Thursday, 16 February 2017

Sked with M0YKS

Another sked with a blogger I've been following for years. M0YKS Simon from Bradford England has started a blog more then 10 years ago and has been a example for my blogging about the hobby. Simon and I both are in busy family life but we found time to meet each other on the frequency. Had a great QSO with Simon for almost a hour on 80m. We have several common interests hobby and family wise. Great to have a QSO with you Simon. Here is a surprise:

I see Simon already posted his version of the story. Wow, what a signals. Never seen myself as a big gun station hi. Doing a fine job yourself as seen in the video.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

PACC 2017 review

Event: PACC 2017
Section: LOW power SSB
Logger: N1MM+ latest version
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna 1: 84m horizontal loop @7m agl
Antenna 2: Coppertape vertical (7,1m)  @9m agl
Antenna 3: 10m HB9CV @6m agl

I worked QRP in the last 2 years, a choice I had to make as I was not able to participate full time. This year I was able to spend more time in the PACC contest and so I choose the low power (100W) section. Unfortenately I was not able to start at time and when I started I had the idea there was no one on the bands. Watching the time I knew the contest has started but propagation was just that bad. The first hours of the contest was hard work. The only station that could be worked easily was TL8TT (Central Africa Republic) on 20m, 17m and 15m a first 2017 ATNO for me.

Then it occured to me that my output power was less as normal I suspected the voicekeyer and when I disconnected it everything was allright again. It gave me also problems with RF on my modulation on 15m. I had those problems before and last week I soldered a isolation transformer in the audioline just to prevent these things. I removed the transformer, connected everything like it was before and next problem was a big hum on the modulation. Opened the voicekeyer again checking every connection, couldn't see anything wrong, still a large hum. I didn't want to do the rest of the contest without a voicekeyer as most of the time I would call CQ especially deep into the night. I went on a half hour calling including hum, at least the modulation was ok. But I was not really happy with the situation so after opening it a third time I had the idea the printboard was not in good position and might be having a connection with the alu box chassis it is in. Not shure about that, but I took especially care to have it in good position when closing the box again and this time all problems were over. Of course this took me more as a hour valuable contest time. At sunset I just had 75 QSOs in my log a absolute minimum, that means only 15 QSOs in a hour average. My hopes for a reasonable score were gone.

Still it was not only disaster in the radioshack, I worked my share of DX in the mean time. Invaluable multipliers were the contacts with TL8TT on 20 and 15m (probabely not counting for the contest), PJ4DX (Bonaire), PY5AB (Brazil) and K3ZO/WX3B (USA) on 15m. I even worked a second multiplier on 10m with PY5QW (Brazil), again proof that my 10m HB9CV is amazing! When it went dark 20m became dead soon and the low bands came to life slowly. 40m didn't show the best ever although some contacts were made there despite of the RTTY QRM. 80m was quiet even at the best time slot (19:30 UTC) and I moved to 160m which was quite open to my surprise. I started to call CQ after a small S&P and it amazed me how many came back to my tiny signal. Even 5B4AIF on Cyprus answered my call (worked him on all bands except 10), I'd call that DX for my modest setup (160m only on the vertical). As you can see in the graph the rate jumps skyhigh midnight to fall down quickly after. I went to bed at 01:30 UTC and was there again at 6 UTC. I don't think I would have made many QSOs at nighttime, although you never know. I did 99% running at 80m and best DX that got back to me was PJ4DX (Bonaire) and K6ND (near Boston USA) as always 80m was my best band by far with 227 QSO made.

Some things during this contest that should not occur:

* N1MM+ disconnected the radio when I quickly tuned over the band. Or jumped with the keyboard from station to station in the bandmap. It just lost the connection and I had to reset to get connection again. It happened at least 10 times and not during transmit (no RFI). Connection between N1MM+ and the radio always has been a issue here and it seems it gets worse in every new update. I don't know what causes this, HRD never gives me a problem.

* I mysteriously lost some logged calls. I know for shure I logged them and the next moment I log another station the station before that QSO is gone. Happened 3 times so I lost 3 QSOs. Can't remember their calls. There was at least one UA that I lost. Not shure what is the cause of this as well???

* I worked a lot of dupes. Oh yes they were in my log and I don't argue when contesting, I just logged them. 10 dupes in a reply on my CQ!!! Never worked 10 dupes ever in a contest! Anyway, 2 QSOs gives at least 50/50 chance I am in the log with a correct call.

I learn from every PACC contest. Sometimes you got luck, sometimes it is just stupidity and sometimes you really can't do anything about it.

Looking forward to the next time....

Friday, 10 February 2017

PACC preparations

Running out of time....sometimes you can't help it.

As the PACC contest is ideal to test new or experimental antennas I have been dreaming of setting up a experimental "high" inverted-V antenna for 40m fed by open line so I could use it on other bands as well. But it went no further as dreams, I had absolutely no time and still have to hurry to prepare myself for the PACC. I just updated N1MM+ this evening, inserted the PACC contest and tested the radio and equipment. All seems to be working. The only problem is I didn't hear much SSB signals from 40m and up. The only bands open were 160m and 80m. That doesn't sound/look good for this weekends PACC contest...

Well, last week was not the best for us. We had a big problem with our central heating installation. This is a big problem in the winter of course with temperatures below 0 degrees celsius. In the Netherlands it is common to have a boiler which is powered by natural gas. This gas has been found below the province I live in around 1959 and became a big income for our country. We dutch are very much spoiled with this kind of heating and in most houses it is just a matter of turn the thermostat and you got heat. Last year in Denmark I discovered the house we were in was only heated by electricity and wood, no gas. A strange discovery for me and I have been thinking what are common heating systems in other countries around the world. Here this natural gas well is almost gone, it's used and we knew for years this would come to an end. Still they try to squeeze the last gas out of it and that causes a lot of problems in this province (earthquakes, lowering groundlevel etc.). Anyway, that's another story. Our heating installation is from the early seventies and made of unprotected steel tubes. It got rotten and tubes were leaking last week, al lot of trouble because the tubes were below the bathroom under a 50cm layer of concrete. Luckely we managed to make a emergency connection to the house with the help of a central heating technician. However part of the house is not heated at the moment and it is just the part below the radio shack. So, hopefully a couple of hours contesting will heat the shack a bit as outside it stays cold, freezing cold. I feel lucky my shack has been isolated very well although temperature this evening was 5 degrees.

If time allows I will check antennas tommorow and push up the 10m HB9CV. I don't think I will work much on 10 but you never know? My feeling is that the majority of QSOs will be on the low bands this contest....