Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Mongolia on topband

I was wandering over the bands this evening looking for DX. Looking for a contact with D68CCC (Comoros) actually but couldn't hear or see him on any band. So I was checking propagation on 30/40/60/80/160. I just arrived on 160m when I saw JT1CO from Mongolia calling....and some miracle happened, I made the QSO! I don't know why the vertical is doing so well on 160m? It is actually a 30m vertical dipole on top of my tower. May be I should consider abandoning 60m for a while and take 160m as my new DX band?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rotor troubles

Unfortunately the rotor for the 15m beam in the CQWW contest broke. So I had to turn with my bare hands. That involved climbing the scaffold and turn the antenna which is very difficult in large winds.

Below a video I made just after I turned the beam...not for those that are afraid of heights ;-)

Friday, October 25, 2019

#cqww reminder & request and working VP6R

Just to remind you all that the CQWW DX SSB contest is this full 48 hours weekend! Please give us a call! Our callsign will be PA6AA. Find all info and latest spots HERE.

If possible I would like to request video and audio recordings from our signal were ever you are. This will be for research and publicity after the contest. All QSOs will be confirmed via QSL bureau. If you got something to share my e-mail adres and/or from PA6AA can be found via

So far the team has all antennas in place. However they expect large winds tomorrow and this could damage the antennas as we experienced in previous years. Last night we already had some damage but team members have repaired everything. We hope all repairs will hold.

Via the HamAlert app I saw VP6R (Pitcairn Island) spotted again on 60m FT8 this morning. I had to
try on remote but I had problems reaching my desktop. However, I managed to solve the problems and had a chance to try. VP6R was weak at first but far after sunrise the signal suddenly came up. In F/H mode I even saw 5 traces at the same time. Best report I saw was -3dB which is pretty strong for a station from the other side of the world. After a first unsuccessful try the second report was confirmed by a RR73. See the 7 messages in 1 timeslot from VP6R! Several sources on the internet told that you need WSJT-X V2.1 to make contact but you can do it with JTDX as well...
Well, I'm very happy with this ATNO and new one on 60m, you can imagine. The amazing thing is that last signal from VP6R I received was a CQ with -18dB at 9:25 UTC. That is 11:25 local time and 3 hours after local sunrise!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

#cqww DX SSB the fun has begun

One of the 4-squares
One of the largest radio contests of the world, the CQWW DX SSB contest, will be held this upcoming weekend. We will take part as PA6AA again from Westpolder, Hornhuizen JO33dj. An excellent and quiet contest location near the sea. It is not only the contest but also the fun building the station and improve things. I can't reveal much about the setup we use yet, I'll do that after the contest. However, the fun has begun. The first antenna "tower" made of a scaffold has been build yesterday evening and today 4sq arrays for 40m and 80m have been made. We will setup more towers and antennas next few days. Imagine, it takes 5 days to set everything up and then we have to clean up mondaymorning in a few hours.

I hope to work some of you readers. At least if you hear us this weekend give us a shout. I will be on one of the radios at dutch daytime.

Monday, October 21, 2019


Event: JARTS WW RTTY 2019
Section:  Single Operator Low Power  All Band 
Logger: N1MM+ newest version
RTTY engine: MMTTY & 2Tone
Station: Icom IC-7300 70W
Antenna (1): Multiband Inverted-V 2x20m ladderline fed, apex @12m agl
Antenna (2): Multiband HF vertical with CG3000 autotuner in feedpoint @17m agl

Affected by the guys from our PA6AA contest group I though I needed some contest practise for next weekend. I also wanted to take another look at N1MM+ spectrum display. Interesting to see that a IC-7300 brings a whole other dimension to RTTY contesting compared to using a IC-706. With the IC-706 I had no FSK keying. It was a everytime struggle how to set parameters in N1MM+ so I could use the bandmap. The IC-7300 needs just one USB cable to connect the computer to the radio to do it all, CAT control, FSK, CW, RTTY, Audio. Besides that N1MM+ has a build in spectrum display that is much larger as the one at the radio. Last month I wrote about the display that it is useless, I still think it is when the band is so crowded that everyone calls at the same frequencies. a quieter band, like 15m was this contest,  it was very useful. I also noticed it is important how to set the span width, noise floor and static sensitivity to see more difference in signals. If you set a wide spectrum there is too much to see, you get confused. It is really worth playing with this spectrum monitor display, not only for RTTY but also for other modes. On 80m the band is always crowded here, with the spectrum display it was easy to find a quiet spot for running CQ, something I do really appreciate. I was surprised by some propagation on 15m and although I listened on 10m several times nothing was heard there...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

10m&12m 19-Okt-2019

Started to monitor 10m with WSPR today, but it wasn't a success. No propagation? Well, I switched to FT8 and suddenly the spectrum was full of signals. ODX was V51MA Namibia today.

But wait, there is more....12m was buzzing as well. And strange thing, my CG3000 suddenly matched my vertical to a reasonable SWR.

ODX was FR5CB Reunion Isl.

Friday, October 18, 2019

4 element LFA versus HB9CV

Yes, here is the long awaited comparisation between the homemade HB9CV and the mighty 4 element LFA beam. Both on same height in the same tower, same coax, same test station with same antenna and same power levels. I tested with neighbourstation PA4O Peter who is living about 15km from my QTH.

We first tested with the HB9CV. I'm a HB9CV fan. I've made various HB9CVs in the past and they were always fine. Long time ago I had a 3 element conventional designed yagi and it was not half as good as the HB9CV. I made lots of DX contacts with the HB9CV and was even spotted in VK with 1W WSPR on longpath in 2015. That's why I'm always sceptic about theoretical numbers. Specialists will say that the HB9CV is of course not that good compared to a bigger LFA.

TX best signal was 6,5-7 at PA4O
RX best signal was 6 from PA4O

Last evening we tested with the LFA. Of course the LFA has 2 more elements and a closed loop as radiator. It is a incredible design and much better as conventional designs from last century. Of course this is not a fair comparisation but I wanted to be shure it the LFA is really that good. Not theoretically but under real conditions.

TX best signal at PA4O 8,5-9
RX best signal from PA4O 7,5-8

Theoretically because of the test results the LFA would be better as the HB9CV on this distance. I don't know what the actual specs are from the LFA. When I look around I see something like 14,2dBi. In dB that would be 14,2-2,15=12dB. The HB9CV would be doing something like 4dB but probabely on another angle. Difference between the antennas would be 8dB. In that case you would expect less as 2 s-unit difference. But of course a s-meter like we use in the IC-7300 and in Peter's case the IC-7410 is not that accurate and just a indication. The big difference actually is the front/side and front/back ratio. Wow, what a difference it is...

Yes.....I believe now, after this test, the LFA definitely is a better antenna. But what would happen if I extend the HB9CV with 2 directional elements?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

QRPguys digital FSM continued

After waiting for a answer from QRPguys for over 2 weeks I noticed KY6R Rich wrote about a QRPguys "paraset" kit designed by Steve KD1JV. I thought Steve might be able to help me out with the modification on the digital voltmeter module. So I decided to send him a e-mail and within a few hours I had a helping answer. Actually basically it would be a trail and error try to modify the voltmeter, he explained how to measure from the yellow sense wire on which resistor to short out. He also told me instead of a 100V type I should take a 30V type without mod. But this solution would take weeks before I have a new module.

So I took another look at the diagram supplied with the kit. It shows a jumper from the yellow sense wire shorting out a resistor and a potmeter which are connected in series. Thinking that this is always the same whatever the lay out I started to measure several junction to find out were to solder the wire. The picture at the right shows the results. The conclusion is that when I solder a wire between point 3 and point 1 I short out the potmeter and the resistor below the potmeter which are obviously connected in series.

Not shure about everything but I decided to continue with the last part of the kit. Mounting the voltmeter and the sense potmeter on the printboard. Soon it was evident the bushings supplied could not fit, they are too wide (or the screws are too short ;-) ).  I decided filing them, but the material is very tuff. It took a electric powerfile to get anything off.

The result including the short out wire can be seen on the picture. Ready to assemble without any difficulties this time...

Below the finished project finally working:

Testing: I hoped for a more accurate FSM but so far it is just a indicator just like a analog FSM. The potmeter is not sensitive enough to set it to a accurate value. So, if you finally set it, for instance to 10 as a start value, next time you switch the meter on it is on 15. When you only touch the potmeter the value will change. I might look around for a 10 turn potmeter to increase the sensitivity in the future.

The push button, by the way, is a momentary on switch in parallel with the normal on switch. I had to read the manual several times before I discovered why it was there. Just for information ;-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Testing the vertical on 17m/160m

I always like to test the propagation on the edge. Looking for contacts on the highest band possible. Yesterday evening that was 15m (21MHz). But although I did see some stations they didn't see me. So, down one band to 17m (18MHz). I was immidiatly successful in making QSOs to the West Indies and Central America, later also North and South America. ODX was with CX7BBR from Uruquay (11529km).

When propagation faded later on I thought I try the lowest band possible, I didn't try 160m yet on my new setup. On 1840KHz I saw a german station calling Japan. So a quick view on the Japanese FT8 frequency 1908KHz revealed I did receive at least one Japanese station. For the fun of it I just tried with 50W not expecting anything. A few moments later I had 4 (!!) Japanese stations in the log.

I can't imagine it is just the vertical I use. There has to be excellent propagation yesterday evening...
But so far I am impressed with the results.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pre-winter antennawork finished

The weather forecasted was good, but the real weather was bad today. We had rain almost the whole day again. Between the rain at some dry moments I finished the antenna task. It was only a matter of mounting a radial and connecting the antennatuner to 12VDC. What I basically did is to connect the radial via the front of the LFA and back to the tube that holds the antennas. The end was fold back a little so it would fit. You can click at the photo on the left to have a good view.
The 4 element LFA is much larger as my HB9CV, will it be so much better? I have to test it out.

The vertical does work the same as before. I always appreciated this antenna. But is it that good compared to the inverted-V? Well, I've done some tests with mixed feelings. The "one" radial construction gives it some directivity, how much?..Well 1dB or so, no shocking difference. The antenna is 7,5m long and the radial is 7,5m long as well so it is a "balanced" antenna. However the CG3000 is not a balanced tuner. It tunes well on all bands exept for 12m. I might construct a 1:4 balun to insert between the tuner and the antenna to get a easier impedance matching. Have to think about that. Hope someone can give me advice about this??
I tried it on 15m this afternoon and got surprisingly good reports from W4GHW (+4dB) and OX3HI (+12dB), which of course tells me nothing about the antenna but more about the propagation. I mentioned before, propagation is not always reciproke. Today was good for me to TX I guess and less good for RX.


The results from the vertical are not disappointing on 40-15m till now. On 40m/30m it is certainly better as my inverted-V, on 20m, 17m and 15m I had high hopes but it is just slightly better, sometimes the inverted-V is better. I tested at daylight and most stations are from europe. I received some from the USA on 20m and they were strong (S9) but they had almost the same signal on the inverted-V. On 60m and 80m the inverted-V wins by many dBs. I didn't hear any signal on 160m so I have to test that later.

The LFA...well it has a excellent SWR over about 2MHz bandwidth, really incredible. But not much propagation on 10m today. However, monitoring for a few ours always gives some results...

And while writing this VP8LP from Falkland Islands was spotted several times.

CQ CQ...
The fun is that I had a german tourist sightseeing my antennas just after I had everything in the air again. DL1BFE Gregor from Borkum actually, we met on lightship the Borkumriff in 2013. Unfortuntately he and his wife had to get on the train to the Eemshaven to get home again with the Ferry. I just discovered Gregor is a autor of some interesting books:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pre-winter antennawork in progress (2)

One last view on the summer
Well, the weather forecast was not really good for today but it was at least dry in the morning. I decided to dismantle all the antennas in my tower and change them for the HF vertical and the 10m 4 element LFA beam. The summer antennas are in the garage again now. Not shure if I will install the 6m beam next summer? I might try a 4m beam for a change, something I will decide next year when the ES-season is approaching.

First of all I was thinking about my CG3000 autotuner. You all remember what happened in june 2018 with all the water in my tuner, I don't want to have that again. Personally I do think it is condensation after all and the water formed over the years I got the tuner in the mast. So I drilled a small hole in the bottom of the tuner to ventilate the inside, to keep the water outside I mounted a small tube in the hole.

The tuner and the vertical have to be mounted isolated from the tower to perform well. So I needed to extend the antenna mounting tube. It took some effort but I managed to slam a glasfiber tube, I previously used for the 80m horizontal loop, into the top. I mounted the vertical and the tuner without any problems. After that the beam which I already prepared was mounted. It took time to route al the wires...

Now, I need to turn the tower up, rotate the antenna and turn the tower down again in order to mount the radial for the vertical. But unfortunately the weather changed as forecasted. Actually it kept raining...and raining. And when it got dark it was still raining. No further antennawork was possible. Have to wait till tomorrow...

So, now the tower is up and far the SWR on the LFA is very good. I hope the vertical will be working as well as soon as it is ready tomorrow...hopefully the weather is better.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Create RC5-3 shortcomings

The Create RC5-3 is a populair rotator for radioamateurs around the world. It is a mechanically simple device, no bearings, wormwheel and a few gearwheels. Because of the wormwheel there is no real "break" to prevent stress on the rotator. However, this design has shortcomings.

See my first posts about the Create RC5-3:

I sold the rotator to PD1RP Peter. He rotated his big 3 element SteppIR with it and his Create was broken. So it was a excellent replacement.

The damage
However, the big SteppIR was too much for the rotator and it just broke the teeth off the aluminium gearwheels in a storm. It is unknown to me why they use weaker aluminium gearwheels instead of steel ones? I guess it is just the prize, although this is not a cheap rotator!

Peter has send me this rotator for repair and also send me 2 other old Create RC5 rotators so I probabely could use parts from them. I discovered the oldest RC5 actually had steel gearwheels and they were still intact. Unfortunately the big gearwheel does not fit into the newer create but the smaller gearwheel does with some modification...

Small mod on top. Filed 1mm
off the edges so it fits below
the big gearwheel.

After inspection of the old Create rotators I saw something else that worries me, it's worn on the axle of the small gearwheel that drives the big gearwheel. It seems this little gearwheel gets a lot of stress. Normally there should be a bearing in the gearwheel to deal with it. But there is non.This rotator is build for a small to medium antennas. Though after my experience I would use it only for small antennas.

In total I had 3 broken RC5-3 rotators now. Luckely there was on axle that had no worn and I used the steel gearwheel of the oldest rotator to replace the broken one. Peter had already replaced the big gearwheel although that one is still aluminium.

I found I am not the only one writing about this kind of damage on this rotator. DL4MW had similair damage to his Create and writes about it already in 2011. It is in German language though. But pictures are universal...

Schaden am Antennenrotor Create RC5-3 (Teil 1)
Schadensanalyse am Antennenrotor Create RC5-3 (Teil 2)

Interesting stuff...

Peter has bought a better rotator now which can easily turn his SteppIR and can stand a big storm, The repaired rotator will be used by the PA6AA contestgroup.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Pre-winter antennawork in progress

A day off the job gives me some extra time for the hobby. Although....I had some chores to finish first around the house. Besides that I had to go to a oculist with my daughter in the afternoon as well. So after all there was just about 2 hours left for the hobby.

I started the day early since I had to bring my daughter to school first. When at breakfast I already got HamAlert messages on my phone that several stations did spot XE1H on 60m. I have been chasing for Mexico on 60m already a few mornings but never succeeded. So, after breakfast I checked my station remotely through my android tablet if XE1H was received. Nothing seen unfortunately....but 15 minutes later I saw a weak report. A few minutes later I saw reports increasing and I decided to try. First his trace on the waterfall was gone again, some QSB? I almost gave up on it....then suddenly I received his report. I was surprised. Mexico is one of the most difficult parts of the world to reach for me. I only worked XE on 10m before in 2011 when propagation was a bit better.

Anyway, this was a good start of my day...back to antenna business. I have a 10m 4 element LFA on loan from our contestgroup PA6AA. It previously belonged to contestgroup PA6GR and bought by PA7NTH Nanne. However with the low 10m propagation we do not intend to use it for contest these days (years). What I want is to compare this beam with my 10m homemade HB9CV which is a excellent performer. Therefore I did some tests with PA4O with the HB9CV last week and noted everything down for later comparisation. It is my intention to mount the LFA in the mast this weekend so I already have it ready. The 6m beam and HB9CV will be in the garage this winter. Sounds crazy doesn't it. Why mounting a 10m beam in the mast at this time? Well, I know this isn't the best time but I like to experiment with antennas. Besides that I still have plans for a 5 band quad but haven't got time to construct the thing yet and certainly not before the winter. I would be a nice challenge for next year!!! If all goes well I will also replace the W2000 UHF/VHF vertical for my HF multiband vertical. I have been thinking how to do this and I think I found the ultimate solution....more on that in probabely the next post...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Spots this morning, only one
DXcluster  spot!
While I'm on and into 60m DX these days I always find it interesting that when a DX station is calling out of the blue suddenly the whole spectrum is full of signals calling the DX. I asked myself, do all these station listen or view (FT8 these days) 24/7. No, I thought....there has to be something that alerts you without even being in the radioshack!

In the past people would telephone call or SMS each other when a important DX was on. These days people use messenger and whatsapp. But still the DX cluster on the internet plays a important role. However a DX cluster still needs input from users. The Reverse Beacon Network has made things interesting as well as the input would come automatically from participating monitor station. But still, you have to view those on a screen, even with filters on. And the RBN is not working for SSB. Most times you need to be in your shack as well to get noticed by any visual or audio notification.

Callsigns programmed being known
active on 60m.
Now I found a simple solution and it works well. HamAlert is a website/Android/iOS app that can be installed on your phone or tablet. Thanks to HB9DQM Manuel who created it. The DX information is gathered from the DX Cluster, RBN, SOTAwatch and PSKreporter. It contains several possebilities in alerting and many filter options you should find out yourself. I only use the push notification on my phone but it can also notify you by e-mail. SMS is still a possebility but is not free. A nice feature is the integration with clublog for the real DXCC band slot die hard!

It's how they do it. The modern way of DXing...

Sunday, October 6, 2019

QRPguys digital fieldstrength meter

A while ago I bought a digital fieldstrength meter kit from QRPguys. I have made myself a very nice analog fieldstrength meter in 2014 which does a nice job but is not much more as a indicator. I hoped the digital one would be more precise.

So, a few weeks ago I started to build the kit. So far, no problem. All components were there and the instructions are very clear to me. Till I came at the digital voltmeter part...

The voltmeter needs to be modified to read the low voltage output of the LM358 op amp. This is done by bypassing the input scaling resistors.
However, none of the pictures in the instruction does match the voltmeter supllied with the kit.
So, I wrote QRPguys and within a week I was answered with another drawing of a different voltmeter and how to modify it. Unfortunately this drawing still didn't match the voltmeter. So I wrote QRPguys again 2 weeks ago to ask them for a solution. Unfortunately till now I didn't get any answer, they probabely don't know a solution I guess.

I think this shouldn't be a difficult mod but I'm not that smart I can instantly see what to do. Without the voltmeter the whole kit is useless. I hope one of my readers can tell me how to modify it.
Here is the picture I also send to QRPguys to examine.

The original building instruction can be found here:

Friday, October 4, 2019

Decoding number stations

A while ago the ARRL published a article free online about number stations written by Allison McLellan. It gives some nice background info and I think most radioamateurs are interested in this kind of topics.

After some discussion on a dutch hamradio forum it became clear that PA5E Peter really build his hobby on this topic and it was the reason he obtained his hamradio license. He came up with a nice music clip he made with a friend. He's featuring in this clip as well, for you to figure out were....