Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Playing With The Excalibur Demo Software

The Excalibur software is downloadable from Winradio's download pages, working in a demo mode as long as the receiver has not been installed. It has a test signal on 15 MHz, as you can see from the screendump.

The initial impression of the GUI is quite good, although they try to put a lot of information into limited space. A good thing is that the program window is resizeable and that several "skins" are available.

The RF recording feature suffers from the same problem as the Perseus: No scheduled recordings. Third party software solved the problem for the Perseus, and I hope that a Winradio plugin, or a software update, will solve the problem for the Excalibur too. There is in fact a very able scheduler in the program, but it only handles audio recordings.

There are some really nice features once you dig a bit deeper into the software. I hope to see the receiver some time next week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Excalibur Ships!

While there have been no updates on regarding the Excalibur (as of June 20 at 1945 UTC), Waters and Stanton announced that the radio arrived there on June 18 and they are taking orders. They have taken mine. Thanks Tracey Gardner for alerting me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

QDFA Project Version 3

Those who followed this blog last season know that we were very satisfied with the performance of the QDFA. There were however some problems:

1. The amplifier transistors blew due to static discharge. Proper surge arrestors were fitted by Dallas Lankford, and the QDFA v. 2 was up late November.

2. Another problem, probably related to static build-up, caused the transistors not to blow but produce excessive noise. The only explanation we can find is that replacing the battery in cold, dry weather caused the problem. Another fix was needed, and the coming season we will supply power to the QDFA box from within the house. Hopefully, the extra cable will not compromise the nulling properties of the QDFA.

3. The cheap angling rods, while surprisingly weatherproof, did not survive the winter entirely intact. One of them failed in January, and another in April. So we decided we need proper supports, and found them at Max-Gain Systems Inc. These are extremely sturdy fiberglass rods, fastened not by friction but with clamps. We got four 21-ft center supports, and eight 12-ft end supports. This allows us to double the area of each loop, giving us another 6 dB of gain. The visual appearance of the loops will be a "house" instead of the common "delta".

The QDFA v. 3 will be up and running as the Arctic DX Summit starts, early September.