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.