Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A room with a view


A day off the job. Not much time for radio although I was active with WSPR on 20m as there were new ones to get, but unfortunately those did not decode me. We are busy to get the new "living" room ready for our daughter so she can store her toys and have her own place. It will be her "study" room when she gets older. This room is has a nice panorama view out of the windows, I think it's the best room of the house although the view is to the south and it can get hot in summer.

Our house has been built in 1935 so it has a history. It has seen world war 2 and I recently did read a book about what happened here in Roodeschool and vicinity. A certain Family Gorter has been living here in our house from 1937-1965 and they certainly have seen the Germans at the end of the war when they drove away in the direction of Germany and of course they have seen the allied troops which were Canadian. The house also has a small basement and I always felt that they have been hiding there when things went dangerous. It has been written in the book that at the morning of 21 April 1945 everyone in this village was hiding in their basements or in hiding places. It was at the end of the war and there was a lot of rockets fired from the island of Borkum to the dutch coast. One house here in the village was hit and one woman died. That same day our village was liberated from the German occupier. Well, at that time electricity was fed into the house above the ground (now not very common in the Netherlands anymore). This can still be seen in the corner of this room. It might look ugly but I leave it just as it is...


It has been a lot of work sanding and painting today and still it is not ready. As you can see we have some special tile work as well. Now, what has this picture to do with hamradio you think. Well, take a good look yourself and give me a comment. I'm curious if someone spots it.


Monday, 28 November 2016

#cqww cw 2016 contest

Event: CQWW CW contest 2016
Section: Single Operator Assisted Low 160M
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna: multiband vertical @9m agl





After a few hours of contesting Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday evening when it was dark I ended with 121 QSOs in the log. Much more as expected, wow. I even heard some DX Sundaymorning as PJ2T was decoded but unfortunately I was unable to make a contact. Best DX was probabely RM9A from Asiatic Russia. However, I was surprised by the number of contacts and actually almost every station I could hear responded to my call. I even dared to run CQ for a while although it was not really a success I was spotted several times on the RBN. Unlike last year I participated low power and not QRP. This has to do with a another possible Dutch record which I will hold hopefully like my effort in 2014 on 80m QRP. The nice thing of my Icom-706 is the 350Hz CW filter and additionally I use the JPS NIR-10 audio DSP filter. Very important on the ic-706 is to switch off the NB (Noise Blanker), this will reduce any splatter to almost zero. As I decode CW with a computer (FLdigi) it needs a crystal clear signal to decode well and I managed to get that with the narrow filtering.

Look at the difference between only the 350Hz filter above and below included the bandpass filtering from the JPS NIR-10. The red signal you see is from EI0R which had a surprise for me. Fellow blogger EI2KC Anthony was on the keys and recognized my call to say hello. Thanks for the contact Anthony FB SIG. I didn't know what to answer him as I never been in this situation and all I do is sending a macro with a click on a key.

Later I discovered I can type as well in the FLdigi TX field and send it manually. Next time I give him a proper answer ;-). Oh, yes for the CW purists participating in a CW contest like this is not done of course. But so far at least I can participate and learn a small bit of morse code as well. I already recognize my own call and the words TEST, CQ, TU, ?, K, 5NN. Enough to make QSOs in a contest like this as it is not neccessary to read the CQ zones since this is filled in automatically in the log.
I had great fun on 160m even with a few hours of participation. Hopefully it will bring me a new Dutch record.

I was prepared to sell my JPS NIR-10 filter as I don't use it too much. But it does very well in CW contests so I'm not shure till I have better equipment. Still looking at a shiny new IC-7300 which will do much better as my antique IC-706 I guess. I noticed the price of the IC-7300 fluctuates and is currently around 1300 euro. I guess it will get lower when the new IC-7610 will be out whenever that is. In the mean time I'll save some money.


Friday, 25 November 2016

60m DX, use it while we can

Oh yes, we will continue using 60m in the Netherlands but there will be a change in rules. We are allowed 100 KHz bandwidth from 5350-5450Khz now with 100W since December last year. Next year our country will be complying with the WRC-15 rules, as for most countries in Europe. That means 15Khz from 5351,5-5366,5 KHz and 15W power. So, if you still want to DX on SSB/CW with QRO I guess you take your chances now while we still can. Of course there will be plenty of DX on 60m left. 15W with JT65 or JT9 is more then enough to reach the world.

I left the radio on during night time as according to the DX cluster it is the best time for DX. Early in the evening my signal was heard at VK7BO Tasmania Isl. During the evening/night VP8ALJ and TG9ANH were heard. The time for DX is not really good for us as it is really very deep into the nigh or very early in the morning. Most people here in the Netherlands sleep at that time usually. Except if you are a real DXer of course....

The 60m band is not the easiest band to DX on as it is just not as busy as the usual amateurbands. Although more and more countries permitting amateurradio on this band. I notice not many have the capability to transmit here since this band is normally not opened up for TX in the average amateurradio transmitter. However it is interesting to see what is possible on a band that is between 80m and 40m. If you decide to modify your radio and try something as experiment I suggest you take a look at JT65 (5357KHz) that's were most of the DX happens. Luckely this JT frequency still is in the band after the WRC-15 rules are valid.

After 2 days on 60m in the evening with not that good propagation I noticed the band opens earlier for stations south of me. Of course this could be a coincidence but I observed stations 100km south of me were heard in the USA a half hour before my signal was spotted at the same station. It occured to me that it could also be the antenna as I'm using the horizontal loop which is more a NVIS antenna. To prove that I should make a comparisation with neighbourstation PA4GB who has a inverted-V.



Thursday, 24 November 2016

S-Match V1.1

Have been fiddling with the S-Match. Modified the coil with a sliding contact. It's working well on 80m and 60m. I can't tune 160m and haven''t got enough capacity to tune above 6MHz. I have been transmitting with the tuner on 60m and it did just as good as the Palstar no difference in signals at all.
It has been a nice experiment but I already noticed I should make it with a decent coil and capactitor. Another possebility is modifying a exsisting T-Match tuner like the MFJ-948 I still have. Since the MFJ is not worth much moneywise and it has a nice look including a SWR/power meter. PA0FRI did modify a MFJ tuner as well with good results. Not decided yet. I'm thinking about it....

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Friese 11 steden contest 2016 (video)

Event: Friese 11 steden contest 2016
Section: LOW power SSB
Logger: HRD V4 log export to excel sheet later 
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna: 84m horizontal loop @7m agl

As this is mainly a Dutch national contest, although international callers are welcome, I'll write this post in Dutch.

De meeste blog lezers weten dat ik een liefhebber ben van deze gezellige contest. Het bijzondere van deze contest is het uitwisselen van plaatsnaam. Juist dat geeft een idee waar iemand zich bevind in Nederland. Alhoewel sommige plaatsnamen mij volledig onbekend zijn. Ik maak me al jaren sterk voor het gebruik van de 40m band in plaats van of in combinatie met de 80m band voor deze contest vanwege de mogelijkheid van novice amateurs om mee te doen. Op 80m was er de eerste twee uur wel aanbod van stations maar het laatste uur had je meestal iedereen wel gewerkt het laatste uur was dus erg saai. De 12 multipliers werken was ook altijd prima te doen. Dus dit jaar 40m, dan spelen er hele andere dingen mee. Vooral de condities op korte afstand zijn nog al eens grillig, hiervoor kun je het beste de ionogrammen van Karlsruhe en Dourbes in de gaten houden. Tja, en dat beloofde net zoals het weer niet veel goeds. Zie mijn video:



Nee, het was niet echt een succes. De MUF voor korte afstand bleef onder de 7 MHz en zelf heb ik maar 38 stations kunnen werken met ook maar 3 multipliers te weten Dokkum, IJlst en Bartlehiem. Er deden wel een aantal novice license houders mee en dat was precies de bedoeling. Verrassend zal zeker de uitslag zijn. Vaak werd die door een aantal (vaste deelnemende) stations gedomineerd maar dit jaar zal heel iemand anders de contest winnen in de secties buiten Friesland. Dat is dan wel weer leuk natuurlijk. Geslaagd en interessant was het 40m experiment zeker want we weten nu dat 40m erg moeilijk gaat voor deze contest. Ik denk dat het ook niet voor herhaling vatbaar is. De 80m band kan ook moeilijk gaan maar is over het algemeen een stuk betrouwbaarder op dit soort korte afstanden.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Some news

It doesn't happen often but I have to write about some news I found.

First of all, DL4MFM adventure radio recently updated his interesting log analyzing page.

http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

This is really a simple graphic page with enough features to analyze your log fast. DL4MFM did add some features like worked squares and fields.

SOTA beam in the UK now developed the WSPRlite module. It works pretty
much like my W5OLF WSPR transmitter only this one seems to have a GPS clock (or so?) inside. The module is capable of transmitting 160-20m (no 60m). It does have filters for 30 and 20m but you can add a LPF for other bands. It can be programmed via USB and works with a simple phone charger as PSU. You can follow the performances via their new site: http://www.dxplorer.net/ both on computer as tablet or phone. They claim you can check the performance of antennas and you can make a comparisation with other stations or other locations. I think it's really interesting and a good start to do something with WSPR data. Although personally I still would like to see in which DXCC my small signal has been received. I still hope for some website, app or software that can automaggicaly substract that out of the data found on wsprnet.org.

New in the frysian 11 cities contest this Sunday is the use of 40m instead of 80m as HF band. This opens new possebilities and challenges. NVIS on the 40m band is a complete different story compared to the "easy" 80m band. Nearby contacts could be impossible on 40m or they could be very loud depending on propagation at the moment of the contest. Find a old article and a handy multiplier card here:

http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2015/11/frysian-11-cities-contest-this-sunday.html

Contest this Sunday 21 november between 10-13 UTC, international participants welcome. Rules here. (80m must be 40m this year).

I got my repaired MFJ-259B back today. Leo PA0LMD from radioamateurshop.nl did a great and fast job. He exchanged the faulty diodes and did a calibration for a reasonable price. He did let me know the device was ready by e-mail so I knew it was on its way to me. I can certainly recommend this repair service at least for Dutch radioamateurs. The MFJ-259B analyzer is the most important device to me besides my multimeter.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

PA-beker contest 2016 verslag

Event: PA-beker contest 2016
Section: LOW power SSB
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna: 84m horizontal loop @7m agl

Sorry this post is only in Dutch as it is probabely not interesting for international readers. The PA-beker contest is a Dutch local contest. Most interesting to test NVIS antenna capability.

Zoals elk jaar deed ik weer m'n best in de PA-beker contest. Elk jaar is het een verassing hoe het met de condities is gesteld op 80m en 40m. Vorig jaar ging het moeilijk op 80m, dit keer juist niet. De signalen waren prima op 80. Dus voornamelijk CQ geroepen en genoeg aanbod tot 10:10 UTC waarna ik overging op 40m. Daar hoorde ik in eerste instantie bijna niks, hier en daar werd met moeite een station gewerkt. Dus eerst weer terug naar 80m. 15 minuten later weer geluisterd en het werd rond 10:35 al snel iets beter. Dus nu weer CQ roepen op 40m, dit keer hoorde ik wel meer stations al was het aanbod niet zo groot als op 80m. Dit jaar werkte ik iets meer stations in totaal vergeleken met vorig jaar. 137 stations en 69 multipliers. Dat is dan wel 1 multiplier minder dan vorig jaar.
Goed voor 9453 punten. Ook dit jaar weer regio's gemist te weten: 6, 16,17, 32, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 47, 50. Dit zijn er meer vergeleken met vorig jaar, betekend dit dat die regio's niet aanwezig waren? Of heb ik ze echt gemist? Dit jaar helaas wel een station moeten laten gaan op 40m. Ik kon de call helaas niet opnemen het was te zwak en ik had net iets te veel QRM. Het gebeurd me volgens mij niet vaak. Ik hoopte dat hij het later nog eens zou proberen maar dat is volgens mij niet gebeurd. Vorig jaar werkte ik PH9B Bram terwijl hij met 0,1W werkte vanwege RFI problemen. Dit jaar werkte Bram vanaf een vakantielokatie op 134m hoogte met 300W. Dat scheelde behoorlijk want zijn signaal was erg hard op zowel 80 als 40m. Bram heeft met 12500 punten ook beduidend beter gedraait als ik. Ik hoop dat het hem een eerste plaats oplevert voor deze gezellige contest. Tot volgend jaar!


Thursday, 10 November 2016

S-Match© experiment

PA1PRD's endfed tuner
More info about the S-Match© can be found at the website of PA0FRI

I always wanted to experiment with this design to feed my horizontal loop. Since the system works with a simple transformer the radio is not physically connected with the antenna and that's one of the things I like of this design. Other advantages claimed are better balance compared to a T-Match with 1:4 balun and a higher antennacurrent into the antenna. So, I aquired a homemade matcher from PA1PRD Erik at a sale from our radioclub. It is a very simple endfed tuner which he used for a 80/40m wire hanging in the air below a kite. Both coil and capacitor are homemade. Just perfect for my little project. I dismantled the whole thing and made some improvements on the capacitor.

Measuring everything I was already afraid I would have too less capacity (140pF), but for just a experiment it's not a problem. I don't bother you all with the technical aspects of building this whole antennatuner but in the end it cost me a "few" hours. What was more important to me were the results. I wanted to verify the claims given. At first I measured the current behind my Palstar AT2K which is a T-match with built in 1:4 balun. Transmitting with 40W FM I measured about 0,8A on one side and 3,4A on the other side  of the open line with my clamp meter.
Nice?



I connected the S-Match© and with the help of my MFJ-259B I found a nice 50Ohm match on 30m. Oh yes, with 40W input I measured again and found a high current of 300A on one side and 80A on the other end. This couldn't be true. Besides that, the radio kept transmitting even when I switched PTT off. Not good. I decided to listen how receive was and it was not that good.

Transformer
Switched back to my vertical and had a lot of signals from stations all over the band. So I thought I made a fault constructing the antennatuner. Then suddenly it occured to me that I connected the wrong ladderline (have 2 coming into the shack remember). I was matching a piece of about a meter ladderline and the tuner could still get a 50Ohm match!!! Wow!. Now, I connected the right ladderline which connected the loop to the tuner. But the disaster already happened. I probabely forgot to switch off the MFJ-259B and the high radiation from the unshielded tuner and high antennacurrents probabely fried the very sensitive diodes inside. Stupid me!

Anyway I wanted to continue the experiment to I decided to connect a SWR meter to tune the S-match©. Now I measured transmitting with 40W FM a current of 34A on one side and 2,8A on the other side. Still a big difference between both sides of the ladderline, could be a loop cannot be balanced just like a dipole with 2 exactly same lengths? But it is significant more compared to the output of the Palsar T-match tuner. It was relatively easy to find a good match though, only not above 14 MHz as the capacitor probabely hasn't got enough capacity. I consider the experiment as successful and learned interesting things already.

Unfortenately I damaged my MFJ-259B analyzer  during the experiment and so I searched on internet how to repair the thing. That didn't look easy to me as the diodes are SMD types. Thinking about my escapades repairing the IC-706 and modifying the FT-817 I decided to find someone that repairs these things. I found radioamateurshop.nl which is not really a shop although it is in the name. It is a repairservice for hamradio equipment. So I already shipped the analyzer and hope it will be repaired soon.




Monday, 7 November 2016

Loop skywire details

Look closely to see the North East pole
of the loop.
This could be the last year I assembled the loop skywire. Things are changing and the new antennamast is planned for next year. So, I might try another antenna for the low bands. Anyone reading this blog for years won't be interesting to read about this antenna anymore I guess. I started to use this antenna in 2009 and this is the 7th year I assembled it for wintertime. The loop has always been a solid performer and if you have 20X20m of room I recommend to build one to use it for NVIS on the low bands as well for DX on almost any band.


This year I have nothing to improve so I decided to take a closer look at the materials in use. I always focused at the whole image which is very difficult to photograph as the loop is just too large. 3 of the 4 poles are standing on 70cm M30 studs and to prevent the poles from sliding into the ground there are M30 nuts in the center.







The fiberglass poles are supported by nylon guywires which are tightened to some 30cm "goat" pins or nearby trees. I use some home made tensioners to get the right tension on the wire.









The guywires and of course the antennawire are connected to a large M30 ring. The ring slides over the top and fits perfectly. Since the top is smaller because you can connect the mast parts to each other the ring doesn't slide any further. Normally another mastpart slides over this end.




The antennawire is connected with a tie wrap at the first pole to prevent the feedpoint from moving. At the other poles this wire is going through a clip so it can move freely. This is done to get a even tension between the poles even when it storms. The antennawire is tensioned when finishing the construction.


I noticed the glasfiber masts are wearing after 7 winters. I've seen this at glasfiber antennas like the A99 and Diamond X30/X50 as well. This is not a good sign. The only thing you can do to prevent this is to coat all the mast parts with special paint or protect it with tape. These military mastparts have protection but after 7 years most of it has been vanished.

One of the poles is supported by a wall of the glasshouse. Unfortenately the brackets are not that good anymore either. They already were heavily used when I got them and not getting any better.









This is below the tiles on my roof. Were I connect my wires. On the other end
there are 2 ladderlines 1 mtr each inside the wall and finally through it to my antennetuner. You might ask why 2 ladderlines. Well, one is the spare. You never know what I have to experiment. May be I will connect both to antennas in the future? It never happened yet. I had a small experiment with 1 wire as endfed in summer connected to one of these studs. It worked but I got a lot of RFI into the shack which is probabely normal with that kind of single wire antenna.

Well, I hope you enjoyed some of the pictures. If you read this blog for the first time you probabely are interested in the rest of it. In that case you can read (and view) the articles I wrote since 2009 about this antenna:

http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2009/11/80m-horizontale-loop-1.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2009/11/80m-horizontale-loop-2.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2012/11/nvis-loop-op-again.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2012/01/testing-repaired-horizontal-loop.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2014/11/loop-up-some-pictures.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2015/11/horizontal-loop-preparations.html
http://pe4bas.blogspot.nl/2015/11/loop-construction.html

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Will Li-Fi save our radiospectrum?

Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi. The term was coined by Harald Haas and is a form of visible light communication and a subset of optical wireless communications (OWC) and could be a complement to RF communication (Wi-Fi or cellular networks), or even a replacement in contexts of data broadcasting. It is wire and uv visible-light communication or infrared and near-ultraviolet instead of radio-frequency spectrum, part of optical wireless communications technology, which carries much more information, and has been proposed as a solution to the RF-bandwidth limitations.

Find more about this searching the internet.

I hope the lamp driver will not produce more noise because of this technology. But since it is meant for high RF sensitive environments I think they will take care.