I just thought I'd provide an update on a number of things I've taken under my wing recently, so that all club members are kept informed.
Firstly, the big news is that the club has formally adopted the WebSDR project, and so it's no longer a 'trial'. Until it can be installed in the club shack, it will however continue to be supported out of my own QTH on a 'best-efforts' basis. It will be powered-on for as many hours of the day as possible, and I've made some changes to help facilitate that. It's now running from a permanent direct power supply for the antenna pre-amplifier, as opposed to a USB port on my computer, which means users will be able to receive signals properly 24/7 and not just the 23/7 when my PC is being used! The antenna will continue to be disconnected though, when I'm transmitting on the main antenna - for example during some lunchtime nets and evening FT8 sessions.
On the KiwiSDR, I've recently installed a cheap Chinese mag-loop which some of you may be familiar with and which is generally referred to as an MLA-30+. This is a 500kHz - 30MHz active receive loop, and is a great performer for the price tag of thirty-odd quid.
I've had this on test for a couple of weeks, and it's very good, but it's not in a favourable location right now. At the moment, it's easily outperformed by my 80/40/20/15/10m End Fed Half Wave, but that should be addressed when it goes up on a new 12m Spiderpole at the weekend. This recent German infrastructure upgrade has further destabilised my marriage, but life is all about antennas Ken tells me. I hope he's right, because the children will miss their mother.
The small MLA-30+ amplifier box is excellent, but the 70cm Ø wire loop is woefully flimsy, and will be replaced with a 1m Ø sturdy aluminium tube loop, courtesy of G4UDU before it gets lofted up out of its current location. It will be very interesting to see how it performs then, but I have high hopes.
Back at the shack, work is progressing with installing an Ethernet cable from the main router directly into the shack. This is required for both the WebSDR and any future remotely-accessible shack radio. More news on this shortly.
Beyond that, we clearly need to agree on and then progress the shack antenna situation. That's not something I'm going to directly involve myself with (you may be relieved to hear) because there are far better qualified members at the club, but I have made my personal recommendation which is a Wellbrook loop for the WebSDR and the installation of Phil's excellent EFHW in place of the broken G5RV. What we do need to do, is get a decision made on this, and get it done before the weather changes. Let's not get bogged-down in complexity here. A radio club with no HF antennas is simply not credible.
Fundraising activities are already underway, and I am progressing one or two applications which are time critical, and have therefore been prioritised. More on this when I have details that I can share with you, but you should know that this is definitely happening and being actively pursued. An application will be submitted before the end of the Month.
Meanwhile, on the Training Academy front, I've hit a problem with database backups on the current MSARS platform which I'm trying to resolve with our hosting provider. If this proves to be insurmountable, I'll rebuild the whole academy on a new hosting platform so that I can get the development back on track. I'm keen to have the first course ready for trialling with our beta-testers within a few weeks.
Finally, Stella tells me that a new handbook will soon be available for new members, and maybe there is something I can contribute to that to help get it finished and uploaded to the Website.
All these things are happening at the club right now. Your opinions, help and support will be requested and appreciated at various points, and I'm hoping we can celebrate a new outlook for the club before too long.
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