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 twitter
I am usually located around maidenhead locator: JO22NC
Today the Electron magazine of the Veron amateur radio club came in, the March 2021 Veron Electron (Dutch). As I was browsing the magazine and reading articles I came across an article about building an NTP ham clock, consisting of an ESP32 module and a TFT LCD display, and the rest is all in software. I directly wanted to build this, as this combines two of my interests: amateur radio and NTP time synchronization. It displays both the local time and the UTC time on the TFT display, just like PyHamClock does on my screen. The article is based on the same project at W8BH projects which gives me a good descriptive pdf. So I ordered an ESP32 module and ILI9341 TFT LCD display from an aliexpress seller and now I wait, because this will take about a month.
Getting new countries in the log is one part, getting those countries confirmed is another. Armenia had been 'evading' me for a few years because there aren't a lot of active radio amateurs in that country and the first ones I had contacts with decided to want money for a QSL card or digital confirmation. I decided to keep trying and in December 2020 I got a new station in the log: EK3GM and that station confirmed via Logbook of the World. So now I have that country confirmed, making the total 127 countries contacted, 120 confirmed via Logbook of the World. Update 2021-02-17: And being active in the CQ WPX RTTY contest last weekend caused another confirmed country that I have been 'chasing' for a while: Tunesia. Contest station 3V8SS was very active, I got in the log and now I have 121 countries confirmed via LoTW.
A busy weekend with multiple radio contests going on. And a lot of other stuff in the weekend too so not much time to actually participate! I came to both contests fully unprepared and without much space in the weekend planning for butt in chair time. First was the Dutch PACC contest where I participated Saturday afternoon and in the last 20 minutes of the contest Sunday morning. In this contest I made 21 contacts: 14 in morse and 7 in phone. The second contest was the CQ WPX RTTY contest 2021 which is a 48 hour contest, which allowed me to start after I finished in the PACC and get stations in the log Sunday afternoon and evening. In this contest I made 70 contacts.
I recently noticed the DUDE-Star software which allows access to D-Star, DMR, YSF, NXDN, P25, M17. For those who read here and got dazzled by these abbreviations: These are radio systems where voice data can be transported both via radio signals and via Internet data streams. In all of these systems there are ways to connect radio / network interfaces together to make contacts over longer distances possible. This software allows access to all these interfaces and will do the audio encoding/decoding so it will use a microphone and loudspeaker. I haven't had any luck in hearing D-Star audio yet which may be due to not being a registered D-Star user or due to not selecting busy reflectors (the computer systems that allow linked radios and networks to have the same audio data: an audio chatroom). I browsed around other systems and found busy talkgroups in YSF where I heard chatter in Dutch and English last night. It is nice to see software like this making it all accessible without investing in hardware. The codecs used have a serious influence on the audio quality, and I was warned the quality from DUDE-Star isn't as good as from the actual radios. From what I heard some of the digital audio modes the quality isn't very good (to leave lots of room for error correction).
The contest that started radio contests in digital modes for me was again last weekend: the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest. This is the 7th year in a row that I participated in that contest. Conditions weren't very good. Especially Saturday the 20 meter band 'dried up' as soon as it got a bit dark and later in the evening I stopped trying on the 40 meter band and decided to call it a night. Sunday morning after I woke up I tried again and got a good number of new stations both on 20 and 40 meters. In the end I made 78 contacts. Update 2021-03-14: Results are in: 74 valid contacts, 68 multipliers, 5032 points. Ranking number 154 in the single operator all band category.
Last weekend was the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 and I participated. I made sure beforehand to have a separate logging file for just this contest, with the plan to be able to switch from RTTY in fldigi to FT8/FT4 in wsjt-x and back. Propagation on the 40 meter band during the dark hours wasn't very good, I never got outside of Europe on that band. On Sunday afternoon I tried the 20 meter band for a while with not much better results. I switched back to 40 meter and worked some new stations. I did switch back to the 20 meter band just before sunset and got one US station in the log: W0PR which also sounds like a reference to the WarGames movie (to me). I did switch to wsjt-x on Sunday evening. I saw absolutely no calls for the contest on 40 meter FT8, and only a few on 40 meter FT4 so I tried making those contacts. I saw several US stations calling but none heard my answer. In the end I made 89 contacts. I did transpant the log from fldigi to wsjt-x but wsjt-x did not see the earlier contest contacts so I increased the outgoing serial counter to start at 86. I've had better years in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.
Time to plot the number of contacts in 2020 and a review. I made no specific resolutions for 2020 but looking back there were positive developments.
Plans for 2021:
- The Kenwood TS480-SAT is at a remote location with good antennas for most of the HF bands. This enabled me to work new countries and get more voice and morse contacts in the log.
- I was active on amateur satellites a few times, including from Austria.
- The morse speed improved and I got on the air more with morse. Including a few morse contests.
- I tried to follow the Bulgarian Saints 2020 stations and I had at least one contact with one of the stations in 10 out of the 12 months of 2020. In 8 months I had at least one contact in morse with the station of that month. So I earned the Bulgarian Saints diploma 2020.
- In general I made more contacts in this year than in any other year. The endfed antenna is now mounted outside in such a way I can leave it there, which makes getting on the radio for a few contacts easier. There were also more special event stations active this year.
- I had radio contacts with several new countries.
- The box with outgoing QSL cards is now empty!
- I'm active as QSL manager for my local club, this is fun and my part of keeping the club running.
- Keep practising morse, try to pass the morse exam.
- More satellite contacts. Weather permitting...
- Morse and phone in contests.
- Order new QSL cards and keep on sending them.
Since the igate build was finished and the first packets were received I left it running. I did switch to a 5 volt power supply: it works fine on a USB charger powering the whole circuit board via the USB connector for the ESP32. Packets are received from a large area around the city as shown. I'm glad it is all working and I hope to improve the APRS network coverage here locally a bit.
I like participating in radio contests. Not to win them, but to improve my own score and have the fun of making a high number of structured radio contacts in a short time. There is also the factor that radio contests bring out participants in places that are normally hard to reach for radio amateurs. Last weekend I was tuning on the 20 meter band looking for phone contacts and I heard a Canadian station giving out the abbreviation Quebec Charly (QC) as an exchange. I looked it up and found out the RAC Canada Winter contest was running. I made the contacts and spun the dial looking for other Canadian stations, because I never had a confirmed voice contact with a Canadian station. That doesn't mean I haven't talked to Canadians over amateur radio, I had a really nice chat with a Canadian who knows the area where I grew up a few months ago. That's totally different from a contest contact and also very nice to have. In total I got 3 different Canadian stations in the log and I entered my log. It won't be the winner in the DX category, but I appreciate the fact that the Radio Amateurs of/du Canada organize this so I do my part in making the scoring possible. And yes the first LoTW confirmation already came in, so I now have Canada confirmed on phone. Other DX update: Patience helps, I now have the earlier contact with Cuba confirmed.
Past weekend was the CQWW CW contest and I participated for a while. Not many contacts because I had a lot of trouble decoding the morse, even with help from the RX-morse smartphone app. I made 8 contacts. On the 15 meter band, using the remote radio. Four to Russia, one to the Ukraine and three to the United States. That does add the United States to the list of countries I had morse contacts with. A bit of explanation: CW stands for "continuous wave" and is another term for morse since morse is switching a continuous wave on and off. Update 2020-12-05: And the first confirmation of a United States morse contact is in. Raw score before log checking: 84 points. Ranking in the category "assisted low power 15 meters" is #133 (out of 133) for world, #70 (out of 70) for Europe and #2 (out of 2) for the Netherlands. So the lowest score! Update 2021-05-04: Final score is unchanged so I made no errors and all 8 other stations got my callsign correct. Ranking is now #129 world, #69 europe and #2 the Netherlands.