Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Meteorscatter fun !

I already experimented without much success December last year when the Gemenides meteors passed by. You can find my stories here and here. I was a bit sceptic after I made only one contact and even that one was only half. I knew the Perseid meteors would pass by at around my birthday, I knew that long before I even heard of the Perseids. When I was young my birthday was the only day of the year I could decide when I go to bed myself, it was a unwritten rule in our family. Most times at midnight my father and I would get out for a walk to see if we could see any "falling stars" to make a secret wish. And if it was a miracle, falling stars could always be seen at my birthday. Sometimes a few and hard to see. But I remember one year we could see it every 10 seconds, they were very bright and could even be heard! You can imagine this made just as much a impression on me as when my father called me to see aurora from the garden.

Anyway, since I just got my IC-7300 I decided to have it a go again. Just to see what I did wrong last time and what could be learned. I was active from 10-13 august and made 23 MSK144 QSOs from 18 DXCC. I think it's not bad with 50W into a 5 element yagi. Half of it was tropo or ES but the other half, especially at night, were real MS QSOs. Interesting to see that you can clearly see what meteorscatter is and what tropo or ES.

Above a screenshot from a QSO with SP3UR, at the right the waterfall, you clearly see the signal bursts. When the propagation is ES or tropo there are no bursts but one long signal with multiple decodes.

And this is what it is sounding (random recording), listen carefully:




What have I learned from these days by experimenting and asking:

- You don't have to aim your antenna at the meteorshower. Beam it to the station of choice. Or use a vertical.
- MS is not ES or tropo and can take time. Sometimes 10-20 minutes to complete a QSO. If you are a real fanatic it can last for 4 hours before a QSO is completed.
- If the calling frequency is busy it is a good habit to look for a free frequency at just call on 50.280, you can click the CQ 280 box in WSJT-X. It will automatically include your frequency in the CQ on the 50.280 calling channel.
- Many are just beginning with MSK144 (I am) it is fun but expect some errors from stations. Don't take it too hard.

It was a lot of fun these days, and others had fun as well. I got this e-mail from a happy Finnish radioamateur that made his first MSK144 QSO with me.

Hi Bas

I only say thank to you for our qso on msk144 mode.
I am so happy... old man and my first qso on that mode. two days i have tried.
Kenwood TS-480 SAT inside city area. no gad I say

Many msk qso's to you
73 de Elias
OH1XFE

Isn't that great, this makes me happy as well. Thanks for the QSO Elias.


Range was limited to Europe. However it should be possible to extend range with a combination of MS, tropo and or ES.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Birthday present !

Today marks my 51 year birthday. And last week I already bought myself a birthday present. I've been saving money for it for almost 2 years. Now I finally sold some of my equipment and was able to buy it in the end. Actually it would have been a good present last year for my 50th birthday but other costs didn't allow me to buy the radio.  I have to say, the radio was not in stock last week, but just in time Marcus PA2DB from Hamshop.nl did e-mail me the radio was in stock again and offered me the IC-7300 for a better price without even knowing it is a birthday present ;-).

Of course setting it up was piece of "birthday" cake since I still have my SD card programmed with the settings from PC7B's IC-7300 I had here in the shack lately. The only thing that was different was the assignment of a different COM port. Of course that problem was solved quickly. First QSO I made a few days ago was with 5T5PA Johannes from Mauretania on 10m FT8. So far I only used and tried the radio on digimodes, I haven't even tried SSB yet.

Wow, I can't believe I finally have the radio that I wanted so badly. Not that it will give me more DX (or may be it will?). But it certainly has a lot more features and possebilities compared to my 21 year old IC-706MK2G. I already know a few, but there is a lot more to find out. I didn't want to try things on PC7B's IC-7300 but with my own now I'm free to experiment. I'm shure I'll write about the experiences here on my weblog.


Monday, August 5, 2019

CY9C finally

Working this DXpedition really was a struggle. The choice of time for the DXpedition to St. Paul Island near the coast of Canada is totally wrong considering time of year and in the solar minimum. However, because of that, it is of course a great challenge to work them. I didn't manage it last time they were on the island a few years ago, I didn't hear them at all then. This time I wanted to work them preferable on 60m but any other band would be great. But managing to hear them at all was a challenge alone. Finally their signal on 30m finally lifted for a short moment this morning. For amateur radio it is counting as a country (DXCC), however this island just belongs to Canada but can't be accessed without permission. I still hope they will activate CY9C on 60m again....


Info: http://cy9c.com

Update 17:30 - Worked CY9C on 20m SSB now as well.

Update 6-8-2019 - Finally worked CY9C on 60m as well. Like the other bands it was hard to copy the signal. It seems they have excellent receive on the island according to reports. However I cannot find the QSO in their log. I've dropped a message on their facebook page about this. Could I have worked a pirate station?

Update 7-8-2019 - Worked them again on 60m, this time I appear in their online and realtime log.


Monday, July 22, 2019

VERON 2 m experiment report

Find it here in "google" english. Please swap the description "radiant heater" for a vertical antenna in the story. To make this a success they should organise a event like this every month. A good idea would be a mission every participant has to accomplish, they do that in the JS8Call community as well. Like a total distance (can be counted with locator), operator ages, power used or whatever you can imagine to be interesting. Just making a QSO is not interesting for most people. Besides that you should try to activate clubstations that function as leaders on the frequency for a given area, so people can call on a specific frequency and always get a response.

 In the mean time the dutch radio authorities AT came with this response:

  "In a first response to the letter, Agentschap Telecom indicates that France's proposal fits in with Dutch frequency policy. The basic principle here is that joint use and shared use of frequency space is encouraged." "The NVC (National Preparation Committee) still needs to meet on this to decide on the proposal from France. Agentschap Telecom indicates that it is necessary to take a good look at the actual use and to have insight into the compatibility."

Personally I've no feeling with the 2m band but for local contacts it is excellent of course. 2m band activities are very very low here. The only thing you sometimes hear is a repeater that is opening without anyone calling and of course FT8 signals. Since AT is suggesting to take a good look at the actual use we should really going to get it occupied now.

You probabely can imagine, I have my doubts about it...

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Garden 2019

In the past I made a report from the flowers in our garden on this blog. I realize the blog these days is only about radio. But beside the hobby so many nice things happen if you look around. I can't help there is a picture of gigantic steel flower as well ;-)


Thursday, July 18, 2019

International VERON 2m propagation experiment Sat. 20 July

The 2 meter propagation experiment is at:

Date: 20 july 2019
Time: 17.00 UTC tot 19.00 UTC (19.00 – 21.00 h local time)
Were: 2 meterband with respect for the IARU bandplan
Mode: all, again with respect for the IARU bandplan

From 18:00 UTC there is also CQWW-VHF contest going on. So you could encounter some contest stations as well. The exchange is just the locator, you have to ask specifically for the signal report.

VERON wants to gather as much info as possible from the logs send in. So, what are they planning to do with the info? We've seen a similair activity earlier this year on the 60m band. Actually I've not seen many participating back then and it is still a mystery what they wanted to do with the info gathered. However, I think this activity is done to occupy the 2m band and to gain interest in it since the french autorities have proposed for it to be primairy used as airband.

I remind you all that all amateurbands are primarily for experiments and propagation research. I know many amateurs are experimenting on VHF and enjoy the ES or tropo propagation when it is there. But are they still researching? Why is the 2 meter amateurradio band so important? I really want to know what arguments Johan PA3JEM has. You'll be able to watch it on a local dutch TV channel this friday 19-July (time unknown).

Just after I obtained my license in 1998 I was a avid VHF/UHF user. I played with SSTV, SSB, CW and even a early PSK31 version. I was on satellites as well. At that time HF was not yet allowed with my license and we had nothing else. After I was allowed on HF the world opened and my activities on 2m/70cm were almost nil. Besides working via sats I have no feeling with these low noise bands, it doesn't give me the "radio feeling". I need to hear noise, crackles, fading and to pull out a signal from that noise. But I respect those that are experimenting on VHF/UHF, doing EME for example. Most of the time it takes more from your equipment. You need a stable transceiver and the antennas are smaller but harder to make since the tolerance is much smaller.

Anyway, I hope the 2 meter amateurband will be primairly for the HAMradio enthousiast forever. But in the end I doubt it will be so. The HAMradio community is slowly become extinct and the commercial demand to obtain more frequencies is growing. We can probabely object successfully this time but it will be different in 10 or 20 years...

Update 20-July: For me the chosen time for this event was a bit unpleasant. Too many other things family wise took my attention. I made 14 QSOs on 2m including 3 countries. Best distance was Denmark. I was not on all the time. At 18:55 I discovered I was transmitting on my 6m beam and although I did have a Daiwa SWR meter inline it didn't show a excessive SWR so I didn't notice. When I switched to my 2m W2000 multiband vertical on top of the mast it was at the end of the event, a few more came back to me in the end. It's a miracle I made that much QSOs on my 6m beam. I did listen out several times for USB or FM transmissions but didn't hear anything. But I guess that's because of my location and the wrong antenna of course...I hope it was a success after all.




Tuesday, July 16, 2019

FT8 hate and the DXCC purists


Looking at the 60m DX cluster I found out it is used for a fight against FT8. Some people even claim 1A0C is not valid for DXCC (So are Western Sahara, Kosovo and Mounth Athos!) since the call they use is not official.

Luckely I think 90% of the HAM radio operators are very happy with FT8. They can work a new one with simple antennas and modest or even QRP power from within a busy city with S9 noise all day long. What is human mode? A computer is still programmed by humans and you are free to run the software if you like. You don't want to use FT8, fine...you miss the DXCC and it will be the end of the world. Seriously?

A DXCC is only valid when the ARRL says so? I think more and more HAMs do not care about that or even a official DXCC. It is just for fun, a hobby! It's all about making that contact, are you able to do it, doesn't matter how. QRP, QRO, SSB, CW, digital it's all fine business...

Crazy HAM radio world.! Just my opinion...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

PA0DR - adventures 1953-1991 - the untold stories

Dirk's shack 1986
I wrote about PA0DR before. You can read the stories here:

PA0DR - adventures 1937-1953 - War
PA0DR - follow up surprises

Well, in the first part you probabely got to know Dirk PA0DR a little. My idea to write about this extraordinairy radioamateur  was born when I saw his QSL card somewhere on facebook I believe. Just a half year ago discussing PA0DR at the local club meeting I discovered Dirk was a member of our local club as well and some of the older members did know him. It was even known that there has been a interview published in the VERON Electron magazine from 1986, this interview was done by the chairman and founder of our VERON Hunsingo division PA2DTA Dick and Geert PA2GKS. Some stories were told but there were so many I couldn't remember them all. So the writing and asking begun and slowly a story was formed for my blog. However I will try to only tell stories related to his profession and amateurradio, we don't have to know about his personal life and it I guess it would not be allowed by privacy laws.

PA2DTA Dick remembered Dirk well. Before the Hunsingo division separation from V2G division in Groningen he attended V2G but refused to pay a one guilder fee for membership. Dirk always had a firm opinion about VERON bussiness.  He supported the idea to separate from V2G and so he went to the Hunsingo division club evening after that happened. As always in costume with tie and with a hat on his head like probabely all men did before 1960. Dirk was also very old fashion about amateurradio, actually he was a "big shot" guy spending a lot of money for his big and very nice station. In his eyes someone was only a real radioamateur when he knew CW. Since he was a well known station in our country he sometimes interfered in QSOs since he had a very strong opinion about things. He was a very strict man not only in religion but also in other things and the hobby, when he had a opinion about something you could not persuade him the think different. That, of course, left him also with some trouble sometimes.

As written before Dirk was fire brigade commander from the Middelstum village. PA0SE Dick (SK) told that Dirk visited him once in Leiderdorp with the fire brigade truck since it should "run" in. Dick and Dirk probabely knew each other well since Dirk contacted Dick a lot with technical questions since he was the technical guy from the VERON and from all people he should know!

Dirk's house, according to the interview, was formally built as transmitting station. Actually it was like that since Dirk could not get a building permit for a "normal" house at that location. I met the guy who is living in the house now and he confirms he still has a construction drawing from the "transmitting station". And so it had a radioroom with a real fine built station as you can see on the photo at the top of this post. He didn't want to have a small box on a table or a windowsill. He wanted to have a real station that was recognizable and impressive. Even when other HAMs with XYL visiting him most time the women liked his station asking their husband if they could build it like that so it could be in the living room. To the sideline I have to write that Dirk was generally known for liking woman ;-)

Discussing Dirk with an customer from Middelstum village this guy (age 92) remembered Dirk and his son Roelf well. He remembered Dirk was his electrician when he was a farmer. In the cold winter of 1963 the mains transformer near his farm was not working since snow was blown into the housing. Since he got potatoes in storage that should be protected from the cold he needed electricity for the forced air diesel heaters to warm the storage. He decided to go with a sledge together with his wife over the land to the village. There he asked Dirk for help and after they got a nice cup of coffee he returned with a small generator to provide emergency electricity.


Another story heard was that Dirk, when he wanted to be alone and find a quiet place, climbed into the crow's nest in his mast to sit there and read a book. This is confirmed by PA3BCB Gerard who met Dirk for the first time in 1968. This mast was at the house from the photo above but in the nearby village Middelstum. Gerard found a 1970 picture from those masts and I can publish them here. Look at the height of the crowsnest! We found some seventies photos from his masts on the internet and luckely I got permission to use them on this blog. Writing about permission....Dirk told Gerard some time that he smuggled 2 AR-88 receivers from Germany under a pile of tennis gear to avoid problems with the customs...








Photos published with permission. Original photos from the Loppersum township collection

It seems the delta directional antenna was removed a few years later as you can see on these photos from the mid seventies. Look at the size of the mast on the right (first photo) it might been 40m long... Second photo is made from the church tower. If you look closely you can see the wire dipole that went from the tower to the mast. (Click on the photo to view a more detailed one).

Roelf and Jan climbing a mast in 1986
So, things connect to me and my current job when I heard the local bicycle shop owner did work for both Dirk and later Roelf. This guy, Jan, was a mechanic at my job before he bought his shop. Actually my colleague and me are his successors. Anyway, discussed Dirk with Jan and found out he had a lot of stories to tell. Many too personal to write about. But though a few anecdotes were interesting. For instance there were days that Dirk closed his shop/business with the statement on the door he was writing bills. Probabely at the same time listening to his radio ;-). From PA3BNT Marten I heard that Dirk did dug many tubes from his basement to all corners of his garden just to have a possebility to get coax to any new antenna towers and experiments, I asked Jan to confirm that and he agreed that even now the tubes are probabely still there. Jan remembers when at work he was sometimes send to Dirk by Roelf to just mow the grass or help mounting antennas in the huge masts near the house.

I asked PA3ATC Piet, who use to live in Middelstum, if he knew stories about PA0DR. Oh yes, he immidiatly came up with stories. When he was a young guy he always listened to "Papa Alfa Zero Denmark Radio" like Dirk always called himself. According to Piet is was very common that Dirk did make a modulation test with his own radio program playing dutch and/or religious music on the air. Modulation, of course, was always 100%.  Piet also remembers that after he obtained his novice license Dirk was visiting him to tell that a novice license wasn't the real thing, he should obtain a A (full) license as soon as possible.

Unfortunately something sad happened as well. One of Dirk his sons was a licensed radioamateur (PA0DRM, Anco) as well as a radio-officer on a merchant ship. He got cancer and died too young (23 yrs). You can imagine it was hard for Dirk and his family. And I can imagine the sadness you always have in your heart the rest of your life.

I wrote before that I got a lot of memorabilia from PA3BCB, a lot of paperwork. Like a complete manual for a construction crane, probabely with the idea to use it as a rotatable mast. PA1A did years later, building a rotatable mast on a crane base... Dirk might be thinking about the same thing. I don't know if he really acquired the crane though.


Also found was a complete manual for working a paraset. a well known clandistine transceiver for spies in WW2. He probabely worked with one in the war or probabely he had one after the war?
Something I would like to know....the photo on the left is just an example. It is also unknown to me if "Paracette", like Dirk typed in his manual, is the french translation for Paraset?




Well, above the story so far. Personally I find the history of certain HAMradio amateurs very interesting. I always like the stories they can tell how they get involved in this hobby and what their passion within this hobby is. In this case it was special since Dirk was a well known HAM in my area and he used the knowledge from his hobby to save people being in the restistance at the time of WW2. It was a nice surprise to meet people I already knew, but I didn't know they knew Dirk personally before I got involved in the HAMradio hobby.

There is only one thing left to do now. That's contacting his oldest son Roelf who is still living in Germany. He might be able to tell me more unknown stories from his father....
If I get more info and probabely photos I will write another follow up story.

My special thanks for all the information and chats about Dirk goes to PA3BCB Gerard, PA2DTA Dick, PA3ATC Piet, PA2RU Rene (scans interview) and Jan Lietmeijer,

(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.)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Huge 6m band opening to Japan

Or should I write: Another huge opening to Japan since PA0O Jaap reported about one yesterday. Actually I saw South-Korea as well but unfortunately no QSO yet. Japanese stations however were strong at times and in large numbers. With signals strengths into the +dB figures! Of course I managed some QSOs again but because the band was wide open between Japan and Europe and even Africa there were many stations on. It was hard to find a place in the waterfall that was not occupied.




I even had the idea of some pile up when I got several stations calling me from Japan at the same time. This opening was not 5 or 10 minutes but last longer as a hour. There was a lot of QSB on signals and sometimes all signals were gone and then a few minutes later signals were even stronger, just like waves at the beach.

A busy 6m band on the DX 50,323MHz FT8 frequency (Click on picture for a larger one)
My good old radiofriend PB7Z Bernard finally made his first QSOs to Japan on 6m. I'm very happy for him.


This was certainly the best opening to Japan I experienced this year. And another test for my 5 element yagi which is doing a excellent job on DX.


Some eQSL already received:




Monday, July 1, 2019

Rowland ring feed experiment

Diagram by VK3YE
When reading a article about feeding a simple conducting pole on VK3YE's blog. I immidiatly felt the need to experiment with this. Remembering my thoughts about feeding a large streetlight pole in front of our house when I just started with the radio hobby (1979). Wouldn't it be nice to have a universal system that could feed al kind of conducting large material like masts, poles, railing. A that time I was told a gammamatch would be capable of this task. But you can't drill a hole for a screw or whatever in public poles/masts streetlights of course, so a gammamatch is just out of the question. But now I found out about the Rowland ring. Officialy invented by Henry August Rowland as an experimental arrangement for the measurement of the hysteresis curve of a sample of magnetic material. In the vietnam war it was experimentally used by the US army to feed trees as huge verticals. This experiment was repeated in a art project by PA1RB. VK3YE Peter experimented with it loading up a football goal pole and a railing, in the drawing he mentions a clothes hoist. This would really be a nice experiment, very simple and easy. The only thing you need is a big capacitor (found one lately on a radio rally) and 5m insulated wire which you wind 33 times on a 40mm tube to get a coil.

Well, since it was mentioned in the drawing, I started testing a clothes hoist. I already expected it would not be suitable for HF but could be for VHF. Best SWR was on 62 MHz but a 1,8:1 match could still be achieved on 145 MHz. Second experiment was loading up the  16m antenna tower, I was not impressed with only one dip 1,8:1 on 10,140 MHz. Actually I expected better results...

So, in the Vietnam war the USAF experimented loading trees with this method to communicate over short distances. I don't expect too much from a tree antenna but as a experiment loaded up the largest tree here which is about 20m long. I was surprised I got a very good dip of 1,2:1 on 7,1 MHz. I decided to connect my FT-817 now and started to listen. I received reasonable signals from a station in Frankfurt and one from the Orkney Islands. I tried to make a contact but it didn't happen and I was out of time. Since this is interesting enough to continue experimenting I could try to do some WSPR and measure if the tree is really radiating. I time allows I will certainly try it and will report on t his blog.