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
I am usually located around maidenhead locator: JO22NC
In this weekend there are extra slow scan tv (SSTV) transmissions from the international space station (ISS). The ISS moves across the sky when viewed from earth so I calculate beforehand when it will pass across the sky and what the trajectory will be. I woke up in time to be outside for the first one. A low pass over the horizon and most of the pass matched a pause between transmissions, so not much image received.
After a month with three digimode radio contests I plotted the number of amateur radio contacts again. The number of contacts is clearly higher each January as a contest month, with this January a new peak. The contests were the ARRL RTTY Roundup on 6 and 7 January, the UBA PSK63 prefix contest on 12 and 13 January and the BARTG RTTY Sprint Contest on 26 and 27 January. Nicer looking font due to the upgrade of "radio workstation" thompson. I guess even gnuplot is coming along with the modern times. before, before, before, before
This weekend I participated in the BARTG (British Amateur Radio Teledata Group) RTTY Sprint Contest. I went into this contest with the idea of maybe getting some contacts and things turned out somewhat better than that: I made 82 contacts. No new countries or anything else special. The one that got away was PJ4P, Bonaire. I saw that station calling and I kept answering but the contact did not happen. I used the topendfed antenna outside and the amplifier. So I entered in the high power category. As with other recent contests the propagation wasn't cooperating very well. When I started in HF at home (October 2014) I would switch from 10 to 20 meters after it got dark because of the changing propagation. Now I change from 20 to 40 meters as soon as it starts to get a bit dark.
Like in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 I participated in the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest in the past weekend. Before I really dove into the contest I first mounted a new end-fed 10/20/40 antenna which can handle more power and tested it. It took a few tries to get the antenna tuned on the 40 meter band. I tested this with the amplifier which has proven to be really precise about the SWR of the antenna in the 40 meter band, as noted in my post about the ARRL RTTY roundup 2019. I had planned to get this antenna up and running before that contest but that did not work out. After testing I switched back to 50 watts power without the amplifier because the rules of the UBA PSK63 prefix contest limit the power. I made a total of 69 contacts as single operator 40 meter. I had a short look at PSK63 activity in the 20 meter band during daylight but it was completely none. After the contest I tried some FT8 contacts on the 40 meter band with the amplifier active. The amplifier did not like this and went into SWR protection. I must have tuned it perfectly for 7.040 - 7.050 MHz but the SWR is already outside the limits for the amplifier at 7.074 MHz.
The last time I did those was in 2017: Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 and the hindsight results for 2017/2018 are:
The Sotabeams newsletter had an item "Setting your targets for 2019" which had some nice ideas and which triggered me to write this post. Things I want to try :
- Improve the holiday/portable setup with solar power and a lightweight multiband inverted V
No solar power (due to costs) but the portable setup is improved and tested: the fiber mast I bought for playing radio from several locations including amateur radio from a local park. Now to find more time to actually use it.
- Keep doing the digimode contests
That part went better in 2017 and I had less time and/or energy for contests in 2018. Also in 2018 the interference situation got worse. So my net results in contests improved in 2017 and got worse in 2018.
- Maybe those satellites
I tried at least receiving them a few times, but no contacts yet.
- Get a 2m/70cm vertical antenna on the roof of the dormer
It's there, it has already been upgraded to a bigger antenna with higher gain and it's mostly used for 2 meter FT8. But also for actual talking to other radio amateurs sometimes.
- Keep learning morse!
- Get more countries on more HF bands in the log
- Moonbounce on 2 meter
- Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests
- Operate HF outside
- At least one satellite contact
As planned I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup contest this weekend. It was possible to participate in FT8 mode but since I had not prepared for that and had no duplicate checking between FT8 and RTTY I decided to use the mode I am familiair with for this contest: RTTY. I operated on the 40 meter band Saturday and Sunday evening, and on the 20 meter band during the daylight hours of Sunday. Everything was search and pounce, no responses to calling CQ. I used the power amplifier on the 20 meter band which did help in getting the contacts to almost every station I could decode. The amplifier does not like the SWR from the antenna on 40 meters so I ran without the amplifier on that band. I made 115 contacts. A number of US stations, already the first new US state confirmed via LoTW. Two more new US states in the log, hope I can get those confirmed too.
In between a few other not too far FT8 contacts I suddenly had a contact with 9M2TO in West Malaysia, a new country for me in amateur radio. I had seen the call before but I did not expect the contact to happen. And it's already confirmed via Logbook of The World too.
The author of GcmWin for Linux responded quickly to my report of being unable to install gcmwin after installing a new Linux version and made a new version available which does run fine on Ubuntu 18.04. Again my thanks to Roger Hedin SM3GSJ for making GcmWin available.
Normally, radio signals travel in a straight line and refraction in the ionosphere only happens on relatively low frequencies (below 30 MHz). Signals in the 2 meter band (144-146 MHz) don't get refracted in the ionosphere, they just leave earth. But in certain weather conditions with stable high-pressure areas layers can form that reflect these signals back to earth or create ducts in the air where the radio signals travel along the surface for much bigger distances than normal. For Christmas 2018 there was some troposperic ducting predicted on William Hepburn's Worldwide Tropospheric Ducting Forecast. This site forecasts ducting areas based on predicted weather patterns. To see the actual distances seen in radio contacts I check VHF propagation map based on APRS reception which uses input from APRS messages with location data received at other sites to find long distance contacts. During the Christmas festivities I checked that site from time to time and saw the big distance signal reports mostly over France, slowly creeping North. So on 25, 26, 27 and 28 December I ran the radio when possible on 2 meter FT8 and got some new distance records and some new gridsquares in the log. New distance record: 639 kilometer to G4RRA. Several other new calls in the log, some new gridsquares. When visiting the qrz pages of those calls I usually see serious setups with directional antennas so they all do the hard work transmitting in my direction and decoding my signal. This is all still with the 'simple' vertical for 2m/70cm: a Diamond X-300N on the roof. I wonder what I can do on a good day with a directional antenna and a rotor.
As mentioned in New 2 meter distance: 506 kilometers I was still running the old wsjt-x because a newer version requires a newer Linux environment. With a bit of time in the christmas holidays available and more and more things depending on this upgrade I ordered a new disk from Azerty so the reinstallation would be easier. The old linux installation on the radio workstation was several Ubuntu versions old, it was still a 32-bit installation because of earlier hardware compatibility issues and something in D-Bus communication gave lots of errors at bootup, so I expected another upgrade to give me an unavailable system. The new disk came faster than expected, and I did an install with Xubuntu because I'm ok with the Xfce environment. One problem is back: the system starts with the two monitors swapped and after the screensaver kicks in the monitors somehow end up in mirrored mode. And Gcmwin for linux failed in the upgrade since it depends on older libraries. Already reported to the author. Lots of upgraded software, the most important ones in amateur radio are CQRLOG which showed the well-known MySQL problems until I used the version from the CQRLOG ppa. Everything now works fine and all the earlier confirmations of PSK contacts have been imported. And the trigger that all started this upgrade WSJT-X has been upgraded using the WSJTX General Availability Release ppa.