Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Halifax ARC meeting and no luck with USB-SDR

I have to admit to being rather tired today. Yesterday, after a busy day all over the place picking up mast kit and firefighting equipment, all with a 'slightly' poorly Tom in tow, I drove over to Halifax to meet with the committee of Halifax Amateur Radio Club, who as it happens are not in Halifax but Mytholmroyd, even further from Selby!

Arriving at the club, once I finally found my way in, I found them in the middle of a lecture. One of the committee however spotted me and realised who I was, and so we went off to another room to talk CHOTA. At 'half time', and with a nice cup of coffee, I met with the whole committee, and we proceeded to discuss what their club could do at All Souls church. The result of the discussion was that the first major hurdle was overcome - enthusiasm! They had plenty! So it looks like a CHOTA station from All Souls, Halifax, on behalf of the Churches Conservation Trust, will go ahead as a sister station to mine at St. Marys.

There are some great opposites between the two churches. St Marys is a tiny chapel with absolutely no facilities, All Souls is a huge church, built by a famous architect, and has power etc on site. But, It has very little physical grounds and might be a challenge for antennas, whereas St Marys, provided the farmer lets me, has acres of field space for antennas!

One aspect discussed, was the possibility, that the trust are keen on, of a direct link-up on air between the two trust churches. Now, the terrain between them makes this a daunting prospect. On HF, the hills prevent contact by groundwave, and its likely were within skip zone for skywave, so HF is unlikely to work. VHF again is blocked by the hills, and would require the use of a repeater, something we cant set up as a temporary system. So, it seems impossible without a relay on a hilltop.

So, rather than admit defeat regarding a link-up, the Halifax club members proposed a very audacious method! Go even higher in frequency! A relay will still be required, but up in microwaves is feasable, and it seems they have the kit to do it. An end to end microwave relay link. Daring, to say the least, but certainly possible. It will need testing before the day, to prove it works of course.

But thats not all, as the TV infomercials are fond of saying. As were wanting to demonstrate the hobby in ways that are immediately impressive, a suggestion was made regarding transmission mode for the link. As we will have ample bandwidth to play with up on microwaves, we can use more bandwidth hungry modes. I will say no more at present. Its possible this blog will be read by someone from the trust, and I dont want to reveal the idea until its been tested and proved workable! If it works, it WILL be impressive, so I dont wish to get anyones hopes up (including mine!) in case its found to not be doable.

Another thing ive had a play with is trying to make this DVB-T2 USB stick I have work as an SDR (Software Defined Radio). It seems not all chipsets can be made to work, and I dont know the chipset of this device (I have asked the manufacturer), but I have tried to make it work and so far had no luck. The driver changer program says it cant do it as it doesnt have the privilages (im logged in as admin so it should) and so the SDRsharp program im using cant see it either. Hayho, it was free! Maybe I will find a way of getting it to work, maybe not, who knows. I'll have another go once ive found a bit more out about the device.

No comments: