More 4 m and a nice one hour Sporadic-E opening on 2 m

Arriving from QRL seemed to be just in time this evening! Switching on the radio I heard Geoff, EA5/G3XGS, on 4 m and grabbed him easily for a new square. Looking at LiveMUF by Dave, G7RAU, it seemed to be a good idea to check 144 MHz, too. It did not even take 5 minutes until the band opened into EA1! Later it shifted to western France and there were a few time when the band seemed closed but as there were still QSOs going on between other stations I think we rather landed in the Atlantic Ocean west of France during those silent minutes. The opening lasted a bit over an hour and provided 13 QSOs on 2 m. 8-)

Spent some more time on 4 m afterwards and worked another 2 new squares with KN35 and KN20. Around 18:30z we could hear the band noise getting louder and turning the antenna to the sun it was up to s8 on a calibrated meter. One could hear the flare predicted, wow! Cool stuff. Everybody was hoping for a big Aurora but it wasn’t going to happen. Indeed there was a small AUR opening but I only worked LA3BO and heard LA3EQ on 2 m. SK4MPI/B was pretty much only “in & out” all the time never getting stronger than 53A on short peaks. I did hear ES1CW on 4 m via Aurora but when he finally QSY’d into the DL band he had vanished into the noise. :( Will have to wait for another opportunity to work Estonia on 70 MHz … Despite no big Aurora there was an Aurora-E opening on 2 m (happens once in a few years only!) between SM2 and north-west DL, PA and east G. Unfortunately nothing overhere but it seems the guys had some fun!

------------------------------------------------------------------
 TIME  CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
16:46  EA5/G3XGS     IM98PB   579   559    4 m.   CW    ES    2034
16:50  EA1MX         IN73XK   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1722
16:51  EA1HRR        IN83JJ   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1679
16:55  EA1UR         IN53TF   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1993
16:58  EA1HNP        IN53SI   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1988
17:06  F8GGD         IN95UQ   55    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1335
17:18  F6DFI         IN87WC   51    55     2 m.   SSB   ES    1341
17:22  F6AQI         IN96DW   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1327
17:24  F6GNR         IN97FD   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1303
17:33  EA6VQ         JM19HN   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1751
17:39  EA1FCH        IN63IN   559   599    2 m.   CW    ES    1903
17:46  F5GHP         IN96LE   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1340
17:47  F6ETZ         IN97CG   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1310
17:47  F1CPX         IN97DD   52    55     2 m.   SSB   ES    1313
17:49  FØGOW         IN96TT   52    55     2 m.   SSB   ES    1256
17:57  GU6EFB        IN89RK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1233
18:09  YO9HP         KN35BA   59    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1252
18:11  YO9IE         KN34AW   57    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1255
18:15  YO9HP         KN35BA   559   559    4 m.   CW    ES    1252
18:16  LZ2PL         KN23XT   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1351
18:19  LZ1ZP         KN22ID   59    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1454
18:21  SV2JAO        KN1ØDN   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1530
18:25  SV7GBR        KN2ØIX   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1569
18:38  SV1DH         KM18VA   57    52     4 m.   SSB   ES    1839
19:33  LA3BO         JO59CD   55A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    707
------------------------------------------------------------------

Made a few audio recordings again, will insert them later on.

Posted in Audio recordings, Aurora, DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Great fun on four, frustration on 6 m today

Six had been wide open all over Europe the whole morning. Except a weak D4C via double-hop ES who provided a new square (had wkd D4 in HK86 before but HK76 was new) there was nothing interesting at all. So I spent some time handing out a few points in the Alpe Adria contest on 2 m but nothing special there, too. Bands went quiet until late afternoon and early evening when 6 m saw some great short skips within Europe and also opened into North America from all over Europe. Wait, from all over Europe? Nope, not from Europe’s 6 m DX blackhole, i.e. JO73. :( There was even a great opening into the U.S. West Coast from certain parts of Europe but nothing overhere at all. One of those days when I’m thinking why I’m doing all that 6 m stuff still … The only DX heard was YV4NN late in the evening but just about 529 with an occasional peak up to 559 at times but as half of Europe was calling I gave up after trying for three quarters of an hour and him getting weaker and weaker …

Contrary to six 4 m was real fun! Had a good opening to the west so worked a bunch of G, GW, EI. Also did a nice crossband QSO with Marcel, F5DQK, in Paris with me transmitting on 4 m and him answering on 6 m as four is not (yet?) allowed in France. Later on MUF increased rapidly and finally allowed for a 2 m ES opening between G and UR. Being too close to these clouds to work on 2 m but with a MUF that high I looked south to maybe work my first Slovenian station on 4 m as geometry should be right. I finally did so ;) but even better was working south German stations in JN67 and JN68 via ES on 70 MHz – that’s just 500-600 km! Does not happen too often on 6 m and even less so on 4 m. It did not last longer than 4 or 5 minutes but signals were s9+ with QRP power levels. Great stuff! 8-) Also working double-hop into EA8 again does not seem to be too exciting anymore with it happening every second day or so now. :D

------------------------------------------------------------------
 TIME  CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:55  EA1HRR        IN83JJ   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1679
10:34  DL2OM         JO3ØSN   559   529    4 m.   CW    TR     542
11:08  DL8LAQ        JO43XU   539   319    4 m.   CW    TR     290
11:49  9H1CG         JM75FW   559   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1918
16:34  GWØEZY        IO82HO   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1178
16:36  GW8ASD        IO83LB   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1148
16:37  G4VWI         IO92LQ   55    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1021
16:38  G4FRE         IO82UC   59    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1117
16:39  GW4RWR        IO83HE   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1168
16:43  EI4DQ         IO51WU   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1512
16:48  G3TA          IO81XS   59    56     4 m.   SSB   ES    1109
17:23  G7FMC         IO91NW   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1027
17:23  GW8JLY        IO81JM   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1194
17:39  M5MUF         IO92JP   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1033
17:41  G8BFV         IO81QE   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1166
17:42  GØWUU         IO92SR   55    55     4 m.   SSB   ES     982
17:46  F5DQK         JN18GR   59    55     4/6 m. SSB   ES     954
17:55  G8DKK         IO91VX   55    57     4 m.   SSB   ES     981
18:04  EA8DBM        IL18OH   579   559    4 m.   CW    ES    3747
18:06  CT1HZE        IM57NH   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2504
18:20  DG3YEV        JN68NL   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES     529
18:22  DL3MBG        JN67JX   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES     587
18:26  S57D          JN76GC   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES     788
18:29  S51DI         JN76VL   569   559    4 m.   CW    ES     754
18:32  9A6Z          JN75SL   559   599    4 m.   CW    ES     862
18:43  9A6R          JN83FM   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1087
18:48  EI8IQ         IO62SF   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1391
18:52  EA3FZT        JNØ1TE   579   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1633
19:01  9A6R          JN83FM   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1087
19:32  EA1YV         IN52OC   59    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    2102
19:55  EA6SX         JM19IK   599   579    4 m.   CW    ES    1760
20:09  EA8TX         IL18QI   55    51     4 m.   SSB   ES    3734
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

EA8 – Canary Islands #65 on 2 m – 3.700 km terrestrial!

dh8bqa_eb8brzDuring the great 4 m opening tonight I saw the MUF rising slowly. Later first QSOs were reported on 2 m between G/GW/EI and the Mediterranean and when I saw ES geometry should be right I switched over to 2 m. Nothing happened except a few locals CQing on 144.300 MHz and I put out a few CQs myself, too, without any response. At some point I had this gut feeling something was going to happen (You know these moments, too, don’t you? ;)) thus started to tune the band. Heard a very weak station on .310 but no positive ID. Tuning below the calling frequency reaching .290 I thought wow, great, a Spanish sounding station, just finishing a QSO with DL1RNW, band must be open to Spain via Sporadic E. When he ID’d as EB8BRZ I almost fell of my chair! :) The Canary Islands via terrestrial propagation on 2 m (double-hop ES) – something I had dreamt of for some 20+ years being active on the VHF bands! Gave him a quick call, he responded with call and report, sent him my report and switching back to receive I just heard him fading down into the noise. He later confirmed he got my report all okay. 8-) He came up a few times some minutes later but never making it really out of the noise again.

------------------------------------------------------------------
 TIME  CALLSIGN      LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
18:26  EB8BRZ        IL28HA  53     51     2 m.   SSB   ES    3700
------------------------------------------------------------------

Found out later the weak one on .310 was probably EA8AVI. Well, that would have been another great QSO but hey, I need some dreams for the next 20 years, too. ;)

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Fantastic 4 m opening tonight!

Was a bit late out of QRL again today (19 o’clock) but the first thing to do when arriving home during the summer is to switch on the rig and check for ES conditions. ;) Seems the 4 m band had been open already for 2 hours to EA8 then as I was told by the locals. Party got in full swing later on with a few EA8’s via double-hop ES as well as CT3 and CU for new countries … great! 8-) Also good activity from EA mainland so worked a lot of new stations and a few new gridsquares, too:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME  CALLSIGN       LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
17:09 EA3GP          JNØ1SF  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1634
17:10 EA8DBM         IL18OH  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3749
17:22 CT3HF          IM12OP  579    599    4 m.   CW    ES    3358
17:31 EA5TT          IM99SL  57     55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1888
17:40 EA1FDI         IN53TF  57     58     4 m.   SSB   ES    1994
17:42 CU3EQ          HM68KP  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3519
18:00 EA5/GØKSC      IM97PX  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2043
18:13 EA4SV          IM68PU  59     52     4 m.   SSB   ES    2254
19:04 EA1HRR         IN83JJ  55     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1680
19:16 EC4TR          IN8ØER  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1927
19:19 EA8YT          IL18SL  55     55     4 m.   SSB   ES    3715
19:23 EA8BPX         IL18SK  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3719
19:37 EA8TX          IL18QI  55     53     4 m.   SSB   ES    3736
19:42 CT3HF          IM12OP  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3358
19:58 EA7HG          IM87CS  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2203
20:00 CT1HZE         IM57NH  55     52     4 m.   SSB   ES    2505
20:17 EA4LU          IM68TV  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2232
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

FW – Wallis & Futuna Islands #305

FW5JJWell, I finally defeated my “nemesis”! :D
I have been chasing Jean-Jaques, FW5JJ, for a few month’ now. Whenever he was QRV we either had no propagation (it’s a difficult path almost directly over the Northpole) or if he was indeed audible I couldn’t break the pileups …
When I was young(er) I always smiled to myself when the old local DXers told their stories about their nemesis’, i.e. needing years to catch a certain DXCC country on the radio. I always said to myself “that’s bullshit”, it’s just a matter of perserverance, knowledge and a good station! Well, until I started “failing” to catch JJ on Wallis Island. ;) But all is good now, caught him this morning on 17 m CW for an ATNO. 8-)

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OJ0 – Market Reef #64 on 2 m

Not very active after returning from holidays, QRL taking its toll. Besides this 6 and 4 m haven’t been very active, too. There were a few openings but if I was there in the evenings I was either too close to or too far away from the ES clouds.

OJ0BWorth to mention was a QSO with Joe, CT1HZE, on 4 m on Monday evening. He’s at the southern most tip of Portugal at a distance of 2.505 km from here. That is normally too far for one ES hop so it was probably a double-hop QSO as he also worked shorter distances in parallel.

A nice surprise was OJØB on 2 m! Finish guys were on Market Reef to do some repair work on the OJØB contest station antennas and were joined this time by Jussi, OH6ZZ, a seasoned VHF guy, who wanted to do some EME and MS from the Reef. Although reflections were rather sparse I managed to catch them tonight for a new one on 2 m. Thanks guys!

Also a bit of tropo reported from the UK to Denmark and southern Sweden earlier this evening but not much overhere. Worked John, G4SWX, with a good 559 signal but he can be worked almost daily from here. So if at all it was just a very slight enhancement …

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off

W1AW portable WAS correct now :-)

Holidays are over. :( But opening the mailbox today I found a letter from ARRL HQ containing a small envelope with the missing endorsement stickers. 8-) So my “W1AW WAS Award” is finally correct and reflects all the hard work in also chasing all the oversea’s territorries during the ARRL Centennial last year. Thanks guys! Now waiting for my “W1AW WAS Award Plaque” to arrive, too …

W1AW_WAS_small

Posted in Awards, DX | Comments Off

More 70 MHz Sporadic-E

“Four” opened up again this afternoon and evening. Seemed very patchy most of the time although Malta, 9H, proved to be the ES hotspot again, the guys were in & out for several hours! Just wished activity would be a bit higher to take advantage of the great propagation on the 4 m band. ;) Worked these fine QSOs:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME  CALLSIGN       LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
15:15 9H1PI          JM75FW  55     55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1918
15:35 9H1GB          JM75FU  57     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1927
16:05 9H1ES          JM75FV  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1922
16:50 LZ1ZP          KN22ID  57     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1454
18:08 9H1XT          JM75GV  599    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1922
18:30 9H1AV          JM75GU  559    559    4 m.   CW    ES    1927
18:54 YO4FYQ         KN44FD  57     56     4 m.   SSB   ES    1446
19:04 LZ2PL          KN23XT  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1351
19:10 LZ2NW          KN23TB  599    579    4 m.   CW    ES    1405
19:30 SV2JAO         KN1ØDN  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1530
19:42 SP6TRX         JO71VQ  55     55     4 m.   SSB   TR     198
19:55 OZ7AMA         JO54XQ  569    559    4 m.   CW    TR     222
------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorrily SV7GBR in KN20 QSY’d a few minutes too late into the “DL-band”, i.e. between 70.150 and 70.180 MHz. He was just down into the noise then while a solid 57 before when working OZ’s on 70.200 MHz. A pity as he would have been a new square …

2 m saw a good ES opening, too, but as usually the case from up here in JO73 we only “get into the water”, i.e. with the existing ES cloud our signals landed in the JM94/KM04 area, deepest Mediterrenean Sea. :( ;)

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Double hop Sporadic-E into EA8 on 4 m

Wow, what a great day! It didn’t look too promising during the morning. There was a nice ES cloud with MUFs up into the 80-90 MHz but too close, i.e. just 250 km east above SP2. Nevertheless I went to the station after enjoying a great lunch meal at my mom’s. Nothing spectacular on 6 m but 4 m opened shortly down into Romania enabling another QSO with YO7BSN. The band later opened up quite nicely between G and 9A, S5, etc. Taking the E-skip geometry into account the band must have been wide open into France from here but as they do not have a 4 m allocation (yet) it was only listening to noise while monitoring all the cluster spots of the QSOs between the UK and Southern Europe.

I hoped the clouds would move south-westwards to then allow working into Spain but that did not happen. The more excited I was when stumbling across EA8TX calling CQ on 4 m – double hop ES to the Canarian Islands! That’s 3.750 km to Teneriffa, wow! 8-) Fernando struggled a bit to copy me but we eventually made it. I was even more excited when Alex, EA8DBM, popped up on 70 MHz, too:

He was an easy QSO and signals were great throughout the whole opening that lasted about 50 minutes here. Unfortunately EA8ACW, who is QRV on 4 m, too, was not around. He’s in IL28 while the former two guys are both in IL18. Thus “just” one new gridsquare and a new DXCC worked. ;) If you are interested I also made a short video clip of EA8TX (link) as well as EA8DBM again, now on CW (link). Sorry for the a little unstable video shots – seems my mobile (a good old-fashioned Blackberry, hi) is too small for such things … or maybe I was just too excited and therefore kept trembling. :)

BTW: Alex, EA8DBM, was also worked by Oleg, LY3UE, afterwards – that’s a whopping 4.500 km! Lithuania has a special permit for 4 m now, too, and Oleg is the first guy QRV from there and EA8 was just his 5th QSO ever on the band! Quite sure he opened a nice bottle afterwards. 8-)

So definitely a day to remember (although I have been told double hop on 4 m happens a few times each summer). It will be difficult to higher that ODX now. Theoretically there are 2 chances for even bigger distances on terrestrial propagation modes from here: Bahrain, A9, has a 4 m allocation, too. That would be around 4.250 km. Dave, A92IO/EI3IO, worked quite a number of double hop contacts into Europe on 70 MHz while there but unfortunately he returned to Ireland at the end of 2013 so currently no active station there as far as I know. Another option would be working ZS, South Africa! No kidding! They are allowed to work on 4 m as well and there have already been TEP contacts between Southern Europe and South Africa with SV2DCD – ZS6WAB being the first one ever, afaik. That would be 8.700 km then! Unfortunately chances are extremely low. We would need to have a good ES opening into the Mediterranean to link into a possible TEP opening from there. With TEP peaking in April and October so before and after the 4 m ES season in Europe and knowing how we already struggle to work ZS’s on 6 m from up here I’d render that a “no chance at all”. But if it ever happens I’d take it, of course. 8-)

Posted in Audio recordings, DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Some fun in the 144 MHz NAC/LYAC tonight

It’s been a while since I participated more seriously in the only 4 hour long NAC (Nordic Activity Contest) and LYAC (Lithuanian Activity Contest) evenings which take place regularly every Tuesday and Thursday on different bands. Tonight was the first Tuesday of the month thus the 2 m slot. Had a lot of fun calling CQ myself for a tad over 2 hours resulting in the first 100 QSOs and then concentrating on working even longer distances afterwards. ;-)

Condx were not good, there was a lot of QSB on the signals especially direction north and east (west was quite okay). Can’t remember that I ever struggled to copy Alex, UA2FT, with his 50 watts and 9 elements even on CW on the short 450 km path. Think it’s also been the first time that I could not work my good old friend Vidas, LY2SA, quite a pity. Only wish that just half of all the active Scandinavian stations would also participate in the regular 24 hour VHF contests! Boy, that would be fun for us up north … ;)

Contest Report from DH8BQA in JO73CE at 144 MHz
===============================================

Contest : NAC/LYAC June '15
Date    : 2015 Jun 02
Section : Open Class
QTH     : Woltersdorf

TX      : IC-7400, 700 W
RX      : IC-7400, MGF1302
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  123
-invalid:    1                                        points/QSO
-valid  :  122     QSO-points (*1)    :     52089            427
WWLs    :   53     WWL bonus (500)    :     26500            217
DXCCs   :   12     DXCC bonus (0)     :         0              0
                   ------------------------------         ------
                   Total score        :     78589            644

ODX     : SK0EN in JO99JX at 806 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN38:   1  JO40:   1  JO55:   4  JO65:  10  JO75:   3  JO93:   1
JN48:   2  JO41:   1  JO56:   1  JO66:   1  JO76:   1  JO96:   1
JN49:   2  JO42:   7  JO57:   3  JO67:   3  JO78:   1  JO99:   2
JO10:   1  JO43:   2  JO58:   2  JO68:   2  JO81:   1  JP80:   1
JO21:   1  JO44:   2  JO59:   5  JO69:   1  JO83:   1  KO04:   2
JO22:   1  JO45:   1  JO60:   2  JO70:   3  JO84:   1  KO15:   3
JO30:   2  JO46:   3  JO61:   2  JO71:   2  JO86:   3  KO16:   1
JO31:   9  JO47:   1  JO62:   4  JO73:   5  JO88:   1  KO24:   1
JO32:   5  JO50:   3  JO64:   1  JO74:   1  JO89:   1

Worked DXCCs:
DL :  43   LA :   5   OK :   1   OZ :  18   SM :  29   UA2:   2   
F  :   1   LY :   4   ON :   1   PA :   6   SP :  11   YL :   1   

Top 10 QSO-points:
20150602 2226 SK0EN          529      559       JO99JX      806 
20150602 2221 SM4BDQ         529      559       JP80FG      800 
20150602 2047 LA0BY          51       55        JO59IX      785 
20150602 1934 ON4KHG         55       55        JO10XO      759 
20150602 2223 SK0CT          539      539       JO99BM      745 
20150602 2120 SM5KWU         55       55        JO89IP      735 
20150602 1909 LA2Z           59       56        JO59EJ      730 
20150602 2156 YL2AJ          559      559       KO16OX      711 
20150602 2051 LA1T           55       55        JO59FE      707 
20150602 2054 LA3S           41       55        JO59CC      703 
Posted in Contesting, DX, VHF | Comments Off

QRP in the WPX-CW using the Elecraft KX3

My motivation to participate full-time and high power in the WPX-CW was quite low this time. Currently I’m rather in “VHF mood” enjoying 6 & 4 m as well as waiting for more Sporadic E on 2 m during my holidays. ;) So thinking about what to do on Friday the idea popped up to only participate QRP on 10 m and give my Elecraft KX3 a real workout. I’ve been owning it for quite a while now (SN #606) but besides a few test QSOs it hasn’t seen much use yet. My last serious QRP entry in the WPX-CW was back in 2008 when we had a fantastic series of Sporadic E openings across Europe which enabled me to work some 450 QSOs on 10 m using just a small FT-817 and a converted 3 ele CB band yagi. That was definitely fun back then!

Unfortunately condx where not very cooperative this weekend. Saturday was still okay with a number of spotty ES openings here and there that also allowed to get into propagation to the Far East so a good bunch of DX like XW, 9M2, E2, YB, etc. could be worked. Nevertheless it took almost exactly 10 hours until I had the first 100 QSOs in the log! Must be passion as real rates are certainly a different thing. ;) Saturday evening provided a good ES opening into the Balkans that even enabled me to call CQ and get a few replies although still with low rates as most people seemed to have already migrated to the lower bands (or simply thought 10 m was dead). Late evening the band also opened via skewed path into the U.S. Although I could hear about a dozen different stations as far west as California (some up to 559!) only W1KM made it into the log, good ears! Five watts simply doesn’t cut it for scatter propagation modes … Caribbean was a bit easier to work but as everybody knows there are not many active stations … Band closed almost exactly around local midnight so went to bed with 210 QSOs under the belt.

Sunday morning had a nice ES opening into Scandinavia, i.e. OH and northern LA/SM, as well as into the Ukraine that lasted about 2 hours. Signals were great but unfortunately there was not much activity. :( Thus only 40 QSOs added to the log. Around 9:30z E skip was right to get us into Japan! But besides hearing the big guns like JH6WHN, JS3CTQ and JH4UYB with up to 579 signals only JG1AVO made it into my log although he was only 529 himself. The “joy” of QRP … South America opened quite early but there were no new guys to be worked. The band then closed around 11:30z. :(

I always kept an eye on 10 m but spent some time on the other bands then, too. The German QRP assisted records for 160, 80, 40 & 20 m were not claimed yet so I thought it might be a good idea to do a few contacts there, too. ;) Unfortunately I ran out of available club calls else I would have done a few QSOs on 15 m, too. Seems 15 m was the hot band this weekend! What was amazing was I could even run quite well on 40 m with just the 5 watts and a simple dipole! Could even hold my run frequency low in the band, i.e. around 7.029 MHz, for almost an hour before somebody sat right on top starting to CQ without even asking if the frequency was in use. :( Well, the “joy” of QRP … although that also happens running low or high power …

As they say “appetite comes with eating” thus I really got into it Sunday evening and also enjoyed some good runs on 80 m. Of course being very low power it was all only within Europe but still fun so I even kept my butt in the chair until the end of the contest. :)

Doing so and keeping an eye on 10 m the band really opened up again after 21:45z, believe it or not. J38MM was booming in and easy to catch, likewise for P4, CE3 and ZF1A. Also heard a few U.S. stations again on sidescatter skewed path but see above, none logged due to not enough power for scatter modes. Finding no new stations I even put out a few CQs and low and behold the PJ2A skimmer copied me with up to 25 dB signals, wow! Unfortunately there is no big amateur population on Curacao and PJ2T was already on the lower bands. So only worked DM6V as my last 10 m QSO and they were really loud (579) on backscatter so that was rather easy. Band closed at midnight again.

Amazing to see those late night openings but I’m quite sure our big 6 ele OWA yagi @ 2 lambda height is “playing most of the music”. I do not remember ever experiencing such late openings from my times using (lower) dipoles, groundplanes or even the above mentioned 3 ele CB yagi (which was just a tad higher than half a wavelength).

After all I can certainly be happy with my 273 QSOs on 10 m. Best German high power score I’ve seen so far is from Frank, DL1REM, who was really pushing hard as DAØCA but “only” made twice as many contacts. The current German SOSB(A)10QRP record set by Walter, DJ6QT, last year was broken 8-) although I would have hoped for a result a little higher. Also got some nice totals for the other bands and open records even if I had the feeling it was just a “small extracurricular activity”. ;) Might be a nice idea to go for a serious QRP allband entry next year. Quite sure > 1.200 QSOs should be possible if conditions are not much worse. ;)

Finally here are the single results:

DH8BQA            SOSB(A)10 QRP   272 QSOs   230 pfx   112.240 pts
DL0PCK (DH8BQA)   SOSB(A)20 QRP    50 QSOs    43 pfx     3.784 pts
DM0Y   (DH8BQA)   SOSB(A)40 QRP   323 QSOs   239 pfx   162.520 pts
DF0TEC (DH8BQA)   SOSB(A)80 QRP   202 QSOs   168 pfx    63.840 pts
DF0UM  (DH8BQA)   SOSB(A)160QRP    28 QSOs    25 pfx     1.350 pts
------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                             875 QSOs             343.734 pts
==================================================================

So what about my KX3 experience then? I’m of the opinion the radio is a bit overrated. Although people think it is even better than a K3 just because it ranks higher in the Sherwood list than the K3 the K3 runs circles around it! The KX3 being a direct conversion radio has a problem with audible “IF/sideband” images. Elecraft developed a procedure to null those images that works quite well and suppresses the images around 60-70 dB. I had done the procedure about a year ago but wondered why I received images of stations even being only s7. Luckily I had my XG3 with me so redid the nulling procedure Saturday morning. It was off by 1-2 steps from the last calibration! Situation was much better then but even now I could hear images from stations being stronger than about 599+10 (and there are quite a number with Sporadic E!). The images are just audible and you get used to it but still it is a small drawback compared to other radios. It was only a bigger problem on 10 m here as the band is really quiet and even using the internal 20 dB preamp band noise is not even getting the s-meter to flicker. ;) No problem on the other bands as band noise or other CQing stations are usually covering up the weak images there. Also a problem just on 10 m was VFO noise, i.e. when spinning the VFO you hear some extra noise. Even after doing the roofing filter mod as described by Elecraft it’s still quite prominent (also on a friend’s KX3 who does not even have the roofing filter fitted!). Elecraft also has a VFO noise reduction routine built into the KX3 to overcome that issue but it’s really not useful as it results in strange DSP artifacts when tuning around strong signals! So I left it switched off and cured the VFO noise issue by using the 8 kHz “IF” shift.

I also like to listen to speaker audio so ran the whole contest with the internal speaker. Well, describing it as “crappy” will certainly hit the nail on it’s head but that is a known problem with the KX3 and Elecraft never intended it for such use as they say and ask people to use an external speaker or phones. Well, my expectation is if there’s a speaker built in it should also be usable! Otherwise leave it out. ;)

That might all sound bad but in fact these are rather minor issues (although they can be annoying). The KX3 managed the strong signals on the low bands better than I would have expected and still runs circles around other rigs. Years ago I owned an IC-706MkIIG and that being a crappy radio in general even had more problems with audible “images” or a kind of signal breakthrough on strong signals although not being a DC receiver. Also my good old trusty FT-817 which is better than some “big radios” is rather worse than the KX3 concerning strong signal handling. But you don’t hear any images on that one. ;)

Would I recommend it? Depends on what you want to use it for. It’s a great radio for portable QRP ops and will surely do a great job also with the KXPA100 amp connected. I think it’s also a nice radio for general (home station) use and does quite well in crowded band conditions like contests. For average Joe it will do great but don’t expect it to be a killer radio when you connect it to big antennas. Having serious contesting in mind I would pick the K3 over the KX3 in a heartbeat! Besides the K3 performing a bit better it is also about connectivity, i.e. cabling in computer audio on separate jacks, no need to change any cables, a.s.o. The K3 is *much* more convenient in that respect. On the other hand picking a KX3 and connecting it to a high gain amp like the new SPE 1.3k-FA will give you a great small and lightweight kilowatt expedition package. 8-)

Posted in Contesting, Equipment, QRP, Sporadic E | Comments Off

SØ – Western Sahara #136 on 6 m

Well, not much worked during the week. Bands were rather flat. 6 m just only opened quite nicely this evening but I spent most of my time on 4 m again as there was a big ES opening in Western Europe, too. Sorrily I was at the north-eastern most edge so not many signals heard, lots of awful fading and only a handful stations worked but 2 new countries (EA & CT) as well as 4 new squares were certainly worth it. ;) Sure an interesting band …

S01WSBefore closing down the station tonight I switched down to 6 m again and was astonished to hear SØ1WS working a massive pileup. I missed to work him last summer when the other locals caught him so tried my luck in the pileup today. Unfortunately not much luck with him being only 55 max. He vanished into the noise a few times but suddenly rose to a 59 signal for a few seconds only. That was my chance … and well, I used it and grabbed him for another new one on 6 m. Seems a much better start into the season than last year already … 8-) Also unpacked and installed my Elecraft KX3 today. It’s been a while since I had last used it. Already thinking about using it during WPX-CW this weekend. Haven’t done much QRP ops lately. ;)

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Building a 50 MHz notch filter with coax cable

Holidays now! 8-) Decided to visit my goddaughter Anna-Lena (now 4 years old or better young ;)) near Frankfurt/Oder. Her father is my good friend Sandro, DD3SP. While there he mentioned interference of S5 to S7 between his 50 and 70 MHz rigs (he had just modded his old FT-847 for 4 m). As I had recently built a coax-based diplexer for 50/70 MHz (a G4SWX idea) to use the same (dualband) antenna on both bands without needing to switch anything I suggested to build a coax-based 50 MHz notch filter. The principle is based on coax stubs also used on HF to minimize interstation interference. As Sandro had a few meters of RG-213 MIL-C17 left over we used that to build it. As it turned out his coax had a velocity factor of 0.66 while the RG-213UBX I had used myself before had 0.67. That’s already “good” for a few centimeters difference! Seems it was a good idea to bring my FA-NWT network tester along when visiting him. ;) We also made good use of my Elecraft XG3 signal source to fine-tune his 4m pre-amp.

dd3sp-combinedThe graph nicely shows what happens. The blue line is just one quarter-wave open stub trimmed to 50.060 MHz. To even higher the attenuation a bit one should use additional quarter-wave length’ of coax for the connections on the to be notched band, i.e. 70 MHz antenna port – quarter-wave for 50 MHz – connection point of the quarter-wave open stub for 50 MHz – another quarter-wave length for 50 MHz to the 70 MHz transceiver. The quarter-wave sections will transform the already high impedance of the open quarter-wave stub to even higher impedances at the antenna/transceiver ports. Thus we will gain another few dB’s of attenuation. Will try to draw a picture for even easier understanding if a bit time during holidays. ;)

You can get a notch depth of about 41 dB with one stub connected as described above but as you can see it is really small bandwidth only! 41 dB notch depth on 50.060 MHz means only 30 dB of it is left about 150 kHz higher on 50.200 MHz! So we need to broaden it a bit to have a more consistent performance across the whole band. Another problem with just using one single stub is as 50 and 70 MHz are not too far apart you will still see an attenuation of about 2 db on 70 MHz – that’s definitely too much!

To solve these two issues you “simply” connect a second stub. That one must be matched to the first one and the matching “circuit” should also lower the attenuation on 70 MHz. By coincidence the matching section is just a bit shorter than a quarter-wave on 6 m. Besides ensuring a low insertion loss on 4 m (only 0.20 dB) it also results in an almost flat and broad (about 4 MHz) notch response curve (see the red line in the picture above) and gives another 3 dB additional attenuation, thus 44 dB in total. By the way, the small hump on the left side of the flat notch is due to a small discrepancy in the resonance of the 2 stubs. While the first one was tuned for 50.060 the second one was tuned to 50.120 MHz (ooops, cut off a bit too much ;)).

Connecting the filter inline with his 4 m antenna all interference is completely gone now. Mission accomplished! 8-)

Posted in Antennas, Equipment, Stubs & filters, VHF | Comments Off

ZP – Paraguay #135 on 6 m

Another day without any ES overhere. Was not very sad this time as I could spent all afternoon in bed trying to recover from a flu I caught on Friday and not fearing to miss anything on the bands. ;)

Surprisingly there was another small ES + TEP opening late evening (after 20z). Very spotty, never more than one signal at a time. Obviously spotty from the other end, too, as both PY’s heard were CQing along without (m)any takers as long as I could hear them which was not more than 2-3 minutes each.

PP1CZ (with a well known DXer calling him blind, i.e. out of turn :():

PY2XB:

Saw ZP6CW spotted on the cluster so parked the RX on his frequency. Some 20 minutes later he indeed came out of the noise and up to 559 for some 40 or 50 seconds only – enough to nail him for a new DXCC. 8-) He was gone so fast again I didn’t even manage to record him … As he reliably confirms through LotW I might be able to apply for my 50 MHz DXCC soon, currently 98 DXCCs confirmed via LotW. Have a few more QSL cards laying around so already > 100 confirmed but they are all in some unsorted staples of QSLs (lots!) and I’m not going to sort through them anytime soon. ;)

Posted in Audio recordings, DX, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off

TJ – Cameroon #134 on 6 m

Propagation sucked today. Six and above stayed closed all day long. Thus I had to rely on Meteor Scatter to work something new. The Camb-Hams are currently active as GS3PYE/P from the Isle of Mull, IOTA EU-008, in the relatively rare gridsquare IO76. I had worked them on 6 m during their 2013’s expedition already but the QSOs on 4 and 2 m via MS this morning provided a new square on both bands. Also LA4LN who was in JO29 for a few days contributed a new square on 6 m. 8-)

TJ3SN_Front5At 18z 6 m opened slightly to the south providing an ES link down to TJ3SN. Had to listen for quite some time to catch the 2 minutes when he was finally audible and fighting my way through the pileup. Great to work a new one even under rather bad condx! One and a half hour later there was TEP propagation into South America again. This time PP1CZ was active himself, not just his beacon, so I did work another new gridsquare on 6 m. :)

Before switching off the radio around local midnight I made a small “tour” around the HF bands. 15 m was still wide open into the U.S. Think the overall higher MUF due to Sporadic E (also if it did not reach 50 MHz much) helps HF propagation, too. Have to think about which category I’m going to start during WPX-CW in 2 weeks. Will it be a single band entry (and if yes which band?) or rather going SOAB? I know I can’t win the latter one so this would be just for fun or reaching some personal goals, i.e. cracking last year’s score

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, DX, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off

More 4 m and first 2 m Sporadic E this year

4m_muf_map_15.05What an interesting day! Just worked two OH1’s on MS for a new country and square before leaving for QRL in the morning. So could only watch all the fun on the cluster and DXMaps website. Seems 6 & 4 m were wide open the whole day. When I finally had the chance to escape QRL early afternoon the 4 m band was still wide open, see map (it only shows spots with MUF > 70 MHz for the last 15 min … that’s 80 spots alone!). From here it was open to Malta still and the 9H’s were producing some endstop signals at times. Unfortunately it was very selective so “just” that path open. Nevertheless fun to listen to the guys down there for almost 2 hours. 9H1GB was only running 4 watts into a 5 ele Yagi and peaked s9 several times! That’s the joy of Sporadic E, even small signals will sound like big guns if the skip is right! And sure Malta is an ES hotspot. ;-)

9H1BT:

9H1GB (QRP):

After sigs getting stronger and stronger (9H1BT being s9+40!) it was time to check 2 m. It took no more than a few minutes after QSYing and putting out a few CQs until the band opened. Worked IT9ZVL with marginal signals and much QSB. He was only in for 40 seconds but still enough to complete the QSO. 8-)

Nothing else here, seems it was much better further north and west. Anyway, good to catch the first 2 m ES from here and sure hope it’s a good omen for the upcoming season. After last year’s desaster we could all use some nice long openings this year, don’t we? ;)

Later on 4 m propagation switched more westerly which allowed me to work EA6 for another new country on 70 MHz. :) But it took almost 20 minutes until I could finally raise the attention of Gabriel, EA6VQ, and complete a CW contact although he was up to s7 most of the time! Wonder if he’s got an RX problem …

EA6RF:

EA6VQ:

So not too many QSOs today, seems it was rather a quality than a quantity afternoon. ;-)

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME  CALLSIGN       LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
05:39 OH3DP          KP1ØTT  R26    26     4 m.   FSK4  MS    1019
06:09 OH1MN          KP1ØFO  26     R26    4 m.   FSK4  MS     963
12:44 9H1BT          JM75EU  599    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1927
12:48 9H1CG          JM75FW  599    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1918
12:50 9H1GB          JM75FU  579    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1927
13:15 9H1GB          JM75FU  55     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1927
13:41 IT9ZVL         JM68PC  55     55     2 m.   SSB   ES    1678
14:36 EA6RF          JM19KM  57     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1746
15:01 EA6VQ          JM19HN  579    559    4 m.   CW    ES    1751
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Audio recordings, DX, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

First 4 m ES opening + 6 m ES/TEP link

Father’s Day is a public holiday overhere so I had the chance to be at the station early morning already. Sporadic E season has started and the whole day saw massive ES propagation over all of Europe. MUF went up quickly and also 4 m opened early. Unfortunately I was too close to the reflection zone so the party was rather between OH/ES and G/PA/W-DL during the morning. So only made a few QSOs into Scandinavia on 6 m but nothing new worked. Also worked Udo, DK5YA, for a new square on 70 MHz tropo. Despite 500 km distance CW signals were loud enough for an easy QSO. But it took a bit longer nevertheless as the OIRT QRM from the back of the beam was enormous!

Around 11:20z 4 m opened into the West and propagation path’ were a better fit then. First QSO was with Richard, GU8FBO, thus a new DXCC right for the start. 8-) It took another 20 min until the band opened into more inhabited areas of the U.K. and I could enjoy a great 10 min pileup. ;) Afterwards there were some other small and patchy openings allowing a few more contacts here and there. The following guys made it into the log:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME  CALLSIGN       LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
11:20 GU8FBO         IN89QK  57     55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1238
11:42 G8HGN          JOØ1FO  55     55     4 m.   SSB   ES     948
11:42 G4MKF          IO91HJ  57     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1076
11:43 G4FUF          JOØ1GN  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES     943
11:44 G3PFM          IO8ØXS  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1142
11:45 GW3LEW         IO71PS  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1287
11:46 G3NPI          IO92MA  59     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1030
11:47 G3VXM          IO9ØLT  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1074
11:47 2EØNEY         IO81VK  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1130
11:48 G7SVF          IO9ØIS  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1092
11:49 G4AJC          IO91VJ  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES     998
11:50 G3ZEZ          JOØ1NT  57     55     4 m.   SSB   ES     897
11:51 G8VYK          JOØ1FO  55     55     4 m.   SSB   ES     948
12:01 EI8IQ          IO62SF  57     58     4 m.   SSB   ES    1391
12:02 M5MUF          IO92JP  59     57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1033
12:10 GWØIRW         IO72XD  599    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1232
12:35 EI4DQ          IO51WU  59     59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1512
12:42 EI3IO          IO63WF  599    599    4 m.   CW    ES    1349
------------------------------------------------------------------

Worked a bunch of new squares during the opening, too, but hey, that’s not too difficult having just started collecting on 4 m. ;)

Here’s a nice audio recording. Had to cut out a bit as my own voice monitor was off and I didn’t want to bore you with listening to silence inbetween. ;-)

Running a nice 4 m pileup:

Also heard a number of beacons. Most of them audible for a few minutes, then vanishing while the next one popped out of the noise. A pity that the active GM stations could not be heard/worked while GM8RBR/B was in. Also a pity nobody was QRV on OY!

EI4RF/B:

GB3BUX/B:

GB3MCB/B:

GM8RBR/B:

OY6BEC/B:

MUF went down during the afternoon and also 6 m was calm. Sporadic E took another peak in the evening and linked into TEP first into South Africa and later into South America. Although there was nothing new to work such openings are always fun and make for the fascination of the “Magic Band”. ;-)

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME  CALLSIGN       LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
17:02 ZS4TX/6        KG47UR  579    HRD    6 m.   CW    TEP   8521
19:23 PP1CZ/B        GG99UR  529    HRD    6 m.   CW    TEP   9692
19:26 PY1RO          GG87LB  559    579    6 m.   CW    TEP  10090
------------------------------------------------------------------

 Made a few more audio recordings, enjoy!

ZS4TX/6:

PP1CZ/B:

PY1RO:

Posted in Audio recordings, DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off

Wrong W1AW Worked All States Award received :-(

Was happy to find another letter of the ARRL in the mail box today. Could only have been the applied for W1AW WAS and indeed, it was. ;) But very unhappy as it is not what I applied and paid for! :( I also worked *all* of the additional territories and applied for the according endorsements and the web application form correctly calculated total costs including the endorsements and of course I also paid for them but somehow they forgot to print them onto the certificate. :-(

wrong-w1aw-was

So waiting for their reaction now after informing the awards manager and asking for a corrected replacement. A pity they did it wrong after all the great work they had done with the Centennial activities …

Posted in Awards, DX | Comments Off

My first week on “four”

sp3rnz-qsl-4mHaving spent my first week on the new for me 4 m band it might be a good time to sum up my first experiences. As anticipated the band is very interesting. Despite running QRP only into a small 5 ele Yagi tropo QSOs up to 550 km seem to be no problem although most of the time with very deep and long QSB. Depending on whom you work CW is quite doable while with others you have to do digital modes, i.e. JT65, to gain a few more dB’s. Also Meteor Scatter is surprisingly easy! Reflections are a bit longer than on 2 m and although higher in frequency I don’t see much difference in comparison to 6 m. But it seems on 70 MHz it can all be done with a lot less ERP than on 2 m.

4m-wkd-1st-weekThe most challenging part of doing 4 m is certainly finding QSO partners. 70.200 MHz is the “international” calling frequency but our temporary allocation only allows the usage of 70.150 to 70.180 MHz. Thus without any special openings that produce activity and people scanning the band it’s rather difficult to raise a soul. Sure the ON4KST chat helps. But would appreciate more activity by DL’s! ;)

So far I made 40 tropo (black on map) and 7 MS (blue on map) contacts into 33 squares and 9 countries being active on 5 evenings and a bit of Sunday daytime. Looking forward to my first Sporadic E opening now, it’s about time, isn’t it? ;)

Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, QSLs, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off

Small Aurora tonight

Had a rather small Aurora opening this evening with signals fast in & out. Worked:

------------------------------------------------------------------
 TIME  CALLSIGN      LOCATOR TX     RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
17:05  LAØBY         JO59FW  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    784
17:13  SM5KWU        JO89IP  57A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    734
17:15  SM4GGC        JO69RK  57A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    696
17:19  SK4AO         JP7ØTO  52A    51A    2 m.   CW    AUR    829
------------------------------------------------------------------

Unfortunately nothing on 6/4 m via Aurora. But worked a few more 70 MHz tropo QSOs.

Posted in Aurora, DX, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off