News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

2022-06-11 Finally CW included on paper
Today the updated registration documents and card arrived with the much wanted "CW included". I passed the exam on 18 April 2022 and informed Agentschap Telecom on Tuesday 19 April 2022 about passing the morse test.

In the autoreply from Agentschap Telecom there was a remark that changes in existing certificates or registrations can take up to 8 weeks to process. At almost 7 weeks they lived up to their promise.

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2022-06-05 Having multiple wsjt-x instances available from CQRLOG
I'm currently also doing some contacts with a special event station call and I wanted to separate the wsjt-x history for my normal call from the history for the special event station call, just like I split the log databases in CQRLOG.

For the non-amateurradio persons: I have my own callsign, PE4KH which is linked to me. It is also possible to have one extra temporary callsign. Those are usually linked to an event or some other reason for a 'special' callsign. Temporary callsigns in the Netherlands have either the digit 6 or more than one digit.

There is an option for multiple profiles in wsjt-x but those are just for the settings (including callsign) but not for the logging location. This means all different profiles share the same history and will show the same countries as 'new' or 'already contacted'.

When I was looking at the options for starting wsjt-x with different settings I noticed the -r --rig-name <rig-name> Where is for multi-instance support. option in the help. With this option, all the logging is in ~/.local/share/WSJT-X - <rig-name>/ which is what I want.

The next challenge is to start wsjt-x with the extra commandline paramater from CQRLOG. It seems the 'path to wsjt-x' setting doesn't accept commandline parameters. So I created a script ~/bin/ses-wsjtx with:

/usr/bin/wsjtx -r ses
Changed the 'path to wsjt-x' setting to /home/koos/bin/ses-wsjtx and now I get what I want.

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2022-05-30 I participated in the CQ WPX CW contest
CW contest filling the bands on a websdr Last weekend was the CQ World Wide WPX Contest CW organized by CQ Amateur Radio magazine. The term 'WPX' stands for 'Worked All Prefixes'. The objective of this contest is to get contacts and exchange information with as many different other radio amateurs using morse code. Points are awarded for each contact, based on which amateur band and whether they are in the same or different continents. Multipliers are calculated from the number of different prefixes contacted. The prefix of my callsign PE4KH is PE4 which is a different prefix from for example PE3. This is a 48-hour contest.

A good reason for me to participate was to practise my morse in contesting skills. Those skills still need work as I had trouble understanding the serial numbers. But with a bit of asking for a retransmission or guessing from the previous/next serial it sort of worked out for me. I felt like I had a lot more trouble understanding the serial numbers compared to a week ago in the King of Spain CW contest.

I guess my call PE4KH is now in the list(s) of regular contest calls. When my callsign is repeated completely, it's never a PE4KS. In morse, an H is four dots .... and an S is three dots .... In the first few contests I had to correct PE4KS a few times, or ended in the log with the wrong call, so this feels to me like my call is now more familiair.

I got 102 contacts in the log. I operated Saturday afternoon and parts of the evening, and late Sunday evening, wrapped around things like sleeping and other things in the weekend. I got one new country in the log: Mongolia. And I made my first morse contacts to Japan, China and Malta. The score table:
Band   160   80   40   20   15   10
QSO's    0    0   31   71    0    0

Pts: 144  Mul: 84 Score: 12096
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2022-05-23 I participated in the King of Spain CW contest
CW contest filling the bands on a websdr Since I have been learning morse code and passed the morse exam I notice I get more enjoyment out of contacts in morse code than out of contacts in digital modes. In digital modes (FT8) it is the computer doing hard work decoding and there isn't much variation, in morse I do the decoding and contacts can be from very simple confirmations of callsigns to longer chats about things.

This also means I like chances to make morse contacts. One of the simple ways to make more morse contacts is to get involved in an amateur radio contest with morse. Last weekend was the His Majesty The King of Spain CW Contest and I participated. Before the contest I tried to build a contest scoring file for TLF Linux contest software. During the contest I found out the file wasn't correct as the score wasn't calculated correctly but I will debug that later.

I participated Saturday evening and I made 41 contacts: 37 on the 20 meter band, 3 on the 10 meter band and 1 on the 40 meter band.

That's 41 in total, which is not a lot: the minimum number to get a digital certificate in PDF format is 50 or 100 contacts. But I'm not doing this to win anything, I'm doing this to get more experience in morse and morse contesting.

I still have trouble decoding morse at 'contest speed' so I use a morse decoder on the computer. There are moments it's a lot better at decoding a callsign at speed than I am, but sometimes I decode a serial number better than the computer does.

This also mean I do all of this in 'search and pounce' mode, where I look for stations calling CQ TEST at a signal quality where I can decode the callsign with help from the computer, and I can hear whether they get my callsign correctly.
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2022-05-18 A nice 10 meter opening to Italy, getting more WRTC stations in the log
Today when I had time to use the radio I noticed the 10 meter band was open. I had some nice contacts and saw II3WRTC on 10 meter FT8 and made the contact. II3WRTC is one of the WRTC 2022 Award stations and before today I had a lot of those in the log but none on the 10 meter band.

I changed this quickly with II3WRTC on 10 meter SSB too, II9WRTC on 10 meter CW and II3WRTC on 10 meter RTTY.

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2022-04-23 New country in amateur radio: Iran
A notable and rare country in the log today: Iran. I've seen Iranian calls on the air a few times but it is rare. Today I saw EP2C on the air in FT8 in the 17 meter band and got the contact.

Confirming it is the next step: they have a QSL manager so I'll have to pay a few euros to get a paper card. Although the call seems active on Logbook of The World.

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2022-04-20 I passed the morse exam in Belgium
In October 2018 a morse course started at my local radio club under the leadership of Ab PA5ABW. Around March 2020 the people still going strong practising morse thought they had a chance of passing the morse exam in Belgium. But that pandemic happened, borders closed and gatherings of radio amateurs were impossible.

Why go to Belgium? The Dutch telecommunications authority does note whether you have 'CW included' or 'CW not included' but there is no exam possibility in the Netherlands. So in the past doing the exam in Belgium, presenting the certificate to the Belgian telecommunications authorities to get it converted to a certificate the Dutch authoritities accepted and converting that certificate to a Dutch 'CW included' note was the way.

When there was an option of a Morse exam in April 2022 in Belgium again there was a note the Belgian telecommunications authorities were not willing to do the 'conversion' for foreign radio amateurs who weren't living in Belgium. This seemed to kill the route to get the much coveted 'CW included'. After writing an article about this a suggestion came to 'skip' the Belgian telecommunications authorities and present the Belgian certificate to the Dutch telecommunications authorities. Later there was news from the Veron amateur club: Morse examen doen in België voor een ‘CW included’ aantekening kan nog steeds with a statement from Agentschap Telecom (Dutch telecommunications authorities) stating they would accept the certificate from the UBA club in Belgium at this time.

So when that became an option we registered for the exam in Belgium and kept practising. Personally I had to change to using actual pen and paper and not a keyboard because the exam would be using paper!

Between October 2018 and April 2022 we practised for about three and a half years. That means I practised morse in one way or the other for almost every day of the week.

The three of us went to Diest last Monday and all passed the test. On Tuesday I sent scans of all the needed documents to Agentschap Telecom to get those three letters removed from the amateur radio license document, going from "CW not included" to "CW included".

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2022-04-10 A contact with a Brazilian radio amateur in morse on the 10 meter band
As noted before Brazil was a rare country for me on 10 meter until a few weeks ago but it got easier to get those contacts with the 10 meter band getting better due to the changing sunspot cycle. I changed this even more yesterday with a morse contact with PY2ZEA on the 10 meter band. I heard him calling and getting a lot of short contacts into Europe. At first the signal started fading into the noise but about 20 minutes later it came back slowly and with more calling cq for new contacts.

I gave it a try and on the second attempt he got my call correctly and we exchanged some messages. More than just a signal report and a call, I told in morse that this was my first morse contact into Brazil.

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2022-04-06 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2022 last weekend
RTTY Contest on websdr Last weekend was the EA RTTY Contest 2022 edition. At the last moment I decided to participate because I appreciate the contests organized by the Unión de Radioaficionados Españoles.

Conditions were good: I made contacts on the 20 meter amateur band Saturday afternoon, on the 40 meter amateur band Saturday evening and even got contacts on the 10 meter amateur band on Sunday morning. Hasn't happened a lot in the last few years: contest contacts on the 10 meter band. Including a contact with a station in Brazil which was a bit remarkable: I had my first contact with Brazil on the 10 meter band only 2 weeks earlier! For most Dutch amateurs Brazil is 'easy' DX, but my antenna points mostly to the East / South.

In the end I made 135 contacts which is a nice score for this contest.
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2022-04-01 Mention of my igate
In 2020 I built an igate: a device for receiving status packets on amateur frequencies and got it succesfully receiving packets and publishing them to the APRS network.

Since then the hardware has been in a corner of the radio shack receiving packets, building a good coverage of received packets and doing fine.

Today I noticed in Razzies April 2022 a Dutch-language electronic magazine of the Radio Amateurs Zoetermeer a nice mention of 'my' igate:
De enige gateway die dapper stand houdt is PE4KH-10: nota bene een iGate naar ontwerp van onze club: een RAZ iGate...
or translated: the only gateway still standing strong is PE4KH-10: notably an igate made to the design from our club: a RAZ igate.

It's nice to get this mention! The hardware is in the corner of the shack just doing its job and nothing else.

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