TY – Benin #138 on 6 m

TY2AC_end_front_finalHad the first 6 m ES opening of the season today. The band opened nicely from here into Southern Europe, i.e. 9H & IT9 around 15:30z with S9+ signals. Saw TY2AC spotting southern Europe stations himself on the cluster. He finally settled to call CQ but heard only a few MS reflections once in a while. Stayed tuned to his frequency while doing other things. Around 16z he finally came out of the noise but never strong enough to QSO, just got ??? in return to my calls. It took another quarter of an hour until he rised up to a nice 559 signal, albeit with QSB. Took just one call to work him then. Propagation seemed quite localized, he didn’t get much callers, it was mostly northwestern Poland and northeastern Germany working him with JO61 stations being the most southern (at least as long as I monitored).

TY2AC on 6 m:

Even 4 m opened up later, quite early in the season! 9H6A (guest op’d by PB8DX) was very strong on SSB for more than half an hour. 9H1PI CQing on CW was much weaker.

9H6A on 4 m:

It’s a pity 4 m is still not allowed again in Germany yet. Hope RegTP will offer a temporary permit for this summer again anytime soon!

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VK0h/Heard Island #309 & FR.j/Juan de Nova #310

Besides WPX-SSB almost no radio activity overhere since returning from Aruba. Lots of QRL and not really up for the hobby. So had to force myself to switch on the radio a few times at least not to miss the VKØEK and FT4JA expeditions for two ATNOs. Condx are rather poor but the guys have good ears. Pileups seem to be down a lot now compared to the first few days. Even heard them CQing a few times without any takers today …

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CQ WPX SSB 2016

No activity at all during the last 4 weeks. Just too much QRL and not really up for the hobby. But wanted to do a few QSOs during WPX-SSB at least. As you might know we’re sharing our station. This time Uwe, DL3BQA, had the choice of band and started as DMØY in the SOSB15 category. 10 m was a dead loss, condx just sucked. 20 m is really not my cup of tea for going single band in an SSB contest and for the lower bands it’s still just simple wires. Thus decided not to go single band but just do a few QSOs every now and then as SOAB(A) on the remaining bands. Goal was to put up 1 million points for the BCC club score. Well, that was already reached before going to bed Saturday evening so next goal then was 1111 and then 1234 QSOs for a nice number. 😉 But couldn’t stop it as I had a nice run going into North America late Sunday afternoon so set yet another new goal. 😉 That finally was 2 million points plus some 5% on top for the usual logging errors. And here we go, suddenly some 20 hours of BIC time gathered … 😉

Recorded all the QSOs again and uploaded them to http://qsorder-k3it.rhcloud.com/ if you want to take a listen. Wished more people would use it. Sharing contest recordings has never been so easy! 😎

                    CQWW WPX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 20

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:   62
   80:  330
   40:  421
   20:  535
   15:    2
   10:   11
------------
Total: 1361  Prefixes = 706  Total Score = 2,105,292

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + beams & wires
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P4ØFA QSL card variants

Finished the artwork for the P4ØFA QSL cards, too. Still undecided which one to use, somehow I like them all! 😉 Ordered a small batch of cards for every design to see how they look like in reality. It always makes a (small) difference having them full format on a screen versus having them printed on 14 x 9 cm cardboard. My favourite is the first one although the iguana on the coax cable has something special to it, too. 😉

p40fa-1aAruban iguana (photo courtesy of Paul, P4/DL5CW).

p40fa-2aTypical Aruban landscape (picture taken in Arikok National Park).

p40fa-4aThe P49V station iguana a.k.a. the coax cable inspector. 😉

p40fa-5aThe P49V station iguana sun-bathing on the coax lines. 😉

p40fa-1b-rahmenThe backside will certainly look like this (with variations depending on front side).

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Aruba Contest QSLs

Finished the QSL design for our contest QSOs. Paul is using MS Publisher for his QSL artwork while I’m usually doing it with my (very old) copy of Paint Shop Pro. He was so enthusiastic about it when discussing the QSLing topic on Aruba I decided to give it a try, too (it’s included in my Microsoft Office Suite anyway). And indeed, it makes a few things much easier and has nice capabilities especially using WordArts for some nicer text designs. The learning curve was quite low as I’m used to the MS Office software anyway. So big thanks to Paul for the hint! 😎

We decided to use the same frontside for both the P4ØFA and P4ØXM contest QSOs. I analyzed the logs and among the > 10k QSOs done we only had about 300 guys who worked us in both contests, WPX-RTTY and ARRL-DX-CW. Assuming not everybody will QSL anyway, the number of guys who get the same card is really neglectable. So it was not worth the effort to design different front sides.

We *will* have different designs for all QSOs made outside of the contests. The overlap there is much bigger and of course we do not want to bore people getting the same card although they worked 3 different guys. 😉

p40fa-3aFront side of our Aruba contest QSLs showing the P49V antenna farm from a distance.

p40fa-3b-rahmenBackside for QSOs made in CQ WPX RTTY 2016 from Aruba.

p40xm-1b-rahmenBackside for QSOs made in ARRL DX CW 2016 from Aruba.

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P4/DL5CW QSL

Paul had a nice idea for his QSL card. I suggested to put a smiley behind the sentence as I’m sure there *will* be people who don’t get it’s intent. 😉

p4-dl5cw-1a

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P4ØFA logs are on Clublog now

Just uploaded the P4ØFA logs to Clublog and opened the OQRS system for QSL requests. Please feel free to use it to request a card if needed. Updated the qrz.com info page, too …

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P4ØFA logs on LotW now … bye bye Aruba

Eventually all good things come to an end and this holiday activity is no different. Really enjoyed it! We made about 20.000 QSOs in total with 2 contests and some leisurely activities inbetween. Team was great and a pleasure to work with!

Now sitting at the airport waiting for our flight back from Aruba to Amsterdam I used the time to directly upload the 6.500 P4ØFA contacts into ARRL’s LotW (and Clublog/OQRS to follow during the weekend). Judging from the emails and on-air comments received this should make a few guys happy. 😎 Let me know if there’s anything missing …

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Arubian visitors

J-P, P43A, and his wife Cris, P43C, paid us a visit today. Cris manages Ben’s rental station as the local contact and was very helpful getting our guest licenses – many thanks again!

DSC_3866_crLeft to right: Jean-Pierre, P43A, Cristina, P43C, and Olli, DH8BQA/P4ØFA

We had some nice talks about equipment, antennas (and Arubian climate’s influence on them), contesting & DX and learned a few new things about life on Aruba, too, and how Arubian bureaucracy works (or not 😉). Amazingly you cannot apply for an Arubian license exam anymore as there’s simply nobody to take the exams after the guy doing it went into pension. So all new Arubian ham’s need to obtain there licenses somewhere else, i.e. in the U.S., and then apply for a visitors license on Aruba although it’s their home country. And “new” amateur radio regulations are waiting for governmental approval since 15 years now! So some things are really slow overhere but that can also have advantages as we learnt, too. 😉

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P4ØXM ARRL DX CW M/2 results

A lot of effort was put into getting all antennas up and running again before the contest. Thanks to the whole team and especially John, W2GD, for all the hard work, it really paid off. :-)

Finished just short of the existing South America record. Condx proved worse than expected, especially on Sunday. A few very slow hours both mornings. Best rates after Europe closed which was to be expected. Best hour brought 380 QSOs! 😎 Even me as a rather average CWer enjoyed the pileups and rate immensly! Will be hard to beat when back in Germany. 😉

Now eager to learn how the competition finished. A pity they didn’t post to the online scoreboard. I’m sure they watched us all the time. 😉 Thanks for all the calls, guys!

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: P40XM
Operator(s): DH8BQA DL5CW DL5LYM DL6RAI
Station: P49V

Class: M/2 HP
QTH: FK42xn
Operating Time (hrs): 48

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:  351    51
   80:  887    58
   40: 1793    61
   20: 1653    60
   15: 1901    60
   10: 1586    60
-------------------
Total: 8171   350  Total Score = 8,545,950

Comments:
2 x FT-1000, kW amps, TH7's + dipoles
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P4ØXM in ARRL DX CW this weekend

All antenna work finished. 😎 Even built a small beverage today and renewed the 160 m dipole, too, so well prepared for doing M/2 in ARRL DX CW this weekend. Only have a bit of interstation interference between 80 and 40 m, but that’s managable. All other band combinations seem fine. We will be using P4ØXM in the contest as it has a “smoother” sound. So please look out for us and give us a call if you are in the US or Canada. Looking forward to work you all, guys! 😉

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Contester’s dinner on Aruba

We had a great dinner with some well known contesters tonight. Interesting talks (all these secrets 😎) and a very enjoyable time! Good luck in the contest, everybody. 😉

Img_2910_small

Left to right: Tom, DL5LYM/P4ØXM, Paul, P4/DL5CW, Olli, DH8BQA/P4ØFA, Ben, P4/DL6RAI, Andy, K2LE/P4ØLE, John, W2GD/P4ØW, Andy, AE6Y/P49Y

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Antenna work on Aruba

IMG_0114Quite good progress on antenna work during the last two days. Pictured left are Ben, DL6RAI (left), and John, W2GD (right), on two of the towers. They both arrived Monday evening here on Aruba to take care of the antennas. Ben is just mounting the new 80 m dipole that Tom and I built today while John is taking care of the upper USA beam.

It’s really amazing what the Caribbean climate is doing to the material. There’s constant wind and very salty air that is giving all the material up on the towers a really hard time. We have seen corrosion effects we would not have thought being possible.

John is a real animal. 😉 He’s doing all the antenna repairs up on the tower, i.e. dismantling the elements, handing them down to ground and after exchange of the traps and rebuild of a bit of aluminium mounting everything right on the tower again. A real professional and all that being 66 years young! Amazing guy …

The lower EU antenna is working again with acceptable SWR, too. Seems part of the fault were a few loose connections. John saw it on his way up on the EU tower and directly took care of it. Plans are to finish repair of the upper EU antenna tomorrow. So we would at least have two rotatable high band antennas (yes, the EU rotator is turning again, seems it “only” got stuck due to not being rotated often enough and climate taking it’s toll … the rotator on the USA tower was changed today, too) plus the Shorty-40 and dipoles for 80 & 160 m and could do M/2 in ARRL DX CW next weekend. :)

Got some QSO requests for the WARC bands. Seems there’s not that much activity by the active P4’s (well, most of the big stations are contest stations so that’s to be expected). We have a GP for 30 m but signals were not that great the times we tried. It should work on 17 m, too, will give it a try during the next few days. Will also built a 12 m dipole tomorrow sloping it down from the 40 m tower and using the SteppIR’s coax for it. Just hoping condx will pick up again a bit during the next few days, the recent flare had quite a negative impact on 10 m (at least into Europe).

BTW: When not spending time on the radio or doing antenna work you’ll usually find us around some of Aruba’s really nice beaches. 😎

IMG_0107

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Meeting THE guy of RTTY contesting fame on Aruba

Enjoyed a nice after-contest dinner in Arubaville Sunday evening with Ed, WØYK/P49X, and buddies Paul, P4/DL5CW, and Tom, DL5LYM/P4ØXM, who are accompanying me on this trip. Ed’s done a great job again during the contest running up 3.800+ QSOs in just 30 hours of RTTY contesting! He has my highest respect for producing results as a single OP that some multi OP stations are only dreaming of. 😉 Also thanks for the quick P49X station tour afterwards. A pleasure meeting you, Ed!

DSC_3677_smallLeft to right: Ed – WØYK, Olli – DH8BQA, Paul – DL5CW, and Tom – DL5LYM

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CQ WPX RTTY from Aruba

Had to change plans for several reasons so “just” an SOSB15 entry by myself. Sorrily only had one working Tribander pointed fixed to Southern Europe. Mid and western USA & JA were not workable on that one. So had to improvise a bit, i.e. matching the existing 30 m GP on 15 m which worked “so lala”. While switching between antennas on the 6×2, i.e. between the EU beam and the GP, came across the 40 m position and USA sigs were much louder there. Finally ended up using the “Shorty-40” with reduced power (didn’t want to stress it with 3:1 SWR) for all QSOs dir Northwest. It worked reasonably well (think the 40 m beam’s driven element just acted as a 3/2 lambda dipole on 15 m and the height made up for it) and even brought 60 JAs into the log, too. :-)

Condx quite well on Saturday and much worse on Sunday. Saw lots of QSB. Stations calling with an s3-5 signal completely dropped down into the noise within seconds! Made it challenging with most Europeans. On the other hand there were guys being solid s9+ signals all the time. Really interesting propagation-wise … also my first experience from the Caribbean.

Even with all the equipment compromises and dip in condx on Sunday I’m quite pleased with the result. So far it’s the second best ever 15 m single band result posted in WPX-RTTY’s history if the records website is not missing anything. At least it’s a new Aruba 😉 and as it seems a new South America record, too. :-) With a bit of luck it could also be enough for the world win … please keep your fingers crossed. 😎

                    CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest

Call: P40FA
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: P49V

Class: SOSB15 HP
QTH: FK42xn
Operating Time (hrs): 26

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   40: (55)
   15: 1743 (incl. dupes)
------------
Total: 1715  Prefixes = 791  Total Score = 4,042,010

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
FT-1000, 800 W + TH7 & "Shorty-40", see above ;-)

Also made a few QSOs on 40 m Saturday morning before 15 m started to open up (counted out above). Hope antennas get fixed enough during the next few days to be at least a bit competitive next weekend in ARRL DX CW. CU then!

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Aruba license

p4-licenseCristina brought our licenses today. On Aruba you have to apply for a CEPT style callsign, i.e. P4/DH8BQA, which is valid for 1 year. It came in a stamped envelope as can be seen right (click to enlarge). The stamp itself is worth US$ 5 on it’s own. 😉

You can optionally apply for a special call like P4ØFA in my case which is valid for 4 weeks. Unfortunately Paul’s requested special call was not available. So he left it at P4/DL5CW as we were lucky to finally have received our licenses at all. 😉 Tom, DL5LYM, is QRV as P4ØXM, the call he already used some 20 years ago when visiting Aruba for the first time.

As it turned out the guys at DTZ (Directie Telecommunicatie Zaken, the Aruban FCC), have misread my callsign, obviously they had a problem with the Q in BQA. So besides P4ØFA they issued P4/DH8B2A! I think I will make some fun out of it using it one day during this trip. Let’s see how good people really are in copying the correct call. 😎

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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. 😉

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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 …

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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
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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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