Sunday, 22 October 2017

New homemade digimode interface

I've had it with digimode interfaces that don't work or that only work sometimes or under some circumstances. The new JTDX and WSJT-X software requires a variable audio input as the audio input slider has been removed. Sometimes the audio slider in the computer software just isn't working well like in my old laptop.  I've been searching for a commercial one, but if you want something with variable input/output they are not cheap.

So I decided to make another modem, a very simple one that use the VOX in the FT817 for TX switching. I'm not the first to try that and there is even a modification for the FT817 to activate the VOX on the backside mini DIN connector which is originally not functioning with VOX, only on the mike input. That mod can be done but you need to remove the complete "motherboard" of the FT817 and I find that too risky. So I use the mini DIN connection for receive and the RJ45 mike input for transmit, this has been done before by others. Just to be shure I would have a clean signal I completely isolated the computer/radio with 1:1 audio transformers and I use small caps to ground to completely remove any RF. To couple the audio I place 2 electrolitic caps in in and output to block any DC. Things should be good that way I thought. Well, it did work when completely on batteries.

But when I connected the laptop power supply the radio goes in constant TX till I switch off the VOX. I really didn't know why in the first place but it then occured to me I forgot to connect ground connections together on both sides. After I soldered some extra wires the problem seems to be solved in the first place, at least on my base antenna. However, I still have issues with the magnetic loop connected. So I changed the RG58 coax into Aircell7. I don't trust RG58 at all and had a lot of problems with it in the past, but this time it didn't solve the problem.  Monitoring with my IC-706 let me know that as soon as I touch the power supply connector VOX jumps in and radio transmits even without connecting the laptop to the power supply!!! And when I plug the connector in the laptop I get a very large hum on my audio. It was obviously a power supply problem and solved it by a extra "line filter" made from a large ferrite clamp.

After playing with it a while I didn't like the TX volume control, it seems te laptop does have a large output volume and to get a good ALC reading I need at least a very low output volume to actually control it with the potmeter, So I ad a 100K potmeter in series with the 20K potmeter inside to have better control over it.

Below the diagram of the interface if anyone likes to replicate it. Everything is made from scrap parts. I used a housing from a previous interface project, DIN connector with wire from a mouse, RJ45 connector with wire from a old network cable, Jack plugs found in my electronic garbage box, potmeters, knobs and capacitors from a broken CB radio.

I tested on the vertical with WSPR on 20m last sunday and results are promising. However, the main test would be with the loop antenna inside the house or garage or anywhere  I want and on battery power as all this is for portable use. Today (a week later!) I had the opportunity to test it again on 20m and with the magnetic loop in a corner of my shack. The results for a few hours in the afternoon:

I was only received in Spain and Italy but I think a RTTY contest was disturbing 20m WSPR receive. However my receive did very well!

The setup: My old laptop with WSJT-X. FT817 with on top my new audio interface and the ZLP electronics CAT modem so I can control the radio with the computer. It works well like this. I tried FT8 on 30m but my computer is just too slow for it. However it looks like FT8 is a better propagation indicator compared to WSPR these days! So unfortunate JT65/JT9 is not as populair as before.

While testing my magloop I was on FT8 with my base station and found the 12m band wide open.

Before attending the 12m band I was looking at 6m and 10m. I threw out a few CQs but nothing came back. However, I was received in Reunion Isl. as you can see on the map (pink spot).

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

30m band magnetic loop test with the W5OLF WSPR VCXO-AXE

I almost forget about the small transmitter I have and built in 2015. The right transmitter to test my magnetic loop in practice. And while setting it up it seems it leads to a solution for a tuning indicator I was writing about before. What about the simple field strength meter I built in 2014?

Well, you see how it is positioned. But I have room enough in the box to build one in! I still have a old SWR meter as a donor for parts. Why didn't I have this idea earlier? It's so simple and it works great.

At first I thought something went wrong as only 2 spots were collected last night. But this evening checking the WSPR watch app on my iphone it seems my 1 watt signal is spotted at least in a 900km radius.

I'm running the transmitter on a small 12V battery and actually don't know if it has enough power. The W5OLF WSPR transmitter only does 1W at 10V which is only provided by the voltage regulator when the battery is fully charged. Another idea I have now is to build in a small digital voltage meter like in my homemade power suplly so I can check the battery, there is room for it but of course it will take some extra current from the battery. Thinking about that.

Amateurradio is fun!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Create RC5-3 rotor overhaul (2)

Well, the first post about the Create rotor did actually have more pictures from the Kenpro in it and I should rename it to Kenpro KR600 overhaul, though it all happened in 2006.  I received the potmeter for the create rotor and installed everything, it does a fine job. However, since the create needs 6 holes to bolt it to the tower and the Kenpro only 4. Not shure what I will use. I might renew the potmeter in the Kenpro as well and use it again. Selling the create will give me some money to buy other hardware I need for the tower.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Beautiful autumn weather

Sorry for those in Ireland experiencing bad weather and large winds. In the Netherlands we have some of the best sunny days of the year. Temperature about 20 degrees celcius. Influenced by some of PC4T Paul's videos I made one of our garden...enjoy!

For those that say it has nothing to do with hamradio....well a secret shot related to radio is included...
Curious who spots it?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Failed projects and experiments

If you read most of the blogs about amateur radio it's always about successful projects and experiments. I don't believe that every experiment can be successfull, or I might be the only experimenter that is most of the time unsuccessfull. I can't tell you the numerous times I setup a antenna and it didn't work at all. Electronics that don't work. Software or hardware that isn't capable of something you need for a experiment. Failing test equipment and failing equipment. I always have many ideas but most of the time it just is in my mind and sometimes things are impossible or is just too pricey. Most important is that you don't give up! In the end you will succeed or come up with another solution for the same challenge. Since a failed project is not a problem but a challenge!

Some of the projects that (partly) failed:

Well, I'm a believer of making things. But sometimes you really get crazy when you spend a lot of time on a project and it isn't working the way you want. Remember my USBlink digital modes modem? When I saw G4ILO made one I made my own design in 2010, it wasn't working at all. After some quetions in a hamradio forum we finally found the fault a year later. I finally used this modem for the first time in Denmark this year and it functioned without any problems. Back home I want to make a setup battery powered and portable. The modem functioned on PSK with FLdigi but doesn't TX with WSJT-X on JT65/JT9/FT8/WSPR. Strange? After some tests it seems it doesn't work when the radio is not on a power supply. It has nothing to do with low voltage, even a external 12V battery doesn't solve the problem. Till now I can't find why this occurs so probabely go for another solution, building another interface.

In 2012 I wanted to make a simple endfed that would be reproducable with simple hardware that everyone could get at any DIY store. However the theory and experiments you find on the internet didn't work for me. I did a experiment and in the end I had a working antenna but it wasn't as simple as I thought. For me this was actually a unsuccessful experiment but I learned a lot from it. Not that I plan to make another endfed as PE1BVQ Hans made a well working 3 band endfed for me that served me well on several /P activations.

The radio shack ground myth. Well I made something working I thought. I made a lot of effort to study RF ground but it still is a pitfall. I think the system I use is working well though I have to choose between safety earth and RF ground with a switch. When I had problems with interference on my VDSL modem things got worse when I used the safety earth (switch closed, earth from radio equipment to earth electrode). When I opened the switch and used just the counterpoise it was a little better (but still there). So, the switch thing is not really a need after all. Is it a failed experiment, not really but my thinking was just wrong. You don't really need a earth at your equipment and if so you could try a counterpoise. I added a 1:1 balun just after the tuner to the vertical and added a ferrite ring between earth from main earth point at the powersupply to the counterpoise. Might be I'm thinking wrong again but in practice it works for me. This way the counterpoise is probabely not working but it doesn't harm as well.

Last year I experimented with a S-Match antenna tuner setup after I purchased a homemade QRO endfed tuner. But things went wrong and I blew the MFJ-259 analyzer. A classic example of failing equipment. And it was my own fault. However I was impressed the S-Match still got a 1:1 SWR with just a meter of ladderline on 30m. Did some experiments after this disaster and it was successful but need to do some more experiments to get what I want.

In 2014 I played electronics engineer. Shouldn't do that, not really capable of it. I destroyed the TX/RX relay with my big soldering iron and blew the finals. Never wrote about that, it was my own stupid fault. At that moment I had it with electronics and sent the amp to PE1BVQ Hans to play with it. However he repaired the thing and gave it back. So a big thanks to him although I never had the intention to play QRO. It might be interesting for a portable experiment in the future.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Create RC5-3 rotor overhaul

This rotor is one of the "left overs" from Foppe PD0FF's equipment. I couldn't sell it as the rotor is broken. I remember Foppe already had problems with it but when I dismantled his antenna back in 2015 the rotor still turned. Now my goal of setting up the new antennamast is coming close it is time to see what hardware needs to go on the tower. And since I'm out of hobby money I need to repair what I have in stock. Well, in 2006 I repaired the Kenpro KR600 which was originally bought together with the tower. However the Kenpro is more complicated and needs a overhaul as well. Besides that I like the controller box from Create a lot more. The Create RC5-3 is a very simple design with a worm gear and with the controller box you can adjust speed and program any direction in which you want to turn your antenna. Anyway I dismantled the rotor and concluded that the lubrication maintenance had been a long long time ago. The 5 Kohm potmeter that sends the direction the the controller was completely corroded and couldn't be turned, the big gearwheel and the smaller one at the left were turning but very heavy and both axles were corroded. The only thing that was lubricated well was the wormwheel. So, I took everything apart and cleaned and grinded the axles and gearwheels. Now I'm waiting for a replacement 5 KOhm potmeter which I ordered in Germany. More photos to follow.

I found some photos from the Kenpro KR600 overhaul in 2006, that one had a broken gearwheel axle which I had replaced but after all there is a problem with the potmeter as well, so far it did reasonable with a small dip here and there but it should really be replaced. I probabely look after that after the Create is ready.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

#FT8 40m & 20m today

I knew KY6R would be on air with FT8 for the first time sunday morning. But had no time to be on physically in the shack. So I left my station listening 40m saturday till sunday night and early in the morning switched to 20m to listen over the day. This are the results:



No sign from KY6R but I did receive stations near his QTH. At the moment I think to check propagation FT8 is the mode to go. It is incredible how many are active on 20 and 40m at any time of the day. 

With the help of JTAlert-X you can view the activity on JT65/JT9 and FT8

I viewed it a couple of times yesterday and today and noticed that there are always at least twice as many on FT8 compared to JT65. And JT9....seems to be abandoned.

FT8 might not be as sensitive as JT65 and JT9 but it is fast and it seems that is what attracts most people. Since we live in a age were time is occupied by so many inputs and things around us it is exactly what most people need to continue their hobby. At least it seems so...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

PD1BM/HG9BM Silent Key, my memories...

Another good radio friend I knew personally suddenly died last Thursday. Bert PD1BM was a licensed amateur since 2011 but before that he was a very active DXer on 11m. We first met I think at the end of the eighties could be begin of the nineties of last century. Bert was a very enthousiastic DXer and his main goal was to work as many on 11m. He had a excellent QTH between 2 canals and a high mast with a big beam. So you can imagine DX was no problem. I vaguely remember I helped him getting the mast at his house many years ago. Bert was always in for help and had a lot of useful information about DX. Besides that he always liked to chat about the hobby and other things. I remember I attended his house a few times during my school time. After school I went to his house and most times we did some DX together from his small attic based shack which was more enjoyable of course. Unfortenately after my school time I was occupied by getting a job, family, cars and other things in life. I obtained my amateurradio license 13 years before he did and we didn't meet on the air much anymore. We kept some contact by e-mail and sometimes on air till Bert had to go QRT for a while as neighbours were complaining about interference. When he finally got his license I believe the neighbours moved and he could pick up the hobby again. We had some contacts but apparently he was DXing on other bands and had other interests as me so we didn't meet often. He didn't like contesting and was a real old school SSB DXer, he liked to have a chat. I knew he also had a house in Hungary and I have heard Bert on 40m when he was there but was never able to contact him. Last week I just found out he also had a Hungarian call HG9BM. Last time I met Bert was at a radiorally more then a year ago we had a nice cup of coffee and had a chat like the old days and of course we promised to stay in contact. I know Bert had a lot of good radio buddies and me and Henry were only a few of them. All of them will miss his very characteristic voice on the radio. It is all a great loss but, just like Johan who died last year, we will never forget him...

Excellent QSO between KI4ZZJ en PD1BM

In QSO both Bert as Johan on 11m as I like to remember them.

Monday, 25 September 2017

#cqww RTTY contest 2017

Event: CQWW RTTY contest
Section: LOW power all band assisted
Logger: N1MM+ 
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 40W
Antenna: Coppertape multiband vertical at 9m agl

Well I did it just for fun again. RTTY is not my favourite mode. I had very limited time too and only at sunday. Saturday was occupied by a family meeting and in the afternoon that day I got a phone call from Henry PG0DX with a very unpleasant message. Our good radio buddy PD1BM Bert suddenly died last thursday. So, you can imagine this cqww rtty contest didn't bring me the fun I wanted to have anyway. Overall I did hear some interesting stations but didn't work them all. Most interesting DX I think was ZF1A (Cayman Isl.) on 40m and XW1IC (Laos) on 20m. Especially XW1IC was very strong peaking S9+ in the evening. Didn't hear anything on 15m and above but that's because I was only active at the dark part of the day. I tried 80m but it wasn't working, I only got a lot of AGN? AGN? and so my participation was limited to 40 and 20m. Overal in 3 hours time 75 QSOs is average. I spend at least a half hour to solve the bandmap/frequency issue as it is described at several sites (even my own) and the manual you can find "Auto Update TRX Offset w/Mark Freq." in the settings of your Digital Interface window(s). Well it was exactly what I was looking for in settings but could not find it and it was my own fault as I should have read setup instead of settings. Anyway, problem solved...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Variable coupling loop

So I built a variable coupling loop. I'm not limited to 1/5, 1/4 or 1/3 size coupling loops like in the experiment I did before this way. During my experiment I tried several options and finally get best SWR all bands with a size between 1/3 and 1/4 size of the main loop. Especially on 60m and 40m the SWR is significant better. My advice to loop builders would be just to experiment till you get best results. You might end up with a 1/5 size or any other odd size coupling loop. I think all is depending on the size and material used for the main loop and the pickup loop, the capacitor, the coax and since there is a slight difference between homemade loops there is always a different result.

Actually I was a little surprised with the outcome of this experiment. I use a coupling loop now which is between 1/3 and 1/4 size of the main loop. SWR on 60 till 15m now is below 1:1.6. I think that is a very good result. I consider my magnetic loop ready to go now. Now next thing.....testing on air.

For those that are interested. My magloop consists of 1 box with 500pF varco (which has been described earlier), 3 pieces of PVC tube, A length of 2,7m bamboo 9 75 Ohm coax, a length of 80cm 6mm wire for the coupling loop, 2m RG58 coax.

At the right my 3 portable antennas. First is the MP-1 (in the white tube) with a tripod in the hama bag, at the center there is the magloop and the last one is the PE1BVQ 3 band endfed with 5m Aircell7 coax. The Aircell7 coax is also used for the MP-1 and the endfed needs a tree or mast to hang the wire. The magloop is the only antenna which includes everything to transmit/receive without any extra supports or any other accessories.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The shielded faraday coupling loop myth and other considerations

Most common made "shielded" faraday loop
Experimenting with the magnetic loop is still going on. To couple  the loop to the feedline I use a faraday loop inductive coupling in my loop. Now there are several designs, shielded and unshielded. The main advantage of a shielded loop would be canceling out a vertical or horizontal E-field (electro magnetic interference) or both. The question is if this would be really working?

Some explanation of this theory has been given on N4SPP's site:

However, W8JI has written many articles about antennas and has been working as a tech at a commercial radio station. This is what he comments on the internet:

There is no such thing as a "Faraday shield loop". All radiation and reception comes from the shield. Always. Just like it is a single turn conductor.

The idea you can shield the loop is as silly as the idea you can shield a ground lead.

Once you understand that you will also understand that the only way to not have common mode on the feedline is to make the shield perfectly symmetrical about the feedpoint and have both sides of the "shield" symmetrical and identical with the grounding and feedline entry.

My website shows why high frequency fields cannot penetrate the shield, and why the radiation and reception all comes from the outside of the shield.

A shielded loop is electrically no different than a equally balanced unshielded loop.


Some others comment that the so called shielded faraday loop helps to balance the feedpoint. However, it is all about the feedline that radiates or pickup noises. So a simple 1:1 balun or RF choke should do the trick. You see something like that at the Chameleon loops.

Well, technically speaking or writing it all sounds likely. But I don't like likely and want to test and experiment myself. All what counts is practical use, you can only transmit and receive theoretically in your dreams ;-)

I want to know the difference in receiving interference with a shielded and unshielded coupling loop if there is any difference? Besides that I want to know why many use 1/5 diameter faraday loop and others use 1/4 or even 1/3 diameter? Well, first of all I did a test with two faraday loops 1/4 diameter size. One unshielded the other one shielded as in the picture above. See my not so scientific practical test in the video:

What it revealed to me is actually in the video the shielded loop did receive about the same RFI compared to a unshielded loop. I did not move the loop and I did not move the PSU wich caused the RFI.  The RF choke made from about 8 ferrite cores doesn't help much it seems, although it could help for transmit purposes? Myth busted? Well I don't know for shure, but my practical test shows that you can also use a piece of cheap electrical wire and bend it in a round shape then connect it to a coax with just a thermoplastic connector or solder it to the loop.

And well, I did just that to test more faraday coupling loop sizes. A practical experiment. I made 3 faraday loops. 1/5, 1/4 and 1/3 diameter (compared to the main loop diameter). All loops did well and minimum and maximum frequency with reasonable SWR were the same. However if you need a good SWR on a low frequency you need a bigger coupling loop and for a good SWR on a higher frequency you need a smaller one (at least that is what this test reveals). A good average is 1/4 size. I measured the SWR with my MFJ259 analyzer.

Coupling loop diaFreq.min60m40m30m20m17m15mFreq.max
Shielded coupling
loop 1/4

I'm not the only one that discovered this of course. There are so many things tested and written about the magnetic loop including articles about different feed methodes, skin effect, impedances, radiation resistance etc. ect. But I found only one document from a american experimenter that used a variable coupling loop. Great idea....but he used a square loop and a square coupling loop which is easier to adjust.

Just for testing purposes I made a adjustable coupling loop. I can bend/slide it from 1/3-1/5 size of the main radiating loop. That test revealed about the same as above done with 3 different loops. However I was not limited to 1/4-1/5 and 1/3 size but could get anything in between. While testing it became clear to me that a 1/4 or 1/5 size is not always the way to go. But that story takes too long for this post so I write more about that later.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tune indicator

Interesting video which shows a very simple indicator. However it only works well with a endfed type antenna. I've tried it on a loop just besides the varco, the led blinks but not at the right moment.
I remember in the past I had a commercially made simple clamp on meter which you could clamp on a mobile antenna to tune it without the use of a SWR meter. It is just the same as this device, although this one is fun to make and a lot simpler and cheaper.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Still think it is a miracle

FT8. Started at the highest band with propagation which was 15m. But only one weak signal was received. 17m much more DX, but my signal didn't come out, at least I was unable to work the DX, same for 20m. 30m some more luck, but no real DX. 60m same thing.....ehhh, but then....the miracle happened. So unfortunate Australia is still not allowed on 60m. Great report -15dB from VK7BO Tasmania. I was working with 15W FT8 on my multiband coppertape vertical.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Could this be a future for #HAMradio

No, I have no connections with the company or business that have this idea. But I wouldn't be surprised if some radioamateurs were involved. Could this be a future for HAMradio and especially for emergency comms? I think this is a great idea!

Gotoky is device which allows you to stay connected with your friends and family no matter where you are. Gotoky connects to your SmartPhone wirelessly and allows you to seamlessly connect with other users within the range up to 5 miles or 8 kilometers through your Smartphone app. It works over standard license-free radio frequencies and it does not require any cellular infrastructure or satellites. You can talk, send/receive messages, send/receive location information, SOS signal and much more to other gotoky users for free. It is also compatible with standard Walkie-Talkies.

Well to make a long story short. This device turns a transmitter into a telephone network including text messaging etc. etc.  it has so many features especially if you are in need at a remote location. The device has a range of 5-15km but if it is compatible like they write I think the range for us radioamateurs could be significant higher. However, radio regulations for us as licensed operators could be a problem to use this device worldwide. Besides that you still need a smartphone to communicate, most of us do have it. But still a lot of (older) people don't. And there you have it, the average radioamateur is "old". The technology is available but I think it is going too fast for most of us within our hobby.  However, this could be the future also in our hobby!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

#FT8 digimode again

20m waterfall FT8
Well it has been a while ago I wrote one of the first user blogposts on the internet about the new digimode FT8. Since that day this post has been read about 5000 times. Not only it seems to be a successful post but I got many e-mails as well with questions. It seems to be they think I know all about it ;-) Well, I've not been a lot on FT8 actually and I only updated to RC2 version of WSJT-X this evening. Other things kept my mind and this evening I was not able to transmit only receive. The problem is that the solar powered battery I use to power my autotuner is at the end of his lifetime and it died actually. But still I was able to do a 20 minute receive session from 160-15m. I was astonished about the amount of stations on all bands with propagation here. It is difficult to find a clear spot on the waterfall as you can see in the screenshot above. This was the result after 20 minutes switching between bands:

Results 160-15m. Click for bigger picture.
Even Australia on 80 and 30m was no problem to receive with -21dB. I really don't know how propagation is these days as I don't listen much HF these days. But this result gives me a wow factor. At the moment FT8 seems to be very good for a quick personal propagation research. Take about 4-5 minutes to receive per band and you know what is possible...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Balloonfoxhunt 2017 report from the north

Well, not a great show. Although the organisation did their best to build in a surprise element. This year it was unknown were the balloon would start so a prediction could not be calculated at all. It would be a real foxhunt and in the end due to technical problems it was even a foxhunt for the organisation. However, the wind was south-west and I'm living in the opposite direction so there was a good chance the balloon would head my way. I started listening late and my first reception was in the car on my baofeng HT. It occured to me that I could only hear a weak tone of a beacon and no transponder although this year there would only be a transponder? Strange! It seems there was a technical problem with the receiving part of the transponder on 70cm, so almost no one had the ability to work via the balloon, only a few stations with stacked yagis and power had some luck. For me that was a big downer. However, remember my efforts to try a QSO on the 70cm PI2NOS repeater without luck in 2015? Well it seems the repeater has better ears this time and I worked the headquarters of the balloon organisation to let them know I received the ballon at that moment with S9+. So unfortunate the transponder was not working....

At the end the balloon was hunted down in Germany near the city of Munster.

More info at:

Thursday, 7 September 2017

More magnetic loop experiments

Experimenting is the main thing of this hobby I think. So, my goal this time is to make a usable small portable magnetic loop that is reasonable easy to tune. There are several designs that you can find on the internet and some of them claim to be better then others. I choose the coax version for myself as it is light to carry and can be very small. I discussed some possebilities with PE1BVQ Hans and he gave me the measurements of his own loop that does well. I already had the 3x 500pF varco from him and decided to use it again but in a bigger box. The problem of tuning still is very difficult and Hans told me I should build a reduction. Glad the box is big enough.... I first thought of building another varco myself but let that go eventually. I have the luck to have a colleague that happens to be also studing for mechanical engineer and he always has good ideas. He designed a reduction system with isolation (less handeffect) from scrap and some new parts. The idea is simple but effective, this guy has nothing with my radio hobby but though of the exact good solution within 5 minutes. I think that is incredible! And besides that he helped to realize the mechanical part. We finally build this together and tuning is now a lot easier.

But still I would like to have a indicator besides the indication at the tuning knob. It should be no problem, but that is another experiment. Now, I was thinking of were to really use this antenna in case of emergency. And just when I was thinking this video shows up:

Of course you use it inside a shelter. I would use it in the basement as that is the most safe place in the house when disasters like hurricanes will happen. When my loop is ready I will test it for shure and post a video, at least that is the idea...

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

SSTV 17 years ago

Coincedentally I came across this capture of a SSTV image sent by me almost 17 years ago when searching (googling) for another subject. Around that time I have been quite active with SSTV on UHF.  Some of the components you see on the picture are still in my shack. The cat has died several years back.

Other things, jobs and tasks are taking my time these days. And although I'm always busy with the radio hobby I can't finish several projects and write about them here. Where a project would take a day or two for others it will take a couple of weeks or even months for me at the moment. Last weekend I decided not to take part in the fieldday contest this year and it could be I will cancel other activities as well. Don't be afraid I will never stop with this great hobby, that would be no option. I will only stop when I die and even after that people will be able to read about my experiences from this blog :-)

Friday, 1 September 2017

#IARU R1 Fieldday SSB this weekend

Just to remind you all that the IARU Region 1 fieldday SSB is this weekend starting Saturday 2nd September at 13:00 UTC.

I'll probabely take the opportunity to test various antennas at home. The photo takes you back to 2 years ago when I was taking part from the Eemshaven (harbour) near my QTH.

Monday, 28 August 2017

RDRC JT9 activity days - false start

Event: RDRC JT9 Activity Days
Date: 25,26, 27 Aug. 2017
Logger: HRD V5
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 10W
Antenna: Coppertape vertical (7,1m)  @9m agl
Total km: 191036

At first IV3FPX Boris mentioned I noted the wrong dates for this weekend. Sorry for that it has been corrected immidiatly. Friday was day one of the JT9 activity days this weekend. And indeed there was a lot of activity but I didn't see it when I hastely switched on the station equipment this morning. At lunchbreak I logged in via remote from my job and noticed almost no stations at all been received on JT9, only a few russians with very low reports. Strange, I switched over from JTDX to WSJT-X to see if it was a software problem. Nothing.... Switched over to FT8....signals enough but the software did no single decode!!! Then it occured to me it might be a radio problem, and it was. The radio was on LSB? Why? I don't know? It has been weeks ago I turned on the radio so I guess I left it on LSB, the strange thing was that it was on LSB on all bands. I had to switch back to USB. The problem was solved then but I lost valuable time I rather spend on making QSOs. Anyway I tested with 2 QSOs and saw a lot of activity so I just had to wait to get home from the job to continue.

Sunday evening spots after I stopped
Of course, like always, time was not on my side and being on the air was limited to nighttime and a few QSO via remote at daylight. However I managed to make some DX, actually best propagation was Saturday night on 20m compared to Sunday evening were 20m closed quite early. But 40m seems to be better at Sunday evening when I made my best DX to the RSA. JT9 was alive at least on 80, 40, 30, 20 and 17m. I've been trying on 160m but although I was spotted I was unable to see any signal there. In the end I made 71 QSOs to 27 DXCC this weekend. Best DX was with ZS1BHJ 9591km on 40m. Although I was spotted in Australia on 40m I didn't see anyone from VK.

Map of my QSOs
With a total of 191036km I guess I will get the certificate now although I don't really care. I had a lot of fun using JT9 and I think it is still the best mode to use for low power and QRP. Besides that it is a great mode for activity as looking for a empty part on the waterfall never is a problem even with 20-30 stations calling at the same time. I certainly take a look at this activity next year....

Thursday, 24 August 2017

#JT9 RDRC Activity days

Just to generate more activity I thought I post it again with the rules in short.

Date: 25, 26, 27 August 2017
Time: Friday 00:00 UTC - Sunday 23:59 UTC
Mode: JT9

 In setting general be shure your locator is correct in "My Grid". Please don't "tick" the box "display in miles" as distance will be sum up in km.

Don't forget to write the amount of km in the comments box for every QSO.
Your log in ADIF format can be send to: 01-10(at) before 23:59 UTC 31 August 2017.

Certificates of JT9 Activity Days «Make haste slowly» in electronic form will be reawarded with all participants at whom the sum of distances up to correspondents will exceed 100.000 kilometers. 

Although I will be not on the frequency all the time I will be spotting at least one band. If time allows I will log in via remote or get into the shack if I am at home to make as many QSOs I can. You can spot which band I am here on my blog at the right of this blogpost.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

6T9 (promoting JT9)

Henk PA2S has mentioned it at the start of this year. The JT65 frequencies are going to be overcrowded. Strangely enough I still see few on the even more sensitive mode JT9. Did you know for instance that it is possible to receive JT65 and JT9 on the same frequency, especially important because there is no JT9 allocation on 60m and 6m. Besides that, on 60m, british stations are not allowed above 1000Hz in the waterfall and do call/listen with JT9.

Hopefully this post will contribute to the migration from JT65 to JT9. Henk PA2S and Steve GM0HUU contributed with the invention of 6T9. Henk wrote a nice article about it and posted a 6T9 logo on his site. You are free to use this logo anywhere you want to promote JT65 to JT9.

Now, with the new mode FT8 this all sounds a little silly. However, don't forget that FT8 would only decode till -20dB. It is not nearly as sensitive as JT9. When propagation is really bad JT9 can still save your QSO.

If you like to be more active on JT9 an finally meet more stations there as activity has been lower since the introduction of FT8, you can spend this weekend in the JT9 activity days. See for more info on the website of the Russian Digital Radio Club (RDRC):