Second 2 m ES for me this year & a new one on 4 m

After getting up this morning I saw things evolving on and LiveMUF so decided to drive from my girlfriend’s place to my home and get the station ready. 2 m opened about half an hour after my arrival but no QSOs made yet. Heard UA4ALU from LN29 as well as RN6MA/LN08 but both were just above the noise – enough for me to hear them but obviously not the other way round, my 700 watts + 9 ele Yagi were not enough to raise them. Yet another half an hour later the band opened for about 3 minutes overhere, enough to work UA4ALU on CW. 😎

2 m was open for almost 2 hours in total but all the fun was further east, i.e. I was about 2-300 km too far west, just at the very edge. Pity but on the other hand glad to catch another opening at all after quite a bad season (at least for me) this year. 6 m also opened to the East, i.e. BY, BV & HS could be worked from Central Europe. Again I was not lucky enough, I could not raise a single of all the DX stations. Wonder how much power everybody else is running to make it through the pileups … kinda frustrating again and taking away the joy of the Magic Band I used to have years ago. So I concentrated once more on 4 m and made some nice QSOs there via Sporadic-E and tropo, too. Even worked a new one with ER1SS for DXCC #38 and a new square of course, too. OH2FNR provided another new square later on, now at #173. 😎

A new one on 70 MHz:

09:09  UA4ALU        LN29LA   559   599    2 m.   CW    ES    2178
09:52  ER1SS         KN46JX    55    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1245
11:08  DG8RAN        JN69CU   -12   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     395
11:36  EA6SX         JM19IK   +11   +11    4 m.   FT8   ES    1760
11:38  EA6VQ         JM19MP   -01   -12    4 m.   FT8   ES    1727
11:44  EA3AQJ        JN11BI   +08   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1596
12:03  DK2GOX        JN49WS   -18   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     484
12:06  OZ1BP         JO55GA   -03   -11    4 m.   FT8   TR     314
12:12  OZ6GH         JO65BM   -11   -17    4 m.   FT8   TR     292
12:15  EA5IOG        IM98PD   -02   -04    4 m.   FT8   ES    2025
12:21  OH2FNR        KP2ØIL   -03   +06    4 m.   FT8   ES    1029
12:27  OH7TE         KP3ØJS   -02   -16    4 m.   FT8   ES    1133
12:50  EA8DBM        IL18OH   -19   -14    4 m.   FT8   ES    3747
13:11  DF3XZ         JO53AP   -12   -06    4 m.   FT8   TR     281

As you can see basically all the activity concentrated on FT8. While it has quite some advantages when signals are weak (i.e. neither all the tropo QSOs above would have been possible on CW or SSB nor the double hop ES to EA8 although we worked that path on sideband during previous openings, too) I’m not sure what to think about it when everybody only just hangs around FT8 as a general trend but no activity in CW/SSB anymore. For me it just does not feel right … 🙁

Posted in Audio recordings, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Second 2 m ES for me this year & a new one on 4 m


It’s a pity I couldn’t join the fun in Jessen/Wittenberg with all the WRTC happenings. I did help a tiny bit during the last years with some PR work, i.e. writing articles, but QRL took it’s toll and didn’t allow for any bigger contributions. 🙁 It was also planned to be on a family leave Friday to Saturday to northern Germany so another reason not being able to join. Of course it sounds like excuses but believe me, I would have loved to be there!

On the other hand our family leave had to be cancelled on short notice. That at least gave me a chance to work all the Y8 calls that were issued for WRTC on Saturday! 😎 It took  me about 6 hours to log them all remotely. It might have been faster but Uwe, DL3BQA/DMØY, had the IARU-HF contest slot this year so I could only use the “second best bands” and had to take care not to disturb him with too much interference. It didn’t work out all the time so thank you Uwe for your patience with me QRMing you at times. 🙂 The spreadsheet provided on the WRTC website was of great help keeping track of my status working them all at least once (yellow coloured callsigns) and which bandslots!

It seems the teams had a lot of fun and even set new records. I.e. never before did a WRTC team manage to break the 5.000 QSOs barrier. The winning team of LY9A/LY4L did – with just a hundred watts and wire antennas (which includes a Spiderbeam). Great work!

The community also needs to thank all the people organizing the WRTC 2018 and especially all the 350 volunteers helping out locally, setting up sites, tents, stations, antennas, etc.pp. Must have been a fun week/weekend for sure!

I followed the race closely using the scoreboard on Sunday and took the screenshot shown left just after the contest. I think place 1 and 2 are fix, logchecking will not change that much. But the race for place 3 is quite close, will be interesting to see who’ll make it or if the defending champions N6MJ/KL9A will keep their place on the podium.

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on IARU-HF & WRTC 2018

VP5 – Turks & Caicos Islands #143 on 6 m

After the VHF contest was finished this afternoon I still monitored 6 m for another while while starting to disassemble all the equipment. There was another multihop ES opening into North America extending as far south-west as W5 with EM50, EM51, EM52 to be seen in FT8. Unfortunately I couldn’t raise anyone, just transceiver output power was obviously not enough as well as probably too many callers, too. Also in & out on FT8 was VQ5Z from Providenciales Island, Turks & Caicos Islands. Pete, VE3IKV, is expeditioning the Caribbean again, something he likes to do almost every summer with a special focus on 6 m to hand out new ones. While I couldn’t catch him on FT8 he later switched to CW (which is far more efficient if you have a decent opening! good decision, Pete) and was an easy QSO there! Maybe because all of the 6 m DXers & square collectors only hanging around in/on FT8 nowadays? 😎 Of course FL31 was a new square (#662), too. 😉

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on VP5 – Turks & Caicos Islands #143 on 6 m

DARC July VHF Contest ’18

Well, I’m not sure what to think of this one. Equipment played very well. I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours so plenty of BIC time (“butt in chair”), too. Conditions were quite okay also but still only a bit over 340 QSOs/140k points in the log – rather disappointing! 🙁

I missed about 20-25 QSOs from JO30/31 and another 30+ QSOs from OK. There were no holidays yet in North Rhine-Westphalia (i.e. JO30/31) and as Germany was knocked out of the FIFA World Cup quite early it probably wasn’t due to people watching football all weekend long either. On the other hand we had quite good weather down there but even then people normally return to the radio during the evening or early Sunday morning to hand out a few points but not so this time. Strange!

There was some slight tropo condition enhancement during the contest, too. While it was not that pronounced overhere, i.e. I “only” worked a few more east coast Gs than usual, there was a good path from LA to western and southern DL as well as from the U.K. to OK/OM and southwestern DL. Some Gs even worked down into Hungary over 1.400 km during the night! But still activity was lacking quite a lot, really a pity! 🙁

But lets wait and see what the result is good for! Tom, DG3FK/DR1H was on again from JN59OP and should have done over 700 QSOs so probably the clear winner again. With some luck my result should still be good enough for a TOP3 finish … we’ll see. 😉

Contest Report from DH8BQA in JO73CE at 144 MHz

Contest : DARC JULY '18
Date    : 2018 Jul 07 to 2018 Jul 08
Section : 01 144MHz Single OP
QTH     : Woltersdorf

TX      : IC-7300, HA1YA-TRV + PA, 750 W
RX      : IC-7300, HA1YA-TRV
Antenna : 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi, 20 mAGL, 70 mASL
Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995,

QSOs    :  344
-invalid:    0                                       Points/QSO
-valid  :  344     QSO-points (*1) :    140063              407
WWLs    :   77     WWL bonus (0)   :         0                0
DXCCs   :   20     DXCC bonus (0)  :         0                0
                   ---------------------------           ------
                   Total score     :    140063              407

ODX     : G0FBB/P in JO01LD at 931 km

Worked World Wide Locators:
JN37:  2   JN77:  2   JO02:  4   JO44:  2   JO64:  2   JO90:  3
JN38:  2   JN78:  3   JO10:  1   JO46:  2   JO65:  7   JO91:  1
JN39:  2   JN79: 18   JO20:  3   JO50:  7   JO67:  1   JO94:  2
JN47:  4   JN86:  3   JO21:  1   JO51: 15   JO68:  1   KN08:  1
JN48:  6   JN87:  3   JO22:  1   JO52:  9   JO70: 22   KN09:  2
JN49:  5   JN88:  8   JO30:  4   JO53:  5   JO71:  8   KN18:  1
JN57:  1   JN89: 14   JO31:  9   JO55:  2   JO72:  4   KO04:  2
JN58:  2   JN95:  2   JO32:  3   JO57:  1   JO73:  6   KO12:  1
JN59:  4   JN96:  1   JO33:  2   JO59:  1   JO74:  2   KO13:  1
JN68:  2   JN97:  4   JO40:  5   JO60: 10   JO80:  6   KO14:  2
JN69:  6   JN98:  4   JO41:  8   JO61: 14   JO81:  1   KO15:  3
JN75:  1   JN99: 10   JO42:  4   JO62: 21   JO82:  1   KO25:  2
JN76:  3   JO01:  3   JO43:  6   JO63:  4   JO83:  3   

Worked DXCCs:
9A :   2   G  :   7   LY :   7   OM :  15   PA :   4   SP :  24
DL : 155   HA :   8   OE :   7   ON :   5   S5 :   5   UA2:   3
EU :   1   HB :   4   OK :  77   OZ :   9   SM :   6   UR :   1
F  :   3   LA :   1   

Top 20 QSO-points:
20180708 0145 G0FBB/P        559  217 599  258   JO01LD     931
20180708 1010 9A8D           519  298 599  200   JN95LM     919
20180708 0009 9A7D           559  211 599  208   JN95CI     918
20180707 2307 G5LK/P         51   200 51   370   JO01QD     903
20180707 1728 G4ZAP/P        52   109 57   166   JO01PU     886
20180707 2248 G3XDY          539  193 559  035   JO02OB     886
20180707 1926 G4SWX          55   147 55   004   JO02RF     865
20180707 2312 G6IPU/P        51   201 53   159   JO02QV     858
20180707 2249 G4CDN          599  194 599  022   JO02SS     849
20180707 2123 HG3X           599  171 599  186   JN96EE     834
20180707 2220 S59DEM         59   185 59   340   JN75DS     825
20180707 2355 HB9KAB         599  209 599  218   JN37WA     821
20180707 2342 HB9GF          55   206 59   247   JN47BC     803
20180707 2349 HB9RF          59   207 55   177   JN47FB     795
20180708 0445 LA0BY          539  225 559  006   JO59IX     785
20180708 1331 HB9PZQ         52   335 59   147   JN37XK     778
20180708 0127 UZ3I           559  216 599  289   KN18JT     773
20180707 2231 S50C           59   187 59   365   JN76JG     771
20180708 0650 ON4KHG         52   251 52   093   JO10XO     759
20180708 0724 F8KID          55   257 55   325   JN38AT     750
Posted in Contesting, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on DARC July VHF Contest ’18

Good 4 m ES and a bit of 6 m DX, too

Arrived at the station early afternoon today. Unpacked the IC-7300 to set up with the transverter for the 2 m contest this weekend when seeing 70 MHz was open! Had a great time working the band. Especially enjoy the openings into the U.K. as activity is quite high over there … 4 m has been a regular band in the U.K. for decades already! Lucky to get a call from IO93 providing square #171. 😎

Also switched “down” to 50 MHz a few times as I saw on the DX cluster there was some triple and quadruple hops Sporadic-E across the pond, too. Being QRP on 6 m I could only raise two souls but K7BV in North Carolina/FM04 provided a new one on 6 m, too, now #661. 😎

14:01  GØBLB         IO81RI   +06   +14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1155
14:06  EA1YV         IN52OC   -15   -05    4 m.   FT8   ES    2102
14:08  GU8FBO        IN89QK   +17   +09    4 m.   FT8   ES    1238
14:14  G4BRK         IO91HP   -06   -15    4 m.   FT8   ES    1068
14:17  G8TTI         IO81WM   +07   -02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1122
14:19  G4SJH         IO91PI    55    57    4 m.   SSB   ES    1033
14:25  G3VXM         IO9ØLT    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1074
14:26  GØCHE         IO9ØPS    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1054
14:26  GØBLB         IO81RI    55    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1155
14:31  G8WZT         IO82RQ    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1121
14:32  G8HGN         JOØ1FO    55    53    4 m.   SSB   ES     948
14:42  G4BRK         IO91HP    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1068
14:44  G3TMG         IO9ØLU    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1073
14:46  G3NPI         IO92MA    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1030
14:52  EI4GNB        IO63WE    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1350
14:53  EI7HBB        IO53SQ    52    53    4 m.   SSB   ES    1496
14:54  G4BWP         JOØ2FH    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES     929
14:55  G1EZF         IO93FT    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1042
14:58  GD3YEO        IO74RD    59    59    4 m.   SSB   ES    1236
15:00  GW4ZHI        IO82AH    59    58    4 m.   SSB   ES    1223
15:02  G4AJC         IO91VJ    56    56    4 m.   SSB   ES     998
15:10  MØLHS         IO81RL   -14   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1151
15:14  G4FVP         IO94FM   -05   +02    4 m.   FT8   ES    1041
15:17  GW3TKH        IO81JN   -18   -17    4 m.   FT8   ES    1193
15:22  G8EEM         IO93MX   +03   +14    4 m.   FT8   ES    1003
15:25  G4IJM         IO94IM   -02   -18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1025
15:27  YO8RAW        KN36UF   +09   +08    4 m.   FT8   ES    1238
15:29  G4VCJ         IO94JQ   -06   -07    4 m.   FT8   ES    1020
15:47  GM4VVX        IO78TA   +03   +01    4 m.   FT8   ES    1279
18:50  GU6EFB        IN89RK   +14   +18    4 m.   FT8   ES    1233
15:34  K7BV          FMØ4XV   -11   -18    6 m.   FT8  4xES   7112
15:37  K1MS          FN42FM   +07   -12    6 m.   FT8  4xES   6112

Also set up the transverter afterwards and made a few test QSOs on 2 m, too. The combination works excellent so eager to start the contest tomorrow! 😉

Posted in DX, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Good 4 m ES and a bit of 6 m DX, too

Small tropo opening into the U.K. tonight

Tonight was the usual first Tuesday every month 2 m NAC (Nordic Activity Contest) which is accompanied by the UKAC (UK Activity Contest) as well as the IAC (Italian Activity Contest) as well as the SPAC (SP = Polish Activity Contest). That means the band usually sees quite a high activity level during these 4 hours events. While I was QRV in the NACs (which also have an Open Class for non-Scandinavian participants) regularly in my younger years I now try to hand out a few points at least whenever possible (which is unfortunately not that often nowadays). Did so this evening again but started falling asleep right in the middle. 😉

Whenever waking up and quickly tuning the band I recognized there was some tropo condx between western Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Also a few Germans like Tor, DJ8MS, located about 200 km west of here, could works lots of Gs but unfortunately nothing overhere. It was just after the end of the NAC that conditions picked up that much that some ducting started to reach over here, too! Luckily the UKAC only ends 30 minutes after the NAC thus there was still some activity on the band and I could grab a few nice DX contacts! 😎

21:05  G3CKR/P       IO93AD   55    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1075
21:11  G8DMU/P       IO94CB   55    52     2 m.   SSB   TR    1057
21:16  G4CLA         IO92JL   52    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1036
21:19  MØGAV/P       IO93EH   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1051
21:26  MØMDY         IO93HH   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1034
21:29  MØHOM         IO93QO   52    57     2 m.   SSB   TR     983

The loudest of the crowd was MØGAV/P with a real s9 signal over the 1.000 km path:

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, Propagation, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Small tropo opening into the U.K. tonight

A transverter interface for the ‘7300

After the quite good experience with the Icom IC-7300 during WPX-CW I thought it might be a nice idea to also try it out with a transverter on 2 m in the big VHF contest in two weeks. When searching around for information about the ‘7300 a few weeks (or was it month’?) ago I came across a few websites that described solutions how to interface transverters to the transceiver. The most intriguing one was the one by DB6NT (yes, he of Microwave transverter fame): Michael developed a small PCB that could be built into the transceiver instead of the external tuner interface providing low power output (around 0,3 mW) as well as receive input. It consists of only a few parts and is well designed, i.e. when you apply 12 V power to it small relays switch TX & RX to Cinch sockets while without power it all goes the normal way, i.e. taking the PA stages, etc.

A really clever design! And inexpensive, too! So I bought a kit at his booth during the HAMRADIO fair in Friedrichshafen early June and now finally got around to assemble it and build it into the IC-7300. The trickiest part certainly was soldering the small 0805 SMD parts to the PCB but with only a few of them widely spaced everybody should be able to do it. Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of inside the transceiver but Michael has a great step-by-step tutorial on his website which shows the innards, too, if you’re interested. I also built a dedicated set of cables for the combination, i.e. BNC-to-Cinch for the RF lines as well as 12 V to power the transverter board plus PTT out from the 7300’s 13 pin ACC socket. For a more permanent setup it would of course be more comfortable to have a way of switching the board’s power on & off, i.e. by a switch or the like …

Setting it all up and seeing how big the transverter (an HA1YA one) is compared to the transceiver (or the other way round: how small the ‘7300 is compared to the transverter) I was fascinated again how much technology and functionality you can squeeze into such a small box nowadays. 😎 The only “drawback” of the combination is the ‘7300 does not support a transverter frequency display, i.e. you can’t set the display to show the end frequency like 144.300 MHz but will only see the IF frequency (28.300 MHz in this case). But that is really nitpicking taking the transceiver’s price into account. 😉 What you can also see if you take a closer look at the spectrum display shown on the front photo is that my SPS is switching at around 38 Hz. 😉 Band noise will probably cover it well enough else I can still switch over to a linear power supply. I tested it already and with that one the spectrum is perfectly clean, I was just too lazy to take a new photo. 😉

Now I’m eager to see how the combination will perform during the contest! Will keep you posted, of course. 😉

Posted in Contesting, Equipment, VHF | Comments Off on A transverter interface for the ‘7300

PJ4 – Bonaire #142 on 6 m

Returning from QRL today 6 m was closed. I left the RX on 50.313 MHz FT8 in monitoring mode while doing different things around the shack. Every now and then some signals from EI popped up and vanished again. Then suddenly the band opened into the Caribbean – 4 hop ES! Signals were in & out but eventually Peter, PJ4NX, popped up for a few minutes and I had the chance to grab him for a new one on 6 m. 😎 That contact also brought back nice memories of our trip to Bonaire last November where we met Peter a few times. 🙂 Besides Bonaire I could also work WP4G from Puerto Rico …

It was also good to catch the ESØUG guys on their way back home staying in KO17 for one night before taking the ferry back to Germany. Distance was now only 730 km so it took quite a while to work them on Meteor Scatter on both 6 m (YL/DL3BQA) & 4 m (YL/DGØLFF), reflections were sparse only, too. But it was a new square on 4 m so well worth the effort. This time it also worked on 2 m (YL/DH5FS) although the contact took almost half an hour on FT8 and I believe it was rather MS enhanced than troposcatter. But in the end it doesn’t matter as long as the QSO is in the log. 😉

Posted in DX, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on PJ4 – Bonaire #142 on 6 m

Weekend VHF activities

Unfortunately not that much to report. I had blocked the weekend for the IARU Region 1 50 MHz contest but conditions were basically non-existent. A few Meteor Scatter contacts every now and then, nothing else worth mentioning on Saturday. 🙁 On the positive side it was easy to catch the ESØUG guys via Meteor Scatter now from KO19 on 6 & 4 m for a new one. 😎 Despite showing a 6 m frequency the screenshot right was from our 4 m QSO, I had just switched back to 6 m FT8 for monitoring already when taking the screenshot. 😉

What I had totally forgotten about was that the AGCW-DL VHF contest was on Saturday afternoon, too. So I did only spent the second half in the contest (really need to put a marker on the calendar …). This is a fine small 3 hours CW-only VHF (and another hour UHF) contest 4 times a year in which besides the “normal” exchange (i.e. RST, serial number & locator) also the power category is sent, i.e. A = max. 5 watts, B = max. 50 watts and C = more than 50 watts. So you get quite a good feeling what’s needed to bridge certain distances. It’s always astounding to see what works with small power using CW, my two most distant QSOs were with low power stations! These were the TOP 10 contacts by distance:

15:42  DK2RT       599 008  599 023  B  JN47IV    2 m.  CW     705
16:08  DJ7PR/P     599 021  599 013  B  JN47WO    2 m.  CW     693
15:27  F6HOK       599 001  599 034  C  JN39OC    2 m.  CW     667
15:37  DK2GZ       599 006  599 031  B  JN49GB    2 m.  CW     606
16:07  DJ2QV       599 020  559 001  C  JN58UA    2 m.  CW     601
15:29  DL6WT       599 002  599 036  C  JN39VV    2 m.  CW     575
15:30  DK0OG       599 003  599 040  C  JN68GI    2 m.  CW     551
15:52  DJ0QZ       599 015  599 036  B  JN49LM    2 m.  CW     547
16:17  DK6JU       599 023  599 024  C  JO31LD    2 m.  CW     544
16:05  DL2OM       599 019  599 044  C  JO30SN    2 m.  CW     543

Sunday was still rather bad conditions-wise, 50 MHz only really opened for the last hour of the contest into the Mediterranean with only sparse activity but great signals. Nevertheless with a good 15 minutes or so opening Sunday morning via double-hop ES to the Arabian Peninsula we had a highlight, too! It’s rare that we are in the middle of the propagation focus to hear such strong DX signals up here:

9K2HN on 6 m Sunday morning:

In general I find that this year’s Sporadic-E season is rather bad so far. Maybe I still have too good memories of last year when May & June were really brilliant! On the other handside July was a catastrophy with almost no openings at all so maybe it’s just the other way round this year? Hope is the last to die. 😉

Posted in Audio recordings, Contesting, DX, Meteor Scatter, Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Weekend VHF activities

ESØUG & ESØUG/8 – IOTA & VHF DXpedition

Uwe, DL3BQA, co-owner of our station, is currently on an IOTA & VHF DXpedition to Estonia. He was joined by some guys from Dresden (DM7A contest club), i.e. Fred, DH5FS, Steffen, DH1DM, and Henrik, DGØLFF. You can see their schedule on the lefthand picture and their expedition blog at which also hosts a few more operating information.

I worked the guys yesterday evening on 6 m via Meteor Scatter and also heard/saw them for a short while on 2 m Tropo on FT8 but unfortunately no complete QSO although distance should not be that much of a problem at only 822 km. Maybe better luck next time and certainly not that important, I do have KO18 worked/confirmed on 2 m already. 4 m didn’t work yesterday, simply no “stones” around. Therefor stood up early this morning and caught them on 4 m MS for a new square around 5z before leaving for QRL. 😎

They will close down the station in KO18XD tomorrow morning and move on to KO19. Eager to work them from there, too, should be a new square on two bands at least …

Posted in Expeditions, Meteor Scatter, VHF | Comments Off on ESØUG & ESØUG/8 – IOTA & VHF DXpedition

New ones on 6 & 4 m today

Not much to report from the rest of the week. Had another small 4 m opening Tuesday evening but just two QSOs worked. Today was plenty of ES again on 6 & 4 m but most of it was more to the southwest. I was listening to the CS5BAM/B & CS5BFM/B beacons on 4 m for over 3 hours but despite four EA1’s worked on FT8 no other QSOs on Four, pity …

EC4KW provided a new one (#657) on 6 m with IM79, finally. Now only IM89 is missing as the last square in Spain. 😎 It’s been a challenge with these two squares as there is (or was?) still a band 1 TV station down there with protected areas where people are not allowed to transmit at all and beyond that with QRP only for quite some kilometers. So activity from there is quite sparse …

Another new one (#166) was worked with JO81 on 4 m tropo. SP3RNZ/p was visiting a Polish club meeting in JO81RX and took his 4 m gear with him to provide several guys a new one. Many thanks for all your efforts, Greg!

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on New ones on 6 & 4 m today

WPX-CW Claimed Scores :-)

Well, seems I was a lucky guy with #2 world-wide and hope the log check will not drop me behind LZ1NG. 😉 Guiseppe, IT9VDQ, clearly had the location advantage again (and is a great OP, of course) but beating LZ1NG who’s a big one on 10 m regularly, too, and has a big location advantage as well, makes me kind of proud … So all the efforts paid off. 😎


Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on WPX-CW Claimed Scores :-)

Sporadic-E & Tropo on one day! :-)

Wow … that’s been a great evening on VHF again! 6, 4 & 2 m were hot all day long but unfortunately I had to spend the day in QRL. There were some massive 2 m ES openings but I was too close to the clouds anyway so not too disappointed not being able to join the show. Nevertheless I tried to follow what’s going on closely, no problem nowadays with several smartphone apps, mobile browsing, etc.

Finally came home around 8 pm local time and had a chance to switch on the radio. Sporadic-E was still strong but I was still too close to the several E-cloud clusters even on 4 m. But the band opened every now and then albeit spotty but nevertheless enabled me to work a few nice QSOs and with IN79 (good old friend Dave, G7RAU, moved permanently to Lizard Point), IO65 and JO00 even 3 new squares on 4 m, now #165. 😎

18:16  GU6EFB        IN89RK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1233
18:37  G8XXJ         JOØØBS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1000
18:46  GØIUE         IO81VK   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1130
18:56  G7RAU         IN79JX   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1383
18:59  MIØMPX        IO64VS   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1341
19:04  GM3WIL        IO75QL   59    57     4 m.   SSB   ES    1243
19:10  2IØIOI        IO65PE   59    55     4 m.   SSB   ES    1373
19:12  EI7HBB        IO53SQ   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1496
19:13  G4VCJ         IO94JQ   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1020
19:16  GI4OPH        IO74EP   59    59     4 m.   SSB   ES    1304

Switched to 2 m later on while still having the antennas pointing to the UK when I heard a weak signal on 144.310 MHz. After optimizing the antenna for the best signal strength I couldn’t believe my ears when Chris, GM4ZJI, sent his callsign! Wow, seems I got into a nice tropo duct to Scotland! There was some tropo across the North Sea during the last few days several times but extending over another 300 km land to my location was really not expected! Maybe I should have checked the F5LEN tropo forcast a little earlier as it showed the path to probably open, although rather weak. All stations worked were close to the sea except G3SMT far inland close to the Welsh border so Peter had to pass all of England, too, before reaching the North Sea. Judging from the picture on his site he seems to have a nice hilltop QTH so this probably helped to get into the duct from his side as well. I remembered working him back one and half years ago when he was the only one making it into the duct (to overhere), too. Seems there’s some magic to his QTH. 😎

19:33  GM4ZJI        IO86KE   55    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1159
19:35  2MØEWY/P      IO86JK   57    56     2 m.   SSB   TR    1169
19:38  G4KUX         IO94BP   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR    1063
19:40  M1GSM         IO94DR   51    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1053
19:52  GM4ILS        IO87IP   54    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1206
19:53  GM3WOJ        IO77WS   55    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1257
20:39  G3SMT         IO82KV   51    53     2 m.   SSB   TR    1156
20:40  G4SWX         JOØ2RF   59    59     2 m.   SSB   TR     864
20:54  GM4FVM        IO85WU   51    55     2 m.   SSB   TR    1092
20:57  GM4ZJI        IO86KE   57    59+    2 m.   SSB   TR    1159

Chris, GM4ZJI, called in one more time around 21z to tell me I was now 59+20 (and he was stronger than earlier, too), but unfortunately no more stations worked. Called it a day then and joined the family again …

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, Tropo, VHF | Comments Off on Sporadic-E & Tropo on one day! :-)

OH5Z’s reaction – bravo!

In my recent WPX-CW blog post I had commented on the bad signal of OH5Z. I was pleased to find an email by Timo, OG9X, one of the operators at OH5Z, in my inbox this morning. He allowed me to publish it here, too, which I will gladly do:

Hi Olli
Thanks for the reply. Yes, you can publish my comment.
We take this kind of notes very seriously because we
want to keep our act clean.
I noticed from your blog that we had a very wide signal on 10 on
Saturday morning. I feel very sorry for that. Usually we have a
clean and narrow signal on both cw and ssb.
This time we had a borrowed radio on one of the stations and now
I see that it had some issues on tx. We will check it and repair
what is needed.
Thank you for publishing this information and I apologize the
contesting community on behalf the whole team.
Timo, OG9X

To me this is the behaviour I would expect and that also triggers “hamspirit” in my mind. Most people either not react at all when you tell them about their bad signals or they just push it back to be an RX problem on the other one’s side. But somebody taking it seriously is rare and therefor appreciated the more. Bravo Timo! Hope you get it fixed soon.

If anybody ever sees/hears that my signal is not okay please drop me a note! I always appreciate it. Only with such feedback you can improve things …

Posted in Contesting | Comments Off on OH5Z’s reaction – bravo!

Small 4 m opening

Today saw a small 4 m opening. The band was open for almost an hour to Portugal around 14z. I could hear the beacons CS5BFM/B from IM59 and CS5BAM/B from IN51 quite well but unfortunately no stations QRV. 🙁 Also saw two EAs from IN73 weak on FT8 for a few periods but couldn‘t raise them, they were too busy working stations more westwards … Despite no QSOs good to see the band opening again! 😎

Posted in Propagation, Sporadic E, VHF | Comments Off on Small 4 m opening

First Sporadic-E this season :-)

Well, writing two blog posts on the same day must mean something special! Indeed, it does! 😉 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: 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 🙁 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. 🙂

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. 😉

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 😉 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. 😉

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! ). Overall the morning was rather unspectacular, only 50 QSOs until the band closed again at 12z (Déjà vu 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. 🙁 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. 😀 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). 🙁

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 … 😉

                    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? 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉 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. 😉

Posted in Equipment | Comments Off on IC-7300 – the first “overflow” situation ;-)

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? 😉 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 😉 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