Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Greece now on #60m

I just read that Greece is now allowed on the 60m band. I guess that will allow at least 4 new DXCC on this band that can be worked easily from Europe. Greece, Dodecanese, Crete and Mount Athos. (Correct me if I am wrong!).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

PA0DR - adventures 1937-1953 - War

QSL card from a 1946 QSO.
Years ago I found this PA0DR QSL at a post on facebook. I was immidiatly interested in this station. It has been difficult to find stories and information about this radio operator. But slowly the puzzle is going to get solved. Dirk Rustema PA0DR was a radio operator already before the second world war from my area. He was a well known "illigal" radio operator for the resistance in the second world war. I just discovered that he was also a member of our local VERON radioclub Hunsingo half a year ago. Unfortunately I never met him but the older people in our club do remember him well and already told me stories that have never been published. I want to write some of them down here because in a few decades no one will ever know.

I remember some visits to a schoolmate in the village of Middelstum. On the road from Onderdendam to Middelstum you could look over the land and my interest always were the huge antennas near a house about a kilometer from the road into the land. I was about 18 years old and not a licensed operator but was always interested in radio and a very eager CB operator at that time absorbing all antenna and radio info I could get. I asked around who was living there at that house and someone probabely told me but I forgot the info. Later when I was older I drove by in my car but didn't see any antennas anymore. Searching for info on PA0DR I asked my colleague who lived originally near Middelstum and he told me he knew who Dirk was and told me he lived in that house I always looked at from the road. Puzzle solved...

During some other conversations with my colleague I slowly got to know other stories that eventually lead to a connection.....with me! I will try to tell about that in part 2.

Dirk seems to be a well known radioamateur here in the northern part of the Netherlands and was experimenting with radio already in the thirties of last century. It seems that he was a religious man and when older people in the village could not get to the church he and his father asked permission for a (wired) PA system so older people could still listen to the church service. As far as I can read in an old 1934 newspaper the license for that was granted. This was the first public radio related subject I found related to Dirk as a radio experimenter. He became a licensed radioamateur in 1937.

The next subject related to radio was the second world war between 1940-45. I found some reports from Dirk his work as radio operator for the resistance (codename "Zwaantje" (Little swan)) in some archives, as long as it exists you can find them here. Of course it is in Dutch so I will translate the text I found and was written by Dirk:

At midyear 1942 I was ordered to build a transceiver by the commander of the O.D. (Orde Dienst = Dutch resistance organisation) to contact headquarters. The transceiver should work between 100-105m (approx 3 MHz). It was built and was ready to use. In the mean time I met Mr. Tijdgat (PA0TY) from Groningen who was commander of the radio group there. This group was already preparing but didn't have a transceiver to contact England. At the end of 1942 I got some electronic lessons from Mr. Koning (teacher on the nautical school in the village Delfzijl). After some time we discovered we could both do something for our country. Mr. Koning already got a transceiver from Sweden (smuggled, he tried from his home in Delfzijl but wasn't successful). The transceiver has been installed at my home in Middelstum and the first contacts with England were made. We continued operation till our arrest in August 1943. Through very cautious contacts between the spy group in Delfzijl and the radiogroup from the O.D. I accomplished a 100% good working organisation. We were very happy when we, at my office in Middelstum, heard the message "geen knollen voor citroenen" (a dutch phrase in english: no tubers for lemons) on "Radio Oranje" (Dutch radio broadcasting messages and news from BBC England), a message that our transmission was received. After that we got a radiogram next day with clues how to operate the transceiver, last words of the radio telegram were "Your work is very appreciated by the Queen and allies". I was arrested in August 1943

Nice to know is that Dirk's code name was "Joop". The transmitter was called "Winchester" by the allies. Some more detailed information an a picture of a possible transmitter was found in this file (Dutch):

https://emmywwh.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/1705-zwaantje.pdf

Dirk was in detention in Delfzijl, Scheveningen, Haaren, Anrath, Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen camps till he was liberated by the allies. I found another report from Henk Dulfer who met Dirk in Sachsenhausen, apparantly they became friends. They were both on a luridly death march at the end of the war but were liberated and both did survive the war...

Well, the above reads as a big adventure but I'm sure the war was a dark moment of his life. Dirk had a great radio station before the war but most of it confiscated just before the war. From a interview that was written in the 1986 VERON magazine "Electron" I can translate something about the confiscation of his first amateurradio station. Just before WW2 (2 december 1939) Dirk was visited by the Middelstum mayor, he had to hand over the transmitter/receiver to him immidiatly. When Dirk asked the mayor if he brought a truck with him for transport he denied. Surprised about the big welded racks with all kind of equipment he only took the morse key and mike. Next day he visited again to get the equipment and remarked that the day before there were more meters and clocks in the racks? That way Dirk could hide some vital transmitter components.

After the war Dirk built a station again. Since his occupation was electrician and smith he always
made something nice and soon there were masts with antennas again and even a 80m wire from his house across the street to the church tower. Since there was almost no commercial equipment available he even modified surplus equipment for the coastal guard stations.

Several years after the war he was photographed in his shack to be on the frontpage of a 1953
Electron magazine. A description from his station: up high left to right 2m transmitter and 10m transmitter, Below those left to right 80m transmitter (VFO - 807 - 813), modulator (2x 811A), spare panel for a future 20m transmitter. Below those left to right 2m receiver, 2m converter and a RCA AR-88 receiver,

Dirk had a workshop and blacksmith's forge and also built racks and beam antennas for others at that time. Dirk was a village electrician as well. And...he was the commander from the Middelstum fire brigade...

Another WW2 report I found on the internet can be read here (Dutch) this features a list of HAMradio operators that were active during the war. van Schendel was a employee from the Dutch FCC in Den Haag.

http://www.weggum.com/Verslag_A.S.M._van_Schendel.html


(Permission for photographs: I contacted the chief editor of the "Electron" to get permission to publish the photos for both my blog as well as our local club magazine "Hunsotron". I got permission for the magazine and kindly asked (third time) if permission was also valid for my blog. Unfortunately I never got any answer. But since I am a VERON member I don't think I'm in trouble. If they find it is illigal please let me know.)

Documentation: Electron 1953 (unknown number), Electron 1986 (unknown number), De verzetsgroep Zwaantje. Oorlogsbelevenissen van dr. Allard Oosterhuis, written by drs. J. Klatter

Sunday, March 10, 2019

#60m VR2ZUZ Hong Kong

If you are on the 60m band quite often like me you get to know what direction the propagation is best at what time. I knew that about one hour before sunset shortpath propagation can be good to the east. I saw a VU2 from India yesterday and saw my signal spotted in Phillipines, India and New Zealand at that time. And indeed my signal was spotted again in the east region. Suddenly there was VR2ZUZ from Hong Kong. A weak signal half covered by a european station but decodable at -21dB. I had to finish my QSO that was going on and immidiatly called with succes. It took a few overs but at the end I got the RR73.

Most interesting was who received VR2ZUZ in the Netherlands at that time...


Only 3 stations received Tony. PG0DX with -15dB, PA4O with -19dB and me with a peak -17dB.
I worked him on my shunt fed vertical polarisation tower. After the QSO I tried to receive him with the inverted-V but nothing could be decoded.


Thanks for the new one Tony!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Icom IC-706 MKIIG PLL problem

My 21 year old Icom IC-706 MKIIG probabely has a PLL problem. That will say I did read similair problems on several sites and forums according this problem. Especially when the radio is cold after a few minutes SSB and CW is sounding raspy and noisy, this occurs from about 7 MHz and up. When it occurs I cannot transmit on 15m and 17m either. Most of the time it is ok when I transmit for a carrier for a few minutes to warm up the radio. Sometimes transmitting for a few seconds on 160m solves the problem as well. Could there be a simple solution? Something I can do myself?

I asked Leo PA0LMD from https://hamradioservice.nl/. He told me it is definitely a PLL problem and he is able to fix it.

However, the radio is 21 years old. I don't want to spend much money to fix it since I'm saving for a nice and shiny Icom IC-7300. It is a difficult choice what to do since I can still use my IC-706 as soon as it is warmed up. It is only the annoyance when starting up the station actually.

I found a 22 year old brochure from the Icom IC-706 MKIIG when it was just new. Wow, it was my dream radio those days. Just like the IC-7300 is now.


Friday, March 8, 2019

#60m 7/8 March


My receive seems to be not that bad. Although the inverted-V receive is a tiny bit better as the vertical. However I get better reports on the vertical overall. I saw Hawaii and Alaska this morning but was unable to reach them. PE5T and PG0DX however managed to make a QSO. 15W TX is not much and when the opposite station has a high noise level it is probabely not enough. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see a station well but I can't make a contact. According to the DXcluster this morning I was not the only one ;-). It is a art to keep quiet and wait for another time. If every (DX) contact was easy there is no satisfaction in the end.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

UKEICC SSB 80m contest 6 March review

Event: UKEICC 80m SSB - 3
Section:  Single Operator Low Power SSB
Logger: N1MM+ newest version
Station: Icom IC-706 MK2G 100W
Antenna 1: Inverted-V apex @12m

Have I told you that I really like the fast and easy format of this contest? It's one of my most favorite contests since it takes only 1 hour of your precious time and you already know the score and outcome next day. You can enter as single operator but the score can also count for a team. More info can be found at https://www.ukeicc.com/ there is also a CW part if you like.
This contest is ideal for beginners but fun as well for the experienced operators.

I had troubles to find a clean frequency the first 25 minutes due to heavy splatter and QRM on the band. But when I finally did find one the QSO rate was up and rising. 60 QSO were made, however I made one typing error I guess and one German station didn't know his locator. Actually the German station told me he had no locator. I told him every place on earth has a locator....Anyway, I should have typed a few dashes but entered a "0" for the missing locator so the QSO didn't count. Learned something for next time.

Distances give most points in this contest but unfortunately almost all stations were within 1000km from my QTH, best distance was with F8ABB which gave me 1196 points. My final place in the low power section was 2 with only 58 counting contacts. I really had a fun hour of contesting and will certainly try to participate again at 3 April.

Another fun thing happened, I had a German station calling CQ DX on my CQ frequency after being there already for 20 minutes. I told him to QSY since the frequency was in use. But he did call CQ again. I didn't want to QSY for this and asked him friendly to QSY but he resisted since he wanted to know what contest it was....after I told him and what time it would stop (18 min left). He told me he would wait. Never heard him again... Strange thing since for me at least it is a rule to always ask 2 times if a frequency is in use...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

More #60m DX - The lazy DXer

Call me a lazy DXer but....I don't sleep well last 2 nights. I wake up all the time with the feeling I'm missing the DX. That was after Henry PG0DX told me he goes to bed early to wake op very early and work all the rare DX. However, I didn't go to bed early but was on 60m all the time till late. I noticed there might be a chance at very good DX and I know some DX is active (my list in earlier post). So, I woke up this morning and decided to look what the propagation would bring to me...I left the radio/computer on to monitor 60m FT8 all night.


It seems propagation was really good and worldwide contacts were possible. Some reported Alaska and Hawaii as well but I didn't see them unfortenately. However a QSO was made with 2 new 60m DXCC for me. First HC2AO (Ecuador), second HD8M (Galapagos Isl.). Think about it, we are at the bottom of the solar cycle...but this would never happen if there was no FT8 digimode. If we would try this 10 years ago this DX was simply not possible.

I noticed DP0GVN spots me quite often the last couple of days both in the evening as now in the morning. I already worked Antarctica but still it is interesting to see that a propagation path is there every day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Reminder UKEICC 80m SSB contest wednesday



Just to remind you to the UKEICC contest this wednesday evening 6 march at 20-21UTC. It only takes a hour to take part. A fun short contest. I like this format. You have to submit your log within 1 hour after the contest. And you already see the results next day.

Friday, March 1, 2019

#60m DX 2019

Despite the "sunflower" radar interference from Russia and China on 60m these days there is still some DX that can be worked. Though it is difficult and most DX is of course at night. 15W on the bottom of the solar cycle and limited antennas even with FT8, JT9 or JT65 is though. But a real die hard DXer is never giving up. I recently viewed the 60m online website achievements list  and noticed PA2S Henk already got 142 DXCC worked. I don't know how much of it is confirmed? Well done! And I guess he is one of the top here in the Netherlands.


I don't have information from PE5T and PG0DX who are also big DXers on the 60m band. My own efforts are mainly in the evening and early morning. I'm not fanatic enough to stay up all night to work a special DX station. The shunt fed tower is a improvement for shure. I was surprised by a signal from ZL of +1dB last week. Also last week I spotted HD8M from Galapagos, he had a good signal but I didn't have the time to call for a long time and shure there was a big pile-up. The pile-up for PJ6/NM1Y (Saba&St.Eustatius) was big as well. Looking at Jeff's signal and is behaviour it was like he didn't know what signal to choose, frequency hopping all the time. I had no trouble receiving him although strangely enough I didn't see his trace in the waterfall all the time? I also viewed the pile-up side and found a clean spot around 500Hz. Decided to call and saw was spotted by Jeff around -10dB. It was just perserverance and transmitting his report for over 30 times till he finally noticed and I was in the log!

It took a long time but in the end this is the way I like it and gives more satisfaction compared to one call in the log contacts. This was DXCC nr. 81 on 60m in the log. Given the amount (9) of "new" DXCC I worked already in the first 2 months of 2019 it is not bad for 15W and a inverted-V or now a shunt fed tower. Will I get to 100 DXCC this year? Well, I do my best...some interesting DXpeditions/DX stations are on my list in March. I'm shure I will be able to work a few. I never thought 60m is such a fun DX band.



Here my list if you're interested:

9G2DX (Ghana)  9-20 March
9G5GS (Ghana) till 12 March
HD8M (Galapagos)  till 6 March (worked 6-3)
VP5/AA5UK (Turks & Caicos)  till 8 March (spotted me!)
KG4SC (Guantanamo Bay)  5-13 March
5T5PA (Mauritania)
6W7/ON4AVT (Senegal)  till 30 March (spotted)
ER3MM (Moldavia)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Playing DX hound for the first time



You might think I'm a expert on FT8. Being one of the first using the mode and then write about the DXpedtion mode various times at first last year. But in fact, I never heard or seen a DXpedtion station in real FT8 DXpedition mode on air. Till now that is. I actually saw 2 signals at once from XX9D (Macao) on 17m. I realized this had to be the real thing. I immidiatly went into the configuration to switch on "Hound" mode and started to call around 2000Hz since that was a unused frequency. A few calls later I got a report and my transmit signal was changed to XX9D received signal automatically. Unfortunately he didn't seem to get my report and got back again with a report, my transmit signal moved again to the new receive frequency and I finally got the RR73. For those that think this will work without CAT control, no way! The DXpedition needs control over your TX signal to move it to the frequency they listen on. I never experienced this before and think this is really awesome. Last year I already wrote that this Fox/Hound DXpedition mode will change the world of DX forever and I'm shure it does! I guess I'm a "experienced" operator now...

Monday, February 25, 2019

How to get on nr. 1 in the WSPR 80m challenge list easy?

You want to know? Am I going to tell you.....
Is it that easy? Well, I think it is...



Last week I was monitoring 80m on the "official" WSPR frequency 3.5686MHz dail. I ended in the PE1ITR WSPR challenge list between place 26 and 12 I believe and with approx 70-90 unique stations every day. Then, watching the activity link, it occured to me half of the WSPR stations are still on the old WSPR frequency 3.5927MHz. What would happen if I run 2 WSPR stations on receive, one on the old frequency and the other on the "new" frequency. Well, you can see the result! And I wasn't even on for 24 hours since one station was used for 1 hour running the CQ 160m SSB contest.

Easy as that...

Strange thing 80m WSPR is divided over two frequencies. Why is the old frequency still used by so many users? Haven't they noticed? What are they doing with the data? Did they forget they have a station unattended transmitting on 80m (on the wrong frequency)?

Wake up!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Experimental shunt fed tower

Since my antenna tower is grounded I searched for a way to shunt feed with a autotuner like a gammamatch. I found a article from N6TZ Hal on eham and although I read it I picked only the most important things out of it and used what I got. N6TZ is a broadcast engineer and his website is mainly about his antenna setup, a good read. Most important I think is that the beam on top is grounded to the mast and luckely it is, normally coax should also be grounded at the bottom but I have my RF systems isolator box so there is no galvanic connection between coax of the tower and the coax to the shack. Another important thing is that all wires and coax should be running inside the tower and in my case it is.

Autotuner box, note the
groundrod at the left.
A simplified description of the system: See the photo, running a wire (red lines) from top of the tower and bonded to the metal to the autotuner which is 6m (20ft) away from the tower. Running a flat copper ribbon strap a few cm underground from the "earth" of the tuner to the bottom of the tower and also bonded to the metal. The "earth" connection on the tuner is also connected to a copper rod into the ground, connected to the copper rod are 2x 10m long elevated radials. Coax from the autotuner is first going a few times through a ferrite #61 ring and together with the 12V supply going the the box at the bottom of the tower were I grounded the coax again. From the box it is connected to the coax going to my shack.

View from the autotuner to the mast.
Some people will think now that I made a grounded delta loop, but that is not the case. This system is called a top loaded shunt unipole vertical. However this is really a experimental antenna since you will never be able to predict or calculate any radiation pattern or angle on any band, it is just a matter of trail and error.

The shunt fed tower should work fine from 160m-40m. I tried to transmit on the system and it was tuned easily on all bands. I made some contacts on 60m and found I got unexpected surprisingly good reports. Switching from the inverted-V to the shunt fed tower didn't show me real differences.

I  was thinking about my testing method to compare antennas and thought the only way to get a real(time) comparisation result should be with 2 transmitters on WSPR transmitting the same power at the same moment. So I made 2 WSPR stations PE4BAS on the shunt fed tower and PE4BAS/P on the inverted-V both transmitting 1W on different frequencies in the WSPR spectrum at the same time. I'm shure this is the best method determing which antenna is best under same circumstances taking a fast changing propagation in mind. I tried to find stations around Europe and DX to compare. Only on 60m there were no DX stations on the WSPR frequency.

Band
CallBandinverted-VVertical
WA9WTK40m-15-28
SV8RV40m-24-29
IU5HKU40m-27-27
IU1GLI60m-13-16
F5VBD60m-11-7
I6/IW2NKE60m-11-8
DP0GVN80m-23-21
GM4FVM80m-11-16
DK8FT/B80m-19-23
F59706/1160m-12-8
SWUKSDR/2160m-23-14

Hopefully this will reduce some RFI on both TX as RX.
Note that during my test transmission on 160m I had only 2 stations that received both PE4BAS on the vertical and PE4BAS/P on the inverted-V. Actually only those 2 stations received my 1W signal on the inverted-V. At the same time 1W on the vertical (shunt fed tower) gave me 50 (!) spots in one 2 minute transmission. Just to show you the extreme difference. 15 minutes later I worked Japan on 160m FT8.




Improvement of this system

Oh yes, reading the N6TZ's website a lot of things came to my mind. I could attach a tracer wire from top to bottom wrapped a few times around the tower to make it a more constant conducting element. Then the groundsystem. I only use 2 short elevated radials now, but everyone knows you need much more to increase the radiation. On both tower as autotuner should be much more conductors. I'm even thinking about connecting the fence wire, used for the beverage experiments, to the ground. For receive I'm already thinking about another antenna since the vertical doesn't receive as well or the same as my inverted-V.

Test setup 2 WSPR stations PE4BAS (tower) & PE4BAS/P (inv-V)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Japan on 160m FT8

While testing and documenting a new antenna setup I discovered it did very well on 160m. Actually I was surprised. I will have to test a bit more before I can write about it but so far I can tell it is several dBs better compared to my inverted-V on 160m. Probabely as good or even better as my previous all band coppertape vertical. To prove it is good I made a QSO with Japan:


I was using 50W FT8. I always thought that working Japan on 160m could not be done without a good 160m antenna and a lot of power. I know much is the setup of JA8WKE, but he's certainly not the only one I heard. Unfortunately PSK reporter does not display all stations I have seen...


Info: To work Japan on 160m you need to work split. Japan is transmitting on 1908KHz and we are transmitting on 1840KHz.

Friday, February 15, 2019

What's your occupation?

A typical day at my job.
Years ago when I was still a 11m/CB radioamateur I was asked many times in QSOs "What is you occupation" a usual question in those days. And a greatful subject to talk about on the air. I haven't been asked ever on the HAM radio amateurbands. Could be this is not really something to talk about? Or did they in the past and is this question taboo now? Occupation has many translations but in this context it does mean what your profession is, your job, what you're doing for your living. Most people do, some do not because of their health. Most radioamateurs are retired but had a job or more jobs in their lifetime.

My job at the moment is difficult to explain sometimes. Officially my profession is electrician. I've been a electrician for a few years but don't like the work actually. So I have been a operator in factories for years. But since working in shifts is not for everyone and certainly not for me as I did get sick of it. I was lucky to get a job as a allround technician at a shop in (and now near) my village on a daily basis. It is a allround job, repairing almost everything the shop sells. In the first years we also sold agricultural corn dryers and remote electric driven garage doors. I had, because of my profession, a lot do do with the process and installation. But now these days we mainly repair lawnmowers, garden equipment, high pressure gear, electric powertool equipment and forced air heaters. We deliver parts as well from all kind of brands and we not only repair what we sold but everything that comes into the shop for repair. It is a interesting job with sometimes a challenge to solve a problem. And it is always nice to have satisfied and happy customers.

Since it seems no one is asking and so no one is ever telling....I ask you readers following this blog. Tell us more about your job, or what your job was since most HAMs are retired these days...

Monday, February 11, 2019

PACC 2019 review

Event: PACC 2019
Section:  Single Operator Low Power  All Band SSB
Logger: N1MM+ newest version
Station: Icom IC-706 MK2G 100W
Antenna 1: Inverted-V apex @12m
Antenna 2: Butternut HF5B @14m
Antenna 3: 3 band endfed @groundlevel


The most important (for me at least) dutch contest is over for this year. Just searching the archives for last years score, it was a better score compared to this year. No progression, I guess this is the limit of my station at this moment. If I want to have a better score the only way is to improve my antenna for 20m. The HF5B did a great job on 15m, as soon as there were slight conditions I could make the contact, it gave me some extra multipliers.

Some things I notice this year:

- Some spots that appeared on DXheat cluster didn't show in the bandmap of N1MM+. Most spots did, only a few didn't. I checked if I had any filters on or some adjustment wrong but so far I didn't find anything. Conlusion: it pays if you keep an eye on a second DX cluster.

- It could be propagation but even when I was spotted (I was spotted 10 times) there was no follow-up pile-up like last year and the years before. Didn't anyone hear me? Or was it just a lack of stations? In the end I had 40 QSO less compared to last year on 80m which is my "money" band.


At least one multiplier will not count, EP2C (Iran) was not giving serial numbers in the contest. I worked him on 40m which was nice but not counting in the contest. In my heart I'm more a DXer as a contester. Wrong attitude to win a contest :-).


But I worked some interesting DX and they were giving progressive numbers for the contest. Sometimes it was just a matter of asking. Propagation not good? Well indeed, but for "low sunspot" standards some pretty nice things happened. I worked 3 times USA on 80m and K3ZO was even coming back on my CQ. Last year I didn't work across the ocean on 80. On 40m I worked K3ZO as well just like a few others from USA. I checked 15m and 10m regularly and found 15m open for a few minutes on/off. OD5VB and A41NN and a few russian stations made it in the log.

The endfed was setup as spare antenna, actually it was quite good. Though the large wind was a problem this weekend, it kept sliding in no matter what. Tried some tape to hold it but that didn't work. I made some QSOs with it but that was all. I noticed 20m receive was just as good as on the HF5B beam, a confirmation that I should improve something on that band. On 40m it was sometimes better sometimes worse but most of the time receive was equal to my inverted-V. SWR was great and it worked well with 100W SSB although the antenna is made for QRP use.


Less off time compared with last year. I went to bed for about 3,5 hours. This contest might be interesting to do for a continuous 24h participation in CW but for the SSB section it hasn't much use. You better get some sleep to have a fresh mind in the early morning. 


Worked 47 DXCC, one more compared to last year. No south-america or central america, no Australia or Africa. I heard PJ4DX but so far he only appears to do some S&P and almost got a QSO with a VK2 but it didn't happen in the end.


I was up at 5 UTC in the morning, even that is too early...I made only 4 QSO, one every 15 minutes of calling. But you never know of course....next year it could be different. Made 7 last year at the same time. Best time was 20 UTC on 80m, almost like every year. Though last year my best time was at 18 and 21 UTC. The most difficult thing in this contest is what band to choose at daylight. I sometimes felt like I was on the wrong band at the wrong time. The problem is that every year is different. The only thing that works is to be at 80m at saturday evening for some extra QSOs.

Then the CQ WPX RTTY contest at the same time. It's the same every year...at night 40m is only usable from 7100 and up, below that frequency it is full of RTTY sigs. Another disadvantage is that most big contest stations and well known contesters participate in the RTTY contest. It's a pity...I don't think it will ever change since the date of the PACC contest is always the same since decades. We have to make the best of it as it is.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

UKEICC exercise for the PACC

I wrote about this UKEICC contest before and participated in the past. It is a 1 hour contest on 80m once a month. There is a CW and SSB section both on different dates. I'm most interested in the SSB version. You can get a automatic reminder e-mail a day before. So I did get the e-mail and decided to participate as a exercise for this upcoming PACC weekend. I really like this fast format since after the contest you need to submit your log within a hour. A short time after you already see your results. I obtained 4th place yesterday in the combined results. And I see a first place in the Low power section. I don't think there is a difference between assisted/unassisted, you can choose it but it hardly makes any sense since there are not many cluster spots anyway. If you don't like long contests or just want to contest for the fun of it this is the contest for you. I suggest try it some time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

PACC 2019 contest upcoming weekend

PACC contest 2019 upcoming weekend

Event: PACC 2019 contest
Modes: SSB/CW
Date: 9-10 Febr. 2019 12:00-12:00 UTC (24hrs)
Exchange: RS(T) + Province abbreviation of 2 letters, foreign: RS(T) + serial starting at 001
Foreign rules: https://pacc.veron.nl/foreign-rules/
Dutch rules: https://pacc.veron.nl/dutch-rules/

The PACC contest is the most important contest for Dutch radioamateurs. The nice thing is that everyone has to work the Netherlands so we dutch HAMs finally get a response on a CQ when calling. The only problem is that the CQWW WPX RTTY contest is going on in the same weekend. That means all the important big contest stations outside the Netherlands are not participating in the PACC unfortunately. Anyway, that doesn't matter as the PACC is a fun contest and if you send in a log with your address you will receive a very nice token of merit. I don't know of any contest that sends such a token and it is much appreciated.

Hopefully all of you readers will participate. Although not everyone likes to contest of course. But even if you don't want to really participate you can use this contest to test a antenna setup or just give a point to a known station (like me ;-))...

Lees deze handige tips voor de PACC en voor de setup van N1MM+ met additionele files:
https://www.contestkalender.nl/pacc.php

Hopefully my radio will hold for this contest. Again the radio is sometimes not functioning like the PLL is not locking, I receive but with a lot of noise and hiss and stations sound like they all have a cold. Same for TX, modulation sounds if I have a bad cold and almost lost my voice. This is happening more often as last year. I guess at some point the radio will be completely dead.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The death of Google+

Just got the message that Google+ will shut down february 4 and ending second day of april.

Ok, I know Google+ never had the number of users Facebook has. But I got a lot of readers of this blog from Google+. I always post new blogposts in communities like Amateur Radio (48K users), Ham Radio (4,5K users) and my own page which has been followed by 183 followers. There are also a lot of bloggers that opened comments via Google+, something that you could choose a few years ago. Personally I didn't because I didn't like it. I'm happy I didn't do that in the past since all Google+ comments will be lost forever.

Yes, there is facebook, instagram and some other options to spread the word but they were not as easy as google+. It is unfortunate they close this platform. But there will be others, I'm shure of that...

Interesting read:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/10/google-plus-users-mourn-shutdown.html

Monday, February 4, 2019

Experimental H-pole antenna

It has to be a year ago I got this vertical all band antenna info from dutch antenna "guru" PG0DX Henry. I almost forgot but when experimenting with the vertical I suddenly remembered it. The vertical aside the tower is no success, I tried it for a few days on several bands but it is not as good as the inverted-V, even not at low angles. Of course I read some comments on verticals compared to a full-size dipole and most of the times a dipole wins. A vertical is no miracle antenna. Though I had excellent results with my coppertape vertical before I managed to get the tower up. I'm confident there is a way to improve. So, this is about the experimental H-pole antenna which is described by HB9MTN. It is a allband antenna off center fed and kind of small due to the use of  lineair loading at top and bottom.The antenna needs a tuner to work and that is exactly what I want. It is quite easy to make with about 30m wire, some electricity tubes, rope and some insulating parts. It can be hung on top of a tower sloping down or on a fiberglass pole. Polarisation is vertical. HB9MTN simulated some take off angles with EZNEC and it looks good enough to try this vertical. Since it is about 10m long the buildings that are now affecting my vertical are less of a problem since the bottom is about 3m above the ground the way I want it to hang from my tower.

Sunday was a real beautiful day to work on antennas. Constructing the H-pole antenna was piece of cake. Actually making the ladderline was just as much work. Since Henry told me the antenna is sensitive for steel constructions like my mast I should try to mount it at the fiberglass pole. So I did, but I didn't trust it at all, shure it went up and shure it does well in this beautiful weather. But what if some wind will blow....I changed plans and went to the original plan. Sloping it down from my tower. I figured this would work as good as the vertical aside the mast. And actually it does.

This time I had DX stations to compare:


Actually I was surprised to see YB9AY (Indonesia) just after first receive tests with the H-pole. Actually first 2 white reports are with the vertical. But with the TX differences in mind I switched to the inverted-V since I didn't want to miss a new DXCC on 60. Last green report is with the H-pole.


Later in the evening I saw C5YK (The Gambia), a new one again...it's my lucky Sunday. After I worked him on the inverted-V I decided to change to the vertical. The 3 reports -13,-18, -18 are on the vertical, then I switched back on the inverted-V. No, the H-pole isn't a miracle antenna but for the short length it is working fine. I'm shure if you hang it free the results are excellent. A nice experiment though...

Still, to improve the signal on 60m I need something different I guess. 

I also tried the H-pole on 20m. Signals were equal to my HF5B but interference was a lot worse. On 160m signals were the same/better as on the inverted-V. Not bad...

To finish the sunday I had a QSO with LU8HF on 60m FT8 with the inverted-V, I was finally heard in South America. It really was my lucky Sunday!

Interesting spot from 9M2CNC (West Malaysia)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Experimental vertical antenna - elevated radials

Vertical wire aside the mast
I got some comments on my vertical from PG0DX Henry. He told me I probabely should try to elevate the radials. It is a very good idea and I now remember that if you use ground radials you nee a lot of them to actually have good results with it. Using elevated radials will improve gain with just a few of them. Even a few cm above the ground will help. N6LF Rudy described it in a very interesting paper.



So now the practical side of the radials, the problem is "room". I can elevate the radials but not permanent since it is my garden and there are other members of the family walking there as well. It is winter now so there is not much to do in the garden so just for a experiment I have elevated the 5 radials. I'm just curious how this works.

Base of my tower

On the photo at the left you see the autotuner below the plastic bag. After all the water in the tuner last year I don't take any risks anymore. The wooden block is for separating the radials from the grounded mast.


I've been testing before sunset with a interval from about 5 minutes. So far I don't see much difference in RX but in TX it is worse except at Henry's QTH but he's also receiving with the vertical. Of course this would be normal since the vertical should be worse since the angle of radiation is too low for Europe stations. The comparisation is estimated since propagation can change in those 5 minutes.




Some comparisations:

TX  (5W)             Inverted-V    Vertical                 RX                    Inverted-V      Vertical
DL3ANK              -17               -24                        MW0GSR        -08                   -07
ES2HV                  -04               -03                       DL5ZG             -16                   -16
SM2SUM               00                -11
G3SEP                   00                -09
M0ORH                -12               -22
M0TRP                 -14               -20
SM5FOQ              +9                -03

I had to wait to late in the evening to do a DX comparisation. But unfortunately propagation was not in my favour. I didn't see much north american stations at all to compare antennas. Only one at RX and one Argentinian station.

TX (5W)          Inverted-V     Vertical                     RX            Inverted-V      Vertical
PG0DX/1          -09                -08                            K1HTV     -15                   -16
SM5FQQ          -08                +2                             LU8ENU   -22                   -23
GM0HUU          00                -08
TA4/G8SCU     -20                -08

The thing is that both antennas receive equally but TX is much more difference. Although I was not spotted at DX (say about 5000km or more). I'm not really impressed!

I'm shure a vertical does well if placed completely free or near water with much more elevated radials may be. Henry is using a vertical with 10 elevated radials. He told me he just finished a FT8 QSO to ZL with only 1W QRP on 60m. Of course thats not only the antenna but the propagation as well.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Experimental vertical antenna

Red lines indicate the vertical
In a quest to get my signal to south america and to have a second all band HF antenna for the PACC contest the idea was to make a vertical antenna and to use the autotuner at the base, a few radials and 15m wire aside the tower to the top. I've been busy with that last weekend but am not satisfied. Have 15m wire connected to the tuner and 5 15m radials at the bottom. However even on DX it is still 1-3dB worse compared to my 2x20m inverted-V fed with open line. I hoped for some more gain on DX but I think a vertical has to stand free from iron obstacles and that is not the case here. Not only my tower is iron but so is my glasshouse construction and my garage roof surrounding my "vertical". In the past I used my 7,5m long vertical with 3 elevated radials and the same antennatuner on 9m above the ground, it was "looking" over the garage & glasshouse. After all it worked pretty well for 10 years!

I've been thinking of mounting that 7,5m vertical on top of the tower. However, I need radials and not the mast as counterpoise. And I need the autotuner to be mounted at the top of the mast, it is possible but not a winter job. I've also been thinking about a gammamatch to connect the tower as vertical, it is an option but only for one band (or you have to switch between several gamma matches). I might try to do that just for 60m but doubt it will be better as the wire aside the tower? Anyone has a better idea?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dutch radio piracy on sea

Just reading the blogpost from KB6NU today. Some things I read these days in the blog from the oldest women ever sailing the world VE0JS Jeanne are clear to me now. Reading about weather reports given to Mark, Uku and Jean Luc by radio puzzled me. But it seems there is a global sailing race going on in which a Dutch guy Mark Slats with his boat Ophen Maverick is now at second place. However Mark or any of his crew don't have a valid amateurradio license though they use a unregistered call and make contacts on the amateurradio bands. They received a official warning and it is forbidden for other radioamateurs to contact them as well. I think it is not wise for them to just use shortwave radio on the amateurradio bands without a license. I've been a "radio pirate" as well and lost my radio to the dutch authorities (dutch FCC) in the early 90s. I did transmit on the 10m as well (SSB in the CW portion, little did I know). After all it was my own fault and stupidity. Now Mark and his team can not contact other participants and their supporting team ashore anymore. They should have thought about that, and probabely did, but took their chances. However, considering my own punishment, I think it is fair the Dutch FCC (Agentschap Telecom) is taking action.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

#60m DX January 23

Had a whole evening to seriously look for DX on 60m. Still hope to work PY (Brazil) and ZP (Paraquay) since I've seen these DXCC several times but was never able to get my FT8 signal heard over there. However, most of the times I'm looking for DX I see a lot of it but my 15W signal seems not be loud enough to be heard at the DX. I wonder if we still could use 100W I could be heard? I think it is just bad luck and not the power or antenna. This evening I was lucky, things could be helped by a magnetic distortion and a high K index at around 23 UTC. I was able to get 3 new DXCC on 60m in the log. One of them 9X2AW from Rwanda is a ATNO for me.


Later in the evening I was able to work PZ5RA from Surinam. No traces from PY or ZP though this evening but I'm shure some day I will work them as well. Now FT8 "haters" would say, why not make a real contact with CW or....SSB. Well I've been listening out several times for CW or SSB signals on 60m but nothing was heard. And if you can't hear it you can't make any QSO.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Energy transition

I do not write very often outside the hamradio topic. But this time I do since the energy transition hype in my country worries me.

Ever heard about neodymium, lanthanum, dysprosium, cobalt, manganese, lithium and cerium? Probabely you heard about lithium like in Li-Ion batteries? But the other materials? They are used in electrical cars like the Tesla, Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf and many others. The dutch government wants to forbid sales of diesel and petrol cars in 2030. They suggest electrical cars for the future. You see old wise men from national drivers organisations and even older wise men from the government on TV take a serious face and declare this is the future. We should all drive electric...

The Netherlands has one of the biggest natural gas fields in the world. When it was just discovered they thought it would last forever, we would have a cheap source of energy for a million years. But now half a century later it is evident the earth surroundings of that field are moving because the natural pressure of the gas supporting that earth is getting lower. There is a large amount of subsidence which causes earthquakes here in the northern part of the country. Those earthquakes cause a lot of damage to peoples houses. So the government decided we should look for another energy source to warm our houses and for cooking our meals. Guess what they come up with.....electricity.

At the same time the Netherlands agreed that they should make cleaner energy by closing down energy plants that burn coal and invest in wind energy. Those windturbines have to be paid for, guess what.....extra taxes on the electricity and gas price. Yes, they promised....electricity would get cheaper and gas would be more expensive. But I don't believe this. I think electricity will get more expensive, not as expensive as gas but the price will rise. Because clean energy is expensive the way it is made, you have to invest and after the investment comes maintenance. Besides that wind and sun energy is not that reliable compared to a gas or coal driven power plant. Strange isn't it? Last year I thought electricity would get dirt cheap since I see solar panels on almost every house these days, all small power sources that make a big one. There are people that produce more energy as they need with solar panels. So, were is all this left over "free" energy? But it seems it doesn't work like this. As a side effect it the dutch power grid seems to be unable to handle all this extra "free" electricity, cables and fuse cabinets are just too small.

And now my worries...
Have the old wise men thought about how much of the needed special materials is left? Did you know most of those resources are from China? Some of these resources can only be found in Africa. And did you know that if the electrical car is build like we build it now those resources will not be there within 15 years. There you go....in 2030 there are a pile of electrical cars, but no batteries to power them. But that's not all. How long will a electrical car drive? What is the lifetime of the battery and motor? What will happen with the batteries? How many people will die because of the environmental pollution making and dumping the batteries? I'm thinking about this and many people do. The government seems not to be thinking about this they only need the comply with the political agreements they made. They need the Netherlands to be the cleanest place on earth, no matter what.

Cleaner energy to warm your house, to cook your meals to power whatever you want to power. How long lasts a windturbine? 10 years? 20 years? In the last 20 years I've seen windturbines come and go. 20 years ago the first ones were about 50m height I think. The windturbines that are build in this area now are over 200m height. In theory they will produce more energy, if there is wind. But will they produce that much energy to make it a profit? I doubt it and there are some investigations done that show windturbines only produce energy because we pay for it and not because it is free energy.  Solar panels, oh yes, it is clean energy you think? Will there be enough silicium, borium, fosfor, germanium to make these things for a long time? And what to think of the environmental pollution making solar panels. Yes, we in the Netherlands will have profit. We can breathe, we have clean air.....so they think.

....and at the end, the old wise men, they tell us we should invest in clean energy. In insulating our houses, buy solarpanels, heatpumps (on electricity), wind energy and whatsoever. We should all buy a electrical car before 2030... the old wise men probabely have money to do such things but can't imagine that ordinary people have not!

If only there was a environmental friendly and cheap power source for everyone....let me dream...

Time will tell....

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

40m WSPR

From wikipedia:

The band is most useful for inter-continental communication for one or two hours before sunset, during the night and for one or two hours after sunrise. It is extremely useful for short to medium distance contacts from local contacts out to a range of 500–1500 km or more, depending on conditions, during the day. In higher latitudes, daytime intercontinental communication is also possible during the short days of winter, for example a good path often opens between Japan and northern Europe in the hours leading up to European midday from late November through late January, with a long path opening to the west coast of the United States and Canada after midday.

It never occured to me that DX on 40m is possible at daylight. Till my 1W WSPR signal was spotted in VK and VK7 in the afternoon. I did receive stations from VK as well. Unfortunately the number of error decodes is very high at 40m compared to 20m. However the last 24 hours I ended at number 10 in the challenge list with 240 unique stations received. TRX was my FT-817, 1W and the 2x20m inverted-V @12m apex.

My 1W TX signal heard in last 2 days on 40m.

Monday, January 14, 2019

WSPR watch (apple)

No we're not talking about a apple watch! We are talking about a real good app to follow and analyze WSPR spots.

Just before the new year I was listening on 20m WSPR 24/7 but at a certain moment I was disappointed since propagation seems to be poor and I was not even appearing in PE1ITR's challenge list anymore. Then I was busy with the beverage experiment but since I have some issues with it I'm back on WSPR. 40m WSPR RTX this time, the first 30 minutes gave me immidiatly a first new one, Sardinia for number 91! Just 9 to go for 100, I will do my best to accomplish that hopefully this year. Though I hope that there will be more stations that listen as well as transmit from "unique" locations.

To keep an eye on things happening I use this WSPR watch app on my Iphone...
(There are other similair apps for Android) I begin to like this app more and more and it is updated very often with new features. You can even transmit with it if you have a transmitter just by holding the phone near to the mike and transmit the audio for 2 minutes. The app is made by fellow HAMradio blogger VK2TPM Peter. The program features usable graphs, you can view both TX or RX spots, unique spots and a map. Some screenshots:



This is not a commercial app. Some people think you have to pay for every app on a apple Iphone but that is not true. This app is free. I certainly think Peter deserves some etra credit for this app since it is very much usable. Tnx Peter!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2018 statistics

2018 statistics @PE4BAS. It has not been a real ATNO DXCC year due to low propagation and lack of time. My target bands were mainly 60m and 6m. I rarely visit other bands except in contests. I worked a lot of "new" band ones on the before mentioned bands. And it seems I was more active this year since the number of QSOs is 400 more compared to last year. The amount of DXCC was less but expected. Still SSB seems be my most populair mode especially in contests.


DXCC worked
DXCC confirmed

For 2019 I don't expect any new DXCC ATNOs to be worked at all. Instead I will concentrate on 60m and 6m again. Of course I will try to fill in some new DXCC with 1W WSPR but these days it seems most WSPR stations are transmitting instead of listening so it will be difficult to reach those last 10 DXCC for 100 in total. Has anyone counted the DXCC that have been listening on WSPR? I'm WSPRing since 2009 and have been heard in some pretty exclusive DXCC but still I'm on 90 DXCC overall in 10 years of time. Of course I was on/off the air so I could have been missing a few.


Like always Feb. and March are the months with most of my activity. However I worked a fair amount of stations on 6m in the ES season which explains the sudden rise in July.


I worked on all bands. Should I concentrate more on 30m? It is a great DX band but 60m wins at the moment. 80m is mainly contest QSOs, I still haven't got 100 DXCC worked there...When propagation is rising again in de upcoming years (hopefully) I should really concentrate on 17m-10m again. Well, that's years ahead... 


I once had a dream working as many modes every year as possible. But these days everyone seems to be addicted to FT8 me included. What a change from 114 JT65 QSOs in 2017 to only 2 in 2018!!
But still SSB is my most favorite mode and I don't think this will change...