Tuesday, March 30, 2021

#CQWW WPX SSB 2021 review

Event: CQWW WPX SSB contest 2021
Section: Low SOAB
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-7300
Antenna 1: 160m sloper
Antenna 2: 10m LFA @14m
Antenna 3: Multiband vertical @16m
Antenna 4: 2x20m inverted-V doublet

The yearly WPX SSB contest is over again. One of the highlights of the year for me. If you look for rare DX you can find it in this contest. And I took the opportunity to hunt DX instead of concentrating on the amount of QSOs. No new DXCC were worked but I guess I managed to work a few new band ones. 

Click on the map to enlarge.

Although propagation was not the best very nice DX was worked. One of the highlights certainly was working ZM4T on both 40m and 20m. Unfortunately 10m didn't open, the only QSO I had on that band was with PA6AA who was kind of a local station managed by Bernard PB7Z.

Most interesting DX per band this year:

80m: NV9L, WW1X (USA)
40m: ZM4T (New Zealand), WP4X (Puerto Rico), TI7W (Costa Rica), FM5BH (Martinique), WW1X (USA), VE9CB (Canada), PJ2T (Curacao)
20m: UP7L (Kazakhstan), 9K9A (Kuwait), HZ1TL (Saudi Arabia), KL7RA (Alaska), ZM4T (New Zealand), T6A (Afghanistan), VE9CB (Canada), WW1X (USA), 9M2TDX (West Malaysia), EX0M (Kyrgyzstan), JH4UYB (Japan), PJ4DX (Bonaire), 5Z4VJ (Kenya), PY4JW (Brazil), FM8QR (Martinique), P40A (Aruba), TI7W (Costa Rica), FG4ST (Guadeloupe).
15m: UP2L (Kazakhstan), FR4NT (Reunion Isl.), ZS6TVB (RSA), ZD7BG (St.Helena), A71AM (Qatar), A60A (UAE), LO5D (Argentina), E2A (Thailand), YC2CPQ (Indonesia), P45A (Aruba)

I mention that KL7RA was real 59 over here, just incredible! I've heard many other DX but couldn't reach everything. I remember calling for a long time on 40m to JH4UYB, he had a excellent signal but he didn't hear me. Also 3E3E from Panama was 59 on 20m but I was unable to have a QSO with him. You can't have it all of course...

I didn't hear anything from VK (Australia). Strange, because I'm shure there were contesters on from down under. But propagation was not there. Hopefully they will appear on 10m in a few years...

Like always, I had fun. Although I spend far too much time on my hobby last weekend. Not to the amusement of the family....it is always difficult to find a balance. This will always be a challenge....
Total time spend in the contest was 27 hours...

Friday, March 26, 2021

Is FT8 destroying ham radio?

 N0UN wrote on his blog:

"In my opinion FT8 is like a self-driving car.  No operating skills required.  How much fun is sitting in a car you’re not driving?  You get my point?"

And asked politely to write something about it on everyones own social media. So I do...

I understand Wayne's concern. I do understand he (and others) did put a lot of effort in their stations. Did put a lot of money in it. Did practise and earned, learned and worked hard to get a lot of DX and DX skills through the years. I respect that...but...

Not everyone is capable of building a great station. Not everyone is willing to learn the DX skills. And still they enjoy DX these days. Since FT8 (and before that JT65 and JT9) is a great feature for that. Yes, even if part of it is automatic many do enjoy it a lot. Finally being able to work DX with a simple wire antenna and 5, 10, 25 or 100W power. You see, I think Wayne's opinion is a little selfish, he speaks for himself and a few others that hold on to the old SSB and CW communications only. If you take a look on the "bands" you will see that the majority of ham radio is playing FT8 now. Even DXpeditions like A25RU and VK9CE are rarely heard on SSB these days. Is that a bad thing? Yes, for those that don't like FT8 it is a very bad thing. It probabely means that this is almost the end of their ham radio hobby. But for those that haven't got the ability to have large antennas, expensive radio equipment and or good DX skills it is a great thing they have finally a chance to work those rare stations.

Why are DXpeditions using that much FT8 these days. Well, I remember a presentation from a DXpedition member about 3D2EU. He told that at some moments they would call endless on CW and SSB without much reponse. Switching to FT8 gave them the pile-ups they searched for. You will hear this from other DXpeditions as well. Remember, DXpeditions want to make as many contacts and provide as many a new DXCC as possible no matter what. If that takes FT8 these days it should be a priority to have a good sensitive (wideband) FT8 station running preferable on as many bands for as long as possible. Therefore I think the initiative from the Rebel DX group "We will be testing some our new ideas to operate 5 different stations on FT8 (FOX & HUND) at the same time by 1 operator" is promising.

We can learn from the past. When SSB took over the most used CW and AM after WW2. Many of the old operators did tell the "newcomers" they wouldn't be real hamradio operators if they didn't know CW. SSB was for those without skills, what would be the fun of it? Oh, yes they were still communicating.....five by nine my friend, 73 (you see, no difference from the FT8 protocol). With FT8 on HF we look ahead into the future, What has to come? Some hamradio operators already took the opportunity to write about the future including me. I can imagine remote controlled FT8 robot stations that are dropped at rare DXCC working on solarpower for months or even years. Just like the hamradio sats in space... Of course these would be QRP stations, so it would be a challenge to work them after all. Wouldn't that be fun? At least I would have fun. Others will find it stupid, I'm shure of that. 

Finally I would like to point out some benefits of FT8:

- Ideal for fast propagation research.

- One signal only takes 50Hz of spectrum

- It is more sensitive compared to CW

- QRM and noise doesn't have much impact, except if a QRM signal is exactly on the FT8 frequency

- It is easy to use and easy to work with remote

- It doesn't annoy the rest of the family if operating is, for instance,  from the living room

- It is relatively easy to work DX stations

- You can work with low power and still have a good signal when propagation is right.

- It is possible to automate everything (although some of this is controversial)

I will not point out the disadvantages since everyone seems to know them...

FT8 is not the only thing in hamradio. It is populair right now. But I'm shure most operators do like to have a decent QSO with SSB or CW after all and use FT8 just as an extra mode with extra opportunities. After all, HF DXing is not the only thing in our hobby. There are so many other topics and interests, everyone has to decide what is most fun and what satisfies most. If you don't like FT8 you just don't join and do some SSB and or CW instead. You probabely like to take a look at the True Blue DX marathon to promote some more "human" modes. And for those that really like to do both FT8 and SSB/CW you can still join the marathon to have some fun!

Don't forget for those that really like SSB (that's me as well) this weekend there is the CQ WW WPX SSB contest. 48 hours of SSB fun with lots of DX. If you don't like contests, just work the DX of interest. Isn't that fun!

If you like to comment on this blog, you're welcome. It doesn't have to be on your own social media...

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Imax2000 destruction

The Imax2000 is originally a fiberglass CB antenna which is used by many radioamateurs on HF worldwide. The original Imax2000 can be used from 17-10m with a tuner. Find more info on: 



The Imax2000 is eventually replaced by the max2000 which is shortened and only for the 10m band. I used a defective Imax2000 as a holder for a copperwire covered by coppertape which was fed with a CG3000 autotuner for a few years. Till a couple of weeks ago it did finally break during a storm. I decided to dismantle the antenna to get rid of it. I really don't know how they did dismantle the matching coil without breaking it. I found it impossible. If this antenna breaks it is not repairable from my point of view. But if you look at the pictures on the sites from the links above there has to be a way to dismantle things in one piece. Of course mine was years old, everything was corroded and there was water inside the bottom of the antenna. Here are some pictures I took during the process:

I especially had problems removing the PL connector at the bottom due to corrosion. Well, at least I had some fun taking it apart to see what is in it. The last picture is not a pretty sight. Everything went into the garbage after all...even the PL connector was damaged and could not be used again.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

#60m Bahamas worked

 Did see C6AJB spotted on the cluster a few times last week but not yet received him myself. This time he was on early and with strong signals...

Tnx Steven...

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Wow! VK on 160m worked!

 Still can't believe this. My simple 160m sloper antenna, remember. Just my tower and a piece of wire connected with a piece of coax. Simple antenna, simply 100W from my IC-7300. Have lower noise on the low bands compared to other stations in villages and towns, my only advantage. But I received VK5PW Peter from south Australia anyway. I mean....160m band....+15000km, to me that is magic, real radio magic.

It was just his morning greyline that lifted the signal. And I guess Peter has very low noise as well or a special separate receive antenna. Yes, I made a QSO with Japan as well, but have done that before. This is something totally different and for many radio amateurs in Europe unreachable because of the noise and antenna restrictions. 

And yes, this wouldn't be possible without the use of a digital mode like FT8. It was just a lucky shot and I don't think this will ever happen again. Just like my contact on 6m with 5W and a vertical to Puerto Rico in 2014. Wow, real radio magic...

Thursday, March 11, 2021

#60m Curacao worked

 With the whole covid-19 situation there are not many DXpeditions on air. What a difference with the start of last year. But at least I finally managed to contact PJ2/DK5ON Andy from Curacao. It took me some days trying. The problem was that Andy's signal was so loud everyone could hear (see) him and so the pile-up was huge. But yesterday evening he was quite early with low signals at first. This time he saw my signal and the QSO was made.

When I was looking for PJ2/DK5ON a few days ago I suddenly saw A71AE again on air. Since I was not in his online log I presumed I have been working a pirate station before. So, I worked him again and this time I appeared in his online log.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

QSL from sunny Fiji

As far as I know Tony does no digital QSL. A way to confirm the contact is to buy the QSL. It is against my policy. But I really wanted the QSL since it is quite special. Tony went through difficult times losing his son by accident, very sad. However I'm shure this hobby gives him a lot of distraction from the whole situation. Then the Covid-19 situation prevented postal service from shipping the QSL cards. I remember it took me a long time till finally the propagation was good enough to make a QSO with Tony after receiving him many times before. I think I tried for almost a year to get into the log. After waiting for almost another year the QSL finally arrived...the 60m band shure gave me a lot of interesting DX I never worked before on any other band.

Update 12-03-2021: After checking my log it is verified Tony does confirm via LOTW.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Paraset instruction manual discovery

  Last month a e-mail arrived from someone that a interest in the paraset instruction manual I have from PA0DR Dirk. According to him it is the only known paraset manual. Probabely included in a package with a paraset for the resistance. Normally parasets were dropped with skilled radio operators that didn't need a manual. Inside the manual, that was typed by Dirk on his own writing paper, there was something that looks like the original manual typed on very thin folded rice paper. The ink was already fading on that paper en parts are unreadable. That's why Dirk probabely made his own copy. Since this manual seems to be so rare I had the study it closer, was it a original WW2 document? Who typed this on rice paper, and why did this person use the name paracette instead of paraset? Was it a paraset that came through the french resistance, as most of the paraset were dropped in France. No, that couldn't be as all radios in this area were smuggled via the Swedish route. I wrote Gerard PA3BCB, who gave me all the memorabilia. He told me that in at time of the war english was not yet such a common language as today. The use of french words was more common at that time and so it could be that paraset degenerated to paracette. Why the rice paper? Well it is light, easy to burn, eat or at least easily to get rid of since it was a very interesting document for the enemy. Why on earth did Dirk keep it anyway? Probabely because he realized this was interesting for his hamradio hobby after the war? I can't imagine he kept it for historical reasons.....

However, I discovered something else....

Something was written on the paper. 2 times a number 5.2441,"TLK de JCB" and "Toen onze mop een mopje was". Was Dirk testing a pencil? Why did he write this on this manual? I let my wife read this to confirm what was written there. It then occurs to me that it could be some kind of code for the resistance to hide something. "Toen onze mop een mopje was" is the first sentence of a child poem which was made in 1865, very well known in the Netherlands. I began searching for the sentence on the internet and quickly it was revealed it is indeed a kind of code used particular by the dutch resistance to communicate with the english. If you like to know how it was used, you can find a description here:


Through that article I was again pointed to the report from Ton van Schendel who was the chief marconist from the dutch resistance OD (Orde Dienst). I did read the article in the past but sometimes you don't remember details that later seem to be important.

" "JOOP" (Rustema) onderhield in zijn kwaliteit van "VBO" het contact met "PRINS" en bracht aan den laatsten alle te coderen en te decoderen telegrammen. De hoeveelheid werd soms "PRINS" te machtig en daarom verzocht hij af en toe "JOOP" hem te willen assisteren. Het gevolg hiervan was, dat we al spoedig in het bezit waren van het versje, dat bij de omzetting moest worden gebezigd: "Toen onze mop een mopje was enz enz". Er ontbrak nu alleen nog het geheime getal en ik verzocht "JOOP" hier zoo mogelijk achter te komen. Na dagen zijn kans te hebben afgewacht, gelukte het tenslotte "JOOP" dit getal te bemachtigen. "


"JOOP" (Dirk Rustema) maintained contact with "PRINS" (Harm Koning) in his quality of "VBO" (Liaison officer) and brought all the telegrams to be coded and decoded to the latter. The quantity was sometimes too powerful for "PRINS" and so he occasionally requested "JOOP" to assist him. As a result, we soon obtained the poem that was to be used in the conversion: "Toen onze mop een mopje was, etc., etc.". Now only the secret number was missing and I asked "JOOP" to find out if possible. After days of waiting for his chance, "JOOP" finally managed to get this number.

According to the cryptomuseum website this secret number would consist of 5 numbers. 52441 could be that number?? It is written on the paper with pencil and not with ink, like it was written before or after he wrote "Toen onze mop een mopje was". What left is the "TLK de JCB" sign. They didn't use this to contact england since that call would be "HLD de OZX". Gerard initially thinks "TLK" stands for "Telegrafie Leraar Koning" (telegraphy teacher Koning), but "JCB"?? If anyone has a idea about this please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Now I was asking myself why did Dirk need a instruction for the paraset since the transmitters they used were probabely no parasets. But Ton van Schendel wrote in his own story that they definitely had a paraset in use that traveled through the country to transmit from about 20 different locations.

"Het gevolg hiervan was, dat wij nu altijd de zend-ontvanger van Engeland (Paraset) door het land moesten meesjouwen, met de gevaren daaraan verbonden. Aangezien evenwel een vrouw in dat opzicht minder kwetsbaar bleek dan een man, hebben wij meerdere malen in die kritieke maandenvan de bereidwilligheid van eenige echtegenooten gebruik moeten maken."


As a result, we now always had to carry England's transceiver (Paraset) through the country, with all the dangers involved. However, since a woman proved less vulnerable than a man in that regard, we have had to take advantage of the willingness of some partners several times during those critical months.

I'm certain that Dirk did use a paraset at home at some time...did he get the instruction from this paraset because Ton didn't need it anymore? Or did he....well....take it without permission because it is a interesting document?

Of course with a low power transceiver you need a good antenna. Actually I'm surprised they didn't use magnetic loops. Although it could be that nobody knew they could work so well and they are very portable. It could be the knowledge wasn't there or there was simply nothing around to build one. It is interesting to read how they solved the antenna challenges:

In die dagen was het antenne vraagstuk een groot probleem, overal moesten immers de antennes worden afgebroken en zonder antenne kan je nu eenmaal niet met Engeland werken. Het ging niet overal zoo eenvoudig als bij Rustema in Middelstum, die bij onzen komst eenvoudig een bamboestok met een willekeurig eind draad er aan in zijn tuin pootte waarop het prima ging. Het centrum en het Westland vroegen daarentegen om een heel goede antenne. Bij boerderijen was dat niet zoo moeilijk, de bliksemafleider werd eenvoudig onderbroken en we hadden een goede antenne en aarde ter onzer beschikking. In Joure, waar de boerderij een dergelijke installatie niet bezat, werd keurig en onzichtbaar een draad langs de gevel van het huis gelegd; in een hoog gebouw, zooals dat van de CJMV in Den Haag voldeed ook heel goed een antenne van een halve golflengte, gespannen tussen de balken op den zolder. Minder gemakkelijk ging het bij woonhuizen in het centrum en midden in het land. Het was dikwijls tobben, doch we hebben er ons kunnen doorslaan.


In those days the antenna issue was a big problem, after all the antennas had to be dismantled everywhere and without an antenna you simply cannot work with England. It was not as easy everywhere as with Rustema in Middelstum, who upon our arrival simply planted a bamboo stick with a random length wire in his garden where it worked fine. The center and Westland of the country, on the other hand, demanded a very good antenna. At farms this was not so difficult, the lightning rod was simply interrupted and we had a good antenna and earth at our disposal. In Joure, where the farm did not have such an installation, a wire was neatly and invisibly laid along the facade of the house; in a high-rise building, such as that of the CJMV in The Hague, an antenna of half a wavelength, stretched between the beams in the attic, also worked very well. It was less easy for houses in the center and the middle of the country. It was often worrying, but we managed to get through it.

Then another passage made clear that there were possible other parasets around. It could be that the paracette instruction was among one of these:

Eenige tijd later deelde Engeland aan den Chef O.D. en aan "ZWAANTJE" mede dat er twee volledige apparaten onderweg waren "ETON III" en "ETON IV" en dat deze uitsluitend voor den O.D. bestemd waren. Deze apparaten hebben wij uit Delfzijl ontvangen. Waar elk toestel onder meer beschikte over vier kristallen, konden we nu bij onze uitzendingen steeds van een andere frequentie gebruik maken.


Some time later England communicated to the Chief O.D. and to "ZWAANTJE" that two complete devices were underway "ETON III" and "ETON IV" and that these were exclusively for the O.D. were intended. We received these devices from Delfzijl. Where each device had, among other things, four crystals, we could now always use a different frequency for our broadcasts.

I've seen some pictures from complete parasets, all with 4 crystals. So my guess is that those "ETON" devices were actually parasets. I'm not shure though, just a wild guess...till now I cannot find anything about these transceivers on the internet.

Ton made a special notice about something that happened during transmissions from Dirk his house:

Zoo herinner ik mij ook een uitzending bij Rustema in Middelstum. Het ging, zooals steeds bij "JOOP" prachtig, doch midden in het laatste vrij groote bericht stegen plotseling groote rookwolken uit de het plaatspanning apparaat op. De transformator stond op het punt te verbranden. Het gelukte ons evenwel, door steeds na enkele geseinde groepen, de zender even uit te schakelen, de uitzending tot een goed einde te brengen, al konden wij het plaatspanning apparaat wel voor goed afschrijven. De operator aan de overzijde zal wel niet begrepen hebben, wat er bij ons aan de hand was.


I also remember a broadcast at Rustema in Middelstum. It went beautifully, as always with "JOOP", but in the middle of the last fairly large message suddenly large clouds of smoke rose from the power supply device. The transformer was about to burn. However, by always switching off the transmitter after a few groups, we succeeded in completing the broadcast, although we were able to write off the power supply device for good. The operator on the other side may not have understood what was going on with us.

So, what do you think. Do I have a original WW2 document that belongs in a museum? Or is it made after the war? I believe there is no other paraset instruction known, this is one of a kind, very special. Did the british secret intelligence had someone that wrote this instruction or did someone else? Since english was not a common language at that time it is probabely certain that it is written by an english person...

Any comments are welcome!

Reading material (not always in english, but can be translated with google):



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

80m FST4 sked with AE5X and more 160m QSOs/DX


Consulting VOACAP the best shortpath on 80m between Texas,USA and northern Netherlands is at 6 UTC. So, John AE5X and I made a sked on the new FST4/30s digital mode. I received John well, even saw strong traces in the waterfall and heard the audio. John didn't see my signal at all unfortunately.  Actually if I look at the comparisation chart from DB6LL we should have tried Q65/30s which is at least 3 dB better. 

Before setting up FST4 on 80m I decided to try on 160m FT8 again. And again I was spotted by DP0GVN with a excellent -8dB signal. You should almost think this is very common, but it isn't. The 160m band is only open for a few weeks on Antarctica. The horizontal loops are not hanging on poles by the way, they are just down on the ice. Information came from Felix DP1POL as given on his presentation in 2019. Besides that I worked a few new ones on 160m again.

I left the lonely AE5X FST4 spot from John on the map...