Tuesday, 27 October 2015

#CQWW a weekend full of DX

Event: CQWW DX SSB 2015
Logger: N1MM+ most updated version
Station: Icom IC-706MKIIG (power max. 100W)
Antenna: Vertical HF multiband antenna at 9m AGL. 10m HB9CV on 6m AGL, wire endfed for 40m.

Had limited time of course, like always. This time we had visitors on Saturday because of our 10th wedding anniversary. It doesn't matter radiowise, more contests will follow in my lifetime. The fun was making DX this weekend, lots of DX. And after that fun, more fun. Analyzing the log, uploading logs, writing a story for this weblog, editing a CQWW video (will follow in the next post).  A different way to experience the CQWW DX this year was visiting the PA6GR contest location were fellow radio operators did participate in the contest as multi operator, one transmitter (TX) with the call PA4O. They did a great job. I was visiting them with neighbourstation PD1AFF Gerrie who lately started with the hobby again.

I was up very early Saturday to get as many QSOs as I could. Only 160,80 and 40m band were open at that time. Since I do not have the 80m horizontal loop up it was difficult to get QSOs in the log although I worked a few USA stations on 80m. The trick to do that with a limited station and low power is to find these Americans above 3800KHz and then work them split, success guaranteed!  40m is the same story, listen above 7200KHz and find the split working Americans. When 20/15 and 10 opened I had to go QRT unfortenately and was only able to come back on the radio when those bands were closed again leaving me with 187 QSOs only at night. I had doubts I would get my goal of 500?


Sunday morning was not that early, even I need some sleep! Things really speed up when 20/15 and 10m are open. 10m was alive and at one moment I could work Marianas Isl., China and Thailand when I heard Brazil and Argentina on the other side of the beam. We visited the contest location in the afternoon. Of course I could have made QSOs then. But we would like to experience this as well.
When I came back home 10m was still open to the west and I made use of the opportunity to boost my QSO&multiplier count. I finished late 23:09 UTC Sunday evening (my Monday morning) with a total of 550 QSOs from 88 DXCC in the log.



LOG ANALYSIS CQ WW DX SSB 2015 @ PE4BAS


Most interesting DX by band:

10m: HS5NMF (Thailand), UP0L (Kazakhstan), VK4UC (Australia), TO90R (Reunion Isl.), VU2CPL (India), BY9CA (China), AH0K (Marianas Isl.), A93JA (Bahrain), HZ1HZ (Saudi Arabia), A73A (Quatar), A65EE (UAE), PX5E (Brazil), JW5E (Svalbard), PJ4X (Bonaire), TO2M (Martinique), LP1H (Argentina), TO4K (St.Barthelemy), TO1E (St.Martin), V47T (St.Kitts&Nevis), P40A (Aruba), 8P5A (Barbados), VP5DX (Turks&Caicos Isl.) + many USA/Canada

15m: UB0A (As.Russia), UK9AA (Uzbekistan), JA5FDJ (Japan), PX2A (Brazil), TO4K (St.Barthelemy), HK1NA (Colombia), 9Y4W (Trinidad&Tobago), PJ4Q (Bonaire) + many USA/Canada

20m: A73A (Quatar), 8P5A (Barbados), 9K2HN (Kuwait), K7RL (WA, USA) + few USA/Canada. I have not been really active on 20 this time. 20m was almost closed when I was on.

40m: V26B (Antigua&Barbuda), TO4K (St.Barthelemy), PS2T (Brazil), C37N (Andorra), PJ4Q (Bonaire), 8P5A (Barbados), VE3MIS (Canada), HK1NA (Colombia), K4JPD (USA amongst many others), RC9O (As.Russia), JA3YBK (Japan), A73A (Quatar), UP2L (Kazakhstan)

80m: RC9O (As. Russia), K1KP (USA amongst many others), C37N (Andorra), TK/PB8DX (Corsica), 




This contest resulted in 2 ATNOs. TO4K (St.Barthelemy) and TO1E (St.Martin). TO4K was even worked on 40, 15 and 10m.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

#CQWW DX SSB 2015 wishlist

With the upcoming CQWW DX SSB contest this weekend I had to look on NG3K's announced operations page to make a wishlist. This is the time to work DX you never worked before. Not that it is always easy, but easier then breaking a pile-up at a DXpedition. However it's just a wish to work them all. I usually don't hear them all. If you can't hear it, you can't work it.

My wishlist:

4W/JE1CKA (Timor Leste), A35JP (Tonga), E51EAQ (South Cook Isl.), PJ7PL (St.Maarten), TO1E (St.Martin), TO4K (St. Barthelemy), TT8AMO (Chad).

7 new ATNO's could be worked....wow! I hope the propagation will be peaking that weekend. I'll try to participate as much as I can. I'm going to take preparations to setup the station for the contest. Have the multiband vertical, HB9CV for 10m and will make a half wave longwire for 40m NVIS.
Hopefully it will all work out. The goal is to make at least 500 QSOs but my main attention will be paid to ATNOs.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

No more mixW

Thought about a good title for this post. I think this is the only title. No more mixW for me. I realized I was a bit negative about mixW in my last post. Part of the software didn't work. But now....

To test mixW and setup I wanted to try it in a contest again and decided to take part in the JARTS (Japanese RTTY contest). Early from bed both Saturday/Sunday and managed to do a few hours testing (and contesting). Went well and actually found mixW a relax program as it fills in the exhange number automagically. So this evening I reached just 50 QSOs. Enough to fill in 2 points for the Dutch division contest. So I stopped and wanted to make a ADIF and Cabrillo file. I then discovered nothing in the log, nothing at all. Started mixW again, nothing again. Tried to find the fault or a possebility to get the log back. Could not find it. So tried to find a file in the mixW map on my computer. Nothing found, log files are all empty.

So I'm sorry for those that made a contact with me in the JARTS. This is the first time I lost my log. However, I will validate all eQSL that will be received and RTTY QSOs that are made at the time I was QRV. In that case you will appear in my log again. 

This has never happened to me before and I will stick at the more reliable DM780 and N1MM+. MixW will be uninstalled.....forever!


Friday, 16 October 2015

Online loggers

The amount of online loggers has been increased over the years. There is no need for a logging program on your computer as long as you got internet. And there you have the main disadvantage. Although these days you can't imagine you haven't got a internet connection it is still a network that can be out of order. If you only use a online logger you can't log on the moment there is no internet. So, there are some loggers that are online only and some that can be connected by a log program. Some of the loggers are very sophisticated, some have build in DXclusters, some can show you very nice statistics and some have a possebility of confirmation with eQSL for instance. I made a list of the online loggers with their features I could find and what worked for me. Probabely there are more, so if you don't see a logger please feel free to let me know at the comments.


http://www.hrdlog.net

Features: One of my favorites. And it intergrates with HRD. Showing log on internet (websites and various options), license plate with your call (callplate), dxccplate, various log options, iQSL (instant QSL), QSL exchange, Map analysis, eQSL and LotW integration and lots more. Really worth trying...

http://enzolog.org

Features: Might be not as sophisticated as HRDlog. But is interesting due to the handy DXcluster integration. Several colors will give you a quick overview of what you worked/confirmed. The only
problem is the italian language. I quickly made a new diagram legend in both English/Dutch. The program has limited CAT reading for your logbook in collaboration with CAT control software from IZ2BKT (not free!). I tested this software and it works fine but the log implements a strange reading of the frequency (see the photo). Logged one station this way (SV3FUO). Just to test...I expected I could go to the frequency from the station spotted by clicking on it when I had CAT control but that is not the case.


I actually find this cluster thing very useful and something I haven't seen at other online loggers.

http://logbook.qrz.com

Features: Part of the famous QRZ.com pages. Logbook looks are very nice. Best options as far as I can see is the integration of LotW. You can import all LotW QSOs. You can earn some awards and show them on your QRZ page. Very clear and simple interface.




http://eQSL.cc

Features: Also one of my favorites. Not only a QSL exchange site but you can use it as logger as well. There are many awards/certificates you can earn and number of users is huge. If you like to exchange QSL this is your site. It is easy to setup multiple activations all within their own time frame and with their own QSLs and log.

http://hamlog.eu

Features: You can log online, but you can do that with other loggers too. It is wat it is and the only feature I find useful might be the log statistics. Interface is clear and easy to read.





You will not see LotW and Clublog as I only think a real online logger is one were you can log contacts live online. LotW and Clublog only allows uploading of your log. http://www.hamlogsonline.com is another one. Features: It integrates with Winlog32. Haven't got a account for it. Seems this site is only working with IE?
I've tried to register but haven't been successful. I don't know if direct logging on the internet is possible.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Perseverance


Paul's screenshot of my signal
PC4T Paul and I had a sked which was moved from yesterday to today due to other obligations. It almost went wrong at first as I discovered 5 minutes before the sked my battery powering the autotuner was low and the charger had switched of supply to protect it. So I had to search for a alternative 12V supply. Found an old PSU but it went defective when I switched it on. Luckely I still had my 7Ah battery which I use for QRP operations and used that for the time being. Just on time I switched the computer on....oh no....3 updates! A couple of minutes too late but I was there. Paul and I tried JT65A first but that wasn't working. I proposed JT9 and after almost an hour trying we succeed to make a contact. At -27dB levels it is just a matter of luck and perseverance. I worked at 40W with the Icom IC-706 and the multiband vertical, switched on the 250Hz CW filter and NB off to create extra sensitive receive. Paul was also working at 40W with the Yaesu FT-450 and his 3 band endfed as far as I know.


Monday, 12 October 2015

Swapped UHF/VHF W2000 for 10m HB9CV

A bit cold but sunny today. Excellent weather to swap antennas. It took me almost a hour to swap antennas today. For the upcoming CQWW DX SSB contest at the end of the month I really need all the HF capabilities I can get and have. However there was no 10m propagation today. Checked the 10m HB9CV SWR and it was exactly the same as when I removed it at the start of the ES season. I hope propagation will improve a little in the next weeks.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Retrying mixW with mixed feelings

It has been years ago that Bernard PB7Z and I started with contesting. I immidiatly sticked to HRD and DM780 and Bernard was more into mixW. Now Bernard is one of the most active contesters in the Netherlands. And even with a vertical on groundlevel he still obtains nice scores and DX. I had a lot of troubles lately with RTTY on N1MM+ and told Bernard I would like to take a look at mixW again to see if I could get used to it. So, I got mixW 2.16 from him as he use it himself with good results all these years. At first I think mixW has a lot of features but it is not always clear how to find it (how to make a cabrillio file for example). Setup is a struggle, if you can get it to work fast you're lucky. After asking Bernard (in the middle of the Makrothen RTTY contest, sorry Bernard!) a few times I got the program working with at least CAT control. But now I wanted to take part in the contest....no way I could get a contest setup from the program. I can only make a setup by hand. And although I tried to get the most updated contest.dll into the plugin directory mixW couldn't find anything at all. Searching on the internet they suggest I should try the hidden directory "appdata" and find mixW in there to add the dll into the plugin dir. But no way I could find a mixW dir there. Oh my! Have been searching and trying for a solution but can't find it. Very bad for a program that you have to pay for, and yes I know I should have trying the newest version. And yes, I probabely try it later. But as Bernard is working with this version for years already why isn't it working for me? I don't know. The result after setting up everything by hand was 1 QSO on 80m in the Makrothen contest. And yes, I found features in mixW I like. It is the automatic grabbing of the serialnumber and the display of the call under their signal. What I still miss is the audio history I like in DM780 and FLdigi. I probabely will try mixW again as I know now how to set it up. But for serious contesting I'll better stick to N1MM+. For normal use I still think DM780 is the best....

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Evening fun on 160m

Convinced that propagation is not too good I started to listen out on 20 this evening. Not much was heard, a few european signals. I decided to see if 17m was still open and heard only one signal on the band from TK4LS (Corsica). I spoke Laurent before this year on the magic band and a quick QSO was made this evening. Just for fun I thought to listen on 160m and it surprised me I heard some JT65A signals. I quickly started WSJT-X and saw the band was full of signals. Had a lot of fun.

I always have hamspots.net open when doing digital modes. As you can see there was a lot of activity this evening. Hamspots is really good to see if you are received. Handy if you're not shure your signal is going out. I was using between 10-20W this evening and the antenna was my "trusty" homemade alu tape vertical.




One of the side effects of doing digital modes and especially JT is that you can do other things besides it. I like to listen some music. Have been listening to some music from "Porcupine Tree", one of my favorite bands this evening. Writing this blog at the same time and keeping an eye on the stations received on WSJT-X. For me digital modes are a fun and relaxing thing inside this hobby. The fun is that with propagation decreasing in the upcoming years I expect more people will discover digimodes to have at least some (DX) QSOs. Although we should not worry, there will always be some propagation.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The effect of blogging on the nearby environment...

Some of you know, some of you don't. Currently google (home of this blog and many others) is building a huge datacenter near my QTH. They don't just build it there but have chosen the location because of the nearby powerplants. You can imagine that a huge datacenter does need a huge amount of power, ensured without power failures. Imagine the heat these servers create!

I remember years ago it was all agricultural land, growing potatoes. In front of the photo you see some trees that cover a reasonable large old farm I think from around 1900. I've been there a couple of times when the farm was still in use. It is small compared to the datacenter being build in the farm backyard. I guess the farm will be demolished in time. That's called progress...





A decade ago there was only one big powerplant on gas in the Eemshaven. We thought it was big till RWE began to build this coal fired powerplant. It is huge, really huge. You have to search for the old powerplant now. And it is smoking.....a lot, I even seen the smoke traveling 40 km away! They ensured us that it would not harm the environment and all nearby living people would be save and without health problems.

 Filtering would be the best there is. Look at the photos, do you trust them? Like we trust VW with their wrong emission? Greenpeace has been demonstrating here, they don't do that for nothing. They tried to stop them with several lawsuits. But money is the only thing that counts here and things went on in the end. No one cares for the environment. The Dutch government has to reduce CO2 emission, but didn't stop this coal fired powerplant being built. Only money and lot's of electricity power counts. You see a lot of windmills as well, oh yes lots of them to compensate. To compensate something that has already happen.



We are living in a beautiful part of the country. In the last century we had the cleanest air of the country here in the north. But now...I'm not shure. What can we do about it. You can't blame the government as we are all guilty, we are power hungry we need electricity. It's a kind of addiction and we always need more till we destroy our lives in the end. Hopefully that will take some time :-). 

So, now I get back to the title. Does this blog has a direct effect on my nearby environment. Not direct, but indirect....if you think about it...yes a very tiny bit. Do I have to stop blogging now to breath cleaner air. Well I don't think so. It is good to think about these things but writing this blogpost and taking photographs was more fun. We have to enjoy life and do our best to take care about the environment, But this environment thing should not overtake our lives. It is wat it is...it goes like it goes, We cannot rule everything... 


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Autumn antenna maintenance

It occured to me that receiving a signal on 20m was not like it normally is last evening. Sometimes weak signals were readable, sometimes absolutely not. Like a strong station is appearing nearby. But that could not be, so it has to be the antenna. The weather was beautiful today and I decided to lower them mast to inspect all connections.



 And indeed, the self vulcanizing tape was damaged so water could cause corrosion to the radial connection. I replaced the chocolate block which was partly corroded and replaced the interconnection wires. Replaced everything and made it waterproof again. Not really shocking but it can affect very weak signals. After a test SWR was a little better on all bands except the lower 10m band. Good enough for me.
DIY tape & Industrial tape

This damaged vulcanizing tape has occured to me before. There is a lot of quality difference between tape you can buy at the DIY market, internet and professional tapes. I now used a 3 layer thick industrial grade tape which is thicker and hopefully better UV resistant. It is also much more expensive of course.

After I finished the antenna it was time to enjoy the autumn garden.








Saturday, 3 October 2015

Back on air

PD0FF Foppe is back on the air. Helped him this morning to get a Diamond X50N installed and brought back some of his equipment. It involved some soldering of N-connectors. It was a long time ago I did that as I'm more used to HF and PL-connectors. Foppe came up with one of my first QSL cards. Made a quick photo from it. Luckely Foppe feels better and really wants to get involved again in the radio hobby.


Friday, 2 October 2015

WSPR DXCC list

I added a list of the DXCC that heard my 1W signal at my WSPR DXCC page now. Still wonder how many years it will take till I have 100? I have some very nice DXCC in my list like Wake Isl. and Macquarie Isl.. Try to work those in any mode. I never heard them on SSB or CW or any other digimode besides wspr ever. But they did hear my 1W whispering signal.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Olivia again

It has been 3 years ago I made my first and I believe only QSO in the digital mode Olivia. I've been trying and looking for contacts but no luck at all. There are not many that have the patience and writing skill you need for this mode. Not to forget you need to have a social skill as well as this is a ragchew mode. If you try this mode, others expect some chat and not the usual macro commands. Olivia digital mode is not for everyone I think, but suits me well as I like reading and writing. Yesterday evening I finally had a Olivia QSO on 20m with AJ8S Jim. His signal was barely readable though Olivia decoded it without many problems. We had a qso that lasted I think at least 20 minutes. Jim is a retired engineer and has been working in the Netherlands in the past. Olivia mode is so different from other digital modes especially when you meet someone interesting and have a nice chat. You can do this via the internet of course. But wireless via radio is so much more magic. It gives you the feeling of radio before the internet and phone age. I feels very good...