Viewing digital photos on air

Reading this post from 2E0HTS Simon did give me some interest in SSTV again. Although I didn’t want to do SSTV the traditional way as the images are low quality when QRM is coming in. I heard about digital SSTV modes and discovered now that it is actually not SSTV anymore. The pictures are send digitally and so you receive them they way they were made. This is really a nice mode for someone that has photography as a hobby. So, I had some spare time today to make this digital TV or photoshow happen. I installed Easypal the most used digital SSTV program around. And started on 20m receive, I actually received something but after half a hour still didn’t see any picture. Later on I tried some TX to see if one of the online receivers could get my picture. But unfortenately my signal has not been received, till I saw another received picture online from I6IBE. He did seem to receive my picture and send one in return, but still it didn’t appear on my screen. I don’t know why? But at last I did receive some pictures on 20m mostly from Russian stations. In the evening I switched to 80m 3733KHz LSB and found a crowded frequency and lots of pictures were received. I also discovered most of these stations are using amplifiers and only a almost perfect signal can be decoded. It’s not like analog SSTV were you see noise in the picture when QRM is fading in and out. If you get QRM with digital SSTV you simply miss some bits and you don’t see the picture. There is a possebility to fix the missing parts, but from what I’ve been experiencing so far it’s seldom been used. Conclusion: it was a nice experiment although I didn’t have the time to completely figure out all possebilities of Easypal. For someone with less time for the hobby it’s nice to receive only if you like all kind of pictures. But to make QSOs you really need a lot of time. After all I had a couple of hours radio fun.

Tnx report Ivo, unortenately didn’t receive you myself…

PACC 2012 story

What can I tell. This contest was enervating. My XYL was not too happy with 24 hours of contesting. And I have to admit I wasn’t that much of use to her and my little daughter with only contesting in my mind. But I have to thank her that once in a year she let me go for a whole weekend to do my most important radio contest of the year. Luckely they were away to my mother-in-law at Saturday so I had no distractions. Propagation was bad on Saturday, it was improving Sunday. But of course Sunday I had some distractions, you can not totally ignore family live of course. Anyway I guess I missed some multipliers like VK, I actually didn’t hear VK on any band but know that there was some activity. No interesting DX this time like last year, you got to have some luck with that of course. I made a note from some calls and names from felow bloggers and readers so I could greet them with their names. But at the end I only worked PA1HHO Pleun,  I actually made a short but nice QSO with him on 80m so he tested his new “Rode” mike and let me hear the original mike so I could tell the difference. I made a 40m QSO with him as well. After all a interesting contest and I improved my score from last year, actually broke the 600 QSO barrier. Side effect after the contest, extreme tiredness and a headache.

Most interesting DX:

10m: VU2XO (India), PU2LEP (Brazil, long path!), RK9QWM (Asiatic Russia)
15m: K3ZO (USA), VO1BBN (Canada),  PY5PDC (Brazil)
20m: N8II (USA), VO1BBN (Canada)
80m: VO1BBN (Canada)

I didn’t even hear USA or Canada on 40m this year. Although I’ve been calling CQ on 40m at the right time there were only European stations that replied. There was a Brazilian station active on 40m but I couldn’t hear him. Propagation can be very local sometimes. The only advantage I have on the low bands is that I haven’t got tht much QRM. Although there were 2 stations that I had to let go as I couldn’t get their calls no matter what I tried. That was almost also the cause with some stations that were almost eating their mikes, it makes them very hard to understand although I guess they thought they had more power that way :-). Another thing I did this year was repeating the progressive number, just to check and improve my error logging. I hope the error rate has been improved that way. And I finally had a second screen with cluster information on another desk, it did get me some multipliers. Although my analysing program thinks that I had second radio that was not the case. The nice thing of N1MM is you can type in the frequency in the logging field and you go there instantly. When the QSO is made you just jump back to your CQ frequency with ALT+Q and run again. N1MM is great software for contests, unfortenately it’s not always without bugs. This time I couldn’t see the worked stations in the 40m bandmap. On other bands there were no problems.
Well, I thought I would write a short story about the PACC 2012, but after all….

The button below links to the great SH5 analysing tool

PACC 2012 preparations

PI4H contest QTH with pyramid 80m antenna on the foreground

Well, I didn’t have much time to prepare for the PACC this year. A cold period is always a busy time at the job here. Besides that my mother-in-law had a computer that would not do what it should do. I’ve been busy with that too and it resulted in buying a new computer at the end. Probabely another case of a failing motherboard, a waste of time to fix it. I wish I had some time to work HK0NA on other bands, but it didn’t happen. I hope to check if everything is working and set-up the laptop with the latest version of N1MM at Saturday morning. Then I just go for it starting at 10m but not wasting time like last year if propagation is not good enough. I will participate in the low power single operator SSB section like last year, that’s max. 100W. The propagation doesn’t look good with low sunspots and a high A index, but it doesn’t matter as I am at my best then. I don’t have a good 10m antenna and with good propagation that would be a disadvantage. Last year most of my QSO’s were made on 40m and 80m although you need the higher bands for multipliers. Looking at my log from last year I made 552 QSOs with 122 Multipliers, that’s the score before correction. Most multipliers were made on 80m, 40m and 20m. So with bad propagation that will be the bands concentrating on. I had the opportunity to visit the PI4H contest QTH and made some pictures like last year. The guys were really enthousiastic and did made some improvement on the antennas for the contest. The only problem is that the rotor for the 10m beam doesn’t turn as it is probabely frozen. But overall I think they will improve their contest score of last year. Only 14 hours to go for the PACC start.

A Baofeng experience and HK0NA worked

The difference!!!

I purchased 2 Baofeng UV-3R Mark II handhelds with some accessoiries from Hong Kong. Unfortenately I had some bad luck with the package as my package got in sight at the customs. Apparently they didn’t believe the customs declaration that it hold toys worth 10 USD. So I had to pay an extra 19% VAT and 12,50 euro adinistration costs. Never happened to anyone but me of course. Anyway, I ordered 2 with profit so after all they are still cheap.  Lots of things have been written about this mini handheld TRX, that’s the nice thing about it. Actually the main advantage and why I bought it is the radio receive capability. You can listen  to the radio and once there is activity on one of the UHF/VHF frequencies it will switch over and back again  to radio when things are quiet. It’s extremely small so I had my doubts when unpacking. But I had the opportunity to have a experience with it as I had a small job to do 45km away from here today. Driving to the job I heard PD1B in QSO with PD/CT2FZY on the coversity network, nice conversation good receive. But it was busy on the road and a little slippery here and there because of the cold weather, so I kept my eyes on the road. On the way back I made a QSO with PD5GVP Gerrie who was also mobile and I noticed that the little Baofeng didn’t get as hot as my Alinco, great advantage. After the QSO I was called by PD2VB Bram who I know I think about 25 years, also a ex-CB operator. Bram does a lot of portable work himself like he already did years ago with a CB walky talky. He told me he had already been active iceskating portable! I could talk to him via the coversity network till I was at home, I didn’expect that from the little Baofeng inside the car! Nearest access point to the network about 10-15km away! So, I think this will be my little radio I always have with me in the future. It’s easy to fit in the pocket and even smaller then todays mobile phone! Some interesting links and info for future reference can be found on the website of PA2OLD Ben. I would recommend the UV-3R yahoogroup for the latest info about this little UHF/VHF mini handheld.

When I came home this afternoon I did a quick lunch. We brought Anneli to her bed for her afternoon nap. My XYL had to go for some shopping. So, I quickly did some necessary household things and after that up to the shack to listen for HK0NA. And yes after 15-20 minutes I finally managed a QSO on 15m SSB. Another new DXCC and I’m a happy operator. Working a new DX is one of my favourites, and when I read for instance the blog of EI2KC who works a new DXCC daily I sometimes get frustrated. I haven’t got  that much time to be active with my 45 hours a week job, family and things in and around the house. But then I think, hey there are other things in live besides radio. I already achieved so much with my hobby, be satisfied! Now next thing would be the PACC 2012, get ready…..6 days to go!

PE4BAS goes QRO!

You’re kiddin’ PE4BAS goes QRO. No, it can’t be. But a picture says more then a 1000 words! It has to be true. I just had the opportunity to buy this RM KL500 amplifier very cheap on the club evening last friday. I thought what the heck, I just like to experiment. This amp is rated 600W (!!) out with 30W SSB in. Well I don’t recommend that at all, as it will get very hot. At first I connected everything to my FT817 and did a 5W input, the amp was not going to TX, was it broken? So I was a little angry about that. I wrote one of the clubmembers to get the call from the amateur that had sold it so I could get in contact with him. Then it strikes me that there was a extra connection made on the back side. The electronic diagrams were delivered with it and from that I understood the internal VOX circuit was bridged. I just had to connect this connection to earth or neutral via PTT to get it on TX. After looking inside it was clear to me the extra BIAS mods found on the internet were already made in this amp. Anyway, just to be shure I connected a old CB radio with 3W instead of my expensive FT817. With the KL500 on the dummy it did already 100W out full power. But it took 30A of current already. I don’t want to test it any further as that was more then enough for me. I guess it does about +200W out with 10w in? Too much for my needs. So I will sell this one after I tidy it a little and make a proper connection for the large current supply. After that I will try to test it once more with 10W input and then sell it. 

So I’ve been to the local radioclub last friday and collected my QSLs from the bureau. They have a special PE4BAS tab in the QSL trunk now, so they were easy to find. 2 QSLs were special to me. The one from ON2PCO as I remember him well. He was using 10W with a FD4 dipole inside the house and was surprised to work me on 80m in the PACC. And the QSL from JW/PA0ZH from Spitsbergen, Svalbard. I didn’t work them with EME but on 20m SSB. Although they were QRV with EME, I think they made a lot of operators very happy. 

Today I listened for HK0NA once again. I guess luck is not with me as I could only hear a very weak sometimes readable signal on 15m. The rest of Europe seems to have very good propagation as he worked one after the other. Same for TO4M who was just readable on 10m, he worked a lot of Europe but after calling for half a hour I just gave up. I tried for a Brazilian station who was RS58 here, but even he didn’t hear me. Time to leave the radio then and do some other things. I hope propagation will be better with the PACC on……9 days to go.

Transmission from space…

A short video RXing PI9ISS

Andre Kuipers is a Dutch astronaut in space at the ISS at the moment. Since he’s Dutch he is the operator behind the HAM radio when skeds are made with Dutch and Belgian schools. His call is PI9ISS. Today he was answering some questions from Belgian students. I knew that the contact was actually made from Belgium this time so there was a chance to receive him. Since I was on the job I was not able to listen to the full session but managed to hear some of the overs. Of course my colleague had to listen to it as well, actually at first he didn’t even believe it was Andre from space till he listened a few overs.  The signal was most of the time full scale, after 10 minutes it went down fast and I lost PI9ISS in the noise.

Radio Netherlands relaystation entrance

Well I was home this afternoon cleaning the temporarely radioshack a bit. And had of course the radio on receive. I suddenly heard PJ4B from Bonaire Isl. on 12m SSB in a small pile-up. PJ4B was again transmitting from he Radio Netherlands Relay station site and used the commercial antennesystem. They told that it had a gain of 21dB over a normal dipole. Very nice steady signal peaking S7 here on the horizontal loop antenna. They were asking another Dutch station (PE2MC) what the difference was between signals of PJ4C and their signal. I couldn’t hear what Marco was telling but it must be a large difference as I couldn’t even hear PJ4C who was a few KHz down. Well, PJ4NX Peter was on the mike when he was calling for Dutch stations, so I had a easy chance to make the QSO.

Horizontal loop repaired & contesting 2012

The horizontal loop has been repaired. I lost 3 glasfiber mast parts, they are broken and cannot be repaired. I can probabely use them to make a tripod or so, I’ve seen that somewhere on the web. The loop is now at 7m and I got a better feeling about the mechanical strength this time. I decided not to repair the beam, it is too heavy for a aluminium mast and although I didn’t test it I don’t think it gives me an advantage in for example working DX in any direction at low height compared to my vertical. I really need to get my versa tower up again so I can install a beam for 10m like it should be. Well, in January it’s time to have my agenda and that of my XYL filled with the upcoming contests I really want to take part in. This is my list:

  • 11/12-Feb:PACC contest
  • 24/25-Mar: CQWW WPX SSB contest
  • 1/2-Sept: Fieldday contest
  • 29/30-Sept: CQWW RTTY contest
  • 27/28-Okt: CQWW SSB contest
  • 11-Nov: PA-beker contest
  • 18-Nov: Friese 11 steden contest
  • 24/25-Nov: CQWW CW contest
  • 4-Dec: 10m RTTY contest
  • 10/11-Dec: ARRL 10m contest


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