Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PMR 15km? No way?

A Personal Message Radio can be used for free here in the Netherlands. 8 channels in the 446 MHz band have been assigned for this and power output is max. 500mW. You don't need a license for this and it is ideal for communication on vacation. Now this Turkish company is advertising with their own brand Heider. It looks like.....our famous Baofeng UV-3R Mark 2. The strange thing is that my little Baofeng does at least 6dB more power but max. range would be about 10km at normal use and only if the opposite is a base station. I think and hope that if I use my Baofeng with my large 40cm Comet SMA24 flex I can have a QSO with someone 5km away with the same set up. The Comet SMA24 is certainly the best antenna to date for my small HT, though it is priced half of what you pay for a complete UV-3R. Anyway, the turkish company claims this little HT has cellulair receive. That's why this little wonder of technology has a range of a magical 15km (on free space that is, so only at sea I guess). No, I don't think this company has something like coversity like we have here in northern Netherlands, if they ever heard about it. This is just a case of misleading customers I guess. Although I like the large antenna they use....

UV-3R with Comet SMA24
It all does remind me of my CB years. When CB started in the Netherlands we were allowed 100mW walky talkies. I remember they advertised those had a range of 5km. But in reality it was only a few 100 mtrs. So, I hope for those that buy these little Heiders the range will be about a kilometer if they are lucky.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Record distances on 6m

Well, for me actually. A new distance record has been set with my 1W WSPR signal been heard in Israel bij 4X1RF. I didn't manage that last year! I've been on 6m WSPR mainly today and I know Roger G3XBM as well as Jaap PA0O were on as well. So I made a small comparisation between our stations. Now, Jaap is TXing with 5W and of course that will give him some advantage. But overall his best distance was Israel as well so what is the use of that much power? Map pictures are only from TX.

I started this morning (3:45 UTC) and discovered the band was full of video carriers. Disturbing my WSPR reception as well. At the moment I write this there is still a video carrier on 49.750 MHz with S9. But activity on 6m is low. Strange? My signal has not been heard towards Spain or Morocco, Roger has been heard there and is TXing with 1W. We are still hoping for transatlantic propagation, things can change in a minute. So it is important to stay on...

Monday, June 22, 2015

6m ES

Have been on 6m almost exclusively last week. And made a lot of QSOs there. Most of them on SSB, a few on CW and JT65A. One new DXCC TK4LS Corsica Isl. Today is the longest day of the year. ES was really nice and brought me 4 new DXCC on WSPR. Stations from Norway, Balearic Isl., France and Switzerland heard my 1W signal.

6m propagation between Europe, Africa, South America and USA has been spotted on the clusters yesterday. However I didn't hear anything here. Could be the antenna of course, it still is my W2000 vertical on 6m height not really suitable for DX. But though I had some DX to EA8CSG/P (Canary Isl.), 9H5G (Malta) today. If you call that DX anyway...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

6M Last week and RaDAR

ES on 6m last week after my first 2 contacts was not too bad. As seen in the map I made several QSOs across Europe and into Scandinavia. Contacts were made in SSB, JT65A and CW. It has been a long time ago I was this active on 6m this much.

Above is what my screen is showing when DXing with WSJT-X on JT65 digimode. The frequency was very busy at the time I made a screenshot.

One of the subjects inside the radio hobby really catching me is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. It is a kind of adventure radio were you have to move build your station as fast as possible, make 5 QSOs. Break up as fast as possible and move to the next location to do it again. If you like contesting and/or want to have some physical excercise instead of only sitting in front of a computer screen this could be a nice challenge. Find more about this on Eddie ZS6BNE's website.

I think if you really want this you need a portable station that can be setup in 5 minutes or less. It sounds easy
Portable station in the cycle bag. Orange
box on top is my lunchbox. Left suitcase
with TRX/acc. Right bag with tripod and
tube with MP-1.
but it isn't. You have to exsercise if you really want to be on air ready for a QSO in 5 minutes. And don't forget breaking up should also not exceed 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes are my personal opinion of course. Just to see if it can be done. Last day of my working week I decided to pack and have a try, it was beautifull weather just what you need for such a actvity. My lunchbreak gave me 40 minutes radio time.
I setup the Yaesu FT-817 with SWR meter and 5Ah 12V battery -> 5m RG58/U coax -> tripod with Superantenna MP-1. It took me 6 minutes to setup, too long!

The plan was to be active on 6m. But couldn't get a reasonable SWR. I moved to 10m then were SWR was perfect but then it was 10 minutes later. Almost got a QSO with YT3T but he didn't get my call in the end, too weak. I moved to 15, 20 and finally to 40. There were not many on the band so I ended without any QSO. I decided to pack which took me another 7 minutes and difficulties to get the MP-1 back in the tube. I really need to exsercise and need to figure out how to get a good SWR on 6m with this setup.

Rapid deployment radio sounds not that difficult but it is not easy either. You need to setup/break up in a good order. Exsercise is the magic word for that. It has been a very interesting experience and I will think it over to be more successful next time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dutch Kingdom Contest experience

Event: DKC 2015
Logger: N1MM+ most updated version with DKC ADC addition
Station: Icom IC-706MKIIG (100W)
Antenna: 20m copper wire at 4m AGL, HF multiband antenna at 9m AGL, W2000 VHF/UHF vertical for 6m.

Basically it was a nice contest. Although participation of others outside the Netherlands, dutch antilles and expats was very low. I have worked 54 stations and at least 6 expats. Known expats are PJ4NX, PJ4KY, WP4UX, CU5CQ, SM6XVI, M0MPM, I had to pull them almost all out of the noise as propagation was very low at times. If there had been some ES things would be totally different. There have been only one QSO on 6m with neighbour contest station PA6GR.
Total time active in this contest approx. 6 hours.

Some statistics:

40m: 20 stations, 2 expats, 5 DXCC
20m: 26 stations, 4 expats, 22 DXCC
15m: 5 stations, 1 expat, 5 DXCC
10m: 2 stations, 3 DXCC
6m: 1 station, 1 DXCC

I did the upgrade for the contest in N1MM+ as described in the last DKARS magazine and on their website. N1MM+ recognized the DKC contest but I got a lot of errors displaying during logging. Counting points was not correct as well as far as I could see.  It could be my computer is just too old or I misunderstood something. However the nice thing is the diverse multipliers and points you can earn in this contest. So I tried to figure out my score. This will be a approximate one as I don't know who exactly are counting as expats. Based on the known expats I would have 166 points x 250 multipliers = 41500 points. I'm curious what the score will be and if my counting was correct when everything is counted officially.

Monday, June 8, 2015

10m down, 6m up & waiting for ES

HB9CV dismantled together with my little helper...
I took the 10m HB9CV down to take place for the 6m antenna. Last week I was thinking about what to do. Change it for the W2000 VHF/UHF vertical which did prove itself last year. Or put a 5 element ZX yagi up. Till now ES on 6m is still not promising. So I took the W2000 up again.

Today was the first day I had time to really monitor 6m. I think WSPR like G3XBM is using to monitor is not a good idea. So instead I chose JT65A on 50.276 MHz USB. I didn't make any QSOs till now since I was not at the radio at the right time. But I did see some stations listing: YO3GXC, YO9BLY and YO5CFI  at around 16:30-16:45 UTC. ON7GB at 17:35 UTC, called him a few times but he didn't see me. SZ7SER at 17:42. So sometimes there is some ES here in the north, though looking at the map on DXmaps it seems some stations 30-40km south of me do make some QSOs on 6. Unfortunately it is most time like that.
ES map at the time I worked EA1VY. 

Then, suddenly out of nothing there was EA1VY booming in with about -5dB. First 6m QSO for 2015 was made...
A few moments later F1MWV called me with a massive -1dB signal. Second QSO has been made....
So, what can I tell....let the 6m magic begin!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dutch Kingdom Contest this weekend!

Event: DKC 6/7 June 2015 1500-1500 UTC (24h)

A new contest is approaching this weekend. It is the Dutch Kingdom Contest. New and....different. Information can be found on the website from the Dutch Kingdom Amateur Radio Society.

Different? Well, this contest is as far as I know the only HF contest that includes the VHF 6m band. On the other hand it excludes 160m and 80m. Logical considering the time of the year.

Multipliers are like most contests every new DXCC per band. So what else is different in this contest? Different from other contests are multipliers from the dutch prefixes PA-PI and P4, PJ2, PJ4, PJ5, PJ6 and PJ7. Extra multipliers are the dutch expats. People originally from the Netherlands that are living anywhere in the world outside the Netherlands. That includes maritime mobile stations (not counting as new DXCC). You can work every station as well in SSB as CW on every contest band.

I think the rules pointed out at DKARS are clear but just for shure:

A. Every new station per band/mode = 1 QSO point
B. Every dutch kingdom DXCC including dutch expats per band/mode = 5 QSO points
C. QSO with a /P station inside the dutch kingdom per band/mode = 10 QSO points
D. QSO with a new DXCC per band/mode = 5 multipliers
E. QSO with a dutch kingdom DXCC PA, P4, PJ2, PJ4, PJ5, PJ6, PJ7 per band/mode = 10 multipliers
F. QSO with a dutch prefix PA-PI per band/mode = 10 multipliers

This is a new contest and held for the first time. I guess there will probabely be a change of rules next year as you cannot predict how a contest will go on. Personally I will try to participate as much as possible and hope to find many participating in this new contest as well.