At the beginning of September our main winch lifting cable snapped as we lowered our tower while we were trying to locate the source of the noise bands of interference which have appeared across the 80m band.
At times this interference can sit directly on 3615KHz which is exactly where the VMARS AM net operates, which is very unfortunate.
We replaced the towers guy wires last year, but not the lifting cables as they seemed fine.
The main lifting cable snapping resulted in other problems with our massive tower winch, so the challenge got even greater.
With this tower down we had no microwave Internet links with any usable bandwidth as we cannot see over some of the taller trees.
We will keep working on the interference problem until it is fixed, as we are sure that the interference is across other HF bands as well as 80m.
The multicoupler receive pre-amp failed on Tuesday 17 August, causing all Kiwi’s to appear very deaf.
This has now been replaced.
The latest upgrades during July 2021 were to give each of our 8 Kiwi SDR’s their own individual power supplies.
This is to eliminate yet another route for earth-loops.
Each Kiwi also now uses its own GPS antenna which is fed via a GPS repeater into the radio cabin, this is once again to remove any earth loops.
Our GPS repeater is used to lock each Kiwi precisely to the GPS frequency standard.
When earth loops are present, they cause lots of wideband noise, which can be seen on the waterfall display once you know what you are looking for.
They can produce most of their interference at VLF, which is impossible to eliminate with ferrite cores as the ferrite has no effect at such low frequencies.
Even though the earth-loop effects can be most easily seen at VLF, have no doubt, this interference will have been effecting you on all frequencies from 80m through to 10m.
So the only option was to break the ground loops by buying each of our 8 Kiwi’s a brand new power supply.
These upgrades cost us a lot of money and took a lot of time to fit, but have produced some very big improvements on our 8 Kiwi’s.
You can really tell the difference by listening to our Kiwi’s, and also if you look at the world wide SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) ranking tables, you will see that our Kiwi’s are ranked in the top 10 every evening out of 600 SDR receivers throughout the world!
Please donate using PayPal or bank transfer today if you think that you can help. Thank you
To get the best out of our Kiwi SDR’s you really need to change your waterfall settings to manual.
This will allow you to see many more weak signals.
You need to make the display as dark as possible, so that the display is not washed out, but not so dark that you can’t see the weaker signals.
The changes which you need to make are found on the right-hand floating box.
First click on the left-hand waterfall button under the big magnifying + symbol. It has WF plus the number of your zoom setting written inside it. For example it may say WF7.
Once you have clicked on this waterfall button, you will be able to make the correct manual waterfall settings, which can be seen in the following picture.
The four drop-down boxes near the bottom of the WF box should be set as follows from left to right:
Kiwi, Man, OFF and EMA.
Now make sure that the box above the bottom-left Kiwi drop-down box says spec with a triangle (delta).
Set its slider all the way to the right until it displays 32 Avgs.
With the slider above this box set to fast, the WF min sider set to 130 and the WF max set to 30 you will be off to a good start.
You will need to adjust the WF min slider quite often to get it just right on all of the bands.
Set it so that the waterfall is not looking washed out. Go for a dark blue look, but not too dark!
Don’t forget to look at the Kiwi extensions using the top right drop-down box.
There are some great features included, such as WSPR decoding and the S-Meter which draws a graph of the signal strength received.
Make sure to set the min and max levels for the graph close to the level of the signal which you are monitoring and it will clearly show you the QSB trend etc.
It is well worth clicking on the spectrum analyser button, which is labelled as spec, and is just under the extensions drop-down menu, and to the right of the three + symbols in circles.
Having a waterfall and a spectrum analyser that lets you look at the entire 32MHz spectrum, or zoom right into a signal to see every detail isn’t something you see on many receivers.
Major technical update:
You can now listen using the 28MHz 5/8th vertical, Wellbrook loop or 160m dipole automatically on every kiwi SDR.
All Kiwi’s on site will route you to the perfect antenna for your frequency automatically.
Individual users per Kiwi can use different antennas simultaneously.
No more coax relays being switched on you!
It is easier than ever to listen to the Weston kiwi’s, as you only need to type:
I am still very grateful to everyone who has helped to keep all of our kiwi’s running by giving us generous donations.
A massive thank you to you if you feel that you can make a donation and support the kiwi SDR’s too.
Nearly all of the Weston Kiwi SDR’s are connected to a 160m dipole, Wellbrook loop & 28MHz 5/8th vertical via an HF multiplexer, then via a 16 port HF multicoupler (low noise pre-amp with very high output level providing 16 outputs) with the exception of kiwi 8077 which uses an 80m dipole.
It is really worthwhile listening to a signal on 28MHz, such as the beacon on 28.220 USB, on kiwi 8073, and then listen to the same beacon on kiwi 8077 using its 80m dipole.
The signals are so weak on the 80m dipole compared to kiwi’s which are able to utilise the 28MHz 5/8th vertical.
Bleadon Hill has been experiencing multiple mains power failures recently. This seems to being caused by a dispute about the cutting of some nearby fir trees next to the overhead power lines.
Currently when the wind blows and the trees are wet the power lines are shorted to ground and the overhead fuses are tripped.
A massive thank you to everyone who has donated to keep the Weston-super-Mare Kiwi’s in service, it is really appreciated.
Please donate if you possibly can so that we can keep all of our SDR’s in service and make our SDR site even better than it was in 2020.
Click on the following links to access the currently available Weston Kiwi’s:
Name: A Coombs
It is also easy to use your PayPal account to send a PayPal donation to: email@example.com
The main advantages of our hill top site for our Kiwi SDR’s is the very quite noise floor, the ability to put up many full size HF dipoles, including top-band aerials and the lack of any nearby transmitters, masts, houses or broadband.
Our repeater site and SDR site is located on Bleadon Hill in Weston-super-Mare. The site is 108m ASL and has clear views towards Minehead, Ilfracombe, Glastonbury, Cardiff, Clevedon and you can clearly see the sugar loaf near Abergavenny in South Wales.
Unfortunately our big top-band dipole is held up by a hilomast, which continuously lets us down.
If you are ever tempted to buy a hilomast, then please think again.
The design is very poor, and the cost of replacement gaskets is incredibly high.
SMC communications, South Midlands Communications has the monopoly on all the spares.
They charge £20 to post a small envelope containing the gaskets!
SMC couldn’t be more awkward or slow in dealing with our order.
Please do not buy a hilomast, as you will be left very disappointed!
Our massive fields have not had any cattle or sheep in them for many years, so all of our outdoor equipment has been very safe and undisturbed, and most importantly there have been no electric fences to destroy our amazingly quiet background noise level.
It gives all of the team a lot of pleasure seeing so many people using the SDR’s, so long may it continue.
It is as easy as using your PayPal account and sending PayPal donations to:
It should be noted that once you have hit the donate button you can pay using your bank card, and you do not need to have a PayPal account.
If you have a PayPal account however, it is very easy to select the ‘friends and family’ option which means that we don’t have to pay any PayPal fees at all, so well worth taking that option.
It is also easy for anyone to send donations via bank transfer, our bank details are:
Name: A Coombs
You may also send a cheque or cash to our address:
1 Hobart Road
At the top of the page there are a few photos of the KiWi’s and our radio site so that you get a feel of the set-up. The photo that seems to be only of trees is really to show that you can easily see Glastonbury Tor from the repeater site, which is in Weston, so its pretty cool.
You can also see Hinkley point nuclear power station, seen across Bridgwater Bay.