Sunday, June 16, 2019

High (6m) hopes

Once again we saw NLCs (Noctilucent clouds) yesterday evening. This time in the direction NNE, about 30 degrees I think, exactly the Japan direction. So I had high hopes receiving Japan again but it  unfortunately didn't happen. However, propagation, especially in the morning, was very good. I managed to work 2 new 6m DXCC, EK7DX from Armenia and 9K2GS from Kuwait. I saw UN3GX and UN6T from Kazakhstan and one CQ from EX8MLT from Kyrgyzstan, QSOs didn't happen.  Some stations in Germany had more luck and managed to make it to India this morning. In the afternoon propagation was very unstable and signals were going in and out. Several QSOs went wrong and didn't finish because signals were gone too fast.

6m @PE4BAS 16-6-2019

Saturday, June 15, 2019

First 2 Japanese rx on 6m

When I came back from shopping this morning I realized I missed to be in the shack when I received my first 2 Japanese stations of this year. There was an opening around 8-8:15 UTC. JA7QVI and JR7AIW were -15dB. Both are received by only a few stations in Europe. I was the only one in the Netherlands that received JR7AIW as far as I can see on PSK reporter. Looking back in my all.txt file I saw another Japanese JA7WSZ that is not plotted in PSKreporter. ON4GG had more luck, looking back in my files he made it to JA one after the other...

He certainly has been a very lucky guy at the right place and in the shack at the right time. Hopefully one of these days I will make it to Japan on 6m.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Noctilucent clouds in relation to solar minimum

Photo from my shack window 12-06-2019 22UTC
I slowly realize that the bright noctilucent clouds sighting we saw was rare just like a bright aurora. Here in the Netherlands it even was a item in the 8 O'clock TV news. John MW1CFN wrote a excellent article on his weblog about the relation between NLC and PMSE and the expected propagation to Japan. Which was not happening the next morning, although it happened for stations in Finland! It would be great to find out why, after having such good visible NLC, we didn't have the propagation expected. But I guess it will remain a mystery and a guess. Another thing believed and still under research is the relation between the solar minimum and NLC. It is generally believed that as the sun goes to solar minimum, the solar heating of the atmosphere decreases, and a cooling trend would be expected. In order to form noctilucent clouds three things are needed:  very cold temperatures, water vapor and meteoric dust. The meteoric dust provides sites that the water vapor can cling to until the cold temperatures cause water ice to form.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

PE10WCA - Castles On The Air - Verhildersum PA-08 / Allersmaborg PA-02

Verhildersum PA-08
Just to inform you I take a thursday (13-06-2019) afternoon off the job to activate 2 castles. Or at least one. Verhildersum PA-08 will be the first one. I will be on from about 11 UTC till I got at least 50 QSO to make it valid. So it is not certain if I have time to visit Allersmaborg PA-02. Hopefully the propagation will be great, that's always a guess of course.

Allersmaborg PA-02
Door Hardscarf - Eigen werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The station will still be a Icom-706MK2G about 50W into a 3 band endfed on a 12m glassfiber mast. If there is no possebility for setting it up I will be using the modified DV27 for 20m and up. I will be only on SSB.

Demand for 80m:
Unfortunately I do not have a 80m portable antenna, so local QSOs will be difficult. The activation will be limited to 40m and up.
However I might try to make a 80m antenna to activate another castle one of these weeks.

Update 13-06-2019: I managed to activate both castles. Although there were only few that understood I did 2 activations and so 2 references could be worked.

At first I activated Verhildersum PA-08. A first time activation of this castle. I made 100 QSO and best DX was Canada and USA. When the QSO rate dropped I decided to dismantle the antennas and drive to the next reference which was about a half hour to get there.

Second was the Allersmaborg PA-02 also a first time activation of this castle. Propagation was dropping down and it was a struggle to get 74 QSO in the end. I decided to stop when after 10 minutes calling on 20m nothing came back to me. The QSO rate was so low that I decided to check other bands as well. Made a few QSO on 10m and 17m but the majority was on 20m and 40m. I checked 15m but there was no station on that band at all.

Some photos:

Verhildersum PA-08 setup

Allersmaborg PA-02 setup

Noctilucent clouds

Photo made from the radioshack window
It's the first time I saw noctilucent clouds here at around 22 UTC yesterday evening. 6m Propagation to Japan/Asia was expected but didn't happen this morning. However I saw OH (Finland) stations having a time of their lives contacting China, Japan, Hong Kong and India.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


It's a fun "contest" for the "Day of Russia". I guess all russians have a day off and those that are HAM can play radio.

It's still on till 18 UTC today. Your chance to make a DOMINO contact if you participate or not. I can't remember if I ever made a DOMINO digimode contact before but now I have. And I even made a DOMINO contact with John MW1CFN who gave me the info in the first place. Tnx QSO John, it was a pleasure.

If you make more as 10 QSO and you send in your log you can download a certificate afterwards if you like and if you really make a good effort you can win a real russian domino playset.

DOMINO reminds me of something else...a song from Genesis my favourite music group. I attended their show in 1992 (De kuip, Rotterdam).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Finally transatlantic 6m propagation and a 60m surprise

There finally was some 6m band propagation to/from the west-indies and it gave me a new one. Contacted J69DS Frans from St.Lucia Island. He was defenitely the strongest although I saw some more stations from that area. The propagation went down later but went up again a few hours after this. I made another QSO with 9Y4D who was my record DX last year, does this promise something for the next days? I hope so...

Todays 6m band:

One station, SU1KM from Egypt, was received and I called him several times but didn't make the QSO unfortunately. Strange enough he was also not spotted/plotted in PSK reporter. I hope to make a QSO with him later this season since it would be a new one as well...

Bijschrift toevoegen
I noticed that the Sao Tome & Principe expedition was on 60m very early this morning. I missed it but then this evening he was on 60m F/H mode. Strong enough to make a QSO least 50 stations called him from Europe every over. This was going to get hard....but in the end I managed to make the QSO. I'm surprised actually that DX is still possible in summer time at daylight...

60m band at the moment I made the QSO:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

PE10WCA - Castles on the air - Breedenborg PA-03 activation Sat. 8 June

07-06-2019: I will try to activate Breedenborg PA-03 this saturday June 8. Not shure about the time since I have a meeting with the guys from PA6AA contest group first. On the way back home I will activate the castle. Will try to spot on a DXcluster or ask others to spot me. If you hear me, please spot me on the DXcluster. I need at least 50 QSOs in the log to make this a valid activation. I will update this post afterwards with the results and more photos from my setup. The idea is to only be on phone. My digital portable gear is still not ready yet.

The castle or "borg" like it is called here has been destroyed by a fire in the eighties. But it has been build again. It is in private posession and not open for the public.

Can you spot the antennas?
08-06-2019: The meeting did last a little longer as anticipated, so the activation started a little later.
The weather was not that good, lot of rain and heavy winds. At first I parked the car at a parking lot near de castle, because of the trees there was no possebility to install the fiber mast for the 3 band endfed. So I started with my modified DV27 mobile antenna. It took me 10 minutes to get spotted on the DX cluster and even that didn't help a lot. A few moments later I got a visitor in person of PA3BCB Gerard, he lives about 100m from the parking lot. After some chatting Gerard told me there was another parking lot that might have more possebilities, actually he also had a field in mind that he hired for a while but is unattended at the moment. I tried the other parking lot and Gerard told me were to find the field so I could take a look if I wished. I started on 20m again but it wasn't much successful. So I drove the car to the field and found it being in front of some houses. I didn't like to disturb the people and didn't want to get much in sight. So went back to the parking lot and found a place for my fiber mast between the trees and mounted the 3 band endfed. Working on 40m went on much better and 1,5 hour later the log counted 60 QSOs. Unfortunately forgot to record GPS location so will have to do that later but at least took some photos.

Update 12-6-2019: PA3BCB Gerard was so kind to send me the GPS
info. However I prefer my own screen with map and QRA locator so will try to make a screenshot tomorrow.

Update 16-6-2019: Add the GPS pisture from my own phone.

Update 9-6-2019: Log is uploaded. I received a short video from my activation from PA3BCB. Sound is not as good since there was a lot of wind....

Thursday, June 6, 2019

PE10WCA - Castles On The Air - Menkemaborg PA-07

QSL from previous activation
Just a rehearsal for upcoming WCA activations. I was active today from 10-11 UTC on 14.251MHz SSB. Log will be uploaded after I got it in the computer. I log with handwriting.

TRX is the Icom-706MK2G, 50W into my modified DV27 mobile antenna. I had heavy noise on the band first 15 minutes. It went better later on. Propagation was not that good or there were just not many on the band? Worked 20 stations in the end.

Below you see my setup in the car. And the exact GPS location. About 500m from the Menkemaborg.

Since I do this in my lunch break at the job I haven't got much time, of course I need to eat something as well ;-)

I don't do this normally but in this case I think it is justified to spot myself. I can do it only once per day though. So I kindly ask you all to spot me on a DXcluster after you worked be. It would be a great help.

Thanks to 9A1AA and HA9PP who worked and spotted me...

I will try to be on air in my lunch break on as many days this month activating PA-7 Menkemaborg.

Most interesting contact today was ON4VT Danny from Belgium. Danny is a WCA activator himself and a very active operator. I think it is a miracle we could make a QSO and indeed it was a hard copy but we managed to finish the QSO.

Update Friday 07-06-2019: Activated PE10WCA from PA-7 again. This time tried FT8 on both 20m and 17m. 45 minutes calling resulted in just 4 QSO and only 2 spots on PSK reporter. I was using the FT-817 with 5W into the modified DV27 mobile antenna. This is not a good result and I'm not shure if I will be doing FT8 again on this WCA activation.

Update Tuesday 11-06-2019: Have been active from PA-07 again. Worked 34 stations on 20m SSB. Logs have been uploaded. Had trouble with the 12VDC connector at the radio. Not shure what the problem is. Have been modifying the connector but it is not that reliable. See video...

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

6m band range without ES propagation

Have been transmitting CQ on 6m for about 20 minutes. Didn't receive a signal at all. So, no ES propagation. Curious what my range is without propagation. I did this before last year and to test the antenna and equipment it is a great reference. I used the IC-7300 FT8 with about 70W output into my 5 element ZX Yagi at 14m agl. Tried calling every direction for a few times.

ODX was OY1OF from Faroer Islands 1244km. I was surprised with the spot from LY2IJ from Lithuania. DX on 6m is interesting but to discover your 6m range without any propagation is sometimes even more fun...

Well, there was not much ES last couple of days. At least not when I was monitoring 6m. However I see DX possebilities are there from southern europe. It seems 6m is always better when you live further south.

Update a few minutes after I wrote this post:


Strange it looks like internet is sometimes very slow....

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

PE10WCA 10 years Castles On The Air

COTA-PA is going to participate in the 10th anniversary festivities of the World Castle Award (WCA) in the month of June. For this occasion we will have 8 activators using 8 different special calls while activating castles that are part of the COTA-PA and WCA program.

There will be a special award for working these P*10WCA callsigns - with three levels (bronze, silver, gold) depending on the amount of contacts you make with the activators.

Most activity will be in the period of 8-16 June but some calls will be active on other dates in June. Exact dates and times will be communicated at a later date.

The following calls will be on the air at least on one activation, by the activators mentioned:


I will try to activate at least 3 castles. One will be a first ever activation...

PA-3 Breedenborg (first ever)
PA-7 Menkemaborg (activated before)
PA-9 Rensumaborg (activated before)

Of course I will announce the dates/time on my blog, facebook and on QRZ, possible also on the WCA facebookpage.

More info:

Monday, June 3, 2019

Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes

"Around the Arctic Circle, VHF radio signals are starting to echo from Earth's upper atmosphere--a phenomenon called 'Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes.'"
(txt from

I wrote a article about this phenomenon in 2017. One of my goals this year is to make a QSO with Japan on 6m. This is only possible for a few days in a year and so you need to monitor 6m every morning to see when a opening is there....

ES propagation is already appearing and signals from all over Europe are very strong some days. At my QTH though it takes a bit more to get a DX QSO. I noticed stations in Croatia, Austria and southern Germany did already make QSOs into Japan, Asia, USA, West-Indies, South America and Africa. It seems the further you live south the better propagation on the 6m band is. I sometimes even notice that between PA0O and me, Jaap does live approx. 15km south of me and even at that distance there can be a huge difference in propagation.

So far I managed to work one new 6m DXCC contacting 7X2TT from Algeria.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Aloha, WSPR DXCC nr.92

Thanks to the blog post from John MW1CFN it was known to me that there was a possible good path to Hawaii on 20m WSPR. And since it is not yet in my WSPR DXCC list I was eager to get a report. So I took the opportunity to test the IC-7300 with WSPR for the first time and brought it down easily to 1W WSPR output. When I woke up this morning and checked the WSPR reports on my phone AI6VN/KH6 was on top of my list and gives me WSPR DXCC nr. 92.

Like John wrote on his blog there seems to be a good path on 20m every morning when the greyline passes over the Hawaiian islands. My signal might not that good compared to MW1CFN and also my location is by far not as good. But at least I got 5 spots in total with strongest at 05:56 UTC.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Best feature from JS8call

My personal opinion that the message feature in JS8call is the best feature of all for this digimode software. Above the message received notice from OH8STN Julian after I send him a message a day earlier. The nice thing is that if the station you want to send a message to doesn't have to be on air. You can store the message locally or at another station. As soon as the station appears on the band there is a notice send out that there is a message with a ident number. You can pick it up with the query msg command. How things work exactly can be seen in this video from OH8STN:

Thursday, May 30, 2019

#FT8 have fun, don't be too serious!

Come on, don't be too serious in this hobby! Have fun, in the end what do you have to prove? All this DXCC counting and collecting band slots is just for you, yourself and I. There are a lot of HAM operators with modest stations and they want to have the ability to make contact with a rare DXCC as well. E31A (Eritrea) is active now till June 3rd. I think most active is PA5X Johannes as operator, he is also know as 5T5PA from Mauritania. We are in the minimum of the sunspot cycle and to be able to make this DXpedition a success FT8 is the main mode of operation.

Personally I have a lot of fun chasing E31A on all bands and over the last days I worked them on 60, 40, 20, 17 and 10m. I heard them on 6m but only decoded one time. At the moment I try 15m but propagation is not yet in my favour. Think about this a few years ago, only a good directional high beam antenna and some power and a lot of patience, skill and time could get you so many band slots in a short time. At least that counts for me. I agree, now it is just a matter of calling at a good part of the waterfall and wait till you are the next in line. However, I still have fun and it doesn't cost me hours of my precious time.

In the end, think of it, what are you doing it for. Some HAM radio operators take this DXCC collecting far too serious... Personally I think HAM radio is doing experiments, make friends and have fun. And it doesn't matter how or what...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

First FT4 efforts

Actually wanted to wait for the stable release but couldn't resist. However, FT4 seems not that populair yet. I listened several bands but there was only activity on 20m. It is evident that you need your computer accurately on time and it is less sensitive compared to FT8. However, I made some DX...

Now I'm curious....will this mode replace FT8? Will it replace RTTY in contests?
Only the future will tell...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Radio rally Beetsterzwaag

I've been attending the radio rally in Beetsterzwaag village together with PE1BVQ Hans today. I think this is one of the better rallies exsisting. Didn't want to buy anything but it is always nice to look around and in the end I couldn't resist buying some items. 2 good variable capacitors for future experiments, a few large ferrite clamps a small card reader for reading the SD memory card out of the IC-7300 and at the end I bought a old telephone.

The old telephone is a type that was made in the fifties of last century. When we bought our house there was one hanging in the hall. I informed the seller that he could leave the phone but he didn't unfortunately. So after 10 years we have the old phone back in our hall today.

Since I had to open it to mount it I had of course a interest in the technology at the is in mint condition and if we still had a analog telephone line I'm shure it could work...

Of course we met a lot of people as well, some I knew, some that Hans knew. A few club members and the guys from PI4M contest group. I also met a old neighbour station from my 11m radio period, I guess I didn't see him for about 20 years. It's always nice to speak to some guys in real person instead of radio, e-mail of telephone.

Of course I saw a lot of interesting second hand equipment, some cheap and in bad shape, some very expensive and in better shape. Most interesting item I saw was a BC-191 transmitter, not shure if this was a transmitter as used in WWII bombers? But it was a impressive radio for shure. Don't know if it was for sale though...

Well, as always it was a very interesting radio rally and we had a lot of fun. Almost forgot to tell I met a HAM that personally knew PA0DR Dirk, and will try to get some stories from him. As regular readers know I'm busy to collect stories about the extraordinairy radioamateur that lived in my area.

I learned something as well today. Being in the repair business I'm always interested in all kind of tools or measuring tools. Today I learned what a Huntron device is and what it can do. I really never heard of such a device but it makes a electronics repair troubleshooter live a lot easier. It was always a question for me how to measure in circuit electronics but this device can do it. I'm not really in the electronics repair business, but at least I know what is needed and that it exsists. It was all kindly told to me by a HAM but unfortunately forgot his call...

If all goes well I will attend this interesting rally again next year.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Proppy HF propagation circuit prediction tool

I'm not the only one writing about this website and found this useful link through one of the sites in my blogroll. It seems to be new and I think it is very useful. It is easy to use, fast, and gives a oversight of the contact possebilities over a particulair month of a year to several parts of the world from any location you want. The nice thing is that you can download the results and keep them on your computer or print them out to hang on your shack wall. You don't have to check the website every time you want to know what time you want to call to a part of the world you want contact. The nice thing is that it features FT8 as contact medium besides several other modulation types.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#10m 19 May 19

It has been a few days ago checking for ES propagation, No time for the radio hobby, unfortunately sometimes the job takes too much of my free time ;-(. This morning I took the opportunity to listen for ES on 6m, but the band was nearly death. The 10m band was open though, I turned my HB9CV to north east. For a few minutes I was able to catch the disturbed signal from BD0AAI but I was unable to make any QSO, listening to his signal I was surprised anyway that his signal could be decoded...
I was on for about 1 hour and managed to make QSOs with a few Ukrainian stations, 4K6FO from Azerbaijan and two Moldovian stations. Not bad for multihop ES I think. I really don't know what the rest of the day has been showing since I had to switch off the radio and had to go, returning late at home this evening.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More radio related music

John AE5X posted a blogpost after he did read mine with lots of radio related music in the genre I call "country" music. I got a e-mail from PF5T Frank who wrote me that in 1975 the german electronic music group Kraftwerk did make a complete album about radio and radiation including a lot of CW samples.

This is typical music you don't like when you're not used to it. But when you listen it a few times you discover it is a real gem.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Goodmorning #60m

I woke up this early morning especially to work HR5/F2JD after I saw him spotted last couple of days. And lucky me, I was one of the first that saw him. Then the calling starts, but no response. And since he spotted himself on the cluster the pile-up started, but no response from Gerard....Luckely Gerard communicates very well to the audience through the worldwide DXcluster....

Nice to know, but the frequency started to get crowded. For those that think FT8 is only simple computer to computer communication! There is a lot more involved to get the DX. I saw PG0DX Henry managing to make the QSO, so I thought this has to be possible. And finally somehow I got my signal through in the end...

Thanks Gerard, a nice one on 60m.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Visiting PC7B

Bram/P on the bike with his dog Mrs.Kimmy
I know PC7B Bram for about 30 years now. Bram has several hobbies and one of them is cycling. When I first met Bram it was on 11m and he was of course cycling and had a CB walky talky to talk to people and keep contact with his XYL. I remember this walky talky was big, not a tiny HT we use now, but as large as a brick and just as heavy with a huge telescopic antenna. We talked in several occassions and I remember one contact well when he was on a ferry to Schiermonnikoog Island and we managed to make a contact. Later I met him again and discovered he got a license as well.

Well, I knew Bram has a IC-7300, he bought it just when it came out. I made QSO's with him a few times and have to say it sounds great. So we agreed I would visit him to have a look at the IC-7300 but I was too busy at the time. In the mean time one of our friends died. When we both visited the funeral we agreed I should visit him one of these days. But time went on....sometimes it is really hard to make appointments. Finally I visited Bram to see his shack and talk about good times last Sunday. It was a really nice afternoon and I showed him my portable station and of course I could see his tiny radioshack. Bram asked me if there was a possebility I could get WSJT-X working on his IC-7300. Well, it took me about 30 minutes I think but it was in the end a easy task to connect it just with one USB cable.
PC7B antennas: 4m, 10m, 2/70 vertical, horizontal multiband endfed

Unfortunately Bram told me earlier that he was ill and had to go to the hospital for several weeks to get treatment. He offered me to lend his IC-7300 in the mean time to get used to it before I get one myself. I refused the offer but in the end he insisted that the radio had a good home when he was away. So, now suddenly I got a IC-7300 in my shack for a few weeks...

Time to review the IC-7300 I guess, but it has so many features that will take some time. At least setting it up to connect with the computer was a easy 10 minute job again.

PC7B's IC-7300 fits well in my homemade shelf

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Unexpected 10m paths

Inspired by the blog from EI7GL who is monitoring 28MHz FT8 I decided to throw out some CQs and see what is responding or what is spotted.

Late in the morning I got no stations that respond to me but I found a strong path to G0FUV. I remember from my 11m DX years that ES propagation was almost always there with that part of England even when other paths were closed. I was away today and closed my station after this "scan".

In the evening greyline when I came home I left the radio/computer on to monitor 10m again.

I spotted LU1MPK and a ZP (Paraquay) station several times. I saw signals with as strongest -9dB.
If I was at the radio at that time I could certainly have a chance to work one of them.