News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

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!

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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!

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2022-09-28 I participated in the CQWW RTTY 2022 contest
RTTY Contest on websdr 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.

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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.

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2022-07-20 I redid my 'recent QSO map' with leafletjs and openstreetmap tiles
Screenshot pe4kh qso map faroer island My todo-list for hobby projects has had an entry 'redo maps in sites using leaflet' for a while and on an otherwise calm evening I got around to it. The first thing to upgrade was the recent contact map for PE4KH which shows an overview of places where I had the last 150 contacts plotted on a map, with some details per contact.

I'm not good at javascript programming at all so I just look for examples that come close to what I want and I adjust them until they do what I want. Luckily I found some good geojson examples and I managed to get the points on the map. After a bit of massaging, trying and reading I managed to add the popup with the location. The next and harder bit was adding default and non-default icons. Eventually I got my brain wrapped around the bits needed for that too. After that the test version got deployed to production and you can look at it now.

Documentation and code snippets used: The main reasons for switching to leaflet are that google maps was limiting free access to maps although they seem to have mostly reverted this plan and I wanted to promote openstreetmap.

The general conclusion is that sites with maps do need regular maintenance, if hosted leaflet goes away or stops this version, if the rules for using hosted openstreetmap tiles change or if something else happens I have to adapt the site, maybe even quite fast.

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2022-07-16 Trintelhaven revisited
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.

Endfed antenna set up at Trintelhaven
Endfed antenna set up at Trintelhaven
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.

Kees PA5Z en Koos PE4KH behind the radio
Kees PA5Z en Koos PE4KH behind the radio
Kees 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!

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2022-07-10 I participated in the IARU HF contest
CW contest filling the bands on a websdr This weekend was the IARU HF World Championship contest and I participated after fully planning this in advance. I made sure my contest logger was set up and communicating with the remote radio and its morse keyer in advance.

I participated on the 10, 15 and 20 meter bands. The original plan was to also include 40 and maybe 80 but there was enough to contact on 10 and 15 on Saturday evening, so I only got around to the 20 meter band on sunday. In total 182 contacts: 20 in SSB (speech) and 162 in CW (morse).
Band   160   80   40   20   15   10
QSO's    0    0    0   58   83   41
Mult     0    0    0   24   33   16
                                   
Pts: 586  Mul: 73 Score: 42778     
I managed to make a few contacts outside Europe, not a lot of real DX.

Calculation when entering the log: Raw Score: 453 Qpts x 73 Mults = 33,069 (181 QSOs) so there is a difference in opinion between TLF and the ARRL contest website. The difference in number of contacts is due to one duplicate. The difference in Qpts (QSO points) is due to a difference in the scoring rules. As the ARRL contest website is up to date with the current rules I think they are right and I need to have a look at the TLF ruleset.

Hearing and understanding the morse went ok, I don't think I have a high number of errors.
Read the rest of I participated in the IARU HF contest

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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:
#!/bin/sh

/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
Read the rest of I participated in the CQ WPX CW contest

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