WSPRlite (WSPR Beacon)

SOTABeams (SB) recently developed a new WSPR beacon called the WSPRlite. A small, light, & super portable WSPR beacon that transmits a WSPR signal on 20 or 30 meters....

SOTABeams (SB) recently developed a new WSPR beacon called the WSPRlite. A small, light, & super portable WSPR beacon that transmits a WSPR signal on 20 or 30 meters. Lower bands are also possible with the use of a low pass filter. I jumped on purchasing one of these, and I’m glad I did because they sold out in a matter of days! More units are currently in the works though.

The transmitter requires the use of a 5V power supply & a USB Type A to USB Type B Micro cable (not all cables work, needs to be capable of sending data so the unit can be programmed). I tried a few laying around my house, and a few of them provided power only. I suggest using a USB power bank battery or clean 5v power supply of some sort. Some guys have resorted to using cigarette lighter adapters and phone chargers to power these, but I’d suggest using a clean power source as the latter will most likely present problems for obvious reasons. I tried using a Mophie USB power bank, but the current draw is so low, that the battery shuts down the USB port. There are reports of powerbanks that will stay on though with such low current.

When you first receive the unit, you’ll need to download the drivers which can be found here. Even though the instructions page says Windows 10 will automatically download the drivers, I still had to manually download mine (to both my W7 & W10 machines). It will then need to be programmed with the WSPRlite configuration software. Programming is a snap, just fill in the info. fields & save your settings. The software will then give you a link which you can save to access your results on DXplorer.net. A free one year subscription is included to this online software with your WSPRlite. However, you can also access your data through the regular WSPRnet website. DXplorer includes some different features though, and uses a different interface – a much needed refresh in the area of WSPR!

I’ve been amazed at the results I’m getting with just 200mW of power! This has made me realize that using 5 watts in most cases is even unnecessary! I haven’t had any spots yet that jumped the pond, but I’m getting spots upto 3000km away on 20m. My OCF has a sweet spot in the 20 meter digital range, on 30 meters my SWR is a bit higher so the spots have less distance.

wspr

WSPR results on 20 meters using the WSPRlite 12/14/2016 – 200mW & OCF

WSPR data can be extrapolated to do antenna comparisons, check propagation conditions, or just have plain ole’ fun getting spots. I decided to try mine out on the mobile HF antenna, results were much less than that of my home station antenna, which was expected.

I just love the portability of this thing, it can be taken anywhere! I did have an issue initially with my first WSPRlite, but SOTABeams immediately sent me a replacement. Great customer service! This little guy has gained quite a bit of popularity since it came out. Its a bit more portable & easier to use than a WsprPi or a Ultimate 3S beacon.

One important thing to note regarding WSPR beacons – it’s just as important to operate a ‘receiving’ station when operating with WSPR. The system works best when there is a balance (in general) between receiving stations & beaconing stations. If you’ll note the data on the WSPRnet website – since March 2015, the number of receiving stations increased at a slow rate, but the number of beaconing stations has skyrocketed, probably due to the popularity of such devices. To listen, you don’t even need an HF transceiver, you can use an RTL-SDR stick with some software, so I encourage WSPR users to ‘listen’ as well!

I give the WSPRlite 5 stars. What a neat little device!

Hope to catch you on WSPR sometime!

73

K5ACL

Categories
Digital ModesHFPropagationWSPR
No Comment
  • David
    18 December 2016 at 5:06 AM

    I would steer clear of using any active USB power supply with this device. This is especially true of USB battery packs which have notoriously noisy in-line switching regulators. Ideally use a battery with a series linear regulator. If you use a 12V battery source and do not use a switching pre-regulator, remember to put a dropping resistor in series with the linear regulator so you don’t drop the difference in the regulator itself. The designer of the device really should have abandoned the choice of USB DC input from the outset – it’s just a bad idea.

    • K5ACL
      18 December 2016 at 2:12 PM

      Hi David, yea, almost every USB power source I have is active, shucks! I’ve actually been using my laptop which still provides power to the ports when the computer is off (setting in the BIOS). The USB idea is different, but allows for super portability, it just looks like you have to pay careful attention to your power source. Thank you for this tip!

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