Friday, October 29, 2021

#CQWW SSB contest this weekend

 Just as a reminder for the largest SSB contest of the year with about 35000 participants around the world. If you search for really nice DX contacts made with your own voice your chance is this weekend!

The 10m band is open lately and if propagation holds on I could try to submit a single (10M) band effort. Or I can try to beat last years score...

Thursday, October 28, 2021

UHF connectors mounting K3LR style extra tips

I got the idea about this post after seeing a well known youtuber struggling soldering connectors to his coax. Ending in a short inside one of the connectors a few videos later. And yes, I hate those so called "new" "watertight" style UHF (PL259). At a certain moment you have to slide a kind of metal head into the outer screen of the coax. It looks easy when a pro does it. Like in this video from M&P. But it isn't easy and faults are easily made when you're not experienced. Although I have to tell that I really like the design of M&P evolution UHF connector, I'm shure this is a high quality connector that will last for many years. Especially the heat stress on the coax can be avoided with this type of connector, and a big pro is that the connector can easily be salvaged if needed. 

However, I still have a bag full old salvaged UHF connectors and even new "old style" ones. In the past.....well 10 years ago I installed them like this:

Resulting in a few issues with the connection of the screen to the connector especially when it ages.

Then a few years ago I read about the K3LR (famous contester from the USA) style UHF connector install. I have to say, I really like this style and adopt it since a few years. Best description how to install K3LR style can be found in this document:

Basically the outer screen is not soldered through the soldering holes but at the backside of the connector. However, in practice, of course things will work out different. So, I got a few tips.

First of all file and clean the backside of the connector for easier soldering

Second tin the backside of the connector. Don't apply too much.

Personally I prefer to solder the outer screen only to the backside and don't fold it over the connector. This is a choice of course. I think it is easier to slide a heat shrink tube over it this way.

Nice and tidy result. And if needed the connector can easily be salvaged.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

5 band quad HF antenna design, building and ideas (part 1)

 Recently I spoke a few stations from around the world on 10m which were reasonable strong. All those stations were transmitting with 2 or 3 element (multiband) quad antennas. And for shure these stations were way stronger then any other on the band at that moment. If you ask antenna experts they all say there is no difference between a quad and yagi radiation pattern and f/b ratio in the end. With other words, you can do the same thing with a yagi as a quad. But I'm not really a HAM that does rely on theoretics, I want to see what something does in the real world. Being this something is an antenna or anything else.

This post is primarely for myself to write down some ideas (and receive some ideas in the comments if you as reader has them). It is no secret I want to build a 5 band HF quad antenna for quite a while. But it brings some technical design challenges and takes time. In my last musing about antennas earlier this year I wrote about the only user of the particulair DK7ZB quad design I know; G0VXE Dave definitely tuned the reflectors on his antenna and that seems to be the biggest challenge. However, the f/b ratio will be about 10-15dB which is not to be compared with 25-30dB a yagi will have. I expect in practice it will show about 1-1,5 S-point in comparisation between front and back. However, it seems side rejection will be excellent.

This post is about design ideas I found on the internet. Ideas that are simple but can be forgotten just as simple.

My idea is to make my 2,85m boom from the green militairy glasfiber poles I used for my 80m horizontal loop in the past. To mount the glasfiber telescopic tubing on the boom I found this idea made from alu corner profile, I made one prototype:

Since I use cheap glasfiber fishing rods for the prototype antenna I use alu tubing to reinforce the first 50cm of the rods since I think this is the part of the rod with most of the stress.

Made two prototypes. I will wrap the rods with black tape against UV and weather influences. The rods are quite strong. To test I grabbed them at the thin top and hold it horizontally in the air. 

The full weight is now at the weakest part. It does bend but doesn't break. I feel confident the rods are holding everything in the air at high windloads. The rods are 4,1m long.

Above the alu tubes I use to reinforce the rods. They are wrapped with tape to better fit in the rods. I also ordered a spool of 2mm alu wire. I really thought about insulated copper wire but there is a big disavantage, the weight is substancial higher. Also I would have to recalculate the design published on the DK7ZB website

To get an idea of the size I put some rods in angle configuration to simulate one side of the quad.

It is the idea to mount the quad in the mast the square way and not in diamant shape like G0VXE did. The advantage is that the sides are a lot shorter. Approx. 2,75m. Making total width of the antenna 5,5m which is managable in my garden.

Not to forget the details. I learned this from another antenna experimenter on youtube. It is definitely the best way to prevent the telescopic rods to get loose and slide into each other. This can happen when force is applied by mounting the wires. Count on big forces in a storm. I don't know how these rods will behave when temperature will be freezing in winter?

I found this idea to mount the wires on the poles. The tube used seems to be UV resistant airbrake hose. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

New 2022 QRP challenge for HAM/CB operators

Typical simple CB setup with
50cm antenna.

 I got this idea when reading G3XBM Roger's blog.

I quote one of his latest posts:

I suspect with a higher antenna (possibly a beam) I might spot signals 10dB weaker. No doubt the "big guns" will be working 10m FT8 signals I cannot even spot! I have absolutely no intention of erecting a mast and beam. If I miss some does it matter? No.

Roger just accepts the fact that he's using an antenna that doesn't receive everything possible. Yet he still receives stations from Africa and South America on 10m. And when propagation is good he might be spotted by those stations as well.

Then a challenge came up in my mind. What would be possible with a 1W transmitter and an one radiator antenna which is 50cm long. What band (on HF), what mode, what location is not important. But the 1W and 50cm long antenna would be the same for everyone. What distance would be possible? I'm thinking about a challenge here for 2022. Who's interested?

Rules would be very simple: 

Obtain a confirmation from a 2-way QSO over the longest distance you can with 1W and an one radiator antenna with a length of 50cm (unlimited number of groundwires). Any radio, any polarisation, any mode, any band on HF, any location, any confirmation system. Simple as that!

I have to think about a reward for the winner of this challenge! If there are a few participants I would post the results every month for updates.

Of course people can cheat, if you can live with it....I can't. But better be honest to yourself and to others. It is no matter of live and death. Just playing radio!

Biggest challenge will be designing an efficient 50cm antenna to radiate as much energy as you can. And best location would probabely near water or on a very high mountain? High building? And which mode would be suitable? CW? FT8? Q65? What do you think?

(Update 20-Okt.: changed the rules a bit to play fair with CB operators. Tnx PA1SDB for the tip ;-))

(Update 24-Okt.: due to some interesting ideas I think I seriously have to look into organising this challenge including a reward. Check for details in december.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

#10m @PE4BAS Sunday 17 Okt. 2021


Incredible propagation on 10m today. At least....I was monitoring the band part of the day and made some QSOs. From what I read on other sites the 10m band was open all the days of last week. It promises something for the upcoming CQWW contest at the end of the month. And if propagation continues like this it would be great for the ARRL 10m contest in December. Only the future will tell...

Friday, October 15, 2021

#60m 3DA2RU worked, but which QSO?


  I'm confused! I worked 3DA0RU on 60m FT8 but the QSOs were made without the normal protocol. I quit trying after the third try and still am in the log! But which QSO is valid?

QSO 1, got a-14, replied with R-16 but never received a RR73 or any 73 at all. So, how would I know if they received my report?

QSO 2, since they don't use F/H mode I sent a report to shorten the QSO. All I got was a -22, no R report. I was confused but logged it at first. But deleted it from the log after all since I thought it was a wrong decode from JTDX.

QSO 3, and again I get no R but just a report instead. Can't believe this is a wrong decode from JTDX again. I was really confused and decided to stop calling. 

I waited for the log update today...

Obviously one or more QSOs are valid for QSL. But which one? We'll see.

Monday, October 11, 2021

TBDXC Ultra marathon, how is it going...

 At the start of the year I made one report about the TBDXC Ultra marathon. At that time my intention was to write about it every month. Unfortunately I didn't do that and this could be a lack of interest. Now a recent discussion showed up on DX-World. It is especially interesting to read the comments of course. I understand the frustration for those that are very strict and support the True Blue DX group and their believes. I also welcome the fact they don't make restrictions for those that also use all kind of digital modes (and FT8) instead of pure SSB/CW. However, in my opinion this particulair discussion will never end, this frustration post should never been published at all since it doesn't add to the positivity the group wants to show.

To participate in the Ultra Marathon you don't have to be a member of the True Blue DX group. And just to quote myself:

"This is not about winning but participating. However you are free to see it as a contest of course. You don't have to be a "True Blue DX club" member. And you don't have to agree with their views on how we should make contacts. It's just about having fun!"

Really, some HAMradio operators take this hobby way too seriously. Having fun is the most important thing. Using whatever radio, antenna, power, mode shouldn't divide us. Just smile and be polite if someone does not share your views on the hobby, not everyone enjoys it the same way.

Well, lately my SSB efforts are going uphill. Actually all the time I switch on my radio I first look for SSB signals. Only when I do not hear any or I don't have much time I'll switch over to FT8. And unfortunately that happens a lot. Last Sunday there was superb propagation on 10m, 12m and 15m. I can tell because on FT8 I saw signals from all over the world. But it was only till late in the afternoon I could make some SSB contacts with the USA. And not because I was not calling, yes I did several 15 minute CQ call sessions but no one replied. However over the week I made quite a few SSB QSOs including those made portable from my car.

Submitting my adif file to the ultra marathon server reveals that I'm at 4th place. Not bad at all...

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Transmitting near water, a good combination

  Inspired by this blogpost and other blogposts from John MW1CFN  I finally had a hour to spend at the coast. Trying to work DX with QRP powers which, following John's posts, can be boosted to QRO when you transmit near water. You will never believe the difference till you experience it.

But at first I had a problem which previously didn't occur when testing with the MLA. When installing the FT-817, plugged in the antenna and switching it on  I suffered from a S8 noise all over the 20m band. At first I thought the heavy industry, lots of windturbines and hundreds of solarpanels around the location finally caused HF radio pollution. 

At first I thought about driving to another location, which is not as good as this one but further away from the industry. Then it occured to me that the noise could be transmitted from my new upconverter...

Yep, that's the grey box, the red one is my Li-ion battery. The advantage of the upconverter is that it keeps an constant 13,8V on the transceiver and so it will produce 5W power instead of 2,5W when the voltage drops to 10V.

I decided to unplug the upconverter and use the internal radio battery. Noise was gone immidiatly. I hoped the upconverter would not have this high impact on receive, I didn't notice the extra noise with my MLA. But it is an old saying between HAMs: You can't work what you don't receive, no matter how much power you run! So, I had to try with about 2,5W...but with an excellent receive.

Did I succeed? Watch the video and you will know...

For reasons unknown some people seem to have difficulties watching the video embedded in this post. So here is the link to youtube:

Sunday, October 3, 2021

HB9VQQ International WSPR Beacon project

 It was just last week that I heard about this project. Very nice initiative from HB9VQQ. Using Zachtek WSPR desktop transmitters and special software he created a coordinated WSPR transmission net with of course the help of other HAMradio operators worldwide. 


To identify and visualize weak Signal Propagation paths to study global Ham Radio HF Propagation for the interested audience by collecting consistent WSPR Data from standardized Beacon Transmitters over an extended period of time like years. Inspired by the NCDXF CW Beacon Project.

Learn about the project goals and even might participate yourself.

For more info check:

Friday, October 1, 2021

IC-7300 - Strange SWR anomaly solution

  Yes, my own stupid fault. There was one comment from Gerard NL14080 who suggest I should push the tune button and see what happens. Push the tune button? I don't use the internal tuner! Do I? Look at the picture I took this evening testing another suggestion from DB6LL

Just take a close look at the left upper corner....yes, the tuner is on and I didn't notice. That's causing that strange anomaly of course.

Now a proper measurement of the vertical. It still is a bit high on 28,500 MHz but within limits for me. The problem is that I use the 1/4 wave wire for 20m as well which is a 1/2 wave at 10m and probabely causing a high impedance at the feedpoint. The CG3000 doesn't tune high impedances well. A solution would be another balun, preferable 1:4 or so to transform this. Something I didn't test yet.

I did another SWR sweep on my 4 elements 10m LFA beam.

Which of course gives a more traditional picture....

I did a test RX on 10m FT8 this evening. The difference between the vertical and the 4 element LFA is astonishing. Difference receiving several stations from south america between 6 and 10dB better on the beam. Sometimes decoding nothing on the vertical and everything on the beam. I wouldn't like to miss the beam on 10m. But imagine the difference on other bands when I would have a proper beam for 14-28 MHz.