Sunday, 28 February 2016

I'm a believer...

Yes, I am. No, I'm not religious. But I believe in QRP. QRP with 5W or less. And yes, DX is possible, even with SSB. But you need to be patient, need to have time, need to be at the right frequency and need a lot of luck. If you have all of it you work the stations you desire. Easy? No absolutely not! But it will give you more satisfaction. Besides that if you work DX QRP you accomplish something other HAMradio operators find hard to believe.


Propagation forecast is "poor" for 12m today. However, I don't care about poor. I just listen and see if the DX is there. And yes, through the day I heard DX several times on the 12m band. That doesn't mean I work the DX, just listen. Then in the evening greyline propagation lifted a little. I made a QSO with KC9NBV, Indiana, USA.

Amazing? No, not amazing. This morning was amazing. Calling CQ on 30m. I was answered by ZP5RPO from Paraquay. Wow, that is what I call DX. But more amazing a few minutes later my CQ was anwered by ZL3NB from Bill from Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand. A distance of about 18500km.

So, you see, I am a believer. A QRP believer, even when propagation is not that good.

I'm now at 65 DXCC in the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge. 35 to go...

Some stats:

http://ny4g.blogspot.nl/2016/01/qrp-challenge-update-as-of-day-5.html



Friday, 26 February 2016

A cycle within a cycle

Everyone knows the sunspot cycle. A cycle that is there with a timespan of about 11 years. The amount of sunspots gives you an idea of propagation on the HF bands. Anything around 100 or above is good.  At the moment we just had a peak of suncycle 24 and sunspots are going down.  With the decline of cycle 23 back in 2004/2005 I already noticed another cycle. It is the rotation of the sun in about 27 days. That could mean that "good" or actually better propagation is appearing every 27-28 days as well as any active sunspots will appear again within that time. This can especially be noticed when in the solarcycle minimum. I've been searching for this phenomenon on the internet but only little can be found. Though I noticed it several times through the low sunspot years and others probabely did as well. But it is not known by many HAM radio operators.

Find some excellent written info understanding HF propagation here:

http://www.qsl.net/co8tw/Understanding%20HF%20propagation.pdf

A day by day International Sun Spot Number can be found here:

http://sidc.be/silso/eisnplot


Best 10m propagation this month was at 16 February when I worked 7P8C with only 5W on 10m. At least, that was my best day. Several HAM radio operators noticed that commonly best 10m propagation occurs after a sunspot peak. Counting 27 days from the peak whe see at the day by day plot the next peak could appear around 1-3 March, it doesn't mean that the propagation will be excellent those days but expect better propagation at the end of next week. Last week propagation was low. I've been calling with 5W to obtain some new DXCC for the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge but unfortenately signals were too low and there were only a few weak spots from my signal. So instead I switched to the new 60m band which was open for a short moment. I worked MM0GGI John from north of Scotland. And then for a new DXCC on 60 TF1EIN Heimir was calling me. Of course this were 100W contacts. Signals were not that good on 60m either.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Some new certificates

A while ago I received the certificate for being 3rd at the Frysian 11 cities contest. Working the 12 multipliers in that contest is a important thing. The FRAG (Frysian Radio Amateur Groep) did submit a very nice "Worked 12 multiplier - 11 cities contest" certificate last year only to their members who worked the 12 multipliers. But together with the organizing VERON section A14 they decided to send the certificate for non members as well this year.









I received the certificate and want to thank the organizing radiogroups. If you like to have this certificate as well next year I already invite you to participate in this contest and try to work these 12 multipliers.







Monday, 22 February 2016

A visit from OY1R

Sunday evening, we were just at our diner when the doorbell rang. Imagine, it's almost dark, raining, windy weather. Who's visiting us now? I opened the door and was really surprised by Regin OY1R. He came with his bicycle from the Eemshaven to personally bring me his QSL from the contact we made at 7 December last year on 60m. Of course I invited him in to show him my shack and instantly return the QSL card. Wow, I was really surprised and could almost not find English words to communicate. Writing is so much easier then talking another language. At least that is for me. Well I showed him the station and we had a chat, Regin left after a short time as he had to return to the ship. I hope he liked the visit and hopefully next time we have a bit more time to have a good talk with a warm cup of coffee. Have a safe return to Faroer Islands Regin. OY1R/MM de PE4BAS see you on 60m.



Photo copyright eemshavenonline.nl

Position Sunday evening

Sunday, 21 February 2016

GRORAT radiomeeting/rally

It has been a while ago I went to a regional radiorally. Actually this one is new and on en new location. GRORAT (Groninger Radio Amateur Treffen) stands for our provincial radio meeting. But since it is a market you better call it a radiorally like they do in the UK. Personally I did go for a few items I need and to socialize with some known fellow radioamateurs. Of course I did meet a lot of guys there which you normally only contact via radiowaves, fine to see them all. I found my item, or at least I think I found it. A new 12 pole switch for a MFJ antenna tuner. I hope it will fit in. Besides that I found some ferrite for my next project and a very handy electronic analyzer tool to measure all kinds of transistors. Last but not least I bought a morse key. Yes, you have to start somewhere. Unfortenately I had no time do unpack and enjoy all my items this weekend as I bought a used toy race track as well for my little girl. Guess what I've been doing the whole Sunday...

Some ferrite....etc. for a new project I'm working on.

Looking for a paddle, but they are expensive. This one was brand new and looks solid. It had a friendly price.

Friday, 19 February 2016

PACC 2016 log analyzing stats

Amazing how fast you forget things. Till you see it on another website. I almost forgot about the simple analyzing tool I wrote about in December last year. A great tool to simply analyze the PACC log. PF5T Frank used it in his story about the PACC. So, I just wanted to see some stats from my own log and what I did not know was the total time spend at the contest.

Only 8 hours and 42 minutes were spend in this 24 hour contest. Bringing my rate on roughly a half QSO per minute. I think that is not bad for a QRP station.
Some stats from the periods I was actually active. I missed the important time slot Saturday evening (19:30 UTC). But there were enough stations on 80m which could be worked through S&P. A amazing jump was made in the last hour of the contest. I remember 20m was open to Russia and it was like bees on honey. Strong signals from the east just what you need as QRP station.

Since the multiplier was 84 I thought to have worked more DXCC. But forgot that CW multipliers counted extra because of the new rule. 33 DXCC is not bad at all. Reunion, USA and Moldova as most interesting. I missed Canada. And never heard Australia actually, but that could be because I was not on the band at the right time.
Now I'm asking myself what my score would be if I did participate the full 24 hours? Well, it might be I do a QRP effort next year? I cannot decide on that already. But I certainly look forward to the PACC 2017 already.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

7P8C worked

After EI2KC placed a video from 7P8C Lesotho on his weblog I really became interested to work this DXpedition. The problem only is that my best chance is 10m or 12m at the end of the morning. I had 30 minutes time to go for it and with success. 7P8C was S7 on 12m and I worked them with 100W easily for a ATNO. But then, I received them well on 10m CW with about S8. I wanted to work them QRP for  the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge. And yes, after about 20 times calling I was definitely in the log. It brings my challenge on a total of 62 DXCC. It was really worth 30 minutes of DXing.


I read messages on the internet on several pages that propagation on 10m has to be poor due to sunactivity and magnetic fields from aurora. Strange I had the idea there is still good propagation. Just after I worked Lesotho I quickly listened to 11m propagation and heard stations from Thailand and Australia quite strong on the band. However on 10m SSB no activity. Conditions were good till hours after sunset, still decoded Argentina, Brazil and Chile on JT65.


 

Monday, 15 February 2016

PACC 2016 review

Event: PACC 2016
Logger: N1MM+ most updated version
Station: Yaesu FT-817ND (5W)
Antenna: HB9CV at 6m AGL, 84m horizontal loop at 7m AGL.

Incredible propagation in my eyes. Or the FT-817 does receive very well? I don't know. I had limited time due to birthday obligations but the score beats my imagination. I aimed for a few more QSOs as last year but it became 2 times more. 10m propagation was good though there were not that much participating stations, most came from Russia. Surprisingly I received FR4QT (Reunion) very well on my HB9CV and as his signal improved I managed to work him for a multiplier and points. Still on 10m I managed to work 4Z5LU (Israel) on CW without problems but struggled with neighbourstation PA0O who was just a few Khz down from him. A incredible signal from K3ZO (59+) on 15m SSB and worked him of course, my only USA station this contest. Not that I didn't hear the DX, but work them with 5W is another difficult task. I noticed a few exotic calls from dutchman abroad. One of them from Z21 (Zimbabwe) but he was not calling CQ but S&P working another dutch station. The majority of QSOs were made to the Netherlands followed by Russia. Incredible signals within Europe on 20m, that could be due to my horizontal loop. I even managed to work a station from Utrecht (PA85SVS) on 20m, he was a real 59 at my side. Normally 20m contacts within the Netherlands are difficult even with QRO. For 160m the loop was disconnected on one side and used as a endfed, I was surprised I could make some QSOs with QRP even with France and Poland for multipliers. As you notice I used a bit of CW as well. Actually I dared to give a CQ on 80m and didn't expect what happened next. I was creating a pile-up I couldn't manage and I respect the operators for having so much patience with me. So sorry for those that called but I couldn't work. I really don't "speak or understand" CW and have to do it all with the computer. Many operators tried to key s-l-o-w-l-y creating a even worse decoding environment for my decoding software (FLDIGI). For the software the best code is generated by another computer with a speed of about 20-25wpm. It is clear to me now that for serious contesting and DXing  you really need to learn the CW language. I have been calling CQ on 80m (best band) several times but with 5W it doesn't give much response and it's just for "taking a breath". S&P is very intensive and exhausting at times but definitely give you points and multipliers with QRP. This was just my second time with QRP in the PACC contest, actually it is more fun with 100W. But with limited time it is really nice to learn how to work with very low power. It gives you an idea what is possible. Unfortunately the QRP section is a mixed section, to end high or win this section you really need to know CW. However I'm very curious what my place will be in the end. Time will tell...

Below a video from PA3JD Joop from Dedemsvaart. He showed up before on my blog in a small soundclip from the Frysian 11 cities contest last year. Joop did participate in the PACC this year QRP with 5W as well but only with CW. As you can see around his shack Joop does have a lot of old school gear and does make CW with a straight key and paddle. Wow, I wish I'm able to do this as well in the future. Video published with permission (tnx Joop).





Wednesday, 10 February 2016

PACC 2016 change in rules

Normally I'm already busy to get ready for the PACC contest. But like last year I got 2 birthday parties both Saturday and Sunday. So a full time participation is not possible. I will enter the contest with QRP like last year. The target is to beat the score from last year, we will see. As a extra I hope to work some extra DXCC for the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge.

The rules for 2016 changed as every DXCC is now counting both is SSB as CW. In a multi operator contest station that means you should have a equal CW/SSB operating to get a better score. That is not always possible and could be a disadvantage. Our provincial conteststation PA6GR for instance will miss the top CW operator PA4O. PA0VAJ Jan will take his place. PA4O will contest on the PA1A location in the High Power CW only section.

A good site to view the battles and may to add your live score yourself is http://cqcontest.net. I'll
probabely try to add my score there live as well. Just for the fun of it.



Well, to those who are competing seriously and will do the complete 24 hour contest without any sleep. I wish you all good luck. Hopefully I will work you this year. There will be a year I manage to go for it the full 24 hours somewhere in the future I hope...

Please read the rules and contest log program setup tipes carefully. You can find hem here:

http://www.contestkalender.nl/pacc.php


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Wind


This time of the year we always have a storm season. Windforces from 90-120 km/h occur on some days. You can now see a live map from the wind and force around the world here:

http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-0.93,53.76,1056/loc=11.502,63.284

I can look at this map for ages. If you click on a location you can see the windforce in km/h. Interesting to see how the wind moves over the ocean. Especially around the coast of Greenland there seems to be always a storm.





Saturday, 6 February 2016

Something complete different


The nice thing of this blog is that you can write about actually everything you like. Doesn't have to do necessarely with hamradio, radio or antennas. So, today I write about something completely different. Though actually it was a other HAMradio operator that got me involved in this. I wrote about it before 3 years ago. G1HGD Mike sent me a tape from a band called "Porcupine Tree". I immidiatly liked the music although he sent me some other tapes as well from various artists.

Since then I bought some CDs and went to a concert here in Groningen in 2003. Now, it's 2016. Porcupine Tree is not active at the moment but their leadsinger Steven Wilson a musical multitalent is. Of course music is very personal, so this blogpost is actually just for me and those who are interested. I'm not really concert minded, but if a artist you like is playing nearby only once in the 13 years....well....you have to go. Steven Wilson's music can best be described as "magical but at the same time horrifying" strange combination isn't it. It is very complex music, you like it or you disgust. But just like I wrote, music is very personal. I get goose bumps from it. Especially when you are there when it is played live. What can I tell, it got me busy this week and I really enjoyed the concert. Now afterwards it's just viewing photos from the concert and listening to his newest albums (Hand.Cannot. Erase & 4 1/2) and remembering. Will he be here again in 10-15 years? I really don't know as Steven's popularity rises he cannot play everywhere. Certainly not at small concerthalls anymore.
Some highlights....everything actually as the complete album was played live. After a short break he played some other songs from the newest "left over songs" album. The special thing was that a a large transparant cloth was in front of the stage, they projected both on background as on this cloth which gave a very nice effect. Shining lights from behind in different angles gave a very hypnotizing effect. Hard to describe as you need to see this to experience it. Below a short video which is from last years tour in the USA.



Well, this post has nothing to do with HAMradio. Not enough to start another blog and why should I. I like it and it's my blog (sorry I'm selfish). Hope you readers liked it and otherwise just wait....I got lots of HAMradio related posts still as a concept. A lot of ideas, a lot of radio experiments and a lot of radio experiences. Stay tuned!




Friday, 5 February 2016

60m compare vertical GP & horizontal loop at daytime


I had some time left to do a quick test at daylight on 60m last Wednesday. Compared the horizontal loop connected to the FT-817 with the vertical on the IC-706. Of course there is a lot of difference. Nice test though.



Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IC-7300 Basic manual

For those that intend to buy one! (Click on the title to get it). You can already study how this radio works. So, I'll wait till someone dares to buy one first and test it. The Icom IC-7300 is most likely to replace my 16 year old Icom IC-706MK2G.




Illigal Dutch 60m transmissions & challenge results

Have been on receive 60m with the FT-817 and horizontal loop. Really good results.

Number of unique spots

Total distance chart
Notice neighbourstation PA0O ends higher in the chart. Why? Because of this:


Jaap received 2 spots from ZS6SRL I didn't spot. That and 3 spots more from ZS4ARV. However I spotted ZS6KTS 2 times instead of 1 by PA0O. But total distance counts, not the amount of spots for this part of the challenge.

When attending the shack this morning I unplugged the laptop. I immidiatly noticed Dutch calls on 60m WSPR. PE1BVQ was spotted already yesterday, I'm shure it was a mistake from Hans and I only spotted him once. But PA7MEM was spotted 5 times and PE1CMT 22 times. Not shure if they are aware that they are making illigal transmissions? The 60m WSPR frequency is outside our band allocation!



Tuesday, 2 February 2016

30m results in the WSPR challenge

This are the results from PE1ITR´s WSPR challenge page. Monitored 30m with my horizontal loop monday 1-Feb. Immidiatly notice a high place again and a place in the distance chart.

Number of unique spots

Total distance

It is clear that receive is a lot better on the loop especially from very weak signals. At the moment I'm monitoring 60m. So far 15 unique spots were made. Although tomorrows numbers in the chart could be lower as I was monitoring earlier then the actual time the data is taken from the site.

Please notice, Dutch stations are NOT allowed to transmit on the 60m WSPR frequency!




Monday, 1 February 2016

A possible nr. 80

I went back on 30m WSPR receive with the horizontal loop today. After some disappointing days with the vertical I want to see if I end higher in the WSPR challenge charts. I already see a total of 104 unique spots since 0:02 UTC today. I also see that a lot of milliwatt stations are spotted. DK6UG and ZL1RS did spot 168 unique stations yesterday. It is obvious we in Europe will never end high in the distance charts as most of the spots are nearby compared to what they spot in ZL, ZS and VK. DK6UG for example has only 15th place even with the top amount of unique spots.

A possible WSPR DXCC nr. 80 showed up this early morning. I need to get the laptop to transmit a WSPR signal for that to get it. But it will not be a easy task. I received his 5W signal with extraordinairy low signals. C91PM is located in Mozambique, Africa.

In the mean time I continue my 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge. I'm at 52 now working Japan on 15m. That was not easy, despite very strong signals from Japan from at least 4 or 5 stations. But finally JA5BDZ did copy my signal and we made the QSO.

The plan for tomorrow is to move WSPR receive to 60m for a change. Curious how that's working out.