PE4KH Amateur radio - Koos van den Hout

Most recent QSO's for PE4KH

Callsign Band Mode Locator RST(R) RST(S)
MM0LGS20MFT8IO85-13-11
HB9FVL20MFT8JN36-07-03
EG5FPN40MFT8IM98-09-03
PB2RVS2MFMJO21RR5857
YL2KF20MRTTYKO27ES599599
LY6A20MRTTYKO24CX599599
OE3DXA20MRTTYJN88IC599599
HA3MN20MRTTYKN17599599
UR7GO20MRTTYKN66IQ599599
LZ1ZF20MRTTY599599
SP3AMZ20MFT8JO81+00-07
UR7EZ20MFT8KN78-03-08
RV6AGB20MFT8KN96-03-14
PD1WO20MFT8JO21-12-11
SQ9JXB20MFT8JO90-01-12

I passed my novice radio amateur exam in March 2013 and I registered the callsign 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

The 'hamradio' items from my homepage

2017-05-21 I participated in the EU PSK DX Contest 2017
I noted the EU PSK DX Contest in the contestcalendar and decided to participate. Conditions did not cooperate very well and I found some issues with my setup during the contest. But in the end I made 57 contacts. Not very good given my scores earlier this year but I think the big issues with local HF noise started after the previous contest.
Total number of QSO in your log is 57, Including 0 QSO with errors, Valid QSO - 57
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40       0     0      0     0
20      57     0    117    64
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
======================================
Total   57     0    117    64
Claimed score is 7488 points

2017-05-14 Upgrading the home network to shielded/foiled cable (s/ftp)
I was looking at on-line offers of shielded/foiled network cable and found out it's not that expensive anymore. And with the 'keystone' connectors it looks like it's not that complicated to make neat and very well shielded connections.

But it's always a good plan to check the local electronics hobby shop. We still have one in the center of Utrecht: radio centrum where they had 1 meter and 2 meter patchcables for a very nice price (competitive with on-line shops) right up for grabs. So the first set of short cables that are always in use for gigabit are now s/ftp category 6 cables. I hope this improves radio reception.

I still think I will order longer cable and keystone connectors and holders for the longer cables.

2017-05-10 Digging for the source(s) of HF interference with a complete powerdown
Today I had planned to dig deep into the sources of the HF interference by switching off the electricity in the whole house and seeing what difference that would make and if it did, search for sources.

I used the 10-20-40 meter band endfed outside, and the 10-20 meter dipole inside. The conclusions are mixed: So for the 10 meter band and less for the 20 meter band it was good to search in the house for sources of the noise. Found: So the problem sources that I can't switch off easily are all part of the home network. My current theory is that 10 meter seems to be affected by gigabit network. My experience is that transmitting on 10 meter indoors causes a network outage.

The home network is all Cat-5E at the moment, unshielded twisted pair. It seems an upgrade to s/ftp is in order (with foil and braided wire, the same I do for antenna cable).

The thing is that with the current solar cycle 10 meter use is very rare. I haven't made a contact yet in that band in 2017.

2017-05-08 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 11 : Tried an XW-2A pass, heard vague signals, no contacts
This evening the only amateur satellite pass at a reasonable time was by the XW-2A satellite, part of CAMSAT XW-2 Satellites - amsat UK and I only heard weak signals which sounded like other radio amateurs tuning their transmitters/receivers but I never heard something like a voice. Or my own signal when I tried transmitting.

2017-05-07 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 10 : Still no contacts, investigating AO-85 (Fox-1a)
Passes of amateur satellites aren't always at times that are compatible with other things happening. But the discussion about AO-85 on the amsat-bb mailing list also had some details about the satellite and I also found AO-85 Twist Trick and Other Hints - Spacecomms which explains:
Apparently the epoxy caused a change in impedance which essentially “detuned” the antenna. It makes the bird appear deaf. A workaround is to twist the Arrow antenna 90 degrees when you transmit. That is, rotate the antenna until the receive signal is “peaked” and then rotate it 90 degrees when you transmit and back again to receive.

The downside to this is if you’re working full duplex when you rotate the antenna 90 degrees to transmit you will often lose the downlink signal and not be able to hear yourself. In my experience I only have to do the twist trick in the beginning and end of the pass when the bird is farthest away.

Another fix is to just use more power, but if you only have an HT that’s usually not an option.
This, combined with the frequencies up and down being slightly different from the planned frequencies explains the weak signals I hear upon receiving and the difficulty I had getting into the satellite.

This evening had a pass of AO-85 which did not leave me time to drag out the whole setup, but I was able to bring the arrow antenna and a handheld radio to check reception to see if the frequency was correct, including doppler correction. It was correct, but reception is indeed quite sensitive to the orientation of the arrow antenna.

2017-05-01 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 9 : Filtering the reception, in theory
I decided to share my woes of the receive side going deaf (receiving nothing) when I transmit with the amsat-bb mailing list, together with a description of the whole setup. The suggestion came from Eduardo PY2RN to not use a preamp and have filtering so the transmitted signal cannot get into the receiving side.

I pondered this for a while and realised I already have a filter: the diplexer on the arrow antenna. So to receive on 2 meter and transmit on 70cm I connect the transmitting radio to the 70cm antenna and connect the receiving radio (the rtl-sdr) to the 2 meter antenna via the diplexer, and put a 50 ohms terminating resistor on the 70cm connector of the diplexer to make sure it still shows the right impedance.

In a simple test this works, transmitting now has a lot less influence on the rtl-sdr (it's not completely gone yet). I haven't had a good satellite pass yet to try this out.

2017-04-29 Using kalibrate-rtl to calibrate the rtl-sdr frequency
In my project to receive amateur satellites with the rtl-sdr I noticed the sdr itself has quite a frequency error as noted in Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 5 : first test of the amplifier with RTL-SDR.

Using the PI2NOS output frequency I ended up at an error of 54 ppm so I entered that in gqrx. But to be really sure there is a program named kalibrate-rtl available via GitHub - steve-m/kalibrate-rtl: fork of http://thre.at/kalibrate/ for use with rtl-sdr devices.

I had some trouble finding the right way to use this program so I am sharing my steps here. First try to guess the error by using a known frequency such as a local repeater (especially when they mention using GPS to maintain frequency) or a broadcast FM station.

First step with kalibrate-sdr is to scan for GSM channels which are strong enough. I noticed in later runs that I really need to add the first guessed frequency error, otherwise it will not find the GSM channels at all.
koos@kernighan:~/radiowork/kalibrate-rtl/src$ ./kal -s GSM900 -e 54
Found 1 device(s):
  0:  Generic RTL2832U OEM

Using device 0: Generic RTL2832U OEM
Found Rafael Micro R820T tuner
Exact sample rate is: 270833.002142 Hz
[R82XX] PLL not locked!
kal: Scanning for GSM-900 base stations.
GSM-900:
        chan: 8 (936.6MHz + 724Hz)      power: 67277.85
        chan: 17 (938.4MHz + 606Hz)     power: 36428.54

Second step with kalibrate-sdr is to select a GSM channel to use for the calibration run. I selected channel 8 which looks quite active.
koos@kernighan:~/radiowork/kalibrate-rtl/src$ ./kal -e 54 -c 8
Found 1 device(s):
  0:  Generic RTL2832U OEM

Using device 0: Generic RTL2832U OEM
Found Rafael Micro R820T tuner
Exact sample rate is: 270833.002142 Hz
[R82XX] PLL not locked!
kal: Calculating clock frequency offset.
Using GSM-900 channel 8 (936.6MHz)
average         [min, max]      (range, stddev)
+ 169Hz         [85, 251]       (166, 49.119198)
overruns: 0
not found: 0
average absolute error: 53.820 ppm
And only in that step you get the output with the calculated frequency error.

Update: Doing this calibration is also a good idea for the stick running the ads-b receiver. That came out to -30 ppm and using that factor makes dump1090 receive signals from greater distances.

2017-04-29 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 8 : No real contact yet
This evening had a Fox-1A (AO-85) pass at a reasonable time so I decided to drag the entire setup outside and try my luck at a qso. Reception of Fox-1A was bad (maybe I'm somewhat off-frequency) and the major dissapointment was that the receiving side on 2 meter via sdr got deaf when I was transmitting on 70 centimeter. That's not supposed to happen, the whole reason for the full-duplex setup was to be able to hear myself on the downlink.

Anyway, the recording of downlink audio went fine this time so there is a full recording of what I heard. It was a Northwest-Southeast pass which means it took a while before I heard anything because northwest is over the houses. Callsigns heard in this pass: DO3EXE, IZ5ILX, 9A2EY, IZ3KLF, Something with F2D I completely can't decode and "Mr Olla".

My best guess would be a retry on SO-50, FO-29 or AO-73.

2017-04-24 Somewhat less HF interference by moving the antenna away
I was testing with noise on all radio bands with the LW-10 longwire antenna with tuner. I recently made the rope that hangs it out from the window a bit longer and I noticed the noise on the 10 meter amateur radio band had dropped a lot compared to the noise I experienced before and the noise on the antenna under our roof. In S-points: under the roof S8, with the 10/20/40m endfed S8, and with the longwire antenna S0.

On bands with lower frequencies (higher wavelengths) noiselevels were high, up to S9+ on 80m with a rattling noise in it. But this sudden change on the 10 meter band made me think there could be a pattern so I measured how much more distance I could move the antenna away from the house and maybe get lower noise levels on the 20m band too. After adding 1.60 meter of rope and rehanging the antenna the noise level on the 20 meter band also dropped from S8 to S7. Not the biggest improvement but it's something.

I'm now making some PSK qso's on the 20 meter band. At the S8 noise level this was getting impossible.

2017-04-23 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 7 : Recording downlink audio
This evening I thought there would be a nice Fox-1A (AO-85) pass but gpredict on another computer showed totally different predictions. Pondering that difference made me suddenly remember AO-85 is still not part of the 'standard' set of Kepler data because it's close to some militairy satellite. The data is available through other sources, I use TLE | Amateur radio PE0SAT and updated from that location. The 'nice' AO-85 pass near 22:30 localtime shifted to 'way too late', so I looked for other satellites to at least try recording downlink audio. I saw passes of HO-68 and UO-11. So I created the whole setup with audacity recording audio. Using pavucontrol I adjusted the recording flow of audacity to record 'Monitor of Built-in Audio Analog Stereo' and indeed audacity was recording the same as I heard on my headphones.

But no signal from the satellites was received. Checking the Amsat Oscar status page shows both haven't been heard by others either. So I recorded noise, but I recorded the right noise.

Items before 2017-04-23
This page is created by Koos van den Hout, contact information at the end of my homepage.
Other webprojects: Weatherstation Utrecht Overvecht, Weather maps, Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites The Virtual Bookcase book reviews, webcam.idefix.net
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