News archive 2017 - Koos van den Hout

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2017-01-16 Living in two timezones 1 day ago
Radio amateurs who make contacts over the borders constantly live in two timezones: both their local timezone and the UTC timezone. Logging contacts with UTC timestamps ensures the timestamps align across different parts of the world.

To help with this logging programs for amateur radio like CQRLOG will show the current time in UTC and log in UTC.

But I also like having a desktop clock in Linux with both the local time and the UTC time. One of the reasons is with WSJT-X: in this mode transmissions start at second :00 and end at second :50 so I have to check the WSJT-X screen every minute between seconds 50 and 00 (or every second minute when I'm in a contact). This gets tedious and I get distracted when there is 50 or 110 seconds to just wait.

There are hardware 'amateur radio' clocks like the CK-2 LED Digital Dual Time Zone Clock which is over 200 US dollars and looks like it would fit into a missile launch command center. Or from MFJ: MFJ-148RC dual time LCD clock, atomic W/GMT ZONE, id timer at nearly 60 US dollars.

I decided to just look for some software for this task and after a few searches I ended up with PyHamClock which is now running on my amateur radio desktop system.

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2017-01-15 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2017 2 days ago
I had the UBA PSK63 prefix contest in my planning again this year. This year I set up the antennas in advance, checked the contestmacros and I was ready. Some things at home delayed the start a bit, so I did not fire of a CQ UBA PSK63 PFX TEST right at 12:00 UTC but I managed nicely.

In the end I made 133 contacts. I started on 20 meters but that 'dried out' soon especially after the sun started to come down. I switched to 40 meters and this was the first time in this contest that I had access to the part of the 40 meter band below 7.050 MHz, which is where all my 40 meter contacts were made. Late in the evening 40 meter started showing some more distant stations, I saw Indonesia and Surinam callsigns but they did not hear my reply (which was not for lack of trying).

Total 133 contacts, 59 on the 20 meter band and 74 on the 40 meter band, so I entered as SOAB (single operator all band). A simple script counts 65 prefixes on 20 meter and 52 prefixes on 40 meter so that would make my total score 15561 points.

Looking at my contesting results the rates of contacts are improving (even with radio propagation getting worse) so I think I am doing fine.

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2017-01-11 Debugging a crashing cqrlog 6 days ago
This morning cqrlog crashed soon after I started it. On a restart it crashed instantly without even giving me any option to select anything.

Since there was some mysql corruption in my system anyway I decided to completely wipe out the databases/configuration, start over, import the backups again and be on my way. I never got that far, every time shortly after initializing cqrlog it started crashing. So I started testing what could be causing this and ended up with the DXCC update being the cause. So I did not do this update, loaded my logs from the backup, improved some things in my configuration and reported my findings via mail to de cqrlog developer. I can live with the DXCC tables being somewhat outdated, I have contacts with stable countries here in Europe.

I hope an update comes out soon for cqrlog. Also noted in the cqrlog forums where at least one other user has seen the same workaround. I haven't posted it on the forum yet as I wasn't registered there.

Update 2017-01-12: During the day an update for cqrlog was made available which fixes the problem. Applause to the developers of cqrlog for responding this fast.

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2017-01-09 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2017 1 week ago
This weekend I wasn't planning on radio contesting but some other plans got changed and in the evenings the 40 meter band around 7.040 MHz was filled with the deedle deedle of RTTY signals. It was the ARRL RTTY Roundup so I participated some hours. Given the limited time and the not so optimal propagation I did not expect a top score.

In the end I made 62 contacts. Better than my score in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2016 where I made 24 contacts (after logs were checked).

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2017-01-05 Outdoor and cold amateur radio 1 week ago
Today I had time for outdoor amateur radio but it was a bit cold. So I took the car to recreation area "De Leyen" near Groenekan again, which I also did in April 2015 with warmer weather.

This time it was cold enough to stay in the car and still get cold after a few hours. I tried and worked 20 meter PSK31 and SSB, and again had the luxury of the environment there being almost free of radionoise on 20 meters. On 40 meters it was quite different, the only thing I heard from the radio was the typical noise of electrified wire nearby.

No loads of contacts, PSK31 wasn't very busy. I had the advantage of hearing stations a lot better on SSB (voice) but they did not hear my reply over the pile-up of other stations trying to contact them. I heard VP8LP which is impossible for me to hear at home, but he did not hear my replies.

The interesting contact was with A70X which is a radio expedition to Al-Safliyah island in Qatar.

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2017-01-04 Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 1 week ago
Mobile radio for 2m/70cm in radio shack, CC-BY-SA Again on reddit /r/amateurradio there was a thread HNY! What are your 2017 Amateur Radio resolutions? so I checked the results for My 2016 Amateur Radio resolutions and thought about what I want to do in 2017 with amateur radio.

So, first to review what I hoped to do in 2016:
  • Pass the exam for the full license on 2 March
  • Participate in "Mills on the air" in May
Prepared, and failed: antenna wasn't working and by the time things were fixed the 40 meter band wasn't cooperating.
  • Making amateur satellite contacts when the weather permits
No contacts made, I got an antenna rotor and built a holder for the arrow antenna on that rotor, but I only used it to receive SSTV from the ISS.
  • Participate in a few digimode contests 'seriously' (preparing, using an outside antenna, optimizing score). Sofar I usuallly go 'oh there is a contest I'll throw in my call and see if I can score some points'
Done: did better in a few contests compared to my 2015 scores. Also worked on and improved my contest macros. I even did a little voice contesting.
  • Bring some radio stuff on summer holiday (a full license makes this possible in a lot more countries around here)
Brought the radio and an endfed antenna on a holiday in northern England. Found out the endfed gets into problems when cold (which was probably also the reason "Mills on the air" failed first). And by the time the weather was nice enough for the endfed to work again the battery of the radio was drained.

So, for 2017:

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2017-01-01 DAB services scan 1 Januari 2017 2 weeks ago
DAB+ logo Ter ere van het aanzetten van de zender Lopik te IJsselstein voor de regionale multiplex Randstad een nieuwe scan. Van de regionale multiplexen komen 6B Oost-Noord NL en 7A Zuid NL ook goed genoeg binnen bij een scan met een antennelocatie zo hoog mogelijk aan huis.

Condities zijn duidelijk anders dan bij de DAB services scan 11 November 2016: dit keer zijn de regionale multiplexen 6B Noord-Oost Nederland en 7A Zuid NL goed genoeg om te kunnen luisteren, en zijn de andere MTVNL multiplexen niet eens gezien.
Read the rest of DAB services scan 1 Januari 2017

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2017-01-01 Leaped into 2017! 2 weeks ago
Jan  1 00:59:59 greenblatt kernel: [2538111.748198] Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
I usually distribute the leap second file to all servers I control to make sure there are no strange problems around it.

I wish everyone a good 2017!

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