Sunday, August 27, 2023

#10m is quite open


Stayed on 10m FT8 most of the day. I think 10m is quite open these days...however some directions have not been heard. Things can happen though. It looks like 10m stays open very late, it could be totally different at night...

Saturday, August 26, 2023

#QRP from Winterberg DL

 On vacation in Winterberg Germany I brought my portable station with me to do some experiments. Because I was with my family I could not do any SSB as voice would disturb the others. But of course there is a lot to do with various digital modes on HF.

My location near Winterberg was on a side of a hill 577m height at locator JO41gg. I've been QRV on 3 different occassions. The first time was to setup the station and get it working. I've tried at home but setting up away from home is different. In the end I found the right way to connect everything and get the most out of this portable setup.  The station consisted of a Yaesu FT-817 (5W), homemade Magnetic Loop Antenna (MLA) and a Dell Latitude E5250 laptop. Coax 50 Ohm H155 with quality connectors. The radio was connected to a 5Ah Li-Ion battery.

This was basically my working position on the balcony. Which of course is a lot more comfortable compared to fieldwork. The complete station fits in the backpack viewed behind the laptop. The extra green loop is to extend the antenna for the lowbands 80m and 60m, which I did not do this time. I only worked 40m and 20m on VarAC, JS8call and FT8.  In my opinion most efficient mode in this case was JS8.

Result 21-August: Worked GI0IOT on VARA but signal went missing into the noise.

Result 23-August Yellow is 20m, Blue is 40m. Made contacts with GJ0KYZ on 20m FT8, PD0WAG on 40m JS8, MI0NWA on 20m FT8, EA5FHG on 20m VARA.

I have to say, VarAC is very convinient to work with. But JS8Call is clearly the winner this time. It's a lot more sensitive and very suitable for QRP. 

Results 25-August: I had a nice QSO with Tony GM0DHD. Both sides wit QRP and in most sensitive mode which is 8wpm. Signal was very good and a faster mode would have been possible. Before that I contacted OH8STN Julian who had a great signal down here, I left him a message which I hope he received it. I tried VarAC and FT8 and received a lot of stations but wasn't replied by someone unfortunately. 

Oh yes, JS8call receive reports. Nothing while calling on FT8 though...

At the end the battery went low so I decided to do some WSPR till it switches off.

WSPR RX reports

WSPR TX reports

Unfortunately 15 minutes later the battery switched off and the laptop battery went low. It was time to end the experiment.

I now know that especially in case of an emergency it is possible to setup this simple tiny station within 10 minutes. And make contacts at least in Europe and with a bit more patience possible across the atlantic. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

An antenna day

Unfortunately noticed that one of the elements from the duoband beam broke. It is easy to repair but takes time. Luckely I have vacation. So I decided to take a day to do antenna repairs and do some other things on the tower. The broken element was fixed within 5 minutes. 

The GPA half wave for CB (also use it on 12m and 10m) was already defective for a few months. Luckely the problem was quickly found. The screw that connects the radiator with the coil was gone, even though I had it secured with tape. I decided to drill a hole right through the whole radiator and fix this with a bolt and nut definitely.

Since I also still have the experimental multiband halo which so far did a great job I wanted to have it in the tower as well. Learned from previous work at PB7Z his tower that smaller distance between antennas is not really a big problem. So the duoband beam has been lowerd about 50cm. And the halo fitted almost on top. Unfortunately SWR on 20m was very bad and I though a bit of tuning would did not. Other bands were ok. Something had to be wrong... I decided to disconnect the wiire from the balun and measure the wire which showed a open, with other words it broke somewere. I then decided to exchange the complete 20m wire and found the problem as shown on the photo. After the new wire was placed, this time with normal ty-raps, it was no problem to tune the 20m.

I also wanted to change the ladderline routing further from the tower. Which of course took another few hours. In the end everything went well. SWR good on all bands and inverted-V working well.

The GPA will be exchanged in time. I don't think it will last another storm season. I probabely will install a glassfiber Gainmaster half wave commercial antenna. I've tried to build one from an old Antron 99 but without much success. 

Better view on the feedline (ladderline) which is no going straight in parallel with the tower. I now need another antenna switch to change between the GPA and the multiband halo.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

SM6VNO's quest

 SM6VNO Ander's quest is to be able to detect PSK63 APRS transmissions on HF by programming software himself. You would probabely think this is a little outdated, software like pinpoint and APRS messenger already feature kind of the same thing. However it is the experiment that Anders is interested in. He asked for my help to transmit a test signal already in May this year. Unfortunately my signal was not received. Now Anders has upgraded his magnetic receive loop with some chokes in at the coax which helped a lot to improve receive. He asked to transmit a signal again and was finally able to receive me and forward kind of a location to APRS-FI.

As received/decoded by Anders his experimental software.

As plotted in the APRS map. Although the location is wrong, but not really important. The main experiment for now was to receive/decode my signal.

Find SM6VNO's website here:

Experiments regarding HF APRS:

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The art of...

 The art of communication...

I had a great chat on 20m VarAC with EI7II Albert. Surprisingly in my native language which was of course a pleasure. Albert is living in southern Ireland and works 7 days a week for free to save animals at a sanctuary. It was niced talking to him. Actually I had to do several CQs before someone responded. Many give up on VarAC as it looks like it is only a beacon mode, but it isn't. I often think about the possebilities of this digicom software. I think there should be something else as chatting alone. Yes, there is a kind of e-mail possebility, that's nice. But after I send so many "V-mails" and get not anything in return it is kind of boring. It might be an idea to introduce some simple games you can play. Like chess or battleship. I remember playing battleship 25 years ago on packetradio, so....why not.

The art of electricity...

The wiring in our house is about 50-60 years old. The previous owner was not really an gifted electrician I think. I've replaced several junction boxes over the years with most of the time crappy twist-on connections between the wires. I'm now in the process of rebuilding part second floor and wiring is actually on the future third floor. I knew I had to replace another junction box and this evening it was the time for it because the other members of the family were out the house.

The old junction box was broken. All cables are old stiff thick cables with old color coded wires. When did they change the colors here in the Netherlands? Somewere in the seventies of last century. Imagine thats 50 years ago. The previous owner even managed to use 4mm wire to the garage from this junctionbox. Oh my, these days 2,5mm is normal. These thick wires do not fit in most used wire connectors. 

But all is solved. I think I am a magician ;-)