Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 - A Tale of Two Charts

Well 2016 is almost over and I can't find any more DX I can work QRP for a new one.  Even with the waning of the sunspot cycles - I find myself having worked 19 ATNOS in 2016.  2016 is the year I broke 300 and 2016 is also the year that I was able to get the 5 Band Worked All Zones Award from CQ Magazine.  The DXCC slope will be much flatter in 2017 than in 2016 and I will be lucky to get to 310.  Being at 303 - I should be able to muster another sticker (305)


Chasing DX QRP was a lot of fun in 2016 and really just became an off shoot of the 100 day Challenge I started at the beginning of the year.  It looks like I will be closing out the year with having worked 166 DXCC in 34 Zones for a nice round score of 200.  I may get lucky and get one more.  I finally got Greece working PSK.  I am glad he kept calling CQ.  With the band conditions up and down on 40m - it took quite a bit of answering his CQ at 5 watts.   The band did get better 20 minutes in and he was finally able to get my call.   I still don't have European Russia and European Turkey.

I checked all my entries and now ready to submit.  My goal was 200 and I was just able to squeak that out.  I was surprised as to how I got there - having worked ZL, VKs, 4S7, EL, E5 along the way.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

DX Marathon Submission Almost Ready

Well I have analyzed the log for invalid call signs and submitted it to QScope to check for pirates, invalid call signs, etc and everything seems to pass.  I still have a couple of days and perhaps I may be able to muster another DXCC or a new Zone.

So far 34 Zones out of 40



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Paraset Replica Project - Bayou Jumper

First a little bit of history:

Parasets are so named because they were spy radios built by the British in World War and were typically deployed behind enemy lines via parachute - hence the name "Para-set".  Power output was 4-5 watts.

From Wikipedia:  The Paraset was one of the first successful miniaturized radio sets for Britain's Special Operations Executive which conducted espionage and other activities behind German lines during World War II.
The set, known as the Whaddon Mark VII, was used for clandestine radio communication primarily in Norway and Europe, developed at the Royal Signals Special Communications Unit workshops at Little Horwood and the workshops of Whaddon Hall, Buckinghamshire in the early stages of World War II. The equipment is known as the “Paraset” because it was dropped by parachute for field agents.[1][2][3]
A number of amateur radio operators build and operate replicas of the Paraset.[4]


The original parasets were regenerative receivers with crystal controlled transmitters.  The two tubes on the upper left are the receiving tubes and the larger tube on the right is the transmitting tube.  In the middle is a socket that is meant to take FT243 crystal holders for the single frequency that will be used for transmit.  The regenerative receiver has very few parts and is built on the principle of regeneration by providing positive feedback with its output connected to its input through a feedback loop..

The project I am building is a modernized version of the Paraset which uses MOSFET transmitter section based on the NS40 transmitter designed by NM0S of the 4 States QRP group.  The receiver is still a regenerative receiver.  The transceiver is a single band single frequency transmitter.  The transmit frequency can be changed by plugging in a different crystal.    Here is a short demonstration video from the 4 States QRP Group.






The modernized version is shown above.  Gone are the vacuum tubes.  The main PCB is shown below:


I am still awaiting the arrival of the kit.  As you can see, the board is a tight fit into the Hobby Lobby Chinese made boxes the PCB was sized for - so I made my own box.  The box is US made in SC by me. In addition to accommodating the PCB, the box I built have compartments for a battery and antenna wire. I have crystals for 7030 (NAQCC), 7055 (SKCC), 7122 (QRP-ARCI and Bayou Jumper calling frequency).  Larry Hastings, the kitter tells me my kit will go out in tomorrow mornings mail.




I tested the antenna wires today.  It was set up as a resonant antenna for 40m as a quarter wave ground plane.  I had a QSO with WA1HFF in Massachusetts transmitting 3 watts on my K1.


Monday, December 26, 2016

As the year 2016 .... comes to an end



Thanks to all the stations who, for whatever reason, decided to take time to dig my little signal and get me into their logs.  Here are but some of the notables:

  1. E51WDC on 17m for a new DXCC for DX Marathon
  2. ZL4YL - 15 y.o. young lady Xenia for a new DXCC for DX Marathon 
  3. VK2DX - a new DXCC and a new Zone
  4. VO2NS - the ever so rare Zone 2 (so close yet so far)
  5. TL8AO and TL0A - a very rare DXCC entity - Central African Republic
  6. EL2DT - Liberia - favorite frequency is 14.042 - worked him with the K1
  7. CY9C - Expedition to Saint Paul Island
  8. 3B9FR - Close to being an antipode from where I am at over 10000 miles
  9. JM7OLW - Japan - 6713 miles and CQ Zone 25
  10. RI1ANR - Antartica -8800 miles and CQ Zone 38
  11. 4S7AB - Sri Lanka - 9313 miles on the grey line
  12. 3D2AG/P - Rotuma Island - 7736 miles and  1st time into Zone 32

DX Marathon QRP - Down to the Wire

This has been a very enjoyable year - even if I don't get anymore.  Getting into Zone 32 with my puny signal is always a welcome sound - hearing the DX send NY4G 5NN.  This is Milan OK1DWC in the South Cook Islands using a Spiderbeam.  I was able to secure the QSO calling in between strong stations on 17m CW.  I was surprised he came back to me - but he did.

In the photo below is his daughter Natalie - already able to send 12 wpm at the age of 12.  Notice the propagation map VOACAP on his computer monitor.  Definitely a TS590 in the photo although the amp shown is a KPA500, he says he is using an SPE Expert 1.3FA in his QRZ page.




Sunday, December 25, 2016

KU4XO's 2 Year Timeline to Top Band DXCC

Matt KU4XO is a guy one has to just write about.  Here is his story.  A picture is worth a thousand words - need I say more.


Matt is the epitome of planning and tenacity. Once he gets his mind focused on one thing - he goes at it 100%.   I am both impressed and inspired - Kudos to Matt KU4XO.  This is the amp he used Triple 3CX800 ceramic tubed.  A monster power supply in a separate enclosure.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Testing the HiPerMite CW Filter


This is a test of the HiPerMite - W1ZY calling CQ on 7013 kHz with strong stations calling a VU (India) station on 7012 KHz.  This is a before (Filter in) and after (Filter out).  Hear the strong station after I take the filter out.  Bandpass is 1.5 KHz with the filter out.  The filter narrows thew bandpass to 200 Hz without ringing.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Senegal 6W/UA4WHX/P

Vladimir has a solo DXpedition to Senegal and he is there Dec 16-23 according to NG3K.   According to Bernie W3UR the end date was not clear.  In any event I was able to work him on 30m CW.  He was signing /P.

Worked New Zealand QRP - 15 Yr Old YL - ZL4YL

Well this was a neat surprise.   A very good fisted young lady from down under -8800 miles.  At first I thought it was long path since my beam was pointed northeast.   Then I realized I was not on the beam and on the 30m Delta loop on 15m.  One more contact for DX Marathon.  A better photo of Xenia below.  Xenia is very talented - top shelf - licensed just over a year (when she was 14) and has worked 204 DXCC.  She was the leading contender from Oceania in the SO HP 10m Contest.   Her father is ZL2IO, her mom is ZL2YL, and she has a sister who is also a ham ZL2GQ. I am going to get her QSL card.  She is 99% CW - made 6000 contacts already.  She blows a lot of people away.


Friday, December 16, 2016

QRP DX Marathon - They are harder and farther


As I accumulate DXCC, the QSO's are harder and they are also farther.   In the chart below, the Y axis is distance in miles.  The X Axis is time in days.  As of the last 25 QSO's they averaged over 6000 miles per QSO.   This is a smoothed through averaging - blue dots.   I plotted a least squares linear trend line.  The spikes in the 25 day moving average are influenced by long path QSOs.  The trending over time is clear - the contacts are getting further and further as shown by the dashed trend line.  We are now on day 350.   There were two periods of inactivity.  The latter one is shown during the summer months during which I was forced to take a hiatus from amateur radio to be a part time caregiver for my dad and help my mom.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Elecraft AutoTuner Tuning Ranges

ELECRAFT ATU L AND C CONFIGURATIONS

The reactance configuration for all Elecraft ATUs is an L-network of series inductance, with a capacitance connected to common before (radio side) or after (antenna side) the inductance (but not both) by a relay. It is a classic low pass filter.  The following is based on my research and the latest firmware for the KXAT3, KAT100, KAT500, KAT2 which I own,

KAT1, Configs=1020, L=0 to 4.9 uH (16 steps), C=0 to 300 pF (32 steps)

KAT2, Configs=131068, L=0 to 20.7 uH (256 steps), C=0 to 2420 pF (256 steps)

KAT3, Configs=131068, L=0 to 17.4 uH (256 steps), C=0 to 2600 pF (256 steps)

KAT100, Configs=131068, L=0-20 uH (256 steps), C=0-2400 pF (256 steps)

KXAT1, Configs=124, L=0 to 4.5 uH (8 steps), C=0 to 140 pF (8 steps)

KXAT3, Configs=131068, L=0 to 17.4 uH (256 steps), C=0 to 2624 pF (256 steps)

KAT500, Configs=131068, L=0 to 17.37 uH (256 steps), C=0 to 2701 pF (256 steps)

T1, Configs=32764, L=0 to 7.5 uH (128 steps), C=0 to 1300 pF (128 steps)

So for both the KX1 and the K1, the T1 will offer a wider tuning range than either internal autotuner.

As always, it is always best to minimize the mismatch between the antenna and not force the autotuner to work so hard because the transmitter may be happy but the precious few watts of a QRP rig may be burned up significantly in the autotuner reactance.  The word to the wise is to use matching baluns to facilitate the better match.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Looking at 2015 DX Marathon Top Claimed Scores

It would be interesting to compare the 2015 top claimed scores against the 2016 top claimed scores come January 2017.



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Joining the 300 Club

#296 CY9C - St. Paul Island - confirmed LOTW
#297 VP6J - Pitcairn Island has now confirmed in LOTW
#298 TL8AO - Central African Republic confirmed  in LOTW
#299 H44GC - Solomon Islands - confirmed in LOTW
#300 T31T - Central Kiribati - confirmed in LOTW
#301 XZ1A - Myanmar - awaiting LOTW confirmation
#302 XX9TGM - have QSL Card in Hand
#303 5U7RK - Niger - awaiting card (no LOTW)



Looking forward to 2017

Bouvet and Baker and Howland are the big DXpeditions.   Besides that we have:

ZS1BCE (ZD9A, ZS8Z), David has signed a 17-month contract to be the
communications technician on Marion Island.  He will depart Cape Town
on December 20th and will return to South Africa in May 2018.  

ZC4 - U. K. Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus -
G0GSB, Steve, updates us on his trip to ZC4 early next year.  He'll
reactivate his ZC4SB call from the Akrotiri Area between January 11
and 25.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Propagation Magic - 4S7AB Sri Lanka on 40m QRP

Flash - I saw 4S7AB get posted on the cluster - Sri Lanka - Zone 22.   Instantly with a click of a mouse button - the rig, power supply, StationPro, antenna tuner spring to life.  He is  working a station - after the 73s I send my call twice - holy cow - he comes back to me NY4O  - I send my call again twice - NY4G NY4G - then he comes back NY4G NY4G 5NN 5NN - acknowleding that he heard me (not my signal strength) - I returned TU TU 5NN 5NN 73 (although he was really 539) - but who cares - when you are excited the only thing that comes out of the paddle is 5NN.  After the QSO and some reflection - oh wow - this is grey line magic.  Here are a couple of images showing both the DX and me on the grey line.  Notice that I am probably maybe 15 minutes past my sunrise.  Add that to my Marathon totals.  You know what the feeling is like?  Ever play golf?  If you do, it feels like you just hold out your iron from the fairway - that kind of feeling.




Friday, December 2, 2016

Looking Back at Cycle 23

Cycle 23 was a much bigger cycle with higher sunspot numbers than Cycle24.  1998 was at the beginning of that sunspot cycle and 358 stations and 167 unique DXCC were announced at NG3K's website.   There are many notable DXpeditions - among them Somalia, Scarborough Reef, Juan de Nova, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, Revillagigedo, Palmyra, Midway, Kure, Heard Is, Burundi, and Amsterdam Island.

In 1998, Baker and Howland was activated and Amsterdam Island was activated again.   Other notables included Crozet, Kerguelen, Kingman Reef, Kermadec, Saint Brandon.  Zorro had his 10th expedition to Myanmar XZ1J.  332 Stations were announced in NG3K website and 152  were unique.

In 1999, Glorioso Island and Johnston Island were activated along with Tromelin.

In 2000, Yemen, Pratas, Bouvet, Johnston, along with Chesterfield Island were all activated.

In 2001, Malpelo, Mellish Reef, Niger, North Korea, San Felix, Spratly, Tromelin (again), Syria, UK Bases in Cyprus,

In 2002, there were several expeditions to Afghanistan, and an expedition to Macquarie, South Orkney

In 2003, there were several expeditions to Christmas Island,

In 2004 Aves Island was activated

In 2005, Clipperton was activated. In 2006 Lakshadweep was activated along with the UN HQ. In 2007, Jan Mayen was activated.

In 2006, Aves Island was again activated.  Glorioso Island and Peter 1 were also activated.

In 2007, Syria, Spratly and Scarborough Reef were again activated.

The only entity, as far as I can figure out, that was not activated in Cycle 23, was Navassa  island.  The last activation of Navassa was in 1997 which arguably can be part of Cycle 22.  The bar graph in the plot is a "what if" projection based on the ratio of sunspot numbers between Cycle 23 and Cycle 24.  All the DXCC I am missing now were activated in Cycle 23.  It would have been possible to get to Honor Roll in one solar cycle and Cycle 23 is that one.   It may have been possible for other solar cycles but I do not have the DX activation data to prove it.  Everyone I know who is in the honor roll got theirs partly from Cycle 23 or before and they are all old timers who have been hams for a long time.  The latest inductee into the honor roll who I know well is Vlad N3CZ.   He got to 300 in Cycle 23.  He got the remaining 30 in Cycle 24.  Amongst the people I know - he is the standard bearer for the shortest time to Honor Roll.   It looks like I will have to wait and slog it out through cycle 25


3 Days Chasing Grenada

J3/VE7ACN has been lurking around for days.   First I tried him to work on 40m from home in the evening.  That was 3 days ago.  Yesterday - I saw him spotted on 30m but he either could not hear me or is focused on working EU and JA.  Earlier today on 17m, I saw him again spotted.  I quickly dialed into my home station and was able to work him.  When I got home, he was really strong on 40m and I was able to work him QRP with just a couple of calls.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Worked Liberia EL2DT - while logged in remotely

I usually keep a browser window on a DX Cluster site which I check once in a while for workable DX.  I saw EL2DT spotted once in the morning on 20m CW but quickly went away.  Late afternoon, I saw him again spotted and this time more stations are spotting him, not just the automated skimmers.  Within about 2 minutes I was logged into my home station turning the VFO to to his TX frequency.  And there he was - loud and clear as a bell working station after station simplex.  I swing the yagi to 95 degrees by clicking on the icon on my computer and saw the indicator swing around to bearing 95.   He is even louder now working split up 1.  The transmitter is set at 5 watts.  I send my call twice.  He responds immediately.  Here is a photo of Dickson Tarnue - EL2DT.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Propagation and Station Entitlement

It is interesting how the double peaks of Cycle 24 coincide with the double peaks of the ATNO DXCC I worked for the corresponding year.    Considering how modest my station is in terms of antenna systems and power levels, I have done well.  But I am afraid that my station capability combined with my skills have reached entitlement.   With the propagation of Cycle 24 - 300 DXCC is probably all that this station is entitled to max out at.   Any antenna upgrades I can do is limited because of my HOA situation and limited land.  This same station in Cycle 23 however could have probably reached Honor Roll - all things being equal.  In Cycle 23, propagation makes up for a lot of station shortcomings.  How I may have done in Cycle 23 speculative, and a fruitless one at that since I cannot turn back time and enter the amateur ranks 15 years earlier.  In the mean time - I will try the few ATNOs I can still muster from this station and perhaps reach 305.  Chasing DXCC can still be a lot of fun through the DX Marathon as stations are on a more level playing field (various classes of power and antennas), dealing with the same propagation we are all dealt with.  Everybody gets a fresh start as the clock turns over at the first of the year.

CQWW DX Contest CW for DX Marathon (Formula 5)

Thanks to all the following stations who decided to dig me out of the noise floor during the CQ WW DX Contest:

So far - as of 1220 UTC 11/27 - the following stations have been added to the DX Marathon Log

PJ7/K0CD Sint Maarten
8R1/AG6UT Guyana
ER4A             Moldova
YL2SM          Latvia
LY2K             Lithuania
4U0WFP        ITU HQ
ZA/OG1N Albania
4O3A              Montenegro
4X0W              Israel

Friday, November 25, 2016

TS480 Now Remoted

Here is a photo of remote TS480 up in my loft.  True that the separation is perhaps 70 feet or so from my basement shack.  Everything has to work in the local network before  I proceed to remote it to many many miles away.


I had to dedicated most of the afternoon trying work out all the bugs:

(1) No connection - I had the wrong address in the SIP contact.   The ethernet port was flashing yellow indicating it was waiting for a connection

(2) Light on the ethernet port is solid yellow now.  I should be connected.   Radio won't turn on.   Well the RJ12 jumper I made was wired backwards.   I inadvertently wired the jumper correctly but it took several trials and errors to correctly identify it was the jumpers fault.

(3) It seems to be keying but no RF seems to get out.  I tried calling some Mediterranean stations that I should be able to work with 5 watts - no success.  I turned upo the wick to 80 watts.   The output meter indicated power and low SWR - what gives?  Well the keyer output from the Radio side RRC has to be connected to the Keyer input - straight key with a stereo plug - duh.  The Radio RRC gets its input from the built in Keyer in the Control RRC.  I now had to prove to myself that everything is working.

I worked 6Y, 5H, FJ stations all with 5 watts - now all is well

(4) Now comes the harder part, moving the control station 25 miles away to my parents house.  First I set up the router to see the RRC as a DMZ such that all traffic in and out will not be blocked by the firewall.   While I was at it, I put port forwarding to port 17152 for N4PY to work as a client-server.

Now - it is time to drive to Simpsonville armed with a Wifi router extender and the remote head, RRC control box, etc.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

More Stations for QRP DX Marathon

This week of Nov 13 has been pretty productive with ZD8W Ascension Island as new DXCC, SU9VB Egypt another new DXCC and a new Zone (34)..  Antartica RI1AND was booming in on 20m.  I did not need Antartica for new DXCC but I did need it for new Zone (29).   So here we are on day 322 with 43 days to go.  I am hoping to get 20 more DXCC and at least 3 more zones.  To be realistic -  Zone 19, 22, and 23 should be doable.

On Friday (Day 323) - while logged in remotely - bagged 5N/PA3TG on 20m CW.  The Nigerian station was pretty strong into the east coast.  He was slow but very deliberate with very good ears.

On Saturday (Day 324) - added Sardinia IS0HQJ.  I did not need Central African Republic but I worked Ken TL8AO on 20m as he was coming in strong from Africa.   It took a few tries to narrow down his QSX frequency to get into his log.   This is at least a new band and QRP to boot.

On Sunday (Day 325) added Zambia 9J2BO.  This was on 40m CW - I was just barely above the noise floor as he dug me out and gave me a 339 report.

The following week

On Tuesday (Day 327) added Tanzania 5H1WW on 15m CW.   Propagation was just starting to set in from Africa early in the day.   Propagation on 40m became really long during the evening hours as I was able to add Asiatic Turkey TA3/LZ3ND, Suriname PZ5V and as a bonus I was able to work VO2NS (Nazair) - Zone 2 - long missing on 40m to fill in that needed band zone combination for 5 Band Worked All Zones.

Thursday (Day 329) - Thanksgiving Day - added Cyprus 5B4AJC - really strong on 20m S9+

Friday (Day 330) - added Trinidad and Tobago - 9Y4/VE3EY on 40m CW.


#303 Myanmar XZ1A Confirmed in Clublog

Only 268 CW QSOs made to North America out of 6119 and the openings to the east coast were primarily on 17m.  I was not lucky enough to get a 17m QSO.   Any openngs to NA east coast were very weak.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Trials and Tribulations of Setting Up a Remote Station

I was finally able to set-up a client-server arrangement for N4PY such that the N4PY control software is operating at the control end computer rather than the remote desktop option of taking over a remote computer on the internet.  The problem with remote desktop is latency - perhaps 25 to 50 milliseconds.  It may not seem like a lot but the shorter the latency the better.  I was able to test all the functionality from within the network:

(1) Functionality of the Griffin Powermate Knob on the client (control) computer
(2) Functionality and speed tests on tuning the VFO and sending CW over the network.

Now I was  eager to exercise this option from outside the LAN.  I fired up the LogmeIn client and found that the remote desktop is offline.   What happened?  Did the computer sleep?  The only way to find out is to go home.  Now to figure out a way to wake the computer from the internet - a concept called Wake on LAN (Local Area Network).

Upon returning home - the computer was in sleep mode.  I set up Windows device manager to wake the computer up via the Local Network or LAN - we will see how that works

In the video below I demo using the Griffin Powermate as a tuning knob.  The small Microsoft Surface tablet is the Client computer on the control end.  There is no need for a remote desktop connection. There is a need still for audio voice over IP (VOIP) through Skype.




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Updated Shack Photo


Here it is crammed to a small space.  The newest addition to the stable is a Kenwood TS480SAT with the control head near the StationPro2.   This is the rig I plan to remote using Remoterig by Mikrobit for Christmas.   Right now I can perform remote operation using "remote desktop" software LogMeIn or TeamViewer which is limited to CW only on the K2.   I can control power from 100 milliwatts to 500 watts using the K2.  I use N4PY as the control software for the K2.   I don't have an amplifier keying cable for the Kenwood TS480 yet and the serial cable to enable CAT operation is on order.  I will use Kenwood's ARCP-480 software for the TS480.  For the KX3, I plan on using Win4K3.   Turning it on is is a bit of chore and I plan to do it with some trepidation since I will apply 12V into Ring 1 (PTT) of the Mic plug using a Canakits USB operated relay.   I was assured by Elecraft that this will work.  I have to be certain I don't apply 12V to the tip of the Mic plug.  The computer chores are done by a CDO tower with 2 serial ports and 8 USB ports.   All the USB ports are used up in some sort of fashion

Serial 1 - K2
Serial 2 - TS480SAT
USB - KX3
USB - KAT500
USB - KPA500
USB - RRC Rotator Control
USB - Powerstrip to Turn On Shack Power Supplies
USB - Snowball Microphone
USB - Computer speaker

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remote Station Ragchew Into Madagascar - 5R8AL

This was my first successful ragchew with a DX station on 15m CW while remote into my station through the internet.  It was one I needed for DX Marathon.  Having to deal with the latency on the internet while typing on the keyboard was sort of strange but worked nonetheless.  The Op on the other side was Alain.   Thanks Alain for a new one for DX Marathon.

Friday, November 4, 2016

VK2BJ - Australia for DX Marathon

This was a nice surprise.  At 9417 miles away, he was surprisingly loud - peaking at S7 on my meter.  His name was Barry and liked to ragchew.  He was much stronger long path and that was the S7.   Long path distance was 15438 miles.   Double bonus in that he was also a new zone.  This was not too shabby for QRP.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Digital Twin Project - Remote Control of My Home Station

I am almost there:

(1) I can control my radio remotely


(2) I can rotate my  Hexbeam remotely.  This was enabled by installation of an ERC-H USB controlled interface in my Hygain Rotor Control Box.  I made a short YouTube clip showing activation of the rotation from a tablet computer remoted into the shack computer.


(3) The only remaining task is to be able to select and tune antennas remotely.  That should be complete October 31.    By then I will have remote tuning and selection of 3 antennas (5W to 500W) and a 4th antenna (5W to 100W)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Ones for QRP DX Marathon

Oct 26 Update

Just added Anguilla VP2EGR at 1651 on 15m CW

Oct 25 Update

I have never worked an entity this high up on the most wanted list till now - TL0A - Central African Republic which is #16 on the most wanted list.  I have been trying to work him for better than a half hour tail ending every other station he worked and the magic finally happened.   I had just worked Ghana 9G5AM just before - and I thought surely - propagation is in my favor.

This is especially rewarding with all my station woes.  My antenna rotor bit the dust and I have to turn the yagi by the "armstrong" method currently pointed 90 degrees towards Africa.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New ATNOs

#301   T31T 10/8/16 02:03 UTC 17m CW and several other bands Central Kiribati  - finally uploaded  their logs to Clublog and they show me confirmed on 17m and 12m

#302   TL0A 10/19/16 01:05 UTC 7005.1 40m CW Central African Republic
           TL0A 10/20/16 17:53 UTC 21005 15m CW
           TL0A 10/22/16 21:51 UTC 14.005 20m CW

There remains Somalia and Burundi on the continental mainland. The following rare entities also belong to the African continent.  Thanks to Matt KU4XO for correctly pointing this out.

AGALEGA & ST BRANDON ISLANDS
BOUVET ISLAND
CROZET ISLAND
GLORIOSO ISLAND
KERGUELEN ISLAND
PRINCE EDWARD & MARION ISLANDS

ARRL DXCC Rules Involving Remote Stations & CQ DX Marathon Rules About Station Location

I am posting this as it relates to my remote operation of my own station.  This has been copied from the ARRL website covering the applicable rules:

9.  Station Location and Boundary:

a) All stations used to make contacts for a specific DXCC award must be located within the same DXCC entity.
b) All transmitters and receivers comprising a station used for a specific contact must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle.
c) QSOs made with legally licensed, remotely controlled stations are allowed to be used for DXCC credit.

10.  All contacts must be made using call signs issued to the same station licensee. Contacts made by an operator other than the licensee must be made from a station owned and usually operated by the licensee, and must be made in accordance with the regulations governing the license grant. Contacts may be made from other stations provided they are personally made by the licensee. The intent of this rule is to prohibit credit for contacts made for you by another operator from another location. You may combine confirmations from several call signs held for credit to one DXCC award, as long as the provisions of Rule 9 are met. Contacts made from club stations using a club call sign may not be used for credit to an individual's DXCC.

11.  Issues concerning remotely controlled operating and DXCC are best dealt with by each individual carefully considering the ethical limits that he/she will accept for his/her DXCC and other operating awards.  As the premier operating award in Amateur Radio, DXCC draws intense scrutiny from its participants.  As DX chasers climb up the Standings there will be increased attention given to these achievements and the owner of these achievements needs to be comfortable standing behind his/her award and numbers.  Peer attention has always been a part of awards chasing, of course, but in these times with so many awards and so many players it is more important than ever to 'play the game' ethically.

Technological advances, while welcome, also add to the difficulty in defining rules for DXCC, but the intent of the rules is what is important.  It is never OK to remotely use a station outside of the 'home DXCC entity' to add to the home-entity DXCC totals -- just as it is never OK for you to ask someone else at another station in another place to make QSOs for you.  Remotely controlled stations must be properly licensed if they are to count for DXCC.  It will continue to be up to the operator to decide what types of legal remote control operating he/she will use (if any) to contribute to an operating award.

CQ DX Marathon Rules

General: Each entrant in the DX Marathon may submit one log each year per operating location. Participants submitting logs for single mode or single band entries must include only those contacts in their submission. Logs submitted with multiple mode or multiple bands will not be considered for mode and band awards. Entries with two or more callsigns will only count as a single entry if all contacts were made by the same (single) operator at the same station using the same antennas. Remote operation is permitted if all transmitters, receivers, and antennas are at a single physical location. A remote station in a different country than the entrant’s country of license must comply with all local laws and regulations. If an entrant operates from both a primary station and a remote station, separate entries for each location may be submitted. Entries that include contacts made with the assistance of remote receivers and/or transmitters in addition to contacts from a primary station are not permitted.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Video Demonstration - Remote Control of a K2


A short 5 minute video showing how establish a connection for audio and remote control of an amateur station connected to the internet.  This is legal within the rules established by the FCC for radio amateurs.  The radio is a K2/100 with a KAT100 autotuner.   The remote computer is an old Dell Latitude laptop running Windows 7.   The control computer in this case is Toshiba laptop running Windows 8.  I can also connect to the remote computer with Surface tablet running Windows 10.  The rig is connected to the Dell via the Serial RS232 port.  Keying is via the internal keyer in the rig.  I can also run N4PY but a lot of the functionality for the autotuning will not be available.  Also a USB port would have been necessary for CW keying.   That is the beauty of the K2S software by Dahn Le which was written in 2002 because it has all the functionality of the radio - just remotely.

The audio is via Skype and the remote connection is established via Teamviewer 11.  The shack is powered up remotely via the internet through the remote computer during the remote connection.

Complete Control of My K2 From A Site Far Away from Home



Well, I finally was able to successfully remote the K2 for the grand total price of $89.  The only thing that cost money is the USB controlled power strip that can be used to remotely turn the rig via a computer command.  Here are the cost savings compared to several options I have researched:

Alternative Options:

Remote Shack Option:

RBC-120REL Remote Control Relay $130 or RBC-9REL 120 Volt 8 Outlet Power Strip $180
RBC-212 $499.95 + $79.95 for the cable kit for the K2.   The RBC-212 is the remote box that is needed to interface to the power-on relay and to interface with the control computer.  All the features are better explained in www.remoteshack.com.  The remote shack option does not make any provision for CW operation unless the software you choose can provide this functionality through software.

Remote shack box + cable = $580
Remote Power switch = $180
Software (Ham Radio Deluxe) = $100

Total Cost = $860

Remote Rig Option:

The "remote rig" option invlves "two black boxes".  One black box connects to the remote rig and the other black box connect to the control device.  The control device can be a K3 Twin, a K3/0, or a Rig with a removeable head that can function as a "twin" or a computer that runs software such as HRD, TRX Manager, N4PY, etc.  The remote box has an input for a remote paddle unlike the remote shack for those that love CW.  The cost for the The RRC1258Mk2s remote rig boxes is $499 from Ham Radio Outlet.  You still need a device to power on the rig remotely, for this you need the Microbit Webswitch 1216H.   The web switch is $184 excluding VAT.

Remote Rig Boxes = $500
Microbit Webswitch = $184
Software (Ham radio Deluxe) = $100

NY4G Option:

Have my K2 interface directly to a remote computer.  The rig is controlled via CAT commands.  When I am in the shack I can control my rig through the computer or manually (the old fashioned way) by turning the VFO and the radio buttons myself.  The remote functionality is through the internet dialing in to my remote computer via Team Viewer (free).  You can also use Logmein which provides the same functionality for $149 per year for 2 computers.  The audio is managed through Skype.   You basically set up a Skype account for the remote rig.   You call the remote rigs computer Skype account and you can hear all the audio from the remote compute.  It helps if you have a high end USB microphone like a Snowball available from Amazon.com for $59.  SSB is a little tricky and has to be done via VOX and a headset microphone positioned near the computer speaker.  The software I am using is K2S.  Here is the breakdown of the costs assuming you already have a dedicated computer in the shack that you otherwise use for computer logging and other things:

Remote Power Strip - USB Controlled = $89
Software - K2S - Free
Remote Log-In Software - Teamviewer 11 = Free

Total Cost = $89

Savings over Remote Rig  = $784-$89 = $695
Savings over Remote Shack = $860-$89 = $771

Step by Step Instructions:

(1) Dial in to the Remote Computer Via Teamviewer 11 from the Control Computer  - establish remote control over the computer
(2) Call the Remote Computer via Skype.  Accept the Skype call through the remote interface
(3) Power up the remote radio using a command issued through the remote computer to turn on the power supply circuit.  At this point you should be able to hear radio through the Skype audio.
(4) Execute the K2S rig control program

You can now get on the air remotely.  You can do everuything to your rig as if you were in front of it. The only thing you can not see is the SWR.  In my case I use resonant antennas so that is not an issue.

I will have a YouTube video demonstration in a later blog post..

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Does QRP Really Work?

I have heard the saying so often "Life is Too Short for QRP".  For some reason, many radio amateurs refuse to embrace and even eschew low power (I mean really power - 5 watts or less).  In their minds, you just can't work much DX with that low a power.  That is definitely true if one does not have efficient antennas, or lack of knowledge of propagation.  If you have worked your entire ham career with 100 watts or more, your habits are most likely going to affirm that 5 watts is simply not enough power.

 I was a part time member of the school of thinking that. "The more watts, the better".  I go on further and quote top of the honor roll member Dave K4SV,  "It's not how big your watts are but how big your watts appear on the other end".    In fact I keep two sets of books - unique DXCC's  that I have worked QRO, and unique DXCC's that I have worked QRP

But as you progress and mature and gain experience as a ham, you begin to realize that it's not so much the "watts" as it is what you do with the "watts".  Brute power isn't the end all and be all.  Operating skill, knowledge of propagation, patience and perseverance - these  are what get the QSOs and the DX in the log! And specially rewarding is getting those QSO's with a mere 5 watts.

I've mentioned in several places that I've been licensed since 2009 and started chasing DX in earnest in 2011.  I started my HF career as a QRPer because that is all I could afford at the time and my first rig was with the venerable Yaesu FT817., I have always been attracted to and have dabbled with operating with low power ever since that first QSO with VK6LC, Mal, in Australia on phone with my FT-817. I joined QRP ARCI and NAQCC and participated in a lot of QRP activities including pursuing my first ARRL QRP-DXCC certificate which I acquired in 2012.  I decided to take a hiatus from QRP in mid 2013 and bought my first linear amplifier - a Drake L4B, from which I can generate 500W output easily with 50 watts drive.  Since that fateful day in August of 2013, using that linear, I racked up enough unique DXCC's to get 8 Band DXCC (and the 5 Band DXCC Plaque), DXCC Challenge, and 301 confirmed DXCC.   Now that the remaining unique DXCC's have thinned out, I have gone back to operating almost exclusively QRP.   In fact, I'd dare say that since my QRO days, I've had the most fun I've ever had as a Ham and continue my chase towards 200 DXCC QRP (currently at 159).

Here are a bunch of stats using Qscope that demonstrate that QRP indeed works.  The first image is based on 8144 QSOs which were combination of QRP and QRO but mostly QRO.  Antenna setup is the same for both situation.  A Hexbeam for 20-10, ZS6BKW mainly for 40 and a vertical for 80.   The QRO stats are over 6 years of data and the QRP stats are only for 2016 year to date.



How does the above compare to QRP below?  Interestingly enough QRP has just as much reach and if anything - on a percentage basis there are longer distances  with the QRP QSOs.  The comparison is clouded by dupes but interesting nonetheless.  The QRP contacts are more evenly distributed azimuth-wise with large concentration to EU, Oceania and Carribean.


Great Saturday for QRP DX Marathon - S9YY, ZD7BG, E74A

The K2 was in full QRP attire without the PA deck.  The bands have been crappy all morning, the stations I need are out there but not strong enough to be workable QRP.  Things changed for the better in the afternoon as I was able to work S9YY Sao Tome and Principe Islands in a pileup on both 12m and 17m.  S9 was also a new zone so a double bonus.Thanks for digging me out - op for the S9 station.   ZD7BG was all alone with no pileup on 20m and he was able to answer me right away in response to his CQ.   E74A was an addition from late last night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why is QRP DXing an Adventure?

I liken the pursuit of amateur radio contacts to the analogy of flying a commercial plane to go somewhere versus flying your own plane to go to that same place.  On the one hand, it is so much more convenient to pay some airline company to fly you there.  However, there is something in one to challenge one self to study, take the instruction to learn how to fly, take the tests, pass the tests and one can then have the privilege of flying there while piloting a plane you either own or rent.  It is your own mind and hands that guide the plane to get you there.   Similarly, for amateur radio, why study to operate equipment, pass certain tests and be given a license to operate and transmit when you can more easily and conveniently call someone on the cell phone?   The answer to both questions is adventure.   In an adventure, there is the element of uncertainty.   The higher the uncertainty, the greater the reward.   The same thing in flying even among private pilots, one can certainly rent a Cessna or one can build an ultralight.  The one who flies the ultralight will perhaps experience the greater emotional reward or sense of accomplishment  because reaching the destination requires not only the skill to pilot a plane but also the skill to build the plane in the first place.   In amateur radio, the greater level of uncertainty lies with those who pursue making the contact with power of 5 watts or less - otherwise known as QRP, because there are more variables at play to overwhelm such a diminutive signal.  Even with all the knowledge of signal to noise ratio, the prevailing A-Index, the propagation path, the band, the time of day, the solar flux intensity, the certainty is quite unknown.  Yesterday, I spent a half hour chasing an amateur station TY2AC in Benin in Africa - bearing about 93 degrees from due north.  His signal was strong enough, maybe S4 without the preamp, and I was on my 2 element beam, and the noise from atmospheric static was low on 17m.   Could he hear me?  I was not sure, yet I kept trying with the belief that if I can insert myself in between the much stronger station, perhaps he can hear me.  As long as he was going to call CQ, I was going to keep trying.  He announced that he was quitting - or as they say in amateur radio vernacular in morse -  QRT.  He then disappeared.  I humbly accepted it was not my day.  I saw another spot on the same station perhaps an hour later.  He was back.  I said maybe, just maybe, I can get through this time.   He kept working stronger stations one by one.  Each time when he finished his QSO, I would send my call.  Call it timing or call it luck, my signal went through.    He called in Morse, NY4? NY4? I replied NY4G twice.  He replied NY4G NY4G 5NN.  I replied TNX, UR 599 OP ARIEL TU 73.  He replied TNX QSO OP NICO 73.   I was happy because my adventure had a good outcome and another contact with a needed station for my DX Marathon.   Somedays, like tonight, it is just futile to get on the air with such little power because the band noise is high on 40 meters and the higher bands are dead for any needed contacts from the east coast where I live.  Under such conditions, the possibility of a contact is not only uncertain, but practically impossible.  Yet band conditions change because of the nature of the physics that enable the ionosphere to be a refractor of radio waves.  You are at the mercy of the vicissitudes of ionospheric propagation.  Therein lies the adventure.  Then there are those, in the amateur ranks who reduce the uncertainty by building large antenna arrays and running gobs of power through linear amplifiers.  Yes they can improve their odds and their DX counts are most certainly higher than mine.  Yet I enjoy the self imposed power limitation, because with greater uncertainty comes greater reward.

ATNO #300 5U7RK

I have placed Yves Collet F5PRU who operates out of Niger as 5U7RK on my watch list.    I programmed my phone to receive text messages once he is spotted by someoe in one of the many DX clusters.  (how is that for the new technology?) I may have received 3 or 4 spots in the last few weeks but it has never been convenient to look for him since I am still a working man - working the typical 8 AM- 5 PM routine with an hour commute at each end.  

Well as luck would have it, I finally logged  5U7RK at 1754 UTC on 17m 18.083 on 10/5/2016.  I first saw spot for him on 12 meter around noon.  I quickly deployed my inverted L from my portable setup from my truck while at my parents house and listened on my K2 - nothing heard.   I saw another spot on 17m while stopped at a gas station and this time I can hear him.  2 QRMers stayed on the DX transmit frequency while I was 1 KHz up.  I heard him answer in the middle of the QRM and returned my reply.  The operator,  a Frenchman working 100 watts to a wire was a good operator disposing of the small pileup in good order.  He uploads his QSO's to Clublog.  The QSO has now been confirmed in Clublog.

This was a milestone QSO - for the third DXCC and a memorable one

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TY2AC Benin and TZ4AM Mali for QRP DX Marathon

I have seen the TZ4 lurk around the bands but either have not the opportunity or not have the propagation with my 5 watts.  This time it was different.   He was fairly strong maybe 569 and working split 1 up on 20m and it took but a few calls.

TY2 was altogether different.  He was perhaps S4 on 17m but the noise floor was low.  He just kept working stronger stations.   I kept trying until he announced he was going QRT.  Having announced that he worked a couple more stations leaving me wanting.  I walked away for about 30 minutes and saw a fresh spot - he was back and started working stronger stations.  He was working simplex and my signal was being stepped on time after time - then part of it made it through.  He responds NY4 NY4? in CW.   I replied with my call TNX UR 599 OP ARIEL 73 and he replied I was 579 and that he was Nico and said TU 73.  

Two more to add to my Marathon collection.

DX Marathon - Two more new ones to look for

ALAND ISLANDS, OH0B

It is on Wednesday Oct. 05 that OH0B will be QRV for 5-days on all bands from the Aland Islands by Juha, OH1ND, Martti, OH2BH, and Ville, OH2MM/PY2ZEA. Activity will include the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB) on the weekend of Oct. 8/9.

 

MARKET REEF, OJ0B

Then on Oct.23rd it will be time to try a dry landing on Market Reef, West of the Aland Islands, for a 7-day operation, by Toivo, ES2RR, Martti, OH2BH, Pertti, OH2PM, focusing on the low-bands and RTTY. This outing is targeted to cover the CQWW SSB Contest.


Monday, October 3, 2016

DXing Tips For Little Pistols Like Me

OK I admit it I am more often than not a little pistol.  More than likely, I am trying to make a contact at 5W.   Keep in mind two things - the heavy lifting is done not by you but by the DX who is trying to dig you out of the mud.  Some are more willing than others.  Of course, the second thing is your persistence.  If you don't go away after he has worked stronger stations - chances are he will try to work you.

Here are some additional tricks to slay that DXing dragon I learned from Brian Smith WO9I.  Some are verbatim and some are paraphrases.  Some I omitted but most I kept.  Some I added to from my own experience.    Here is the URL:  http://www.ybdxc.net/2014/10/14/25-dxing-tips-for-the-little-guy/

(1) "Sharpen your sword. Never embark on a DX quest without first tuning-up your rig. Make sure your PA is not putting out into a high SWR situation - wasting your meager power into heat as feedline loss.   Sometimes you get only one shot at a rare station before the rest of the world catches up with you."

(2) See which bands are open before starting the hunt.  Bandconditions.com is a good resource.   A reading of 100 for a band indicates that your 1 watt or 5 watt signal stands a good chance of being heard.  Yet another way to do it is to listen for the band beacons.   Make sure your foray into the ether is  worth the effort. WWV (at 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz) gives propagation info at 18 minutes past every hour. Look at the cluster and listen for on-going QSOs.  See how strong the signals are in the cluster spots - even if it is a country you don't need.   If you are looking for an entity in the Balkans - see how loud the DX are around your hunting ground.

(3)  Never send “CQ DX.” Rare and even not so rare DX station seldom answer such calls, especially when transmitted by weak signals.

(4) Use the contests.  If you could operate only a few days a year, I’d pick the weekends of the major international contests such as the CQ World-Wide, the ARRL DX Contest, CQ WPX, and so forth. Ignore your score; the idea is to bag  DX you need for whatever - DX Marathon, DXCC, band slots.   These events are like for the little kid in the candy store - except you are truly a little kid (or a small fry).   During contests, the bands are crawling with stations, some rare and some not so rare.   If you are doing DX Marathon - you need most of if not many.  The QSOs are short, and best of all, wide dispersal of the big guns.

(5) After the contest, hang around, to see if rare stations—particularly DXpeditions—want to hang around to see if anyone else wants to work them. The big guns are usually in their holsters by then, which is exactly why you’re still blazing away.

(6) Peek into the DX alleys, which are usually located just inside the General band (14.026 Mhz, etc.). On non-contest days many rare stations hang out here. However, these are also the most congested places of all. But hey, sometimes the propagation gods smile on you.

(7) Know when to quit. Don’t spend your life trying to break pile-ups; when the band’s open, there’s plenty of good stuff elsewhere (usually from the same region), and lots of big guys don’t know how to root it out. How to tell good odds from bad? Good odds: the DX station is booming, the op is working stations quickly, other station from your call area are getting through, and/or you don’t hear much competition. Bad odds: weak DX station, slow op, propagation favours other call areas, pile-up is loud and limitless.

(8) Nail the newcomers. Now for real guerrilla tactics: Move to the slow edge of a band and, tuning slowly accross it, listen for the sound of any station coming on the air, such as a “tuning up” signal, “QRL?” or of course, CQ. Should one of these surface, stop immediately and listen for an ID. (Ninety-nine times out of 100 it won't be rare DX, but trust me: that 100th time will more than make up for it.)  Late means wait. As you’re hunting stations coming on frequency, also check for QSOs that are about to end (“73,””TNX FER QSO,” etc.)—and wait for an ID.

(10) Develop DX ears. DX signals rarely sound like statesiders. They’re weaker and more unstable (and those which cross over the North Pole sound “fluttery”). Teach your eardrums the difference.

(11) Be watchful for 10 or 12 meter openings. Ten meters is the little guy’s equalizer. When the surf’s up on 10, the DX comes in waves, and a puny signal (even a 5 watter) floats just fine. Ten meters tend to open to a small geographic area at a time (meaning less competition); also, signal strength can fluctuate wildly within a few minutes. If you find a new one that’s too weak to work, lock on to it and relax. Within 15 minutes its signal may peak, giving you a clear shot.

(12) WFWL (work first worry later). If an exotic-sounding station appears, don’t look up its QTH—pounce! I once heard a 3B8 sending CQ. “What’s a 3B8?” I wondered, but the second he stopped transmitting, I chased him. Only after the QSO did I discover I had just worked Mauritius.
Rehearse. Rare DX stations are sometimes barely audible, or covered with QRM. A trained ear can pull them through, but an untrained ear hears only clutter. So hone your hearing. Practice working common DX stations (such as G’s and JA’s) with faint signals.

(13) Upgrade. Much of the delectable DX swims in the extra portion of the band. Thus reeling it in is often a question of “How low can you go?” Remember, only 7 percent of all American amateurs can operate in these murky depths.

(14) Rock around the clock. DX conditions vary with the time of day, so don’t just operate from 7 to 9 o’clock every evening. Vary your routine: Stay up all night on a Friday, rise before dawn on a Sunday. Remember, sunrise and sunset can produce interesting conditions, so try them often.
Turn lemons into lemonade. “Bad breaks” aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes they even work to the little guy’s advantage. Example 1: While trying to work a weak ZK1 (South Cook Islands) during a contest. I was dismayed when a loud Californian began blasting away on a nearby frequency. Then I realized that because of the W6, most people who were casually tuning around wouldn’t hear the ZK. During brief lull I caught his “QRZ?”, jumped in, and nailed him instantly. Example 2: A T3Ø (West Kiribati) operating SSB dodged a stateside pile-up by QSYing to a U.S. CW-only frequency. Just one American moved with him—yours truly, who fired up a key and worked him cross-mode.

(15) Talk the talk. Even with Q signals, all CW stations don’t sound the same. DX stations favor expressions such as “TKS” (instead of American “TNX”) and “DR” (as in “DR OM BRIAN”). Soviets often close with “DSW” (a Russian good-luck term). And of course, stations whose transmissions alternate between “599 K” and “QRZ?” are often worth working. Familiarity with international call signs helps, too, as I learned one evening in 1988 when I tuned in Y88POL. Just another East German, right? But wait! East German suffixes usually have only two letters … hmmm. Moments later I worked a new one—Antartica.

(16) Less is Morse. Not only CW is less popular than SSB (decreasing your competition), but it’s more effective in marginal conditions—a plus for weak stations.
Read the news. Serious operators learn about DXpeditions and such by subscribing to publications such as QRZ DX? and The DX Bulletin. And for those with packet capability, lots of DX packet clusters spot rare stations.

(17) Never assume. Once, during a Boy Scout jamboree weekend, I heard a Liberian station with a special call sign, using scouts as ops. No one was answering its CQ, probably because everyone believed the station was working only fellow Scouts. But when I asked, “Are you working only Scout stations?” I was rewarded with a “No, you’re 5 by 6”—and a new one.

(18) Beat the bushes. Many people think all the primo DX hangs out on the low ends, but that’s a fallacy. Ever work Morocco? I did—on a 10 meter Novice CW frequency! And I once heard Zimbabwe on 21.080. Moral: Don’t just look in the clearings; rummage through the high weeds, too.
Listen for swan songs. Normally, when sunspots are high, upper HF bands such as 10 and 15 meters close in the evening. During their final moments, however, strange conditions sometimes occur. Try to catch each band just before it gives out (see whether any signals are audible; if so, tune around). As the band dies, most of your competition will give up and head south. I bagged my first CEØ (Easter Island) under such conditions.

(19) Check and double check the DX call. Don’t just scribble down a DX call sign; make absolutely certain you heard it correctly. On CW I’ve worked lots of ops who can’t tell a “4” from a “V” or an “H” from an “S.” Missing even one dot in a call sign can turn a prize catch into a busted QSO.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

DX Marathon for 2017

Hello Fellow DX Chasers

It is not too early to plan for 2017 and the Upcoming DX Season

I know the premier award for DX is the ARRL DXCC program.  CQ Magazine however sponsors a year long contest called the DX Marathon.   The beauty of this contest is that even those with meager or little pistol stations con compete on a level playing field because there are several levels of competition.  I believe Bob ND7J is vying for the Unlimited SSB Class for 2016 which is currently on-going.  This way you are competing against stations of similar set-up and power and put more of a premium on skill and not effective radiated power.

Classes:

Formula Class - Option 1 and 2

Limited Class - Limited to 100 Watts and "Limited" Antennas

Unlimited Class - All Power levels up to legal limit and any kind of antenna system

Formula Class

Option 1 - is Power limited to 5 watts maximum.  Antennas limited to those in the "Limited" Class above (description below)

Option 2 - Power is limited to 100 watts or less and antenna can only be a dipole or G5RV or a vertical not to exceed 65 feet.  Wire antennas cannot exceed 130 feet in length.  No arrays of any kind - horizontal or vertical - super loops are not allowed.  Single tower or support for wires antennas - inverted vee or sloper only.

Limited Class

Power is restricted to 100 watts or less and antennas can be any in option 2 of the Formula Class plus any yagi not to exceed 3 elements on a tower not to exceed 65 feet.

Directional antennas such as Yagis and multi-element loop, hex, and quad type antennas on the 20- through 6-meter bands. Directional antennas with no more than 3 elements per band are allowed on the 20-meter through 6-meter bands.    Boom length may not exceed 16 feet (5 meters) for antennas with booms. Single element rotatable dipoles are allowed for the 30- and 40-meter bands. Directional antennas and rotatable
dipoles must not be higher than 50 feet (15 meters) above ground and all antennas must be on a single tower or support.  (Dipoles must be inverted Vees or slopers)

Unlimited Class


Just like it means - no limits on power or antennas

The rules are given by the following website

http://www.dxmarathon.com/Rules/2016/2016rules.pdf

Saturday, September 24, 2016

ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands

The latest ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands  is in the log.  Emil DL8JJ was coming in workable  into 4 land on 20m CW about S2 with th pre-amp off but noise floor was low.  I worked him long path.  I was able to get him with one call at 21:06 UTC on 9/26.  VOACAP did not predict propagation on 20m long path.  I actually had the antenna pointed at 36 degrees which is really a skewed path since long path is about 100 degrees.   The contact is confirmed in Clublog.

A second contact was made on 15m on 21015 KHz at 23:00 UTC on 9/27

On Deck:

There does not appear to have any plans to activate 4U1UN in 2016 and it is almost October.  So I have removed the possibility of working that station in 2016.

#300 5U7RK Niger - September to November 2016
#301 T31T Central Kirabati - October 4 - Oct 30 - 3 Operators led by 3Z9DX
#302 XU7MDC Cambodia - November 4-14, 2016'
#302 XU7AEC Cambodia - Russian team Nov 16-Dec 5, 2016
#303 TL8AO Central African Republic - November 10-22, 2016
#304 Nepal being planned second half of October - with SP9FIH as 9N7CC, SP2FUD as 9N7FD, SP9FIH as 9N7WE.

2017 is looking very lean right now with Baker and Howland Island being the only one as a needed country

Monday, September 12, 2016

ATNO #298 Bhutan A5A

I have been trying for days with no luck.  My luck turned - finally on 9/13 at 02:16 on 18076 CW.  Zorro, JH1AJT team leader of the A5A expedition shown below operating SSB