This setup worked fairly well, and I was able to receive position and heading information for several aircraft within a range of approximately 50 nautical miles, and sometimes a bit farther depending upon the altitude of the aircraft. An indoor antenna is a compromise solution and will generally limit the range from which ADS-B signals can be received.
This morning I replaced the indoor antenna with a FlightAware 1090 MHz ADS-B Antenna mounted outdoors on a 12-foot fiberglass push-up mast. I used 50 feet of LMR-400 coax cable terminated with N male connectors outside, and a short adapter cable with N male and SMA male for the connection to the FlightAware receiver. The antenna is compact and very light, so the installation was very easy.
After installing and attaching the outdoor antenna, there was a dramatic difference in the number of signals received, as well as the distance. The PiAware will now receive signals for almost every aircraft flying inside of 1oo nautical mile radius, and is receiving some as far away as 200 miles!
I haven’t been on the radio much over the past week, but this morning I had some time and found that 20 and 30 meters were open to the Far East. It took a bunch of tries, but I was able to complete a FT8 QSO on 20 meters with VR2XRW in Hong Kong. That’s a new DXCC entity for me, and he confirmed the QSO on Logbook of the World in just a few minutes! The new DXCC entities are becoming fewer and further between, and it’s always special to work a new one!
My certificate for participation in the 2020 13 Colonies Special Event arrived in the mail yesterday. As mentioned in my previous post about this event, I was able to work all of the special event stations for a “clean sweep”. I look forward to this event every year, and the organizers and station operators always do a great job. The certificate for this year is beautiful.
Accurate computer time is absolutely essential for successful QSOs using digital modes such as FT8, FT4 and JS8. While millisecond accuracy is not necessary, if the computer clock is off by more than a second, you are likely to experience problems. It is very easy to check the accuracy of your computer’s clock by using the website time.is.
Recent versions of Windows will frequently update the clock through time servers, but the updates are not usually as frequent or accurate as I would like. There are also several applications that will connect to Internet time servers to periodically update the computer clock. Some examples are Meinburg NTP, BktimeSynch, Dimension 4, and NetTime. I have Dimension 4 loaded on my shack computer.
But what if you don’t have Internet access, due to an outage or working in the field? Fortunately, there are computer applications that will synchronize your clock using GPS signals. To do this, you need the software and a GPS receiver for the computer.
The GPS receiver connects to a USB port on the computer as a serial device. I have the receiver in a windowsill near the computer.
After the GPS receiver, I installed the NMEATime2 software. It was very easy to set up the software to work with the GPS receiver. Once installed, the software runs in the background to keep the computer clock updated. There is an icon in the system tray that shows the current status.
A right click on the tray icon and selecting “Show Panel” will bring up the software control panel with menus for settings and four tabs: Status, GPS Status, Loop Status, and NMEA Output. For my purposes, the Status panel and GPS Status panel contain the most important information.