woensdag 6 augustus 2014


Status 6th August 2014

There is currently no delay for direct QSL cards.  Last two received cards has been sent out Yesterday.

All QSL-buro cards and Clublog buro cards received until August 1st 2014 have been replied.
All SWL cards have been replied.

>1000 cards will go to the ON QSL buro on September 12th.

I'm very sorry to announce that there are 6 cards "not in log".

maandag 4 augustus 2014

EU HF championship 2014

This contest is a new one for me.  Normally after the IARU contest I close the books for a couple of months.

With my absence during the IARU contest, I decided to take this one.  Last year I was active during a couple of hours with a good QSO rate but this year I wanted to play the full 12 hours... as a test for some items in the shack.

First of all the behaviour of the G5RV antenna with optimal placement and height.
Secondly try to make 100% voicekeyer automatic SSB qso's.
Thirdly to see how the antenna at 15m height behaves on 20m to Germany as a preparation for the WAG contest later this year.

1. I'm now able to hang up the G5RV with a leg-angle of about 150 degrees.  This is much better than before because I can attach now to the upper part of the house.  Results were outstanding on both 40m (800W) and 80m (600W output).    The G5RV, provided with a coax 10-turn current balun, was connected to the MFJ-986 autotuner.  Although it is written in the MFJ manual to avoid this situation without the optional balun, this worked perfect.  On 160m tuning a G5RV is impossible as expected.

2. Mixed mode was a disaster.  It went well on 20m but on the lower bands...  I could hear only 10 stations on 40m calling CQ in the upper part >7100 Khz.  I even did not listen to 80m SSB.  This contest seems a real CW contest.  With the children sleeping I made some QSOs with the Yaesu voice keyer.  This worked good for S&P.

3. Even 15m is too high for 20m contacts to DL.  I worked DL stations, but I think this will go better with my Ultrabeam vertical.  To be evaluted during the WAG.

All this testing - and in the mean time working the KH0UA expedition - had a influence on the result.  I did not play on 10m and lost many multipliers.  I wasn't prepared for the high degree of participating stations and somethimes the 40WPM CW was a thriller.  

Normally some days before a big CW contest I play with morserunner to prepare high speed CW.

I'll keep in mind the 1100 QSO and not the poor 214 multipliers.

OT1A Max Rates:

SSB 2014-08-02 1227Z - 6,0 per minute  (1 minute(s)), 360 per hour by OT1A
CW  2014-08-02 1234Z - 3,0 per minute  (10 minute(s)), 180 per hour by OT1A
CW  2014-08-02 1700Z - 2,2 per minute  (60 minute(s)), 130 per hour by OT1A

Next year is for real !

ONFF-218 on the air !

Hey Guys,

I'm now ONFF-218 !

Not that this is one of my interests, but I my shack is in the natural park, so why not.

Since I need also nearby countries for the 30m DXCC, this attracts stations that need a new ONFF number.

ONFF-218 is the "park des collines" situated in the "pays the collines". 
Traduction to english : "Park of the hills" situated in the "land of the hills".  

I must agree, this is a beautifull region plenty of nature with almost no industry. 
So some protection of the nature by the authorities is a nice to have.

More info on : http://www.paysdescollines.be    All in french, I can't find an english or dutch link.

As from now on, I'll put this reference on my QSL cards.  I someone needs a card with this reference for on older QSO (but after 1999) just send me a mail.

donderdag 31 juli 2014

acitivities on 30m

Yesterday, big visit : ON5ZO & Co in the house with hints and tricks and a lot of "not-again-this-kind-of-Murphial-troubles-when-we-are-together".

Lesson 1 : never try to use an analyser with the antenna connected to an MFJ relay switch.  Strange results will happen, and there is no explanation...

Lesson 2 : trust (but verify) the Steppir, it stays a good antenna.

Lesson 3 : paper calculations are ok, but the practical in nature situation is not the theory.  After measuring my home-made 30m dipole (calculated on paper without analyser) it seemed that the dip was on 9600 Khz.  We had to cut 2x 0,5m to have it resonant on 10115 Khz.

At this moment I can use the antenna without tuner, so I can use full power in stead of 750 W.

This results of course in much better reverse-beacon reports.

W3LPL before:  26 dB snr, now (at 2:00 local time in the middle of the night) 35 dB
K1TTT before : 19 dB snr, now 34 dB
KM3T before : 25 dB snr, now 38 dB
DF7GB from 13 to 36 dB

But there is a negative side on the story : the antenna is mounted as a sloper and as a consequence it takes up much more QRM than a horizontal antenna.
High power reaches more people but I have much more problems to copy low-power stations. 

So dear (mainly US) stations on the other side,  I'm very sorry and I'm not deaf (not yet at least I may hope) but it is very hard to copy a 100W station if I'm only 559 at your side with 1500 W and no special receiving antenna.

DXCC worked counter on 30m is now on 45...  still a lot of work to do.

Yesterday I was able to add HK, HS0 and EW.

DXCC #305 worked

C21 is in the log.

This is a special one for me.  No, no secret banking account on this financial paradise, unfortunately...

In my beginning years 1996-1997, playing with a butternut vertical (without radial system) and only 100W, there was an DXpedition to Nauru.  At that time the use of call-lists was used very often.  "last two letters pse ?"  Charlie Papa, I've you.

I was at the almost end of such a list and when it was my turn to play, the conditions were changed and I could't make the QSO. 

It took until yesterday to make a new contact with Nauru.  I really hope (there are some negative rumours) that our Japanese friend will confirm with a QSL card !

donderdag 17 juli 2014

RTTY stress

Finally, after 2 days filled with troubles and problems, I seem to be able to play in RTTY with my FT1000 MKV.

I started on Monday.  I decided to prepare my station for some rtty activities and maybe the CQWW contest  in September.  A long story very short : my laptop's internal soundcard seemed deaf for the incoming signal from the microham microkeyer.

27 € and (only !) one day later, this little soundblaster stick is the correct workaround and works super.

Incoming signal ok.

Second problem : how to get RTTY out of the tx.  AFSK or FSK ?  Rookie as I am in digital modes, I couldn't find the word FSK on my TX, so I decided to go for AFSK.  Wrong !

More than two hours of changing settings on the microham router + N1MM + MMTTY.  But no good signal.  I had a signal, but I seemed random and not repeatable.

The motivation decreased with the increase of the temperature (it was a hot day in Belgium). However, a phone call with ON5ZO is always the start for a solution.  No plug and play solution as Franki is not a rtty-lover, but at least the hint to go for FSK and not AFSK.

Googling on the net, I seems that Yaesu uses the RTTY buttom for FSK operations and the Packet buttom for AFSK.  Rookie ² !!

But too much time on google is also bad : I took a totally wrong path with the extfsk.dll feature in MMTTY.   Another loss of some hours.

Finally I decided to restart from scratch (without extfsk) and at this moment it seems to work.  With a few Watt and no more motivation to go on, I couldn't make a contact, but this is just a question of time.  Anyway a Russian station answered my 'ot1a ot1a ot1a' with QRZ?  so it means at least a part of my call was in the air. 
With more time and good macros, I'll come back after a qsy to DL.

 RTTY : what a complex mode and setup system...

CW rules !

zaterdag 31 mei 2014

30m here we go

This week I did a LOTW update and ordered the 12 dxcc award. 

I've now 7B-DXCC and DXCC-300

Only on 30m there is a huge amount of work to do (before switching to topband - requiring a receiving system).
Last night I finally started to collect new countries.  Within a few hours, 9 new countries were added (3A, OZ, OH0, LU, F, IS0, UA9,SV, SP).
My home-made vertical dipole accepting around 700W does a good job.

Strange feeling... in my current - only 32 cfd dxcc - list I've VK0IR, ZL, ZD7, 3B7,... 

This is due to my Butternut vertical that was used in the early years 1995-2000. 
Even without radial system and only 100W it was possible to contact DXpeditions. 
WARC bands were not that occupied and most multi-band antennas covered only 10-15-20m.

Those rules are changed now... also in QSL-world : only few hours later, 3 countries are allready confirmed via lotw.

zaterdag 3 mei 2014

It's a small world !

HAM radio is a small world.  It are always the same people that come back.

But this one is a bit extreme :-)

During the 2013 ARRL CW contest, Marko, S50K, ended just before me on 15M band.

Eleven months later, 2013 CQWW DX CW we meet again in the final score table. 
Now, it's my turn to have 10 K points more.

It seems that our stations and contest capabilities (and category choice) are very close to each other (at least on the higher bands and in morse). 

CQ-WW-DX CW 2013 award

A real highlight in my morse contest-career...

donderdag 1 mei 2014

New ON-record in CQ WW DX CW

With 627 K points, I was able to beat the current ON record in the 2013 CQ Worldwide DX contest  SOHP-10m-A  CW category
Huray !

I makes me yet more happy because the 3el Steppir isn't optimal for the 10 meter band.  The bad F/B ratio is not an obstacle to perform well in a big contest.

The new record is now :
  1653 QSO, 3604 Points, 38 Zones, 136 countries,  Score   627096

Again a rather bad Q/multi rate, but Running mode is so much more funny than S&P, even in assisted mode.

The error rate of 2,2% - lower than the median error rate of 2,7% - is imo still too high.  This costs me 5,3% of my final score.

Especially the wrong zone numbers hurt me.  This is due to a lack of concentration and experience with N1MM.

28066 CW 2013-11-23 0645 OT1A            14 UA7G            17 correct   16
28077 CW 2013-11-23 0732 OT1A            14 R8OA            17 correct   18
28102 CW 2013-11-23 0953 OT1A            14 OG6N            14 correct   15
28102 CW 2013-11-23 0957 OT1A            14 LZ1NG           15 correct   20
28070 CW 2013-11-23 1754 OT1A            14 N7GVV            3 correct    4
28044 CW 2013-11-24 0943 OT1A            14 RD8O            17 correct   18
28042 CW 2013-11-24 1122 OT1A            14 R7LA            17 correct   16
28106 CW 2013-11-24 1427 OT1A            14 KV1E             5 correct    4
28052 CW 2013-11-24 1620 OT1A            14 N7FUL            3 correct    4

 The OG and LZ zone-errors may not occur because there is no doubt possible...

Another tricky one is the dit-disease :

dit : S59DCR correct S59DKR
dit : GM3YEU correct GM3YEH
dit :  6Y7P correct 6Y7W - country multi lost !
dit : UR3VR correct UR3UR
dit : UW5A correct UW5U
dit :  KN3Y correct KN4Y
dit : IZ3IQW correct IZ3SQW
dit : DL6MRK correct DL6MFK
dit : DF3SS correct DF3IS

9 missed dit's = 0,5% call error rate

But others have the same problems.  OT1A was copied :

OT-2-3-4-5-6A = 9x    O-E-Y-1A = 3x

zondag 20 april 2014

Dipole troubles @ OT1A

Troubles on 10Mhz !

I keep it in my calendar to do a big review of my outside equipment every two years.  Normally this is summer stuff, but with the good weather of the moment and a free day on Friday I decided to do it now.

This gives me some extra time this summer to play on 10Mhz in order to achieve DXCC band  8.  With only 32 countries confirmed it will be a big job...

Four things to do :
1- line up the dipole which has turned 45 degrees by the hard wind some months ago.

2- check the wiring of the Steppir and clean the fiber tubes (a lot of pigeon shit this year).

I also remarked the results of our hard working sun.  Fibers are suffering the UV light.
Step 1 : the green painted fiber becomes grey.
Step 2 : all painting disappears and the main fiber becomes visible.

I do not estimate any risk on this process.  If needed, fibers can be changed very easily.

The 12 wires of the 3 stepp-motor were in perfect condition.
This antenna is now working fine for about 7 years in all conditions without one single failure.  Super FB !!

3- check the wiring of the Yaesu rotor. The needle doesn't follow, so maybe a bad connexion.
I've found indeed two wires with corrosion.  My plastic protection egg - vertically mounted - wasn't 100% water proof.  Now I've mounted the egg horizontally (like my steppir egg).

This is the risk of having an extra connexion near the rotor.  It helps a lot if trouble appears - the control cable can be checked end-to-end very quickly - but the risk for corrosion increases.

4- rebuild the 40m Optibeam dipole into the 30m version by replacing some tubes.
At this point Murphy joined the club.  The changing was an easy job.  In order to be sure, I did a dummy-load test and the antenna feed point to check the coax.  No problems.

 But once back on place in the air, the antenna gives me a full-scale swr...  Damn !  
Or there is a problem at the feedpoint, or there is a problem with a bad connexion between tubes.  Anyway after all work I can't come out on 10 Mhz...

 I will go for another solution i.e. making a vertical dipole.  This will be easier on short term.

donderdag 3 april 2014

DX stress

It was an sms sent by Franki, OQ5M, that woke me up from winter-sleeping.  CQ WPX passed this weekend, and again the shack stayed qrt.  Too much to do,  the final preparation for another running contest this weekend etc...

However, it was an alert to have a look at the dxcluster.  VK9MT in the air.  Mellish reef is one of the 6 expeditions to work this year !  It didn't notice that the dxpedition was started.

Ok,  due to my lack of activity the antenna was still at 17m, so this couldn't be the problem.  I quickly put up the tx and went to 24Mhz.  The expected zoo was busy, of course without listening to the operator.  I think the poor guy was so impressed that he went qrt.  Even after 5 minutes folks were calling in the empty darkness.

My expectations came true : few minutes later a spot arrived on 18Mhz, also ssb (probably the same operator).  A few calls later, Mellish Reef entered the OT1A log.

I noticed also a TX6G, but no country was indicated and with the garden calling even harder to be cleaned , I did not pay attention.

Back in town, far away from the shack, I looked up the strange TX call : Austral Isl.
My God, this was also a missing one !  And he should go qrt the next day, April 1st.
Big problem : next day was fully filled in with qrl.  Only one big hour of free time at noon (with 25 minutes for a single trip to the shack, this meant about 20 minutes of operating time).

Some more stress : this dxpedition claimed a focus on rrty, while I do not play this mode.

I took the risk, went to home and Austral was active on 21Mhz ssb.  Ouf !
Due to this stress I forgot my laptop and had to take the cluster via my poor gsm.  Nothing bad, but another problem arrived : the Austral Islands were not indicated on my bearing map and I couldn't look up for extra information on the internet.

My intuition indicated around 0 degrees, short path.  The station was there but with a weak signal.
Without listening (shame !) I took a split of 5 kHz and called.  He immediately answered my call.  This was my lucky day.   Huray.

Anyway, once passed the 300 DXCC every new entity means a challenge and often there is no way to have a second change.

DX delivers stress !

zondag 26 januari 2014

Amsterdam Island in the log !

Only one hour after the expedition start, Amsterdam Island is in my log on ... 12m.

Normally, I never try to catch a expedition on the first day, but this time I was in the shack and tried a few times.

So 2 planned QSY's this week from QRL-qth to shack has become obsolete.

I need them just once for DXCC 301.  I'm not motivated to survive the lid fests on the other bands.

zaterdag 25 januari 2014

My Steppir gets 100 Khz shorter !

Bizar :
I turned on my Steppir, powered up the ampli and remarked a reflected power of about 50W. 
This isn't normal, I never had returning power.

Playing with the frequency adjustment, it shows that the SWR is nil at frequency minus 100Khz.
So I have to longer my antenna to achieve the old swr rating.

I first suspected one of the control cables, but this doesn't make sense : the Steppir reacts on a normal way.

Looking through the window, the problem became clear : my 40m dipole, about 1m perpendicular under my Steppir has moved about 30 degrees.  Something must have suffered the hard winds of the last weeks.

This new situation creates a capacity for the Steppir and shortens the yagi !

It's time for a yearly review of the antenna system ! 
And I've to tilt the tower and replace the 40m dipole by the 30m version. 

Anyway, I made 50 QSO's in the uba-contest (completely forgotten that it's the last weekend of January and certainly not in a contest mood) to give some points. 

 I remarked a quite good activity on 24 Mhz, especially to the Carribean and African area.  So I quit the SSB contest and went to S&P on 12 meters to collect some new countries.

Today my 12 meter DXCC is virtually achieved with 9 new countries this afternoon.

It's time for 30m !

And let's pray for a good Amsterdam Isl. expedition.

zondag 12 januari 2014

This was 2013, let's start 2014

Oh boy, allready12 days gone in 2014.  Time is going too fast.

Time to take a look at 2013.
With 3760 Qso's made from home, this wasn't a top year (4th place in 18 years) on activity level.  Only 19 days with at least one qso in the log.

2013 was the year of the first RTTY and PSK contacts.  Until now, I'm not convinced.  CW rules !

Of course the OJ0V expedition (preparation, qsy, qsl-work afterwards) with 17.000 Q's is not taken into account.

The DXCC counter reached 300.  WAZ is now ok on 20/15/10, WAS ok on 15 and 10m.
I planned to be active on 12m to obtain my DXCC.
The progress was very good, but I'm at 95 confirmed countries and not at 100.  Still 5 to go in 2014.

I worked every big expedition available but missed Temotu province this year.

A new contest era has started : not the 48hours-all-band activity as before, but a dedicated single band assisted operation.  This worked very fine.  Top results in the ARRL CW and CQWW CW contest and good balance activity-family during the contest weekend and not the need for sleep in the week after the contest.
To be continued in 2014.

I ended 2013 with a surprising visit of 2 policemen from our national control institute (like FCC).
Everything went fine, so no problems...

Plans for 2014,  activity-year 19:  I foresee a rather sabatical year on ham-radio level.
Now that WRTC dreams are delayed for a couple of years...
It will be my last heavy-QRL year with the move of second QRL-site (after the move of site 1 this year).  Finally, after 6 years of too busy qrl, the future looks very bright with more free time than ever before.

Something that will take most of my free time in 2014 : I'm running in a new category this year, i.e. being the youngest Veteran.  This also motivates to run good times during the almost weekly competition during the weekend. 

Anyway I hope to be certainly active in at least 5 (CW) contests.

6 DX-expeditions to work this year for new DXCC: Amsterdam Island, Mellish reef, Austral Isl, San Andres, Nauru and Tromelin.

I foresee another few days of activity on 12m to have 100 countries.
I also foresee the start on 30m (only 31 countries confirmed) with my 30m dipole in stead of the 40m dipole.

On 20m I need North Dakota and Idaho to have my 20m WAS.  Single band contesting will probably be focussed on 20m.

By the end of 2014 I hope to have at least 305 DXCC-mixed mode, WAS and WAZ on 20/15/10, a 12m DXCC award and about 80 countries on 30m band.

2015 will be a special ham year for me : 20 years on the air !
In the mean time, the 2 el 40m yagi will stay in the box and I'm looking forward to see the price and the performance of the new Ultrabeam 80m dipole.