Participating in the WSPR-challenge

wspr

WSPR-challenge

PA3FYM WSPR-challenge receiverThere is buzzing a new phenomenon at PI4RCG (our local HAM club): the WSPR-challenge. One prominent club member, Remco PA3FYM, founded this WSPR-challenge with Richard PE1ITR. Essentially they download the whole WSPR-spot-database once every night and parse it in a top 50. The result changes per day. This challenge only consist of reported spots to wsprnet.org. So you can sneak peak at wsprnet.org site to see your uniques. Since wsprnet.org only logs your reported spots, this challenge is actually a RX-only contest.

Simple WSPR-receiver

Of course you can leave your main rig running 24×7 to participate in this WSPR-challenge. I did just that for a few days to see where I would end up in the WSPR-challenge. I know a few amateurs who took Remco’s design of a really simple WSPR-receiver and build it their selves. This receiver performs really really well. All builders are in the top 20 of the WSPR-challenge. According to Remco’s explanation big part of it’s success is to find and eliminate all distortion source in your area. Also use of beverages, loop-antenna’s etc. could help you to drive up your unique spots in the WSPR-challenge.

Antennas

I did a little reintroduction of my horizontal-loop-wire to push up my spot-rate. Unfortunately (or maybe luckily) there wasn’t much performance gain in comparison to my ZS6BKW. Which conclude into two possibilities: or the noise level on 30m is so high it is the same on the loop and ZS6BKW, or the noise-level is already low and isn’t improved by a closed loop.

WSPR-software

For the last part of your WSPR-challenge setup you need a computer to decode the WSPR-signals and upload them to wsprnet.org. The absolute best performing decode software for WSPR is WSJT-X. To really run it reliable you need to run it on linux. If you don’t want to leave your shack pc on continuously, you can use a Raspberry Pi 3 for this task.

Conclusion

I’ve learned a lot about WSPR-signals with this experiment so far. I’ve also noted that a closed loop antenna doesn’t perform better then a symmetric dipole necessarily (which I suspected). Since I wanted back my rig and shack-PC I temporarily stopped the participation in the WSPR-challenge. But I will back! On my to-do-list: buy a Rasberry Pi and build on of those PA3FYM-WSPR-receivers. That combo on an dedicated RX-antenna should be a winner.

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