Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Meteorscatter fun !

I already experimented without much success December last year when the Gemenides meteors passed by. You can find my stories here and here. I was a bit sceptic after I made only one contact and even that one was only half. I knew the Perseid meteors would pass by at around my birthday, I knew that long before I even heard of the Perseids. When I was young my birthday was the only day of the year I could decide when I go to bed myself, it was a unwritten rule in our family. Most times at midnight my father and I would get out for a walk to see if we could see any "falling stars" to make a secret wish. And if it was a miracle, falling stars could always be seen at my birthday. Sometimes a few and hard to see. But I remember one year we could see it every 10 seconds, they were very bright and could even be heard! You can imagine this made just as much a impression on me as when my father called me to see aurora from the garden.

Anyway, since I just got my IC-7300 I decided to have it a go again. Just to see what I did wrong last time and what could be learned. I was active from 10-13 august and made 23 MSK144 QSOs from 18 DXCC. I think it's not bad with 50W into a 5 element yagi. Half of it was tropo or ES but the other half, especially at night, were real MS QSOs. Interesting to see that you can clearly see what meteorscatter is and what tropo or ES.

Above a screenshot from a QSO with SP3UR, at the right the waterfall, you clearly see the signal bursts. When the propagation is ES or tropo there are no bursts but one long signal with multiple decodes.

And this is what it is sounding (random recording), listen carefully:

What have I learned from these days by experimenting and asking:

- You don't have to aim your antenna at the meteorshower. Beam it to the station of choice. Or use a vertical.
- MS is not ES or tropo and can take time. Sometimes 10-20 minutes to complete a QSO. If you are a real fanatic it can last for 4 hours before a QSO is completed.
- If the calling frequency is busy it is a good habit to look for a free frequency at just call on 50.280, you can click the CQ 280 box in WSJT-X. It will automatically include your frequency in the CQ on the 50.280 calling channel.
- Many are just beginning with MSK144 (I am) it is fun but expect some errors from stations. Don't take it too hard.

It was a lot of fun these days, and others had fun as well. I got this e-mail from a happy Finnish radioamateur that made his first MSK144 QSO with me.

Hi Bas

I only say thank to you for our qso on msk144 mode.
I am so happy... old man and my first qso on that mode. two days i have tried.
Kenwood TS-480 SAT inside city area. no gad I say

Many msk qso's to you
73 de Elias

Isn't that great, this makes me happy as well. Thanks for the QSO Elias.

Range was limited to Europe. However it should be possible to extend range with a combination of MS, tropo and or ES.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Birthday present !

Today marks my 51 year birthday. And last week I already bought myself a birthday present. I've been saving money for it for almost 2 years. Now I finally sold some of my equipment and was able to buy it in the end. Actually it would have been a good present last year for my 50th birthday but other costs didn't allow me to buy the radio.  I have to say, the radio was not in stock last week, but just in time Marcus PA2DB from Hamshop.nl did e-mail me the radio was in stock again and offered me the IC-7300 for a better price without even knowing it is a birthday present ;-).

Of course setting it up was piece of "birthday" cake since I still have my SD card programmed with the settings from PC7B's IC-7300 I had here in the shack lately. The only thing that was different was the assignment of a different COM port. Of course that problem was solved quickly. First QSO I made a few days ago was with 5T5PA Johannes from Mauretania on 10m FT8. So far I only used and tried the radio on digimodes, I haven't even tried SSB yet.

Wow, I can't believe I finally have the radio that I wanted so badly. Not that it will give me more DX (or may be it will?). But it certainly has a lot more features and possebilities compared to my 21 year old IC-706MK2G. I already know a few, but there is a lot more to find out. I didn't want to try things on PC7B's IC-7300 but with my own now I'm free to experiment. I'm shure I'll write about the experiences here on my weblog.

Monday, August 5, 2019

CY9C finally

Working this DXpedition really was a struggle. The choice of time for the DXpedition to St. Paul Island near the coast of Canada is totally wrong considering time of year and in the solar minimum. However, because of that, it is of course a great challenge to work them. I didn't manage it last time they were on the island a few years ago, I didn't hear them at all then. This time I wanted to work them preferable on 60m but any other band would be great. But managing to hear them at all was a challenge alone. Finally their signal on 30m finally lifted for a short moment this morning. For amateur radio it is counting as a country (DXCC), however this island just belongs to Canada but can't be accessed without permission. I still hope they will activate CY9C on 60m again....

Info: http://cy9c.com

Update 17:30 - Worked CY9C on 20m SSB now as well.

Update 6-8-2019 - Finally worked CY9C on 60m as well. Like the other bands it was hard to copy the signal. It seems they have excellent receive on the island according to reports. However I cannot find the QSO in their log. I've dropped a message on their facebook page about this. Could I have worked a pirate station?

Update 7-8-2019 - Worked them again on 60m, this time I appear in their online and realtime log.