I passed my novice radio amateur exam in March 2013 and I registered the
PD4KH (pappa delta four kilo hotel!).
I passed my full radio amateur exam in March 2016 and I registered the callsign
PE4KH (pappa echo four kilo hotel!).
PE4KH on qrz.com
PE4KH on hamqth.com
I am usually located around maidenhead locator: JO22NC
I had the UBA PSK63 prefix contest in my planning again this year. This year I set up the antennas in advance, checked the contestmacros and I was ready. Some things at home delayed the start a bit, so I did not fire of a CQ UBA PSK63 PFX TEST right at 12:00 UTC but I managed nicely. In the end I made 133 contacts. I started on 20 meters but that 'dried out' soon especially after the sun started to come down. I switched to 40 meters and this was the first time in this contest that I had access to the part of the 40 meter band below 7.050 MHz, which is where all my 40 meter contacts were made. Late in the evening 40 meter started showing some more distant stations, I saw Indonesia and Surinam callsigns but they did not hear my reply (which was not for lack of trying). Total 133 contacts, 59 on the 20 meter band and 74 on the 40 meter band, so I entered as SOAB (single operator all band). A simple script counts 65 prefixes on 20 meter and 52 prefixes on 40 meter so that would make my total score 15561 points. Looking at my contesting results the rates of contacts are improving (even with radio propagation getting worse) so I think I am doing fine.
This morning cqrlog crashed soon after I started it. On a restart it crashed instantly without even giving me any option to select anything. Since there was some mysql corruption in my system anyway I decided to completely wipe out the databases/configuration, start over, import the backups again and be on my way. I never got that far, every time shortly after initializing cqrlog it started crashing. So I started testing what could be causing this and ended up with the DXCC update being the cause. So I did not do this update, loaded my logs from the backup, improved some things in my configuration and reported my findings via mail to de cqrlog developer. I can live with the DXCC tables being somewhat outdated, I have contacts with stable countries here in Europe. I hope an update comes out soon for cqrlog. Also noted in the cqrlog forums where at least one other user has seen the same workaround. I haven't posted it on the forum yet as I wasn't registered there. Update 2017-01-12: During the day an update for cqrlog was made available which fixes the problem. Applause to the developers of cqrlog for responding this fast.
This weekend I wasn't planning on radio contesting but some other plans got changed and in the evenings the 40 meter band around 7.040 MHz was filled with the deedle deedle of RTTY signals. It was the ARRL RTTY Roundup so I participated some hours. Given the limited time and the not so optimal propagation I did not expect a top score. In the end I made 62 contacts. Better than my score in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2016 where I made 24 contacts (after logs were checked).
Today I had time for outdoor amateur radio but it was a bit cold. So I took the car to recreation area "De Leyen" near Groenekan again, which I also did in April 2015 with warmer weather. This time it was cold enough to stay in the car and still get cold after a few hours. I tried and worked 20 meter PSK31 and SSB, and again had the luxury of the environment there being almost free of radionoise on 20 meters. On 40 meters it was quite different, the only thing I heard from the radio was the typical noise of electrified wire nearby. No loads of contacts, PSK31 wasn't very busy. I had the advantage of hearing stations a lot better on SSB (voice) but they did not hear my reply over the pile-up of other stations trying to contact them. I heard VP8LP which is impossible for me to hear at home, but he did not hear my replies. The interesting contact was with A70X which is a radio expedition to Al-Safliyah island in Qatar.
Again on reddit /r/amateurradio there was a thread HNY! What are your 2017 Amateur Radio resolutions? so I checked the results for My 2016 Amateur Radio resolutions and thought about what I want to do in 2017 with amateur radio. So, first to review what I hoped to do in 2016:
- Pass the exam for the full license on 2 March
Prepared, and failed: antenna wasn't working and by the time things were fixed the 40 meter band wasn't cooperating.
- Participate in "Mills on the air" in May
No contacts made, I got an antenna rotor and built a holder for the arrow antenna on that rotor, but I only used it to receive SSTV from the ISS.
- Making amateur satellite contacts when the weather permits
Done: did better in a few contests compared to my 2015 scores. Also worked on and improved my contest macros. I even did a little voice contesting.
- Participate in a few digimode contests 'seriously' (preparing, using an outside antenna, optimizing score). Sofar I usuallly go 'oh there is a contest I'll throw in my call and see if I can score some points'
Brought the radio and an endfed antenna on a holiday in northern England. Found out the endfed gets into problems when cold (which was probably also the reason "Mills on the air" failed first). And by the time the weather was nice enough for the endfed to work again the battery of the radio was drained. So, for 2017:
- Bring some radio stuff on summer holiday (a full license makes this possible in a lot more countries around here)
- Improve the holiday/portable setup with solar power and a lightweight multiband inverted V.
- Keep doing the digimode contests
- Maybe those satellites, time/weather permitting
- Get a 2m/70cm vertical antenna on the roof of the dormer. Antenna and a mount for a flat roof are already waiting: Testing an antenna for the 2 meter and 70 centimeter amateur bands and I have plans and materials to make the white antenna less visible: Amateur radio antenna camouflage.
Last afternoon I hung up the endfed antenna outside to make some contacts on different radio bands. This morning I noticed it was all covered in frost due to a night with temperatures below freezing and with lots of mist. So I took the camera for some pictures of the frost on different parts of the antenna, gathered at flickr: img_3365 | Coil in endfed antenna with ice growth | Koos van den Hout | Flickr. After I took a set of pictures I started transmitting PSK31 on the 20 meter bands at 50 watts power. And my antenna theory tells me that the part of the antenna radiating the best is where the most current of the standing wave happens which is right after the transformer in an endfed antenna. Which I got confirmed: img_3380 | Endfed antenna with ice growth on transformer | Koos van den Hout | Flickr was taken before I transmitted and img_3378 | Result of using the enfed antenna: ice vaporized | Koos van den Hout | Flickr after. The ice is gone on the first part.
With HF conditions being bad I chose the JT65 mode in the hope of having a chance of making a contact. None happened, and the noise patterns in the waterfall display make it very clear how much local noise there is and how the local noise sources change frequencies and power. Transmissions take 50 seconds in JT65 and start right at the beginning of the minute, at each yellow horizontal line in the waterfall display. The only valid JT65 signal is in the top right corner right of the '1400' marker.
This weekend I had some time to 'play radio' and used the LW-10 longwire antenna for 6 to 40 meters because I wanted to try the 30 meter band. But there was no activity on the 30 meter band in PSK modes. So I tried other PSK31 frequencies as programmed in fldigi and ended up at 18.100 MHz and had a few contacts with Greece, Russia and Spain. The 17 meter band is from 18.068 MHz to 18.168 MHz and one of the WARC bands, named after the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1979 which allocated small parts of the spectrum in 10 MHz (30 meter), 18 MHz (17 meter) and 24 MHz (12 meter) to radio amateurs. Partly on a secondary basis (10 MHz), partly as primary user (18 MHz and 24 MHz).
I finished the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable by using tiewraps to clamp the two pieces of cable together and using heatshring tube to cover the wires and pack it all together. More about Creating the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable and instructions for building a 3-pin programming cable for QYT/BTech/others and the KT-8900 FAQ at Mikklor.com.
Homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable
I bought a cheap 2m/70cm mobile/base radio, a QYT KT-8900 which has the special feature of being very small but still able of putting out 25 Watt on the 2 meter VHF band and 20 Watt on the 70 centimeter UHF band. The display looks a lot like my Wouxun KG-UVD1P, complete with battery status indicator which is not much use when the radio has a constant 13.8V feed. The menus are quite similar, so this is probably not a coincidence. I bought it via aliexpress and it got shipped at a reasonable speed to my house. In the original listing was mention of a programming cable, but it showed up without one. I asked the seller about this and directly a baofeng programming cable was shipped to me. But, the QYT KT-8900 has a different programming interface, just a 3.5 millimeter plug with ground, rx and tx data. So I found a very good resource for chinese radios which has the answers: 3 PIN Programming Cable for a BTech, QYT, etc Mobile which has the right pinout. I just cut the Baofeng cable to get at the gnd, rx and tx wires. Next I had to wait for a cable with the right 3.5mm connector to show up. The connector in the back is sunk into the case and the 3.5mm connectors I had in the junkbox did not fit. But a broken PC speaker set wanted to donate a cable with 3.5mm connectors that were slim enough. Next trying the result with chirp radio programming software under Linux. And suddenly I could copy a list of channels I had and upload it to the radio in 5 minutes, which is a lot faster than manual programming where getting more than one channel programmed in correctly under 5 minutes is hard, see for example Programming Repeaters into the QYT KT8900 Mini Dual Band Mobile Radio Review - AF5DN - Youtube. At the moment the cable looks very experimental. Now it has been tested I will use tiewraps and heatshrink tube to make it sturdier and make it look a lot better. As a radio it's ok, but not ideal. I was testing with meetnetwerk baretta - hobbyscoop and the antenna on the roof for 2 meter and 70 centimeter and noticed I had pulsing audio of the output frequency of PI2NOS on the Baretta frequency. Pulsing audio is a known problem in this radio, see KT8900 FAQ at miklor.com but I have no channels with receive CTCSS.
QYT KT-8900 radio with homebrewed interface cable, CC-BY-SA