Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 highlights, 2016 goals

DXCC confirmed eQSL/QSL/LotW (red is worked)
This year is almost over. Time to review 2015 radiowise. It was a historical interesting year as we are finally allowed on the 60m band since 2 December 2015. The first 12 DXCC are already confirmed by QSL and eQSL. To start at January, I did meet my goal to build the 30m WSPR AXE transmitter from W5OLF. I did work some more JT65 and JT9 this year and actually without much problems I had in the previous years. Unfortenately I was not able to participate fulltime in the February PACC contest and therefore chosen the QRP section in which I obtained 10th place. I had a lot of fun participating as PE45FREE special event station in May, I would do it again if asked. I won the first Dutch Kingdom Contest in the single operator low power all band section, not bad for a first time. There were not much radio activities in summer except for some 6m activity, I really had to make time for that and hoped for another transatalantic contact but it didn't happen this year. From September we were waiting for the 60m band to get on. And then finally at 2 December we were allowed to get on 60m. I had my most memorable contact this year on the new 60m band with a Aeronautical Mobile. A QSO with Jeroen PH9HB/AM flying in a Boeing 737 at 13km height above France.

VERON honor roll, climbed 1 place
The goals for 2016. Most important and if time & money allows me I have to install the versatower. I decided on which place in the garden it will be standing. But I have to do some digging and gardenwork first before I can actually begin to think about installing the mast. These things require a very good planning as you cannot afford mistakes. Then my endless search for new WSPR DXCC. I really have to increase WSPR activity, I've seen so many DXCC in the activity list I still don't have in my log and I only obtained 2 new ones in 2015! Actually I am busy to rebuild my old ACER laptop to make it were it was intend for at the first place.....radiohobby. I hope to install the new WSJT-X 1.6 on it and do some WSPR. The laptop is not even using half the current the desktop takes. Of course I still hope for some ATNO DXCC but with the decreasing propagation I don't think I will reach another 11 in 2016, time will learn about that. Finally we, as family, have been saving for a trip to.....that's a secret. But I will take the radio with me and it will be a vacation in foreign country.

I've been thinking about that challenge of working 100 DXCC QRP in 100 days or less. A nice certificate will be send to you. It would be a nice goal for the first 100 days. But QRP is taking a lot of time and 100 DXCC is a lot! I might give it a try just to see how far I get...

Like always the year is ending. We already are at the last sentence of 2015. Wishing all my blog readers a prosperous, healthy, happy new year and lots of DX in 2016.






Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 statistics

Traditionally I show you the radio activity statistics. Not to show off but for archive purposes. This does not include my SES PE45FREE activation in which I made 1440 QSOs in May. As expected I made less new ATNO DXCCs. Not only propagation is decreasing but I had less time overall to be on the radio. In total 11 ATNOs were worked this year. Although there are a lot of interesting DXpeditions announced in 2016 I expect the number of ATNOs will be even less as this year. This year I did well on 6m with 80 QSOs. And not to forget our new 60m band which we can now use finally.

Only 2 QSOs more as last year. If you ad the 1440 QSO from PE45FREE I definitely made more QSOs.



Surprisingly most of the QSOs are made on 40m. A band I wasn't that successful at from my previous QTH. Both my vertical and horizontal loop are doing fine on 40.



My first time ever DOMINO QSO was made this year. Wish to do more digital mode experiments next year so I expect to have a longer list next year.



Most QSO were made in March instead of the usual peak at February. That's due to my QRP effort in the PACC and lack of time for this yearly contest.







Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Airplane on 60m!

I almost cannot believe it happened. And how unique this contact was. Really, there are not many commercial planes that still have a HF set on board but luckely PH9HB flies on a Boeing 737NG that still has one. I heard Jeroen several times on 20m and 17m before last 2 years but a QSO did never happen. I even have programmed a alarm in the HRD logbook DXcluster and follow Jeroen's twitter account. This evening PH9HB/AM showed up in red on the DXcluster spotted on....5 MHz. Actually I was listening on 5 MHz trying to compare the vertical with the horizontal loop. The vertical won this evening, I made a difficult contact with Portugal first and left it on the vertical to receive. Propagation was very low. But still I just heard PH9HB/AM calling from the airplane located north of Bordeaux France. Wow! I finally made a QSO with Jeroen and on this new band. I think this was the first time a Airplane Mobile station appeared on the 60m band. This is one of these unique QSOs that will be in my mind for years.


If you ever read this Jeroen. Thanks for this unique QSO. This is what amateurradio is about!

-+-+-+

Update 24-12-2015 a christmas present!







Friday, 18 December 2015

Beaconing with JT modes

We all know WSPR by now I guess. But lately there are some website server issues with http://wsprnet.org. The problem is that the sites server holds all the database data. So if the site cannot be accessed you cannot send and/or receive WSPR reports and not view any either. Looking on other wspr analyzing sites won't help as they all depend and extract data from wsprnet.org. G3XBM Roger is a heavy WSPR user that really depends on it as it is one of the few things he can do with the hobby. Roger has had a stroke and has problems with his voice, besides that he gets easily exhausted. Well, lately Roger posted he might look at other opportunities and software to continue beaconing 6m, 10m and LF. I had the idea just to experiment and use WSJT-X for beaconing, just send BCN PE4BAS JO33 or so. Trying to transmit that proved it didn't work. So I end up transmitting B PE4BAS JO33. I did 2 runs with about 2W output. On JT65 and on JT9. The runaway watchdog makes shure you do 6x 1 minute transmissions before it shuts TX off. The only problem is it won't start again, no automatic sequence like in WSPR. Don't know if it is possible to overrule this with another piece of software? Or to program it in one of the experimental versions? Who knows?

Run 1 6x JT65 on 80m (green spotted me wrong on 160)

Run 2 6x JT9 on 80m



I know WSJT-X is not made for beaconing but for 2-way QSO's. But since there are many all over the world just monitoring it might be interesting to add a beacon possebility as well. Just my idea for the sake of experimental radio/propagation research.






WSJT-X development

Through the facebook WSJT-X (+Devel) / JT65, JT9, JT4 group I became aware of the development of WSJT-X behind the scene so to say and not only by K1JT and his team. Those development versions are downloadable and you can execute them at your own risk of course. Joe K1JT does not recommend it at all because you don't know what problems it can give. But just for curiosity...Many radioamateurs are testing these so called unofficial development versions and from what I read there are some interesting improvements. So, if you really are into experimenting I guess you take your chance and experiment as a radioamateur does not only experiment with radios but also with computers these days. Just to be clear that K1JT is also developing WSJT-X and calls his versions "alpha" releases, those are also experimental. However Joe recommends always to use the official release that can be downloaded from the WSJT download page.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

60m news and activities

I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to transmit on the 60m band as one of the first stations in the Netherlands. It seems it has been noticed last weeks by the 60m community. W8GEX was so kind to add me to his mailinglist to promote activity on 60m.

I found this small article at the 60m mailinglist newsletter most interesting:



From VE9DX about JT65 operation on 60m:
Just thought I would give you a little update on activity on 60 meters 
JT65 from this side. Well we all know now that the Netherlands now has the band and it sure shows.  Last evening sure showed it. All in all a very good evening.  Worked 4X1RF, PA1RAB, PA3FMP, PA3J, PA5JS, PE1RNY, PE2HHN, PE4BAS, PF7M, PH9B, HA7LC, LA5LLA, and MW0RRS.  Also heard PA9CC, PE1MXP, and US0LW.
Also nailed down state number 47 ( S Dak ) on 60 JT65 as well.
All in all a good evening. As I mentioned before there are 2 great spots to follow where one is being heard. www.https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html  and www.http://hamspots.net/jt/.
All activity I have found is on 5.357 with most activity just a little 
above the dial frequency  (plus 500 hz to plus 1500hz). Never did bother listening on CW or SSB on the other channels last evening.
     73 Andy (VE9DX)

I guess W8GEX has add everyone who has been spotted on the DX cluster on 60m from the Netherlands to his mailinglist.

Included were some interesting links:




When I came home today I found a surprise waiting, a direct QSL card from VE1YX Bob from our 60m QSO on 5 December. Thanks Bob, I'll return you a card tomorrow. My second direct card in 5 years! Wow...And my first QSL confirming a QSO on 5 MHz.



Monday, 14 December 2015

EI2KC

One of my favorite hamradio bloggers is EI2KC Anthony. He's a great DXer in my opinion and a great writer as well. And if you like te look at vlogs. Well, he is doing that as well on his blog. Always nice to meet a fellow blogger on air. I was just finishing a contact with PD15XMAS when I heard EI2KC making a QSO on 40m today. So I quickly send him a message via facebook that we could work each other. Luckely it did work out and we made a nice QSO. I had my mobile phone nearby and made a video from almost the whole QSO. Quality is not that good unfortenately, the sound was a lot better. But you get the impression...




#10m arrl contest review


Well, not much to review. I had less time then expected and I end up with only 43 QSOs from 25 DXCC. Conditions were not that good but also not that bad if you had a good antenna. Again it occured to me that I receive far better as transmit. I don't think that it is a power issue though, I think it is the receiving station on the other end. Am I disappointed? No not really, there are many 10m contests in the future. The only problem is that propagation is decreasing in the next years so it will only get more difficult to make contacts on 10m. What amazed me was that 10m would be poor if you look it up on the internet. I don't believe what I read anymore about propagation, better experience it yourself. The propagation forecast I written down in a previous post was correct though. At 10 UTC I heard some VK stations but no contact unfortenately.





Saturday, 12 December 2015

Bad luck mobile contesting

First contact this morning was at 6:24 UTC  before going to the job with PI4DX in the southern part of the Netherlands. PI4DX was booming in with S5, they don't need propagation at all...Of course I was at home and not mobile...

At lunchbreak I went with the car to my favorite DX place. Setup the station and.....
I hate it when something does not work when you need it. In this case the 12V powercable to my FT-817 broke. So, I could do 2 things. Get back to the job and fix it and loose all my free time, I only have a hour at lunchbreak, or try and make some contacts on the internal battery. I've choosen the last option and made some valuable contacts with only 2,5W. The advantage was that I was at a excellent DX location on top of a dyke surrounded by nothing then wet farmland. Imagine that, using my converted DV27L (1/4 wave on 10m) most of the stations came in with S7-9+30. Unfortenately time was not on my side and I had to leave for the job again. I made 5 QSOs from the mobile though. The lucky ones were: MU0GSY, EA8AH, CT1DVV, CR2X and TM6M. Congrats picking up my tiny signal, I know it was not easy...

After searching and measuring the powercable it was clear to me that the fuseholder was broken.
I decided to pull the original Yaesu fuseholder out and not repair it but just replace it by a professional car fuse holder. The advantage is that when it breaks it's easy to get fuses as every garage and DIY shop has them.









Finally I managed to shoot a video from my struggle to get EA8AH in the log. If you take a look you will see that 12V supply is on and off. And just when he answers my call it is going off permanently.







Friday, 11 December 2015

Disappointing 10m band just before the 10m ARRL contest


 Monitoring and transmitting WSPR on 28 MHz (10m band) I was a little disappointed. You see propagation decreasing as expected. The 10m ARRL contest will be more and more a challenge in the next couple of years. I personally like that. My first 10m contest was in 2006 and I remember I only made 22 QSOs in the whole weekend. I was using 100W on a 6 element logper beam at 12 Mtr agl at that time! It was hard work to get those 22 contacts and amazingly got first place in the Netherlands (only participant). I'm curious what 10 meters brings us this weekend! 73 from a 10m diehard ;-)



PE4BAS TX 1W 24 hours

PE4BAS RX 24 hours





Thursday, 10 December 2015

Get back to 28 MHz

With the upcoming 10m ARRL contest I had to leave 60m and concentrate on 10m again. I hope propagation will be good for 10m. And as far as I can see via WSPR spots last days it will be good enough. Unfortenately personally I will only have a few moments to contest. Duty calls and I have to go to the job on Saturday. I will take the FT-817 and 1/4 wave 10m mobile antenna with me so I can contest at lunchbreak. Most of my efforts will be Sundaymorning as that afternoon we have to go for a family visit. Till Saturday I'll try some 10m WSPR with the usual 1W to see how propagation evolves. I'll use my vertical for that as it is omni directional and better on 10 as my 80m horizontal loop.

To calculate my chances I used VOACAP to do a prediction, although it's like the weather, you can't actually predict what will happen:

Australia/New Zealand/Asia: best time from 9-11 UTC with 80% chance at 10 UTC
Middle east/East Africa: best time from 8-9 UTC about 30% chance
Africa: best time 9-14 UTC about 60% chance
South America: best time 11-16 UTC about 40% chance
Central America: best time 14 UTC about 50% chance
North America: best time14-15 UTC about 10% chance

Steve G0KYA's propagation forecast gives about the same prediction. The advantage is that you can see it on the world map.

I was only spotted by PD0OHW from a village nearby this morning, no DX. That doesn't look promising! I spotted VK3KCX (2W), OZ7IT(5W) and ON7KO(5W) myself.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A week on 5 Mhz

We are allowed to transmit on 5 MHz for exactly 1 week now. Time to evaluate the band conditions and my log. Band conditions as far as I experienced are going up and down and are sometimes very local. Last evening for example I saw a few Dutch stations that were spotted by VE9DX, but not me! However I was spotted by 4X1RF, I didn't see many others that were spotted in Israel. I was only able to get on the radio in the evening and just one morning. So that doesn't give a clear overview of the propagation so far. But what did I work this week on 60m? Lots of Dutch stations of course. But also DX, most of the time on JT65A as it can be done remote from the living room. But I did some SSB as well.

Worked 1st week on 60m: PA4GB (Netherlands), WP3UX (Puerto Rico), M0MPM (England), IZ0MIT (Italy), OZ1TMK (Denmark), HA5CLF (Hungary), A45XR (Oman), VE2DLC (Canada), LZ2DF (Bulgaria), GI0HWO (Northern Ireland), 9A2AA (Croatia),  4X1RF (Israel), WA1NGH (USA), OY1R/MM (Faroer Isl. (not counting for DXCC))

Not bad I think. It could have been several more as there are some West Indies stations active. So far 13 DXCC that count. I don't know exactly how many DXCC can be worked on 5 MHz?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Nice contact on 60

Just switched on the radio yesterday evening for some fun on the new acquired 60m band. A big signal came in from OY1R/MM. Wow, 9+30dB! I suspected he was in the "Eemshaven" harbour nearby. And indeed Regin confirmed he was on a vessel just arriving in the harbour. That's about 3-4km from my QTH. We had a very pleasant QSO and he told me he was on the bridge working with the ship's Sailor radio and 150W. Antenna was a vertical with autotuner. I asked Regin why he did not sign PA/OY1R/MM as he was in the Netherlands. Regin told me there was no need for that as a Maritime Mobile station does not count for DXCC. He always use his homecall regardless in which country he is with the ship.

Monday, 7 December 2015

New videos from the IC-7300

A useful simple online analyzing tool

According to the logs received page there is another QRP 40m participant (PA9M) that send in his log. So I guess my chance to hold another Dutch record is minimum. Well, it doesn't matter. In the mean time PA3DAT Aloys informed us via a dutch hamradio forum that there is a very useful online analyzing tool here:

http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

My stats


Although the sites has it's faults it is looking very well, better as Qscope I think. And it's simple, everyone is able to use it as long as there is a log in the populair formats. To show you I uploaded my CQWW CW log.

Some features: Map with pointers, Grid overlay, Stats, List of DXCC worked with flags, QSO times, QSO graphics per hour.

I hope DL4MFM will continue to add features to this site. Although I like the few simple things you can view now.

The list of countries is a nice feature. But since it could become a large list, scrolling is necessary. It would be nice to have a option for displaying it on a separate tab. Besides that it seems the list of countries is not up-to-date.

Only a few minor things on a very nice and clear looking analyzing site. And best of all, it is free!


Saturday, 5 December 2015

5 MHz on the other side of the world

I was just spotted on the other side of the world on 60m. VK7BO Alan from Tasmania (Australia) gave me a -13dB report. I saw he spotted a lot more Dutch stations in the last few days (even before we were allowed to transmit there!). So unfortunate it is not allowed to transmit on 60m in Australia.

Australia : WICEN ( Wireless Institute of Australia Civil Emergency Network ) stations are allocated the frequencies 5102.0 and 5355.0 kHz for emergencies. Non-amateur call signs [ e.g. AXF404 & AXF405 ] are used together with ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority) type approved radio equipment such as the commercial HF SSB transceivers [ e.g. Codan or Barrett ] normally used for Outback communications in the VKS737 Australian HF network - which serves remote travelers.

60m is exclusively for emergency communications in both Australia as New Zealand. I hope somewhere in the future the 60m band will be open to every country in the world.

Chinese KX-3 clone?

Is this the answer from the Chinese on the Elecraft KX-3? Well, I don't know. Haven't seen this one on any other blog. The type of radio looks very much like the populair little Elecraft. And it isn't exactly cheap like we always think about Chinese radios. The FX-9A seems to be a follow up on the FX-4A. You can find some videos on youtube.

eBay FX-9A for as long as the link is there!


Thursday, 3 December 2015

First day 5 MHz in the Netherlands

First stations spotted. TX on exactly 11 UTC.
It was exciting and I had to wait till we could transmit on 5 MHz. First QSO was with my neighbour PA4GB Gerrie who was waiting together with me and about 3 Km from my QTH. The JT65A frequency was crowded and stations were waiting and already calling me before 11 UTC. But when I could transmit there were too many on the frequency and I hardly made a QSO. Best DX was WP3UX in Puerto Rico on SSB. I monitored the DXcluster(s) and saw many Dutch stations making firsts with USA/Canada and a few other countries. I was up early today (5 UTC) but the 60m was quiet. I was glad I waited for those first moments. The historic access to the 60m for amateurradio stations within the Netherlands.

Below some video I shot in the first 20 minutes. First part is a QSO between PA1A and PE5T, unfortenately they were not too strong here, however Volmet on 5450 Khz is strong. 2nd part is my QSO with PA1HR Hans. Like always Hans has a great signal.



Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 MHz allowed tomorrow!

According to a new publication from the goverment we are allowed to transmit on 5 MHz in the Netherlands tomorrow. That is exactly after 2300 UTC today (Midnight 00:00 local time). Frequency between 5350 - 5450 KHz with a max. of 100W and only if you got a "Full" license. Since the mililtairy is the primary user we are allowed on the frequency on a secundairy basis. That means if you hear militairy users you cannot interupt, although I doubt we will hear much militairy there.

I don't know if I will be first on air on 60m. For some people it's important to make that first QSO. I might get on air tomorrow very early in the morning.

If you want to be succesful in making contacts you have to observe the different rules in Europe and outside. All SSB communication is on USB unlike 160, 80 and 40m. Besides that some countries use channels and slices of spectrum in the 60m band.

For info look at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/60-meter_band
http://hflink.com/60meters/

Good luck working on 60m. And hopefully I will work some of you readers if you're allowed to transmit there.