Monday, August 28, 2017

RDRC JT9 activity days - false start

Event: RDRC JT9 Activity Days
Date: 25,26, 27 Aug. 2017
Logger: HRD V5
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 10W
Antenna: Coppertape vertical (7,1m)  @9m agl
Total km: 191036

At first IV3FPX Boris mentioned I noted the wrong dates for this weekend. Sorry for that it has been corrected immidiatly. Friday was day one of the JT9 activity days this weekend. And indeed there was a lot of activity but I didn't see it when I hastely switched on the station equipment this morning. At lunchbreak I logged in via remote from my job and noticed almost no stations at all been received on JT9, only a few russians with very low reports. Strange, I switched over from JTDX to WSJT-X to see if it was a software problem. Nothing.... Switched over to FT8....signals enough but the software did no single decode!!! Then it occured to me it might be a radio problem, and it was. The radio was on LSB? Why? I don't know? It has been weeks ago I turned on the radio so I guess I left it on LSB, the strange thing was that it was on LSB on all bands. I had to switch back to USB. The problem was solved then but I lost valuable time I rather spend on making QSOs. Anyway I tested with 2 QSOs and saw a lot of activity so I just had to wait to get home from the job to continue.

Sunday evening spots after I stopped
Of course, like always, time was not on my side and being on the air was limited to nighttime and a few QSO via remote at daylight. However I managed to make some DX, actually best propagation was Saturday night on 20m compared to Sunday evening were 20m closed quite early. But 40m seems to be better at Sunday evening when I made my best DX to the RSA. JT9 was alive at least on 80, 40, 30, 20 and 17m. I've been trying on 160m but although I was spotted I was unable to see any signal there. In the end I made 71 QSOs to 27 DXCC this weekend. Best DX was with ZS1BHJ 9591km on 40m. Although I was spotted in Australia on 40m I didn't see anyone from VK.

Map of my QSOs
With a total of 191036km I guess I will get the certificate now although I don't really care. I had a lot of fun using JT9 and I think it is still the best mode to use for low power and QRP. Besides that it is a great mode for activity as looking for a empty part on the waterfall never is a problem even with 20-30 stations calling at the same time. I certainly take a look at this activity next year....

Thursday, August 24, 2017

#JT9 RDRC Activity days

Just to generate more activity I thought I post it again with the rules in short.

Date: 25, 26, 27 August 2017
Time: Friday 00:00 UTC - Sunday 23:59 UTC
Mode: JT9

 In setting general be shure your locator is correct in "My Grid". Please don't "tick" the box "display in miles" as distance will be sum up in km.

Don't forget to write the amount of km in the comments box for every QSO.
Your log in ADIF format can be send to: 01-10(at) before 23:59 UTC 31 August 2017.

Certificates of JT9 Activity Days «Make haste slowly» in electronic form will be reawarded with all participants at whom the sum of distances up to correspondents will exceed 100.000 kilometers. 

Although I will be not on the frequency all the time I will be spotting at least one band. If time allows I will log in via remote or get into the shack if I am at home to make as many QSOs I can. You can spot which band I am here on my blog at the right of this blogpost.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

6T9 (promoting JT9)

Henk PA2S has mentioned it at the start of this year. The JT65 frequencies are going to be overcrowded. Strangely enough I still see few on the even more sensitive mode JT9. Did you know for instance that it is possible to receive JT65 and JT9 on the same frequency, especially important because there is no JT9 allocation on 60m and 6m. Besides that, on 60m, british stations are not allowed above 1000Hz in the waterfall and do call/listen with JT9.

Hopefully this post will contribute to the migration from JT65 to JT9. Henk PA2S and Steve GM0HUU contributed with the invention of 6T9. Henk wrote a nice article about it and posted a 6T9 logo on his site. You are free to use this logo anywhere you want to promote JT65 to JT9.

Now, with the new mode FT8 this all sounds a little silly. However, don't forget that FT8 would only decode till -20dB. It is not nearly as sensitive as JT9. When propagation is really bad JT9 can still save your QSO.

If you like to be more active on JT9 an finally meet more stations there as activity has been lower since the introduction of FT8, you can spend this weekend in the JT9 activity days. See for more info on the website of the Russian Digital Radio Club (RDRC):

Sunday, August 20, 2017

LOFAR antennas

Remember this post from 2009? Probabely not! But of course I remembered my old post as I wrote it myself ;-). Something I wanted to do for a long time is to visit and investigate this LOFAR remote site myself. I think not many people here do know about this receive station site in their village Roodeschool. With the help of google maps though it is easy to find (if you know were to look for). And so this morning I went on my bicycle to make my "tourist" sightseeing. This LOFAR RS509 site is one of many to make a array of antennas forming a radio telescope. My main interest is not what they can do with it but what the construction of the antennas is made of. I found detailed information in this PDF document.

More info about LOFAR can be found on:

LBA Low Band Antenna contains a LNA Low Noise Amplifier in the top cap. Dipole arms are from 1,38m long thin insulated copperwire as far as I could observe. Resonance frequency is 52 MHz. The groundplate is made from simple concrete mesh you can also buy at he DIY.

HBA High Band Antenna are made from alu. It consists of 4x4 dual lineair polarization dipoles housed in a polystyrene structure covered by polypropylene sheets also known as agricultural plastic sheet. Of course I could not take a look under the sheet so exact construction will remain a secret to me.

I observed another antenna at top of the first server housing. It is pointed to the nearby road. I guess it is a WiFi antenna so any maintance read out can be done from the road? Not shure why it is done like this as the whole site is connected to high speed internet via a optical fibre cable.

The whole site is situated about a kilometer from my home. And although the antennas are mainly pointed upwards I would still have doubts about interference from nearby amateur radio stations like me. Although I'm not transmitting signals 24/7 on the 6m band of course.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summertime updating

I realize I haven't been updating my blog for a while. I've so many ideas and so many projects I want to share. I really should get it out of my mind spending time for this radiohobby in summer. Too many things that happen in and around the house and familywise this time of the year. So instead I publish some nice summer photos from our garden to look at...

Garden July-August 2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Worlds within worlds

Many of us not realizing that the amateur radio hobby and this blog (other radioamateur related blogs as well) are part of a world within a world. A kind of parallel world besides the "normal" days of life. I realized it while discussing this with my dad. Others outside this world do see this world but most of the time do not know what is really going on.  In todays "modern" world full of communication technology people share their hobbies much easier and you have many ways to find people worldwide that share your interests and hobbies. The amount of blogs, websites and forums are countless about all kind of subjects from a obscure sport to a collection of rare poststamps. We radio amateurs already had a way to contact other people with the same hobby long before others could. Logically I think we as radio amateurs are living in one of the oldest parallel worlds which we created through communication.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Faster QSO in JT mode

Back in 2009, when I made my first experimental JT65A QSO there was no WSJT-X and no JTDX. We used WSJT (for EME use) and later JT65-HF which was developed W4CQZ, W4CQZ also had a reverse beacon and chat page on which you could meet other interested amateurs for experimenting. Actually I think JT65-HF was easier to use compared to WSJT and increased popularity of JT65 use on HF. Those first years a lot of amateurs were arguing that JT65 was intended for UHF/VHF communications on troposcatter and EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) and improperly used for HF. But soon many discovered that this mode is excellent for weak signal communications especially in surroundings with high noise floors and QRN/QRM. Today in 2017 the popularity of JT digimode is still growing and all radio amateurs want is make a quick QSO on a preferable as long distance as possible. Originally to complete a QSO would last 6 minutes in total. A example here making a contact with my neighbour Gerrie PA4GB:

WSJT-X buttons
(1 minute) PE4BAS PA4GB JO33
(2 minute) PA4GB PE4BAS -1
(3 minute) PE4BAS PA4GB R-1
(4 minute) PA4GB PE4BAS RRR
(5 minute) PE4BAS PA4GB 73
(6 minute) PA4GB PE4BAS 73

JTDX buttons, notice the options!

Now, this are the rules that are made to complete a JT65 QSO. But why this difficult? HF operators are not really interested in QTH locators (except if distance is part of a contest or a personal issue). JTDX already has a option to skip the locator and skip the RRR. A QSO would look like this:

(1 minute) PE4BAS PA4GB -1
(2 minute) PA4GB PE4BAS R-1
(3 minute) PE4BAS PA4GB RR73
(4 minute) PA4GB PE4BAS 73

A complete QSO in 4 minutes. And you can even skip the last 73 and call CQ again but that would not really be polite. For a DXpedition however that would be a essential amount of won time.

I already use this kind of 4 minute QSO making for as long as I use JTDX. However the QSO purists do not agree. And I got a lot of refused eQSL just because I did not send the locator or skipped the RRR or they didn't see my last "73". I really don't know why you would like to see a RRR to confirm a HF contact? And what's the use of that last "73" except that it is polite! Oh my, I'm going to get some hate comments now I guess.

Personally I would confirm a 4 minute contact without any problems. We did a signal report both ways just like you work a DXpedition and that is valid as well.

Imagine how fast a FT8 QSO goes when it will be implemented in JTDX! 1 minute!