Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 highlights, 2017 goals

Slowly this year comes to an end. Traditionally the blog yearly last post is about the highlights of this year and goals for next one. 2016 has been a rough year as 2 of my radio friends died unfortenately. It has been a interesting year as well, is hamradio ever not interesting? Even if you have pleasure only making contacts via 2 meter repeaters it can be interesting. This hobby has so many topics socially and technically. And you can learn from it as well. This can be very beneficial and a advantage if you look for a job for instance. Companies like to have a experienced experimental radio research employee as they are creative and inventive.

So, what have been the highlights? Lets start at January till March, I decided to take up the challenge of working 100 DXCC within 100 days QRP. And never thought I would make it, but I worked those 100 DXCC in 79 days. I think I was just in time as propagation is not as good anymore as it was at the start of the year. As always we are sliding down from the 11 year maximum and in the next years radio propagation will get worse. I see it as just another challenge because even when propagation is at it's minimum there is still communication possible even on DX. The always important PACC contest was difficult again, 2 birthdays and no time, participated once again QRP. But I won the DKC contest again in the section low power SSB. Another highlight was working VK0EK Heard Island, received VK0EK with very very low signals but knew they had excellent ears and looking for weak signals. Trying and trying for many evenings and finally they logged me a GE4BAS on 40m CW. But it was corrected and I got VK0EK confirmed. I'm curious if I will ever talk to Heard Island again? 6 new DXCC were worked this year and that is a lot less compared with last year. I suspect next year will be even more difficult to get new ones in the log. I was active from another country being OZ/PE4BAS for a week in April, I had fun but not that much time to make QSOs. I was not that much active on 6m this year it seems propagation on that band is not as good as years ago, besides that 6m opens in summertime and that is no radio time for me. I doubt if I will ever be more active on that band although magic can happen. 60m is more my DX band lately although the real DX can only be worked deep in the night or very very early in the morning. It's kind of a challenge just like the decreasing propagation.

Winter 2007, previous QTH
The goals for 2017? Did I meet those for 2016, well part of it. I managed to get a few new WSPR DXCC but was not as much on WSPR as I would have liked. I managed to rebuilt the ACER laptop for use with WSPR and it worked out the way it should. I've participated in the 100 DXCC QRP in 100 days challenge and I started to make a plan to install the versatower antennamast. The gardenwork has been finished and the goal for 2017 is just that antennamast. It definitely has to get up again. I want to install everything that has been waiting for 8 years now. I'll keep you informed on this weblog.

To all my blog readers wishing you a very healthy and good 2017.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Go get them Lars

Lars PH0NO was mailing me a few days ago he would be QRV with his special call PA44FF today. I asked him to let me know as I really wanted to earn his beautiful QSL. We first tried 40m, I just finished a QSO there with DK7KM who is on the German coast just across the water so I knew the antenna was working well. I did hear Lars but unfortenately very weak. We decided to move to 20m to see if we would be lucky via groundwave. We both had a good and quiet location. I was on the best DX spot around at the top of a dyke antenna about 8 Mtr agl. Using 5W I was just able to work Lars after a few calls. I made a short video just when Lars was talking to VK5PAS and the pile-up afterwards hence the title of this blogpost as Lars was getting them ;-). Unfortenately someone decided to tune on the frequency at the start of the video so you have to listen to a rather annoying beep first. Sorry for the audio quality as I made this with my mobile phone.

Click here to view  Lars his blogpost for some photos and report of his activity today.

Here is the video:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Johan Papa X-Ray SK, my memories (English / Nederlands)

Well, I doubt if I would write this here but since it is very personal I want to share some sad news I heard from PG0DX Henry. Johan Papa X-Ray is silent key and this is my story how we met through the years. Johan had no license but was a real radioamateur. In the end it doesn't count if you have a piece of paper which allows you on the bands, it doesn't prove anything....

Who ever has started the hobby with CB radio or 27MHz / 11m you probabely heard from Papa X-Ray operator Johan. Later called 19PX or 19PX01. Johan was a avid CB DXer as long as I knew him and even before that. Johan prefered to talk to Skandinavia and had many friends there. Actually I think his antenna was almost stuck at the north direction. When I started the radiohobby I was living north of him and therefore I couldn't miss him. I was a young boy and just started DXing, we discovered how to hack our legal 22 channel CB radios and build in secret channels named "alpha" channels which actually are 5 channels that were left out of the band due to commercial use and remote controls. It was 1985 and we just discovered DX went a lot better on the quiet alpha channels. There we met Johan Papa X-Ray a friendly guy who worked DX on FM and was very interested in our efforts. I really don't know if Johan was on SSB at that time? I know for many that listened to and contacted him it was their first encounter with DX via CB radio. And he was a guy that didn't just make a average contact, he knew how to make friends and was always interested no matter what subject you talked about.

Through my 11m years I met Johan in several occasions on the radio most of the time to exchange some DX info. I remember he gave me info on a polish guy active on the alpha channels. This polish station went portable into the mountains to just make contacts to the free world, imagine this was before the fall of the Berlin wall and CB was strictly forbidden in eastern european communist countries like Poland. Of course I was able to make the contact and so this was a first for me to Poland (1987). Sometimes I didn't hear Johan for a long time. I never met him on the UK-FM channels although I understand now he was active there like me talking DX to his friends in the UK. At a certain time another radiofriend called me that Johan was traveling through Finland and was staying at a friends home over there using his station. I went upstairs to my shack and turned the beam north and surprisingly we could make a good QSO in which he told me he was visiting as many 11m stations in Finland he spoke with from the Netherlands as possible. I think he had the time of his life! Johan was not chasing DXCC or just chatting (ragchewing) what most of the 11m DX operators are doing, he was visiting his friends through radio and especially loved sporadic-E propagation in his favorite direction. Not that he didn't like the DX as I remember I was listening when he made a QSO with a New Zealand station for the first time. I remember he was thrilled about the magic his radiosignal travelled to a station on the other side of the world. And again he didn't only talk to the station but asked him for his e-mail address to discuss the whole QSO later and to make another friend.

Johan at his house "Sporadic E"
Years later that same radiofriend that informed me about Johan being in Finland (Bert, now PD1BM) asked me if I would like to come with him and visit Johan. As far as I know that was the first time I met him personally, I think it was in 1997. He was then living near the city centre of Groningen. Of course I knew were he lived as you couldn't miss the huge 3 element beam on top of the house and it was near my school at that time. Now I discovered Johan was also a shortwave listener preferable SW pirates around the 45m band and music (LP) collector. I was very much into the rockgroup Genesis at that time and I remember he was always very interested and told me he remembered Genesis playing in Groningen in 1975. Not shure he was at that concert. But he was at other concerts and told he even filmed some of the old supergroups (Yes, Camel, Caravan?). Well as a young guy I was impressed.

I think around the year 1999 I discovered Johan moved to another house in a village near me. Luckely we now both had e-mail and since I was not so active on 11m anymore we contacted each other regulary exchanging e-mails about several topics. I sometimes called him by phone if I thought he should know things of interest imidiatly. At one ocassion we had a VERON promotion stand complete with amateurradio station in his village. I called him he should get there and have a talk on the 2m band, a great opportunity. And indeed he showed up and went talking on the radio with our call PI4HSG on the 2m repeater of Groningen. He was the most active visitor we had ;-).

Johan and I shared the love for some music, not everything, but we shared the love for progressive rock and especially Genesis and Porcupine Tree. Johan was the only person I knew he liked their music even before I discovered it. And there it was, in 2003 a concert from PT in the Oosterpoort Groningen city. I called Johan, but I remember he didn't answer the phone. So I wrote him via e-mail and luckely in time he responded. We agreed we go together and rembering his story.....Johan was mad enough to bring his huge video8 camera. I don't know how we got the thing through security but we did. I really don't know what people thought when Johan was walking through the audience with this huge camera in front of the stage to film frontman Steven Wilson and his band. I brought a minidisc recorder with me to record the whole concert audio and captured Johan's voice when security ordered him to hand over his camera after he did make several video shots. I will always remember him when I listen to this concert again :-). Johan got his camera back,  although the videos were not erased the quality was very bad. It was more the thrill of doing such a mad thing. We enjoyed the concert of course and had many laughs afterwards.

Johan's shack
When I had everything working radiowise in 2006 Johan asked me if he could visit me to view the new shack. And of course he did. He did took some photos for himself and me which I still have. I regret I didn't ask him to pose in my shack. But fortunate he has send me photos from his own shack which looks very professional. I asked him in several ocassions if he would like to be a licensed radio operator but Johan told me he was not interested in the technical things that you have to know for doing the exams. We moved again in 2008 and the contact was almost lost. I met Johan a few times on the radio when listening on 11m. And we exchanged e-mail addresses again. We met sometimes when he visited me on my job. When I was in his village for my job I met hime once, last time I think was in 2013. Of course we e-mailed a couple of times in a year to discuss latest hobby things and music, he told me he always wanted to visit my new shack and new home again. Then a couple of months ago Henry told me Johan was at a hospice in Groningen city. That is not a good sign, Johan was very ill. And unfortunately he died last Friday.

So unfortunate we had not that much contact anymore lately but the remembrance is good!

Papa X-Ray will always be missed but not forgotten...

Ik heb even getwijfeld of ik op mijn amateurradio blog wat zou gaan schrijven, maar omdat het erg persoonlijk is toch maar besloten om het te doen. Tenslotte is dit blog ook een soort openbaar archief van mij. Ik wil een droevig bericht delen dat ik te horen kreeg van Henry PG0DX. Johan Papa X-Ray is silent key en dit is mijn verhaal hoe wij elkaar door de jaren heen rond de hobby ontmoeten. Johan had geen licentie maar was wel een echte radioamateur. Tenslotte maakt het allemaal niet uit of je een papiertje hebt om op bepaalde banden te zenden. Dat bewijst eigenlijk helemaal niets....

Johan's house as found on google maps,
 His 3 element clearly visible
Degenen die ooit op de 27MC, CB/11 meter zijn gestart met de hobby hebben misschien wel eens van Papa X-Ray gehoord, later bekend als 19PX en 19PX01. Johan was een fanatiek 27MC DXer zolang ik hem heb gekend en zelfs daarvoor. Hij had vooral voorkeur te praten met stations uit Skandinavië en had er erg veel vrienden. Ik denk zelfs dat zijn antenne soms gewoon vastzat richting noord. Toen ik met de radiohobby begon woonde ik te noorden van hem en dus kon ik hem eigenlijk niet missen. Ik was een jonge kerel en net begonnen met DXen met onze 22 kanalen FM bakkies, We kwamen er achter dat je wat extra kanaaltjes genaamd "alfa" kanalen kon krijgen door een simpele ingreep. Deze 5 kanalen zitten tussen de kanalen in en waren bedoeld voor commercieel gebruik zoals afstandsbedieningen. In 1985 waren we met wat vrienden net begonnen met DXen en dat ging natuurlijk perfect op die rustige alfa kanalen. Daar kwamen we dus al gauw Papa X-Ray Johan tegen, een vriendelijke man die veel FM DX werkte en erg geïnteresseerd was in onze DX ervaringen. Geen idee of Johan toen aktief was in SSB?  Ik weet dat voor velen die naar hem luisterden het de eerste kennismaking was met DXen op 27MC. En hij was dan ook niet iemand die snel even een contactje deed, hij wist gewoon hoe je vrienden maakte en was altijd geïnteresseerd in wat voor onderwerp je het ook over had.

In de jaren dat ik erg aktief was op 27MC kwam ik Johan vaak tegen meestal hadden we wel even een QSO en deelden dan ook even de laatste DX nieuwtjes. Ik kan me herinneren dat hij me op een keer informatie gaf over een Pools station dat aktief was op de alfa kanalen. Deze jongen ging de bergen in en werkte dan portabel om contacten te kunnen maken met de vrije wereld. Bedenk dat dit voor het vallen van de Berlijnse muur was en dat het bezit en zenden op 27MC in oost europese communistische landen streng verboden was. Uiteraard is het me op gegeven moment gelukt een contact te maken met dit Poolse station (1987). Het was tevens mijn eerste verbinding met Polen. Soms hoorde ik Johan dan weer een tijdje niet, Ik ben hem nooit tegengekomen op de engelse FM kanalen ik begrijp nu dat hij daar net als ik ook aktief was en contact hield met zijn vrienden in Engeland. Op een gegeven moment belde mij een andere radiovriend dat Johan in Finland was en graag met me wou spreken. Ik rende naar boven en draaide de antenne naar het noorden en ja hoor ik kon prima met Johan spreken. Hij vertelde me dat hij op reis was en zoveel mogelijk 27MC vrienden wou bezoeken als mogelijk. Volgens mij had hij de tijd van z'n leven! Johan was niet echt een landenjager (DXCC), het ging er meer om vrienden te maken, hij bezocht die vrienden dan via de radio en het liefst met sporadische-E condities in zijn lievelings richting. Niet dat hij vies van een nieuwe DXCC was. Ik weet dat ik naar hem luisterde toen hij zijn eerste contact met Nieuw Zeeland maakte hij was echt zeer blij verrast over het feit dat hij met zijn signaal te horen was aan de andere kant van de wereld. En natuurlijk vroeg hij het station om een e-mail adres zodat hij later het QSO nog eens kon "bespreken" en er vervolgens weer een vriend bij had.

Jaren later belde dezelfde radiovriend (Bert 19AT141, nu PD1BM) mij om te vragen of ik zin had om mee te gaan om bij hem op bezoek te gaan. Dat was de eerste keer dat ik hem persoonlijk ontmoette. Natuurlijk wist ik al lang waar hij woonde aan de rand van het centrum van de stad Groningen in een oud hoog pand waarop een joekel van een 3 elements beam stond ik weet nog dat het vlakbij mijn school was en ik er vaak langs kwam om dan elke keer weer met bewondering naar de antenne te kijken. Ik denk dat het rond 1997 was en ik ontdekt nu dat Johan een verfent kortegolf luisteraar was vooral van de kortegolf piraten stations rond de 45m band. Johan verzamelde ook muziek (LP's) en vertelde over zijn avonturen bij bezoeken aan concerten. Ik was op dat moment nogal erg fan van Genesis en hij wist nog dat Genesis in Groningen optrad in 1975, geen idee of hij dat concert had bezocht. Wel vertelde hij mij dat hij zelfs gefilmd had bij concerten van de oude supergroepen als Yes, Camel, Caravan etc. Dat maakte behoorlijk indruk op mij als jonge vent...

Ik denk rond 1999 ontdekte ik dat Johan was verhuist naar een dorpje vlakbij mij. We hadden nu gelukkig e-mail en omdat ik niet zo heel aktief meer was op 27MC schreven we elkaar regelmatig om dat weer van alles uit te wisselen. Ik belde hem soms of hij mij als we dachten dat de ander bepaalde dingen direct moest weten. Zo belde ik hem toen we met een VERON promotie stand bij hem in het dorp op een dans festival (op roakeldais) stonden compleet met radiostation. Ik vertelde hem dat hij echt even langs moest komen en dat dit een leuke kans was om eens op de 2 meter band uit te komen onder onze clubcall. En dus stond Johan die avond voor onze neus om vervolgens het radio station te bezetten en QSO's te maken onder de call PI4HSG. Onze meest aktieve gast die avond :-)

Johan en ik deelden de interesse voor bepaalde muziek, niet alles maar wel progressieve rock van Genesis en Porcupine Tree. Johan was de enige die ik kende die deze muziek al ontdekt had voordat ik ik er ook maar van gehoord had. En daar was het, PT gaf een concert in de Oosterpoort Groningen in 2003. Ik belde Johan om te vragen of hij zin had om mee te gaan en herinner me nog goed dat ik hem niet te pakken kreeg. Gelukkig reageerde hij net op tijd op mijn e-mail en we besloten samen te gaan. Uiteraard kon Johan niet gaan zonder zijn oude video8 camera. Ik heb geen idee hoe we deze door de beveiliging kregen? Ik weet ook niet wat de concert bezoekers dachten toen Johan daar met die gigantisch video8 camera voor het podium zanger Steven Wilson en band stond te filmen. Zelf had ik een kleine minidisc recorder meegenomen en zo heb ik de opname van Johans stem toen de beveiliging hem netjes vroeg zijn camera in te leveren. Ik zal altijd aan hem denken als ik het concert weer luister :-) Johan kreeg zijn camera terug maar de opnames waren erg slecht ondanks dat ze niet gewist waren. Het was meer het avontuur om zoiets geks te doen en we hebben er achteraf veel plezier over gehad. Uiteraard hebben we verder genoten van het concert...

Nadat ik weer verhuist was en in 2006 de shack en antennemast voor elkaar had vroeg Johan of hij een keer langs kon komen. Natuurlijk kon dat en dus was hij er een keer op een zondagmiddag. Uiteraard werden er een paar foto's gemaakt voor zichzelf en mij en deze heb ik nog steeds, Jammergenoeg heb ik hem toen niet gevraagd om zelf te poseren in mijn shack. Maar gelukkig heeft hij me ook nog een paar foto's gestuurd van zijn huis en shack die er best wel profi uitzag. Ik heb Johan vaak gevraagd of hij het niet zag zitten zijn licentie te halen maar hij gaf aan geen interesse te hebben in het technische deel dat men nodig heeft om examen te doen. Wij verhuisden weer in 2008 en daarna heb ik een tijdje weinig contact met Johan gehad. Ik ontmoette hem af en toe op de radio als ik weer eens naar de 27MC luisterde en soms bracht hij me een bezoekje op het werk. Uiteraard hebben we elkaars e-mail adressen weer uitgewisseld en hielden we zo weer wat contact waarin we de laatste radio nieuwtjes en muziek uitwisselden. De laatste keer dat ik hem zag was denk ik in 2013 toen ik voor mijn werk in Warffum moest zijn en hem ergens daar op straat tegenkwam. Hij liet me weten graag weer eens langs te komen om te zien waar ik nu woonde en hoe ik nu de shack had, Helaas is het er niet van gekomen. Een paar maanden geleden liet Henry me weten dat Johan in een gasthuis in het centrum van Groningen zat, dat klonk niet goed. Het bleek dat Johan ernstig ziek was en wij hadden al het idee dat jij niet lang meer zou leven, Afgelopen vrijdag is hij helaas overleden.

Het is spijtig dat we de laatste tijd niet erg veel contact meer met elkaar hadden maar de herinneringen leven nog en zijn goed!

Papa X-ray zal altijd gemist worden maar nooit vergeten,,,,

More links about Johan / meer links over Johan :

And a visit from another friend recently / Een bezoek van een vriend aan Johan kortgeleden

Sunday, December 11, 2016

#28MHz ARRL 10m @PE4BAS and neighbourstations

Well, this is my contest review for 2016. The 10m ARRL contest is not over yet but after sunset the band is completely dead. So it ends for now.

There were hours I only heard noise and then suddenly a CW or SSB signal came up. The propagation was not too good this morning, I only worked some Dutch and German stations via groundwave. PI4DX managed to have a 57 signal here which is strong for a station about 300km away. See the map here from A busy 10m band? Well at that time only noise could be heard at my QTH.

Of course I had limited time and missed a opening to scandinavia. But suddenly V55DX came up from Namibia and I managed to make a QSO. Same for FY5KE, he was spotted on the DX cluster but I couldn't hear him. I just listened on his frequency a while, propagation lifted for a minute, I called I worked him and he faded away into the noise.

Later on I worked Peter PA4O  he told me CX Uruquay was on and I worked 2 of them both on USB as CW. The last station I worked was VP5CW before I had to go. Unfortenately missed the opening to the USA. If I had unlimited time for this hobby....

Here a visual map:

I think it's amazing considering the 10m band was not really open. Remember I work with a 2 element HB9CV on only 6m above the ground. In the direction of French Guyana it even got the house between in. This kind of DX only happens at a populair contest like the ARRL 10m. I don't care for the points actually but I care about the amazing DX worked on a almost "dead" band. It's difficult and most of the time you listen to noise, the magic happens when a voice or some beeps are reaching your ears. You try to decode a call and you hope the opposite station can decode yours. When the QSO happens you feel great afterwards especially when the station was only audible for a short time. I think this is what DXing is, this is what a DXer likes. This kind of propagation needs operating practise and experience. And afterwards you feel that you earned every single QSO.

Antenna PG0DX
What did others do? My neighbourstations (same provence). I took a close look at PG0DX Henry. Henry has a great DX station with a big antenna on 18m heigth. I contacted Henry to find out what he worked. Last time I heard him he gave progressive number 71. So I guess he worked a couple more as I have seen a lot of cluster spots afterwards. He wrote me at least some DXCC he worked, it's not the complete list:

Austrialia, Thailand, Guatemala, Israel, Namibia, Reunion, USA, Ireland, Crete, Cyprus, Honduras, Venezuela, EU Russia, Kuwait, RSA, Argentina, Brazil,Uruquay, Morocco, Canary Isl, Madagascar, Puerto Rico, England, Germany, France, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Austria, Italy, Slovakia

I contacted PA4O as well, Peter is using a FB33 at 18m height. He did send me his log. A visual map: (click on it for a bigger one)

Like always I had fun, especially with this contest as 10m is my favorite band. Next year it will be even worse I expect but I think I will have a better antenna and at least twice the height. Hopefully that helps to have even more fun on 10.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

#28Mhz The incredible 10m band

Some people believe that due to extra radio activity for example during a contest the radiowave reflecting layer around the world is more ionized. You can compare it with what the HAARP does in Alaska creating a artificial refelecting layer. Well is it science fiction or is part of it true? Sure it was a reasonable 10m band today if you compare it to the last few days. Index was not good at all, but do we care about that? So, what is the dodo bird doing on this page? Well, I worked a surprise ATNO which is 3B9HA from Rodrigues Island. The dodo lived on both Rodrigues and Mauritius. And this picture is on the QRZ page of 3B9HA. Propagation was on quite early and I worked a station from Ukraine first, his signal was real 57. Most interesting besides Rodrigues Isl. was a QSO with FR4QT from Reunion Isl. and 5R8IC from Madagascar. I had to leave the band and contest for some other things to do. In late afternoon there was a opening with South America in which I worked several Brazilian stations on both CW & SSB. In total 14 QSO, not as many but for a small station like me a whole lot I think. Not bad for the first day in the ARRL 10m contest.

I observed some spots from others in the Netherlands and saw they worked Namibia V55 and TZ Mali. PG0DX worked VK2GGC in Australia, Henry informed me he was 59 for a short moment. Unfortenately I didn't hear him.

We will have fun on day 2.....see you tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2016

#28MHz high hopes monitoring

This blogpost is about monitoring 28MHz just before the ARRL 10m contest this weekend. It will be updated regulary till the weekend. It is not only my own monitoring but I keep track of others on 28MHz as well. A excellent station to follow for instance is PG0DX Henry who is also here in the northern part of the Netherlands and a avid 10m explorer. Besides that G3XBM Roger does monitor the 10m band on JT65 quite often and reports on his blog.

Friday 9-Dec-2016

Propagation: SFI:73 SN:14 A:23 K:4

Looking at the propagation index again (why should we do that actually?) it's getting worse. Even a small HF radio black out is expected. Is there still something 10m? Yes, you better believe that. 10m is interesting although not in excellent shape. For the average 10m user the band might be dead but if you take the time to listen you will encounter DX paths you almost cannot believe. This will be my last update before the ARRL 10m contest. I do not expect to make much QSO's during the contest although you'll never know.

Best contest times for us in the Netherlands will be the greyline in the morning starting around 6:34 UTC and just after sunrise according to the VK spots by PG0DX. In the afternoon best time is 15:00 UTC till darkness. Or according to the latest info even after sunset.

Henry PG0DX did write me a mail to explain he has the antenna to the west and so missed the Italian spot yesterday. Of course the beam width of a 6 element is very tight. Henry was not interested in that Italian spot at all. He also told me that he's monitoring 11m quite often and finds Australian stations on 27.355 LSB when no WSPR spot is made. Same count for US stations on 27.385 LSB. Indonesian statios can be heard on 27.305 USB. Does this sound ridiculous, you better think again. We know of a Thai station on 11m that made long path QSOs to Europe last week. A distance of 35000km.

So what happened today on the 10m band? SP4KA spotted VK2GGC at 8:09 UTC on SSB a good sign! A hour later PG0DX was spotted by VK6XT and VK2XN, this shows the band is open almost everyday to Australia. OZ9QV spotted 5B4CY in CW at 9:01 UTC. Then the usual everyday spots from Germany and some from the Netherlands till 15:00 when FY5KE came on again. Henry PG0DX text messaged me that he turned the beam to the east and got a incredible +15dB report. I received FY5KE as well but my antenna was pointed south. Not so unfortunate as it seems some sporadic-E was on when my own callsign was suddenly spotted at the DX cluster by HA9AL, I received his 2W signal with -17dB. Here is my list of unique stations spotted on WSPR today:

Of course there is more activity with the upcoming ARRL 10m contest and it might be my postings about the propagation on 10m these days. At least at 16:00 UTC there was a amount of sporadic-E I hope to see that as well tomorrow in the contest. My not so impressive list of stations that received my 1W signal:

I shure hope that propagation will be lifting, we still have high hopes.
For who participates in the 10m contest this weekend I wish you all a big success!

Thursday 8-Dec-2016

Propagation: SFI:74 SN:18 A:11 K:4

If you read the above it seems propagation gets worse. It's just a indication, I am not believing those indexes. Today I had a day off the job, excellent as besides some work in the house I had the chance to turn the antenna and try some other modes. A occasional 10m listener would say the band is dead and only noise could be heard way!

I learned one today when searching for anything to do besides what my own system did receive, don't use only one DX cluster or reporting site, use as many as possible. I was active with WSPR and JT65 today. WSPR TX was no success but RX was great:
7 unique calls spotted and IK1WVQ was missed by others. What did others hear or see? The day started early when G4HZW spotted PG0DX already at 5:34 inside the greyline. PG0DX and G4HZW were spotted by VK2KRR around 8:30 UTC. G4HZW was spotted by FY5KE at 13:12 UTC and later FY5KE spotted PG0DX and PA4O around 14:30 UTC. I didn't get my 1W spot through to French Guyana however some stations from Scandinavia did come through with less power on WSPR! FY5KE was active on 28030 CW around 15 UTC and got lots of DX cluster spots from europe. G0GGG and F6KBF spotted ZS6AI on JT65 around 15:10 UTC. I decided to call on JT65 a half hour later with 50W with my antenna to the south-west I was heard at OH1CO/QRP (15:40 UTC) and DG0OPK (15:50 UTC). No QSOs were made, no SSB stations were heard. It shows a dead 10m can be busy at times! I monitored some DX clusters later on and saw north-south propagation in America is great.

Wednesday 7-Dec-2016:

Propagation: SFI:79 SN:24 A:7 K:3

I started with WSPR again this morning, HB9CV pointed south. A quick look at the results and reports from yesterday revealed a opening to South and North America. That's promising! See PG0DX results from yesterday on the PE1ITR WSPR challenge page:

Today LA6LU reported 5B4CY/B on CW at 08:19 UTC, a early opening.  PE0JBE spotted EA8GF at 12:13 UTC a good sign! G3XBM has been spotted by EA8GF on JT65 at 13:40 UTC. I was only heard in the Netherlands and I only heard stations from the Netherlands and Germany. PG0DX was spotted in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and UK although he was using 100W for a moment combined with his excellent antenna situation it has to be equivalent to several kilowatts output. He heard the same countries as well. According to the 10m DX cluster it seems better in the Americas were the north-south path seems to be open sometimes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#28MHz Warming up for the 10m ARRL contest

10 meters or 28 MHz can be a great DX band. If propagation is right you can work the world with low power and a small antenna. Remember my sudden great DX with QRP to Malaysia in 2014? Or my mobile efforts in 2013 I worked Puerto Rico, Haiti and UAE with only 5W and a quarter wave 10m antenna on the car. But this band can also be very difficult when there are less to no propagations. For those who don't understand, there are certain layers around the world that get more or less ionized and reflect radiosignals which is called propagation. Propagation because your radio signal is getting a step, or more if lucky, further away as normal. Unfortunately propagation on the 10m band is not too good lately and after years of good DX it will be probabely a real pain to get some stations in the log. That's were things are getting interesting for me. My worst year in the 10m ARRL contest was 2010 with only 5 QSOs. But back then I was using my multiband vertical. I was using a Avanti PDL2 before in 2008 when just moving into the house were we live now and remember it did reasonable in the 2008 10m ARRL contest. It confirms at least a small directional antenna is needed under bad circumstances. So I assembled the HB9CV which is using the boom of the PDL2 by the way. My first 10m contest was in 2006 under bad circumstances but with a excellent antenna, a 6 element logcell yagi on 12m agl. It is already 10 years ago but I still remember I really made nice contacts although propagation was completely rubbish. Best DX was Brazil and only 21 QSOs were made 10 years ago without much contest experience.

Some ARRL 10m results from 2006-2015 (Rank is in Netherlands):

2006 PE4BAS Score: 640 QSO: 21 Mult: 16 (1st place)
2007 PA25HSG Score: 660 QSO: 30 Mult: 11
2008 PE4BAS Score: 228 QSO: 19 Mult: 6
2009 PE4BAS Score: 378 QSO: 21 Mult: 9
2010 PE4BAS Score: 60 QSO: 5 Mult: 5
2011 PE4BAS Score: 27792 QSO: 193 Mult: 72
2012 PE4BAS Score: 126 QSO: 10 Mult: 7
2013 PE4BAS Score: 13786 QSO: 117 Mult: 61
2014 PE4BAS Score: 24674 QSO: 173 Mult: 73
Various antennas @PE4BAS in 2007
2015 PE4BAS Unknown

Unfortenately the ARRL database is not able to display the rank inside a section outside America. Why my score is not displayed in the 2015 results is not known? I'm shure that my log has been received.

I only had this setup on the photo for about 2 years it seems so long ago. I shure hope I will get the mast up again next year. Till then I have to do with the HB9CV which is a excellent antenna as well of course but with 6m agl just too low to get the DX when things are getting difficult. Still it is a lot better as the vertical.

So what times are best to be on the band for the contest?
The best way to warm up of course is to be at 10m WSPR or JT65 and take an eye on the DX cluster to see what contacts are made. Unfortunately time is always a issue and I just started today. I will keep you informed over the next few days about what I think is interesting about 10m.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#cqww cw 2016 raw scores

The CQWW CW 2016 raw scores are available now. So far I think I will have that new Dutch record on 160m. I was the only participant in that section. A good choice!

I didn't even end at the last place worldwide and this region. Actually I think I did do well with my not so efficient antenna and low power.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Revealing 10m HB9CV details

Remember my successful efforts to built the HB9CV without a matching capacitor? Well, many nice contacts were made with the HB9CV on 10m. But it always has to go in summer in exchange for the 6m antenna. A radio hobbyist never has enough masts for experiments ;-). I got a few e-mails for measurements of the antenna so I have been measuring when building the antenna today. That is not a guarantee this will work for someone else after a exact reproduction. The antenna is made through experimentation, it always had the same length of coax on it and it always is on the same mast on the same place. However if you build the antenne like me and keep in mind length of radiators and phase lines can be altered it must be possible to get a good working antenna.

To give you a impression of the construction some extra photos were made. I know the antenna looks like garbage with a lot op tape, kit and scrap. But my experience is that the ugliest antenna works best.

Just before I slide both sides of the reflector
on the threaded ends. Threaded end is one piece
mounted through the boom hold in place with 2 nuts.

Detail of how the phase line is mounted

Connection of the coax on the phase line at the director side

Phase line reflector side. I used hose clamps on both
phase line as reflector tubes so I can slide for best SWR.
Of course you have to slide the same amount on the director side.

Detail of the mounted boom/antenna/phase line
Of course the photos are made before I covered all important connections with a thick layer of tape. It still is important to keep it all watertight as possible.
This antenna might look difficult to make but it isn't. All materials can be found in a DIY shop except of course the coax. I used a old boom from another antenna but you can use something else too. In the past I even made a lightweight version with thinner elements and a square boom instead of a round one. I used alu rods for the phase line because it's strong and I can dismantle the antenna easily. But you can use copperwire as well, I actually used it when experimenting with this antenna. It's just what you have at home at what works for you to construct this.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

One year on 60m

Remember exactly one year ago I was one of the first stations from the Netherlands legally on 60m. Those first days were great and every station was DX. I've been more active on 60m lately if time allows but it is hard to work any new ones. Most DX is very very early in the morning when I am sleeping. Oh yes, a real DXer would be on the frequency to work the new ones so I guess I'm not a real one then ;-). 60m DX seems to be a challenge and is not so easy although more and more countries are allowed to be on 5Mhz. Most of the DX is playing at 5.357MHz JT65. So far I worked 27 DXCC countries which are (sorted by countryname):

Not shure if all contacts are legal. As far as I know 60m is not allowed in Italy and Ukraine though they are contacted and in my log, change of rules can be fast and there is probabely a special license for experimental reasons possible?
The dutch telecom agency was too generous to us here in the Netherlands allowing us 100W on 100KHz. Since the WRC-15 (World Radiocommunication Conference) dutch telecom decided the rules will change to the region 1 uniformity of 15W on 15KHz (5351,5-5366,5KHz). That doesn't necessarily means less DX as 15W proves to be enough to get your signal around the world on this band. You don't believe that? Well, my signal has been received by VK7BO (Tasmania, Australia) on 60m JT65 and I was transmitting with 15W.

From the WRC-15 provisional final acts we can read:

Read: MOBILE except aeronautical mobile. That means that my QSO with PH9HB/AM was unique and will never legally happen again anymore when rules are changed. So far so good, if Jeroen will be active on 60m this end of the year you can still make a unique QSO of course! So keep your eyes and ears open on the frequencies you can still use at least in 2016. There might be contacts possible that can't be made when we are limited to the WRC-15 60m allocation. Not that it is a matter of propagation or power, difference in worldwide rules could be a barrier.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A room with a view

A day off the job. Not much time for radio although I was active with WSPR on 20m as there were new ones to get, but unfortunately those did not decode me. We are busy to get the new "living" room ready for our daughter so she can store her toys and have her own place. It will be her "study" room when she gets older. This room is has a nice panorama view out of the windows, I think it's the best room of the house although the view is to the south and it can get hot in summer.

Our house has been built in 1935 so it has a history. It has seen world war 2 and I recently did read a book about what happened here in Roodeschool and vicinity. A certain Family Gorter has been living here in our house from 1937-1965 and they certainly have seen the Germans at the end of the war when they drove away in the direction of Germany and of course they have seen the allied troops which were Canadian. The house also has a small basement and I always felt that they have been hiding there when things went dangerous. It has been written in the book that at the morning of 21 April 1945 everyone in this village was hiding in their basements or in hiding places. It was at the end of the war and there was a lot of rockets fired from the island of Borkum to the dutch coast. One house here in the village was hit and one woman died. That same day our village was liberated from the German occupier. Well, at that time electricity was fed into the house above the ground (now not very common in the Netherlands anymore). This can still be seen in the corner of this room. It might look ugly but I leave it just as it is...

It has been a lot of work sanding and painting today and still it is not ready. As you can see we have some special tile work as well. Now, what has this picture to do with hamradio you think. Well, take a good look yourself and give me a comment. I'm curious if someone spots it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

#cqww cw 2016 contest

Event: CQWW CW contest 2016
Section: Single Operator Assisted Low 160M
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna: multiband vertical @9m agl

After a few hours of contesting Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday evening when it was dark I ended with 121 QSOs in the log. Much more as expected, wow. I even heard some DX Sundaymorning as PJ2T was decoded but unfortunately I was unable to make a contact. Best DX was probabely RM9A from Asiatic Russia. However, I was surprised by the number of contacts and actually almost every station I could hear responded to my call. I even dared to run CQ for a while although it was not really a success I was spotted several times on the RBN. Unlike last year I participated low power and not QRP. This has to do with a another possible Dutch record which I will hold hopefully like my effort in 2014 on 80m QRP. The nice thing of my Icom-706 is the 350Hz CW filter and additionally I use the JPS NIR-10 audio DSP filter. Very important on the ic-706 is to switch off the NB (Noise Blanker), this will reduce any splatter to almost zero. As I decode CW with a computer (FLdigi) it needs a crystal clear signal to decode well and I managed to get that with the narrow filtering.

Look at the difference between only the 350Hz filter above and below included the bandpass filtering from the JPS NIR-10. The red signal you see is from EI0R which had a surprise for me. Fellow blogger EI2KC Anthony was on the keys and recognized my call to say hello. Thanks for the contact Anthony FB SIG. I didn't know what to answer him as I never been in this situation and all I do is sending a macro with a click on a key.

Later I discovered I can type as well in the FLdigi TX field and send it manually. Next time I give him a proper answer ;-). Oh, yes for the CW purists participating in a CW contest like this is not done of course. But so far at least I can participate and learn a small bit of morse code as well. I already recognize my own call and the words TEST, CQ, TU, ?, K, 5NN. Enough to make QSOs in a contest like this as it is not neccessary to read the CQ zones since this is filled in automatically in the log.
I had great fun on 160m even with a few hours of participation. Hopefully it will bring me a new Dutch record.

I was prepared to sell my JPS NIR-10 filter as I don't use it too much. But it does very well in CW contests so I'm not shure till I have better equipment. Still looking at a shiny new IC-7300 which will do much better as my antique IC-706 I guess. I noticed the price of the IC-7300 fluctuates and is currently around 1300 euro. I guess it will get lower when the new IC-7610 will be out whenever that is. In the mean time I'll save some money.