Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 highlights, 2021 goals

  And here I am with the traditional last post of the year...2020 was....well special! But I don't want to write about covid-19, luckely we didn't get infected and still hope we don't. It does affect everyone though even in our beloved HAMradio hobby.

What happened this year, was there any radio magic? Yes, absolutely, that's what I love in this hobby. There is always magic, unexpected things that happen. If it would not happen or, in other words, I would not see the magic anymore I don't think I was still into this hobby. January started with my digital portable project, I did get it working like it should though it is not as reliable as I wish. Especially the wireless CAT control is a problem. Besides that, some of the gear is battery powered. A better idea would be to power everything from the radio so you need only one battery to feed the whole station in the end. Enough to think about in the future. I also did a controversial post about QSL cards, it immidiatly attracted comments from international QSL managers who did not agree with the post. I don't blame them, it's part of the hobby especially for them. On the other hand I think it's good to think different and trigger some people. I'm shure I didn't get friends with the post but I don't really care. February brought one of the worst PACC contests in years for me, with a very low score....but surprisingly I won the biggest section SOAB Low 

Summer 2020

SSB. I've been looking at another multiband antenna in March, one of my goals to construct it. But it didn't happen, I've been buying stuff for this antenna though, parts are waiting for...2021? I also created a worked all fellow bloggers post in April, updated it a few times this year and surprisingly already worked 20 fellow bloggers. The month of May was completely for the PE75FREE activation. I even managed to get 2 FT8 stations on air at the same time. In total worked 5424 QSOs in one month, a incredible amount I think for a modest station. A little late due to the activity in May I started with my next goal in June, building a yagi for DX on 4m. It became a duoband yagi by YU7EF. The result was incredible and I was still able to work on 6m as well. I worked 31 DXCC on 4m and got 10 new DXCC on 6m this year, a very successfull ES season for shure. Besides a lot of DX on 4m/6m and 60m this year I also did some homebrewing/modifying equipment. I finally finished the MFJ-948 to S-Match project and learned a lot about tuners in general. I also dived into the world of baluns which resulted in 2 baluns, one for high bands and one for low bands. Learned a lot about that as well. Well, 2020 was a interesting year for shure.

Did I meet my goals? Yes and no! No, I didn't build the new 5 band beam. And yes, I did activate 4m DX and build a antenna for this band. Do I have goals for 2021? Well, I always like to experiment with antennas. I'm thinking about a separate receive antenna for ages, I might try a loop on ground project? I will continue DX on 60m, 6m and 4m of course and plan to get the antenna up early in the ES season before I miss some DX again. If time allows I might even have time to continue with the 5 band quad build. Then the new HF Ultra-Marathon is very appealing, I think I will participate. We'll see how things go...

And now, my dear readers, I wish you all much health. Stay safe...

@PE4BAS shack dec. 2020

#60m Philippines worked

  Just when I finished the post about Georgia I took a look on the screen again and saw another new one. It seems not many saw him since I didn't see many calling. A few calls later I worked another NOB. Will this be the last new 60m band DXCC in 2020?

Incredible as I can't remember I ever saw/heard any station from the Philippines before on 60m.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

#60m Georgia worked

   Took me a lot of effort although this station was quite strong. The problem is that the 60m FT8 frequency gets overcrowded these days. You can hardly find a place to call. After a while I finally got him back to me. Never saw this station calling CQ though, saw him making QSOs. Very strange way of making contacts, jumping from one to the other and not keeping one frequency. I think he's new on FT8...

Anyway it is a NOB (New On Band) for me...I guess the last one in 2020.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Todays experiment

 Well, it was a rainy dark day with lots of wind. What experiment will we do today? Not too difficult....

What do we have here: A bag with lots of cables and a battery, some coax, a 30m WSPR transceiver and a magloop. I've build this all some years ago...

So...the coax was broken, but I had another piece slightly longer. Let's see what can be reached. Loop is oriented north/south. The transmitter does 1W WSPR. This is a super simple setup. I even haven't got a GPS. It is time based and switched it on at the exact time with the help of my wristwatch which has a exact time.

Although the site is not that reliable anymore I managed to gather 17 unique spots.

Since I find the coax a bit too long for this experiment I investigated what was wrong in the short piece of coax.

Although the coax was nicely covered with heatshrink tubing it was worn inside just behind the PL connector causing a short. I think this coax is quite old, it was given to me for free years ago. Never used it till now....I'll repair it for another experiment...

Saturday, December 26, 2020

#60m band "radar" signal...

We have a interfering signal on our amateurradio digimode 5357 KHz channel since a few weeks now. It is audible in Europe but also in the USA. I've seen very strong reports from stations, sometimes it is completely wiping away all the digimode FT8 signals from 5357. Annoying it is, and I've even seen some spots on the DXcluster calling it "PUTINRADAR" referring of course to Russian OHTR. But it is not a radar signal this time. It seems it is transmitted by a Israeli Naval station 4XZ from Haifa in Israel. The mode is called Israeli Navy Hybrid Modem (188-100 MOD) and was easily found using the sigidwiki signal identification guide. It is used as a broadcast transmitter to ships. Here is a recording from early this evening made just below the "FT8 channel":

Now, we know that we are 5MHz secondary users. The primary users are government and militairy stations around the world. The question is if we should continue transmitting on 60m with a naval station using almost the same frequency? Officialy we should stop all communication if a primary station is using the frequency. Although I'm not shure if they suffer any QRM from amateurradio FT8 signals? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

#60m band DX in 2020

  DX, is that possible in years with minimum sunspots? Yes it is and I discovered the 60m band is excellent for DX years ago. You might call me a 60m addict the last couple of years. Every year I think that it is going to be difficult to work new ones. In 2019 only I worked 58 new band DXCC, it was a big surprise. 

 I though 2020 would not be a good year especially with covid-19 arriving and causing all kind of problems for future DXpeditions. New ones on 60m also means more exotic stations to work since the "easy" DX has already been worked. But the year started already with some rare new ones like ZC4UW (Cyprus SBA), XV1X (Vietnam), JT1BV (Mongolia), TU5PCT (Ivory coast) with on top VP8PJ from the South Orkneys (close to Antarctica). 

  Last year I failed contacting 6W7/ON4AVT (Senegal) but this year I succeed. Well, I managed to work 35 new band DXCC this year and 4 ATNO (All Time New One) on 60m only. It is a large number which I will not name all by call and DXCC. As a matter of fact, besides the 35 new ones, I worked what I could and till my surprise I discovered I worked 100 DXCC on 60m only in 2020. Not at all a bad DX year. 

I really look forward to 60m band DX in 2021. I still have some stations on my list I want to work and I know they are active on 60m. Listing: AP2AM (Pakistan), ZD8SC (Ascension Isl.), AH7C (Hawaii), TT8SN (Chad), A71AE (Quatar), 4L1FL (Georgia), 3B8FV (Mauritius), TZ1CE (Mali), FY5HB (French Guyana), KH2L (Guam). 

ZD8SC is already in my worked list but I didn't get it confirmed, e-mailing didn't give much more answer as "I will check the log". Not that it is really important...I don't have to prove I worked something since I don't want certificates at all. It's just something for fun I do for myself and share with some people here on my blog and on the 60m facebook page.

2020 60m contacts. Click for a larger picture.

  I spend most of my radio time on 60m in 2020. Time well spend I think. I really don't know if I will spend that much time on 60m next year. So far I still see a challenge and possebilities to work those exotic DXCCs. The top DXers on 60m already went over 200 DXCC. So far I worked 167 DXCC on 60m, still a incredible number I think. I didn't think this was possible in low sunspot years and certainly I didn't dream about this when the 60m became legal in the Netherlands in 2015. I remember the first year the 60m band was almost empty, only a few countries allowed to be on 60m in Europe. I remember there were some evenings that your didn't see any signal on 5357. Working DX with 2,5W QRP on JT65A was no problem and at that time I believed 60m was the ultimate QRP band. How different is it now...

60m this evening. Average...imagine when a rare DXCC shows up.

  You probabely noticed I do post about new worked 60m DXCC on my blog lately. I really think it deserves a place at my blog. Working new DXCC after number 167 is rare I think, every new one is exotic now and a accomplishment. How many will I work in 2021? I really don't know, 2020 surprised me again.....will 2021 do the same? We will know at the end of next year...enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2020

TBDXC Bands Alive HF Ultra Marathon


 Well, I thought I'd write about this before. But searching for it in my archives I couldn't find anything about it so I guess I was just having an idea and never made a post yet. The TBDXC in the title is a abbriviation for True Blue DXers Club. You probabely heard about this club before and think they are digimode haters. Or may be you think that they are a club of old man that don't want have anything to do with modern HAMradio. They only want chatting in SSB and CW...well you might be right.....or not... I like their initiave to populate the CW/SSB part on the bands again. They announce a HF Ultra Marathon in either CW or SSB. This marathon is starting 1st of Januari 2021 and ending at 31st of December 2021. More info can be found on their website:

To participate you don't have to be a member of the TBDXC!

 My thoughts about this marathon so far. Reading the rules and watching videos I think the organiser doesn't do much contesting. And of course this marathon isn't really a contest although you can win a certificate and there might be prizes in the end. First of all I regret you have to choose CW or SSB and no mixed mode. Their explanation:  "the many software packages that can be used to make participation, scoring and results submission a lot easier are contest programs and do not support mixed mode". Why not? N1MM is one of the software packages they recommend. N1MM is capable of mixed a matter of fact I just finished the ARRL 10m contest in mixed mode this month. Another video on the marathon site does recommend the use of 2 logging programs...really! Why? If you log in your contest program you can do a ADIF export at the end of the day and import it in your main logger. No need to log in your main logbook first and then log in your contestlogger. If both software packages do support UDP you can even forward QSOs made in N1MM to any other main logger like HRD, Log4OM, Logger 32 or whatever...Anyway, I don't want to judge too much about this all. The idea is great and I think I will participate. I have pre-registered and just got the message that official registration will be on new years eve. It will be a relief to have another goal next year that doesn't involve digimodes but the good old talking and listening...

Thursday, December 17, 2020

JTDX/WSJT-X directory deleted? How to solve...

The option you shouldn't choose...

  Well, at some point everyone is going to make a mistake somehow. My mistake did occur yesterday. I downloaded the newest JTDX update to install. Normally in W10 I uninstall the normal way via apps. But recently I downloaded a very powerfull uninstaller from IObit. Mainly because I had a few WSJT-X installs that couldn't be removed the normal way. Unfortunately I thought I knew all as a experienced user and automated the deletion of all files related to a software package. Normally, if you don't automate,  the uninstaller will ask you if you want to delete such. Anyway, before I knew I lost my complete JTDX directory with the whole setup, QSO data and logs. Now, normally you download a datarecovery software package and just undelete the deleted. However, I could find the files I needed with certain commercial free to download software but had to pay a considerable amount of money for undeleting. Other freeware packages, I tried 5 of them, unfortunately didn't find the files. So, what left is to configure JTDX again. That's not that difficult, although it occured to me that JTDX did change a bit. But overall I configured everything in 5 minutes. The problem though is that the log was lost as well, so all the data about worked stations and DXCC was lost. Every station received came up as a new one! According to the WSJT-X manual the software reads this from the "wsjtx_log.adi" file, which is just a normal ADIF logformat. Luckely, I always backup my station log in ADIF format and all the information is in there. But how to transfer the data back into JTDX? 

Reading the WSJT-X manual I became aware of a option "rescan adif" which is somewhere in the options menu. The manual tells it is to scan your ADIF log from any electronic logbook. But it isn't that simple. I've tried but WSJT-X is unable to find any data, same for JTDX of course since it is based on WSJT-X. I was a little lost and searching on the internet didn't give me a satisfying answer. It was time to call for help from a JTDX expert, luckily I know one ;-). DB6LL Hartmut told me to use "ADIF2XLS2ADIF.xlsx" to convert my station log to the format WSJT/JTDX likes to see. I've used that software in the past converting WSPR data to ADIF format so I know how it works. He send me the file since you can't download it anymore on the internet. But a problem occured, you need to have Microsoft Office to run the XLSX file. And of course I don't have MS office anymore. Free packages like openoffice or libreoffice will not run this file. So, Hartmut offered to convert the file for me and succeed of course. I was happy again but wondered if it could be without any commercial software. In fact it is just a case of modifying the ADIF file. Searching for that on the internet I found ADIFmaster, a tool to modify a ADIF file, just what I was looking for. Hartmut and I did some research to see if this was a usable piece of software. And so far the only thing we noticed is that you have to add some modes like FT4, PSK31, PSK64 etc. to the modes list which is easy to do. The columns you need for the correct ADIF format are:

<call>,<gridsquare>,<mode>, <rst_sent>, <rst_rcvd>, <qso_date>, <time_on>, <qso_date_off>,<time_off>, <band>, <freq>, <station_callsign>, <my_gridsquare>

If you load your ADIF log you probabely get more columns, just delete what you don't need. My log didn't have the "qso_date_off" column, not shure if it is really necessary but you can just duplicate the "time_on" column and rename it. If you like to put the columns in right order you can just grab them by put the mouse pointer on the column name and click and hold it then move it to another place. The output will look like this:

Save the file as "wsjtx_log.adi" and put it in the right directory. If you can't find the directory you open WSJT-X or JTDX and click in the "file" menu on "open log directory". Close the program again and after you saved the adi file open your software again. Done...

Of course this is also the solution if you had a computer crash and lost everything. ADIFmaster is certainly a very handy program to do tasks like this...

Sunday, December 13, 2020

#10m ARRL contest - second day

 I know, it looks like this weblog is only about contesting these days. And yes, at the moment I haven't got much time for the projects I want to write about. I have ideas enough but time is another story...

Day two of the 10m ARRL contest is over, at least for me. After sunset the band is closed so I switched computers and radio off. Propagation was better compared to yesterday. Although at some moments over the day I didn't hear any signal when fifteen minutes later signals from over S9 could be received. You can view that in the video I shot from some SSB signals. Of course we all wish for an opening between Europe and the USA. Since this contest is most populair on the other side of the ocean and so most participants can be found in the USA. I was only able to receive N4BP from Florida with weak signals, I was not heard by him. Though PB7Z Bernard who lives 50km south of me did manage to make a QSO. I also heard stations from Germany and Ireland having pile-ups with USA stations. They probabely had a lot of luck and very good antennas. I had to do with some Europe/Scandinavia/Russia and only a few DX stations. At least I was lucky to work D4Z from Cape Verde (on SSB!) and ZD7BG from St.Helena (CW)....not a bad catch considering the bad propagation. Unfortunately I didn't hear any south America this evening.

So, I end this contest with 57 QSO and 29 DXCC in the log. It is not the worst 10m ARRL contest at all for me, but not the best either. It was certainly better compared to last year.  It is what to expect in low sunspot years.

As always it was fun. 10m is almost like the magic 6m band. You never know what to expect and there is always DX that can be worked. Let's see what next year will bring us!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

#10m ARRL contest - first day

 Well, in the previous years I did some band condition investigations in the week before this 10m contest. There was no time to do it this year. We had some fantastic propagation on 10m last weeks, but not this weekend. When I switched the radio on this morning I was disappointed, only noise could be heard. After a while I heard FR4QT from Reunion on SSB, but he didn't hear me unfortunately. I guess he's using some power and I only use 100W. I heard a few weak signals on CW but too weak to decode. I decided it would be a waste of time and effort to stay on the radio. So I went outside to do other things and returned after a while and a nice cup of coffee. This time I heard some CW signals and was fortunate enough to make a few QSOs. Later on I even managed to work some on SSB. The strange thing is that some of the signals came up till S9 and then vanished a few seconds later. And of course the same thing as always, I hear far more compared to what I can work with my 100W. The benefit of a low noise environment and a LFA beam I guess. When all signals vanished again I decided to do some other things in the afternoon and return just before sunset. At the evening greyline the propagation lifted a bit. I was able to work V51WH Gunther from Namibia again and a few from Brazil on CW. Best DX was on SSB with LW5HR from Argentina on SSB (+11000km). Not bad for a bad 10m propagation day! I worked 17 stations from 11 DXCC for the first day, hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better, we'll see...

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

FT-RU 2020 contest review

Event: FT-RoundUp contest 2020 
Section: Single Operator
Logger: N1MM+ / WSJT-X
Station: Icom IC-7300 100W
Antenna: Inverted-V @ 12m


Well, actually I did not intend to participate but some of my buddies from the PA6AA contest crew did. They told me to connect N1MM+ with WSJT-X for this contest so I saw a new challenge....took some effort in the end....about that later.

First of all, the weekend, I was planning to mount some christmas lighting, first of all the LED star I mounted last year. A great opportunity to mount the high bands balun I made in the tower between the remote antennatuner and the vertical antenna. Well, I forgot to make a photo, it was not a pretty sight anyway. Over the years I learned the ugliest antennas work the best... After I mounted the LED star in the tower and the tower was straight up I did some testing. Yes, the LED star was working right.....but what about the balun. Well, so far all bands except 12m tuning fine, that was the case before I mounted the balun as well. Did not make contacts with it yet but theoretically there should be less common mode, I can't confirm that. I wished I had less interference on RX but that wasn't the case, it was exactly the same on all bands. Strange enough when trying the antenna during the contest it didn't work.....well, it started raining, something went wrong and I couldn't do anything about it...

Connecting N1MM+ and WSJT-X, it is all described on However, the setup is described for a WWDIGI contest. For this FT-RUcontest I assumed I needed to choose 10m RTTY roundup since I did read somewhere that the FT roundup was made instead of this contest. I don't know why I did choose this but it went wrong. And so when the contest started I had the problem N1MM+ didn't read the received exchange from WSJT-X. A few chat apps with my radio buddies revealed I'd choosen the wrong contest, it should be ARRL RTTY roundup instead. Then everything went well, but unfortunately lost the 3 first contacts, I'm very sorry. Everything went smooth from then on. I had no issues with automatic logging anymore like 2 years ago. And with N1MM connected I could instantly see my score. The bandmap has no real use in this setup, there is a new screen "WSJT-X decode list" in which you see multies, dupes and possible contacts. Not shure how much use this screen has since I didn't look at it much.

Experimental setup N1MM+/WSJT-X

Above a screenshot from the setup. Actually you need big monitors for this, I really didn't have enough space to fit all the screens. But overall you don't need all of them for this contest. I have to write that after a few hours the contest bored me. When running it is only a matter of clicking the "enable TX" button. Everything else goes automatic. So, once and a while I changed running for S&P just to stay alert. I started on saturday evening on 80m only, propagation was average, not many DX and again FT4 was not really present on that band. The propagation was not really good on 15m and 20m on for me on sunday. 40m in the evening went well, some nice DX could be worked but I expected more Japanese stations which I didn't see in the end unfortunately.

Some of the contacts displayed...

But several Indonesian and one Malaysian station were worked on 40m. Not that bad...I'm shure if I had more time more DX (multipliers) could be worked. But time is a issue as always. This time we had a raingutter leakage and some water was pouring into the house below my radioshack. It took time to see were the leakage came from and I couldn't do anything about it since it was already dark outside....well shit happens. I made a emergency repair on Monday so problem solved for this winter.

I decided to try my vertical antenna again Monday evening to see if something changed. What happened? I don't know. All bands tuning fine now, even 12m. I really have no idea why??? I didn't change anything...could be a 12V line interuption....I turned the rotor a little. Have to try while turning the rotor to see if something is wrong....Could be a bad coax cable as well? We'll see. At least the vertical is working again.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

#CQWW DX CW 2020 review

Event: CQWW DX CW contest 2020 
Section: Single Operator Assisted 20m QRP
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-7300 5W (5%)
Antenna: Inverted-V @ 12m

The choice for QRP 20m assisted is obvious. There has never been a entry in this section from the Netherlands. It is possible to get a dutch record again....although after checking log submissions I see PA2REH did submit in the same section. Some competition is nice....

My goal was 100 QSOs. I had less time saturday end only able to make 30 QSOs on that day, surprisingly most with USA. I had some more time sunday ended with 108 QSO in the log. Of course no real DX with QRP......although! Late in the afternoon at sunday I noticed some fluttering signals on the band, that means signals from the north. And yes, after several QSOs into zone 4 I finally managed to get K2PO from Oregon (zone 3) into the log. I consider that DX for shure, 5W CW into a inverted-V remember! 

The map is just a indication. The Oregon contact is not on it. This is because the locator is not known by the software of course. I was really surprised I could work so many from the USA. Some of those contest stations really have good ears... 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Balun practical comparisation

  Palstar AT1KM 1:4 ruthroff balun compared with homemade 1:1 current baluns outside the tuner. The goal is a practical comparisation between these baluns. I made two 1:1 current baluns specified to the instructions from G3TXQ, A useful article can be read here:

A tuner balun is made with bifilair windings since it doesn't need to have a 50 Ohm impedance and unwanted impedances can be tuned out besides that it can withstand higher differential-mode voltages.

 I took the design for the low bands and higher bands. 17 windings on two FT240-43 ferrite rings for the low bands and 9 windings on three FT240-52 for higher bands. To keep the rings together I wind ptfe tape on it first. I decided to wind the ptfe wires in ptfe tape as well to keep them as close together as possible.

Balun under test

The FT240 ferrite rings were bought from fellow blogger PA3HHO who has a lot of info about antennas and HF transformators/chokes on his blog.

  The baluns are doing a excellent job balancing. Though, is it really better as the internal 1:4 balun inside the AT1KM?

My RF current indication meters are having a scale from 0-100% and a little more. Good enough to compare. A test was made with 50W FM input.

Band%Left1:4%Right%Left1:1 LB%Right%Left1:1 HB%Right

I didn't test the 160/12/10m. The 2x20m inverted-V isn't really efficient for those bands and so it isn't really interesting. 

  For me most interesting is my favourite 60m band. It is clearly not in balance with the internal 1:4 balun. But is with the 1:1 baluns. However I expected higher currents, not only on 60m but on the other bands as well. Interesting to see that balance on other bands is almost equal.  Overall you don't see much difference at all. The internal 1:4 balun gives some more current on 20m and 15m. Actually I didn't expect this outcome of this comparisation, The Palstar AT1KM performs much better as expected, even with the 1:4 ruthroff balun inside.

On the right you see the baluns. The boxed one is made for the higher HF bands and designed to fit below my multiband vertical between the CG3000 autotuner and the antenna. It doesn't feature any PL connector, only terminals.

I really do not expect any change in signal strength with all baluns. I also monitored noise on receive. It is all the same as soon as I tuned to a 1:1 SWR. Theoretically common mode surpression and balance would be a lot better with the 1:1 baluns and many articles describe much more current output. However in the "real" world I don't see much difference. 

I have to write though that I don't have that good measuring equipment of course. Others will read this and tell me I should use certified and calibrated equipment. I don't have the money for such gear and I like to build these things myself. I don't know how much the outcome would differ except for some real current numbers in ampere instead a 0-100% scale. Besides that I measured it on my inverted-V which can differ from other antennas and environments. There are so many variables that can have a influence that I can't write if I'm right with this practical balun test.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Palstar AT1KM 1:4 ruthroff balun - a wrong choice?

 I own a discontinued Palstar AT1KM. I consider Palstar as one of the best antennatuner builders. The tuners are expensive but quality is very good. It works fine, actually I never had troubles with it and tuning is very easy. However, in the past even antennatuner builders had it wrong. 

A while ago a began to read about baluns and what they do. I read several tests with baluns at the output of a unbalanced tuner since I was unshure if I should use a 1:4 or a 1:1 balun behind my CG3000 autotuner to feed my vertical. I did some experiments myself and continued to read all about it. Now finally I read a article in a Dutch amateurradio magazine called Razzies about baluns that was a real eye opener. It contained a test with a voltage, current and no balun with both coax and open line. The winner was clearly the current balun in all cases. 

Now, I was thinking....

On the back of a Palstar tuner the balun instructions
Inside the AT1KM is a 1:4 ruthroff voltage balun for balanced output, I guess it was kind of a standard about 10-15 years ago. My MFJ948 also had a 1:4 voltage balun inside. But with the knowledge of today it seems it is not the right choice to make. I was curious if Palstar is still using a ruthroff balun inside their tuner. If I look at the AT-500 the specs tell me they are using a 1:4 current balun, though if I look on the photo it looks like the ruthroff balun in my AT1KM. Two other tuners they make don't have baluns inside anymore. Baluns are now available in a non conductive housing which should be connected with the shortest possible coax to the tuner. the reason: baluns mounted against a metal chassis are subjected to mutual capacitance, which may also disturb the balance.  It is simply better to mount them externally in a plastic box (Owen Duffy, VK1OD). The Palstar engineers listened well...

Actually the same Owen Duffy came to a conclusion: "A unbalanced T match followed by a 1:1 Guanella (current) balun in an external non conductive enclosure and having high choking impedance, very short coax connection to the ATU, and high voltage withstand is capable of excellent performance in a ‘balanced ATU’ role for general purpose HF application."

...Exceptions are the heavier Palstar AT4K and AT5K manual tuners which have a 1:1 balun at the input and mounted inside the tuner housing but not against the housing. At first I though, why not? What difference would it make. This is what W8JI tells about it: "Any article that claims placing a current balun at an unbalanced tuner input helps balance, or generally helps the balun work better, unfortunately is mistaken. Moving the current or choke balun to the input of an unbalanced network makes balance much worse on higher bands, and does not help lower bands".
It is unclear to me why Palstar engineers did choose such a configuration with high power manual tuners anyway? The risk of destroying a 1:1 balun with high power is very high anyway.

So, how to make your T-match tuner work better? Is it that simple? Yes it is....don't replace those 1:4 ruthroff baluns in your old tuner. Let them be. Just make the best current balun you can, place them in a plastic box and connect them with a short as possible coax to your tuner to feed a open line to your antenna. Does it really help? Well, it depends how you antenna is configured I guess. But if you want to feed a open line to you antenna it is just as easy as connecting a good quality 1:1 current balun between the tuner and the open line. You don't have to buy a expensive balanced tuner or a tuner that has a balun inside.

Will we have different thoughts about this subject in the future? 20 years ago it was common to place a 1:4 balun inside the housing of a antenna tuner, most of us didn't have the equipment to verify if this was working right. With the decreasing prices of specialized measuring equipment confirming that your gear is working well is in everyones reach.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Friese 11 steden contest 2020

 This is a dutch language contest, however open for international traffic. But since the content is only interesting for the dutch I'll write it in dutch for archive purposes.

Event: Friese 11 steden contest 2020 
Section: Buiten regio 14
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-7300 100W
Antenna: Inverted-V @ 12m

Foto rechts: Vanuit de radioshack. Dat grote gebouw op de achtergrond is de originele "rode" school. Er was een station die er aan twijfelde. Uiteraard word het gebouw niet meer als school gebruikt. Overigens is het maar de vraag of de naam "Roodeschool" van deze school afstamt.

Voor mij is dit de leukste nederlandstalige contest van het jaar. Het speelt zich alleen af op de 80m band en dus de bereikbaarheid van Nederland is meestal prima.

Het leukst is natuurlijk het speuren naar de 12 steden/dorpen die mee tellen als multiplier. Of dat lukt is altijd de vraag. Sommige multipliers zijn maar een korte tijd aanwezig. Als je ze mist heb je pech. En dat had ik deze keer. Ondanks dat alle 12 multipliers aanwezig waren heb ik Harlingen wel gehoord maar niet kunnen werken en Bolsward helemaal niet gehoord. Nou heb ik wel heel relaxed mee gedaan en hier en daar een praatje gemaakt, want daar is deze contest ook een beetje voor bedoeld. Maar misschien was ik wel een beetje te relaxed. Denk dat de beste strategie is om elke 15 minuten ook even de band over te draaien om multipliers te zoeken. Ik heb dat wel een paar keer gedaan maar ook best veel CQ geroepen. Dus maar 10 multipliers....nou ja het geeft niet. Ik heb een hoop plezier gehad en een hoop bekenden gehoord en gewerkt. De vreemdste plaatsnaam voor mij was toch wel de QTH van PE0JXA/P die bij het haventje van Oude Zeug stond. Ik hoorde een aantal andere stations ook worstelen met deze plaatsnaam en had er zelf ook nog nooit van gehoord. Tja, dat zijn leuke dingen die gebeuren vind ik en je leert ook nog wat. Even opzoeken, waar ligt dit plaatsje:

Als ik zelf in die situatie zou staan had ik toch gekozen voor de plaatsnaam Kreileroord. Maar goed, bijzonder is het wel.

Het was alles bij elkaar weer een bijzonder leuke en gezellige contest. Ik bedank de organisatie, want die krijgen het toch elk jaar weer voor elkaar. Tot volgend jaar!

Hierbij nog een korte video opname. Met o.a. PA2LO, PA3MM, PA7MM, PA0Q en PA3JD. Ik had nog meer op willen nemen maar achteraf waren het alleen foto's en geen video.

Friday, November 20, 2020

RF antenna current meter

For future experiments and the one done recently I really need a antenna current meter. Best is something that shows the balance as well since that is one of the features a S-match offers. Another thing you can measure of course is the RF current which should be as high as possible. That way it's possibible to compare antennatuners on open line.

PA0FRI  has a good design on his site. Components are not really critical as long as they are the same for both lines. 

As a real amateur experimenter I first look around in my scrap box for parts. It took a while but I found everything except the plastic boxes to build everything in. Some soldering and fitting....this is the result:

Frits does use T80-2 torroids with 25 windings. I found two pre winded ones in my scrapbox, 23 windings on a unknown torroid. The big 2W resistors should be 50 Ohm, other designs show 100 Ohm. I found two indentical 82 Ohm resistors that will do the task. For meters I found a nice AKAI VU meter combo I salvaged from a AKAI cassette player. It took me some research to find out these are microA meters, just what I needed.

Because I didn't know if it would work well I decided I would not build the meters in a box yet. 

Basically this is bare system. It actually works better as expected so I'll continue to make it look nice in some time.

Now, I was very curious about my antenna system (2x 20m inverted-V "doublet") balance...first test on 10m behind the S-match tuner shows a reasonable balance. It's not perfect but close, nothing is perfect in the real world.

On 20m, the system behind the S-match is almost perfect in balance.


Left is 50W on 60m with the Palstar AT1KM (with 1:4 ruthroff balun inside).
Right is 50W on 60m with the S-match.

It clearly shows a unbalance with the Palstar, the S-match does a fine job in balancing.

I can show more pictures but it is not necessary I think. Other bands all showed the current in balance. I also tested with the Palstar, except 60m all other bands had a balanced current on the open line.

Well, I finally managed to get the meters in a box...

The tiny lightbulb lighting in this combo was still intact. Wow, it looks pretty nice...
Scrap parts remember! It looks very professional after all...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#60m Malawi worked

 I can assure you this was not an easy one. Very weak signals from this Russian DXpedition in Malawi on their last day active. I did receive them yesterday but there was unfortunately a birdie on their frequency and too many that made a call. After almost endless trying I finally made a QSO.

Some strange things were noticed by me and fellow 60m DXer DB6LL. 7Q7RU made CQs while many were calling like they didn't receive anything?? Hartmut noticed that they also responded to stations below 1000Hz in F/H mode, even to stations calling on their frequency. Normally that is not possible in WSJT-X. So we think they make use of alternative software. We could be mistaken of course? Anyway, it doesn't matter, they did an excellent job in these difficult times...

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

QSL from Somalia

 Might rename this post hypocrisy. Yes, against my QSL policy I payed for this QSL from the only HAM/radioamateur that is active from Somalia. At least Ali is honest on his QRZ page, he needs extra money to maintain his station and keep going on with activities from this DXCC. I still had some US dollars which have been stored for over 20 years in a envelope. The last time I spend dollars for a QSL was when I still collected QSL from 11m (CB) DX contacts. I thought this time it was well spend. Paper QSL is something that will slowly extinghuish in the next decades I think, so this might be extra special.

What got my attention is that he works with a Little Tarheel 2 mobile antenna. This is a motorized screwdriver mobile antenna. Not shure if he mounted this on a car or on anything other metal for counterpoise. Or he might have installed a radial network? Although not QRP I think this is still a amazing contact.

Thanks QSL Ali @ep3cq

Monday, November 16, 2020

#60m Jan Mayen worked

 July this year I worked Svalbard on 6m  I worked that same station from Svalbard on 60m already last year. But this time JX2US from Jan Mayen is on air. It was just waiting till it showed up on 60m. Luckely the HamAlert app does help. I received a spot this evening and immidiatly logged in remote into my station which was already ready and listening on 60m FT8. A few minutes later I was in the log!

Svalbard is discovered by the dutch, Jan Mayen is discovered probabely by a Irish monk and also it is claimed vikings landed on the island. It was rediscovered and documented by fellow dutchman Jan Jacobszoon May van Schellinkhout (Jan Mayen) in 1614. The dutch were pretty good in discovering I guess ;-). Interesting facts can be found on the wiki page.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

PA-beker contest 2020

This is a dutch language contest, however open for international traffic. But since the content is only interesting for the dutch I'll write it in dutch for archive purposes.

Event: PA-beker contest SSB 2020
Section: high power
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-7300 100W
Antenna: Inverted-V apex 12m

Dit jaar geen antenne experiment. Ik heb de antenne nog wel liggen. Maar gezien de resultaten van vorig jaar heb ik mijn twijfels of het echt veel uitmaakt voor de uiteindelijke score. De 40m MUF moet gewoon boven de 7,1 MHz liggen voor 100-400km. Zo niet dan maakt vermogen of een speciale antenne niet veel uit. En ligt de MUF wel hoger dan doet de 2x20m inverted-V het ook prima.


Een vrije frequentie zoeken op een rustig deel van de 80m band. Dat is dus in het gedeelte tussen 3,600 en 3,650 MHz. Dan gewoon een uur CQ roepen (runnen) daarna de band afzoeken of er nog stations zijn die ik niet gewerkt heb. De MUF goed in de gaten houden en dan rond 11 uur lokale tijd een rondje 40m doen. Daar bij voorkeur onder de 7,1 MHz blijven vanwege de novice station die meedoen. Als er dan stations gehoord worden bij voorkeur zelf weer gaan roepen en dan maar hopen dat er wat stations reageren. Rond 12 uur lokale tijd beslissen om op 40 te blijven of om weer terug te gaan naar 80, dat is de moeilijkste keuze en kan beslissend zijn voor de eindscore.

De contest

Ik begon niet precies om 10 uur maar wat later. Dat maakt op zich niet zoveel uit denk ik. Wel als je een half uur later begint. Maar dit was hooguit een 10 minuten late start. Ik ben eerst maar eens op zoek gegaan naar een rustige plek ondertussen een paar stations gewerkt. Daarna een uur zitten roepen met best redelijk aanbod. Heb een deel opgenomen via de webSDR van Twente om later te evalueren. Rond een uur of 11 even snel de hele 80m band gezocht naar stations die ik nog niet gewerkt had, dat waren er weinig. Ik zag ondertussen de MUF al omhoog gaan en dus maar naar 40m gegaan. Daar hoorde ik heel zwak een paar stations waarvan ik sommigen met moeite kon werken. Op gegeven moment toch maar tegen wil en dank een plek gezocht om te roepen. Daar kwamen verrassend genoeg wel een stuk of wat stations op terug. Ik dacht dat de MUF maar rond de 6,4 MHz was....maar toen ik nog een keer keek was het plaatje net ververst en zag ik dat de MUF zeer gunstig was.

Maar helaas had ik het idee dat veel stations het niet door hadden. Want veel respons kreeg ik daarna niet meer op mijn roepen. Dus maar weer de band op en neer om te zoeken met wisselend resultaat. Het ene moment hoor je stations sterk en het ander moment zijn ze weer weg. Een aantal stations had blijkbaar ook veel last van QRM want ik werd echt niet gehoord. Alles bij elkaar heb ik misschien te lang op 40m door blijven roepen met als resultaat wel 25 QSO's en 18 multies. 10 minuten voor de contest afliep ben ik weer gaan zoeken en roepen op 80m, dat bracht nog wel wat QSO's op. Ik had denk ik beter wat vroeger terug moeten keren naar 80m. De vraag is of ik dan nog wat extra multipliers en station's had kunnen werken, meer als op 40m? Het blijft natuurlijk een uitdaging. Jammer is ook dat je met 100W gelijk in de high power sectie terecht komt. De stations die boven aan de scorelijst staan werken naar alle waarschijnlijkheid alle met 400W (of meer ;-) ).


Doelen stellen in deze contest is moeilijk. Het geheel hangt af van de condities op 40m. En die zijn moeilijk te voorspellen. Het klinkt gek maar mijn doel was om PA0Q Hans te werken op beide banden. Ik weet dat Hans verhuist is en had hem na zijn verhuizing niet meer gesproken. Ik vernam al dat hij een horizontale loop had hangen, zoiets heb ik ook jaren gebruikt. Ik heb Hans op beide banden kunnen werken, dus doel gehaald. Voor de rest heb ik natuurlijk genoten van alle nederlandse signalen, sommige hard en sommige wat zwakker. Helaas heb ik één station gemist en ook niet gehoord, dat was PA3JD Joop uit Dedemsvaart die ik eigenlijk altijd wel werk in deze contest. Helaas....volgend jaar beter... Het was een gezellige contest, tot volgend jaar...

#60m Bonaire worked

 Actually I thought I did work Bonaire PJ4 before. Probabely because I worked PJ4 so many times. But checking my 60m DXCC list this is definitely a new one for me. Received him yesterday morning with excellent signals but was not in the shack at that time. This morning I woke up early especially to work PJ4/DL6KR. It was an easy one...