Friday, April 30, 2021

An evening on 17m

 Not a band I'm on very often. But today it seems to be open very well. After listening on 6m, 10m, 12m and 15m without hearing (seeing) anything I finally stayed on 17m this evening.

Normally I see that pink blob around my QTH. But today it went a whole other way, to the USA. I was even heard (seen) on the North Cook Islands. The list of QSOs was almost endless. Stations kept coming to my CQ. Never experienced that before on 17m. Antenna is my multiband vertical on top of the tower. I used 100W FT8.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Waiting for the ES-season, Australia on 10m

 Finally there was some time for radio again today. Of course I had high expectations for some good ES on 10, 6 and 4m. However.... but at least there was some F2 propagation on 10m. Some DX was made with Pakistan, Kuwait and Australia. I also saw Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and UAE but didn't get my signal there since I was not the only one calling. Still I imagine that my receive is far better as my transmitting abilities. And although I didn't work all the DX available it is receiving the DX that is most important for a HAMradio station.

Later there was some Africa and South America that could be received. Not a bad day at all after all. The ES propagation was reasonable, I received stations from all over Europe but they were not that strong. It could be a whole other situation tomorrow...

I checked for SSB signals on 10m a few times, but nothing could be heard. Actually checked 11m as well, nothing heard. FT8 gives a lot of DX opportunities that otherwise would not be possible at all...

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Antennas, Antennas, Antennas

  When the ES season will arrive exactly is always a surprise. But we expect it at the end of April, or sometimes earlier. So, this is the time to get the antennas ready. My 4 element LFA beam was in a state of pity, the front director and the reflector were both loose and shifted after the last storm. I borrow this LFA from the PA6AA contest group and had to ask the owner (PB7Z) if I could make some reinforcements since I'm not that impressed about the quality of this antenna. Bernard told me it is no problem at all. So a few brackets were fabricated to reinforce the mounting of the elements to the boom. 

The video shows what the problem is. Tightening the clamps will only give a temporary solution.

Solution made with extra clamps. This was made for the reflector and 2 directors.

I did another last experiment with my multiband vertical. I made 5 quarter wave counterpoises instead of using the tower as "countercapacity" for the vertical. It didn't seem to help at all. I see no difference in SWR and/or performance. The idea of cutting quarter wave wires for the vertical is not needed at all. You can do fine with just one wire and tune it with the autotuner, it will not make any difference in my opinion.

What I really want to try if time allows is the 5 band square halo PA9X experimented with. He wrote the antenna does better as his 5/8 wave vertical on 20m. I would like to confirm that and compare it with my multiband vertical. I have the parts.....but time is a issue. I want too many things.

Tower summer 2020

The 4/6m duoband beam has the same element mounting as the LFA. Though the elements are way shorter and weight a lot less. So, no problems with it at all. Besides that I don't have this beam up in the tower in the winter and storm season...

G0VXE's quad

I've been e-mailing a with a owner of a 5 band DK7ZB quad a while ago. Dave G0VXE has a beam like that on his tower. I've asked about some details for constructing one myself. He used capacitors made from coax to tune his reflectors. Tuning the reflectors will actually be the most difficult for this antenna. I'm not shure how to do it? Since tuning at low height will probabely not give the same results as if it is on top of my tower at full height. I probabely keep myself to the calculated lengths on the DK7ZB 5 band quad website, if I'm not satisfied with the f/b ratio I can always try to tune things. I might use a scaffold to get on the right height...

For those that question the ladderline he used at the director is for lineair loading and use on 30m. But it seems a full size dipole works better after all is what he told me.

That's me. To get an idea of the antenna size...

I wrote this blogpost mainly for myself since I've too many ideas. I don't want to forget what I learned and how I think about antennas right now. Originally I was planning to build the 5 band quad this summer. But I already see other more important chores coming. I might try a prototype square halo for 20m on a separate mast just as experiment.

Ready for the ES season 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

First PACCdigi contest this weekend

This is a first try out of this contest. Actually I doubt this will going to be a populair contest. However, the combination is unique. Mixing an old digimode with a new one. It brings some technical challenges with it that would be interesting. Like how to set this up with in N1MM+. Some info can be found on the VERON website:

For those that like this contest format I wish you all good luck. May be we will meet...

Friday, April 9, 2021

#60m Mozambique worked

 Another new one on the 60m band worked. I feel very lucky these days. I was unable to work new DXCC for weeks and now within a few days I worked 2 new DXCC on the 60m band. Now, I've worked Mozambique before on other bands of course. It always reminds me about the first time I worked Mozambique on the airwaves. It was in 1989 and there was a war going on in Mozambique. Some south african 11m DXers did dare to cross the border anyway and activated a rare DXCC at that time. They eventually had to flee for the mortar fire after a few days and leave their antennas behind. You can imagine I found that very impressive and still cherish the QSL card and story in one of my 11m DX QSL collection books. 

Unfortunately the RU DXpedition has chosen the normal FT8 frequency to operate F/H. The problem only is that HAM operators from the United Kingdom are not allowed to transmit above 1000Hz. No chance for them to make the QSO. Of course some very frustrated operators jammed the signal from C92RU and I do understand their actions. It would be better for a DXpedtion to transmit on 5356KHz or 5356,5KHz dail.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#60m Colombia worked

 I did see a few stations from Colombia on 60m before. But they are always on when I'm not... Lately I missed A25RU and TO1K on 60m. TO1K was very strong at times but I was unable to get my signal through. Well you can't have everything. At least I worked Colombia last night for another 60m new one...

I notice it is getting very difficult to work new ones on 60m now. I got a whole list of "would be new ones" stations but rarely see them on 60m, At this date I only worked 4 new ones this year...

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Every HAM should know how to e-mail with radio!

  I think every HAM should know how to send e-mail with his radiostation. Not via the internet but via the airwaves. Just in case the internet is down, in case of an emergency. Or in case you're in an area without internet, when on a hike, on vacation...

Lately I saw some interesting videos made by OH8STN Julian about this subject. But it is not really clear how to do it. And there are several possebilities you can use. You can use a "one has it all package" but you can also use external software to speed up the process. I've experimented with e-mail over radio with the use of PSKmail in 2010 , I got it working but it was a very complicated road the setup everything. I lost interest since this should be easy so you can set it up in a emergency situation. It is 11 years later now, time to take a look again.

I did hear about Winlink a long time ago and I downloaded the package once but never got to experiment with it. I was actually afraid it would cost me at least the time I used to setup PSKmail. But I was wrong. I got it all working with my IC-7300 within 20 minutes.

A interesting video about reliable e-mail over HF can be seen.

There are many interesting videos about this topic. And even OH8STN did some videos that are very interesting to get an idea. However, setting it up is not really clear in these videos. You have to experiment. I had problems to get my IC-7300 to transmit, but after some experimenting with several settings I was finally able to send out my e-mail over HF.

Just for my own archive and for others to learn from I made some screenshots from my setup for the slower ARDOP and the faster VARA HF. The ARDOP TNC software modem is built in Winlink, so you have a "all in one package".

Setup Soundcard for IC-7300

Setup CAT/PTT control for IC-7300

However, if you like to have a faster connection you really need VARA HF. It is a separate package which you can use for free with limits. If you pay $69 you can get a registery key and have no limits on the connection. Personally I experienced the free version is already much faster compared to ARDOP and so far fast enough for me.

VARA HF setup, you don't need a reg key to work with it

VARA HF soundcard setup for IC-7300

VARA HF CAT/PTT control for IC-7300

I suggest to watch the video on how to setup Winlink itself. I didn't have any problems with that. 
By the way, you get your own e-mail adres within the winlink system which is your 

VARA HF winlink session with LA1J on 60m. Click on it to view a larger picture.

To upload/receive your e-mail you need to connect to a relay station. With the channel selector you can find what would be the best station for up/downloading. You can view the stations location on a map.

There is also a possebility to exchange e-mail peer-to-peer. So you don't need a relay station. The only problem is that you need to be on the same frequency at the same time and know each others callsign to connect. And of course you need propagation.... but when the internet and/or grid is down and if there are less relay stations on air you can still get a message reliable to another station over HF.

It seems that e-mail over VHF/UHF FM is also a possebility. If interested you might search for it on google or youtube.