2020-12-21 Contests can help other things, and other DX updates
I like participating in radio contests. Not to win them, but to improve my own score and have the fun of making a high number of structured radio contacts in a short time. There is also the factor that radio contests bring out participants in places that are normally hard to reach for radio amateurs. Last weekend I was tuning on the 20 meter band looking for phone contacts and I heard a Canadian station giving out the abbreviation Quebec Charly (QC) as an exchange. I looked it up and found out the RAC Canada Winter contest was running. I made the contacts and spun the dial looking for other Canadian stations, because I never had a confirmed voice contact with a Canadian station. That doesn't mean I haven't talked to Canadians over amateur radio, I had a really nice chat with a Canadian who knows the area where I grew up a few months ago. That's totally different from a contest contact and also very nice to have. In total I got 3 different Canadian stations in the log and I entered my log. It won't be the winner in the DX category, but I appreciate the fact that the Radio Amateurs of/du Canada organize this so I do my part in making the scoring possible. And yes the first LoTW confirmation already came in, so I now have Canada confirmed on phone. Other DX update: Patience helps, I now have the earlier contact with Cuba confirmed.
2020-11-25 New "country" in amateur radio: Jan Mayen
I still have a (short) list of European "countries" that I not yet have an amateur radio contact with. Jan Mayen was on that list and I set a specific alert in HamAlert to let me know when signals are seen from that part of the world. Today the alert fired and I had time to operate the radio. JX2US was active on 20 meter FT8. I joined the load of stations calling him and got an answer and a valid contact after trying for a while. Jan Mayen is a very northern island belonging to Norway, but for amateur radio it is a separate entity. Jan Mayen has no permanent residents. According to the JX2US qrz page he does amateur radio in his spare time outside work in shifts.Read the rest of New "country" in amateur radio: Jan Mayen
2020-11-03 New countries in amateur radio: Cuba and the Seychelles islands
For most Dutch amateurs the first countries they have HF contacts with outside Europe are in North and South America. For some reason my DX from home has a slant to the east, so a lot of the Americas is still on my 'wanted' list. This weekend I was active on the remote radio which has a 10-12-15-17-20 meter band antenna and I heard a Cuban station on 15 meters phone. After a number of tries I had the contact so that was my first contact with a Cuban station. I also heard a station from Vatican City (for radio this is a separate entity) making contacts but it had so many stations responding I did not get through even with trying for almost 20 minutes. Update 2020-11-04: Another new country in the log: the Seychelles islands. A country name that I usually associate with bad corners of the Internet at work is now a positive development as I got S79KW in the log with a very marginal FT8 contact on the 20 meter band, but I saw his final '73' report so it should have been logged on the other side.
2020-05-24 Going for countries on other amateur bands
In the past few days I used the long-wire antenna with tuner to get on 'other' amateur bands. I added contacts on the 17 and 15 meter bands to several countries around my country. Some of those countries were new on those bands, so that's nice. No spectaculair new distances or countries, but a good flow of new contacts.
2020-05-17 New countries in the log, now waiting for confirmation
Two new countries in the log, now the wait is for the amateurs on the other side to confirm the contact via Logbook of the World. Or maybe not, but both seemed solid contacts. First was to the island of Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles. A lot of Dutch stations will have Curacao in the log because the Americas are the 'easy' DX but with my antenna position it has always been easier to get to the east. Second one was to Kenia, which was a sort of surprise contact, I suddenly saw signals from a station there without any other indication that there was an opening towards Africa. In other amateur radio experiences I've also had some really nice 10 meter openings recently. This is remarkable at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, but I guess sporadic E and other special propagation modes help. So I got some new countries on 10 meter. Earlier North Macedonia and today Albania.Read the rest of New countries in the log, now waiting for confirmation
2020-05-03 New country in the log: St. Lucia
In my earlier activity on the 60 meter band I had a "maybe" contact to St. Lucia. This is one of the islands in the West Indies in the Eastern Carribian Sea. But in the end the "maybe" contact was no contact. Ok, fine with me, on to the next chance. That happened Friday evening in a 10 meter opening: I came to the radio with the computer decoding FT8 signals ready to go to bed, but I saw J68HZ active as only non-European station, answering European stations. So I had to try! After a number of tries I got a reply with a very weak signal report, so I kept my fingers crossed for the next exchange and it came, closing the contact. And the next evening the contact was confirmed, giving me a new DXCC entity.
2020-04-29 More 10 meter band fun
This month is somewhere near the absolute minimum of the solar cycle but today FT8 is active on the 10 meter band. I listened to other things on the 10 meter band but when I heard some morse I soon found out it was a beacon from Italy. It would have been nice to do some other mode than ft8 on the band. But I made the possible FT8 contacts and got bigger distances than yesterday. In the evening I got Asiatic Russia and Belarus in the log.
2020-04-28 A nice 10 meter opening this afternoon
I'm at home at the moment with a few days off from work. Time to play some radio, and with the current stay at home measures there are a lot of stations active. I spun the dial to the 10 meter band this afternoon and heard signals. There was a nice E-skip opening to Spain and I even decoded some signals from Brazil. With normal ionospheric propagation South-America isn't that hard for most of the Dutch HF amateurs, but it's usually my difficult corner. I made several contacts with stations in Southern Europe, including AM2WARD so that's a new slot in the IARU 95th anniversary stations as organized by the Spanish radio amateurs. In the weekend I had contacts with other stations part of that activity, including several in morse. Those stations are using fast computer-generated morse so I can't decode everything 'live' but by now I do know what 'PE4KH 5NN' sounds like at rather high speeds.
2020-04-19 Going horizontal on 2 meters FT8
For all of my FT8 contacts from home until now I used the vertical diamond X-300N antenna on the roof. Most 2 meter DX stations will use a directional horizontal antenna, so I lose some signal when I try to communicate with them. So last weekend I put the Arrow satellite antenna in the attic pointing out the window with the 2 meter elements in horizontal mode. Pointing out this window means southeast direction so I hoped to make some DX contacts into Germany or beyond. Beyond did not happen, there was no special propagation on the 2 meter band. But the furthest contact was with DJ5FI with a distance of 360 kilometers. I'll try this again when there is special propagation in that direction.
2020-02-04 Chasing more DX with HamAlertItems with tag dx before 2020-02-04
This weekend I had some random radio time so I made a number of contacts. By numbers mainly in FT4 and FT8 but also some SSB and CW via the remote radio. I activated HamAlert triggers and used that to get a few countries in the log that I wanted confirmed via LoTW. This worked for Corsica and San Marino. I got an alert for a San Marino call on Saturday and worked it reasonably fast after an FT8 CQ from that station. On Sunday I saw a notification for a Corsican call on FT8. When I saw the activity I noticed the station was just calling other stations. So I just started answering the callsign in the hope of getting the contact and after a few tries the hint came across and I got the contact in the log. This is an area where an alerting system that uses more sources than just the DX cluster network works better: the station from Corsica never showed up on the DX cluster, but the activity was seen by PSKreporter and filtered by HamAlert into a notification to me. The contact with Corsica is already confirmed on LoTW.