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
This evening I noticed incoming FT8 QSO's in eQSL, so the mode is now recognized there. But I needed to retry uploading all FT8 contacts to get them to upload. It took a bit of experimenting, but finally the right SQL command to mark the contacts as not uploaded was:$ mysql -S /home/koos/.config/cqrlog/database/sock cqrlog002 mysql> update cqrlog_main set eqsl_qslsdate = NULL where mode='FT8'; Query OK, 24 rows affected (0.02 sec) Rows matched: 26 Changed: 24 Warnings: 0And now they are all uploaded. That is about a week between first seeing mentions of FT8 in radio amateur news and the first confirmed contacts.
Or maybe I should use the word 'played' again: 6 contacts. It was a weekend with not much time for radio and when that time did happen propagation wasn't cooperating very well. The advantage of contests is that there are a lot of stations who want to hear every other station, so I used the last 20 minutes of this contest just to answer a few calls and get in the log.
This week there was a sudden 'buzz' about a new digital mode for amateur radio from Joe Taylor, K1JT. It's like JT65, with a very minimal exchange (callsign, locator, signal report) but with a lot faster timing: each turn is 15 seconds and from what I can see somewhat more than 13 seconds transmitting. I made the first few contacts today after downloading wsjtx from WSJTX-Development : Greg Beam as Ubuntu package. They are now in my log, but uploading to eQSL / Logbook of The World is not possible yet as 'FT8' is not seen as a valid mode yet. The solution for LoTW seems to be to change to 'DATA' but this solution does not work for eQSL. I'll have to upload those contacts later when the mode is recognized. First contact was with IZ8GNR and I also had contacts with club members PA2RG and PD3RFR. With JT65/JT9 I sometimes get distracted waiting 50 seconds before it's my turn to react again, with FT8 it's more high-speed work (somewhat less than 2 seconds to react to a CQ or an answer). WSJT-X now has an auto-sequence feature which will step through the exchange automatically.
My activity in radio contesting has been in digital mode contests, with one exception in a mixed-mode contest where I also made some voice contacts: the ARI International DX Contest in 2016. But this weekend I seriously entered the IARU HF Championship in 'phone' (speech) mode. I made 59 contacts, 50 on the 20 meter band and 9 on the 40 meter band. I managed to work a lot of the HQ stations I heard active for the various national radio clubs. I heard no serious DX, but the local noise at home is prohibitive for voice contacts anyway. My personal reason for entering this contest was reading about its role in the world radio team championship in the book Contact Sport: A Story of Champions, Airwaves, and a One-Day Race around the World by J.K. George. I used yfktest for the contest logging and found the biggest fixed font I can use which makes the 80x24 xterm almost fill the entire screen. See the screenshot. Claimed results according to yfktest:Band QSO Qpts Dupes Mult1 Mult2 ------------------------------------------- 20 50 112 0 23 0 40 9 13 0 8 0 ------------------------------------------- ALL 58 124 1 31 0 =========================================== Total Score: 3,875
The last week I had a problem with the FT-857 radio rebooting when I started transmitting in digital radio modes (PSK31 or JT65). The reboot showed as the radio giving the standard beep and the display and backlight switching off and on. Searching for clues suggested that some form of radio frequency interference would probably be the source. So I wondered what I changed recently around the radio and remembered I changed something in the power distribution to have connectors available for powering my SARK100 antenna analyzer with a 12 volt battery. Reseating all those power connectors and fixing some wires seems to have stopped the problem.
I participated in the Ukranian DX Classic RTTY Contest 2017 this weekend. I prepared the antenna and the contestmacros Friday evening, but I knew most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning would be unavailable. Local noise was bad, it seems interference from solar panels is on the rise and it was a quite sunny day. On the other hand, there was a 10 meter band opening Sunday afternoon, giving me some new multipliers with 8 contacts on that band. But no serious DX in the whole contest, I just saw Eastern Europe and Asiatic Russia active, unlike when I participated in the Ukranian DX Classic RTTY contest 2016. The end result is that I made 70 contacts in somewhat less than 6 hours of operating time. So I participated in the SINGLE-OP ALL 6-HOUR RTTY category.
A good sunny day and the effect it has on the HF spectrum: extra interference from solar panels. I'm not sure whether to complain about all solar panels not regularly identifying with their callsign or complain about interference or just give up and find another location for amateur radio.
The SARK100 antenna analyzer I bought also has the option to be controlled over an USB interface (other versions even have bluetooth support). Over USB it is possible to automate the measurements and have the results returned to the controlling computer. For Linux software is available: SARK100 Antenna Analyzer Linux Software also via github with updates coddingtonbear/sark-100-antenna-analyzer. I cloned the git repository and guessed that the command to build a 32-bit version would be:koos@thompson:~/radiowork/sark-100-antenna-analyzer$ mkdir build koos@thompson:~/radiowork/sark-100-antenna-analyzer$ cd build koos@thompson:~/radiowork/sark-100-antenna-analyzer/build$ qmake -spec linux-g++ -o Makefile ../analyzer/analyzer.proThis indeed compiled into a working 32-bit binary. Needed because the 'main radio desktop' can't run a 64-bit linux. The laptop does not have this problem.
Almost three years ago I started making PSK31 contacts on the 10 meter band which was my first experience with HF and propagation through the ionosphere as a novice amateur with callsign PD4KH. The 10 meter band is the amateur band from 28.0 MHz to 29.7 MHz. But the propagation through the ionosphere depends on the solar cycle. Currently the cycle is going towards a solar minimum meaning the number of sunspots is very low. Due to the low number of sunspots the propagation of radio signals through the ionosphere back to earth is also very low. After I upgraded to a full license opportunities to use the 10 meter bands were very rare. Up until yesterday I had 5 contacts in the log for PE4KH on the 10 meter band. And yesterday that changed. I was testing with a borrowed fiberglass pole since I want to use that to help me tune the linked dipole kit I bought. I set up the fiberglass pole in the back of our garden using the fence for support and raised it to the full 10 meters with the endfed spiralled around it. At the end I had some wire left to the transformer so I just hung the transformer in the back garden. It took a lot of cable to get from my radio to the antenna far away, but I really wanted to do that experiment, especially to get an idea of the influence on the local interference. On the 20 meter band the interference was about the same, on 40 meters it was a bit less but on 10 meters it was almost gone. And at the same time there was interesting propagation on the 10 meter band. I made several contacts with stations in Poland, Austria, Italy, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Most of those contacts would not have been possible with the noise levels I am used to. An interesting experiment in radio. My first thought was that this antenna setup might be interesting for contesting, but I realised that I really need to keep an eye on the power levels since there is a small footpath right behind our garden for our neighbours. I can't ask them not to use that footpath for an entire contest weekend.
In september 2016 I ordered a balun and a linked dipole kit from sotabeams with the idea to make a lightweight dipole antenna for outdoor use. But there is one very important ingredient to making a dipole: you need an antenna analyzer to get the dimensions right to have optimal reception and transmission into a resonant antenna. I could borrow the antenna analyzer from the club just like I did for measuring my 2m/70cm portable coax antenna but after reading about the (cheap) SARK100 antenna analyzer I decided to buy one myself. One good review I found is It finally arrived! My SARK100 from China. This analyzer seems to be a serious case of an 'open source' design being picked up by the Chinese electronics manufacturers and sold in high numbers. I bought one for a reasonable price at an aliexpress seller that had good reviews and orders before. It arrived today and the first tests look really good. First I measured my dummy load (to get an idea of how it was doing as an analyzer) and after that the 10m/20m/40m endfed antenna that was hanging outside anyway for the EU PSK DX Contest 2017 that I participated in. This antenna isn't perfect (as visible in the picture) but it does the job. So now I have to find the time to design a linked dipole as I want it, build it and measure / adjust it until it does what I want. It's a good thing I can easily calculate linked dipoles at Various tools for SOTA purposes. My plan is to build a 15-20-40 meter band dipole. The selection of bands is because outdoors I will use less digital modes and 40 meters is the longest size for a dipole that is usable to set up. The angle of the dipole and therefore the height of the centerpoint also has an influence on the antenna. But I don't know how high the tree will be, so I will have to make a guess.
My sark100 antenna analyzer