Friday, March 11, 2011

When all else fails read the manual

My WSPR problem on 30 meters has been solved and as I am composing this blog I am giving 30m WSPR a go. At this point I am decoding signals which in the past just did not happen. Soon I will find out if anyone hears me out there. At this point I am not shooting for DX just local....even around the corner would be great. For some background just before I share the solution I purchased a used pair of 30 meter mobile whip antennas configured them into a dipole configuration. That part went very smooth once I tried to actually work some WSPR signals absolutely nothing was happening!!
Here were some of the troubles I was experiencing
  1. I was not able to decode any WSPR signals even when the band was full of activity. 
  2. When the K3 went into transmit mode there was very little output if any at all. 
  3. For some reason the SWR was all over the place.
  4. If I turned up the power to 5 watts (which is way more than plenty for WSPR) I produced  no spots. 
I went on a trouble shooting trail....a very long an winding trail might I add....
  1. I eliminated the coax feed line  from the K3 to the dipole by placing a 50 ohm dummy load at the antenna end and checked the SWR and I also transmitted some CW into it and all was great. 
  2. I then put the balun and the dummy load in series with the feed line and re-checked and all was ok. 
  3. I then added the jumper piece of coax that went from the balun to the antenna. It was placed in the dummy load/ balun mix and still all was well with SWR and transmitting CW. 
  4. It was now the antenna's turn I double checked the dipoles mounting plate and the ends where the antenna  screwed into the assembly and all seemed just fine. 
  5. I was not thinking maybe the LDG DTS-6 switch may be defective on the 5th position were the new dipole was going too. I put the 30 meter antenna to a known good position on the LDG switch and still WSPR troubles. 
I was getting frustrated and was stumped so it was time to blog and post my findings and frustrations. Also I posted on the  WSPR web page and the Elecraft reflector for some advice. I do want to thank all of you very very much for your advice that came in via my blog. (some almost as soon as the post went live) The above 5 steps had lots to do with the advice I received and the solution that solved the problem.
Time to celibate with nectar from the god's
So what was the was something I preach to my XYL, my son and my daughter...READ THE MANUAL!!!!! In one of the many helpful emails and posts that I received one suggestion seemed to stand out as not being done...."check out the Elecraft K3 radio" I had thought "it works just fine on 20 and 40 meters WSPR the rig is fine" WRONG!!! With the Elecraft K3 you have a mode called DATA and that is where I had things set (I double checked that about a thousand times) BUT!!!! Once you read the manual you find out that yes there is DATA  but it's PSK A, FSK A AFSK A and then the blessed mode for WSPR DATA A...and I emphasize the AAAAAAAAAA part after DATA A. It seems when I breezed through the setup I just saw DATA and that is what the K3's LCD said so I figured all was well. Turns out the K3 on 30 meters was in DATA AFSK A and not DATA A this was the root of all my troubles. Once that was fixed I was in business.
One unresolved issue is the SWR today does not seem to be fluctuating as it did before, it is now at 1.6 all the time but not sure why it was going up and down from 1.4 to 1.6. I'm not going to worry about that at this time.
VE3WDM on 30 meter WSPR Click on image to enlarge


    1. Hello Mike, I'm glad you solved the problem. Sometimes it can be simple. Not bad you're signal has been seen in HB. I should give it a try again to receive you. 73, Bas

    2. Good morning Bas, I was just very happy to see that WSPR now is up and running on all the bands that are available to me.