News items for tag radiocontesting - Koos van den Hout

2017-04-03 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2017 3 weeks ago
This weekend after the antenna installation was done I had some time to participate in the EA RTTY contest 2017. I only participated on Sunday afternoon on the 20 meter band so I entered in the SO20 DX category.

The end result was 35 QSO's (contacts). Less than the results I had in the EA RTTY contest in 2016 but I had less time and energy available.

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2017-02-24 Seeing the same amateur stations in contests 2 months ago
As I process the eqsl confirmations that come in after the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 I start to notice some callsigns are showing up regularly in (digimode) contests. My highest number of confirmed contacts via eqsl which are related to contesting come from YO9AGN, S58X, S51AF, RA3GZ, HG3FMZ, EA3HKA, 9A4FS.

But the number one callsign I have confirmed via eqsl is not a contest station but the Veron club station PI4AA where I try to call in to the net almost every month.

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2017-02-20 I participated in the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 2 months ago
This weekend I had time to use the radio and after trying to get some more contacts on the 30 meter band Friday evening I decided to participate in the ongoing digimode contest in the weekend. This was the weekend of the Russian Worldwide PSK contest 2017 (https TLS certificate is broken at the moment).

I had fun doing it, had 124 contacts in the contest. I now have two new countries in the log: Kuwait and Suriname. And Kuwait already confirmed via Logbook of The World. I just uploaded the log (with the last contact rejected as it was too late):
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40      52     0    320    28
20      71     0    223    33
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
======================================
Total  123     0    543    61
Claimed score is 33123 points
Comparing it to my results in the Russian WW PSK contest 2015 I did a lot better. At that time I still had limited access to the 40 meter band which limited my options for PSK traffic.
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2017-02-12 Rising number of amateur radio contacts 2 months ago
I noticed recently the number of radio contacts made by my new callsign PE4KH which I started using in March 2016 was getting close to the number of radio contacts made by my previous callsign PD4KH between March 2013 and March 2016. A typical rise in contacts, mostly due to my skills improving and participating in contests. So I wanted to view the rise per month and did some searching how to ask the cqrlog databases and plot the results.

Oh, and now PE4KH has more contacts after a few new contacts logged in PSK31 mode on the 20 meter band today.
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2017-02-06 I participated a bit in the Vermont QSO party 2 months ago
Vermont counties map
Vermont Counties map, from Vermont county map - Wikimedia
I still try to make radio contacts to far away places even with current radio propagation at low levels. At the moment the last hours of the afternoon before sunset seem to give options towards the west (USA and Canada).

Last week I got home early one day, fired up the radio for PSK31 on 20 meters and saw K2EQ again.

This Sunday I saw in the fldigi screen:
CQ Vermont QSO Party K1VMT K1VMT
and answered with my call without having any idea what the Vermont QSO party is about, but having Vermont in the log would mean a new US state.

The exchange was made and I dug up from the noise that the answer included LAMoille which is a county in Vermont. It all made a lot more sense when I viewed the Vermont QSO party website. I kept an eye open for CQ's from other Vermont stations but never saw any. So I entered my log with one entry for the Vermont QSO party.
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2017-01-15 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2017 3 months 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 claimed 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 3 months 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 5 months 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 - zendamateur.com 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 6 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 7 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.
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2016-08-23 Upcoming SCC RTTY contest 8 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.
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2016-07-17 I participated in the DMC RTTY Contest 2016 9 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 10 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.
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2016-06-19 I participated in the Ukranian classic RTTY contest 10 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 1 year 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.
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2016-03-31 Results for the UBA PSK63 prefix contest are in 1 year 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 1 year 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 rigctld.sh which now contains:
koos@kernighan:~/src/trunk$ cat rigctld.sh 
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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