CQ WPX CW 2019

Boy, THAT was fun, what a weekend! We had continous Sporadic-E on Saturday for over 16 hours straight, very wide-spread, open to almost everywhere all the time, no matter where the antenna was pointing to!

Big signals and stations wall to wall

Would you believe this is sunspot mimimum?

I had set a new German category record in 2016 with a bit over 800 QSOs and 507k points. Well, I went to bed with 800 QSOs under the belt already Saturday evening. 😎 So a new record was in reach although points-wise I was much behind as there was more DX to be worked 3 years ago. So kept my fingers crossed during the night that propagation would continue. But with Sporadic-E you never know … that’s why they call it sporadic. πŸ˜‰

A less crowded band on Sunday

Sunday was much slower and thus hard(er) work. The band was still open almost all day long but more patchy and it felt like much less activity. Or maybe it’s just the limit of workable/available stations in Europe? At least when “sitting in the middle” which is certainly the case with my location. That means too little distance to the main activity centers for normal Sporadic-E. Luckily it was even shortskip this weekend and I could work a few inner-DL contacts as well which helped the QSO total and multiplier count a bit, too, I guess. Shortest distance worked where I’m sure it was via ES (mainly due to signal strength, you don’t produce S9+ signals over that path on troposcatter, but also judging from ES cloud locations monitored on dxmaps.com) was around 350 km west of Hamburg. Cool stuff! 😎

94,8 % of the QSOs were made within Europe. Contacts outside Europe included DX like HS, 4L, 4J, 4S7, 9K2, BY, EX and VU in Asia, PY and LU in South America as well as 8P6 and KP4 in North America. Except the usual “nearshore” countries like EA8, CT3, 7X and CN nothing else was worked from Africa. Details can be seen in my SH5 analysis.

Finished with over 1.200 QSOs in total, never would have thought to make that many QSOs this weekend! Easily broke my own old German record and am eager to see how the competition did. Fortunately the preliminary results, i.e. before log checking, should be available within a week or so …

                   CQWW WPX Contest, CW - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: GERMANY
Operating Time (hrs): 30:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   10: 1215
------------
Total: 1175  Prefixes = 574  Total Score = 742,182

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
RIG: IC-7300, PA + 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagi @60ft.
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WPX CW 2019

Old & new, strange QRM plus some 4 m contacts

Arrived at the station early this afternoon. Brought the IC-7300 along for WPX-CW this weekend as well as (hopefully!) some fun on 4 m during the next few days (a week of holidays next week). Second radio I took with me is my old Kenwood TS-660 which has been in storage for the last few years. It’s kind of a collection item, took me a few years to find one in good condition and finally bought it from someone in Italy around 2011/12 if memory serves me well. It’s one of the few “special” transceivers produced during the early 80ies that served the (back then) big market of Japanese Novice licensees with providing QRP power level (10 W) access to 15, 12, 10 & 6 m. There was a TS-670 (based on the TS-430) with 40, 15, 10 & 6 m, too, but I liked the design of the ‘660 (based on the TS-130) much better. I even used it with a small power amp for one or two seasons on 6 m and was quite satisfied. We also put it into temporary duty for the DB0UM/B beacon for a few month’ a few years ago. Now packing everything for our move of house it was about time to get it on the air once more. πŸ˜‰

New and old: Left the Icom IC-7300 modern direct sampling SDR of 2018, right the Kenwood TS-660 discrete components transceiver of 1981. Exactly the same size, but 100 W on all bands from 160 to 4 m in the ‘7300 while only 10 W on 4 bands in the ‘660. Now quite some features missing but still very enjoyable!

It still works perfectly well. I made a few QSOs on all of it’s four bands this afternoon. And it still gets unsolicited good audio reports! Nevertheless I meanwhile prefer all the new technology and don’t want to miss the bandscope in the ‘7300 on 4 m anymore. It was a clear advantage this afternoon again seeing the SV beacons suddenly pop up as well as SV’s calling CQ on 70.200 as well as signals showing up on 70.154, the FT8 frequency. Nice to get a feeling for band conditions visually, too!

Speaking of 4 m we had a nice 1 hour opening today providing 2 new gridsquares with KM19 and KN13. Another new one was JO44, good to see some more DL activity, too! Seems all the new stuff on the market including 4 m (IC-7100, IC-7300, IC-7610, TS-890S, FT-DX101D plus several new and reasonably priced transverters) help a lot … Unfortunately only 1 non-FT8 contact. 😐

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
12:52 SV2KGA         KN1ØGG    59    55    4 m.   SSB   ES    1567
13:01 SV4AAQ         KM19LI   +06   -09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1675
13:03 SV1OH          KM18VA   +13   -07    4 m.   FT8   ES    1839
13:04 SV2DCD         KNØØPL   +04   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1510
13:09 SV4AAQ         KM19LI   +02   -16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1675
13:16 LZ2OG          KN13RH   -16   -06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1291
13:24 LZ2WO          KN23AL   +16   +06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1298
13:25 YO7BSN         KN15PB   +06   -02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1117
13:50 DL7UAW         JO62OM   -01   -12    4 m.   FT8   TR     100
13:52 SV3AQO         KMØ8UF   -01   -11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1759
16:19 DL8FBD         JO4ØKA   -09   -16    4 m.   FT8   TR     509
16:22 DL7ULA         JO62RR   -06   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR      72
18:02 DL6LAG         JO44XG   +06   -08    4 m.   FT8   TR     304
------------------------------------------------------------------

While scanning around 6 m I stumbled across some strange QRM, see the following screenshot. Think it’s some kind of OHR (over the horizon radar).

Spectrum of some wideband QRM, probably caused by an OHR.

I know there are a few OHRs in Russia (often to be seen on 20 m) as well as the famous one in Cyprus that regularly killed parts of the 10 m band during sunspot maximum. But I have never seen one on 6 m yet?!

Posted in Equipment, Propagation, QRP, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Old & new, strange QRM plus some 4 m contacts

Some youth work

Well, I didn’t post much personal information in this blog yet. After all it’s about amateur radio and related activities and not my personal life. But with this blog entry both combine perfectly so let’s get a little more personal. πŸ˜‰

My girlfriend Frauke (who also joined me on our last radio activities abroad) has 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. Annika (Annie) is the youngest one and now 13. Different to her brothers she’s also interested in how things work. She attended a school practice last year where she learned how to program a little game on a Raspberry Pi. She told us she liked it a lot so buying a Pi and digging deeper into it is on our to-do list. πŸ˜‰

A few weeks ago her smartphone developed a fault – the speaker was not working anymore. Unwilling to buy yet another phone I had a different idea: I ordered a small audio amplifier kit designed for smartphones and MP3 players and told her she would have to build it on her own but of course I would be helping her. The kit arrived last Monday. She was excited about it and told us daily how much she was looking forward to learning to solder! Finally yesterday was the big day: mom was working and Annie and I spent a great father/daughter afternoon together. 😎

The kit is called SOL-EXP 78669 and available from Reichelt Electronics, one of my favourite electronics suppliers. It consists of some wood work for a nice enclosure as well as the soldering part. It is well thought out and includes very good step-by-step instructions. I can really recommend it as a beginner’s and fun project. It took us about 3 hours to complete working carefully.

Here are a few impressions …

Annie eager to finally start.

The kit comes complete with all parts.

First some woodwork …

… glueing the parts together.

Enclosure preparations done.

Enclosure preparations done.

Soldering the first component.

A few parts only, great for beginners.

PCB and wiring done.

It’s a snug fit.

Great looking, isn’t it? 😎

They even did labeling on the wood. πŸ˜‰

I only soldered the first resistor to show her how to do it. Afterwards Annie did all the other parts on her own and she did it like a pro! I checked the soldering every now and then and it was really perfect! To be honest I would not have expected that as the vias on the PCB were not that big. Seems she’s a natural. πŸ˜‰

Here’s a short video of her first component, see how excited she is!

She already asked what our next project will be – now how cool’s that? 😎 Unfortunately the soldering station is now packed already so the next one will have to wait until we’ve moved to Hamburg. Thinking about it I still have some transistor and small valve radio kits in one of the boxes … maybe that will get her even interested in amateur radio? πŸ˜‰

Posted in Equipment, General stuff | Comments Off on Some youth work

No VHF May contest this year … at least for me

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the guys last weekend as I was bound in QRL. Must have been a first in over 20 years. πŸ™ Thus no story nor results from me this time but Uwe, DL3BQA, wrote a few words in his German language blog, see here.

Posted in Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on No VHF May contest this year … at least for me

CQ WPX SSB 2019

Travelled the 2 x 700 km to and from our contest station last weekend again to take part in this year’s CQ WPX SSB contest. Uwe/DL3BQA and Peter/DM5DX had done a small multi OP activity during Russian DX two weeks ago and had set up an 80 m groundplane about 100 meters away from the main antenna towers with big help of Heiko/DG1BHA. It was still up so Uwe decided to be active as an SOSB80 entry with the special event callsign DR5ØDIG (50 years Diploma Interests Group).

I was not sure what category to choose initially. To be honest I rather took the opportunity to take part in the contest to get away from it all and free up my mind from all the current QRL stuff as well as relocation preparations (we will move from Cologne to Hamburg in summer as I’m changing QRL). So I took it leisurely having a good night’s sleep Friday night before starting into the contest well relaxed on Saturday morning. 😎

As the 80 m GP was far enough away from the other antennas we did not have any interstation interference this time and I could make use of all other bands in parallel to Uwe. Quite nice for a change. πŸ˜‰ So I started handing out points on 40 & 20 m with Fourty providing most of the fun (and QSOs) especially during the midmornings and early afternoons both days. Great to be called by juicy DX like ZL, BY, YB, etc. with just a simple dipole. 😎 Condx on 20 m were not too good and 15 m was basically closed on Saturday. The latter saw a nice Sporadic-E opening Sunday morning with great signals from OH, UA3, EW, etc. and even a few South Americans later on. But activity was sparse, seems nobody expected it thus not many people checking the band regularly (a common problem during sunspot minimum). Unfortunately the E-skip MUF didn’t rise up to 28 MHz although I checked 10 m regularly, too.

This time I also remembered to switch on the QSOrder application to record the contest QSOs again πŸ˜‰ (except the first 4 or 5 as I had initially chosen the wrong soundcard as the recording device). All the QSO snippets have been uploaded and are available on the QSOrder Cloud Search page.

As in “real live” appetite comes with eating πŸ˜‰ so the more I was into the contest the more fun I had and soon set the goal of 2 mio points, exactly what I needed to reach the BCC’s Frequent Contester Goal with WPX-SSB already. As 20 m was not very productive concerning QSO numbers as well as North America openings (the NA’s normally provide about 40-50% of the prefix multipliers) it indeed took until Sunday evening. When I finally reached it and thought of closing down Uwe dropped by into my shack (we have two separate rooms) to tell me he was too tired to continue until the end and would go home now as he needed to get up very early for QRL Monday morning. So I used the opportunity to also do a few QSOs as “fresh meat” on 80 m. Made 180 QSOs in 1 hour … boy, THAT was fun! 😎

A few minutes of the 80 m pileup:

Even maintained a 30 min rate of 200/h and the 10 min rate meter was up to 220 once! While I did rates > 200/h even for 2 and 3 hours in sunspot maximum on 10 m during WWDX-SSB contests in the past (good old times, sigh) it is much more difficult in WPX-SSB with serial number exchanges and no prefilled CQ zones. Quite an adrenaline rush … definitely did not have any signs of fatigue when driving back to town afterwards. πŸ˜€

So this is my final result. SH5 contest analysis is available here, too.

CQWW WPX Contest, SSB - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 26:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
  160:   62
   80:  185
   40:  818
   20:  385
   15:   50
   10:    0
------------
Total: 1500  Prefixes = 738  Total Score = 2,422,116

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX SSB 2019

BCC QSO Party

This year the Bavarian Contest Club (BCC) which I’m a member of wants to activate more than 80% of its members in the main contests with club competitions. One part of this year’s program was/is also two BCC QSO parties. The first one was held today and lots of fun! 😎

Exchange (and multiplier) was/is one’s own T-Shirt size as every member active will get a club shirt at the end of the year. So cheating with one’s exchange might be counterproductive. πŸ˜‰

I took part remotely. While everything worked fine during the CW & SSB time slots of 30 min each I had some audio trouble during the RTTY slot which cost me about 5 min OP time, i.e. almost 20% of the time slot and probably 4-5 QSOs. Not sure what the reason was as it vanished all alone …

Anyway, here’s the result. Already looking forward to the next one in September! 😎

                   BCC QSO Party Summary Sheet

    CallSign Used : DH8BQA

Operator Category : SINGLE-OP
             Band : 80M
            Power : LOW
             Mode : MIXED+DIG
 Default Exchange : XXL
       Gridsquare : JO73CE

        Club/Team : Bavarian Contest Club

        Band  Mode   QSOs   MemPts  NonMemPts  Mults
         3,5  CW      38      66        5        10
         3,5  LSB     36      68        2         8
         3,5  RTTY    26      50        1         5
       Total  Both   100     184        8        23

       Score : 4416

         Rig : K3, 100W
    Antennas : Dipol
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on BCC QSO Party

V31FO/V37DX QSL designs finished & first cards sent

Finished designing the QSLs for our recent trip to Belize and got the first batch of cards from the printer. Made a few adjustments and out of the 5 different motives test-printed decided to use these two for all the paperwork:

(Click to see front and back as PDF file)

(Click to see front and back as PDF file)

Don’t be confused by the white edging on the FO card. These are the original files sent to the printer and cards will be cut by 3 mm on each side during the printing process so there won’t be any edging afterwards anymore. I just wanted to have as much as possible picture content visible. πŸ˜‰

Received 40 direct QSL requests through OQRS so far as well as 3 real direct cards (not sure if people can’t read, OQRS is so much easier and cheaper for the requestor, too!) that have been answered using the test cards already. 😎

Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions, QSLs | Comments Off on V31FO/V37DX QSL designs finished & first cards sent

March VHF Contest ’19

Trying to escape the Cologne carnival activities πŸ˜‰ the VHF contest this weekend was a welcome opportunity to drive the 700 km to our JO73 QTH once more and meet with our local guys Heiko, DG1BHA, Uwe, DL3BQA, and Peter, DM5DX, to take part in this one as a multi-op entry.

Conditions were rather bad, can’t remember when we last had so few DX-QSOs in the log. Normally the Top 10 contacts are well above 800 km, sometimes even the Top 20. Not so this time. The QSO with 9A8D took almost 10 minutes to complete and needed lots of patience and repeats and waiting for the signals to rise out of the noise again to copy the next bit of information …

Nevertheless fun was had by all and our impression was activity was a little higher than usual, can’t remember ever doing more than 400 QSOs in March, at least not from the club QTH. But would have to check back through old results to be sure. πŸ˜‰

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

Contest : DARC-March-Contest 2019
Date    : 2019 Mar 02 to 2019 Mar 03
Section : 02 144MHz Multi OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

Co-OPs  : DG1BHA;DH8BQA;DL3BQA;DM5DX

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

QSOs    :  413
-invalid:    1                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  412     QSO-points (*1) :    155035              376
WWLs    :   66     WWL bonus (0)   :         0                0
DXCCs   :   15     DXCC bonus (0)  :         0                0
                   ---------------------------           ------
                   Total score     :    155035              376

ODX     : 9A8D in JN95LM at 919 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN37:  1   JN78:  4   JO20:  2   JO44:  3   JO62: 26   JO80:  5   
JN39:  4   JN79:  8   JO21:  2   JO46:  2   JO63:  5   JO82:  3   
JN47:  3   JN86:  2   JO22:  1   JO50: 14   JO64:  2   JO83:  1   
JN48:  3   JN87:  1   JO30:  9   JO51: 15   JO65:  6   JO84:  1   
JN49: 16   JN88:  6   JO31: 21   JO52: 22   JO67:  1   JO90:  7   
JN57:  2   JN89: 13   JO32:  3   JO53:  9   JO68:  1   JO91:  1   
JN58:  9   JN95:  1   JO33:  1   JO54:  4   JO70: 16   JO94:  1   
JN59:  9   JN97:  3   JO40:  6   JO55:  2   JO71: 17   KN08:  1   
JN68:  8   JN98:  5   JO41:  7   JO57:  1   JO72:  7   KN09:  1   
JN69:  6   JN99:  8   JO42: 22   JO60: 13   JO73:  4   KO02:  1   
JN77:  2   JO10:  1   JO43: 10   JO61: 19   JO77:  1   KO04:  1   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   1   HA :   5   OK :  54   OZ :   7   S5 :   1   SP :  26   
DL : 281   HB :   3   OM :  11   PA :   5   SM :   7   UA2:   1   
F  :   1   OE :   6   ON :   3   

Top 10 QSO-points:
20190303 1034 9A8D           559  343 599  164   JN95LM     919 
20190302 1405 HB9GF          59   003 59   006   JN37WB     817 
20190302 2215 HB9RF          59   244 59   191   JN47FB     795 
20190303 0923 ON4KHG         59   324 59   059   JO10XO     759 
20190303 1242 ON4IQ          51   390 55   010   JO20AR     748 
20190302 2142 S59P           59   232 59   224   JN86AO     744 
20190302 1536 HG1Z           59   078 59   075   JN86KU     730 
20190302 2211 HA5OO          59   243 59   104   JN97OM     723 
20190302 1933 HA6W           59   196 59   183   KN08FB     720 
20190303 1326 HB9CXK         59   409 59   082   JN47PM     720 
Posted in Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on March VHF Contest ’19

V31FO/V37DX – QSL Requests

Back home, what a pity. πŸ™ πŸ˜‰ I’ve just uploaded the 6.000 QSOs made in total to Clublog and configured OQRS. Feel free to click on the calls V31FO and/orΒ V37DX to search the respective online logs and request your card(s). Bureau cards are free as always (I’m a strong supporter of the bureau system) but I will be happy to send you a direct card, too, if you wish. Please allow a few weeks to design the QSLs and let them be printed …

I’ve requested LoTW certificates for both calls, too, but ARRL did not send them yet. Will upload there as soon as certificates were received. [EDIT 21.02.2019]: ARRL has just sent the certificates and all QSOs have been uploaded to LoTW, too. Let me know if you miss a QSO and I will be glad to check the log.

Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on V31FO/V37DX – QSL Requests

ARRL-DX-CW World Win?

F8DBF/TM5Y posted his resultsΒ today. From the raw scores I’m leading by about 6,2 % which is not that much. He worked 2 mults more, i.e. 62 out of the theoretically available 63 which is superb, congrats Sebastien!Haven’t seen any other competitive scores yet so will have to wait for the final scores with checked logs before being too happy upfront. I’m still wondering about the many dupes. Hopefully they are not a result of somebody else being on the same frequency as I was which would result in quite a number of NILs for me and dropping me easily behind TM5Y.

Posted in Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on ARRL-DX-CW World Win?

CQ-WPX-RTTY Raw Scores

Ed, WØYK, Contest Director of the WPX-RTTY, posted the raw scores of last weekend’s contest this morning. Seems I have reason to be quite happy with the result! 😎 I’m leading worldwide by 8,6 % compared to second place with ED8W which should normally hold through the log checking process … Final results will be published in the July issue of CQ magazine and simultaneously posted on the CQ-WPX-RTTY Contest website.

Posted in Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on CQ-WPX-RTTY Raw Scores

ARRL-DX-CW Contest V31FO/V37DX

Having fun as V37DX on Saturday.

This one is in the books now, too. And what a great experience! I decided to put in a serious effort into this one on 20 m, too. And I took last year’s World winning score of TM5Y as a benchmark. 😎 One might think it is easy to win from the Caribbean or Latin America but Sebastien’s location on the French West Coast is exceptionally good, too! He’s got nothing than water to North America and the band is open way longer (something like 3-4 hours!) than my German location. So he’s a serious competitor and you bet, he was QRV, too! I have not seen any results from him yet so eager to learn how he did …

The contest started quite well on Friday. Made 280 QSOs in the first two hours until the band closed here. Pileups were massive and all the stations zero-beating made it quite difficult to copy so I needed to ask for fills quite often. Saturday was great as well. Although the band closed an hour earlier than the days before I managed a whopping 1.200 QSOs that day! Others may smile tiredly about it, but keep in mind I’m just an average CW’er at best! I felt quite exhausted but very happy, too. πŸ˜‰

Sunday was rather catastrophic first! I couldn’t get much going during our local morning. Whatever I tried I couldn’t get the rate up, worst hour was even below 40 QSOs/hour! πŸ™ It only got better in the afternoon after propagation between North America and Europe ceased and people finally turned their antennas southwards. But I couldn’t make up for the losses anymore so finished with less than anticipated when going to bed Saturday evening. What’s a pity, too, is all the dupes! 160 is way too much! So out of the 2.340 QSOs made only 2.180 are valid contacts, what a pity. πŸ™

Anyway, all in all great fun nevertheless and a good result! Only regular multiplier missing is VO2/LB. No idea why, they are usually quite active in the contests. But so be it. Here are the V37DX totals on 20 m, let’s see what it’s good for …

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW - 2019

Call: V37DX
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: V31DL

Class: SOSB/20 HP
QTH: EK57nf
Operating Time (hrs): 25

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   20: 2339    60  (including dupes)
-------------------
Total: 2179    60  Total Score = 389,160

Comments:
IC-7300, IC-PW1 + Cushcraft X7

Inbetween the 20 m shifts I did a few QSOs as V31FO on 80 m, just for the fun of it. πŸ˜‰ Pileups were massive there, too, always a challenge with zero-beat callers, no chance to decipher anything then. Your only chance is callers with a bit off frequency shift or wait until the zero-beat callers stop calling which is quite unproductive, of course …

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW - 2019

Call: V31FO
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: V31DL

Class: SOSB/80 HP
QTH: EK57nf
Operating Time (hrs): 3

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   80:  418    54  (including dupes)
-------------------
Total:  412    54  Total Score = 66,582

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
IC-7300, IC-PW1 + dipole
Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on ARRL-DX-CW Contest V31FO/V37DX

Adding TG – Guatemala to my DXCC by Feet

Made it over the border to Guatemala today. Good for another point on my DXFC journey (just a small pistol there). πŸ˜‰ No radio activities there but a day trip only anyway, just to visit the Tikal Maya ruins. It took us about 4 hours to get there with all the border stuff costing over an hour alone. Quite an experience … πŸ˜‰

Coatis all around the Tikal area.

How high is the moon? πŸ˜‰

That’s just half of the paperwork needed to pass the Belizian Guatemalan border!

 

Posted in Expeditions, General stuff | Comments Off on Adding TG – Guatemala to my DXCC by Feet

Big Rock Falls

Exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve today we got the tip to visit the Five Sisters Falls. To be honest I was rather disappointed, there’s not much of waterfalls to my mind. But as chance would have it we saw a small sign named “Big Rock Falls” when going there. So on our way back we decided to take a look and descend about 150 feet height in rough terrain and were really surprised! Rather by coincidence we found that picturesque waterfall and had it all for our own! 😎

As we found out later by searching the internet it seems to be the second biggest waterfall of Belize and an insider tip. If only we would have looked it up earlier. πŸ˜‰Β  You will find similar photos on the internet but the one above was really taken by myself! Just a little color optimization added.

 

Posted in Expeditions, General stuff | Comments Off on Big Rock Falls

Eighty meters from the rain forest

Well, the “rain forest” speaks for itself, we had quite some rain during the last few days. Luckily it’s mostly during the night and not hindering day time activities too much. πŸ˜‰

I took the chance to be on 80 m last night (around sunrise in Europe). Even with just a simple dipole the station plays quite well and I’m hearing good so I worked almost exactly 200 QSOs in a bit under 2 hours. This time it was fun, indeed! Especially listened for the weak ones (even if it meant QSOs took a little longer) and was happy to hand out a new one to a number of low power/dipole stations in Europe. πŸ™‚

The only “negative” aspect this time was the XYL not being too happy when I only went to bed at 2 o’clock local time. But hey … 😎

Posted in DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on Eighty meters from the rain forest

Pileups vs. Sightseeing … and the winner is?

Was QRV on 20 & 17 m this morning. As mentioned in my contest report condx are worse now than a few days ago so didn’t work too many QSOs on 17 m. Twenty was more reliable but the pileup discipline of Europeans is really bad. Everybody was calling over and over no matter whom I called, nobody was listening. πŸ™ While I can certainly stand it it was not much fun and hey, this is my holiday and I am supposed to have fun, don’t I? So in this case sightseeing won, switched off the station and went to Xunantunich, one of Belize’ most famous Maya ruins. It’s a nice site well-maintained and well worth a visit!

The “El Castillo” pyramid from a distance.

El Castillo is the main temple of Xunantunich.

Carvings on the peak of the El Castillo pyramid (right side).

Carvings on the peak of the El Castillo pyramid (left side).

El Castillo is about 40 m high. It takes some physical condition to climb it. πŸ˜‰

It seems iguanas like it up there, too, spotted a few of them. πŸ˜‰

The physical exercise is rewarded by fantastic views far into Belize and Guatemala from the top of El Castillo.

Finally back “home” we enjoyed a romantic sunset on the patio again. The Lodge is a great place to be!

 

Posted in Expeditions, General stuff | Comments Off on Pileups vs. Sightseeing … and the winner is?

CQ-WPX-RTTY ’19 from Belize

Contest started local Friday evening 18 o’clock which is a nice time compared to in the middle of the night at 1 or 2 o’clock local in Europe. πŸ˜‰ Decided to go for a serious 20 m single band entry as 15 & 10 m would probably be (rather) dead and 20 m is the only remaining contest band with a gain antenna here even if it’s just a Cushcraft X7.

Contest nutrition from Monika’s garden. Thanks to my XYL Frauke for keeping me fed during the weekend. 😎

The band was well open for about 1.5 hours before it faded. From my CQ-WPX-RTTY contest experience as P4ØFA on Aruba a few years ago I did expect big(ger) pileups down here, too, but really struggled decoding the signals. I couldn’t get the rate over 50 QSOs which is just about half of what is achievable on a single radio with a pileup going on. It soon dawned on me that there might be problem somewhere. I had tested the station Friday morning and did a few RTTY QSOs, too, but it now felt like something was wrong. After about half an hour I decided to switch on the internal RTTY decoder of the IC-7300 and et voila, it could read the signals not decodeable on the PC?! Oh boy … πŸ™ So not to waste time I decided to use the radio itself for decoding and typing in all the QSO info manually into the log as long as the band would be open and take a closer look into the problem afterwards. Well, it turned out to be a problem with the soundcard built into the microHAM microKEYER II! πŸ™ The station got a serious hit from lightning a few month’ ago and while it seemed the MKII did survive it it now turned out it got damaged partly, too. Not that the soundcard would not work at all but audio quality was seriously degraded. Luckily the IC-7300 has a built-in USB soundcard, too, and after reconfiguring the station to use that one instead and the MKII only for FSK keying I was back in business with excellent decoding abilities now. 😎

Condx were quite okay on Saturday with exactly 1.000 QSOs before the band closed. So I hoped to finish somewhere around 1.800 QSOs +/- but condx deteriorated a lot and Sunday was much worse with lots of QSB and many repeats needed. Thus the 500 QSOs on day 2 were even harder work …

Anyway, here’s my V37DX result and I’m eager to learn what it will be good for. πŸ˜‰

                    CQ WPX RTTY Contest - 2019

Call: V37DX
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: V31DL

Class: SOSB/20 HP
Class Overlay: TB-Wires 
QTH: EK57nf
Operating Time (hrs): 26:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   20: 1550  (including dupes)
------------
Total: 1523  Prefixes = 705  Total Score = 2,493,585

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
IC-7300, IC-PW1 + Cushcraft X7

Inbetween the 20 m band openings and before taking a rest and to confirm the station now worked okay again I did a few QSOs on 80 & 40 m as V31FO, too, and handed out some points. I was very positively surprised about the 80 m performance although it’s just a dipole about 13 m high but in the middle of the jungle it seems to hear quite well! So might give Eighty a few more trys during the next days, too.

Here’s the small V31FO result to complete the statistics: πŸ˜‰

                    CQ WPX RTTY Contest - 2019

Call: V31FO
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: V31DL

Class: SOAB HP
Class Overlay: TB-Wires 
QTH: EK57nf
Operating Time (hrs): 3:30

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   80:   82
   40:  143
------------
Total:  225  Prefixes = 163  Total Score = 172,454

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
IC-7300, IC-PW1 + dipoles
Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions | Comments Off on CQ-WPX-RTTY ’19 from Belize

V31FO QRV – safely arrived in Belize

After our flight from Frankfurt to Dallas/Fort Worth and staying a night in Texas we safely made it to Belize City Airport on Wednesday afternoon. From there it was just an 1,5 hours drive to the Maya Hill Lodge in Blackman Eddy, Cayo district. We were greated by Monika (V31BZ) and Andre (V31DL), our lovely hosts, who directly showed us the property, huts, etc. Went to bed quite early, it’s been an exhausting trip.

Suffering a bit from jet lag πŸ˜‰ we got up quite early this morning to enjoy a beautiful sunrise on the hut’s patio. Then went with Andre into the shack to prepare the station for my activities. Andre has a nice IC-7800 which was also used by Franscesco, IKØFUX/V31UX, who was there, too, during the week before with his lovely wife Roberta. Unfortunately it didn’t produce any audio output through Andre’s microHAM microKeyer II and we couldn’t find the reason. So we quickly recabled the station for his IC-7300 and a second MkII which finally worked. I have to admit I already started sweating a bit when the initial setup didn’t work as I need audio out from a transceiver to work the RTTY contest this weekend for sure! πŸ˜‰ But as it all works now I’m fine and really looking forward to the contest this weekend.

Here are a few first impressions …

Beautiful sunrise as seen from the patio …

Even caught a bird flying. πŸ˜‰

Our hut, nicely surrounded by palm trees.

Nice shot of Andre’s antennas up the hill.

Posted in DX, Expeditions, General stuff | Comments Off on V31FO QRV – safely arrived in Belize

V37DX from Belize, too!

Besides my V31FO callsign Belizian PUC just confirmed usage of V37DXΒ as a special callsign, too. πŸ™‚ As far as I know the V37 prefix has never been QRV before so it should give some additional dB of callsign gain during our stay. πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to it, suitcase is packed, will be heading down to FRA airport early tomorrow morning. See you in the pileups!

Posted in Contesting, DX, Expeditions, General stuff | Comments Off on V37DX from Belize, too!

CQ WW 160 CW and BARTG RTTY Sprint January 2019

I was really looking forward to do this year’s CQ-160 seriously again (even with still no RX antennas, hi) after having had lots of fun last year. Unfortunately short-term QRL duties prohibited a serious effort so rather spent Friday night with the XYL and only handed out a few points Saturday night before falling into bed. Maybe better luck next year. πŸ˜‰

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op Assisted HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 3:10

Summary:
Total QSOs =  232
State/Prov =    2
Countries  =   53        Total Score = 62,205

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 160m Lazy Loop

Sunday morning recognized that the BARTG January Sprint was on, too. So switched over to RTTY but found activity to be lacking and CONDX very poor = no fun. Thus stopped it after about an hour again and started doing some QSL work instead. πŸ˜‰

                   BARTG RTTY Sprint - 2019

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 1:15

Summary:
 Band  QSOs
------------
   40:  20
   20:  32
------------
Total:  52  Mults = 20  Continents = 2  Total Score = 2,080

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 40m dipole / 20m 4 ele Yagi

Now looking forward to our trip to Belize! Just one week of QRL to go. 😎 Keeping fingers crossed conditions will be a little better when overthere!

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WW 160 CW and BARTG RTTY Sprint January 2019