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
This weekend I had time for the radio hobby and made some interesting new contacts. Friday evening was a bad start, with serious difficulties reaching other stations with FT8 on 20 or 40 meters. But Saturday daytime the 10 meter band was open and I even made contacts with two new countries on the 10 meter band: Lithuania and Montenegro. I guess it was an E-skip opening as I saw mostly "nearby" stations from Germany, England and other European countries. With ionospheric propagation those are usually "too close". If you look at the map of 10 meter HF contacts by PD4KH there is a 'ring' with almost no contacts around my home location (I have made some really close contacts, but that would be via direct line of sight). Other contacts start in the south of France, the west of England and Poland. Nowadays ionospheric propagation on 10 meters doesn't happen very often so when I do make contacts it is via other forms of propagation that allow for shorter skip distances. Later on Saturday the 10 meter band propagation stopped and 20 and 40 meters allowed nice amounts of contacts. When I can make what contact on what frequency is still magical sometimes. I learn patterns that repeat themselves, but there are still enough surprises left.
After my earlier stories about amateur radio at the Trintelhaven location Kees PA5Z wanted to go there too to test a dipole antenna for 80 meters that wasn't going to fit in his garden. I felt like taking the fibermast again and the linked dipole on 40 meters, an endfed antenna and enough rope to be able to hang it in some tree. So we loaded radios and antenna material in a car and drove over there. Weather was nice, not too hot. We were hoping to get on one of the grassy fields of the site, but most of the site was taken up by the trucks and equipment for the work going on.So we settled for the far end of the parking lot, away from the restaurant Checkpoint Charlie. We saw that Checkpoint Charlie had a big antenna themselves, most likely an antenna for the 11 meter (27 MHz) band.
Antenna at Checkpoint Charlie restaurant, picture by Kees PA5ZKees soon found a frame around a garbage can which could hold the aluminum mast for the middle of the dipole. It all worked fine on the 80 meter band. The dipole antenna became a bit detuned when there was a big truck parked right next to it. We were at the edge of the parking lot so it could happen.
The 80 meter dipole set up by PA5Z, picture by Kees PA5ZI set up my fibermast and used the rubber strips to lock the elements, because it was windy. I set up the linked dipole for the 40 meter band. There wasn't a lot of room for the guy wires and after a while one came lose making the fiber mast fall over. Some damage: one corner of the balun broke and the antenna wire came lose. But with a simple fix it was up again. Later one element collapsed because one rubber strip wasn't tight enough. I made only five contacts on the 40 meter band. Propagation wasn't cooperating a lot. Kees did not hear a lot on the 80 meter band until later in the day when some Dutch amateurs where in a conversation. Kees was able to report in and get some signal reports.
PE4KH behind the radio at Trintelhaven, picture by Kees PA5ZI also took my Arrow Antenna and a handheld radio to try and receive a pass of the Fox-1D satellite. But I heard no signal. It did make for a nice picture, trying to receive the satellite standing on the dike.
PE4KH with Arrow Antenna at Trintelhaven, picture by Kees PA5Z
After getting a satellite contact via SO-50 the next thing was to get it in the log correctly. I followed the instructions from Logging Satellite QSOs with Logbook of the World - Amsat, logging the contact in the tqsl program, uploading that log to Logbook of the World and importing the logfile (ADIF) into CQRLOG later. But later I found out that CQRLOG now supports satellite logging after enabling it in the preferences. Since version 2.3.0 satellite support is included.
This evening I checked 'Sky at a glance' in gpredict and saw a nice SO-50 pass come up. It was a southwest - northeast pass with a very high maximum elevation. So a good chance to listen to the satellite for a while. I took the Arrow antenna together with the Wouxun handheld radio outside, which I programmed for the SO50 frequencies when I started with amateur satellites years ago. I started hearing the satellite right after it got above the houses. I heard one familiair callsign: Peter 2M0SQL. In a silent moment I answered his call, he heard me fine and we had a contact. My first satellite contact since August 2014 and directly someone in the log who I really wanted to get in the log.
Tuesday evening we had a good presentation at our radio club about getting active on the QO-100 geostationary amateur satellite. This was a very technical presentation by René Stevens PE1CMO. This amateur satellite is actually a transponder on the Es'Hail2 satellite. The transponder is active on amateur bands: 2.4 GHz up and 10 GHz down. A very interesting and good presentation. And for now I find it very interesting but I'm not going to invest the time and money to get on that satellite. This did remind me that I wanted to get back into amateur satellites as planned for several years. Looking back I see a clear moment when the satellite activity stopped: The last successful amateur satellite contact was 2014-08-10: Success with the new radio and the SO-50 amateur satellite and the first HF contact was 2014-08-29: First PSK31 on HF contacts. It's easier to make a lot more contacts on HF for the same amount of work as one satellite contact. As a first step I took out the arrow antenna and a handheld radio just to listen to some passes. And that showed the well-known problem with satellite passes: They have to fit in your schedule or otherwise you will miss them completely. But there are a lot of amateur satellites to listen to. I had two Fox-1A (AO-85) passes not higher than 23 degrees elevation. And I heard nothing on those passes
Saudisat 1c / SO-50
, but that wasn't a big surprise given earlier experiences and what people have shared. I had one pass of Saudisat (SO-50) which went up to 29 degrees elevation and I heard at least a few callsigns on that pass. And no really bad behaviour, but maybe a Wednesday daytime is better in that regard.
I participated in the British amateur radio teledata group RTTY Sprint75 contest 2019. The special thing with the 75 is that this is 75baud RTTY and not the normal 45baud RTTY. This is a relatively short contest (4 hours) on a Sunday evening and I did not participate in the contest the whole time, I also watched some television with my family. All a matter of priorities. I made 27 contacts on the 20 and 40 meter bands. Since I now have an RF power meter I was able to make sure my output power was right below 100 watts so I could enter in the '100 watts' category and not 'high power'.
After getting to the magic number of getting contacts with 100 DXCC entities confirmed I applied for (and paid for) the ARRL DXCC award, the American Radio Relay League DX Century Club award. So I guess I have to admit I'm a serious DX chaser!
After working on the URE 70 year anniversary special event I also made contact with two new countries: Egypt and Colombia. Egypt is not too far away but there aren't many active radio amateurs in Egypt so this one is harder. This evening SU9JG is active and I got the contact. Right after that I got HK3C in the log from Colombia. Not a very rare country in Amateur radio, but with my current setup I have trouble reaching South America. The definition of 'rare' or 'not so rare' countries (or rather: DX entities, but that's another story) in Amateur radio is based on the statistics gathered by Club Log and published as the DXCC Most Wanted List which is based on the assumption that every active Club Log member wants contacts with all available DXCC entities. Countries with lots of active amateurs such as the United States of America and Italy are at the bottom of the list, countries or entities that restrict amateur radio or are very hard to reach such as North Korea and Bouvet Island are at the top. Update 2019-04-22: And both are already confirmed on Logbook of the World which gets the number of countries confirmed via electronic qsls on Logbook of the World to a round 100, the magic number for the DX Century Club. So, time to start checking my options to get an actual DXCC certificate! I also have three countries confirmed via QSL card which aren't confirmed electronically, so I have to look into the Dutch QSL card checker option one day.
I haven't made an amateur radio contact with a completely new country in a while, but I have worked on getting countries on new bands in the log. This weekend I had the 6-40m longwire antenna out. It did not want to tune on 12 meters but I made contacts on the 10, 15, 17, 30 and 40 meter bands. Some new country/band combinations were added: Moldova, Montenegro, Japan and the Slovak Republic on 30 meters, Estonia on 17 meters, Latvia on 15 meters. I also made contacts with several stations in the URE 70 year anniversary special event. Update 2019-04-15: Tuned the longwire for 80 meters and added Serbia and Norway as new 80 meter countries.
In an otherwise quite filled weekend there was also the EA RTTY Contest 2019. I participated for somewhat over an hour on Sunday and made 28 contacts, 24 on the 20 meter band and 4 on the 40 meter band. Preliminary results: 28 valid contacts, 44 points, multiplier 23, total 1012 points.