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Small Station Improvements on WSJT?

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  • Les Rayburn
    Now that I m officially hooked on the mode, I really wan to improve my station and optimize it for WSJ work. While I m excited about the possibility of working
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 1, 2008
      Now that I'm officially hooked on the mode, I really wan to improve my station and optimize it for WSJ work. While I'm excited about the possibility of working a lot of new grids on 6 meters after the Sporadic E season is over, my main focus will be 2 Meters, 222, and possibly 432.
       
      I'm in a unique situation, living in a deed restricted neighborhood with an aggressive (Nazi-Like) homeowners association. No outside antennas of any kind are permitted, including flagpoles, birdhouses, or stealth installations. However, I have a large, open attic and have put up quite an array in the attic. You can see pictures and read more about it at my blog which is called "Big Iron: Chasing VUCC on Indoor Antennas" at:
       
       
      Currently, I'm running the following:
       
      6 Meters: 100 watts into 3 element Yagi. 1/2" Andrews hardline. No pre-amp.
       
      2 Meters: 100 watts into a 6 element Yagi. Fed with 1/2" Andrews hardline. Mast mounted Icom pre-amp with about a 1db noise figure.
       
      222: 120 watts into a 7 element Yagi, 1/2" hardline, Mirage Mast Mounted Pre-amp. NF unknown, but likely close to 1db.
       
      432: 75 watts into 15 element Yagi. 1/2" hardline. Icom mast mount preamp NF about 1db.
       
      I have purchased but not installed three new mast mount pre-amps from Advanced Receiver Research. All are rated at less than .5db Noise figures.
       
      Transceivers are: Icom IC-910H for 2 Meters and 432.
       
      Icom 756 ProIII for Six Meters.
       
      Yaesu FT-736R for 222, though I have a DownEast Microwave transverter on order.
       
      So, how can I improve on this and/or optimize for WSJT?

      For example, I could use an Icom 746Pro for 2 meters. This gives me IF DSP, and much wider range of filters than on the IC-910H. Would this help? I could add amps for 2 meters, and 432 boosting power levels on TX. I could look at more advanced pre-amps, though on the horizon, I'm not sure they'll make a lot of difference. You usually see those used by EME types looking at "cold sky".
       
      What about elevating the antennas? Pointing them more towards the sky vice the horizon?
       
      I'm really excited and looking forward to working a lot of new folks on this mode. If you see me on PingJockey, please arrange for a QSO!
       
      73,
       
      Les Rayburn, N1LF
      EM63nf
       
       
       
       
      Les Rayburn, director
      High Noon Film
      100 Centerview Drive Suite 111
      Birmingham, AL 35216-3748
      205.824.8930
      205.824.8960 fax
      205.253.4867 cell
    • Matt Patterson
      Invest in a good amplifier? 73 Matt W5LL
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 1, 2008
        Invest in a good amplifier?


        73 Matt
        W5LL
        On Tue, 2008-07-01 at 13:01 -0500, Les Rayburn wrote:
        > Now that I'm officially hooked on the mode, I really wan to improve my
        > station and optimize it for WSJ work. While I'm excited about the
        > possibility of working a lot of new grids on 6 meters after the
        > Sporadic E season is over, my main focus will be 2 Meters, 222, and
        > possibly 432.
        >
        > I'm in a unique situation, living in a deed restricted neighborhood
        > with an aggressive (Nazi-Like) homeowners association. No outside
        > antennas of any kind are permitted, including flagpoles, birdhouses,
        > or stealth installations. However, I have a large, open attic and have
        > put up quite an array in the attic. You can see pictures and read more
        > about it at my blog which is called "Big Iron: Chasing VUCC on Indoor
        > Antennas" at:
        >
        > www.n1lf.blogspot.com
        >
        > Currently, I'm running the following:
        >
        > 6 Meters: 100 watts into 3 element Yagi. 1/2" Andrews hardline. No
        > pre-amp.
        >
        > 2 Meters: 100 watts into a 6 element Yagi. Fed with 1/2" Andrews
        > hardline. Mast mounted Icom pre-amp with about a 1db noise figure.
        >
        > 222: 120 watts into a 7 element Yagi, 1/2" hardline, Mirage Mast
        > Mounted Pre-amp. NF unknown, but likely close to 1db.
        >
        > 432: 75 watts into 15 element Yagi. 1/2" hardline. Icom mast mount
        > preamp NF about 1db.
        >
        > I have purchased but not installed three new mast mount pre-amps from
        > Advanced Receiver Research. All are rated at less than .5db Noise
        > figures.
        >
        > Transceivers are: Icom IC-910H for 2 Meters and 432.
        >
        > Icom 756 ProIII for Six Meters.
        >
        > Yaesu FT-736R for 222, though I have a DownEast Microwave transverter
        > on order.
        >
        > So, how can I improve on this and/or optimize for WSJT?
        >
        > For example, I could use an Icom 746Pro for 2 meters. This gives me IF
        > DSP, and much wider range of filters than on the IC-910H. Would this
        > help? I could add amps for 2 meters, and 432 boosting power levels on
        > TX. I could look at more advanced pre-amps, though on the horizon, I'm
        > not sure they'll make a lot of difference. You usually see those used
        > by EME types looking at "cold sky".
        >
        > What about elevating the antennas? Pointing them more towards the sky
        > vice the horizon?
        >
        > I'm really excited and looking forward to working a lot of new folks
        > on this mode. If you see me on PingJockey, please arrange for a QSO!
        >
        > 73,
        >
        > Les Rayburn, N1LF
        > EM63nf
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Les Rayburn, director
        > High Noon Film
        > 100 Centerview Drive Suite 111
        > Birmingham, AL 35216-3748
        > 205.824.8930
        > 205.824.8960 fax
        > 205.253.4867 cell
        >
      • Les Rayburn
        Russ, Thank you for your detailed advice. It s among the most helpful that I ve received. My attic has no insulation at all, except on the floor under the
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 2, 2008
          Russ,

          Thank you for your detailed advice. It's among the most helpful that I've
          received.

          My attic has no insulation at all, except on the floor under the plywood
          attic flooring. When we were building the house, we designed it both for
          storage and an antenna farm. All electrical wiring is also ran in the floor
          joists below the antennas. Shingles were selected using a test that a friend
          who is an RF design engineer recommended.

          We put each shingle sample in a microwave oven, along with a small dish of
          water and turned it on full power for three minutes. We then measured how
          warm the shingles became. We selected the coldest sample for our home.

          Your concerns about interaction with the fixed antennas is very valid. I
          notice that some directions of the compass rose already pick up more noise,
          and at least one of those involves the vertical beam which is about 10 feet
          from the main stack. Adding more would only complicate that and might negate
          any advantage.

          Avoiding the "alligator" syndrome is also a good suggestion. At the moment,
          I can still hear stations on 2 Meters that I cannot work...ditto for 432 and
          222, but it's close. I think a bit more power on each band would help, but
          some have suggested a kilowatt, which I think would just be crazy. More TVI,
          problems with the neighbors, and causing QRM on the bands.

          Lack of experience is proving to be my biggest weakness. Each new opening or
          mode that I investigate only proves that there are still a lot of stations
          within range of my limited equipment, I need only be patient. Yesterday
          alone, I worked 22 new grids on 6, 2 new ones on two meters, and a new one
          on 432. A good day by anyone's standard.

          I think I'll follow your advice, and just work some more WSJT at the current
          power levels, and perhaps get through the July and September contests and
          then gauge my results.

          Again, my thanks. Please feel free to pass along any other comments or
          suggestions!

          73,

          Les N1LF




          Les Rayburn, director
          High Noon Film
          100 Centerview Drive Suite 111
          Birmingham, AL 35216-3748
          205.824.8930
          205.824.8960 fax
          205.253.4867 cell

          --------------------------------------------------
          From: "Russ Pillsbury" <russk2t@...>
          Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 7:38 AM
          To: "'Les Rayburn'" <les@...>; <wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com>
          Subject: RE: [wsjtgroup] Small Station Improvements on WSJT?

          > Hi Les, comments interspersed...
          >
          >
          >> Now that I'm officially hooked on the mode, I really want to improve
          >> my station...
          >
          >> I'm in a unique situation, living in a deed restricted neighborhood with
          >> an aggressive (Nazi-Like) homeowners association. No outside antennas of
          >> any kind are permitted, including flagpoles, birdhouses, or stealth
          > installations.
          >
          > That's tough. I'd move - who wants to pay those hefty association fees
          > anyway?
          >
          >> Currently, I'm running the following:
          >>
          >> 6 Meters: 100 watts into 3 element Yagi. 1/2" Andrews hardline. No
          > pre-amp.
          >>
          >> 2 Meters: 100 watts into a 6 element Yagi. Fed with 1/2" Andrews
          >> hardline.
          >> Mast mounted Icom pre-amp with about a 1db noise figure.
          >
          > The previous suggestion about fixed longer antennas aimed in a good
          > direction might work for you. But things to consider are interaction with
          > existing rotatable antennas, and interaction with wiring and metal in your
          > house. I would closely examine the construction of the attic and roof,
          > especially checking the insulation. Does the insulation have a metallic
          > backing (vapor barrier)? If so, it will significantly decrease the
          > performance of your antennas. I think you live in a warm climate so you
          > might consider removing the insulation or replacing it with non-metallic
          > if
          > needed.
          >
          > Next, are there electrical wires in or near the plane of where the
          > antennas
          > can point? Not only can those distort your pattern, but you can pick up a
          > lot of noise if there is a power line noise source near you. Noise like
          > that makes a low NF preamp unnecessary! I would also consider the area
          > outside the house. Do you have nearby buildings, hills, trees, that are
          > above the height of your antennas? If so, there may be some advantage to
          > up
          > tilting the Yagis, but this will have to be done by trial and error. It
          > may
          > be that your radiation patterns are already up tilted significantly due to
          > the mounting near metal or too close to other antennas. If you have
          > beacons
          > you can use to compare the results it would be helpful. For Meteor
          > scatter
          > up tilting can be helpful with long Yagis, but of minimal value for a six
          > element beam. In any case up tilting is only helpful for short paths
          > (400-800 miles).
          >
          > 100 watts is a good power level for HSMS, and you can work a lot with it
          > when conditions are good. You might benefit from a little more power but
          > I
          > wouldn't go crazy here. You are likely more limited by what you can hear
          > and there is no sense of being an alligator (big teeth and no ears).
          >
          >> 222: 120 watts into a 7 element Yagi, 1/2" hardline, Mirage Mast Mounted
          >> Pre-amp. NF unknown, but likely close to 1db.
          >
          > 222 is a good band for MS but you will find it significantly harder than 2
          > meters. Again you are likely to be limited by noise and your small
          > antennas
          > (note that a seven element 222 Yagi is a lot smaller than a six element
          > 144
          > Yagi).
          >
          >> 432: 75 watts into 15 element Yagi. 1/2" hardline. Icom mast mount preamp
          >> NF about 1db.
          >
          > MS on 432 is very difficult and I would not even try it unless you have a
          > lot of power and a well situated antenna system.
          >
          >
          >> I have purchased but not installed three new mast mount pre-amps from
          >> Advanced Receiver Research. All are rated at less than .5db Noise
          >> figures.
          >
          >
          >> Transceivers are: Icom IC-910H for 2 Meters and 432.
          >> Icom 756 ProIII for Six Meters.
          >> Yaesu FT-736R for 222, though I have a DownEast Microwave transverter on
          > order.
          >> So, how can I improve on this and/or optimize for WSJT?
          >
          >> For example, I could use an Icom 746Pro for 2 meters. This gives me IF
          > DSP,
          >> and much wider range of filters than on the IC-910H. Would this help?
          >> I could add amps for 2 meters, and 432 boosting power levels on TX.
          >> I could look at more advanced pre-amps, though on the horizon, I'm
          >> not sure they'll make a lot of difference. You usually see those
          >> used by EME types looking at "cold sky".
          >
          > Your new preamps are good enough for your situation. MS is really not such
          > a
          > "weak signal" mode anyway. When the pings come thru they are often many
          > db
          > above the noise. That doesn't mean you should not strive for the best
          > receive capability possible, but you can work a lot with less. For
          > instance
          > I have worked a lot of super DX on MS under very adverse conditions
          > (thunder
          > storms in area, rain static, QRM, power line noise, etc). The signals
          > just
          > pop up above the noise.
          >
          > For FSK441 having narrower filters is not too important. WSJT has it's
          > own
          > digital filters built in, and most of the time a standard SSB bandwidth is
          > all that's required. If there is QRM or birdies it is nice to have the
          > capability to notch or filter it out, but that is mostly so you don't hear
          > it. WSJT filters it out pretty good anyway.
          >
          > Noise blankers and digital noise reduction may help, but you need to play
          > with how aggressive they are because they can destroy the copyability of
          > the
          > FSK441 signals as well as reduce the noise.
          >
          >> I'm really excited and looking forward to working a lot of new folks on
          >> this mode. If you see me on PingJockey, please arrange for a QSO!
          >
          > I hope to get back on the air and work you one of these days. Still have
          > a
          > lot to do with the new home, new XYL, etc... :)
          >
          > 73, Russ K2TXB (FN20MB) - 144 WAS, WAC, VUCC (419), 44 countries
          > 432 25 states, 107 grids, 5 countries
          > 1296 19 states, 54 grids, 2 countries
          > 10GHz 14 states, 30 grids, 2 countries
          >
          >> 73,
          >> Les Rayburn, N1LF
          >> EM63nf
          >
          >
          >
        • Bill W5WVO
          Regarding the alligator syndrome -- very good advice! Here s what I ve found for 6 meters. Most guys are running about 100 watts. If you run 100 watts, you
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 2, 2008
            Regarding the "alligator syndrome" -- very good advice! Here's what I've found for 6 meters.
             
            Most guys are running about 100 watts. If you run 100 watts, you should theoretically be able to work everything you hear. However, theory will only take you so far. :-)  In reality, weak signals tend to get ignored in favor of strong signals, and with a low indoor antenna, your signal is going to be weaker than that of a lot of other guys running 100 watts (to 5 elements at 60 feet, for example). To make up for that fact, you need to run more power.
             
            I've found that running about 350-400 watts will get your signal noticed, but you must be prepared to listen a lot harder and more skillfully than the other guys are listening, because most of the guys you need to hear are going to sound weaker to you than you sound to them, relatively speaking. A good part of this requires having a decently low ambient noise floor. If this is relatively low in most directions, you can take advantage of a modest power increase. Make sure you have a good receiver with adequate dynamic range to hear weaker signals in the present of stronger adjacent ones. I heartily recommend the Elecraft K3, which I have owned now for a couple of weeks. Awesome radio!
             
            Anything in excess of 400 watts, IMO, is going to put you into Alligator Alley if you live in a typical suburban environment. You don't want to go there. Running 1.5 kW on 6 meters makes sense only when you have a *very quiet* location (typical rural or ultra-rural environment, or a contest station environment with extremely high towers to get above the noise), along with excellent receiver capabilities.
             
            The TE Systems 0552G solid-state amp (nominal 375 watts out) is an excellent piece of equipment that puts you right in this sweet spot, but like most solid-state amplifiers, it is utterly unforgiving about input power. Driving it with a typical 100 watt rig, as I did, is inherently dangerous, because keeping the drive at 25 watts at all times is entirely up to the operator. Make a mistake that puts 100 watts into it for a second or two, and it's severely injured or dead. I know because I did this twice, and have now decided to go with good old hollow-state amplifiers. I have one on the way. :-)
             
            Hope this helps --
            Bill W5WVO
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:38 AM
            Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Small Station Improvements on WSJT?

            Russ,

            Thank you for your detailed advice. It's among the most helpful that I've
            received.

            My attic has no insulation at all, except on the floor under the plywood
            attic flooring. When we were building the house, we designed it both for
            storage and an antenna farm. All electrical wiring is also ran in the floor
            joists below the antennas. Shingles were selected using a test that a friend
            who is an RF design engineer recommended.

            We put each shingle sample in a microwave oven, along with a small dish of
            water and turned it on full power for three minutes. We then measured how
            warm the shingles became. We selected the coldest sample for our home.

            Your concerns about interaction with the fixed antennas is very valid. I
            notice that some directions of the compass rose already pick up more noise,
            and at least one of those involves the vertical beam which is about 10 feet
            from the main stack. Adding more would only complicate that and might negate
            any advantage.

            Avoiding the "alligator" syndrome is also a good suggestion. At the moment,
            I can still hear stations on 2 Meters that I cannot work...ditto for 432 and
            222, but it's close. I think a bit more power on each band would help, but
            some have suggested a kilowatt, which I think would just be crazy. More TVI,
            problems with the neighbors, and causing QRM on the bands.

            Lack of experience is proving to be my biggest weakness. Each new opening or
            mode that I investigate only proves that there are still a lot of stations
            within range of my limited equipment, I need only be patient. Yesterday
            alone, I worked 22 new grids on 6, 2 new ones on two meters, and a new one
            on 432. A good day by anyone's standard.

            I think I'll follow your advice, and just work some more WSJT at the current
            power levels, and perhaps get through the July and September contests and
            then gauge my results.

            Again, my thanks. Please feel free to pass along any other comments or
            suggestions!

            73,

            Les N1LF

            Les Rayburn, director
            High Noon Film
            100 Centerview Drive Suite 111
            Birmingham, AL 35216-3748
            205.824.8930
            205.824.8960 fax
            205.253.4867 cell

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --
            From: "Russ Pillsbury" <russk2t@comcast. net>
            Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 7:38 AM
            To: "'Les Rayburn'" <les@highnoonfilm. com>; <wsjtgroup@yahoogrou ps.com>
            Subject: RE: [wsjtgroup] Small Station Improvements on WSJT?

            > Hi Les, comments interspersed. ..
            >
            >
            >> Now that I'm officially hooked on the mode, I really want to improve
            >> my station...
            >
            >> I'm in a unique situation, living in a deed restricted neighborhood with
            >> an aggressive (Nazi-Like) homeowners association. No outside antennas of
            >> any kind are permitted, including flagpoles, birdhouses, or stealth
            > installations.
            >
            > That's tough. I'd move - who wants to pay those hefty association fees
            > anyway?
            >
            >> Currently, I'm running the following:
            >>
            >> 6 Meters: 100 watts into 3 element Yagi. 1/2" Andrews hardline. No
            > pre-amp.
            >>
            >> 2 Meters: 100 watts into a 6 element Yagi. Fed with 1/2" Andrews
            >> hardline.
            >> Mast mounted Icom pre-amp with about a 1db noise figure.
            >
            > The previous suggestion about fixed longer antennas aimed in a good
            > direction might work for you. But things to consider are interaction with
            > existing rotatable antennas, and interaction with wiring and metal in your
            > house. I would closely examine the construction of the attic and roof,
            > especially checking the insulation. Does the insulation have a metallic
            > backing (vapor barrier)? If so, it will significantly decrease the
            > performance of your antennas. I think you live in a warm climate so you
            > might consider removing the insulation or replacing it with non-metallic
            > if
            > needed.
            >
            > Next, are there electrical wires in or near the plane of where the
            > antennas
            > can point? Not only can those distort your pattern, but you can pick up a
            > lot of noise if there is a power line noise source near you. Noise like
            > that makes a low NF preamp unnecessary! I would also consider the area
            > outside the house. Do you have nearby buildings, hills, trees, that are
            > above the height of your antennas? If so, there may be some advantage to
            > up
            > tilting the Yagis, but this will have to be done by trial and error. It
            > may
            > be that your radiation patterns are already up tilted significantly due to
            > the mounting near metal or too close to other antennas. If you have
            > beacons
            > you can use to compare the results it would be helpful. For Meteor
            > scatter
            > up tilting can be helpful with long Yagis, but of minimal value for a six
            > element beam. In any case up tilting is only helpful for short paths
            > (400-800 miles).
            >
            > 100 watts is a good power level for HSMS, and you can work a lot with it
            > when conditions are good. You might benefit from a little more power but
            > I
            > wouldn't go crazy here. You are likely more limited by what you can hear
            > and there is no sense of being an alligator (big teeth and no ears).
            >
            >> 222: 120 watts into a 7 element Yagi, 1/2" hardline, Mirage Mast Mounted
            >> Pre-amp. NF unknown, but likely close to 1db.
            >
            > 222 is a good band for MS but you will find it significantly harder than 2
            > meters. Again you are likely to be limited by noise and your small
            > antennas
            > (note that a seven element 222 Yagi is a lot smaller than a six element
            > 144
            > Yagi).
            >
            >> 432: 75 watts into 15 element Yagi. 1/2" hardline. Icom mast mount preamp
            >> NF about 1db.
            >
            > MS on 432 is very difficult and I would not even try it unless you have a
            > lot of power and a well situated antenna system.
            >
            >
            >> I have purchased but not installed three new mast mount pre-amps from
            >> Advanced Receiver Research. All are rated at less than .5db Noise
            >> figures.
            >
            >
            >> Transceivers are: Icom IC-910H for 2 Meters and 432.
            >> Icom 756 ProIII for Six Meters.
            >> Yaesu FT-736R for 222, though I have a DownEast Microwave transverter on
            > order.
            >> So, how can I improve on this and/or optimize for WSJT?
            >
            >> For example, I could use an Icom 746Pro for 2 meters. This gives me IF
            > DSP,
            >> and much wider range of filters than on the IC-910H. Would this help?
            >> I could add amps for 2 meters, and 432 boosting power levels on TX.
            >> I could look at more advanced pre-amps, though on the horizon, I'm
            >> not sure they'll make a lot of difference. You usually see those
            >> used by EME types looking at "cold sky".
            >
            > Your new preamps are good enough for your situation. MS is really not such
            > a
            > "weak signal" mode anyway. When the pings come thru they are often many
            > db
            > above the noise. That doesn't mean you should not strive for the best
            > receive capability possible, but you can work a lot with less. For
            > instance
            > I have worked a lot of super DX on MS under very adverse conditions
            > (thunder
            > storms in area, rain static, QRM, power line noise, etc). The signals
            > just
            > pop up above the noise.
            >
            > For FSK441 having narrower filters is not too important. WSJT has it's
            > own
            > digital filters built in, and most of the time a standard SSB bandwidth is
            > all that's required. If there is QRM or birdies it is nice to have the
            > capability to notch or filter it out, but that is mostly so you don't hear
            > it. WSJT filters it out pretty good anyway.
            >
            > Noise blankers and digital noise reduction may help, but you need to play
            > with how aggressive they are because they can destroy the copyability of
            > the
            > FSK441 signals as well as reduce the noise.
            >
            >> I'm really excited and looking forward to working a lot of new folks on
            >> this mode. If you see me on PingJockey, please arrange for a QSO!
            >
            > I hope to get back on the air and work you one of these days. Still have
            > a
            > lot to do with the new home, new XYL, etc... :)
            >
            > 73, Russ K2TXB (FN20MB) - 144 WAS, WAC, VUCC (419), 44 countries
            > 432 25 states, 107 grids, 5 countries
            > 1296 19 states, 54 grids, 2 countries
            > 10GHz 14 states, 30 grids, 2 countries
            >
            >> 73,
            >> Les Rayburn, N1LF
            >> EM63nf
            >
            >
            >

          • Russ K2TXB
            Hi Les, comments interspersed... ... stealth installations. That s tough. I d move - who wants to pay those hefty association fees anyway? ... pre-amp. ...
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 2, 2008
              Hi Les, comments interspersed...


              > Now that I'm officially hooked on the mode, I really want to improve
              > my station...

              > I'm in a unique situation, living in a deed restricted neighborhood
              > with an aggressive (Nazi-Like) homeowners association. No outside
              > antennas of any kind are permitted, including flagpoles, birdhouses, or
              stealth installations.

              That's tough. I'd move - who wants to pay those hefty association fees
              anyway?

              > Currently, I'm running the following:
              >
              > 6 Meters: 100 watts into 3 element Yagi. 1/2" Andrews hardline. No
              pre-amp.
              >
              > 2 Meters: 100 watts into a 6 element Yagi. Fed with 1/2" Andrews hardline.
              > Mast mounted Icom pre-amp with about a 1db noise figure.

              The previous suggestion about fixed longer antennas aimed in a good
              direction might work for you. But things to consider are interaction with
              existing rotatable antennas, and interaction with wiring and metal in your
              house. I would closely examine the construction of the attic and roof,
              especially checking the insulation. Does the insulation have a metallic
              backing (vapor barrier)? If so, it will significantly decrease the
              performance of your antennas. I think you live in a warm climate so you
              might consider removing the insulation or replacing it with non-metallic if
              needed.

              Next, are there electrical wires in or near the plane of where the antennas
              can point? Not only can those distort your pattern, but you can pick up a
              lot of noise if there is a power line noise source near you. Noise like
              that makes a low NF preamp unnecessary! I would also consider the area
              outside the house. Do you have nearby buildings, hills, trees, that are
              above the height of your antennas? If so, there may be some advantage to up
              tilting the Yagis, but this will have to be done by trial and error. It may
              be that your radiation patterns are already up tilted significantly due to
              the mounting near metal or too close to other antennas. If you have beacons
              you can use to compare the results it would be helpful. For Meteor scatter
              up tilting can be helpful with long Yagis, but of minimal value for a six
              element beam. In any case up tilting is only helpful for short paths
              (400-800 miles).

              100 watts is a good power level for HSMS, and you can work a lot with it
              when conditions are good. You might benefit from a little more power but I
              wouldn't go crazy here. You are likely more limited by what you can hear
              and there is no sense of being an alligator (big teeth and no ears).

              > 222: 120 watts into a 7 element Yagi, 1/2" hardline, Mirage Mast
              > Mounted Pre-amp. NF unknown, but likely close to 1db.

              222 is a good band for MS but you will find it significantly harder than 2
              meters. Again you are likely to be limited by noise and your small antennas
              (note that a seven element 222 Yagi is a lot smaller than a six element 144
              Yagi).

              > 432: 75 watts into 15 element Yagi. 1/2" hardline. Icom mast mount
              > preamp NF about 1db.

              MS on 432 is very difficult and I would not even try it unless you have a
              lot of power and a well situated antenna system.


              > I have purchased but not installed three new mast mount pre-amps from
              > Advanced Receiver Research. All are rated at less than .5db Noise figures.

              > Transceivers are: Icom IC-910H for 2 Meters and 432.
              > Icom 756 ProIII for Six Meters.
              > Yaesu FT-736R for 222, though I have a DownEast Microwave transverter on
              order.
              > So, how can I improve on this and/or optimize for WSJT?

              > For example, I could use an Icom 746Pro for 2 meters. This gives me IF
              > DSP, and much wider range of filters than on the IC-910H. Would this help?
              > I could add amps for 2 meters, and 432 boosting power levels on TX.
              > I could look at more advanced pre-amps, though on the horizon, I'm not
              > sure they'll make a lot of difference. You usually see those used by
              > EME types looking at "cold sky".

              Your new preamps are good enough for your situation. MS is really not such a
              "weak signal" mode anyway. When the pings come thru they are often many db
              above the noise. That doesn't mean you should not strive for the best
              receive capability possible, but you can work a lot with less. For instance
              I have worked a lot of super DX on MS under very adverse conditions (thunder
              storms in area, rain static, QRM, power line noise, etc). The signals just
              pop up above the noise.

              For FSK441 having narrower filters is not too important. WSJT has it's own
              digital filters built in, and most of the time a standard SSB bandwidth is
              all that's required. If there is QRM or birdies it is nice to have the
              capability to notch or filter it out, but that is mostly so you don't hear
              it. WSJT filters it out pretty good anyway.

              Noise blankers and digital noise reduction may help, but you need to play
              with how aggressive they are because they can destroy the copyability of the
              FSK441 signals as well as reduce the noise.

              > I'm really excited and looking forward to working a lot of new folks
              > on this mode. If you see me on PingJockey, please arrange for a QSO!

              I hope to get back on the air and work you one of these days. Still have a
              lot to do with the new home, new XYL, etc... :)

              73, Russ K2TXB (FN20MB) - 144 WAS, WAC, VUCC (419), 44 countries
              432 25 states, 107 grids, 5 countries
              1296 19 states, 54 grids, 2 countries
              10GHz 14 states, 30 grids, 2 countries

              > 73,
              > Les Rayburn, N1LF
              > EM63nf
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