First steps into QRSS
Today I took a little time out from the Holiday preparations to try receiving a QRSS beacon. I was pleased to find that I could copy Vern’s, VE1VDM, 350mW beacon located in Truro, NS. To do this I used the my usual HF setup, the K3 and the 88ft doublet, with my Asus Eee PC running Baudline connected to the sound out of the K3.
QRSS is very slow CW, usually from very low power transmitters, QRPp (in the order of tens or hundreds of mW). Because of the speed and the power it is best to detect them using spectral analysis software which displays the received signal on the screen. Since the code is decoded visually then beacons sometimes use frequency shifts to represent dits and dahs or marks and spaces. There can even be distinctive frequency shifts to generate visual patterns. Frequency shifts are small, only a few Hz, so finding the signals can be tricky. 30m is a popular band for the beacons, often called manned experimental propagation transmitters (MEPTs), which normally are found between 10.140000 and 10.140100 MHz.
QRSS seems to be more popular in Europe than in North America. Information can be found here about QRSS and there are some online grabbers showing regular screen captures from receivers around the world. If you listen to Bill Meara’s ‘Soldersmoke’ podcasts you will also find some information about his adventures in QRSS.
Below is the screen shot of the VE1VDM beacon on 30m which I recorded today, 24th Dec. 2008. The message of “VDM” signal of the beacon is clear, and I have labelled the CW to help read the message.
I modified my settings on Baudline to get the improved image below.
This is my first steps into QRSS. I will spend more time in the future investigating the abilities of Baudline for QRSS reception. Also, now I have some 10.140 MHz crystals I want to design and build a beacon for MEPT work.
Finally, as this is Christmas Eve, I would like to wish all the readers of this blog a Merry Christmas and a happy and peacefull 2009.