First 2 m Sporadic-E this year and 4 m thoughts

After the bad condx last weekend things got much much better this morning. 😎 Had a nice start on 4 m into Greece after arriving at the QTH and it did not take long until also the 2 m band opened via Sporadic-E into southern Italy for the first time this year:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:59  IT9ZVL        JM68SA   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1687
10:00  IKØWGF        JN52VC   55    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1245
10:01  IUØFNL        JN61FU   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1267
10:03  IWØBJP        JN62CK   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1204
10:04  IW9BJU        JM77IA   52    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1798
------------------------------------------------------------------

Four meters was hot late afternoon, too, so I could work some additional fine QSOs there:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:20  SW8YA         KN2ØHS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1587
16:17  YO9HP         KN35BA   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1252
16:33  LZ1ZP         KN22ID   57    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1454
16:52  SV2DCD        KNØØPL   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1510
17:08  SV2JAO        KN1ØDN   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1530
17:18  YO7BSN        KN15PB   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1117
17:27  LZ1AG         KN22ID   599   599    4 m.   CW    ES    1454
17:42  SV7GBR        KN2ØIX   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1569
------------------------------------------------------------------

Also heard Z35Z (which would have been a new country) quite nicely but condx were gone until we could coordinate “QSX” via the DXcluster. Macedonia may only transmit on 70.275 MHz while Germany has it’s temporary allocation from 70.150 – 70.180 MHz. That means a QSO is only possible using “split”, i.e. listening on .275 but transmitting on .155 and vice versa. A pity, hope to have better luck next time!

Seems I was the first guy, too, to hear the Kuwait beacon on 4 m! I was stumbling across a weak CW beacon signal on 70.169,6 MHz in the middle of our allocation around 16:45z which turned out to be 9K2YM/B on double-hop Sporadic-E! A pity that Yaser was not at the station that time so to QSO over these 3.800 km will have to wait a little longer … 😉

As you can see the total number of QSOs is not that high on 4 m. “Four” is definitely not a band for big runs, at least not from Germany (it’s probably different if you’re sitting in one of the ES hotspots in the Mediterranean). 😉 The regions you can reach from here all only have limited 4 m activity (except the UK which is historically “the” 4 m country). So it is more about all the fascinating propagation modes and openings to explore, even if it means you’re going to work the same guys over and over again. But it was fun listening to the guys down south working all the new DL stations on the band. Seems activity from Germany is very high this year. The availability of commercial radios including the band like the IC-7100 or the the IC-7300 certainly helped it quite a lot to have a go on this very interesting band.

It used to be the same fascination with 6 m some 10 to 20 years ago when it still was “the gentlemen’s band”. Things have changed dramatically, take a listen to some DX pileups on 6 m yourself … it’s just awful, no discipline at all anymore, just like on HF. Thus I enjoy operating on 4 m even more nowadays. To me “four is the new six” … 😉

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on First 2 m Sporadic-E this year and 4 m thoughts

CQ WPX CW 2017 with some interesting propagation

My decision to start SOSB10(A) was made a few days ago already. Last year I did indeed set a new DL record although I would not have expected my result to stay above the record after the log check. Obviously my logging accuracy was not as bad as expected. 😉

It was also good enough for a World #4 finish! 😎 Usually there’s a 50/50 chance at the end of May to get some good Sporadic-E openings and have lots of fun on 10 m as was the case last year. Seems I was rather unlucky last weekend. 🙁 But read on …

While we had some good openings during the week Friday already saw the band closed most of the day. Got up early Saturday morning to check for any early openings. Nothing on 10 m yet so had a quick scan through 40 m to hand out a few points. Seems low band condx were quite nice, ufb signals from the U.S. (even a few West Coast hrd/wkd) and also P44X, our BCC guys on Aruba, had quite a nice signal. Up on 20 m conditions were even better! Was looking for some longpath openings into the Pacific but there were none … but shortpath instead! Great signals from the U.S. West Coast and a few KH6s booming in at 59+ signals as well as KL7 – ufb! E51DWC was a very good catch, too. 😎

But I was there for 10 m, wasn’t I? Band opened around 6:30z into UA6 via ES. It later shifted more south enabling QSOs into most of the Mediterranean countries including North Africa. Around 8z it opened into Spain. That E-clouds were also strong enough to allow a number of backscatter QSOs into almost all of Europe providing the needed multipliers. I was also heard by the J68HZ-# skimmer for quite a while but nobody worked from the Caribbean, seems propagation was very spotlight over 3 ES hops. Ten closed around 10:45z over here.

It took almost 4 hours to open again, so plenty of time to get some lunch and hand out a few more points on 15 and 20 m inbetween. 10 m opened literally over the same clouds again into Spain and got linked into South America for about 20 minutes. So I was lucky to catch a few PYs as 3 pointers, too. Unfortunately activity was very low that time thus only 20 QSOs worked during that 1,5 hours opening. A single EA2 answered my CQs about an hour later but that was it for Saturday, just 135 contacts worked. Repaired the 20 m rotator interface during the evening and handed out a few more points on the lower bands.

Getting up Sunday morning found the bands in very bad shape. While P44X was a reasonable 539 on 80 m (but didn’t hear me) there was no stateside to be heard, neither on 80 nor on 40 m. Didn’t sound good, bands were also very noisy. A quick check of the propagation websites revealed the reason … Aurora! Lots of spots on the DXcluster already from Scandinavia working AU on VHF. I could also hear the SK4MPI/B Aurora warning beacon on 2 m at 51A. Thus gave it a try on 10 m, too, beaming North and was glad to be called by LA3BO at 7:26z for an interesting Aurora contest QSO with it’s typical sound. I had worked Svein numerous times on 2 m via Aurora before so was glad there were two experienced VHF OPs on both sides of that contact to make it work. 😎

Unfortunately nobody else on Aurora but a few troposcatter and groundwave contacts as well as some Meteor Scatter, i.e. with PA3AAV (took a few minutes to complete the number exchange, thanks for your patience, Gert). As is almost common on 6 m there was some Aurora-E after the Aurora on 10 m, too, providing big sigs from Finland but only 2 stations worked.

A small ES opening to Romania followed with two strong YOs in the log. Besides this there was at least some weak backscatter zones, mostly beaming East, that allowed for a number of additional QSOs across Europe (interestingly mostly Germany). But activity was still very low. I can certainly understand the people who are participating all bands to skip 10 m with such bad propagation and rather spend their time on the lower bands with high(er) QSO rates. Last QSO was at 12:30z, number 178 to be exact.

10 m stayed closed all afternoon. Likewise 15 m, almost no signals at all! Even 20 m had no DX signals, only a few Europeans. Must have been very frustrating for all the Allband guys, too. But I didn’t want to give up that easily. After completing 6 bands with 9A1A and DF0WRTC I decided to start CQing on 10 m again. And if it was just for another 2 or 3 troposcatter or groundwave contacts (although I had probably worked all of the “locals” already). Suddenly I got weak skimmer spots from UA4 and OH so it seemed there would be another opening. And yes, it was. Starting to Northern Scandinavia and Baltic states around 17z with 40 to 60+ dB skimmer spots then from SM2 & OH6. 😎 About 18:30z there was a strong Sporadic-E opening from Western Europe to Northern Scandinavia on 6 m, too, so I decided to beam straight into that E-cloud cluster. Glad I did, it provided lots of ES backscatter QSOs across all of Europe as well as direct path to the UK and even PA & ON confirming the high MUF of that clouds. This time there was plenty of activity, it seemed everybody was trying to grab that last chance. 🙂

At 19:42z the PJ2A-# skimmer started spotting me, seems there was another 3-hop opening into the Caribbean! At 20:18z also the J68HZ-# skimmer heard me again! But it took until 20:28z for the first Caribbean contact when John, P40W, called me being very weak. Knowing he is only running low power that certainly explained his weak signal. But then it should be possible to work “our guys” at P44X as well. Found them a few minutes later CQing higher in the band and made it into their log after a few calls, too. 🙂 Band was good enough for another half a dozen QSOs until it finally closed at 21:30z …

That 4,5 hours opening certainly made up for all the boredom during Sunday afternoon. Glad I didn’t call it a day earlier. But that’s something I have learned during the last 28 years being a radio amateur with a special addiction to 10 m. 😉

Even if the total QSO amount and final points are way below earlier results this weekend yielded in some interesting propagation studies again. We had Groundwave, Troposcatter, Meteor Scatter, Sporadic-E, Backscatter, triple-hop ES, Aurora, Aurora-E and who knows if the South America contacts didn’t involve some F2 or TEP after the first hop with ES. That’s something only 10 m can provide. But you have to be there not to miss any of these openings … 😉

                    CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 18

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160: (21)
   80: (36)
   40: (84)
   20: (87)
   15: (17)
   10:  320
------------
Total:  320  Prefixes = 212  Total Score = 73,776

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi @60ft.
Posted in Aurora, Contesting, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WPX CW 2017 with some interesting propagation

Caught the first 4 m ES today

Have caught the first 4m Sporadic E today since our special permit. Big signals but very spotty … Also made a few tropo contacts … feels good to be back on the band. 😎

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
11:19  GW6TEO        IO71LP   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1312
11:21  GU6EFB        IN89RK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1233
11:37  GØCHE         IO9ØPS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1054
11:41  OZ8ZS         JO55RT   559   559    4 m.   CW    TR     341
11:51  G8BFV         IO81QE   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1166
11:58  DL7DF         JO62TM   559   589    4 m.   CW    TR      84
11:59  DL7ULM        JO62MS   559   599    4 m.   CW    TR      91
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Caught the first 4 m ES today

4 m allowed again in DL :-)

As of today we do have a special permit again to use 4 m in Germany! 😎 Same conditions as in 2015 apply, i.e. only 70.150 to 70.180 MHz, limited until 31.08. this year, a.s.o. Looking forward to a lot of nice QSOs during this summer’s Sporadic E season again … 🙂

Posted in Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on 4 m allowed again in DL :-)

More antenna work – 12/17 m dualband beam repaired

Picture showing Heiko, DG1BHA, remounting our 12/17 m dualband beam above the 4 ele 20 m Yagi. We took it down during the VHF contest, too, to remount the 12 m reflector which had fallen down.

Also recalibrated it as the 17 m resonance was quite a bit above the Amateur band. While my KPA500/KAT500 combo didn’t have a problem with it Uwe’s small valve PA did so it was a good opportunity to correct it. 😉 Antenna is a 2+2 ele DK7ZB design doing quite a good job.

Posted in Antennas | Comments Off on More antenna work – 12/17 m dualband beam repaired

May VHF Contest – no surprises

Met with the guys in JO73. As we were only a few people and not much time upfront we decided to stay “home”, i.e. at the club station, instead of setting up on the local hilltop. So a quite relaxed event. 😎 Condx were quite variable, not to say worse than normal. Still enough fun but missing a few of the usual DX contacts …

Contest Report from DF0UM in JO73CE at 144 MHz
==============================================

Contest : DARC-MAI-CONTEST
Date    : 2017 May 06 to 2017 May 07
Section : 02 144MHz Multi OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

Co-OPs  : DG1BHA;DH8BQA;DL3BQA;DM5DX

TX      : IC-7400 + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-7400 + MGF1302
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  395
-invalid:    1                                        points/QSO
-valid  :  394     QSO-points (*1)    :    149076            378
WWLs    :   68     WWL bonus (0)      :         0              0
DXCCs   :   16     DXCC bonus (0)     :         0              0
                   ------------------------------          -----
                      Total score     :    149076            378

ODX     : HG3X in JN96EE at 834 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN37:   1  JN78:   2  JO21:   3  JO50:  14  JO62:  25  JO80:   7
JN39:   5  JN79:   6  JO30:  11  JO51:  18  JO63:   5  JO81:   3
JN47:   1  JN86:   3  JO31:  21  JO52:  15  JO64:   8  JO84:   1
JN48:   8  JN87:   1  JO32:   6  JO53:  13  JO65:   6  JO86:   1
JN49:  12  JN88:   6  JO33:   5  JO54:   3  JO68:   1  JO90:   9
JN58:   7  JN89:   6  JO40:   7  JO55:   1  JO70:  11  JO91:   1
JN59:   3  JN96:   1  JO41:   6  JO57:   1  JO71:  10  JO94:   1
JN68:   6  JN97:   1  JO42:  17  JO58:   2  JO72:   7  KN08:   1
JN69:   6  JN98:   4  JO43:  11  JO59:   1  JO73:   7  KN09:   2
JN75:   1  JN99:  10  JO44:   1  JO60:  13  JO74:   2  KN18:   1
JN76:   2  JO10:   2  JO46:   2  JO61:  14  JO75:   1  KO00:   1
JN77:   2  JO20:   2

Worked DXCCs:
9A  :   1  HA  :   4  OE  :   9  ON  :   5  S5  :   3  SP  :  31
DL  : 256  HB  :   1  OK  :  45  OZ  :   4  SM  :  11  UR  :   1
F   :   1  LA  :   1  OM  :  12  PA  :   9

Top 10 QSO-points:
20170506 2153 HG3X        59  227    59  236     JN96EE      834
20170506 2316 S59DEM      59  242    59  353     JN75DS      825
20170507 1241 HB9GF       59  369    59  461     JN37WB      817
20170506 2144 9A2AE       59  223    59  038     JN86HF      793
20170506 1722 LA0BY      529  121    53  002     JO59IX      785
20170507 0948 EN60D       59  332    59  068     KN18EO      766
20170506 1425 ON4KHG      52  022    52  013     JO10XO      759
20170507 1146 ON5AEN      55  354    55  014     JO10VW      754
20170506 2332 S57M       599  245   599  295     JN76PO      737
20170506 2354 HG1Z       599  250   599  291     JN86KU      730 
Posted in Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on May VHF Contest – no surprises

Surprising Aurora opening

Being back from the WPX-SSB tour to JO73 I checked QRL emails Monday afternoon to make sure it would not be too much when returning into the office on Tuesday. Being done I just had a quick look at the DX cluster before wanting to go to my YL’s home. Astonished to see 2 m open via Aurora … who would have expected that being almost in sunspot minimum? 😉 Quickly turned on the rig and did a few QSOs on 2 m. Always nice to meet all the old VHF DX friends even having worked them numerous times before. Likewise nice to see some new callsigns in the log like SM5BTS. 😎

Finding no new stations to work on 2 m and nobody answering my CQs I checked 6 m but not much activity there either. Seeing cluster spots for 10 m Aurora QSOs from Scandinavia I went down another band. Boy, that was quite some fun, too. 😎 On 10 m signals are even less distorted than on 6 m so you can easily do SSB without too much distortion …

LA4UOA via Aurora on 28 MHz:

SM6YNO via Aurora on 28 MHz:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
15:53  LA0BY         JO59FW   57A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    784
15:57  G4KUX         IO94BP   57A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1063
16:02  SM5BTS        JO89WI   53A   57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    722
16:09  LA3BO         JO59CD   57A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    707
16:13  LA6OJ         JO38HH   53A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    740
16:18  SM4IVE        JO79SD   59A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    667
16:32  SM7GVF        JO77GA   57A   55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    427
16:34  SM6BFE        JO68DQ   57A   59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    623
16:38  LA9BM         JP40CN   57A   55A    6 m.   CW    AUR    896
16:43  LA4UOA        JO38QH   57A   55A   10 m.  SSB    AUR    712
16:48  SM6YNO        JO67GG   55A   54A   10 m.  SSB    AUR    466
------------------------------------------------------------------

After all the YL just had to wait for an hour longer … 😉

Posted in Audio recordings, Aurora, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Surprising Aurora opening

Some antenna work this weekend, too

While doing the WPX-SSB Heiko, DG1BHA, was also there to do some antenna work. Weather was fine and he had already done a bit of work the days before, i.e. mounting a cable tray along the big chimney so we can secure all the 7/8″ hardline going up the “tower” in a much safer way than just using Scotch tape. 😉

   

Besides this we took down the EME array, too. The home brew boom-to-mast plates were broken and the next storm would have taken down the array anyway, we sure wanted to avoid that! So motivation is high to rebuild it now and get four antennas up again instead of just two. 😉

Posted in Antennas | Comments Off on Some antenna work this weekend, too

CQ WPX SSB 2017

Yet another contest done. Wanted to go for a serious 15 m single band entry as 20 m is just too crowded during low sunspot times (no chance to hold a frequency with legal limit and a 4 ele Yagi!) and I was not in the mood to do one of the low bands (QRL still keeping me more than busy so usually quite exhausted lately and not up to do 3 nights). Unfortunately I finally caught the flu Wednesday evening and struggled through QRL on Thursday. Still decided to drive the 700 km to the station Thursday night. Feeling really bad getting up on Friday I called Uwe, DL3BQA, to tell him that the 15 m slot was open for him (he didn’t want to do a low band either) and I would step back and just do a few QSOs every now and then, i.e. handing out some points. Luckily health got a little better during the weekend so I still managed 650 QSOs in total which was quite okay under the given circumstances. And it was certainly more fun than doing 15 m, Uwe was not too happy with just above 230 QSOs as DMØY, I guess …

Once again recorded all the QSOs using QSOrder and uploaded them to my Dropbox account. If we worked (or you worked others who were/are using K3IT’s superb recording tool) you can listen to yourself here.

                    CQWW WPX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 15

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:   23
   80:  224
   40:  102
   20:  302
   15:    1
   10:    0
------------
Total:  652  Prefixes = 435  Total Score = 617,265

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX SSB 2017

ARRLDX-CW 2017

Another contest in the books. Condx were quite okay but I had the feeling activity was way down compared to previous years. Might as well have been the condx, had the impression they didn’t allow for more than tier 1 and a few tier 2 stations to be worked. Band closed around 18z both days (only 5 QSOs afterwards) but opened to the West Coast both afternoons, at least for the big guns. Only state missing from the U.S. was Wyoming … Did a few QSOs Saturday evening and Sunday morning on 80/40 m, too, just to hand out a few more points. Seems the low band condx were quite nice! Doing an 80 or 40 m single band entry might have been a better choice but you never know upfront … 😉

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB/20 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 15:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   80: (13)      
   40: (24)      
   20:  476      
-------------------
Total:  474    56  Total Score = 79,632

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 4 ele Yagi (YU7EF design)
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on ARRLDX-CW 2017

CQ WPX RTTY 2017

Spent a little time in WPX-RTTY last weekend. Uwe, DL3BQA, was going for a serious effort on 20 m thus I could only do 15 m during the day as the 40 m antenna is too close and giving interference even using good bandpass filters. Therefor only a few QSOs on 80/40 m after 20 had closed and Uwe went home to catch some sleep. 80 was fun with good rates as long as I was running, had a nice “fresh meat” pileup. 😎 15 m at least provided some rare DX into the US Saturday afternoon – not expected with current solar condx. Sunday morning even brought a handful of JAs into the log and some more North America in the afternoon again but propagation was not extending very far westwards. Had the feeling activity was rather low but might as well just have been the condx. Definitely not comparable to my results from Aruba last year, this time really boring, but glad to provide a few points to the BCC club result. 😉

                    CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOAB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 13,5

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   80:  166
   40:   36
   20:     
   15:  204
   10:     
------------
Total:  406  Prefixes = 310  Total Score = 416,020

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500, dipoles on 80/40 m, 6 ele OWA on 15 m
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX RTTY 2017

CQ WW 160 CW 2017

Second contest of the year. I really start liking the 160 m CW contests, lots of activity. 😎 It’s probably about time to plan some serious entries and especially good low band antennas! While our full-size Lazy Loop works great for Europe it is by nature rather an NVIS antenna at only 8 to 17 m height. So always struggling with the weak DX. A groundplane plus dedicated RX antennas will certainly do a much better job. If we only had enough time … (and space, not much there for permanent installations).

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op Assisted HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 13

Summary:
Total QSOs = 800
State/Prov =  17
Countries  =  55        Total Score = 267,696

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 160m Lazy Loop
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WW 160 CW 2017

SARTG-HNY-RTTY 2017

First of all Happy New Year to all of my blog readers! Hope you had an enjoyable holiday, we certainly did. 😎 Wishing all of you all the best for 2017, lots of QSOs and DX and might the propagation god always be with you. 😉

January 1st is always a nice day to start into the new contest year. As last year I decided to go for SARTG’s HNY RTTY contest for my first one in 2017. I participated for the first time last year and had won it world-wide right away! Thus I had quite a high aspiration but was not lucky this time. Somehow I couldn’t get good runs going as was the case last year. Condx on 80 m where I spent the first hour were not very good either. Maybe I should have changed to 40 m earlier. Anyway, the result should still be good enough for a Top 6 finish, will see. First place will probably go to Burkhard, DF8XC, this time, congrats!

                    SARTG New Year RTTY Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: 1R HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 3

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   80:   35    18
   40:   80    38
-------------------
Total:  115    56  Total Score = 6,440

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + Inv-V dipoles

The contest log upload page only calculated 5.980 points, not sure if there might be a mismatch concerning how multipliers are counted. Seems stations like LM1ØHAM were not counted correctly on the upload page, informed the contest sponsor already. Will probably not change much in the claimed score listing as all participants will certainly lack the same mults then. 😉

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on SARTG-HNY-RTTY 2017

Year-end tropo

09Coming back from a Christmas trip to JO73 yesterday, December 29, driving westwards to Cologne (JO30) we enjoyed a very nice sunset. Sky was crystal blue, sun was shining and turning everything into dark when setting with a slight flicker around the horizon. As a VHF guy you know what it looks like: atmospheric inversions! 😎 Checking the F5LEN tropo forecast after arriving later that evening it showed some tropo predictions from west to east and confirmed my gut feeling. A quick phone call to Sandro, DD3SP, revealed that there was not much to be worked, at least in JO72. After spending the evening with the family in my girlfriend’s place I went to my home this morning to see if propagation was more favourable for us now. Switching on my remote station back in JO73CE I heard good old VHF friend Dave, G7RAU, right away. After a quick hello a few more nice DX contacts followed during the day:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:10  G7RAU         IO9ØIR   53    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1094
09:37  G4CDN         JOØ2SS   539   559    2 m.   CW    TR     848
09:43  G4CKH         JOØ2UK   529   449    2 m.   CW    TR     843
10:55  G3YDY         JOØ1FQ   519   519    2 m.   CW    TR     945
11:27  G8HGN         JOØ1FO   51    51     2 m.   SSB   TR     948
11:29  G3YDY         JOØ1FQ   53    54     2 m.   SSB   TR     945
12:36  G4SFY         JOØ2RV   53    54     2 m.   SSB   TR     852
13:56  PA1AT         JO32GX   599   599    2 m.   CW    TR     512
14:00  F8IQS         IN99RI   519   559    2 m.   CW    TR    1108
14:58  ON4LDP        JO1ØUN   55    56     2 m.   SSB   TR     777
15:15  F6DBI         IN88IJ   54    57     2 m.   SSB   TR    1336
21:11  ON5AEN        JO1ØVW   54    54     2 m.   SSB   TR     754
21:31  PAØBWL        JO21SS   599   599    2 m.   CW    TR     607
21:36  PA3BIY        JO22HB   599   599    2 m.   CW    TR     658
------------------------------------------------------------------

43870725Interestingly Dave was the only station that I could hear all day long. All other’s were in for half an hour or so max before they vanished again. Furthermore it seems that I was at the southern end of the duct. Sandro in JO72 could only work Dave but no other DX. On the other hand further north, i.e. with Klaus, DGØKW, and Charly, DF5VAE, both in JO64, and especially southern Sweden (SM7) there was even more DX to be worked. Charly also managed to work quite a number of DX stations on 70 & 23 cm! Strange: F8IQS was calling CQ way down in the band, i.e. on 144.197 MHz. Only found him after seeing a cluster spot of another guy working him. He stayed there all the time which is quite unusual for somebody wanting to work DX. 😉 Hope that all the spots helped to get him a few more QSOs into the log …

Here are a few audio snippets again, hope you enjoy listening to them! It’s always a nice “reminder” to listen to later again. 😉

Dave, G7RAU, on SSB tropo, almost 1.100 km:

Dave, G7RAU, on CW tropo peaking 579 later on:

F8IQS (IN99) on a 1.100 km tropo path:

F6DBI (IN88) well over 1.300 km on tropo:

Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Year-end tropo

ARRL 10 Meter Contest 2016

ARRL10M – one of my favourite contests! Nothing big to be expected during sunspot minimum, of course, nevertheless always fun and a nice opportunity for some propagation studies. 😎

Time I could spend last weekend was limited to a few hours in the late mornings and afternoons due to other commitments in the evenings. Had an enjoyable time nevertheless and besides 35% locals (i.e. groundwave and troposcatter contacts) and a (small) number of Sporadic-E as well as Meteor Scatter contacts (with the Geminids meteor shower approaching) even some DX could be worked.

Besides the typical one hop DX like CU and EA8 and the usual suspects from Africa (5T, S0, TZ, V5, ZS) and very few South Americans (only a few PYs and CEs wkd, no LUs this time) even some juicy mults on the east-west path made it into the log: FY5KE, NP2X, P4/DL6RAI, NP3A, KP2M and KP4/K7GM were nice surprises on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon saw an unexpected opening between Western Europe (CT, EA, F, PA, G) and the U.S. It finally opened overhere for 10 minutes, too, although only into Florida. Probably an ES + F2 link or maybe more likely 3 x ES hops as condx would probably not allow any F2 propagation on 10 m currently. But you never know … 😉 Managed to work 4 stations from FL and heard 3 more but they were busy working locals or simply not hearing well enough. VP5CW was a nice catch, too, and could be heard a little bit longer. EI2CN was a nice signal all the time confirming my ES link theory …

                    ARRL 10-Meter Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Mixed Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 13

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   CW:   86    36
  SSB:   17     7
-------------------
Total:  103    43  Total Score = 16,254

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWA Yagi @ 60 ft.
Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on ARRL 10 Meter Contest 2016

Small tropo opening …

tropo-sa-9zSpeaking of last weekend being in the middle of a rather boring CQWW CW contest I couldn’t resist switching to 2 m Saturday morning after seeing some DX spots on the cluster showing tropo between the UK and Northern Franconia as well as the Czech Republic. Lo and behold I could hear Peter, G3SMT, with a great 57 signal from IO82kv. Easily worked him after he had finished his QSO over the 1.158 km path. 😎

Interestingly the F5LEN tropo forecast didn’t really show any tropo opening although you can see some “weak” prediction on the path between JO73 and the UK. G3SMT was the only station audible so it was quite a localized duct as it seems. Guys from the JN59, JO50, JO60 area enjoyed a few more QSOs with the UK during the day but except that one QSO with Peter nothing else up here …

Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Small tropo opening …

CQ WWDX CW ’16

I had planned to drive the 700 km to the station for CQWW CW last weekend but QRL thwarted my plans and I had to sacrifice Friday/Monday which were planned for travelling. Therefor only played SOSB15 remotely …

CONDX sucked! That certainly describes it best. 🙁 At least in Northeastern Germany. Never saw 15 m in such bad shape, not even in deepest sunspot minimums. Calling CQ with 500 W and our 6 ele OWA Yagi roughly brought half a dozen QSOs into the log. There were just no callers and even almost no skimmer spots for myself. Thus basically entirely a search and pounce event …

North America was open for roughly an hour on Saturday afternoon, made some 50 QSOs with difficulty. I didn’t even dream of working any zone 3 stations after having had trouble working any zone 4’s (just 4 in the log). No NA opening on Sunday, only heard 2 or 3 stations skewed path beaming South America … Worked one JA on Saturday so at least a double mult with z25 in the log. Even South America on the much easier north-south path did not even provide two dozen QSOs … Band closed around 14:30z both days. It’s been like weaning oneself from doing it ever again. But I didn’t want to change to SOAB in the middle of the contest … and lacking motivation a bit. 😉

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 13

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160: (15)               
   80: (68)               
   40: (54)               
   20: (46)               
   15:  314    33      119
   10: (15)               
------------------------------
Total:  314    33      119  Total Score = 117,800

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWA

Handed out a few QSOs on the other bands inbetween. To work Japan on 80 m Sunday afternoon 15z with our low hanging dipole and good signals was fun and kinda cool! 😎 Also HSØZAR made it into the log on “Eighty” providing a new band point. Not bad for the small ERP used. 🙂

Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on CQ WWDX CW ’16

CQ WWDX SSB ’16

As mentioned in my WAG blog post I was not sure what to do in CQ WW SSB. We usually do 2-3 Single Band entries in the big SSB contests altering year by year who has the first band choice. This year it was Uwe’s (DL3BQA as DMØY) turn and he went for 15 m hoping for some useful conditions. So what should I do? Go for 10 m? Probably dead as a door nail. 20 m? Sideband? Oh no, even with high power and a 4 ele Yagi one’s rather QRP and with low/bad conditions everybody is on 20 m during the day making it a splatter festival. Doing one of the low bands? Without dedicated RX antennas? Certainly not a good idea either. So maybe a pseudo allband entry (SO5B) just handing out a few points?

Currently QRL is eating up my stamina quite intesively. I was driving the 700 km from Cologne to Schwedt on Thursday. Started 5:30am but needed to stop at 7 o’clock and take some more sleep in the car. I was just too tired and it was dangerous with flapping eyes so definitely the right decision. After a 3 hour break it was much better and I could continue my journey home. Arriving there was just time for a short hello to my mother then I fell asleep again on her couch for another 4 hours. Seems the body is taking what it needs … 🙁

To build up additional antennas, i.e. our 80 or 40 m groundplanes, was not feasible on Thursday as it was raining all day long and still a bit on Friday. And to be honest I was not in the mood to do so, either. Went shopping for the weekend on Friday afternoon (bought way too much … always the same problem 😉) and then took the 20 km to the station. Peter, DM5DX, was guest OP’ing since Wednesday. I wanted to take my final decision how to operate later that evening. Well, I did! Decided to go sleeping and leave the station to Peter to do some low band ops during the first contest night. 😉

juliusruh_sonntagWaking up Saturday morning I was still not in the mood to battle in splatter so decided to go for 10 m. It should be rather quiet there so probably a good chance to relax. 😉 Expected some 100-150 QSOs if at all. But even in sunspot minimum there are some scattered openings on 10 m, you just have to catch them! First QSO was with SP9KAO on tropo scatter, second one with DFØHQ for the DL mult. As the band was closed I decided to check the lower bands and hand out some points there. Boy I was glad about my decision not to choose a lower band entry. Bad condx there, too, which was to be expected with the solar data (left side picture shows a live view of Sunday afternoon’s solar data in Juliusruh, about 120 km north of my location) and QRM, QRM, QRM. Splatters all around! In recent times I really do not like SSB much anymore but have more fun doing CW and RTTY contests.

Around 8z 10 m opened to Bulgaria on Sporadic E, later to the Middle East and Africa, too. Around 11z there was a really huge ES cloud above France allowing a.) to get into TEP propagation into South America and b.) being strong enough to provide some good backscatter allowing contacts into most of Europe! So I could indeed run for about 2 hours with a best 60 min rate of 112 Q’s – who would have thought that?

In the afternoon there were short phases allowing runs, too, but not as good as before. So it was mainly chasing the mults. The North/South propagation differences were really prominent this time. I heard Mike, DL2OE, who lives about 90 km south of me, calling for stations that where not even audible up here, even with our 6 ele OWA Yagi 20 m high. Matthias, DGØOKW/DL5L, on top of the Thuringian Forest about 350 km south-west of me, worked about 30 mults more (lots of Caribbean mults as well as XW, VK, etc. in the mornings), all not audible overhere. It certainly helped that he had 2 transceivers and 3 antennas pointed into different directions all the time while it was pure SO1R with just one antenna overhere. Judging from the reports Southern Germany even seemed to have direct F2 and/or TEP propagation. Last QSO (# 360) on Saturday was 18z with a just 40 km distant SP1 station.

Sunday saw the band opening at 8z again, this time via Sporadic E towards UR & UA6, later on to YO & LZ. Unfortunately activity was not very high so not many new contacts made it into the log. For a few minutes the ES coupled into progation to the Middle East so I could at least grab the missing mults down there. It was real spotlight propagation, something I find exciting all the time. 😉 After 9:45z the band opened to Italy and Greece providing a few more new stations but again no high rates. Around 12z the band closed completely, not a single signal left. After 13:45z it opened again to France with a nice ES + TEP link allowing to work South America again. Unfortunately only 2 new stations in the log. After 14z the band was closed completely again. I was short of pulling the plug and calling it a day but was hoping for another short opening to at least push me above the 500 QSOs mark (was at #475 then). Seems the propagation god heard my prayers 😉 as there was another E-skip opening after 16z to EA5 and I1, again with super strong signals but all very localized. Got called by a very loud 3A2MG for the last new mult around 17z – you gotta love these Sporadic E openings. 😎

After 17z the ES linked into TEP to SA again, too, so I could work a few more 3 pointers. Doing 15-20 QSOs per hour might not be the rates others are looking for and yes, I’m getting adrenaline rushes from 200/hour as well 😎, but it was certainly more pleasant in my current mood than doing the SSB QRM masochism on the lower bands. 😉 Last QSO (#531) was at 19:40z. Only noise afterwards so I finished the contest on 10 m half an hour later. Even with Sunday being much worse than Saturday I was still quite satisfied with the result. Might have been due to the low expectations?! 😀

Went to the low bands again handing out a few more points but I was fed up after half an hour so finally flipped the switch. Last QSO was with BCC fellow LX1ER on 80 m …

After packing the car and wanting to drive the 20 km back to my mother’s place I had a completely flat tire. You can’t use that around midnight local time! 🙁 Luckily I had an emergency kit in the car and could repair it to get back into town at least …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 21

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160: (13)               
   80: (27)               
   40: (46)               
   20: (39)               
   15:  (2)               
   10:  534               
------------------------------
Total:  531    16       72  Total Score = 71,368

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi @20m

Now I need to take the decision what to do during CQ WW CW in 4 weeks? Single Band? Which one? SOAB? Oh boy … First of all let’s keep fingers crossed that condx will pick up a bit again! 😉

Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WWDX SSB ’16

WAG ’16

Due to private and work committments I didn’t have a chance to go the 700 km to the station this time therefor only handed out some points remotely. Nothing set up for voice contesting on the remote thus a CW only entry. Took some 6 hours off and slept about 3 hours.

Condx were just bad. 10 m was mostly weak signal work (remember CW moonbounce?) and only a few times brought success with some dedicated backscatter zones. 15 m wasn’t much better either, only a few hours in the afternoon with useful signals but rather low activity. 20 & 40 m were the daytime money bands as usual. 80 m was fun during the night with some good rates.

                    Worked All Germany Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO CW HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 18

Summary:
 Band   CW Qs  SSB Qs  Mults
-----------------------------
   80:   368       0     46
   40:   385       0     55
   20:   294       0     68
   15:   155       0     59
   10:   102       0     32
-----------------------------
Total:  1304       0    260  Total Score = 1,001,520

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + beams & wires

Looking forward to CQ-WWDX-SSB now (will be local at the station then) although really not sure which band to choose. Uwe, DL3BQA, is probably going to start on 15 m. I do not like 20 m SSB contesting, it’s like a zoo. 10 m will probably be dead as a nail and I’m not a big fan of the low bands, either. Seems to be a difficult choice … 😉

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WAG ’16

CQ WWDX RTTY 2016

Time for another contest entry! Due to rather bad condx Uwe, DL3BQA, was going to take part as SOSB20. I wanted to do a pseudo SOAB again, i.e. all bands except 20 m, but some interference between 40 and 20 m as well as me tx’ing on 80 m and Uwe’s PA seeing it as reflected power on 20 m prohibited any activity on the low bands. Need to solve it some time in the future … Thus only an SOSB15 entry left, even being already quite down on the road into sunspot minimum …

Condx were better than anticipated on Saturday with 540 QSOs and a reasonable JA opening (120 QSOs) in the morning as well as good propagation into North America (220 QSOs) in the afternoon … even worked a few U.S. West Coast guys! 🙂 By contrast Sunday was really bad with just 230 QSOs, only a handful of JA and just 2 or 3 Florida stations – that being all from NA! 🙁

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 27

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  State/Prov  DX   Zones
------------------------------------
   80: (36)                       
   15:  772      45      107    32       
------------------------------------
Total:  764      45      107    32  Total Score = 377,568

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WWDX RTTY 2016