Monday, July 27, 2020

Going on...

Going on....or what's going on? That's the question. Lots of things happening but finally have my vacation now. I realize I didn't report much lately but I can assure you that I'm very active these days making QSOs all over the world.

In the mean time I can report that the garden including our tomatoes and cucumbers are doing very well.

We actually tasted the first cucumbers already! And they taste delicious. The tomatoes are not ready yet. I expect them to have their red color the end of next month depending on the weather.

Back to the radio hobby; I made some DX on 6m and 4m but want to report in a separate post about what happened in the ES season so far. I don't believe it is over yet....I remember very good propagation in August in previous years and just yesterday I still made some QSOs with the USA on 6m. However, unexpected, I made some DX on 60m. 6O1OO the only station from Somalia seems the be quite active on 60m FT8 these days. Not only this is a new one on 60m but a ATNO as well.

But his signal was difficult to read as it was covered by European station. I managed to get the R and report. Though I missed the "73". But I believe he transmitted it since he went to the next station in the period after the one I missed. Unfortunately I cannot check his log so it remains uncertain. I might try to get his QSL and send Ali the above copy of the contact as well. The problem only is he asks 5 USD for a QSL because he wants the extra money for his station. At least he's honest! But it is against my QSL policy.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


I don't know why but suddenly I remember my first encounter with radio back in the seventies. my favorite station was "radio Luxemburg".

We as radioamateurs do know about the name giving for the famous "Luxemburg effect". However it was not about the "famous 208" they were talking. It was a different station, RTL, transmitting on longwave.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Gained some....power/knowledge

Rerouted the coax lines. The PL259 in front is a
spare coax to the garage. 
Approx 2 years ago I wrote something about coax loss. I just discovered I had some coax routed the wrong way (read previous post). So, time to measure the actual loss in my coax to the tower and reroute the coax. Basically I use 2 coax lines to the tower, at the tower I got some lightning protection devices and a good quality coaxrelay which I can control remote from the shack. One coax line is made from 3 lengths of H2007 (similair to Aircell7) the other one is made from 2 lengths of H2007 and 1 large length of LMR400. Of course the line with LMR400 has less loss and therefore I use this exclusively for the highest frequencies I transmit on, at least I thought so....but after the reroute I do. But how much power have I gained by this action? And how much stronger will you see you meter swing when you hear me on air? Read and shiver...

Before I changed the cables I took the opportunity to measure the loss in the lines on 70MHz, 50MHz and 28MHz, the highest frequencies I'm using.

Loss in line 1: approx 35m H2007 coax

28MHz - 1,4dB
50Mhz - 2 dB
70Mhz - 2,5dB

Loss in line 2: approx 30m LMR400 + 5m H2007

28MHz - 1 dB
50MHz - 1,4dB
70MHz - 1,6dB

I use this site; for calculations.

I had the 10m LFA beam connected to line 1 which had a loss of 1,4dB. 100W in gave me 85W at the junction cabinet below the tower. Estimated loss in the coax from the cabinet to the beam including the 0,1dB loss from the lightning protection and coaxrelay is a additional 0,5dB. So in the end only 80W is arriving at the antenna.

Now I connected the HF vertical to line 1 and moved line 2 from the vertical to the 10m LFA beam. 1dB loss calculated 100W in gave me 89W at the junction cabinet. With a additional 0,5dB loss to the antenna I have 84W at the antenna.

Yes, by switching the cables I have 4W more power at the antenna. Will anyone notice??
I could have told you that before I did this experiment, but just to show that it doesn't matter much what coax you use on HF. I wrote about that before

On the other hand. Line 1 would be almost cut my power in half on 70Mhz! Coax is a whole different story on VHF. I have the 50MHz/70MHz yagi connected to line 2. Based on earlier measurements and calculations the coax from junction box to the antenna including loss from lightning protector and antennarelay for VHF will be 0,7dB.

50MHz total loss over coax 2,1dB. 100W in will give 78W at the antenna.
70MHz total loss over coax 2,3dB. 50W in will give 38W at the antenna.
(Why not 100W at 70MHz? We are only allowed 50W at that frequency...)

Well you see that the worst effect is on 70MHz. But would a coax upgrade make a huge difference?

Very expensive coax cable like M&P hyperflex13 or Ecoflex15 have a loss of about 0,6dB for 30m length. Even more expensive would be hardline like cellflex have 0,2dB loss for a cheap one and 0,15dB loss for a expensive one. (all on 50MHz). Would it be worth the expense to invest in such cables?

Let's asume I change the entire cable from shack to antenna for Ecoflex15. It is about 40m of coax and leave the relay and lighning protectors outside this. Loss would be 0,7dB in total including the connectors (N-type). 100W in will give 92W at the antenna. I think you will hardly notice the difference between 78W and 92W. But you will notice that your wallet is empty! (it would cost me €300 including quality connectors!)

Overall I won't change my coax. It is still good enough for me. If I want to gain something I better invest in a bigger antenna on 50MHz/70MHz. You can easily compensate your coax loss with a few extra directors on the beam and it could be cheaper as well.

Compensation for coax loss!!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

First 6m Japan contact 2020

I know the morning propagation on 6m with Japan/Korea is very good lately. Problem only is that it is always through the week and not in the weekend. So, I'm not at the radio when propagation occurs. Bernard PB7Z made some incredible QSOs to Japan/Korea yesterday and convinced me to try and work remote. I don't like to leave the radio/computer on while I'm not at home but for once I've let it go since I want at least one QSO with Japan this year. Unfortunately it is very busy on the job at the moment so I actually forgot till Bernard sent me a app that Japan was on. So I checked in on remote and gave a CQ. I made a screenshot what happened next :-). First 2020 Japan QSO on 6m with JE1GAP. And many others callling....but it didn't happen again. Propagation is there and next timeslot it is gone!

Discussing earthing the tower lately. Some HAMs do think it is the solution against static. Not shure about that although it probabely helps. I remember I always had a lot of static in winter on my glasfiber antenna (A-99). But since I installed a HF RF transformer in the cabinet below the tower I can't remember of any static at all. Can't prove it of course...
Here some photos from the cabinet with the transformer and the lightning protectors.

The big block at the middle in front between the protectors is a antenna relay so I can remotely choose between the 6m/4m yagi and the HF vertical. The transformer is connected to the 10m LFA. It should actually be connected to the vertical, need to change that (only found out now :-) ).

I really can't remember how I got this transformer. Probabely bought it on a radio rally. What it does basically is to isolate the antenna from the transceiver. There is no galvanic connection between the antenna and the radio.

Ok, one last picture...

(Click on the pictures to view larger ones)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Garden July 2020 - PACC trophy

Not that there is no radio activity....but it's also time to enjoy other things. This is the time our garden is full of flowers. Lots of colors all around...

And while we enjoy the garden a package arrived...

The PACC contest is the most important and biggest Dutch radiocontest organised by the dutch radio organisation VERON. I'm participating in this contest since 2006 when I was able to be on HF legally. The biggest section in this contest is the SSB Low Power section with over 100 participants every year. So you have a lot of competitors, some of them with excellent contesting skills. I discovered that you almost always find the same operators in the top 20 of this section every year. So you know what they are up to. My goal was, of course, to win this section at least once in my lifetime. So, I slowly crawled up every year, last years I always end in the top 10 and even got some third and second places. But this year I was lucky and finally won this section after 14 years of trying. I have to tell it was actually 12 times since I participated in the QRP section for 2 years. Next goal will be the QRP section again which is the most difficult. There is no SSB QRP and CW QRP section in this contest, only mixed QRP so it is both CW and SSB. It will be a big challenge for the next years....

Thursday, July 9, 2020

JW7QIA Svalbard worked on 6

Finally made a QSO with JW7QIA from Svalbard. I did see him last month and was spotted, but no QSO. This time he was unbelievable strong. QSO was easy. I know he's having 4m capabilities as well including a antenna. So far I did not see him on 4m. But the season is not over, anything can happen. Svalbard is special to the Dutch since the Dutchman Willem Barentz did discover the Island in 1596 and named it Spitsbergen. Actually the main and largest Island is still called Spitsbergen. The name came from the dutch language "spitse bergen" translated "pointed mountains" because that is what Willem saw from the Island.

From the QRZ page I notice that he's using a IC-7300 now. Same radio I use. Don't know what antenna he's using but it works well...propagation was good as well of course. Antenna pointing about 0-5 degrees north.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

First time USA on 6 this year

Yes, I know. More propagation openings are there in the afternoon. I view it all on the DXcluster. But unfortunately it takes another 16 years before I can think about retiring, I have a daily job and not at home in the afternoon. So I depend on propagation in the evening. This was the first evening I could actually see some USA stations. It was special since the stations came from the west and west-coast instead of the usual east-coast. It's much further away. I was spotted in Arizona and received stations as far as California. I don't think that happens often. Unfortunately no QSO, but others with better equipment from the Netherlands did. At least in the end I made a quite difficult QSO with K1TO who is from Florida. Not that bad for a first one with the US this year. I hope more has to come in the next few days...

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Shoreline propagation again?

Now you probabely think that I finally took my portable gear to the shoreline to compare a difference in signals with my basestation for example on WSPR signals. But no, that still has to come. At the moment I have a discussion with John MW1CFN about 50MHz propagation that occurs at the bottom of the solarcycle. It certainly has to do with sporadic-E or ES propagation as we call it. But how on earth is it possible to receive and sometimes transmit signals to Japan on 50MHz. Besides that John recorded some interesting signals with some signal peaks that occur on the Europe/USA path that needs explanation. I listened for those strange peak signals on the Europe/Japan path this morning and it occured to me that I hear them as well.

The above was recorded this morning between 7:47-7:50 UTC on 50.313MHz FT8 beaming 30 degrees. You can briefly hear the peaks on signals in the first 3 timeslots. Then suddenly like someone flipped a switch the propagation lifted and signals got very strong. A few moments later I worked 7Z1SJ from Saudi Arabia with very strong signals RX/TX +3/-4dB. A few time slots later the signals disappeared and it sounded like the first 3 timeslots on this recording again.

I only received 1 station from Japan this morning. Yesterday was a lot better with at least 10 stations received. Unfortunately transmitting a signal to Japan seems to be more difficult for me.

I'm not an expert in propagation or propagation anomalies. But I like to investigate and contribute to someone that does probabely know more. John wrote me something last year that I will always remember. Propagation on 50MHz is like the surface of the sea, lots of waves and sometimes you're in the the "water" between the waves. But sometimes you're on the shoreline, waves (signals) are just touching your antenna. You know what it is when you are standing close to the sea and waves are breaking, water flowing just touching your tones or if you're too close over your feet.

But who am I, just starting seriously with 50MHz DX. I find it very interesting but have no experience. I never experienced the DX possebilities they had back in 1978/79 and 1988. Will we have them ever again. Back in those days you could get a experimental 6m license here in the Netherlands and explore the (DX) possebilities. However you did need to keep a record and write a report for the authorities. I found such a report at the blog from PA2S Henk. Henk wrote this together with PF5X Enno. Both are still very active operators. The report is about F2 propagation at the peak of the solarcycle. And actually I think they know a lot more about the propagation anomalies that occur now since they have a lot of experience.

This certainly will not be the last post about 50MHz propagation. And though I'm actually more interested in HF I really like these kind of questions/challenges in this experimental radio hobby.