I’ve always been interested in microwaves and 23cm is one band up from where I currently have kit (well, ok, apart from the QO100 setup) so I got an SG Labs 23cm transverter from eBay. I thought I may as well have a play before The Powers That Be trash the band as seems threatened. Nice little box. Of course, it gives me a problem now and having just spent an hour cobbling stuff together I am a way away from being able to actually use it.

But I wanted to make sure it worked, not that I suspected otherwise but it’s a new (to me) shiny box and I want to play with it. So, how to feed it… I grabbed the TR-9130 that had been relegated to the workshop since I got a 144MHz transverter and let it acclimatise overnight. Apparently this puts out 5W on its minimum setting which is borderline for the SG Labs kit. Fumble around for my attenuators – but those are F-types.

And of course I had no patch leads to hand… but I did have some useful crimp PL259s to quickly make a lead up.

Running the VHF set through a SWR/power meter into a dummy load confirmed the 5W, of actually more like 6 but SSB should be fine if I don’t shout. I have a short 23cm Yagi so seemed all set for a test. But… something missing… ah yes, what do I receive it on? Ugh.

Ok, run up CubicSDR on the Mac and use the SDRplay box with one of the baby antennas that came with the Pluto. The desk is now covered in bits of kit and wires. Can’t find the signal in CubicSDR. I have a handheld scanner which goes up to 1300… but impractical to slowly run through the band hoping, and anyway it does not do SSB. Setting the TR-9130 to FM caused the transverter to whinge via it’s red LED showing far too much input.

Ah, the frequency meter then, that goes to 2.7GHz. Finally I can see output in the form of a fleeting count on the counter. Getting a BNC cable and the baby Pluto antenna so the antenna is close to the Yagi and I could get a more accurate reading of 1296. Good. Now I can tune to it in CubicSDR and finally see a signal, which saves me from figuring out how to do it all properly in CubicSDR!

And that’s as far as I can get. I need an attenuator so I can run it via the 144MHz transverter which puts out up to 10W, or so I can use FM on the TR-9130 – ok make that two different attenuators. Not that I will get very far with an 8 element Yagi on the desk but in theory, and perhaps using a handheld I should be able to open up GB3WC from here as it’s pretty much line sight.

Lots of faffing around then for an incomplete result… but then, isn’t that what it’s all about?



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