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.

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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.

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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
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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!

 

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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.

 

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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 … 😎

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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!

 

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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.

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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!

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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

QRV from V3 – Belize soon :-)

Looking forward to this year’s holiday! 😎 Frauke and I decided to go to Belize this year. We’ve booked one of the two Maya Hill Lodge huts for rent by Andre, V31DL, of German origin, who decided to emigrate to Belize together with his wife Monika, V31BZ, a few years ago. They also offer a shack for rent which was the deciding factor to book there. Plans are to be QRV from Belize in the CQ-WPX-RTTY as well as ARRLDX-CW contests (categories still to be decided) and probably do a few QSOs inbetween our sightseeing activities, too. So besides the contest participations themselves it will be more of a holiday style activity than a DXpedition.

I have been granted the callsign V31FO but have also applied for a special contest call with a prefix never issued/active before. Still waiting for feedback from the PUC (Public Utilities Commission, the Belzian FCC/RegTP equivalent) on the latter so stay tuned! πŸ˜‰

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Band decoder Mk2 by remoteqth.com

In my recent CQ WWDX CW 2018 blog post I moaned about needing to do all station switching like BPFs, antennas, etc. manually when using the IC-7300. Driving home after the contest I made up my mind how to solve the “problem”, i.e. getting all automated when using the Icom, too, as we have been doing with our Elecraft and Kenwood radios for years. First I thought about developing my own Icom Ci-V band decoder but taking all the efforts and especially time needed into account as well as cost (it is a costly thing if you want to have it nice!) I skipped the idea. Instead I ordered the Band decoder Mk2 by remoteqth.com. It’s a universal design based on an Arduino and comes as a kit complete with a SMT pre-soldered PCB, a few through-hole parts, I2C display as well as a professionally looking enclosure. It can be configured for various data sources, be it Icom’s Ci-V, Icom band voltage, Yaesu/Elecraft BCD, Kenwood CAT, a.s.o. If used with the Ci-V or CAT interface it detects the frequency down to a kilohertz which can be useful if you want to switch different things within a band, i.e. different dipoles or groundplanes for 80 m CW vs. 80 m SSB. It has an output driver for 8 direct outputs which can be configured as open collector or open emitter circuits. It also offers permanent BCD encoded outputs which is what I needed for our station integration. You can even edit the Arduino Sketch to display antennas names or the like. Quite a clever design! Building it up did not take more than an hour and the online quick start guide was easy to follow. All in all a very enjoyable project delivering to the point and reasonably priced, too – highly recommended! Here are a few impressions of the build process …

Posted in Equipment, PIC projects | Comments Off on Band decoder Mk2 by remoteqth.com

Remote Control Microphone for the IC-7300 & Co.

Well, today FUNKAMATEUR magazine 1/2019 was in the post-box and as it also featured a preview for issue 2/2019 which will include a new article by me I can probably already reveal some information here, too. πŸ˜‰

In one of my recent blog posts I teased a little with showing part of a new PCB I developed. Well, actually it’s not only a PCB but a complete kit to build a remote control microphone for recent Icom transceivers like the IC-7300 that I own myself. Icom implemented a way to recall the internal Voice/RTTY/CW memories for transmit by using an external combination of resistors and switch buttons wired into the microphone line. It helps not to waste precious screen real estate leaving space for more important information on the transceiver’s screen. So it’s almost a must-have for serious operators!

As you might have read on my BX-184 page I don’t like external boxes too much, it’s always additional hassle and potential for failure. So I thought about how to integrate that functionality into a microphone, too. How I finally did can be read in FUNKAMATEUR issue 2/2019 available on January 30, 2019. πŸ˜‰

It is planned to also offer the “BX-187” as a kit through FUNKAMATEUR’s BOX73 shop. I will probably release some more details here, too, after the article was published and the kit is available … stay tuned.

Posted in Equipment, General stuff, PIC projects | Comments Off on Remote Control Microphone for the IC-7300 & Co.

Nice X-mas present: 4 m allowed in Germany again :-)

Bundesnetzagentur (the German equivalent to FCC in the USA and Ofcom in the UK) released it’s note 414/2018 today allowing the use of the 4 m band by radio amateurs in Germany again! 😎

Two facts make it even more enjoyable: While we “only” got temporary permits limited from mid-May to the end of August (i.e. for the Sporadic-E season) in past years it’s this time continously until 31.12.2019 = a full year. Kinda like they did for our 6 m permits which gives hope for a similar more permanent solution for 4 m. From an operational point of view even more important is that we now have access to the frequency range of 70.150 to 70.200 MHz, i.e. including the calling frequency of 70.200 MHz (we only had 70.150 to .180 before). THAT will make life much much easier. 😎

We have to give a big THANKS to Ulli, DK4VW, Head of DARC Frequency Management, for his continous efforts and negotiations with all involved stakeholders like the German Army to get the band for use by German radio amateurs – well done, Ulli! πŸ™‚

Posted in General stuff, VHF | Comments Off on Nice X-mas present: 4 m allowed in Germany again :-)

ARRL-10M 2018 – or – another VHF contest ;-)

I think I mentioned over and over again on this blog and in my contest reports that I’m a real 10 m addict. It’s as fascinating a frequency spectrum as 6 m which is called the “magic band” for a reason: it’s the only band where you can experience all the HF as well as the VHF propgation modes! 10 m lacks a few of the VHF modes, i.e. tropo ducting, but still has much of the VHF propagation patterns in common with 6 m, i.e. Sproadic-E or Meteor Scatter. Being almost in sunspot minimum there’s no F2 propagation on 10 m which is normally enabling all the “around the world” contacts on shortwave so you have to rely on these VHF propagation modes to make any contacts at all.

It’s usually not any different in December’s ARRL 10 m contest these days. And it seems year by year is a different challenge, too. πŸ˜‰ While I was quite happy with last year’s outcome resulting in a place #2 worldwide 😎 it was an entirely different show this weekend. Propagation was almost absent. We had a few small and patchy ES openings Saturday morning but most contacts were done through meteor reflections plus some locals up to 350 km on troposcatter. Sunday morning saw a 3 hours ES opening to the FarΓΆer Islands (OY) as the highlight but unfortunately only one station QRV on CW and SSB each. It’s always a kind of masochism hearing these great signals from that one and only station but nobody else to work. So all in all much perserverance needed! Nevertheless well worth the effort as a masochist 10 m addict, of course! πŸ˜‰

                    ARRL 10-Meter Contest

Call: DH8BQA

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

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
   CW:  118    27
  SSB: (10)      
-------------------
Total:  118    27  Total Score = 12,744

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 @600W + 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagi @60ft
Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on ARRL-10M 2018 – or – another VHF contest ;-)

CQ WWDX CW 2018

This time a part time participation only. While driving the 700 km to the station Thursday night I somehow caught a painful tonsilitis. πŸ™ Waking up Friday morning I already had a sore throat. Fever and shivers added during the day so I went to bed 6pm local time Friday evening already at the contest station. After 11 hours of sleep I woke up Saturday morning and started into the contest. But motivation was quite low due to the ongoing pains so it was rather search & pouncing the bands, catching some mults, a.s.o. And I was sure happy this was not an SSB contest. πŸ˜€

Low band condx seemed to be quite good, caught some nice DX multipliers. During the day I got more or less used to the pains so also started some running on 20 m and enjoyed great runs (for an average German guy, hi) on 40 m later on. 15 m opened shortly to the U.S., too, but activity could have been a little better. 10 m provided more QSOs than expected, there were a few smaller ES openings but also a good number of contacts made through Meteor reflections. Went to bed with 1.000 QSOs under the belt at 2z Sunday morning.

Continued operating later Sunday morning and also enjoyed some nice runs on 20 m later on when the band started to open to North America. When seeing 1.5 million points were in reach I kept pressing. After reaching that goal it was only 80 more QSOs to the 1.500 QSOs mark so I again kept my butt in the chair a little longer. πŸ˜‰ But afterwards called it a day, packed up and went back to town to join my mother’s birthday party …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

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

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160:  142     9       49
   80:  220    14       62
   40:  452    33      112
   20:  452    27      107
   15:  184    28       82
   10:   52     5       23
------------------------------
Total: 1502   116      435  Total Score = 1,581,370

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
IC-7300, PA + our usual antenna farm:
160m lazy loop, 80/40m dipoles, 20m 4L, 15/10m 6L yagis each

Was using the IC-7300 again. The bandscope was a real benefit on 15 & 10 m. I could immediately see when new signals popped up – great value! On the other hand I had the gut feeling it’s RX was desensed a few times on the low bands, especially on 160 m. Something to keep an eye on. All in all I still prefer the K3 for Contesting simply because you have the more important controls directly at hand, i.e. filter bandwidth, speed control, etc. Being able to set the drive power per band is another big plus, too. I needed to fiddle with the power adjustment regularly as I need different drive powers with my PA depending on band and antenna (SWR). A ‘homemade’ challenge was switching all the stuff around the shack manually. We have a high degree of station automation but it’s all centered around Elecraft & Kenwood radios, I still have to implement Icoms somehow. πŸ˜‰ Nevertheless the ‘7300 coped quite well in general and is really good value for the money! It’s big plus compared to the K3 certainly is the single USB connection to have all set for CAT control, audio, etc. The K3S has the same functionality and I was already thinking about buying the new KIO3B board to add that functionality to my old model K3, too. Or maybe buy a new K3S and put the current K3 into (additional) service at the remote station? Or maybe I should also take a look into the Flex Radio series … πŸ˜‰

Posted in Contesting, Equipment | Comments Off on CQ WWDX CW 2018

Weekend (VHF) activities … some tropo again

As the YL was working weekend shifts in QRL I had some more spare time than usual this weekend. πŸ˜‰ Decided to spend the time in the shack and finally start working on a new project idea I’ve been thinking about for a few month’ already. Whenever I drive those 700 km between JO30 and JO73 back and forth to visit my mom and do some contests from our contest station up there I have plenty of time to think stuff through. Most of my project ideas really come to maturity on the German highways. πŸ˜€

Already Thursday morning when driving to QRL the weather forecast reported about foggy mornings in the valleys and considerably higher temperatures on the mountains. That immediately caught my attentation! If that wasn’t calling for a temperature inversion I would not know what else … there was to be Tropo in the air! Checking the F5LEN tropo forecast it backed my assumption, see right side prediction map for Friday evening. So immediately when back from QRL Friday evening I switched on the remote. Nothing to be heard in JO73 yet but already plenty of contacts in the western part of Europe. You would expect that from the predictions, right? The eastern costline stations in the United Kingdom were already busy working into Scandinavia …

I started working on my project, i.e. drawing a double-sided PCB (which actually took a few hours over the whole weekend). I will not release too many details yet, just teasing my readers a bit. πŸ˜‰ But it will probably be something handy and supportive if using Icom radios … ’nuff said. πŸ˜€

Around 21z the band started to open over here, too. G4KUX was producing splendid signals but he was the only one. It seemed it was only open to IO94, very localized. A little later I caught M1GSM (also from IO94) on SSB, he was running just 30 watts into a small 5 ele Yagi, great contact! At the same time G4KUX started working up deep into Finland at distances > 1.800 km, amazing! Later on propagation shifted a little north bringing three GMs into the log, all located directly at the Northumberland coast line in south-east Scotland. And all weak enough that only FT8 worked. Nice to catch Jim, GM4FVM, again, he’s got a nice blog, too. Kept watching the game but no more new stations to be worked, it was much better further west and north, seems I was just at the very edge.

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
20:53  G4KUX         IO94BP   +11   +06    2 m.   FT8   TR    1063
21:07  G4KUX         IO94BP   579   559    2 m.   CW    TR    1063
21:19  M1GSM         IO94DR    52    53    2 m.   SSB   TR    1053
21:26  M1BXF         JOØ2FE   -16   -14    2 m.   FT8   TR     932
21:48  MM3LSO        IO85WU   -17   -21    2 m.   FT8   TR    1092
22:12  MMØGZZ        IO85UU   -21   -09    2 m.   FT8   TR    1102
22:33  GM4FVM        IO85WU   -18   -19    2 m.   FT8   TR    1092
------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday morning I could still hear (although “see” might be the better term with FT8, hi) some of the same guys of Friday evening, i.e. G4KUX and MM3LSO, but didn’t call them again. Instead I caught some long distance QSOs eastwards which was unexpected, nice surprise! G4CDN to the west was some nice DX, too, but I can work Richard basically daily if conditions are not too bad.

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
10:36  LY2J          KO14QL   -03   -05    2 m.   FT8   TR     618
10:39  EW6X          KO45IM   -18   -16    2 m.   FT8   TR     972
11:05  G4CDN         JOØ2SS   -11   -06    2 m.   FT8   TR     848
------------------------------------------------------------------

I also faintly heard the FarΓΆer beacon OY6BEC/B from IP62mb over 1.588 km! But it was not more than a 319 report at best. The band went dead after 11:30z over here, only locals to be heard anymore.

I kept an eye on the radio while carrying on the project work. Around 16z I started hearing the OY6BEC/B FarΓΆer beacon again, now with a solid 529. And lo and behold there were stations QRV on FarΓΆer! OY1OF from IP62 was reported working into Europe on FM with a vertical. Unfortunately nothing over here. Later on he switched over to SSB but still nothing. The 20 dB cross-polarity loss between horizontal and vertical polarization prevented it. Damn!

In the course of the evening I could do a few more DX contacts. It was great to hear the voice of Chris, GM3WOJ, again! We’ve been working each other every now and then over the years during a number of VHF openings, be it via Tropo, Sporadic-E or Aurora. He’s also a great DXpeditioner on HF …

------------------------------------------------------------------
TIME   CALLSIGN      LOCATOR   TX    RX    BAND   MODE  PROP.  QRB
------------------------------------------------------------------
16:25  MMØGYX        IO87IP   -10   -13    2 m.   FT8   TR    1206
17:52  GM3WOJ        IO77WS    55    59    2 m.   SSB   TR    1257
18:32  G4GSB         IO82XM   -18   -20    2 m.   FT8   TR    1091
18:39  GMØHLV        IO88ED    51    52    2 m.   SSB   TR    1241
22:09  G4NBS         JOØ2AF   -21   -19    2 m.   FT8   TR     958
22:11  MØNPT         IO92KX   -05   +03    2 m.   FT8   TR    1022
22:35  G1MHU         IO93GO   -17   -20    2 m.   FT8   TR    1037
23:02  G4KWQ         IO92AQ   -15   -16    2 m.   FT8   TR    1082
------------------------------------------------------------------

The FarΓΆer beacon was peaking 549 around 19z but then started to vanish quickly and not heard after 20z anymore. A real pity as later on OY1R from IP61 was QRV in SSB, too, albeit with just 50 watts and a vertical. He was even worked from JO63 (DJ4TC) & JO64 (DG0KW)! DJ4TC is just 60 km away from me but while he worked him I coud neither hear OY1R nor OY6BEC/B, all propagation gone. OY4TN from IP62 was reported on FT8 around 20z in JO64 (about 100 km north of me), too, but no copy either. Seems it was not my turn with OY this time …

No VHF-DX on Sunday here so I could concentrate on finishing the PCB work, writing down the project BOM (bill of materials) and order both, parts not in my junk box as well as 2 prototype PCBs. They will arrive in 2 weeks. Let’s see when I can find some time to assemble the first prototype then, hopefully before Christmas. πŸ˜‰ Also need to do some PIC programming before it all works together. 😎 For next weekend I’ll have another of these 700 km trips. I’m sure there will be some more ideas on the road again … πŸ˜‰

Posted in Equipment, PIC projects, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Weekend (VHF) activities … some tropo again

WAE-RTTY 2018

It’s been a while since I last participated in WAE-RTTY. I wanted to just hand out a few points remotely on Saturday and then on Sunday again. But you know … first goal was 250 QSOs, when reaching that it was 300, then 400 QSOs and 400 QTCs, then 500 QSOs Sunday afternoon … and after I had these in the log it was making half a million points before I finally really switched off. πŸ˜‰

Conditions were quite okay for where we are in the solar cycle. 15 m opened nicely Saturday afternoon to North America but unfortunately not much activity. Instead 10 m opened a few times via Sporadic-E, most times quite spotty, but hey, better than nothing. πŸ˜‰ Being allowed to work Europeans, too (which is quite unique, in the CW/SSB parts it’s only allowed to work stations outside Europe), made for enough QSO potential.

QTCs were fun, too! They are what makes the WAE special. Unfortunately there are still a lot of stations simply denying QTC traffic although this is an integral part of the WAE. Interestingly most rejections came from the U.S. One of the guys seemed to be so annoyed about QTC questions that he already put his negative reply into his exchange: “599 xxx xxx (no QTC please)”. Oh well …

                    WAE DX Contest, RTTY

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 16
Remote Operation

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Pts  QTCs  Mults
------------------------------
   80:  152  152     0   156
   40:  141  201    60   153
   20:  138  468   330   114
   15:   51  121    70    56
   10:   36   36     0    34
------------------------------
Total:  521  978   460   513  Total Score = 501,714

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 80/40m dipoles, 20m 4L, 15/10m 6L Yagis each
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WAE-RTTY 2018

CQ WWDX SSB 2018

Another WWDX-SSB is in the books. I decided to do SOSB15(A) as condx before the contest were surprisingly good and hoped it would stay like this during the weekend. I was indeed very astonished when working a bunch of JAs on Saturday morning! 😎 I had expected to work some US East Cost during the afternoon but the path to Japan is quite a bit more northerly so this was rather unexpected and a very positive experience. πŸ™‚ Not so positive was that the North America opening Saturday afternoon only lasted for about an hour before the band closed into that direction. It was open a little longer to South America but you soon run out of station to work into that direction. Last QSO was at 17:11z, only very weak SA stations audible afterwards until the band closed completely.

Imagine how surprised I was when seeing cluster spots of FY5KE making it into Europe on 10 m. Curious as I am πŸ˜‰ I switched to 28 Mhz (as 21 MHz was already closed) and lo and behold there he really was! Not stronger than a 4/1 report but with his good ears it did not take much effort to work him. 😎 Immediately afterwards I went back to 15 m and checked the band again but it was still as before, no useful signals on the band anymore. Sometimes propagation is really strange … πŸ˜€ Went to bed with 400 QSOs in the log. Not too bad as my overall goal was something between 400 and 500 taking results from previous sunspot minima into account …

Sunday morning brought an even earlier opening to Japan with even stronger signals than Saturday! I was really amazed and happy about it. Working 74 x JA is definitely much more than expected this low in the sunspot cycle! Actually I did not expect to work any JA at all! So this gave hope for a better opening to NA in the afternoon, too. Unfortunately it did not materialize as wished for, the opening was almost non-existent, only two dozen stations worked, all very weak with heavy QSB and the band closing around 15z again, not a single NA station audible anymore. To my big surprise it opened once more half an hour later now with splendid signals and a good run thanks to two cluster spots. This second opening lasted for about 1,5 hours even extending deep into WØ land … that was fun, indeed! 😎 Nevertheless 214 x USA speaks a language about condx to the West (the JA to USA ratio is usually 1:5 or even more in good years, not just 1:3 as now). After the band had closed I saw DL5RBW from Bavaria being spotted on the West Coast. Oh boy, I did not even hear a zone 3 station … this is the propagation difference within Germany, he’s located about 500 km south of our QTH. But we don’t want to complain too much, it was still lots of fun and muuuch better than expected … if I did not mention it before. πŸ˜€

An unpleasant surprise was some new intereference noise beaming 300Β° (which is exactly USA) that popped up for about an hour Sunday afternoon/evening and then for a few shorter periods of time later again. There’s just one house into that direction about 100 m away. Suppose it might be a new heating control system (judging from the times and duration) or something like this. Interestingly it’s only a problem on 15 m (noise up to s6 then), there were no signs of it on the other bands when I checked. Definitely something to keep an eye on …

So here is my summary report. After quite some time I also updated my SH5 version and put the SH5 analysis of this contest online here.

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 23

Summary:
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160:                    
   80:                    
   40:                    
   20:                    
   15:  861    32      126
   10:  (1)               
------------------------------
Total:  853    32      126  Total Score = 312,524

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Comments:
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi @40ft.
Posted in Contesting, Propagation | Comments Off on CQ WWDX SSB 2018