IARU VHF CW aka Marconi Memorial Contest ’20

It’s been a few years since I last participated seriously in the Marconi Memorial Contest on 2 m. I tried to be QRV for some hours and hand out some points at least during the last few years. It’s always been fun so it was overdue to do a serious entry again. 😉

Condx looked promising, tropo was already enhanced a little on Friday and the F5LEN Tropo Forcast showed there might be good conditions to the east on Saturday evening. And so it was, all the Lithuanians worked (6-700 km) were solid S9 signals while they are usually S3 only in other VHF contests. Unfortunately there were only three of them QRV (LY2WR, LY2R, LY2FN). When they have their VHF Fieldday in July you can easily work 10-12 of them and a few Latvians and sometimes even Estonians, too, but not so this time, just no activity. Really a pity with these nice condx! Anyway, conditions into the other directions were not bad either, although not enhanced. But it helped to have stable signals from the South this time (compared to July contest) resulting in a good number of contacts with HA, 9A, S5 and two times YU again! YT3AAA was single op’ing from the YT4B location and could be worked Saturday evening. YU7ACO is a regular, too (although it didn’t work in July), logged Sunday morning and with over 1.000 km as well no slouch either. 😉

But the real highlight(s) came from the West this time. There was a small tropo zone evolving during the night across the North Sea. I had tried with the bigger GM stations a few times during the night but could never hear them (and vice versa). But on Sunday morning we finally had a stable duct enabling three very fine DX contacts into Scotland! 😎 Keith, GM4YXI, was the strongest of the crowd with a real S9 signal. Signals were stable for almost 4 hours until it all vanished again.

GM4YXI (IO87wk) tropo ducting over 1133 km Sunday morning:

Stewart, GM4AFF, was a nice signal with about S6, too, another easy QSO. Getting Chris, GM3WOJ, into the log needed a little more work. He’s another 130 km further away than the other two and the path is crossing a bit over land (although he has a coastal location as well) so signals were quite weak but we made it. 😎 His location probably helped, too. Tests with other Scottish stations further inland (i.e. MMØC) were all negative, it seemed the duct ended right at the coast line.

All in all lots of fun and great activity. I did not expect to log over 400 QSOs! If my memory doesn’t let me down I think my personal best in the past was something around 300 or maybe 330 QSOs in the Marconi. Would have to look it up in the archives. 😀

Good activity even 20 minutes before contest end.

I worked a bunch of Czech stations never heard before, all individual callsigns. I can only guess they are usually operating from the big(ger) multi-op stations but due to all the Covid-19 restrictions they now popped up from their little home stations. But no matter what reason it was much appreciated! Here’s a visual overview of all stations logged:

All contacts made in this year’s Marconi Memorial CW contest on 144 MHz.

And finally here are my total results. I logged with N1MMLogger+ this time taking advantage of rig control, bandmap, cluster spots, a.s.o. While it is not as flexible on VHF as TACLog (especially concerning reporting) which I’ve been using for the last 25 years it has all the modern advantages mentioned above which are missing in TL. And, I always have to run circles to make these old DOS applications like TL work under modern Windows versions (although DOSBox as an emulator does a good job but who knows how long it will last). So it was about time to do the move. 😉

                 VHFREG1 Summary Sheet

       Start Date : 2020-11-07

    CallSign Used : DH8BQA
      Operator(s) : DH8BQA

Operator Category : SINGLE-OP
Assisted Category : ASSISTED
             Band : 2M
            Power : HIGH
             Mode : CW
 Default Exchange : #
       Gridsquare : JO73CE

         Software : N1MM Logger+ 1.0.8714.0

        Band   Mode  QSOs     Pts   Pt/Q
         144   CW    412                    (incl. dupes)
       Total   Both  406   163260  402,1

            Score : 163.260

              Rig : IC-9700 + PA
         Antennas : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi


QSOs > 800 km:
08/11  0849   GM3WOJ         IO77WS      1258
08/11  0832   GM4YXI         IO87WK      1133
08/11  1034   GM4AFF         IO86TS      1128
07/11  2021   YT3AAA         JN94SD      1079
08/11  0804   YU7ACO         KN05RD      1037
07/11  1754   9A0V           JN95PE       963
07/11  2319   F6DWG/P        JN19BQ       923
07/11  1759   9A8D           JN95LM       919
07/11  1752   9A1N           JN85LI       894
08/11  0052   HB9IAB/P       JN36GU       892
07/11  1553   9A4M           JN85EI       886
08/11  0642   G4PIQ          JO02OD       884
07/11  1807   9A1P           JN65VG       881
07/11  2338   F1UVN          JO10HE       865
08/11  0646   9A9R           JN85OQ       862
07/11  1924   G4CDN          JO02SS       849 
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on IARU VHF CW aka Marconi Memorial Contest ’20

Slightly enhanced tropo conditions

Arrived at the station here in JO73 this afternoon to prepare for the contest this weekend. Tropo condx are slightly enhanced again and predictions look good for the weekend, there might be a few surprises (hopefully). 😉 Worked these DX QSOs:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
23:10  G4LPP         JOØ2SS   -18   -14    2 m.  FT8     TR    848
23:19  G4KUX         IO94BP   -11   -16    2 m.  FT8     TR   1063
11:29  LA1KUA        JP5ØTW   -20   -14    2 m.  FT8     TR    875
11:32  SM4CHK        JO69TH   +07   +14    2 m.  FT8     TR    682
11:33  LA4YGA        JO48BE   -11   -12    2 m.  FT8     TR    673
11:37  SM4GGC        JO69RK   +00   +03    2 m.  FT8     TR    696
12:38  LA5FGA        JO58TW   -17   +09    2 m.  FT8     TR    659
------------------------------------------------------------------

A number of additional QSOs could be logged with OZ, SM6, SM7 but the two SM4’s mentioned above were really pounding in and worked much further south into Eastern Germany at least. Think they had a blast. 😉

Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Slightly enhanced tropo conditions

CQ WWDX SSB 2020

Initially this was meant to be a rather quiet weekend. I wanted to escape all the QRL stress and also be on site again instead of only remote. My remote station works excellent but has the smaller power amp connected only and the distractions at home are always bigger than desired. And of course the motivational factor is probably different, too, when you drive an extra 400 km.

Anyway, the goal was to clear my mind again and play a little radio. I didn’t feel like doing the night shift and Uwe, DL3BQA, who actually wanted to do 80 m (we rebuilt the GP for the winter season), still had a cold to fight and asked to operate a day band, too. So there we were: two times a day band but 20 m basically excluded because even with our 4 ele Yagi and some power, in the north of DL (and probably in other parts as well, hi) no frequency can be hold. So there were only 15 and 10 m left. Our station actually works quite well on these two bands and we are relatively satisfied taking our northern location into account. Since the days before the weekend there were already quite good condx on 15 m and also on 10 m at least to South America, a few QSOs should be possible. From our experience during the last 20 years with the condx like these we had expected about +/- 500 QSOs on 15 m and maybe 200 on 10 m migt be possible.

Saturday morning started as usual: In the first two hours with the band still closed two dozen QSOs were made via scatter (tropo and meteors) with the large stations in the south and southeast, then it was quiet. So I laid down again without really sleeping. When I heard Uwe suddenly working rows of Ukrainians on 15 m I went back to the 10 m radio and lo and behold, the band was open via Sporadic-E to the east. Half an hour later fitting ES clouds to the West developed and the “Worked All Britain Contest-in-a-Contest” began. 😀 Very good activity on the islands, lots of fun! Every now and then the ES also linked into other propagation path’ thus a number of South Americans could be worked, too, but even more exciting about two dozen W/VE made it into the log on Saturday! 😎 At the same time 6 m was open from NA to EU thus triple-hop ES can/must be assumed as the MUF for F2 propagation was not that high (in my opinion it just scratched 25 MHz). This theory is supported by the fact that there was no DX heading east, not even the first hop into the nearby UA9, etc. At the end of the day there were 450 QSOs in the log, half of them with the U.K. 😉

Band starting to open to the South Sunday morning.

Sunday began similarly to Saturday: Started early but apart from the usual suspects via scatter I couldn’t hear anything else. Thus started calling CQ and hoping. 😉 And indeed I was able to open the band to the east again and a couple of UA3s got into the log. From 8z the “party” turned south with strong Sicilians first, then thanks to rather strong ES clouds with a high MUF (6 m was open again, too) I was able to work most parts of Europe via backscatter without having to turn the antenna. 😉 The ES cloud cluster was quite stable to the south and southwest of us (always very nice to follow on DXmaps). This enabled good rates this time in the “Work all Italy Sub-Contest” 😉 and thanks to the high MUF also a number of short distance QSOs around 5-600 km could be made (= “fresh food”) but unfortunately no DX. Guys in south and west DL had better luck and suitable entry points to North America again (and 6 m was again open via triple hop, quite rare at the end of October). During the last hour the band was open here at least some more South Americans and Caribbeans could be worked but all very selective and without large QSO numbers.

On Saturday evening I was still ahead a bit of the German competition (Ulli/DD2ML, Matthias/DL5L) in terms of total points (I had 100 QSOs more but already fewer mults, they were simply not audible up here). Then on Sunday with more 3 pointers to be worked from the South at least DL5L passed by.

                 CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB - 2020

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 21

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
   10: 1212    18       69          (incl. dupes)
------------------------------
Total: 1175    18       69  Total Score = 119,799

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
FLEX-6600, PA + 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagi @60ft

For those who hope for a repeat during WWDX-CW in 4 weeks: I wouldn’t bet on it, at least not for 10 m. 15 m will certainly be usable again if the sun behaves but the F2-relevant MUF isn’t high enough for 10 m yet. And without Sporadic-E it will be difficult except for a few QSOs on the southern path’. But let’s wait & see. 😉

Posted in Contesting, DX, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WWDX SSB 2020

CQ WWDX RTTY 2020

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

Sporadic-E on 10 m Saturday morning …

Nice to see 10 m open a little although still far away from what will be possible again in 3-4 years (hopefully). 😉 Pretty much the same number of QSOs like last year but more multipliers thus a 10% increase in total points. 😎

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY - 2020

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:  297       5       68    19
   20:  188      30       76    24
   15:   65               30     9
   10:   50               19     7
------------------------------------
Total:  601      35      194    60  Total Score = 389,283

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WWDX RTTY 2020

Tropo summary

Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo summary

Tropo seems to be over

Tropo seems to be over. A few QSOs in the morning then no DX signals anymore. Enjoyable five days of VHF DX although mostly FT8 only. But at least contacts could be made. In earlier years it would have been “Oh, there’s tropo between G/GM and JO43/53 but not here” in CW/SSB but in this case FT8 really had an advantage (although I wished I could have worked all these contacts in SSB, too). 😉

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:38  LA7EU         JO59KT   -15   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR    764
06:42  LA3YNA        JO48NS   -16   -22    2 m.  FT8     TR    696
07:26  LA8AV         JO59CS   -15   -13    2 m.  FT8     TR    772
08:28  YL3AJE        KO16VP   -18   -19    2 m.  FT8     TR    722
08:52  SMØWW         JO99KO   -14   -12    2 m.  FT8     TR    768
08:55  YL2GC         KO26AW   -09   -19    2 m.  FT8     TR    751
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo seems to be over

Tropo shifting

The high pressure system is moving to the North-East. So just one QSO to Scotland still in the morning and nothing during the day but I also had to concentrate on QRL again. 😉 In the evening it was Scandinavia then but no big distances from here. Still nice to work all the guys in Sweden and Norway and even two times Finland. Also heard ES8AJM/KO18 but he was in & out only and busy working others.

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:11  MMØOBT        IO86CC   +01   +08    2 m.  FT8     TR   1198
17:50  OH7XM         KP2ØEC   -10   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR    986
17:54  SMØWW         JO99KO   -18   -13    2 m.  FT8     TR    768
18:10  SM4ONW        JP7ØQN   -20   +10    2 m.  FT8     TR    823
18:33  SMØBSO        JO99BG   -16   -07    2 m.  FT8     TR    718
18:45  LA5AKA        JO49UC   -16   +04    2 m.  FT8     TR    714
18:48  LA1KUA        JP5ØTW   -20   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR    875
18:56  LA3BO         JO59CD   +16   +14    2 m.  FT8     TR    707
19:29  SM3LBN        JP8ØIO   -09   -03    2 m.  FT8     TR    838
19:47  SAØCCA        JO89XG   -08   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR    715
20:28  SM5FGQ        JO88BK   -11   +01    2 m.  FT8     TR    596
20:36  SMØMDG        JO99AH   -01   +09    2 m.  FT8     TR    721
20:38  SMØMLZ        JO99FM   -11   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR    751
20:40  LA3QAA        JO59IK   -19   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR    727
21:03  SMØMDG        JO99AH   +00   +11    2 m.  FT8     TR    721
21:04  LY2R          KO15KQ   -24   -13    2 m.  FT8     TR    625
21:41  OH1ND         KPØØXL   -10   +04    2 m.  FT8     TR    936
21:46  SA5ACR        JO88FR   -17   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR    632
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo shifting

Tropo still

Still pretty stable signals from Northern U.K. today. GI4SNA was pounding in all day long, amazing. Early evening EI2GLB popped up but was in & out only on FT8 but I finally caught him and thus crossing the 1.400 km mark.

But the most enjoyable QSO was made with EI4IR in SSB being even further away! 😎 I always check when I see signals popping up in the SSB portion of the band and wouldn’t believe it when Patrick called CQ on .300 with a rather stable and loud enough signal. He was only running 80 watts which made it even more cool. 😎 A pity I was not set up to record audio from the FLEX setup.

My ODX in this tropo session was then even further extended when catching EI8KN (this time FT8 again) later this evening … 1.441 km isn’t too shabby. 🙂

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
11:44  MIØXZZ        IO74CU   -09   +02    2 m.  FT8     TR   1315
12:49  G4JIX         IO94FQ   -16   -15    2 m.  FT8     TR   1042
12:56  2MØETJ        IO85JA   -10   -15    2 m.  FT8     TR   1150
13:10  MØCVX         IO93XB   -15   -15    2 m.  FT8     TR    949
13:50  G3YDY         JOØ1FQ   -13   -14    2 m.  FT8     TR    945
13:52  GØGQT         JOØ1GJ   -19   -15    2 m.  FT8     TR    949
14:07  GI4SNA        IO64XM   +09   +04    2 m.  FT4     TR   1331
16:10  G4BNM         IO93EV   -14   -02    2 m.  FT8     TR   1047
16:18  EI2GLB        IO63MD   -16   +00    2 m.  FT8     TR   1405
16:41  GIØRWO        IO74AO   -16   -01    2 m.  FT8     TR   1326
16:46  GWØUDJ        IO83JG   -19   -04    2 m.  FT8     TR   1156
16:51  G3NSM         IO91IS   +02   -18    2 m.  FT8     TR   1059
17:22  GD6ICR        IO74PF   -17   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR   1246
------------------------------------------------------------------
18:26  G4PIQ         JOØ2OD    52    55    2 m.  SSB     TR    883
18:40  EI4IR         IO63HN    55    57    2 m.  SSB     TR   1426
------------------------------------------------------------------
18:51  G4CCZ         IO91RI   -11   -16    2 m.  FT8     TR   1022
19:00  MØWBK         JOØ1JM   -03   -12    2 m.  FT8     TR    928
19:07  LA1BNA        JO49UC   -06   +11    2 m.  FT8     TR    714
19:40  EI8KN         IO62JF   -17   -06    2 m.  FT8     TR   1441
19:44  MMØGPZ        IO75WS   -14   +00    2 m.  FT8     TR   1214
19:46  GØGMB         IO92NB   -13   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR   1023
19:58  GIØOTC        IO65QE   -12   -13    2 m.  FT8     TR   1368
20:16  G4OBK         IO94OF   -16   +07    2 m.  FT8     TR    992
20:27  G4IHZ         IO93GN   -11   -01    2 m.  FT8     TR   1038
20:31  G4LPP         JOØ2SS   +02   +02    2 m.  FT8     TR    848
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo still

Tropo continues

Tropo condx continued today. There were some long distance contacts reported to the East in the morning, too, but only UR4WWT heard and worked over here which is pretty much normal tropo range (worked him several times on CW in the July contests before), else it was westwards only again.It all concentrated on the northern part of England plus Scotland, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. Most of the IO74/75 and IO85/86 guys were in more or less continually while all the others were rather in & out so you had to be quick (there were a number of non-completed contacts, too).

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
08:08  UR4WWT        KO2ØDC   -15   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR    774
15:57  2MØETJ        IO85JA   -02   -07    2 m.  FT8     TR   1150
16:07  MØSLY         IO93VS   -09   -08    2 m.  FT8     TR    954
16:24  MØCTP         IO93QV   -06   -06    2 m.  FT8     TR    981
16:33  MØXVF         IO94EQ   -11   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR   1047
17:29  GD3YEO        IO74RD   -14   -18    2 m.  FT8     TR   1236
17:34  G4KUX         IO94BP   -13   -04    2 m.  FT8     TR   1063
17:35  G4PIQ         JOØ2OD   -24   -16    2 m.  FT8     TR    883
17:41  MMØCEZ        IO75XU   -18   -13    2 m.  FT8     TR   1210
18:04  MMØZBH        IO86IB   -20   +04    2 m.  FT8     TR   1167
18:07  G4VCJ         IO94JQ   -13   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR   1020
18:39  GI4FUE        IO74CR   -16   -20    2 m.  FT8     TR   1315
18:57  G4UGB         IO84OD   -19   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR   1122
19:00  G4IJM         IO94IM   -14   -07    2 m.  FT8     TR   1025
19:03  G4HGI         IO83PL   -03   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR   1121
20:32  G4BEE         IO83RQ   -15   -17    2 m.  FT8     TR   1108
20:53  G1MHU         IO93GO   -16   -08    2 m.  FT8     TR   1037
21:04  MDØMAN        IO74RE   -11   +09    2 m.  FT8     TR   1236
21:33  MIØXZZ        IO74CU   -23   -04    2 m.  FT8     TR   1315
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo continues

Tropo

Finally with a stable high pressure system across the North Sea and nice autumn weather (one month later we would call it a Golden October, hi) we got a little tropo, too. Not well suited here in JO73, it’s much better 100 km north in JO64 and even better in JO43/53 with quite some SSB contacts made there, too (where I can only hear the German guys but not the DX). So FT8 needs to do the job and it indeed delivers. Completed the following QSOs today:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
20:52  GM3SEK        IO74SR   -09   -01    2 m.  FT8     TR   1229
21:02  G8EKG         IO92ET   -19   -21    2 m.  FT8     TR   1058
21:02  GI4SNA        IO64XM   -12   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR   1331
21:15  MIØXZZ        IO74CU   -20   -10    2 m.  FT8     TR   1315
21:17  GM4FVM        IO85WU   -13   -07    2 m.  FT8     TR   1092
21:33  GØJCC         IO82MA   -21   -20    2 m.  FT8     TR   1163
21:33  GI6ATZ        IO74AJ   -17   -15    2 m.  FT8     TR   1326
21:43  MMØOBT        IO86CC   -03   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR   1198
21:47  GØSYP         IO83TK   -15   -11    2 m.  FT8     TR   1099
21:52  GM4GUF        IO85EP   -15   -03    2 m.  FT8     TR   1182
21:54  GM4JIB        IO85AQ   -19   -05    2 m.  FT8     TR   1203
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Tropo

WPX-CW ’19 World Win Plaque

Nice surprise when getting back home today. The plaque for winning the world on 10 m in WPX-CW last year [1][2][3] (a once in a lifetime event from here) was finally received. 😎 Doug, K1DG, managing the plaque program of the CQ WW WPX Contest, had already sent one in February but it never arrived over here. 🙁 After a few month’ we finally declared it lost and Doug was kind enough to make a new one and send it over. This one now arrived within 3 weeks as expected. Many thanks Doug, appreciate your efforts!

Posted in Awards, Contesting | Comments Off on WPX-CW ’19 World Win Plaque

Perseids final

My final day being active in this year’s Perseids. Seems there was a second peak (or THE peak?) of meteor activity this morning. My gut feeling is the shower is still not on par with recent years. There were very few reflections today (better in the morning with a sharp decline around noon) but the ones that were there were all very long, typical for after the maximum.

Did work UA3TCF/LO26 for another new square making it 7 in total. Wow, would not have expected that many! Maybe 2 or 3 but definitely not more than half a dozen. Great. 😎

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:28  UR7IMM        KN88TR   +01   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1704
06:52  RA1AW         KO59DU   +17   +09    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1228
07:00  F4VPC         IN87VV   +04   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1296
07:11  F5DYD/P       JNØ3KG   +17   +08    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1475
07:28  GØHVQ         IO81UX   +14   +12    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1120
07:52  EB5EEO        IM98PG   +03   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   2013
08:06  GØSYP         IO83TK   +06   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1099
08:30  EA2BFM        IN83MG   +04   +01    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1675
09:52  UA3QC         KO91PR   +18   +16    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1698
10:07  UA3TCF        LO26IU   +05   +11    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1968
11:59  UT7EW         KN78MM   +11   +11    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1545
12:42  RG4D          LO31AM   +09   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   2151
13:45  RM5P          KO84VH   +19   +01    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1548
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Perseids final

More new ones thanks to the meteors

Did we see the Perseids maximum already? Predictions suggested it would be early morning 12 August. The screenshot right (click to enlarge) seems to confirm it. If the maximum is over already it has indeed been the worst Perseids I every experienced …

Better luck on the “low bands” (of the VHF ones at least, hi) today. After several attempts I finally finished with LA7QIA/JO29 for a new locator on 4 m. 🙂 Four also opened shortly via Sporadic-E into the Mediterranean. Worked GW8ASA during that time, too, but due to the nature of the QSO, i.e. no constant signal compared to the EA’s,  I think it was rather Meteor Scatter with some good bursts. Also made a short appearance on 6 m to grab SM3LBN/JP62 as a new one. 🙂

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:03  LA7QIA        JO29TA   +06   -01    4 m.  MSK144  MS    837
11:43  EA4T          IN7ØXK   +06   -11    4 m.  FT8     ES   1973
11:45  EA6SA         JM19LO   +05   +03    4 m.  FT8     ES   1734
11:55  GW8ASA        IO81AP   -12   -16    4 m.  FT8     MS   1240
14:50  MMØCEZ        IO75XU   +06   +04    4 m.  MSK144  MS   1210
------------------------------------------------------------------
12:45  EA4T          IN7ØXK   +01   -08    6 m.  MSK144  MS   1973
12:45  SM3LBN/P      JP62XA   +04   +00    6 m.  MSK144  MS    982
------------------------------------------------------------------

A bunch of nice QSOs were made on 2 m, too. UA3LAZ/KO65 provided another new square. 😎 I was wondering why people who had worked UA6LQZ yesterday (as I did, too) were calling him again today. It did not take long to recognize from his CQs that he moved on from LN19 to LN18 so I quickly QSO’d him for another new square, too. Was using the smaller remote setup (Flex-6600, ME2HT-PRO transverter by HA1YA, 800 W SSPA + 9 ele G0KSC LFA-Yagi @12 m) to catch him as I was busy with the main local rig (IC-9700, GS35 + 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi @21 m) in parallel working RU4NG/LO48 for another new square. 😎 RU4NG heard me on MSK144 over 2.250 km while I was beaming 40° off! We switched to FSK441 (which has a gain advantage of about 2-3 dB over MSK144 and also decodes smaller pings up to 200 ms) and started a dedicated sked away from the crowd. Patience was needed, it took 1:15 hours to complete but it was certainly worth it. 😉 Luckily it is common standard to use 30 seconds periods for both, FSK441 and MSK144, on 2 m in Europe else I would not have been able to run two rigs in parallel without QRM’ing myself. 🙂

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:41  IV3MUR/P      JN65VP    26    26    2 m.  FSK441  MS    839
07:26  RA1AEP        KP40RE   +11   +14    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1209
07:38  LZ5GM         KN32RM   +12   -01    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1539
07:59  OH5ELO        KP41CA   +19   +10    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1209
10:24  ES4RM         KO49AL   +11   +10    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1099
11:26  RW3TJ         LO16XG   +07   +06    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1924
11:33  UT8AL         KO61WP   +07   +17    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1340
11:38  UA3XAC        KO85HC   +21   +11    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1468
12:15  R3MW          LOØ7DL   +13   +08    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1705
12:30  UA3LAZ        KO65OC   +15   +03    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1251
13:11  SM2A          KPØ4NP   +09   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1332
13:23  TK5JJ         JN42QF   +08   -02    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1270
14:05  UR7HLL        KN69LX   +15   +24    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1339
14:12  R6CS          KN95BW   +18   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1891
14:33  UR3VKC        KN68NT   +03   +04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1405
14:48  UR4LSK        KO8ØCA   +00   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1552
18:23  ER1AN         KN46KX   +11   +06    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1250
18:42  RD3B          LOØ1NV   +14   +06    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1815
19:00  LZ1JH         KN12PQ   +05   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1347
19:54  UA6LQZ        LN18BW   +10   +04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1993
20:44  RU4NG         LO48RR    26    26    2 m.  FSK441  MS   2249
21:04  UR5HVR        KN69TA   +06   +01    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1427
21:11  UA3QIN        KO91IN   +12   +11    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1664
21:37  YU7MS         KNØ5FG   +17   +05    2 m.  MSK144  MS    989
22:38  9A5RJ         JN86EL   +17   -02    2 m.  MSK144  TR    762
------------------------------------------------------------------

Kept the 4 m antenna pointing towards east tonight. Quite interesting meteor reflections visualization on the spectrum display with all the strong OIRT broadcast stations from Russia …

Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on More new ones thanks to the meteors

MS condx slowly improving

Besides playing with the satellites MS conditions improved a bit, too. Still way below usual for Perseids but at least three QSOs above 2.000 km already and three new squares with LO31, LN19 and IM79. 😎

Tried a little on 4 m, too, but except GW6TEO no QSOs completed. Seems my QRP setup (20 watts + 5 ele Yagi) struggles much more on MS than ever before. 🙁

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
06:17  UA1AJY        KO49VV   +11   +04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1207
06:30  UA6LJV        KN97LE   +21   +12    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1872
06:45  RK3AF         KO75WO   +08   +11    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1422
07:17  OH6UW         KP22WI   +06   +16    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1227
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:26  GW6TEO        IO71LP   -02   +02    4 m.  MSK144  MS   1312
------------------------------------------------------------------
07:30  YL2IV         KOØ6OL   +03   +17    2 m.  MSK144  TR    578
08:28  UA1MC         KP4ØQJ   +12   +20    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1217
08:35  RC3UE         LOØ7NG   +03   +04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1753
11:35  RQ7R          KN64SO   +08   -02    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1696
11:49  R7BN          LNØ5BU   +13   +05    2 m.  MSK144  MS   2026
12:16  UR7IMM        KN88TR   +09   -04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1704
12:40  RG4D          LO31AM   +04   +08    2 m.  MSK144  MS   2151
12:49  R3QN          LOØØBK   +13   +10    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1797
13:18  UA6LQZ        LN19AN   +13   +06    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1960
13:29  RJ7M          KN97KE   +03   +04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1867
14:22  YO5LD         KN17WW   +19   +02    2 m.  MSK144  MS    897
19:35  R2PA          KO84TF   +14   +07    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1538
20:21  RA3LBK        KO64PW   -01   +08    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1256
20:38  US8AR         KO6ØRR   +02   +12    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1342
20:46  RA3LJ         KO64AS   +09   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1176
23:18  EG4MS         IM79HL    28    26    2 m.  FSK441  MS   2127
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on MS condx slowly improving

Working the birds …

Started playing with the satellite function of our IC-9700 during the last few days to escape the boredom of too few MS reflections. 😉

I made my first satellite QSOs back in 1992 not much later than getting my first VHF license. Back then it meant the world to me being able to work biiig distances with my small equipment. My favourite sat was the Russian RS-10/11 which was very sensitive so 20 watts into a half-wave vertical on the 2 m uplink produced a loud and clear signal on the 10 m downlink with just a simple wire antenna. Due to it’s height in orbit QSOs could easily be made up to about 4.000 km. 😎 A few portable activities a few years later gave access to AO-13 with it’s “world-wide” foot print and much more DX, too. Was active until about 1997 then starting QRL and being hundreds of kilometers away from home with no own station I was not very active anymore and when I had a chance to operate I rather concentrated on contesting on HF and VHF. 😉

Nowadays there’s quite a number of Amateur Radio LEO (Low Earth Orbiting) Satellites in space that allow communication without too much effort. A few FM-only birds (AO-91, AO-92, PO-101) but also a number of sats with linear transponders (XW-2A, XW-2B, XW-2C, CAS-4A, CAS-4B, RS-44). Unfortunately it seems activity on the linear sats has vanished over the years, too. Most of the time I was the only guy on the transponder, quite a pity. Activity there seems to concentrate on the weekends or evening hours.

DH8BQA, IK1ZOZ/8 & OH5LK on CAS-4A:

The contrary on the FM birds, always much activity and people QRM’ing each other more often than needed. Of course this happens, it’s a single channel only, no different to terestrial repeaters. The linear sats would offer much more space for everybody …

I was using the ‘9700 barefoot with a horizontal 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi on 2 m and just a 6 x 5/8 lambda vertical on 70 cm. Not the best setup as both antennas work best at low elevations due to their vertical patterns and both linear polarized. So I had difficulties at times hearing the birds or accessing them but after all still made about 70 QSOs during the last few days with the most enjoyable probably being W2RDJ/FN32 in SSB with over 6.200 km distance through the good old and still sometimes working AO-7. Other good DX included R9LR/MO27 at 3.200 km and EA8/EA4NF from IL39 at 3.400 km on the FM birds.

R9LR on AO-92:

Unfortunately CN8JQ and OX3AH, which would have been new satellite DXCCs for me, could only be heard …

OX3AH on AO-92 just when ‘loosing’ the satellite here:

More information about Amateur Radio Satellites can be found on the websites of AMSAT, AMSAT-UK, AMSAT-DL and many others (Google’s your friend). Here are a few more sound snippets if all this is new to you. Stereo audio, left channel is satellite RX, right channel local audio.

AO-92/Fox-1D ID’ing itself (whenever it crosses from light into darkness?):

Quite a good pass of AO-91/Fox-1C:

UT5EDU worked on PO-101 (a rather difficult bird):

RS-44 CW ID on 70 cm being 3.500 km away:

Posted in Audio recordings, Satellite, UHF, VHF | Comments Off on Working the birds …

Quite a slow start

Not many reflections yet. A few long and strong ones as I produced at RQ3P (see screenshot) but still much less than we’re used to from earlier years. Usually spending most of my time on MS beaming East. Activity by the friends in Russia has been rising constantly during the last few years so chances are much higher to work new stations or even new squares from that direction. And it’s possible to work higher distances i.e. better DX to the East, too. It’s difficult to the West as there’s only water (Atlantic Ocean) “behind” G/EI as seen from here in JO73 wich limits distances to about 1.500 km max. (if there’s no maritime mobile activities, hi). Same to the South, not much to work in the Mediterranean. So only 3 QSOs on MS today:

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
08:02  RT3G          KO92UP   +06   +13    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1701
08:19  RQ3P          KO84UF   +17   +00    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1543
09:51  SM/DG5CST     JP73JB   +15   +06    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1098
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Quite a slow start

Perseids have started

It was quite quiet on the blog here during the last few days and weeks. Not much time to play radio but as one of the most intense Meteor Showers of the year is approaching I decided to take a week off QRL and spend the time at the contest QTH. Arrived today, set up the station and did the first MS QSOs already …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND  MODE   PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
13:36  UA3MBJ        KO87QV   +14   +08    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1539
20:44  R6CS          KN95BW   +09   -04    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1891
20:57  UA6LJV        KN97LE   +05   +14    2 m.  MSK144  MS   1872
------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on Perseids have started

DARC July VHF Contest ’20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ODX     : YT4B in JN94SE at 1074 km

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

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

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

A band-pass filter for 144 MHz

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

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

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

Full sweep from 0 to 200 MHz

Zoomed into the HF spectrum only – at least -65 dB on all amateur bands 😎

Flat passband across the whole 2 m band

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

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

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

Rare 2 m ES to the Northeast

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

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

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