Arrived on Aruba …

DL5CW, DL5LYM & myself safely arrived on Aruba. :) Unfortunately DL9USA couldn’t join us on short notice due to health problems. :( Keeping fingers crossed for a quick recovery, Andi!

Already met with Cristina, P43C, who’s taking care about the house overhere. She had the good news, too, that our licenses are finally ready … absolutely on time! Thanks for your precious assistance with all that stuff, Cris!

Will have to do some shopping tomorrow to be prepared for CQ WPX RTTY. Will certainly start as M/S although I’m the only guy really interested in RTTY contesting. At least the other two guys promised to do a few QSOs every now and then, too. 😉

Posted in Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on Arrived on Aruba …

QRV from P4 – Aruba soon!

Aruba-Happy-IslandFinally some holidays! 😎 Will be travelling to P4, Aruba, later this week to participate in WPX-RTTY and ARRL-DX-CW from the Caribbean. Will be joined by good friends DL5CW, DL5LYM & DL9USA. Rented the P49V rental shack. Should be great fun! Applied for P4ØFA callsign. Let’s see if that will work, DTZ (Aruba’s telecommunication agency) seems to be a bit slow, we will probably have to pick up our licenses when overthere. Will keep posting updates to the blog …

Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on QRV from P4 – Aruba soon!

CQ WW 160 CW 2016

Despite being on a birthday party Saturday evening and having a bit of QRL to do, too, managed to hand out a few QSOs every now and then this weekend. Condx not too good.

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op Assisted HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 8:30

Summary:
Total QSOs = 524
State/Prov =   4
Countries  =  49        Total Score = 129,850

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 160 m lazy loop
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WW 160 CW 2016

VP8/South Sandwich #307 & VP8/South Georgia #308

Not much radio activity recently. Just switched on the radio a few times during the last few days to chase & catch Intrepid DX’s VP8STI and VP8SGI activities for two ATNOs. 😎

vp8

The guys are doing a really great job handing out QSO after QSO against all odds! We really do have to congratulate them on their fine performance despite all the trouble with weather, etc. Reading a few of the (bad) cluster comments one really has to wonder what’s going on in those commenter’s heads? :( Interestingly (is it?) it’s only those guys who never moved their butts out of their chairs to go DXpeditioning themselves! Probably all wanting to live in the land of milk and honey, too, being served all the DX on a plate?

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First 6 m ES this year & a few ARRL-RTTY-RU contacts

Our station was reserved for DL3BQA to operate in the ARRL-RTTY-Roundup last weekend. While he enjoyed some great runs on 15 m Sunday afternoon I had some fun on 6 m as there was a great winter E-skip opening into EI, signals up to S9+20, skip was just right. Then it suddenly dawned on me that there must of course be ES on 10 m, too, and that the ES might link into the F2 propagation slightly there from Western EU to the U.S. judging from a few cluster spots. Quickly checking 10 m I just copied PZ5RA and nobody else. Nevertheless gave it a try CQing myself and et voila, worked some 55 stations in 1,5 hours on a “dead” 10 m band. :-) 17 states and 2 provinces were the net result, furthest west were 1 x XE and 1 x AR and a handful of LA, MS & TX guys. All the rest being East Coast up and down … It proved again you have to call CQ to make contacts, even on a supposedly dead band. 😎

After Uwe had closed down I spent a bit extra time on the other bands just handing out a few more points here and there …

                    ARRL RTTY Roundup

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 4,5

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   80:   15
   40:   52
   20:    0
   15:   13
   10:   55
------------
Total:  135  State/Prov = 24  Countries = 38  Total Score = 8,370

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWAs (15/10) and dipoles (80/40).
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on First 6 m ES this year & a few ARRL-RTTY-RU contacts

SARTG-HNY-RTTY 2016

Good start into the new contest year 2016. 😉 Never did SARTG’s New Year RTTY contest before so was eager to learn what it would be like. Well, it was great fun, very good rates over the three hours duration and it has a really nice touch with exchanging names and “Happy New Year” in all of the participants’ local languages! 😎 Let’s see what the result is good for …

                    SARTG New Year RTTY Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: 1R HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 2:45

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  80:    42    20
  40:   105    38
-------------------
Total:  147    58  Total Score = 8,526

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + Inv-V dipoles
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on SARTG-HNY-RTTY 2016

CQWW CW Contest Audio

Added a page where you can lookup our QSO (if we had one 😉) in CQWW CW 2015 and listen to how you sounded in Northern Central Europe last November. Have fun and wishing everybody a Happy New Year and all the best for 2016! See you on the bands …

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, General stuff | Comments Off on CQWW CW Contest Audio

STEW PERRY TBDC 2015

After being at the station anyway I decided to take some time to also install my RRC-Micro again which was just laying around after some initial tests and a review in FUNKAMATEUR magazine a few years ago. I really do prefer a physical interface during remote ops, i.e. having real knobs to twist, therefor my setup using a K3 + K3/0 mini (and Icoms with detached frontpanels before). Nevertheless it should be good to have an alternative solution when on the road and “having a need” to suddenly do remote ops, i.e. when a Sporadic-E opening occurs during summer. 😉

Having installed and confirmed everything was working properly I decided it might be good idea to hand out a few points during the Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge which took place the night from 26th to 27th December this year. It interfered a little with Christmas family business thus I was not going to the local station 20 km away but doing it remotely from my mom’s home every now and then. I have to admit it was quite a strange feeling sitting on mom’s couch, starring at the Christmas tree, having the laptop on my knees and doing a 160 m CW contest. 😀

Was only using my K3 barefoot this time, thus just 100 W and our lazy loop. I had about 1 second audio delay as the RRC-Micro application was buffering that amount of time. One can still handle it but the RRC boxes with detached radio front panels work without any discernable delay in the audio chain so there might be some tweaking potential for the PC application. After getting used to it it was quite easy going. Even calling CQ myself worked ufb! I was astonished to be called by RA9Y from MO92, that’s already 4.500 km, not too bad for the small setup. Also worked RM9Y/LP51 and 5B4AMM/KM65 both at around 2.400 km. That was it concerning DX dir east. From west only VO1NA/GN37 could be raised at 4.600 km although hearing a few more (but weak). Went to bad at 0:30z as it was just a leisurely remote activity. 😉

Getting up at 4:30z again to follow “body’s desires” 😉 I decided to switch on everything again and take a listen to the band. Could hear quite a number of North American stations then and while being almost QRP the following guys had really good ears and picked up my small signal although they were not too strong themselves: K1WHS/FN43 (good old Dave), W1UE/FN41, K5ZD/FN42, K1KI/FN32, and NO3M/EN91 being the ODX at 6.700 km. Was also great to work Mike, VE9AA/FN66. We have worked dozens of QSOs already but never on 160 m, great ears, Mike! 😎

What I really like about the TBDC is using the 4-digit locator as exchange and awarding points based on distance. Feels a bit like VHF contesting. 😉 Did 188 QSOs with 722 points in total. It was real fun and I really need to plan one of the next TBDCs for a serious entry again.

Posted in Contesting, Equipment | Comments Off on STEW PERRY TBDC 2015

Fixing issues: Remote Ops VDSL internet connection

As you know my station at home is remote controllable. I’ve been doing remote ops for 7 years now and the station’s (remote) capabilities have been constantly expanded throughout all the time. One major change I did was installing a dedicated DSL line exclusively for remote ops about 1.5 years ago. Until then I had been using the WiFi connection we had for our club station at the same location but bandwidth there is very limited and was just not enough anymore when changing from a remoted frontpanel detached IC-706 to an IC-7100 to the K3 plus 2nd RX over time. The new line using VDSL2 enabled me to have a 16 Mbit down and 2.5 Mbit up internet connection (and theoretically going up to 50 Mbit downstream) using a local carrier (SDTelecom). They currently only support the later Fritz!Box routers by AVM. I like them a lot for their features and hate them for their poor RFI performance. After installation it only took one second of keying a transmitter with more than 50 watts on 10 m to wipe out the connection. Quite bad if you are depending on that line to do the operation. After figuring that out I was lucky being able to directly talk to the provider’s tech guys and our solution was to downgrade the line to ADSL2+ with still 16 Mbit down but reducing upload to something like 1.5 Mbit. Connection was stable ever since but operating outside the minimum requirements they have, that is at least 10 dB SNR on the line while my line only provided some 5 dB SNR. Nevertheless it worked reliably without any problems, just a bit of trouble when being on 160 m which is a common RFI problem with ADSL lines. No problem for me, good compromise as I’m more interested in the higher bands and 10 m especially. 😉

1_notches_as_isAbout 2 weeks ago I killed my DSL again operating on 10 m. A quick check on the router revealed the line was back to VDSL2. So I called the provider to let them switch back to ADSL2+ again but this time they refused to do so as they had to do some changes at the DSLAM and were not going to support ADSL2+ anymore, especially not with parameters below the minimum. And their argument was better quality and stability with VDSL2. Well, after explaining them this would not work due to RFI they connected me to the tech guys again. This time I had a really great guy on the phone who was very knowledgable also concerning RFI and the likes. While he confirmed they were not going to put the line back to ADSL he acknowledged seeing the issues with my VDSL line in the connection logs on the DSLAM side, too. His suggestion then was to simply filter out the DSL frequency sub-bands where the interference occured (I was not even aware this was possible on a DSL central switch) and the problem should be gone. He asked me to try 5 minutes later again. Well, it really worked! As you can see on the picture above there are a few distinct notches in the DSL spectrum now. These were exactly the frequencies where the DSL sync carriers (pilot tones) would have been so with the notches in place the sync’s now automatically use different frequencies. I was not able to kill the line anymore in the few remote tests I did. :)

After being home now over Christmas I took some time today to systematically test everything again, i.e. doing all the bands, different power levels, different antennas, different antenna directions, a.s.o. There is still some interference at a few different points but none of them is really doing any harm, i.e. connection is stable, there’s no data loss, no CRC errors, etc., all fine. 😎 It does look quite heavy on the spectrum plot below, i.e. the brown line marks the available SNR during transmits on different bands but it’s a combined spectrum plot, it’s not all in parallel and the DSL mechanisms (like bitswaps) take care of it automatically.

10+20+80+160m-störungen

The first “brown line notch” going down to 0 dB SNR (upper plot) is transmit on 160 m, the second one transmit on 80 m, the third one transmit on 10 m and the last broad one transmit on 20 m. Due to the system notches there’s almost no data transfer on these frequencies in the DSL spectrum anyway as you can see on the lower plot.

While 160, 80 & 20 m are direct interference, i.e. on the transmit frequency, the 10 m interference is strange as it happens at about 7 MHz. It took me a while to figure out why. AVM is making use of simple SDR techniques! I.e. they are using SDR TX/RX with a quadrature mixer! Thus 28 MHz oscillator frequency (and interference!) will result in 7 MHz sample frequency at the frontend … Light Bulb Clip Art

So all is working stable and reliably also with VDSL2 now and yours truly is a happy camper again. 😎 Nevertheless I reported all of these issues to AVM, too, in the hopes they will take the feedback seriously and invest a little more into RFI protection. They already did so in their firmware, i.e. with the latest firmware versions the problem was less prominent than in their early firmware releases. So they are working on it. Nevertheless to my mind they do have a real design flaw at least in their Fritz!Box 7390 (and probably in other boxes, too, looking at several issue reports on the internet) which really puts a bad mark on their otherwise superb product(s).

Posted in Equipment, General stuff | Comments Off on Fixing issues: Remote Ops VDSL internet connection

Santa’s early Christmas present: ufb Aurora again

au-20.12.2015Oh boy, what a great VHF DX day today! Already late morning there were spots on the DX cluster reporting Aurora QSOs some 2.500 to 3.500 km east from here, i.e. between UA4 and UA9. It did not look like we would get something serious overhere. LA8AV popped out of the noise on 2 m via AU around 13z and vanished quickly after. SM4IVE made an appearance an hour later but disappeared afterwards, too. All just in and out. Then the band finally opened a bit more around 14:30z allowing to work the usual suspects in a medium class Aurora opening. GM6VXB/P was a nice surprise again. After having worked Martin from IO57 for a new square last weekend he was now on the Shetland Islands handing out IP90. Had worked that square before but always nice to catch somebody there, does not happen very often. After 16z things got really interesting when UA3MBJ called me with a great 56A signal. Kept the beam dir 40-50° and worked a bunch of UA1, UA3 & UR stations up to 1.600 km distance. That’s when I call it a great opening! :) Would not believe my ears when RA3SI sent LO04PT as his locator, my first ever contact into the LO field on 2 m via Aurora! I had worked a (small) number of LO squares on ES and MS before but never via AU. LO04 was nothing new either but it did provide a new Aurora ODX for me at 1.769 km. 😎

The opening lasted until 20z overhere. Seems it also extended further south in Europe at times as IK3VZO/JN55 reported hearing me with up to 52A while I was working the Russians. After all had settled an Aurora-E opening, i.e. Sporadic-E triggered by Aurora condx, suddenly started providing nice strong (and clear sounding) signals especially on 10 m and to a lesser degree on 6 m. Seems I was not in the right spot for 6 m but caught a few QSOs there, too. Also made a few audio recordings again, see below.

I made some 80 QSOs in total (Elecraft K3, 600 W & 9 ele LFA on my remote in JO73ce). To apply some kind of filter to keep the list short(er) 😉 only QSOs > 800 km are shown:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
14:44  YL2FZ         KO37QI   55A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    952
15:03  GM6VXB/P      IP9ØNT   57A   49A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1241
15:38  OH2KW         KP2ØIJ   57A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1023
15:59  OH4LA         KP2ØLG   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1022
16:11  UA3MBJ        KO87QV   56A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1539
16:13  RA1WU         KO47ES   55A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1025
16:15  EW6EM         KO54EM   52A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1068
16:18  RK1AS         KP4ØUE   42A   56A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1220
16:19  RM1A          KO59BU   55A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1220
16:21  RT1W          KO47EI   56A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1007
16:22  EW1KP         KO33TW   54A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    888
16:24  UX7LQ         KN79XW   55A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1539
16:28  UT8LN         KN89AW   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1545
16:31  UA1WCF        KO55IR   56A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1100
16:35  EW1AA         KO33RU   55A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    878
16:41  UA1ASA        KO48GH   54A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1059
16:45  LB5WB         JP2ØQH   55A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    956
16:46  EU6AF         KO35LA   57A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    854
16:50  UE56W         KO47DT   56A   58A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1022
16:53  UA3DHC        KO95AW   57A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1558
16:54  RD3FD         KO95CO   56A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1568
16:58  RA3SI         LOØ4PT   52A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1769
17:08  RO3X          KO73FU   56A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1336
17:11  GM3WOJ        IO77WS   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1257
17:23  GM4PPT        IO75SK   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1232
17:33  GM4JJJ        IO86GB   57A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1177
17:40  RA1WJ         KO37TT   54A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    986
17:57  RA3FP         KO94AV   54A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1560
18:06  UA3AFV        KO95BV   55A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1563
18:07  SM5DWF        JP9ØJA   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    809
18:13  UA3LID        KO64CN   55A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1186
18:28  LB8DC         JP5ØXH   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    804
18:31  GM8IEM        IO78HF   55A   57A    2 m.   SSB   AUR   1342
18:49  UA3WM         KO72QI   53A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1421
18:57  ES3RF         KO29IF   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    932
19:00  EI3KD         IO51VW   56A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1515
19:22  EW6DX         KO45JL   53A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    977
19:28  YL2GD         KO37ML   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    939
------------------------------------------------------------------
21:12  LA1MFA        JP99BF   599   599    10 m.  CW    AuE   1795
21:55  OH6DX         KP32EQ   59    59     10 m.  SSB   AuE   1272
22:09  LB2TB         JO59NP   599   599    10 m.  CW    AuE    742
22:15  OH8MXJ        KP23KV   59    59     10 m.  SSB   AuE   1338
22:20  LA9BM         JP4ØCN   599   599    6 m.   CW    AuE    896
22:41  GM4VVX        IO78TA   579   57A    6 m.   CW    AuE   1279
------------------------------------------------------------------

Having talked about the difficulties of SSB on Aurora in my last blog entry I took the time this time to do some audio recordings to practically show the differences. Please take a listen to the following 2 sound files yourself …

GM8IEM SSB Aurora on 2 m:

OZ6HQ SSB Aurora on 6 m:

Now which one did you find easier to “read”? I’m sure it was the 6 m file. 😉 Both were about equal signal strength. And now compare those concerning readability to the following 2 sound files and you’ll know why I definitely do prefer “brass pounding” during Aurora openings … 😉

SM4IVE CW Aurora on 2 m:

LAØBY CW Aurora on 2 m:

Posted in Audio recordings, Aurora, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Santa’s early Christmas present: ufb Aurora again

Meteors & Northern Lights …

Besides handing out a few QSOs in the ARRL-10M contest last weekend I also spent some time on VHF as the Geminids meteor shower was around. It almost always coincides with the 10 m contest so one can share time between the contest and meteor scatter quite nicely. The shower usually also enhances condx on 10 m, i.e. stimulating some Sporadic-E propagation which unfortunately was not the case this time. Maybe because the meteor peak was only predicted for Monday evening …

I did not expect to add any new squares during the shower as portable activity is usally rather sparse during winter time. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to see Jussi, OH6ZZ, being active from KP13 as OH8K for a few days providing a new one to many. Also nice to catch GM6VXB/P in IO57. Martin’s QRL includes technical duties on Scottish lighthouses so he travels a lot across the islands and always tries to be active on 2 m MS then as time permits. Good catch! 😎 Not any less pleasant but certainly easier from a reachability perspective was working residents EI2KK in IO65, IK8XFR in JM89 and SM2DUX in KP05 for another three new ones. Five in total sure was nothing I would have expected! :)

latestMonday evening the band also opened via Aurora. To keep an eye on NOAA’s Aurora forecast always pays off. 😉 Interestingly reflection zones varied broadly between 340 and 30° so I wondered why it did not enable QSOs into more southern regions which is usually the case then. On 6 m I even found 330° best to hear the two GM stations active on SSB Aurora although I did not reach them due to too low power overhere. Although SSB is much easier to copy on 6 m as the auroral distortion is less pronounced then on 2 m it still demands more ERP then CW. Another reason why you *do* need CW to work the real DX on VHF, too. 😉 And generally 2 m always seems much easier on Aurora then 6 m … but that might also be just a simple question of ERP as you usually do have higher gain antennas on the higher bands assuming same available space … simple physics. 😉 The Scottish guys reported visible Aurora at high elevation, too, which matches nicely to the beam headings needed overhere.

After all a few very nice evenings on VHF again … 😎

------------------------------------------------------------------
 DATE     TIME   CALLSIGN     LOCATOR    BAND   MODE    PRO.   QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
12/12/15  22:00  OH8K         KP13FA *   2 m.   FSK441  MS    1193
12/12/15  22:33  GM6VXB/P     IO57RT *   2 m.   FSK441  MS    1513
12/12/15  23:54  UR6EM        KN67RV     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1476
13/12/15  07:03  RO3X         KO73FU     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1336
13/12/15  07:12  LZ2FO/2      KN14KA     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1200
13/12/15  07:35  UT4LA        KN89CW     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1556
13/12/15  07:46  RM1A         KO59BU     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1220
13/12/15  08:02  USØGB        KN67UA     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1543
13/12/15  18:28  ER1AN        KN46KX     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1250
13/12/15  18:35  UT8AL        KO61WP     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1340
13/12/15  22:18  EI2KK        IO65CA *   2 m.   FSK441  MS    1442
13/12/15  22:26  SV6KRV       KMØ9KO     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1592
13/12/15  22:30  LZ5D         KN22UL     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1464
13/12/15  22:37  YU7ON        KNØ4AX     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1006
13/12/15  23:16  EA3AXV       JNØ1TJ     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1613
13/12/15  23:24  F6DRO        JNØ3TJ     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1428
13/12/15  23:49  9A4V         JN95KI     2 m.   FSK441  MS     934
13/12/15  23:54  RU1AA        KO48VR     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1145
------------------------------------------------------------------
14/12/15  18:19  SMØNKZ       JO99IQ     2 m.   CW      AUR    773
14/12/15  18:23  SM7GVF       JO77GA     2 m.   CW      AUR    427
14/12/15  18:29  SM4IVE       JO79SD     2 m.   CW      AUR    667
14/12/15  18:34  LA6OJ        JO38HH     2 m.   CW      AUR    740
14/12/15  18:38  GM4VVX       IO78TA     2 m.   CW      AUR   1279
14/12/15  18:43  LA3PK        JO59KW     2 m.   CW      AUR    777
14/12/15  18:45  YL2FZ        KO37QI     2 m.   CW      AUR    952
14/12/15  18:48  OH5LK        KP3ØON     2 m.   CW      AUR   1134
14/12/15  18:51  SM4CSK       JO79LG     2 m.   CW      AUR    678
14/12/15  18:53  OH2M         KP21TD     2 m.   CW      AUR   1117
14/12/15  18:57  GM3WOJ       IO77WS     2 m.   CW      AUR   1257
14/12/15  19:04  OZ4VV        JO46QU     6 m.   CW      AUR    511
14/12/15  19:06  LA9BM        JP4ØCN     6 m.   CW      AUR    896
14/12/15  19:18  LAØBY        JO59FW     2 m.   CW      AUR    784
------------------------------------------------------------------
14/12/15  19:38  IK8XFR       JM89CJ *   2 m.   FSK441  MS    1541
14/12/15  20:02  F6KHM        IN78RJ     2 m.   SSB     MS    1416
14/12/15  20:17  SM2DUX       KPØ5AJ *   2 m.   FSK441  MS    1395
14/12/15  20:30  SM2CEW       KP15CR     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1463
14/12/15  21:14  TM7G         JNØ3QL     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1432
14/12/15  21:21  IW2BNA       JN45ON     2 m.   FSK441  MS     921
14/12/15  22:26  IK1EGC       JN35UF     2 m.   FSK441  MS    1002
14/12/15  22:48  IK3MLF       JN55WJ     2 m.   FSK441  MS     882
14/12/15  23:27  IZ3KGJ       JN65IN     2 m.   FSK441  MS     854
14/12/15  23:35  S54O         JN75NT     2 m.   FSK441  MS     822
14/12/15  23:44  YL3HA        KO26DW     2 m.   FSK441  MS     764
15/12/15  00:07  9A5RJ        JN86EL     2 m.   FSK441  MS     762
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Aurora, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Meteors & Northern Lights …

ARRL-10M 2015

Condx not very good so did not plan to put in a full effort and had some other weekend duties, too. Spent some time Saturday morning but except a few UA9’s there was nothing to be worked on the north-eastern path, no hope for JA and not even China in the log! VK’s/ZL’s on the other hand produced some nice signals but the path is much more south, i.e. almost exactly east from here.

Spent another few hours Saturday afternoon. Good to work good old friends Carol, N2MM, and Mike, VE9AA, around 14:15z when the band opened slightly to North America via skewed path. Signals were ESP level only but glad to see both active and alive. :) After 14:30z ten even opened direct path into the U.S. for an hour with some good signals so could grab a few more states and provinces. But it was never good enough to get a run going, only the big ones audible. And almost exclusively east coast, except 2 x W8, 1 x W9 and 1 x WØ. After the NA opening there were a few more SA guys to be worked until the band dropped out completely around 16z overhere.

Sunday morning provided even better signals from VK & ZL but unfortunately activity down there is very limited so no big gain. Always glad about every station in the log from Down Under! 😉 Condx eastwards helped for a few more backscatter QSOs with Europe otherwise it was rather boring. Picked up a few Caribbean mults early afternoon but signals were much weaker than Saturday. So I did not expect 10 m to open to the U.S. again. Well, I was wrong, it did open again for 1.5 hours but only skewed path via the Caribbean and 95% of the signal were only ESP level making it hard work most times. At least I worked a few more 9’s & Ø’s for new mults as well as a few 5’s. Band abruptly closed 16:30z again.

Due to the bad condx I had decided to do CW only right from the beginning. A wise decision as it turned out. Cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to work all these guys on sideband with these weak signals. Managed to work 71 DXCCs overall & 34 states/provinces from 80 W/VE QSOs …

                    ARRL 10-Meter Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO CW Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 10:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   CW:  294   105
  SSB:    0     0
-------------------
Total:  294   105  Total Score = 123,480

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWA Yagi
Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on ARRL-10M 2015

ARRL-160M & 10M-RTTY

Not much time recently but managed to do a few QSOs in these two single band contests on the opposite ends of the HF (contest) spectrum this weekend. Seems condx were quite nice Saturday morning during ARRL-160M judging from cluster spots and talks with Sandro, DD3SP, who worked some nice ones then. Unfortunately I could only be QRV Sunday morning when condx already had detoriated a bit but still managed to do 16 QSOs into 13 states/sections which is not too bad for just 500 W and a rather high-angled lazy loop between 8 and 16 m high and no RX antennas. Quite a QRP setup on 160 m. 😉

Sunday also saw the second run of the 10M-RTTY contest. Condx were not very good, almost no DX worked except a few South Americans. The more I was surprised to suddenly see my call detected by North American skimmer servers around 13:30z. Had a nice small run into the U.S. until the band closed again an hour later. As you can see 10 m is always good for an unexpected opening. That’s what I like about the band! 😎 Managed 68 QSOs into 15 states and 18 DXCCs in a little over 3 hours being QRV. Having run 500 W from the KPA500 my log is not eligible for an entry as the contest rules only allow low power, i.e. max 100 watts. Nevertheless sent it in as a checklog that will hopefully help the contest sponsors during the log checking process.

Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on ARRL-160M & 10M-RTTY

CQ WW CW 2015

Condx sucked, especially on Saturday. Worked just 35 JAs in the morning and barely half a dozen zone 3 stations in the afternoon, to name results for the two most difficult path’. A bit better on Sunday with 100 JAs and 35 zone 3 stations. Moaning now but we will certainly want these figures back in a few years. 😉 Decline into sunspot minimum sure has started …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 22:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs   Zones  Countries
-------------------------------
  160:  (18)               
   80:   (7)               
   40: (163)               
   20:  (28)               
   15:  1486    37      136
   10:   (4)               
-------------------------------
Total:  1452    37      136  Total Score = 582,318

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi

Interestingly there were still some strong echos at times I would not have expected under the rather poor conditions, here’s just one example:

HB9CZF with strong echos Sunday morning:

Worst key-klickers this time were K5YAA and R7AB. It’s “great” when these guys start CQ’ing a kilohertz away and you can throw away your run QRG due to their bad signals. :-( But good to see Jerry, K5YAA, took my comments serious as he requested some soundfiles. Must be a problem with his K3, keeping fingers crossed for him.

It was nice to work C92ZO during the contest, too. Not so nice when Marko started going split and putting his split RX on my run QRG about 1.2 kHz higher. :-( If you really need to work split during a contest then please do it way up in the band and not right in the middle of the band where stations are wall to wall! As the DX you will be spotted a thousand times anyway so it will not hurt you to go higher …

Worst frequency thief this time was EF8R. While it was certainly good that he at least asked “QRL?” before starting he waited a whopping 100 milliseconds (!) before throwing out CQs. Thanks for destroying the QSO I was just in (trying to dig out a weak WA5)! Of course he then ignored my “QRL QRL QRL” just 3 seconds later and kept on CQing … :-(

Besides doing SOSB15 I handed out a few more QSOs on the other bands, too, when 15 m was closed. Some nice DX on 40 m in the log, it was kinda addictive. 😉 Condx on 160 m seemed to be great Sunday morning, worked a few US guys with real 599 signals, never seen such strong signals before (no special RX antennas overhere). Unfortunately I couldn’t break 8Q7DV’s pileup on top band although he had a decent signal …

K1TO being a great signal on 160 m Sunday morning:

Though putting a note onto the keyboard I forgot to switch on QSOrder for the first 2 or 3 QSOs Saturday morning, damn. 😉 But recorded everything else so if you are interested to hear how you sounded in northern central Europe just drop me a note at callsign @darc.de and I’ll be glad to share the MP3s.

Now let’s see how condx will evolve until ARRL-10M and if we can still do a few QSOs on “ten” then. Otherwise the next big ones will be CQ-WPX-RTTY and ARRL-CW in February from Aruba. Already looking forwarded going to the Caribbean. 😎

Edit 31.12.2015: Added CQWW CW contest audio to the website, have fun listening to it and see how you sounded in Northern Central Europe. 😉

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on CQ WW CW 2015

WAE-RTTY 2015

Part time participation when-ever I had a few minutes time. Condx could have been better but QTCs sure were fun! 😎 More serious entry during CQWW CW planned …

                    WAE DX Contest, RTTY

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 17:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Pts  QTCs  Mults
------------------------------
   80:  161  161     0   164
   40:   93   93    47   168
   20:   80   80    50    76
   15:   88   88   290    92
   10:   54   54    70    74
------------------------------
Total:  476  476   457   574  Total Score = 535,542

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + high bands beams & low bands wires
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WAE-RTTY 2015

Marconi Memorial Contest … and QRV on 2 m again

Just seeing I didn’t report on this blog that my 2 m PA used for remote ops had failed. :( It happened right after the early October tropo. Returning from taking a nap on 4 October when switching on the amp remotely the 50 V power supply failed, no voltage anymore (easily seen even remote thanks to it’s great remote control software). Luckily I was local during the EA1 tropo but I missed the opening into Russia early last week (quite a lot of tropo openings recently!) due to that. :-(

IMG-20151020-00165When I had holidays late October and was at the remote QTH I took the PA (an old model OM1002 by OM-Power) apart. Checking the built-in Cotek SPSU confirmed: all dead. A quick Google search revealed: a new fitting SPSU would cost ca. 550 EUR – ouch! :(

So we (Heiko, DG1BHA, was assisting) did some deeper investigations into the power supply itself and soon found the culprit: a small IC had burned and blasted away it’s top, see on the photo below the big transformer! Luckily we could still find the top inside the enclosure and identify the IC as a TNY280PN. It’s application notes on the web helped to understand what the circuit was good for and what else needed to be checked. Besides the TNY280PN an optocoupler as well as 2 diodes failed, too. Ordered new components and the rest is history now, since Thursday last week (just one day after the UA3 tropo ended, damn!) the OM1002 is working again, total repair cost less than 10 EUR. 😎 Many thanks to Heiko who soldered in the TNY280PN and put it all together again locally with me 700 km away just giving instructions. 😉 Hope it will hold a bit longer now.

Having a working 2 m station again I decided to at least hand out a few QSOs in this weekend’s Marconi Memorial Contest. There was a good chance for another tropo opening according to the F5LEN tropo forecast and indeed, there was a great lift between the U.K. and southern DL, OK/OM, HA, a.s.o. Unfortunately it never materialized in northeastern Germany so just bad to average condx in JO73 (and some really ugly QSB at times). Nevertheless among the few dozen QSOs done I worked these nice DX contacts > 700 km:

------------------------------------------------------------------
  DATE     TIME   CALLSIGN       BAND     MODE     LOCATOR     QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
20151107   2219   TMØW           2 m.     CW       JN36BP      929
20151108   1210   G8T            2 m.     CW       JO01KJ      928
20151107   2202   F6HPP/P        2 m.     CW       JN19PG      875
20151108   0843   S55M           2 m.     CW       JN65XM      853
20151108   1230   HB9CLN         2 m.     CW       JN37WB      817
20151107   1904   S53D           2 m.     CW       JN76BD      784
20151107   1913   UR7DWW         2 m.     CW       KN18EO      766
20151108   1200   F8KID          2 m.     CW       JN38AT      750
20151107   2312   S59P           2 m.     CW       JN86AO      744
20151107   1850   HB9FAP         2 m.     CW       JN47PH      741
20151108   1049   S59ABC         2 m.     CW       JN76TO      740
20151107   2309   S57M           2 m.     CW       JN76PO      737
20151108   0658   HG1Z           2 m.     CW       JN86KU      730
20151108   1009   PA5KT          2 m.     CW       JO11WL      727
20151107   2249   S57O           2 m.     CW       JN86DT      725
20151108   1043   HA6W           2 m.     CW       KN08FB      720
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Contesting, Equipment, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Marconi Memorial Contest … and QRV on 2 m again

New QSL design

Needed to order some new QSLs so invested a bit of time to do a new design, too. QSO details are printed directly onto the card (up to 5 QSOs per card as currently configured) using DF3CB’s BV7, alternatively I can also put labels onto them but the direct printing works very well and saves a lot of time. After some experiments with different types of printers I can whole-harted recommend HP’s LaserJet Pro P1102 … it has printed 15.000 cards already and is still going strong without any service needs. 😎

ukw-front-klein
Front showing the scenery of our VHF portable contesting site

ukw-back-klein
Backside (background image depictures the world-famous DH8BQA sequencer)

Posted in General stuff, QSLs | Comments Off on New QSL design

CQWW SSB 2015

After condx went up dramatically during the last few days my decision to do the contest on 10 m was quite clear. Of course I did not expect to do as many QSOs as during the last few years but thought 800 should be doable. How wrong I was …

Saturday started quite well. The band opened early and I had some nice runs into Japan. Had the first call from the U.S.A. around 12z. Running like mad, best 60 min rate was 188, not too bad. :) Unfortunately condx detoriated quite a bit after 14z and almost all QSOs into North America afterwards needed to be done on scatter beaming to the Caribbean. Thus missing quite a number of contacts although there was quite good activity from the LU’s and PY’s in South America, too. Good thing is my goal of 800 was already in when the band closed Saturday, went to bed with 887 QSOs under the belt. 😎

Unfortunately I couldn’t get much going Sunday morning. Needed over 4 hours to do 100 QSOs! Condx seemed still good but there were no answers to my CQs and S&P potential was limited, too. It took until 13:30z for the NA opening. But it stayed open until 17z this time so after all about equal time both days when NA was workable. Nevertheless 3 to 3,5 hours is certainly not enough for big QSO numbers and to be honest, the U.S. is where the majority of contacts come from (besides Europe on backscatter, of course).

While it was only East Coast on Saturday the band opened a bit further west from here on Sunday so I could work a handful of Ø’s, too, although not many. Heard only one z3 station but despite having a good s5 signal on a clear frequency W7FSL was deaf as stone so missed that zone mult. Under these condx to work z1 and z2 on 10 m is illusory. Fourth zone missing was z31, i.e. Hawaii and all of the Pacific Islands. Worked a little less than 100 JA’s which is just about 1/3 of what can be worked during good years.

Finished the contest with 1.400 QSOs so about 1.000 less than we did from this location during the last 4 years. Amazing to see that Matthias, DL5L/DG0OKW, did 600 QSOs and 2 zones more (he did work z2 & z3) from 350 km south-westerly and Tom, DK3T/DK3EE, even did 1.100 QSOs more and worked 39 zones from 400 km westerly. It seems the band was open 3-4 hours longer overthere judging from their op times which is almost unbelievable. Yes, location makes a difference, especially under these condx! Nevertheless it was fun and good to have another CQWW SSB with decent 10 m propagation, certainly nobody anticipated that. 😉

    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 25

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
   10: 1417    36      155
------------------------------
Total: 1397    36      155  Total Score = 608,908

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Now keeping fingers crossed condx will be equally good for CQWW CW in 4 weeks … 😉

Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on CQWW SSB 2015

Surprising tropo again!

tropo-23.10.2015-18zWell, neither the weather nor the Tropo forecast (see picture) did look like we would get a big lift but Friday early afternoon it really happend – EA1MX appeared on 2 m here in Northeastern Germany! Would not have thought this would ever be possible as the path from here to EA1 is not really made for tropo as there are lots of different mountain chains inbetween that usually destroy the tropo path. Whenever there was tropo from EA1 to DL in the past it usually was only about 200 km more westerly if it ever reached into the north. So you can certainly imagine how surprised I was to really hear EA1MX when arriving at the QTH at 12:45z to prepare for the WWDX-SSB contest this weekend.

Worked a few French stations after EA1MX until the band closed about an hour later. Strangly I could also work GW8JLY “out of the path” and he was the only U.K. station audible at all at that time! The band open again an hour later and I could work a few more F’s as well as EA1GCN. Interestingly most of the French guys were rather weak and there was lots of QSB confirming condx were not very stable. In general it was on & off during the whole afternoon and evening.

Later on a few more EA1’s popped up as well as EA2XR. Signals improved a lot during the evening and almost all of the Spanish guys were reaching s9 signal levels, really amazing! But the most fascinating QSO was made with EA1HRR over 1.680 km who was using just 30 watts and a small 5 ele Yagi antenna! Now how cool’s that? 😎

Besides working what felt like hundreds of French stations 😉 Dave, G7RAU, was in at 59(9) and over. Seems he caught the northwestern-most entry into the duct, at least into our direction. The U.K. could work “cross-lift” from the northwest down to southeast, i.e. into Southern Germany as well as Austria and Hungary (there was at least one QSO from G to I2 reported, too) while it was northeast to southwest from up here. Every now and then another G popped out of the noise and “out of path” overhere, too, but vanished again after some minutes. Not so with Dave! He was like a local beacon all night long. 😉

Keeping in mind I wanted to get up early Saturday morning to do the HF contest I finally called it a day at 23:30z. Just before closing down I was called by EA1PB who gave me my new tropo ODX of 1.829 km! 😎 And F8GGD sent a link to a Youtube video he made of me calling CQ over the 1.335 km path from JO73ce to IN95uq … seems I was loud enough. 😉


Finally here’s the log excerpt of the more interesting contacts > 700 km:

------------------------------------------------------------------
  DATE     TIME  CALLSIGN  LOCATOR  TX   RX   BAND  MODE PRO.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
23/10/2015 12:49 EA1MX     IN73XK  549   599  2 m.  CW   TR   1722
23/10/2015 12:57 FØFYP     JN37LO  51    58   2 m.  SSB  TR    805
23/10/2015 13:01 F4ULC     JNØ6FU  55    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1205
23/10/2015 13:07 GW8JLY    IO81JM  57    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1194
23/10/2015 13:16 F1NZC     JN15MR  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1154
23/10/2015 13:38 F8GGD     IN95UQ  519   519  2 m.  CW   TR   1335
23/10/2015 15:41 F5XU      JN15MT  57    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1147
23/10/2015 15:44 F6APE     IN97QI  55    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1234
23/10/2015 15:49 F5CKB     IN97SL  51    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1215
23/10/2015 15:52 EA1GCN    IN73DN  57    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1810
23/10/2015 15:55 F6GNR     IN97FD  59    56   2 m.  SSB  TR   1303
23/10/2015 16:10 F4FRG     IN98KE  51    52   2 m.  SSB  TR   1211
23/10/2015 16:11 GW8JLY    IO81JM  54    52   2 m.  SSB  TR   1194
23/10/2015 16:23 EA1BA     IN73XI  55    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1729
23/10/2015 16:46 FØGOW     IN96TT  55    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1256
23/10/2015 17:39 F1GGS     JN15OV  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1132
23/10/2015 17:45 F8EMH     JN29VL  55    57   2 m.  SSB  TR    715
23/10/2015 17:50 ON4LDP    JO1ØUN  579   559  2 m.  CW   TR    777
23/10/2015 18:00 F6IFX/P   IN87XC  55    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1336
23/10/2015 18:08 F6DKW     JN18CS  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    971
23/10/2015 18:14 FØFKQ     IN88SN  51    52   2 m.  SSB  TR   1273
23/10/2015 18:16 F1DRR     JN18BX  52    55   2 m.  SSB  TR    963
23/10/2015 18:18 FØFMJ     JNØ8FK  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1098
23/10/2015 18:24 F6DLA     JNØ7SE  52    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1119
23/10/2015 18:29 HB9HLI    JN37JB  53    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    861
23/10/2015 18:36 EA1MX     IN73XK  57    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1722
23/10/2015 18:42 EA1HRR    IN83JJ  529   579  2 m.  CW   TR   1679
23/10/2015 18:51 F6KHM     IN78RJ  419   529  2 m.  CW   TR   1416
23/10/2015 19:08 F1MOZ     IN93RS  41    51   2 m.  SSB  TR   1503
23/10/2015 19:10 F1NMP     IN95WA  57    58   2 m.  SSB  TR   1378
23/10/2015 19:12 F6CIS     IN94WL  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1422
23/10/2015 19:19 F5OYS     JNØ5DR  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1299
23/10/2015 19:27 F1HSU     JN15AK  54    52   2 m.  SSB  TR   1230
23/10/2015 19:30 G7RAU     IO9ØIR  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1094
23/10/2015 19:42 HB9HLM/P  JN37KD  57    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    850
23/10/2015 19:51 G4MKF     IO91HJ  579   559  2 m.  CW   TR   1076
23/10/2015 20:12 EA2XR     IN83KI  57    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1677
23/10/2015 20:24 F5EAN     JNØ6CP  57    58   2 m.  SSB  TR   1235
23/10/2015 20:31 F5JNX     JN37PV  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR    764
23/10/2015 21:11 F1AGW     JN18GU  52    55   2 m.  SSB  TR    946
23/10/2015 21:13 F4EWP     JNØ7BV  52    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1153
23/10/2015 21:16 F4NYC     IN95QH  53    51   2 m.  SSB  TR   1383
23/10/2015 21:19 F5SE/P    JN19XH  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    832
23/10/2015 21:48 F2MM      IN95LP  51    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1381
23/10/2015 21:57 F1CXX     JN18AT  59    57   2 m.  SSB  TR    978
23/10/2015 22:01 FØFVK     JN18IB  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR    989
23/10/2015 22:10 F4FFH     IN99KC  55    55   2 m.  SSB  TR   1159
23/10/2015 22:17 FØEUA     JN16QS  51    52   2 m.  SSB  TR   1051
23/10/2015 22:18 F5PZR     JN18NT  56    55   2 m.  SSB  TR    914
23/10/2015 22:19 ON5NY     JO1ØMV  57    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    804
23/10/2015 22:26 F5DE      JNØ5DP  539   539  2 m.  CW   TR   1306
23/10/2015 22:45 HB9EOU    JN37KD  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    850
23/10/2015 22:53 G4DHF     IO92UU  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR    969
23/10/2015 23:03 F6GPT     IN94SW  57    57   2 m.  SSB  TR   1403
23/10/2015 23:03 F4BDG     JN18HR  52    52   2 m.  SSB  TR    949
23/10/2015 23:05 EA1PB     IN73CI  52    58   2 m.  SSB  TR   1829
23/10/2015 23:34 F8GGD     IN95UQ  59    59   2 m.  SSB  TR   1335
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Audio recordings, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Surprising tropo again!

Upcoming WWDX-SSB and choice of bands …

As you know Uwe, DL3BQA, and myself share the station during the bigger HF contests doing single band entries (two guys is just not enough for a serious multi op entry). As written in my WAG report below we wanted to go for 20 + 15 m in this weekend’s WWDX-SSB contest but as it seems condx will hold so we’re going to switch for 15 (DL3BQA) + 10 m (DH8BQA). Looking forward to work you and keeping fingers crossed good ol’ sun will be as cooperative as it currently seems! 😉

Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on Upcoming WWDX-SSB and choice of bands …