2020-06-03 I participated in the Dutch PACC 2020 in February 2 days ago
But I forgot to write about it, because I made a very minimal number of contacts: 6. I wanted to get the Veron A08 contest group using call PA0AA in the log and added some others. And on submitting the log I didn't set the category to 'checklog' so there is a result with a ranking. I got reminded today because our friendly mail delivery person brought an envelope with the token of merit (het vaantje) which is very special for this contest. The good part is all 6 contacts were valid, so 6 contacts, 6 points, 3 multipliers making a stunning score of 18, and not the last in my category! Ranking 117 (out of 122) in single operator all band low power ssb only.
2020-06-01 I participated in the CQ WPX CW contest 2020 4 days ago
After a number of recent morse contacts with special event stations I decided to participate in the CQ WPX CW contest during the weekend. Not for getting a big score, but to get experience with morse contesting. Morse speeds in a contest like this are 25-30 words per minute which I can't decode, so I used fldigi to decode most of the morse. This means I have to enter my results as 'assisted'. And 'most' of the morse is the correct description because the important detail to decode are callsigns and serial numbers. The signal report is always 599 or 5NN which is usually sent faster than the rest of the conversation because it's a specific pattern a trained morse operator hears anyway. I really didn't participate very long and still made 65 contacts. I'm not sure they all went correct, but it's a start. If I make 10 errors each of those is only 1 error for the other station. It's interesting how this approach to morse contesting gets me 65 contacts when serious participation in a digital mode contest will get me about 120 contacts. But high numbers of contacts are quite normal in a morse contest. I have received serial numbers over 2000. Logs are processed and the first confirmations via ARRL Logbook of the world are already coming in.
2020-04-08 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020 1 month ago
Last weekend was the EA RTTY Contest 2020 edition. I decided to participate beforehand so I set up radio, antenna and macros in time before the start. There was quite some time for the contest available since we're not going anywhere. Things started slow, I couldn't get as much contacts in the log on Saturday as I had in the EAPSK63 contest 2020 on Saturday. But on Sunday the contacts started happening and I ended with 143 contacts in the contest. 110 on the 20 meter band and 33 on the 40 meter band. I logged 26 unique provinces in Spain.Read the rest of I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020
2020-04-03 I participated in the Dutch Digital Activity Contest April 2020 2 months ago
There is a new 'activity' promoting digital modes on the 2 meter band. It's short, which is probably why it's called an activity rather than a contest. And it's on a weekday evening. Information in Vanaf nu elke maand een VHF-UHF Digitale Mode Activiteitscontest - VHF en hoger Veron (in Dutch). On the first Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 2 meter band, on the second Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 70 centimeter band. I participated 1 April 2020 and made 22 contacts within the activity. Several new calls for me in the log, so that's always good. The contestlog processing website generates a map with locators after submitting a log, so I use that map in this newsitem. The preferred mode is FT8, and some participants were using the FT8 software in 'EU-VHF mode' exchanging serial numbers and 6-character maidenhead locators. My wsjt-x decided to switch on receiving such an exchange. The interesting part was that in a few of the next contacts the software also switched but other contacts failed with that information so I switched back to normal FT8 with the 'EU-VHF mode' disabled.
2020-03-17 I participated in the EAPSK63 contest 2020 2 months ago
Last weekend was the EAPSK63 contest and I participated on Saturday. Lots of stations from Spain active and I managed to work 29 unique Spanish provinces. A total of 82 contacts. I could only participate Saturday afternoon and evening so that limited my time in the contest.Read the rest of I participated in the EAPSK63 contest 2020
2020-01-13 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 4 months ago
Like in previous years I participated in the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest in the weekend. Overall it was a nice contest, with 111 contacts in total which makes this a good contest score. I started in the 20 meter band on Saturday, moved to the 40 meter band after propagation died down due to the sun going down. On Sunday morning I started on the 40 meter band but soon gave up, there was a lot of interference on that band. I switched to 20 meters and made some more contacts. In the end: 38 contacts in the 20 meter band and 73 in the 40 meter band.Read the rest of I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest
2020-01-06 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 5 months ago
This weekend was the ARRL RTTY Roundup edition 2020 and I participated. Late Saturday evening I saw a few US stations come up on 40 meters. Sunday afternoon I made a lot of contacts to mostly European stations on 20 meters. In the evening after dark the contacts from Europe seemed to stop after the first 24 hours were over but when I checked again late in the evening more US and some Canadian stations were decoded on my end and I worked them. In the end 110 contacts, a nice score for this contest. Claimed score: 110 qso points * 33 multipliers = 3630. The one that got away: I saw a station from California calling and giving state 'CA' in contacts, but he never heard me. That's the first time I heard or saw anything from one of the western US states.
2020-01-01 Closing 2019 in amateur radio, time to plot the number of contacts and look back 5 months ago
Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts. Months with contests are quite visible. After the peak in number of contacts in July there was first a holday and after that no big peaks in number of contacts. December 2019 jumps out a bit again due to the FT8 roundup on 8/9 December in which I made 66 contacts and later in the month the troposperic ducting allowing contacts over interesting distances in the 70 centimeter and 2 meter band added to a sprint at the end. In 2019 I made a few more contacts than in the previous record year 2017. Looking back at my amateur radio resolutions for 2019 I think most came true. If I look at them one by one:
Now I have to think about 2020, but the year is still young.
- Keep learning morse! - I'm still working on my morse, but there is measurable improvement. I have learned the full set for the Belgian CW exam and I'm working on accuracy and speed.
- Get more countries on more HF bands in the log - More countries and more slots on HF are in the log. I also use the club station to achieve that goal. The ARRL DXCC Award shows that I'm getting somewhere.
- Moonbounce on 2 meter - I've listened on the right frequencies to the moon on 2 meter. Nothing heard.
- Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests - I participated in two phone contests and a number of digimode contests. No serious improvement in scores.
- Operate HF outside - I operated HF outside. Not as much as I would like.
- At least one satellite contact - Multiple satellite contacts have been made!
2019-09-22 First morse contact, trying FT4 for the first time and participating in the BARTG Sprint75 contest 8 months ago
This weekend is the BARTG Sprint75 RTTY contest. I set up my endfed antenna on Friday evening. On Friday I listened around the band for any morse special event stations and found LZ304EW active. The station was calling with a morse speed of about 21 words per minute and I answered my callsign with 12 words per minute. And no, I can't decode morse at 21 words per minute, I used the computer (fldigi) to help me decode the morse and the nanoKeyer to help me send my callsign and the 5nn TU 73 to finish the 'contact'. I felt secure enough in hearing my own callsign in morse to be able to do this. Most of Saturday I made a number of FT8 contacts all over Europe. Nothing really exciting, just trying to get a number of new calls in the log. I think I saw some new gridsquares. The planned amateur radio activity was the British Amateur Radio Teledata Group Sprint75 contest on Sunday evening (17:00 utc to 20:59 utc which is 19:00 - 22:59 local time). I set up the radio Sunday afternoon and listened on 14.080 MHz, which is the default frequency for RTTY on the 20 meter band for as far as I know. I saw different signals, which turned out to be FT4 signals, the relatively new mode in WSJT-X. It's been around for a while, I just never got around to playing with it. So I started WSJT-X and tried FT4. I made three contacts, one with an amateur in England, one with 4S6NCH in Sri Lanka which is a new country for me, and one with an amateur in India, which was a new 20 meter country for me. Not bad for trying a mode for the first time. After dinner it was time for the contest and that was a misery. I made 17 contacts in total, 4 on the 20 meter band and 13 on the 40 meter band. Propagation was not cooperating at all, mostly just giving noise and sometimes signals faded in and I had to work hard to get a contact. Update: The bartg sprint75 rtty contest was a weekend earlier! Only when I tried to submit my results and the website told me all my contacts were outside of the contest timeframe I noticed my error. I guess some more radio amateurs had the wrong date as I have seen 'CQ BART SPRINT75' calls. And 75 baud RTTY mode is also rare. I notified the BARTG contest manageress to let her know. Not to complain since it was my error, but to make her aware of the problem.
2019-09-04 New electronics project: a morse keyer 9 months ago
My learning morse is still ongoing and I'm taking the first steps in generating morse. I decided on a paddle as a first morse key to get the dot/dash (or better: Dit and Dah) timing correct automatically. Opinions on tbe best choice for first morse key differ: some say a straight key is the best, others say a paddle. I'm sticking with the paddle at the moment because I also have a tendency to develop RSI. Telegraph operators were the first profession to have cases of RSI so I hope to avoid that. I recently bought a paddle: the uniHam UNI-730a which is a nice affordable paddle for a starting morse operator. With the built-in keyer in my Yaesu FT-857 radio it is possible to create good morse code. I use the option to create the morse tone on the radio without transmitting to practise sending morse. I check the results with the Android application Rx Morse. But, I want to be able to participate in morse contests in the future. For those a cw keyer is necessary that can be controlled both from a paddle (or a straight key) and the computer. I was looking at options when a fellow club member mentioned he had a nanoKeyer morse keyer kit available that he wasn't going to build himself because his radio can do all that work. So I bought the kit from him, including case and I'm soldering the first parts. Since all parts are through-hole, I am soldering with the components 'hanging' from the board. I want all components to be as close to the printed circuit board as possible so for some things that want to 'fall' I use rubber bands to make them stay close to the board for the first soldering connections. I do avoid warming up the rubber bands, they will probably break and/or burn causing a nasty smell.
2019-08-21 Comparing yfktest and tlf for linux-based amateur radio contesting 9 months ago
Episode 295 of Linux in the Ham Shack is about the TLF Contest Logger. I wrote to Linux in the Ham Shack about my experiences with both programs. In 2017 I participated in the IARU-HF contest using yfktest and in 2019 I participated in the IARU-HF contest using TLF.My opionion about both is clearly formed by my style of contesting. Phone contesting is rare for me, and I am a very casual contester. I operate in search and pounce mode, where I search for other stations calling CQ. My experiences: Both are textmode programs, which try to mimic DOS-based contest programs. No dragging around windows, you'll have to deal with how the makers decided to set up the screen. Also, on a graphical system, try to find the biggest and baddest monospace font to fill as much of your screen with the contesting software as possible. The role of contest logging software is making it easier to log contacts in a contest. It does this by automating a lot of the tasks in a CW contest, by keeping the log and showing the outgoing serial number (if needed). It's a plus when contest logger can keep the live claimed score in the contest and when it can connect to a DX-cluster and show possible contacts being spotted. Both packages can do the basic contesting and scorekeeping, tlf is the only one that supports DX clusters yfktest is written in Perl, tlf in C. For adding a new contest to yfktest you will soon have to do some programming in perl to handle the score calculations. For a new contest in tlf you may have to do some C programming. yfktest has no cluster support, but tlf does have it. This is a huge difference to me. With tlf I could open a cluster window showing me where new calls were spotted and on what frequencies recent contacts were, so I could hunt for interesting new calls and multipliers Specific to the IARU-HF contest and my use of the packages: yfktest supports the IARU-HF contest out of the box, so it gets the multipliers right. When I did the IARU-HF contest with tlf, I asked about it on the list and someone shared a configuration right at the beginning of the contest so it worked. Mostly: It did not count the multipliers correctly, so I had no idea of the claimed score during the contest. Both are open source and welcome any additions. Looking at the commit history tlf is somewhat more active recently. If you want to really add a contest to either of them you'll probably have to start thinking about that months before the contest and take your time to debug your rules/scoring configuration if you want good scoring during the contest. I will probably stick with tlf because of the cluster support.Linux in the Ham Shack took my shallow dive a lot further and went into a deep dive with installing, configuring and running TLF. Awesome episode, I really enjoyed it! Links to all the stuff: Show Notes #295: TLF Contest Logger Deep Dive - Linux in the Ham Shack
yfktest linux based ham radio contest logger, TLF, a linux based ham radio contest logger.
2019-07-14 I participated in the IARU-HF championship 2019 10 months ago
This weekend I participated in the IARU HF Championship and made a nice number of contacts given the available time in which I could call out my callsign. Before the contest the radio propagation was a bit dissapointing and I did most of my preparation at the very last minute. For the contest logging I used the TLF linux contest logger which does not support the IARU HF Championship out of the box. But someone posted about this contest to the TLF development mailing list and shared the configuration and initial exchange list, so it was minimal work to get going. With this configuration TLF worked as a logger, it just didn't calculate the multipliers in the contest correctly. In the end I made 95 contacts, which is a nice improvement over the previous time I participated in this contest: IARU HF Championship PE4KH 2017. Of the 95 contacts, 19 were on the 40 meter band (Saturday evening) and 76 on the 20 meter band (Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning). I did not participate in the 2018 edition because it was the weekend we left for our summer holiday. The 2018 IARU HF championship was also the World Radio Team Championship 2018 so I missed the chance to work one of those stations. I did follow the whole preparation for the WRTC 2018 and had a look at the developments in the scores during that weekend.Read the rest of I participated in the IARU-HF championship 2019
2019-07-08 I participated in the DL-DX RTTY Contest 2019 11 months ago
This weekend was the DL-DX RTTY Contest 2019. In the category 'B': single operator, multiband, 6 hours. Not in the category for dipole or groundplane antenna since I used the endfed antenna. I made 80 contacts, 37 on the 20 meter band and 43 on the 40 meter band. Propagation wasn't great and most of my contacts were search & pounce mode, answering calls from other contest stations. I did call CQ a few times, and one of those was spotted by the reverse beacon network instantly and gave me 3 contacts in short succession. Operation in the contest was limited due to other things in the weekend so I fitted in the 6 hour category nicely. I did some other things on the radio on Sunday and somewhere in the afternoon I noticed a funny electronics smell and the output power from the amplifier had dropped. I found out the output voltage from the modified HP DPS-700 GB server power supply had dropped to about 10.6 volts. Time to find out whether this problem fixes itself or it's time to find another server power supply that will deliver over 40 ampere current at somewhere around 13 volt.Read the rest of I participated in the DL-DX RTTY Contest 2019
2019-04-29 I participated in the BARTG Sprint75 contest 2019 1 year ago
I participated in the British amateur radio teledata group RTTY Sprint75 contest 2019. The special thing with the 75 is that this is 75baud RTTY and not the normal 45baud RTTY. This is a relatively short contest (4 hours) on a Sunday evening and I did not participate in the contest the whole time, I also watched some television with my family. All a matter of priorities. I made 27 contacts on the 20 and 40 meter bands. Since I now have an RF power meter I was able to make sure my output power was right below 100 watts so I could enter in the '100 watts' category and not 'high power'.Read the rest of I participated in the BARTG Sprint75 contest 2019
2019-04-08 I participated in the EA RTTY Contest 2019 1 year ago
In an otherwise quite filled weekend there was also the EA RTTY Contest 2019. I participated for somewhat over an hour on Sunday and made 28 contacts, 24 on the 20 meter band and 4 on the 40 meter band. Preliminary results: 28 valid contacts, 44 points, multiplier 23, total 1012 points.Read the rest of I participated in the EA RTTY Contest 2019
2019-03-11 I participated in the EA PSK63 contest 2019 1 year ago
This weekend was the EA PSK63 Contest and I participated Saturday evening, Sunday morning and a bit Sunday afternoon. I planned to participate in this contest so I set up the endfed antenna outside Friday evening because I would be away most of the Saturday daytime. With the current radio propagation and a serious part of my participation after sunset I decided to enter in the single operator 40 meter category. I made 106 contacts, with 25 different spanish provinces in the log (out of 52 possible province codes). Spain by itself has 50 provinces with Ceuta and Melilla not counting as a province but they do count in the contest. I also participated in the EA PSK63 contest 2016 with 60 contacts and EA PSK63 contest 2018 with 125 contacts (but only 79 in the 40 meter band).Read the rest of I participated in the EA PSK63 contest 2019
2019-02-01 Plotting the number of amateur radio contacts after a contesting month 1 year ago
After a month with three digimode radio contests I plotted the number of amateur radio contacts again. The number of contacts is clearly higher each January as a contest month, with this January a new peak. The contests were the ARRL RTTY Roundup on 6 and 7 January, the UBA PSK63 prefix contest on 12 and 13 January and the BARTG RTTY Sprint Contest on 26 and 27 January. Nicer looking font due to the upgrade of "radio workstation" thompson. I guess even gnuplot is coming along with the modern times. before, before, before, before
2019-01-27 I participated in the BARTG RTTY Sprint Contest 1 year ago
This weekend I participated in the BARTG (British Amateur Radio Teledata Group) RTTY Sprint Contest. I went into this contest with the idea of maybe getting some contacts and things turned out somewhat better than that: I made 82 contacts. No new countries or anything else special. The one that got away was PJ4P, Bonaire. I saw that station calling and I kept answering but the contact did not happen. I used the topendfed antenna outside and the amplifier. So I entered in the high power category. As with other recent contests the propagation wasn't cooperating very well. When I started in HF at home (October 2014) I would switch from 10 to 20 meters after it got dark because of the changing propagation. Now I change from 20 to 40 meters as soon as it starts to get a bit dark.Read the rest of I participated in the BARTG RTTY Sprint Contest
2019-01-14 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix radio contest 1 year ago
Like in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 I participated in the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest in the past weekend. Before I really dove into the contest I first mounted a new end-fed 10/20/40 antenna which can handle more power and tested it. It took a few tries to get the antenna tuned on the 40 meter band. I tested this with the amplifier which has proven to be really precise about the SWR of the antenna in the 40 meter band, as noted in my post about the ARRL RTTY roundup 2019. I had planned to get this antenna up and running before that contest but that did not work out. After testing I switched back to 50 watts power without the amplifier because the rules of the UBA PSK63 prefix contest limit the power. I made a total of 69 contacts as single operator 40 meter. I had a short look at PSK63 activity in the 20 meter band during daylight but it was completely none. After the contest I tried some FT8 contacts on the 40 meter band with the amplifier active. The amplifier did not like this and went into SWR protection. I must have tuned it perfectly for 7.040 - 7.050 MHz but the SWR is already outside the limits for the amplifier at 7.074 MHz.Read the rest of I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix radio contest
2019-01-08 Amateur radio resolutions for 2019 1 year agoOlder news items for tag radiocontesting ⇒
The last time I did those was in 2017: Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 and the hindsight results for 2017/2018 are:
The Sotabeams newsletter had an item "Setting your targets for 2019" which had some nice ideas and which triggered me to write this post. Things I want to try :
- Improve the holiday/portable setup with solar power and a lightweight multiband inverted V
No solar power (due to costs) but the portable setup is improved and tested: the fiber mast I bought for playing radio from several locations including amateur radio from a local park. Now to find more time to actually use it.
- Keep doing the digimode contests
That part went better in 2017 and I had less time and/or energy for contests in 2018. Also in 2018 the interference situation got worse. So my net results in contests improved in 2017 and got worse in 2018.
- Maybe those satellites
I tried at least receiving them a few times, but no contacts yet.
- Get a 2m/70cm vertical antenna on the roof of the dormer
It's there, it has already been upgraded to a bigger antenna with higher gain and it's mostly used for 2 meter FT8. But also for actual talking to other radio amateurs sometimes.
- Keep learning morse!
- Get more countries on more HF bands in the log
- Moonbounce on 2 meter
- Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests
- Operate HF outside
- At least one satellite contact