ARRL certificates now online

ARRL decided to put their contest certificates online (as most other organizations are doing, too). That means that everybody can now generate & download certificates for their contest participations in ARRL contests no matter the result. Earlier they just sent out paper certificates to the top scorers. It looks like the ARRL-DX contests are still missing but all else seems to be online already: http://contests.arrl.org/certificates.php

This way I could also see how nice a few other certificates are I’ve never received myself in the past as I did not put in any competitive scores, i.e. for the ARRL-RTTY-Roundup or the ARRL-160M contest. I really like them, ARRL does have a great designer it seems. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Awards, Contesting | Comments Off on ARRL certificates now online

Results of July VHF contest :-)

Claimed scores for the July VHF contest are out, see right side screenshot. It seems I was spot on with my assumptions. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m sure I’ll loose a few points after logchecking but the margin to 3rd place is big enough so I do not expect any changes in placement anymore. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Still I would have wished activity would have been higher … now let’s see what will be possible in September contest in 4 weeks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on Results of July VHF contest :-)

DK3R – EU-057 – IOTA 2018

A few month’ ago I received a phone call by Oliver, DL2ARD, asking if I would like to join their team during this year’s IOTA contest as they were still looking for another good operator. I’ve known Oliver for over 25 years now, we’ve meet probably a thousand times on the bands and also eye-balled numerous times during the years at ham fairs, BBQs, a.s.o. You can also find quite a few references about him here in the blog for contest experiences. But we never managed to be active together so far. He’s a great guy so I felt honored to be asked to join and said yes, of course. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Oliver arrived a week before the contest on Rรผgen Island already and installed a lot of additional antennas, all the equipment, etc. Their yearly IOTA activity is hosted by Andreas, DL1KZA, and his father Burkhard, DL3KZA, plus families on the property of DL1KZA. During the years they’ve installed a number of towers which either hold permanent antennas like the big Optibeam or can be used for additional antennas like the 3 ele 20 m, 6 ele 15 m and 4 ele 10 m that Oliver, Andreas & Burkhard errected before the contest. A rotatable dipole for 40 m and a dipole for 80 m SSB (besides the 80 m CW groundplane permanently there) rounded off the great antenna setup.

L-t-R: 3 ele 20 m, 4 ele 10 m, biiiig Optibeam for 40-10 m, background 6 ele 15 m

I arrived late Friday evening and met the whole team for the first time at Burkhard’s after they had finished barbequeing. Besides Oliver, Andreas & Burkhard team members were Falk, DK7YY, whom I’ve been knowing for ages, too, as well as another Oliver, DJ9AO, and Jรผrgen, DL7UVO. The team placed #1 World M/S HP from that location in 2014, 2016 & 2017 so expectations were quite high! This year we were going to use DK3R as a new club/contest call with IOTA reference EU-057.

Yours truly operating with DL2ARD in the background.

Yours truly operating with DL2ARD in the background. Yes, it was hot! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The contest itself was great. Our set up consisted of a running as well as a multiplier station which were manned continously. This way we managed 600 QSOs during the first 3 hours already. ๐Ÿ˜Ž We were also lucky to have a bit of Sporadic-E every now and then gaining at least the needed multipliers on 10 m. Of course 20 & 40 m proved to be the money bands at this point of the sunspot cycle. Unfortunately 20 m closed quite early within Europe (you need to work all the EU-005’s, eh?) but also provided a highlight with working FK4QX via long path on 20 m in the middle of the night. Sunday morning was a bit slow when 80 m was already closed but 20 m not yet open so we could only use 40 m for a while. Running with such a superb setup was a great experience but also chasing multipliers was lots of fun! We tried to make sure that all OPs got their share of both. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This resulted in almost 2.800 QSOs:

Overall we were quite happy with the result. It’s about 1.5 million points higher than last year and 1.5 million points lower than the all time high of 2016. Keeping fingers crossed it will be enough to win the World again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The obligatory team photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰ L-t-R: Jรผrgen – DL7UVO, Oliver – DJ9AO, Burkhard – DL3KZA, Oliver – DL2ARD, Olli – DH8BQA, Falk – DK7YY, Andreas – DL1KZA (photo by courtesy of DL3KZA)

Thanks for the great experience, guys! It was a pleasure to operate with you and I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on DK3R – EU-057 – IOTA 2018

ARRL-10M 2017 results

A real pity DL2ARD decided not to go for SSB-only in this one as he usually does but also go for mixed mode else this would have been my first world win in ARRL-10M! ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Awards, Contesting | Comments Off on ARRL-10M 2017 results

Second 2 m ES for me this year & a new one on 4 m

After getting up this morning I saw things evolving on dxmaps.com and LiveMUF so decided to drive from my girlfriend’s place to my home and get the station ready. 2 m opened about half an hour after my arrival but no QSOs made yet. Heard UA4ALU from LN29 as well as RN6MA/LN08 but both were just above the noise – enough for me to hear them but obviously not the other way round, my 700 watts + 9 ele Yagi were not enough to raise them. Yet another half an hour later the band opened for about 3 minutes overhere, enough to work UA4ALU on CW. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

2 m was open for almost 2 hours in total but all the fun was further east, i.e. I was about 2-300 km too far west, just at the very edge. Pity but on the other hand glad to catch another opening at all after quite a bad season (at least for me) this year. 6 m also opened to the East, i.e. BY, BV & HS could be worked from Central Europe. Again I was not lucky enough, I could not raise a single of all the DX stations. Wonder how much power everybody else is running to make it through the pileups … kinda frustrating again and taking away the joy of the Magic Band I used to have years ago. So I concentrated once more on 4 m and made some nice QSOs there via Sporadic-E and tropo, too. Even worked a new one with ER1SS for DXCC #38 and a new square of course, too. OH2FNR provided another new square later on, now at #173. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

A new one on 70 MHz:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:09  UA4ALU        LN29LA   559   599    2 m.   CW    ES    2178
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:52  ER1SS         KN46JX    55    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1245
11:08  DG8RAN        JN69CU   -12   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     395
11:36  EA6SX         JM19IK   +11   +11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1760
11:38  EA6VQ         JM19MP   -01   -12    4 m.   FT8   ES    1727
11:44  EA3AQJ        JN11BI   +08   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1596
12:03  DK2GOX        JN49WS   -18   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     484
12:06  OZ1BP         JO55GA   -03   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     314
12:12  OZ6GH         JO65BM   -11   -17    4 m.   FT8   TR     292
12:15  EA5IOG        IM98PD   -02   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    2025
12:21  OH2FNR        KP2ร˜IL   -03   +06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1029
12:27  OH7TE         KP3ร˜JS   -02   -16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1133
12:50  EA8DBM        IL18OH   -19   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES    3747
13:11  DF3XZ         JO53AP   -12   -06    4 m.   FT8   TR     281
------------------------------------------------------------------

As you can see basically all the activity concentrated on FT8. While it has quite some advantages when signals are weak (i.e. neither all the tropo QSOs above would have been possible on CW or SSB nor the double hop ES to EA8 although we worked that path on sideband during previous openings, too) I’m not sure what to think about it when everybody only just hangs around FT8 as a general trend but no activity in CW/SSB anymore. For me it just does not feel right … ๐Ÿ™

Posted in Audio recordings, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Second 2 m ES for me this year & a new one on 4 m

IARU-HF & WRTC 2018

It’s a pity I couldn’t join the fun in Jessen/Wittenberg with all the WRTC happenings. I did help a tiny bit during the last years with some PR work, i.e. writing articles, but QRL took it’s toll and didn’t allow for any bigger contributions. ๐Ÿ™ It was also planned to be on a family leave Friday to Saturday to northern Germany so another reason not being able to join. Of course it sounds like excuses but believe me, I would have loved to be there!

On the other hand our family leave had to be cancelled on short notice. That at least gave me a chance to work all the Y8 calls that were issued for WRTC on Saturday! ๐Ÿ˜Ž It tookย  me about 6 hours to log them all remotely. It might have been faster but Uwe, DL3BQA/DMร˜Y, had the IARU-HF contest slot this year so I could only use the “second best bands” and had to take care not to disturb him with too much interference. It didn’t work out all the time so thank you Uwe for your patience with me QRMing you at times. ๐Ÿ™‚ The spreadsheet provided on the WRTC website was of great help keeping track of my status working them all at least once (yellow coloured callsigns) and which bandslots!

It seems the teams had a lot of fun and even set new records. I.e. never before did a WRTC team manage to break the 5.000 QSOs barrier. The winning team of LY9A/LY4L did – with just a hundred watts and wire antennas (which includes a Spiderbeam). Great work!

The community also needs to thank all the people organizing the WRTC 2018 and especially all the 350 volunteers helping out locally, setting up sites, tents, stations, antennas, etc.pp. Must have been a fun week/weekend for sure!

I followed the race closely using the scoreboard on Sunday and took the screenshot shown left just after the contest. I think place 1 and 2 are fix, logchecking will not change that much. But the race for place 3 is quite close, will be interesting to see who’ll make it or if the defending champions N6MJ/KL9A will keep their place on the podium.

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on IARU-HF & WRTC 2018

VP5 – Turks & Caicos Islands #143 on 6 m

After the VHF contest was finished this afternoon I still monitored 6 m for another while while starting to disassemble all the equipment. There was another multihop ES opening into North America extending as far south-west as W5 with EM50, EM51, EM52 to be seen in FT8. Unfortunately I couldn’t raise anyone, just transceiver output power was obviously not enough as well as probably too many callers, too. Also in & out on FT8 was VQ5Z from Providenciales Island, Turks & Caicos Islands. Pete, VE3IKV, is expeditioning the Caribbean again, something he likes to do almost every summer with a special focus on 6 m to hand out new ones. While I couldn’t catch him on FT8 he later switched to CW (which is far more efficient if you have a decent opening! good decision, Pete) and was an easy QSO there! Maybe because all of the 6 m DXers & square collectors only hanging around in/on FT8 nowadays? ๐Ÿ˜Ž Of course FL31 was a new square (#662), too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on VP5 – Turks & Caicos Islands #143 on 6 m

DARC July VHF Contest ’18

Well, I’m not sure what to think of this one. Equipment played very well. I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours so plenty of BIC time (“butt in chair”), too. Conditions were quite okay also but still only a bit over 340 QSOs/140k points in the log – rather disappointing! ๐Ÿ™

I missed about 20-25 QSOs from JO30/31 and another 30+ QSOs from OK. There were no holidays yet in North Rhine-Westphalia (i.e. JO30/31) and as Germany was knocked out of the FIFA World Cup quite early it probably wasn’t due to people watching football all weekend long either. On the other hand we had quite good weather down there but even then people normally return to the radio during the evening or early Sunday morning to hand out a few points but not so this time. Strange!

There was some slight tropo condition enhancement during the contest, too. While it was not that pronounced overhere, i.e. I “only” worked a few more east coast Gs than usual, there was a good path from LA to western and southern DL as well as from the U.K. to OK/OM and southwestern DL. Some Gs even worked down into Hungary over 1.400 km during the night! But still activity was lacking quite a lot, really a pity! ๐Ÿ™

But lets wait and see what the result is good for! Tom, DG3FK/DR1H was on again from JN59OP and should have done over 700 QSOs so probably the clear winner again. With some luck my result should still be good enough for a TOP3 finish … we’ll see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Contest : DARC JULY '18
Date    : 2018 Jul 07 to 2018 Jul 08
Section : 01 144MHz Single OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

TX      : IC-7300, HA1YA-TRV + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-7300, HA1YA-TRV
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  344
-invalid:    0                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  344     QSO-points (*1) :    140063              407
WWLs    :   77     WWL bonus (0)   :         0                0
DXCCs   :   20     DXCC bonus (0)  :         0                0
                   ---------------------------           ------
                   Total score     :    140063              407

ODX     : G0FBB/P in JO01LD at 931 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN37:  2   JN77:  2   JO02:  4   JO44:  2   JO64:  2   JO90:  3
JN38:  2   JN78:  3   JO10:  1   JO46:  2   JO65:  7   JO91:  1
JN39:  2   JN79: 18   JO20:  3   JO50:  7   JO67:  1   JO94:  2
JN47:  4   JN86:  3   JO21:  1   JO51: 15   JO68:  1   KN08:  1
JN48:  6   JN87:  3   JO22:  1   JO52:  9   JO70: 22   KN09:  2
JN49:  5   JN88:  8   JO30:  4   JO53:  5   JO71:  8   KN18:  1
JN57:  1   JN89: 14   JO31:  9   JO55:  2   JO72:  4   KO04:  2
JN58:  2   JN95:  2   JO32:  3   JO57:  1   JO73:  6   KO12:  1
JN59:  4   JN96:  1   JO33:  2   JO59:  1   JO74:  2   KO13:  1
JN68:  2   JN97:  4   JO40:  5   JO60: 10   JO80:  6   KO14:  2
JN69:  6   JN98:  4   JO41:  8   JO61: 14   JO81:  1   KO15:  3
JN75:  1   JN99: 10   JO42:  4   JO62: 21   JO82:  1   KO25:  2
JN76:  3   JO01:  3   JO43:  6   JO63:  4   JO83:  3   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   2   G  :   7   LY :   7   OM :  15   PA :   4   SP :  24
DL : 155   HA :   8   OE :   7   ON :   5   S5 :   5   UA2:   3
EU :   1   HB :   4   OK :  77   OZ :   9   SM :   6   UR :   1
F  :   3   LA :   1   

Top 20 QSO-points:
20180708 0145 G0FBB/P        559  217 599  258   JO01LD     931
20180708 1010 9A8D           519  298 599  200   JN95LM     919
20180708 0009 9A7D           559  211 599  208   JN95CI     918
20180707 2307 G5LK/P         51   200 51   370   JO01QD     903
20180707 1728 G4ZAP/P        52   109 57   166   JO01PU     886
20180707 2248 G3XDY          539  193 559  035   JO02OB     886
20180707 1926 G4SWX          55   147 55   004   JO02RF     865
20180707 2312 G6IPU/P        51   201 53   159   JO02QV     858
20180707 2249 G4CDN          599  194 599  022   JO02SS     849
20180707 2123 HG3X           599  171 599  186   JN96EE     834
20180707 2220 S59DEM         59   185 59   340   JN75DS     825
20180707 2355 HB9KAB         599  209 599  218   JN37WA     821
20180707 2342 HB9GF          55   206 59   247   JN47BC     803
20180707 2349 HB9RF          59   207 55   177   JN47FB     795
20180708 0445 LA0BY          539  225 559  006   JO59IX     785
20180708 1331 HB9PZQ         52   335 59   147   JN37XK     778
20180708 0127 UZ3I           559  216 599  289   KN18JT     773
20180707 2231 S50C           59   187 59   365   JN76JG     771
20180708 0650 ON4KHG         52   251 52   093   JO10XO     759
20180708 0724 F8KID          55   257 55   325   JN38AT     750
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on DARC July VHF Contest ’18

Good 4 m ES and a bit of 6 m DX, too

Arrived at the station early afternoon today. Unpacked the IC-7300 to set up with the transverter for the 2 m contest this weekend when seeing 70 MHz was open! Had a great time working the band. Especially enjoy the openings into the U.K. as activity is quite high over there … 4 m has been a regular band in the U.K. for decades already! Lucky to get a call from IO93 providing square #171. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Also switched “down” to 50 MHz a few times as I saw on the DX cluster there was some triple and quadruple hops Sporadic-E across the pond, too. Being QRP on 6 m I could only raise two souls but K7BV in North Carolina/FM04 provided a new one on 6 m, too, now #661. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
14:01  Gร˜BLB         IO81RI   +06   +14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1155
14:06  EA1YV         IN52OC   -15   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    2102
14:08  GU8FBO        IN89QK   +17   +09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1238
14:14  G4BRK         IO91HP   -06   -15    4 m.   FT8   ES    1068
14:17  G8TTI         IO81WM   +07   -02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1122
14:19  G4SJH         IO91PI    55    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1033
14:25  G3VXM         IO9ร˜LT    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1074
14:26  Gร˜CHE         IO9ร˜PS    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1054
14:26  Gร˜BLB         IO81RI    55    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1155
14:31  G8WZT         IO82RQ    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1121
14:32  G8HGN         JOร˜1FO    55    53    4 m.   SSB   ES     948
14:42  G4BRK         IO91HP    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1068
14:44  G3TMG         IO9ร˜LU    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1073
14:46  G3NPI         IO92MA    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1030
14:52  EI4GNB        IO63WE    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1350
14:53  EI7HBB        IO53SQ    52    53    4 m.   SSB   ES    1496
14:54  G4BWP         JOร˜2FH    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES     929
14:55  G1EZF         IO93FT    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1042
14:58  GD3YEO        IO74RD    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1236
15:00  GW4ZHI        IO82AH    59    58    4 m.   SSB   ES    1223
15:02  G4AJC         IO91VJ    56    56    4 m.   SSB   ES     998
15:10  Mร˜LHS         IO81RL   -14   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1151
15:14  G4FVP         IO94FM   -05   +02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1041
15:17  GW3TKH        IO81JN   -18   -17    4 m.   FT8   ES    1193
15:22  G8EEM         IO93MX   +03   +14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1003
15:25  G4IJM         IO94IM   -02   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1025
15:27  YO8RAW        KN36UF   +09   +08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1238
15:29  G4VCJ         IO94JQ   -06   -07    4 m.   FT8   ES    1020
15:47  GM4VVX        IO78TA   +03   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1279
18:50  GU6EFB        IN89RK   +14   +18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1233
------------------------------------------------------------------
15:34  K7BV          FMร˜4XV   -11   -18    6 m.   FT8  4xES   7112
15:37  K1MS          FN42FM   +07   -12    6 m.   FT8  4xES   6112
------------------------------------------------------------------

Also set up the transverter afterwards and made a few test QSOs on 2 m, too. The combination works excellent so eager to start the contest tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Good 4 m ES and a bit of 6 m DX, too

Small tropo opening into the U.K. tonight

Tonight was the usual first Tuesday every month 2 m NAC (Nordic Activity Contest) which is accompanied by the UKAC (UK Activity Contest) as well as the IAC (Italian Activity Contest) as well as the SPAC (SP = Polish Activity Contest). That means the band usually sees quite a high activity level during these 4 hours events. While I was QRV in the NACs (which also have an Open Class for non-Scandinavian participants) regularly in my younger years I now try to hand out a few points at least whenever possible (which is unfortunately not that often nowadays). Did so this evening again but started falling asleep right in the middle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whenever waking up and quickly tuning the band I recognized there was some tropo condx between western Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Also a few Germans like Tor, DJ8MS, located about 200 km west of here, could works lots of Gs but unfortunately nothing overhere. It was just after the end of the NAC that conditions picked up that much that some ducting started to reach over here, too! Luckily the UKAC only ends 30 minutes after the NAC thus there was still some activity on the band and I could grab a few nice DX contacts! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
21:05  G3CKR/P       IO93AD   55    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1075
21:11  G8DMU/P       IO94CB   55    52     2 m.   SSB   TR    1057
21:16  G4CLA         IO92JL   52    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1036
21:19  Mร˜GAV/P       IO93EH   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1051
21:26  Mร˜MDY         IO93HH   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1034
21:29  Mร˜HOM         IO93QO   52    57     2 m.   SSB   TR     983
------------------------------------------------------------------

The loudest of the crowd was Mร˜GAV/P with a real s9 signal over the 1.000 km path:

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Small tropo opening into the U.K. tonight

A transverter interface for the ‘7300

After the quite good experience with the Icom IC-7300 during WPX-CW I thought it might be a nice idea to also try it out with a transverter on 2 m in the big VHF contest in two weeks. When searching around for information about the ‘7300 a few weeks (or was it month’?) ago I came across a few websites that described solutions how to interface transverters to the transceiver. The most intriguing one was the one by DB6NT (yes, he of Microwave transverter fame): Michael developed a small PCB that could be built into the transceiver instead of the external tuner interface providing low power output (around 0,3 mW) as well as receive input. It consists of only a few parts and is well designed, i.e. when you apply 12 V power to it small relays switch TX & RX to Cinch sockets while without power it all goes the normal way, i.e. taking the PA stages, etc.

A really clever design! And inexpensive, too! So I bought a kit at his booth during the HAMRADIO fair in Friedrichshafen early June and now finally got around to assemble it and build it into the IC-7300. The trickiest part certainly was soldering the small 0805 SMD parts to the PCB but with only a few of them widely spaced everybody should be able to do it. Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of inside the transceiver but Michael has a great step-by-step tutorial on his website which shows the innards, too, if you’re interested. I also built a dedicated set of cables for the combination, i.e. BNC-to-Cinch for the RF lines as well as 12 V to power the transverter board plus PTT out from the 7300’s 13 pin ACC socket. For a more permanent setup it would of course be more comfortable to have a way of switching the board’s power on & off, i.e. by a switch or the like …

Setting it all up and seeing how big the transverter (an HA1YA one) is compared to the transceiver (or the other way round: how small the ‘7300 is compared to the transverter) I was fascinated again how much technology and functionality you can squeeze into such a small box nowadays. ๐Ÿ˜Ž The only “drawback” of the combination is the ‘7300 does not support a transverter frequency display, i.e. you can’t set the display to show the end frequency like 144.300 MHz but will only see the IF frequency (28.300 MHz in this case). But that is really nitpicking taking the transceiver’s price into account. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What you can also see if you take a closer look at the spectrum display shown on the front photo is that my SPS is switching at around 38 Hz. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Band noise will probably cover it well enough else I can still switch over to a linear power supply. I tested it already and with that one the spectrum is perfectly clean, I was just too lazy to take a new photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now I’m eager to see how the combination will perform during the contest! Will keep you posted, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Contesting, Equipment, VHF | Comments Off on A transverter interface for the ‘7300

PJ4 – Bonaire #142 on 6 m

Returning from QRL today 6 m was closed. I left the RX on 50.313 MHz FT8 in monitoring mode while doing different things around the shack. Every now and then some signals from EI popped up and vanished again. Then suddenly the band opened into the Caribbean – 4 hop ES! Signals were in & out but eventually Peter, PJ4NX, popped up for a few minutes and I had the chance to grab him for a new one on 6 m. ๐Ÿ˜Ž That contact also brought back nice memories of our trip to Bonaire last November where we met Peter a few times. ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides Bonaire I could also work WP4G from Puerto Rico …

It was also good to catch the ESร˜UG guys on their way back home staying in KO17 for one night before taking the ferry back to Germany. Distance was now only 730 km so it took quite a while to work them on Meteor Scatter on both 6 m (YL/DL3BQA) & 4 m (YL/DGร˜LFF), reflections were sparse only, too. But it was a new square on 4 m so well worth the effort. This time it also worked on 2 m (YL/DH5FS) although the contact took almost half an hour on FT8 and I believe it was rather MS enhanced than troposcatter. But in the end it doesn’t matter as long as the QSO is in the log. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in DX, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on PJ4 – Bonaire #142 on 6 m

Weekend VHF activities

Unfortunately not that much to report. I had blocked the weekend for the IARU Region 1 50 MHz contest but conditions were basically non-existent. A few Meteor Scatter contacts every now and then, nothing else worth mentioning on Saturday. ๐Ÿ™ On the positive side it was easy to catch the ESร˜UG guys via Meteor Scatter now from KO19 on 6 & 4 m for a new one. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Despite showing a 6 m frequency the screenshot right was from our 4 m QSO, I had just switched back to 6 m FT8 for monitoring already when taking the screenshot. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I had totally forgotten about was that the AGCW-DL VHF contest was on Saturday afternoon, too. So I did only spent the second half in the contest (really need to put a marker on the calendar …). This is a fine small 3 hours CW-only VHF (and another hour UHF) contest 4 times a year in which besides the “normal” exchange (i.e. RST, serial number & locator) also the power category is sent, i.e. A = max. 5 watts, B = max. 50 watts and C = more than 50 watts. So you get quite a good feeling what’s needed to bridge certain distances. It’s always astounding to see what works with small power using CW, my two most distant QSOs were with low power stations! These were the TOP 10 contacts by distance:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN    TX       RX    EXCH  LOCATOR   BAND  MODE.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
15:42  DK2RT       599 008  599 023  B  JN47IV    2 m.  CW     705
16:08  DJ7PR/P     599 021  599 013  B  JN47WO    2 m.  CW     693
15:27  F6HOK       599 001  599 034  C  JN39OC    2 m.  CW     667
15:37  DK2GZ       599 006  599 031  B  JN49GB    2 m.  CW     606
16:07  DJ2QV       599 020  559 001  C  JN58UA    2 m.  CW     601
15:29  DL6WT       599 002  599 036  C  JN39VV    2 m.  CW     575
15:30  DK0OG       599 003  599 040  C  JN68GI    2 m.  CW     551
15:52  DJ0QZ       599 015  599 036  B  JN49LM    2 m.  CW     547
16:17  DK6JU       599 023  599 024  C  JO31LD    2 m.  CW     544
16:05  DL2OM       599 019  599 044  C  JO30SN    2 m.  CW     543
------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday was still rather bad conditions-wise, 50 MHz only really opened for the last hour of the contest into the Mediterranean with only sparse activity but great signals. Nevertheless with a good 15 minutes or so opening Sunday morning via double-hop ES to the Arabian Peninsula we had a highlight, too! It’s rare that we are in the middle of the propagation focus to hear such strong DX signals up here:

9K2HN on 6 m Sunday morning:

In general I find that this year’s Sporadic-E season is rather bad so far. Maybe I still have too good memories of last year when May & June were really brilliant! On the other handside July was a catastrophy with almost no openings at all so maybe it’s just the other way round this year? Hope is the last to die. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, DX, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Weekend VHF activities

ESร˜UG & ESร˜UG/8 – IOTA & VHF DXpedition

Uwe, DL3BQA, co-owner of our station, is currently on an IOTA & VHF DXpedition to Estonia. He was joined by some guys from Dresden (DM7A contest club), i.e. Fred, DH5FS, Steffen, DH1DM, and Henrik, DGร˜LFF. You can see their schedule on the lefthand picture and their expedition blog at https://baltic2018.blogspot.com which also hosts a few more operating information.

I worked the guys yesterday evening on 6 m via Meteor Scatter and also heard/saw them for a short while on 2 m Tropo on FT8 but unfortunately no complete QSO although distance should not be that much of a problem at only 822 km. Maybe better luck next time and certainly not that important, I do have KO18 worked/confirmed on 2 m already. 4 m didn’t work yesterday, simply no “stones” around. Therefor stood up early this morning and caught them on 4 m MS for a new square around 5z before leaving for QRL. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

They will close down the station in KO18XD tomorrow morning and move on to KO19. Eager to work them from there, too, should be a new square on two bands at least …

Posted in Expeditions, Meteor Scatter, VHF | Comments Off on ESร˜UG & ESร˜UG/8 – IOTA & VHF DXpedition

New ones on 6 & 4 m today

Not much to report from the rest of the week. Had another small 4 m opening Tuesday evening but just two QSOs worked. Today was plenty of ES again on 6 & 4 m but most of it was more to the southwest. I was listening to the CS5BAM/B & CS5BFM/B beacons on 4 m for over 3 hours but despite four EA1’s worked on FT8 no other QSOs on Four, pity …

EC4KW provided a new one (#657) on 6 m with IM79, finally. Now only IM89 is missing as the last square in Spain. ๐Ÿ˜Ž It’s been a challenge with these two squares as there is (or was?) still a band 1 TV station down there with protected areas where people are not allowed to transmit at all and beyond that with QRP only for quite some kilometers. So activity from there is quite sparse …

Another new one (#166) was worked with JO81 on 4 m tropo. SP3RNZ/p was visiting a Polish club meeting in JO81RX and took his 4 m gear with him to provide several guys a new one. Many thanks for all your efforts, Greg!

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on New ones on 6 & 4 m today

WPX-CW Claimed Scores :-)

Well, seems I was a lucky guy with #2 world-wide and hope the log check will not drop me behind LZ1NG. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Guiseppe, IT9VDQ, clearly had the location advantage again (and is a great OP, of course) but beating LZ1NG who’s a big one on 10 m regularly, too, and has a big location advantage as well, makes me kind of proud … So all the efforts paid off. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

 

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WPX-CW Claimed Scores :-)

Sporadic-E & Tropo on one day! :-)

Wow … that’s been a great evening on VHF again! 6, 4 & 2 m were hot all day long but unfortunately I had to spend the day in QRL. There were some massive 2 m ES openings but I was too close to the clouds anyway so not too disappointed not being able to join the show. Nevertheless I tried to follow what’s going on closely, no problem nowadays with several smartphone apps, mobile browsing, etc.

Finally came home around 8 pm local time and had a chance to switch on the radio. Sporadic-E was still strong but I was still too close to the several E-cloud clusters even on 4 m. But the band opened every now and then albeit spotty but nevertheless enabled me to work a few nice QSOs and with IN79 (good old friend Dave, G7RAU, moved permanently to Lizard Point), IO65 and JO00 even 3 new squares on 4 m, now #165. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
18:16  GU6EFB        IN89RK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1233
18:37  G8XXJ         JOร˜ร˜BS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1000
18:46  Gร˜IUE         IO81VK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1130
18:56  G7RAU         IN79JX   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1383
18:59  MIร˜MPX        IO64VS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1341
19:04  GM3WIL        IO75QL   59    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1243
19:10  2Iร˜IOI        IO65PE   59    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1373
19:12  EI7HBB        IO53SQ   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1496
19:13  G4VCJ         IO94JQ   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1020
19:16  GI4OPH        IO74EP   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1304
------------------------------------------------------------------

Switched to 2 m later on while still having the antennas pointing to the UK when I heard a weak signal on 144.310 MHz. After optimizing the antenna for the best signal strength I couldn’t believe my ears when Chris, GM4ZJI, sent his callsign! Wow, seems I got into a nice tropo duct to Scotland! There was some tropo across the North Sea during the last few days several times but extending over another 300 km land to my location was really not expected! Maybe I should have checked the F5LEN tropo forcast a little earlier as it showed the path to probably open, although rather weak. All stations worked were close to the sea except G3SMT far inland close to the Welsh border so Peter had to pass all of England, too, before reaching the North Sea. Judging from the picture on his qrz.com site he seems to have a nice hilltop QTH so this probably helped to get into the duct from his side as well. I remembered working him back one and half years ago when he was the only one making it into the duct (to overhere), too. Seems there’s some magic to his QTH. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
19:33  GM4ZJI        IO86KE   55    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1159
19:35  2Mร˜EWY/P      IO86JK   57    56     2 m.   SSB   TR    1169
19:38  G4KUX         IO94BP   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1063
19:40  M1GSM         IO94DR   51    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1053
19:52  GM4ILS        IO87IP   54    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1206
19:53  GM3WOJ        IO77WS   55    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1257
20:39  G3SMT         IO82KV   51    53     2 m.   SSB   TR    1156
20:40  G4SWX         JOร˜2RF   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR     864
20:54  GM4FVM        IO85WU   51    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1092
20:57  GM4ZJI        IO86KE   57    59+    2 m.   SSB   TR    1159
------------------------------------------------------------------

Chris, GM4ZJI, called in one more time around 21z to tell me I was now 59+20 (and he was stronger than earlier, too), but unfortunately no more stations worked. Called it a day then and joined the family again …

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Sporadic-E & Tropo on one day! :-)

OH5Z’s reaction – bravo!

In my recent WPX-CW blog post I had commented on the bad signal of OH5Z. I was pleased to find an email by Timo, OG9X, one of the operators at OH5Z, in my inbox this morning. He allowed me to publish it here, too, which I will gladly do:

Hi Olli
Thanks for the reply. Yes, you can publish my comment.
We take this kind of notes very seriously because we
want to keep our act clean.
----------------------------------------------------------------
I noticed from your blog that we had a very wide signal on 10 on
Saturday morning. I feel very sorry for that. Usually we have a
clean and narrow signal on both cw and ssb.
This time we had a borrowed radio on one of the stations and now
I see that it had some issues on tx. We will check it and repair
what is needed.
Thank you for publishing this information and I apologize the
contesting community on behalf the whole team.
Timo, OG9X

To me this is the behaviour I would expect and that also triggers “hamspirit” in my mind. Most people either not react at all when you tell them about their bad signals or they just push it back to be an RX problem on the other one’s side. But somebody taking it seriously is rare and therefor appreciated the more. Bravo Timo! Hope you get it fixed soon.

If anybody ever sees/hears that my signal is not okay please drop me a note! I always appreciate it. Only with such feedback you can improve things …

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on OH5Z’s reaction – bravo!

Small 4 m opening

Today saw a small 4 m opening. The band was open for almost an hour to Portugal around 14z. I could hear the beacons CS5BFM/B from IM59 and CS5BAM/B from IN51 quite well but unfortunately no stations QRV. ๐Ÿ™ Also saw two EAs from IN73 weak on FT8 for a few periods but couldnโ€˜t raise them, they were too busy working stations more westwards … Despite no QSOs good to see the band opening again! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Small 4 m opening

First Sporadic-E this season :-)

Well, writing two blog posts on the same day must mean something special! Indeed, it does! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had the first real Sporadic-E opening here up Northeast. ๐Ÿ˜Ž I’ve been hogging the station for over a week now but VHF condx have been very poor so far. Also today started with no conds and I didn’t expect anything to happen anymore when suddenly there was a cluster of ES clouds evolving in the Southwest early evening and MUF rising rapidly.

But first of all I was a happy camper in the afternoon when working EK7DX on a supposedly closed band on 6 m (this is where FT8 really shines). He provided DXCC #141 on Six as well as a new square (#655). ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Besides two Meteor Scatter contacts on MSK144 in the morning I also had a remarkable QSO with GM4FVM on 70 MHz around noon. He was a weak but steady signal but there were no signs of ES at all. So we both suspect it was some kind of Tropo (Scatter) as for Iono Scatter the power (at least overhere) was much too low. There was some tropo over the North Sea recently, too (but more from the U.K. to the Faroe Islands), so maybe that helped a bit? Jim has a nice blog, too, well worth reading!

Around 16z the 4 m band opened via Sporadic-E up here. It took a while until the first QSO as the pileups for the few audible stations were immense and JO73 was not perfectly positioned, signals were much stronger further west. IN50, IN92, IN71, IM76 were new squares but what really made my day was working Sร˜1WS in IL46 via double-hop ES over a 3.600 km path! Another new square (#162) and a new DXCC #37, of course. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Sร˜1WS on 4 m:

Sร˜1WS in QSO with DL3BQA – Uwe couldn’t resist doing his first ever 4 m QSO: ๐Ÿ˜‰

Unfortunately a number of stations were only QRV on FT8 during this good opening. I don’t get the sense of doing so when signals are good enough for CW/SSB which provide a better QSO rate for everybody! Is it just the lazyness of people? Or are they overwhelmed by the SSB pileups thus searching their luck in digimodes where they have more control? There must be a reason …

At 16:34z 2 m opened shortly and I could log EA4CZV. Ten minutes later I heard CT1EWD over 2.400 km which is a really difficult distance (normally already too much for a single ES hop) but another DL further west (think it was JO41/51) was stronger and until they had finished signals dropped down into the noise again. Pity!

Over the next half an hour 2 m opened every now and then for a maximum of 1-2 minutes each time only allowing for 4 more QSOs into Spain but with IM88 even providing a new square (#557) on 144 MHz, too. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

After 17:30z the MUF started dropping again still allowing a few more contacts on 4 m until propagation to Spain was gone there, too, around 19z. We had another short but strong opening into Malta quarter an hour later, then the MUF dropped below 70 MHz …

9H1TX on 4m:

Afterwards I called it a day and drove back into town … with a big fat smile on my face. ๐Ÿ˜‰

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR  TX    RX     BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
14:25  EK7DX         LN2ร˜GE   +02   -18    6 m.   FT8   ES    2697
------------------------------------------------------------------
09:26  ON4FI         JO2ร˜IV   +05   -04    4 m.   MSK1  MS     697
10:15  GM3NKG        IO85AR   +13   +00    4 m.   MSK1  MS    1204
11:20  GM4FVM        IO85WU   -14   -18    4 m.   FT8   TR    1092
------------------------------------------------------------------
16:19  EA3AQJ        JN11BI   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1596
16:23  EC1AJL        IN73CI   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1829
16:31  EB4FJV        IN8ร˜CP   +05   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1942
16:38  CT1EEB        IN5ร˜QR   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2201
16:48  Sร˜1WS         IL46RD   55    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3638
16:49  EA5TT         IM99SL   59    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1887
17:25  EA2CCG        IN92AO   55    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1677
17:26  EA1FDI        IN53TF   55    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1993
17:28  EA6SX         JM19IK   55    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1760
17:30  EA1TX         IN71NQ   59    56     4 m.   SSB   ES    1911
17:48  EA1SI         IN73DM   +01   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1812
17:56  EA1HRR        IN83JJ   +00   +07    4 m.   FT8   ES    1679
18:09  EA1DDU        IN73EM   55    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
18:12  EA1ABN        IN73EM   52    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
18:20  EA1UU         IN83GJ   +15   +00    4 m.   FT8   ES    1692
18:22  Sร˜1WS         IL46RD   -09   -01    4 m.   FT8   ES    3638
18:28  EA7DUD        IM76SR   +10   -10    4 m.   FT8   ES    2331
18:31  EA3HXF        JNร˜1OF   +05   +04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1647
18:56  EA6SX         JM19IK   -10   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1760
18:58  EA3AWT        JN11CQ   -02   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1560
19:15  9H1TX         JM75FV   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1922
------------------------------------------------------------------
16:34  EA4CZV        IN8ร˜DL   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1952
16:46  CT1EWD        IM58KP   52    hrd    2 m.   SSB   ES    2403
16:58  EA3GJO        IN72AM   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1904
17:05  EA4ADJ        IM88JW   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    2066
17:09  EA5DIT        IM99CD   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1979
17:16  EA5EF         IM99SM   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1883
------------------------------------------------------------------

Now two more days left that I can and will spend in the shack. Will there be additional openings? Well, with my bad luck this year they will probably all occur from Thursday to Sunday when I drive down to Friedrichshafen for this year’s HAMRADIO fair and back to Cologne afterwards. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Audio recordings, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on First Sporadic-E this season :-)