Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#219 DXCC Sri Lanka

While measuring the inverted L on my analyzer - I noticed 4S7NE has been lurking around 17m for the past half hour.  17m propagation was decent.  Pointing the beam at him increased the signal level 3 s units.

Inverted L antenna

With about a 70 ft radiator (intentionally cut long to be able to prune later and with 460 feet of radials, I have the following results.

It looks like I have to prune it to move the sweet spot 100 Hz to the right for the dip to occur at 3627 Hz which gives me a range of 3500 Hz to 3740 for a 2:1 bandwidth.  It looks like 30m will be OK with this pruning as the 30 meter portion of the band is small and relatively broad banded.  This assumes a velocity factor of 0.66 for RG-213 which checks out to a precision dummy load.

These are the only bands which will be resonant.  It looks like 17m, 12m and and 10m are tuneable - with 10 m in the phone portion only.  See full sweep below:

I plan to lay down another 1000 feet of radials to improve gain about 1 dB over what I have now and improve radiation efficiency.  I will prune it after laying down the radials..

Velocity Factor of Common Coaxial Cables

CABLE
VF
RG-8.66
LMR-400.85
RG-8X.84
RG-11.75
RG-58.66
LMR-195.83
RG-59.82
RG-62.84
RG-174.66
RG-213.66
RG-214.66
RG-217.66
RG-218.66
RG-316.79
RG-400.695
LMR-500.85
LMR-600.86
1/2 HARD.81
7/8 HARD.81
LDF all ver.88

Sunday, December 29, 2013

#218 DXCC Botswana - A25CE

Worked this one barefoot on the hexbeam on 17m CW.  This was in between cutting radials for the inverted L.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

All Relays Now Clicking

I did not realize how load realize how loud relays are compared to when they did not make sound at all.


The Culprit

See the differences between soldered and unsoldered pins.  How did I ever miss this the first time?  This has been the source of all my woes the last two days.  Jim Garland and Dave Trainor have been trying to help me troubleshoot why my RF Path does not seem to work.  We found that the relays were not switching globally either in the RF switch box or the master controller.  The set of pins in the center are from U-204.  The pins from U-203 below it are shiny and well soldered.

Merry Christmas everyone reading my blog.

 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

#217 DXCC Chagos Islands VQ9JC

This came as a tip from WM4AA and I have him to thank for this one.  As he states from his QRZ page:

Hello from the "Footprint to Freedom"!

I am the Radio Electronics Officer (REO) for the USNS Sgt William R Button, which is a pre-positioning ship stationed at Diego Garcia, or "DGar" as we sometimes call it.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Station Pro 2 - Microcontroller Board and Rear Panel Board Complete

Other than a snafu with a missing IN4005 diode, ready for assembly and initial tests.  Here are a couple of views of the boards assembled to the rear panel.




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#216 DXCC Vatican City HV4NAC

Got lucky on this one - as the station was only calling for about 15 minutes.  Turned on the amp and tried to place the VFO B on the last station making the QSO - voila - with 1000 watts got him.  This DXCC is an elusive one as he only transmits a few minutes at a time.

Station Pro 2 Main Circuit Board Complete

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#215 DXCC Sri Lanka 4S7VG

I was working on the station pro main circuit board when I sat down and looked at the cluster and saw Sri Lanka on 15m. There was a small pileup and he was working simplex.  I was lucky to have gotten him with the beam pointed over the poles.  It took 600 watts or so to make the contact.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Progress on the Station Pro 2

The front panel is almost done.  I am somewhat stalled by a missing electrolytic capacitor that is back ordered from Mouser.  All I need to do now is to terminate the microphone, key, and headphone jacks into the front panel PCB and insert the programmable integrated circuit.  Here is a picture below in its anticipated position in the operating table.  I will also need to solder the LEDs to the front panel circuit board


Thursday, December 12, 2013

#214 DXCC Republic of Korea DS2XUM

I was having a QSO with N0TR when a Philippines station DU2US popped up on the cluster on 15m.  I QSY'd to the frequency and he was very faint.  I had been trying to work the South Korean station with no luck on 17m.  I went back to where the South Korean station was on 17m and this time he was stronger.  He only a few callers and I waited my turn.  I called him and he answered with a signal report.  I thankedhim and gave him his althouh I was not completely sure he copied me.  I checked in Clublog and he confirmed our contact there.  He also uploads to LOTW.

12/13 Update:  He just confirmed me in LOTW

Build a Beverage Antenna - by Joe WD0M


The following is a re-print from  WD0M's website

Beverage Antennas
for the Low Bands
- a RECEIVE ONLY Antenna
The Beverage antenna is an "ancient" antenna, named after the gentleman who discovered it. Essentially, it is a VERY LONG antenna, typically placed at a level of 10 feet or less above ground. The Beverage antenna is referred to as a "wave" antenna, and is directional, if terminated with a resistor, in the direction it is aimed.

Since I could have small animals wandering through, placing it at a height where the critters could end up wearing it wouldn't improve their demeanor, nor reception on the low bands. I discovered that when placed ON THE GROUND, it is known as a "snake" antenna. And that is what I did. That flies in the face of most antenna concepts, where higher is better. But I'll be darned if it doesn't WORK!

The benefit of this antenna is that it eliminates or reduces the static and leaves only the signals you're trying to hear , providing a better signal to noise ratio. I use it on 160 - 80 meters exclusively as a receiving antenna. It also improves 40 meter reception, but not nearly as dramatically.

The diagram (right) demonstrates the general layout of a low band Beverage antenna system that may be switched for improved reception in two directions. If you terminate the wire at the end, it will be directional, favoring the signals coming to you from the direction it is pointed.

If you do NOT terminate the antenna, then reception will be from both directions for that particular Beverage wire. Having two Beverage antennas, selectable with a relay, lets you choose the direction you want to listen to.
There are very few "tricks" to putting this antenna together. At the far end (one of mine is aimed toward Europe) of a 275 foot long #14 wire, solder a 470 ohm, 1/2 watt non-inductive (not wire wrapped) resistor to the end of the wire, and then connect it to a good ground system.

An antenna analyzer will let you determine the appropriate terminating resistance (470 ohms is a good start), as well as the exact number of turns of wire on the toroid to provide a 1:1 SWR.


Construct a simple matching transformer consisting of a number 43 or 77 toroid and 12 turns of wire wrapped around it. Leave a tap (bare wire) after the third turn to provide a ground connection for both sides of the transformer. The earth serves as the common "return" for the ground side of the antenna. The transformer matches the 470 ohm impedance of the Beverage antenna to your 50 ohm receiver.
At the receiving end, I attached the ground wire from the toroid to the single point ground rod for my station. After I found out how well the Beverage works to reduce static (QRN), I put in a second Beverage aimed toward the northwest and use a small relay to switch between them. The second Beverage isn't terminated, and I can hear stations to the northwest, as well as stations in Central and South America FAR better than I had imagined with any of the other 160 and 80 meter antennas I'm using.


Final thoughts: This is a RECEIVE ONLY antenna. Don't be too concerned about obtaining a perfect 1:1 SWR - even with a 2:1 or higher SWR, you'll notice very little difference in the received signal strength. I encourage to give it a try and not be too conerned about theory - practical results are what matters.


Since 160 meters is primarily open during the winter, I leave the antennas on the ground until spring arrives - pick them up - and put them back in the fall. Since the "snake" antenna isn't mounted on supports, it's easily moved as well, to give you coverage toward different parts of the world. Give it a try - and have fun!



73,
Joe
WDØM

Improvement to the Hexbeam Base Plate

Here I have added inserts to the plastic base plate of the hex beam.  The inserts are wedges that ensures the take-off angle of the spreaders are correct such that the plane of the wires for each band runs through the right elevation on the centerpost.  U bolts are then what holds down the spreader retainer against the baseplate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

20 meter DXCC Awarded Through LOTW

Next goal is 40 meter DXCC.  I sent an e mail to the ARRL as to why my DXCC credits for cards that have been approved by the DXCC has not been reflected in LOTW although reflected in the ARRL records at the following link.  At this point I should have 165 DXCC credits.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Station Pro 2 Page Coming Soon

I will soon be starting a page dedicated to the constuction of the W8ZR Station Pro 2.  This device allows the seamless integartion of several transceiver and amplifier combinations and simplifies greatly the intereconnection wiring required between several transceivers and amplifiers.  

Number 119 QRP DXCC Guernsey MU0FAL

Worked Guernsey MU0FAL with 5 watts CW on the Hexbeam on 17m.  This is also a new one on 17m.  The station confirmed the contact in LOTW.  This brings the total confirmations for QRP DX to 89.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

#212 and #213 DXCC Haiti and Gabon and Number 118 QRP-DXCC

TR8CA was working a huge pileup on phone.  He started out simplex and then split and again simplex.  I was able to get through on the third go-around simplex.  I could not not beat the other stations with 500 watts - not getting through the stronger stations.  I re-peaked the Drake L4B for 1000+  watts and finally got through.  The station op Alain speaks French, Spanish , Italian and of course English.  Haiti was a surprise bonus from the contest of a couple of weeks ago HH2/K4NHW.  Both were on 15m

It was good day for radio contacts.  The Hexbeam was working very well.

GI100RSGB - Special event station in Northern Ireland commerating 100 years of RSGB - Radio Society Great Britain.  I called this station twice 20 minutes apart.  Once it was at 1000 watts and the next time at 10 watts.  Both were SSB QSO's.  I was completely readable at 10 watts.  The key is to try to make the call when no one else is calling.

Also picked up St. Lucia and Estonia at 5 watts J6/N9AW and ES4QR.

Picked up the Lakshadweep Dxpedition on a third band on 17m

VU3KPL - India station on 17m

C3IBO - Andorra Station on 17m

Made a couple of phone contacts into England and Wales which were new ones for 17m.

DXCC 150 Confirmation Milestone Reached on CW and Mixed

Got my stickers in the mail from the ARRL yesterday.  Confirmations in LOTW plus submitted cards is 163 in mixed mode and 160 on CW.  I have just about 2/3 of all my contacts confirmed.  The accumulaion rate is still on a steep rise - thanks the Drake L4B and the Hexbeam


Friday, December 6, 2013

JT65 Setup and Operations Guide

http://iz4czl.ucoz.com/jt65-hf-setup.pdf

This is a valuable document to bookmark or print out if you are into JT65 communications protocol.

Number 117 DXCC QRP FJ/DK7LX St. Barthelemy

One of those gimme's at 5 watts - strong signal propagation out of the Carribean.  I worked Saint Lucia last night on 3 watts on phone as well.  FJ/DK7LX was a solid 10 over S9 on the Zs6BKW. Propagation into the Carribean has been great of late.Confirmations for QRP contacts now add up to 88.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Two Way QRP Into St. Lucia and Number 116 QRP DXCC

J6/W4QO was operating with a Buddipole and KX3 in St Lucia.  I worked him with 10 watts and K2 with the Hexbeam.  He was making a lot of contacts with that set-up. I called them again after an operator change.  This time it was J6/W5EXJ.  I called them with 3 watts on the hexbeam and they gave me a 56 RST and I gave them a 57.  Later the band died and every body started dropping off.  They could barely hear a guy calling them with 1 kW on a Steppir.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Number 115 QRP DXCC 5R8IC Madagascar

I saw Madagascar pop up on the cluster.  Turned the VFO to where he was calling and he was surprisingly loud.  I know the routine that when the DX is S9 on the meter he is workable QRP even though he is 9000 miles away.  Sure enough - one call at 5 watts and he came back.  A few minutes later I called him again for an insurance QSO and he answered again.  The op was "running barefoot" on a TS450 and a Hexbeam on 20 meters and operating "holiday style" - that is no online log.  He will also be in LOTW. .  I worked him on the K2 with the dial all the way down to 5 watts and the amp on bypass.  Propagation is still doing its magic.

#211 DXCC Lakshadweep Islands

I have been trying to work this Dxpedition for a few days now.  Today they seemed especially strong on the ZS6BKW multiband dipole.  I had just a few minutes to work them before I had to leave.  I seemed to be having a knack at putting the VFO where the DX is listening today.  It was a little comical though that when he finally called - I was not ready to answer.  I had the keyer programmed to call  but not to answer.  The keyer was in reverse when I tried to answer with the paddle - so that was not too pretty.  I managed to key a 599 5 with the keyer programed to answer for the CQWW DX contest.  He acknowledged my clumsly answer and moved on.  I was running the linear at about 800 watts.

Later in the evening, WM4AA texted me and said he was on 40m and that he just worked him.  I had to turn the audio filters on to reduce the static.  I was able to get him on the second round after working Senegal on 30m.  I QSY'd back down to 40m and turned on the amp.

Got them on a third band 17m on Saturday morning 12/7/2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Officially in the ARRL Record Books for QRP-DXCC

I officially joined the ranks of roughly 533 QRP-DXCC Holders - in the following  link:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/DXCC/2012_QRP.pdf

Among the ranks listed is John Sweeney W3NP which was one of the few familiar calls - I had worked him 6 times during NAQCC sprints.  He has beaten me every time.  The other is Rick Lloyd AA4W, the Awards Coordinator at NAQCC.  The earliest inductee was from 2002.  The average number of inductees per year is about 45.  It appears to be updated once per year.  It is interesting to compare the numbers on the list with that of the DXCC Honor Roll.  There are close to 3600 names on the Honor Roll - Mixed Category.  I did not actually count them.  There are 200 call signs per page and 18 pages - so it works out to about 3600 names.  The CW list is fewer - only about 1200 call signs.  The digital list is even shorter  - just a single page.  Considering how much "easier" to reach contacts with CW over phone, I am quite surprised it is not the other way around.  QRP DXCC ops are primarily CW operators.  I then have to conclude that there are more SSB ops in the honor roll, operating multi-element beams and running power.

I am sure glad that I achieved QRP-DXCC first before getting an amplifier.  Power can be addicting and it is very difficult to turn that dial down 13.5 dB from 100 watts or even worse turning it down  25 dB from legal limit power.  Turning that dial down 25 dB is equivalent to turning signal strength down by 4 S units.  QRP DXCC hunting well past 100 DXCC is hard work and takes patience on both ends to make the QSO happen.  When propagation is good getting a contact in a heavy pile up is possible.  Otherwise, it is an exercise in futility.  Being a good op is knowing when to quit or search for a more viable contact.  My next goal is perhaps 5 Band DXCC and 5 Band WAS.  I am quite sure honor roll will take some time.

To those that wish to pursue QRP-DXCC after getting the taste of power - good luck and may the odds (propagation) be ever in your favor.

Friday, November 29, 2013

#210 DXCC Antartica OR4TN

I got tired of trying to fruitlessly work Lakshadweep VU7AG on 17m and so I shifted gears and tried to work Antartica on 17m.  Still on the same band as VU7 but just a few clicks down.  K2/100 and the ZS6 for the antenna and the linear made it a really aasy catch without a big pileup.

ZS6BKW versus G5RV - Part 2

I have written about the ZS6BKW some time ago in September 2012.  I suggest anyone reading this post, obtain a copy of Walter Maxwell’s excellent book Reflections III. In it he explains the misconceptions about a G5RV and provides excellent information. The book is available here http://store.cq-amateur-radio.com/Detail.bok?no=183
Let me summarize some of the key learnings about a G5RV antenna.
1. The G5RV is a random length dipole just like any other random length dipole.
2. Varney (G5RV) designed the antenna to have multiple lobe radiation pattern on 20m.
3. Varney intended the antenna to be fed with open line feeder from transmitter to antenna.
4. The G5RV if built correctly will have an SWR of 1.7:1 at the resonant frequency on the 20m band. SWR will be very high on other bands.
5. A transmatch (tuner) is required.
6. The open wire feeder is cut to a specific length so as to act as a 1:1 impedance match ie. the impedance of the antenna will be seen by the transceiver.
7. If feeding with coax to the open wire feeder, a 1:1 current balun is required at the junction of open wire and coax. ie. where you go from BALanced to UNbalanced. Without this the coax will act as a third component of the antenna and will radiate, reducing efficiency, increasing receive noise and causing interference.
8. The ZS6BKW variant provides a better match on most modern bands and is what I now use. http://www.nc4fb.org/wordpress/zs6bkw-multi-band-antenna/

Reflections by Walter Maxwell

Great reference book for hams - especially if you are into building antennas.  The book may be purchased at this link.

http://store.cq-amateur-radio.com/Detail.bok?no=183

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Antenna Raising at KK4SAC

Paul wanted to raise his G5RV to as high as the surrounding trees will allow.  This enabled the use of the pneumatic antenna launcher.


The antenna now is about 20 feet at the lowest point to about 50 feet at the highest point.


Thanksgiving Tribute

My Firsts 

A "thanksgiving" essay dedicated to the radio amateurs who have helped, inspired,  encouraged, or otherwise kept this wonderful hobby of ours interesting, engaging and fun.

Amateur radio is hobby which is always full of "firsts".  It is the nature of the hobby - first rig, first contact, first home-brew project, and so on.  Through all of these, people are always involved to provide encouragement, help and inspiration.  Over the years these radio amateurs have become role models to aspire to.

There is always a story associated with a "first"

My first ticket into the world of HF - was with the help of a VE (volunteer examiner) who encouraged me to explore the world of HF digital.  He was Stan Nafziger - KF4BY.  Stan helped me with many technical questions over the years.  Stan encouraged me to build my first radio - a K2/10.

My first HF rig was an old Kenwood TS830.  A young Canadian missionary needed money for their first kid. It was a 100 watt radio but the tubes were sagging and so it did not reliably put out 100.  Stan KF4BY helped me keep that old rig running.  I was able to get Worked All States on phone with that old rig.

My first HF phone contact was a station at Moose Island Lighthouse in Maine AA1KS.  I still have the QSL card from that first contact.  This took place in March of 2010.  I was a General Class amateur at the time.

My first DX contact was a station in the Dominican Republic by HI3/W1JNZ.  My first long haul DX contact at QRP power level was using my Yaesu FT817 to the station of Mal Johnson in Australia VK6LC.  He did the heavy lifting digging me out of the noise floor with his beam antenna.  Both contacts were mid March 2010.

My first PSK contact in the US was to a Texas station  of KM5RA on 3/20/13 and my first DX contact was to the station of G0RVS on 3/21/13. 

My first 2x1 Extra Class call sign NY4G was obtained though a lottery process administered by the FCC.  I actually had a choice between NB4J and NY4G.  I chose NY4G from my New York City roots and my exposure to amateur radio as a 15 year old at the Worlds Fair fairgrounds through an amateur radio class.  The Call sign was granted by the FCC In July of 2010.

It was my first time to help the Boy Scouts earn their amateur radio merit badge by helping them get on the air through Jamboree on the Air on October 16, 2010.   I studied a little bit of CW so I can explain to them what morse code was.  Through that exposure I fell in love with the aspect of the hobby - thanks to K4MLW Marty Hawkins.  Later on that month on October 25, I had my first CW contact to the Forsyth Georgia station of W4ELP.

In March of the following year, I participated in my first HF contest - the CQWW DX contest.  Later that March of 2011, I embarked on building my first radio from a kit.  It was an Elecraft K2.  Most of my 214 DXCC entities, and my Worked All States awards were called by that rig (albeit after having been outfitted by a 100 watt amplifier deck - courtesy of Stan KF4BY).  It took me until June of that year to finish that radio and took 80 hours of building time.

I participated in my first Field Day with the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Society in June of 2011.  I operated in the CW station along with Tillman Cuttino AJ4IK and David Stansell W4KA.  We made a lot of QSO's that night - mostly by Tillman and Dave as I was still learning to copy.  Dave was always an encouragement.

It took until November 30, 2011 before I could earn the Worked All States QRP Award.  I had to collect all 50 state QSL cards.  The hardest states to get were Alaska, North Dakota and Colorado.  It was my first coveted ARRL award.

In January of 2012, I had my first chance to operate as a special event station for the W4 calling region with the SKCC.  For a whole week I operated as K3Y/4 and made 100 QSOs and worked all K3Y special event stations from all 10 US regions for a clean sweep all on a straight (postal) key.  I remained active with the SKCC that year and earned Tribune and Centurion awards, and worked SKCC members from all 50 states with a straight key.

Later that year, I built my first home-brew beam antenna - a Hex beam.  We did field trials of that hex beam prior to Field Day 2012 at the farm of George Gunn in Landrum SC.  I was helped in that field trial by Matt Collier WM4AA (ex call KQ4VY).  Matt became my partner for Field Day for the next two years.  We placed second in our class in 2012, our first entry as a competing station and third in our class in 2013.  Matt has always been an inspiration.  He was a talented engineer and radio amateur.  He has confirmed close to 300 DXCC with simple wire antennas and a hex-beam.  We always encouraged one another.  I instigated his building of a K2 and later a KX3.  He built his hex beam after I built mine.  I doubt I will ever catch him in getting to honor roll - but that is OK.  The hex beam I built remains unique - with folding arms to enable deployment in tight places or as a portable.

Early In January 2013, I had the chance to visit the station of a radio amateur in a foreign country - that of Belgium's John Devoldere ON4UN - one of the loudest amateur stations in Europe.  He had three towers - two phased stacked multiple element yagis.

In February 2013, I finally earned my most coveted ARRL award - QRP DXCC.  I proceed to add 14 more stations to the total.

Through most of 2013, Tom N0TR became my regular HF CW ragchew buddy with scheduled QSOs every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  It is a streak we have not broken in over a year.  Tom is great DX'r with great DX'r instincts in putting his VFO where the DX is listening.  Tom has probably worked 250 or so DXCC - he just does not know it.  He is confirmed in LOTW for at least 192.

In April of 2013, at the encouragement of Dave Watson, W4DJW, I became a net control station for the BRARS 2 meter net for the very first time.  Dave was always a guy to give back to the hobby and is one of the local experts in HF Digital.  Dave was always helpful, helping fellow hams set up their stations and has been a role model as an NCS operator.   Dave was the first ham to spot 100,000 CW stations in a 24 hour period in November of 2013.

In August of 2013, I got my first HF Linear Amp - A Drake L4B.  In the short span between late August and Thanksgiving of 2013, I was able to add over 70 DXCC entities with the help of that amp and the old reliable K2/100.  Thanks to KF4BY for giving me the lead to that amp.  The amp looks like it came off the factory floor just yesterday - thanks to the care given it by its owner.  The amp is quite a work horse while loafing at 1000 watts output with about 6o watts of drive. At the time of this writing I have worked 208 DXCC and confirmed 156.  I don't know how long I can hold this pace.  I am quite sure that when the solar cycle ebbs, the pace will slow down. 

As one can see, this hobby can be full of firsts.  There is always something new to explore, a new antenna to build and experiment with, a new mode.  There is still moon bounce, meteor scatter, JT65, JT9 to explore.  The common denominator that makes it all fun is the radio amateur at the other station, or the radio amateur to help and encourage.  So to all you radio amateurs who have helped me and kept this hobby fun and engaging and to help me with all the "firsts" - I big NOTE of THANKS.  Happy Thanksgiving 2013.  And hopefully I have been a help and encouragement in turn.

Credits - 
KF4BY - My first elmer and technical advisor
W4KA - My first encourager on CW
WM4AA - My Field Day partner and friend 
N0TR - My regular CW ragchew partner and encourager
K4MLW - My first exposure to helping the scouts
W4DJW - Always a gentleman, encourager and role model - king of HF digital 

This will be posted in my blog at http://www.ny4g.blogspot.com

Ariel NY4G

Sunday, November 24, 2013

CQ WW DX Contest CW Update - 4 New DXCC and 83 Stations Worked

I started the contest with QSO #3611 and ended with QSO #3694.

New DXCC which brings me to 209 worked
Togo 5V7TH
Philippines DX1J
Rotuma Island 3D2R
Tanzania 5H3EE

WM4AA was new one on 15 for 5 Band WAS. Inventory for 5 Band WAS is as follows:

Need 8 states for 80m - Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.  Need 4 stations for 20m Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky and Wyoming.  Need 25 more states on 15m and 36 more states on 10m so I have a fair way to go.  I worked a few states on 10m.

Here is the contest breakdown
80m - 17 QSOs; 40m 13 QSO's, 20m 7 QSOs, 10m 30 QSOs 17m one QSO.  This is a rough breakdown - eyeballing the log.  I noticed a spike in my page views of late - so it looks like this blog is being read by quite a few people.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

CQ WW DX Contest and #206 and #207 DXCC - Tanzania and Rotuma Island

I worked the contest for about 4-5 hours and worked 60 stations.  I worked two new ones - Tanzania 5H3EE, and Rotuma Island 3D2R.  I concentrated mainly in acquiring new ones for 80, 10, and 15m bands.   For the most part that goal was accomplished - thanks to the logging software in helping me identify what I need for a particular band.  I had the hex beam up but the rotator is broken yet gain.  I had to rotate the shaft manually from the back patio which gave me some exercise in having to get up and walk outside.  There are some completely new ones out there that I did not even try busting thru the pileups in - for example Lakshadweep Island - who was working SSB. Sunspot numbers are down from the high of 282 to about 148.  But propagation was still good overall.  The 10m band started to fizzle out in mid afternoon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Number 114 QRP DXCC XR0ZR Juan Fernandez Islands

Well this was a treat - low noise on 12m and the DX was LOUD,  I bet I could work him with 5 watts.   I was right.  The fact there was not a big pileup helped a lot.  I was able to make contact with the ZS6BKW.

Number 113 QRP DXCC Saint Vincent J88HL

It has been a while since I worked someone new at QRP power.  I thought I would give Saint Vincent J88HL a call after having worked three new DXCC entities. I have Saint Vincent before but not at 5 watts.  Propagation had been good all night.  He was on 30m at 10.115 and had few takers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DXCC #203, #204 and #205 Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Republic of South Sudan

This was a surprise.  I repaired the ZS6BKW and reconnected the EFHW.  I hooked the KX3 and running the small (50w) amplifier - I made QSOs with Burkina Faso XT26DJ  and Swaziland 3DA0ET on 2 calls each - on 17m.  Propagation must be really good tonight.  A little bit later, Swaziland Station popped up on 40m on 7021.  I had to fire up the linear for this contact.  There was a bigger pileup on 40m.  Republic of South Sudan Z81X popped up on 30m and I had to switch to the EFHW.  I was able to work that station at 100 watts.


Monday, November 18, 2013

QSL's for K9W, C82DX, XR0YY Applied For

Just sent for the QSL Card for K9W, C82DX and XR0YY through OQRS

Sunspot Number Has Hit a New High @ 282

The current sunspot number has not been this high since the maximum from the last solar cycle.  Ten meters should be open for a week until next weekends CQ WW Contest.
Flux index:177
Spot number:282
X-Ray index:C1.0
A index:6
K index:1

More News On Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath

Hams increase their Philippines typhoon disaster role

More than a week after being hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, survivors of the central Philippines have basic needs of food, water and medicine, shelter, evacuation, communication and power. 

The Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA) and its Ham Emergency Radio Operation (HERO) network continue providing emergency communications, and at the request of authorities starting to expand its locations and facilities.

Ramon Anquilan DU1UGZ, Vice Chief Operating Officer of PARA, confirms that HERO stations are continuing to work. He thanks the world for keeping 7.095 MHz clear for urgent traffic.

Working with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), it is looking at potential sources for needed communications equipment.
PARA had two representatives at a meeting chaired by the Commissioner of NTC, Gamaliel A. Cordoba.
Ramon DU1UGZ said, The NTC has requested that the coverage from Borongan be expanded, to the adjacent town and so on. The idea is to set up an HF station in the farthest town that can be accessed.
"Given the new task that NTC wants us to do, we will be needing stations that can be deployed and dismantled at a moment's notice. On the excellent offer of the ARRL, I have requested it to provide at least four HF stations and a repeater."

He said, the official meeting talked about having assets on the ground in the blindspots. "It seems only PARA has local station - Lester DV5PO in the capital town of Borongan, East of Samar." Lester DV5PO is expected to be given more diesel fuel for his generator so he can continue supplying vital information. A request agreed to by the NTC meeting, which will be followed up.

"This is going now to the difficult phase. The operators that are needed should come from the outside because our locals will not budge from their locations as they have to fend for themselves and their families - they are victims too of this disaster. There are other willing radio amateurs but usually they don't have the proper equipment." 

He said in one of the worst hit areas of Tacloban that has lost 90 per cent of its buildings, the Negros Oriental Radio Assistance Dumaguete (NORAD7) team is on its way to provide an additional HF station.
"The team is bringing much needed relief goods and Rey Boy Manaay 4D7DSW and Eric Mite DW7DTR who are trained in rescue. I intend to replace the old radio that Nathan DU5AOK is using from one of the units that ARRL is sending," said Ramon DU1UGZ.

"Very experienced Darwin Torres 4F1FZE is joining the efforts at Tacloban. A technical person expected to improve VHF coverage in the area, and HF, with him being a critical component to the efforts. Darwin 4F1FZE is embedded in a relief team from Manila."
There are two repeaters in Tacloban with no power, so we need alternative energy - batteries and solar power.
"A team can be deployed to Samar perhaps Guiuan or further west. We need equipment to link Samar to Tacloban. This will mean a VHF repeater is available to a large portion of the affected site of Samar," he said. 
The farthest affected place is Coron in Palawan, a famous tourist spot. Clifford Certeza DU1CC is going there this weekend to set up an HF station.

Ramon DU1UGZ said there was no relay station from Palo down the coastal municipalities in the eastern seaboard of Leyte. A HERO station, part of the club ACCESS 5 in that area, has not been heard from since the typhoon hit. Another station is needed to provide the link. PARA and its HERO network have a long task ahead as it slowly gains the necessary resources and recognition for the emergency communications.

In some good news, Trent Hays DW5HT who has relatives in the US has been found safe and well, by RADNET 5, in Palo, Leyte. The US Embassy has been advised, and with vehicle packed is due headed to Manila.

Jim Linton VK3PCChairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee

How Radio Amateurs Are Helping in Typhoon Haiyan's Aftermath

Typhoon kills many thousands as disaster unfolds

Estimates of those people who died when monster Typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on Friday ranges up to 10,000, with many injured and nine million people affected.

The full damage and death toll of the fiercest typhoon ever recorded on land has overwhelmed emergency services, supported by the military and at least five major Ham Radio Emergency Operator network stations. 
Ramon Anquilan DU1UGZ, of the Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA), reports that among the chaos HERO stations are helping authorities and residents.

In Tacloban the capital of Leyte which was smashed by winds, its streets filled by ocean surges and is now a swamp-like smelling mess.

Ramon DU1UGZ said that RADNET with Nathan Eamiguel DU5AOK, Vilma Eamiguel DU5VIE, and the members of their local club are working hard. "Their HF station is located on the second floor of the Tacloban City Hall, powered by a generator maintained by the local government unit. Two metre band communications is simplex because there is no electricity to power their repeater.

"The VHF members serve as field personnel who go on various errands - verification of requested information, liaison work, and bits and ends. "The officers led by Nathan DU5AOK dispatch their members based on the priority traffic handled by the HF station." 

He said the Tacloban HERO station has been used by the Red Cross to track a relief vehicle verifying the welfare of its volunteers who were stopped and ransacked by those impatient for aid to arrive.
Other requests for help came from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) regional office in Tacloban that needed hand-held radio contacts.

In his report he talks of another local club ACCESS 5 attached to responding government agencies and relief organisations. A military HF station is linked with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Council (NDRRMC) which is located inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
"However ACCESS 5 is using VHF very effectively acting as guides for rescue and retrieval teams in the field, just like some RADNET volunteers," said Ramon DU1UGZ. 

In Eastern Samar, Lester Price DV5PO (also ZL5PO) based in Borongan is providing valuable situation reports. Lester and his wife had a very lucky escape - they held on to the doors of their house for four hours until the surge waters receded, that claimed around 500 lives in the coastal barangay or village alone. 
Another third HF station activated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is using equipment from Nathan DU5AOK and his friend Dominique walked half a day to the government centre in Palo and the DOST Regional Office. Dominique, who is actually the office driver, and the Regional Director, Dr Eduardo Esparancilla alternate as operators.

In DU7 (Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental islands including the island province of Siquijor), the Cebu Amateur Radio League (CARL) has dispatched a team to the Municipality of Bantayan - located in the northern tip of Cebu.

This municipality is the hardest hit in Cebu with an estimated 90 per cent of structures levelled. The CARL team (previously reported on) is handling HF traffic. Another component is the Chocolate Hills Amateur Radio League (CHARL) based in Tagbilaran City in Bohol - an area struck by an intensity 7.2 earthquake recently.
The club station DU7BC along with its members Gerry Marmito DU7AU, Ador Lamoste DU7AL are ready to monitor and relay messages between Tacloban and the principal receiving stations.

The third DU7 component is from Dumaguete City. Roy Alcantara DU7DDJ together with James DU7JGU (Island Province of Siquijor) are leading NORAD-7 with long range communications to the Dumaguete local government unit passing traffic from Tacloban to their area in Negros island. NORAD-7 members also act as field operators and runners.

In DU6 (Panay, Negros Occidental and neighbouring islands) heard are Bobby Garcia DU6BG in Iloilo, Iver Astronomo DV6ILA and Arnel DV6WAV in the Roxas Provincial Capitol as they are embedded with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Council (PDRRMC). 
Scattered all over the archipelago of the Philippines are stations receiving outgoing traffic from Tacloban and the other affected areas.

Among them are Jojo DU1VHY, Thelma DU1IVT, Romy Isidro DV1SMQ and Max 4F1BYN - acting as the main receiving stations on a rotational basis since HERO activation began. 
Other stations are also active in receiving outbound welfare traffic, mainly to inform family members and relatives of their conditions - Totie DV1TEE, Lito DU4DF, Atty. Albert DU4ABA, Bobby DU6BG, and Ramon DU1UGZ.

On standby as relays are Doc Piciong DV9DOC, Marlu DU8WX, Butch DU1RP (PARA SecGen on his mobile station in Davao City), and others. Another facet of the operations is the use of Echolink by CARE-4 in Naga City (DU4) and COMPASS in Tondo, Manila (DU1).
Ramon DU1UGZ said, "Basically, the Tacloban and other stations in the disaster areas permit only outbound traffic as priority messages.

"This is a policy decision by NTS Co-Chair Jojo DU1VHY and as requested by RADNET. We can classify the messages as follows: We Survived Messages, institutions/government agencies to their central or partner offices in Manila, and urgent requests for specific form of assistance or relief items.?
The relief and retrieval operations are moving slowly and the HERO operations are probably going to last a week or more from today.
He said that Telecoms companies are steadily restoring cellular mobile services and today there was intermittent limited coverage in Tacloban.
"As the primary telecoms services are restored, there will be less reliance on the amateur radio service in Tacloban. 

"This will mean a more difficult period because the remote areas not reached yet by government and other agencies will now demand communication links. "Our assets will be thinly spread resulting in gaps which only a robust service such those found in first world countries," said Ramon DU1UGZ.

Currently an average of one to two minutes is spent per message, and depending on band conditions, the rate of traffic per hour would be 40 to 60 messages.A more in-depth analysis is not possible until all HERO stations are closed and submit their log details.

Ramon DU1UGZ notes that news media has started to notice ham radio, but don't understand that the HERO network is playing an important role in the disaster.

"Although there's some very brief TV exposure they are yet to adequately report on the voluntary service it provides, and the emergency communications to the agencies and community in times of disaster," he said.
The typhoon cut a path of destruction in central Philippines on Friday, but the fast-moving Category 5 weather system missed the densely populated capital of Manila.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino inspected Tacloban City where almost all buildings were lost as huge surge waves came through its streets. He pledged that local authorities are to house about 45,000 families and give them food.

The President said he was lost for words to adequately describe the enormity of disaster affecting 36 provinces. He has declared a national calamity.

A large international relief effort is under way although it remains mostly chaotic with rescue workers struggling to reach some remote areas. Some 22 countries and the European Union have pledged help. 
Also the losses include 71,000 hectares of agricultural land with crops of rice and corn hardest hit. 

Jim Linton VK3PCChairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2013 Field Day Results Are In

The team of WM4AA (Matt) and NY4G (me) placed third in the 2B-2 Op category as published in the December QST.  That was a lot of fun and we did not kill ourselves making contacts and got 8 hours of sleep.     WE look forward to next year's Field Day and the use of the portable hex beam.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wind Damage to Antenna G0GSF

I am left with just one antenna as I took down the hexbeam.  One of the crappie pole arms snapped and will have to be replaced.  I will put it up before the contest weekend.  I will repair the fiberglass arms and possibly have a spare. The Wind blew down the G0GSF and one of legs is laying on the ground.  I need to do a better job of connecting the legs to the center assembly.  I just ordered a more robust ZS6BKW and will store this one for Field Day use. Now I only have the EF wire as an antenna.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

DXCC #202 XR0ZR Juan Fernandez Island

First I heard him on 30m  at 10106 at about 0930 UTC then a spot came in on 7026 and he was not there. from one of those skimmers W3LPL.  Then he showed up again at 7020 and this time he was loud.  Within minutes a pileup ensued.  I was able to work him after a few minutes.  It is shown on a pin below just off the western coast of South America near Santiago, Chile


Thursday, November 7, 2013

DXCC #201 T33A Banaba Island

This was an interesting contact.  I was in the shack of my friend N0TR as we were upgrading his logging software.  We had T33A station on 18084 working a pileup with precision sounding off in the background.  He was a good op - signs frequently and had a good pair of ears to work the pileup efficiently.  My friends rig was a TS590 Kenwood - excellent audio and very user friendly.  Tom said - why don't you work him while he is loud.  He was certainly loud enough for copy without headphones.  And sure enough - the op returned my call - thank you for #201.

DXCC #200 K9W Wake Island Dxpedition on 40m

Where the blue pin is Wake Island - It was about 0530 EST or 1030 UTC when I made the contact  on 7023 kC.  Very good op and signs frequently.  I had to put the attenuator on to hear as the band noise is way high.  He was loud enough with the attenuators on for 100% copy.  T33A is also lurking out there and was still loud on 7033 but started to fade at about 7 AM, then it was time to go to work. The DX Atlas snapshot was taken at about 7 AM when the gray line is.  The red pin is South Carolina.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DXCC #199 XR0YY Easter Island

I was able to work them on 20m and 40m early this morning. One was on phone on 20m as they were just barely audible out of the noise.  It only took one call - which is rare for me.  The second one was also on phone in the 40m band.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finally Got K9W? NOT

The DX Op was loud on 12m 24894 (CW) and I must have just gotten the peak of propagation.  Only time will tell if I appear in the DX log - hopefully tomorrow I can confirm.

Well, tomorrow came and I confirmed I was not in the K9W log.  I ended up in 5J0R station log.  It turned out both  were calling on the same frequency and as K9W faded out - 5J0R took over.  Well better luck for me next time.

My First K9W Was a Pirate

K9W was spotted in the cluster yesterday on 17m at 18082 and was working a pileup like there was no tomorrow.  He was giving his call sign very infrequently and what he gave out was incoherent.  He gave me a QSL after a couple of calls and I thought this was too good to be true.  K9W was calling on 18079 earlier in the afternoon and Matt WM4AA and Tom N0TR got him the day before on 18079.  I still do not show up in K9W's online log

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ready for K9W

Photo of the Hexbeam at my QTH.  I measured the height at 38 feet..


#198 San Andreas DXpedition 5J0R

Worked on 40m phone portion 7160  - Tough going with QRM - plenty of callers.  This was the second try today.  I kept switching between DX stations.  I finally got him running 1500 watts on the linear into the ZS6BKW

Monday, October 28, 2013

G3TXQ Hex Beam - Figure of Merit Calculations by Steve Hunt

For a G3TXQ broadband Hexbeam taken from the inventors website - credit goes to Steve Hunt
G3TXQ


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hex Beam as viewed from afar

The hex beam actually looks very discreet from afar.  The peak of my roof is at 32 feet or so and the baseplate is above it.


CQ World Wide Phone Contest

This was a wonderful weekend for radio amateurs.  Sunspot numbers were very high and the SFI was as high as 228 in the days before which made the high bands very productive.  I worked the contest mostly on Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday and only in search and pounce mode and I was being very selective in picking out the stations that fill the holes in my band slots on 15m and 10m.  Some highlights that stand out in retrospect:

The pileups on Rwanda, Ascension Island, Samoa and other Pacific rim islands had been very large and even with my two element beam and the Drake L4B easily pushing out 1000 watts - I could not break thru.  However, I did get Guam, Alaska and Hawaii.

I picked up three new ones - #195 Nepal, #196 Andorra.and #197 Kenya

The pile-up on ON4UN was enormous and he easily had the biggest signal out of Europe.  I texted WM4AA to listen to his signal and it was showing up as S2 on his dummy load.  They really were not after the DXCC but after the man himself.  ON4UN - John Devoldere authored an essential book on amateur radio titled "Low Band DXing".

All in all, I was able to work 124 countries over the period of about 6-7 hours.  Clearly, the Drake L4B linear and the two element Hexbeam quad bander were both helping in a huge way.  I tried working a few stations QRP - and it was difficult.

The toughest DX to work was the Uganda station 5X1NH.  He was very deliberate and slow.  I  left the radio for about a half an hour and worked him in the second sitting.  He was the last station I worked.

There were a few gems on the CW portion of the band which were rather easy to get since everyone was chasing DX on phone. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

#190 to #194 Five New DXCC in one evening

Propagation was great last night.  It will be a few days before we pay for all this ionization when the CME hits.  Meanwhile 10 meters has been very good as I have been able to work Asian and African stations.

#189 China - I actually worked a couple of Chinese stations - one on 15 meters and one on 20 meters - the second one BY9GA was very strong

#190 Lesotho  7P8GF

#191 Ascension Island - I had been trying to work the pile ups on station ZD8O for a few days without much success until last night

#192 India - I worked a couple of Indian stations VU2RAK and VU3WIJ on the phone portion of the 20 meter band.

#193 Zambia station 9J2BO was found on 40 meters just before going to bed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#189 DXCC 9L1JT Sierra Leone

I first went to chase Ascension Island on 30m  when I saw the spot for Sierra Leone on 17m.  Since I was just there for CW night with N0TR, I was able to quickly get back on 17m and found the DX working with a straight key or a bug.  He was very copyable though.  He had a reasonable size pileup.  It took about 15 minutes of calling before he acknowledged me.  I later found Ascemsion Island ZD8O on 20m CW but could not break through the pileup before the DX called QRT.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

QSO with KG9HV - 5370 miles per watt

Propagation was great today.  KG9HV was calling CQ on the QRP watering hole on 20m at 14062.  I was waiting for a SOTA station from a spot.  John, the station Op was running an ATS570 at 5 watts.  We decided to back down to 100 milliwatts and carried on the conversation.  He gave me a 549 signal report and was still at 100% copy.  I cannot back down the K2 any less than 1 tenth of a watt.  So this is my personal best within the continental United States for carrying on a conversation from SC to Indiana 537 miles at 100 milliwatts.