Sunday, June 30, 2019

PE10WCA PA-09 Rensumaborg sunday 30-6

I'm sorry there was no activation from PE10WCA anymore, Other things took my time as expected. My IC-706MK2G is still in my car together with the antennas and ready for the final activation. My license for the special call is valid up to this sunday. I'm planning a very early in the morning activation from PA-09 Rensumaborg in Uithuizermeeden. It will be the 5th castle I activate for this special WCA 10th anniversary event. I suggest to keep an eye on the DXclusters to see when I will be calling.

I've been active from PA-09 before a few times:

Incredible that happened already 5 years ago. I can hardly imagine time goes that fast...

(Friday 28-6) I will do a last activation from PA-07 Menkemaborg between 10-11 UTC. It will be at my lunchbreak. I will probabely be active on 20m only.

Update 28-6: Made 22 QSO in about 45 minutes on 20m. Propagation was very low, much QSB on all signals. It's a miracle I made this amount of contacts anyway...

Update 30-6:

Started this last activation early and made my first QSO at 5:25UTC on 40m. After that 40m went slow, I had a lot of noise (S5-6) as well on this location. 20m went better and most of the QSOs are made there. Ended at 6:55UTC with 108 Qs in the log.

The 10 years WCA activation from PE10WCA is over now. I hope I made some people happy. 5 castles have been activated this month a absolute record for me. It was a nice experience. It showed the portable setup is working fine. I have been trying to get on FT8 as well, but only 2 QSO were made in FT8 from PA-07. I think SSB running is still a lot faster and more populair. This shows SSB is not dead at all, a lot of DX might be on FT8 but there is still a lot of action on other modes as well.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

FT8 Intercontinental DX code of practise

Just to remind that there are some gentlemen agreement rules. Keep it in mind when DXing on 6m.

By the way, I worked Japan on 50.313MHz. But I guess I will have to check 323 as well especially for DX outside Europe.

Rules are published on the 50MHz UKSMG website:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

More on some IC-7300 features

After I wrote my thoughts about the IC-7300 and returning the radio to the owner I realized I forgot a few things to write.  First of all I talked about the heat problem I always have with my IC-706MK2G. Well, although the sound of the IC-7300 fan is a little annoying, the radio is not getting warm at all. At least not at the outside and according to the TEMP meter it stays cool even after long transmissions with full power. Imagine I'm not used to that , I guess it's normal for a radio like this.

A feature I really like is the screen capture function. Ideal for documentation like in a weblog. The screen above is my favorite, but you can choose several screens. Like a audio scope screen or a bigger waterfall. You can also adjust the waterfall colors if you like to do that. Audio scope works on both RX as TX.

I doubt if every IC-7300 owner knows there is a build in RTTY decoder in the radio. I've just tested it briefly since it is not my favorite mode. There is a RTTY keyer inside and you could make a RTTY QSO just with the radio. If this is really interesting? I don't know. These days RTTY is only used for contesting and most are on FT8. Anyway, I'm shure it's just a matter of a software upgrade to switch RTTY to FT8 decode (or any other audio digimode) in the future.

But my most populair feature of the IC-7300 is the ability of record the audio with the radio. Great to listen back to QSOs. Or just to prove that you made the contact. One of my first recording tests I made a incredible DX on 10m....just listen:

It could be that more handy features I used in those weeks I had the IC-7300 will come back into my mind when using the IC-706MK2G again. If so I will update this post. I'm shure I will miss some of them...

Sunday, June 23, 2019

6m DX adventures last week

Too much happened here to report about and I didn't want to report on 6m DX only every day. Although I worked a few new DXCC it was very hard since signals had a lot of QSB fading in and out too fast at times. Well, just a overview:

-- The only DX station that was really easy this week was 5T5PA from Mauretania. Johannes was smart and used F/H FT8 exclusively on 50.323MHz resulting in a good pile-up for him.

-- Difficult was GD0TEP Isl. of Man, took me a lot of effort to get into the log.

-- UK9AA Uzbekistan was unworkable earlier this week but
suddenly popped up with a good signal a few days later. A QSO was easily made this time.

-- After receiving VR2XYL Hong Kong and BA7IO China I'd thought about another title for this post "Asian 6m fading waves" since it faded in very fast and signals were gone in just a few minutes. Receiving, even with signals as high as -6dB doesn't always mean you can make a QSO...

-- Into the other direction, transatlantic....I saw Canada and USA, nice....but already got them in the log. But the opening was there. More interesting was the opening to the west-indies, FG8OJ and TO1T from Guadeloupe, in the end I hope I'm in the log from TO1T. CO8LY Cuba could be worked as well, managed with just on the edge signals....

-- Then at Saturday morning, well regular readers do know....I worked Japan on 6m. For me it was the holy grail of 6m DX. If you manage to work Japan from Europe on 50MHz you are a real DXer in my eyes. It takes effort even with FT8. You need to be on the radio at the right moment. Propagation will only last for about 10-15 minutes max. and you need to stay cool and quiet because it will be a mess on the frequency and everyone is calling over each other to get the DX. My first with Japan was with JI4UEN.

Above the log from JI4UEN on his page. I've been staring to that for 5 minutes and actually find it hard to believe I was the last from his 3 european contacts. He probabely is just as happy with the QSO as I am :-)

Overall I think this is not bad considering time of year. If we are lucky propagation might be even better next month. Unfortunately I can't monitor every day but try to as much as possible. Hopefully I will not miss any of the magic from this magic band.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Summer solstice NLC and Japan on 6m

The NLC I saw at midnight was the brightest I ever saw till now. I even imagined I saw kind of waves in the air. This can be also seen in PA0K Paul's photo.

This has to cause good propagation to Japan on 6m. And it did, though I almost missed it due to other chores. I logged 2 Japanese stations JI4UEN and JH6VXP although it was hard and I didn't get the 73 in the end because it was so busy everyone was calling over each other. Besides that I needed to be in the same timeslot as my neighbour PA0O who was working QRO and handling a massive Japanese pile-up. So, for the QSO purists the QSO might be not valid but I log first and worry later. There will always be a new chance. I also spotted South-Korea and China, although PSK reporter does not always show every spot I noticed.

This will also be the last QSO's with PC7B's IC-7300. I will return the radio this afternoon. The radio brought me lots of pleasure and I want to thank him for borrowing me his excellent radio. I shure will miss it....

eQSL is received for both QSOs. For me, working Japan on 6m, was my holy grail. It was my goal for this year. So.....what will be next??

Friday, June 21, 2019

My thoughts about the IC-7300

The IC-7300 looks great in my shack!
The Icom IC-7300 was lend to me by PC7B Bram. I've been contesting with the PD1RP's IC-7300 last year. But now I get the feeling of it in my shack. And I like it....I really like it. The IC-7300 might not be the best radio ever, but is great for those that can't spend that much money and still have a very good transceiver with a lot of possebilities. I will not write a complete review here as many did that before, we all know what radio this is. I will just write down my experiences with this rig and what I think about it is useful for me and others.

As you readers all know I've been transceiving with a old Icom IC-706MK2G for over 20 years now. It's not a bad radio but when contesting it is getting very hot especially in summer, not good for the electronics inside and after so many years defects slowly showing up. Since I don't use the 2m and 70cm part of the radio much I can do with a HF rig that features 6m as well as most of the HF transceivers do these days.

The IC-7300 is a small computer box with a HF amplifier. Since it is a computer the features are almost endless. Although it works well with the factory firmware I'm shure if someone would hack it you could program whatever feature you want for your needs if you know what you're doing. For simple radioamateurs like me the factory settings and features are enough though. Before this (and other similair) radio was brought out to the public I already predict this radio transceiver idea (touchscreen, digimodem, keyer etc.) in 2011. I wonder if certain people that develop these transceivers did read my blog and ideas somewere somehow 8 years ago?

Actually I find the IC-7300 easy to understand and easy to work with. Many features are known to me since they are already on the IC-706 I own, most features like the DSP functions are working much better though. Personally I think the radio is a lot more quiet to listen to, especially receiving very low signals is easier. The AGC is working much better compared to my IC-706 and the most important feature I really don't want to miss the ability to listen 3,6KHz wide. Especially important when working digimode and F/H mode since a DXpedtion can be listening over a wide frequency sometimes up to 4KHz wide. Working E31A in F/H mode on about 2800Hz was easy!

Setting it up with digimode and CAT control is easy when you don't use CW and RTTY keying. When you do want CW/RTTY keying you can choose several setups. With a separate CI-V cable to control the radio with the PC and with a opstocoupler and another COM port to use the key input. But this radio can do it all with just one (1 !!) USB cable. All you need to do is create a software COM port splitter so you have another virtual COM port to control the radio. It took me a while but with the help of this website it was "piece of cake". To mention that most of these features and the websites links are described in a new book about the IC-7300 which I can really recommend.

There are some features I did not test yet. Those are the interconnection with N1MM+ and RTTY keying. I tested the internal RTTY RX decode feature and that works well.

This saturday the IC-7300 will return to his owner PC7B Bram.

Now, saving money for this really great DX machine is going on. I already sold some of my equipment. But some more expensive items are still not sold. So I have to wait.....and be satisfied with the IC-706MK2G which is still doing a job...however after this experience I will now know what I miss. It wil not be easy....

Sunday, June 16, 2019

High (6m) hopes

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

6m @PE4BAS 16-6-2019

Saturday, June 15, 2019

First 2 Japanese rx on 6m

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

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

Noctilucent clouds in relation to solar minimum

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some photos:

Verhildersum PA-08 setup

Allersmaborg PA-02 setup

Noctilucent clouds

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Finally transatlantic 6m propagation and a 60m surprise

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

Todays 6m band:

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

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

60m band at the moment I made the QSO:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 6, 2019

PE10WCA - Castles On The Air - Menkemaborg PA-07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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