The NECG X-MAS Event

It’s been an over 20 years old tradition now: We meet up with the NECG (North Eastern Contest Gang) members every 27.12. for a small party, recalling the past, meeting friends and their families, making future plans, a.s.o. I did a presentation about our V31FO/V37DX activity in February and Uwe, DG1BRB, did some great firework again. Lots of helping hands preparing all the food, etc. Thank you all! We have been well over 30 people this time! Always good company and an enjoyable event to let the year fade away.

My “Mrs. Right” and YL Gitti, DL3BYA.

We certainly need more youth! πŸ˜€

Great start of a …

… fantastic firework again!

 

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ARRL-10M ’19 … or a Meteor Scatter Contest ;-)

One would think it’s total nonsense to struggle through a 48 hours contest for only 250 QSOs. Except, you are a bit crazy and/or a total fan of the 10 m band. Well, I’m probably both! πŸ˜€ On the other hand I managed to triple my last year’s score (while doubling the number of QSOs) last weekend … albeit with about double as much time spent on the radio (15 h last year vs. 28 h this year). So it’s proven once more that BIC time (“butt in chair” time) really pays off! πŸ˜‰

The contest this year conicided with the peak of the Geminids meteor shower which makes sure there are plenty of meteor reflections that sound like “mini band openings” on 10 m for people not aware of it, i.e. you hear signals for a few seconds or minutes and suddenly all’s gone again and the band is silent. While I had reported of my MS activities on VHF in the past and talked about ufb reflections on 2 m it’s even better on 10 m as the time ratio of reflections between both bands is about 30! So a one second reflection on 2 m (which is plenty of time to transfer QSO information using digital MS modes like FSK441 or MSK144) is about 30 seconds long on 10 m and thus useful for fast CW/SSB meteor scatter contacts! At least if both parties know about it and speed things up accordingly! The Geminids shower is known for it’s good and long reflections, during maximum they can last as long as 30 or even 60 seconds on 2 m. Now you can do the math yourself how long that reflections will last on 10 m. πŸ˜‰ Result is: Sounds like a small Sporadic-E opening of a few minutes duration and enables contacts up to about 2.000 km! The real challenge is that people are not aware of that kind of propagation. They just think “hey, it’s sunspot minimum, 10 m is dead anyway, let’s do something else this weekend” so the number of potential QSO partners is rather sparse. Quite a pity …

This is how Meteor Scatter “looks” like. The signal on 27.027 MHz is faintly audible via Tropo or Iono Scatter and then suddenly gets much stronger around the -5s mark for almost 2 seconds due to a meteor reflection. The signal on 28.024 MHz was strong via MS but became weaker and weaker as the ionization of the according meteor trail started to vanish around -6s and is almost gone when the screenshot was taken (i.e. the 0s mark – screenshot taken at 7:38z on Saturday).

Saturday morning was dominated by MS QSOs. In general reflections were much better on Saturday than on Sunday (which correlates perfectly to the Geminids peak time). But we had some good (i.e. real, not just sounding like) Sporadic-E to France & Spain on Sunday lasting for about 4 hours but as mentioned above, just few people QRV so not many contacts. Thus Sunday was a real “endurance day”! Made 170 QSOs on Saturday and just 80 on Sunday … go figure!

But of course there’s real DX on 10 m, too, even in sunspot minimum! You just have to catch these openings. πŸ˜‰ How they really work is a bit of guesswork … were it different meteor reflections geographically perfectly lining up? Very unlikely, even with just 2 “hops” (i.e. 3-4.000 km distance). Most times it’s probably a combination of MS + ES or even double-hop ES as there is the small additional maximum of Sporadic-E in December/January (the so called winter ES season). On the southern path’ it might also be a combination of MS + F2 or ES + F2 or even MS + ES + F2. But no matter what it really is, it’s so fascinating it motivates me enough to struggle through such a contest! πŸ˜‰

Now what could be worked for “real” DX? Saturday morning (around 7z) I was called by VK4CT – I was almost falling off my chair! Signal was extremely weak and while I got the VK4 the first time I had to ask for several repeats to get the suffix right. When sending his number sigs were up again a little, tsss. πŸ˜€ I heard VU2BGS two times and called him but did not even get a QRZ. Around 10z he then called me for an easy QSO (and he was not louder than before, maybe less local noise for him then). The southern path’ were more stable, FR4QT and V51WH could be heard (and worked) several times during the contest on SSB. V51YJ was a good catch on CW. Around 13z I was called by N5DX from NY! He was a 319 to 419 at best and I really hope the QSO was okay. Oliver, DL2ARD, worked 3 x USA around that time but unfortunately nothing else over here. At 16z PX2A was a solid S9 signal. On Sunday EA8RM, EA8AQV, EA8/IK1PMR and EA8OM could be worked (all between 11:15 and 11:45z), around 12z L55D made it into the log for another multiplier. PX2A was loud again at the same time but both were the only signals audible from South America so propagation was really selective! I was also happy to be called by 6W1TA around 13z. Boy, he was so loud I couldn’t believe it at first. πŸ˜‰ Half an hour later FY5KE finally made it into the log, too, after I had heard him in the noise already before. It seems like especially the path to French Guyana is more often open than we think even during “no propagation times”, have worked the guys every now and then during the last few month’ and this time they were even only running low power! Really amazing …

That was it for the real DX. MS condx died down rather fast on Sunday, too. I only made 7 local contacts between 14 and 19z so even I πŸ˜‰ was jolly well fed up and called it a day then. As there were so few SSB contacts I sent in my log for the CW-only category like last year. Speaking of SSB I finally figured out how to configure N1MMLogger+ correctly so it switches on/off DAX on the Flex automatically for the canned messages without influencing local voice operation. It turned out to be just one little checkbox … oh well. πŸ˜‰

                    ARRL 10-Meter Contest - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO CW Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 28

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   CW:  235    42
  SSB: (18)      
-------------------
Total:  234    42  Total Score = 39,312


Comments:
FLEX-6600, PA + 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagi @60ft.
Posted in Contesting, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on ARRL-10M ’19 … or a Meteor Scatter Contest ;-)

More youthwork …

Time for part 2 today. As I mentioned in my recent blog post I bought two small kits for some more solder fun with Annika. She built up the second one today, a small blinking christmas tree. Meanwhile she’s soldering like a pro! It’s unbelievable how fast kids pick up things and do them right if they are really interested in! But beware if they’re not … πŸ˜‰

Melting solder again! 😎

Both projects united. πŸ˜‰

Posted in General stuff | Comments Off on More youthwork …

Final WPX-CW results :-)

CQ Magazine published the final results of this year’s CQ WW WPX CW contest in it’s November issue. This officially confirms my 4th world-win this year. 😎

Posted in Awards, Contesting | Comments Off on Final WPX-CW results :-)

CQ WWDX CW ’19

As our groundplane from Uwe’s 80 m entry in last month’ WWDX-SSB was still up I decided to go for 80 m in this year’s WWDX-CW, too. I haven’t done so for a few years and there was nothing to be expected on 15/10 m with current solar minimum condx anyway.

Our GP is a simple design: an 18 m fibre mast by Spiderbeam with 19,5 m of wire loosely wound around it as the radiator plus 20 x 10 m long radials and another 4 x 20 m radials evenly thrown into the grass. A little coil to inductively match it to 50 ohms and et voila, it’s working across the whole band … although that indicates rather high earth losses. But it’s working much better than our 18 m high (apex) Inverted-V dipole, of course, real fun to use! Didn’t use any RX antennas but just the GP so there’s still some potential for improvements. πŸ˜‰

The first night was really good! Worked 630 QSOs in a little over 8 hours, went to bed at 8:30z. The second night was (expectedly) already much slower with 900 QSOs in 18 hours while the third night always needs endurance – this time, too, with just another 400 QSOs in 10 hours.

It was cool to work 360 x W/VE, much more than expected, even 5 x zone 3! Most of the North Americans during the first and second night, a few of them being extremely loud. The third night the band was very noisy with lots of QRN and weak signals and QSB which made copy difficult and needed several repeats at times … partly also due to my brain going intermittent while decoding the CW signs. πŸ˜€

I was lucky to also work 20 x JA, expected only a handful. Interestingly most of them Sunday evening which was much better into that direction. 5 x zone 19 were not bad, either. πŸ˜‰ Looking into multipliers I didn’t raise the full potential. I heard 2 zones and 15 countries more than I worked (i.e. KH6 as a double mult) but eventually lost my passion to queue up in the pileups. πŸ™ It’s unbelievable what’s happening almost all the time: there a skimmer spot for a new mult and immediately all big M/M stations jump onto it (of course lots of others, too, but the big M/M always stand out as you hear them over and over again) giving their callsign 10-12 times in a row without listening, then RXing for 1 (!) second and starting all over again?! They probably think brute force will make it but nope, it does not! During that time nobody is doing a QSO and the DX is frustrated too (no QSOs = no rate). This “if not me then nobody else either, I have to be first” mentality really sucks! πŸ™ I don’t blame the ones who in the heat of the moment call a second time and if not hearing anything maybe even a third time after listening for 3 seconds. That happens to me, too. But an RX:TX ratio of 15:1 really doesn’t cut it … Another pain in the ass are the guys with 1 kHz splatter signals. If they start CQing 100 Hz next to you you can only pack in. Is my signal too clean? Don’t they hear me? Maybe I should buy such a 30 years old unmodified clicky FT-1000, too, to keep them on distance …

Enough grumbling, all in all it was still fun although not record-breaking. πŸ˜‰ There are simply too many much better CW operators than myself. You have to know your limits. πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to the start of sunspot cycle 25 with open high bands again. It’s simply much more fun then. πŸ˜‰

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB80 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 36

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
   80: 1940    32      114
   40:  (3)               
   10:  (1)               
------------------------------
Total: 1874    32      114  Total Score = 420,918

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Antennas, Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WWDX CW ’19

Some youth work again …

Another fun afternoon with Annika! I had ordered two small kits recently. Decided to build up the first one today, a wooden manger with some lighting electronics. 😎

Doing the wood work.

Can you feel the fun? πŸ˜‰

Soldering focusedly …

PCB done, all working! πŸ™‚

Looks great on her window sill.

PCB attached to the manger.

 

Posted in General stuff | Comments Off on Some youth work again …

CQ WWDX SSB ’19

Uwe, DL3BQA, was going for a serious 80 m entry as DMØY in this one. For me it was only a part time activity. Travelled the 420 km from Hamburg to the station after QRL on Friday and had to leave again Sunday afternoon to go back. My focus was rather on station testing the FLEX-6600 with an Apple iPad Pro as a control panel together with a Bluetooth jog dial as a VFO knob.

Running the FLEX-6600 with an Apple iPad Pro 12,9″ as control panel while the Windows laptop gets the serial and audio data from the FLEX all through network APIs … how cool’s that? 😎

Unfortunately I had some trouble with RFI into the footswitch connection which was through an USB-Serial adapter into the Windows laptop (and then through another network API to the FLEX) when operating on 10 m so all 28 MHz QSOs were done using low power only. Another challenge was the FLEX needing DAX to be enabled for the canned voice messages from N1MM+ to play CQ calls etc. while I was using headphone audio through the iPad for talking directly. It turned out that while enabling DAX the local VOX would still work ok-ish so used that combination. Not optimum, something to dig into during the next few weeks, there must be some easier (and more reliable) way for SSB …

Decided to participate as SOSB15(A) but couldn’t resist to stray onto 10 m every now and then as there were some nice openings! 😎 Condx were quite bad on Saturday – Aurora disturbances! I managed to work just 2 U.S. stations with great difficulty to have the double mults in the log at least! In the late evening there was some great Aurora-E propagation (kind of Sporadic-E triggered by Aurora and working northerly [from here] only) but unfortunately almost nobody QRV on the high bands anymore. πŸ™ Did a quick QSY with Peter, SM2CEW (an old VHF addict like myself), from 15 to 10 m and even we both did not retune our amps from 15 m but were only using drive power on 10 m (i.e. around 50-60 watts) we worked easily … in fact signals were even louder on 10 m low power than on 15 m with high power! 😎

15 m was busy wall to wall on Sunday …

… and 10 m opened nicely, too!

Sunday was much better, added another 115 North American stations in the afternoon, most with lots of QSB and mediocre signal strength only but some nice (albeit short) runs at times, too. If I would not have QSY’d to 10 m every now and then it might have been 700-750 QSOs on 15 m but probably not more, at least not from our north-easterly location. It was astounding (and frustrating, too) to regularly hear known low power stations from south and west Germany beat me calling stations while using high power and a 6 ele monobander overhere so I don’t want to know how low power stations up here would feel about it … yes, location matters! πŸ˜‰

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 18:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160: (12)               
   80:                    
   40: (22)               
   20:                    
   15:  660    30      127
   10: (82)               
------------------------------
Total:  660    30      127  Total Score = 197,192

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Aurora, Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WWDX SSB ’19

WAG ’19

Part time (remote) activity this year only as I was attending a funeral on Saturday and had my mom visiting over the weekend. The FLEX played quite well remotely in general. But it seems the foot switch PTT through a virtual COM port does not work as reliable as it should, looks like a known bug from a bit of searching the Flex internet archive. Will have to see how the announced next version of Flexradio firmware will work with it.

Condx were quite good, 15 m even opened nicely with loud signals into the U.S. which was rather unexpected! Let’s see if condx will hold until next weekend’s CQ WWDX SSB!

                    Worked All Germany Contest - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Mixed HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 12
Remote Operation

Summary:
 Band  CW Qs  SSB Qs  Mults
----------------------------
   80:  112     156     34
   40:  100     114     42
   20:  109      24     32
   15:   52      18     19
   10:   32       7      9
----------------------------
Total:  405     319    136  Total Score = 245,072

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
FLEX-6600, KPA500/KAT500, 80/40m dipoles, 20m 4L, 15/10m 6L each
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WAG ’19

Makrothen ’19

Just a few QSOs while playing around Sunday afternoon (i.e. much less effort than last year). Really like the format of distance based scoring as well as exchanging grid squares. Must be the VHF genes in me. πŸ˜€ Some nice QSOs into the U.S. West coast on 20 m …

                   Makrothen RTTY Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO/Single Xcvr HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 6

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   40:   32
   20:  152
   15:   18
------------
Total:  202  Total Score = 835.847

Comments:
FLEX-6600, KPA500 + 40 m dipole, 20 m 4L, 15 m 6L Yagi

 

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on Makrothen ’19

CQ WW RTTY 2019

Uwe, DL3BQA, was going for a serious 80 m effort. The guys had installed our 80 m GP antenna behind the 15 m beam again so a bit of distance to the 40 & 20 m antennas giving me a chance to play on all the other bands without too much interference. 😎

I was not up for a serious single band entry, rather played around with the new Flexradio setup, making sure all’s working flawlessly together including N1MM+ and trying out some of the superb software integration features as posting packet spots from N1MM+ through an API into the bandmap/scope of the Flex. 😎

Cluster spots integrated into the Flex’ bandscope – great feature! 😎

Condx were rather bad, earth’ magnetic field was still quite distorted from Friday evening, not much DX and couldn’t get much going trying to run. Still being a bit poor from a recent cold I made several breaks. All in all it didn’t help for a good result on Saturday.

Took a good night’s sleep and everything was much better on Sunday, condx as well as my health. πŸ™‚ Had a great 1,5 hours run on 40 m with almost 90/hour max! That felt like being on the DX side of the pileup bringing back nice memories of our Belize trip earlier this year. πŸ˜‰ Another good hour with almost 50 QSOs later on 20 m but although it’s really not bad for being an average station in DL / Europe amongst thousands of others it still felt kinda slow. Of course much better than running at 25/hour if at all in other hours … really looking forward to the next sunspot maximum for some more fun again! Rumors are it will be around 2024 …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 25:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  State/Prov  DX   Zones
------------------------------------
   80:    1                1     1
   40:  286       6       65    18
   20:  225      26       64    23
   15:   65               31    11
   10:   27               12     4
------------------------------------
Total:  604      32      173    57  Total Score = 351,866

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WW RTTY 2019

Another world-win confirmed :-)

Posted in Awards, Contesting | Comments Off on Another world-win confirmed :-)

IARU VHF Contest ’19

Took part in the VHF September contest a.k.a. the IARU VHF contest last weekend as a small team from the club station again. Equipment played well, lucky with the weather (just some drizzle Saturday evening) and good company, what else is needed? πŸ˜‰

Condx were quite okay and I had the impression that participation was quite good, too, at least on Saturday. Amazing to get number 807 from DA0FF at 02z Sunday morning already with still 12 hours to go, i.e. at half-time! Wonder how many QSOs they did in total …

YT4B and IQ5NN with 1.080 km are meanwhile almost regulars although the Italians really struggled this time to pull our signal out of the noise even when they were a solid 529 over here … seems our QRO plus 10 ele Yagi are not yet enough? 😐

Signal of IQ5NN, well over 1.000 km away:

Great to catch IQ4FD for a third one over the “magic” 1.000 km distance. 😎 A pity we didn’t catch YU7ACO this time (another one > 1.000 km). Never found them on the band and they didn’t react in the ON4KST chat, would usually have been another save QSO. πŸ™ But we worked YU7C as an all time new one instead with a great distance, too. Ukrainian UR7D was extremely loud! Did they do some power upgrade? πŸ˜€ Heard them quite often even beaming far away from direct path …

UR7D – “only” 773 km away but very loud:

SN7L was wide as hell again (like during July VHF contest), not good. πŸ™ Heard a few more different wide signals, too, but none of them as bad as SN7L.

All in all we are satisfied. Our claimed result is exactly the same as last year, amazing! 😎 But we made 9 QSOs less so the kilometers per QSO average is a bit higher this year. πŸ˜‰

Contest Report from DF0TEC in JO73CE at 144 MHz
===============================================

Contest : IARU-VHF-Contest '19
Date    : 2019 Sep 07 to 2019 Sep 08
Section : 02 144 MHz Multi-OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

Co-OPs  : DG1BHA;DH8BQA;DL3BQA;DM5DX

TX      : IC-9700 + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-9700 + MGF1302
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  442
-invalid:    1                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  441     QSO-points (*1)    :    183430           416
WWLs    :   93     WWL bonus (0)      :         0             0
DXCCs   :   22     DXCC bonus (0)     :         0             0
                   ------------------------------        ------
                   Total score        :    183430           416

ODX     : YT4B in JN94SD at 1079 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN29:  1   JN76:  5   JO11:  1   JO54:  1   JO72:  8   JP70:  1   
JN38:  2   JN77:  3   JO20:  2   JO55:  2   JO73: 10   JP90:  1   
JN39:  5   JN78:  3   JO21:  2   JO57:  1   JO75:  1   KN06:  1   
JN47:  3   JN79: 17   JO30:  7   JO58:  1   JO76:  1   KN08:  1   
JN48:  7   JN85:  1   JO31: 20   JO59:  1   JO77:  1   KN09:  5   
JN49:  9   JN86:  4   JO32:  5   JO60: 12   JO79:  2   KN18:  1   
JN56:  1   JN87:  5   JO33:  2   JO61: 24   JO80:  6   KO02:  3   
JN57:  1   JN88:  8   JO40:  5   JO62: 24   JO81:  4   KO04:  1   
JN58:  4   JN89: 12   JO41:  9   JO63:  2   JO83:  2   KO05:  1   
JN59:  1   JN94:  1   JO42: 11   JO64:  3   JO84:  2   KO13:  1   
JN63:  2   JN95:  5   JO43:  8   JO65:  4   JO89:  1   KO14:  1   
JN65:  1   JN97:  2   JO46:  1   JO67:  2   JO90:  7   KO15:  1   
JN67:  1   JN98:  3   JO50: 18   JO68:  1   JO91:  1   KO20:  1   
JN68:  3   JN99: 13   JO51: 15   JO70: 18   JO93:  1   KO24:  1   
JN69:  8   JO01:  1   JO52: 11   JO71: 13   JO94:  6   KO25:  3   
JN75:  2   JO10:  1   JO53:  4   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   7   G  :   1   LA :   1   OM :  15   S5 :   8   UA2:   1   
DL : 216   HA :   9   LY :   7   ON :   3   SM :  16   UR :   2   
EU :   1   HB :   2   OE :  11   OZ :   5   SP :  53   YU :   2   
F  :   5   I  :   3   OK :  68   PA :   5   

Top 10 QSO-points:
20190908 0139 YT4B           559  263 599  224    JN94SD   1079 
20190908 0252 IQ5NN          599  273 599  472    JN63GN   1078 
20190908 0259 IQ4FD          559  274 599  230    JN63AX   1037 
20190908 0341 9A0V           599  279 599  293    JN95PE    963 
20190908 0225 9A8D           519  268 599  187    JN95LM    919 
20190908 0327 9A7D           599  277 599  195    JN95CI    918 
20190908 1336 YU7C           559  437 599  310    JN95SS    910 
20190908 0318 G8P            599  276 599  541    JO01QD    903 
20190907 2159 9A6K           59   213 59   190    JN95GO    900 
20190907 2153 9A1N           59   210 59   269    JN85LI    894 
Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on IARU VHF Contest ’19

Two world-wins confirmed :-)

My V37DX world-wins in this year’s CQ WPX RTTY as well as the ARRL DX CW I took part in from Belize are officially confirmed now. 😎

A few technical problems on the start but big fun and great victory. 😎

Hard competition with TM5Y/F8DBF and a new country record, too. 😎

Posted in Awards, Contesting, DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on Two world-wins confirmed :-)

Rebuilding the VHF shack

As you may have read we have two shacks at our station. One serves as the HF/6 m shack and is usually used by Uwe, DL3BQA. The other one we call the VHF shack which holds a permanent station for 2 m as well as my remote setup. Furthermore I use it for local HF contesting, too, setting up my K3 or IC-7300 additionally. Unfortunately the VHF shack is not that big and with our current installation there’s simply too much stuff and all quite cluttered, i.e. no space for a better monitor, laptop in front of the gear when set up for HF contesting, a.s.o. To be honest I got tired of it so decided to use some spare time this week to change it … for the better I hope! πŸ˜‰

Old VHF shack layout, all cluttered and little space only. Temporary HF setup normally at the right where the tools lay.

All equipment ripped out of the shack, temporarily parked in our outer room. Quite some stuff, isn’t it?

I constructed a new shack table and shelving system from scratch. Most of the wooden elements needed were already available so the total investment was less than 100 EUR. One major upgrade was eliminating the remote system shelves on the left-hand side thus providing a bit more space for the operating positions. All in all it took about 4 afternoons with most of the time needed to clear the shack and then recabling everything again. πŸ˜€ Maybe the following photos will give some inspiration for others wanting to do it themselves, too.

First home-made table legs are ready.

First side part done.

You can already imagine how it might look like finally.

A few planks for better stability and to mount monitors on.

Result of the first afternoon and evening of wood work.

Added two more planks for stability of the tabletop.

Last step of vacation of the shack was taking the remote system shelves apart.

The whole wood construction moved into the shack, thanks Uwe for the helping hand.

Extending the tabletop to 80 cm depth.

Tabletop mounted – looks great, doesn’t it?

Checking height of the first shelf with the metal feet to be mounted temporarily upside-down.

Final assembly of the metal feet. An extra plank is used for additional stability. There will be a bit of weight on the shelf.

Left work place with our IC-9700 finalized. 😎 2 m PA is below the table.

Used some spare wood for a littler higher placement of the rotator controllers.

Elecraft KPA500 amplifier, KAT500 tuner, power supply and homebrew 10×2 antenna controller for automatic antenna selection.

Next to the PS is the new Flex-6600. On top of it the network switch connecting all the remote stuff.

The Flex is connected through a BPF bank to the KPA500 and is also used as an IF rig for the 4 & 2 m bands.

SSPA for 2 m capable of 800 W and (just to the right of the PA) NETIOs for switching mains power on/off.

Final look. The right work place already got parts of it’s IT, too. Can use the Flex on the shelf or an additional local radio.Β  A second shelf above the remote station stuff added as well. The empty space (well, sort of, hi) on the right side of the lower shelf will be filled by another HF amp which first needs some service.

Some black & white art work. πŸ˜‰

Some colour artwork, too. 😎

Posted in Equipment, General stuff | Comments Off on Rebuilding the VHF shack

Perseids Meteor Scatter Report ’19

Moving QTH is basically finished, everything’s setup in the new flat … living room, kitchen, children’s room, a.s.o. all operational, just the shack/office needs a bit more work. πŸ˜€ Anyway, time to play some radio again in the Perseids meteor shower! 😎

Multiple stations in one reflection, nicely sorted on the screen – one of the advantages of the MSK144 mode.

Activity was quite nice, especially from Russia! Worked a lot of new callsigns and a lot I had only worked on HF before! While I had written last year that about 30% of the traffic was on MSK144 and 70% on FSK441 it was the other way round this year – 70% on MSK144 and 30% on FSK441, if at all! While I see the benefits of MSK144 – it’s quite convenient with no false decodes, no digging into the decodes to see what’s in there, all printed nicely on the screen, a.s.o. – it certainly doesn’t fit the bill for working the real DX.

What most people (especially the converts from HF FT8 to VHF MSK144) do not know is that MSK144 also has some (serious) drawbacks compared to FSK441! It’s about 2-3 dB less sensitive and due to it’s FEC (forward error correction) it needs reflections of at least 200 ms length to decode at all! So a reflection of 80/1 (80 ms seconds long, 1 dB over the noise, not uncommon) will not be decoded in MSK144 while in FSK441 it’s usually good for a (partial) call and report! Especially on long haul DX, i.e. over 2.000 or even 2.100 km, or with QRP, it can make all the difference between a complete QSO and an NC contact!

Another thing new guys didn’t know is that while 15 seconds periods are the standard on 6 & 4 m and the default in WSJT-X πŸ™ it’s usually 30 seconds periods on 2 m, at least on the calling frequencies! Reason is keeping it “compliant” to FSK441 which is 30 seconds. So besides the “usual” QRM by people using the wrong periods there was some additional chaos by people running 15 sec periods while everybody else was on 30 sec. Seems some elmering is needed which I did for a few people I had access to. They were all grateful to get the advice how to do it right as it were usually their first steps into the world of VHF digital. Just keep in mind they do not do it intentionally! We were all beginners at some time … πŸ˜‰

Highlight on the 8/8 was working RW3TJ, always thrilled to cross the line into the LOxx squares. πŸ˜‰ Not exactly VHF but working PZ5CO and FY5KE with good signals on 10 m late at night on the 9/8 was thrilling, too! The path works quite often even in sunspot minimum, worked them again during the weekend handing out some points in the WAE-CW contest on HF, too. πŸ˜‰ Did not expect to work (m)any new squares on 2 m during the shower but after almost an hour I completed with OY1R for a new one. It took that long because Regin is only running QRP (50 W to a 7 ele Yagi) so only very strong reflections will work.

Spent quite a while to work Mek, this time in Hungary (JN97) as HA/SP7VC, for a new one on 4 m on 10/8. These QSOs are extra difficult as I’m QRP only on 4 m and the distance is normally too short for MS so lots of patience needed – thanks mate! YO8SAO/KN36 and UT9NA/KN49 were much easier for additional new ones on 2 m. πŸ™‚ I was very excited when I decoded R9JBN with his CQ on 144.360 MHz MSK144 at 20.18z! Could it really be Asiatic Russia on 2 m? But his CQ message included LO13 as his locator which is definitely not UA9 but UA4 so I guess he was rather /4. Still a nice distance of +/- 1.900 km. Unfortunately that CQ burst was the only thing I heard from him …

A full period of reflections by the C37MS DXpedition during our QSO. The burst was indeed almost 1 min long. 😎

Very happy with another 4 new ones on 2 m on the 11/8, namely YO8TNB/KN37, RA1TL/KO67, UT3MD/KN99 and LA/SM5EPO/JP76. PeO had been traveling Scandinavia for 2 weeks activating rare grids for the MS community, thanks a lot, man, appreciated the opportunity!

Didn’t work much on 6 m as it’s usually the same guys over and over again on 6 m MS, not that much activity there. The band provides plenty of opportunities with Sporadic-E during the summer, that’s probably the reason why there’s a lot less interest in Meteor Scatter on Six. But when TA4SO/KM47 was spotted on the cluster I couldn’t resist to check if I would see some reflections, distance is well over 2.000 km. And there he was! As I could copy him almost consistently over quite some time (just an awful lot of QSB) I think it was rather ES than MS. But no matter what, he provided the only new one on 6 m. πŸ˜‰

The 12/8 saw our friends from Dresden (DH5FS & Co.) getting active from the Ukraine as EM44T activating rare square KN38! 😎 They had blown their 2 m pre-amp transistor right away so had to do some surgery in the field, i.e. ripping out the transistor of the 70 cm pre-amp to put it into the 2 m transverter pre-amp, luckily it was the same type! They produced excellent reflections on both 6 & 2 m although the distance is quite short already. But it seemed they had trouble hearing on 6 m, something to be checked when back home.

OH7TE was visiting some relatives and took his 4 m gear along and spent some time on the air, thanks for KP42 on that band, Yussi! UT7KF/KO21 took quite a while to complete on 2 m, again a very short distance for MS and only QRP there. On the contrary UA6LQZ/LN09 produced excellent reflections over quite some long distance! Wonder what equipment he was running! πŸ˜‰ R1OAK/LP05 was over 2.000 km so decided to try on FSK441. He has only 100 W and a long yagi so I expected it would take a while to complete (if at all) but surprisingly he produced some really nice reflections so we were done after 15 minutes already. 😎

Another contact to mention is certainly the one with UT8AL/KO61. I have worked Alex numerous times during past years, be it on HF in contests or on 6 m or on 2 m via ES, MS and even TR. Our first QSO (SSB-MS!) was on 12/8/1999, so exactly 20 years ago! 😎 What makes every 2 m QSO with him so special is knowing he’s only running a very old analogue FT-225RD from 1972, nominally putting out 20 watts which makes it just 16 watts at his antenna which is an almost as old 21 ele KLM yagi on a 12 m boom! Seems his antenna is doing all the work, he was really fireworking with this QRPPP setup!

A full period snapshot of my reflections during a 2 minutes mega burst as recorded by UT6EY.

The maximum was predicted to be early morning of the 13/8. Judging from length and number of reflections I think it was rather on the 12/8 around 22 o’clock. Stef, F4EZJ, asked to try SSB-MS as reflections were still quite good on 13/8. There was a biiiiig burst right away when he started calling me so we completed immediately and had a great one burst QSO. 😎 Pity neither of us had a recorder handy … Icing on the cake was the ES opening on 4 m in the afternoon. While it was very much in & out it was good enough to provide another two new squares. πŸ™‚

In total I made over 100 QSOs, the full log can be viewed here. All in all some fun time on VHF again and happy with the (unexpected) results (of working so many new squares). πŸ˜‰

Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Perseids Meteor Scatter Report ’19

IOTA on EU-057

The big Optibeam sure makes for a good signal. Additonal temporary antennas for all bands (20 & 10 m to be seen in the background) are very helpful for the multiplier station, too.

I was invited to join the DK3R team on RΓΌgen Island, EU-057, during this year’s IOTA contest again – an invitation I happily accepted although it interfered a little with our move to Hamburg. πŸ˜€ But I somehow managed to organize both in parallel so was looking forward to the trip to RΓΌgen last weekend.

We were quite lucky with the weather on Saturday but had some rain early Sunday morning. Radio conditions were rather mixed, too. There was the occassional Sporadic-E opening on the higher HF bands useful to collect some multipliers but besides this we didn’t spend too much time on 15 & 10 m. Even with good openings it’s not very efficient as long as the band is not open to the UK. You need to work all the 15 pointers! So the “money bands” were 20 & 40 m once more.

Our QSO total lacked quite a bit behind last year’s result during Saturday, i.e. we had up to 140 QSOs less in the log. Still we were on par in total result meaning we could make up for the loss in QSOs by working more island stations and more multipliers. The night shift on 80 & 40 m did an extremely good job, i.e. worked many more QSOs and especially mults than we had hoped for, so we were not that much behind Sunday morning anymore. Interestingly the receive antennas for the low bands specifically set up in the field behind the property didn’t provide any advantage. Signals were equally loud (or even louder) on the transmit antennas. Guess it only means the location is quite quiet. πŸ˜‰

At the end there was still a 55 QSOs difference but the total result was way better than last year. In fact it’s the second highest result ever done by the team from this location!

Judging from the posted results on 3830scores.com it should be good enough for another world win after last year! 😎 This would be my 4th one this year this time being part of a great team of experienced contesters!

Interestingly our result is even a little better than the LZØI team’s who participated M/2 and made 1.600 QSOs more (i.e. more than 4.300 QSOs in total!) but 120 less multipliers as well as 25 % less points/QSO average although they operate in a much better location propagation-wise. Seems they concentrated a lot more on just running whom-ever called which is fun, of course, but probably not the best strategy. πŸ˜‰

What a great team! L-to-R: Falk – DK7YY, Burkhard – DL3KZA, Oliver – DL2ARD, Andreas – DL1KZA, Michael – DG1CMZ, Olli – DH8BQA, JΓΌrgen – DL7UVO, Oliver – DJ9AO

I think in the name of the whole team we can only say a big fat THANK YOU to Andreas (DL1KZA), Burkhard (DL3KZA) and families for their fantastic hospitality, the delicious food and care taken for us, as well as Oliver (DL2ARD) for being a great team leader taking care of all the needed stuff and spending his time already a week upfront the contest to set up antennas, station, a.s.o. Looking forward to next year already. 😎

Noel, OO4O, and Burkhard, DL3KZA, with their respective XYLs.

After the contest we were visited by Noel, OO4O, and his lovely wife. Noel participated from RΓΌgen, too. In fact his holiday rental house was just 5 km away from our location. πŸ˜‰ He took it quite leisure doing about 400 QSOs low power using a Spiderbeam and wire antennas. He has been visiting a new island during the IOTA contest every year for the last 10 years now, see some impressions on his qrz.com profile. It seems they liked RΓΌgen Island a lot. Indeed it is a big recommendation for visitors of Eastern-German beach locations as well as Usedom Island (EU-129), too. πŸ˜‰

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

More new ones on 6 & 4 m :-)

I had left the IC-7300 switched on during the contest to monitor 4 m propagation as an indicator for possible 2 m ES. There was indeed an opening just not here. πŸ™ When I saw EI9E/P pop up on the bandscope with an S9++ signal I couldn’t resist to give him some points, too. πŸ˜‰

EI9E/P contesting via Sporadic-E on 4 m:

Also worked two new ones with 5T5PA and 9G2HO on 6 m. This is were digital works out nicely besides CW/SSB on another band in parallel. πŸ˜‰ KM15 was new square on 4 m and then there was another short 5 min opening on 4 m after the contest …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
10:06 EI9E/P         IO62OM    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1406
10:21 5T5PA          IL1ØLW   -02   +07    6 m.   FT8   ES    4461
10:21 9G2HO          JJØ6FO   -13   -06    6 m.   FT8   ES    5326
12:26 SV9/OV3T       KM15VM   -04   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES    2102
14:08 YO7BSN         KN15PB   -03   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1117
14:10 LZ1ZL          KN22JD   +02   -13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1457
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Audio recordings, DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on More new ones on 6 & 4 m :-)

July VHF Contest ’19

Another July contest in the books. Condx were rather average most of the time. The night hours brought some nice DX so the average per QSO was 420 km which is unusually high. Around 400 km/QSO is quite normal for a July contest from up here but again as last year I missed lots of OK/OM stations that normally help to higher the QSO average so it was rather unexpected. On the other hand there were some really great tropo DX contacts to the west with good signals …

F8KGU – 923 km:

G5LK/P – 903 km:

G4ZAP/P – 886 km:

Not that nice was the signal quality of some of the participants. The worst example was probably SN7L who was up to 40 kHz wide even with antennas pointing into different directions. πŸ™

SN7LΒ  on 144.170 MHz using a big part of the spectrum alone due to his bad wide signal. πŸ™ And this was over a 285 km (!!!) path not even beaming at him! Won’t imagine how bad it must have been for stations nearby … πŸ™

Our new IC-9700 played quite well. I was really sastified with it’s perfomance. Of course the bandscope was/is a big plus as already experienced with the 7300 on other bands, too. If you search the band you stop at signals shown on the bandscope although there’s no signal currently audible as the station that was transmitting there was just listening himself, i.e. for a QSO exchange or the like. In former times you would have simply tuned further and probably missed that station. 😎

But of course the best radio can’t help overall activity which I found lacking again. Total result is on par with last year but that was not a good one either. Seems it will only be place 3 this year as besides Tom, DR1H, who can’t be beaten from up here, also Michael, DL6IAK/P, put in a very good result with over 200k points unchecked …

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

Contest : DARC JULY '19
Date    : 2019 Jul 06 to 2019 Jul 07
Section : 01 144MHz Single OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

TX      : IC-9700 + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-9700 + ATF 54143
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995, http://www.qsl.net/oz2m

QSOs    :  346
-invalid:    0                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  346     QSO-points (*1)    :    145003           419
WWLs    :   79     WWL bonus (0)      :         0             0
DXCCs   :   21     DXCC bonus (0)     :         0             0
                   ------------------------------        ------
                   Total score        :    145003           419

ODX     : YT4B in JN94SD at 1079 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN19:  1   JN78:  2   JO01:  2   JO43: 10   JO64:  5   JO91:  1
JN37:  1   JN79: 17   JO02:  4   JO44:  2   JO65:  3   JO94:  1
JN38:  1   JN85:  2   JO11:  1   JO46:  1   JO67:  2   JP90:  1
JN39:  3   JN86:  3   JO20:  4   JO50:  9   JO70: 12   KN05:  1
JN47:  2   JN87:  2   JO21:  2   JO51: 14   JO71: 10   KN08:  1
JN48:  7   JN88:  7   JO22:  1   JO52:  7   JO72:  6   KN09:  2
JN49:  7   JN89: 10   JO30:  7   JO53:  6   JO73:  3   KN18:  1
JN58:  4   JN94:  1   JO31: 13   JO55:  1   JO74:  1   KO04:  2
JN59:  5   JN95:  2   JO32:  2   JO59:  1   JO77:  1   KO05:  1
JN68:  5   JN96:  1   JO33:  2   JO60: 11   JO80: 10   KO13:  1
JN69:  5   JN97:  4   JO40:  3   JO61: 12   JO82:  1   KO14:  1
JN75:  1   JN98:  4   JO41:  8   JO62: 22   JO83:  2   KO15:  2
JN76:  2   JN99: 11   JO42: 12   JO63:  1   JO90:  2   KO25:  3
JN77:  2   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   4   G  :   6   LY :   6   ON :   3   S5 :   5   UA2:   4
DL : 183   HA :   8   OE :   6   OZ :   3   SM :   7   UR :   1
EU :   1   HB :   2   OK :  63   PA :   8   SP :  12   YU :   2
F  :   3   LA :   1   OM :  18   

Top 20 QSO-points:
20190707 0745 YT4B           559  262 599  280    JN94SD   1079
20190707 0507 YU7ACO         559  231 559  295    KN05RD   1037
20190706 2304 9A0V           559  212 599  251    JN95PE    963
20190707 0005 G3PYE/P        559  219 559  141    JO02CE    949
20190706 2104 F8KGU          59   188 59   342    JN19BQ    923
20190706 2258 9A8D           55   211 59   155    JN95LM    919
20190706 2158 G5LK/P         55   203 56   337    JO01QD    903
20190706 2316 9A1N           559  213 599  194    JN85LI    894
20190706 2051 G3XDY          559  183 599  038    JO02OB    886
20190706 2155 G4ZAP/P        59   202 57   329    JO01PU    886
20190707 0843 G4SWX          529  278 529  002    JO02RF    865
20190707 1100 9A1E           559  314 599  280    JN85QT    852
20190706 2336 G4CDN          579  217 589  011    JO02SS    849
20190706 1750 HG3X           59   123 59   083    JN96EE    834
20190706 2253 S59DEM         59   210 59   380    JN75DS    825
20190706 1908 HB9EWY         59   151 59   179    JN37WA    821
20190706 2011 SF40RO         529  179 559  001    JP90JA    810
20190707 0015 HB9GF          59   220 59   270    JN47BC    803
20190707 0439 LA0BY          419  225 519  002    JO59IX    785
20190706 2224 UZ3I           599  207 599  197    KN18JT    773
Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, Equipment, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on July VHF Contest ’19

Massive JA opening on 6 m & WAS on 4 m ;-)

Had a big opening to Japan on 6 m this morning lasting well over 4 hours, wow! Up to 25 different JA calls per RX period in FT8 but rather difficult to do any QSOs at all. Either too big pileups or too QRP over here so only a limited number of contacts. Besides the JAs there were 8 different Korean stations copyable, too. But I needed 1,5 hours to raise at least one of them for a new DXCC. That was quite frustrating as some of them were really loud, think CW with split would have worked much better and easier. But in the end I catched one so a happy camper … and a few new squares, too. 😎

Was literally running between the HF/6 m shack and the VHF shack not to miss anything on 6 and 4 m as the latter opened nicely, too. So I was happy when Uwe came along and took over the JA opening on 6 m so I could concentrate on Four. πŸ˜‰ One open direction was to the east which could be expected with the great 6 m condx …

Three different OIRT stations on 70.040, 70.070 and 70.160 MHz respectively rendering the whole band unusable.

The 70.070 MHz OIRT radio station which is a frequent “visitor” is strong enough to wipe out half the band alone!

The other one was to Scotland! Think I can apply for the WAS 4 m now … not the usual Worked All States but Worked all Scotland. πŸ˜€ IO87 was a new one and the band was open almost 3 hours to Scotland but unfortunately no more active stations, what a pity.

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:50 JH7XRZ         QMØ9MV   -01   -04    6 m.   FT8   ES    8474
07:00 JF8QNF         QNØ2     -10   -18    6 m.   FT8   ES    8221
07:22 JO4GGN         PM75BB   -09   -17    6 m.   FT8   ES    8622
07:25 JH3VJV         PM74LP   -09   -19    6 m.   FT8   ES    8701
07:36 JA1ANR         PM96     -08   -17    6 m.   FT8   ES    8713
07:39 JM1IGJ         PM95RL   -06   -16    6 m.   FT8   ES    8832
07:55 JR1LZK         QMØ6FI   -10   -14    6 m.   FT8   ES    8792
08:02 JA7WSZ         QMØ7LP   -05   -14    6 m.   FT8   ES    8689
08:14 JH7RXU         QMØ9HM   -14   -13    6 m.   FT8   ES    8493
08:35 DS3CHK         PM36RP   -09   -12    6 m.   FT8   ES    8143
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:59 GM4VVX         IO78TA   +18   +13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1279
08:19 GM4FVM         IO85WU   +00   +09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1092
08:21 GM4ZMK         IO75TW   -05   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1232
08:39 GM7PKT         IO76JR   -04   +08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1295
08:44 GMØVGI         IO87TH   -01   +13    4 m.   FT8   ES    1143
08:47 GM4OBD         IO87XI    57    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1125
08:57 GM8IEM         IO78HF   +03   +17    4 m.   FT8   ES    1342
09:21 GI4OWA         IO64IX   -02   -15    4 m.   FT8   ES    1410
09:51 GM4ZMK         IO75TW    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1232
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Massive JA opening on 6 m & WAS on 4 m ;-)

A difficult new one on 6 m & OIRT on 4 m

A day off QRL so used the time to finally install our new IC-9700 at the club station. Eager to learn how it performs in heavy contest use on 2 m this weekend. πŸ˜‰

Also brought along the IC-7300 for 4 m, just in case. There was some nice Sporadic-E eastwards with big OIRT signals. Unfortunately no 4 m (and 6 m) licenses in Russia else it would probably have been a fun opening. πŸ˜‰ Propagation shortly shifted northwards to allow working Finland on 4 m which is quite rare from here as we’re usually too close!

Big OIRT signal centered on 70.190 MHz basically rendering the band useless!

Uwe was working intensively on 6 m again. I just had to interrupt him when JW7QIA popped up to work a new one. 😎 During the past years I was never lucky enough to catch him. The distance is quite difficult: 2.700 km is way too far for one hop ES and getting 2 hops perfectly aligned in those northern spheres is rare, too! So happy to have finally made it, one of the last needed countries on 6 m in Europe …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
16:54 OH3CT          KP21GA   -03   +16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1069
17:07 OH6DX          KP32EQ   -05   +11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1272
18:06 JW7QIA         JQ68TB   +05   -01    6 m.   FT8   ES    2765
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on A difficult new one on 6 m & OIRT on 4 m