News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

2019-06-13 Visiting the Trintelhaven location again for amateur radio 2 days ago
After my earlier stories about amateur radio at the Trintelhaven location Kees PA5Z wanted to go there too to test a dipole antenna for 80 meters that wasn't going to fit in his garden. I felt like taking the fibermast again and the linked dipole on 40 meters, an endfed antenna and enough rope to be able to hang it in some tree.

So we loaded radios and antenna material in a car and drove over there. Weather was nice, not too hot. We were hoping to get on one of the grassy fields of the site, but most of the site was taken up by the trucks and equipment for the work going on.
Antenna at Checkpoint Charlie restaurant
Antenna at Checkpoint Charlie restaurant, picture by Kees PA5Z

So we settled for the far end of the parking lot, away from the restaurant Checkpoint Charlie. We saw that Checkpoint Charlie had a big antenna themselves, most likely an antenna for the 11 meter (27 MHz) band.

80 meter dipole PA5Z
The 80 meter dipole set up by PA5Z, picture by Kees PA5Z
Kees soon found a frame around a garbage can which could hold the aluminum mast for the middle of the dipole. It all worked fine on the 80 meter band. The dipole antenna became a bit detuned when there was a big truck parked right next to it. We were at the edge of the parking lot so it could happen.
PE4KH Trintelhaven radio
PE4KH behind the radio at Trintelhaven, picture by Kees PA5Z

I set up my fibermast and used the rubber strips to lock the elements, because it was windy. I set up the linked dipole for the 40 meter band. There wasn't a lot of room for the guy wires and after a while one came lose making the fiber mast fall over. Some damage: one corner of the balun broke and the antenna wire came lose. But with a simple fix it was up again. Later one element collapsed because one rubber strip wasn't tight enough.

I made only five contacts on the 40 meter band. Propagation wasn't cooperating a lot. Kees did not hear a lot on the 80 meter band until later in the day when some Dutch amateurs where in a conversation. Kees was able to report in and get some signal reports.

PE4KH with Arrow Antenna at Trintelhaven
PE4KH with Arrow Antenna at Trintelhaven, picture by Kees PA5Z
I also took my Arrow Antenna and a handheld radio to try and receive a pass of the Fox-1D satellite. But I heard no signal. It did make for a nice picture, trying to receive the satellite standing on the dike.

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2019-05-19 Logging amateur satellite contacts (and another contact) 3 weeks ago
After getting a satellite contact via SO-50 the next thing was to get it in the log correctly. I followed the instructions from Logging Satellite QSOs with Logbook of the World - Amsat, logging the contact in the tqsl program, uploading that log to Logbook of the World and importing the logfile (ADIF) into CQRLOG later.

But later I found out that CQRLOG now supports satellite logging after enabling it in the preferences. Since version 2.3.0 satellite support is included.
Read the rest of Logging amateur satellite contacts (and another contact)

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2019-05-17 Back on amateur satellites: I made a contact via SO-50 4 weeks ago
This evening I checked 'Sky at a glance' in gpredict and saw a nice SO-50 pass come up. It was a southwest - northeast pass with a very high maximum elevation. So a good chance to listen to the satellite for a while. I took the Arrow antenna together with the Wouxun handheld radio outside, which I programmed for the SO50 frequencies when I started with amateur satellites years ago.

I started hearing the satellite right after it got above the houses. I heard one familiair callsign: Peter 2M0SQL. In a silent moment I answered his call, he heard me fine and we had a contact.

My first satellite contact since August 2014 and directly someone in the log who I really wanted to get in the log.

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2019-05-15 Taking steps to get back on the amateur satellites 1 month ago
Saudisat 1c / SO-50 cube satellite
Saudisat 1c / SO-50
Tuesday evening we had a good presentation at our radio club about getting active on the QO-100 geostationary amateur satellite. This was a very technical presentation by René Stevens PE1CMO. This amateur satellite is actually a transponder on the Es'Hail2 satellite. The transponder is active on amateur bands: 2.4 GHz up and 10 GHz down.

A very interesting and good presentation. And for now I find it very interesting but I'm not going to invest the time and money to get on that satellite.

This did remind me that I wanted to get back into amateur satellites as planned for several years. Looking back I see a clear moment when the satellite activity stopped: The last successful amateur satellite contact was 2014-08-10: Success with the new radio and the SO-50 amateur satellite and the first HF contact was 2014-08-29: First PSK31 on HF contacts. It's easier to make a lot more contacts on HF for the same amount of work as one satellite contact.

As a first step I took out the arrow antenna and a handheld radio just to listen to some passes. And that showed the well-known problem with satellite passes: They have to fit in your schedule or otherwise you will miss them completely. But there are a lot of amateur satellites to listen to. I had two Fox-1A (AO-85) passes not higher than 23 degrees elevation. And I heard nothing on those passes, but that wasn't a big surprise given earlier experiences and what people have shared. I had one pass of Saudisat (SO-50) which went up to 29 degrees elevation and I heard at least a few callsigns on that pass. And no really bad behaviour, but maybe a Wednesday daytime is better in that regard.
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2019-04-29 I participated in the BARTG Sprint75 contest 2019 1 month ago
I participated in the British amateur radio teledata group RTTY Sprint75 contest 2019. The special thing with the 75 is that this is 75baud RTTY and not the normal 45baud RTTY.

This is a relatively short contest (4 hours) on a Sunday evening and I did not participate in the contest the whole time, I also watched some television with my family. All a matter of priorities.

I made 27 contacts on the 20 and 40 meter bands. Since I now have an RF power meter I was able to make sure my output power was right below 100 watts so I could enter in the '100 watts' category and not 'high power'.

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2019-04-24 I applied for the ARRL DXCC award 1 month ago
ARRL DXCC certificate sample After getting to the magic number of getting contacts with 100 DXCC entities confirmed I applied for (and paid for) the ARRL DXCC award, the American Radio Relay League DX Century Club award.

So I guess I have to admit I'm a serious DX chaser!

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2019-04-21 New countries in amateur radio: Egypt and Colombia 1 month ago
After working on the URE 70 year anniversary special event I also made contact with two new countries: Egypt and Colombia. Egypt is not too far away but there aren't many active radio amateurs in Egypt so this one is harder. This evening SU9JG is active and I got the contact.

Right after that I got HK3C in the log from Colombia. Not a very rare country in Amateur radio, but with my current setup I have trouble reaching South America.

The definition of 'rare' or 'not so rare' countries (or rather: DX entities, but that's another story) in Amateur radio is based on the statistics gathered by Club Log and published as the DXCC Most Wanted List which is based on the assumption that every active Club Log member wants contacts with all available DXCC entities. Countries with lots of active amateurs such as the United States of America and Italy are at the bottom of the list, countries or entities that restrict amateur radio or are very hard to reach such as North Korea and Bouvet Island are at the top.

Update 2019-04-22: And both are already confirmed on Logbook of the World which gets the number of countries confirmed via electronic qsls on Logbook of the World to a round 100, the magic number for the DX Century Club. So, time to start checking my options to get an actual DXCC certificate! I also have three countries confirmed via QSL card which aren't confirmed electronically, so I have to look into the Dutch QSL card checker option one day.

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2019-04-14 Getting countries on new bands in the log 2 months ago
I haven't made an amateur radio contact with a completely new country in a while, but I have worked on getting countries on new bands in the log. This weekend I had the 6-40m longwire antenna out. It did not want to tune on 12 meters but I made contacts on the 10, 15, 17, 30 and 40 meter bands.

Some new country/band combinations were added: Moldova, Montenegro, Japan and the Slovak Republic on 30 meters, Estonia on 17 meters, Latvia on 15 meters. I also made contacts with several stations in the URE 70 year anniversary special event.

Update 2019-04-15: Tuned the longwire for 80 meters and added Serbia and Norway as new 80 meter countries.

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2019-04-08 I participated in the EA RTTY Contest 2019 2 months ago
In an otherwise quite filled weekend there was also the EA RTTY Contest 2019. I participated for somewhat over an hour on Sunday and made 28 contacts, 24 on the 20 meter band and 4 on the 40 meter band.

Preliminary results: 28 valid contacts, 44 points, multiplier 23, total 1012 points.
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2019-04-01 Plotting the number of radio contacts after varying months 2 months ago
QSO count plot up to March 2019 After a month with a holiday and a month with one contest I redid the QSO count plot to see the development.

before, before, before, before, before

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2019-03-29 Still looking for the correct frequency for FT8 on the 70 centimeter band 2 months ago
Although FT8 does great work for weak signal reception on HF bands it's also nice for the 2 meter band and the 70 centimeter band. So after lots of tries with the 2 meter band I decided to give the 70 centimeter band another try. But, there is one thing: there aren't many stations active in FT8 on 70 centimeter and even when one is active in the nearby area that station may be on a different FT8 frequency. The real standard is not there yet.

Until now I've seen:
  • 432.174 MHz
  • 432.176 MHz
  • 434.670 MHz
I check for activity via the PSKreporter site. My two FT8 on 70 centimeter contacts where on 432.174 and 432.176.

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2019-03-24 Now also mapping 70cm gridsquares 2 months ago
In the past week I made my second 70cm FT8 contact, and again with another amateur in the JO22 gridsquare. So the map for 70cm gridsquares contacted and confirmed isn't very spectacular yet, but I'm going to generate and maintain it anyway.

Now in the list of maps at pe4kh.idefix.net.

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2019-03-17 Still working and sometimes struggling learning morse 3 months ago
Every week there is an hour of morse training at my radio club, see article CW cursus op PI4UTR (Dutch). And I'm going there every week I can, as learning morse is an important part of my amateur radio resolutions for 2019.

We're training with the G4FON morse trainer which uses the Koch method (order of characters to learn) to learn morse and so-called Fairnsworth timing (playing the dits and dahs of the characters at the high speed but leaving room to think about what you just heard).

I am doing ok, now we're getting to the level of 37 characters I have a hard time remembering the newest characters. Constant exercise seems the only way to fix this a bit, making exercises with just the characters I keep making mistakes in, although I can go blank again on new characters when switching to testing the whole set. As soon as I get reasonable low amounts of errors I'll try to raise the speed (by raising the effective speed, the dits and dahs of a single letter still come at 15 words per minute).

I want to learn this, with the plan to pass the Belgian CW test some day, and get up to enough speed to be able to participate in morse parts of contests and DX contacts. But there will be a lot of practice before I'm at that level.

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2019-03-13 My lineup of amateur radio related podcasts 3 months ago
I like hearing about other experiences in amateur radio from around the world. Podcasts are an easy way to hear experiences, news and opinions from other amateurs. And they fit nicely into my daily commute.

The list of amateur radio related podcasts I follow:

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2019-03-11 I participated in the EA PSK63 contest 2019 3 months ago
PSK63 contest in fldigi This weekend was the EA PSK63 Contest and I participated Saturday evening, Sunday morning and a bit Sunday afternoon. I planned to participate in this contest so I set up the endfed antenna outside Friday evening because I would be away most of the Saturday daytime.

With the current radio propagation and a serious part of my participation after sunset I decided to enter in the single operator 40 meter category. I made 106 contacts, with 25 different spanish provinces in the log (out of 52 possible province codes). Spain by itself has 50 provinces with Ceuta and Melilla not counting as a province but they do count in the contest.

I also participated in the EA PSK63 contest 2016 with 60 contacts and EA PSK63 contest 2018 with 125 contacts (but only 79 in the 40 meter band).

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2019-02-17 Sunday ISS pass with good results 3 months ago
Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International Space Station by Koos van den Hout PE4KH 2019-02-17 Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International Space Station by Koos van den Hout PE4KH 2019-02-17 Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International Space Station by Koos van den Hout PE4KH 2019-02-17 Sunday had less time to be at the radio for ISS passes but one pass was ok. It started with the end of one image, one full image and the start of the next image. The audio recording of the whole pass is included.
Listen to audio attachment:
MP3 media: ISS pass with SSTV 20190217 at JO22NC recorded by PE4KH (rightclick, select save-as to download)

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2019-02-16 One more ISS pass with good results receiving slow scan TV 3 months ago
Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International Space Station by Koos van den Hout PE4KH 2019-02-16 Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International Space Station by Koos van den Hout PE4KH 2019-02-16 After hickups in recording audio from the radio on two previous passes I rebooted the whole system (it was nagging about a reboot anyway) and I received two more partial images.

Thanks to ARISS Russia team member Sergey Samburov, RV3DR for making this possible!

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2019-02-16 Second ISS SSTV pass: more results 4 months ago
Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International space station received by Koos van den Hout PE4KH on 2019-02-16 Slow Scan TV transmitted from the International space station received by Koos van den Hout PE4KH on 2019-02-16 Second pass of the International space station gave me one partial picture and one complete (with some noise).

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2019-02-16 Received SSTV from the ISS 4 months ago
Slow scan TV transmitted from the International space station received by Koos van den Hout PE4KH on 2019-02-16 In this weekend there are extra slow scan tv (SSTV) transmissions from the international space station (ISS). The ISS moves across the sky when viewed from earth so I calculate beforehand when it will pass across the sky and what the trajectory will be.

I woke up in time to be outside for the first one. A low pass over the horizon and most of the pass matched a pause between transmissions, so not much image received.

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2019-02-01 Plotting the number of amateur radio contacts after a contesting month 4 months ago
QSO count plot up to January 2019 After a month with three digimode radio contests I plotted the number of amateur radio contacts again. The number of contacts is clearly higher each January as a contest month, with this January a new peak.

The contests were the ARRL RTTY Roundup on 6 and 7 January, the UBA PSK63 prefix contest on 12 and 13 January and the BARTG RTTY Sprint Contest on 26 and 27 January.

Nicer looking font due to the upgrade of "radio workstation" thompson. I guess even gnuplot is coming along with the modern times.

before, before, before, before

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