Sunday, 23 April 2017

??/PE4BAS/P from ? (give-away contest)

At the time I write this I'm somewhere on the bands. I'm portable but will not tell my location or exact call. I don't tell which band or mode I will transmit. Like last year I would like to know if you can find me? Tell me:

- What call I'm using
- Which country I am in
- my exact location (locator and nearby town)




Please respond with a comment below this post. The first one that has a correct answer will get the book
"The complete DX'er" from Bob W9KNI send to the adres I will find on QRZ.com.
Since I will not only use WSPR but also other (digi) modes this will not be easy I guess. I'm curious if someone will find me during the week.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

More portable tests

Had one evening to do final tests. I think all the radio gear is still too heavy. I use 8 Mtr Aircell7 coax and a small piece of 3 Mtr RG58 with a home made window "throughput". The Aircell is heavier then RG58 but has considerable less loss, it is a choice. I still think the VOX modem can be build smaller and another heavy weight is the SWR meter. I don't put the antennas in the backpack as it will travel in a corner of the cars trunk.





Anyway, had a few hours to test the superantenna MP-1 for the upcoming portable event. This antenna is small and doesn't weight much. It is not too tall so it will not be visible by others when standing on a side of a house. Didn't change much on the antenna but last year it felt on the ground and I had to repair the telescopic part again which is in my opinion the weakest part of the whole antenna. I decided to make a spare telescope antenna and take it with me...however I didn't have the time to actually test this "new" homemade part.



I chose the 40m band and build the antenna in the garden just beneath my shack. Complete setup takes about 5 minutes. It includes the tripod, antenna and the 4 wire radials. The tripod is held firmly on the ground by extra guylines and tent pegs. This tripod is not suitable for use on concrete or rocky soil as it is just too light and the antenna and tripod will be blown over by the wind.




After some tweaking the SWR was almost perfect. Unfortenately on 40m bandwidth with SWR beneath 1:2 is only 100 KHz. Doesn't matter for me, tweaking is not difficult.

Great, ready to go.....forgot something....





Had to do some tests of course...some PSK31/63 tests didn't work. Don't know if it is the modulation on FLdigi or just the QRM on the receiving stations site. However JTDX did a great job! It does surprisingly well on my old Windows XP laptop.


First station received was JF3VAX from Japan. Both antenna and software still are amazing!
Made only one QSO with RN3ZRD from european russia and got a -21dB report. I was TXing with 5W.


QSL

A QSL is the final courtesy of a QSO. I know as that is one of my own rules. So I have to apologize. It took almost a half year since I updated clublog and  LoTW. I did update eQSL but didn't look after the QSL received after that. QSL (confirmation of a contact) is a important part of our radio hobby but all the administration that comes with it does take time and for many this is not a hobby within the radio hobby. Anyway, I once again decided to take another batch of my received paper QSL cards to the garbage. I'm so sorry but I think the paper QSL era is really over, it is not of this time anymore and I think it will disappear in the future. It's my opinion and I'm not afraid to write it down here. I guess there are a lot of HAM radio operators that will not agree! However as long as the paper QSL exists I will follow the "QSL code of conduct". Of course I did not throw away everything....I kept the QSL cards from exotic stations and those that I want to remember because they have a personal meaning for me. I like QSL cards that you can tell a story about...

Here are some of those QSL cards I kept and will not throw away:


AH0K Mariana Islands worked 26 Oct 2014 on 10m SSB. My first QSO with this exotic Island



BW2/JP1RIW Taiwan worked 30 March 2013 on 15m SSB still my only QSO with Taiwan


EI9KC Ark from Ireland worked 6 Jan 2016 on 80m SSB in one of the UK-EI contests. Ark has his own interesting blog. Although it has been a while ago since he wrote something there.


FT4TA Tromelin Island worked 9 November 2014 on 10m SSB. Not always easy to break pile-ups but this one was easy for me.


KH2F Guam Island worked 19 Oct. 2013 20m RTTY. Another exotic location at the other side of the world for me.


OH2YOTA Finland worked 18 Jul. 2014 40/20m SSB. Youngsters On The Air activation. Story behind this QSL can be read here.


OQ5M Belgium worked 15 dec 2013 on 10m SSB. I worked Franki on backscatter. Actually normal skip to Belgium occurs only in summer if you're lucky, it is just too nearby. Story and video can be found here. Frank has a nice blog but has a busy family live just like me and not much time left for radio.


P40BC Aruba worked 27 Sept 2015 on 15m RTTY. A happy island for shure but not heard very often. This contact was made in a contest. Most of the small islands seems to have contest stations that you can rent for a activation. It's someones bussines...


LA/PA3FYG/P SOTA LA/RL-061 Aslandsnuten Norway worked 16 Jul 2014 on 40m SSB. Can you see yourself sitting on a mountain top making contacts? Well Hans does, read the story behind the QSL from this QSO here.


PA45FREEDOM worked 16 May 2015 on 40m SSB. With a group of friends across the Netherlands activating 8 different stations in the month of may 2015. It was great to participate. Read my story here.


PA61ZRK worked 8 Feb. 2014 on 40m SSB. On front of the QSL is the transmitter that was used for emergency traffic when there was the big flood disaster in 1953.

PB7Z worked 8/9 Feb 2014 on 160/80/20 SSB. But worked Bernard on almost all bands. We are radio friends since a long time. I think the first time I talked to him was around 1990 on the 11m band. We are both HAM radio operators and stil enjoy the hobby. I meet him a lot in contests. Another big hobby of him are husky dogs and fishing. Bernard lives about 50km south of my QTH.

PB14MILL worked 10 May 2014 (national mill day) on 40m SSB. Another project from PB7Z and friends. They "activate" this mill every year via HAM radio. I want to do a similair project in the future if time allows as I live close to a polder mill which has never been activated before.


PE1BVQ worked 9 Sept. 2014 on 80m SSB in the PA-beker contest. Actually I know Hans from his comments on my blog. We met a few times personally and went to a radio rally with him. We are planning to do that again this year. Hans is truly my most loyal blog reader!


PF5T worked 13 Feb 2016 in the PACC contest on 80m SSB. Frank is a follower of my blog and does his comment most time with a e-mail. Frank is doing QRP most of the time and has a busy family live as well.


S9TF Principe Island worked 8 Feb 2014 on 10m SSB. One of those exotic islands you never hear on the bands. My first and only contact. It will take some years before we can hear such DX again on the 10m band.


UX5UO Ukraine worked 21 Okt. 2013 on 15m SSB. I worked Gennady a couple of times now. It is my QSL printer and shure recognizes you on air if you did business with him. Nice to say hello and thank you personally to him over the radio.


VK0EK Heard Island worked 7 Apr 2017 on 40m CW. Heard Island on of the most remote places on earth. It took the DXpedition 2 weeks to get there from south africa. I took me several evenings before I was in the log with a error, it was corrected within a day. Read my story here.

VK9XSP Christmas Island worked 27 okt 2014 on 10m SSB. I remember that it was one of my lucky QSOs. Pointing the antenna, made the call, made the QSO.


ZD8O Ascension Island worked 29 Okt 2011. Another exotic island which is not heard very often on the radio. Can't remember the QSO well but it is still a nice card from a far away place.

Well, I hope you readers enjoyed the stories and background of some of my QSL cards. I have some more but for now this is it. 30-20 years ago I stored everything in maps. I was still on 11m CB radio and have confirmation of about 240 DXCC there. On CB you haven't got QSL bureaus and need to send everything by post which makes QSLs more valuable of course. I have lots of QSL cards from that time that are more valuable to me then any of my HAM radio QSL cards. Sometimes when I look through those old maps I really get a warm feeling and wish the 11m CB DX bands could be a legal part of our radio experimentation as well. Time will tell...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Preliminary portable digi tests

Unfortenately I'm not a fulltime experimental radio researcher. Wish I was and could do that for a job. Just experimenting with antenna's, setup, power, supplies etc. ect. Unfortenately the real world is different. I have my 45 hour a week job and besides that my family which are both very important. The 5 or 10 minutes left are for radio experiments and writing articles for this blog is done in the evening or at lunchbreaks on my job.

Sorry for the blurry photo. The modem is inside
the white box beneath the FT-817. Nice and tiny.
Since a light weight portable activation is upcoming I'm trying to have my portable radio package as small and light as possible. I already downsized my power supply. I now had to downsize my soundcard modem and yes, you can buy things. But I still had my unfinished prototype of Julian G4ILO's design VOX modem. I decided to take that and finish it. I already had a case to build the print in and after a first test it seems to work reasonable. Only problem was a much too high input and output signal which I solved with 5K trimmer potentiometers in the line. Now I have a decent signal in the waterfall and can transmit without ALC reading on the radio. I left the test setup running as duty called, actually I forgot it till next day. The problem always is that I have to leave my shack during experimentation as there is always something more important to do.

This are the results so far on 20m with 1W on the base antenna which is a coppertape vertical at 9m high.

Red spots are received, green spots are sent
Software is JTDX 17.6.1 which is doing fine on my old XP laptop. So far I only made one short QSO on PSK63 with FLdigi. I then noticed I should sort out the macros for transmitting. Time to do some more tests if there is still time left.




Friday, 14 April 2017

HAM radio consuming (or downgrade your hamradio station)

Lately I saw a documentary about a american woman that lives in northern Thailand. She told the interviewer that she wanted to live outside the consuming world were everyone wants things better and bigger. Just living from the land, the jungle provided her with most food she needed. I have to admit that I was impressed by these words and some of it shows the truth. Most of us radio amateurs are living in a consuming world, people always want better things, more money, bigger cars, a nice house and garden and for our hobby the best radio or the most modern one with the latest technology and the biggest antenna possible.

20 years ago this was "it"!
 I know, I'm guilty as well as I dream of a nice and shiny Icom IC-7300 to replace my 18 year old IC-706MK2G. Will I make more or better QSOs with it? I don't think so, but it is fun to play. Another option is to downgrade, I have the Yaesu FT-817 which is a great little radio and it will never leave me as long as it lives. I have this Yaesu for portable and mobile use mainly and as a backup when the Icom should break. Actually I would not care if I only had the FT-817, a laptop and a multiband antenna. I already proved a base station setup is capable of DX worldwide working 100 DXCC in just 79 days. Will I be more happy with a IC-7300 or with just a FT-817 as main radio? I don't know as I only have the IC-706MK2G and the FT-817 and know what a great little radio the Yaesu is. I respect those that have nothing else to transmit. The radioamateur with nice and shiny radios and shacks are most time just playing with their gear and miss some real nice QSOs I think, although that will not count for everyone. We, as radioamateurs in the rich countries, have plenty to choose. It's just how much money you want to spend at the hobby. For example I take a radioamateur in my neighbourhood, he bought a new multiband beam and placed it high on his mast. He tested it and it was a easy job talking to New Zealand and Australia. Well he had done it and seen it, he rarely shows up on the bands and actually has other priorities.
Yaesu FT-817 still the best HF/VHF/UHF
QRP transceiver around 

But there are a lot of hobbyists that don't have that opportunity, they have to build their own gear like in the early days of radio. I think contacts with those stations are more valuable and the other way around every QSO is valuable for them as well. It's a interesting thought I think, something I consider and probabely others do not.

From the comments on my previous post I noticed that many are happy with the radio they have. They don't need te latest new technology but rather have a reliable radio which works for them. So this proves that within the hamradio community not everyone is the same...

Everyone and everything has a purpose in the radio hobby. Whatever your experience or station consists of. We are all experimental radio researchers...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Into the future...I was right!

In the past years I wrote some articles about the future of radio. 4 years ago I did a prediction. I found out today that with availability of the Icom IC-7300 this prediction was right! The new Icom IC-7610 is probabely available June this year. Of course this IC-7610 model was already on the prototype shelf when the IC-7300 was introduced.  I'm curious now what Icom has on it's design shelf at the moment? 4 years ago I was pretty confident about a future radio but this time I have no idea?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

QRM/QRN interference

We radioamateurs investigate the radio spectrum, we experiment we listen to others trying to get a signal out. But if you live in a dense populated area like most of people do in the Netherlands it can be hard. PE1BVQ Hans wrote me he has seen some of my videos and it occured to him I had much less interference as he has at home. He wondered he had something wrong with his antenna, using a shortened endfed in sloper configuration. Well, I decided to make a "interference" video on my QTH. I live at a rural area with free sight to the north and to the south. Nearest neighbours are 20-30m from my vertical antenna. I decided to leave ATT, AGC and all filtering off. However it's just a video shot at a certain moment of the day. Interference is different from time to time and from day to day, at least at my QTH. Below a video from daylight situation.


Remember, this is without any attenuation or filtering. Just normal receive without any help. Although in the video you will see I do a short test on 80m and 60m to show the effect of the filters.
I can choose between ATT on/off, DSP ANF on/off, DSP NR on/off, filtering 1,9KHz SSB on/off. Normally with ATT and 1,9KHz filter on I have a noisefloor of S0 on 160/80/60/40m. Without you can see in the video about S7. From 20m and higher it is lower, although it actually depends on time of day and propagation. Below a video from darkeness situation early in the evening.


QRM on 160m is much higher now. Rest of the bands are equal I think, Except for 17m which shows higher QRM. This happens sometimes on 20m and 17m, not always on the same time. But most of the evenings I have a much higher noisefloor on 20m/17m about S3-5.

When I look and listen to the videos I think it is amazing I can actually hear weak signals. Filtering helps a lot. And am I on a quiet location with a low noisefloor? I really don't know as I cannot compare. I think if you still have S7 noise with attenuation on you have a big problem....I can hardly imagine such a bad situation. But if you live in a big city here in the Netherlands (or anywere else)  it could be....

Saturday, 1 April 2017

60m allocation change in the Netherlands today

Sorry to announce this, it certainly is not a april fool's joke....


Above the official statement from the dutch goverment. From the 1st of April 2017 on we are allowed on 5351,5 - 5.366,5 MHz with 15W EIRP.

Official document here: https://www.officielebekendmakingen.nl/stcrt-2017-17502.html

A sad day? No, it is still possible to make nice DX on 60m with less power! Luckely I was just in time participating in the Blue HAM exercise event, this makes it even more rare...