Friday, March 29, 2019

CQ WPX SSB 2019 announced operations, what DXCC do you need?

This weekends CQ WPX SSB contest gives you the possebility to work a lot of DXCC. And the nice thing is that there are some interesting new ones announced. At least new for me of course. Take a look in NG3K's announced operations list for the CQ WPX SSB this year. For me E6ET (Niue), V85RH (Brunei), YJ0CA (Vanuatu) and ZL7C (Chatham Isl.) would be ATNOs. But also extremely hard to work. However you never know how propagation evolves....sometimes you just need a little luck. And remember "if you are not listening on the frequency you'll never work the DX".

Thursday, March 28, 2019

About the HF5B

Well it has been a while I inspected the Butternut HF5B in the mast. Last time I really used it was on 17m in QSO with XX9D. I'm mainly on 60m and use other antennas as you know. But with the upcoming CQ WPX SSB contest this weekend I decided to take a closer look. After a few storms the capacitors are hanging down a bit and 12m doesn't have a good SWR. Actually I thought this antenna would break this winter but it is still hanging. I still have a issue that 20m does not have really a front/back difference and only a slight front/side difference when turning the antenna. Since I had to go to the dentist this afternoon and was home early I decided to have the tower down for a closer inspection and possible do a little "tuning".

First of all I made shure all connections were still solid. I noticed a
loose 12m gammarod which was tightened with a extra washer. Hopefully that was the cause of my bad 12m SWR? I also made a small isolation tube to support the 2 20m capacitors.

To get a better F/B ratio I guess I need to increase the length of the reflector, So I did move the hairpin a little to get extra length, On the second thought.....moving the capacitor further to the outside of the reflector might have a better way?

Actually I really don't know what to do to get better results on 20m. After I got the tower up again I did some tests. Surprisingly nothing changed SWR wise. Even 12m is still the same...And the F/B ratio? Well nothing changed at all. The HF5B is a strange antenna. Not that it is really bad but it is not good either. Bernard PB7Z has a similair HF5B and used it with good results. He has a reasonable F/B ratio on 20. But it seems he has an older type HF5B that is a little different from what I use. Could that be the difference? I will use the antenna in the CQ WPX SSB contest since it works well on 15m and 10m. But when the ES-season is there I will remove it and do an exchange again for the 5 element 6m yagi. If the HF5B is going to make it into the tower again I doubt it. I think I have to look for another 5 band directional antenna.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

3D2AG finally!

After I worked Tony last week when he was in Germany as DL/3D2AG I finally managed to work him when in Fiji again. It is not only a new one on 60m for me but also a ATNO. It was really a hard copy, signals just on the edge. Actually, I didn't even see the signals in the waterfall. But as you can see in the picture the QSO is complete. Thanks Tony, you made my day!
Publiek domein,
Publiek domein,

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#60m DX 25/26 March

Monitoring almost 24/7 last week revealed propagation to central america at night. The only problem is the time, not so convenient when you have to work next day. Yesterday evening I already noticed good propagation to the west when USA was worked early and my first with ZP4KFX (Paraquay) was a fact. I couldn't sleep well, I guess after all it was DX-fever. And decided to look if I could work some DX. About 5 minutes later TG9ANF (Guatemala) and TI2LX (Costa Rica) appeared in my log.

RX/TX last 24 hours

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):

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.

(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 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 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)