December 30, 2014

We had an architect look at our house to see what can be done with it.

December 29, 2014

We signed the last bunch of documents and the house is finally ours.

December 27, 2014

Had a long QSO with DK7LX who also happens to be a SKCC member. He is number 60 on my list.

December 24, 2014

Had an hour to play radio on this Wednesday afternoon and scored one new SKCC number from EU1AA. 10 meters was in good shape. I also listened so SAQ on 17.2 kHz, but via the WebSDR at the University of Twente. Receiving that station here at 08:00 UTC would be a major feat. Who knows, maybe next year.

At night it was totally different and too much noise drowned out most signals. I checked the longwave band and heard three new NDBs:

440   ID CHN Xiaodanyang
415 @ HL ? ?
409   DO CHN Zhoukou

December 17, 2014

This morning we hit the lowest temperature so far: 8 degrees Celsius.

December 13, 2014

Iris came back from a trip to China today and brought me two presents. This is the first one, a D-117 telegraph key.

New Old Stock (NOS), so still with the wrapper around the plug.

The key is heavy: almost a kilogram in weight and very well made. Even Iris was impressed with the quality for such an old piece of equipment. The spring is very sturdy. Really very sturdy. Even at its loosest you still need a lot of force to press down the lever. You really need strong wrists for this one, or you end up with muscle ache!

The inscription on this one reads: 中华人民共和国,天津市新兴通讯器件厂 which in pinyin is "Zhong hua renmin gonghe guo, Tianjin City Xinxing tongxun qijian chang" or in English "People's Republic of China, Tianjin Xinxing Communication Devices Factory."

Old style wrapping.

Solid brass connector.

The only documentation that came with it was a single sheet of paper. On the front....

Model D-117 telegraph key

Users Manual

Tianjin City Xinxing Communication Devices Factory

Translation of the back side will come later.

This was the last one the seller had for sale and it was cheaper than what you usually pay for these keys. Unfortunately the box had been sealed with paper tape.

Old style packing material.

After slowly peeling away the tape this became visible. Most important was the packing date. The stamp was damaged a bit, but you can still make out the year 1973. So I have a real piece of history in my hands: a key made in the era of the cultural revolution.

December 1, 2014

Yesterday at noon 28 degrees Celsius. Today at noon 18 degrees Celsius and at 11 o'clock at night 12 degrees Celsius during a "normal" autumn storm.

Our bank (SCSB) gave the green light for the mortgage: 3.3 million NT, so a little more than we expected. Interest rate is a little more than 2%, so not bad at all.

November 29, 2014

Election day in Taiwan and unusually warm: the weather station reported 31 degrees at around 2 o'clock.

November 21, 2014

New SKCC number from HL1BDH and a nice QRP contact on 80 meters with VR2UU, Jef living in HK. Also logged a couple of regular NDBs in the CLE, but nothing new heard.

November 20, 2014

Not much going on, but made my first QSO with Kansas (KS) and it also is the farthest 40 meter QSO so far: just under 12000 km. Thanks to N3AF who made it happen.

November 15, 2014

Today we signed the deal on the house in Daxi and made the first down payment.

November 14, 2014

Two firsts today: in the afternoon 10 meters was open towards Europe and I worked two Russians and TK5MH from Corsica, a new DXCC in my log. At night I called CQ in Olivia on 20 meters and ON5XX came back. We had a 40 minute QSO in Dutch and although signals received by me weren't perfect I could get most of it and we had a very pleasant conversation. Thank you Joel.

November 12, 2014

Olivia night! There wasn't much going on at 0800 UTC, but there were some Olivia signals on 20 meters. Turned out to be my pals JA1RZD and VK3WHO. Had a short QSO with both of them. Then later at night I called CQ in Olivia to see if Ken was around, but instead DJ4DM answered and I had my first QSO with him. The QSO started out difficult with less than perfect copy, but gradually signals increased and in the end we had near perfect copy. After that Altti called CQ and we had a QSO as well. Via the cluster AJ8S asked for a QSO, but the signal path between me and Ohio was too weak for a contact. Maybe next time. Still glad to have four Olivia QSOs in one day.

Then, just before retiring we got an SMS from our Realtor saying that our bid on the house in Daxi was accepted. It looks like we're going to move when the money transfer and paperwork has been successful. 

November 10, 2014

The lower bands were in good shape tonight. Worked SKCC member 9V1VV on 30 meters and later on N8XM and OH4MDY. On 80 meters I met WA5VGI again and to top it off on 40 meters YU1UN, although he was plagued by SSB QRM from those pesky Indonesians. Good catches for an average Monday night. Used my IC-7200 with the 12 meter vertical and the CG-3000 auto tuner.

November 8, 2014

Yesterday afternoon a SKCC QSO with DS3BNU and today - after an announcement on the SKCC sked page - VQ94JC in the log, also with a SKCC number. Up to 52 numbers for my C now.

November 4, 2014

Talked to Wouter, Fred and Gerrit via Skype and we tried having a QSO on air as well. We could hear each other, but signals were in the noise, so no exchange of any formal or informal information. Still fun to try.

November 1, 2014

Another SKCC sked, this time with JI3UBV on 15 meters. QRP didn't work, but with 50 Watts on both sides we did have a QSO that lasted almost half an hour. 

October 28, 2014

Mailed some JA amateurs for an SKCC exchange and JA9MAT was in for it. We talked via Skype and had an exchange on 20 meters, he full QRP, me only part of the QSO. NIce guy and fun to do it this way.

Later that night I heard VE2WU calling CQ, so I answered him. He started off 599 with polar flutter, but soon faded to 559, then 349 and finally 239. He wanted to have a rag chew QSO, but I just couldn't keep up, so I feel really bad about it. But still, having a QSO with Quebec via the North Pole is not something you encouter daily, so I am still happy with the QSO. And, Marten was SKCC number 50 in my log, so half a C now.

Marten also had a live web cam running during our QSO and it looked like this. Spot the operator on one of the monitors?

October 24, 2014

And another one in the log: VK9XSP from Christmas Island in the log on 40 meters. DXCC 130 on the list.

October 23, 2014

After two failed attempts I finally got into the VK9LDX logbook. I don't know how they mangled my call sign during the first attempt, but at the second one I was degraded to BX2AB. Last night I tried 20 meters and they did it again. This time I keyed ABT for a couple of times and they finally got it right.

October 4, 2014

Woke up early and couldn't sleep so I crawled behind the set. I noticed the higher bands were quite active with some State-side signals coming in fine. I went to the SKCC sked page and put out some CQs. At first no response, but then I got a PM from KP4SJ and we had a successful QSO and exchange of numbers on 15 meters. New number and new DXCC to add to the list.

September 30, 2014

Had a "duh" moment when I realized that I hadn't adequately decoupled the mini-whip. Put some 10 ferrite clamps on the feed line where it came of the mast and things improved considerably. Unfortunately conditions were awful with lots of noise from thunderstorms, so nothing new heard.

September 27, 2014

Participated in the CLE186 event, but only got a handful of stations:

0800     357.0     LU     TWN     Keelung     S3
0802     362.0     HL     TWN     Houlong     S5
0834     363.0     LA        ?                ?           S4     1x ID then 7 sec pause
1139     369.0     ZF      CHN     Helou         S3

September 25, 2014

Took down the spiderbeam and removed the deltaloop, then installed the mini-whip.

September 24, 2014

Refitted my original PA0RDT mini-whip and tested it in the shack. Got some good reception on 549 kHz from NHK 1 in Naha and KCBS from Pyongyang on 657 kHz, but I also noted that BSF on 77.5 kHz has gone.

September 21, 2014

Tried to fix the fan in my FARS, but my multi-meter won't work. Probably a faulty switch, but I started to look around for a replacement. I turned to the internet and the EEVblog website for some advice. Dave has made a buyers guide special on digital multimeters and it is both fun and educating to watch. Funny to see my 20 year old instrument in a slightly updated version passing by, but Dave makes pretty convincing points to not buy a similar model again with safety (actually lack of) as the main point. 

By searching RS and Ruten I narrowed down my list to the Agilent U1232A and the Fluke 115, because they are brand names and come out great in tests without being shabby on features. I also looked at lesser known and Taiwanese brands but funnily enough Taiwanese brands like Brymen are hard to get here Taiwan. Chinese brands, on the other hand, are not and one brand stood out a bit, namely Uni-T. Martin Lorton had very indepth review of the Uni-T 61E on YouTube and I guess I will go with one of those. They are not the latest greatest, not the fastest, but they seem well build, accurate, safe and only a third of the price of a Fluke 115.

At night I made AH6AX happy by being his first QSO with a station in Asia. It was also a SKCC exchange, so double the fun.

September 9, 2014

Called CQ in Olivia on 20m and forgot to turn if off when I went down to feed the kids fruit. When I came back the set was quite hot, but just at that moment Fred OH/DK4ZC called me and we had a nice chat before he faded out. I had energy enough and turned to the SKCC chat page and had a request from W5IQS for a QSO and after we finished I had a two way QRP QSO with Jerry K6III.

August 30, 2014

A really long QSO with Ken JA1RZD using Olivia today. It had been two months, so it felt good to be in contact with him again.

August 24, 2014

Only today I put back all the stuff I used for the ILLW. Didn't hook up anything, except the KX3 to my 5 meter GP and made one QSO with ZL1BYZ.

August 19, 2014

Did a presentation today at the CTARL meeting in Taipei on the ILLW activity and the good and the bad of the KX3. Met BV1EJ for the first time and there was an Australian guest in the person of VK6ZN John, who criss-crosses around VK-land in his mobile home. I took Tim with me and we both had a good time.

August 16, 2014

ILLW starting today. Made 18 QSOs, so rather disappointing. BM2LDT joined me for most of the day and BU2BW showed up around 5 o'clock, just before I was packing up.

August 12, 2014

Our roof tiles are slowly crumbling and falling down, so today a basket crane came out to inspect the damage. It is substantial and the boss wanted me to look for myself. Had a nice view some 20 meters above ground and funny to see my Spiderbeam from a very different point of view.

August 11, 2014

Had a very nice lunch with Joe, HL5KY and his wife Yuni, HL5BTF.

August 9, 2014

Passed BV3TI's house and payed him a visit. BV3TO was there also and he gave me a new 10m GP.

August 1, 2014

Too hot and not feeling too well the last couple of days. Not really interested in playing with radios, so we'll take a break.

July 29, 2014

Moved the IC-7200 with power supply to the living room and pulled some cables down for the antenna and auto-tuner. Everything works, although 20 meters won't give me a low enough SWR. Will have to cut some wire of the vertical.

July 25, 2014

Only thunderstorms today, so I cleaned and re-organised the shack.

July 24, 2014

Called a lot of CQs on 20 meters, but only HS0ZFQ came back to me. Conditions were poor, so not much of a QSO.

July 22, 2014

The day started good when it only took 15 minutes to repair my Weller soldering iron. A new thermostat switch did the trick, so for 50 euros I can solder for another 25 years.

Two QSL cards in the mailbox today, with one being the long awaited FT5ZM card from the Amsterdam Island DXpedition. The other from my first SKCC contact in Alaska: WL7WH.

I had some energy left and apart from preparing for the typhoon I worked a bit on the sound card interface.

July 20, 2014

Had a nice visit from BX8AAD today and while showing him my shack I had a surprise QSO with JA9DEV/1. Felt good to be back behind the key and it went smooth.

HL5KY wanted a sked with my in Olivia, so we did at night. First Olivia QSO with Korea.

July 11-18, 2014

Early morning July 11th my leg started to act up with heavy cramping. Later that day I went to the hospital because my leg had started to swell and became red. They diagnosed it as cellulitis and kept me in the hospital on an IV-drip with anti-biotics. They kept me for a week before the doctor found the situation to be under control. The wound was probably my toe nail on my right foot, which I lost last year because a student stepped on it while running in front of me. The culprit bug probably came from a visit to the sea, a hot spring or swimming pool. We'll probably never know.

July 10, 2014

Took down the 20m dipole and put up a 12 m vertical together with the deltaloop for 6 meters. With the auto-tuner in place everything worked, so the next step is to move the rig downstairs to the living room and pull some cables upstairs.

June 24, 2014

Two SKCC QSOs today: first with VK4TJF in the afternoon and at night - while I was rewiring a J37 key - with W4FOA from Georgia.

June 25 - July 5, 2014

We went on a tour of eastern Taiwan.

June 22, 2014

Another SKCC QSO on 20m with K0IVK from Missouri.

June 21, 2014

Finished the break-out box for the IC-7200. At night I worked TN for the first time.

June 20, 2014

Not much going on the bands, so I called CQ in Olivia during the afternoon. Had a first contact with JA1TFT and that was quite enjoyable. At night a new SKCC number from N5PHT in Texas. 20 meter is really good at night towards the US.

June 19, 2014

I went to Guanyin today to see if I can activate the Baishajia Lighthouse for the upcoming ILLW. I spoke to the lighthouse keeper and no problem at all. We can use the mains, water, there are toilets and we can put up an antenna on the lighthouse itself. Afterwards I tried my KX3+MP1 right next to the lighthouse grounds, but conditions were so poor that I couldn't even detect any Japanese stations. Called CQ for a while, but then a Russian station took over the frequency. He obviously couldn't hear me. I also heard FK8CE, but he also couldn't hear me.

Later in the day, back home, things started to improve. I heard some VK stations and worked two. At night I heard KZ8G again on 20 meters and had a long QSO with him. His signal was good, but with fading and taking his code was difficult. I guess I could get only 40-50% of it, but it was good practice.

[The link needs to be replaced and the illw page reinstated]

June 14, 2014

Useful link with info on special JA stations: http://motobayashi.net/8j-station/index_e.html

June 4, 2014

Finally a new SKCC member in the log: KW7D, whom I worked before, but then I wasn't a SKCC member yet.

May 25, 2014

Did some tweaking today and got a really nice image from NOAA-19 today.

Because of a huge contest I didn't go on the radio this weekend. So instead I set up a small beacon on 10 meters, with the QRP transmitter I made at VERON, section Wageningen and a beacon keyer.

 

May 22, 2014

Fixed the CF card: bad magic number in the superblock, but it works now. Conditions were good on the higher bands and I worked my first SKCC member from Ireland: EI0CZ. Was kind of tense, since he keyed back that he didn't have a SKCC number. I waited a few minutes and then contacted him again telling him his number. He got it in the end and keyed it back to me.

Later I also had a successful RTTY contact with LZ1JZ on 17 meters.

Unfortunately a board I was working on fell from the desk and the two transformers on it broke off. Will have to start all over again.

May 21, 2014

Just when we get a massive amount of rain my weather server decided to quit on me. System failure, so the CF card is probably corrupt.

May 20, 2014

No voice and burning lungs, so I stayed home. Played a little radio and went on the SKCC sked page. VK4TJ thought I was playing hooky! I did get a new SKCC contact by tuning the bands and hearing KH6OO from Hawaii. Took a little effort, but he got me in the end.

May 18, 2014

Another operation in the field. I tuned the MP1 with extended whip to 6 and 12 meters without the coil and 15 and 17 meters with the coil. No naughty ostriche today, but unfortunately the wind blew quite strong this morning, so the antenna blew over several times during QSOs with UA0CM, XW1YC and 7K4BWY/6.

In the afternoon I worked on my new audio interface for the IC-7200 and installed the Cubieboard. W1retap had troubles with the configuration file, but Wxtoimg worked flawlessly.

At night I saw DS2XUM on the SKCC sked page and after contacting him we exchanged numbers. I also heard a couple of US stations, but I was too weak for them to copy me.

May 17, 2014

A lot of noise when I walked in the shack this morning. It turned out to be from these two fine birds.

May 16, 2014

17 meters towards the eastern US was quite good tonight and I heard a 579 signal from W5ZR who also happened to be SKCC member. I tracked him down after he finished a QSO with another station and then called him. We had a pleasant QSO and exchanged SKCC numbers.

Later that night K9ZMD called me on the sked page and we had a QSO on 20 meters with number exchange.

May 14, 2014

New beacon heard: 6L0NJ/B from Korea on 50.051 MHz @0840 UTC.

May 13, 2014

Heard two beacons from Japan on 6 meters, but nobody around. Called CQ for a while and had a single QSO with JA5ZL. It netted me a spot on the cluster.

May 11, 2014

Last Tuesday we had 13 degrees Celsius at night, today we had over 30 degrees in the daytime. Taiwan is a country of extremes.

It was another WES weekend and this time the sun was nice to us. Made a surprise SKCC contact on 6 meters with HL1LUA. During the QSO I looked up his QRZ.com page and saw that he is a member, so I called him again after the SK. Luckily he understood and gave me his number.

Also made QSOs with VK4TJ, IK0MHR and OK2VWB, and later on with KZ5OM and K6ELQ. 20 meters towards the west coast of the US is not bad at @1500Z.

May 10, 2014

While scanning the 6 meter band today I came upon this.....

May 9, 2014

I got a comment on my YouTube video on the mystery time signal station on 77.5 kHz by someone suggesting it is JJY. Well, it is not, but apart from Japan, Korea and China there aren't many possible sources for this station. So last night I wrote to a contact at the National Time and Frequency Standard Laboratory run by CHT for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. It's located in Zhong-li, so quite close by. This morning my question on what this station might be was answered with "maybe PTB from Germany." After I send the gentleman who answered my mail the link of my web page with all the info I have on this mystery time signal station he came back with the following:

Hi, Mr. Hans van den Boogert,

Sorry for my unconsidered reply. As the frequency is 77.5 Hz, I just response directly. You are right that it’s improbable that we can receiver DCF77 from Germany.

Actually, we planned to set up a LF station in Taiwan for quit a long time, but have not got the budget. So we have a small project that my colleagues set up a test station at Guishan in Taoyuan county. The signal must come from there.

Your webpage is very nice. Thanks a lot! Have a nice weekend!

Huang-Tien LIN

So, mystery solved. It is actually a TS station from Taiwan. Must be very low power with a small antenna, but at least I can hear it over here in Longtan, some 25 km from where I live.

At night I had pain in my back, but I still managed to finish part of the new sound interface. In the background I put KNLS from Alaska, which I haven't heard in a long time. Good old times.

May 6, 2014

With the weather station back on line I measured a record low for May: just below 13 degrees Celsius around 4 AM this morning. This has been a long, but not overly cold winter and spring is not truly here.

May 4, 2014

Pretty pleased with myself. Build a new sensor for the weather station - which has been off-line since a week - and it worked right away. Also checked another sensor that gave me trouble and it was a software problem, so that one is operational too.

May 3, 2014

The sporadic E season is getting into full swing. Lots of domestic JA stations around 50.250 in SSB and CW in the local morning. Some FM from JA around 51.040 and beacons JA6YBR on 50.017 (which I could hear even at 0.1W) and JA2IGY on 50.010. Made QSOs with JA2RGH and JA5FFJ.

In the afternoon we went took Julia horse riding and I took the KX3 and MP1 with extended whip for a spin. The longer whip proved okay, although now the loading coil is too large. Without the coil the whip needs to be shortened to be resonant on 12 meters. I made four QSOs: HL0HQ (the KARL HQ station), JD1BLY (from Ogasawara), 7M2ALZ and JL1NMB. The resident ostrich took interest in my setup and decided my counterpoise was a nice toy to play with and so he took it from me. Who said QRP is not dangerous.

April 29, 2014

QSL card in my e-mail box today from LI6CF.

April 27, 2014

Yesterday I heard and worked 9M2RDX and since he is a SKCC member I asked him for his number, which he didn't return. Today, almost same place and time I heard him again and this time his signal was better and because of the mail I sent him he now gave me his number.

An hour and a half later I heard 9M2MZZ and after a quick search I noted he is also an SKCC member. We had a nice QRS QSO but unfortunately the bands had deteriorated and he was almost in the noise.

Again an hour and an half later I got a QSO request from AE6DH from CA and he came in with a fine 539 signal. SKCC number 16 on my list.

April 26, 2014

Lousy conditions on the bands again, but E51AND came on the sked page and he gave me a new SKCC number for my list.

Later VK4TJ came on and he gave me two SKCC numbers, one from his club station, one from his Canadian call. But since he is the same person using different calls I am not going add them to my list. I want 100 unique SKCC members, not 100 numbers from the same members.

April 23, 2014

QSL in the mail from YJ0OU, Vanuatu for the February QSO. DXCC 95 confirmed.

I also got a certificate in the mailbox for my first ever attendance of the WES. Only two QSOs on Sunday morning, but still got something to put up on the wall.

April 22, 2014

Saw JN1OHN mentioned on the cluster and had a nice QSO with him in Olivia on 20m.

April 15, 2014

Totally crazy! 6 meters wasn't busy and I could only hear a faint RTTY signal from A45XR. I had my gear all ready and after only one call he came back to me. Here the exchange without the "noise" filtered out.

DE BX2ABT BX2ABT BX2ABT PSE KN
GXEBX2ABT BX2ABT ??#AGN BK GYX  DE BX2ABT BX2ABT BX2ABT PSE KN
2ABT #(099 BX2ABT112Q DE BX2ABT
HELLO OM 449 449 IN TAIWAN. BTU BK
VQGBBCVQKX
OKSOM 73!
BX2ABT TU DE A45V QRZ?KRQGQCTQXQYV
CQ CQ A45XR A45XR K6;KZKXY;4((

 

This is a new country for me, the first one I made on 6 meters. 6323 km distance east-west. Terrific!!!

April 14, 2014

Coming home just before 0900 UTC I turned to 6 meters and was surprised to hear KH9/WA2YUN/B coming in well on 50.014 MHz. Called CQ on 50.110 just for fun and back came JH1WHI for a quick exchange. First JA QSO for this year on 6 meters.

April 12, 2014

Nice e-mail from my ever so dilligent QSL manager Wouter (PG2W). In it were scans of the cards that came in recently. Two new countries confirmed: Cyprus and Ecuador. On Wednesday a card in the mail from Qatar, so three countries confirmed this week and one new one worked.

In the morning I went to the SKCC sked page and had a QSO with K6ELQ, my 6th SKCC QSO. In the afternoon Julia went horseback riding and I played with my KX3+MP1. The bands were pretty empty and I only made three QSOs: two with Japan and one with Palau.

April 11, 2014

Two nice QSOs today. First one with F6HKA who is SKCC member 6069S. Then later, when I was still on 12 meters I heard AP2TN calling CQ and he answered me righ away. DXCC 124 in the log.

April 10, 2014

Some 6m activity: heard DU7/PA0HIP in SSB and VK8MS and VK5PO (tentative) in CW on 50.110 MHz.

April 9, 2014

Oh so weak, but readable 5W1SA from Samoa on 50.125 Khz @ 0830.

April 8, 2014

Just for fun I dug out my DigiD stuff and logged on to the AT website. I simply registered my call again and immediately got a confirmation mail. I am now PA2BX again, hi hi!

April 6, 2014

First time V73SIX/B on 50011.9 kHz around 12 UTC. Also faint signals from VK6RSX from Dampier WA on 50.304.

April 4, 2014

Early morning and band conditions are not great. Still Radio New Zealand is coming in weak but readable on 15720 kHz. Fun to hear them again.

April 3, 2014

Today in the news: Agentschap Telecom has canceled my call letters PA2BX because I don't reside in the Netherlands anymore. They have done so on March 12, 2014, without notifying me and without reason, as I can't find any information that you are not allowed to have a registration with AT while not living in the Netherlands. Again, Holland at its finest.

April 1, 2014

Olivia night. First with VK3LRE and then an hour with JA1RZD. Both gave me good reports while using my inverted V for 20 meters.

March 31, 2014

What a luck. Tuned to 6m at night and was just in time to catch Joel, KG6DX in CW on 50.110 MHz. He was truly strong with 599 and a bit. Another country on 6 and it proved my deltaloop is working fine.

March 30, 2014

Lots of noise on the higher bands in the morning. Went to the SKCC sked page and after a while K6III appeared and had my second SKCC QSO with him.

Note to myself: sowed Komatsune and Chard today from old seed.

March 29, 2014

First SKCC QSO with VK4TJ.

Finished the interface part of the lightning detector and it worked.

Heard KH9/WA2YUN/B on 50.014 at night.

March 28, 2014

Surprise to find XW0YJY on 6 meters in SSB. Strong, so easy to work him.

March 27, 2014

I blame Jerry, K6III/KZ5OM, for pushing me into joining the Straight Key Century Club or SKCC. Today I got my lifetime number....

March 24, 2014

Sad day. I tried to connect a serial to TTL adapter to the Cubieboard and it started to smoke. It didn't power up after I pulled the plug, so it is fried. Good bye NT$1800. No one to blame, but me.

March 22, 2014

Wife back from Japan brought me the ICOM MB-116 brackets for the IC-7200. Now the set looks really cool.

Also the first images from the R2FX were processed by the Cubieboard today. Still has some troubles with synching and I am not sure where the problem might be. NOAA 15 seems to be the best one at the moment.

March 21, 2014

Hooked up the R2FX and tested the whole setup. Cubian already had itself listed in the dialup group, so receiver control worked right away. Unfortunately no NOAA passes in the evening, so I left it on at night.

March 19, 2014

Bought a new 8GB microSD card for only NT$219 and a new mouse as well. After flashing it with Cubian it booted up fine. Installed LXDE, but the resolution didn't match the desktop. I am going to run it headless, so a minor inconvenience.

March 18, 2014

Flashed a microSD card at work today and at night hooked up the Cubieboard to our Panasonic TV via HDMI. No luck, so flashed another image and this time it booted, but not completely. It complained about a certain device not found. Googling a bit revealed that either the kernel didn't have the modules installed for the card, or the card was bad. As the card was only 2GB large and a few years old my thoughts was to first buy another before trying anything else. So instead I flashed the NAND with Android and that booted just fine.

March 17, 2014

The Cubieboard2 was delivered to my local 7-11 today. The package is very complete, with all the cables, PSU and case.

March 16, 2014

Slow radio day, so did my QSL card administration. When preparing for Monday late at night I turned on the radio and checked 50 MHz and got my first taste of the 6 meter season. Heard AH2G/B from Guam, then worked 9M2TO from Malaysia. Those were simple. 9M6ZAE was more difficult, but after several tries I got his call and we exchanged RSTs. I also heard FK8CP and some Australian stations, but they didn't respond. And last but not least BX2AB came on the frequency and finally had a QSO with him. That made for a funny exchange!

March 15, 2014

Had a sked with ZL3ADT on 10 meters today, but we couldn't hear each other and BU2AV took over our frequency without a single QRL. At night I made a preliminary design for the interface of the lightning detector. I decided on copper tape on an old pcb, then cutting the tracks and taking out the rest. Unfortunately 1-wire ICs are becoming hard to get: the DS2423P counter is also discontinued. If I mess up this one I will have a hard time getting a new one.

March 13, 2014

I took the sensors out of the FARS again and removed the jumper so that it would run on parasitic power from the USB port. It seems to do the trick, because initial tests show no conflict or strange readings.

March 9, 2014

Not much of a radio weekend. Sprayed my main 1-Wire sensor with Plasti-Dip and mounted it back in the FARS. It seems to work well, but now the barometer and rain gauge mess up the network. Must be a problem related to the power inserter.

March 6, 2014

Already had taken in the FARS and today disassembled it and found water in the sensor which had corroded away one leg of a voltage regulator. It was still fixable, so I spent the night doing that. When I was waiting for the conformal coating to dry I heard JA1RZD and AJ8S working Olivia and after Ken signed off I had a lenghty QSO with Jim. I hadn't talked to him in 5 months, so that was a real welcom QSO.

March 4, 2014

And again Antarctica, this time RI1ANC from the Vostok Base, but now on 12 meters. Not much takers, so easy to work him despite the echo on his signal.

March 2, 2014

Doing the QSL administration I tuned around 10 meter and hear my first trans pacific beacon: K6FRC/B on 28.300 MHz at 0257 UTC, so quite late in the day. Also heard ZL3TEN on 28.228 MHz at 0300, but was already gone at 0303. Partly copied message read: "zl3ten qra re66 pwr 1 ... ant 1/2 ... w"

March 1, 2014

The second serious portable operation, this time together with BM2LDT. Because of his broken leg I picked him up at home and we drove to a small beach between Danshui and Sanzhi, called Qianzhouzi (前洲子)。 We got there a little after two in the afternoon (0600 UTC) and set up the MP1 on a stand and a Diamond antenna on the car. Strangely enough it seemed there were no conditions, because there were only a few signals and nobody came back to my calls. So instead we did some antenna measurements with an RigExpert analyzer.

On the photo BM2LDT with his broken leg.


Then 10 meters started to produce some European signals and the first one who answered was G4ELJ. Nice QSO, but in SSB. The CW portion was still empty and by the end of the afternoon I had logged another 4 SSB 10 meter QSOs: RU3GB, OT4A, DK3T and OZ2PBS. We also checked a SOTA activation on 24.950 MHz, but signals were too weak to copy.

Me very relaxed after a QSO with OT4A.

I tried to have at least one CW QSO, but it was not to be. 12 meters was messy with various signals and it got dark and cold. At 1730 we packed up and went home. Not quite the success I had hoped for, but very nice nevertheless.

February 28, 2014

With my son in the field practising baseball I had a ball with the GoBox and the MP1.

A selfie, just after I worked KZ5OM.

The MP1 with a short set of radials.

Also worked 2 Japanese, 1 OM from Brunei and 1 from China, all in CW. One SSB contact with a Malaysian OM. The sun was shining, the temperature just right and the coffee well brewed, so a perfect morning.

February 25, 2014

I finally finished the Shack-in-a-Box tonight by bolting together the plexiglass dividers and padding them with foam. Everything, except the antenna, fits inside, although I am still a bit apprehensive about putting the LiPo battery next to the KX3.

February 21, 2014

DXCC123 in the log. YJ0OU was an easy one, coming in strong on 17 meters at just before 0800 UTC. Thanks Bill.

February 17, 2014

Got a very special QSL card in the mail today, namely for my first every Thor4 QSO with JA1KAU. The card is old-style and I suspect it must be very old indeed. I love cards like these, so I will cherish this one.

February 16, 2014

Today two new states: IA and LA. All on 15 meters and with the path between us partly in the dark. Also rather late, because I only started after 03:00 UTC. Here a recording of W4DXX from Georgia.

February 15, 2014

Quite noisy conditions today, but I managed one QSO with a WJ9B in Idaho, a second from this state for me. Otherwise 10 meters stays open late and I heard OH2XX as late as 12:30 UTC.

The broadcast bands yielded Radio Farda on 9990 kHz @12:45 UTC.

February 11, 2014

Had an interesting experience today. Apparently JA1KAU is running some sort of BBS/mailbox in Thor5 on 12 meters. When I answered his CQ I got the following.

RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:40Z): RRR BX2ABT BX2ABT de JA1KAU mailbox
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:40Z): GE OM ur 559 559 559 in Tokyo
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:40Z): CMD:(HELP,LIST,READ,SEND,KILL,QRT) kn

I tried the command thingy and it did work like a BBS.

TX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:56Z): JA1KAU de BX2ABT
TX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:56Z): CMD:READ 35
TX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:56Z): KN
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:56Z): ra»tros rgncbrah  nxeuiRRt¯fc
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:57Z): <STX>
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:57Z):
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:57Z): 
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:57Z): 35    B   369   ALL     JA1KAU  02/11 10:39  JA1KAU info.
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:58Z):
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:58Z): TRX:  Kenwood TS-590
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:58Z): ANT:  Long Wire 15mL 5mH
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:58Z): SOFT: Fldigi v3.21.33 and MMVARI v0.45
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:58Z): OS:   Microsoft Windows XP H.E. SP3
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:59Z): PC:   HomeMade AMD Athlon XP 2100+ 1.73GHz
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:59Z): I/F:  HomeMade
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 07:59Z): MODE: PSK, MFSK, Olivia, DominoEX, Thor, WSJT
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:00Z): BAND: 3.5-28 MHz
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:00Z): QTH:  Nakano-ward Tokyo Japan  GL:PM95UQ
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z): OP:   Mako(Makoto Sakakibara)
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z): QSL:  No-QSL
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z): ---
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z): GL Best 73 de JA1KAU
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z): NNNN
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:01Z):
RX 24922698 : THOR (2014-02-11 08:02Z): BX2ABT de JA1KAU (HELP,LIST,READ,SEND,KILL,QRT) kn

I left him a message and I hope it worked. Fun stuff!

Later that night conditions on 20 meter were quite reasonable and I could work Fred OH/DK4ZC and a new friend JN1OHN in Olivia until they faded out after 15Z UTC.

We had the lowest temperature recorded today: officially 6.9 degrees, but my own weather station recorded below 6 degrees. Luckily today we took delivery of a kerosene heater but it took me some effort to get kerosene. Not every gas station sells kerosene and the first one I found had sold out. The second one already sold 80% of its stock, so I quickly grabbed two 20 liter cans. In the shack I use an electric heater and I couldn't get the temperature above 17 degrees, but that is enough for me.

February 10, 2014

Ten meters keep on being open: 28267 OH9TEN from kp36oi coming in fine at 0830. At 1030 VK8VF was still coming in on 28268.5 kHz. And a new one for me on 28264, namely VK6RWA from Perth at 1040.

February 9, 2014

It was the weekend of the Dutch PACC Contest. Me being Dutch I always look out for QSOs with the home land. And since the propagation gods were in an excellent mood the prospects for many QSOs with PA stations were also good.

Unfortunately the contest only starts at 1200 UTC on Saturday and just 20 meters was open at that time. I worked two stations in CW and called it a day. On Sunday it wasn't much better: hardly any signals on 15 meters and then only weak SSB. I heard my old club station PA6A, but they couldn't hear me. Bummer. But EA8AM from the Canary Islands was coming in 57 a bit higher on the band and I had a chat with him instead. Nice, another new DXCC entry in the log. I did work three PA stations around 0900 UTC then decided to cook dinner instead of spending time behind the radio.

But after dinner I couldn't resist and tuned the bands again. And whadda you know! At 1130 UTC 15 meters was wide open to Europe and I could work six Dutch stations in CW in a row, before the contest closed at 1200. In total only 11 stations worked, so I won't get first prize, but satisfying non-the-less.

But the icing on the cake came when I was updating my logbook. I gave my tuning knob a twirl and landed on 14006 kHz where RI1ANT was calling CQ. No problem working him and the third Antarctic QSO in the log. Can it get any better?

February 5, 2014

W1AW/KH6 was active on 15 meters and booming in. No problem working him. Second W1AW station worked. Then I worked JE8HJW in QRS and went to 12 meters where FT5ZM was coming in fine. Two up and not much takers, so it took me a few calls and he got me. DXCC120 in the log. Then later they were also on 12 meters in SSB and they had a really loud signal. No problem working them 5 up.

February 3, 2014

Made two CW QSOs early morning with KW7D and W1AW/5 on 15 meters. Later I heard some strange MFSK signal on 14.074 and after a while found it was Thor4. Call came from JA1KAU and we had a nice QSO, albeit slow. First ever Thor4 QSO for me.

January 30, 2014

Chinese New Year's eve tonight and this afternoon I had a second round on the rooftop with the KX3 and the MP1. It was quiet on the bands again, but 10 meters was open for a bit and I worked four Russian station in CW. Only one was true QRP and that QSO with Yuri was a really enjoyable one. Could get 50% of what he sent by ear and the decoding of the KX3 also helped a bit.

RN22DY 28.0218 0733 me 599 he 559 10W
R9MM 28.0154 0737-0740 me 599 he 539 10W became stronger after QSO
UA3KW 28.0176 0750-0751 me ? he 449 10W weak and couldn't get his report due to strange echo on the signal
RA9MP 28.01865 0753-0803 me 599 he 549 5W, he 100W. Name Yuri, nr Omsk. This was a really nice QSO.

I elevated two of the radials of the MP1 and so the tuning of the coil was a bit off. I'm still thinking of cutting some tuned radials. For fun I also tried the 80 meter coil that came with the MP1 set and it works fine. Fix it under the tunable coil and extend the latter to maximum length and you get almost perfect SWR just about 3.5 MHz.

I tuned around the broadcast bands a bit and heard the following:

9930 World Harvest Radio, Palau 0812 with address and ad for selling airtime 35344
9522 New Star 0816 35344
15200 E religious (KTWR Guam listed, but not IDed) 0853 35334

With some 26 degrees and a not too bright sun shining it was an afternoon well spend.

January 28, 2014

This afternoon I took my shack-in-a-box to the roof of my mother-in-law's place in Banqiao and put up the MP-1 for a spin. The bands were quite empty, except for the pile-ups for the Amterdam Island expedition. I couldn't find any CW CQ so I finally went to the SSB portion of the 20 meter band and answered a CQ from BD7PUZ (14270 kHz, 0838-0839, 59-55, 5W). There was another station a little below and I got his call as E51CDW from the South Cook Islands (14267 kHz, 0843-45, 57-??, 10 W). His home call is BA4DW, but he was working many stations and couldn't chat with me.

Another surprise came when I checked the 30 meter band. After I tuned the MP-1 I checked the 31 meter band for broadcast stations, because 30 meters was empty. On 9955 kHz WRMI came in loud and clear with a program from the Overcomer Ministry at 0900. SINPO 45344, signal strength S9+10 dB. This is the old WYFR station. It means that 30 meters should be fine to work eastern USA at this time.

January 27, 2014

Went to visit BU2BA tonight and he had some spare LiPo batteries for my portable station. Now have to find a suitable charger, because ordinary ones don't work.

January 22, 2014

The bands are still noisy, but I managed a CW QRS QSO on 12 meters with JA6JML, a first on this band. There were plenty of PSK31 signals around, so I did a couple of QSOs in that mode. Then I CQed in Olivia on the advertised frequency and lo-and-behold, JH1DIS answered after a while and we had a nice chat. He said that in the mornings 12 meters is open to Canada and Olivia QSOs can be had then. Will have to try.

January 18, 2014

I just read this on a Yahoo Groups reflector: Russia switched off all its long wave stations. No more Radio Rossii and no more indications that there are conditions. Makes me a little sad, because 279 kHz was a good beacon for detecting good conditions. This happend on January 9th. End of an era. No wonder I didn't hear them the last few days.

January 16, 2014

Sad. Found this behind the desk when I wanted to rearrange some cables, today: a dead gecko.

January 15, 2014

Mounted the KX3 tuner and battery charger today. Took all of 30 minutes. Also checked the speaker and put some extra washers between the case and the rim. Didn't help, but what did was to change the side tone from 600 to 700 Hz, because the case seems to resonate most at 600 Hz. Made two QRP contacts, one with Beijing and the other with New Zealand.

January 14, 2014

Went to Taipei today to get my faulty laptop exhanged. That was no fun, but it is done. Also went for a mag-mount, but they didn't have any with 3/8" connection. But, on a positive note, I was happy that the Elecraft KX3 tuner and battery charger were in the mail. Yeah!

January 13, 2014

Made a new page on this site with information about time signal stations, especially the one I hear on 77.5 kHz which is not DCF77.

January 11, 2014

Got myself a new laptop today, a Lenovo IdeaPad G510 with i7 processor and a 15 inch display. Only problem is it came in with a defect, namely the trackpad which is acting up randomly. Pushing on the case next to the pad brings a temporary solution. This means a trip to Taipei.

January 7, 2014

Call it deferred DXing. On January 2nd I left the radio on at night, monitoring NAVTEX on 518 kHz. I hadn't checked the log of that day and when I did I was pleasantly surprised to find some nice DX catches. Actually, I was more elated than surprised since I hadn't received any station outside my own NAVTEX area. The 12 meter vertical in combination with the IC-7200 proved to be a winning combination. The new stations received were:

AA05 - Vladivostok - UIK and BB00 - Kholmsk - UFO - tent from area XIII, although the last is a bit tentative. The call letter and time match up, though.

From area XI-B (SEA) I got the following stations: FA91 - Bankok - HSA, KA23 - DaNang - XVT and XA04 - HoChiMinhVille - XVS. This shows a lot of promise for even better DX.

January 5, 2014

Today was the annual CTARL banquet. I attended for the first time, not knowing what to expect. But it was mainly chatting, eating and a raffle. Oh so Taiwanese. I didn't care that I got a vacuum flask (Made in China), because the fun part was talking to people I hardly see, like BV2EL and BV3TI. Their kids are all licensed and I had a blast talking with BV2EL's girl, BU2CD, who won NT$2000 in the raffle. BV2FP's son Ryan also was fun to be with. Not shy at all, even though he is only of the kindergarten age.

Afterwards I went to a corner of Zhuwei's harbour to test the MP1 antenna for the first time. Were it not because of BV2FP's help it would not have happened, because I forgot to bring the stand with the connector for the MP1. He borrowed me his and after finding a spot where I could mount it I was ready to go. It was not difficult to get the antenna into resonance on 15 meters and I made one QSO with 9M8SYA. There were some others around, but with only 5 Watts from the KX3 it was not easy to get through. Then I tried 20 meters and had more difficulties to get the MP1 into resonance (when I broke up I found that the radial connector had come loose), but I still managed to get an SWR of 1.2:1 and I made one QSO with ZL2AIM. Not bad for 5 Watts and an antenna almost on the ground.

The MP1 a little wicked because I couldn't find a suitable place to clamp it on.

The back seat shack.

This setup in a box turned out to be quite handy. Not to myself: next time bring more tools.

And.....the weather station crashed again. Sigh!

January 4, 2014

After a QSO with JA1RZD on 20 meters I turned to 15 meters and called CQ on 21074 in Olivia 8/500. A station came back which I couldn't decode and its signal was a bit wider than an Olivia signal. After some quick thinking I thought it might be Contestia and indeed it was. So I had my first ever Contestia QSO with YD2MDU. It was a rubber stamp QSO - unfortunately - but nice nevertheless.

January 3, 2014

My weather station server crashed this morning, but I only noticed at night. A reboot put it back on again, but I do miss a day's worth of data. The uptime was already 130 days when I last checked, so I guess it was about time for a reboot.

January 2, 2014

Long wave was wide open tonight and I spent some time chasing new NDBs. Got some UNIDs and some from China, but again, not from Japan. Mongolia and Russia came in fine on the broadcast bands and I also checked the VLF bands. The Russian Alpha stations came in loud and clear and I made a short video of the signals.

January 1, 2014

I don't think many people can say that they had 24 degrees Celsius, sunny weather and spent time on the balcony working on antennas on the first day of the year, but that is what I had and did. Tried to put up an inverted-V, but that didn't work out. Instead I put up the 10 meter vertical and had some fun on longwave. At night a first QSO with JA1RZD in Olivia using the IC-7200.

Last night we went to Sanxia to see some performances and a fire works display at the school of an acquaintance. BV2-1 proved to be crucial in picking up my APRS signals, despite the school being quite into mountainous area.