News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

2017-02-24 Seeing the same amateur stations in contests 6 hours ago
As I process the eqsl confirmations that come in after the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 I start to notice some callsigns are showing up regularly in (digimode) contests. My highest number of confirmed contacts via eqsl which are related to contesting come from YO9AGN, S58X, S51AF, RA3GZ, HG3FMZ, EA3HKa, 9A4FS.

But the number one callsign I have confirmed via eqsl is not a contest station but the Veron club station PI4AA where I try to call in to the net almost every month.

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2017-02-20 I participated in the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 3 days ago
This weekend I had time to use the radio and after trying to get some more contacts on the 30 meter band Friday evening I decided to participate in the ongoing digimode contest in the weekend. This was the weekend of the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 (https TLS certificate is broken at the moment).

I had fun doing it, had 124 contacts in the contest. I now have two new countries in the log: Kuwait and Suriname. And Kuwait already confirmed via Logbook of The World. I just uploaded the log (with the last contact rejected as it was too late):
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40      52     0    320    28
20      71     0    223    33
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
======================================
Total  123     0    543    61
Claimed score is 33123 points
Comparing it to my results in the Russian WW PSK contest 2015 I did a lot better. At that time I still had limited access to the 40 meter band which limited my options for PSK traffic.

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2017-02-15 JT65/JT9 on 30 meters, even getting a new US contact 1 week ago
Today I threw out the longwire antenna and tuned it for the 30 meter amateur band (10.100 - 10.150 MHz). I first tried the PSK part of the band but that was completely silent. I tried the JT65/JT9 part, and that part was buzzing. And beeping, and other sounds. I made several contacts in Europe in the morning which was as expected. But in the evening the computer/radio was still running and I noticed some US callsigns, and answered one, and had a JT9 contact with K8SIA.

After that it was time to get the longwire antenna back in the house again. All in all another good experience with the 30 meter band.

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2017-02-12 Rising number of amateur radio contacts 1 week ago
I noticed recently the number of radio contacts made by my new callsign PE4KH which I started using in March 2016 was getting close to the number of radio contacts made by my previous callsign PD4KH between March 2013 and March 2016. A typical rise in contacts, mostly due to my skills improving and participating in contests. So I wanted to view the rise per month and did some searching how to ask the cqrlog databases and plot the results.

Oh, and now PE4KH has more contacts after a few new contacts logged in PSK31 mode on the 20 meter band today.
Read the rest of Rising number of amateur radio contacts

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2017-02-06 I participated a bit in the Vermont QSO party 2 weeks ago
Vermont counties map
Vermont Counties map, from Vermont county map - Wikimedia
I still try to make radio contacts to far away places even with current radio propagation at low levels. At the moment the last hours of the afternoon before sunset seem to give options towards the west (USA and Canada).

Last week I got home early one day, fired up the radio for PSK31 on 20 meters and saw K2EQ again.

This Sunday I saw in the fldigi screen:
CQ Vermont QSO Party K1VMT K1VMT
and answered with my call without having any idea what the Vermont QSO party is about, but having Vermont in the log would mean a new US state.

The exchange was made and I dug up from the noise that the answer included LAMoille which is a county in Vermont. It all made a lot more sense when I viewed the Vermont QSO party website. I kept an eye open for CQ's from other Vermont stations but never saw any. So I entered my log with one entry for the Vermont QSO party.

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2017-01-27 Nice neighbours sharing their weather readings 3 weeks ago
A posting about reading 433.920 MHz signals triggered the idea I had ages ago to decode those signals and see what weather stations are available nearby. The original posting 433,92Mhz ontvangen (Dutch) was about receiving remote controls (KlikAanKlikUit) and had a screenshot of some Linux software for receiving those signals but no name of the software (that would be useful information).

But a simple google search found me rtl_433 on github which receives and decodes all kinds of signals on 433.922 MHz.

I downloaded it on the raspberry pi for radio experiments, and it is working fine receiving weather information from probably nearby weather stations. At least one outside temperature and humidity sensor, one inside temperature and humidity and one wind and temperature sensor. This last one could be nice for my weather station!
2017-01-27 21:00:27 :   HIDEKI Wind sensor
        Rolling Code:    15
        Channel:         4
        Battery:         OK
        Temperature:     3.6 C
        Wind Strength:   5.31 km/h
        Direction:       67.5 °
and a rain sensor:
2017-01-27 21:01:05 :   HIDEKI Rain sensor
        Rolling Code:    0
        Channel:         4
        Battery:         OK
        Rain:    648.2 mm
Thanks for sharing, neighbours!

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2017-01-20 APRS on the Raspberry Pi: trying to decode APRS packets 1 month ago
So the mobilinkd is now connected to serial over bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi, but now to get APRS data into aprx.

So far aprx does start but I see absolutely no data coming in, even when aprsdroid will see traffic. Something strange.
koos@joy:~ $ sudo aprx -v
2017-01-20 22:05:10.593 aprx start - 2.9.0
2017-01-20 22:05:10.594 TTY /dev/rfcomm0 opened
2017-01-20 22:05:20.624 CONNECT APRSIS aprsc.pa4tw.nl:14580
^C
2017-01-20 22:18:06.115 aprx ending (SIG 2) - 2.9.0
2017-01-20 22:18:06.116 aprx ending (SIG 2) - 2.9.0
It's a good thing aprsc.pa4tw.nl has an IPv6 address as this Raspberry Pi is only configured for IPv6.

Testing with minicom on /dev/rfcomm0 does show the startup messages from the mobilinkd but absolutely no APRS data in KISS format,,,
== BeRTOS AVR/Mobilinkd TNC2
== Version 2.0.1.571
== Voltage: 4019mV
== Starting.
Switching the mobilinkd between the Raspberry Pi and the smartphone with aprsdroid does seem to confuse something, it's not always showing data in aprsdroid either.

Installing the Linux ax25-tools and using kissattach and configuring aprx to use that interface doesn't help either.

Back to the KISS over serial port over bluetooth config I changed the setting 'bluetooth tracking' on the mobilinkd, which is advised for digipeater setups. And now I am seeing something:
koos@joy:~ $ sudo aprx -v
2017-01-20 23:12:17.568 aprx start - 2.9.0
2017-01-20 23:12:17.569 TTY /dev/rfcomm0 opened
9621    PE4KH-8   R     DB0NY>APZ17,DB0KX-2*,PE0FK-10*,PI1SHB*,PA7J-2*,WIDE2*,PI1APU*,LOCAL:!5103.84N/00736.63E#www.g07.de
2017-01-20 23:12:30.378 CONNECT APRSIS aprsc.pa4tw.nl:14580
9728    PE4KH-8   R     PI1APU>APND13:>W3,NL7      PAradigm    operation!
9831    PE4KH-8   R     PA3BXR-9>UQ5QW1,PA7J-2*,WIDE1*,PI1APU*,WIDE2-1:`zDKnA8>/]"3m}431.275MHz=
9867    PE4KH-8   R     PI1SHB>APRX29,PI1APU*,WIDE2-1:!5142.02N/00520.78E#PHG3460/2m Digi/IGate 's-Hertogenbosch
9934    PE4KH-8   R     PA5JB>APU25N,PE2KDK*,PI1APU*,WIDE2*:>202317zDX: PI1SHB 51.42.02N 5.20.78E 76.3km 133� 23:13
9942    PE4KH-8   R     PI1DFT>APMI01,PI1SHB*,PI1APU*,WIDE2*:@202317z5159.70N/00420.17E#WX3IN1 Digipeater 2 mtr. pi1dft ziggo.nl
10007   PE4KH-8   R     PI1APV-2>APMI04,PI1DFT*,PA7J-2*,WIDE1*,PI1APU*,LOCAL:@202318z5130.81N/00344.00EI digi vliegveld MIDDEN ZEELAND
10018   PE4KH-8   R     DB0OTV-2>APOT21,DB0KX-2*,PE0FK-10*,PI1SHB*,PI1APU*,WIDE2*:>FILL IN DIGI + D-Star + C4FM QRG = 439,500 MHz -7,6 MHz
10122   PE4KH-8   R     PE9R>APX204,PI1APU*,WIDE2-1:=5202.5 N/00439.0 E-PHG2290QRV PI6NOS/ PI2NOS
10175   PE4KH-8   R     PA7J-2>APMI01,PI1APU*,WIDE2*:@210000z5149.68N/00450.43E-WX3IN1 PA7J Digi & I-gate Hardinxveld
10209   PE4KH-8   R     PD0JAC-10>UQ4XS8,PI1SHB*,PI1APU*,WIDE2-1:`{Mym>5#/>"4/}=
10227   PE4KH-8   R     PA3BI-10>APRS,PI1DFT*,WIDE1*,PA7J-2*,WIDE2*,PI1APU*,LOCAL:!5214.65N/00426.30E-000/000www.isemann.nl/A=000696
10277   PE4KH-8   R     PI1APV-2>APMI04,PI1DFT*,PA7J-2*,WIDE2*,PI1APU*,LOCAL::PI1APV-2 :BITS.11111111,Telemetry
10316   PE4KH-8   R     PI1SHB>APRX29,PI1APU*,WIDE2-1:!5142.02N/00520.78E#PHG3460/2m Digi/IGate 's-Hertogenbosch
And the results are showing up via the aprsc dashboard on aprsc.pa4tw.nl. Almost all packets I receive and forward are rejected as duplicate packets, but I have seen some packets accepted. So I guess I'm not really needed as an I-gate.

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2017-01-20 APRS on the Raspberry Pi: talking to the mobilinkd 1 month ago
So I want to run APRS on the Raspberry Pi. My ultimate goal is to announce the meeting of our local radio club over 2 meter APRS but I will start with just playing "I-gate" which means I receive messages over the air and forward them to the nearest APRS server on the Internet which will then probably reject them because I'm not the only one receiving them.

The first step is to link the Raspberry Pi to a radio. The easiest way is (in my opinion) to link using the mobilinkd which uses serial over bluetooth, something the Raspberry understands.

I looked up how to use bluetooth on the raspberry and found Installing Bluetooth - Raspberry Pi Projects but using the suggested graphical tools requires a lot of packages:
koos@joy:~ $ sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez blueman
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
bluez is already the newest version.
bluez set to manually installed.
The following extra packages will be installed:
  adwaita-icon-theme at-spi2-core colord colord-data dconf-gsettings-backend
  dconf-service fontconfig fontconfig-config fonts-dejavu-core fonts-droid
  gconf-service gconf2-common ghostscript gir1.2-appindicator3-0.1
  gir1.2-atk-1.0 gir1.2-freedesktop gir1.2-gconf-2.0 gir1.2-gdkpixbuf-2.0
  gir1.2-glib-2.0 gir1.2-gtk-3.0 gir1.2-notify-0.7 gir1.2-pango-1.0
  glib-networking glib-networking-common glib-networking-services
  gnome-icon-theme gsettings-desktop-schemas gsfonts hicolor-icon-theme
  imagemagick-common indicator-application libappindicator3-1 libasyncns0
  libatk-bridge2.0-0 libatk1.0-0 libatk1.0-data libatspi2.0-0 libavahi-client3
  libbluetooth3 libcairo-gobject2 libcairo2 libcanberra-gtk3-0
  libcanberra-gtk3-module libcanberra0 libcolord2 libcolorhug2 libcroco3
  libcups2 libcupsfilters1 libcupsimage2 libdatrie1 libdbus-glib-1-2
  libdbusmenu-glib4 libdbusmenu-gtk3-4 libdconf1 libexif12 libfftw3-double3
  libfile-copy-recursive-perl libflac8 libfontconfig1 libgconf-2-4 libgd3
  libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-common libgirepository-1.0-1
  libgphoto2-6 libgphoto2-l10n libgphoto2-port10 libgraphite2-3 libgs9
  libgs9-common libgtk-3-0 libgtk-3-bin libgtk-3-common libgudev-1.0-0
  libgusb2 libharfbuzz0b libice6 libieee1284-3 libijs-0.35 libindicator3-7
  libjasper1 libjbig0 libjbig2dec0 libjpeg8 libjson-glib-1.0-0
  libjson-glib-1.0-common liblcms2-2 liblqr-1-0 libltdl7 libmagickcore-6.q16-2
  libmagickwand-6.q16-2 libnotify4 libogg0 libopenobex1 libpam-systemd
  libpango-1.0-0 libpango1.0-0 libpangocairo-1.0-0 libpangoft2-1.0-0
  libpangox-1.0-0 libpangoxft-1.0-0 libpaper-utils libpaper1 libpixman-1-0
  libpolkit-agent-1-0 libpolkit-backend-1-0 libpolkit-gobject-1-0 libproxy1
  libpulse-mainloop-glib0 libpulse0 librest-0.7-0 librsvg2-2 librsvg2-common
  libsane libsane-common libsane-extras libsane-extras-common libsm6
  libsndfile1 libsoup-gnome2.4-1 libsoup2.4-1 libstartup-notification0 libtdb1
  libthai-data libthai0 libtiff5 libvorbis0a libvorbisenc2 libvorbisfile3
  libvpx1 libwayland-client0 libwayland-cursor0 libx11-xcb1 libxcb-render0
  libxcb-shm0 libxcb-util0 libxcomposite1 libxcursor1 libxdamage1 libxfixes3
  libxft2 libxi6 libxinerama1 libxkbcommon0 libxpm4 libxrandr2 libxrender1
  libxtst6 notification-daemon obex-data-server policykit-1 poppler-data
  python-cairo python-dbus python-dbus-dev python-gi python-gi-cairo
  python-gobject python-gobject-2 sane-utils update-inetd x11-common
Suggested packages:
  bluez-cups bluez-obexd ghostscript-x libcanberra-gtk0 libcanberra-pulse
  cups-common libfftw3-bin libfftw3-dev libgd-tools gphoto2 gtkam gvfs
  libjasper-runtime liblcms2-utils libmagickcore-6.q16-2-extra pulseaudio
  librsvg2-bin hplip hpoj poppler-utils fonts-japanese-mincho
  fonts-ipafont-mincho fonts-japanese-gothic fonts-ipafont-gothic
  fonts-arphic-ukai fonts-arphic-uming fonts-nanum python-dbus-doc
  python-dbus-dbg python-gobject-2-dbg unpaper
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  adwaita-icon-theme at-spi2-core blueman bluetooth colord colord-data
  dconf-gsettings-backend dconf-service fontconfig fontconfig-config
  fonts-dejavu-core fonts-droid gconf-service gconf2-common ghostscript
  gir1.2-appindicator3-0.1 gir1.2-atk-1.0 gir1.2-freedesktop gir1.2-gconf-2.0
  gir1.2-gdkpixbuf-2.0 gir1.2-glib-2.0 gir1.2-gtk-3.0 gir1.2-notify-0.7
  gir1.2-pango-1.0 glib-networking glib-networking-common
  glib-networking-services gnome-icon-theme gsettings-desktop-schemas gsfonts
  hicolor-icon-theme imagemagick-common indicator-application
  libappindicator3-1 libasyncns0 libatk-bridge2.0-0 libatk1.0-0 libatk1.0-data
  libatspi2.0-0 libavahi-client3 libbluetooth3 libcairo-gobject2 libcairo2
  libcanberra-gtk3-0 libcanberra-gtk3-module libcanberra0 libcolord2
  libcolorhug2 libcroco3 libcups2 libcupsfilters1 libcupsimage2 libdatrie1
  libdbus-glib-1-2 libdbusmenu-glib4 libdbusmenu-gtk3-4 libdconf1 libexif12
  libfftw3-double3 libfile-copy-recursive-perl libflac8 libfontconfig1
  libgconf-2-4 libgd3 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-common
  libgirepository-1.0-1 libgphoto2-6 libgphoto2-l10n libgphoto2-port10
  libgraphite2-3 libgs9 libgs9-common libgtk-3-0 libgtk-3-bin libgtk-3-common
  libgudev-1.0-0 libgusb2 libharfbuzz0b libice6 libieee1284-3 libijs-0.35
  libindicator3-7 libjasper1 libjbig0 libjbig2dec0 libjpeg8 libjson-glib-1.0-0
  libjson-glib-1.0-common liblcms2-2 liblqr-1-0 libltdl7 libmagickcore-6.q16-2
  libmagickwand-6.q16-2 libnotify4 libogg0 libopenobex1 libpam-systemd
  libpango-1.0-0 libpango1.0-0 libpangocairo-1.0-0 libpangoft2-1.0-0
  libpangox-1.0-0 libpangoxft-1.0-0 libpaper-utils libpaper1 libpixman-1-0
  libpolkit-agent-1-0 libpolkit-backend-1-0 libpolkit-gobject-1-0 libproxy1
  libpulse-mainloop-glib0 libpulse0 librest-0.7-0 librsvg2-2 librsvg2-common
  libsane libsane-common libsane-extras libsane-extras-common libsm6
  libsndfile1 libsoup-gnome2.4-1 libsoup2.4-1 libstartup-notification0 libtdb1
  libthai-data libthai0 libtiff5 libvorbis0a libvorbisenc2 libvorbisfile3
  libvpx1 libwayland-client0 libwayland-cursor0 libx11-xcb1 libxcb-render0
  libxcb-shm0 libxcb-util0 libxcomposite1 libxcursor1 libxdamage1 libxfixes3
  libxft2 libxi6 libxinerama1 libxkbcommon0 libxpm4 libxrandr2 libxrender1
  libxtst6 notification-daemon obex-data-server policykit-1 poppler-data
  python-cairo python-dbus python-dbus-dev python-gi python-gi-cairo
  python-gobject python-gobject-2 sane-utils update-inetd x11-common
0 upgraded, 165 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 65.6 MB of archives.
After this operation, 189 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] n
Abort.
I don't need the whole graphical environment (I run my Raspberry Pi headless, so it doesn't have a graphical environment).

So I searched some more and found the command bluetoothctl which does pairing in text mode, exactly what I want. It took some trying:
koos@joy:~ $ hcitool scan
Scanning ...
        30:14:11:xx:xx:xx       Mobilinkd TNC2
koos@joy:~ $ bluetoothctl 
[NEW] Controller B8:27:EB:xx:xx:xx joy [default]
bluetooth]# pair
Missing device address argument
[bluetooth]# scan
Missing on/off argument
[bluetooth]# scan on
Discovery started
[CHG] Controller B8:27:EB:xx:xx:xx Discovering: yes
[NEW] Device 9C:20:7B:xx:xx:xx 9C-20-7B-XX-XX-XX
[NEW] Device D0:03:4B:xx:xx:xx D0-03-4B-XX-XX-XX
[NEW] Device F4:F5:D8:xx:xx:xx F4-F5-D8-XX-XX-XX
[NEW] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx 30-14-11-XX-XX-XX
[bluetooth]# pair 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
Attempting to pair with 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
Failed to pair: org.bluez.Error.AuthenticationFailed
[bluetooth]# ?
Invalid command
[bluetooth]# help
Available commands:
  list                       List available controllers
  show [ctrl]                Controller information
  select <ctrl>              Select default controller
  devices                    List available devices
  paired-devices             List paired devices
  power <on/off>             Set controller power
  pairable <on/off>          Set controller pairable mode
  discoverable <on/off>      Set controller discoverable mode
  agent <on/off/capability>  Enable/disable agent with given capability
  default-agent              Set agent as the default one
  scan <on/off>              Scan for devices
  info <dev>                 Device information
  pair <dev>                 Pair with device
  trust <dev>                Trust device
  untrust <dev>              Untrust device
  block <dev>                Block device
  unblock <dev>              Unblock device
  remove <dev>               Remove device
  connect <dev>              Connect device
  disconnect <dev>           Disconnect device
  version                    Display version
  quit                       Quit program
[bluetooth]# pairable on
Changing pairable on succeeded
[bluetooth]# pair 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
Attempting to pair with 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Connected: yes
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Name: Mobilinkd TNC2
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Alias: Mobilinkd TNC2
Failed to pair: org.bluez.Error.AuthenticationFailed
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Connected: no
[bluetooth]# agent on
Agent registered
[bluetooth]# pair 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
Attempting to pair with 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Connected: yes
Request PIN code
[agent] Enter PIN code: 1234
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx UUIDs:
        00001101-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Paired: yes
Pairing successful
[CHG] Device 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx Connected: no
[bluetooth]# 
So I have to set 'scan on', 'pairable on' and 'agent on' to get in a state where a 'pair' command will start the bluetooth pairing process and ask for a pincode.

Now we have a pairing, and I could add a serial connection over this. By hand this can be done with commandline rfcomm:
koos@joy:~ $ sudo rfcomm connect /dev/rfcomm0 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx
Connected /dev/rfcomm0 to 30:14:11:xx:xx:xx on channel 1
Press CTRL-C for hangup
And in another terminal:
koos@joy:~ $ cat /dev/rfcomm0 


== BeRTOS AVR/Mobilinkd TNC2

== Version 2.0.1.571

== Voltage: 4045mV

== Starting.

So there is communications possible! Now to get aprs data from the mobilinkd. This should happen via the KISS protocol, but at this time I have no idea what that would like.

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2017-01-16 Living in two timezones 1 month ago
PyHamClock 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 month 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 month 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 month 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
Passed.
  • 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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2016-12-30 The weather confirms antenna theory 1 month ago
Last afternoon I hung up the endfed antenna outside to make some contacts on different radio bands. This morning I noticed it was all covered in frost due to a night with temperatures below freezing and with lots of mist.

So I took the camera for some pictures of the frost on different parts of the antenna, gathered at flickr: img_3365 | Coil in endfed antenna with ice growth | Koos van den Hout | Flickr.

After I took a set of pictures I started transmitting PSK31 on the 20 meter bands at 50 watts power. And my antenna theory tells me that the part of the antenna radiating the best is where the most current of the standing wave happens which is right after the transformer in an endfed antenna.

Which I got confirmed: img_3380 | Endfed antenna with ice growth on transformer | Koos van den Hout | Flickr was taken before I transmitted and img_3378 | Result of using the enfed antenna: ice vaporized | Koos van den Hout | Flickr after. The ice is gone on the first part.

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2016-12-24 "Nice" view of the local noise 2 months ago
Waterfall display with noise in 20m jt65 band With HF conditions being bad I chose the JT65 mode in the hope of having a chance of making a contact. None happened, and the noise patterns in the waterfall display make it very clear how much local noise there is and how the local noise sources change frequencies and power.

Transmissions take 50 seconds in JT65 and start right at the beginning of the minute, at each yellow horizontal line in the waterfall display. The only valid JT65 signal is in the top right corner right of the '1400' marker.

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2016-12-11 New band in amateur radio: 17 meters (18 MHz) 2 months ago
This weekend I had some time to 'play radio' and used the LW-10 longwire antenna for 6 to 40 meters because I wanted to try the 30 meter band. But there was no activity on the 30 meter band in PSK modes. So I tried other PSK31 frequencies as programmed in fldigi and ended up at 18.100 MHz and had a few contacts with Greece, Russia and Spain.

The 17 meter band is from 18.068 MHz to 18.168 MHz and one of the WARC bands, named after the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1979 which allocated small parts of the spectrum in 10 MHz (30 meter), 18 MHz (17 meter) and 24 MHz (12 meter) to radio amateurs. Partly on a secondary basis (10 MHz), partly as primary user (18 MHz and 24 MHz).

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2016-11-27 Finished the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable 2 months ago
Homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable, CC-BY-SA
Homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable
I finished the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable by using tiewraps to clamp the two pieces of cable together and using heatshring tube to cover the wires and pack it all together.

More about Creating the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable and instructions for building a 3-pin programming cable for QYT/BTech/others and the KT-8900 FAQ at Mikklor.com.

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2016-11-24 Creating a programming cable for a QYT KT-8900 with some soldering 3 months ago
QYT KT-8900 radio with homebrewed interface cable, CC-BY-SA
QYT KT-8900 radio with homebrewed interface cable, CC-BY-SA
I bought a cheap 2m/70cm mobile/base radio, a QYT KT-8900 which has the special feature of being very small but still able of putting out 25 Watt on the 2 meter VHF band and 20 Watt on the 70 centimeter UHF band.

The display looks a lot like my Wouxun KG-UVD1P, complete with battery status indicator which is not much use when the radio has a constant 13.8V feed. The menus are quite similar, so this is probably not a coincidence.

I bought it via aliexpress and it got shipped at a reasonable speed to my house. In the original listing was mention of a programming cable, but it showed up without one. I asked the seller about this and directly a baofeng programming cable was shipped to me.

But, the QYT KT-8900 has a different programming interface, just a 3.5 millimeter plug with ground, rx and tx data. So I found a very good resource for chinese radios which has the answers: 3 PIN Programming Cable for a BTech, QYT, etc Mobile which has the right pinout. I just cut the Baofeng cable to get at the gnd, rx and tx wires.

Next I had to wait for a cable with the right 3.5mm connector to show up. The connector in the back is sunk into the case and the 3.5mm connectors I had in the junkbox did not fit. But a broken PC speaker set wanted to donate a cable with 3.5mm connectors that were slim enough. Next trying the result with chirp radio programming software under Linux. And suddenly I could copy a list of channels I had and upload it to the radio in 5 minutes, which is a lot faster than manual programming where getting more than one channel programmed in correctly under 5 minutes is hard, see for example Programming Repeaters into the QYT KT8900 Mini Dual Band Mobile Radio Review - AF5DN - Youtube.

At the moment the cable looks very experimental. Now it has been tested I will use tiewraps and heatshrink tube to make it sturdier and make it look a lot better.

As a radio it's ok, but not ideal. I was testing with meetnetwerk baretta - hobbyscoop and the antenna on the roof for 2 meter and 70 centimeter and noticed I had pulsing audio of the output frequency of PI2NOS on the Baretta frequency. Pulsing audio is a known problem in this radio, see KT8900 FAQ at miklor.com but I have no channels with receive CTCSS.

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2016-11-22 A bit of hope for radio contacts 3 months ago
Recently getting some new contacts on amateur radio has been very difficult. And news articles like Sunspot cycle plunges to lowest level in 5 years - Southgate arc which points at source Sunspot cycle at lowest level in 5 years - spaceweather.com tell us things aren't going to improve soon.

But sometimes interesting radio contacts are possible. Last Friday I complained somewhere about propagation being down and the next morning I saw a reply that propagation had improved after 23:00, by which time I was asleep. Yesterday evening I had some time to try the radio after 21:30 and I first added Albania to the list of countries I contacted with a PSK31 contact on 40 meters with ZA5G and later I even had a voice contact with RA3QK who gave me an S5 report.

I kept scanning around the band and heard pileups for some popular stations from the Brazil and the US, who never heard my answer. And later I heard an active net on 7178 kHz with a number of US and Canada stations active. I tried breaking in but they also could not decode my callsign. One of the active members in that net was WA3RSL whose qrz page clearly shows he is a big 40 meter fan and has the space for huge antennas.

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