[amsat-bb] Re: Funcube dongle results Jan 16th

PA3GUO pa3guo at upcmail.nl
Mon Jan 17 15:15:18 PST 2011

Dear Howard,

>From my initial (out-of-the-box) experiments it is clear that with proper
input filtering results are very (very) good.

Using my beams I have such filtering in the pre-amps, as you correctly 
assumed. Also, when using the vertical in my 'tower' I use indeed a 
triplexer, you are right again, works fine.

In such situation I have similar results as with a Kenwood TS2000 (!)
Sensitivity of the FCD is indeed outstanding (especially for such a
wide frequency range). I can hear satellites until 0.0 degrees elevation.

>From Nico PA0DLO I understand that he also experiences on VHF influence
by nearby signals. We compared our FCDs here at my station, they are similar.
Still Nico has more issues receiving the same stations compared to me, even
though we are a few miles apart. This can be local pagers etc (his assumption).
But it can indeed also be filtering: we tested the same local beacon at 126 MHz 
in my station with a triplexer, and as far as I know he uses directly a wide-band 
discone antenna.

Which confirms your assumptions as well.

Back to the ISS test. I expected the Kenwood would have received those signals.
Even though no filtering from a triplexer or pre-amp. But: a Kenwood (or ICOM 910
or so) has also filtering at the antenna input stage.  Which the FCD does not.
Which would confirm that prefiltering is important.

Indeed I do notice that sometimed the spectrum has changes in noise floor levels.
You see that when suddenly the whole spectrum becomes lighter/darker.

Unfortunately it will take me until next weekend to do more tests. On the other
hand, my reports were ment to encourage others, no scientific measurements.
Would be better (more factual) if this would be done with a few signal generators. 

Then again, I expect the FCD to be sensitive enough. We are now taking it
to the extremes and see go low (small) we can go :-)

Great stuff - extremely motivation 
(IMHO the FCD is the most exciting "creation" of the past 10 years)


ps: I did use the latest firmware

---- Howard Long <howard at howardlong.com> schreef:
> Hi Henk
> Particularly regarding your attempt to receive the ISS, do you see a
> significant increase in noise floor when you connect the antenna at VHF,
> potentially 20dB or more?
> If so, it may be being overloaded from the sum of VHF signals coming into
> the radio. When you use a preamp it almost certainly has a bandpass filter
> in it. The filtering on the FCD at VHF is rather wide bandpass with 3dB
> cutoffs between about 60MHz and 270MHz. Thus if there's significant pager,
> band II FM, or Band III DAB etc traffic the front end gets a bit swamped,
> and your noise floor rises.
> We're already looking into simple recommended methods of alleviating this.
> The first thing is to make sure you're using the 18c firmware as this
> implements tighter filtering. I also found that simply using the VHF port of
> a V/U di/duplexer worked well in some situations. The best results I found
> were with the middle port of a CFX-514 triplexer. If you have close in pager
> interference then you'll need something rather tighter. In the UK for
> example, we often have pagers at 138 and 153MHz.
> At UHF and above, the FCD uses tighter programmable bandpass filters so we
> don't tend to experience this at these frequencies.
> The front end of the FCD is pretty sensitive, with all units measured and
> targeted for 0.15uV for 12dB SINAD on NBFM. But if there are fairly strong
> out of band signals, this will inevitably raise the noise floor.
> 73, Howard G6LVB
> -----Original Message-----
> From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
> Behalf Of PA3GUO
> Sent: 16 January 2011 21:10
> To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
> Subject: [amsat-bb] Funcube dongle results Jan 16th
> Some more FUNCube dongle results:
> (not much new information, just want to share my few hours
> time today to spend on the FCD which I really enjoyed)
> Using 2x6 elements 145 MHz:
> - VO52 USB downlink great, with and without preamp
> Using 1x12 elements 435 MHz
> - AO51 FM downlink great with preamp, without noisier
> - HO68 CW beacon great with preamp, good without
> OK. So with the normal antennas the FCD works great.
> Time to try thew absolute minumum: Outside in the garden, laptop
> plus a simple vertical for 145 MHz; ISS packet: nothing heared/seen.
> Was a surprise to me, as ISS is normally extremely strong.
> Also tried AO51 FM with just a dipole outside: nothing heared/seen.
> Both passes were >80 degrees elevation.
> So for now I guess you need either a beam or a preamp.
> Then again, the unit is the size of a USB memory stick and
> has a range 60MHz -1.7 GHz - no complaints !
> Overal I am still very impressed. The dongle connected to my
> normal antenna system (beams + pre-amps) gives great results.
> Just listened twice to a VO52 pass, and listening in USB was very
> comfortable, audio sounds very nice until 0 degrees elevation
> (using WRplus).
> Amazing to be able to watch the entire downlink spectrum, and
> see a few QSOs in parallel, seeing multiple stations tuning (their
> signals going from left ro right and back until they hear themselves).
> Of course everyone else had SDR for satellites already :-) For me
> this is just amazing. Great work by the FUNCube Dongle team.
> We often see discussions on how to get SSB for a few $'s and start
> to compare various conventional transceivers. Well, the FCD is surely
> an option to reduce cost on the downlink: all mode / all bands.
> Henk, PA3GUO
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFZGlqKPPQo
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Henk, PA3GUO

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