News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

2021-01-12 I participated in the UBA PSK63 contest 2021 6 days ago
PSK63 contest in fldigi The contest that started radio contests in digital modes for me was again last weekend: the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest. This is the 7th year in a row that I participated in that contest.

Conditions weren't very good. Especially Saturday the 20 meter band 'dried up' as soon as it got a bit dark and later in the evening I stopped trying on the 40 meter band and decided to call it a night. Sunday morning after I woke up I tried again and got a good number of new stations both on 20 and 40 meters.

In the end I made 78 contacts.

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2021-01-06 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 1 week ago
RTTY Contest on websdr Last weekend was the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 and I participated. I made sure beforehand to have a separate logging file for just this contest, with the plan to be able to switch from RTTY in fldigi to FT8/FT4 in wsjt-x and back.

Propagation on the 40 meter band during the dark hours wasn't very good, I never got outside of Europe on that band. On Sunday afternoon I tried the 20 meter band for a while with not much better results. I switched back to 40 meter and worked some new stations. I did switch back to the 20 meter band just before sunset and got one US station in the log: W0PR which also sounds like a reference to the WarGames movie (to me).

I did switch to wsjt-x on Sunday evening. I saw absolutely no calls for the contest on 40 meter FT8, and only a few on 40 meter FT4 so I tried making those contacts. I saw several US stations calling but none heard my answer.

In the end I made 89 contacts. I did transpant the log from fldigi to wsjt-x but wsjt-x did not see the earlier contest contacts so I increased the outgoing serial counter to start at 86. I've had better years in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.

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2021-01-01 Closing 2020 in amateur radio with a plot of the number of contacts and a review 2 weeks ago
QSO count plot up to December 2020 Time to plot the number of contacts in 2020 and a review. I made no specific resolutions for 2020 but looking back there were positive developments.
  • The Kenwood TS480-SAT is at a remote location with good antennas for most of the HF bands. This enabled me to work new countries and get more voice and morse contacts in the log.
  • I was active on amateur satellites a few times, including from Austria.
  • The morse speed improved and I got on the air more with morse. Including a few morse contests.
  • I tried to follow the Bulgarian Saints 2020 stations and I had at least one contact with one of the stations in 10 out of the 12 months of 2020. In 8 months I had at least one contact in morse with the station of that month. So I earned the Bulgarian Saints diploma 2020.
  • In general I made more contacts in this year than in any other year. The endfed antenna is now mounted outside in such a way I can leave it there, which makes getting on the radio for a few contacts easier. There were also more special event stations active this year.
  • I had radio contacts with several new countries.
  • The box with outgoing QSL cards is now empty!
  • I'm active as QSL manager for my local club, this is fun and my part of keeping the club running.
Plans for 2021:
  • Keep practising morse, try to pass the morse exam.
  • More satellite contacts. Weather permitting...
  • Morse and phone in contests.
  • Order new QSL cards and keep on sending them.
Read the rest of Closing 2020 in amateur radio with a plot of the number of contacts and a review

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2020-12-31 The igate is still receiving packets and slowly building coverage 2 weeks ago
Coverage map of PE4KH-10 igate around Utrecht Since the igate build was finished and the first packets were received I left it running. I did switch to a 5 volt power supply: it works fine on a USB charger powering the whole circuit board via the USB connector for the ESP32.

Packets are received from a large area around the city as shown. I'm glad it is all working and I hope to improve the APRS network coverage here locally a bit.

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2020-12-21 Contests can help other things, and other DX updates 4 weeks ago
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.

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2020-11-30 I participated in the CQWW CW contest 2020 1 month ago
Past weekend was the CQWW CW contest and I participated for a while. Not many contacts because I had a lot of trouble decoding the morse, even with help from the RX-morse smartphone app.

I made 8 contacts. On the 15 meter band, using the remote radio. Four to Russia, one to the Ukraine and three to the United States. That does add the United States to the list of countries I had morse contacts with.

A bit of explanation: CW stands for "continuous wave" and is another term for morse since morse is switching a continuous wave on and off.

Update 2020-12-05: And the first confirmation of a United States morse contact is in. Raw score before log checking: 84 points. Ranking in the category "assisted low power 15 meters" is #133 (out of 133) for world, #70 (out of 70) for Europe and #2 (out of 2) for the Netherlands. So the lowest score!

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2020-11-25 New "country" in amateur radio: Jan Mayen 1 month ago
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

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2020-11-20 Ander VDSL modem van xs4all 2 months ago
Ik bleef er last van houden dat bij iedere activiteit met zenden op de radio het modem de verbinding verbrak en weer op moest bouwen. Eerder was dat een keer per week per band waarop ik actief werd maar de laatste tijd lijkt het bij frequentiewijzigingen of gewoon bij activiteit nog veel meer te gebeuren.

Ik weet wel een simpele oplossing: de aanbeveling in hoofdstuk van ITU-T Recommendation G.993.2 uitvoeren: instellen dat alle amateur banden compleet overgeslagen worden en dat daar geen signaal aanwezig mag zijn (zogenaamde notches).
VDSL2 transmitters shall be able to reduce the PSD of the transmitted signal to a level below −80dBm/Hz in 16 arbitrary frequency bands simultaneously. An example list of frequency bands (the amateur radio bands) is shown in Table7-1.
In ITU G.993.2 zit een keurige lijst van amateur frequenties onder de 30 MHz die bijgewerkt is naar de huidige stand van zaken.

Dus ik had dit in een contactverzoek naar xs4all gezet. Maar zo makkelijk doen ze dat niet. Ze zien dat ik een ander modem gebruik (klopt, de Draytek Vigor 130) en dat het modem wat ik van hun heb verouderd is (klopt, een fritz!box 7360v1). Dus ze sturen eerst een nieuw Fritz!box 7590 modem op, daarmee kan ik dan testen wat de stabiliteit doet en dan weer contact opnemen als de problemen blijven.

Ik ben benieuwd. Ik zie veel meldingen van collega-zendamateurs dat ze notches laten instellen om zo van stabiliteitsproblemen af te zijn. Ik heb het idee dat in het afgelopen jaar ergens een update naar de DSLAM is gegaan die ervoor gezorgd heeft dat dit makkelijker onderbrekingen geeft, en bijvoorbeeld ook de samenwerking met de Draytek Vigor 130 met modem8 driver moeilijker maakte.

Verzoek in de doos is om het 'oude modem', dus de fritz!box 7360v1 te retourneren. Ik weet niet eens zeker of ik die in bruikleen heb van xs4all of dat dat toen nog een 'gratis' modem was maar ik ga er verder toch niets mee doen dus ze kunnen het modem terugkrijgen.


Na wat prutsen met de configuratie heb ik iets werkends met de fritz!box 7590. Eerst maar eens een standaard configuratie met de fritz!box 7590 zodat ik een firmware update kan doen. Daarna op zoek naar de gewenste configuratie waarbij ik de PPPoE sessie zelf afhandel op de server.

De fritz!box heeft wel de optie om PPPoE passthrough toe te staan maar als tegelijkertijd de PPPoE client in de fritz!box zelf een verbinding opzet is de PPPoE sessie al in gebruik en heb ik nog niet mijn gewenste verlegde eindpunt van de verbinding.

Oplossing: niet configuratie voor xs4all kiezen maar een onmogelijke configuratie gebaseerd op 'andere internetaanbieder' met vlan-id 6 en ik heb gekozen voor 'bridged' plus PPPoE passthrough. Nu mag ik wel de verbinding opbouwen vanaf mijn eigen router. En klaagt het modem dat het geen internet verbinding heeft.

Configuratie screenshots:

De fritz!box onderhandelt wel impulse noise protection (G.INP) met de DSLAM en mag ook dynamisch de downstream snelheid aanpassen bij storing (Seamless rate adaptation). Met actief worden over diverse stukjes van de 40 meter band krijg ik het modem nog wel aan het verbreken maar uiteindelijk is de verbinding stabiel terwijl ik met de radio actief ben. De impulse noise protection valt me wel op: met de Draytek Vigor 130 was dit uitgeschakeld.

Het nadeel is dat de MTU van de verbinding nu weer 1492 is want de fritz!box ondersteund niet een ethernet MTU van 1508 voor PPPoE passthrough. Helaas. Het voelt als een beetje net-niet oplossing als zo'n detail niet klopt.

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2020-11-08 RF knowledge helps fix completely different problems 2 months ago
For work I currently spent quite a bit of time in video conferences. I have an external webcam from work which gives a better image than the built-in webcam, but it regularly started giving problems in the image. Hickups or blinking images, suggesting some communications problem between the webcam and the computer.

Since the webcam, a Microsoft lifecam studio, is still being sold and advertised as works good with Windows 10 I thought it wasn't the age of the webcam or a problem with the drivers.

So I tried a different solution which is almost the standard solution of a radio amateur for interference problem: add more ferrite to the cables. The USB cable is thin which suggests to me there is not a lot of room for good shielding. Pulling the USB cable through a ferrite core twice right after the USB plug made the problems go away.

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2020-11-03 New countries in amateur radio: Cuba and the Seychelles islands 2 months ago
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.

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