Thursday, May 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

First FT4 efforts

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

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

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Radio rally Beetsterzwaag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Proppy HF propagation circuit prediction tool

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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#10m 19 May 19

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More radio related music

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

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


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Goodmorning #60m

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

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

Thanks Gerard, a nice one on 60m.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Visiting PC7B

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Unexpected 10m paths

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

#60m Propagation Survey - Sunday May 5th

A interesting e-mail was send to me by SV1GRN Panos about a propagation survey. Although I don't know exactly what they will do with the information they get from it. They want to test propagation with NVIS antennas and QRP power in the morning greyline and at noon. That's the greyline in Greece of course ;-)
Time difference in Greece is 3 hours ahead of UTC.

Propagation Survey
A call to test the propagation on 60 meters, at noon and while in the grayline, using NVIS antennas and QRP power.

AegeanDXgroup and Athens QRP Net invite you on May 5, 2019 in a meeting on 60 meters to study the propagation on  the frequencies (5351.5 - 5366.5 MHz) of the band.

Duration: 09:00 - 11:00 UTC and 16:00 - 18:00 UTC
Power: QRP not exceeding 5 Watts
Modes: CW (5351.5 – 5354 MHz), SSB(USB) (5354 – 5364 MHz), BPSK31 (5366 - 5366.5 MHz).

Stations can transmit on any or all modes. Please sent Log (in adif, cabrillo, word or excel format)  with real RS(T), QTH locator and Antenna description to:

Participants will receive souvenirs. The participants with top qso’s (independently of modes) will receive commemorative gifts.

It will be interesting to see how many participate outside the usual 5357 MHz FT8 (FT4) digimode frequency...

Update 5-5-2019 9:30: Have been calling QRP with PSK31 and CW. Was spotted by several stations  in Sweden, UK and England according to RBN but only heard a faint signal from DJ8CZ and IK2JET on CW. I didn't even hear signals on 5357 FT8! The strange thing is that I don't see any Greece station spotted at RBN! I give up for now but probabely return at the second part....

Update 9:40: I was just giving up on making any QRP QSO. Then I heard PA5XM Kees calling from near Gouda. We made a nice CW QSO. 60m is really a NVIS band at daylight.

Update 17:55: I was home too late and only 15 minutes before te propagation survey was over. I listened on CW, SSB and PSK31 but didn't see or hear anything. I threw out a few CQs but no one came back. Although I was spotted in Norway and Switzerland.

With only one QSO inside the Netherlands I will not send in my log. I can't imagine they can do something with the information. So far I have the feeling the propagation survey/test was not really a success...