Tuesday, 17 January 2017

WSPRlite Arrival!

Well, I guess most people who are into WSPR mode will now know of the fabulous little 'matchbox' WSPRlite transmitter by SOTABeams.  For £64 delievered, this is probably the cheapest start to the radio year one can hope for!

It's also a really useful way to start 2017, because WSPRlite, apart from an initial and simple set-up, is entirely free of both a need for a computer or mains power.

Power (red USB) and an SMA male to SO239 is all you need to connect and transmit!  Image: K5ACL.

Delivering up to 200mW output, WSPRlite can comfortably run for a day or more on the cheapest USB charging battery stick (in my case, a 2.1Ah unit).

The real beauty of this system, of course, is the ability to take any antenna you like out into the field, perhaps building large ones that you couldn't accommodate in your garden, and set it up for transmitting WSPR to the world.  You only have the antenna, a short piece of transmission line, and the WSPRlite box.

I had a great time down at a local beach yesterday, comparing a 1/4 wave vertical at the water's edge with one back home, on top of a hill. Because WSPRlite is so small, it was easily protected in a simple rucksack from the rather damp conditions.  I didn't have enough time to draw any real conclusions, but on the last transmission 100mW from the beach was heard in DM25, a distance of over 5000 miles.

No more big transceivers and heavy batteries.  Just a tiny power pack and my lovely WSPRlite unit, down the beach.

There are a few videos online about WSPRlite, none of which are particularly scintillating.  Rest assured that you only need to download the software, and also the drivers.  My ageing Win 7 machine found and installed the drivers without any problem.  Programming the unit is even simpler.  An update to the configuration file was released 17/1/2017 due to the author discovering the randomised frequency selection wasn't working as intended.

WSPR operating /P from Parys Mountain - in the fog!

Just press the WSPRlite's button at 2 seconds past an even minute, as indicated by a reliable time service (mobile phones are almost always off by a second or more, and most can't be corrected, so a radio-controlled watch or clock is better) and off you go!  It might be an idea in future for some kind of atomic time receiver to be integrated into the transmitter.  But, as it stands, pressing a button is just fine and probably a good solution, all things considered.

If you're wondering whether or not to get one, do!

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