A few years ago I began to experiment with WSPR. I had recently purchased a SignaLink USB and WSPR was one of the digital modes that I used it for at that time. The radio that I used it with was my IC-718. I used the WSPR software running in Windows and the setup worked well. It was very interesting to experiment with WSPR and my antennas. I typically ran the 718 at 1 Watt.
Earlier this year I read some posts by Andrew, VK1AD and others about the SOTABEAM WSPRlite device. It’s an intriguing little transmitter that does nothing but WSPR. Configure it, connect a power source and an antenna, and you are WSPR-ing at up to 200 mW on 20m and 30m out of the box, and 40m, 80m, and 160m with an additional lowpass filter kit. I put it on my things to do list and there it sat until a box arrived this week. SOTABEAMS has an arrangement with DX Engineering to sell the WSPRlite and the filters in the US.
The device itself is very tiny, about 2 inches square:
Nothing comes in the package except a thank you note and directions to the DXplorer site to obtain all manner of materials for the WSPRlite including the instructions, the configuration app, drivers, firmware updates, and the revnotes for both. I downloaded the configuration app and drivers and installed them. The WSPRlite device has a very simply interface. There is a micro USB port for comms to the configuration tool and power, an SMA connector for the antenna, a momentary pushbutton to start the device, and a multi-color LED. The LED has a few states\patterns to indicate the status of the radio. In less than 10 minutes the WSPRlite was up and running.
Since my main wire antenna is currently down due to a recent tree removal project I was only able to use my 4BTV. I let the WSPRlite run for a bit and within a short period of time spots started to appear on the DXplorer site and the main WSPRnet site.
The purchase of a WSPRlite radio includes a license for DXplorer. There is a button in the configuration app that launches a browser with a custom URL for your callsign. The DXplorer site is interesting in that it allows you to view a table and map of your spots like the WSPRnet site but it’s real purpose is to allow comparisons between your WSPR spot data and that of other stations.
To make a comparison DXplorer presents a list of stations sorted by distance from your station. For each station you can select a map or graph comparison but perhaps more interesting is a simultaneous spot table\chart comparing S\N and power.
Obviously I wouldn’t know what type of antenna was being used for the compared station but one could contact the station and ask. The WSPRlite purchase includes a one year license to DXplorer. After the first year it’s £19.95 annually. It’s interesting to play with for the moment. The DXplorer site contains a good overview in a presentation.
After letting it run for a fair while I accumulated over 1,000 spots. I got some spots in Australia and New Zealand on 20m very early in the morning but 20m to Europe was not working until much later in the afternoon. All of this at 200mW.
Band conditions were about as they have been as of late.
Now I need to go to my bench and assemble the lowpass filter kit so that I can try this out on 40m. Once I get my Cobra UltraLite Senior back up I can do some A\B comparisons with the 4BTV.
Overall I am really pleased with the WSPRlite radio and the DXplorer site. It’s a very well done package and is a nice addition to my station. It was very easy to configure and has been reliably WSPR-ing for most of a day now. It will certainly provide some additional insight into my antennas and propagation, and the ability to compare with others is interesting. I’d recommend adding a WSPRlite to your station.