Tuesday, January 30, 2024

My quest to learn CW (2)

   This is my second blogpost about my quest to learn CW. Not that I'm against the use of a computer decoder but because I just want to decode morse with my own brain. So I continue the quest and will try to update my blog with the progress I make every month.

In my previous blogpost about the subject I wrote I was not able to learn from LCWO.net. I continued to use morsemania on my phone and did an every day 1-15 minute practice with morsemachine on 28 wpm. The problem is that I got a bit bored with morsemachine only, I wanted to take it a step further. So I went back to the Learn CW Online website and changed settings. The original settings were way too fast for me and despite LCWO gives the advice to not learn below 15 wpm effective I now learn with a speed of 28 wpm and 8 wpm effective speed. 28 wpm because you only learn the sound of each letter above a speed of 27 wpm. 8 wpm effective speed because above this speed it is way too fast for me, I also need to find the letter on my keyboard. The plan is now to finish all 40 lessons and then increase the effective speed by one and do all 40 lesson again etc. etc. Yes, this takes time....but I was already counting on that. In between I will try to do the word/numbers training and hopefully in the future the text and callsign training.

Find my progress here: https://lcwo.net/profile/PE4BAS

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

#60m Clipperton Island worked

Worked the first ATNO for 2024 on 60m this morning. I already did read a posting on facebook that their signal was incredible on that band. So this morning just before I left for the job I just tried and within a few minutes I was in the log. I also worked them on 17m this evening. 

Although the JTDX software doesn't know where TX5S is located, most of us know. Just look it up in QRZ.com and you got all the info.

An interesting read is the wiki page of Clipperton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipperton_Island

TX5S is not the first DXpedition on Clipperton, most of the DXpeditions also in the past include scientific research on the island. TX5S is already mentioned on the wiki page.

Monday, January 22, 2024

VCXO-AXE 30m WSPR transmissions with MLA last 24 hours

Not really planned but had to retract the tower. The forecast showed large wind gusts here on the coast and I didn't trust it at all. So I tried the experimental halo which is actually for 20m and up. It didn't work at all. My last escape was setting up the MLA in the shack and at least be on 30m WSPR for the night and the day till my battery would die.

Things to keep in mind, for myself in the future:

  • The antenna switch needs power otherwise all inputs are switched to earth. 
  • The gymboss timer doesn't have to be on 2 minutes, the transmitter does have its own WSPR cycle.
I really didn't know what to expect. It has been a long time ago that I experimented with this transmitter. It still does its job. Actually it has been a long time ago I experimented with WSPR anyway. I noticed things are changed. The VK7JJ WSPR Rocks site is expanded and PE1ITR's WSPR challenge site is gone! There are probably more interesting sites featuring WSPR analysis, can anyone give me some tips?

942 spots! Isn't that incredible? And 132 uniques. ODX K9AN over 6830km. 

I mean, this is with 1W in a tiny magnetic loop inside my shack! Isn't this amazing?
I will think about another 24h run with my inverted-V in one of the next days.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

VarAC QSOs & digging up the VCXO AXE WSPR transmitter

 Sorry I'm not posting much lately. I have to admit that most of my available time is spend on practising CW. Am I making progress? Yes, but that is for another post ;-).

I'm spending quite a lot of time in VarAC digimode chat software these days. Some days it is hard to make an actual QSO. Some stations are using it just like they would make their QSOs, in other words: give name, location and report and end with 73 that's it. I prefer real QSOs however. And luckely there are stations that you can chat for shure. Sometimes it is getting really interesting. Sometimes you cannot finish the QSO because the signal is suddenly gone. But overall the software is able to pick out very tiny signals. I even worked someone from NY who used a MLA in his appartment with only 9W.

Yesterday I made a 20m VarAC contact with KM4UDX Don who was using only 20W. Unfortunately not from his FrankenRadio which is really a piece of art. Have you ever see such a cool radio? Don uses a lot of AliExpress gadgets to build his stuff. I hope he doesn't mind I publish his picture here. The FrankenRadio was currently in the hospital for surgery ;-(.

Viewing the voltmeters it reminded me of my VCXO AXE WSPR transmitter which also features an AliExpress voltmeter. Nothing wrong with those by the way. But I showed Don the picture and then I realized I didn't use it for a long time...  I recently replaced the battery of the Gymboss timer and cleaned the timer as wel because it got very sticky because of aging.

So I gave it a try yesterday evening assuming everything was still programmed like it was years ago. Unfortunately I didn't get much reports...

But at least the spots I got were real DX. I let the thing go for the entire night but only 8 spots were made. Something was obviously wrong? And yes it was, the Gymboss timer was totally out of program. It transmitted 1 minute (!) WSPR in 3 minute intervals. No wonder it went wrong. But even so it is remarkable these spots were made anyway...

So, I'm going to give it a try again. With 2 minute transmissions like it should be and an interval of 12 minutes. 99 x 12 minutes will make a cycle of 1188 minutes / 60 = 19,8 hours. I'll use my portable battery as power supply, so when it dies it will be over. Don't know exacly how long it is able to hold it.

The equipent VCXO AXE WSPR transmitter built in 2015. Output 1W, or 990mW like it shows above. It is on 30m WSPR tonight using my doublet inverted-V  experimental halo. Will try to report tomorrow if everything went well. A storm is approaching and can have some effect on the whole experiment, makes it fun anyway.

Update: 21:00 UTC still no spots. I now realize the (new) antennaswitch is not working without power supply. Stupid me. I will have to switch on the shack power supply. 

Update: 21:50 UTC the halo has good SWR on 30m but seems not be radiating as expected. It does not receive anything either. I can't use the inverted-V since the tower is retracted. I now try the magnetic loop inside the shack. If this doesn't work I will have to experiment another day.

Update: 21:58 UTC first spot from PD0OHW, he is 39km from my QTH. Not bad for a MLA inside the house and only 1W output. Hopefully there will be some more spots later.

Friday, January 5, 2024

2023 statistics

 Here are my 2023 statistics.

Not the first year I got more digital contacts as phone or cw contacts, I had this as well in 2019. It is a bit controversial since I took part in the CQWW SSB contest as member of PA6AA. Not shure about the numbers but I believe I made about 1000 SSB QSOs in that contest. I you count that for 2023 the phone percentage will probably be higher compared to data. I never made such a high percentage of CW contacts in a year though, I hope this will increase in this year.

My monthly QSO statistics. February and March are generally the contest months. CQWW SSB is in oktober, actually you can add 1000 QSOs to those 244. They are not in my own log due to participation in the PA6AA contest group. It actually surprises me that I made that much QSOs in summer.

Not surprising is the increased number of digimode contacts. Lets face it, it's todays way of making QSOs. DXing on 6m and 4m is 99% with FT8. Other bands follow. Did a lot of SSB as well and don't forget to add another 1000 to the 1224, you know why if you read this post well. My CW contacts are almost doubled compared to last year. And last but not least I made 4 FM contacts, 2 of them with stations in Africa!

Interesting the 30m and 12m are left behind. I really tried to be on those bands more often but from the number of contacts I'm not shure I managed to do that. I think that, although the numbers are lower, those are mostly DX contacts with DXCC I did not work before on those bands. The 4m band looks if I didn't spend a lot of time there but that is not true, I check it often. The band is not really open for DX that much. Local contacts can be made there, I did....2 of them :-)

My DXCC numbers at the end of 2023:

Just for archive purposes...

2024 contest agenda

As always for archive purposes...

My radiohobby agenda for 2024. 

Feel free to copy.

I always have to balance my time between my family and hobby. With a agenda and planning I want to prevent conflicts if possible.

10/11 Feb. 12-12 UTC 24 hrs PACC 2024 contest (SOAB QRP)

30/31 Mar. 00-24 UTC 48 hrs CQWW WPX SSB 2024 contest

26/27 Okt. 00-24 UTC 48 hrs CQWW DX SSB 2024 contest

10 Nov. 10-12:30 local time PA-beker contest SSB section 2024

17 Nov. 11-14 local time Friese 11 steden contest 2024

23/24 Nov. 00-24 UTC 48 hrs CQWW DX CW 2024 contest

14/15 Dec. 00-24 UTC 48 hrs 10m ARRL 2024 contest