Monday, August 23, 2021

Unleash the power


Ok, it is a clickbait title ;-)  I thought I made some fun with QRP in mind...
I ordered a new battery for my FT-817 via a webshop Friday evening.
And installed it Saturday morning !

Delivery is almost faster as charging the new battery! Glad to have a new back-up now, the original one only lasts for 5 minutes. I expect this one holds a charge much longer.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

ES season 2021 6m/4m review

 I could have made a blog post every new 6m DX contact but that takes time which I wanted to spend at the radio. 6m DX propagation is rare, it could be there for 5 minutes or less and then vanish into the noise. You have to be there when it occurs and be the first calling. If too late others are taking the empty places in the FT8 waterfall and you are probabely doubling. It happened to me a few times this season, it is unfortunate but I hope to get a chance again next year. However, I should not complain since I worked 20 new 6m band DXCC this year accomplishing a total of 103 DXCC worked on the 6m band. Not everything was real DX but not worked before from Europe. But overall the majority was unbelievable DX to places I never heard/seen before on 6m in the previous years. This season I also logged separately what I heard/decoded but not worked. Since it is most important that you hear/decode the DX first before you can work it. Always a challenge since the noise is increasing every year due to solarpanels, cheap power supplies, LED lightning and other electronics. If you want to know more about how signals travel long distances (DX to north/south/central America and Japan or even Australia) you could read this article: Although this article is not complete since it is believed that air polution does affect certain anomalies in the atmosphere that reflect radio signals.

Below a summary of new DXCC worked during this season:

This season I noticed that our HAM friends from the middle east have mounted big 6m yagis in their huge towers. That gave most of the European 6m stations the opportunity to work them. The season started for me working A61ZX from the United Arabic Emirates on 13-May which is quite early in the season.

In between some amazing propagation to the USA happened on 19-May. I made my first QSO to the states on 6m SSB with WC2K. You can listen to the QSO here:

Next new DXCC was from the Azores. I did see them before but a QSO never happened. CU6NS was the first I worked from that island on 23-May.

Transatlantic DX is always special. After the QSO to the Azores the propagation extended on 23-May working Venezuela YV5NEA.

Propagation did hold on at that date. I saw VP2EIH from Anguilla with a very good signal. I already called many times when he suddenly dissappeared from the band. When still watching the screen in disbelieve I suddenly decoded a report from him to me after all! I quickly sent a RR73 and received his 73 in return, mission accomplished on 23-May.

The 4m band did open as well sometimes. However unfortunately not as many times as last year. It seems propagation was better in the southern part of the Netherlands. However on the 25th of May I worked YL21ICE from Latvia for a new DXCC on that band. Something I haven't seen before is a special QSL service page were you can download your QSL if you like. An initiative which is most welcome.

At the same day I worked EY8MM from Tajikistan on 6m.

Another middle east station A71CT from Quatar was worked on 5-June.

The middle east fun continued since only a few minutes later I worked A92AA from Bahrain.

The 6th of June Japan appeared on my receive map for the first time of the season. At the same day I was lucky to QSO with 3A2MW from Monaco. A QSO with this DXCC is always difficult since operators there have less room for antennas, there is a lot of noise and there is a big mountain blocking some signals. For sporadic E propagation the last thing is not that important.

CT3MD from Madeira was worked on 8-June.

After some efforts and almost complete QSOs in May I finally worked CN8LI from Marocco on 11-June. Searching for a QSL picture for this blogpost I found that he has a blog as well. He even report a visit to the Netherlands. Read it here:

Unfortunately most of his writing is in french, although this is not really a big problem with google translate you can read every language these days.

The hunt for OJ0C started....but first I worked OH0AZX from Aland Island on 13-June, which was also a new one on the 6m band. Unfortunately I couldn't find a nice QSL picture.

In the mean time I checked the 4m band regulary. I was lucky to work 5B4AAB from Cyprus on 17-June. I received a +10dB report which is very strong. I guess he's using a pre-amp on 4m? This was my second new DXCC on 4m this season and although I saw more new ones a QSO just didn't happen...I guess I'll have to wait for next year.

19-June was my lucky day working OJ0C from Market Reef finally after hunting them for a week on 6m. And I did make the QSO on.... SSB! Well a short post about that can be read here: I also had my first Japan QSO of the season this day.

I worked TR8CA from Gabon on 20-June. Did not see many report this station. He was suddenly there and I had the luck to be on with the antenna in the right direction.

It occured to me I never actually worked Wales on 6m. I hoped to work fellow blogger MW1CFN John but I never saw him on 6m. It happened I could work GW0KIG as first from Wales on 28-June. When searching for a nice picture I found his nice weblog:  I remember I got it in the blogroll as well. Unfortunately it hasn't been updated for over a year. 

Also on 28-June a station I seen a few times already on 6m. The propagation to the caribbian started to really get in here at twilight almost every day at the end of June. You just had to wait for the strongest ionisation. I worked J35X from Grenada with fair signals.

Tried several times to get a QSO with KP2/K0BZ from US Virgin Islands in the log. Several attempts on both FT8 and FT4 ending in half QSOs without receiving a RR or 73 made me desperate. I wrote Brad an e-mail and he replied to me that every time he called CQ there were many stations calling. He generously offered me that as soon as he would see me he would call me first and hold on to me to finish a valid QSO. But then I didn't see him for a few weeks. I almost gave up till 7-July when in twilight the greyline propagation boosted his (and my own) signal. He kept his word and replied to me quite fast when I started to call him. And finally could add him to my log for a new DXCC on 6m. Brad has a interesting QRZ page to read. This guy seems to be addicted to hamradio and certainly has the right hamspirit.

I still had luck with caribbian stations...

There was suddenly a uplift in propagation on 17-July. Of course at twilight again...I worked P43A from Aruba and this actually was my DXCC nr. 100 on the magic band. See:

Not long after that QSO I worked PJ4KY from Bonaire. I almost forgot that actually 6m is in fact an VHF band.

Many operators think now that the end of July things start changing. The ES season ends. And of course this is true. But still DX could be worked, even late July and the start of August. During a good opening to north america I noticed V31MA from Belize was active on the DX frequency 50.323. Monitoring there for a while he suddenly appeared on my screen. A few calls later the QSO was finished. JTDX did a good job decoding since I didn't even see his trace on the very busy waterfall. This happened on 22-July.

Actually even I thought this would be my last DX contact on 6m for this season. But on 25-July I worked HK3PJ from Colombia which is no doubt my ODX into south america (almost 9000km).

So far in I didn't work any DX in August. But it can still happen...

This year I also kept een small log from stations I've seen but didn't have a QSO with. Hopefully I'll have another chance next year.

Heard 6m

03-6-2021 HC1BI 19:36 Ecuador
03-6-2021 HC2FG 19:45 Ecuador
03-6-2021 HC1HC 20:41 Ecuador
03-6-2021 ZF1EJ 21:11 Cayman Isl.
05-6-2021 YI1SAL 14:49 Iraq
19-6-2021 BA4SI 07:15 China (almost QSO with R-19 report)
19-6-2021 VR2XYL 08:46 Hong Kong
19-6-2021 SU1SK 08:54 Egypt
19-6-2021 T6AA 09:37 Afghanistan
20-6-2021 OX3HI 11:20 Greenland
21-6-2021 OX3LX 20:24 Greenland
23-6-2021 XT2AW 18:51 Burkina Faso
28-6-2021 8P2K 20:11 Barbados

5-7-2021 VP2V/K3TRM 18:40 British Virgin Isl
7-7-2021 PJ2BR 20:58 Curacao
7-7-2021 PJ2CF 21:03 Curacao
11-7-2021 AP2AM 06:05 Pakistan
17-7-2021 HL2EIZ 7:12 S.Korea
17-7-2021 DS4EOI 7:12 S.Korea
31-7-2021 FS/W8HC 19:13 St.Martin

3-8-2021 PJ2CF 20:19 Curacao
3-8-2021 PJ2MAN 20:07 Curacao
3-8-2021 HC2FG 19:18 Ecuador

Heard 4m

10-6-2021 19:38 GD0TEP Isl. Man
4-7-2021 11:48 5T5PA Mauritania
12-7-2021 17:52 4O6AH Montenegro

It certainly was an interesting ES season. Some say it was one of the best in the last few decades. Some QSOs between Europe and Australia and even New Zealand were reported. This only happens when there is magic going on...let's see what 2022 ES season brings us...

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Last holiday day


Yes, this was the last day of my 3 weeks off the job. Before this holiday I imagined a sea of time to spend with the hobby. But it turned to be just a few hours in the last 3 weeks. There were so many other things I had to finish and of course I spend time with my family because it is their holiday too.

But today I wanted to spend some radio hobby time. You see, I constructed a new shack......well not really. It is near the antenna tower though. It is our new (used) garden shed, primarily for my XYL but we can join her as well of course. It is ideal to conduct some experiments from. Like testing the portable gear.

I do not operate portable often. And so the equipment isn't used for a long time. I changed some things like adding a upconverter to generate continious 13,8V from my portable battery. 11V is just too low voltage to keep an output of 5W from the FT-817. It is the grey box below the red battery. I wanted to test if it generates more noise as normal (it didn't). Watching the photo I now realize that I have to get rid of all the unnecessary connectors and cables I don't really need.

So, I thought to test the MLA (Magnetic Loop Antenna). Homemade a few years ago after many experimentation projects. It is simple, with a unique homemade reduction and added a tune indicator with the use of a simple FSM (Field Strength Meter). It always worked well, but now I had some tuning problems, like something was loose or broken. But at some point it worked. Listen to 20m first, couldn't hear a single SSB signal although I received SSTV on 14.230 well. And signals over S5 on the FT8 channel. Down to 40m it goes, I received OE8XDX and DB7LG as only ones on SSB. Not really strong but very good to understand. I tried to call them a few times but had no luck. From what I heard is that they struggled with low signals as well. 

So, I though something was wrong with the antenna again. And tried to tune it with the full 5W FM carrier on it. Suddenly, probabely due to the high SWR, the LCD screen went blank. Did I blew the final? Oh no, every time I switched PTT the radio went off. I saw only 8V on the voltage meter at the display now. Something was wrong with the battery I assumed. After some measurements I quickly determined that the fuse in the cable from the battery to the upconverter had blown. It was a 2A fuse and probabely the high SWR made the current to the final too high. I had no other fuse so it was end of the experiment with the FT-817.

Hopefully there is nothing wrong with the FT-817. I didn't test it yet. I should buy another internal battery as well since the original one is useless after so many years. I can charge it but it will be drained after a few minutes again.

I wanted to see what the problem was with my MLA first now. And quickly discovered a bad solder joint at the pick up loop. Have repaired it now. Hopefully it will not break again. In case it brakes again I will have to solder the coax directly on the pick up loop.

I then discovered an old battery in the garage. Quickly measured it still had some juice inside. 

I decided to give the W5OLF 1W 30m WSPR transmitter a go. Had some excellent results in the past with it. But it seems propagation was not in my favour today. I was only spotted by a German station and an Italian station after some hours. 

Well, you can't have everything. Sometimes you're lucky and sometimes not. At least I had some radio time and enjoyed it. I have to improve some things to get everything working again. And, I don't really like it, I probabely need to connect digimodes to it to make a QSO with someone these days. Or I have to wait for a SSB contest....which will give me some more chance...

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Monday, August 9, 2021

3Y0J Bouvet Island 2022


The 3Y0J team have announced the Bouvet DXpedition will be at November 2022.

More info on this beautiful website:

Hopefully this time there will be no cancellation.