December 31, 2013

This was a year of getting things back on track. Nothing exciting going on. The only thing that made me really happy was (re)discovering Oliva and making a bunch of new ham friends on 14.106 MHz. Hopefully 2014 will be a bit more exiting. At least I have some better equipment now, so no more frustrations about that. Let the fun begin!

December 28, 2013

Frustrating: bought an ICOM HM-118TN today, which is supposed to be 100% compatible with the HM-36. Unfortunately it didn't work. Well, the PTT and up/down buttons worked, but no audio into the IC-7200. Opened it up, checked all the connections and put in a new microphone element. Then, just before I wanted to call it a day, I remembered some menu option about audio input. A quick reference in the manual (page 77) and indeed it was the radio, not the microphone who was set up wrong. With the mike still in pieces I still managed to have a QSO with Peter, VK3OJ from Melbourne on 20 meters. Great signal from him and he gave me the thumbs up on my audio. Had to use the compressor and I couldn't find the microphone level setting; it is a complicated rig for sure.

So, the first ever QSO with the IC-7200 is a fact. Hope many will follow.

December 27, 2013

We had a record low for this winter season last night: 8.5 degrees Celsius. At 10 AM still only 9.4 degrees.

December 24, 2013

Wonderful signal from AIR Shilong on 4970 kHz this night. Brings back memories. At 1420 a first MW success: on 610 Voice of Ho Chi Minh. The narrow filters and PBT made this quite audible. On 1575 the VoA from a facility in Thailand also came through around the same time with a program in Burmese at 1430. On 1566 a positive ID from Hubei zhi Sheng and they were stronger than FEBC from Korea on the same channel.

December 23, 2013

Watery cold in the shack, but I still managed to connect the IC-7200 to the laptop using a USB cable. Setting up Fldigi was a breeze. Use hamlib and select the right rig in the drop down box. Choose the right USB device and set the baud rate to 19200. Set the same rate in the IC-7200 and initialize, then you're ready to go. In the sound card setup choose the appropriate USB soundcard and you're also ready to go. Problem was the sound was coming in, but not going out to the set. After some RTFM I found out that in the second setup menu you need to change D-MoD to U and crank up the USB level to around 75. After that no problem getting 100 Watts out. But by then my feet were so cold that I called it a day and sought a warmer place: my bed.

December 22, 2013

Finally got the IC-7200 in my hands today. Took it for a quick spin late at night (busy day with visiting acquaintances and IKEA) and AM sounds superb. LW reception is a bit lacking compared to the TS-440S, but we have the converter ready so that is not a big problem. I already love this one, although I do miss the transmit and band up/down switches.

December 21, 2013

The IC-7200 passed customs without any problems and landed safely in Taiwan. Will pick it up tomorrow.

December 19, 2013

The temperature dipped just below 11 degrees Celsius this morning. Winter has started early this year.

December 17, 2013

Two QSOs today, one with XU7AAJ and one with VK3WHO, both in Olivia, both with the TS130V. Just plain fun. I did play with the KX3 and adjusted the receiver equalizer and AGC. Sound a bit more pleasant now.

December 15, 2013

We were supposed to test our MP1 antennas in a park in Taipei today. But after a grueling Friday and Saturday we only woke up a 0900 and with a downpour outside we decided to stay in bed and not go to Taipei. Some of the other guys did and BM2LDT was so nice to send me this photo from under the Hua Juang Bridge.

 

December 12, 2013

Everything that is put up temporarily will eventually come down when left up permanently. Today a metal strap broke due to metal fatigue and now my 2 meter and LW antenna are a little closer to earth.

December 11, 2013

Being good friends with the local music store I got an old music stand for free. After removing the top part and drilling some holes I had a perfect stand for the MP1 antenna.

December 8, 2013

Had an excellent day at the Taipei City Technical University (臺北城市科技大學附設進修專校) at the CTARL DIY workshop. Lots of lectures about WSJT and APRS, but we all came for the DIY part: a MP1 antenna. The antenna was already made, but putting it together and measuring it proved to be fun enough. And....time for lots of QSOs with old and new friends. Next week we're going to test the antennas in the park, which should be fun, too.

Because of the APRS talk lots of people had their trackers turned on, so for once we had a busy APRS scene in northern Taiwan.

This was the route I took today. I first dropped of wife and kids in Tucheng, then went to Beitou and back home via Nankan to buy some Dutch cheese at the Costco.

This was the total APRS activity during Sunday.

Group photo. Some 50 members attended.

A lecture about WSJT by BX1AD.

Lunch box time.

Signing up for the MP1.

Ready for distribution.

Assembly time.

A forest of antennas.

Meeting for the first time: BX2ABT and BM2LDT.

December 6, 2013

Now that WSPR is working I let it run all night. Not a great success, because even at 1 W there is too much interference with the weather station. Second problem is that from my house I can't access wsprnet.org. No problem from work and as both work and home use the same ISP I'm a bit baffled. So, no more WSPR for now.

December 5, 2013

I am not the only one with difficulties getting WSPR to run. The solution is here: http://wsprnet.org/drupal/node/4058. It was a Python problem, not directly related to Ubuntu, but still.....

December 4, 2013

Because of the upcoming CTARL activity on Sunday I decided to dig out the APRS equipment. The set for the car worked fine, the base station didn't. It seems the radio is not getting signals through to the TNC. The PC is communicating with the TNC fine, but only if I use a RS232 to USB converter. Silly, but a direct serial connection doesn't work.

The new APRS digipeater BY2-1 seems to be pretty decent in receiving signals as my round trip to Longtan was recorded without a hitch.

At night I also compiled WSPR again and found this excellent web page on how to do it. Not that it worked, because it stalled after each receive. The compiled binary also didn't work. I read a report on how Ubuntu is slowly losing touch with the community and my recent experiences with Kubuntu leads me to believe this is true: the quality is lacking and many things that used to work fine are now difficult to get done. A pity, maybe I shoud go back to Debian.

November 30, 2013

16837 kHz a relay of DZMM 630 Radyo Patrol from the Philippines @0405. Didn't last long.

November 28, 2013

Ken just mailed me that the IC-7200 has been delivered to his home. Hopefully within a few weeks I'll have it in my hands.

Tonight I made my first QSO with the KX3. 20 meters was quiet, so I went to 40 meters and heard a CQ by BV8SI from down in Pingtung. 5 Watts into the 5 meter vertical, tuned with my home made tuner. He was 579, I was 449, but we had a nice, short QSO. The KX3 was doing CW decoding fine and with a 0.5 kHz narrow filter I didn'nt even have to use the DSP, only the NB. The KX3 really rocks!

The weather turned cold in Taiwan. A couple of days ago 22 degrees, today it went down to barely 10 degrees C.

November 26, 2013

Now that the KX3 is in I decided on a new QRO set. I suspect the ICOM IC-7200 is going to be phased out. They are on sale in the US and in Japan on Amazon almost a third off of the original price. So I ordered one today and it will be shipped to my friend Ken (JA1RZD) who will test it, pack it for someone to bring back to Taiwan. US$720 is a steal for such a set.

November 24, 2013

Couldn't sleep last night, so stayed up till 0100 LT. Didn't do much good, because I woke at 0530 and decided to get up after half an hour of turning and turning. Knowing that the family would sleep till at least 0800 I decided to assemble the KX3. Because I prepared so well it only took me an hour and a half: I started with the back panel and that was done within 30 minutes. The front panel took a little longer, but by 0735 I did the smoke test. And.......it didn't smoke.

I spent the rest of the day getting to know the set and since it is quite different from anything I own or have owned it took a while to get going. The filters go down two 50 Hz, so CW sounds mighty clear. On the other end, AM reception of broadcast stations is also not bad considering that the filter is only 4 kHz wide. I tried some digital reception, but that didn't go so well. Rig control is easy with the supplied USB-serial cable and finally FLdigi is in sync with my radio.

With enough time to spare I decided to finish another project that was lying about: the touch keyer for field work. Getting the hole for the rectangular switch right was the most difficult, but I did a good job and with the other holes drilled the assembly was easy. Used a lot of conformal coating and epoxy to protect and fix everything. It worked nicely with the KX3. Need to get my CW skills up to par now, because the KX3 is really an excellent CW set. Glad I bought it.

November 23, 2013

Worked S21ZBB from Bangladesh today at lunch time today. He was in RTTY on 12 meters working split. Can't do split with the TS130V, so I used FLdigi to switch around between his signal and 1.5 kHz up. It only took 10 minutes and then he noticed me. Maybe it helped that I called BX2ABT/QRP. DXCC 119 is in.

I prepared a lot of things for the KX3 assembly today and yesterday evening. The casing is clean, most stand-offs are in place and the screws sorted and packed in ziplock bags. The ESD mat is on the desk, so tomorrow we can have a flying start.

November 18, 2013

The second box with the PCBs already came in on Friday, but I didn't see the delivery slip until today. Got the parcel at night and everything seems undamaged. Randy did a good job. Now we can start preparing.

November 14, 2013

Two days ago the manuals for the KX3 came in and today the first box with hardware: casing, battery holders, etc.

November 3, 2013

Conditions on 10 meters have been pretty good. Heard beacon OH9TEN on 28267.5 right next to VK8VF on 28266 kHz just after 0900Z. V73TEN was booming in on 28298 kHz at the same time.

October 25, 2013

The KX3 savely arrived at my friend Randy's place. He will repack and send it to me. I am already excited!

October 19, 2013

I ordered the KX3 today, which will be send to my best friend Randy. He will repack and mail it in parts to me. Let's hope customs are easily fooled.

October 13, 2013

Despite the strong winds I put up the loop antenna yesterday, but it proved to be a noise magnet. Lots of TVI and signals were not very strong. The power brick of my laptop proved to be a noise source, so I changed it for another and that fixed part of the problem. With Argo running and ignoring the noise peaks I was still able to pick up 30 new NDBs.

Locator "O" on 201 kHz and PQ on 202 kHz, both unidentified.

An odd one heard on 220 kHz: BRBA5. Notice that the dash in the letter "R" is longer than the other dashes. Ears won't notice this, but with Argo you can see it.

Three beacons on the same frequency of 380 kHz: LM, OB and sandwiched in between YU from Hualien (Taiwan's east coast).

Today I also checked the short wave bands and heard some afternoon activity on the Olivia frequencies. I worked OH2HN for the second time and HB9BDM for the first time. F1ABE saw me on his screen, but he didn't call me, otherwise I would have had two new Olivia contacts.

October 6, 2013

I finished the monster loop this weekend, but constant rain prevented me from putting it outside. Instead I put the 1.8 kHz filter from the TS-440S in the TS-130V, and tried to put some QSOs in the log. Worked PH9HB in psk31, ZL1YE in SSB, VK0JJJ and VK5ZTS in Olivia (both second QSOs), VK8WW in CW and RW3DBX in psk125. VK3WHO put me in the Olivia spot cluster, so that was nice, too.

September 27, 2013

Had a new contact on 20 meter Olivia tonight: VK3WHO, Frans from Victoria. Another Dutchman who emigrated to VK land a long time ago. I wrote to him in Dutch, which he understands, but he couldn't write Dutch back. AJ8S also called in, so my 12 Watts made it all the way to Ohio. Jim even gave me an S4! That is a 1000 km per Watt. Not bad and it proves that Oliva is a great mode!

September 21, 2013

Not only the TS-440S is broken. My trusty Texas Instruments TI-31 solar is also kaput after 24 years and now the Weller LR21 soldering assembly is acting up. It's the magnetic switch, but they are half the price of a new assembly.

And in other news:

September 8, 2013

Did some monitoring on the unid 77.5 kHz time signal station, but haven't analyzed the data yet. At night I tried the FRG-7 with the LW converter and the PA0RDT whip. It worked reasonably well and I heard a NDB under AP on 250 kHz. Listed is Bubung in Indonesia with call LK and I did hear that very clearly. Would be a major catch, but I am still a bit doubtful that I really heard an Indonesian NDB. But it isn't impossible, either.

September 1, 2013

After spending a couple of nights fault-finding the TS440S I put it aside. I touched up all the soldering connections on the PLL board, except VFO#5, but right there I suspect the troubles are. At TP11 the voltage swings abruptly from 2.5 to 8 Volts, so either is Q36 kaput again, or Q34/35 act up. At least the display is showing 7 dots and after turning blank on August 27 I think that is an improvement.

So today I finally worked on the 137kHz transmitter again. Mounted the transformer and the capacitors, gave it some juice through a 10A fuse and then turned it on. I didn't check the spec sheet for the IRF510 in the final amp, so I didn't know that the drain is connected to the casing, which I mounted on a heat sink, which was connected to ground. Another fault-finding session later I found what I had done wrong and mounted another (smaller) heat sink. The IRF510 had died by then, so I replaced it. With only the output transformer in place acting as antenna I was able to put a decent signal on 138 kHz, so it worked! Sounded clean as well. Step two is almost finished.

We didn't have a very hot summer and autumn is starting early: it barely got over 22 degrees Celsius today. That is chilly if you compare it to a few days ago. It had rained for two days straight, so that probably had got something to do with it. The outlook is back to 32 C in a few days.

August 29, 2013

Only a mild tropical storm up north with 105 mm of rain. Down south they were not so lucky with places getting five to 600 mm of rain. Vegetable prices are going to be high for the next couple of weeks.

August 28, 2013

INCOMING!!!

I, for one, am glad, because I am getting a little tired from the constant heat. And....since my TS-440S decided to call it quits - again - last night it might give me some time to take it apart and see where the problem lies this time.

August 24, 2013

Another Aussie on Olivia. Actually Tom (VK5ZTS) is Dutch, but in Australia since age 4. He still understands Dutch, so I can write to him in my mother tongue. Fun!

Later that morning (2300Z) for the first time I got some WEFAX signals from HSW64 Thailand on 7396 kHz. They use the IOC288 mode for messages, it seems and IOC576 for weather charts. Since they are in the broadcast band reception was difficult.

August 23, 2013

Made some progress with the frame for the new Superduper Mega Loop. The components for the remote control are also sorted.

At night I made a new friend on Olivia: VK4WTN, Wayne from Queensland.

August 22, 2013

Typhoon Trami passed northern Taiwan in the past two days. Luckily it was a rainy typhoon, not a windy one, so the antennas are all standing. Total amount of rain since August 21 0400: 236 mm.

August 18, 2013

Gave myself a kick in the butt and finished the RF ampere meter.

August 17, 2013

We had another huge thunderstorm in the afternoon, but not as long as the one on July 14. I put the new wx computer in place and set up the PicoLCD display for live weather in the shack. Great to see it back in action again.

At night I made another new Olivia friend: WB0KGN from Minnesota. OH/DL4ZC also called and I made a short QSO with him.

August 16, 2013

All is well with the new Atom PC I am building as replacement for the RasPi. The network adapter was not working (so I thought), but with another one in place the outside world could still not be reached. Turned out the Buffalo router is more broken than I thought and one of the LAN sockets is not working. Two more that can be used, so I am networked for now. That thunderstorm on July 14 broke more than at first sight.

Once I got connected again it was an almost effortless exercise to install W1retap and get fresh weather data on the front page. Unfortunately the rrdtools achive could not be migrated from ARM to x486, which means I have to repopulate a newly build database. Something that can be done on a rainy afternoon, later.

August 11, 2013

Last night at 01:40 local time my Raspberry Pi finally decided to call it quits. No more weather data for the moment. I was already busy setting up a replacement 486 system, but the network adapter on the main board also decided to call it a day. Once I have network back up it should be not too difficult to get it going.

Luckily there was also something nice that happened. I called CQ in Olivia on 14108.5 kHz because I heard something going on 1 kHz below. After a while VK0JJJ came back to my call and he is located in Mawson Station, Mac Robertson Land, Antarctica! We had a nice chat until he faded out. -15 degrees Celsius, while I am here suffering from a heat stroke. Still a very nice catch and I hope to see him on screen again.

August 4, 2013

It is too hot to be in the shack, really, but in the early mornings it is tolerable. Not much going on with the current conditions, but then I heard VE7KO all of a sudden in RTTY on 15 meters. Fun, but more fun at night when I heard some Olivia while checking the memory slots of my TS-440S. It was JA1RDZ whom I worked in Olivia before, in QSO with AJ8S, from Ohio. After their QSO I called him and he responded. Had a long QSO and then N1SG called from NH. Two new states, both east coast and both with perfect readable QSOs. Olivia is indeed a very nice mode to work. With N1SG I went down to 10 Watts, but then he couldn't read me any more. 25 Watts is about right for this mode. In the end I had done only two QSOs in an hour and a half! But with two great rag chew guys! I went to bed a happy man, I can tell you that.

August 2, 2013

Heard some NAVTEX on 425 kHz. Very weak and lots of QRN, so I'll have to try later.

August 1, 2013

We went to the Pescadores (澎湖) for a couple of days and I took my Sangean ATS-909 with me. I only had one night I on which I could go out to the harbour and listen a bit. Penghu is packed with medium wave transmitters and I had to use the RF gain on the ATS-909 extensively. I managed to pick up two new NDBs: KU on 525 and NN on 375, both from mainland Taiwan. When we flew in we passed Penghu's own NDB, but I wasn't allowed to take a photo of it (it's forbidden to take photographs on internal Taiwanese flights).

I did take some photographs of the various broadcasters masts on the island.

July 15, 2013

I already started fixing the rain gauge and finished that today, just in time for the next afternoon shower. It seems to be working now, but I am not sure how well.

I also fixed the bent CD whip. I bend it back into shape a little and cut off two 10 cm sections which were clearly warped. I made longer connections between the sections (10 cm instead of 5 cm) and now it seems pretty straight.

Then I put up the 70 cm DCA, which was standing in the corner for the longest time. It just reached the top of the roof, but I don't dare to put in another mast section. I can open the C! and C2 repeaters now, but only marginally. This really is not a nice location for VHF/UHF.

July 14, 2013

We spent a wonderful day out, but when we came home at 3 o'clock hell broke loose. The most terrific thunderstorm you can imagine [video - pay attention at 14 second: the camera got hit by the EMP from the lightning]. The drain on the balcony was clogged from the typhoon, so the shack got almost flooded. We fixed that and then lightning hit very close nearby. All the automatic garage doors in the neighbourhood are broken, the switching power supplies from two of our routers are broken and the weather station was out. The sensors were still intact, but the USB dongle was gone. I had a replacement one, so that was fixed easily. The RasPi was dead, but by supplying 5 Volts to the GPIO pins it came back alive. It draws 600 mA right now and the 3.3 V voltage regulator becomes very hot.

I was quite tired after checking and fixing everything, but I still managed to hear some new NDBs late at night, albeit all unidentifiable.

July 13, 2013

Conditions on shortwave have been horrible lately. During the week there is not much going on, but luckily on the weekends there are some signals about. Hear VK2XT and decided to give him a call. Little did I know that Bill is 100 years old and so he didn't get my call at first, because "my age worries me" as he said in another QSO later on. But in the end he did and we had a short but nice QSO. He was only 53, but readable. QSL via the bureau. Really amazing!

Here a piece with a photo of him: http://www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2010/20100319-1/index.php

Unfortunately the typhoon bent my newly reworked 5 meter vertical whip. It seems work is never done....

July 12, 2013

Incoming!!!

(Unfortunately the rain gauge is acting up again, so no measurements for this typhoon).

Since I took the 10 meter Spiderbeam vertical down I was stuck with the CB whip. Still, it is performing better than before and even below 1800 kHz I get decent signal strenghts. The long wave band was quiet enough and so I logged 9 new NDBs, mostly from Taiwan and China with only 3 unidentified. The only broadcasting station that came in strong enough was Radio Rossii on 279 kHz. JJY and the Chinese time signal station below 100 kHz also came in fine, but weak. I am rather surprised by the performance of this whip.

July 10, 2013

The old CB whip wasn't performing well lately, so I took it down a few weeks ago. Rain had seeped in and so I was actually transmitting using a water antenna. I took it apart, cleaned the mess and painted the bad spots. Today I put it back up again and it is solid as a rock.

July 8, 2013

Very little 6 meter activity in the last few days, so I took down the delta loop and put up 10 meters vertical wire. Worked on special event station from Russia and after 2100 some stations in RTTY (one Z6 station, but that doesn't count as a separate DXCC entity yet). I also tuned the medium wave bands and got good signals from NHK2 from Kumamoto. Below is the antenna setup with the capacity hat clearly visable.

July 6, 2013

We had some rain this afternoon after quite a while without. That "some" was the usualy heavy Taiwanese rain, but not the 211 mm my rain gauge reported. I think it shorted out due to the heavy amount in a relatively short time and the fact that the measured water can't flow away quickly enough. Will have to take it apart and see what is the cause.

No radio during the heavy thunder that accompanied the rain, so I finished the casing of the LC meter I built in 2009. It only took 4 years!!!

July 3, 2013

Updated my QSL card database with the 43 cards I got yesterday. Started out with 63 DXCC entities confirmed, but ended up with 69! Newly confirmed were V63 (Federated States of Micronesia), UT (Ukraine), 8J1RL (Japanese Antarctic Station), JD1 (Marcus Island) and 9M4SLL (the Spratly Islands). Not a bad result for collection of cards.

6 meters was open today, but not much. Logged a new Korean beacon: HL1LUA/B on 50.066 MHz [audio].

July 2, 2013

Went to Taipei today. Dumped the kids with grandma and went shopping for parts. Found a suitable box for the LC meter, but no 100 microAmp meter and no 2SC1252. Frustrated at that I went to central Taipei after dinner, where there are more parts stores. Mr. Dong had the 2SC1252, but at over NT$400 it was too pricey. But he also had the 2N5109 at only NT$90 and so I bought those, because I wanted them in the first place. Found a 100 microAmp meter in another shop, so I was successful at last.

Then I went to the CTARL meeting and collected 43 cards in total. BM2JCC gave a talk about contesting, but I was more interested in talking APRS with BX2AI. He told me the sad story about the loss of the best digipeater: BV3YA. This digipeater was located at over 1000 meters high in the mountains of HsinChu, at a site owned by BV3BA. This site was also used by ChungHua Telecom and the National Police. It had a video surveillance system and one day the hard disk was gone. The police started to investigate and then found the APRS set-up, called the NCC, who took it away for research. They also went to BV3BA's home and confiscated his APRS iGate. Both set-ups were illegal to begin with, but due to lack of repeater licences in Taiwan there is no other way to get digipeaters on air.

After the evening ended there was still a fierce discussion going on about the QRM on the APRS frequency [video]. I noticed this QRM already for a while, but didn't know what it was. It seems to come from a trucking company who thinks they "own" 144.640 MHz and wants the APRS signals gone. Of course, the NCC won't do anything until we pin-point the location of the QRM. They have the equipment, the people, but not enough knowledge and will-power to do anything, so we need to do the footwork by ourselves. How to go about it became a rather heated discussion between BV2EL, BV2DQ, BX2AI and others. Fun to watch and listen to. To be continued.

BM2JCC during his talk about contesting.

BV2DQ with his views on how to solve the APRS QRM problem.

BX2AI (left) and BV2EL (center).

June 27, 2013

There is a lot of 6 meter activity, so I took out the FT-690mk2 and put the delta loop in the Spiderbeam. Heard two new beacons: 6M6M from Korea and JR6YAG from Okinawa. Worked some Japanese and BU2BE, Emily from Taipei who came in very strong. I also heard BU2CB, but he was very weak. Best Japanese station was JA8QX from East Hokkaido the farthest 6 meter QSO sofar.

June 26, 2013

The towers are almost gone.

Besides that I finally finished the PSU. Mounted an extra heat sink on the back and printed a nice front decal. Also made two decals for the LF convertor and the mini-whip power inserter. Simple enough: 1) make the design with GIMP, 2) print it out, 3) spray it with laquer (many times), 4) cut it out and stick it on. Since it is still paper it can be damaged easily, but it won't get dirty with finger prints.

June 25, 2013

Took the scooter for a half hour ride to Chung-li. Visited two electronics shops, but both were a bit disappointing and more expensive than Taipei. Still, did get some wire and DC sockets, so the trip wasn't in vain. Also went to a chemicals supply shop and got a new bunch of FeCl3 for etching.

June 23, 2013

05:00 local time (21 UTC so June 22 actually). Couldn't sleep and tuned the radio. Heard a lot, worked nothing until I heard a Dutch voice on 17 meters. Turned out to be Henk, VK2GWK, an expat who moved to Australia after retiring. Had a long QSO with him and we also tried 12 meters, which turned out to be somewhat more difficult. Thanks Henk.

Later I finally got a decent image from KVM-70, Honolulu on 16135 kHz at 0140 UTC.

Good thing I did some radio stuff earlier in the day. The afternoon brought rain and thunder, but unfortunately the rain gauge is acting up, so no readings on the amount. Another job for the summer.

June 20, 2013

The amateur bands were pretty empty today, so I turned to LF/VLF reception. What I presume is NDI, from Awase, Okinawa was putting out a huge signal on 54 kHz. They were much stronger than JJY on 60 kHz (50 kW), but then again they do run 250 kW ERP. Here a short video.

June 19, 2013

It's now final: they are taking down the transmission towers (power pylons) near our house! At first we thought that it was an overhaul or maintainance job, but these pictures deliver the proof. It was already rather quiet on the bands in the last few weeks, but now it is clear that this will stay, save for some local noise from the neighbours.

What a pleasant view from my balcony/annenna farm. Once the towers are gone it will look even nicer.

June 18, 2013

Used a helically wound 20 meter vertical to test the long wave convertor and results were only so-so due to the pickup of a lot of local QRM. Did manage to hear DO on 331 kHz from Qingzhou and WA on 342 from Wongyuan, also China Two new ones in the log.

June 9, 2013

Conditions were not great this weekend, but I still managed to get some stations in the log, using only the 5 meter vertical whip, which really needs to get some maintainance.

Yesterday, I suddenly had the urge to grab the morse key and I made a near perfect QSO with 5W1SA from Western Samoa. I had worked him before in SSB on 10 meters in a contest, but this was much nicer.

Today 12 meters was open and there was some RTTY activity. VU2NKS had good signal coming in, so I finally worked India properlly, even though it was a 599 exchange only.

After that I saw signals from EY7AD and after some effort he came back to me. I had heard and seen him before, but always weak and much in demand by others. This time I got lucky and nailed my 115th DXCC entity.

Icing on the cake was AC4CA, also in RTTY, from Texas on 20 meters. Very short opening in that direction and we exchanged 599s and LDC contest info, even though I wasn't participating in it.

June 3, 2013

Heard our local NDB RA on 202 for the fist time today. This beacon belongs to the local AF base here in Longtan and is not operational 24 hours. Heard a UNID with ID "D" on 405 and another Chinese beacon on 403 kHz from Zangangzhen, with call JB. Another UNID on 475 kHz is YP.

At night I found out my site got hacked by dr.m1st3r. Wasn't due to me being sloppy with scripts, but another site at GetHost.nl got hacked and it spilled over to mine and other sites on the same server. I quickly backed-up some essential files and let it rest. On Twitter I saw that GetHost was already putting everything back together from backups.

This night was also low on thunderstorms, so I listened a lot on medium wave. I heard DZUP on 1602 and Russian Radio on 279, 234 and 189 kHz and the sign-off from Mongolian Radio 1 on 189 kHz.

June 2, 2013

Put the PA0NHC version of the mini-whip in the Spiderbeam today. Some improvement, but there was too much noise (local and distant) to be sure. At night I did some MW listening. Checked out the various TBS stations and found that 1188 kHz was also on 1224 kHz with about the same strenght. This is the second program from Taipei and it shouldn't be there.

On 1278 kHz RKB came in very strong. They are usually there, but tonight they were very strong. I waited for an ID at 1500 UTC, but nothing like one at the top of the hour. Their antenna is right in Hakata Bay, which might explain why they are always coming in.

June 1, 2013

Still using the first version of the mini-whip. Nothing going on the lower bands, but ABC in the Northern Territories is coming in with country music on 4835 kHz //2325 and 2485 kHz.

AFN on 5765 is also coming in again.

May 26, 2013

This time some photos of the mini-whip version I have made recently.

This is a test version with plain, cheap capacitors and a 2SC1906 instead of a 2N5109.

This is a second version with a 2N3866 instead of a 2N5109 and foil capacitors. This one produced more IM products than the one above.

Home made PCB after the design made by DARC's OV M30.

Mounted in a PVC top cap.

About 8 meters up in the air.

The power inserter using a T37-40 to decouple the RF signal.

Another version of the mini-whip, modified by PA0NHC. Uses a dual-gate MOSFET instead of a J-FET.

Easy to build using the Manhattan style.

May 25, 2013

Another bunch of daytime NDBs: @212 OJ, @219 FK, @240 FB, @255 JC, 275 PK all UNID and 210 TC Taichung, 295 O a locator in Xizhi.


At night I tried the mini-whip on the tropical band and found PMA The Cross from Pohnpei on the Federated States of Micronesia. Frequency 4755.5 kHz and they went off air suddenly at 11.55.

May 24, 2013

More NDB catches: 290 BM, Magong, TWN, 295 O, TWN, @307 K or KK, UNID, SG, Xinsheng Park, Taipei, TWN, 335, LK, Wugu, TWN, 357 LU, Keelung, TWN, 362, HL, Houlong, TWN, @363 LA, UNID, @376, XD, UNID. All catches made just before 0900 UTC or 1700 local time.

Just before 1500 UTC another Chinese catch: 272 kHz FL, Wuji.

May 23, 2013

I finished the 138.5 kHz VXO today and it worked! The voltage divider in the original circuit didn't work, but probing directly at pin 4 of the 4060 divider resulted in a very strong carrier on 138.5 kHz.

And just before going to bed I tried the mini-whip again and heard NDB JR on 475 kHz. This is LiangXiang in China and I also heard WL on 426, which is on Hainan Peninsula. Two stations at quite a distance, so I am quite pleased with this.

May 19, 2013

I put the 6 meter delta loop in the Spiderbeam today and worked 8 Japanese and one Taiwanese station. Sporadic E and conditions came as fast as they went.

After that I put the mini-whip in the mast and it still worked! Did a good job on the construction then, so kudos to me. It does have some intermodulation problem, but overal it is a real performer. Pity the static level is very high today. It's the rainy season, so nothing that can be done. Here some catches.

873 NHK2, 846 religious from PHL, 209//164 Mongolian R1, Russian Radio on 153, JJY on 40 and 60 kHz and still this unknown time station on 77.5 kHz. LORAN-C on 100 kHz is really loud too as is NAVTEX on 518 kHz. Station O came in with a solid S9 signal and that has never happened before.

May 18, 2013

I finished the PA0DRT mini-whip antenna today and it seems to be working. All the voltages are there and I do have some reception indoors, even though it is lousy. Hopefully the weather tomorrow is good enough to put it in the Spiderbeam.

Even though this is the seaon with a lot of static I still tuned the VLF band with the LW converter and heard JJY on 40 kHz with a weak signal. Has the same pattern as the station on 60 kHz, so easy to identify.

May 9, 2013

Spent two nights building the Jackson Harbor Press LW transverter kit that my sis-in-law brought from the States. First night the PCB with all the components, the second night the connections. I already had drilled and fitted the box with connectors, so it was a breeze. I tried the 10, 4 and also a 12 MHz crystal, but the 4 MHz gave the best result. Very good reception of many Taiwanese longwave beacons and after I callibrated the frequency with the station on 531 kHz I was spot on. Also NavTex and DGPS is coming in fine. Great to get something like this working.

Apart from the above mentioned stations I also got time signals on 60 kHz, proably Hagene-yama and 68.5 kHz, presumably BPC from Henan. To be continued.

May 5, 2013

I finally figured out why my PCBs made with the heat transfer method were not working out. I made some 25-30 boards, but every time the toner wouldn't stick to the copper completely, resulting in an useless board. With metal polish you can clean the boards and re-use them again, so no board was wasted, but it still was quite frustrating.

This week I printed out new design for the PA0RDT mini-whip antenna when I noticed that the print had purple edges I had not seen before. Finding it strange I started playing with the driver settings, but I coulnd't find settings for printing in black only or toner intensity. I removed the driver and installed another one and this time I did get some print out options, amongst which 600 dpi gray scale. This looked a lot better than the previous print and it did make a use difference when transfering it to the bare PCB. Of the four boards two worked out, one being near perfect. By heating the ferric choride the etching took only 20 minutes and it made me a happy ham.

April 20, 2013

It's the rainy season here in Taiwan. We had a couple of nice days, but mostly it has been a couple of mils of rain a day, with one day topping it with 80+ mm. The great thing about rain is that it clears the muck of the power lines in the neighbourhood, so on the shortwave bands it has been enjoyable lately. Unfortunately my TS-440S won't transmit at all, probably due to the excess humidity. I've ordered some conformal coating from RS, but they haven't delivered uptil now. To spray all the boards will be a major opperation, so best to take it slow. I can still listen, so I've been enjoying that.


I've ordered a mini-ITX motherboard with an Atom N270. It came in the mail the other day and after getting the memory speed right I hooked up my old ham-PC HD. It still has the Kubuntu version from 2010, but it booted up without problems. Next step is to hook up a CF card and use that as HD, then configure the system to replace the RasPi as weather PC.

April 7, 2013

I got a small box and a BNC connector in Taipei, yesterday, so today I boxed up the RTL-SDR receiver. I lined the box with copper tape and removed the original coax connector. For power there is a 1.5 meter USB extension cable and with the DCA attached I could receive APRS signals without a hitch, thanks to the Gqrx build-in AFSK1200 decoder.

April 3, 2013

A very good pass of the ISS tonight, 85 degrees elevation. Got two beacons, one CQ from the ISS and one from a Japanese amateur. My own packets didn't materialize.

AFSK1200: fm RS0ISS-0 to CQ-0 UIv pid=F0 >ARISS - International Space Station
AFSK1200: fm JA3FWT-0 to CQ-0 via RS0ISS-0 UI pid=F0 =3455.63N/13541.19E-NAGAOKAKYO KYOTO JAPAN {UISS53}

March 30, 2013

Tonights pass of the ISS was a lousy one, that is, no packets could be decoded. I sent out one beacon, but I don't know if it was successful.

I did work a new country today, though. The CQ WW SSB contest was going on and I tuned to 10 meters and worked 5W1SA from Samoa. He was quite loud and easy to work.

March 27, 2013

Today for the first time I decoded some packet activity from the ISS. The pass was good, with a maximum elevation of 79°, but no activity apart from a CQ from the ISS itself.

hans@CR400:~$ multimon -t wav -a AFSK1200 20130327-iss-2308.wav
multimod (C) 1996/1997 by Tom Sailer HB9JNX/AE4WA
available demodulators: POCSAG512 POCSAG1200 POCSAG2400 EAS AFSK1200 AFSK2400 AFSK2400_2 HAPN4800 FSK9600 DTMF ZVEI SCOPE
Enabled demodulators: AFSK1200
AFSK1200: fm RS0ISS-0 to CQ-0 UIv pid=F0 >ARISS - International Space Station

March 26, 2013

Because of the dwindling number of CTARL members I decided to become member after all. Only 600 NT$ a year, so no great financial loss.

March 25, 2013

I sent BX4AG a QSL card for his YouTube reception report and today I got a card back in the mail.

March 24, 2013

The 2 meter DCA was checked and rebuild yesterday, so it should be working fine again. I put some extra clamps on the horizontal rods so the dipoles won't get unalligned in strong winds anymore. There was a late pass for the ISS, so I stayed up and finally got some strong beacons from the spaceship before some sausage started singing on 145.820 MHz. It's a pity that the Condor only has 10 kHz as its smallest tuning steps, because I did have to compensate for the doppler effect a bit, but not as much as on 70 cm. Next step: trying to decode these packets.

March 21, 2013

Took down the 12 meter vertical today because there is not much to listen to below 7 MHz nowadays. I am hearing the first distant thunderstorms, so spring is in the air. I put up the Cobweb and tried the 6 meter delta loop, but the latter needs some work, as does the 2 meter DCA.

At night writing QSL cards while listening to AFN on 5765 kHz from Guam. Just like old times.

March 17, 2013

Spring time is here. What better place to call for your new love than the top of a Spider Beam? You definitely will be singing "higher" than the rest!

March 16, 2013

Trip to Taizhong today. In the Dali disctrict I could get my beacons to be repeated, but otherwise it was oky.

First time my beacons got repeated by BV6YA-1 and iGated by BX6AM.

March 15, 2013

Yesterday, when I uploaded the touch paddle video, I found out that BX4AG had posted a video of the 6 meter beacon I was running a while back. Cool. I think I will have to send him a QSL card for it.

March 13, 2013

Really fun to work with 0805 sized SMD components, but after an hour looking through a magnifier I was really exhausted. Luckily the touch keyer was finished.

March 10, 2013

Finally got two reasonable PCBs from my attempts to heat transfer the design on to empty PCB.

March 9, 2013

I don't get all beacons transfered onto the APRS network, so I increased the frequency of my beacons to every 15 minutes.

March 7, 2013

I bought an serial port converter to plug into the GPIO socket of the RaspPi and use the on-board serial port. The only place in Taiwan where they had this converter, called JY-R2T, was Kaohsiung, but for only NT$165 it was delivered to my local 7-11.. It came with a male DB-9 socket, so it plugged straight into the KISS-TNC. All I had to do was swap the TxD and RxD to make a cross link. On the software side there were a couple of things to do. First in /boot/cmdline.txt I deleted the following: console=ttyAMA0,115200 kgdboc=ttyAMA0,115200 to free up the serial port from kernel output messages. Then in /etc/inittab I commented out the line 2:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyAMA0 115200 vt100.

After a reboot the kissattach parameters had to be changed to the following: kissattach /dev/ttyAMA0 APRS. The kissparms paramters were the same as before: kissparms -p aprs -t 500 -s 200 -r 32 -l 100 -f n. And that was all there was to it.

And with 1 Watt coming out of the Condor I am back on the APRS network.

March 2, 2013

The humidity sensor acted strange this week so I took it out of the FARS.

Ouch! I really need to start protecting my things better.

February 27, 2013

Funny propagation on 30 meters tonight. Europe came in fine, but regional signals, like stations from Japan, were hardly readable. Worked SM3CIQ and SP9KR, who was really strong.

February 22, 2013

QSL from KH6MB in the mail. DXCC 62 confirmed and the second card from Martin. Worked him in RTTY as PD3WHO back in Holland.

At night (1400 UC) I tried to decode the RTTY signal on 10.100 MHz. It was indeed the Deutsche Wetterdienst DDK9 on 10.1008 MHz 450 Hz shift and in 50 baud, LSB. Not perfect reception, but nice to see propagation to Europe on 30 meters.

Another good frequency for Wefax is 11.030 MHz, which is VMC Charleville, Australia. 12745.5 is good for Kyodo News Agency from Japan.

Lastly I heard VMC with a voice weather broadcast on 8176 kHz until 14.45 UTC.

February 20, 2013

Worked H44KW with only 9 Watts effortlessly. DXCC 111.

February 17, 2013

EY8MM was loud and clear on 10 meters in CW, but before I could work him a pile-up started. Pity.

February 15, 2013

The TS-440S is playing tricks on me. I decided to just keep it running for two days and if behaved very well after a reset. Just worked V51WH from Namibia with the 5 meter vertical in SSB on 15 meters. Feels great. Because of BV3FQ I was running a beacon on 6 meters all day long. In calls BV3AAR, first in very lousy CW and then in SSB. We had a chat, but his Chinese was difficult for me to understand. Still great to talk to someone on six.

February 14, 2013

I head PY2DSM/B today on 17 meters. Unfortunately when I got to recording the signal already had faded to almost unreadable. Still a nice catch.

February 1, 2013

The TS-440 started having weird display problems again and is dead most of the time. Intermittent problem, so not easy to solve. I put it aside and worked KH7Y from Hawaii with my TS-130V in CW without much effort.

January 22, 2013

We took a trip to Miaoli today, so a good opportunity to test BV3YA-1. Apart from the mountainous area behind Gong-guan there was good signal coverage.

January 20, 2013

January 17, 2013

January 16, 2013

In the morning I called CQ on 15 meters in Hell, but no response whatsoever. I spent the day cleaning the tool shed and at night I drilled the holes for the K1EL keyer. As conditions were aweful I tuned to 518 kHz and let the NAVTEX software do the DXing for me. A new station heard was XSQ, Guangzhou Radio with a weather report.

January 15, 2013

Today I put up the Cobweb again. It had corroded inside the connection box, so I cleaned it and sprayed it with PlastiDip. 20 meters doesn't want to get resonant, so I will have to take a look at it later. I made some QSOs during the day, of which RT0B was the nicest as he is above the polar circle. At night I positively IDed DZME Radyo Uno on 1530 at 11 UTC. On 17 m I had a Hell QSO, with Franco from XU7 land. It's been almost a year, but nice to meet him again. He was tuning and I stuck around to see who it was and to my surprise it turned into a Hell signal.

January 4, 2013

When I tune the dial I always stop at some traditional Chinese music. Much to my surprise today there was some good reception from 雙鴨山人民廣播電臺 on 1179 kHz at 15:22 GMT and they played some wonderful 40s and 50s Chineses folk songs. 1 kW from 黑龍江省 is quite nice and I am really pleased with this.

January 3, 2013

Today I ended the streak of silence and made some QSOs on shortwave. ER4DX came in with super signals again on 20 meters. I also heard and worked M0WHC a few kiloHertz up and later LU1YU on 17 meters with a nice 54 signal report. Later tuning the medium wave band I heard good signals from South Korea, namely 1467 kHz, KBS 1, which is a 50 kW transmitter in Mokpo.