Brought my total QSO count for 2011 to 396. OK7FL was the last one, in CW on 15 meters.
Did some CW QSOs today and slipped in an RTTY and psk31 one too. Has been a while since I did digital. At night finally a 160 meter QSO outside Taiwan: JR6EA in Okinawa was the lucky one. His keying was quite slow, so I could take him by hand, not the computer. Yeah! Those are the nice ones.
Now that I know I can get a signal out on 80 meters it was time to try 160 meters. Never had a single QSO on that band, even back in Holland. I've been reading about top loading 5 meter verticals, but my CG3000 auto-tuner tunes 160 meters without problems when I use my 10 meter vertical. So when I heard the booming signal from BU2AQ in early evening I answered him. A whopping 36 kilometers, but he heard me. Later that night BV100ROC was active from Taipei, but he was weak. Still worked him and then afterwards BQ100 came on. He is BV8BC from Taitung and he was stronger than BV100ROC. Worked him easily, so I am making it all around Taiwan on 160 meters. 40 meters is also rocking: heard a Norwegian station two days ago, this time it was 9A9A from Croatia with booming signals. Couldn't work him, but heard XE2/K6PT and he worked him. A QSO between Mexico and Croatia, heard in Taiwan! Radio keeps being amazing.
A 38.5 C fever kept me home today, also because my voice was almost gone. Still tried to make the most of it by writing out all my QSL cards and finally fixing the power supply permanently. The trimming pot turned out to be a 1k one, not 10M and I put in two new 15000 uF caps. The only thing I can't figure out is why the CG3000 can't be powered by the PSU, because on some bands I get some RF feedback which produces a buzz. It can be powered by a wall wart, so no big damage there.
Came down with a nasty cough and it was too windy to be outside, so I did something I should have done ages ago: I used copper tape to shield my touch paddle/keyer combo. The touch paddle was oscillating too much and especially on 20 meters this was noticeable. I haven't tested it extensively, but it seems to have helped.
With that problem out of the way I took the Kent paddles apart, cleaned them with naphtha en oiled them. Hopefully the missing dots problem will have been cured, but I haven't tested the thing yet, so the verdict is still out there.
On this Christmas eve I made a quick 20 meter CW QSO with LZ1MS. First time Bulgaria in the log. Later that night I turned to 80 meters again and since I wanted to test my new AA0ZZ keyer I put out a CQ. To my surprise WA5VGI came back to my call, all the way from California. I could take his report, but he was weak and the local noise increased so he quickly gave me a 73. Never mind, I am really surprised my 100 Watts and meagre 10 meter vertical took me 10,677 km to California.
No QSO in 9 days, so I hooked up the 10 meter vertical and tested the setup. Turned down the TS-440S to less than 5 Watts and made a successful QSO with VK2IG on 15 meters. Wow, real QRP again! Later that night I tried 80 meters and finally made my first 80 meter QSO with JO4CTB and later one with BA5HAM. No world shocking events, but nice to see that 10 meters vertical in the air is getting my signal out in the world.
Went to Taipei last Saturday to get some parts for the PSU. Also picked up a little plastic box for 37 NT$ and today I fitted the AA0ZZ keyer in there. Thank to the hand punch it was a cinch. Great little keyer and easy to program.
One year of BX2ABT. No time to spend in the shack, so no celebration.
So with my PSU fixed I thought I would try my luck in the ARRL 10-meter contest. I have never participated in a contest before, but with 10 meters so hot nowadays I’d thought I’d give it a try. Murphy reared its head, so with the wife and kids all sick there was lots of housework to do and too little time behind the set. But I did sneak in an hour or four over two days. My goal: to practise my CW skills. My thought was that doing many short exchanges would give me enough practice to get a little more fluent with the key. So I started out on Saturday morning answering CQs, but nobody came back to me. Fiddled with my side tone, checked my signal with another receiver, no problems found. After four tries I gave up and went up to the SSB portion. Great fun: one Brazilian after another and my first Argentinian on 10 meters. Great to have the comfort of 100 Watts – makes life a lot easier.
Sunday morning the sunspots were lower, but I did manage a couple of State side stations. But it irked me that I hadn’t logged one CW QSO, so I tried again in the afternoon. Found a strong enough signal from Japan and after the second try it worked. Europe was okay and I did log one Dutch station: PI4TUE, the station of the University of Eindhoven, very close to my place of birth.
I had to stop there, but when I came back I switched to SSB again. Worked some Europeans and then, all of a sudden, CX2DDP. via long path. These kind of QSOs are fun though short and I guess Hector Rubens was as surprised as I was. After 75 QSOs I called it a day, which that was right when the band was closing. I’m not in for the numbers, so I am already happy with so many QSOs. I worked 32 different entities in SSB and six in CW, so a grant total of 38 multiplier points. Indeed, no contest for die-hard contesting hams and I doubt that I will often enter other contests.
But the best thing about this contest was that I got my private language student to do a QSO. He is a 16 year old, very shy boy, whom I teach English on Saturday afternoons. He just graduated from high school and he now goes to polytech, which give us a common interest: electronics. Every week I show him some radio related stuff, so this week it was how a QSO is being done. After showing him the ropes and teaching him the NATO alphabet I let him answer CQs with my call sign. He soon found out that you have to open your mouth and speak slowly, clearly and – when using SSB – loudly. Unfortunately these are traits that most Asians don’t possess. But he found it very “cool” that you could call all the way to Europe so he made an effort and in the end he managed a QSO on his own with JA7BEW. He will soon know more about electronics than I, so the exam for a radio licence will be a piece of cake then. Another ham in the making. Who says contests have no use?
We bought a new car today: a Toyota Tercel, 1.5L. Old, a bit ugly, but only 90,000 km on the counter and not too expensive. Finally a car on which I can put an antenna.
Replaced the trimming potentiometer in the PSU with a 1 MOhm one, even though I think the original one is 20 MOhm. Ready for the ARRL 10 meter contest this weekend. I also programmed my keyer with a CQ sequence, but it is oscillating too much to be useful on the bands. So back to the Kent and the home-brew keyer.
I got my power supply back from Jack yesterday. He also couldn't find anything suspicious, but when he hooked up a 50000 uF capasitor to the 2x10000 uF that were in there he finally could draw some current. So I took it back, and he gave me a replacement keyboard for the TS-440S as well. But I still had a hard time believing that the capacitors were at fault. After all, I had disconnected them before and the problem still existed. I replaced the 2x10000 uF caps with some others that I had lying around, but still no sizeable current that could be drawn. So with the PSU gutted on my bench I noticed this trimming potentiometer on the voltage regulator controlling pin 2 of the CA723CE IC. Time for a dose of curiosity: what does it do if I turn it? Well, it creaked and squeaked a bit and all of a sudden the PSU came back to life. I hooked up a halogen lamp and no problem drawing 2 amps. I hooked up my TS-130v and no problem drawing 4 amps. I would have hooked up my TS-440S, but the kids called for dinner and Sinterklaas was also scheduled to pay us a visit that night (he never forgets Dutch ex-pats, because he is a really nice Saint), so I left it there. So finally some light at the end of the tunnel. I will have to replace that trimming pot-meter and will do that to the caps too, just to be on the safe side.
I didn't have Argentina in the log yet. Today I got lucky again. Was roaming 12 meters in the afternoon when i heard LU8EEM calling in SSB. He was weak, but my 100 Watts did make it to Argentina and he returned my call. What I don't know if our QSO was via long-path or short-path as at that moment both were open.
My own little thermometer didn't get above 11 degrees Centigrade today. Quite a contrast with the 20+ degrees we had two days ago.
Some days you just get lucky. Turned on the set today and the only station on 15 meters happened to be EA9EI. I thought: "Nice, Spain, let's give him a call." So we exchanged the basics and he ended with "Greetings from North Africa." Then it dawned on me: this is Ceuta and Mellila! So still no mainland Spain for me, only EA6 and EA9. Later tonight I turned to 20 meters and heard 8J1RL in CW. 8J is Japan, so I didn't think much of it. Still checked qrz.com and then raced for my key because it is Antarctica! It took a couple of tries, but he got me in the end and I didn't mess up the exchange. Got all continents now. Next goal: the arctic. Here is a clip of 8J1RL calling CQ.
Yesterday we still had 20+ degrees. Today it hardly reached 20 and at night it's a mere 13 degrees. Quite cold for Taiwan.
Got some bamboo poles and U-bolts today for the Cobwebb antenna that I am planning to make. Total cost: NT$225, or 5.60 Euro/US$7.50.
No computer this time, just plain old CW: 21 MHz was open to southern Europe, so I logged EA6UN in CW. He was quite strong, but some Japanese on the same frequency kept calling even though he clearly stated "BX2?". Still got me in the end, though. The other nice one was CX2TQ in SSB on 20 meters. Weak but readable when the local QRN was gone. Later I turned to 18 MHz and CT3FT came in nicely. Totally forgot to tune up and set the beat tone, but he still got me and Cedric gave me a 559. SWR on my side: 1:5, output 12-7=5 Watts. Yeah! QRP DX. And three new entities in one afternoon! Not bad at all.
The bands were noisy today, but managed a QSO with SA3ARL (psk31) and LX1DA (rtty), both on 10 meters. The last one was especially difficult, because of the 10 meter AM CB intruder right on the frequency. But we managed and another one for the log.
After a week of rain the noise came back. 15 meters is almost empty, but 10 and 12 meters are busy. Came home early and did four QSO's all with Europe: 2 on 12 meters, 2 on 10.
I made a video last night of the AM CB intruders who roam around 10 meters. I can’t make much of the language that is spoken by most of the intruders. It is certainly not Mandarin, but there are definitely Chinese dialects amongst them. Most of what I hear, I think, are from southern Asia, probably the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, etc.
It has been reported on some sites that the T32C team donated some equipment to Tov, T32TV. That is the real ham spirit and if every DXpedition could do that there would be a lot less “most wanted” DXCC entities.
I have been busy with work and kids lately, so I need my sleep and try to catch as much as possible of it. So why does my daughter have to wake me at 06:00 local time Saturday to go to the toilet? She’s almost 6 and more capable than most other kids her age. Gave me an opportunity to sit behind the set, with the rising sun warming up my face. Even though 10 meters is not my favourite band I did check it out. Guess who was calling CQ? Right, T32TV. He wasn’t strong, but very willing to have a real QSO with me and surprisingly I was the only one answering him. I worked T32C, so Christmas Island isn’t a new DXCC entity for me, but QSO’s like the one with Tov are infinitely better.
The other fun thing that I did – before my battery died on me – was a QSO with Frank W7PAQ. With the rise in sunspots you sometimes stumble upon a “local” QSO that travels half around the world. Well, Frank was having a PSK31 QSO with a fellow American ham. So when that ended I called him. Frank really surprised, but pleasantly. We had rag chew DX session, because signals weren’t a 100%, but we kept it up for 10 minutes before Frank had to QSY to a local net. These QSO’s make me walk around with a smile for at least half a day.
It's quite windy right now, so I took the 10 meter vertical fiberglass pole down. Spent the rest of the evening listening to the BBC and utility stations. I found the following: - Hong Kong Volmet in SSB on 13282 kHz. - Korean Coast Guard HLG in CW 12935.7 kHz. - Australian Weather report from VMC in SSB on 12365 kHz. Just below on 12362 kHz was another Australian station broadcasting the weather. I also tried to decode the RTTY station around 14375 kHz, but no luck yet.
I hooked up the laptop to the TS-440S and made some RTTY and psk31 contacts. I also wanted to know what the RTTY signal on 10100 kHz was writing, so with the Baud rate set at 50 and the shift at 450 Hz the Deutsche Wetterdienst came in loud and clear. It's almost like if we are back in Europe.
I had to come home early because our water supply was cut-off for maintenance on Sunday and it hadn’t been restored on Monday morning. Well, it had in the mean time, so I did a day’s worth of dishes and turned on the radio afterwards to relax a bit. Found some guys talking on 20 meters, so I listened in. It was a VK4 station with a V63 station talking about antenna’s for the school station. The conversation turned to how John – the V63 operator – was teaching the kids, how he brought over toothbrushes and taught the kids how to brush and how ham radio opened their world.
I had no idea where V63 is, so when a chance came up I called in and John – V63JB, his home call is KH6DLK – came back. I told him we had the same profession and asked him about his location, which he told me is Federai Island, Ulithi Atoll in the Western Caroline Islands, never activated on the amateur bands before. Wow, impressive. But I was really touched when he put one of his students on air to chat with an operator-friend from Hawaii a little later. This is amateur radio at its best: opening up the world and connecting people with each other.
Later a PY station called in and I believe there was also a States-side station present in the group (signal strengths weren’t great and readability difficult at times), so it was quite a diverse group from half across the globe meeting on 20 meters this afternoon.
Haven't made many QSOs lately. I did work on the power supply today and it is coming along. It is rectifying and the regulating circuit is almost finished. Still, I bought a second battery, which is good because now I can run the TS-440S for an entire evening. While I was soldering away this evening I had the Voice of Vietnam in the background. A bit different than the Voice of Thessaloniki, but fun non-the-less.
I wanted to clear my desk and thus I had to finish part one of the home made power supply. Sunday, late at night, tired......you guess what is coming, right? Hooked up the 4700 uF capacitors the wrong way and after a minute or so wondering why I didn't get the anticipated voltage output.......Kaboom!! I got them on the cheap and I still have a spare, but a pity non the less. Remind me again not to work on a project when I'm tired or in a hurry, will you?
Was home for an hour in the afternoon and turned on the TS-440S for a spin. Heard ZD7FT on 17 meters, weak but readable. Couldn't reach him, but glad to hear him anyway. Then the TS-440S came down with the dots again. I had a feeling it would. Have to start deliberating again.
Add 12 meters CW to my list of T32C QSOs. They were not strong, but he got me first time this morning. No split and hardly any takers. With almost 190.000 QSOs in the log most people will have worked them. I also made a first VE contact on 12 meters CW with VE7IG. Reg mailed me later that I had chirp on my signal, so I guess the battery couldn't take it any more. So later in the afternoon I switched back to the TS-130V and had 2 QSOs on 12 meters SSB with HB9ELE and IK5ACO, both with good signals. The son of our neighbour was visiting me and he was amazed that you could get to Europe over the radio.
Local noise was up again, but I got lucky when I got home: T32C was calling CQ on 15 meters in CW, no split and no takers. I quickly tuned up, but a JA station had found him too. I was second in row, and got the obligatory 599 from him.
Heard TX3T tonight on 12 meters, but not much takers. He was listening 5 down, so I hooked up the TS-440S for a try. I think I had some garbled audio, because he couldn't take me. But after I set the ALC and power correctly and checked it on another radio he got me in the end. I also checked the touch paddle tonight. Last time I had oscillation problems, but tonight with a different power supply no problems at all, so I had a CW QSO with RA1AIF/MM. Messed it up a little and couldn't take part of what he sent, but all-in-all a satisfying QSO. Stepan is sailing on the MV Mell Seletar in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Wow, only three QSOs today, but DX ones. Started off with G0DBE on 10 meters when I came home just before dusk. Then later I heard K1GUN on 17 meters with a 55 signal. Didn't think it would work, but after some tries he got my call and we actually exchanged some info. First time east coast USA, long path. Some 15 minutes later PA4VHF came in, also on 17 meters and even with him my 15 Watts resulted in a real QSO. I had my laptop around then, so here a short recording.
Miracles do still happen, or maybe it is simply because I am smart.
Finally fixed my TS-440S. I started out looking at Q34 and Q35 in VFO#5, because I used the 2SC1890 instead of the 2SC2458. I put in the old transistor, but still 8 Volts at TP11 and only 1 Volt at the emitter of Q35 where there should be 2 Volts. I then started following the 8 Volts from where they were coming on the PCB and found out that they were running up to the collector of Q37 and the drain of Q36. But the gate of Q36 also had 8 Volts on them and that made me suspicious. So I replaced it with another 2SK192A and then there were 5 Volts at TP11. A little tweaking of T20 and the PLL locked again. All's well that ends well. Here is a video as proof.
Haven't made a QSO yet, because the battery went flat, which is no wonder after last night's session. PI4DX came in well on 10 meters, but he was too busy with the Japanese.
Lots of sunspot and 10 meters was open again today, but unfortunately no time. Later in the evening I heard ON7GB in CW on 12 meters, but with a terrible echo, so wasn't able to work him. Z21BB also came in with a weak SSB signal, but after a lot of calling he finally responded and when I shouted at him I was running 15 Watts he congratulated me. He gave me a 57, so I gave him a 59. Ah, what the heck. Country 93 in the log. Clip.
FR4NT on 10 meters. Nice! Clip.
10 meters keep on being open. Lots of Japanese this morning, but also T32C in SSB on 28488 no split, so I finally was able to work them. Also heard a loud signal from PU2PHQ working them, so things are really rocking on 10. And only a few minutes later PU2PHQ was working a little bit lower and he got me after a few shouts from my side. Later in the afternoon ER4DX from came in with a nice signal and I worked him just before the wife called for dinner. On a sad note however: I put back together VFO#5 tonight, but still lots of dots and I'm measuring 8 Volt at TP11, where it should be 5 Volts. The quest is not over yet.
This afternoon I had a few minutes and found 10 meters open towards Europe. Had two QSO's in psk31 with Germany and France, so that was a first. Later in the evening on 17 meters I heard a good signal from VK4BX in SSB and we had a really nice chat. Thanks Chris, that was a great start of the weekend.
After a a lot of chores this weekend I finally was ready to start work on my TS-440S. Having read a lot about rebuilding VFO#5 it was quite easy to start. Had the PLL board out after a mere half an hour and the shroud off a little later. At night I took most components off and cleaned a bit, but this will take more work than I thought it would take.
Wife on a business trip, me alone with the kids. We have fun together, but no radio for me right now. Also because I discovered an S3 to S6 noise blanket covering all the amateur bands. It sounds like this and it's all over the gated community that I live in. Probably arcing from the power lines running just outside, so I will have to investigate further. In the mean time I'm QRT, because I just can't stand the noise, even for a few minutes.
Now that is a first: I received a direct QSL request from JR1UBR, including SAE and IRC in the P.O.Box today. I don't believe I have seen an IRC in over 10 years. He will certainly get a reply back from me soon. Otherwise AC6DX returned his card to my direct request. Nice memory of one super 10 meter QSO.
The P.O. Box yielded three QSL cards today: 4L4WW (Georgia), UN1L (Kazakhstan) and YF8RIM (Indonesia). The former two are new verified countries, so not bad for a visit to the post office.
Wow, that was embarrassing! I answered a CQ from JO3HPM on 30 meters at night, not realising it was Nao from FISTS East Asia, the guy I usually e-mail with. He soon alerted me to that fact and we had a 20 minute CW QSO, the second one for me with a FISTS member. Great fun, very tiring but satisfying at the same time. Thanks Nao. Otherwise it was a good day as well: the sun spots were up and I heard an Italian station coming in on 12 meters with a 55 signal. Called CQ, but only 2 Japanese stations came back with weak signals. Before that I had already worked JT1DA in CW, also on 12 meters and later at night I had QSO's in PSK31 on 15 meters with SV2JAO and OK2JS. There is really fun to be had if the spots are there.
Good day today: two new countries for the books. First off, a special call from New Zealand, ZL6RWC, came in strong in CW. My 15 Watts were enough for a quick but solid QSO with the Rugby World Cup station. Later at night I heard another special call sign, TX8GN, who usually goes by FK8GN. This special prefix is for the 14th South Pacific Games, held in New Caledonia.
Me with my big mouth: I had some fairly sharp comments on earlier posts, so the editor-in-chief of AmateurRadio.com asked me to write some articles for the site. It's a busy time, so i
As usual it is quiet on the bands during the week so I finished the SLA battery charger and it seems to work. Pity that the transformer is too small, so it is only charging some 150 mA maximum. Will need to find another one. I also tested the transformer meant for a home brew power supply and it did a wonderful job of converting 110 Volts to 15.5 and 22.5 Volt. I also upgraded my logging software (CQRlog), which was a major undertaking. The author changed databases, so the only way to upgrade was to export the current database to adif and import it into the new version of CQRlog. In the process I noticed that the DXCC table has changed, so I ended up with an entity less. Furthermore my Hell QSO's were not counted in the DXCC list. I guess that bug will be sorted out sooner or later. But everything is in order again and the new version has some new features, so that is nice too. In the process I noticed that OK2CQR has set up a new QTH database. QRZ.com has had some changes in the last six months and is not as open as it used to be. hamQTH.com tries to remedy that and be 100% open. I updated my info there and it seems to be very well integrated with CQRlog, so I think I am going to switch permanently.
I am not a contest person, but today (and yesterday) was the All Asian SSB contest and I heard so many nice stations that I decided to give a shout or two too. Ended up with quite a list, amongst which CE2LS (new country for me. Here a clip). I heard an XE2 station too, but some nasty QRM prevented me from working him. I finally tried the 12 meter Spiderpole in the new balcony clamps today. Very solid and our friendly neighbour took an immediate interest in it. Gave him a tour of the shack and a demo and he was impressed. Later at night I worked some west coast Americans on 40 meter, despite my semi-QRP power.
Yeah! QSL from T6MB in the mail. Second try worked (the first card got lost in the mail from Holland to Taiwan).
15 meters was open to Europe tonight and there were some RTTY signals in my waterfall. I worked IZ7CTE who wouldn't even want to give me a report. Then MW0CRI showed up on my screen. I worked David a little over a year ago as PA2BX from Holland (my first 30 meter QSO and QSL), so it was really fun to work him from Taiwan as well. His signal was quite strong, but QSB spoiled mine. Then I worked PA3EVY, but he wasn't interested in an more elaborate exchange, so I let him go. The battery went flat, but I listened to some 20 meter QSO's while working on the battery charger before turning in.
Played a bit with JT65-HF late last night, since the wind was too loud to sleep. Saw a lot of distant stations, but either I did something wrong or my 15 Watts couldn't reach them. JT65 is supposed to be suitable for QRP purposes, but not in my case. But later this morning I did get a response to my CQ and JA1NUX was the nice OM who answered. Since JT65 is a very strict protocol mode the exchange was standard. So all-in-all a success, but it left me with an unsatisfied feeling. Who was JA1NUX? How was the weather at his QTH? What equipment did he use? Yes, I could look him up on QRZ.com, but hearing it from himself is more fun. I can dig WSPR, because it is a beacon mode and is useful for checking propagation. But JT65 is a QSO mode, so why strip every thing nice and friendly and reduce the exchange to something that looks like a computer to computer exchange? I think JT65 is not for me. At least not now.
So I went back to PSK31 and had a first contact with Mongolia. JT1AS was coming in weak in the afternoon, but later in the evening much stronger and the QSO was almost perfect, except for some QSB. The schools were off today because of the typhoon, so I had some time to work on the balcony clamps (almost finished) and clean the shack. And at night I worked on the battery charger, which really needs to be made, since I tend to forget when I charge manually.
Typhoon Nanmadol is approaching Taiwan and wind and rain have been abundant today. The CB whip is holding up, so I am enjoying a second QSO with F5TTI, this time on 17 meters. Funny to meet the same stations over and over again. The path between Rene and I must be special.
Wow, another very good night on shortwave, with the sunspots being on the up-and-up. Did I have a very difficult QSO with HB9RDE yesterday, today was easier. Early evening I worked P29FR in SSB on 15 meters. His signal was not too strong, but if you visit his QRZ.com page you understand why. More annoying was a heterodyne spoiling reception. But we did have a few minutes of pleasant exchange. Later in the evening - when I started to write the QSL cards for the last 30 QSO's or so - I heard OH2BAD coming through 57-58 on 17 meters. Called him and he responded with a 57 for me. Wow!!! What followed was a very enjoyable QSO with Miika with his signal being so clear that it was as if we were both in Europe. He was running 1.5 kW, me 15 Watts, of course. Towards the end he gave me a 58, but it started raining so hard here in Longtan that I had to end the QSO and run around the house shutting windows. You can hear the rain in the following audio clip I took of the QSO (using my laptop, hence the lousy audio quality). I did write a pile of QSL cards afterwards after all.
Too tired and lazy to do much this afternoon, so I tuned my TS130V and heard P29CW in....CW on 20 meters. Didn't mess up this time and the short exchange was a success. Another country in my pocket. When I wanted to listen to the FEA net my kids started getting obnoxious and when I had sorted that out the battery went flat. So I worked a bit on the balcony clamps, had dinner and later that night returned to the set. PZ5RA was prominent on the cluster, but too much stations calling him. PI4DX was noted on 15 meter in SSB and I did find Erik. He was not too busy, so I called him and with a little trouble he heard me and came back to me. First Dutch station in the log!!! Listen to a clip here. Please look up the QRZ.com page for PI4DX. It is one of the most impressive stations in the Netherlands, build by PD1DX. Erik was running 400 Watts into a mono-band antenna. I - on the other hand - was running 15 Watts into a CB antenna. You decide what is more impressive. Later I turned to 17 meters and worked 9M6BZ (the only zebra in Malaysia, as he said), which is another DXCC entity, so quite a successful day.
Again, the afternoon was lousy, but in the evening 15 and 17 meters were open towards Europe. Heard or saw Italy, Romania, Switzerland, Northern Ireland and France and worked F5NMK in psk31. After I heard PA2KW with a 55 signal in SSB, I called up my pal PG2W to see if we could have a QSO. I heard his signal with RST 319 on 17 meters, but he couldn't hear anything from me. There will be better times, he later Skyped me and I'm sure there will. Especially since I found some more material for the fiberglass pole clamps that I am making. The second experiment was a success, so the work can go ahead. More later.
A much better day, today. First of all it wasn't as hot as the last 10 days and the one thunderstorm that formed in our area didn't hit close by. No rain either and that was a bummer: still have to water the veggies by hand. The thunder prevented me from doing some radio stuff in the afternoon, but around 6 pm local time VK4FNQ came in fine on 15 m psk31, so I had a nice chat with him. Later I saw FR5MV on the waterfall in QSO with JA3DLE/1 and he was strong enough to work. Thought I hit some dead air when I called him after Chiru sent his SK, but it took me 45 minutes to fight off other J-stations and the occasional HL and YB ham before he heard me and came back to me. We had a short QSO and I used the little bit of French that I know. Raymond clearly appreciated that. And lastly a QSL in the mail from DU9/ON5SM for a nice chat we had in May. Thanks Marc.
One of those days: came home early and turned on the TS130V. Heard ZP6CW calling CQ in CW on 20 meters. Hooked up my newly repaired touch paddle, but now it produces too many harmonics, so it was useless. Got the Kent and the keyer I used in Banqiao, but the keyer stuck on dashes. ZP6CW's signal was 559 and he is FISTS #1771, so I simply had to work him. Got the J-37 off the shelf and started sending out my call. That worked, because he came back to me, but I was a nervous and messed up the part where I sent my FISTS number. Later, in an e-mail, Douglas confirmed our QSO. So two first: first time ZP and first time contact with a fellow FISTS member.
Got lucky today: the stainless steel pieces for the balcony clamp were only NT$300 (more on this later) and I got my hands on a real CA723CE to fix the PSU (LM723C didn't work). But unfortunately the replacement IC also didn't fix the problem, so now I still have no PSU.
Cleaned the desk I got from my colleague Eva and put it in the shack. It's big enough for the rig, soldering equipment and the PC so I am quite happy with it. I also fired up the TS440S to see what its state was. It worked, albeit 20 kHz lower in frequency than the read-out. After half an hour the dots came back, but it was still fun to play with it a little.
Decided to see if the CG-3000 auto tuner I bought a while back worked. Hooked everything up and used my CB whip as test antenna. No dice, so I erected the fiberglass pole with 10 meter wire and the balcony as counterpoise. Still no dice. 20 meter wire as counterpoise also didn't do the trick, except 40 meters. The problem probably is that my TS130V has a SWR protection circuit and reduced power to less than 10 Watts if the SWR is off. Well, the tuner has to fix that, but it doesn't get enough power to do so. Catch 22, so I decided my home brew SPC T-match is the best and spent the rest of the afternoon tuning perfect SWR's and receiving nice signals until the battery went flat. But the best came later at night: 5R8FL from Madagascar answered my CQ, so another country for the record.
Straight out of bed AC6DX on 10 meters with a 55 signal (clip). It took some effort, but he finally got my call and gave me a 33. Also heard the VK8VF beacon from Darwin (clip). Otherwise the bands were quiet and the A-index has rissen to 27, so can't expect much else. Still VK on 15 meters came in strong later in the afternoon and had a nice QSO with VK2SJK in psk31.
Forgot to turn my alarm clock off, so woke at 7 am and while the kids were still asleep I crept behind the set. The big news was that ARISSat-1 had been deployed and lo and behold, only five hours later there was a pass almost crossing Taiwan at 60 degrees elevation. That was 8 am local or midnight UTC. Got the HT out and ready and my mobile phone to record and went to the balcony, which was quite hot in the morning sun. But it did work, because I heard them loud and clear. Here are two clips, both of the ID announcement: clip 1, clip 2. I also heard most part of the SSTV signal, but haven't been able to decode it.
Photo copied from NASA
Things on HF also went really well today. Got reports back like I gave them, so the old CB whip is really working. Later at night on 20 meters even decent signals from YN2N from Nicaragua and NE6R from CA in SSB. Unfortunately 3B8IK just couldn't get my psk31 signal. Can't have it all.
Sunspots are down a little, but still managed to hear ST0R in RTTY on 15 meters. Weak, but quite readable. Was working PA0AMB. Also heard some SSTV activity on 21340 kHz, but unfortunately my MMSSTV is not working for some strange reason. Pity.
Put up the old CB antenna on the balcony this afternoon. The itching was too much to bear after a couple of weeks without being QRV. The SWR was not great on 10 meters (it peaks around 25 MHz), but with the tuner I could tune 15 meters without trouble and heard strong signals from Brunei, Mongolia and Thailand. Great to do some chores while listening to CW.
The "shack" looks like this at the moment.....
I'm running the TS-130V on a 7AH battery, because the 30A PSU can't even deliver a few amps anymore. Will have to contact Jack for some help there. Later at night 15 and 17 meters were closed, but 20 meters was wide open and I hooked up my notebook for some RTTY. Ended up doing PSK31, but when testing my signal (by calling a UA station) all of a sudden KA5PNX called me. His signal was quite strong too, considering it traveled all the way from Nebraska. Great first QSO from our new home and it shows that some sunspots and an old CB antenna can get you quite a distance.
Still not QRV from our new locations, but we're getting there. Tried my 6 meter rig a couple of days ago, but the power supply didn't want to cooperate. It can't even take a Watt of RF power in its neighbourhood and the power cord is flaky too, so we'll have to dive into that. At least I have a battery ready now. The P.O.Box yielded one QSL card, from VU4PB. Good to know my QRZ.com page is being read and that the address works. At our old address two cards in the mail yesterday from XX9LT and VK4FNQ.
Moving to Longtan tomorrow. Already packed up the rig and accessories. The house is still not in order, so the next week will be one of organizing and running around looking for things. Let's see how long it takes to be QRV again.
QSL in the mail from PY6RT. Second try worked. Thanks Roberto.
Finally found some activity on 2 meters. Had a nice QSO with BM2EYD on 144.260 MHz.
An unexpectedly good radio day. Called CQ on 17 meters in the afternoon while doing the mail, then VK4FNQ came back to me in PSK31. Was a difficult QSO, but he held on and we did have a short chat. Then later in the evening VY2RU showed up on 17 meters RTTY. I couldn't get him to read my 15 Watts, but it shows that despite the low number of sunspots DX is still possible: 28000 km long-path from Taiwan to Prince Edward Island.
Brought some things from our "warehouse" to our new home, amongst which the Spiderbeam pole and the FRG-7. The last one had trouble acclimatising but I did get some broadcasting signals out of it with a 6 meter wire as antenna. I tied the Spiderbeam pole to the balcony railing as a test. 10 meters is a long way up, but it with the modest amount of wind that we had today it stayed up nicely. But I am not happy with the rather short length that the lower section of the pole is tied to the railing post to. Need to think about a solution for that.
Applied for a P.O. Box today and got 9-50 in our soon-to-be hometown of Longtan.
Larry is back in Raleigh and he sent me two QSL cards for contacts made as XV2W. Thanks Larry and I hope you get your damage compensated so you can put up some new antenna's.
QSL in the mail from BV100, both for me and Wouter (PG2W). Nice to be able to do some QSL managing for him for a change.
QSL card in the mail today from HS0ZIN. Thanks Paul. Also heard DU1EV/B on 6 meters, but otherwise nothing to be heard or to be worked.
Finally some luck on 6 meters today. A good sporadic E opening towards Japan mostly. I had half an hour during lunch break and used the car battery to power my FT-690mkII up to 20 Watts. There was a CW station on 50.120, so I called CQ on 50.115. With just the whip I was able to work BD9BU, four Japanese station from region 6 and one from region 4. I got mostly good reports and some signals were really strong: S9+20dB were no exception. And then XV1X called: Eddy from Hanoi, Vietnam. Had a short QSO in Dutch and he asked if I had already worked DU7/PA0HIP (was on earlier, but left before I could catch him). Excellent experience and it proves that 6 meter really is the 'magic band.' Conditions on HF were okay too around 1200 and had a short CW QSO with UA0IDZ. Also heard W5ZR from Louisiana coming in fine on 17 meters, but couldn't reach him.
QSL card from YC9DD in the mail today. Thanks Kadek.
That's the spirit!!! 6K5BXQ came in a nice 559 on 20 meters. Decided to answer his CQ, but as soon as he got my call correct I keyed /QRP to explain my weak signal........after which Mr. Kim decided I was not worth the bother and went QRT. Yay for the little guy!!!
The WPX CW contest going on today and quite some activity on 15 meters. Heard Mongolia (JU1F), Ecuador (HC2SL), VK6HH (10 meters) amongst others. Big guns like OG8X also made it into Taiwan on 15 meters as did 4O3A. But no DL, G, F and certainly no PA. On the other bands there was little activity. I worked BV100 in psk31 on 20 meters, but 17 and 12 meters were empty of any digital mode, and even CW could hardly be heard. 15 meters wasn't busy at all either. No digital and the contest guys kept themselves below 21065 kHz. The cluster was also quieter than normal. Still a lot of practise in taking CW and I'm getting better at it, so a day well spent.
Took the FT-690mkII with me in the car today. At school I played with it a little and heard JA2IGY (50.011 MHz) and JA6YBR on 50.017 MHz. Both beacons and both coming in moderately strong. I also heard a Korean station calling CQ on 50.120 MHz, but the Yaesu gave problems again and I couldn't answer the call. I reset the memory and it worked (again), but this problem needs to be addressed sooner or later. At around 0500 I heard some CW activity. BA4SI was calling CQ and I heard JA5DVK and JA3AQM having a QSO on 50.120 MHz. They can't have been more than 300 km apart, but I heard them 1700 km away! 6 meters is really the magic band.
This weekend was the VHF QSO Party in East Asia. I promised to join the ART crew in Shimen, but boy, did I feel bad. Slept most of Saturday, tired of fighting the flu. I then got to Shimen around 5, but after a meal and a short chat I left soon after that. Head exploding, eyes bulging out, throat so sore I could hardly swallow. But BX2AB did get me my CG3000 auto antenna tuner, so I am more than pleased. Euro 135 is a bargain and I can immediately use it when we move to our new home. Conditions these two days were not bad, but not great either. 6 meters was open to Japan most of the time, but 2 meters was not. The cluster showed only paths between China and Japan and one lonely Korean...
BA4TB 0859Z 144150.0 CQing JA8RJU-9 BD4IDS 0423Z 144130.0 JF2GWS DS4GOC 0409Z 145060.0 CQ JG3UVN-# BG4IHT 0406Z 144140.3 JF2TOG-9 BG4IHT 0401Z 144140.0 JF2GWS BY4QA 0348Z 144145.0 JA0NFP-# BY4XZ 0346Z 144130.2 59 JF2TOG-9 BD4QQ 0340Z 144150.0 loud tnx JF2TOG-9 BD4HUB 0336Z 144190.0 JM1FBF-# BA4TB 0331Z 144126.0 CQ loud JA0SX-9 BA4TB 0325Z 144126.0 cw JH2BNQ-9 BD4CQ 0319Z 144136.0 JM1FBF-# BY4QA 0314Z 144140.0 Big Signal JM1FBF-# BD4QQ 0254Z 144149.7 10ELE single yagi JM1FBF-#
A pity, but I was feeling so sick that I wasn't even disappointed.
From left to right: BX2AB, JA3AQM, BV4VR, BV2KS and the arm of BV2DD
BV2NT manning the 1kW 2 meter setup.
The 6-meter setup. The PVC pipe is to direct the audio towards the operator. With 30+ degrees there were quite some fans blowing full speed.
Suddenly BX2AB wanted to show JA3AQM how the CG3000 ATU works. JA3AQM had never seen one and didn't believe it would work. So he pulled out his fiber glass pole with some wire.
As a counterpoise we used a digger which had been working on the beach that day.
It works. The Japanese OM was impressed. And one of these smart thingies only cost NT$5400!!
6 meters was open and BU2BA was active there. Long time no see, so Jack and I had a QSO. I did it with the FT-690mkII, 2.5 Watts put into the whip antenna. QRP, but still 5 Watts per kilometer. 59+30dB was my report. Thanks Jack, hi hi!
Was tired, but still managed some time behind the set. Made a couple of QSO's, the best being F5TTI in PSK31 on 15 meters.
JA3DLE/1 was so nice to send me two QSL cards today. Thanks OM, see you for the next rag chew.
Spent the weekend at our dacha by the sea: Sanzhi. This time I brought my TS-130V and despite the rain I strung a 2x20 meter dipole from the apartment at the third floor. Reception wasn't very different from my location at Banqiao, although 40 meters gave me some stronger signals. But the SFI and SSN were down anyway, therefore most of the signals came from Asia. At night the noise levels were very high on the lower bands, so my playing fields were 17 meters and up. On Saturday I heard signals from EX8MLE and ZP6CW, both in CW. Called both a lot of times, but they didn't come back. In the end I made only 8 QSO's, but some nice one's, like V85AN in CW. We both were doing QRP. The other CW contact was with E21EJC on 10 meters. I also heard ON5SM/P/DU9 calling CQ in SSB on 17 meters and had a nice chat with him. Mark was visiting family and is almost heading home. And lastly I made my first Feldhell QSO. Again 17 meters proved best and after calling CQ for an hour JO3UGX came back for his first FH QSO ever. Thanks Ross, I hope there will be more people joining us.
When we were outside the apartment and the kids were busy playing I took my HT and scanned some aeronautical frequencies on VHF. The inbound route to CKS airport is right over Sanzhi, so there is lots to listen to. Unfortunately I heard one aeroplane complain of interference on the frequency (which I couldn't hear). The air control didn't quite get this, so the pilot changed to Chinese and made it quite clear: 香腸在干擾， or "the sausages are making noise." Sausages is the local term for unlicensed radio operators. It's already bad that they mess up our amateur bands, but scary to think they mess up such vital communications as air-to-ground traffic. Not really much hope that the NCC will do something about it. So, all-in-all a weekend that was a bit disappointing, but with some nice touches after all.
Had a fun CTARL meeting tonight. Not as many people as last time, but the APRS talk was interesting. And there were some foreign visitors, so some nice QSOs in English. I don't mind living in Taiwan/Asia, but I do miss an easy conversation in English every now and then, be it eyeball or on air.
Saw W5NA in my waterfall today. PSK31 on 20 meters just after 12UTC. He is from Mississippi, so that is quite a distance. He was too weak to work, but I could still ID him. The only QSO I could manage was with DV1JM, Jun, in RTTY also on 20 meters. I could put out a full 15 Watts without feedback on 20: strange world!
Compiled and installed the lastes version of Fldigi and the UI did get some major improvements. The Yahoo! help group was very quick in replying to my queries. And with some extra macro's I can now rely on the keyboard even more. After that I had a long QSO with JA3DLE/1. I caught him before, but then he quit on me. This time not so and we had a mini rag chew. Chiru's English is great and he loves to have a conversation. I see him often on the waterfall, so that begs for more.
9M2TO was so nice to send me a QSL card, but also for some 6 other Taiwanese hams. Guess I will have to bring them to the bureau then. At night conditions to Europe were fine, but my laptop refused to connect to the internet, so I had to solve that first. By the time that was fixed I could only manage two QSOs: one with ZS2I (the second one) and the other with UN8FE, from Kazakhstan.
Close to 12 UTC 15 meters started to open towards Europe. Heard YL3FT, but after one call from him he didn't come back again. Probably didn't like my slow speed. I had more success with DJ9AO. He slowed down (after I didn't take his first over) and we had a standard QSO. It was difficult to take him in the fadings, but it worked. Here is the sound clip. And with this I almost reached the Netherlands. PG2W where are you? To round it off I had a QSO, also in CW, with RA9XU. He was fading in and out and later on there was a nasty bout of QRM. So difficult to take, but we managed. Thanks Mike. Here is the sound clip.
Talking about cheap: QSL in the mail today from VK4LDX/P, which I worked on 10 meters. First time Australia too. I found the envelope a bit limp and thought "Craig didn't forget to put the QSL card in, did he?" No, Craig didn't, he is just a bit of a cheapskate: the QSL was a print out on ordinary paper. In colour, yes, but plain thin copy paper. And not even the regular QSL card size either. I am one who enjoys good old fashioned QSL cards and I understand that you can't print a special card for every occasion (read: DXpedition). But as a first QSL card from VK this is a disappointment and certainly not one to be put on a wall in my shack.
Had a second sked with IW7EFC today, but he couldn't make it to the radio. The SSN was down anyway, but there was still a strong CW signal from RX6AM on 17 meters. Tried my luck and it worked. Mike is a great ham and he was patient enough to get my call sign and slowed down his speed for me. I didn't mess up the QSO and managed to give a report and my name. Thank you Mike, hope to meet you again. Here is an audio clip of the QSO.
Heard OZ1YKY in CW on 15 meters, but he didn't come back to my call. Pity. Had a sked with IW7EFC later this night. He needed to work Taiwan on 17 and 12 meters in different modes and I was more than happy to oblige. We started of just before 12 UTC on 17 meters PSK31. That worked, although signals were not strong. CW didn't work at all on 17: Tiziano couldn't hear my 15 Watts and I couldn't hear his 500!. 12 meters RTTY was our last try and I could copy him, but he didn't hear me. Still lots of fun doing this kind of sked and thanks to Skype we could pull it off in less than half an hour.
Queen's Day in the Netherlands. Got up early this morning, but nothing happening on the airwaves. Later in the afternoon there were some strong PSK31 signals on 15 meters and one of them from YC9DD. He was hopping around, but his signal was so strong that it was not difficult to track down. Took a couple of tries, but then he came back to me. New country in the log. I stayed on 15 meters and in PSK31. Made a couple of QSOs with Japan and Russia and then all of a sudden there was ZS2I. Quite in the clear and moderately strong. Took only one call and he came back to me. Thanks Johan from Mossel Bay. I noticed that after 12 UTC there were European signals from Germany, France and Italy. Tried several, but just after 13 UTC IW7EFC came back to me. He got my call wrong (BX2AB, my big brother Lee), but we had e-mail contact later to sort it out. Thank you, Tiziano! My fourth European contact.
QSL in the mail from JF1QQK, whom I had a CW QSO with. Thanks Taka. And quite by coincidence I heard him in a QSO on 40 meters later this night.
QSL in the mail from 3D2A from Fiji, which I worked in RTTY. Since 20 meters is not usable because of the common current feed back I went to 17 meters and made some PSK31 contacts with Russia and Japan. Not very exciting, but I'm glad the rig was working normally and that I can run PSK31 again.
QSL in the mail from JA1FIO/1 for a 10 meter contact on April 5. Thanks for the quick response Tadahiro.
I cleaned up the "shack" and took care of a problem with the TS-130V I noticed for a while. The RIT was not aligned properly and off centre by about a kiloHertz. Dug up the service manual and adjusted VR1 on the AF board. Immediately the stability of the set improved and there were no sudden frequency shifts any more. I also adjusted the side tone volume so it's not that loud any more. Unfortunately by moving things around the feedback problem came back and I could hardly put out a few Watts on 20, 40 and 15 meters. 17 meters was okay though, but too busy with the kids and the household to make any QSOs.
First listening in on the FEAnet today. 50 minutes of weak CW signals on 14054 kHz from 0800 onwards. Fun to follow though.
QSL from BQ100 in the mail.
Yeah! Another good CW QSO, this time with 9V1DR from Singapore on 12 meters. Took a couple of tries and signals were not strong, but I did manage to pick up most by ear. That was good since Fldigi couldn't decode all the code, especially not the part where he couldn't take my suffix: "bx2??". Here is the sound clip from the QSO.
Not much going on this Saturday morning. Tuned around and heard a lone RTTY signal on 15 meters. Started Fldigi and it was XV2W, Larry from Vietnam. I had an exchange with him on March 29 in CW, but then is was simply a 599 to and fro. This time we both felt like writing and we had a rag chew QSO which lasted almost 45 minutes. Larry is a really nice guy and we talked about lots of things. Signals were good most of the times, with some QSB, but that didn't spoil the fun. As an ex-army telex operator I was delighted to do some RTTY again. Next goal: Feldhell. Heard P29NI at 0930 UTC on 20 meters. Finally IDed, but their split shifts are too wide for my RIT, so probably no chance to work them. Later in the evening 40 meters was okay with another States-side station coming in. If I recall correctly the call was K6XX. Also my dipole snapped at the feed point today. Did an improv repair and also fixed the 2x5 meter dipole to the feed point. The common mode feed back was still present on 20 meters, so I unhooked the 2x10 meter dipole and only used the 2x5 meter one. Still feed back, but I managed to reduce it by playing with my tuner: add a little inductance and then fiddling with the capacitance till you get an acceptable SWR.
The family was gone when I came home from work, so I spent a few hours behind the set. Worked HS0ZIN again on 10 meters, but this time he was coming in S9+10dB. With my 10 Watts he also gave me a S9. I tuned around various bands, but nothing much until I stumbled upon W1ESE on 20 meters in CW. He worked a couple of stations and then he started CQing. I jumped in and the second try worked. My keying was lousy again, but he got my call and gave me a report. First North American station worked and that feels good. QSL from BU2AU in the mail.
Spent a few days in Sanzhi and prepared a 2x20 meter dipole for use there. Unfortunately it was raining so I didn't test it. I also made a 2x5 meter dipole for use in Banqiao. Ever since I built my tuner it had a T-match configuration. Tuning was always somewhat cumbersome, so I decided to change it into an SPC-Transmatch.
Series-Parallel Capacitor Transmatch. Both C's have two sections of 160 pF each. I left the series capacitor at 320 pF and the parallel was split into two sections. The operation was easy and done within half an hour. First results were good. You put both C's in middle position then adjust the L for lowest SWR reading. Then tune both C's for absolute minimum SWR, which in my case is mostly 1:1 on 40, 20 and 10 meters. On other bands I can get as low as 1:1.2, but 15 meters not lower as 1:1.7. Around noon 10 meters opened up and I worked Japan and Thailand in SSB QRP. Next configuration is going to be an S-match.
Tried to improve the common current problem today. Wound 10 more turns on the coax choke which connects the dipole to the feed line. Not much improvement, it actually worsened the problem, especially on 20 meters. Still made a QSO with V85RY on 15 meters, which was nice because of the low power I was using.
Sent out a bunch of QSL cards today. BQ100, BU2AU, VK4LDX, JA6ZPR and 3D2A were the lucky ones. And finally had a proper CQ QSO with JF1QQK on the very quiet 30 meter band. On my part the QSO was illegal, as we were using 10117 kHz, which is outside the allocated 10130-10150 kHz. But what the heck, there were no other signals around and this is Taiwan, remember? I was running 10 Watts, he probably a bit more. I still had to rely on Fldigi for most of the decoding, but the keying was done on top of my head and that went smooth. Speed probably 10-12 wpm. Thanks Taka-san.
One quick QSO today, in CW, with XV2W.
Life as a semi-QRPer isn't easy. The WPX contest was going on and the bands were filled to the brim. Argentina and Chile loud and clear in SSB on 20 meters. 15 meters yielded some stations from Europe, but no one heard me with my meagre 15 Watts. Although.....SK3W did try and confirmed my call sign after some overs. I guess this is my Swedish week, hi! Otherwise 10 meters had some nice stations coming in, but I only worked BU2AU and BQ100. Later in the evening 40 meters opened up and I heard BV100 calling from Xiao Liu Qiu Island, but they didn't respond to my calls. I also had an e-mail from PacParts that the shipment of the parts for the TS-440S was delayed. Guess my sister-in-law can't bring them along and that is a great disappointment.
Came home today and had some energy in me left. Turned on the TS-130V, which was still on 20 meters. Heard BV100, but before I could get my keyer connected he was already gone. Moved to 15 meters, so I moved there too. I didn't hear them again, but I did hear SM5COP calling CQ in CW. Answered him and we had some sort of QSO. I had to use fldigi to decode some of his morse code, but could follow most of it by ear. My keying was with much less error than with DZ1P, so I was quite pleased. Also because it was my second contact with Europe. Who's next?
I'm tickled pink!!! The higher bands were open and the BARTG contest was going on. Nice to hear some RTTY again, but the most exciting catch was VU4PB from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the 29th most sought after DXCC entity. Waited my turn and with only 10 Watts and a couple of shouts of "ABT/QRP" I got through. He gave me an honest 52 as report and was very patient in getting my call correct. VU4PB is a DXpedition, so thank you to whoever was the operator: you really made my day. Their website is http://arsi.info/ and they sounded like this But the fun didn't stop there: 3D2A was also participating in the BARTG competition. His signals were not strong and he was called a lot. But patience paid off here too, because after half an hour or so there was a quiet spot and he could take my 15 Watts with little problem.
DE BX2ABT/QRP BX2ABT/QRP
QRZ VLED;- QRZ DE 3D2A
DE BX2ABT/QRP BX2ABT/QRP
VOFIMBX2ABTOQRP BX2ABT/QRP BX2ABT/QRP 599 024 03:22:42/
3D2A RR 527 002 0307UTC TU DE BX2ABT K
X2ABT/QRP TU DE 3D2A
On 10 meters S21YZ was coming in quite strong, but the pile-up was too huge and with my CW skills........nah, forget it, maybe next time when my speed has increased. clip
Had dinner with BX2AB and BX7AAH tonight. Nice to meet Olaf in the flesh for the first time.
Had a QSO with BV2EL in the car today. Good to talk to him, but I noticed again that when I pass right in front of repeater C1 my signal gets lost. The repeater is literally 100 meters above me when I travel on the second northern highway near Sanxia. Couple of kilometres later my signal deteriorates because the there are mountains in between me and C1. That's what you get with these piles of rocks. Otherwise I joined FISTS today and my membership number is 15512. Hope to meet you on air, but remember: CW newbie here. I did do an LCWO session today, the first on in 30+ days and I still got it: 15 wpm and no more than a couple % mistakes, till I got tired. But hey, it was 11 PM and my eyes were drooping badly. One QSL in the mail today from RA0LZ.
A quiet Saturday morning. Cleaning the house and giving the TS-130V a spin every now and then. Heard DZ1P in CW on 17 meters and decided to give it a try. Messed up big time in the beginning, but then he got my call and and gave me a report back. Feeling proud now, but there is still a long way to go. Here a clip of the embarrassing moment Later in the afternoon 10 meters opened up. Heard a Spanish speaking station, which according to the cluster was an Argentine one. What I could work was VK4LDX/P from Horn Island. He was on 28465, listening 5 up. Since the TS-130V only has a RIT of 2 kHz I had to quickly tune between the two frequencies. In SSB this works fine and so another two firsts: VK as a new country and the first 10-meter contact in Taiwan. The aftermath of the massive earth quake in Sendai, Japan is noticeable on the air too. There are far less J stations active and the cluster is a lot more quiet too.
Even though Echolink is not quite what I think amateur radio should be, it was still fun to talk to W4JB while filling up with petrol today. Short QSO, but it shows how easy it is to have a dinner/breakfast conversation across the world in FM quality, even via amateur radio.
First luck on 6 meters. Heard CW signals from 9M6YBG on 50,104.9 kHz at 1310 UTC. Weak but readable. His speed was too fast, but his call was clear. I used my 2x10 meter dipole, since I haven't had time to make a better 6 meter antenna. Also heard a ham from Darwin on 50,130 MHz SSB, later IDed as VK8MS. Back on 20 meters I heard K6HCJ in RTTY, but he was gone before I could work him. Yesterday a QSL card from DU3MEL in the mail. Nice!
A terrible ride home, but had a QSO with BX2AI, which was nice. The mail man brought me a QSL card from KH2L, so that was nice too.
Took my HT with me in the car today and had a nice QSO with BU3AA on the way home from work. We worked via the repeater C1 and signals were quite good, even without an external antenna. He gave me some good info on the repeater situation, like which one to use in Taoyuan and the cut off time, which is a paltry 1 minute. Later heard a BG station calling in, but that was probably via Echolink.
The mail man was nice to me today: QSL from BD4XY for an SSTV QSO in January. Thanks Pan.
Not much going on lately. Too tired and busy with work. Heard W0S the other day in CW on 40 meters and today got a QSL card from JA9LX in the mail.
Lousy conditions today, probably due to the solar flare from Monday, which is supposed to hit earth today. Even BV2AP's beacon on 40 meter was coming in half strength today.
My visit to the NCC today was entertaining as usual. I came in to certify my TS-130V, as per their request, otherwise it would have to be sealed. First of all they wouldn't believe that the TS-130V is a mobile set, so I showed them the owners manual with the picture of the rig mounted in a car. Then it was all right. After that the testing. We hooked it up to a Bird power meter and HP frequency counter. This time they put in the right slug, so the Bird indicated 15 Watts output. Fair enough. But then they wanted to see if the set was right on frequency. Off a little, and that got them worried. So I asked for a tiny flat screw driver and adjusted the TS-130V's frequency readout to match their HP frequency counter. Everybody happy again. But then the chief of them all noticed that every time I started transmitting the readout jumped 800 Hz. I was keying CW, so they asked if they couldn't test in FM mode. Sorry guys, the TS-130V is CW/SSB only. Then it took me 10 minutes to explain why it was normal for the rig to jump 800 Hz when keying CW, as this is the beat tone and it is fixed in the TS-130V. They were somewhat satisfied and in the end they just said: "Well, we're just outsiders and don't understand much about amateur radio." My my, I really wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't said so! But in the end I was NT$600 poorer, but another laminated card richer. And I can keep my TS-440S from being sealed until I fix it or set up a base station. Everybody happy again and the sun shone on Taipei.
A QSL card from HS0ZHY in the mail today. Thailand confirmed now. Thanks Kent.
Went out with BX2AB and visited BV3FC and BX3AH (also met BX3AAH). An eventful day. Here the sign of the repair shop of BX3AH "Red Tea".
He mainly repairs VHF/UHF transceivers, but you can get you HF rig fixed there too.
The master at work
Eye-ball QSO with BX2AB
In the back of his store there is a ham shack for every one to enjoy.
The FT-690MkII gave me some trouble today, so will have to check that out in the coming days.
The Chinese New Year's holiday is over and everything is back to normal, more or less. Got a QSL card in the mail today from JR4FYW for a BPSK63 QSO. The first confirmation received for a QSO from Taiwan. Thanks Toshio. Less exciting was the mail from the NCC: they want me to bring in my two HF rigs for sealing, since I don't want to set up a base station yet. Bummer, but since the TS-130V is a mobile station I can simply pay NT$600 and get it registered. The TS-440S is another story, since it is broken, so we'll have to pay the NCC a visit to see what can be done.
The TS-440S would only display dots today, so I decided to rip it open and see the state VFO#5 is in.
On the bed, because the table in the living room was taken.
Here you can see where VFO#5 is located.
Here a close-up of VFO#5. The actual amount of EBG (Evil Brown Glue, as we TS-440S owners are referring to when we mean the stuff Kenwood poured over the VFO) is rather small compared to photo's of other TS-440S' I've seen.
With a voltage meter I measured voltages of up to 600 mV when probing the EBG against ground. Clearly not how it is supposed to be. I warmed up the VFO with a blow dryer and carefully removed as much EBG as I could. Voltages dropped or disappeared, but not completely and in the end there were still dots - and only dots - on the display. Spent the rest of the day surfing for components and hooking up the FT-690mkII, so if you want to give me a call on 6 meter........I'm QRV on 50.100 MHz USB.
Chinese New Years Eve. Did some shopping and cleaning and then spent some time behind the radio. First worked UA3TCJ in SSB and he had a nice strong signal for a 7000 km hop. Then tried 18 MHz and the internal tuner of the TS-440S did a good job this time. Saw 4S7KKG in the PSK31 waterfall and it was easy to work him. And then, finally, at 0933 UTC I saw F5SIZ (Michel) in the PSK31 waterfall on 20 meter with a strong signal. Answered his CQ and he came right back to me. Finally contact with Europe! Now on to a first QSO with the Netherlands. Unfortunately just when I was about to say good bye to Michel the TS-440S quit on me. I will have to scout for parts, because the repairs on VFO#1 and #5 need to be done soon if I want to have a reliable set again.
The TS-440S wouldn't start this morning, so reset the processor and after an hour the dots disappeared and it came back to live. After that more spring cleaning, so I started WSPR and let is run most of the morning. My signal didn't make it to the States, but I heard one W-station just before 02:00 UTC and was heard in VK3, VK6, XV4 and Japan. Later that afternoon the family went out and I stayed home with some time on my hands. What better to do than play with my radio? First heard XX9LT calling CQ and worked him, despite the QRM and the noise. He sounded like this. A big surprise when I heard HL5/LA8JKA. Stein is working in Korea at the Samsung ship yard and he is using the club station DS0TX. He sounded like this. Then, half an hour later, I stumbled upon a very strong signal on 14.2 MHz: S9+20dB. Much to my surprise it was PY6RT, calling CQ. After the initial confusion about my call sign we had a short QSO. After that he had a QSO with ZL3SV and he also came in very strong. Later I heard PY4ZUN in QSO with CT7ACG, but not nearly as strong as PY6RT. I heard him till past 0900 UTC and he was still coming in S7-8. So a very eventful day and the only thing that spoiled it a bit was the fact that I couldn't get a 100% score for lesson 7 on lcwo.net. Bummer. Maybe tomorrow.
Always nice to hear this again. Glad to know something familiar is still around. With the whole set up working properly again I spent some time monitoring 20 and 40 meters. Saw a lot of Indonesians on psk31, but didn't work one. Later I put out some CQs myself and two Japanese stations came back, both very eager to do some non-macro QSOing. I also scanned the SSB portion of 20 meters and heard some really strong signals from CT1EHI and SM2EKM, but both didn't return my calls. Then KH2L had a QSO with SM2EKM and some others and finally I could break in and I had a nice long QSO with Ed. He is in Guam, so S9+40dB without a problem. Thanks Ed, hope to work you again. Later 40 meters was quiet enough and I heard some psk31 signals from Korea. Unfortunately the touch pad on my laptop stopped working after I put out 100 Watts when I answered one, so better not do that again and keep the neighbours happy (and radiation free) too.
Just came back from our "home-at-the-sea". Did some maintenance on the interface cables and now everything is working fine again, including RS232 switched PTT. Just tuned in to 20 meters psk31 and heard CE3PG. No other stations around and the sunspot number is 0, so one odd one for the books again. Pity he didn't come back to me.
Was cycling through the bands when I stumbled upon Manila ATC on 8903 kHz. Busy frequency and fun to listen to. Here a short recording.
Spent two days trying to get some nice WeFax images. So far JMH, BMF, HLL and VMC with some nice results. Especially the tropical cyclone maps from VMC are nice. At night I went to the CTARL meeting in the Taipei Library again. Hanging out with the boys!! I told them about the situation in the Netherlands and they were especially interested in the repeater set up. As one of the guys told me: "amateur radio is still in its infancy in Taiwan and there is a lot of work to be done." There are only 5 UHF repeaters in Taiwan and it's not really clear if they are legal at all. Frequencies are not published and the shifts are not the ones usually used. They use CTCSS for opening, but not for reception. Secrecy, because of the many illegal users of V/UHF in Taiwan. Sad, really.
[Rework the WeFAX page]
Spent today recompiling the kernel of my Linux OS. The last time I had to do this was probably 7 years ago, but since they depreciated /dev/dsp and I really need that for Hamfax and Wxtoimg I had to relive old memories. Hopefully tomorrow some nice weather maps. At night I had a sked with BX7AAH, but both 20 and 40 meters were not suitable for a north-south QSO, so we'll have to re-schedule the sked again (some nice double Dutch for you there).
Nothing wrong with the power supply, it easily delivers 20 Amps. Jack suggested the earthing needed improvement, so today I tried that. No major difference; still too much RF feedback. Went back to the source and checked the antenna and the coax choke connected to it. Seemed all right, so I put some extra snap-on common mode chokes next the the coax choke and lo and behold: a major improvement on 20 and 40 meters. 17 and 12 meters can be tuned with some care, but 15 meters is a no-no. But I can put out a 100 Watts without any problems on 20, 30 and 40 meters and the dipole is mostly suited for these bands, so I am more than happy. To test the whole setup I answered a CQ from JA6BLV on 20 meters and we did have a nice QSO which lasted some 15 minutes. Lots of fading and signals were not strong, but we did it anyway.
Whatever I do, I can't get more than 15 A out of my PSU. Will have to visit BU2BA tonight to test it there. Bummer.
Send out my first bunch of QSL cards today.
Tried my hand at taking CW again today. T88ME was coming in strong at 7011 kHz around 1030 and he was slow enough so that I could take most of his QSOs. Was successful in receiving some NAVTEX broadcasts on 518 kHz today. Since the shortwave bands were too noisy I decided to try the medium wave band instead and with success.
[Rework the NAVTEX page]
Not active on the radio today: too much local interference. The noise blanker on my TS-440S could handle some of it, but it was still too much to be comfortable. Went to the local meeting of the CTARL at night. Some 20+ people showed up to listen to a lecture on air traffic control by BU2AI. It was somewhat interesting, but I came there to meet people and luckily BV1EK, Frederick Steiner, showed up. Also met BV2FP, David Gao who sends out the weekly newsletters and BV2DQ, who lives in Da Xi, not far from where I work. It was the first time that the northern chapter of the CTARL held a lecture and it showed in the uneasiness of the people organising it. But it went well and it certainly needs a follow up. I was also asked to introduce myself and being not prepared that was quite nerve wrecking too, even though I do speak Mandarin quite well.
The guy who organised the lecture.
BU2AI, who is an air controller by profession.
BV1EK (Frederick, r.) and myself (l.)
Even though I'm not a fan of PSK31, you just take what you can get. Within 45 minutes (0020 till 0100 UTC) I made 3 QSOs on 20 meter in PSK31: JH9FNB, UA0FTU and HS0ZHY. First Japanese contact, worked Russia and Thailand before. They are present over here too!!! I mean the 40 meter Russian beacons on 7040 kHz. Strongest is M, with F in the background. Also activated WSPR again. Noise levels are rather high late afternoon and evenings, but still managed to hear WA2YUN and VK1UN/1. My signal was not heard by anyone.
Got my TS-440S from our "warehouse" and it is still working! Nice to have general coverage reception again. Noise levels are high today, but found this funny Mandarin number station on 9169 kHz USB: soundclip. Brought the wrong serial cable, so digital modes still have to be done with VOX. Worked VR2XMT on 40 meters in the UKDX contest, but it was not smooth going. The Filipino's on 40 meters seem to have 7095 kHz as their main chat frequency. You can hear activity there almost every day.
Called CQ the entire morning. First in RTTY on 20 m, and after I heard an SSTV signal on 14232 I called CQ on 14230 kHz. Took the better part of an hour, but finally BD4XY came back to me. Quite a good signal and glad to know that my 15 Watts is getting somewhere.
Also tried my hand at putting up a video on YouTube. BV2AP's beacon has the honours of featuring in the following BX2ABT production......
Saw V85AVE on the cluster listed on 14225 kHz and could work him too, even though his signal was weak. Tried it later with even less power, but conditions were not favourable then. Ordered new QSL cards today: 500 for NT$525 (or 13.5 Euro's for you European folks). KISS design, but the Chinese characters make them exotic, hi hi.
Fried my touch paddle yesterday but changing the CD4001's didn't work. Probably the 2N7000 that needs replacement. So bought them from a little store here in Banqiao. NT$5 per piece. Even Tim thought that was cheap, so we bought four.
Connected my audio interface today and spend a couple of hours trying to get some signals in. Not much RTTY going on, but later the PSK31 signals started coming in. First I had a short SSB QSO with BA4KW and then I saw XU7KOH on 21 MHz in PSK31. Also saw an OH2 and IZx station coming by, but the band started to close. Later I saw XU7KOH again on 14 MHz and had a nice - Dutch - QSO with Wim. He is leaving Tuesday, so I was right on time. Pity I forgot the RS232-USB interface last week because now I need to use VOX to switch the PTT. Later at night a booming signal from ZL2JBR, but he was working Europe only and my 17 Watts weren't enough to get through. Never mind, all-in-all it was a successful day.
That was easy: put a snap on ferrite choke on the power line of my switching power supply of my notebook and the noise was gone. Luckily I had one lying around in our dacha. I also put up the 2x10 meter dipole today. It was raining a bit, but I had planned everything in advance, so it was a piece of cake. The dipole is strung horizontally in a 45 degree angle, so hardly ideal. SWR on 40 meters is appalling, but my tuner fixes this easily. It is a real improvement, with some nice signals on 40 meters (BD5ND came in S9+20 peak), JD1BMH (Ogasawara Islands) in RTTY on 20 meters and RA1AIF in CW on 17 meters. He is from St. Petersburg, so I don't need to worry that my dipole can only be used for NVIS purposes, hi hi. And then at 10:03 I heard BH7OZG calling out CQ on 14.251 kHz and I made my first QSO as BX2ABT with him. Thank you Jason.