Tuesday, September 12, 2023

#6m #4m ES-season 2023 review

 This is my review of the 2023 ES-season I enjoyed on 6m and 4m. Actually I was too late mounting the antenna in the tower this year (18th of may). Good tropo propagation on 6m already appeared in April. So I missed some great DX. But I can't complain since at least 12 new band DXCC were worked on 6m. And I was able to work 2 new band DXCC on 4m which is of course much more difficult.

27-May: I worked both LU3CQ and CX1VH within minutes. Argentina and Uruquay are the first two new 6m DXCC this year. Both are confirmed with LotW and eQSL.

29-May: Best time for the south Americas it seems. I worked ZP5DBC Paraquay on 6m. QSO is confirmed by with LotW.

5-June: Expected since I already noticed that Switzerland has 4m access now. So I worked HB9OAB for a new DXCC on this band. First new 4m DXCC this year and confirmed by eQSL and LotW.

9-June: Several sources did note that D2UY from Angola could be heard on 6m with excellent signals. And yes, I heard D2UY several times before this date. But then, finally, after a lot of effort I was able to make the QSO. The QSO is not yet confirmed however. 

30-June: Heard in 2021 but not in 2022. This year I was able to work PJ2BR from Curacao. QSO confirmed with LotW and eQSL.

1-July: Worked 4L7T from Georgia on 6m. Not confirmed yet. His QRZ page says "LotW coming soon". In the mean time you have to pay $$ for QSL which I will not do.

1-July: Propagation was excellent into the east direction. Suddenly there was VU2NKS from India which I worked for a new one on 6m. QSO confirmed with LotW and eQSL.

1-July: Not only on the 6m band propagation was very good this day, 4m was in good shape as well. Surprisingly I worked OD5KU and OD5ET from Lebanon on the 4m band. OD5KU confirmed the QSO on LotW.

1-July: This was my lucky day since I worked another new one on 6m. Actually I thought I already worked Guernsey C.I. but after some investigation it looks like I did not. So I worked GU4XGU. The QSO is confirmed by LotW.

9-July: No luck last year, but this year I was lucky. V51WW from Namibia was worked quite easily. No confirmation yet.

25-July: It seems that south Africa could be worked with strong signals already in April. Unfortunately I had no antenna up at the time so I missed that. I saw ZS many times this year but was unable to get one in my log. But this day I was lucky and worked ZS6NK. Since I didn't get any 73 I was not shure I was in the log. But contacting Paul via KST chat he confirmed I was in the log and he would be confirming by LotW. Certainly that happened to be the case.

Looks like Paul is also active with 6m EME (Earth Moon Earth), something I would love to do some time. However I think you need at least a large antenna and a lot of power. 

Then we went into August. I know from previous years that DX can still be worked but less frequent. This year there was no big opening to the USA surprisingly. I worked USA west and east coast and also Canada this year. But only a few stations and it was not like in 2021/2022 when we had days with such strong propagation you could not find an empty spot in the waterfall.

8-August: Other stations in my neighbourhood already worked this station in April/May this year. I missed that but was lucky at this day. I worked SU1SK from Egypt for the last new 6m band DXCC this year so far. QSO not yet confirmed.

This year, against all odds, I decided to keep my 6m/4m duoband beam in the tower for the winter season. This because of expected F2 propagation due to the solar maximum at the end of the year. I really don't know what to expect. Some OMs tell us the great stories from the past. It seems that the propagation I have experienced the last couple of years is nothing compared to good 6m F2 propagation. Well, we will see...

Sunday, August 27, 2023

#10m is quite open


Stayed on 10m FT8 most of the day. I think 10m is quite open these days...however some directions have not been heard. Things can happen though. It looks like 10m stays open very late, it could be totally different at night...

Saturday, August 26, 2023

#QRP from Winterberg DL

 On vacation in Winterberg Germany I brought my portable station with me to do some experiments. Because I was with my family I could not do any SSB as voice would disturb the others. But of course there is a lot to do with various digital modes on HF.

My location near Winterberg was on a side of a hill 577m height at locator JO41gg. I've been QRV on 3 different occassions. The first time was to setup the station and get it working. I've tried at home but setting up away from home is different. In the end I found the right way to connect everything and get the most out of this portable setup.  The station consisted of a Yaesu FT-817 (5W), homemade Magnetic Loop Antenna (MLA) and a Dell Latitude E5250 laptop. Coax 50 Ohm H155 with quality connectors. The radio was connected to a 5Ah Li-Ion battery.

This was basically my working position on the balcony. Which of course is a lot more comfortable compared to fieldwork. The complete station fits in the backpack viewed behind the laptop. The extra green loop is to extend the antenna for the lowbands 80m and 60m, which I did not do this time. I only worked 40m and 20m on VarAC, JS8call and FT8.  In my opinion most efficient mode in this case was JS8.

Result 21-August: Worked GI0IOT on VARA but signal went missing into the noise.

Result 23-August Yellow is 20m, Blue is 40m. Made contacts with GJ0KYZ on 20m FT8, PD0WAG on 40m JS8, MI0NWA on 20m FT8, EA5FHG on 20m VARA.

I have to say, VarAC is very convinient to work with. But JS8Call is clearly the winner this time. It's a lot more sensitive and very suitable for QRP. 

Results 25-August: I had a nice QSO with Tony GM0DHD. Both sides wit QRP and in most sensitive mode which is 8wpm. Signal was very good and a faster mode would have been possible. Before that I contacted OH8STN Julian who had a great signal down here, I left him a message which I hope he received it. I tried VarAC and FT8 and received a lot of stations but wasn't replied by someone unfortunately. 

Oh yes, JS8call receive reports. Nothing while calling on FT8 though...

At the end the battery went low so I decided to do some WSPR till it switches off.

WSPR RX reports

WSPR TX reports

Unfortunately 15 minutes later the battery switched off and the laptop battery went low. It was time to end the experiment.

I now know that especially in case of an emergency it is possible to setup this simple tiny station within 10 minutes. And make contacts at least in Europe and with a bit more patience possible across the atlantic.