Monday, April 29, 2024

My quest to learn CW (5)

The bands are really open these days if I look at the DX that I've worked lately. Even 6m is awakening around this time. We had excellent propagation to RSA and Namibia last evening. Now I have the Begali simplex morse paddle,  I also practise sending morse. I noticed it helps me also decoding CW. If possible I try to practice both decode and code morse everyday. After I do some practising text I always send CQ CQ PE4BAS TEST (not really on-air), still that I find very difficult and I do not master it at all. But in the end I hope I will get it. I completed my task to finish all 40 lessons with a speed of 28wpm and 8wpm effective, my goal was doing lesson 40 without faults at this speed and I did. I started all over again now with speed 28wpm and 9wpm effective. I also practise callsign decoding, words and complete sentences. I think I will get better but it goes very very slowly...

I still think about re-adjusting the Begali paddle, I think it is very touchy. However I'm not shure, it might be something I have to adjust to. Mike VE9KK tells me he has adjusted his one because he has a heavy fist and pounding the paddle is his thing. Not shure what I have. I might get aggresive in a pile-up and have a "heavy fist" ;-)

Sunday, April 28, 2024

#WSPR Svalbard 10m


First new one since 2022. I was surprised I didn't have Svalbard in the log with WSPR. See my efforts here:

#60m Chad and Easter Isl. worked


I was up early this morning due to a annoying great tit that knows CW and in continue signing "A" "A". If you think that's funny well....this birds always wakes me up too early except when I need to get up early. Anyway, I decided to see if anything happened on 60m. I knew two DXCC I didn't have on 60m were active there the last few days. And indeed, with very loud signals they were. TT8XX took me only 2 calls before he came back to me. Then I noticed a large pile-up from 5353-5356KHz CW. A quick look at the DX cluster revealed that Easter Isl. 3G0YA was calling. And yes, I received him very well. A few calls later in the pile-up and he responded. 2 new 60m band DXCC in the log.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How to make emoijis in VarAC

 I was in a QSO with Robert K9ROB from Fairbanks Alaska today...

As you can see it was quite interesting. I saw Robert spotted me a couple of times before but I never actually saw his signal at my QTH till today. His callsign is also not usual for an Alaskan station. But these days callsigns in the US are not area restricted anymore.

Anyway, Robert asked me how I did get the emoji pictures into my "info" and "welcome" text.
An example, this is what you see when connecting me:
Hello ✌, welcome @ my 🏡 station

Which actually means "Hello, peace to you, welcome at my home station. There are also other emojis like the one for antenna and radio. If I send my info you see something like this:

📻 IC-7300
📡 Square multiband halo @16mH

To get this working into VarAC you need to modify the VarAC.ini file which can be found in the VarAC directory on your computer drive. You open this file with notepad and then save it as an UTF-16 LE file. See the example here:

Your file is now ready to fit in emojis.
You can both edit the ini file as the normal "canned messages" in VarAC.

How to get those emojis?

That's easy. Press the "windows button on your keyboard + . (point)". You will get something like this:

This one is in my native language dutch, you get one in your own language. The nice thing is that you type for example radio in your text and you will get the "radio" emoji 📻. You click with the mouse or give enter on it and it will appear instead of the text. This way you can make what you want....


Radio 📻
Antenna 📡
Peace ✌
Kiss 💋
Sun ☀
Goodbye 🖐
OK 👌 (or perfect)

It to your imagination how and what to use for VarAC.... have fun!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Begali Simplex Basic

    A while ago I wrote in this blog that I would be interested in a Begali Simplex Basic CW paddle when the time comes to practise sending morse. Not shure that time has come..... But recently fellow blogger Tom M7MCQ wrote in a blogpost about the Begali traveler light that he had the Begali Simplex Basic for sale. I imidiatly wrote in the comment that I was interested and just to be shure I wrote him an e-mail as well. Tom wrote about this particular paddle before in his excellent blog. And also VE9KK Mike has purchased one and wrote about his findings.

So, Tom and I agreed I could buy the paddle from him. This post is about how we got it from England delivered to my home in the Netherlands.

I've bought gear from UK in the past. That was before the UK left the european union. It was easy, no taxes, no custom costs. But we live in another time now. Getting something shipped from the UK is expensive even for something simple like a morse paddle/key. First of all I tried to let a delivery service like UPS or DHL pick up the package from Tom so I would cover the costs of shipping. That's already something that's difficult. I couldn't get the price below approx. €30. So I wrote Tom that together with taxes and custom costs it would be too expensive. I asked him to see if he could give me a price he wanted for the paddle including shipping. Then things went another way.....Tom wrote he already shipped the paddle to me with UPS. I even got a message from UPS there was a package on its way to me. I was a little overwhelmed since it was unexpected. I didn't even know what the total costs would be and what Tom wanted to have for the Begali. Tom told me to just try it and then make him an offer, how about that?  The title of this post could also have been "trust" because that is the right word for this. The package was received a few days later of course after I payed additional customs and tax costs. I immidiatly connected the key to my IC-7300 and started to play morse. Well.....that's another story. Sending CW is not as easy as I thought ;-). Anyway, Tom and I agreed about the price which was a bargain really. I never transferred money to a foreign bank account, but these days with the help of internet and handy bank apps it was almost a piece of cake to do it. Everything went well in the end. The Begali Simplex Basic featured in Tom's blogpost is now at PE4BAS station in the Netherlands. Tnx for the opportunity Tom!

Another step closer to the CW world...

Monday, April 15, 2024

200 DXCC on 60m

 I checked clublog today and discovered I reached 200 DXCC worked on 60m...

Remember the first day we were allowed on 60m here in the Netherlands? That was on December 3rd 2015. Read my blogpost here: First QSOs were made with JT65A, can you imagine that was the most populair digimode at that time.

The most unusual contact made on 60m was with PH9HB/AM. A contact that was legal in 2015 but with the new regulations became illigal and so will never happen again. Read here:

It is incredibe I've contacted 200 DXCC on 60m in about 8 years. If you find that a lot, well I'm not even close to others that reached over 250 DXCC on 60m. I wonder how? Because 60m is not legal in a lot of DXCC. Even I can not guarantee I made 100% legal QSOs with all 200 DXCC...

Above the map with my contacts, all 2500+. Used modes CW, SSB, JT65, JT9, FT8, FT4.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

#CQWPX SSB contest 2024 review


Contest: CQ WPX SSB

Section: SO ALL LP

Radio: IC-7300 @100W

Antennas: Inverted-V 2x22m, 4 elem. LFA 10m, Gainmaster HW 24-29MHz, Multiband halo (cobweb), Inverted-L with autotuner on 160m.

 I took part in the WPX contest this year. Because Sunday was Easter it was not possible to be on the radio for a long time. It's a family day, so we had to go out. But luckily best propagation was on Saturday. My main focus was DX and best band for DX is always 10m. So most of the time the band was open I was on 10. I worked one all time new one which was Bangladesh S21RC. Like last year there were some interesting DX paths especially on 20m, like China, Japan and India at the middle of the night. And I heard a station from Colombia very early in the morning, which is not very common. Although many did complain about the propagation at Sunday I still worked DX like ZL, VK and a lot of USA/Canada and central America on 40m in the morning just after sunrise. Unfortunately no USA/Canada on 80m this time. I heard a few stations there but was not able to get through.

Light green=10m, Light blue=15m, Orange=20m, Red=40m, Blue=80m, Dark green=160m

As far as I can see in my previous results I've made a new personal record. I never ever made 1 million points before. This year will be hard to beat I think...

Some statistics:

I "only" operated approx 22 hours from the 48 available due to family obligations of course.

I did do some runs. But most of the time I was searching for the nice DX. Only at Sunday evening I did concentrate on some serious runs at 80m. I went well in the last hours of the contest. I was astonished by the progressive numbers some of the stations gave me. One station gave me number 5600 (!).

This graph shows my off time exactly. Saturday morning between 8-9 (local time 9-10) we had to go out for our weekly shopping and we did have a nice coffee. Sleep between 0:00-5:00, this weekend we also went to summertime. Then we had to go out to family between 12 and 20. I did not expect to do that much in the last hours but the runs on 80m were great.

Some highlights this contest: working S21RC of course, an ATNO. Working EP4IRN on both 10m and 20m. On 10m I worked him with my vertical Gainmaster HW, I could barely hear him on my beam. Working OY1R Regin from Faroer on 160m is always special to me because I met him in person some years ago. 

It was very strange to experience on 10m that the Gainmaster HW on top of my tower was sometimes equal or even better to contact some stations. Normally the big 4 element LFA is 2-5 S-units better. This puzzles me? I think it is just a matter of propagation and polarisation of the signal.

I certainly was a memorable contest this year. And most important....I had fun again. Till next year.