Monday, March 30, 2015

#cqwpx DXing with CQ World Wide WPX 2015

Never did make this much QSOs in any contest. 840 in total. A record for me and it could have been even more if I would made some more CQ runs. The problem only is that I'm used to listen and scan for DX. I'm intrigued by low signals from the most remote places. Hunting ATNOs during contests is not a wise decision if you want to score. But what the heck, it's just what you like and I had fun with it. Spend too much time calling "weak" or "busy" DX stations instead of working as much prefixes as possible.

Propagation was not too good on 10m, although DX could be worked it was not really worldwide. Almost no USA, only a few that were lucky to have propagation to Europe. No ZL and only a few VK on 10m have been heard. I was not able to work VK this time although I did hear a few of them on the band. Despite the bad east-west propagation the north-south propagation was better and countries in Africa were almost easy to work, to the north there was XP1A from Greenland with a real 9+60dB all the time. 15m was a little better, Saturday morning strong trembling signals from Alaska, really like those polar signals. Have it on video and will show it later on the blog, easy to work these guys. Actually the high bands were open very early and closed very late so I really spend too much time on it. On the other hand, with the detoriating propagation next couple of years it could be the last chance to work DX this easy on these bands. I'm always suprised by the DX that can be worked at strange times. Like 9N7FD from Nepal at 21 UTC on 20m when it was dark at both sides, could be longpath although I can't find out as I have no directional antenna. Never heard so many stations from Nepal before this year and worked 3 different stations on 20,15 and 10m. Another strange experience was the super strong signal suddenly from VY2ZM at 2230 UTC on 40m, that is very early actually and probabely just in his morning greyline. His signal was a honest 9+20dB, have this on video also.

Most interesting DX by band:

10m: 7QAA (Malawi), E2X (Thailand), BY5HB (China), ET3AA (Ethiopia), 9N7CC (Nepal), VU3DMP (India), XW1IC (Laos), ZS9M and ZS9Z (Rep.South Africa), JA3YBK (Japan), WP2Z (US Virgin Islands), 8P5A (Barbados), P40L (Aruba), PJ4Z (Bonaire), PJ2T (Curacao), ZF2DX (Cayman Islands), FY5FY (French Guyana), HK3C (Colombia), CE3CT (Chile), 6Y4W (Jamaica), 9Y4W (Trinidad and Tobago), OA4O (Peru), HC2AO (Ecuador), ZP6DYA (Paraquay), BV0J (Taiwan) and of course lots of Brazil and Argentina.

15m: WL7E and KL5DX (Alaska), 9N7WE (Nepal), JO3DDD (Japan), VC6K (Alberta, Canada), BY5HB (China), J79MM (Dominica), 5J0B (San Andres Island)

20m: VK3TZ (Australia), YB2DX (Indonesia), BY9CA (China), JH4UYB (Japan), 9N7FD (Nepal), KH7XX (Hawaii)

40m: 4Z5ML (Israel), VY2ZM (Canada), 9Y4W (Trinidad and Tobago), FY5FY (French Guyana), WP4X (Puerto Rico), PJ4Z (Bonaire), HK1T (Colombia), PJ2T (Curacao), WY3P (USA), RC9O (Asiatic Russia)

80m: VY2ZM (Canada), 5E5E (Morocco), D4C (Cape Verde), YW5T (Venezuela), KB3WD (USA), A71BX (Quatar)


CQ WPX last logged QSO 5J0B

Didn't have time yet to analyze the log from the wpx last weekend. Have to do my homework first and send the log in before I can write something in this blog. I followed the advice from PH0NO Lars and planned this weekend in the agenda long time ago. It gave me the possebility to concentrate on the contest almost the whole weekend. The only ATNO from the list I've heard was 5J0B from San Andres Island. But despite hearing him on 10m and 15m the pile-up was too big and I couldn't reach him. Lucky me, just before I thought to call it the end I saw him spotted by a PA station on 15m. So, I quickly typed the frequency in the logfield and heard him with 55 QSB, not too busy. Unfortenately late in the evening QRM is also S5 on the loop, but S0 on the vertical. So, I switched, loop for TX and vertical for RX. It worked and a few calls later I was in the log. At least one ATNO worked this CQ WPX contest. 5J0B was QSO number 840 in my log and I went QRT after the QSO.

More about the CQ WPX contest later....

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#cqwpx CQ WPX SSB 2015 wishlist

The CQ WPX SSB, the opportunity to work rare DX, lots of DX. With the help of the excellent "Announced DX operations" list from NG3K  I composed a list of DX that I would like to work as they all are ATNOs for me. It looks like I have more time to spend as last year and hopefully I will be able to work some of these rare DX stations.

5J0B San Andres Isl.
JD1BOW Ogasawara
V6Z Micronesia
KH8B American Samoa
PJ7PL Sint Maarten

Hopefully another DXpedition will take part or can be worked somewhere (WARC).

C21EU Nauru

Monday, March 23, 2015

Solar Eclipse WPA from PA1B

WPA (WSPR Propagation Analysis). Bert PA1B would not be Bert if he wouldn't take the opportunity to take my WSPR results from the database and enter it in his WPA spreadsheet. Wow, thanks Bert, a great tool. This is a really nice spreadsheet with a lot of filtering options. I filtered out the time that the eclipse was on and also filtered all station spots from 100mW and below. This shows something else as just counting spots. Between 9-10 UTC the moment of max. eclipse you can clearly view most "low as possible power" spots. GJ4CBQ from Jersey C.I. would have seen me if I used 100mW only at the maximum of the solar eclipse. Amazing at "daylight" and normally not possible on 160m without a little help from our moon I think! Thanks for the information Bert and a nice addition to the solar eclipse WSPR experiment on this blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tweaking the HB9CV

Anneli disassembling old gamma rods
It was a beautiful day today, sun shining, birds singing. Though a little cold (6C) we decided to setup my daughters trampoline again. It went well with her help and so there was time left to play.....and tweaking my 10m HB9CV. With a little help of course...

The plan was to change the gammarods. The problem with 6mm2 wire is that it is not able to hold birds and so the antenna got detuned. Although the SWR was good enough and tunable with the antennatuner I was not really happy with it.

Anneli checking...
So I bought some 2m long 10mm diameter alu for the gammarods. I decided to use the complete length and fiddled a slider to connect it to the radiators. As the impedance was too low at the resonance frequency (R=37 X=8) I chose a point 10cm further at the radiator as resonance will be rising then. I was right, I got R=49 and X=1 excellent. But it was on 27.500 MHz. I shortened the radiators by cutting them all 5cm off the tips. Now the SWR is great were I want it. Bandwidth is better. R=45 X=5 is better as well but still not perfect.

HB9CV with new gammarods
Great results for a good hour tinkering. Of course a good SWR is relative. How is the antenna working? I heard a station from Brazil talking with a reasonable constant signal S7. Turned the antenna 180 degrees and he was S0-1, turned it back to Brazil and he was S7 again. So, front/back/side ratio is good. Of course I can't see the gain but I expect it at least 4dBd. Made some quick QSOs with PY2SBY, CE1OEB, PY2VI with reasonable reports. And without the help of the antennatuner now! Although propagation is not that good on 10m lately I'm ready to use it in the CQWW WPX contest next weekend.

SWR curve: yellow old situation - red new situation

When the antenna was back in the air, the tools returned in the garage and the test QSOs made it was time for a delicious diner made by my XYL. I'm a lucky guy....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Solar eclipse

A solar eclipse is always a nice reason to experiment on the low bands. Especially 160m and 80m bands could be surprising when the solar eclipse is going on.

This solar eclipse will be on at Friday 20 March 2015. The local (Groningen) 84,7% solar eclipse begins at 09:33, maximum at 10:40 and ends at 11:51. All local time (UTC is -1 hour).

I understood that there will be activity on 160m WSPR from several stations in Iceland and Faroer Islands. It will be interesting to view how the solar eclipse is affecting the low bands. I will be QRV on 160m WSPR as well and invite everyone that has the ability to be QRV on 160m WSPR as well.

Update 20-3-2015: The solar eclipse has begun. So unfortunate I don't see activity anymore from TF4M on 160m since 6 UTC. It is nice to see the number of spots did decrease after sunrise. Now I expect to slowly get more spots when the eclipse evolves. I use my horizontal loop as endfed and 1W output power.

See: "Specify query parameters" call PE4BAS

8:08 UTC: 1 spot
8:14 UTC: 2 spots
8:24 UTC: 1 spot
8:40 UTC: 3 spots
8:56 UTC: 2 spots
9:10 UTC: 1 spot
9:18 UTC: 2 spots
9:38 UTC: 6 spots (max. eclipse here)
10:00 UTC: 8 spots
10:08 UTC: 6 spots
10:26 UTC: 1 spot
10:40 UTC: 2 spots
10:50 UTC: 1 spot

Monday, March 16, 2015

Eritrea and visiting Eemshaven

I had 10 minutes to try and work E30FB from Eritrea this morning. I found them working a reasonable pile-up on 12m SSB with signals between S1 and S7. So there was a chance! And yes after a couple of calls I was in the log for the second ATNO of this year. It seems hamradio is sport in countries like Japan and China. I wish the would see it like that here!

The weather was great here today and we had to do some chores around the house. We visited the Eemshaven (harbour ~ 3km from here) in the afternoon to view a large cruiseship we could see above the dykes at the horizon from our backyard. The industry at the Eemshaven is growing quite fast and everytime we visit we see new things.

 We made photos from both sides. I'm sorry for the quality as it is made with the camera of my phone. The ship doesn't look big on the photo but it is. The windmill on the foreground has a height of 100m.

There was a wolf spotted near the location of this photo last week. The first "wild" wolf in 150 years that was visiting our country. Although the animal was not really afraid of people.

The photo shows part of a train cargo of more military vehicles. They are being shipped to or from Mali in Africa were the dutch military is fighting against "Boko Haram".

On our way to the other side of the harbour I made some photos I never made before from this large mast. I guess it is about 60m heigh and I don't know if it is used. It looks like a beacon mast. I have been doing some searching on the internet but cannot find anything about it. This is about 4km from our house.

On the other side of the harbour is a great view on the new powerplants. You can see the smoke of this powerplant from about 25km far away. They say there is no harm for the environment, or very little due to good filtering. But still they use coal the make electricity. They don't fool me!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Text messaging in JT-Alert

Click on the picture to view a larger version. This is how text messaging looks. Had a nice JT run this evening on 17m. Last station I saw was W9MDB Mike again. Unfortenately the propagation was not reciproke. I decoded his signal without any problem but he didn't decode my signal. Though we had contact via "text messaging" which is a new build in feature of JT-Alert. It is most welcome as it enhances the JT mode which is not really a "talk" mode at all. Of course this is not valid as a QSO and it is only working with stations that both use the most updated version of JT-Alert. Below a map of results. I finally had a QSO with the state of Washington at the west coast. A new state for me. And it was not just USA/Canada this time but there was a QSO with Cuba as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Some new features in JT-Alert

15m JT9 gets a little boring. It's just USA, USA and USA and a few Canadian stations. At least when I am on in the evening. Actually I'm surprised 15m is open as late as 2200 UTC, and JT9 is very populair on 15m as you can see! Time now to update software and in this case JT-Alert from Laurie VK3AMA. The most updated version today is 2.6.1 and there are a few new features built in. Most interesting is the decodes history window in which you can see all kind of info regarding spots you made. And there is a text messaging feature which I not fully understand how it works. I tried to send some messages to stations I just made a QSO with. But didn't get any response. Of course it could be they are still using a old version of JT-Alert. So I have to be patient till I meet someone that has this version installed as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Attic dipoles JT9 QSOs

Is there any certificate you can get for working 10 DX stations that are using attic based antennas? That would be even more difficult as working DX I guess? Again I was surprised by the late propagation on 15m yesterday. I still worked USA till 21 UTC when normally you would experience the band dies just after sunset. You do not hear anything on that band only noise. But when using WSJT-X on 21.078 you still see some faint traces of the JT9 mode that are still decoded by the software. It's amazing! I even managed to work 2 stations that were using attic based antennas according to their QRZ pages. W4ED Bob from GA works with a 20m OCF dipole fed with 300Ohm line and a 20/15m coil loaded dipole all build at the attic. W9MDB Mike from IL works with a Pixel RF Pro 1B magnetic loop and a 61ft dipole fed with a Icom AH-4 autotuner both at the attic. This is what JT9 is really ment for. DXing with restricted antennas and/or low power. I was trying 20m after 21 UTC and found it still open as well, with low signals but still I was spotted at a lot of stations in the USA.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Approved code of conduct QSL

QSL Code Of Conduct: Approved code of conduct QSL: T he QSL card code of conduct is based on a fair exchange of QSL cards. It is simple: answer your QSL the same way you received it. Remem...

JT9 map 5-March-2015

Had some time this evening to play JT mode again. Suprisingly 15,17 and 20m were still open after it became dark. Only digimode as I didn't hear a single SSB station on those bands. JT9 is a amazing mode that is able to pick a signal and decode it even when it is below the noise floor. Again there was the proof JT9 is better as JT65. WO4R tried first on JT65 but we didn't manage to make a complete QSO. He responded on my JT9 CQ a few minutes later and the QSO was completed. I was even heard on the other side of the rocky mountains, a hard to get place for radiosignals. I don't know if these spots might be on long path? JT9 wise I was transmitting QRO with 20W on my ALU tape vertical antenna which is fed by a CG3000 autotuner and has a base height of 9m. Although I was received by a lot I only managed a few QSO, I guess many are just monitoring to see how the propagation is evolving probabely for the upcoming ARRL DX SSB contest this weekend.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Increase activity with JT9

Since eQSL has now 2 certificates you can get with JT9 digimode I hope activity will increase because of this. You can get those certificates when you got 100 DXCC JT9 QSO confirmed by eQSL (eDX100) and 50 USA states JT9 QSO confirmed by eQSL (eWAS). I think the ePFX300 award is to follow. I'm curious how many operators have worked 100 DXCC on JT9, I don't think there are already 100 DXCC active with JT9 actually so that will be a hard one to get. Overall these certificates are a great way to increase activity with JT9 as many do collect awards and want to have a goal to accomplish. I tried to make some QSOs in JT9 mode last evening but still find activity low compared with JT65.

Although not everyone is a certificate hunter it is nice to have a goal if you need one. To obtain the JT9 certificates on eQSL I still have a long way to go.

Some of the best designed eQSLs received are from digital mode operators and JT9 especially.

Still I am suprised there are not many more that use JT9 digimode but stick at JT65. I think it has to do with the fact that only WSJT-X is capable of JT9 at the moment and JT65 can be done by a lot of other programs.

Monday, March 2, 2015

CQWW 160m SSB contest last weekend

It has been 2007 when I last participate in this contest. I then was the only participant on SSB from the Netherlands and of course got first place! Actually the time this contest is on (best at night) is a good thing when you haven't got much radio time at daylight. I mainly participate this time to work HV0A from the Vatican as a new band one. I managed to work HV0A after a hour or so. I stopped at 100 QSOs sunday evening. Now I read the rules afterwards (stupid me!) and it is not allowed for single operator low power to use any assistance. And of course I did, and so did many others according to the "logs received" page of the CQ 160 contest .

So that leaves me with a choice of high power assisted only. That is probabely why they put me in multi-op section in 2007. Another handicap at least for dutch operators was occurring as well to me, we are not allowed to transmit above 1880 KHz though other countries can operate till 2000KHz. So dutch operators can never seriously take part in the 160m SSB contest as they just miss too many multipliers and QSOs. I heard HK1T (Colombia) with S9 sunday night but it was above 1880 KHz so it was not possible to try and make a QSO. Anyway it suprised me that I managed to create a small pile-up and even got spotted on a DX cluster. I switched between the loop fed as endfed and the vertical, although I had the idea both antennas produced a identical signal. In the end I worked 30 different DXCC. It has been a long time I made so many QSOs on 160m in one weekend and it was certainly fun!