PE4KH Amateur radio - Koos van den Hout

Most recent QSO's for PE4KH

Callsign Band Mode Locator RST(R) RST(S) Satellite

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 PE4KH on twitter

I am usually located around maidenhead locator: JO22NC

The 'hamradio' items from my homepage

2019-10-14 Sharing some of my CQRLOG scripts
Since January 2015 I've been using CQRLOG as the main amateur radio logging program. So each contact that I make ends up in the databases of this program eventually.

Being the person I am I added some scripts of my own to export data from CQRLOG to the PE4KH amateur radio station website in several formats.

I've made a few of these scripts available for the public via KHoos/CQRLOG-scripts: A collection of scripts around the CQRLOG amateur radio logging software on github. I've set the license to GPLv2, but I may have to change this as one script contains a lot of imported code.

Anyway, share and enjoy. Maybe these are of use to someone. Or someone adds the enhancements I've been thinking about but never got around to.

2019-10-06 A new HF radio, with plans for remote operation
The last years I've been dealing with increasing levels of interference on the HF bands at home. One clear source is the rising numbers of solar panel installations, with a clear difference between hiring the cheapest installer versus hiring a good installer but paying more.

I don't want to start discussions with all neighbours about their solar installation and the latest news seems to be that the Dutch telecoms regulator takes the stance of solar panels being needed for our economy so radio amateurs have to accept the interference.

Moving house is not in our plans for the coming years so I started reading about the options for remote operations, where I can sit at home with the microphone and morse key looking at the display of the radio and hearing the audio while the receiving/sending part is at a remote site with a lot less interference.

I found out about RemoteRig which does just that, and with the right choice of radio allows complete remote operation over the Internet. With their offering I started looking at compatible HF radios and found a nice secondhand Kenwood TS-480SAT. This radio has better filtering options for SSB and morse than my Yaesu FT-857D.

The radio is now at home and I made the first few SSB contacts with it. The filtering already helped me understand stations better.

Now for the next steps, cables, remoterig units and other things. And a remote location. I have an offer from a fellow radio amateur to do the first tests at his house. When all that works out I'll go and find a nearby location to do the complete installation.

2019-09-22 First morse contact, trying FT4 for the first time and participating in the BARTG Sprint75 contest
This weekend is the BARTG Sprint75 RTTY contest. I set up my endfed antenna on Friday evening. On Friday I listened around the band for any morse special event stations and found LZ304EW active. The station was calling with a morse speed of about 21 words per minute and I answered my callsign with 12 words per minute. And no, I can't decode morse at 21 words per minute, I used the computer (fldigi) to help me decode the morse and the nanoKeyer to help me send my callsign and the 5nn TU 73 to finish the 'contact'. I felt secure enough in hearing my own callsign in morse to be able to do this.

Most of Saturday I made a number of FT8 contacts all over Europe. Nothing really exciting, just trying to get a number of new calls in the log. I think I saw some new gridsquares.

The planned amateur radio activity was the British Amateur Radio Teledata Group Sprint75 contest on Sunday evening (17:00 utc to 20:59 utc which is 19:00 - 22:59 local time). I set up the radio Sunday afternoon and listened on 14.080 MHz, which is the default frequency for RTTY on the 20 meter band for as far as I know. I saw different signals, which turned out to be FT4 signals, the relatively new mode in WSJT-X. It's been around for a while, I just never got around to playing with it.

So I started WSJT-X and tried FT4. I made three contacts, one with an amateur in England, one with 4S6NCH in Sri Lanka which is a new country for me, and one with an amateur in India, which was a new 20 meter country for me. Not bad for trying a mode for the first time.

After dinner it was time for the contest and that was a misery. I made 17 contacts in total, 4 on the 20 meter band and 13 on the 40 meter band. Propagation was not cooperating at all, mostly just giving noise and sometimes signals faded in and I had to work hard to get a contact.

Update: The bartg sprint75 rtty contest was a weekend earlier! Only when I tried to submit my results and the website told me all my contacts were outside of the contest timeframe I noticed my error. I guess some more radio amateurs had the wrong date as I have seen 'CQ BART SPRINT75' calls. And 75 baud RTTY mode is also rare. I notified the BARTG contest manageress to let her know. Not to complain since it was my error, but to make her aware of the problem.

2019-09-14 The nanoKeyer morse keyer in its case
The nanoKeyer morsekeyer in case with paddles
The nanoKeyer morsekeyer in case
I found help at the radio club, Kees PA5Z made his metalworking skills available and now the nanoKeyer has a nice case and works fine in it.

Earlier steps: the nanoKeyer tested and working after assembling the electronics, starting with the nanoKeyer kit.

2019-09-06 The morse keyer is working with cqrlog
Next step was linking the morse keyer with the Linux radio logging and operating software cqrlog. A simple search gave me Nanokeyer with cqrlog - CQRLOG and indeed the suggested option 'WinKeyer USB' works. The option 'K3NG keyer' always stopped after a few characters of morse.

Now to get other software like fldigi and tlf working. And not have conflicts with both of them running.

Update: In the tlf manual I found a link to N0NB/winkeydaemon on github which works great too. I changed the default port /dev/ttyUSB0 to /dev/ttywinkey because USB0 is where my radio CAT control usually ends up, and two applications trying to use that serial port confuses the radio. The /dev/ttywinkey link is maintained by udev, with a rule in /etc/udev/rules.d/99-usb-serial.rules :
SUBSYSTEM=="tty", ATTRS{idVendor}=="1a86", ATTRS{idProduct}=="7523", SYMLINK+="ttywinkey"
I can't select on a serial number or anything more specific so devices with a QinHeng Electronics HL-340 USB-Serial adapter will probably all try to get a symlink to /dev/winkeyer.

I tested the result with cqrlog (selecting the cwdaemon option in cqrlog cw settings) and it works fine too. Next step will be to test with tlf.

2019-09-06 The nanoKeyer morse keyer is working
nanoKeyer morse keyer and morse paddle key
The nanoKeyer and the morse paddle key. Connections to the nanoKeyer from left to right: cw to radio, input from paddle and usb to the computer
After a few hours of thoroughly soldering and checking the results the nanoKeyer is done. I did find an error in my work so I had to get out the desoldering iron to fix it: I put the wrong resistor in one place.

Next step was to get the arduino that is the core of the nanoKeyer tested. There was an arduino nano included with the kit preprogrammed with the nanoKeyer software, but it still needed the print headers soldered: two rows of 15 pins and very secure soldering work. I did put the small tip on my soldering station for this work and used a magnifying glass to check my results. It seemed to work fine but I noticed soon the speed control potentiometer and the menu buttons gave no response. Both those functions use an analog input of the Arduino in the nanoKeyer. I had bought an arduino at a previous radio parts market so I tried that one. This one already had the print headers installed so there was less chance of causing a defect.

That one had to be programmed first, so I dove into getting the Arduino integrated development environment installed. After a few tries it seemed the only way to have working USB communications is to run the whole Arduino IDE as root (using sudo). Not very secure but at least I could continue my work. The right settings were made according to the nanoKeyer Firmware Upload Guide 2 and the Arduino nano I bought myself works fine. The result: sending morse code, changing settings with the menu button all worked fine.

The ultimate step was to get software controlled CW generation working. I soon found Winkey USB works in Linux - OK1RR which has a driver binary (no source unfortunately) which communicates fine with the nanoKeyer. The network UDP protocol is somewhat very binary so I used one of the cwdaemon test programs to get actual morse code sent from the computer.

Now for the (for me) hard part: making the right holes in the case. I'll try to find some help at my radio club.

Earlier steps: starting with the nanoKeyer kit.

2019-09-04 New electronics project: a morse keyer
My learning morse is still ongoing and I'm taking the first steps in generating morse. I decided on a paddle as a first morse key to get the dot/dash (or better: Dit and Dah) timing correct automatically. Opinions on tbe best choice for first morse key differ: some say a straight key is the best, others say a paddle. I'm sticking with the paddle at the moment because I also have a tendency to develop RSI. Telegraph operators were the first profession to have cases of RSI so I hope to avoid that.

I recently bought a paddle: the uniHam UNI-730a which is a nice affordable paddle for a starting morse operator. With the built-in keyer in my Yaesu FT-857 radio it is possible to create good morse code. I use the option to create the morse tone on the radio without transmitting to practise sending morse. I check the results with the Android application Rx Morse.

But, I want to be able to participate in morse contests in the future. For those a cw keyer is necessary that can be controlled both from a paddle (or a straight key) and the computer. I was looking at options when a fellow club member mentioned he had a nanoKeyer morse keyer kit available that he wasn't going to build himself because his radio can do all that work. So I bought the kit from him, including case and I'm soldering the first parts.

Since all parts are through-hole, I am soldering with the components 'hanging' from the board. I want all components to be as close to the printed circuit board as possible so for some things that want to 'fall' I use rubber bands to make them stay close to the board for the first soldering connections. I do avoid warming up the rubber bands, they will probably break and/or burn causing a nasty smell.

2019-08-21 Comparing yfktest and tlf for linux-based amateur radio contesting
Episode 295 of Linux in the Ham Shack is about the TLF Contest Logger. I wrote to Linux in the Ham Shack about my experiences with both programs. In 2017 I participated in the IARU-HF contest using yfktest and in 2019 I participated in the IARU-HF contest using TLF.
My opionion about both is clearly formed by my style of contesting. Phone contesting is rare for me, and I am a very casual contester. I operate in search and pounce mode, where I search for other stations calling CQ.

My experiences:

Both are textmode programs, which try to mimic DOS-based contest programs. No dragging around windows, you'll have to deal with how the makers decided to set up the screen. Also, on a graphical system, try to find the biggest and baddest monospace font to fill as much of your screen with the contesting software as possible.

The role of contest logging software is making it easier to log contacts in a contest. It does this by automating a lot of the tasks in a CW contest, by keeping the log and showing the outgoing serial number (if needed). It's a plus when contest logger can keep the live claimed score in the contest and when it can connect to a DX-cluster and show possible contacts being spotted. Both packages can do the basic contesting and scorekeeping, tlf is the only one that supports DX clusters

yfktest is written in Perl, tlf in C. For adding a new contest to yfktest you will soon have to do some programming in perl to handle the score calculations. For a new contest in tlf you may have to do some C programming.

yfktest has no cluster support, but tlf does have it. This is a huge difference to me. With tlf I could open a cluster window showing me where new calls were spotted and on what frequencies recent contacts were, so I could hunt for interesting new calls and multipliers

Specific to the IARU-HF contest and my use of the packages: yfktest supports the IARU-HF contest out of the box, so it gets the multipliers right. When I did the IARU-HF contest with tlf, I asked about it on the list and someone shared a configuration right at the beginning of the contest so it worked. Mostly: It did not count the multipliers correctly, so I had no idea of the claimed score during the contest.

Both are open source and welcome any additions. Looking at the commit history tlf is somewhat more active recently.

If you want to really add a contest to either of them you'll probably have to start thinking about that months before the contest and take your time to debug your rules/scoring configuration if you want good scoring during the contest.

I will probably stick with tlf because of the cluster support.
Linux in the Ham Shack took my shallow dive a lot further and went into a deep dive with installing, configuring and running TLF. Awesome episode, I really enjoyed it!

Links to all the stuff: Show Notes #295: TLF Contest Logger Deep Dive - Linux in the Ham Shack
yfktest linux based ham radio contest logger, TLF, a linux based ham radio contest logger.

2019-08-05 Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts
QSO count plot up to July 2019 Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts. Months with contest(s) stand out again as they elevate the number of contacts. In July 2019 I participated in the DL-DX RTTY Contest 2019 and the IARU-HF Championship 2019. That last one has added a few countries to my list of countries confirmed in phone modes.

2019-07-29 Tried receiving ISS SSTV with the FUNcube Dongle Pro+
This evening had scheduled Amateur Radio on the International Space Station slow-scan TV transmissions so I took Arrow antenna, the new FUNcube Dongle Pro+, cables and laptop outside.

I found out gqrx crashes when the dongle is on the righthandside USB port of the laptop, so that one is out. On the backside port everything was working, and audio routing worked routing the analog output audio (created by qgrx) to the recording by audacity and the image decoding with qsstv. Gpredict was set up to control the reception frequency in gqrx, and this whole setup was working ok.

But the signal from the ISS looked very very weak in gqrx, just a small rise in level above the noise when I pointed at the general direction of the ISS. No idea why. No images were decoded from it.

After the pass I tried receiving some other sources with this setup and receiving the PI2NOS repeater went fine. But that's on the 70 centimeters band. I saw no activity on PI3UTR which would have enabled a test on 2 meters.

This needs more testing. Maybe something to hold the antenna cables so they don't get pulled from the laptop/radio during a pass.

Update: Most likely culprit: interference in the 2 meter amateur band. With a handheld radio that has received ISS packet sounds before I could now only hear them very faint in the noise. The local 2 meter noise is killing weak signal reception.

Items before 2019-07-29
This page is created by Koos van den Hout, reachable via e-mail as my callsign @
Other webprojects: Weatherstation Utrecht Overvecht, Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites The Virtual Bookcase book reviews
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