 2021
WSPR has been played with for so long it has gone through may iterations. As of May, 2022, the latest attempt is to use a TAPR WSPR board on a Raspberry Pi. This runs 200 mW on one designated band. In our case, 10 meters. Watch for progress. Continue reading below to learn about earlier attempts.
The object of building a WSPR station is to be able to see signals first hand real time that are coming into this qth. A band to operate on can be chosen more quickly and more efficiently. WSPR per se is explained here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSPR_(amateur_radio_software)
While it would be great to have a WSPR transmitter as well as receiver that is not feasible at the remote site or at home. The radiated signal from WSPR would cause interference to other services. A reasonable alternative exists and that is to receive only. Stations decoded will be posted to WSPRnet.org which shows a map of where those stations are located.
Hardware and software is about as simple as it can get. All parts are already in place and just need to be connected and configured. A computer that is already on site can run the WSJT-X software. An antenna that is already on site, the DXEngineering RF-PR-1B Active Magnetic Loop, can provide a signal on multiple bands. A receiver that will work well is the SDRPlay. The new model RSPdx is on site and is an excellent choice because of it’s additional bandpass filter on the low bands. It will enable monitoring of 630 meters all the way up to 10 meters. Virtual audio channel software will need to be installed to provide a software connection between the SDRPlay and the WSPR decoder. Virtual com port software will be needed for cat control to change frequencies. Power budget will be low because the pc and the receive loop already run 24 hours a day. The SDRPlay is the only additional power draw and it is insignificant. It plugs into a usb port on the pc and draws power from the pc.
Updates to follow as the project is implemented. Example display of WSPRnet.org is below.
It’s working! Check it out at wsprnet.org. Running on 30 meters alone provides this result.
All it needed was to reload SDRUno with the latest version, vspn port emulator software, and vb basic virtual audio cable software. A YouTube instruction video by the SDRPlay technical department helped a lot.
Final step will be to open up all bands, not just 30 meters. That works but the whole WSPR operation is not at all stable. This project is not done. It is stable so long as it is not disturbed but accessing the pc with remote desktop. That disturbance stops the WSPR operation.
It has been stable for more than a day by starting the applications on site and not using remote desktop. This is not a solution because we need remote desktop to reach other applications. Work in progress.
Currently working on an antenna on the house back in Denver to become the beacon antenna. How long before the HOA notices?
Update – June, 2021: Relocated to the site of the remote base, using Hustler 6BTV vertical antenna and Yaesu FT-817 transceiver. Running 1 watt on 80,40,30,20,15,10, and 6 meters. The computer is an Intel NUC i3 running Windows 10 and WSJT-X 2.4.1. Here is a typical example of performance. The best spot is Iceland hearing W0QL with it’s 1 watt and a vertical.
Above is an example of 30 meters early one evening. One watt and a vertical is amazing.