Countdown has begun…

In fact countdow started 364 days ago but who’s counting?

Monday 08.00AM: call utility company’s local branch. Explained my problem (ham, flickering, noise, no reception etc). Guy tells me "We’ll try to fix it ASAP". Yeah right, ASAP…
17.30: I come home, no more darkness, no more flickering. In stead a nice bright streetlight! Halleluja! Thank you Mister Utility Company!

Today I set up 50% of the station:

To do when I get home tomorow:

  • Raise tower another level.
  • Fix the 2 slopers for 40m to their anchoring point.
  • Put up 80m vertical.
  • Check everything.
  • Pray!

I also got hold of a second amp (autotune 500W) for the 2nd radio. I’m
not sure if I’ll use it – very tricky to tune and doesn’t tune my 160m
antenna at all. I need to think that over.
So that’s it for now. Next update will be on Monday. I hope I can be euphoric and happy then. My only worry is the WX. Forecast says windy but not too much so let’s hope they’re right. WX is the only show stopper here unless Murphy trikes?
73 / CU in the contest! Work me, log me, spot me – OQ5M QRZ?


LZ DX Contest

This weekend I played in the LZ DX Contest. I squeezed out 947 QSO, of which about 150 with the second radio (barefoot). Technically all works fine for SO2R now. So except for Murphy, I’m ready for The Big One next weekend.

Because it was a casual effort I started on 15m one hour into the contest. One minuter later I started CQing on 20m. The 15m band was absolutely silent. I don’t mean "only few stations worked" – I mean: NOTHING there. At 1300utc! Go figure. That first hout brought me 120 QSOs. A good rate, but that was it. After that rates dropped to 80-70 – even less.
At night on 40/80m I am still bothered by that noise (see my earlier post) but I start to fear it isn’t (only) that streetlight. I slept for almost 7 hours and then started on 80m, moved up to 40m but things were quiet. 20m opened up early to UA9 and later I gor called by one LOUD JA. One worked out of 950 QSO.
I wanted to make some contacts on 15m, but things were slow. Yet I got called by a VK, a YB and 2 VU’s. I tried 10m and worked 3 stations but no other signs of life. That doesn’t look promising for next week…

The next days it’ll be counting down. Maybe prepare some stuff on Thursday and put everything up on Friday. That will take longer than anticipated, Murphy will rear his ugly head for sure! Then hopefully catch some sleep…

Bye bye till the next time!


It was the Night of the Twenty JA

Earlier this week I noticed a broken streetlight on a pole just across the street (less than 10m from the couch in the living room). FEAR of QRM but I didn’t dare to switch on the rig. So I filed an online alert on Tuesday, got confirmation that they took notice of the broken lamp. It isn’t broken, it’s flickering which is even worse I guess.

This afternoon I put up the SO2R high band vertical (seems to work) and the 40+80m antenna. Lamp stil broken, flashing and arcing. Bummer!
Sunset here – streetlights switch on – exit low bands. Aaarrgghh!!! With CQ WW just around the corner? I need to take affirmative action on Monday with the utility company. That or a double barrel shotgun to deal with the broken lamp?

Still I worked V8 on 40CW for an all time new one. Later (before writing this) I CQ’ed on 80m and worked 20 JA’s! Through the QRM!
I also got called by BD and DS for 2 new ones on 80m and by regular P43JB and a dozen W.
Did I mention I worked 20 JA on 80m tonight?   ;o)

More later, stay tuned but don’t tune on my frequency!


A quiet weekend (for a change)

This weekend I won’t be near the shack. I’ll skip WAE RTTY. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything for the hobby.

For "future use" I’m making my own StackMatch. There are several homebrewed versions out there: T93M, SM0W and my friend ON4BAI all succeeded in building one. Only: mine does not work YET. It seems that I’m having problems to wind the 2:1 balun. All the mentioned versions use bare insulated wire without outer jacket, but I saw this which gave me the idea to use this "parallel wire". That makes it easier to keep the wires together and parallel. Maybe that is my problem? Back to the rawing board it is!

Yesterday I completed a software project. It’s finished and working (at least something that does!) but I need to tweak the user interface. I use DX4WIN as my general DX log and award tracking software. But I’d like to start using the Global QSL service which needs the QSL VIA info exported into ADIF. I’m still with DX4WIN V6 which doesn’t export QSL managers in the ADIF file and I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want to buy another upgrade to migrate to V7. I’m sick of that. DX4WIN is dead – it doesn’t evolve anymore and user support is… "not so good". All upgrades I did since buying the program late 2000 have cost 25Euro but were mere bug fixes. So like hell I’m going to pay for yet another silly "upgrade". There is an alternative software suggested by the globalQSL folks but I like to use my DX4WIN QSL info in stead of adding it manually by going through the log. That’s what I want to avoid.
DX4WIN allows exporting the QSL mgr database to an ASCII file so I wrote my own ADIF parser that takes the call from the QSO and sees if there is a match in the QSL MGR file. If the DX call has a manager, my software inserts the right ADIF tag. There you go, that was a Friday well spent!

All for now, 73 / CU.


A nice surprise – tnx K1QS

I just emptied the mailbox and found a QSL from K1QS. Walt called me in the CQ WW SSB last week and I took the time to tell him he was my very first American QSO when I got on HF late 2000. My call back then was ON4CLN. He asked me if I received a QSL, but unfortunately I have been staring at the ‘cfm=N’ field in DX4WIN for all those years.
Walt told me he’d send a QSL card and I anticipated on receiving it via the buro the coming months. But there you go: a QSL direct from K1QS, my first W station ever logged almost 7 years ago. He was my 5th overall QSO on HF. As a matter of fact it was my first excursion on the HF bands.
A lot has happened since but some QSOs you never forget. This is one of those. I needed to QRT to go to work that morning but I believe he called me for a quick one. I was glad to make the QSO – now I’m glad to mark it as confirmed. TNX OM!


Back to work

The sunrise operating on 40/80m yesterday turned out to be a non-event. I got in the shack at 06.30z which is my sunrise to find 40m and 80m full of USA stations working ARRL Sweepstakes CW. They were quite loud so that’s a good thing on my 80m vertical. I took it down and didn’t find anything wrong. My plan is to look it over next weekend but the WX forecast predicts strong winds and rain. WW CW approaching and WX declining fast – sounds like a repeat of 2006. Oh my!

Anyway with the lower bands showing no activity for the Ukrainian DX contest I went to 20m and had some rate. Then off to 15m where I didn’t manage to get rate but got called by YC1KAF, HS0AC and 9M6XRO. I even managed to call ZM2B and log him without repeats. Great! Then it was time to do an urgent repair in the house and quit the contest with just over 500 CW QSOs. Funny: a not too serious period in a small contest using CW gives me relatively more rate and contacts than SSB in the biggest of ‘m all (CQ WW SSB).

Interesting and enjoyable reading I found through 3830: the 8P5A story in CQ WW SSB 2007.

Don’t expect any updates soon. My holiday is over and I’m back to work so the level of radio activity will be quite low the coming days (weeks?). Who’s reading al this anyway???


3 days later.

I’ve been playing on 17m lately and I must say the band seems to improve. Solar numbers don’t tell yet it feels better. I worked LU / W / HS on 17m one day at about the same time and the next day got into W6 with at least a dozen true W6 (QTH = CA). All this with 600W or less and my rotary dipole at about 9m high around 1600utc. 17m is a great band – I like 30m a lot too. And I’ll start loving 12m when SFI allows.

This morning I fixed my 80m vertical and made the vertical part 2m longer. While my hands were dirty I did some jobs in the house too. Then off to the shack. First impression: there is something wrong on 80m. SWR almost flat over 200kHz. Before I had a nice dip covering about 100kHz with 2:1 SWR bandwith. It feels something isn’t right. I played a bit in Ukranian DX: on 20m, 40m and stayed up long enough to type this ànd get on 80m.

Normally I don’t have to repeat but this time even EU stations ask for a repeat. So there is something wrong on 80m! Yet I get called by US stations as far as Texas (on their grey line). And I got called on 80m by a 8P and a VP9 – so maybe it isn’t all that bad? Still I need to check that 80m antenna before CQ WW CW in 3 weeks.

Jerk of the weekend: SN5G. Around 23.50utc I am called by a K2. He wasn’t very strong but I could copy him easily because there was no QRM. No QRM, until SN5G fires away without checking. Away goes the DX. I still managed to work the K2 and engaged in a frequency fight but I let him have the frequency – "be the better man" and let him be the moron. Wonder if he got called by 8P and VP9   ;o)

Almost 2AM local here so I’m off – CU at my sunrise – that is in less than 6 hours   :o)


Morse Myths (by KE9V)

Yesterday I processed a batch of buro QSL for OQ5M. It has come to the point
that I find this a complete waste of time and money – both invaluable resources for expanding my station and make contacts. Now there is still a
pile of incoming cards left for OO5ZO and ON5ZO. Those will be paper cards
until the stock runs out and then I’ll switch to the GlobalQSL service. The
price per 1000 cards is about the same as having QSL cards printed but I
don’t need to buy/print/stick labels and sort/send the cards. Clearly a
winning service for people like me. Don’t get me wrong, I like QSL cards but
the volume has become too big.

Today Jeff KE9V blogs about Morse Myths. That’s a topic
of interest to me, being a CW fanatic. I guess the most silly myth must be
that CW on the amateur bands is dying. Sure, commercial morse has been
abandoned in favour of more ‘modern’ ways like satellite phone etc but on
the ham bands it is alive and kicking, rest assured. The strange things is
that it is mostly hams that don’t know or use CW are the believers. Anyone
who tunes in the CW subbands knows better. Most and best DX always pops up
in CW, it is THE mode for small stations with a limited setup (PSK? yuk!)
and to me it is a vital part of the hobby.
–…   …–   
-..  .    —  -.  …..  –..  —



I’ve been reading 3830 closely over the last day and three things really strike me.

  1. There are a lot of guys basicaly telling the same thing as I did: too wide signals on the air, and IDing with ‘QRZ’ is annoying.
  2. There are some claimed scores reported by easy mults that I completely missed (A45WD, FM1HN, WP2MDG, KL7RA and probably more). Some of these were actually M/x so I wonder if they did some S&P and if so if they care to work non-mult 3-pointers as well? I can’t imagine they would not have heard me. I’ll give KL7RA the benefit of the doubt on that one, of course!
  3. For my own league: how do you pull THIS off? Yet I didn’t work him. Strange…

After the contest – Viva CW!

Glad the contest is over. Never thought I’d say that but this one… I don’t know what to think. The rates were horrible. I only had one fast hour of 117Q/h. That was 11.00 to 12.00utc on Saturday. Next bests are 98 and 89 and that’s it. In the biggest contest of the year. Compare that to all the CW contests I did this year where I have several +100 hours in a row. My conclusion? It seems that for SSB contesting you need more power than 1kW and more than a tribander up at 21m above the ground. Conditions were not too good but they have been all year so that can’t play. Maybe the OB11-3 does not play as well as the KLM KT34XA? It’s at least as good on 10m and better on 15m but maybe slightly less on 20m? But then again it has worked great in the CW contests.
One thing I am sure of: Viva CW!

The score is way down compared to last year.

  • 2006:  1508 QSO – 114 cty – 35 z  =  420.180 points claimed.
  • 2007:  1360 QSO – 107 cty – 32 z  =  378.219 points claimed.

The operating was a real QRM fest. And splatter! A couple of times I had a decent run going and then – whoops, all RX wiped out. On many occasions I knew there were DX stations calling me even with fairly good signals but when the QRM is S9+20dB you cannot copy those. I compiled a list of stations with VERY wide modulation that came (too) close to me.
My first run was early Saturday when the band was still closed but I thought to stick on that frequency and reserve a spot for when things got hot. A couple of CQ’s in vain and then there was OH0JFP firing away on my frequency. He’s forgiven as he couldn’t hear me but his CQ raised a small UA pile up.
Then at 06.19 along came UA3SAQ about 3kHz below me. 3kHz is a fair margin you say? Sure but with 12kHz wide signals I could move. He could hear me as he worked me right before he started to run.
At 08.00 OL5M was only 8kHz wide but of course a show stopper. 08.06 EW6GF popped up less than 1kHz away. That set the tone for what was to come.

Oh yeah, when you make a remark to those guys about how they are greedy for spectrum they don’t seem to understand. Standard reply is that they did ask if the frequency was in use. Errr, that was not what I was saying!
On Sunday at 06.20 LZ9W was 10kHz wide and at 07.20 ES375UT was 8kHz wide but he blamed the ‘strong propagation’ (sic). At 10.23 I was finally working more than one JA but RZ3LC decided to crank it up and with his 8kHz wide signal: exit JA. 10.25 was closer to home ànd someone who actually spoke / understood English. G6PZ was running East which is right over me but 8kHz wide and S9+40 although more than 2000Hz away. His reply to my remark that he wiped away all signals on my running frequency? "Well that’s great thank you". DUH!
Most funny guy must have been IZ8CKT who was more than 8000Hz wide but said -and I quote- his radio was only 20W at the moment. Another guy who doesn’t seem to get it.
My ‘measurements’ for the occupied bandwith were done like this: I zero beat the signal, move up/down until the QRM is manageble and multiply the offset by two. So in fact the bandwidth might even be bigger but as long as you can hear what’s under it…
And when I finally found a new multiplier towards the end (FS/K1XM at 17.52utc) YT5S wiped away the confirmation. Thanks for that mate! I think K1XM logged me and got my call correct but these impatient jerks just spoil all the fun.

It wasn’t all that bad and there were some nice things too. Being called by nice (double) mults for instance. Especially at the point where I realized I didn’t have a single VK or ZL in the log. Too bad ZL6QH quit! Then at 10.09 on Sunday ZM2M called me followed right away by VK4WR. That’s so sweet: 4 badly needed mults in half a minute. Again I didn’t work Alaska – hello guys?

EDIT: I forgot some irritating other things:

  • Those #{|@{|@{   ‘last two’ callers… Normally I just ignore them until they give me a full call but in a contest this hurts the score.
  • Everyone just going ‘QRZ’ in stead of just giving their call. This goes just as fast and makes things go smoother.
  • Beiging called by ‘Mobile station calling’ or ‘QRP station calling’ – why not simply give me your callsign in stead of making me repeat that very same sentence?


Counting down to CQ WW CW, which will most likely be SOAB(A) if WX permits. Can’t wait for a good CW contest because CW is the real mode, SSB is just passing time. It’s the difference between working a contest and enjoying a contest.

73 / CU!