Sunday, 31 January 2016

Most northern Netherlands (licensed) radioamateur station


We visited the most northern point of mainland Netherlands today. Not too far from our home. There is a monument on the dyke and lately a new monument in remembrance of a plane that went down due to motorproblems in the war. Several of the crew members were found on the northern coast here. It is a very nice place to be but on the open with a lot of very cold wind.


Now, I sometimes proudly announce on the frequency that I am the most northern active amateurradio station of mainland Netherlands. But today I was thinking if that was right? Since PA4GB Gerrie has made a appearance on hamradio again I know now were he lives. Looking at googlemaps I saw I am not the most northern active licensed radioamateur mainland Netherlands anymore, he is. So, congrats Gerrie with this new title, actually you should deserve a certificate for this. Till someone claims he is further north. By the way I think the most northern amateurradio station in the Netherlands could be PD9R from Schiermonnikoog. But I'm not certain of this. Unfortenately PD9R is not active (yet).






Friday, 29 January 2016

Dramatic drop

A dramatic drop in the WSPR challenge charts! Unexpected. I was listening on the vertical and it seems there is a difference in noise that has a effect on receive from very weak stations. I expected to get higher in the distance chart, but am not even in it! Analyzing power outputs from stations received I miss a few of the QRPp stations. I´m not able to switch antennas at the moment so it is still on the vertical for today (Friday). Will try a new run next week with the horizontal loop. The plan is to move to 60m after that to do some experiments.

My WSPR receive setup below. The small laptop behind the desk and the FT-817.




Thursday, 28 January 2016

Testing "ears" vertical

Unfortenately there are no results on the WSPR challenge page today. Probabely because of the inaccesible WSPRnet.org website. I see that some live MUF data based on WSPR spots is add to download which you can insert in the LIVE_MUF software by G7RAU. This only covers the 6,4 and 2m band. I've made a test before between my horizontal loop and vertical antenna in 2013. It was clear then that there was almost no difference, the vertical was slightly better to Australia (DX). I decided to monitor 30m WSPR today with the vertical only. Just to see the difference in total distance, not the amount of spots. Comparisation of course is difficult as propagation is different from time to time. Only 2 exactly same receivers on the same location with 2 antennas at the same time will give a exact comparisation. Unfortenately I haven't got that possebility. Hopefully the WSPR challenge page will be able to get into the database this night...


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

How (good) are your "ears"?

I always imagine that my receive is far better then others. Am I right? The experimental WSPR challenge page from PE1ITR is the site to test it and compare your receive abilities with others. Although the best thing is to compete with a neighbourstation of course as there are a lot of propagation differences between locations. I finally have my old laptop installed with WSPR-X 1.6 and after a few tweaks got it to communicate with the FT-817 and receive something. Transmitting is another story but not important for this experiment.




Running WSPR 24 hours on 26-Jan-2016 on 30m only on receive resulted in a 3rd place with 136 received unique calls.

Distance wise it was place 29.

I think I have to do another experiment using my vertical instead of the horizontal loop. I probabely end better in the distance charts.




Clicking on the blue "uniq's" number you get a nice list from the unique stations heard in order of distance. The times that you spotted a particular station and the power the received station used.


But wait, there is more. You can click on "num. records" and now it gets really interesting. It gives the times when a particular has been spotted. And now we are getting near to a good propagation prediction help. We can actually view the propagation time slots to a particulair area. Combining everything could give a realtime propagation map. Not given are the actual reports, but they can be easily extracted from the database. 

I think PE1ITR and PA3FYM are really on a very good way with this experimental website. 
First intended as a kind of contest or gaming site competing with each other, and yes if you like that would be possible. But I would have some other ideas to work out if they want ideas?

* I would like to see the actual report given to a station in the last table
* I would like a chart to view propagation to different directions (CQ zones for example). Propagation depends on location very much and a personal chart based on received WSPR spots is something I would really appreciate. 

Imagine you switch on your radio and ask yourself in what direction is the best chance of DX at the moment on a band of choice (or all bands). You click on a propagtion chart from you own station (assumed you spotted stations on WSPR) or on the chart from a nearby station and you can instantly view what direction has the best chance. This has nothing to do with sunspots or K and A indexes, no, this would be realtime and would give surprise propagation paths.

Am I too ambitious? Is this something futuristic? I don't think so, if only someone could program this! The amateurradio world would have a great tool!


Monday, 25 January 2016

QRP excitement

After yesterdays QRP trouble I didn't see any QRP possebilities anymore today. First hours in the morning were absolutely with less to no conditions and I thought it would be a unlucky day. I had a very difficult contact with A61ZA on 15m for a new one QRP and even he was going QRT because of the bad propagation. Then suddenly propagation seems to lift up to the east. It seems they heard me well near Moscow on PSK31. Surprisingly AP2IA from Pakistan showed up on 15m JT9. I did hear him a few times on 15m SSB in the past but was unable to make the contact even with QRO then. But now his signal was a booming +00dB. And yes I managed a QSO with not even a bad signal. Besides the QRP contact it is the first ATNO for 2016! Just minutes later I made it to Australia VK3SIM and on the same 15m band I had EA8CVZ on SSB for nr. 50 in the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge. So now I have another 50 to go, it will not be a easy task. Hopefully propagation will improve a bit the next couple of weeks. I'm planning to do the PACC contest QRP as well as time doesn't allow me to participate the full 24 hours again.




Sunday, 24 January 2016

QRP troubles

It is not always sunshine with QRP. People that do regulary QRP transmissions know that. You really heavily depend on propagation with low antennas. Most of the time my radiotime is at night. And when it is dark propagation at PE4BAS is gone. I absolutely hear nothing in the evening above the 40m band. A few on 40m and a only 80m is busy enough. I really tried to hear VP8STI, one of the great DXpeditions out now but I was not able to hear even a tiny signal from them at my available time.

I received the certificate from the fieldday SSB contest 2015. I became 2nd. Not bad for a few hours of activity. I saw the the result from the Frysian 11 cities contest is also published today, I became 3rd in my section (not QRP).

This morning I finally made it to the USA on 80m QRP just after sunrise here, my 44th DXCC. I tried to get through to some new DXCC on other bands as well. But although everyone seemed to hear DX I didn't. However DX did hear me (V51, ZS6). But didn't respond, that was on 15m this morning. I had to go QRT for family matters and had no time the rest of the day. I left the radio on 10m WSPR with 1W. Now this evening I saw the update from the 100 DXCC in 100 days challenge. One of the participants K4SV already managed to get 100 DXCC in the log within 23 days....wow! N4YG Ariel wo made this challenge did a very good job as well today and add a lot of new DXCC in his log.

The results from 10m WSPR surprised me as I was heard in Chile. I wish to search for the exact callsign from this station and the time he made the spot but unfortenately the site is down most of the time. VK2TPM wrote about this in December and since then it got even worse. I hope a solution can be found soon. Since it seems the the site owner cannot be contacted I guess it would mean that another site has to be built and maintained by several people that now what they are doing. Hopefully someone is busy with that as the WSPR hamradio hobby depends on a reliable database.

I have a day off the job tomorrow and hope propagation will be better. I hope I can add some new DXCC to the QRP list and will listen out for the VP8STI DXpedition again.....wish me luck ;-)


Saturday, 23 January 2016

WSPR game development



Not official announced I believe. We can now compete on all bands.
I really need to get that laptop ready for 24/7 WSPR....



Tuesday, 19 January 2016

79


It has been announced in the blog from G3XBM and PC4T. They had been received in French Guyana by FY5KE already. I did scan the activity page on wsprnet.org several times if FY5KE was active but didn't have any luck till this morning. WSPR DXCC nr. 79 with 1W.

I've been testing WSPR-X 1.6 now for a week and can tell from my observations it is a big success. Both on WSPR as JT modes it is more sensitive. If you never did anaything with digital modes and love DX this is the must have software for the upcoming years with low sunspot activity.


Monday, 18 January 2016

QRP gets better

5W on 80m a surprise spot in VK5
Wait it gets even better, 5W on 40m by VK6

Unfortenately no QSO with VK today, but since I have been received there it should be possible....

Standings now in one week for the 100 DXCC in 100 days challenge is 41 DXCC. Not bad and noticed some surprise spots from DX stations. 


Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Pocketshack Project

It seems that there was a article in QST magazine about using your radioshack via a android phone. I do not have the article and have not read it as I am not a QST subscriber. But what I understood is that it it is based on Fldigi and the article is written by KH6TY. Through some info on the internet I understand he connects to his hamradio computer via splashtop (I wonder if he did read my article from 2013) and uses skype for VOIP. Intrigued by the idea and just shortly in the posession of a android phone I start thinking. Oh yes, it is possible another way as well. You can use it with the more populair Ham Radio Deluxe. I don't like the idea of transmitting voice via a phone internet connection, it's just too slow if you have an old android phone and haven't got a 4G connection. But you can play radio with digimodes via DM780 and WSJT-X for example. You need to adjust yourself a bit as it is different from playing with a laptop or desktop. But for the sake of experimenting it is nice to see if it is possible. Since splashtop did stop working on my computers I got back to the improved teamviewer (which has VOIP integrated, however I don't use it myself). I tried some JT65 and it did work out, just like remote controlling my transceiver. I actually made about 10 QSO's via remote with my phone that usually is in my pocket. That makes it officially a pocketshack I guess...

See my first efforts controlling the software in this video.



Thursday, 14 January 2016

Multitasking

Sometimes I'm really good in multitasking. Monday I was a day off the job repairing the old laptop, doing some digimode and listening to Steven Wilson's last album. Actually I was even busy to search for some DXCC for the 100 countries in 100 days challenge.

Repairing the tiny laptop was a challenge as well. Wow, have you ever seen such small coax connectors? Not to forget the tiny flatcables. But it works again after replacing the rechargable CMOS battery.


This acer laptop is from 2001 I believe. It is old and slow now but when I bought it secondhand this one was sold new for a price of about 1000-1200 euro. It already has touchscreen and you can fold the screen over the keyboard to use it as a tablet. This was really state of the art 15 years ago. I used this laptop for radiocontrol in 2006. Works like a charm with HamRadio de Luxe. Now my idea is to install WSJT-X 1.6 on it and have it doing some WSPR. The laptop is not taking the amount of current my desktop does and it could even be fed out of a 12V source if needed. The internal battery has been replaced 3 years ago and does still supply the laptop for about a hour. Ultimate goal would be the laptop and FT-817 powered by solarpower and doing WSPR 24/7 without the cost of electricity.





Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Accepting the challenge

When Ariel NY4G wrote about the 100 DXCC in 100 days QRP challenge I was a bit sceptic. I did some QRP back in 2014 with digimode and in 1 year I only did made it till 59 DXCC (only on digimode including CW). Anyway, it looks like a nice goal for 2016. So I want to be optimistic and accept the challenge. I wrote Ariel I will participate. I really don't know if I will get to that 100 but I will try. Most of the QSOs will be on digimode and preferable on JT9. I made a dedicated page on this blog so you can check my efforts yourself. Once and a while I will write some updates about the challenge.





Friday, 8 January 2016

60m online website

W8GEX Joe has started a new website regarding 60m. Not really new as it was already there but at another URL and maintenance was done by Bill AJ8B who had no time to do it anymore. The site has been revamped. Joe pays the first year himself but would like some donations to continue with the site in the next years. You can find all kind of info on the site as well as some active operators there. If you want to start on 60m DX I think this site is worth visiting.

http://60metersonline.com






2016 Agenda

Just for archive purposes. I started to make a agenda last year and will do it again for this year. I write the dates on the household agenda as well. To keep my family informed I'm less available at these dates.

3 February - UKEICC 80m SSB contest
13/14 February - PACC contest
2 March - UKEICC 80m SSB contest
26/27 March - CQ WPX SSB contest
6 April - UKEICC 80m SSB contest
4/5 June - Dutch Kingdom Contest
3/4 September - Fieldday contest SSB
29/30 October - CQ WW SSB Contest
13 November - PA-beker contest

20 November - Friese 11 steden contest
26/27 November - CQ WW CW contest
10/11 December - 10m ARRL contest





Thursday, 7 January 2016

UKEICC results

From the UKEICC contest results page:

Congratulations to Oyvind LB8IB on winning Overall and the High Power section, to Bas PE4BAS on winning the Low Power section and Bill GM4UBJ on winning the QRP section.

So, first time I participate this 1 hour contest.....I won! Very nice, didn't expect it.

Had a great time from a very cold shack. With the heater on it didn't get warmer as 13C. So imagine the cold hands I had at the end. Anyway, I enjoyed this 1 hour contest in the middle of the week. And the results are published very fast. This is a great format.

Thinking about the QRP section next time (3 February).






Wednesday, 6 January 2016

UKEICC 80m contest this evening

If all goes well I will participate in the 1 hour (20:00-21:00 UTC)  UKEICC 80m SSB contest this evening.
Anthony EI2KC wrote about this contest before. It is a totally different kind of contesting. Aim is high quality operating where each operator can balance speed against logging accuracy. Greatest distances will be rewarded with extra points. There is no RST exchange. The exchange will be only the 4 digit main square grid locator. Logs have to be send in cabrillo within one hour after the contest is finished. Contest results will be on the website a.s.a.p. after 22:00 UTC.

Rules: http://www.ukeicc.com/which-contest/contest-rules/ukeicc-80m-contests-rules

Contest frequency is limited from 3700-3775 KHz SSB.

Hope to meet some of you readers...






Monday, 4 January 2016

Dancing powerlines, think about a alternative power source

At the moment we have a unusual weather situation in the north eastern part of Netherlands. It is raining, freezing and we had a large wind from the east. Cold arriving from Russia ;-).  It is causing a phenomenon called "powerline dancing". The results do appear on the main electricity as sometimes the light is flickering and short breaks. Worst is that lights are shining brighter sometimes and that means voltage peaks which are not good for electronics. Just to be shure I left my shack off the grid. Luckely no damage to other household appliances yet. Here a video that appeared on the local TV to clarify the story (courtesy rtvnoord.nl).




This brings me back on my ideas to power my entire radioshack with alternative power. Powering the complete house is just too expensive right now. Part of my station is already on solarpower since 2012. I want to be independent from the electrical grid. What happened now is something that we as ham radio operators should think about. We are very much depending with almost everything we use in daily life from electricity that we buy from providers. But what if extreme weather, disasters, war or whatever you can think off is wiping out the electricity, what would you do? People will trust in you because you're a radio operator that is able to communicate in case of emergency. Oh yes, you can....but not without....electricity.

What would you use for a alternative power source in case of emergency? Or in preparation for a power outage?






Sunday, 3 January 2016

Kidsday 2016

Kidsday, perfect weather for such a event. It was cold and the windows were blinded with ice. What else to do then playing, watching TV and......make a radio transmission. You're never young enough to start HAMradio ;-). It is only 5 years ago my daughter Anneli was born. And today she made her first 3 QSOs on Kidsday. We announced ourselves at Facebook, Twitter and DXcluster with success. We first made a QSO with PE1RIK Bart with Hugo on the mike, 9 years old. Then we had a QSO with ON6HE Eddy and the last QSO was made with DN4DIY Pierre who was 13 years old. I made a video from all 3 QSOs but they have quite a length, so I decided to publish only the first QSO as this was in my opinion the most interesting. Since english is difficult for small kids it is all in the dutch language.