A Few Questions

Hello Dear Readers,

Sorry for the thin content on the blog once again. In the insufficient free time I have, I've been swamped with trying to keep OpenBeacon in stock and development of new products going.Ā I've got a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind chiming in.

First, I tried asking a question similar to this on the KnightsQRSS mailing list, but it rapidly devolved into a flamefest and I never really got much good, constructive feedback. So I put it to you. I'm interested in putting an 80 meter version of OpenBeacon on the market. There doesn't appear to be much 80 meter activity in North America, but what there is seems to be located just above 3.500 MHz. The issue that I'm seeing is that choice of frequency excludes all American non-Extra Class hams. With 80 meters being such a large band, I don't see any reason why another frequency could not also be used. I'm proposing to put the 80 meter OpenBeacon on 3.582 MHz. If operation was kept between 3.581800 MHz and 3.582000 MHz, I don't believe it would interfere with any current informal band plans, but I'm not certain about that. I have a very large stock of 3.582 MHz crystals, which obviously also plays a factor (I would be willing to sell them individually to anyone who wanted the for their own homebrew endeavors). So my questions are: does this look like a decent frequency and is this something that would interest you?

The second query is in regard to a potential new product. I'm giving consideration to bringing to market a sort of companion receiver to the OpenBeacon. It could be used for a QRSS grabber or a dedicated monitor receiver for any of the digital modes with automatic propagation reporting such as WSPR, PSK31, or JT65A. I envision it being paired with a small SBC such as Raspberry Pi so that it could make a complete, stand-alone, efficient HF monitoring solution for around $100 total cost (Raspberry Pi currently costs $35). In my opinion, there is a lack of QRSS grabber stations in North America, and using OpenBeacon or other MEPT transmitters will be a lot more fun when there are more stations that can listen for your signal. If you use the receiver for the automatic reporting modes, you can build up a very nice set of data about propagation to your QTH. Here is a list of preliminary specs:

  • DDS or Si570/Si514 LO for wide tuning range and stability
  • Multiband
  • PC tuning and control via USB (similar to OpenBeacon)
  • Single-signal reception (probably filter method, but maybe phasing)
  • Line-level output for PC consumption

So I ask you: is this something you would be interested in? Is there anything feature-wise you would like to see included?

Thanks for letting me pick your brains. I hope you stop by in the comments and leave some feedback!

6 thoughts on “A Few Questions”

  1. Hi, let's start from the bottom, yes, a dedicated QRSS receiver kit would be a great asset in my opinion. That would probably higher the number of grabbers active across the countries. Regarding the 80m issue I am personally favourable to this idea.. in the end QRSS being a non beacon transmission can be done everywhere (within band and licence limits of course). I think 3500 was used to keep some sort of standardization (see on 20m 14000KHz).

    Would be happy to see further comments about this issue.


  2. I could go either way with the 80m beacon. No complaints here from having it on 3.582 MHz. As for the Grabber, I like that idea, but would like to make sure it is modular enough for those that already have a unit like the Raspberry Pi.

  3. Regarding the 80M beacon. The concern I would have living on the East Coast
    is with W1AW Code Practice and Bulletin Transmissions on 3.5815 Mhz.. They
    put out a very strong signal to my location.

    Regarding the dedicated QRSS Receiver kit, I find that a very worthwhile project.
    More Grabber availability in the U.S. is definetly needed. Intergrating it with the
    Raspberry Pi would be a definite plus.

    Vince - WB2FYZ

  4. 3582 seems to me a very reasonable choice, even with W1AW code practice nearby. Code practice transmissions consume only a tiny fraction of the day.

    I would support (by purchasing and using) a QRSS beacon receiver kit.

    Bill, WA4KBD

  5. Thanks for all of the excellent comments, guys. I appreciate the note about W1AW, but I think that by being a few hundred Hz away it should be enough for most receivers to handle. And it is only on for a small amount of time every day, so I don't think it would be a great threat of QRM. So, as you may have seen, I have decided to go ahead and sell the kit. We'll see how it goes. šŸ™‚

    I'm also currently working on the prototype of the monitor RX. I'm going to try a AD9833 DDS with a 11.059 MHz IF, which should allow coverage from 160 m to 15 m. I found a analog IC SP4T switch that I'm going to try, which would allow the selection of 4 bands out of 160 m to 15 m.

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