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!