News items for tag dx - Koos van den Hout

2019-01-08 Amateur radio resolutions for 2019 1 month ago
The last time I did those was in 2017: Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 and the hindsight results for 2017/2018 are:
  • Improve the holiday/portable setup with solar power and a lightweight multiband inverted V
    No solar power (due to costs) but the portable setup is improved and tested: the fiber mast I bought for playing radio from several locations including amateur radio from a local park. Now to find more time to actually use it.
  • Keep doing the digimode contests
    That part went better in 2017 and I had less time and/or energy for contests in 2018. Also in 2018 the interference situation got worse. So my net results in contests improved in 2017 and got worse in 2018.
  • Maybe those satellites
    I tried at least receiving them a few times, but no contacts yet.
  • Get a 2m/70cm vertical antenna on the roof of the dormer
    It's there, it has already been upgraded to a bigger antenna with higher gain and it's mostly used for 2 meter FT8. But also for actual talking to other radio amateurs sometimes.
The Sotabeams newsletter had an item "Setting your targets for 2019" which had some nice ideas and which triggered me to write this post. Things I want to try :
  • Keep learning morse!
  • Get more countries on more HF bands in the log
  • Moonbounce on 2 meter
  • Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests
  • Operate HF outside
  • At least one satellite contact

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2019-01-02 New country in amateur radio: West Malaysia 1 month ago
In between a few other not too far FT8 contacts I suddenly had a contact with 9M2TO in West Malaysia, a new country for me in amateur radio. I had seen the call before but I did not expect the contact to happen.

And it's already confirmed via Logbook of The World too.

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2018-12-28 Serious tropospheric ducting over Christmas 1 month ago
Normally, radio signals travel in a straight line and refraction in the ionosphere only happens on relatively low frequencies (below 30 MHz).

Signals in the 2 meter band (144-146 MHz) don't get refracted in the ionosphere, they just leave earth. But in certain weather conditions with stable high-pressure areas layers can form that reflect these signals back to earth or create ducts in the air where the radio signals travel along the surface for much bigger distances than normal.

For Christmas 2018 there was some troposperic ducting predicted on William Hepburn's Worldwide Tropospheric Ducting Forecast. This site forecasts ducting areas based on predicted weather patterns.

To see the actual distances seen in radio contacts I check VHF propagation map based on APRS reception which uses input from APRS messages with location data received at other sites to find long distance contacts. During the Christmas festivities I checked that site from time to time and saw the big distance signal reports mostly over France, slowly creeping North.

So on 25, 26, 27 and 28 December I ran the radio when possible on 2 meter FT8 and got some new distance records and some new gridsquares in the log. New distance record: 639 kilometer to G4RRA. Several other new calls in the log, some new gridsquares. When visiting the qrz pages of those calls I usually see serious setups with directional antennas so they all do the hard work transmitting in my direction and decoding my signal.

This is all still with the 'simple' vertical for 2m/70cm: a Diamond X-300N on the roof. I wonder what I can do on a good day with a directional antenna and a rotor.

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2018-12-19 New 2 meter distance: 506 kilometers 2 months ago
Today I had a listen on the 2 meter band with FT8 from wsjt-x 1.9.1, which is currently the near-ancient version but I can't upgrade yet (wsjt-x 2.0.0 requires newer Qt libraries which require a newer linux environment).

But I decoded some signals including a new callsign from Germany. It's always nice to work a new callsign so I answered it and the contact was made after a few tries. Only when I checked the gridsquare and the map I saw that DK1FG is a new 2 meter band distance record for me : 506 kilometers. Looking at that qrz page makes clear why that was possible: on that end 8 stacked 12 element antennes are available for 2 meter DX.

Update 2018-12-21: I just saw wsjt-x packages for other ubuntu versions are available in the WSJTX General Availability Release ppa but the 'oldest' Ubuntu version supported is Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS 'Xenial'.

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2018-12-03 Being active in amateur radio at a strange time on a strange band: new country 2 months ago
Today I had a day off to arrange some stuff and found some time for amateur radio. I decided to put the longwire antenna outside and use the tuner to get on different bands than the standard 10/20/40.

So I was active at a strange time (during a working day) on a band I haven't been active on in months. Soon I saw signals from C5YK who is in The Gambia. After several tries I made the contact and had a new country in the log.

I also tried a lot of times to contact a station from Rodrigues Island but they never heard me.

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2018-11-25 New country in the amateur radio logs 2 months ago
This weekend I had some time and energy to power up the amateur radio set and trying to get interesting contacts. All in FT8 digital mode as the local interference levels are high. I do my voice contacts at the radio club or out in the field.

This Saturday I managed to make a contact with 5T2AI on Mauritania, a new country in amateur radio for me. At first the other station did not receive me but using the power amplifier helped to make the contact.

I also did a lot of attempts to get a contact with the current radio expedition to Rodriguez Islands but failed.

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2018-10-10 New countries in amateur radio using the radio at the club 4 months ago
My amateur club Veron A08 call PI4UTR has a really good clubstation with multiple nice antennas. In an environment with a lot less interference than I have at home.

Last Tuesday I used the clubstation to make a few connections and got some nice calls in the log, adding two new countries. VP8LP on the Falkland Islands and CE2ML in Chili.

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2018-06-30 New 2 meter distance: 483 kilometers 7 months ago
While trying to get an idea of how much interference I have on the 2 meter band I still worked on my distance records: I had a contact with G8GXP which is a distance of 483 kilometers, a new record for me on the 2 meter band.

This is with S5/S6 interference on the 2 meter band as long as the sun is more than a bit above the horizon, which at the moment is very long. Some ferrite added to the solar power convertor already helped, but I guess the solar optimizers also need some work to clear the 2 meter band again.

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2018-06-17 More kilometers distance into Australia 8 months ago
This evening I made an FT8 contact with VK7AC which is a new distance record: 16918 kilometers. Which is an improvement over the previous record: 16581 kilometers to Melbourne.

With Australia being huge I'm not surprised distances can be very different.

The contact was hard to make but callsigns and signal reports got exchanged eventually. This was on the 40 meter band so that's also a new band for that country.

In the rest of the weekend I made more FT8 contacts on different bands and some SSB (voice) contacts to several active stations. Noticable was that several high-power stations were active on the 10 meter band Friday evening enjoying the band opening.

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2018-06-04 First 'Sporadic E' contact on 2 meter 8 months ago
As guessed when I got earlier personal distance records with FT8 on the 2 meter band bigger distances are possible with 'Sporadic E', a condition in which even higher frequencies can be propagated through the ionosphere.

This evening G8EOH came back to an FT8 cq on 2 meter and I found out that gave me a new distance record: 342 kilometer.

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2018-06-04 An active weekend on the 10 meter band, Faroe islands in the log 8 months ago
This weekend had enough time available to be active on the radio. And the 10 meter band was open again, just like the evening opening on 10 meters three weeks ago. This weekend the 10 meter band cooperated most of Friday evening, a few hours Saturday morning and most of Sunday afternoon and evening. Especially 10 meters FT8 was busy and I worked a lot of European countries on the 10 meter band. On Thursday evening I had 15 countries confirmed (lotw or paper qsl) on 10 meter for my call PE4KH, on Sunday evening that number was 25.

I added the Faroe islands to the log Sunday (also on 10 meter FT8) when I saw OY1DZ active and had a contact. Not yet confirmed, I have requested a card via the OQRS system in use for OY1DZ and other calls. According to that page the LoTW confirmation will also happen soon.

I also got a few voice contacts in the log: special event calls and world wide flora and fauna activations are always nice to have. The flora and fauna location spff-450 activated by SP5KD/P was hard to understand at home so I used the utwente websdr to receive and the transmitter at home to transmit.

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2018-04-06 And a contact with South Africa, new country 10 months ago
Another new country that should not be too hard to get in the log but did not happen until today: South Africa. ZS6ZA was active on 40 meter FT8 and received my answers.

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2018-03-30 More FT8 on the 2 meter band 10 months ago
I have now tried FT8 on the 2 meter band several times. One time I received a message via FT8 to try it on the 70cm band too but I haven't figured out the right frequency on that band yet.

DX contacts have been made into England, France and Germany. Furthest 2 meter contact at the moment is 323 kilometers. From the doppler shift I see the most probably reason for these distances is aircraft scatter, which means I'm using big metal reflectors in the sky to bounce my signal, without even paying for an airplane ticket.

I'm looking forward to 'E-skip' and other phenomena that can make 2 meter radio signals reach larger distances. I wonder what that will bring me.

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2018-02-19 Again new countries in amateur radio in a pair 12 months ago
This evening another two new countries in my amateur radio log: Lebanon and Gibraltar. First OD5ZF from Lebanon and 4 minutes later ZB3M from Gibraltar. That makes three pairs in two months.

These two were both in FT8 mode on the 40 meter band. FT8 is very good at fast contacts at low received signal levels.

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2018-02-18 Two new countries in the log and I participated in the Russian worldwide PSK contest 2018 1 year ago
Two new countries in the PE4KH log: Oman and India. Oman was Friday afternoon when I was home early and decided to turn the dial over the 40 meter band to make some phone contacts and heard A41CK call. Who took my call on the second try!

India was late Friday evening. The call VU2NKS showed up in FT8 and it had a direct pile-up (lots of people answering). But with some persistance from my side and good operating skills from the other side the contact was made.

And this weekend was the Russian Worldwide PSK Contest so I participated Saturday afternoon / evening and a bit Sunday right before 12:00 UTC. I managed to start Saturday 12:00 UTC sharp calling CQ. Which worked at that time for getting contacts. I chose the 40 meter band category because I expected most radio time this weekend would be after sunset.

In the end I made 64 contacts. Not a very high score, but I had times were several contacts happened in short succession so I am improving in digimode contesting.
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40      64     0    388    28
20       0     0      0     0
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total   64     0    388    28
Claimed score is 10864 points
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2017-12-24 First radio contact with Armenia 1 year ago
As if one new country today wasn't enough, I also managed to get Armenia in the log with station EK1KE also in FT8 mode.

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2017-12-24 First radio contact with Australia 1 year ago
Map from pskreporter with Australia A special first for me: an amateur radio contact with Australia, with VK3EW who seems to be a serious DX chaser. For me, this is almost the other side of the world.

This was an FT8 contact, which is a digital mode specific for making contacts with very weak signals using the minimal exchange of information to have a valid contact. I think the neighbours have heard my happy shout after I saw the first response come back to me. The exciting part was making it a full contact complete with signal reports exchanged.

The distance of this contact is 16581 kilometers! The scaling of the generated maps at PE4KH amateur radio has been adjusted to make this contact visible.
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2017-11-01 DAB services scan 1 November 2017 1 year ago
DAB+ logo Tijd om weer eens een DAB services scan te doen. Een extra reden was omdat bij de scan op de Pure DAB+ radio zelfs de Vlaamse multiplex binnenkwam.

Bij de scan met de Noxon USB stick kwamen die niet meer binnen (en waren tegelijkertijd aan het wegvallen op de Pure radio), maar die heeft weer even de Duitse landelijke multiplex gezien. Maar de regio's Noord/Oost en Zuid kwamen dit keer niet in de scan. De typische volgorde van kanalen komt trouwens omdat de Noxon software de scanvolgorde nog altijd geoptimaliseerd heeft voor de Duitse situatie en dus de scan begint bij 5C.

Met alle testen met lokale radio via DAB+ is dat nog steeds niet in de buurt actief geworden.

Opvallend is dat MTVNL op 5B opduikt. Op 12B had ik wel MTVNL maar volgens Muxxi zonder services (0 CU in gebruik).
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2017-10-30 I participated in the CQWW DX contest 1 year ago
This weekend was the CQ World Wide DX Contest. This is indeed another phone (voice) contest, so I connected headset, footswitch and the remote head of my radio. I had some time to participate on Sunday early afternoon and Sunday evening. On Sunday afternoon the logical band to try was 20 meters, on Sunday evening 40 meters. In the end I made 51 contacts.

All I did was 'search and pounce', checking for stations calling CQ that I could understand good enough and transmit my call back to them in the hope they would hear me. Some stations had me on the first try, some took several tries and some never heard me. The DX that got away was a Kazakhstan station who could not decode my call even after several tries.

I used the yfktest contest software for Linux again. This wasn't very hard as yfktest has a standard definition for the CQWW DX contest.

I heard both serious contest stations and single operators just calling CQ on the air. Interesting was to work OH1LWZ/M who according to his qrz page is really contesting mobile from his car or bicycle.

For next time I have to check the compression and gain settings for SSB on my Yaesu FT-857D radio when using the headset.

Claimed results:
Band    QSO    Qpts   Dupes Countries Zones
  20     40      48       0      15       5
  40     11      19       0       9       6
 ALL     51      67       0      24      11
 Total Score: 2,345
A few times I heard the contest call PA0AA of my radio club who worked very hard to get the antenna at the club ready for contesting, but only in the background when I was trying other calls. It would have been nice to get them in the log.
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2017-06-02 Radio Caroline back on AM 1 year ago
Radio Caroline will be awarded a license to transmit on 648 kHz AM. From the Radio Caroline website where I can't deeplink to the right article (Home - Am Licence):

We are pleased to announce that Ofcom have informed us that our application for an AM licence has been approved and that a licence will be awarded.

The basis of our application was that our traditional heartland was Essex and Suffolk, where the signal from our ships made first landfall and that we wished to entertain on AM, an audience that we have not been able to serve in this way since 1990.

We said that this audience may hear music radio of a style they remember and in some cases presented by the same people they remember.

That in essence is what we intend to do.

We can now announce that our AM frequency will be 648 kHz with a power of 1000 watts. This is ERP or simply the power radiated by the aerial.

A transmitter was imported from the Continent a few days ago and is now being modified to suit the frequency. There are further hurdles, but as you can see progress is being made.
The frequency (648 kHz, once BBC 648 / BBC Europe / BBC world service) isn't very good for local community radio (needs big antennas) so one 'big' station is a better idea. I think reception in the Netherlands will be possible when local interference is minimal.

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