Our previous JT-65 experiments came to an end when we needed the Antenna at our remote site for something new.
A few month’s ago, we jumped on-board with the KiwiSDR and have been waiting for the project to come to fruition.
So, after seeing a few Kickstarter updates and knowing that there were a handful of beta/test sites out there I decided to make contact with the Project Owner – John, ZL/KF6VO and put together a “proposal” to offer up the site as another beta test site.
Well, as luck would have it, John was happy to work with us for a couple of reasons – He had just 1 of the 10 boards left from his initial beta production run and he did not have a beta test site in VK.
After discussing details for a little while John sent the KiwiSDR and we have installed it onto the Gap Vertical Antenna in the Riverland.
Since it has been installed, we have found that the RX to be quite sensitive – quite surprising really! The software is really quite easy to use as well.
It was a real eye-opener to “see” the whole 30Mhz of spectrum in the band scope display and realize just how much local noise there is at our site!
We know that there are still some software issues and within 24 hours of installation a further software bug was found and the auto-update rolled out the new version of software.
We are still waiting for a nice and quiet (rf-wise) linear power supply to arrive, and have it running with a fairly noisy switched-mode supply. As soon as we can this will get swapped out and hopefully improve things even more.
The Rx front-end is very sensitive to local noise – and we found that on power-up we had a very high noise floor. We found that the noise was simply that the Ethernet cable crossed over the Antenna coax cable – and it introduced over 40db of noise, so some careful re-routing of cables was done and we saw massive improvements.
Yes, there does need to be careful consideration of the installation and we could probably do a lot better than the simple protective case the SDR is in – we will probably put it into a decent metal case that is earthed to further reduce any local noise getting into the front-end in the near future.
Our previous experiments with JT65 had already proven to us the advantages to be had with running a remote RX site, and having the whole HF band available with the really simple and powerful interface has been great!
At the price-point, it is a great SDR – and much better than a simple panadaptor that only shows a single band – It is going to be one of those “Must Haves” for your Contest Station!
A little about the interface itself – Very easy to use – a simple point and click – select mode, select zoom on band display, enable/disable spectrum display, drag the audio passband – a continuously variable filter set the low and high cut frequencies to suit. Easy to adjust the Waterfall min and max sensitivity – once you set it for the band/noise floor it is really easy to “see” what is happening.
Whilst there is no noise filter, I have found that small adjustments to the audio passband can make a big difference.
There are now about 10 of the KiwiSDR’s around the world – so have a play – you will probably go off and order one for yourself! I will probably be getting a 2nd one after seeing how good this is!
… and just in case you have not already found it –
Have a listen on My KiwiSDR