News items for tag radiocontesting - Koos van den Hout

2017-01-15 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2017 2 days ago
I had the UBA PSK63 prefix contest in my planning again this year. This year I set up the antennas in advance, checked the contestmacros and I was ready. Some things at home delayed the start a bit, so I did not fire of a CQ UBA PSK63 PFX TEST right at 12:00 UTC but I managed nicely.

In the end I made 133 contacts. I started on 20 meters but that 'dried out' soon especially after the sun started to come down. I switched to 40 meters and this was the first time in this contest that I had access to the part of the 40 meter band below 7.050 MHz, which is where all my 40 meter contacts were made. Late in the evening 40 meter started showing some more distant stations, I saw Indonesia and Surinam callsigns but they did not hear my reply (which was not for lack of trying).

Total 133 contacts, 59 on the 20 meter band and 74 on the 40 meter band, so I entered as SOAB (single operator all band). A simple script counts 65 prefixes on 20 meter and 52 prefixes on 40 meter so that would make my total score 15561 points.

Looking at my contesting results the rates of contacts are improving (even with radio propagation getting worse) so I think I am doing fine.

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2017-01-09 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2017 1 week ago
This weekend I wasn't planning on radio contesting but some other plans got changed and in the evenings the 40 meter band around 7.040 MHz was filled with the deedle deedle of RTTY signals. It was the ARRL RTTY Roundup so I participated some hours. Given the limited time and the not so optimal propagation I did not expect a top score.

In the end I made 62 contacts. Better than my score in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2016 where I made 24 contacts (after logs were checked).

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2016-11-20 Ik heb mee proberen te doen aan een contest.. en geen contacten gemaakt 1 month ago
Friese vlag van Wikimedia commons, CC-BY-SA
Frisian flag, wikimedia commons, CC-BY-SA
Vandaag heb ik geprobeerd mee te doen aan de Friese elfstedencontest 2016 (waarschuwing: pagina met comic sans) en heb in totaal nul (0) contacten gemaakt in die contest. Ik had de hele opstelling al zaterdag gereed gemaakt: endfed antenne naar buiten, headset interface aan de radio, separator kit aan de radio. En ik had tijd gestoken in aanpassingen aan yfktest zodat het het logging formaat voor deze contest snapte.

Deze contest is tussen 11:00 en 14:00 lokale tijd, en ik kon pas later beginnen door andere afspraken. En als ik zo de berichten lees bij Friese 11 steden contest 2016 - was de meeste kans om nog ergens contact mee te maken in het eerste uur.

Ik heb een roepend station gevonden dankzij de dx-cluster, maar ook die hoorde mijn antwoorden niet.

De ernstig tegenwerkende factor was de slechte NVIS propagatie (radiosignalen wilden niet tegen de ionosfeer recht naar beneden reflecteren). Volgende keer beter natuurlijk, volgens berichtgeving zijn we bij het dieptepunt van de zonnevlekkencyclus en kan het met een paar jaar dus weer beter worden.

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2016-10-02 I participated in the Russian worldwide digimode contest 2016 for a bit 3 months ago
I tried to get another Miguel de Cervantes special event station in the log and it seemed the easiest way was to participate in the RUS-WW-DIGI Russian worldwide digimode contest 2016.

But the weekend was filled with other things (such as chasing more of those special event stations, bad weather and lousy propagation) so my participation started in the last half hour of the contest, was very short and I made 9 valid contacts which I uploaded as a checklog. I thought I had a contact number 10 but that was after the end of the contest.

The results:
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40       0     0      0     0
20       9     0     29     9
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total    9     0     29     9
Claimed score is 261 points
But I got AN400G in the log in digimode, so another slot filled.

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2016-09-26 I participated in the CQWW RTTY contest 2016 3 months ago
This weekend was the CQWW RTTY contest 2016. I participated when possible between the normal weekend things like garden work and a family visit.

This is a very international and longstanding contest which runs 48 hours. I worked a few new countries including China, Montenegro and Aland Islands and less new Ceuta and Melilla, Madeira island (which I never worked since changing callsigns). In total I made 128 contacts which is a nice score.

Comparing this to the 54 contacts I made in the CQWW 2015 RTTY contest makes this a nice improvement. This year I used the endfed antenna outside, I had access to more of the 40 meter band and I started preparing for the contest on Friday evening.

After working through the logs the number of contacts did not change. Results uploaded via the cqww contest log website and to the Veron Afdelings Competitie.
Read the rest of I participated in the CQWW RTTY contest 2016

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2016-08-23 Upcoming SCC RTTY contest 4 months ago
I am planning to participate in the SCC RTTY contest 2016. I participated in the SCC RTTY contest 2015 as PD4KH within the limits of my novice amateur call. It depends on the local noise levels whether I will end up in the single operator 20 meter, single operator 40 meter or single operator all band low power.
Read the rest of Upcoming SCC RTTY contest

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2016-07-17 I participated in the DMC RTTY Contest 2016 6 months ago
Again another weekend in which I had some time for digimode radio contacts and digimode contesting turned out the best way to get a high number in the log. There wasn't a lot going on in the 20 meter PSK31 band so I listened in RTTY and found the activity.

This was the weekend of the Digital Modes Club RTTY Contest 2016. Propagation and local noise weren't cooperating a lot but in the end I made 62 contacts. I set my contest category to SOAB-LP-12h: single operator all bands (although I only made contacts on 20 meter, but this contest does not have categories per band), low power (less than 100 watts), time limited to 12 hours (I operated less than 12 hours and had a good nights rest).

Interesting results were a new country: Saudi Arabia, I made a contact with 7Z100. No USA contacts this contest, which I usually expect in a RTTY contest.

I used my fldigi digimode contest macros without any modifications and they worked fine. Calling CQ yielded zero contacts, everything was done search and pounce style.

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2016-06-21 My fldigi digimode contest macros 7 months ago
In almost every digimode contest I improve my contest macros a little, so I decided to share them. Credit goes to FLDIGI Contest - How To for a lot of the initial inspiration and Choosing your basic macros - VA2UP RTTY Contesting which has the really minimal approach, and this helped me with finetuning.

This will be a quite long post only interesting to a very specific group!

Digimode is the name for all radio modes in which digital information is exchanged and a computer is used to encode and decode the digital information into something the radio can work with.

Digimode contesting for me includes RTTY and PSK63 contesting, there are other modes used in digimode contests.
Read the rest of My fldigi digimode contest macros

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2016-06-19 I participated in the Ukranian classic RTTY contest 7 months ago
Without a lot of preparation I participated in the 2016 Ukranian classic RTTY contest contest just to see how I would do and maybe get one or two new interesting entities in the log.

The radio interference was active all weekend on 40 meter so I participated only on the 20 meter band.

In the end I participated for about just over 3 hours and made 64 contacts. Interesting new entities were Venezuela (new country) confirmed, Pennsylvania confirmed and North Carolina confirmed (new US states). Confirmations come in quick via eQSL and LoTW!

I updated the Veron afdelingscompetitie with the results. And all the other usual places where I upload the logs of my radio contacts. Already the first confirmations via eQSL are coming in and visible in my eQSL received at PD4KH / PE4KH collection.

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2016-06-05 I participated in parts of the DigiFest 2016 contest 7 months ago
Recently I was looking whether there was an interesting upcoming digital amateur radio contest. Simply because I wanted to make a number of contacts in a short period, maybe contact some new countries. On the Contest calendar I found the DigiFest contest which is all about promoting digital modes.

I set up the outside endfed antenna on Friday evening, used it to participate in the roundtable after the PI4AA radio bulletin on 40 meters. I also checked the exchange needed for this contest and programmed it in a separate macro definition for fldigi. So I was prepared and gave it a go Saturday evening. I could not participate in the 04:00 UTC - 12:00 part on Saturday because of the normal family things that have to happen on a Saturday morning. On Saturday evening I started out right at 20:00 UTC on the 40 meter band. After an initial number of nice contacts it sort of 'dried up' for me and I saw no new stations active. So I switched to the 20 meter band and got a number of new contacts, including some callsigns who seemed to have made the same decision to switch to the 20 meter amateur band.

On Sunday things got worse as the local high-power HF noise was active again, obliterating nearly all signals. And increased solar winds caused propagation to drop.

So propagation wasn't cooperating very well, and the contest did not seem very popular. In the end I made 41 contacts which is less than I expected.

Update: The upsides are there: I received eQSL confirmation for a contest contact with VE3UTT which means I finally have a form of confirmation for a contact with Canada and a confiromation for a contact with N6AR which adds another US state.

Update 2016-07-17: Checking the site I just find the scores: 37 contacts and 30 multipliers claimed, 36 contacts and 29 multipliers confirmed. Position 27 in the SINGLE-OP ALL LOW 8-HOURS mode.

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2016-05-08 I participated in the ARI International DX contest 8 months ago
yfktest in ARI-DX contest screen
yfktest in ARI-DX contest screen
I participated in the ARI International DX contest 2016, organized by the Associazione Radioamatori Italiani. And this time I even did some voice contesting (phone) too!

As mentioned before phone contesting with Linux is available. I gave yfktest a spin and noticed it did not support the ARI-DX contest. With copying and modifying the Hungarian DX contest I think I found what was needed to support this contest enough to allow me to enter valid exchanges including Italian provinces. Getting the current claimed score right would take a lot more work.

So I gave it all a try and answered a number of CQ contest calls.

With the headset interface for my FT-857 radio connected and the footswitch in use both hands are available to type callsigns and serial numbers. I decided I need a better place to put at least the front of my radio: when I work in voice mode I need to spin the big dial a lot more so it should be easier to reach, it is currently on a high shelf above the monitor. Getting a sore shoulder from just a while on the radio is not a good thing. Given earlier experiences with RF interference in computers it may be the best to separate the front from the radio so the dial is not to far but the radio signals are.

When the time to play with the radio in the afternoon was finished I took a pause and later in the evening I continued in RTTY mode which was also an option in this multimode contest.

Conditions for HF contesting were bad since there seems to be a new source of noise on the HF bands. Where I was used to noise being S7/S8 level it is now constantly at the S9+10dB or S9+20dB level.

The results:
Total number of QSO in your log is 25, Including 0 QSO with errors, Valid QSO - 25
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40       9     0     54     9
20      16     0     70    10
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total   25     0    124    19
Claimed score is 2356 points

Update 2017-01-06:
And the results are in, I guess it takes the italians a while to check the logs.
        ARI International DX CONTEST 2016
           Band     QSOs    Pts  Mul

           160m        0      0    0
            80m        0      0    0
            40m        9     54    9
            20m       16     70    9
            15m        0      0    0
            10m        0      0    0

           Total      25    124   18 ==>     2232
The only thing changed is the number of multipliers in the 20 meter band.

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2016-05-02 I participated in the Russian worldwide multimode contest 2016 8 months ago
This weekend I had a few hours to play radio and I participated in the Russian worldwide multimode contest 2016. I also participated in the Russian worldwide multimode contest in 2015 so there is a chance now to compare the results.

Saturday afternoon and evening I was active on 40 meter. Mostly in PSK63, only a few contacts in RTTY. PSK63 decodes better at the same signal to noise level so it's easier in search and pounce mode. Again having more access to the 40 meter band is good in this case, I made a lot of contacts in the 7.040 MHz part.

Sunday morning I was active on 20 meter until I had a nice number of contacts in the log and it was time to go out and enjoy the weather.

I had a few nice runs where I called CQ and got several answers after another. I have some ideas about analyzing the cabrillo logs for qso rates.
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40      63     1    380    37
20      16     0     50    15
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total   79     1    430    52
Claimed score is 22360 points
One QSO was noted as incorrect because I was returned a Russian 'oblast code' for a Ukranian callsign. I guess some politics are involved there, I'm not very good (yet) at recognizing which callsigns are from which country.

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2016-04-03 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2016 9 months ago
This weekend I had a few hours to participate in the EA RTTY contest 2016. Propagation was mostly bad and I had a hard time decoding signals. There were some good moments, for example I did work YB6HAI from Indonesia again. His antenna park looks quite impressive too which helps. I switched a few times between the 20 and 40 meter band trying to find propagation and new callsigns to contact.

The end result was 76 QSO's (contacts) and the last one was in the last minute of the contest, logged at 15:59 UTC.

I already recieved the raw results from the EA PSK63 contest I participated in a few weeks ago which are presented in a very nice format on the contest website showing the buildup of the score.
Read the rest of I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2016

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2016-03-31 Results for the UBA PSK63 prefix contest are in 9 months ago
So I updated I participated UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest 2016 with the results (20th place in single operator 20 meter band category).

The fun part is that when I just jumped into the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest 2015 and made a whole of 10 contacts on 10 meter I was 1st for the Netherlands and received a (digital) certificate.

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2016-03-30 Phone contesting with Linux 9 months ago
The reddit /r/amateurradio post [Question] Contest Logging in Linux made me look at yfktest again. Yfktest is a curses-based contest logging program in perl, written for Linux.

The difference between a normal logging program and a contest logging program is that a contest logging program is just interested in what is needed to complete a contest contact, usually a callsign, default signal reports and a serial number or area number (depends on the contest). A contest program is optimized to get this information logged as fast as possible with the minimal number of keystrokes.

First thing to get right after getting the source from the subversion repository was to get the rig control settings right. I had a bit of trouble doing this right the first time, but I found out it is easy to set it right since yfktest uses hamlib to control the radio and it starts rigctld with a file which now contains:
koos@kernighan:~/src/trunk$ cat 
rigctld -m 122 -r /dev/ttyUSB0 -s 38400 &
The program contains definitions for a number of contests. Having defined the contest before starting the log run means the program knows what to ask and how to calculate the scores during the contest.

I will have to do a dry-run before I dive into a real contest, and then try it in an upcoming contest to see how it works for me.

In digimode contests (where signals are exchanged by the computer) I use the contest options offered by fldigi which works fine for me.

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2016-03-13 Using my new access to the airwaves: Spanish PSK63 Contest 10 months ago
EA PSK63 contest 2016 My new radio amateur license allows me access to more frequencies. As I remarked about the UBA PSK63 contest in January 2016 most 40 meter digital mode activity was at 7.040 MHz where I had no access with my Novice license. Now I have a Full license I have access to that frequency. The upside of being able to make digital mode contacts on 40 meter is that this radio band allows distance contacts after sunset where the 20 meter band (14 MHz) usually does not allow that when it is completely dark in the winter.

This weekend I participated in the Spanish PSK 63 contest (EA PSK contest) and I started Saturday evening. At that time the propagation of radio signals was gone on the 20 meter band so I started in the 40 meter band at 7.040 MHz and up and made quite a number of contacts there. I continued Sunday morning on 40 meter and made a total of 60 contacts.

A nice result for a contest where I started unprepared, the only thing I did was hang the 10/20/40 meter endfed antenna outside as part of my radio activities Friday evening and I left it out for the weekend.
Read the rest of Using my new access to the airwaves: Spanish PSK63 Contest

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2016-03-06 Weak signals and faraway ears 10 months ago
pskreporter for JT65 from PD4KH on 20160306 I hung the endfed antenna outside today to try to be heard better in the Open Ukraine RTTY Championship 2016 but the whole contest was over before I could get much use out of it. This had nothing to do with the contest but everything with me trying it unprepared. I made 11 contacts.

So I tried something else: get active on 20 meter JT65 with WSJT-X. I saw interesting far away callsigns, even from Hong Kong and South Africa. I was also heard in faraway places including Australia according to pskreporter! This is what this weak-signal mode can do. Downside is that the simple exchange of callsigns and signal reports takes 6 minutes.

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2016-02-17 Last Sunday was PACC contest 11 months ago
Last Sunday was PACC contest, a radio contesting event especially around Dutch radio amateurs. The contest is scored around making the highest number of contacts between radio stations, in this contest at least one of them has to be in the Netherlands. Contacts are made in speech ('phone') or in morse code ('cw') Some people at my club were going to participate and started building antennas on Friday and were active from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

I had time on Sunday but I did not feel very well so I left the contesting to the people who had a better mood for it and I just looked at the action and helped with dismantling the antennas and cleaning up after the contest.

There is also a short report in Dutch at PACC contest 2016, voor de laatste maal op Fort de Gagel - Veron afdeling Centrum.

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2016-01-12 I participated in the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest 2016 1 year ago
So I recovered the complete logs for the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest 2016 and generated a cabrillo export for entering in the contest.

The planning and preparing for this contest helped, macro's worked as planned. The negative side was that the ionospheric propagation dropped sharply after sunset which closed the 20 meter band. I switched to the 40 meter band but almost all activity was below 7.050 MHz, where I am not allowed to transmit. After sunrise and a good breakfast on Sunday morning I worked some more on the score and improved things.

The results: 94 contacts (QSO's) in total, 87 on the 20 meter band and 7 on the 40 meter band. I decided to enter in the single operator 20 meter category since I expect my score to end relatively higher in that category compared to the single operator all band category. Claimed score: 87 qso's * 67 unique prefixes = 5829 points. Looking at the previous years scores that would put me at the 15th spot for single operator 20 meter.

My soapbox comments:
SOAPBOX: Entered as SO20 because almost all 40M activity was outside my
SOAPBOX: allowed band segment (Dutch novice starts at 7.050 MHz)
SOAPBOX: Propagation dropped fast after sunset
SOAPBOX: Something hickupped in my outgoing serial counter

Update: The UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest 2016 logs received overview has me listed with claimed score 6956 which means they included my 7 contacts on the 40 meter band in the calculation. I hope they correct this in the real score calculation.

Update 2016-03-31: The results are in: 85 qso's accepted * 66 unique prefixes = 5610 points. In the 20th spot at UBA PSK63 prefix contest results SO20 Single Operator 20 Meter band. At number 2 for my country (PD2PKM made a lot more contacts) and at number 19 for Europe. No certificate this year. Looking at the results for Single Operator All Band the choice to enter in the 20 meter category was a good one.

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2016-01-10 UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2016 results will wait a bit... 1 year ago
It seems there is some internal corruption in the fldigi program I use for amateur radio digital mode connections. Normally this shows as some strange artefacts on the screen, which means it is time to stop and start fldigi, and reset the outgoing serial number to the right number when I am busy in a contest. The more active use during a contest also seems to be a trigger.

Anyway, this internal corruption hit me hard today: right in the last minutes of the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2016 the program hung during logging an entry, leaving me with a 0 byte logfile on disk, so all records of digimode contacts gone.

I can recover everything and still submit my results: restore the logbook.adif file from tape, add entries created after the last backup from cqrlog and add the serial numbers again to the fldigi contacts log from the fldigi text log since cqrlog copies the logentries from fldigi but without the 'contest' information. But that processing will have to wait a bit as other things take priority. The log has to be submitted before januari 17, 23:59 UTC.

Restoring the file from tape was extra interesting since I just got an error message
amrecover - can't talk to tape server: service amidxtaped: 
from amrecover. This turns out to be a known bug in amanda 3.3.0 in ubuntu 12.04 LTS: Bug #1074574 “known issue: amrecover - can't talk to tape server...” : Bugs : amanda package : Ubuntu and Bug #1077105 “amrecover - can't talk to tape server: service ami...” : Bugs : amanda package : Ubuntu. I applied the changes noted in the bugreports and after that I could restore the file.

Update: The rest of the restore operation was a matter of importing the right records back from cqrlog into fldigi and adding the serial numbers from the fldigi text log. This was just a lot of searching and typing.

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