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 😉 and definitely not enough to make up for our northeasterly location … 😐
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? 😉 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! 😉
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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. 🙂
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 …
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 🙁 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%)! 🙁 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
Class: SO(A)AB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 12:30
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 …
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Another contest in the books. 😉 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. 🙁 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. 🙂
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
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 30
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!
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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. 😉
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. 😀 If we could only spend our time as we’d like to …
CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW
Class: Single Op Assisted HP
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.
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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. 😉 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!
As usual I do have some difficulties choosing the “right” QSL front side! 😀 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. 😉
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. 🙂 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 category ). 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! 😀
ARRL 10-Meter Contest
Class: SO Mixed Unlimited HP
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.
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! 🙁 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 qrz.com 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 …
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Met with all the locals (PJ4DX, PJ4KY, PJ4NX) as well as the American guys being active from the PJ4G station (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 …
Lots of fun! 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 Hexbeam 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
Operator(s): DH8BQA DL5CW DL5LYM PJ4NX
Class: M/2 HP
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! 😉
Being on the island for a week now I thought it might be nice to give a short update. We’re really enjoying ourselves. Usually doing a few contacts every morning (so far 3.000 QSOs in the log myself) then exploring the island.
Found some great places for swimming, snorkling or just relaxing. Bonaire is a great place to snorkle! Besides lots of colourful fish you can even find sea turtles overhere! Had a chance to swim with them already! A really great experience! And the water seems even more clear and clean than good German piped water! It’s a real pity we didn’t bring an underwater camera along …
Also having fun in the mornings feeding the local garden “residents” … seems they like bananas and papayas most. 😉
Besides the video here are a few more photo impressions, most of them taken by Paul, DL5CW, who’s a fantastic photographer!
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Indeed worked both Paul as well as Tom last weekend before I left! 😎
Now arrived safely on Bonaire. Great weather, great people, great food … already like it lot! Also did the first QSOs, feels good to be on the other side of the pileups again. 😎 Brought a second K3 along as Steve’s FT-2000 has no CW filters so using 2 x K3’s should be more suitable for the contest later this month.
Below just a first photo impression, too. It really feels weird to find X-Mas chocolate in the local supermarket while it’s 33 °C outside at 8 am! 😀
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This year we decided to visit Bonaire, PJ4, in the Dutch Caribbean for some holiday style DXpedition as well as participating in CQ WWDX CW at the end of the month. Paul, DL5CW, and Tom, DL5LYM, will travel to Bonaire on Thursday and stay for 3 weeks while my YL and I will join them end of next week and stay for 2 weeks. So expect some activity from PJ4/DL5CW, PJ4/DL5LYM and PJ4/DH8BQA during the next few days until the contest. 😎
For the contest we have been granted PJ4Y as contest callsign. Not decided yet which category we will participate in but taking the low operator count into account it will most probably be M/S. We’ve rented from Peter, PJ4NX’s sister at Bokamba Apartments. Steve, PJ4DX, is our direct neighbour and was quite helpful in all preparations, i.e. arranging for the PJ4Y license, antennas, station availability, a.s.o. Thanks mate!
So looking forward to my travel next week. Maybe I will have a chance to work Paul & Tom myself upfront during the weekend. 😉
Well, this one was a real mixed experience! Got to the station Friday evening. Peter, DM5DX, was already there having some fun chasing all the different DXpeditions. After I had installed all of my stuff I turned on my K3 switching around the bands and suddenly poof, no RX anymore! We do have bandpass filters installed for the classical contest bands but none for the WARC bands. While moving bands up & down I switched across 30 m while Peter was transmitting high power on 40 m. Our dipoles for both bands are just 2 m away from each other and obviously the K3’s COR (carrier operated relay) which normally pulls the RX antenna connection to ground if detecting too much RF wasn’t fast enough this time! So I had almost no receive anymore. 🙁
Looking across the Elecraft mailing list archive there were several posts mentioning similar faults. Most of them pointed to PIN diode D5 on the KXV3 sub-board. But it seemed to be intact after ripping the whole K3 apart. Further analysis resulted in PIN diode D25 on the main RX board to be defective. It is the double PIN diode that switches RX/TX and the RX diode had gone south. Of course there was no spare available so even knowing what was wrong (and having ordered spare parts now) it was no solution for the contest! Luckily Heiko, DG1BHA, owns a K3, too, and was kind enough to loan me his one for the contest. He even brought along his P3 to see if it is of any value during contest ops. Thanks mate, that’s real ham spirit! 😎
Decided to go for 15 m as conditions were quite nice the weekend before during WAG. Uwe, DL3BQA, wanted to go for 80 m but the weather was just awful so no joy to build up the 80 m groundplane. He then switched to 20 m … Condx were quite nice on Saturday and I was astonished to work a couple of JA’s wit strong signals although not comparable to the hours-long runs a few years ago during sunspot maximum.
Had a second failure Saturday morning when a brand new headset failed after just 2 hours of operation. I suddenly had hum on my transmit signal. Luckily I had a spare hand-mic with me and took that then for the remaining contest time just laying in front of me and still operating PTT with the foot switch. Saturday afternoon saw quite a nice W/VE opening and I was lucky enough to find a not too crowded spot to run. Indeed this was rather challenging most of the time as the band was quite crammed (everybody wanted their share of the cake with these good conditions) and splatters all around. Have the impression it gets worse contest by contest. To be honest I start loosing enthusiasm for SSB contests alone due to these ignorant idiots! How can it be they feel comfortable producing these kinds of signals? Here’s just one example (I do have a few more) of one station wiping out 20+ kHz of the band QRMing at least 8 surrounding QSOs (see spectrum display below):
I had hopes to do about 600 QSOs during the whole contest after comparing results from last sunspot minimum. I went to bed with exactly 600 Saturday night. 😎 So I set my new goal to 1.000 QSOs which should have been reasonable even knowing that Sunday is the slower day of the two. Unfortunately condx seemed a little worse Sunday morning with no real JA opening. There were a few more zone 3 stations in the afternoon than Saturday but I was unlucky with CQ’ing, just couldn’t hold any frequency for too long. 🙁 Also lost about 30 minutes while opening DL3BQA’s PA to change a fuse. It started producing interference after a few hours of operation on Sunday which was QRM’ing me on 15 m (in fact it was/is broadband across all HF bands). It had that fault in the past already but went away after a few minutes normally. Not so this time. 🙁 Will need to talk to the manufacturer now to sort out what the problem is (all operating parameters are in the normal range, if it wasn’t for a second station nearby one would probably not even recognize it).
So all in all it was quite an interesting weekend with some failures but still lots of fun on the bands! Besides missing my new goal I was quite happy with 38 zones and 140 country multipliers! And I even heard a few more that I didn’t reach so I think 150+ might have been possible from central Europe …
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB
Class: SOSB(A)/15 HP
Operating Time (hrs): 24:30
Band QSOs Zones Countries
15: 909 38 140
Total: 903 38 140 Total Score = 384,124
Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi
Next “stop” will be CQ WWDX CW at the end of November. Will participate in that one from abroad, stay tuned for further info … 😉
Handing out a few points taking it rather leisurely. Like last year CW-only as I still haven’t managed to cobble some voicekeyer solution together for the remote end. And that being the designer of the FA-SM and BX-184 voicekeyer kits, shame on me! 😀
Condx were much better than expected! We had some nice stateside openings on 15 m but very low activity from North America, what a pity. There were even a few short openings on 10 m on the southern lines (V55A & 5H3EE being well over s9!) but of course you won’t win anything with these as there’s simply not enough activity in Africa.
I took a night break for 4 hours (I’m not up for 24 hours straight with all the QRL stress currently). Getting up, having coffee, trying to work stations … rate was so low around 4z that I fell asleep waiting for callers. No rate, no adrenaline! So decided to spend another hour on the couch until the alarm clock rang again. Was much better afterwards. 😉
Worked All Germany Contest
Class: SO CW HP
Operating Time (hrs): 18:30
Band CW Qs SSB Qs Mults
80: 404 41
40: 337 51
20: 270 55
15: 181 42
10: 43 22
Total: 1235 0 211 Total Score = 721,409
Elecraft K3, KPA500, 600 W, 80/40 m: dipoles,
20 m: 4 ele YU7EF, 15/10 m: 6 ele G0KSC Yagis
Unexpected letter from ARRL in the mail box today! 😎 I have to admit I didn’t look for the results of last year’s ARRL 10 m contest on the ARRL contest website during the past month’, I had simply forgotten about it. Maybe because the QSO total was rather low and I didn’t expect any good placement anyway. But tenth place World (Non-W/VE) isn’t that bad, is it? 😉 So quite happy about it. And I think the 10 m contest certificates are some of the best looking, too!
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