The city of Riga, capital city of Latvia, is the official European Capital of Culture 2014. Therefor Riga radio amateurs founded the award series RIGA – European Capital of Culture – 2014. Three award categories Gold, Silver, Bronze are available and can be obtained by contacting a certain number of special event callsigns starting with YL2014. The guys are quite active so to achieve at least Bronze is not that difficult. The award is issued for free and sent as a PDF file.
Another award received recently, also as a downloadable PDF file, was my WRTC Chase Award, pictured right. It was only issued to those 388 radio amateurs worldwide (41 of them in Germany) that made contact with all 59 teams during WRTC2014 that was held in parallel to the IARU HF Championship in July. The Chase Awards series was certainly a strong motivation to be QRV during IARU-HF myself. It’s been a nice incentive by the organizers, something to keep in mind for the next WRTC in 2018, too. The German WRTC participants and visitors signed the “Boston declaration” to file an application to the WRTC sanction committee to bring the next WRTC to Germany in 2018, an idea I strongly support. If you are willing to support that idea, too, please sign the declaration online. As it is in German you might want to let Google translate it for you to get the basic meaning although the translation is not the very best.
Besides doing a few QSOs in the IOTA contest and chasing W1AW portable QSO slots (this week in Rhode Island and Indiana) I also had more luck on 6 m today. The band was well open into Scandinavia via Sporadic E this morning. Activity is usually not very high up north but now and then you happen to work a new one. Today it’s been LA5MIA in JP78 as well as OH8UL in KP45 who provided new squares for me. The band closed down after lunch so I could do a few other things out of house in the afternoon without fearing to miss something. Then we had another slight opening in the evening to the west when EJØPL in very rare square IO42 (not much land in there) contributed grid locator #609.
After spending 12 hours in QRL today I came home in the evening just to hear from the locals there was a real good 6 m opening to the U.S. early afternoon. Great signals, lots of stations and our guys worked quite a number of new squares along the U.S. East Coast. Oh well …
The band opened slightly late evening again. Heard NWØW up to 529 but no QSO. He even came back twice with “QA?” but of course all of Europe was still calling, no matter what he asked for. These are the moments when I’m really thinking of giving up on 6 m. It’s not the gentleman’s band anymore it used to be. Same misbehaviour as in shortwave pileups. Think all the stuff like 10BDXCC tables, DXCC Challenge, etc. where you gain extra points for 6 m have a bad influence. Maybe it’s also the fact you can get on six so easily nowadays as virtually every transceiver has 6 m included and a lot of multiband antennas do so, too. <rant modus off>
Another nice 6 m opening tonight, this time to VO1. Worked VO1VCE and VO1HP on CW and heard VO1SO on SSB, the latter just down in the noise so did not even call. All 3 stations are in GN37 so once again no new ones, already wkd GN37 a few years ago. VE1PZ popped up again later, too. A pity it was so localized.
Six has been open across the pond again tonight. Signals have been as strong as never heard before. So after my rant yesterday it seems the propagation god decided to send a good opening to JO73 today … maybe I should complain more often. Sorrily it was very localized, i.e. only grids FN85 & FN86 in Canada could be worked. Whenever we are lucky to get an opening at all the signals are usually just above the noise. Not so this time: VY2ZM/FN86 was real 599 on my K3′s calibrated s-meter and VE1PZ/FN85 made it up to 569 on the meter. Only made a QSO with VE1PZ after he was calling CQ without an answer. Otherwise I would not have called him (and didn’t with VY2ZM) as I had already worked him during an opening a few years ago. Rather leaving the opportunities to the other guys for whom it could be a new one. Just wished everybody would think that way!
Six meters opened into North America tonight but once again bad luck overhere. Briefly heard AC4TO with about 419 and K4RX with 529 but couldn’t raise their attention. A pity as both would have been new squares. Always have the impression JO73 is the blackhole during such openings. Seems skip distances are always right to reach G, ON, PA then jumping over our heads and only eastern Europe getting the propagation again.
Besides this ES conditions were outstanding during late afternoon and evening (although 2 m did not open). 6 & 4 m have been open until well after midnight local time across Europe. I didn’t do many QSOs as I was mainly looking for new squares (but none found). Picture left shows just 4 m cluster spots mapped for a 10 minute period around 16:50 UTC. Seems a lot of German guys have fun on 4 m now, too. We got a special permit to operate the lower 30 kHz of 4 m, i.e. 70.000 to 70.030 MHz, from July 1st to August 31st 2014. Practically almost all QSOs have to be done using split as the rest of Europe is usually doing their operations around 70.200 MHz. I did not become QRV yet due to the short time frame. Nevertheless a big THANKS to DARC for their persistance to make 4 m happen in DL. They are further working on a permanent permit to use the band in Germany. So hopefully next year we might have more spectrum access and for a longer period, keeping fingers crossed!
Did a few QSOs on RTTY during the weekend in DMC and NAQP contests mainly to further test N1MMLogger+. It’s a quite stable product already, only finding minor things still that do not harm contest operations. To be honest I cannot even imagine to ever go back to the “classic” N1MMLogger anymore as all the small new features of NL+ make life so much easier and more comfortable.
Was looking for new US states in NAQP but sorrily none worked (still missing 11 RTTY confirmations in LoTW for my WAS Triple Play Award, CW & SSB full house already, of course ). 15 m closed early, condx were rather poor compared to the last few days & weeks. 20 m was well open during the night, worked a number of CA stations there. Amazing sigs at times taking into account they can only use 100 W in the NAQP.
As I was using 500 W and cluster my few QSOs were just good for a checklog:
North American QSO Party, RTTY - July
Operating Time (hrs): 5
Band QSOs Mults
20: 85 43
15: 18 11
Total: 103 54 Total Score = 5,562
For DMC I made an entry in the 12 hours class. Had a nice JA run Sunday morning.
DMC RTTY Contest
Class: Single Op 12 HP
Operating Time (hrs): 10
Total: 336 Total Score = 133,056
I did not really plan to enter this year’s IARU HF Championship. We do some station sharing for the bigger contests between Uwe, DL3BQA, and me. In the past both RUSDX and IARU-HF were for the same OP (either Uwe or me) within the same year. To make that more fair we just recently decided to swap things, i.e. I had the RUSDX this year so Uwe would take the IARU this year, next year the other way round. Sorrily Uwe could not make it into IARU-HF due to short-term QRL, a pity. So I took the chance to do a non-serious effort just to hand out a few points and chase all the WRTC participants. All in all about 16 hours for radio besides some other obligations.
I was able to snatch all 59 WRTC stations (202 QSOs in total) to qualify for a few of the Activity & Participation Awards. Band by band breakdown shows 35 wkd on 40 m, 57 on 20 m and 55 on 15 m. N1S was worked on all 6 band/mode slots used, ufb! A big number of guys with 4 or 5 slots, too. All stations worked on at least 2 slots except for K1O whom I could only work on 20 CW, never heard them anywhere else. Wonder if they had some problems or just the wrong choice of bands vs. times? Was also thrilling to watch the live scoreboard and see things evolving. These ladies and gents really are the world’s top-notch contesters! Even the “worst” team did some 3.100 QSOs with just 100 W & a tri-bander plus dipole in 24 hours and the leaders made some 4.500+ QSOs … wow! These are figures us normal guys just dream about.
Besides chasing the WRTC crowd I made some “normal” contacts, too, i.e. handing out points here & there. Did a few runs on 15 CW but not too much, about 80% of all QSOs were done by S&P due to the above mentioned chase. Used the cluster this time not to miss any WRTCs (as this was my main goal and reasoning for being QRV at all) so this entry goes into the M/S class as the IARU-HF does not have an assisted class. I did not take care of the 10 min band change rule for M/S so it might well be I will get reclassified to a checklog or even get “disqualified” for too many band changes within 10 minutes. A quick look into the log revealed at least 5 rule violations – so be it, no serious entry.
Here’s the overall result of this part time activity:
IARU HF World Championship
Class: SO(A) --> M/S HP
Operating Time (hrs): 16
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Zones HQ Mults
160: 9 11 1 15
80: 24 26 5 22
40: 88 23 8 31
20: 137 82 15 30
15: 216 78 25 38
10: 31 23 8 19
Total: 505 243 62 155 Total Score = 563,115
Elecraft K3 + KPA500 = 500 W, 160 m lazy loop, 80 & 40 m dipoles,
20 m 4 ele YU7EF Yagi, 15 m & 10 m 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagis each
During the last two days I worked T88KH, Republic of Palau, on 15 m SSB and V73NS, Marshall Islands, on 15 m CW for two all time new ones. DXCC total up to 292 now, slowly moving to the “magic” 300. As I am not too serious about HF DXing (more of a VHF & contesting guy), i.e. I would certainly not spend hours after hours, days after days, just to work a new one, I am quite happy with the results.
6 m has been dead dead dead again during the last few days. This morning at least saw a small and very localized opening into Spain when I finally managed to work EB4IC in IM78 for square #605. Have been chasing him for quite a while now. AFAIK he’s the only active station in IM78.
Lucky guy overhere! Finally caught T6DD on 6 m today for DXCC #131 and square #604. He has been quite active during the last few weeks but the skip was never right. But this morning it finally did fit. So it was good to monitor his frequency besides doing the VHF contest. As he’s using LoTW the QSO is already confirmed, too.
We had the honor to activate DAØHQ on 2 m during last weekend’s VHF contest. DAØHQ is the German Headquarters station during next weekend’s IARU HF World Championship. So we used the call to be active on 2m, too, and hand out this year’s special DOK HQ14. DAØHQ is a mandatory station to be worked for the DJ60DXMB jubilee award so it’s been a rare opportunity for the VHF-only guys.
Contest : DARC VHF-, UHF-, Microwave contest, July '14
Callsign : DA0HQ
Category : Multi Operator - Single Transmitter (MS)
Band(s) : Single band (SB) 144
Class : High Power (HP)
Locator : JO73CE
BAND QSO DUP LOC POINTS AVG PTS AVG DIS
144 456 0 79 173908 381.4 381.4
TOTAL 456 0 79 173908 381.4 381.4
TOTAL SCORE : 173 908
Operators : DG1BHA, DH8BQA, DK7YY, DL3BQA, DL5CW
Soapbox : Handing out the HQ14 special DOK ...
Besides doing the contest we exchanged the 15 m rotator, too. Now having a KR-2700SDX rotating our “monster”, i.e. a 6 ele OWA Yagi on a 15 m boom. The 2700 can take a bit more load than the old 2000 so having a better feeling now.
Finally a good opening this evening. It started with a lonely EI3KD being 59+20 while calling CQ on 144.300 MHz. Worked him with just 8 W as the PA was still off. No other ones around. After he faded I put out a few CQs myself which were answered by EI4DQ, thanks Tom! Band closed afterwards to open up again 15 minutes later. Could work another 3 QSOs before sigs faded again. Another 10 minutes later it opened once more when EI9JS answered my CQ calls. All in all very patchy but with strong signals. While I was able to work into IO51 only at the beginning IO53 worked into other parts of Germany. Later on all shifted and EI7IX (new square #489) was pounding in very loud. Was a pleasure to listen to him for a while. As there is not too much activity in Ireland you can afford to take the time for such things. Did hear EI6GF in IO62 several times in CW but sorrily he could not hear me , would have been another new square, too.
QSO by DH8BQA on 2 m.
Type of propagation: ES Mode: All mode
From 02/07/2014 to 02/07/2014 Distance over: 0 Km. Page: 1
DATE TIME CALLSIGN LOCATOR TX RX MODE REMARKS QRB
02/07/2014 18:40 EI3KD IO51VW 59 59 SSB 1515
02/07/2014 18:47 EI4DQ IO51WU 59 59 SSB 1512
02/07/2014 19:03 EI7IX IO53FT 59 59 SSB 1565
02/07/2014 19:09 EI3GYB IO53OT 59 59 SSB 1516
02/07/2014 19:10 GI6ATZ IO74AJ 59 59 SSB 1326
02/07/2014 19:22 EI9JS IO53QX 59 59 SSB 1503
Number of QSO listed: 6
Made a few audio recordings again. Whenever you hear silence it was me talking. Audio monitor was off, sorry for that.
EI4DQ (in QSO with me):
EI7IX (with a string of QSOs):
EI3GYB & GI6ATZ (in QSOs with me, both on same frequency):
EI6GF (CQing, but did not hear me despite 700 W and a 9 ele LFA):
Caribbean was open again tonight. Sorrily the skip was not right so could only hear half of Europe working all the DX but nothing here. J38DR was finally audible for about a minute weak and with lots of QRM but I was lucky enough to catch him for DXCC #130 on 6 m. No luck with 8P6SH and OA4TT who were worked by other locals and would have been new ones, too.
Back from Friedrichshafen. It was a great convention again and good to meet so many people. Really appreciated the nice feedback after my lecture as well as all the people knocking on my shoulders to tell me they use one of my solutions described elsewhere on this website.
After being back home switched on the rig to work 9K2/SP4R in LL39 as my 600th grid square on 6 m, yeah! CT3FT in IM13 an hour later provided #601. Sorrily none of the Caribbean DX was workable overhere.
Going to leave for the 600 km trip down to lake Constance tomorrow to join the HAM RADIO International Exhibition for Radio Amateurs in Friedrichshafen. Will hold a lecture myself during the CTU (Contest University) about antenna switching & station automation topics. Hope people will like it!
What makes the HAM RADIO most enjoyable all the time is the social aspect. It’s always nice to meet people in person you know from many QSOs or just a single one and shake hands or exchange anecdotes with friends. Looking forward to it!
Spent the last weekend alpha/beta testing N1MMLogger+ in different contests trying to find bugs. Makes a very good impression so far (not many bugs found) and I really like all the new features! There was a nice presentation in Dayton on it, too.
Saturday evening saw a somewhat localized opening to CT/EA/F and later to EI so I used N1MM+ to log about 50 QSOs in the IARU 6 m contest. Changed over to the Ukrainian DX Classic RTTY contest afterwards for a few hours during the night and another few hours Sunday morning to make it for the 6 hours category:
Six meters has been very quiet during the last few days and weeks. This year’s Sporadic-E season is one of the worst I every experienced. Nevertheless we finally had a small Caribbean opening this afternoon lasting for about half an hour and another one for about an hour in the late evening. Unfortunately no new ones worked. Heard P43K up to 53 a few times on 50.110 MHz but as usual it’s a mess on the calling frequency and no chance for a QSO. A real pity as that would have been a new one on six.
Made a few audio recordings. Signals were much stronger during the evening opening. KP2/K3TEJ pounding in at 559, KP4EIT up to 57 …
Another contest certificate in the postbox today. Was not aware they are now handing out the awards for winners per square. Didn’t do many QSOs in the CQ WW VHF 2013 as condx were rather poor. Besides this the contest is not well known in Europe so activity is usually rather sparse. You really need a good opening on 6 meters to have some fun. On 2 meters it’s even more difficult (participated on 2 m once in the past as a QRP hilltopper).
I have not done any serious RTTY contesting in the past. Have been chasing a few DXpedition slots on RTTY lately using the built-in features of the K3 or IC-7100, i.e. sending RTTY from memories. Using this method I also handed out a few points now and then in a few RTTY contests but usually no more than maybe 20 QSOs.
Being alerted on the BCC (Bavarian Contest Club) mailing list that the RTTY-LDC (Long Distance Challenge) which I already handed out points in in past years was renamed to the DRCG-WW-RTTY and now had even easier rules I thought it might be a good idea to finally set up MMTTY and N1MMLogger with the K3 to do some integrated RTTY contesting and try it out in this one. As it turned out it was very easy to do, configuration took about 20 minutes including on-air tests and figuring out how the digital interface in N1MMLogger works. Using FSK is certainly a plus as you don’t have to mess with audio levels for transmit.
Enjoyed a nice Saturday afternoon and evening with a few friends BBQ’ing and after being back home around 11:30 p.m. local time I started the adventure. The contest has 3 different time shifts so I had about 2,5 hours left until the night break. Did continue Sunday morning to fill up 6 hours in total as the contest has a nice 6 hour category. Result is below, will be interesting to see how I compared against others in my first more or less serious RTTY contest.
DRCG WW RTTY Contest
Class: SOAB-6 HP
Operating Time (hrs): 6
Band QSOs Countries Call Areas
80: 20 10 0
40: 24 14 0
20: 95 22 12
15: 79 18 9
10: 9 5 0
Total: 227 69 21 Total Score = 255,060
Club: Bavarian Contest Club
BTW: The Elecraft KPA500 did a very good job running full power RTTY key down at about 600-650 watts all the time, even during slow times which meant calling CQ for something like 15 seconds, listening for 4 seconds, no replies and calling again. So a duty cycle of something like 75%. Can really recommend it for serious contesting.