2022-11-28 I participated in the CQ World-Wide DX Contest CW
Last weekend was the CQ World-Wide DX Contest CW and I participated in that contest on parts of Saturday and Sunday. I ended with 189 contacts. Daytime I worked on the 10 and 15 meter bands and when those started to dry out I switched to the 20 meter and 40 meter amateur bands. Most of the time I chased stations in search+pounce mode but I also called CQ on the 15 meter band on Sunday afternoon. I will need to practise more with calling CQ: stations came to me at higher speeds than I was used to with running PA900UTR and if I didn't decode the callsign and reacted immediately some give up fast. But my morse is improving, even at contest speeds and I got a nice number of countries in the log. Even countries I didn't have in morse before: PJ2 Curacao, PJ4 Bonaire, CX Uruguay, 3B8 Mauritius, CN Morroco, SV9 Crete. Of those Mauritius is a completely new country in amateur radio for me. I put in some extra effort to get those new countries in the log, with other stations that I know are confirmed countries I give up after a few tries and try to get another call in the log. Radio contesting is about the numbers: both number of contacts and the multipliers. In this contest the number of CQ zones and countries is the multiplier, so I optimise a bit for that number. And I suspect a lot of the other contestants do the same. The overview of my single operator multi band effort:Band 160 80 40 20 15 10 QSO's 0 0 28 33 108 20 Cty 0 0 18 22 31 10 Zone 0 0 5 8 11 6 Pts: 344 Mul: 111 Score: 38184This was one of those contests where I had it all planned beforehand to participate, made sure everything was working optimally and had it marked in the family calendar. Normal things like weekend shopping still needed time, but the family wasn't surprised I spent a lot of time behind the radio.
2022-11-20 I participated in the LZ-DX contest
I was planning to make some morse contacts this weekend but when I had time to turn on the radio on Saturday afternoon there was a lot of contest traffic on the morse parts of the bands. This turned out to be the LZ-DX contest. This was a chance to get some CW contest practise done. This is a CW and SSB contest but I concentrate on CW contesting at the moment. I found out TLF the contest logger supports the LZ-DX contest out of the box so I could start fast. Propagation wasn't cooperating very well but I did get contacts in the log. The final result:Band Qso Cancelled Dup Point ITU-Mult LZ-Mult Score 80M 0 0 0 0 0 0 40M 38 0 0 199 7 11 20M 30 0 0 131 6 9 15M 0 0 0 0 0 0 10M 1 0 0 1 1 0 ------------------------------------------------------------------- 69 0 0 331 14 20 11254
2022-11-09 Working on my morse skills
Since passing the morse exam I have continued working on my morse skills. As one of the reasons for wanting to learn morse was to be able to participate in morse radio contesting I still want to increase my speed and accuracy in copying callsigns. Exercising with tools like lcwo.net and Morse Runner helps improve these skills. But I'm also working on these skills 'on-air'. At the radio club I've done morse activations of special call PA900UTR a few times and that went ok. I don't get all the calls right the first time but it is a good experience and it's working out.
2022-10-31 Trying mastodon for amateur radio
All the news about twitter makes me wonder if I want to stay there in the long run. But changing a social network is always a negative experience, you lose contacts. I still remember some several people who I haven't heard much from since google+ and wonder how they are doing! For amateur radio I'm having a look at mastodon as @PE4KH@mastodon.radio. One conclusion is that my own site is more permanent than any social media. My own website survived the rise and fall of google+ while importing my posts so those are still available here. But interaction on my own site is complex and needs constant maintenance to avoid spam.
2022-10-31 Surprise DX: Djibouti
Usually I switch on the amateur radio setup, and the software surrounding it just to get a feel for which amateur bands are active and what's happening on those bands and maybe get a few contacts in the log. Saturday evening was such a moment. But on the DX cluster I saw a new country (for me) active: Djibouti. On the 20 meter band in FT8. Recently Africa hasn't been too hard for me to get in the log so I joined the loads of amateurs trying to work J28MD and after a while I got the contact in the log with a good signal report. The fun part is I assumed based on the website I would get a confirmation via Logbook of the World months later or after paying for a card. But after somewhat more than 24 hours this contact was already confirmed!
2022-10-16 Chasing DX!
This weekend turns out to be a weekend for making radio contacts with countries / entities I haven't contacted before. Or especially trying to get more of those countries contacted in morse. Friday evening I got Dodecanese contacted in morse, and already confirmed. Dodecanese is part of Greece, but counts as a separate entity for amateur radio. I have had contacts with Dodecanese before on all kinds of frequencies, but it turned out I didn't have it in morse yet. Time to fix that, and I managed to ge the contact. Saturday I got the Comores in morse on the 12 and 17 meter amateur band. The 12 meter contact was easy with clear signals, the 17 meter contact was in the noise and hard. So I'm not completely surprised the logbook of the Comores dxpedition D60AE only shows the 12 meter contact. I also managed to get a contact with Guadeloupe, a French oversees department in the Caribian. I had Guadeloupe before in digital modes but adding morse is good. This contact took a lot of tries, I think I was trying to get this one for nearly two hours. Other people probably are working longer at this, so I am not complaining. Sunday morning I saw the Russian DXpedition team in Benin TY0RU active on 17m FT8. It also took a while of trying and paying attention to the radio to get this contact in the log. There were also other contacts to special event stations or other activities, mostly in morse. Radio contacts with dxpeditions can take a while to get through because a lot of radio amateurs in the world want the special contact, and when the contact finally happens it is ultra short. Exchanging callsigns and a default signal report is enough, and the dxpedition wants to get on to the next contact! I also don't have the ideal callsign for noisy morse contacts: it could be shorter and the H at the end (in morse: ....) can be confused for an S (in morse: ...). Yes, PE4KS is in a few logs out there!
2022-09-28 I participated in the CQWW RTTY 2022 contest
Past weekend was the 2022 version of the CQ World Wide RTTY DX Contest and I participated. Not with any preparation: on Saturday after some other tasks I sat behind radio and computer and looked up which set of macros would work for this contest. But propagation cooperated, especially on the 20 meter band. On Sunday evening after dark I got a nice set of stations in the USA and Canada in the log. I also saw a station from Brunei active but that station never managed to decode my callsign while I tried for a quarter of an hour as this would have been a new country in amateur radio for me. I made 106 contacts in total: 70 on the 20 meter band and 36 on the 40 meter band.
2022-08-28 Maintenance for the pi4raz igate / learning about esp32 power requirements
Since last Thursday the aprs server at aprs.pa4tw.nl is down. I used that aprs server for the weather station and for the igate. The change for the weather station was one word in a script, for the igate I had to remember how to change this with the Arduino development environment set up to support the esp32 board. The easiest way seemed to be from the computer, but every time after the igate started the running process after the setup it crashed and rebooted itself. I spent a lot of time looking for the answers, added debug statements all over the code and ended up in the WiFi initialization code as the place of crashing. And that was the hint, according to Crash when trying to connect to wifi - Issue #3935 - espressif/arduino-esp32 this is a sign of a power shortage. This is purely my fault: the pi4raz igate design calls for an external power supply feeding it. The solution was to go back to the separate USB power supply and not use a USB hub connected to the computer. Now the igate is started again and visible on the APRS network: track PE4KH-10 on aprs.fi.
2022-07-20 I redid my 'recent QSO map' with leafletjs and openstreetmap tiles
2022-07-16 Trintelhaven revisitedItems with tag hamradio before 2022-07-16
Friday I had the day off and a plan together with Kees PA5Z to visit the location Trintelhaven again, just like we visited the location Trintelhaven in the summer of 2019. This time the plan was to test some different antennas and make morse contacts. Driving there wasn't too big of a problem although you really have to use navigation to get through Lelystad, it's like through-traffic from the main highway (A6) to Enkhuizen isn't really promoted. We got there fine, looked for a nice spot, found all the work machines we saw on the previous visit gone so there was a nice spot again. We selected a secluded field not to close to someone working on a boat, far away from everything else.We set up my endfed antenna with one end up in the trees and the other end supported by a metal pole. On testing this antenna worked fine again. I redid all the soldered connections in it after it failed me a few weeks ago. I called CQ in the 20 meter band in a spot where one can usually find slow morse and got some contacts with nice people in the log. One with SM6RWJ in Sweden, one with WB2YVY Kurt in the state of New York in the US and one with LA9FG Nol in Norway near Aalesund.
Endfed antenna set up at TrintelhavenKees also made some contacts. His nicest contact was with SK6SAQ the amateur radio station at the World Heritage Grimeton radio station. After a few morse contacts the radio Kees brought stopped working, it switched off and restarted when trying to transmit morse. It wasn't very clear what caused this. As planned we took turns on the antenna sending morse, while both listening for answers and writing down the callsigns and the replies that came, including first names and weather reports: it was cloudy in Norway. A nice day out. Sending standard messages and writing down what was coming back is getting easier after all our morse training!
Kees PA5Z en Koos PE4KH behind the radio