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
This weekend was the CQ WPX CW contest 2021 and on Saturday I had some time to participate between family things. I started on the 10 meter band and stayed there: I managed to get 29 contacts in the log on that band, there were good signals across most of Europe. I had fun and surprised myself by decoding some morse by ear better than my computer (yes, I consider this very assisted when I use both spotting networks and a morse decoder). I noted a serial number 246 that my computer completely did not decode so I wasn't very sure. The next serial number was indeed 247 so I got it right in one go! Claimed score is 812 points. I'll see what happens when the logs are checked. At least contesting is good for other rankings: I now have Poland and Lithuania confirmed in morse.
The 10 meter amateur band (starting at 28 MHz) can have interesting propagation depending on weather. The kind of 'atmospheric interference' that once plagued analog TV broadcasts can cause signals to reach much further than planned. Today was a day with good propagation that way and I had time to play with the radio. I started with some digital contacts on the 10 meter band (FT8) but soon switched to voice communications (SSB) because those were getting loud too. I started answering some of the amateurs calling CQ for new contacts. I made contacts with Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia and Slovenia. Some where short contacts but others wanted to have a longer and more personal chat. It doesn't happen often that signals are strong enough to get over the local interference. Nice to see this and make new friends.
With a bit of trying and retrying I tuned my home endfed to the FT8 frequency in the 17 meter amateur band. I'm chasing 'slots' on that band: countries I haven't worked on that band before. Today I got the Balearic Islands, Wales, Kenya, Indonesia and Lebanon in the log, all new on this band for me. Before that there was a nice 10 meter opening during the day, where I worked several European stations. Nice to see good propagation! Update 2021-04-25: On Sunday I tried FT8 on 17 meters again, this got me Thailand as a completely new country! And Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania new on the 17 meter band.
Recently the parts for the NTP ham clock I saw in the Electron magazine arrived: an ESP32 module and a TFT display. It took a bit before I had time to actually do something with them but recently I put the modules on breadboard and started making the needed connections. There are not a lot of those, only 8 wires need to be connected between the ESP32 microcontroller and the TFT display. After some fiddling it worked and I managed to program it all with the settings I like, such as the right timezone rules for the Netherlands, 24 hour display on both clocks and it fetches the NTP time from the NTP server in the shed so it doesn't rely on outside connectivity. Now to find a case for it and wire it neatly.
Last weekend was the EA RTTY Contest 2021 edition. I decided to participate because I appreciate the contests organized by the Unión de Radioaficionados Españoles. Participation time was somewhat limited due to other things happening in the easter weekend. In the end I made 79 contacts and entered my log in the 'SINGLE ALL LOW POWER DX' category. As 'low power' is defined as 'below 100 watts' and my RF amplifier isn't working at the moment this is the fitting category. Update 2021-05-05: Results are in: 71 valid contacts, 117 qso points and 51 multipliers: rank #225 of the single operator multiband low power DX category.
Another case of having luck and being at the radio at the right time and frequency: I saw a few stations from South Korea show up in FT8. Tried making contact with more than one of them and the second or third station became stronger after a few minutes and with some trying the contact was made with HL5BLI. It was a really short opening, five minutes later I saw no traces of stations from South Korea. Update 2021-04-05: And the contact is confirmed on Logbook of the World too.
With some alerts set to get the last of the Special Event Station series to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Hellenic War of Independence against Ottoman Turks in the log I now have the full set: at least one contact with each of the special event stations. Which means the website will generate a nice digital certificate for me which I could print out and hang on the door of the room where I have my radio setup. But that door is already filled so I'll just keep the digital certificate and leave it at that. It was fun chasing them! My thanks to the organization behind this.
Making a video about my new paddle is one thing, actually using it with the radio is another. I have seen radio amateurs buy expensive morse gear and finding out that learning morse is hard. I connected the paddle to the radio via the nanokeyer I built and called CQ in a part of the 20 meter band where I expect other users with slow speed. After one CQ I got an answer from PA5ABW Ab. The same person who taught me morse code!
For a while I had a notification set for someone selling a morse paddle. Finally one came along at a reasonable price so I bought it. And.. I mentioned this detail to some people at work. Who had an idea of what a morse key is, but didn't know about morse paddles. So with my big mouth I said "I'll make a video about it". This was triggered by the fact that I recently learned about OpenShot non-linear video editor which is available for Linux too. So I created a video. And found out making a video of 30 seconds is a lot more work than 30 seconds. I watched some tutorial videos about OpenShot first and thought about what I wanted to show. I haven't added spoken comments because I didn't feel like doing those too. The video isn't great, I can see several beginner mistakes. But I get the point across of what a paddle does. There is a continuity problem because I used sunlight. Which isn't very constant. And I made several clips because I didn't think I would get everything I wanted to show right. But now there are changes in light and a bit in camera angle, even with using a tripod. And our neighbours were busy hammering indoors, so that can be heard too.
It is always good to have a bit of luck and get a contact with a new country. This evening I saw a call from Hong Kong pop up on my screen with FT8 traffic and made the contact with a bit of a hickup since it was hard for me to receive the transmissions. The signal report showed that my signal made it across easier, so I had confidence and the contact was made. After that I saw a station from Ghana, which had more trouble decoding my signals, but after a few tries that contact was valid too. Ghana is not a completely new country for me, but it was new on the 40 meter band. Now to wait for digital confirmation (both show they use Logbook Of The World) and see if I can get a QSL card. Update: I just noticed I didn't write about a few new entities from recent months. In February I also got Anguilla in the log (an island in the Carribean) and confirmed. This was a case of turning on the radio on a non-standard time and seeing a new country and getting the contact. In March I saw notifications for activity from the UK bases on Cyprus (which are two British overseas territories housing military bases because of the strategic location of Cyprus) which I have been chasing for a while and the contact was made. Update: All contacts mentioned above confirmed.