Thursday, December 29, 2022

2022 highlights, 2023 goals

  The year 2022 is almost over. And again I was infected by the covid-19 virus this month like last year in December. Luckely I feel fine now, last year took longer. I didn't make as much blog posts compared to previous years, but it doens't matter. You can't write about every contact or idea. Most of the time I write a posting when something comes on my mind, but this year that was not really much. The start of this year went slowly, I didn't even make a single QSO in January. However that month I did some interesting antenna/receive comparisations with the help of WSPR mode. Something that I intend to do again this year. Unfortunately the electricity and (natural)gas bill has been rising since the Russians invaded Ukraine and for me it is now a matter of looking for a good alternative like solar power to power my radios and computers especially if I want to do 24h comparisations on WSPR. Well you have now been reading some goals for 2023 as well I guess ;-).

I finally reached (confirmed by reports via internet) 100 DXCC on WSPR with 1W output. It is still not possible to extract the DXCC info automatically importing the WSPR reports into some software or online website. It seems no one is interested in this kind of information. However for me it was a nice challenge. If it was not that time (and electricity) consuming I would have done it again with 100mW output. But only if things could be extracted from the data with some kind of software. I'm just not smart enough to make or program software like that. Hopefully someone will pick it up in the future.

After trying various digital communication programs on air I experimented wit VarAC this year. The main advantage is that it doesn't use time slots like JS8Call which is based on the WSJT software. I have been posting about several updates and was happy to see one of my ideas implemented. I made a few great QSOs with the program and really had a blast. The software is being continuously updated with all kind of features. But I think that is also the pitfall of this software. Too many features will make it too complicated. People already notice that there is less QSOs being made. I didn't even bother to install the latest version actually. Only downloading the needed updated VARA-HF gives so many problems that I gave up for now.

Both DXing on 60m as 6m/4m in the 2022 ES season went well. Resulting in 5 new DXCC on 60m, 5 new on 6m and 5 new on 4m. And unexpected I worked 5 all time new one DXCC on HF. I really don't need to prove anything, this is just a personal challenge. So many HAMs take the DXCC challenge way too serious. Really, what happens with all your gathered DXCC, QSL cards and DXCC fame? It will be quickly forgotten when you die. The main thing in this hobby is personal challenges and contacts with other people who have the same interests. This is why I write this blog. Hopefully it stays online for many years even after I'm not here anymore.

Experimenting with antennas is what I always like so much. Not that I have any idea what I'm doing but at least I'm having fun. This year PA9X gave me the idea of building the multiband square halo. I had some parts from an old PDL2 CB antenna I could easily use and the antenna was made and tuned. I have to say I was surprised by the results compared to my multiband vertical and the previous installed Butternut HF5B. The antenna is still in my tower and still working well. I need to make some comparisation with the help of WSPR soon. I remember the multiband vertical was worse on 20m compared to my inverted-V. This halo antenna is certainly better on 20m, but how much? 

Well, the rest of the year I did some repairs, enjoyed a few contests, forgot some contests and enjoyed radio on all modes I have available. I don't want to be limited to SSB only to work nice DX. But certainly I prefer SSB and it is still my main mode.

What to do in 2023? What are my goals? I really don't know this time. I might try to learn more CW this year. On the other hand, I have lots of work to do on the house. So may be I will be less radio active?
We will see what 2023 brings...

Wish all readers of this blog a very good, prosperous and healthy 2023.

Monday, December 12, 2022

#10m ARRL contest - some video recordings

  Always like to record some interesting signals I heard on 10m this weekend during the contest. Actually one QSO I forgot to record was with 4X1YOTA. I spoke with Shani from Tel Aviv who is 13 years old and we had a small QSO which went very fine. Hopefully it will encourage her to engage in this great hobby. For me this contest is not always about the numbers. I really like to have some interesting QSOs and encounter interesting signals/propagation. You will hear some excellent signals in the video from far way DX both on short as long path. And a festival of echoes for EI7M, I could hardly understand this station. I wonder if he heard those echoes at his side as well...

The Russians, plenty of them in the contest this time. But they don't make themselves very populair. Unfortunately some are raging against them on the DX cluster(s). this neccessary?
I had a call from a Russian station in the contest were he gave me the progressive number in russian, I asked him to do it in English or German. His answer was "only ruski, only ruski". Why calling at the first place? Interesting though, I have never been called by someone that could only give the exchange in their own language. I would understand numbers in english, german, french, italian and spanish. But other languages will be difficult.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

#10m ARRL contest day 2 + review

  Second day of the contest. I decided to be on the radio early and before sunrise. Again I was surprised, even when it was still dark here the 10m band was full of sound. Amazing propagation. 

QSOs in the ARRL10 2022  --  Red=SSB - Green=CW

  I managed to work New Zealand this time with ZL4CZ. It was years ago that I spoke to ZL on 10m. It always remembers me of the numerous QSOs with this country on the 11m (CB) back in the early ninetees of last century. I worked lots of interesting DX but most interesting I think was the QSO with YI1WWA. This seems to be a new station from Iraq. When was the last time you heard or spoke a station from Iraq? This is certainly not heard every day. Unfortunately I was not on the radio all the time since of course there are other things in life. I missed the largest opening to the USA. Although I worked a few from Canada this time. No pile-ups like in the CQWW unfortunately. Hopefully that will happen next year if possible. Around 16:30 UTC the band closed. Last one I worked was PA0O who is from my neighbourhood. Although I did some CW I will send my log in for the SO SSB low power section. I had a lot of fun chasing the DX this weekend...

Saturday, December 10, 2022

#10m ARRL contest day 1

  Propagation decreased very fast after sunset and around 17 UTC the 10m band was closed, only noise could be heard. But the day started so different. Actually I woke up when it was already light. From previous years I remembered 10m propagation could be a slow start, so I didn't expect much when I switched the radio on at 7:30 UTC. But surprisingly I was late today. First station I heard and worked was VR2XAN from Hong Kong. He was real 59 on SSB. Actually many other DX could be heard. Working Australia, several stations, was no problem. Strangely nothing heard from Japan, China and New Zealand. Although I noticed several stations south of me had no problem to work these countries. 

Click on the map to see a large version - Red=SSB - Green=CW

I took my time to work and listen to the DX. And even had a QSO with fellow blogger OQ5M Franki on backscatter. Lots of echoes on the band. I expected (wished for) some longpath propagation, but it didn't happen unfortunately. Actually I worked less stations as expected, aimed for 100 but it became only 87 today. Also due to disappointed propagation to north america. The ARRL country is known for the amount of participants but I could barely make contacts to the USA and not even to Canada. Besides that you need skills to make contacts on CW, I dont have them (yet). 

Hopefully propagation to that direction will be better tomorrow. If I didn't work you yet, try for me tomorrow ;-).

Friday, December 9, 2022

10m ARRL contest this upcoming weekend

2020 score to beat...

  Unfortunately I was not able to attend the 10m ARRL contest last year due to health and family issues. But this weekend I plan do spend some hours on the radio trying to make some contacts in this contest. 

You would not believe it but just like last year I was again infected by the covid-19 virus. Unable to go to the job last week I though to have time for my favorite radio hobby. But unfortunately I felt too bad, I tried a few times but couldn't concentrate. Anyway feel better now and hope that I will not have issues this weekend.

I probed 10m for DX today and was a bit disappointed at first. Nothing to hear on SSB. I checked the 11m band for DX and heard a few stations but not that much. I checked the FT8 was full of DX.
Well later on around sunset I did hear some SSB but signals were marginal. I hope there propagation will be better tomorrow...

Friday, December 2, 2022

40MHz (8m) band in the Netherlands

40MHz RF board without CE mark


  Recently G3XBM noted in his blog that in the UK it is possible to do experiments on the 8m ISM band without a license. In earlier posts he wrote that this could be valid in other countries as well. That sounded interesting and worth investigating. So after gathering info on a Dutch hamforum and searched for possible laws on the subject I decided to write the Dutch telecom authority Agentschap Telecom. I asked if I could use 40,680 MHz and transmit FT8 and/or WSPR datamode with 10mW. I also asked if I was allowed to actual make a communication contact with these mode. The answer here in Dutch which I will translate below the original mail:

De genoemde band is beschikbaar voor Non-specific Short range devices. Dat wil zeggen allerlei gebruik mag hier gebruik van maken.

Het gebruik is in die zin niet anders dan in b.v. de vergunningsvrije 433 MHz en 863 – 870 MHz.

Communicatie met derden is dus toegestaan mits het maximaal uitgestraald vermogen van 10 mW niet wordt overschreden.

Er is echter een belangrijke randvoorwaarde:

In de zendamateurbanden mag een radiozendamateur met zelfbouwapparatuur werken die niet aan die eisen hoeft te voldoen. Voor de 40 MHz geldt die uitzondering niet. In artikel 2 lid 3 van de Regeling gebruik van frequentieruimte zonder vergunning en zonder meldingsplicht 2015 wordt geëist dat de apparatuur moet voldoen aan de essentiële eisen van de Radio apparaten richtlijn om vergunningsvrij gebruik te kunnen maken van deze band. Door de fabrikant moet een Declaration of Conformity worden opgemaakt en de apparatuur moet een CE markering hebben waarmee de conformiteit met de eisen van de Radio apparaten richtlijn wordt bevestigd.

Als u aan bovenstaande eisen voldoet is het gebruik toegestaan.

The translation:

The mentioned band is available for Non-specific Short range devices. That is to say, all kinds of uses are allowed to use it.

In that sense, the use is no different from e.g. the license-free 433 MHz and 863 – 870 MHz.

Communication with third parties is therefore permitted provided that the maximum radiated power of 10 mW is not exceeded.

However, there is an important precondition:

In the amateur radio bands, a radio amateur may work with home-built equipment that does not have to meet those requirements. This exception does not apply to the 40 MHz. Article 2 paragraph 3 of the 2015 Regulation on the use of frequency space without a license and without a notification obligation requires that the equipment must meet the essential requirements of the Radio Equipment Directive in order to be able to use this band without a license. A Declaration of Conformity must be drawn up by the manufacturer and the equipment must have a CE mark confirming conformity with the requirements of the Radio Equipment Directive.

If you meet the above requirements, use is permitted.


Use is permitted, that's what we all want to read. But the problem is that we cannot meet the above mentioned requirements. Yes, a modified FT-817 will transmit on 40,680MHz, But.....if you modify existing transceivers it will loose the CE mark and a conformity with the requirements of the radio equipment directive because it is not made for use on this band. In the Netherlands we are also prohibited from using amateurradio equipment on the 433MHz and 863-870MHz ISM band as well as using these radios on the 27MHz (ISM and legal CB) band. 

However, if there is a manufacturer that makes commercial 10mW 40MHz transceivers or transmitters with CE mark and a radio equipment directive conformity I would like to know? Because we could use such equipment to do experiments on the 8m band.