• First QRP-QRP QSO of this solar cycle.

    Finally… two weeks a bit of a holiday. Regular work is more or less on a back burner, because there is only one assignment and all other stuff is on hold. Besides that, I am going to spent some time with the family. And where possible … in the field 🙂

    Today was hopefully a ‘harbinger’ of what is to come. With my glass fibre pole, backpack with IC-705 and my LFP battery pack I went to one of the WWFF-spots I discovered ages ago, before I was into WWFF. The weather was a bit on the ‘fresh’ side, around 10 degrees Celcius, with a light breeze. The sun was shining throughout the day and with my windjacket on, it was perfect to make some qso’s in the field.

    I started off with some voice and CW contacts. The qso was quite relaxed, at about 10/12 wpm, because the ham on the other end of the waves was learning CW too, which made it much less awkward. I managed to write along on paper. Answering went quite smoothly, I was not dissatisfied at all.

    Then I decided to switch to voice again and call for WWFF-hunters on 14.244 MHz. With two ‘big-guns’ from Spain and Russia around the frequency it was barely workable. But setting the filters right made it possible to pick up a ham from Bretagne, France. OM Guy, F4INT, was working portable from the beach near Brest (IN78SI). He used a FT-817 with a SotaBeams processor. It gave a very nice audio and we had quite a long qso of about 40 minutes. At the end, the fading become too strong and we decided to call it a day.

    I did not expect the conditions to be that favourable. The SFI was around 80 and there were some geomagnetic disturbances. Guy was working with the FT-817 at 5 Watts output, and I was running from the battery pack giving about 7-10 Watts. Still, not quite ‘high power’, but the QSO went smooth for the most part and we had no problem hearing each other.

    Hopefully next week more of these surprises with reasonable weather (around 12 degrees C) and some welcome solar activity.


  • Testing some field antennas

    Due to some very fine weather with a temperature above 17℃ in the afternoon, fellow radio amateur Frank PA2DKW, owner of antenna kit webshop HFKits, and I decided to do some antenna experiments ‘in the field’.

    We ended up in a polder, a typical Dutch countryside setting. And as I am interested in World Wide Flora and Fauna, this area is indeed a WWFF reference, namely PAFF-0079. We were able to make 11 QSO’s for WWFF under the call sign PA6ML/P. Conditions were abysmal, but still, we could test the antennas in mind.

    Frank set up a glass fibre pole with an end-fed half wave wire antenna vertically along it and, mounted against the picnic table, a very skilfully assembled delta loop antenna. Not very scientific, but we tried testing the performance with WSPR. Only 10 watts from an ICOM IC-705. The results were puzzling at best.

    We both worked with WSJT-X to transmit a WSPR signal. Frank used call sign PA2DKW/P and transmitted on his delta loop antenna and PA6ML/P was used to transmit using the end-fed wire antenna, vertically.

    PA2DKW/P managed to be heard in Australia (VK4CT) with -19dB and in Alaska (KL7L) with 0dB (!).
    PA6ML/P managed to be heard… nowhere (?). We still suspect that there is more to it. Perhaps a misconfiguration in WSJT-X or a strange bug.

  • Portable preparation

    Preparing for some portable operation. Ogling an activation of POTA PA-0181 (2,5km / 1½ mile by bike) and/or PAFF-0079/PA-0180 (5,6km / 3½ miles), my wife PD4LYN and I decided to test the new equipment in the field.

    Our /P setup under test

    • TRX: ICOM IC-705;
    • Battery: 13.2VDC 12Ah home-brew LiFePo4 pack;
    • Antenna: Diamond RHM-10 with PL socket; mounted at the back of my bike with a SO239 gutter mount;
    • Amp: 45W MX-P50M, when QRP is really impossible due to abysmal condx, trying to output about 25W at most; seldom used nonetheless;
    • Keypad: for easy voice or cw-keying; simple, home-brew pad, needs some reworking;

    • PC: Asus Transformer T100TA;
    • Tuner: mAT-705, not needed, but you never know;
    • Paddle: Pico Paddle;
    • A couple of coaxial cables.

    Observations
    We noticed some heavy RFI originating from the USB between the IC-705 and the mini-notebook. Previously, with the microHAM USB III, I did not have this problem, so I (wrongly) assume this is a combination of transceiver, USB-cable and possibly some coaxial common mode going on. It messed up the RX and, as we later found out, RFI from the TRX also messed up USB. Quite predictable.

    Next time I will try:

    • a decent RF-choke;
    • a variety of properly double shielded USB-A-to-micro-B cables of different lengths with ferrite core(s);
    • a separate ferrite clamp of decent quality to run the USB-cable through;
    • changing the position of the antenna relative to the transceiver;
    • warmer weather! It was sunny, around 15ºC (60ºF), but a harsh wind in open land made it very uncomfortable.

  • Fast Forward a ‘few’ years…

    Well, this is awkward. I haven’t been updating this blog for years.
    I have just started updating my QRZ.com pages… again!

    A few important announcements:

    • April 2020: got active again from my home QTH after a few years portable-only. I now have a decent antenna tower with antennas for both HF and VHF/UHF including a proper 2m/70cm yagi.

    • February 2021: starting to upload last years (!) of /P logs. Converting them from paper with Fast Log Entry. At first, I was a bit sceptical (it felt a bit too ‘elite hacker/coder’), but I really enjoy it now: around 100 paper log entries were converted in just under 15 minutes.
    • Refreshed my /P setup with a nice ICOM IC-705 and all the necessities.
    • Also started to get interested in WWFF and POTA activations in the open air. Do check out PA6ML/P on QRZ.com for a schedule for this year.
    • Special Call Sign PA6ML: My XYL (PD4LYN) and I started a special callsign station on the 28th of February 2021. Do check out the PA6ML & PA6ML/P QRZ.com-pages on the Special Callsign Station for 2021 for schedule announcements.
    • Looking for my portable/mobile setup in PA or abroad?
      Check the QRZ.com page on PE1MR/P


  • Trip to Newcastle

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    In the weekend of the 16th of February I made a one-day trip with my YL to Newcastle, using the ferry of DFDS (Danish Seaways), in this case the King of Scandinavia. After an inquiry at the service desk and a ‘ok’ from the captain, I prepared to use the FT-817 on the stern. First a qso on the repeater of Amsterdam on 70cm: PI2ASD. Strong, clear signals from the repeater and a nice qso with PA3CNT.

    On the upper stern post, there was a abandoned (probably due to the bad weather) terrace. I used it to make some nice /MM contacts on HF. Unfortunately, due to QRM from my laptop via the USB cable to my microHAM USB 3, I had to stop the experiment with WinLink. And RFI made my 817 TX and stop with a couple of milliseconds. Back to the drawing board and use some rigid toroids on the USB cable!

    On the way back, I overheard a qso between two British hams on 2m in FM. I successfully managed to enter the conversation and spoke to Sid (MøZID) and Derek (sorry, lost your call there!).

    Half an hour or so later, I tried again (assuring the new LiPo battery pack for the 817 from Windcamp was still okay). This time I tried a cq on 144.300 in single sideband. And voilá, MøTLX, David, answered my call soon after. With only 4 Watts (according to the specs) and by now a distance of about 50 (!) nautical miles. Very nice indeed!


  • Jamboree On The Air 2013

    For a few months I have been thinking about participating in the JOTA/JOTI event of the Dutch Scouting (Scouting Nederland). A couple of weeks ago, I decided to write an e-mail to the national coordination centre of the JOTA/JOTI. Due to pure coincidence, they managed to find a group in Harmelen, only a 25 minutes ride from Gouda. The group was eagerly searching for a radio amateur. And they got one! Armed with a load of equipment, I got in the car to the Scouting group Willem-Alexander. They had already built a very nice scaffold of around 25′. It was a very busy, crowded and fun weekend and we made a lot of contacts both on 2 meter FM/SSB within the Netherlands and on HF with numerous stations.

    The 4 elements quad for the 2 meter band on the scaffold doing a very fine job.
    The 4 elements quad for the 2 meter band on the scaffold doing a very fine job in combination with a rotor.
    The FD-4 making HF possible.
    The FD-4 making HF possible.

  • BrunchFox / ARDF event N.R.V.

    For the N.R.V. (Dutch Fox-hunt Organization) and the ARDF community ZCV Keistad, we organized a nice event in the center of the Netherlands, near the town of Lage Vuursche. The fox hunt consisted of two foxes, which had to be searched by car, followed by a ARDF on foot. Of course, we did some DX on several bands too, using the HyEndFed antenna.

     

    The antenna.
    The antenna at the meeting point.
    The fox hunters sign up for the hunt.
    The fox hunters sign up for the hunt.
    The directional antennas for use in the ARDF fox hunt, on foot.
    Working again on the 897D.
    Working again on the 897D.
    The RandstadVos trying to look impressive with the 897D.

  • Charlie Quebec Field Weekend

    Another short post concerning a nice field weekend organized by the Charlie Quebec DX Group. Throughout the day, the weather was great, but in the evenings the temperature dropped fast and huge condensation threatened the equipment. Fortunately, my new case for the FT-897 and accessories protected the stuff quite good 😉

    Overall a fine two days!

     

    PE1MR/p - because looking intently makes you cool.
    PE1MR/p – because looking intently makes you cool.
    In the field - two tables and two mad radio amateurs.
    In the field – two tables and two mad radio amateurs.
    A single malt to warm up in the cold, wet evenings.
    A single malt to warm up in the cold, wet evenings.
    FT-897 in new 'portable' (not quite) case.
    FT-897 in new ‘portable’ (not quite) case.
    The Moxon for 10-12-15-17
    The Moxon for 10-12-15-17
    The always-present NorthStar on petrol: shed some light on our equipment.
    The always-present NorthStar on petrol: shed some light on our equipment.