DARC July VHF Contest ’20

Oh boy. Seems this is the third year in a row to complain. ๐Ÿ˜€ Indeed conditions have been even worse than during the last few years. Saturday had such bad condx I could not even hear the big guns from Slovenia which are 700+ kilometers away and usually S5-7 at least. Nothing, nada, zilch, … no copy! ๐Ÿ™ No Croatia and no Hungary either! Even signals on the shorter path’, i.e. like 250 km, went from S5 or sometimes even S9 down into the noise unreadible within seconds! Was it the bad condx or just bad participation, too? I really struggled to make QSOs on Saturday, no fun!

It only got better late in the evening with condx stabilizing a bit and at least a few of the big ones from Slovenia and Hungary finally popping out of the noise. Still lots of QSB but rising activity from the OK/OM guys on CW helped a bit (although QSO totals with them still way below what we were used to a few years ago). “Luckily” everybody else I talked to complained as well so I was sure it really was the condx, not the equipment. ๐Ÿ˜€ Interestingly the contacts to the east, i.e. Poland & Lithuania, were much less QSB affected.

Slept about 3 hours. Sunday morning was much better, conditions as well as my mood. Seems they are linearly linked to each other! ๐Ÿ˜€ Activity was higher now and more DX could be worked, too (although much less than usual). While I still struggled with some of the big distances Croatians the QSO with YT4B over 1.074 km was an easy one and worked right away! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Always amazing, the guys must use a really great location and equipment!

In the end I still made over 350 QSOs, on par with the last two years. But the kilometer average was way down this year thus missing about 10-15k points compared to last and second-last year …

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

Contest : DARC JULY CONTEST '20
Date    : 2020 Jul 04 to 2020 Jul 05
Section : 01 144MHz Single OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

TX      : IC-9700 + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-9700 + ATF51389 pre-amp
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  354
-invalid:    0                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  354     QSO-points (*1) :    129541              366
WWLs    :   70     WWL bonus (0)   :         0                0
DXCCs   :   21     DXCC bonus (0)  :         0                0
                   ---------------------------           ------
                   Total score     :    129541              366

ODX     : YT4B in JN94SE at 1074 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN38:  1   JN77:  1   JN99:  7   JO44:  1   JO65:  5   JO84:  3
JN39:  2   JN78:  2   JO10:  1   JO50: 14   JO67:  1   JO90:  1
JN47:  4   JN79: 19   JO20:  1   JO51: 20   JO68:  1   KN08:  1
JN48:  3   JN85:  2   JO21:  1   JO52:  9   JO70: 13   KN18:  1
JN49:  6   JN86:  3   JO30:  6   JO53:  9   JO71: 14   KO04:  3
JN58:  4   JN87:  3   JO31:  9   JO55:  1   JO72:  6   KO13:  1
JN59:  6   JN88:  7   JO32:  4   JO59:  1   JO73:  6   KO14:  2
JN65:  1   JN89: 11   JO33:  1   JO60: 11   JO74:  1   KO15:  1
JN68:  3   JN94:  1   JO40:  3   JO61: 17   JO75:  1   KO16:  1
JN69:  8   JN95:  1   JO41:  9   JO62: 30   JO80:  6   KO24:  1
JN75:  1   JN97:  1   JO42: 14   JO63:  7   JO83:  2   KO25:  1
JN76:  2   JN98:  5   JO43:  7   JO64:  2   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   4   HA :   6   OE :   3   OZ :   6   SM :   4   UR :   1
DL : 211   HB :   2   OK :  66   PA :   3   SP :  16   YL :   1
EU :   1   LA :   1   OM :  12   S5 :   5   UA2:   3   YU :   1
F  :   1   LY :   5   ON :   2   

Top 20 QSO-points:
20200705 0520 YT4B           559  200 599  284   JN94SE    1074
20200705 0916 9A0V           599  269 599  349   JN95PE     963
20200705 0934 9A0BB          519  271 599  366   JN85EI     886
20200705 0955 9A1P           559  273 599  456   JN65VG     881
20200705 0945 9A1E           599  272 599  193   JN85QT     852
20200705 0002 S59DEM         599  195 599  467   JN75DS     825
20200705 1050 HB9GF          55   299 59   378   JN47BC     803
20200704 1833 LA0BY          519  118 559  001   JO59IX     785
20200705 0906 UT4YWA         519  267 599  115   KN18LV     775
20200704 2357 S50C           599  194 599  465   JN76JG     771
20200705 1032 ON4KHG         57   293 59   083   JO10XO     759
20200705 0839 S59P           59   262 59   410   JN86AO     744
20200705 0658 S59ABC         55   223 59   244   JN76TO     740
20200704 2322 HG1Z           599  185 599  289   JN86KU     730
20200705 0845 S57O           59   263 59   351   JN86DT     725
20200705 0551 HA6W           599  206 599  427   KN08FB     720
20200705 0707 HB9CXK         59   227 59   049   JN47PM     720
20200704 2037 YL2AJ          559  143 559  020   KO16OX     711
20200705 0541 HA7NK          599  205 599  172   JN97WW     708
20200704 2052 DJ5MW          599  148 599  099   JN47WN     697
Posted in Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on DARC July VHF Contest ’20

A band-pass filter for 144 MHz

To cure our severe RFI issue described in one of my recent blog posts I decided to order an 144 MHz BPF. Found it on Ebay first but finally ordered from the seller’s Italian web shop directly and saved another 10%. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What sold me on this one is the 3 cell helical design promising excellent attenuation data. It arrived within 4 days, ufb service!

The JG-BPF2M atop of my FA-NWT ready to be swept

Before installing it in the station today I made a few measurements with my FA-NWT network analyzer (an improved version FA-NWT2 is for sale by BOX73 if you ever need one). It does not quite meet the promised -100 dB @ 98 MHz but still is very good. It surpresses all of the amateur radio HF bands by at least 65 dB (at some frequencies even more than 80 dB).

Full sweep from 0 to 200 MHz

Zoomed into the HF spectrum only – at least -65 dB on all amateur bands ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Flat passband across the whole 2 m band

The measured insertion loss is still acceptable although it could certainly be further optimized as the filter’s low of 0,2 dB loss is just below the 2 m amateur band

Integration into the station went smooth. Nothing to take care of, it works both ways. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s now connected between my trusty HA1YA transverter and the 2 m amplifier. Extensive structured testing confimed that all RFI from high power on the HF bands is gone now. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Posted in Equipment, Stubs & filters, VHF | Comments Off on A band-pass filter for 144 MHz

Rare 2 m ES to the Northeast

Arrived early afternoon at the station today. Wanted to prepare a few things for the VHF contest this weekend and was monitoring the bands, of course. Thus no surprise I caught another short 2 m ES opening, this time to the Northeast which is very rare, ES on 144 MHz usually to the South (plus East/West) only from here. RX1AS was very weak (about a 51 report) calling on 144.300 MHz SSB but unfortunately I could not raise him with just 100 watts (knowing his ‘working conditions’ I don’t wonder why, hi). Until the amp had warmed he was down to 31/41 at best so even with high power no QSO possible, pity. This time no signals on FT8, imagine that! ๐Ÿ˜€ Seems the opening was much better further west (and with longer distances).

We also had quite an intense opening on 4 m to the Balkans again in the afternoon but just a few QSOs, there are simply not enough stations QRV. But at least LZ3AD was a new callsign in the log. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
11:37  RX1AS         KO59XW    51   HRD    2 m.   SSB   ES    1315
------------------------------------------------------------------
12:14  YO3DAC        KN34CK   -14   -16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1307
12:27  YO9IE         KN34AW   +14   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1255
13:15  YO7LGI        KN14XO   -12   +04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1189
13:28  YO9HP         KN35BA   +07   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1252
13:30  LZ2WO         KN23AL   -03   -02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1298
13:49  LZ3AD         KN32EQ   -09   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1473
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Rare 2 m ES to the Northeast

New squares on 4 m

A few single QSOs during the last few days only. A little longer opening to the Balkans today on 70 MHz providing two new squares with JN85 and KN06! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Both are well under 1.000 km so needing a higher MUF to work (at the same time there was a short 2 m ES opening between PA and YO utilizing the same clouds).

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
13:52  9A3TN         JN85UH   -07   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES     911
14:21  HG2DX         KNร˜6CQ   -16   -10    4 m.   FT8   ES     840
14:24  LZ2HM         KN12QP   +12   +03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1354
14:29  SV2AEL        KN1ร˜LM   -05   -13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1555
14:31  YO7BSN        KN15PB   +00   +09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1117
14:46  YO9HP         KN35BA   -07   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1252
14:48  YO9IE         KN34AW   +05   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1255
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on New squares on 4 m

Sporadic-E on 2 m again

Not very active during the last 2 weeks. Either no condx or me being too busy with QRL stuff. Just caught two smaller 4 m openings last Sunday (June 14) to Finland in the morning and Greece in the afternoon but didn’t bother to report separately. ๐Ÿ˜‰

More luck today! 2 m opened to UA4 in the morning. All in & out, not well positioned here but good enough to make a few QSOs. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Later on it suddenly opened to Greece, too! Imagine how surprised I was when SV2HNH called me while still beaming to Russia. ๐Ÿ˜€ Propagation to SV was not stable either but good to catch two openings in a row. A few QSOs on 4 m afterwards, but it all remained quite patchy …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:45  UA4AQL        LO2ร˜QB   -09   +04    2 m.   FT8   ES    2161
09:56  RG4A          LO2ร˜OD   -14   -09    2 m.   FT8   ES    2146
10:11  UA3QHF        KO91PQ   -06   +19    2 m.   FT8   ES    1699
------------------------------------------------------------------
10:34  SV2HNH        KN1ร˜LP   -07   -18    2 m.   FT8   ES    1542
10:48  SV1ELI        KM17XX   -05   +07    2 m.   FT8   ES    1849
10:51  SV1CNS        KM18WA   -10   -13    2 m.   FT8   ES    1842
------------------------------------------------------------------
11:23  SV2JAO        KN1ร˜DN   +08   +04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1530
11:27  EA6VQ         JM19MP   +12   +00    4 m.   FT8   ES    1727
11:48  SV8RV         KMร˜7KS   -07   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1789
12:11  EA5FQS        IM99TL   +02   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1883
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Sporadic-E on 2 m again

A new square on 6 m & some thoughts

Only one QSO today: TA7OM from KN80 providing square #690 on 50 MHz.

Despite this I haven’t done much on 6 m this season yet. Seems I somehow lost interest in the band as almost all activity has shifted to FT8 only. While I use FT8 myself and see it’s advantages for weak signals it doesn’t make much sense when signals are strong. And for working the real DX (despite JO73 being a 6 m blackhole or me just always being impeded when there are condx) my 400 watts and 6 or 8 ele Yagi usually don’t cut it on FT8, there are simply too many stations calling in limited space (and QRMing each other). How much easier is it all on CW where you can make up for less signal strength by good operating practice? Best example has been 7Z1SJ a few days ago: while I called him endlessly on FT8 without success he was an easy catch on CW when he changed mode …

No, I’m not going to buy a bigger PA … at least not for that reason. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m rather thinking of taking down the dualband yagi and putting up a (bigger) dedicated 4 m only beam instead. I can still use our 8 ele long-boom yagi for 6 m then but parallel operation (i.e. Uwe on the 8L and me on the 6L from the duo yagi) wouldn’t work anymore. Guess I can live with that …

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on A new square on 6 m & some thoughts

Finland on 4 m

A short opening to Finland this morning, doesn’t happen too often. KP13 for a new square, now #206. All references for OH8JGG show KP24AE as his locator but he was clearly sending KP23 himself so will probably have to wait for his QSL card to be sure (didn’t find an email address either).

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
10:09  OH8MGK        KP23PQ   +08   +00    4 m.   FT8   ES    1329
10:13  OH6GKW        KP13NT   +06   +09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1287
10:16  OH8JGG        KP23     +12   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1330
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Finland on 4 m

Chasing down our RFI issue – success!

Spent some time with Heiko, DG1BHA, and Uwe, DL3BQA, chasing down our RFI issue this afternoon that I had reported about in my WPX-SSB blog post. Some systematic testing revealed that it’s worse with a modified TS-590 transmitting on 15 m than with an unmodified 590. But the difference was only about 7-8 dB, still no explaination for s9 QRM from unrelated frequencies! And it did not make any difference if transmitting with or without PA!

Started with bonding almost everything in our two shacks: transceivers, PAs, bandpass filters, network switches, computers, a.s.o. Something long overdue! Unfortunately it didn’t help anything! ๐Ÿ™ But of course it does not hurt either and might prevent other issues. Than started to dismantle everything possible from the FLEX-6600 I’m using and suddenly there was silence, no interference anymore! I couldn’t believe it but afterwards it all makes sense. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The culprit was/is my HA1YA 2 m transverter! It’s a great transverter with lots of gain, very sensitive, a.s.o. But, when the 15 m beam is pointing to the shack and Uwe’s transmitting with high power it’s coupling into the 2 m antenna (which is located on the roof above the shack) connected to the transverter and due to it’s overall gain it’s somehow overdriving the 10 m RX in the Flex. Obviously the transverter ports in the Flex are not disconnected when not using a transverter band and, probably even more important, the transverter signal is coupled into the RX behind the 7th order preselector on 10 m. We confirmed that the interference is gone switching in a 2 m (receive-only) bandpass filter before the transverter, it can then stay connected and be switched on all the time (switching it off cured the problem, too). So it’s about time to order a transmit-capable 2 m BPF and the problem is history. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

We still have some minor RFI issues that need to be solved but with curing this one nothing that will prevent us from doing parallel operations again. So for now quite happy!

Posted in Equipment, Stubs & filters | Comments Off on Chasing down our RFI issue – success!

OY – Farรถer Islands #45 on 70 MHz

Another new country in the log on 4 m and square #205! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Glad to catch him this morning, had heard him a few days ago already but no luck back then. This time skip fitted perfectly so easy going. A few additional patchy openings during the day, in the afternoon concentrating on chasing down our RFI issues …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:31  OY1OF         IP62OA   -07   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1578
09:33  GM7PKT        IO76JR   +07   +15    4 m.   FT8   ES    1295
10:37  EA3IAA        JNร˜1XK   +10   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1595
10:47  EA3HUI        JNร˜1MM   -06   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1627
11:01  OH6DX         KP32EQ   -02   +17    4 m.   FT8   ES    1272
11:04  OH1LT         KPร˜ร˜XO   -16   +02    4 m.   FT8   ES     948
11:05  OH1IU         KPร˜1XK   -17   -01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1027
11:07  OH1KH         KPร˜1TN   -06   +00    4 m.   FT8   ES    1030
11:11  OH1MLZ        KP23CL   +07   -08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1281
11:19  EA1DA         IN82SK   -12   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1717
12:08  GW8ASA        IO81EM   +10   +14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1222
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on OY – Farรถer Islands #45 on 70 MHz

CQ WPX CW ’20

Well, I felt a bit uneasy before this one. There was a small tipps & tricks section in last week’s BCC newsletter about the upcoming WPX-CW contest and being interviewed I said there’s a 70% chance of good Sporadic-E conditions that would help during the contest on the highbands. But, the (VHF) bands have been open quite nicely for 10 days already and that might become a problem. Why? Well, usually Sporadic-E follows a pattern like 1 week of excellent condx and openings up to 2 m, then 2 weeks of silence more or less. So the “silence phase” was rather overdue! It would still mean some patchy ES openings here and there but nothing for big QSO numbers, rather a kind of propagation studies. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it seems this year is a little different and with such a massive opening on Friday and even 70 MHz still open well after midnight I was really wondering what would happen on 10 m during the weekend.

I got up the first time around 4z. The band was still silent and I was still tired so I decided to lay down for another hour. Getting up again there were plenty of signals on the spectrum display already and M2L greeted me with QSO #72. So I certainly missed at least half an hour! It was the same reflection area as on Friday so against all odds it all started westwards. But in the end it doesn’t matter. With the high ionisation present (MUF went quickly up above 70 MHz) you just point the antenna into the ES clouds center and it will work all around: forward, backward, side scatter. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The first 5 hours brought 500 QSOs into the log! Afterwards it slowed down quite a bit …

Highlight Saturday morning and the lowlight at the same time (at least concerning number of QSOs): the band was open to the U.S. East Coast after 6:30z for half an hour! But besides several skimmer spots not a single QSO. Sure, nobody’s sitting and watching for 10 m openings in North America at 2:30 o’clock local time! Really a pity, but quite interesting from a propagation study perspective as the MUF must have been quite high with most of the path in complete darkness! Certainly still some of the VHF capable ES clouds from Friday night moving around … It was of course much easier to the East, people were awake there. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We need about 4 perfectly aligned ES hops from here to Japan. The likelihood shrinks with every additional hop needed. And with that kind of propagation it’s all “spotlight”, too, meaning there has to be somebody in a very small footprint reflection area with suitable equipment! Well, it did fit, 4 x JA made it into the log and E2A from Thailand called in, too. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

For UA9/UN it’s only 2 hops needed, UA0 needs 3. That worked quite well several times so over 40 made it into the log over the weekend. Between 11 und 12:30z I was again spotted by US skimmers randomly but only N4XD made it into the log.

The band opened into South America every now and then Saturday afternoon and evening. It was again quite spotlight, barely 20 x PYs worked but just 1 x LU and that quite late. TO1A from French Guyana could be copied loudly again and again, the path is open regularly even during sunspot minimum. 8P5A was another Caribbean station but that was all into that direction on Saturday. ZD7BG from St. Helena was ufb loud late in the evening, too. Stopped operation around 21z with 880 QSOs under the belt, band was empty.

Sunday morning (half an hour earlier this time) started with 4 x BY but also 4J/UA9/UN were easily workable again. Beaming towards Spain I was later copied “backwards” by the VU skimmer so turned the antenna to the East and was rewarded with 4 x India in the log. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The MUF went up and up and up late in the morning and finally 144 MHz opened again between West and South-East Europe. We were too close to take advantage on 2 m but made a virtue out of necessity: if it’s too close for VHF it’s perfect for shorter distances on HF! So I was able to do lots of great short-skip QSOs within Germany with propagation focussing on West and South-DL.

Between 13 and 15z the band opened randomly to North America via triple hop ES. Worked 14 x W and 3 x VE. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Around 15:30z I was a bit unconcentrated for about 10 minutes as 2 m opened to EA6 from here. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The evening brought the Caribbean again, this time with HH, KP2 and KP4. Unfortunately except CE3CT nothing from South America on Sunday although the PT7ZZ skimmer spotted me with good signals for a few hours! Did I mention spotlight propagation already? ๐Ÿ˜‰

After 19z it became really slow. The band was still workable but the masses had already moved to the lower bands. I kept my butt in the chair until local midnight, every point counts! The last hour QRV it opened again to the East with quite strong signals from UA3/4. Unfortunately only one QSO, everybody else already in the log. I wondered why RT4F who were about s3 did not copy me. When they started calling W/VE it dawned on me! I was hearing their second harmonic! A quick check on 20 m confirmed it, they were there with an extremely strong signal. Half an hour later their harmonic was gone on 10 m again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Made almost 1.500 QSOs in total. Net 50 contacts less so quite some dupes! I was spotted as BH8 and think a number logged me as DS8 instead of DH8, too. For our little bit of equipment, compared to others at least (one transceiver, one amp, one antenna), I am quite satisfied. I increased the (my) current German record quite a bit. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Will see what the result is good for, the competition was quite strong! IB9T, LZ3ND, UW5U all made much more. But also Mac, SN2M/SP2XF, to whom comparison makes much more sense than to compare with Sicily, did a great job. He does have more aluminium in the air and his location 300 km more easterly certainly gave him a big advantage, too, as his skip distances to the west where all the big QSO potential is located (DL, PA, F, G, …) were much better. And then there’s the people who were not on your radar. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thus let’s see, but I think the Top10 should be okay.

Optimization potential? Clearly with the operator! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m sure I was not the only one “fuzzy-headed” when trying to sort it out when stations like 4U9STAYHOME called me. ๐Ÿ˜€ But I also had one or another phase of weakness and difficulties concentrating and had to ask for repeats more than I cared for. And with (too) few callers I was a victim of microsleep, too. ๐Ÿ˜

So all in all a great contest weekend with lots of fun to be remembered for a long time!

                    CQWW WPX Contest, CW - 2020

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 33

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   10: 1489
------------
Total: 1439  Prefixes = 656  Total Score = 1,092,240

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Flexradio FLEX-6600, PA + 6 ele G0KSC OWA-Yagi @60ft.
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WPX CW ’20

Another 2 m Sporadic-E …

Being active in the WPX-CW contest this weekend (report to follow) I monitored 2 m in parallel and caught another ES opening. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
15:25  EA6VQ         JM19MP   -08   -02    2 m.   FT8   ES    1727
15:30  EA6XQ         JM19LH   -15   +06    2 m.   FT8   ES    1763
------------------------------------------------------------------

Copied EA6 from JM08 on FT8 and an F station from JN33 on SSB, too, but was trying to concentrate on the contest. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Later on I couldn’t resist to switch to 4 m (something I avoided all weekend long as the 4 m transverter is connected to the Flexradio contest radio) to work TF3ML in HP94 for a new square. It took a while until signals were strong enough to allow a QSO with my QRP power but it worked. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
18:25  TF3ML         HP94NA    57    55    4 m.   SSB   ES    2318
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Another 2 m Sporadic-E …

Best VHF-DX day ever!

I’ve been active on the VHF bands for almost 30 years now and certainly experienced one or another great VHF-DX day. But what we experienced today certainly deserves the definition as “Best VHF-DX day ever”! The 6, 4 & 2 m bands were virtually open all day long! While it happens every now and then on 6 m it is an absolute exception to see 144 MHz open almost continously between 9 and 24 o’clock UTC! For my German readers Bernd, DF2ZC, wrote quite a nice summary for the FUNKAMATEUR news pages.

I’m really glad I decided to go the 400+ km from Hamburg to Schwedt on Thursday evening after QRL already. Spent the night at my mom’s, went shopping for the weekend (groceries for the WPX-CW contest) Friday in the late morning and then went the 20 km to our station out of town to prepare for the weekend, i.e. install a separate PC for the Flexradio, a.s.o.

4 m opened nicely into Spain up here just when I was done. I had seen the 2 m ES openings around Europe, of course, so was monitoring 144.174 FT8 as well as 144.300 SSB in parallel. While the main direction was to the South-West, i.e. Iberia, 4 m opened occasionally into other directions, too. EA3AGB was a new square while E76BV and ZA/IW2JOP even provided two new countries! ๐Ÿ˜Ž The band stayed open all day long. I’m justing forcing myself to go to bed now (23z = 1 o’clock local time!) and there are still signals on the band! Simply amazing …

2 m opened around 14z up here. Plenty of activity from Spain and particularly pleasing lots of SSB activity, too! With such a big opening it’s just much more efficient on SSB. I called CQ myself several times when running out of stations to work and really enjoyed the small pileups. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Of course FT8 makes sense when signals are weak, i.e. you’re out of reflection focus or working double hop. I did so every now and then hoping I would catch one of the two 7X stations from Algeria for a new country. Unfortunately never heard them but instead I caught CN8LI from IM63nx – wow! An amazing 2.706 km and probably a double hop QSO looking at the map above. Distance is much too far for one single hop and there were no tropo enhancements along the path but ES clouds quite favourable for a double reflection.

While monitoring FT8 I was secretly hoping to maybe catch D4VHF, too. Yes, that’s the Cape Verde Islands deep in the Atlantic Ocean, 5.300 km away! Oh well, good ol’ BQA is going crazy now, you might think. But hey, there was double hop, best ES conditions ever, and D4VHF already working into Southern and Western Europe! So clouds just needed to be aligned favourably and we would have a chance! And indeed, he was worked in South-DL and copied in Poland not too far from here! Unfortunately nothing overhere but it was only just after the opening I got to notice he was not on .174 but on another frequency aligned in the ON4KST chat trying with the big guns from Europe. Oh well, I was not logged in so couldn’t know, I would sure have monitored for such a once in a lifetime chance! But anyway, still the best ES opening ever! 4 hours on 2 m continously up here, then again for a few minutes half an hour later. Imagine to have such an opening during July contest! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Now what about 6 m? To be honest I completely ignored it. Uwe, DL3BQA, was quite active from our station. Lots of double hop DX there, too. Lots of new squares possibilities, but I kept concentrating on 4 & 2 m. It was only when I saw good friend Steve, PJ4DX, spotted on 6 m SSB that I switched over and indeed, could copy him clearly with 5/3. Unfortunately I couldn’t raise him with 100 watts. I had already rebuilt my station for the contest so no amp capable of 6 m available without too much hassle. So went over to the other shack and started Uwe’s (who had left earlier) TRX and PA again but until the amp had warmed Steve’s signal had vanished. What a pity! Kept the gear running but decided half an hour later to switch it all off as I was still busy on 4 m. Well, VO1FOG was CQing on 50.110 SSB with a great signal and of course I couldn’t resist to give him a call. So I did one QSO on 6 m, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To sum it up: Besides the new ones already mentioned above I even worked five new squares on 2 m: IN81, IM97, IM63, IM68, IN92 (#592). Great distances worked. Great experience I’ll surely remember for the rest of my life (and I think many others, too).

Here’s the list of worked stations sorted by band:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
21:17  VO1FOG        GN37IO    59    56    6 m.   SSB   ES    4643
------------------------------------------------------------------
12:57  EA5FQS        IM99TL   -05   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1883
12:59  EA3HUI        JNร˜1MM   -07   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1627
13:48  EA2CCG        IN92AO   +07   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1677
13:54  EA4ESM        IN8ร˜DK   -09   -16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1956
13:56  EA3GP         JNร˜1SF   +06   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1632
13:58  EA3WD         JNร˜1XK   -06   -23    4 m.   FT8   ES    1595
14:03  EC5W          IM98QG    59    59    4 m.   FT8   ES    2010
14:54  EA1W          IN73EM    55    53    4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
16:51  ZA/IW2JOP     KMร˜9AU   +12   +02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1547
17:14  GJ6WRI        IN89VF   +03   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1222
17:38  E76BV         JN83VG   -04   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1133
17:55  EB3JT         JNร˜1UI   -24   -20    4 m.   FT8   ES    1613
18:07  EA5TT         IM99SL    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1887
19:15  CT1EEB        IN5ร˜QR    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    2201
20:58  EA6SX         JM19IK   +12   +04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1760
21:35  EA1GCN        IN73DN    55    55    4 m.   SSB   ES    1809
21:36  EA1W          IN73EM    55    55    4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
21:57  EA3AGB        JNร˜ร˜GQ   +06   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1728
21:59  EA5WO         IM99SK   +05   -08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1891
22:07  EA2BFM        IN83MG   -08   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1675
22:21  CT1BXT        IM59PF    55    52    4 m.   SSB   ES    2330
22:25  EC1AJL        IN73CI    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1829
------------------------------------------------------------------
14:06  EA7KZ         IM87CS   -03   +03    2 m.   FT8   ES    2202
14:07  EA1BFZ        IN81SS    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1774
14:08  EA4CZV        IN8ร˜DL    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1952
14:08  EA3DHR/1      IN81JS    51    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1814
14:09  EA1BFZ        IN81SS    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1774
14:13  EA7BHO        IM87DD   +08   -02    2 m.   FT8   ES    2256
14:30  EA5IEA        IM97JV   +07   +16    2 m.   FT8   ES    2071
14:35  EA5AJX        IM98KU    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1976
14:37  EC5W          IM98QG    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    2010
14:55  EA5IEA        IM97JV   -05   -09    2 m.   FT8   ES    2071
14:59  EA5IDZ        IM97JW   +04   -01    2 m.   FT8   ES    2067
15:03  EA5WU         IM99WU   +12   -07    2 m.   FT8   ES    1836
15:03  EA3EVL        JNร˜ร˜HR    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1720
15:07  EA3ABK        JNร˜1OK    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1627
15:08  EA3AGB        JNร˜ร˜GQ    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1728
15:09  EA5EF         IM99SM    55    55    2 m.   SSB   ES    1883
15:12  EA3GPK        JNร˜1PD    55    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1651
15:16  EA7HLB        IM76OP   -16   -12    2 m.   FT8   ES    2355
15:19  EB5GC         IM97JX   -01   +05    2 m.   FT8   ES    2063
15:31  EA7KI         IM77OV   +06   -12    2 m.   FT8   ES    2239
15:35  EA5DIT        IM99CD    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1979
15:43  CN8LI         IM63NX   +04   -07    2 m.   FT8   ES    2706
15:59  ISร˜ANY        JN4ร˜GR    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1449
16:01  EA6AAU        JM19JK    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1757
16:02  EA6SX         JM19IK    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1760
16:07  EA5IPM        IM98QG    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    2010
16:14  EB5BQC        IM98OL   -22   -04    2 m.   FT8   ES    1997
16:23  EA5EY         IM98OL    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1997
16:24  EA5DF         IM99RM    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1886
16:27  EA3KE         JNร˜ร˜IR    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1716
16:29  EA3CAZ        JNร˜1SE    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1636
16:33  EA3NG         JNร˜1OC   -05   -06    2 m.   FT8   ES    1659
16:36  EA5W          IM97KX   -04   -12    2 m.   FT8   ES    2060
16:40  EA5NB         IM99TL   +02   +02    2 m.   FT8   ES    1883
16:51  EB5HRX        IM99TL    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1883
17:13  EA4C          IM68MU   -04   -19    2 m.   FT8   ES    2266
17:16  EC1KR         IN7ร˜OQ    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1991
17:17  EA3DHR/1      IN81JS    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1814
17:18  F2CT          IN93GJ    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1583
17:21  EA1BYA        IN7ร˜WW    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1934
17:23  EA4BPO        IN8ร˜EJ    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1955
17:26  EA2BD         IN92ET    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1641
17:31  EA2LU         IN92ET    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1641
17:31  EA4LO         IN8ร˜JM    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1923
17:32  EA4BU         IN8ร˜CF    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1978
17:32  EA4BFK        IN8ร˜AM    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1961
17:33  EA4BVW        IN7ร˜XF    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1991
17:34  EA4JJ         IN8ร˜AK    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1969
17:36  EA4EWJ        IN8ร˜BM    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1957
17:37  EA4ESH        IN8ร˜SG    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1907
17:41  EA4BX         IN8ร˜HI    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1946
17:42  EA4GAX        IN8ร˜CP    59    59    2 m.   SSB   ES    1942
18:20  EB1DJ         IN52MO   +02   +10    2 m.   FT8   ES    2074
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Best VHF-DX day ever!

Another 2 m ES opening

Another short ES opening this morning! Not positioned favourably, signals very much in & out, but some QSOs made at least:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
08:49  UA4ALU        LN29LA   -17   -05    2 m.   FT8   ES    2178
09:00  UA6LQZ        LNร˜8FW   +06   +00    2 m.   FT8   ES    1882
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Another 2 m ES opening

First 2 m ES / 4 m to the UK

Glad to catch my first 2 m Sporadic-E this year! Marginal opening to UA6 from here, FT8 had to deliver. ๐Ÿ˜‰ LN26 was a new square, #587. Almost missed the opening! Was sitting on the balcony sipping my morning coffee before QRL (home office this week) and only by chance checked the DX cluster on my smartphone. You can’t imagine how fast I was off to the shack. ๐Ÿ˜€ At least caught the end of it …

UR5RGS provided another new square with KO51 on 6 m. Besides this a short morning opening to Romania on 4 m, too. Nothing else worked during the day, had to concentrate on QRL tasks. But lucky to catch a good 4 m opening to the UK in the afternoon! It’s always lots of fun working into the UK as there’s plenty of active stations and still lots of “analogue” activity which is a real joy!

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:50  UA6IE         LN26CG   -14   -12    2 m.   FT8   ES    2269
06:52  RQ6M          KN97UG   -09   -10    2 m.   FT8   ES    1917
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:17  YO9HP         KN35BA   +14   +02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1252
07:19  YO3DAC        KN34CK   +05   +10    4 m.   FT8   ES    1307
07:25  YO8BSE        KN36EW   -05   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1109
15:05  GW6TEO        IO71LP   +17   +16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1312
15:06  G4DBL         IO91NP   -03   -13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1035
15:08  G4FUF         JOร˜1GN   +10   -01    4 m.   FT8   ES     943
15:09  G4BRK         IO91HP   +09   +06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1068
15:13  Gร˜KJF         IO8ร˜MV    55    41    4 m.   SSB   ES    1198
15:26  GW8ASA        IO81EM   +14   +16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1222
15:31  Gร˜BLB         IO81RI   +03   +11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1155
15:36  EI4DQ         IO51WU   +08   +20    4 m.   FT8   ES    1512
15:39  Gร˜TSM         IO9ร˜HX   -13   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1090
15:43  Gร˜PQO         IO92UA   -17   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES     986
15:45  G3NPI         IO92MA    59    51    4 m.   SSB   ES    1030
15:46  GW4WND        IO82KM    59    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1163
15:47  G6AHX         IO82WA    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1108
15:54  G4YLB         IO83SQ   -08   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1102
15:57  EI8IQ         IO62SF   +16   +05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1391
16:05  G1EZF         IO93FT    59    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1042
16:06  EI7HBB        IO53SQ    57    55    4 m.   SSB   ES    1496
16:10  G7VGI/M       IO93UX    41    55    4 m.   SSB   ES     959
16:15  G4ERO         JOร˜2DJ   -24   -13    4 m.   FT8   ES     938
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on First 2 m ES / 4 m to the UK

Great VHF day!

Great day on VHF today! First QSO was with RD4AN in LN19 on 6 m. A new square, of course, as operation on 50 MHz in Russia is officially not yet allowed as far as I know. There were a few Russian guys on 6 m last year already. Maybe they have/had some special permits? During WRC19 in November last year some new regulations for the use of 50 MHz in ITU Region 1 were decided. Among them Russia agreed to grant access from 50,08 to 50,28 MHz for their country on a secondary basis but afaik didn’t transfer it to national law yet. Otherwise there would probably be exploding activity from Russia on the band. Anyway, WFWL – work first, worry later! ๐Ÿ˜‰

TA2LG/KN50 provided another new square while 7Z1SJ from LL25 not only provided a new square but also a new country, #152 on 6 m. And that even in CW! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

But the 70 MHz band was no slouch either! There were good openings to the Balkans as well as Spain. Worked 5B60AIF/KM64 for a new DXCC (#42 on 4 m) and new square. SV2HQL in KM09 and EA1DA in IN82 were new squares, too (#202 on 4 m now). Also great to see/hear some “analogue” activity again:

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Great VHF day!

Patchy 70 MHz openings today

A few patchy openings this morning. Great to see the first double hop ES that early in the season! Looking at the differences between sent and received reports I feel I probably need more power! ๐Ÿ˜‰

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
08:16  EI8KN         IO62JF   +09   +05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1441
09:11  EA3XL         JNร˜1LD   +01   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1666
09:25  SV2DCD        KNร˜ร˜PL   -09   -19    4 m.   FT8   ES    1510
11:06  EA7DL         IM87CS   +10   +05    4 m.   FT8   ES    2202
11:32  EA8JF         IL38FX   -04   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    3512
12:11  EA5TT         IM99SL   -04   -10    4 m.   FT8   ES    1887
12:48  EC1AJL        IN73CI   -08   -13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1829
12:54  EC1A          IN73DL   +04   -17    4 m.   FT8   ES    1815
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Patchy 70 MHz openings today

Sporadic-E season hast started

Time to dedust the station. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Didn’t do much (not to say nothing) during the last few weeks. But being a VHF addict as you know it’s time to pay more attention to the radio from mid-May for possible Sporadic-E openings. Made the first QSOs on 4 m this year today:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
12:41  PA4VHF        JO32JE   -03   -07    4 m.   FT8   TR     512
15:52  SV8CS         KMร˜7JS   +13   +08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1787
15:56  9H1PI         JM75FW   +05   -11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1918
16:02  DL7UAW        JO62OM   -09   -07    4 m.   FT8   TR     100
16:10  9H1PI         JM75FW   579   559    4 m.   CW    ES    1918
16:19  DL5WG         JO52XJ   -08   -17    4 m.   FT8   TR     175
16:21  DK2PH         JO41GV   -01   -08    4 m.   FT8   TR     409
17:21  EA1AF         IN71SW   -04   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1867
17:30  SP2CHY        JO94GO   -12   -16    4 m.   FT8   TR     325
17:42  EA1Q          IN71PP   -07   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1905
------------------------------------------------------------------

Also made a few ones on 6 and 10 m. The latter was open nicely to JA but only on FT8, signals too weak for CW or SSB. That’s when FT8 makes sense! TA1D/4 in KM56 delivered a new square on 6 m …

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Sporadic-E season hast started

CQ WPX RTTY 2019 Plaque received :-)

Another very nice surprise in the post box today! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Many thanks to Sid, NH7C, for the plaque sponsorship!

Posted in Awards, Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on CQ WPX RTTY 2019 Plaque received :-)

CQ WPX SSB ’20

Initially I wanted to drive to the station but motivation was rather low so only handed out a few points remotely last weekend. Spent most of Saturday afternoon on 10 m with some Sporadic-E to CT/EA and prolongation of propagation to South America every now and then. Not the best strategy for a higher result but more fun for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

20 m was really awful. A stack of 2-3 stations almost everywhere. Never felt so QRP like this time. If 5-600 watts into a 4L yagi don’t cut it how frustrating must it be for LP and QRP stations? Even calling the big ones with good signals while S&Ping was frustrating needing to wait in line. Calling CQ myself was chanceless … 80 & 40 m worked out much better, enough “local” (i.e. European) “food” to work. ๐Ÿ˜‰

                    CQ WPX SSB Contest - 2020

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 21

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:   30
   80:  213
   40:  301
   20:  112
   15:    2
   10:   64
------------
Total:  722  Prefixes = 456  Total Score = 618,792

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
FLEX-6600, Elecraft KPA500, 160m loop, 80/40 m dipoles,
20 m 4L YU7EF Yagi, 15/10 m 6L G0KSC OWA Yagis each

A more serious entry is planned for WPX-CW at the end of May. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Unfortunately we encountered some serious interstation interference! ๐Ÿ™ Uwe, DL3BQA, was doing a 15 m entry and as soon as he was pointing the beam to the shack and 10 m antenna (i.e. dir South America) we had big interference on 10 m!

Really strange as antennas for both bands are more than 50 m apart, distance from 15 m beam to the shack is more than 50 m, too, and there’s no frequency relationship between the 2 bands! And the combo 15 + 10 m used to work perfectly well during the last few years! So something we really have to dig into urgently during the next few weeks and sort it out as it took away quite some fun. ๐Ÿ™

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX SSB ’20

Russian DX Contest ’20

Well, it’s been a while since I last participated in Russian DX (must have been 5 or 6 years ago). Motivation was not very high this time, either. Lots of work after a second change of QRL within a few month’ and all the needed preparations, etc. But I wanted to hand out a few QSOs at least and collect some points for BCC’s Frequent Contester program …

                    Russian DX Contest - 2020

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO CW HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 3:15
Remote Operation

Summary:
 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Countries  Oblasts
----------------------------------------
  160:                               
   80:                               
   40:                               
   20:   70              14        36
   15:   32              17         9
   10:   10               6         6
----------------------------------------
Total:  112     0        37        51  Total Score = 77,000

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
FLEX-6600, Elecraft KPA500, 4L 20m, 6L 15m, 6L 10m Yagis
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on Russian DX Contest ’20