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
As if one new country today wasn't enough, I also managed to get Armenia in the log with station EK1KE also in FT8 mode.
A special first for me: an amateur radio contact with Australia, with VK3EW who seems to be a serious DX chaser. For me, this is almost the other side of the world. This was an FT8 contact, which is a digital mode specific for making contacts with very weak signals using the minimal exchange of information to have a valid contact. I think the neighbours have heard my happy shout after I saw the first response come back to me. The exciting part was making it a full contact complete with signal reports exchanged. The distance of this contact is 16581 kilometers! The scaling of the generated maps at PE4KH amateur radio has been adjusted to make this contact visible.
Although reports are showing up that AO-91 has the usual 'zoo' when it's over southern Europe I still want to prepare for making contacts on interesting passes. So I dove into adding satellite transponder details to Gpredict again. According to [amsat-bb] AMSAT-OSCAR 91 identified it is Norad object 43017. And when Nico Janssen finds a satellite using his methods of doppler-curve fitting it's a very good indication it's the right one. So time to create a .config/Gpredict/trsp/43017.trsp with the right frequencies and details:[Fox-1B trsp 67 Hz PL] UP_LOW=435250000 DOWN_LOW=145960000 MODE=FMNow to find a pass at a for me usable time.
Today I had some time left and the choice was between staying at home and throwing out the endfed and making a lot of contacts in digital modes or going out and trying a nearby park and making a lot less contacts but learning about my options there. I chose the latter one: I loaded my gear in the bicycle trailer and cycled to a nearby park, just outside the city limits of Utrecht. I took the fiber mast and used two elastic straps to tie it to a parkbench. The effect was that the mast was slanted but using it with the wire of the endfed twisted around it the fiber mast stayed up fine without needing its guy wires. And I forgot to bring the tent pegs anyway so I was unable to guy the mast. I tried the endfed as a vertical with some slack at the bottom and the transformer at the bottom. This gave me a horrible standing wave ratio on 40 and 20 meters. I guess the endfed is only balanced when it is stretched. The quick fix was to add a common-mode choke in the coax to the radio. I also added a counterpoise wire to the earth of the endfed to be somewhat balanced again. On the 40 meter band reception was ok but I could not understand a lot of stations. On the 20 meter band there was local interference. In the end I logged one whole contact on the 40 meter band with an Italian special event station. He gave me a 4-4 report and I gave him a 5-9+. After a few tries I gave up making him log me as /portable so I logged it in my PE4KH log. The location is still within JO22NC so I logged in my home log. As soon as the sun set it started cooling down and the grass got wet and I went home. It's a nice location and quite reachable from home. It's 10 minutes cycling and in 10 minutes I had the mast and the radio set up.
I decided to try to receive telemetry data from the Fox-1A (AO85) satellite to prepare for receiving telemetry from the new RadFxSat right after launch. The FoxTelem program is ready to receive data from all the Fox series satellites so this was a good way to test my receiving setup. This afternoon there was a reasonable pass so I decided to give it a try. With the FT-857D radio tuned to the downlink frequency 145.978 MHz in FM packet mode. While I did hear the conversations on the satellite in the noise the program did not seem to receive anything. And then I noticed the sound display in the program reacted strongly when I tapped the microphone connected to the mixing board. I chose the wrong audio device. I have two USB audio devices connected to the computer, one feeds audio from a mixing desk and one feeds audio from the radio. Normally I can keep them apart but FoxTelem was only showing one of them. The solution was to set FoxTelem to the audio device 'default' and use pavucontrol to switch the input of the application to the right USB audio device. But by the time I figured that out the satellite was already too far to receive any useful telemetry data. Time to find another nice pass with useful elevation (above 10 degrees) to try this again. And it's a good preparation for the launch of Fox-1B.
The subset of radio amateurs that is interested in amateur satellites is waiting for the launch of RadFxSat / Fox 1B. The name 'RadFxSat' stands for 'Radiation Effects Satellite'. The primary mission is in cooperation with Vanderbilt University ISDE studying radiation effects on commercial off the shelf components. The amateur radio mission is a FM U/v repeater with CTCSS, which means it can be used by radio amateurs to make long distance contacts. As any new satellite, the first phase after launch is a lot of testing before any experiments or radio services are started. During the testing phase the satellite will transmit short radio messages (audio with data mixed in as low frequency tones) with telemetry data. By receiving the telemetry data and forwarding it to the operators radio amateurs can help the testing. This telemetry includes voltages and temperatures which allow the operator to find out if the satellite operates as designed and whether the power budget (generated power from solar panels minus used power) is good. To receive telemetry from the Fox series satellites and forward it a program has been developed named FoxTelem and I am glad to see a linux version is available. This allows me to receive the satellite unattended and forward the data. I will at least try to participate in the 'Launch and Early Orbit program' during the first few days. Current launch date is planned at November 14th. More information:
This weekend was the CQ World Wide DX Contest. This is indeed another phone (voice) contest, so I connected headset, footswitch and the remote head of my radio. I had some time to participate on Sunday early afternoon and Sunday evening. On Sunday afternoon the logical band to try was 20 meters, on Sunday evening 40 meters. In the end I made 51 contacts. All I did was 'search and pounce', checking for stations calling CQ that I could understand good enough and transmit my call back to them in the hope they would hear me. Some stations had me on the first try, some took several tries and some never heard me. The DX that got away was a Kazakhstan station who could not decode my call even after several tries. I used the yfktest contest software for Linux again. This wasn't very hard as yfktest has a standard definition for the CQWW DX contest. I heard both serious contest stations and single operators just calling CQ on the air. Interesting was to work OH1LWZ/M who according to his qrz page is really contesting mobile from his car or bicycle. For next time I have to check the compression and gain settings for SSB on my Yaesu FT-857D radio when using the headset. Claimed results:Band QSO Qpts Dupes Countries Zones ------------------------------------------- 20 40 48 0 15 5 40 11 19 0 9 6 ------------------------------------------- ALL 51 67 0 24 11 =========================================== Total Score: 2,345A few times I heard the contest call PA0AA of my radio club who worked very hard to get the antenna at the club ready for contesting, but only in the background when I was trying other calls. It would have been nice to get them in the log.
I had time this week to test the fibermast I ordered and I wanted to do this at a location away from houses. Someone suggested the location 'Trintelhaven' which is a small harbour in the dike between Enkhuizen and Lelystad. This is a harbour of refuge in which ships on the Ijsselmeer can find a safe location to spend the night or wait out a storm. Usually I do my outdoor radio activities at cycling distance, but this was an interesting location, I had the day available and I felt like going a bit further. The Trintelhaven is originally an island created for the construction of the dike between Enkhuizen and Lelystad, which was going to form the 'Markerwaard'. But that plan was cancelled and now it is the 'Markermeer' (lake) with a new project to bring more life into it. In the end I learned things about the new fiber mast, played radio, enjoyed the outdoors and had fun.
After working through the results of my participation in the Russian worldwide digimode contest 2017 I decided to run a graph again of contacts per month as I did in Februari 2017. And remember how I made those graphs this time and save it in a plot script. And the plotscript:set output "qslcount.png" set terminal png size 440,300 fontscale 0.7 set timefmt "%Y-%m" set xlabel "Month" set ylabel "Number of contacts" set xdata time set style data lines set xtics format "%b %Y" set xtics rotate plot "dataset-qsocount" using 1:2 title "Contacts/Month"The interesting peak in January 2017 is still visible, it was caused by two contests I participated in: the ARRL RTTY roundup 2017 and the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2017.
Past weekend was the Russian worldwide digimode contest edition 2017. I mounted the endfed antenna outside and participated when time was available. Thinks went good in search and pounce mode, there were multiple instances of making more than one contact in the same minute according to the log. Calling cq gave less response but I also got some contacts logged that way.Band QSOs Dupes Points Mults 160 0 0 0 0 80 0 0 0 0 40 46 0 280 32 20 41 0 129 35 15 0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 ====================================== Total 87 0 409 67 Claimed score is 27403 pointsSince I operated in more than one band and with power above QRP levels I entered in the SINGLE-OP ALL HIGH category.