First Sporadic-E this season :-)

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

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

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

Around 16z the 4 m band opened via Sporadic-E up here. It took a while until the first QSO as the pileups for the few audible stations were immense and JO73 was not perfectly positioned, signals were much stronger further west. IN50, IN92, IN71, IM76 were new squares but what really made my day was working SØ1WS in IL46 via double-hop ES over a 3.600 km path! Another new square (#162) and a new DXCC #37, of course. 😎

SØ1WS on 4 m:

SØ1WS in QSO with DL3BQA – Uwe couldn’t resist doing his first ever 4 m QSO: πŸ˜‰

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

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

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

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

9H1TX on 4m:

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

14:25  EK7DX         LN2ØGE   +02   -18    6 m.   FT8   ES    2697
09:26  ON4FI         JO2ØIV   +05   -04    4 m.   MSK1  MS     697
10:15  GM3NKG        IO85AR   +13   +00    4 m.   MSK1  MS    1204
11:20  GM4FVM        IO85WU   -14   -18    4 m.   FT8   TR    1092
16:19  EA3AQJ        JN11BI   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1596
16:23  EC1AJL        IN73CI   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1829
16:31  EB4FJV        IN8ØCP   +05   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    1942
16:38  CT1EEB        IN5ØQR   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    2201
16:48  SØ1WS         IL46RD   55    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    3638
16:49  EA5TT         IM99SL   59    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1887
17:25  EA2CCG        IN92AO   55    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1677
17:26  EA1FDI        IN53TF   55    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1993
17:28  EA6SX         JM19IK   55    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1760
17:30  EA1TX         IN71NQ   59    56     4 m.   SSB   ES    1911
17:48  EA1SI         IN73DM   +01   -03    4 m.   FT8   ES    1812
17:56  EA1HRR        IN83JJ   +00   +07    4 m.   FT8   ES    1679
18:09  EA1DDU        IN73EM   55    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
18:12  EA1ABN        IN73EM   52    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1807
18:20  EA1UU         IN83GJ   +15   +00    4 m.   FT8   ES    1692
18:22  SØ1WS         IL46RD   -09   -01    4 m.   FT8   ES    3638
18:28  EA7DUD        IM76SR   +10   -10    4 m.   FT8   ES    2331
18:31  EA3HXF        JNØ1OF   +05   +04    4 m.   FT8   ES    1647
18:56  EA6SX         JM19IK   -10   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1760
18:58  EA3AWT        JN11CQ   -02   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1560
19:15  9H1TX         JM75FV   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1922
16:34  EA4CZV        IN8ØDL   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1952
16:46  CT1EWD        IM58KP   52    hrd    2 m.   SSB   ES    2403
16:58  EA3GJO        IN72AM   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1904
17:05  EA4ADJ        IM88JW   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    2066
17:09  EA5DIT        IM99CD   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1979
17:16  EA5EF         IM99SM   59    59     2 m.   SSB   ES    1883

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

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

CQ WPX CW 2018 & further 7300 experiences

Another CQ WPX CW is in the books! As usual I decided to do a 10 m single band operation. I just like the band, especially in sunspot minimum it offers a variety of propagation modes most people are not aware of. But that’s the big problem, too: too little activity even if there are good band openings, if they’re not lasting long enough to stir general activity …

Two years ago I was really lucky with ES conditions almost all weekend long doing over 850 QSOs leisurely on the remote and even broke the current German record by coincidence. 😎 Last year was a rather bad year propagation-wise and guess what? This year wasn’t much better either … but let’s look at it chronologically. πŸ˜‰

Got up early Saturday morning, i.e. before 4z already. Ten was closed so I took a look on 20 m and the band was quite well open to the US West Coast as well as the Pacific, all direct path! Splendid signals from Hawaii which is usually a rather difficult path almost directly over the North Pole from here. But not so this time, loud signals and no “polar flutter” as is often the case, just clear strong signals like these two:

KH6ZM Saturday morning, 4:20z:

KH7B Saturday morning, 4:51z:

Worked two dozen QSOs then went to bed again for another hour. By 6:30z 10 m opened via Sporadic-E into the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Good old friend Guiseppe, IT9VDQ, made it into the log as my first 10 m contact. Seems he had a great time as SOSB10, too, as he reported on the 3830Scores website. Calling CQ brought a call by Tom, HZ1FI, for my first DX contact, too. 😎

An hour later the band was well open into different directions with very strong signals at times but activity was quite low, a real pity. Biggest signal peaking about 60 dB above the noise (not to mix up with 599+60, hi … 60 dB above noise is about 599+10) was still IT9VDQ (the red one in the middle):

Speaking of big signals please take a look at the following two screenshots. The left one shows the really wide signal of OH5Z around 7z while the right one shows the much cleaner signal of OG55W. Both were about equal signal strength, i.e. s9 plus a bit indicated by the red colored carrier lines (this was important to have a clean base for comparison not to draw any wrong or unfair conclusions).

It goes without saying that taking up 2 kHz bandwidth with one (!) single CW signal is way beyond good sportsmanship. πŸ™ Most of his “sidebands” were generated from bad keyclicks (which is not that obvious from the picture). EDIT: Meanwhile the OH5Z guys contacted me and apologized, see here. πŸ™‚

At 10:20z SP4Z spotted AH2R, Guam in the Pacific, as being “strong” from almost 12.000 km away from here! And lo and behold, I could really hear him, too! Unfortunately he was too weak for a QSO, i.e. he didn’t hear me, but then it was still quite fascinating and showing again the magic of 10 m (although 6 m is the official “Magic Band”, hi).

AH2R CQing on 10 m:

AH2R, Guam, working Japan:

I’m not sure what kind of propagation it really was. The normal F2 path does not exist with current sun conditions. Maybe it was really a 5 or 6 hop ES which would be supported by the strong signal produced about 400 km eastwards while I just got into it through scatter for the “last few” kilometers. That many hops aligning perfectly “as needed” is nothing to be expected daily but not impossible at all, we’ve even seen that from DL to VK on 6 m in the past! But maybe there’s a kind of E-layer tunneling involved, too, as supposed by some Japanese guys trying to explain the regular 6 m openings between JA and Europe during the summer month’ …

Ten closed down around 12z, not a single signal anymore and even no locals answering my CQs. Handed out a few points on 15 m were the US East Coast was easily reachable by sidescatter propagation beaming to the Caribbean. Then onto 20 m were stations were wall to wall from 14.000 to about 14.120 MHz as can be seen on the righthand screenshot. The wide line around 14.074 MHz is the FT8 digital mode frequency showing how big most signals are. I’m not sure if honorable Joe Taylor, K1JT, really intedend that digital mode for communication when signals are way above s5 up to s9+. After all it’s a weak signal mode, isn’t it? But I might comment on FT8 in a separate post later, I’m trying it out, too, and still making up my mind about it. πŸ˜‰

Back to the contest: 10 m opened again around 14:45z, this time into the Canaries. It took another 20 minutes until we had a link into South America. πŸ™‚ A number of juicy 3-pointers made it into the log as well as a nice number of new prefix multipliers. 😎 Around 16z propagation shifted a bit northwards to the Caribbean with NP4Z making it into the log as well as YW4D. The band was good for quite a while into the Iberian Peninsula with an occasional call every now and then by a few more South Americans. We also had a good ES opening into the U.K. with some nice strong signals but then again, activity was sorrily much too low. E-Clouds were ionized so strongly between 17:30 and 19:00z I could even work a good number of backscatter contacts to DL, PA, ON, etc. providing more mults. Good old friend Dave, G7RAU, of VHF fame, called in at 18:33z. I liked his clusterspot afterwards a lot! 😎

It shows how well the path westwards (at least the first hop) was open which also enabled QSOs with 8P5A and FM5BH as additional unexpected Caribbean DX contacts. πŸ™‚ The lefthand screenshot shows band activity around 18:20z. It’s not that much about the number of signals but signal strength’ (from blue = weak over yellow to red = very strong). The band closed at 20:30z with both EA1AER and EA5AER coincidentally worked “in a row” (well, actually 10 minutes apart) as the last two stations on Saturday. πŸ˜‰ My 10 m log counter showed 270 QSOs, not too bad for the first day with such low activity on the band and long phases of no propagation. Did a few more QSOs on the lower bands before I finally called it a day around local midnight.

Switchting on the 20 dB attenuator (center of waterfall) helps every transceiver on 40 m, not just the IC-7300. πŸ˜‰

Early up Sunday morning again but band still closed. First signs of activity around 6:30z into the Southeast, i.e. UA6 as well as Sicilly again (Good Morning Guiseppe!Β ). Overall the morning was rather unspectacular, only 50 QSOs until the band closed again at 12z (DΓ©jΓ Β vuΒ from Saturday, eh?).

It only opened once more at 16:30z. Probably nobody expected another opening with these poor conditions so activity was extra low, what a shame. πŸ™ Worked a few EAs and Fs and then got called by K9RX at 17:35z. Gosh! 😎 Quickly exchanged report and serials (hope he got it all correct, too) and he was gone again. Suspect it was a 3-hop E-skip with a Meteor extension for the last 4th hop down to South Carolina or somewhere in between. At least it sounded very much like an MS burst … and really pumped some adrenalin through my venes. πŸ˜€ I was even spotted by the WZ7I East Coast skimmer later on (see screenshot up right) but unfortunately no more NA contacts were made (nobody called and nobody heard). πŸ™

The later the evening the better the DX was certainly true for Sunday night. Until local midnight a few more DX stations from PY, LU & CE as well as PZ5XX, YV4ABR, HK3C, HC2GRC and P4/W1XP made it into the log with a few more heard (but worked on Saturday already).

L-t-r: YV4ABR; me (green marker = my frequency) having just worked G4CXQ for the second last QSO; FM5BH & YW4D, both still strong around local midnight before the band finally faded.

PZ5XX just before midnight on 10 m:

YW4D just before midnight on 10 m:

With 358 valid QSOs I finished the contest on 10 m after the last few signals had vanished around midnight, too. I was quite exhausted (listening to white noise for hours *IS* exhausting!) but still had the urge for some adrenalin from high rates so decided to have a go as “fresh meat” on 80 & 40 m until the end of the contest. Doing 230 QSOs in a bit over 1,5 hours was indeed pushing the adrenalin! 😎 So much I couldn’t sleep immediately when I finally went to bed around 3 o’clock local after listening to 20 m ragchews from the U.S., the band was still wide open! Maybe I should have run these last two hours on 20 m … πŸ˜‰

                    CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 22

 Band  QSOs
  160:   (0)
   80: (111)
   40: (147)
   20:  (56)
   15:  (12)
   10:   366
Total:   358  Prefixes = 243  Total Score = 113,724

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

IC-7300, PA + 6 ele G0KSC OWA Yagi @ 60 feet

So how did I like the IC-7300’s performance? Well, it played quite well! Of course there are things I’m missing compared to the K3, i.e. the dedicated 2nd VFO knob to tune in a multiplier already while transmitting then just switching VFOs to grab it and back to running. I also had the feeling the K3 would do a little better on 80 m than the 7300 (didn’t test 160 m). The latter just “felt” a bit more noisy but then we had terrible thunder crashes all over Europe on Sunday, too (which even made it difficult on 10 m at times to copy weak callers). And there were 2 or 3 situations were selectivity of the K3 with direct adjacent strong signals present would have been the clear winner. But then we’re comparing an 1200 EUR radio vs. a 4000 EUR radio, i.e. apples to oranges, don’t we? πŸ˜‰

The dedicated hardware buttons for certain functions on the K3 might make it easier in the one or other situation, too, although the touch screen makes up for the little front panel real estate of the 7300 quite well with important functions reachable on a simple screen press, too. After all this is just a matter of taste … I really liked the spectrum display of the 7300, it helped jumping directly onto new signals popping up. The K3 combined with a P3 can do the same but then it’s more hardware, more cabling, more hassle & more space (the reason I sold my P3 … I have to install the station from scratch everytime I want to play radio locally here). And more money, of course (the P3 adds another 800 EUR to the K3)! So I wish Elecraft would come out with a “K4” which has all the P3 functionality included. Really.

So all in all the IC-7300 is great value for the money, absolutely! You have to be careful in a multi-transmitter environment but you have to be with most radios anyway. I had the OVF flashing once on 10 m while Uwe was transmitting on 6 m but soon recognized I had forgotten to switch in the 10 m band pass filter. πŸ˜‰

Would I sell the K3 and just keep the IC-7300? No, not at all. I like the K3 a lot although it has it’s (very few) downsides, too (like every piece of electronics nowadays anyway). But I’m very well used to it, it has the 2nd RX, great ergonomics, low weight (which was a benefit during my recent Caribbean trip, too), is to a certain extend self-serviceable, a.s.o. Would I buy the IC-7300 again? Yes, definitely. It makes a really good allround radio with some great features and is contest-able, too. And, it has 4 m included. 😎

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, Equipment, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on CQ WPX CW 2018 & further 7300 experiences

IC-7300 – the first “overflow” situation ;-)

Well, yesterday I finally had the first situation with the OVF indicator making it onto the display – frontend ADC overflow! I was wondering why I got it on 6 m and first suspected some strong ES opening with TV/broadcast station from Russia but the band was pretty much closed into that direction! Only when switching the scope to a broader range I recognized a really strong signal on the 6 m FT8 frequency, i.e. 50.313 MHz, and guess who it was? Uwe, DL3BQA, from our second shack just across the wall. πŸ˜‰

He was transmitting on our new 6 m DX beam which is about 60 m away from my 6/4 m duoband yagi I had connected. While the OVF indicator showed up my RX was desensed by about 25-30 dB, i.e. listening to the SV3 beacon it went from an s7 signal down to about s2/3 but that was all, receiption itself was not affected, no noise, no nothing. Of course the desensing is bad enough but other radios would also make lots of strange noise in that situation! So first I was rather impressed in that moment. πŸ˜‰

BTW: The 7300 offers 3 different spectrum scope ranges per band (segment) so you can even monitor a smaller different range than you’re actually tuned to as long as it is within 1 MHz. Quite handy for monitoring purposes! In the example below I was tuned to a CW beacon in the lower part of the band while watching the spectrum in the digital section …

Would be interesting to see how the K3 would cope with this exact situation, especially with a P3 connected. It would probably generate some more noise (but maybe not as much as the desensing). We’ve had those situations already but than being no more than 50 kHz away from each other so not comparable to the almost 250 kHz spacing we now had. But to be honest I’m just too lazy to unpack the K3 for just that test. πŸ˜‰ Guess we’ll see when I’m running the remote to monitor the band while Uwe is doing FT8 again … will be happy to report back then. πŸ˜‰

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A bit of 4 m MS this morning

Played around on 4 m Meteor Scatter this morning (stayed overnight at the station). Conditions were quite nice with lots of reflections from my QSO partners but the low ERP on my side still ment QSOs took very long, in the case of OH7TE almost an hour. But patience paid off and both Yussi and me worked a new square each. 😎

06:57  OH7TE         KP3ØJS   +03   -06    4 m.   MSK1  MS    1133
07:11  S57TW         JN75EX   +11   +00    4 m.   MSK1  MS     801
07:20  G4BRK         IO91HP   +04   +06    4 m.   MSK1  MS    1068
07:27  G3SHK         IO9ØDX   +12   +02    4 m.   MSK1  MS    1112

All QSOs were done on MSK144 mode from the WSJT-X suite although I prefer using MSHV by LZ2HV as the “frontend” software.

Posted in Meteor Scatter, Propagation, VHF | Comments Off on A bit of 4 m MS this morning

IC-7300 – first impressions

Now having played with the radio for a few days it’s maybe time to give some feedback on my first impressions. Setup was a breeze! Be it all the menu settings, recording voice files for the internal voicekeyer, programming the CW memories or setting up the spectrum display to my liking was all done within a few minutes! Maybe I do have an advantage here as a long time owner of several Icom rigs in the past. So for me it was all very intuitive, good job, Icom!

Unfortunately there were no big ES openings yet so judgement for strong signal handling on 6 & 4 m still has to wait. Sensitivity at least seems excellent as far as I can tell. Worked a few tropo QSOs on 4 m with some “locals” and it “feels” comparable to the very good HA1YA transverter. Also did a few Meteor Scatter contacts this morning without any problems.

I’m not sure about HF performance yet. As Six & Four were not much open I played a lot on HF, too, and worked quite a number of QSOs. I didn’t experience the OVF (overflow) light yet but I do run with attenuation on the low bands anyway (no matter which radio, band noise is moving the meter high so no need for extra gain). The radio sounds excellent on the higher bands, i.e. 12 & 10 m. I’m not yet decided concerning the lower bands. It “felt” a bit noisy/unruly but it might well be the current conditions and lightnings all around Europe. Will need to keep an eye on it and will probably do the WPX-CW next weekend with the radio, too.

The spectrum scope is great value especially when monitoring “dead” bands. You don’t wanna miss that elusive opening, do you? πŸ˜‰ I find the built-in recorder quite handy, too. I had an 8 GB SD-Card surplus to my needs so it went into the radio. It can now record up to 135 hours of audio! Also the voice memories for the built-in voicekeyer are stored on the SD-Card. You could even fine-tune them on a PC if needed. And did you know that the radio can even do screenshots? Cool stuff! 😎

This one shows an OIRT station from Russia (well, there actually were two small Sporadic-E openings into that direction yesterday early noon) wiping out about 70 kHz of spectrum with it’s wideband FM signal:

And here’s an according audio snippet:

While it sounds a bit distorted and certainly not WFM quality πŸ˜‰ it is still intelligible. Four hours later there was another short opening bringing up another OIRT station this time with a much broader FM signal wiping out about 150 kHz of spectrum rendering our small “DL band” of 70.150 to 70.180 MHz useless:

The broader the WFM signal the less the intelligibility, of course:

So the IC-7300 has some really nice and handy features I already like a lot. 😎 I also installed the USB driver and had the radio up & running with CAT control and digimodes within minutes! It can’t get any easier …

Posted in Audio recordings, Equipment, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on IC-7300 – first impressions

Z3 – Macedonia, DXCC #36 on 4 m

Sporadic-E still isn’t kicking off on 4 m. πŸ™ There are some slight attempts of the MUF to make it over 70 MHz but so far it’s just scratching it. Under these circumstances FT8 really seems to help, at least it provide me with Z35Z, Macedonia, for DXCC #36 on 4m, and with KN11 a new square (#156), too. 😎

12:04  4O6AH         JN92PL   -18   -11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1249
12:21  SV1WE         KM18VA   -03   -08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1839
12:39  Z35Z          KN11CR   -13   -08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1406
Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Z3 – Macedonia, DXCC #36 on 4 m

Current antennas

The perfect blue sky weather called for taking an up-to-date photo of our antennas today:

Left to right: Tower with a 6 ele GØKSC OWA for 15 m and an 8 ele YU7EF for 6 m at about 14 m height. Next to the house is a small 8 m tower that used to host our 4 x 10 ele EME group for 2 m which is still not built up again thus only a long 2/70 collinear on it right now. Then the big chimney with a 6 ele GØKSC OWA for 10 m and a 10 ele DK7ZB for 2 m at 20 m height. The chimney also holds the dipoles for 80, 40 & 30 m as well as the apex of our 160 m lazy loop. Attached to the small chimney is a small mast holding my 6/5 ele GØKSC Dualband-Yagi for 6 & 4 m as well as a 9 ele GØKSC LFA for 2 m. The last tower on the right is about 12 m in total height holding a 4 ele YU7EF for 20 m and a 2/2 ele DK7ZB Dualband-Yagi for 17 & 12 m which is offset by 90° to the 20 m beam to avoid SWR interference on the dualbander.

So overall quite a bit of aluminium to play with but still small scale in comparison to all the big guns πŸ˜‰ and definitely not enough to make up for our northeasterly location … 😐

Posted in Antennas, Equipment | Comments Off on Current antennas

IC-7300 – a new radio is “in da house” ;-)

Recently I sold my Elecraft KX3. While it was not a bad radio (except a few glitches like the poor speaker) it was mostly collecting dust. I do not do that many portable ops anymore after having built quite a mature remote station in JO73 so can do radio from my Cologne home, too, if I’m not locally at the station overhere. And if it really strikes me I still have a few other radios to take portable, be it my contest K3 or my good old venerable FT-817 …

As we got another special permit to use 4 m this year again during summer I now bought an Icom IC-7300 to try it out and see how it would perform especially on 6 & 4 m to have an option for future expeditions on these bands, too. I do have 6 m in the K3 (although it needs an external preamp, one of the very few design flaws in the K3) and I do run a 4 m transverter in the remote setup but when I’m local I prefer not to tear down the remote station, it normally stays untouched to make sure it all still works when back in Cologne. Enough justice to buy a new radio, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰ Luckily I got a good deal from my prefered dealer so even saved a few Euros from selling the KX3. 😎

Currently having holidays I have enough time now to put it through its paces. Will be eager to see how it performs under strong Sporadic-E conditions and will also do some checks on HF. This is were the radio got some critics, i.e. too wide bandpass filters in front of the RX and thus overloads especially on big antennas. Will see and report back, stay tuned! πŸ˜‰

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Antenna work & VHF May Contest

Finally I had some time to go visit the guys and our station again last weekend. A distance of 2 x 700 km means I need to take Friday and Monday off for traveling and that is rather luxery in QRL currently. But I could make it fit for the VHF May contest. 😎

As the weather was great we also used the chance to finally install our new big 6 m antenna (8 ele YU7EF design) which we bought from Greg, SP3RNZ, last year already and which he brought over and helped assembling it at our location (see Greg’s and Uwe’s blog entries, too). Unfortunately we didn’t manage to install it last year for several reasons but now it’s done and resting above the 15 m beam, thanks to Heiko’s climbing arts. πŸ™‚

Performance seems to be great! We can hear the OZ7IGY beacon louder than ever before and have regular copy on the DB0HGW beacon which I could only hear once in the past during enhanced tropo conditions. So it seems to be a big improvement! 😎 Now waiting for the first big DX openings …

The VHF contest was about average with a tendency to below average. QSB was sever and we only had one QSO above 800 km which is very unusual (as well as no 9A in the log at all!). At least we managed > 400 QSOs again after quite some time although the kilometer average was well below what we’re normally used to …

Contest Report from DF0TEC in JO73CE at 144 MHz

Contest : DARC-Mai-Contest 2018
Date    : 2018 May 05 to 2018 May 06
Section : 02 144 MHz Multi-OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf


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,

QSOs    :  409
-invalid:    2                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  407     QSO-points (*1) :    153496              377
WWLs    :   71     WWL bonus (0)   :         0                0
DXCCs   :   15     DXCC bonus (0)  :         0                0
                   ---------------------------           ------
                   Total score     :    153496              377

ODX     : S59DEM in JN75DS at 825 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN38:  1   JN76:  1   JO20:  2   JO50: 16   JO65:  5   JO83:  1   
JN39:  3   JN77:  2   JO21:  2   JO51: 19   JO67:  2   JO86:  1   
JN47:  4   JN78:  2   JO30:  6   JO52: 12   JO68:  1   JO90:  7   
JN48:  5   JN79: 10   JO31: 18   JO53:  7   JO70: 19   JO91:  2   
JN49: 15   JN86:  3   JO32:  6   JO54:  2   JO71: 13   JO92:  1   
JN57:  2   JN87:  1   JO33:  3   JO55:  2   JO72:  7   JO94:  2   
JN58: 10   JN88:  8   JO40:  9   JO59:  1   JO73:  7   JO97:  1   
JN59:  6   JN89:  8   JO41:  8   JO60: 17   JO74:  1   KN09:  2   
JN67:  1   JN97:  3   JO42:  8   JO61: 19   JO76:  1   KO00:  1   
JN68: 10   JN98:  2   JO43:  9   JO62: 27   JO80:  3   KO02:  1   
JN69:  9   JN99:  8   JO44:  1   JO63:  6   JO81:  4   KO13:  1   
JN75:  1   JO10:  1   JO46:  1   JO64:  5   JO82:  2   

Worked DXCCs:
DL : 265   HA :   5   OE :   8   ON :   3   PA :   5   SM :  10   
EU :   1   HB :   2   OK :  58   OZ :   4   S5 :   3   SP :  32   
F  :   2   LA :   1   OM :   8   

Top 10 QSO-points:
20180505 2330 S59DEM         59   228 59   398   JN75DS     825 
20180506 0259 S56K           599  258 599  122   JN76MC     790 
20180506 0444 LA0BY          55   273 55   001   JO59IX     785 
20180505 2216 HA1ZH          599  207 599  088   JN86LK     776 
20180506 0156 ON4KHG         579  247 599  114   JO10XO     759 
20180506 0559 F0CVO/P        59   294 59   077   JN38BR     752 
20180506 0140 S59P           599  246 599  257   JN86AO     744 
20180506 0118 HB9EFK         599  241 599  418   JN47PH     741 
20180505 2211 HG1Z           599  205 599  248   JN86KU     730 
20180505 1730 HB9CXK         59   122 59   022   JN47PM     720 
Posted in Antennas, Contesting, VHF | Comments Off on Antenna work & VHF May Contest


Initially I wanted to go the 700 km to the station and do the contest locally. Unfortunately two facts prohibited me doing so: First of all one of my grandmas died πŸ™ and I had to spare 2 days of my holiday contingent to go to the funeral and pay one’s last respect to her. Secondly I was suffering from an angina of the salpingopalatine fold 2 weeks ago (incidently on the RUSDX weekend, sigh). While the original disease was cured in a few days thanks to some good antibiotic an adverse reaction was me loosing my voice almost completely (down to 10%)! πŸ™ While it got better day by day after I was done with the antibiotic it was still far from good enough (about 70% Friday before the WPX) for a serious contest effort. Therefor I only spent a few hours remotely every now and then and as long as my voice held up to it and let Uwe do his choice of band (it would have been my choice this year but so be it, hi). He went for 20 m but unfortunately had some trouble with his amp and had to swap to a lower power amp on Saturday and couldn’t get much going with the lower power. He was quite frustrated, too …

                    CQWW WPX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)AB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 12:30
Remote Operation

 Band  QSOs
  160:   12
   80:   67
   40:  138
   20:    2
   15:   81
   10:    0
Total:  300  Prefixes = 235  Total Score = 172,020

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, medium power with KPA500, 160 m lazy loop,
80/40 m dipoles, 20 m 4 ele YU7EF, 15 m 6 ele G0KSC OWA

Next “stop” will be the VHF contest on the first weekend of May and then WPX-CW at the end of May. Maybe I’ll find some time in-between for some more “regular” radio operations (if only QRL would allow, hi). Need to keep in mind the Sporadic-E season will probably start around mid- to end-April, at least on 6 m …

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX SSB 2018


Another contest in the books. πŸ˜‰ Enjoyed operating the ARRL CW contest once more. Condx were not too good, i.e. 15 m only opened marginally and very spotty …

Started about 4 hours into the contest but found even low band condx Saturday morning to be sucking so decided to go to bed again and just continue on 20 m as a single band entry later on. 20 m was quite okay on Saturday although only a hand full of West Coast QSOs made.

It was only Saturday evening that I recognized that there are no Single Band Assisted categories in ARRL-CW but Single Operator Unlimited only exists as an Allband category … oh well, I should start reading the rules before the contests again. πŸ™ So I spent another few hours on the low bands, too, and sent my log as SOU as I was using cluster assistance …

Second night started quite okay on 40 m, it opened quite early. Decided to take a small nap during the night and get up early again for more low band DX but as it seemed the MUF was even below 7 MHz as I didn’t hear many stations on Fourty and no response on my CQs either. Also skimmer reports were bad to non-existing. So went down to 80 m and signals were much better there. Had some fun running although QSO rates were not too high. But worked a lot more multipliers on 80 m than on 40 m! Think I even worked 2 all-time new states for me on Eighty. 😎

Continued to operate on 20 m on Sunday and grabbed a few more Q’s on 40 m early evening to get the band total above 100, too, then quit and went back to the family. πŸ™‚

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 18:45
Remote Operation

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:    5     5
   80:  101    37
   40:  101    29
   20:  506    52
   15:   27    14
   10:    0     0
Total:  740   137  Total Score = 304,140

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3 + K3/0 mini remote head, KPA500 @550 watts,
160m lazy loop, 80/40m dipoles, 20m 4L YU7EF, 15m 6L G0KSC
Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on ARRL-DX-CW 2018


Just playing around a bit with the remote setup. Uwe, DL3BQA, was using our station on-site for a serious SOSB40 effort so I could only use 40 m when he was not QRV. Prior to the contest Heiko & Uwe had installed a Triple Leg for 40 m a bit away from the main antennas so interference between him on 40 and me on 20 m was manageable this time. When I was on 80 m I had to reduce my power to 100 watts to avoid non-RF interference into his station. Seems we need to install a few more ferrites. To the contrary I do not have such problems with my K3. 😎

                    CQ WPX RTTY Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOAB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 30
Remote Operation

 Band  QSOs
   80:  389
   40:  401
   20:  357
   15:   38
   10:    0
Total: 1185  Prefixes = 646  Total Score = 2,736,456

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, KPA500 + Dipoles on 80/40 m, 4L on 20 m, 6L on 15 m

See you in ARRL-CW next weekend!

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WPX RTTY 2018

CQ WW 160 CW 2018

Time’s flying by that fast it’s incredible! Already end of January again and time for another CQ160 on CW. Participated in this one remotely again, about 600 W from my KPA500 into a 160 m “lazy loop” much too low (only between 8 and 16 m high). So rather an NVIS antenna than a DX shooter. πŸ˜‰

CONDX were quite good during the first night, worked a number of US stations but had no luck with the Caribbean multipliers. Second night conditions deteriorated. Decided to take a nap for 2 h during the night but ended up only getting up after 4 hours of sleep, oh well. But worked a few more US/VE at sunrise when signals came up a bit again. Sunday evening saw massive pileups on every new station appearing on the band, not much fresh meat available. Wanted to get over the 1.000 QSOs mark and only at 21z realized the contest was ending at 22z and I had to really hurry up and that I had started 2 hours too late. Was of the firm opinion the contest would start 0z as all the other big ones. Oh well.

All in all good fun but we really have to work on our low band antennas! Not sure how often I already mentioned that. πŸ˜€ If we could only spend our time as we’d like to …

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op Assisted HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 28

Total QSOs = 1003
State/Prov =   17
Countries  =   61        Total Score = 373,853

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 160m Lazy Loop

Next stops are the CQ WPX RTTY in 2 weeks and ARRL-CW the weekend after.

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on CQ WW 160 CW 2018

2017 summary & HNY

I haven’t been very active last year most of the time. I usually spend more time on the radio during summer to catch some Sporadic-E on the VHF bands, my favourite playground. Besides this it was mostly contesting but also much less than in previous years. Lots of QRL and family taking their toll. So it’s only about 40% of my all time max a few years ago. Neverthless enjoyed every single QSO! Also interesting to see how my operations shifted more to CW (mostly due to contesting) during the last few years and clearly to be seen, too, when I started my RTTY contesting career. πŸ˜‰ Screenshot taken from my Clublog log analysis.

Looking forward to some more in 2018, wishing all of my readers all the best of luck for the new year!

Posted in General stuff | Comments Off on 2017 summary & HNY

PJ4 QSL designs

As usual I do have some difficulties choosing the “right” QSL front side! πŸ˜€ I spent a few hours last evening designing them (and the back sides with small scene explanations, too). So now decided to order batches of 100 each from the four designs below and then decide on the final one (they usually look & “feel” a bit different “in hand” anyway). Means I will have about 400 cards available next week to answer all the QSL requests already received through OQRS and people will get their cards fast. πŸ˜‰

Posted in Expeditions, QSLs | Comments Off on PJ4 QSL designs

ARRL-10M 2017

Another interesting contest in the books! Although (of course!) not comparable to results of past years during sunspot maximum it was way more fun than last year. 😎

Due to other commitments I had a late start on Saturday, first QSO was at 11z. The band was open to UR & UA3 via Sporadic-E but activity was low. RT9S, UA9BA, P3X & 4Z5LY were worked as the only “DX” during the first few hours. DX isn’t a real advantage (besides higher QSO totals, of course) as in ARRL-10 all QSOs are worth the same points. The band continued to open every now and then to the east with a swing over to YO & LZ in the afternoon. Starting around 16z there was an in&out ES opening into Spain also linking into (probably) TEP to South America providing a small bunch of new multipliers. But even there activity was quite low. While I could still work loud EAs and Fs on e-skip there were no South Americans anymore after 17:30z. Last QSO Saturday was at 18:32z into France, finished the day with 162 contacts in the log, already much much better than last year.

Sunday morning (first QSO at 7:55z) seemd like a repeat from the previous day: Band was open to UR, UA6, EW, then adding the Balkans to the mix an hour later. Another short opening to the northeast added some more mults from the Baltic region to the log. After 12z the band was closed completely, only worked a few locals. At 14:44z I found V51YJ CQing as the only signal on the band – nice catch. 😎 After 3 hours of noise it seemed that a number of competitors had already given up. So I could gain more points when the band suddenly opened quite strongly into South America after 15:30z again, this time with really loud signals! Very strong EAs & Fs at the same time lead to the conclusion of another ES+TEP link. The Sporadic-E got so strong later on I could work shorter distances within Europe (i.e. ON, PA) and even made a few QSOs within Germany via ES (about 500 km to western and southern Germany), nice! 😎 The band was also open to the UK and I had hope to maybe work a few Caribbean mults but it did not happen, no double/triple hop ES westwards. But the e-skip was so strong I could work quite a number of European stations on ES-backscatter providing more welcome mults. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately I had to QRT at 19z. There were still a few (now much weaker) South Americans to be heard but the band had already dried down a lot so hopefully I didn’t miss too much afterwards.

Judging from the 3830 reports it seems that we were quite lucky in Europe this year with all these Sporadic-E openings (although there could have been much more activity). The USA only had a good ES opening at the start of the contest and then nothing anymore for the whole weekend, that’s probably very frustrating. Unfortunately it will not be #1 in Germany for me this time. Good friend Oliver, DL2ARD, who is an avid SSB contester, decided to do Mixed this year, too (and I recognized that too late else I could have started in another categoryΒ 😉). He had to QRT Sunday afternoon already due to heavy snow storms on his hill-top QTH and missed the South America opening but it was not enough for me to catch up. Less aluminium, less power and a much worse QTH overhere … good to have excuses! πŸ˜€

                    ARRL 10-Meter Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Mixed Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 16:30

 Band  QSOs  Mults
   CW:  257    45
  SSB:   86    26
Total:  343    71  Total Score = 85,200

Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWA Yagi @ 60 ft.
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Sporadic E | Comments Off on ARRL-10M 2017

Time to say good bye …

Well, time’s flying by so fast it’s amazing! We’ve dismantled both stations this morning and took down all of our (additional) antennas yesterday, too. Our two weeks trip (for Paul & Tom even three weeks!) is over already, what a pity! πŸ™ Will fly back to Europe later tonight.

We’ve done about 18.000 QSOs in total and enjoyed all the pileups. I’ve just uploaded my PJ4/DH8BQA log (4.200+ QSOs) to Clublog and LoTW. If you need a paper card please feel free to OQRS on my site. Our PJ4Y log is online, too, and OQRS is up and running as well.

We really enjoyed our stay and can only recommend to visit Bonaire! It’s a great place with awsome snorkling sites, very friendly people and a very small but very helpful Amateur Radio community! Thanks to all our new PJ4 friends for all the meetings, dinners, beers, and nice talks, really much appreciated! Looking forward to meet all of you again … 😎

Our last sunset on Bonaire as seen from the Kas Iguana swimming pool …

Posted in Expeditions | Comments Off on Time to say good bye …

More “weird” feelings … ;-)

Well, actually I like that X-Mas decoration a lot! But it just does not feel right at 32Β°C! πŸ˜€

Posted in Expeditions | Comments Off on More “weird” feelings … ;-)

After contest dinner tonight

Met with all the locals (PJ4DX, PJ4KY, PJ4NX) as well as the American guys being active from the PJ4G stationΒ (AD4ES, KU8E, K9ES) this evening to swap notes on our contest experiences and enjoy a nice dinner at Cuba Compagnie – absolutely recommended if you ever visit Bonaire! By chance Paul, PAØGMV, and his XYL were visiting Bonaire, too, after having spent Saturday on Curacao joining PJ2T, and were welcome guests as well …

And “our Paul” made a few more fantastic photos! See hisΒ great galleryΒ here

Posted in Expeditions | Comments Off on After contest dinner tonight

PJ4Y in CQ WWDX CW ’17

Lots of fun!Β Thanks to Peter, PJ4NX, for joining us as the 4th operator to make M/2 possible. Thanks to Scott, W4PA, and Steve, PJ4DX, for leaving up the HexbeamΒ as a second high band antenna after WWDX SSB a month ago. And thanks to Paul & Tom for all the hard work installing the switchable beverages! They sure made the difference on 160 & 80 m!

Condx were quite good on the low bands but rather poor on 15 m, especially on Sunday. 10 m not worth talking about … Eager to learn how the competition did! But it should be good for a Top 10 spot worldwide, maybe even Top 6, will see …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: PJ4Y
Operator(s): DH8BQA DL5CW DL5LYM PJ4NX
Station: PJ4Y

Class: M/2 HP
QTH: FK52ud
Operating Time (hrs): 48

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:  377    18       70
   80: 1383    28      108
   40: 2343    27      106
   20: 2968    35      121
   15: 2005    29      101
   10:   99    14       22
Total: 9175   151      528  Total Score = 18,411,085

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

2 x Elecraft K3, Acom 1500/Alpha 9500 + wire antennas only
(Spiderbeam & Hexbeam for the high bands, Phased Array on 40m,
GP on 80 m, Inverted-L on 160 m, switchable BOGs for 160/80 m)

Greatings on behalf of the whole team and thanks for all the QSOs! Hpe cuagn sn! πŸ˜‰

Paul, PJ4/DL5CW


Olli, PJ4/DH8BQA

Peter, PJ4NX

Posted in Contesting, Expeditions | Comments Off on PJ4Y in CQ WWDX CW ’17