Sunday, June 30, 2024

My quest to learn CW (7)

Not much to tell about progress. Yes, I did make a first CW QSO with the begali paddle. Under pressure that was because of a failing computer. TF/AE5X was the lucky one, he even captured it on video. I imagine something else from my first QSO, but hey, it is what it is.

Still struggling at 28wpm/10wpm effective. I managed to get to lesson 40, my goal and the end is to run it 100% at this speed and then continue to 28/11wpm. 

I'm not doing lessons only., I also do a lot of plain text training and started to do word training on daily basis. I started at 2 letter words and after I managed to do that for 100% I continued to 3 letter words. For now the best I can do is 99% with 3 letter words starting at 20wpm and ending at 40wpm.

Some people tell me to listen on the bands. I do, but unfortunately I can't make anything out of it. Most CW transmissions are way too fast. A few letters is all I can do.

I realize I'm not a fast CW learner, may be I'm too old? Or may be it has something to do with my disability to learn music from notes. I've tried that in the past but I'm not able to read notes and then play music out of it. Even after a few years all I saw was separate notes. I really hope that this has nothing to do compared to learning morse. When I read that some people hear the music of notes, well I can't hear it. I only hear long and short beeps, no tones. Not shure what they hear or what they mean?

Update 7-July-2024:

Finally managed 100% at 28/10 wpm effective. Sometimes I think that 28wpm might be too fast. On the other hand I need not to count but hear how the letters sound.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Rebuild of the EA642ZB7 (Part 3)

The EA642ZB7, at the background my tower...

  I finished the EA642ZB7 for now. Not completely satisfied about the construction. But it is certainly a lot better compared to the build originally. This is a very small 3 band antenna. Ideal for someone that hasn't much room around the house. I think the 50MHz and 70MHz part will be working great. 145MHz will be less efficient compared to a monoband beam. But hey, when you haven't got the space it is good enough. You will not notice that 1 or 2dB less.

When I look at the picture at the right I realize now that it looks like I have a gigantic beam halfway my tower when you look at it from a distance. Imagine....

Originally I think the 50mm mast clamp is mounted right at the boom. I didn't like the idea of just one mast clamp, the manufacturer did of course because it is cost effective. I did make my own with 2x 50mm mast clamps. By the way, I've only used scrap aluminium from old antenna projects in this "upgrade". I'm not intending to keep this antenna for my own but sell it to someone that is really interested in it.

I mentioned the balun earlier. Personally I would use better coax on it. But since the PL chassis seems to be glued into the alu tube I can't replace it. The coax used is RG58 and there are 11 windings on the tube which has a diameter of about 20mm. And yes, it is mounted with ty-raps, that's the way also described in the manual.

SWR/resonance is good on all bands. Initially SWR on 70MHz was best at almost 72MHz. Bending the 70MHz open sleeve "dipole" ends towards the 50MHz dipole corrected this a lot. SWR on 145 is at best 1,5:1. Could get better when the antenna is mounted free and at height.

Some pics:

2m resonance point?

I now learned that originally this antenna was designed with EZNEC by DK7ZB. Nice thing is that his page featured a picture of a homemade one from my neighbour station PA0O.

This antenna is for sale. If you are interested please write me an e-mail. You'll find the e-mail address via I'm not shipping it outside the Netherlands, it would be too expensive.

Update 7-July-2024: Antenna has been sold to PA3FFD Dirk. Hope it does a good job at his QTH.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

RHR Skimmer opened for everyone

Remote Ham Radio in the USA has opened their FT8/FT4 skimmer for all 31 locations to the public for free.

This is interesting especially if you want to work the USA/Canada on any band including 6m. Their locations are excellent and on the best sites in the US. RHR uses big antennas, if there is propagation they will hear/see you. Besides that they have locations in Haiti, Croatia and Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Rebuild of the EA642ZB7 (Part 2)

   I really don't know if all modifications are price worthy. I intend to sell this antenna when finished. But I guess I don't make much profit out of it. So far I have fun upgrading and it is the experience, that counts.

The picture on the left shows some mods on the boom. Radials are all cleaned. Ready to mount everything.

Some details of the mods to make everything stronger. 

All 7 elements mounted to see if everything fits. Not the final assembly, it need some more mods.

More tests this photo at the right shows some details. Fitting the isolation for the dipole feed. 

Originally no closing caps on the ends. I fit them in. You can really see that everything in this design is made as cheap as possible. Don't blame the manufacturer. Building a good antenna is expensive. And you want to sell them and make a profit. So there always will be trade offs.

Personally I like to build all antennas myself so I can make them the way I like them. But it is nice to see and experience how commercial ones are designed. 

Next is to make another boom to mast clamp design. And mount the balun/choke to the dipole.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

First real CW QSO

   Fellow blogger John AE5X is currently in Iceland. On his blog he announced that he would be QRV at 1900z this evening from Spákonufellshöfði Country Park. Not that I am a big POTA hunter though. I just wanted to work him. John will only be on CW, that's a big challenge for me. So I programmed a trigger in HamAlert and as soon I got a announcement on my phone I went upstairs to my shack. At first he was spotted on 17m, I couldn't hear him although OY1CT was calling CQ almost on his spotted frequency. So, propagation was good in the direction of Iceland. A few minutes later John was spotted on 20m. I heard him with real 579. However, I didn't dare to send my call with the paddle. So instead I did setup DM780 with CW. Call me a coward :-(.

I called John with CW on the computer. John came back to me....then my computer/radio locked on TX. A moment of panic followed. The only thing I could do was switch off the radio since even the TX off button didn't do anything. Trying to shut down all software and switch back the radio on didn't do the trick, radio did still transmit. In the end I got it back on receive and John was still calling. I had to try with the paddle. Unfortunately I had the radio set on "full break in" which was not really what I wanted. But at the time John came back to me I was shaking to much and decided to make the best of it. I tried to send "TU JOHN" but the paddle didn't do what I wanted, or was it my brain? At least I could send him a standard 599 report and the 73 sign so it is a valid contact. I'm sorry for the inconvenience John, if you read this, it was not what I wanted for my first real CW QSO. But at least it is valid...

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rebuild of the EA642ZB7 (Part 1)

 Recently acquired some antennas from PA7NTH. Unfortunately Nanne had to stop with the radiohobby due to a stroke. Very sad as he had just placed a big tower behind his house full of all kind of antennas. Life goes on though. He has to live with some complications, listening to radio is a no go for him. Anyway, among the antennas are a 3 band beam (10,15/20m), a 3 band beam (2/4/6m) and a 40m dipole. I decided to sell the 40m dipole as it is just too long for me. 

Some of the antennas are damaged and one of them is the EA antenna EA642ZB7 which consists of 2 elements for 6m, 2 elements for 4m and 3 elements for 2m. It is a so called open sleeve design.

I guess the design is ok, but the mechanical strength of this antenna is not that good. It is obviously designed to fit in a small box with as few parts as possible. Costs might also be playing a role. First of all the isolation between te dipole halves is probably made of POM which is not really UV resistant. I personally prefer PTFE, it is UV resistant, heat resistant and water resistant. Disadvantage of PTFE is that it is not as hard as POM, at least the PTFE 10mm rod I have. Well you see what happened to the dipole of this did get brittle and snapped. The challenge is to repair everything and make a stronger antenna that will last.

It was the first thing I wanted to repair. I thought it would be the most difficult part to remake. But in the end it was easy. I just drilled a 10mm hole through the old center part and pushed the new PTFE rod in. As you can see it looks pretty well.

The antenna was still assembled and I know why. The stainless steel bolts have been mounted without greasing them first. There was nothing on the antenna connections to protect it from nature elements either. Stainless steel and aluminium are not the best friends and so everything was heavily corroded and very difficult to remove. I had to apply brute force to remove everything and even had to drill out one bolt. Results in the photo, these are aluminium connecting pieces to connect the half 6m and 4m elements together inside the boom.

The choke used is consisting of about 11 windings of RG58 (would not be my first choice) on a alu tube. I've been thinking of removing it and use a piece of teflon coax which would probabely be a lot better especially on 2m. However the PL chassis is glued into the aluminium tube and removing it would destroy everything. I decided to clean everything and solder new wires to it. When I reassemble everything I will mount it again and cut the wires at length. It's not the best but I guess it will work anyway.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

#6m St.Vincent worked

 Incredible midnight propagation to the Caribbean...

Also seen V47JA and FS/K9EL. Hope to work those this season as well.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

#6m Malawi worked


FT8 is a strange mode. I catched 7Q6M before but didn't get RR73. So I tried to give him a report and R-17 was send back to me as you can see in the screenshot. Strange thing is that 2 others saw 7Q6M giving R-15 to me. Does it make FT8 suspicious?

Was also spotted at 7Q7JN. Have been calling to him but no luck!

Friday, June 7, 2024

FT4GL automated, HAM radio community shocked...

The man, the myth (
"What has happened to our hobby? What a shame." (N0UN)

"My own prediction is that robotic FTx will become normalized and acceptable, for DXpeditions, contests and casual log-filling." (AE5X)

"Marek's trafficking continues, through his profession he has acquired strong experience in physical endurance for many years, his abilities are above the majority of humans, like a high-level athlete . This allows him to be active to the maximum of his physical capacities since the start of his activity by sleeping very little each day in the radio station, which is also his workplace, hence a constant presence due to his professional responsibilities at Glorious. "

I think the younger HAM operators will be laughing out loud (LOL) about the "hobby shame" sentence and embrace what AE5X wrote. The technology exists and is ready to use. Most new HAMs are in this hobby because of technology and want to make progress. I personally agree with John AE5X about automation  in the future. Many of the older HAMs do not agree and are ashamed what happened to our hobby that for them existed of hard work, CW, Phone contacts, listening and building a station that can provide that to high levels. Things changed, technology made progress. We as HAM radio operators will have to change as well. Besides that, I wrote about that before, we take this hobby far too serious. 

I think the evidence N0UN wrote about does not prove everything although it looks like some kind of "robot" operation is involved. I don't know exactly what kind of work Marek is doing on the island but apparently it is not a very demanding job since he is often radio active. In case Marek is using a script or even WSJT-Z for station automation and there is clear evidence the ARRL will not validate this DXpedition. Do you care? I don't, I don't even care if I don't get a confirmation by QSL, eQSL or LotW from any DXCC anymore. If I work a DXCC I know I've worked it and don't have to prove it. If that involved an automated station or remote operated station doesn't matter to me. 

In the end.....your life has an end. If you worked and confirmed every ARRL DXCC who cares? No one cares after you die. This is a hobby and everything you do collecting DXCC is for yourself only. Have fun, embrace what you like most in this hobby and don't let others tell you what HAMradio is all about.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

#4m Montenegro worked & #6m Asiatic Russia worked


Although I didn't receive the 73 the QSO is valid and in the log. Stupid, I made this screenshot after I returned to 6m. But the QSO is made on 4m for shure.

Legal or not? Work first, worry later...

Monday, June 3, 2024

Inside recently acquired filters

 I couldn't resist to open the filters (low pass and balun) I recently bought at the radiorally. The balun is not really a filter, or is it? It filters common mode radiation from the coax though. 

Not really anything special. A FT240 ferrite ring wound the classic way with 50 Ohm teflon coax. Made something similair myself in the past.  And I think I proved that it worked. Choice of ferrite is important just like the number of windings. The ON7FU filter/choke is well made.

The military low pass filter, or is it a pass band filter, was more difficult to open. I didn't trust this filter because something was rattling inside like something was loose and not right. The casing can not be opened with screws. It looked like a solid iron box but somehow I opened it without damaging the filter.

I really don't know exactly how they made this casing. I estimate that the filter is made around 1950-1960. The loose part was just a piece of solder. It looks like the backside was soldered to the filter compartiments. Not shure how I'm going to close it again, have to think about it.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

#4m Italy worked

The question is if it is legal? So far I can only find that Italian HAMs are allowed to transmit on 4m till 31 Dec. 2023. Several Italian HAMs were calling on 4m FT8 today and I worked IZ0TTG on SSB.

6m brought in some Japan and South Korea this morning.

I made 3 QSOs to Japan...