Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 highlights, 2019 goals

My traditional post at the end of the year. Looking back at my amateurradio activities. Have I met my goals? What's going to happen next year?






Last years post didn't feature my PA6AA activity, I just forgot? Am
I getting old? I don't know....but at least I can write about it this time. For the last 2 years it is one of the highlights of the year for me but also for the other operators participating in the PA6AA contestgroup. We don't have a big conteststation but what we have is a excellent location at the northern coast of the netherlands and a great team with very positive operators. We have to build the "portable" station every year again and dismantle it after the contest, that takes a lot of planning and time. But when everything works like it should we can make a good score contestwise. And it is not only the score and the contest but also the great teamwork that gives us pleasure.

This was again not a good DX year. Only one ATNO DXCC was worked and Kosovo is still a doubt. So I found other DXCC challenges and this year I add 5 new DXCC to my "WSPR 1W heard" list. I might do the same in 2019 for 60m and 6m.

Shack dec. 2018
Did I meet my goals? Yes and no! Yes, I rerouted the coaxial cables, I mounted the rotor and the small distribution cabinet below the tower. And I mounted the 5 element 6m yagi which did a great job this year. And No, I didn't mount the old multiband coppertape vertical at top of the tower, it was a idea but I had troubles with my automatic antennatuner that should be below the vertical. Besides that the radials are really a problem, I can't use the mast as "radial" since some simulations in EZNEC did show a very bad radiating pattern on all bands except 160m and 80m. Not a good idea! I also didn't mount the 5 element 10m yagi but instead mounted a HF5B 2 element 5 band beam which is doing a reasonable job and features 5 bands instead of just 1. What is not really clearly on my blog, I did change my shack to apply the rotorcontroller on the desk. And I wanted to have space already (thinking ahead) for a Icom IC-7300 which is preferable my new radio in the future.

So what happened this year? Let's look back into the 2018 archives. First of all I rerouted the coax and cables for the rotor and mounted the rotor of course. Since my XYL doesn't want to have the horizontal 80m loop around the garden anymore I changed to a multiband 2x20m inverted-V hanging @12m agl in the tower sloping to about 3m from the ground. It does a great job except may be for 10 and 12m were it is much too long. At first I used original wireman ladderline but changed to homemade ladderline which gave me immidiate success with a QSO on 60m to New Zealand and is indeed a improvement. This year I also changed from operating system on my computer since the old system (vista) was not supported anymore by teamviewer, chrome and other software I need for the hobby. This OS change did work out at first but after a few updates it didn't give me the stability I wanted and it was still a old slow computer so I bought another faster one. Some simple solutions came to my mind as well. My old homemade VOX digimodem project was converted to a USB port CQ parrot which is doing a great job with N1MM+, I sold my old standalone CQ voicekeyer. This new voicekeyer/parrot supported me in the PACC 2018 contest in which I obtained 2nd place in the largest section SSB low power single operator all band. From a digimode perspective I experimented a lot with APRS-messenger this year till it was and is over shadowed by a new digimode package called JS8Call which has most of the features APRS-messenger and FSQ had. There is so much to experiment with and it looks like I'm the expert in digimodes but I'm not, I just like to experiment and see if contacts are possible with minimum gear. I proved that by using a predecessor of JS8Call (FT8Call) from my car on 20m with good results. I'm still busy to build my ultimate portable digital station and this year made some progress. Looking back at my radio activity I'm mainly on 60m and 6m when I'm not in a contest. A real 6m beam gave me many new DXCC in the logbook on the magic band. It was great to experience and will certainly do it again next year. I might even consider to extend the 5 element to a 7 element 6m beam. Again I tried to be active in a RaDAR event, I like the concept. But time is always a issue, and still my portable station is not ready yet. The rules sound easy but to build up a portable station within a few minutes and next make QSOs is not that easy. And at the end of the year there was my 10m ARRL contest participation again, propagation is very low these days but I proved there are still contacts possible on the 10m band.

A strong helper....
My goals for 2019...
Let me think about that. I have some goals but actually they are wishes. I would like to wish propagation is good enough again in ES season to make a 6m contact to Japan, this should be possible with my 5 element beam, I'm shure of that. The only critical thing is that you need to be on the radio at the right time! And time will be a issue in 2019 as well! Another wish is to buy another radio. Preferable the Icom IC-7300. My main radio the  IC-706 MK2G is still doing a fine job.....when it is working. But lately I've got some problems especially when I don't use the radio often, the PLL doesn't seem to lock with all kind of problems occuring. There is nothing I can do except waiting till it works. I think this will occur more often when time passes. Repair is probabely too expensive considering the age and value of the radio. More wishes....a multiband antenna. I currently use a Butternut HF5B but am not really impressed by this antenna. I would prefer a homemade multiband quad but am not shure it will fit into the mast actually. I've looked at other designs for a multiband beam but didn't make a final choice yet. Well, these are not really goals like I wrote, they are wishes.....let me dream on....

Last but not least, I wish you, readers of my blog, a very happy and healthy 2019.

8 comments:

  1. Hello Bas - sounds like lots of interesting stuff for 2018 despite poor propagation. Two new modes (FT8, JS8) and some interesting 6m contacts. Best wishes to you and your strong helper in 2019!

    73 - John AE5X

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  2. Hello John, FT8 not being a new mode (June 2017) but JS8 is. I hope to make more interesting 6m contacts in 2019. Best wishes to you and yours. 73, Bas

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  3. Good morning Bas, 2018 sounded like a very ham radio active year for you and some very decent goals for 2019. I imagine with the 7610 out there will be some deals to be had for the 7300 rig.
    73 and all the best to you and your family in the New Year.
    Mike
    VE3WDM

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    1. All the best to you and yours in 2019 as well Mike, 73, Bas

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  4. Here's a experiment for you for 2019: from May until August, late at night, point your 6m beam over the pole to Japan and see if you receive any FT8 signals. I have PMSE in mind!

    HNY to you and your family, Bas!

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    1. Hello John,

      I think I will be on 24/7 those days. Will try the experiment ;-) 73, Bas

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  5. Hallo Bas, er is veel gebeurd het afgelopen jaar. We hebben als bloglezer kunnen meemaken dat je grote wens,de antennemast, in vervulling ging en dat je toch weer nieuwe DX heb kunnen werken. Je blog is altijd interessant omdat er van alles aan bod komt. Daardoor is je blog ook niet saai of afgezaagd en zijn er steeds nieuwe interessante items.
    Je productie van items ligt erg hoog wat alleen maar een pluspunt is. Ik hoop dat je grote wens voor 2019, de Icom IC-7300, gerealiseerd kan worden komend jaar of anders de jaren daarop. Dat gun ik je van harte.
    Rest mij om jou, Renata en Anneli een geweldig goed jaar toe te wensen in goede gezondheid en veel geluk.
    Ik blijf je volgen. 73 Hans, PE1BVQ

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    1. Hallo Hans, de beste wensen voor jou en familie. Ik ben blij met de vaste volgers van dit blog. Voor 2019 heb ik alweer mooie onderwerpen in de maak. En ondertussen probeer ik wat te sparen voor een IC-7300. 73, Bas

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Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas