Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 highlights, 2015 goals

A bit of a tradition on my blog. The highlights from last year and the goals for next year. If you like to read my post last year you can find it here. This is one of the posts I'll be looking at many times next year. And did I meet my goals this year? I made my best score ever in the PACC and reached 4th place. I will not be able to beat that in 2015 for shure as I can't participate the full 24 hours this time due to family obligations. I did work some new DXCC, a record breaking 17 of them. And my soldering iron did heat up to build a QRPp and a fieldstrength meter and repair my Icom IC-706, Alinco DJ-G5 and L/C meter. I did do some more WSPR and that resulted in 4 new DXCC a total of 76 DXCC on WSPR with 1W now. What can I tell, I'm a very satisfied radio hobbyist.

VERON Honor roll, climbed one place. Still in the top 100.
2014 was a very interesting year. I made a decision to write this blog in English only as it takes too much time to write everything in Dutch. Sometimes I will supply a Dutch translation if time allows. Propagation was and is still very good despite the news that the solar maximum is over now. Highlight of the year were my QRP digital mode operations. With the best and most special contact made with WP4JCF (Puerto Rico) at 6m JT65. Only 5W and my W2000 vertical at 6m above the ground were used, QRP to the max I think. Of course there were other highlights and fun things. Building a 28MHz HB9CV, actually build it 2 times this year, was a great experience again. My first QRPp efforts with WSPR. Discovering the new SIM digimodes. PE1BVQ Hans and me visiting the radio rally Jutberg together was a great day and despite the bad weather we had a lot of fun. The QRP skeds with PE1BVQ were really surprising. The 3 band endfed Hans made me and send me as a surprise. The activation of PA-00009 Rensumaborg in a couple of runs and participation in the Fieldday contest with this new endfed. The new QSL card I designed. The new N1MM+ contest logger made a entrance into the shack computer and so did a new version of WSJT-X. All very nice and happy things. But something sad happened as well. Fellow blogger, great experimenter and inspirator G4ILO Julian died in October. We will miss him a lot in the hamradio community.

The goals for 2015. Well, did think a lot about it the last couple of days. And actually it took me a few days to write this post. I think it is good to go for goals in the hobby. Of course I will continue to chase WSPR DXCC on all bands with a power of 1W or less. I reached 76 DXCC this year and it's going to be difficult to get some new ones. I regularly check the activity at WSPR.net but do not see much new ones these days. Wish there was some more activity from south and central america. I would still like to continue heating up the soldering iron and am making progress with the 30m WSPR AXE kit from Jay W5OLF which I already bought a while ago. It will be the first thing in 2015 to finish. I've some projects in and around the house here but still hope I can make time to start with the setup of the versatower in the backyard. Not 100% shure if time and money allows me to do that but you have to keep dreaming. I will continue digital mode QRP but it's not a goal, if I have the Icom connected with the modem it could be QRO as well. Certainly I would like to work some more JT65 and JT9. And occasionally be QRV from the mobile. I will participate in the biggest contests and Dutch contests as long as time and family allows. Chasing DX will always be one of the important things in the hobby for me and I hope to work some new ones again. It will be hard to beat this year though!

And now this is the last day of 2014. The last sentence of the year. Wishing you blog readers and fellow bloggers a very prosperous, healthy and happy new year.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

WSPR 26,27&28 Dec 2014

Event: WSPR 10m amateurradio band
Logger: WSPR 2 - R1714
Station: Yaesu FT-817ND, 1W
Antenna: HB9CV east in morning, south at 12-13 UTC, west in the afternoon
Log converter: DL1HW Adif2Excel2Adif converter, UU0JC logconverter
Log analyzer: HRD V4

Received by 115 unique stations from 26 DXCC. Best DX was VK7AB from Tasmania 16910 km. Nothing from ZL and JA and less stations from Russia and South America. Analyzing WSPR over a couple of days is more interesting then one day only. 10m opens very early one day and late another day. Same when the band is closing. I like to follow and read the blog from Roger G3XBM regarding his WSPRing on 10m. It gives an idea when the band is closing in the afternoon. Roger had a stroke a while ago and has problems talking on the radio. With WSPR he can still enjoy the hobby. WSPR is not only interesting for licensed amateur operators but everyone can try it. You don't even have to use a radio. Use a webSDR instead. That way you can monitor WSPR from everywhere in the world. And you can choose your own location as long as there is a webSDR.

HRD V4 can produce nice maps with mapper (included in V4) as long as you have the locators inserted.


World


Europe


USA

Australia

Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 statistics

And here we are. The end of 2014 is near and so it's time to show some statistics again. This year is marked as the year that all digimode QSOs including CW were made with QRP 5W or less. And actually I didn't miss QRO. QRP with digimodes like JT65 and JT9 are just like you're working QRO. Totally unexpected I did work new ones the so called "ATNO". Most memorable QSO was with Puerto Rico on 6m with 5W JT65. Other nice ones were with PY0/UA4WHX Fernando the Noronha and T6T from Afghanistan. Of course I worked with the IC-706 and 100W SSB as well. In total I worked 17 All Time New DXCC. A record for me in one year. It will be hard to beat next year as I expect the propagation will be worse.
Some statistics from the "home QTH"  log, that log doesn't include the log from my portable activation this year at COTA PA-00009 Rensumaborg.





Less QSOs as last year but more quality. I did less contesting this year and more experimenting. Last year I made no 6m QSO. This year I made a recordbreaking 4. Not surprisingly I made most of the QSOs on 80m and 40m. The horizontal loop does extremely well for those bands in contests.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Digital modes with QRP 2014

One of my goals this year was to work all digimodes including CW QRP 5W or less. And I managed to do just that. I was surprised by the contacts I still made. Even new DXCC were worked. Actually I could almost work everything I received in JT65 or JT9 mode proving that these are absolutely QRP modes. I took part in the CQWW CW QRP with 5W on 80m and even managed to work the USA and Canada there. I can recommend working QRP on digital modes for everyone. I'm not shure if I will ever return to use more then 5W on digimode? Using the small Yaesu FT-817ND with only 5W or less does feel good. The only thing I miss is a small receive filter, an option that can be built into the 817.

Some stats: I made 296 QSOs with 279 unique stations, 9 different digimodes, 17 CQ zones, 26 ITU zones, 59 DXCC and 174 different locators.

Update 28-12-2014: It seems that I forgot one new digimode SIM31. I made 9 SIM31 QSOs all on 20m. It brings the total on 306 QSOs with on 10 different digimodes. And probabely 288 unique calls.






Saturday, 27 December 2014

Topics that didn't make it (yet?)


There is always something to do with or without our hobby. Sometimes a topic doesn't make it in my blog as other topics are more interesting. I came across some photos which were made for the blog but didn't make it (yet) or were not interesting or good enough. You can make up your own stories....

I removed some blogs from my blogroll again. MW0DNK, G3JKL, ZS6RI, JE2UFF and NU8Z did not update their blogs for over a year. I see many good blogs disappear, like people have nothing to write anymore. I can't imagine that, I always have something to write about radio & related. It's not always interesting what we as hamradio bloggers write about the hobby and sometimes it is. It sometimes does surprise me when I took a lot of effort and made investigations to write some posts on my blog and see that it is not a populair read at all. Sometimes I write posts without any effort and especially digital mode and personal experiences on the radio are populair topics that don't take a lot of investigation. It seems people want to know how I experience the hobby, what contacts I make on the radio and what my experiences are with contesting, loggers, antennas, WSPR or other (digi) modes. WSPR topics are always a very populair read. Digimode seems to be very populair in general. I think digimodes like JT65/JT9 will be the future. The JT modes are far more populair then a year ago. And when we are going into a solar minimum these low signal digimodes will be the way to work DX. Just my thoughts....

I'm very curious how amateurradio will change in the next 7 years....and since I slowly go into my 7th year of blogging about amateurradio you will read all about it right here...


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas everyone...

Merry Christmas to all my readers and fellow bloggers. I'm shure most of you are busy with their family these Christmas days. But if you got some spare time this would be a nice thing to listen to on your HF radio:

Each year, the residents of McMurdo Station, Antarctica celebrate Christmas by singing Christmas Carols to the remote, Antarctic field camps on the HF radio. This year, we are asking ham radio operators around the world to listen in and e-mail short wave listening reports telling us how far away the carols are heard. Listen on 7995 kHz USB on 24 December 2014 2300z (December 25 1200 New Zealand Time) and e-mail reports to w2naf@arrl.net. For a Christmas in Antarctica SWL QSL card, please send an SASE to my Blacksburg address. Special cards will be made for this event. Please share this information with as many hams as possible. It would be really interesting to know how far we are heard. I believe we will be running about 1000 W for this. 

 Merry Christmas! 73, Nathaniel, KC4/W2NAF


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

New JT-Alert

JT-Alert 2.5.5 @PE4BAS
It might be not as new as I think, but I didn´t read about it elsewhere...VK3AMA Laurie has made a compatible JT-Alert for the new WSJT-X version. I just discovered this as the old version came up with a error message yesterday and I had to install it again. So I was looking for the latest version. The new JT-Alert is looking and working well, it is a must have for WSJT-X users. The nice thing is it also works on the old WSJT-X version and JT65-HF versions. JTMacros is now implemented and you need to start it from within JT-Alert. Some features copied from the HamApps.com site:

Audio and visual alerts for several alert conditions
  • Your Callsign decoded (someone calling you)
  • CQ & QRZ
  • Wanted Callsign
  • Wanted Prefix
  • Wanted Grid (by Band)
  • Wanted US State (by Band)
  • Wanted DXCC (by Band)
  • Wanted CQ Zone (by Band)
Automatic logging to these log types when QSO is logged in JT65-HF or WSJT-X
  • DXLab DXKeeper
  • Log4OM
  • HRD Log V5/6
  • Standard ADIF 2.2 file
  • MixW CSV file

  • Various Web Services Supported
  • Online XML Callsign Database lookup. QRZ.com (paid) and HamQTH (free)
  • Upload logged QSO to Online Logbooks. ClubLog.org and HRDLog.net
  • Upload all decoded Callsigns with frequency and Signal report to HamSpots.net

  • Works with DXLab applications
  • Automatic log to DXKeeper when JT65-HF or WSJT-X QSO is logged
  • Automatic post decoded Callsigns to SpotCollector (local spots)
  • DXKeeper lookup of previous QSOs with decoded Callsign
  • Send Callsign to Pathfinder for lookup

  • Supports user-selectable Sound Card
  • Each audio alert type has independent volume setting & wave file
  • LoTW and eQSL membership flagging of decoded callsigns
  • Band Tracking or alerts. 160M to 2M, including 60M
  • Disable audio alert for "Worked B4" stations on current Band
  • Automatic "Worked B4" flagging of previous QSOs
  • Scan your log to update needs lists for alerting (US State, DXCC, CQZones, etc)
  • Dockable to bottom or top of JT65-HF and WSJT-X window
  • Bring JT65-HF or WSJT-X window to front of other windows on alert activation
  • Auto start & close of JT65-HF, WSJT-X and other applications on JTAlert start & close
  • Send TX Power and current QSO partner data "Name, Callsign & No. Bands worked" to JTMacros for dynamic macros

A great addition for JT65A users whatever program you use actually. I couldn't do without it.



Monday, 22 December 2014

Be digital, explore 30m & and other bands

Have been digital, explored 30m. Saturday evening....had some time to explore. But 30m was dead. Nothing could be heard, noise floor was S8. Did some CQ on PSK31 and was heard in Italy, did see one weak signal from Spain. JT65 CQ was not answered and did not see any signal in the waterfall. Hamspots reported that my signal was spotted in Austria, France and Italy though. Sunday morning, family was still sleeping, I decided to try again. 30m was full of signals in PSK, MFSK, JT65 and RTTY. Did some CQ and made some contacts in Europe. Last contact of the day was SM6XVI Engelhard who is a member of our local radio club and has the call PA3FUJ here. I've worked Engelhard various times now both on JT65 and SSB from both his QTH here and in Sweden. When the family was awake I turned to WSPR, the spectrum was full of signals. In 3 hours my 1W signal was spotted by 41 unique calls. Best distance was W4MO in EL86 with 7663km.


So far so good, I was off the job today as I had to work last Saturday. I thought it would be nice to be active on 10m with WSPR to see if I would spot AE5X John who has his W5OLF 500mW tx now on air. Unfortenately at the end of the day I noticed I had a wrong band setting. I did TRX on 10m. But the spots are on 30m (wrong band). Stupid me! Anyway, John has been spotted 29 times here best report -8dB at 15:58 UTC. I was using the HB9CV on 6m AGL pointed to Texas USA. I reported 69 unique calls on the wrong band, I'm so sorry. I was spotted by 40 unique stations with best distance ZS6BNE with 9044km.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Socialhams

Andreas OE8APR wrote me and some other bloggers some time ago with the request to write something about his social media project called socialhams. I did read some other blogposts which did actually not review the site but just linked to it. I don't want that and really want to express my opinion and thoughts about this website.

So I became a member and visited this "new" social media website a few times. Did post some things on it and took a look around. What I write about this website is my personal opinion and I hope I'm not too critical about it. I think Andreas has put a great amount of time and effort in it and I guess the site is still in state of development. These times it is not the only "social" site on the net and if you want to be succesfull you need to have apps, things and gadgets that no one else has. I'm not able to test the socialhams android app as I don't have a android device so I can't tell anything about it but I think that is one of the things other sites don't have yet. Socialhams is kind of a facebook but then only interesting for hamradio enthousiasts. Andreas is promoting this site not for nothing as he needs users to create interesting content and "social" contacts. The site has a lot of interesting
features and the most important are the modules called apps which you can switch on or off if you like. I tried the logbook and uploaded part of my logbook to see how it would behave. Actually it didn't behave too well. The site locked up when I try to view and try some things. I tried afterwards and could view some things but no really interesting statistics or so. You can rate QSOs, I really don't know why I should do that. You can view a map of your logged QSOs although I think my computer is too slow to manage that as the site did lock up again several times. I tried the DXcluster, it's just a telnet cluster with some filters not like the "graphical design" clusters you can find on the internet these days. The NCDXF beacon is a nice tool to check propagation. World clock is just a standard map not interactive. The Library is nice but mainly in the german language. The Elmer's corner has a few nice posts with info on how to use the DX cluster, APRS and the NCDXF apps. I can't tell about APRS, I don't know anything about it. Did try it about 10 years ago but don't have interest in it. Of course you can do a lot of other social things on the site and that is what it is ment for. You can make friends, you have a timeline like in facebook, you can make or take
part in groups. You can add blogposts, events, sites, polls, videos, files, photos, suggestions and you can take part in a referral program. Actually I think this site has a lot of potential, a lot or a bit too much? And here I am getting critical. I don't know if the hamradio community needs another "social" site? A lot of my hamradio friends are on facebook and I doubt they will move to socialhams actually or may be they would do it as a addition. A year ago CQfriends was very populair and in my eyes that was a different kind of social site, it was very different from facebook. It was more interactive with the radiohobby being the first social media of all.  And it was very populair as well, unfortenately it is not there anymore and I think many hams really miss it. I hope socialhams would fill the gap but in my opinion at the time it is much facebook like. Of course Andreas is still developing and if he doesn't get ideas and suggestions the site will not evolve. And now we come to the real reason why I wrote about socialhams. I want to have a chance to get that Baofeng GT-3 Mark II which is offered if you get some registrations through a referral link. Read all about that on the socialhams site.




So please if you're interested to take a look inside the socialhams site use this link to register. 

Tnx

Thursday, 18 December 2014

EURAO Party - Autumn 2014: be digital, explore 30m

The European Radio Amateurs' Organization, together with the 30 Meter Digital Group , announce a new
party on the air, this time with the motto: "be digital, explore 30m".

Remember this is not a contest, it is just a radio meeting with a few simple 'rules', better to call them recommendations. Purpose: to promote this magnificent band, all digital modes, have fun and meet other hams all over the world. Of course also SWLing is welcome.

Date & time: December 20th and 21st, 2014, Saturday and Sunday, 00:00-24:00 UTC.
Bands & modes: these are the recommended modes/frequencies (+/-) for the 30m band: CW/10.100-10.130, SSTV-N/10.132 and 10.144, WSPR/10.1386, JT65/10.138-10.140, BPSK31/10.140-10.142, RTTY/10.142-10.145, ROS/10.144-10.145, FeldHELL/10.144, APRS/10.1491-10.1495 MHz.

Tools: HamSpots, Band Chart.
Call: "CQ EURAO Party".
Exchange: because this is a QSO event, not a contest, you can talk about whatever you want, in any language, and for as long as you like. Here are some topic suggestions to get the conversation going: name, city, locator, weather, antennas, rigs, etc. Also talk about QSL interchange. Tell the truth. Say "no, thanks" if you are not interested in QSL cards. But if you would like to have a memory of your contact, feel free to use our EuroBureauQSL (see below).

Logs: for statistic purposes only, we ask participants to submit their logs to party@eurao.org in ADIF format, where the filename should be your callsign (e.g. EA3RKF.ADI). There will be no results or league tables, only statistical information about number of QSOs, countries, callsigns, OMs/YLs/Clubs, etc.

Certificate of Participation: for those sending the log and with a minimum of 10% QSOs confirmed.

EuroBureauQSL: you can use it to interchange QSLs even if you are not member. In this case, just send the QSL to the entry point of the country of the station you have contacted.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

ARRL 10M contest day 2

Event: ARRL 10M contest (day 2 of 2)
Logger: N1MM+ most updated version
Station: Icom IC-706MKIIG, 100W
Antenna: HB9CV at 6m AGL




Second day of the contest. I was up very early before sunrise. Not surprised I could actually hear some stations. First contact with 4J6RO the hamradio club of the russian community in Azerbaijan at 06:31 UTC already, it was still dark. XW4YT from Laos has been the most populair DX this weekend I guess. I heard first signals from him at 7 UTC and still heard him at 13 UTC with 5/9+ but pile-up was huge all the time and although several dutch stations made it into the log I was unable to break through. Same for Japan and Australia, heard them but they didn't hear me. However I had no trouble to reach other stations from that area. I spend several hours in the contest today a lot more as yesterday, not to the amusement of my XYL and daughter. I tried to explain that this is the last contest of the year and only possible contacts at daylight. Besides that this could be the last good 10m contest for years. I took a break around lunchtime and spend some time with my family to balance things. Returned after tea time here and made as much QSOs with the USA/Canada as possible. Shot a video as well. I think in the next years when there are no 10m conditions for years I will be looking at this post & video regularly and dream from things to come. I hope to have a real mast and antenna in the next solar maximum so I can work the stations that I was unable to work now...Anyway of course it was a very enjoyable contest with reasonable propagation. With a little perseverance and luck you could work the DX. Certainly the use of my HB9CV did help this time and score was better as last year.







Most interesting DX worked: V31MA (Belize), FR4NT (Reunion Isl), NP2X (U.S.Virgin Isl), YN5Z (Nicaragua), HK1T (Colombia), 4J6RO (Azerbaijan), HS0ZHC (Thailand), VR2XAN (Hong Kong), BG6CCP (China), YY1YLY (Venezuela), CO6LC (Cuba), TG9IIN (Guatemala), FM1HN (Martinique Isl.), J6/AD4J (St.Lucia), XE2JS (Mexico) 














Saturday, 13 December 2014

ARRL 10m contest day 1

Event: ARRL 10M contest (day 1 of 2)
Logger: N1MM+ most updated version
Station: Icom IC-706MKIIG, 100W
Antenna: HB9CV at 6m AGL

Oh my, I overslept! Planned to be on the radio before sunrise to catch first DX but it was already light when I woke up. I took a run to the shack and switched on all equipment. Radio was already buzzing with voices and it was just 7:15 UTC yet! Oh no, computer screen told me it was updating 3 of 3 updates. Why now!! Finally computer started.....clicking N1MM+ but nothing happened...nothing! Quickly surfed the internet to the newest download of N1MM+, installing took ages...finally at 7:28 UTC the contest logger came to life! I logged some stations and did hear some VKs but unfortenately they didn't hear me. The rest of the family woke up also and I had to go. Returned in the afternoon for a few minutes and a few contacts. Later that afternoon I managed to get on and off the radio for a hour. In the evening already dark I managed to hear and work some last USA stations in about 10 minutes. Then the band seemed to be closed. At 19:30 UTC decided to switch everything off when I suddenly hear M6T with 5/7. A QSO was made fast and a few seconds later he was gone. Would it have something to do with the Geminids meteorshowers?

First time since 2007 I'm able to use a directional antenna again during this contest. My goal is not really to break any records but to work at least a ATNO. And yes I did although I had limited time today. I worked V31MA Marc from Belize. Propagation on 10m today as far as I could hear was really good. In total I managed to spend 90 minutes on the radio in total today. I worked 57 stations from 23 DXCC. I hope for a good day tomorrow and will try to shoot some video if possible. This year might be the last year we can enjoy this kind of good propagation on 10m. In a couple of years it will be a struggle to get about 20-30 QSOs in a whole weekend at the 10m contest. So if you can find some time to be on the radio I recommend to give some shouts to work the DX during this contest.


Monday, 8 December 2014

17m WSPR 6,7,8 Dec & new one 10m WSPR

Since T5/T61AA was active on 17m last week I decided to find my luck there. Have been WSPRing 3 days but still no spot from T5. It's a hard DXCC nut to crack! Spotted by 31 unique calls from 16 DXCC. Best distance was ZL3DMH 18502km.

Here a map:




The activity brought me 6 new band DXCC on 17m. Not bad at all. But no new DXCC. So this morning I was on 17m again and did read Roger's G3XBM blog about his spot in the Carribian on 10m. A quick look at my list told me FG5LA Guadeloupe was not yet in my list. So I went back to 10m and turned the beam to the west. Unfortenately FG5LA was already gone, no DXCC nr. 76. 


I decided to listen for DX on 10,11 and 12m SSB my all time favorite bands.
Heard a lot of 10m DX including some massive pile-ups. On 11m I had a lot of QRM probabely from PLC homeplug systems in the neigbourhood. But DX was most interesting to hear there including some Pacific and Asia. On 12m I heard EX2V from Kyrghyztan calling without replies so I made a short QSO with him, a new one on 12m. Then I heard ZD7FT Peter from St. Helena. I worked him first call, ZD7FT has now been worked on 17m and 12m.

I had to get Anneli from school then and did put the radio on WSPR 10m hoping for some spot from FG5LA. Happy I was to see a spot at 14:26 UTC, DXCC 76 all band with WSPR 1W. Later I read PC4T Paul has been spotted by him as well.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

What's inside a old GPA 27 1/2


I recently discussed some antennas with Hans PE1BVQ. Hans is looking for something he can
use for 21-30 MHz with a antennatuner that can be placed vertically and is doing better as his sloping 3 band endfed. We came across a "original" GPA 27 1/2 that was sold on the internet for a reasonable price. This kind of antenna was the most sold antenna early eighties of last century when CB became legal here. I think the original was made by several compagnies, all looking almost the same. I name HMP and Hygain from what I remember...

Of course we know this antenna now as the populair endfed. A half wave antenne fed with the use of a transformer. For my endfed test back in 2012 I disassembled the transformer and kept it for further investigation. I'm still curious why it is designed like that and on the internet the only thing I could find is that it is a wideband way of adjustment. The transformer wire is insulated and the core is about 0,8mm2 twisted copper wire wind on a 30mm long plastic coil holder with a diameter of 32mm. There are 2 1/4 windings from "earth" to "center" of the PL plug and 7 3/4 windings from "center" PL plug to radiator.







I have no idea what else I could tell about this. I do know a little how they build a endfed and there are several ways to get a 50 Ohm match. But you don't find this type of simple matching often. Though it was commonly used in the old GPAs. Probabely one of my readers with more technical knowledge can tell why this kind of matching transformer was used? How do you get to the amount of windings or is that just a matter of trying? Don't think so as this type of antenna was produced by hundreds!