This episode we’re talking about the WSPRlite flexi.
Now this is a cool little device made by the folks over at SotaBeams in the UK that lets you test your antenna’s actual transmit propagation in real time. It uses the WSPR protocol (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter) originally developed by Joe Taylor K1JT. (Quite an interesting guy, you should look him up.) Now WSPR is open source and still actively worked on. Please find relevant links below.
I’m not going to tell you how to install the support software, as that’s all very well documented when you buy the unit. The point of this episode is just to go over what it does. So, let’s go straight into the setup app where you can update the firmware and set up the device for operation.
After you plug the WSPRlite in to the computer, pick the correct COM port and click CONNECT.
Every so often, I click Update firmware, to make sure it’s current.
Then, enter your callsign and first 4 digits of your QTH locator. Currently WSPRnet only uses the first 4.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the CW callsign checkbox is for, so I ignore it. If you know, please post in the comments below and share your knowledge.
Choose the band you wish to test. Once you pick a band, it will pick a random frequency in the WSPR accepted range.
The flexi version of the WSPRlite has lowpass filters for 20 & 30 meter bands built in. You may need to get some external lowpass filters for any other band you wish to test, depending upon where you are operating from. The WSPRlite will work without them, but you may end up operating out of bounds depending upon your location. Something to keep in mind. I don’t have any other lowpass filters yet, but they’re on the way if I need them.
Then, pick your power output. I’ve just been leaving it at the default 200 mW which, when using the WSPR protocol is equivalent to 1000 watts of SSB. I’m not using an external amplifier, so I leave the Reported power at it’s default.
They suggest leaving the Repeat rate at 30%, so that you’re not hogging the frequency every minute. I’ve also left the Max runtime at it’s default of 3 days.
At the bottom is a very important link. This will send you to your own, personal DXplorer.net report page for your specific device. We’ll get to that later, for now, go ahead and click Open in browser, then, when it opens, bookmark that link. I think it will generate a new link per band.
Lastly, go back up and click Save WSPR Settings.
That’s it, you’re done. Unplug the device and let’s get set up to transmit.
I use my radio power supply,…
… and plug it into the SotaBeams Power Conditioner. When I didn’t use this, the power supply generated an ugly buzz in the transmission. So, I bought this conditioner as a kit, and haven’t had an issue since.
Plug it into the WSPRlite
Connect the feed line…
Which goes to my Emtech ZM-2 QRP tuner which I’ve posted a pictorial write-up on the build previously, see that link below.
Then attach the antenna to the Tuner.
Wait for 2 seconds past the minute on my atomic clock….
aaaand press the button to start transmission.
On the ZM-2, flip the switch to TUNE and fiddle with the knobs until the light goes out, or as dim as possible. If you turn the knobs to the stops and the light stays bright, try Adding picoFarads and keep trying. I took my time here. At 200 mW, I wasn’t too worried about overheating anything. When done, flip the left switch to Operate which takes the LED out of the circuit and give you the least resistance on the line.
Done, you’re now transmitting. Give it a while to transmit for a few minutes, and then go to the above mentioned DXplorer.net link you got from the setup app.
The DX10 Table shows you a list of your best 10, in range every 2 minutes or so.
The Graph is a visual representation of the data points of all your connections. In every report, you can choose a time frame snapshot.
The Spots map is … well, self explanatory.
The Spots table shows you all your spots, most recent on top.
If you’ve tested on other bands, you can swap over to them here.
And there you have it. This is a very useful bit of kit that lets you see just how well your antenna is working based on it’s configuration and current propagation conditions. For around $80 and it’s diminutive size and weight, I highly recommend it. You get a very accurate, real-time picture of how long your radio’s arms are at that moment. Especially in our current solar minimums, it’s quite handy to test out where you can reach.
If this video was helpful in any way, please, give us a thumbs up. If you have any questions on the WSPRlite flexi, please post them below. I’m no real expert, but I’ll be happy to get back to you with what I know.
Thanks for watching the DummyLoads. See y’all next time.
Husband, father, and rescued by a Black Mouth Cur. I’m a Web guy, 3D Guy, Cinematographer, Photographer, Home Brewer of Beers, and sometime knitter, (yes, I said knitter).