Last day of the year and also the coldest one: maximum 8 degrees Celsius. Luckily tomorrow back to 15C. Also my work PC's monitor decided to die on me. I'm not crying, because it was an old 19" 1440dpi max monitor. Time to find a "new" second hand one.
That looks better. They didn't have 15000uF capacitors at my local electronics store, so I got some 12000uF ones. Seems to work fine, since max voltage is 14.2V and they didn't explode!!! It also solved another problem: I wasn't able to put out full power on 15 meters. When I did the voltage would drop and the PSU would start humming very angrily. With the new caps I have no problem putting out 100W on 15 meters, but unfortunately there is a lot of ignition noise on 15m, so I will not be working that band often.
Christmas surprise: some sparks and a plasticy odor in the shack. Turned out my PSU had a capacitor that is going south.
First Saturday morning off in two years, since they canceled my class, and the OK DX RTTY contest was on. Since I have a soft spot for RTTY I tried my best to answer some CQs. The yellow markers were the result and so my puny signal went all the way to New Zealand. At night I turned to 40 meters and I even got 6 stations from Europe, including two from OK.
A very fancy QSL from the folk at ITAsat.
My first new SKCC number in probably four years: VK2KJJ, Joe was so kind to give me his 8198. 21028 kHz, 0558-0608, both 579. My keying was lousy and I made a lot of errors, but all-in-all I was happy with the QSO. It was on 15m, so my power supply didn't allow me to use more than 70 Watts.
Early morning DX: LU3MCJ Emilio on 14.225 MHz at 0843-44 long path. He 57-59, me 59 with 100W. He was 1kW, so quite a difference.
Finally a QSO with my new antenna: 21277 kHz 0833-0836 UTC with DL5RBW Roger from Bavaria. He was 45-47, I was 57, with 100 Watts. He was running 1kW with a monobeam yagi. Of course after we finished the QSO he came in stronger at 59+20dB.
21270 0842-44 FK8QX Phil. Both about 57.
21280 0857-0859 VK4TM. Both 54
21290 0901-0906 DK8MZ (Wolf). Both 57-59
21257 09110914 S52DG. He 57-59, me 57. He worked BX7ABT before me and BU2EP after me.
ITAsat wanted to get some telemetry data from the community and I obliged. Wasn't too difficult, but since it is non-standard AX.25 I was not able to decode it until someone told me to turn of this restriction in Soundmodem.exe and then it worked.
A windless and sunny day, so ideal weather to put the 750V back in the tower. Took all of an hour get it up and installed and another hour routing the coax and making sure everything is neat and tight. I lowered the elevation angle of the VU beams a bit, although in the photos it doesn't seem I did.
Changed all the U-bolts and other hardware for stronger stuff, so if this antenna fails it can't be because this!
After a week of maintenance I put the two beams back into the tower today. What I did was the following: install new LMR-240UF leads for the VHF beam instead of the crappy RG-58 leads, repair the leads for the UHF beam and install a new cross-boom. I had made a mistake with the polarization of the VHF beam, so a quick test of the setup on RS-44 to make sure everything worked. VK6KCC from Perth came booming in and it was quite easy to work him. Video of the QSO.
In the morning I had already taken the 750V down and together with my son I installed the two antennas within half an hour. The new sliding cross-boom works wonders and it saves me a lot of energy getting the antennas up in the air. Maintenance will be a lot easier from now on. The elevation angle is a little too high I found out afterwards, but that can be easily fixed now: loosen some bolts, change the angle and fasten them again.
It wasn't easy to get the 750V down. The mediocre hardware that was supplied had already warped after one week and many of the nuts couldn't come off. The axle grinder was the only option and the next step is to get some sturdier U-bolts and make some modifications to the base plate.
Sunny and moderately windy today. Of course, when I got up in the tower in the afternoon the wind started picking up!!!! Nevertheless, with my son I got all antennas down and installed the 750V, which took a little more effort than I anticipated due to the wind.
But boy, once everything was in place and I turned on the radio I was flying: so many signals coming in. The first one was - of course - a local one BV2A/3 in RTTY, but I also heard stations from Europe and all over Asia loud and clear. A beam really does make a difference, even though in my case it is only a single dipole.
I also learned another thing today: clean the fuse holders that are in line with the IC-7200 power cord. I couldn't get more than 50 Watts of power out of the set, while I could easily get 100 Watts out of the TS-440S. I googled and luckily saw a post on QRZ.com from a fellow ham with the same problem and replacing corroded fuses were his solution to solve it. I simply cleaned the holders with contact spray and now I'm good to go.
Next problem: Fldigi is running very slow on my Raspberry Pi.
Taiwan is tiring: the strong, stormy wind with gusts that howl through the house won't subside and it's already been like that for a week. I want to get up the tower to take down the antennas, but too dangerous to do that right now. So in the meantime I made this:
The PCB was a gift from BX2AB, who has more than one left (understatement: he has more than 100 left) from a club project a couple of years ago. The case I bought, the rest was from the junk piles in my shack. Here is the proof it works.
This morning the no signal from the 70cm array at all. The other lead has also failed and now I'm without any 70 cm reception at all. Time to take everything down.
FS-3 wouldn't give a strong signal today, so I expected something wrong with the antenna. When going up the roof it was very clear why....
So with only one antenna on 70 cm not much signals comes in and half of the time with the wrong polarization, which means basically I'm QRT right now.
Back on HF soon with this 750V clone from China.
CQWW at PL04mx
I was playing with the Airspy HF+ Discovery yesterday and discovered a - for me - unknown Wefax station on 8302 kHz. Came in strong, so first thought was it's regional and today I managed to decode it. Turned out to be XSG - Shanghai Coastal Radio and this was the best image I got from them. Also heard signals on their other frequencies of 4170, 12382 and 16559 kHz, but those channels were too weak or noisy to decode.
The ISS was flying by tonight and it was a bright night so it was clearly visible in the night sky. The photos didn't really work out, but for a first try spotting the spacecraft it was a success.
I also reached 100,000 telemetry submissions for Falconsat-3.
A pass from SW to NE and even at close to the horizon the ISS still had a strong signal on 145.800 MHz. The result was this image....
As perfect as it gets.
The ISS was sending out SSTV images, so I caught a few.
Wonderful Meteor M2 image with the Gobi desert clearly visible. Lake Qinghai is partly covered by clouds, unfortunately. This pass was only 11° elevation and at 1° it already had enough signal to start decoding. Mid-pass was lousy as usual.
NOAA-18 just before Meteor M2 came by.
First crude attempt to get the LSM303 working with tilt compensated compass and elevation indication. Code is ugly, accuracy is mediocre, but it works. Video is here.
I also made a recording of the ChipQuik solder paste I bought. It has too much flux, so the tiny solder balls float all over the place and don't melt. Macro video, so not quite in focus.
Busy in the shack with odds and ends when IO-86 flew by in APRS mode. Caught a couple of beacons, but nobody else was heard.
ISS/423/FM Just had a good pass from the new ISS FM repeater this morning. It seems it's not working smoothly yet, with frequent dropouts, even from stronger stations. Heard VR2HF calling and he tried to answer me, but couldn't get in to finish the QSO. Pity!
This is what the ID looks like on the waterfall and this is how it sounds.
A quick question on Twitter and Mark Hammond indicated it was me who was not getting directory listings on FS3. After an email to Chris and no real idea about why I set the time limit for the directory to zero days, then PSGS started getting the directory items for September 3 and partly 2. Back to a time limit of 10 days, but still nothing before September 2nd. JA5BLZ to the rescue, because during a pass he started updating his directory listing and so mine got updated at the same time. Everything back to normal now, all's well that ends well.
Is it me or is it Falconsat-3? I am not getting any new directory entries in (since Aug 31) with PacSat Ground Station, not even the stuff I upload myself.
In the morning a second QSO with Rick, but it was worse than the one last night. But we still did it, so we were both happy.
The postman brought an addition to my QSL wall today. Thanks Siva! Much appreciated.
Typhoon Maysak has an eye I just saw on my latest GK-2A full disk image. This one is not hitting Taiwan directly, but we did have strong winds and heavy rain today.
NOAA-18's reception was more troublesome today. Lots of noise and the noise blanker could only go so far in removing it. Here is the cropped result with a close up of typhoon Maysak. I hope it will decrease in strength so Korea and southern Japan will not suffer too much.
AO-73/36447/CW Late afternoon and today I made my first QSO on Funcube-1 and it was with an OM I have met many times before: JK2XXK. Funny that I've been on the sats for over a year now and never used this bird for a QSO. Inconvenient times when if flies by are the main reason for this.
But the highlight came at night with pass 3179 of RS-44 and Yeah! we finally did it. After months of trying Rick, VK6RK, and I had a QSO!!!! Barely because of the one minute opening we had, but we spanned the 6359 km from Taiwan to Australia. A new DXCC for Rick, so good on him! I already worked VK8JM, but that was an easy one. This one was way more challenging.
Here is the video of the QSO.
Slow day, but still managed to make myself another LNA, this time with a 1090 MHz SAW filter. This one works on 5V, so no voltage regulator, hence the leads being shorted. Did a sweep with the ADALM Pluto and things look good. Hopefully I can test it tomorrow.
"Two-thirty, 34° C, sunny. I think I'll wait another two hours before climbing up the antenna tower." he said, sitting in his lazy chair on the terrace, smoking a pipe while watching the clouds go by.
SO-50/95152/FM Worked UA0SUN and JR6DI. With 3388 km between us, in FM, via a 250 mW repeater in the sky, I think the QSO with Vladimir counts as being amazing.
On Monday I went to Taipei and paid a brief visit to Temwell. Today a package in the mail with 10 three pole helical filters, for US$50, called their "Free Design Special Learning Kit." I could choose the center frequencies and they matched it as closely as possible from their inventory. I ended up with: 140, 146, 400, 435, 465, 1270, 1282.5, 1575, 2400 and 2450 MHz. Bandwidths are wide enough to cover all amateur and sat bands. One disadvantage: for were in the smaller "D" housing, so need to design another footprint.
Today I also put my first LNA together with the PCBs that came in this week. Not half bad soldering and it does give 20+dB gain, so mission accomplished. Did find some things to improve, though, like larger pads for D1 and the electrolytic caps.
I wasn't happy with the solder paste I bought from Mouser, though. It doesn't flow well and leaves a mess of paste that didn't get heated up enough. I don't have enough experience with SMD soldering, but I used to have some years ago and that just worked really well.
Wonder why this stuff is different. But to be honest, still a novice doing this stuff, so maybe I bought the wrong kind. For now I use the paste when fixing components to the board and 0.5 mm solder for the other pad. Using my fine tipped Weller, which heats up well.
Yeah! The PCBs are in.
The broken IC-820H has had a beating. The glass pane was kind of wonky and when I took it apart it fell off. I took of the complete front panel and hot glued the glass pane back in place after giving it a polish to my it shine bright again. The transmit switch is working again and the set did switch on. But there seems to be a PLL lock problem as it quickly went from a frequency on display to a row of dashes. Here is a short video that shows this problem.
Knackered after spending a day in Taipei, but...
The visit to the NCC was special in that I forgot to bring a photo. So I cut up the old licence and retrieved the photo. Added bonus: it was exactly the right size. I was out in 10 minutes.
Then I went to visit Temwell, but the boss wasn't in and they couldn't give me the filter set I wanted. I left my shopping list and details and they would get back to me.
Last thing to do was visit BM2JCC Kenichi Hoshino to bring him my bureau QSL cards and to pick up some of my own. We had a very nice and long talk and he asked me about satellite operations. When I mentioned I had the same IC-820H in my shack that was on a shelf behind him he surprised me by giving it to me, with the caveat that it didn't work, but could probably be repaired. Never say not to a rig, so I brought it home. At first inspection the transmit switch is stuck, so that will have to be repaired first.
AO-92/14528/FM-safe mode. This bird is rapidly deteriorating. In safe mode the whole pass over East Asia. Earlier this week we were still able to work stations part of the pass, but not anymore now.
I think I am finished with my preamp board. It says SPF5189Z, but that's because KiCAD doesn't have a PGA-103+ symbol. I'm going to leave it till tomorrow and then send it to JLCPCB.
People on Twitter were so nice to look at my design and point out some errors and suggest improvements, which I promptly implemented and then it was of to JLCPCB.
I'm having an off day: tired and my body is aching. Not going to do anything today. The weather matches my mood.....rainy and stormy.
Temperature drop from 28.5 to 22.5 degrees Celsius.
Rainfall: 50.5 mm in less than 30 minutes.
Looks like a typhoon, but this is typical monsoon weather, happening almost every afternoon.
But I did do something today after all, even though I felt really lousy: I took all the full disk IR images from GK-2A from the last six days, used Sanchez to give them some color and ffmpeg to make a sequence out of them. I put the file on YouTube, because it was a bit large
Got a Busboard SP1-50x50-G prototyping board from Mouser and tried my hand at it tonight. Wasn't really a big success, but honestly, I had no idea how to go about it.
Laying out the parts is easy.
Soldering them to the board as well, but making the connections is messy.
I tried 0 Ω resistors and it worked somewhat, but I doubt that these work well in an RF path. Big blobs of solder also work........or maybe not.
The whole thing was supposed to be a PGA103+ preamp with 1090 SAW filter, but needless to say it didn't work (but also didn't smoke).
I did google for some tips and hints, but couldn't find much. YouTube also didn't have any tutorials, so maybe this is a too cumbersome method and not popular. Oh well, back to designing custom PCBs then.
Brilliant!! Nullpainter's Sanchez IR image converter really brings life to your GK-2A's images. v0.2.3 works under Linux and this is the latest image received this morning. Taiwan looks sunny today.
Grab the code here: https://github.com/nullpainter/sanchez
To convert an entire directory of images do something like this:
./Sanchez -s ./Input -t #0070ba -m ./Resources/Mask.jpg -u ./Resources/GK-2A/Underlay.jpg -o ./Output
I declare these two projects finished: the Geo-Kompas-2A weather image capture setup and the YouLoop setup.
Revisited gLRPT today, decoding Meteor M2. Never got decent images out of the previous versions, but v2.6.0 seems to be an improvement. Still no error free decoding despite the signal being very strong. Then again, it seems nobody can get error free decoding of this bird.
Tried to get some color in the IR images from GK-2A and with the under- and overlays from John Bell I manually managed to enhance the image from August 4th.
Complete success in receiving GK-2A today. Antenna positioned upright, reflector extended with some PVC pipe, pointed dead straight to the bird and this was the result.... Vitavg rate around 22 with the Nooelec SAWBird and an RTL-SDR stick.
I also tried a NooElec broadband preamp and the results were pretty good there as well. Could see a good hump from GK2a, GPS signals were visible and Inmarsat signals were strong (I used both a SAWbird for Inmarsat and a broadband preamp).
With the ADALM Pluto SDR I could clearly see a peak where GK-2a is putting out its LRIT signal. Signal strength was around 15 dBm above noise.
I did install xrit-rx according to the instructions found on the Github page, but that was a few months ago. Always got this "Key file not found" message, but despite that it still downloaded a bunch of files. No idea yet as how to convert them into something nice.
With the help from Twitter and the author of the xrit-rx software (@sam210723) I did manage to decode the image later in the afternoon. So ladies and gentlemen, my first ever image from Geo-Kompsat-2A.....
Tropical storm Hagupit skirted by Taiwan today and I got this Himawari image from JMH on its frequency just below the 20 meter band. We had 51mm of rain and moderate winds, so perfect weather to fill up the Shimen reservoir.
I cleaned up my operating desk and consider it finished now. Here are some photos.
The HF side. From top to bottom:
- Loko switching PSU
- Timewave ANC-4 + IC-7200
- Chinese army straight key + TS-440SAT
- Homebrew touch keyer + homebrew ATU
- Koss headset just visible on the desk.
The IC-7200 is connected to a RPi-4 4GB, running FLdigi.
The VHF/UHF side. From top to bottom:
- Airband receiver (club project)
- KR400 rotor control + 30A solid state PSU
- Flameproof key used on the linear birds.
All antenna connections are on the right, color coded so no mistakes when switching.
Pretty happy with the result, although the HF antenna needs some work, so I'm not active on HF yet. Can't seem to put out more than 50 Watts, even when SWR is 1:1. The longwire + auto-tuner runs close to the metal roof, so that might be the problem. Antenna work has to wait till fall, though.
Before tropical storm Hagupit hit the northern part of Taiwan I did some testing to see if I could finally receive GK-2A on 1692.140 MHz. Unfortunately I wasn't successful and it left me quite frustrated.
This was the antenna I used: a 2.4 GHz grid antenna, pointed towards 164 degrees east with 60 degrees elevation, the geo stationary positions of GK-2A. Here I used the ADALM Pluto to check reception. Below another shot, but now with the RTL-SDR as receiver.
Using SATSAGEN I could clearly see the SAWBIRD filter/preamp doing its work. No signals popping up in the band whatsoever.
A full band scan also showed a peak around 1700 MHz.
At 1692.140 MHz no signals noted at all.
I used the PlutoSDR to put out a NFM signal on 1692 MHz and the GOESrecv-monitor was able to lock on, so that clearly worked.
Lastly I tried the INMARSAT band and got some signals, altough they weren't strong and there was a lot of noise.
Quite frustrating and I have no idea how to go on from here. The only problem I can think of it that my location has a very high noise floor, so signals are drowned out. That means I have to pack up and find a quieter location to do more testing.
Today the first time ever I went portable sat op! Never used my Arrow Antenna until now and together with my Kenwood TH-F7E and Baofeng UV-5B I made some contacts over FM birds. I was in PL04vt, Jiaoxi in Ilan county, the house of a friend of ours where we spent a couple of days enjoying the beach, surfing and eating good food. There were mountains to the north and west and not too far at that, but the east was all sea and that was what I wanted to experience. Furthermore Ilan is not so crowded, so few locals spoiling the fun.
The first try was actually the night before, but I couldn't hear anything from AO-92 and SO-50. I might have to check the cables I brought, because one was kind of flaky.
But today at 0517 I caught a pass of PO-101(DIWATA-2) and had a QSO with JA6PL who sounded a bit surprised to hear me calling him weakly with the suffix "portable."
Second chance was the 14UTC pass of AO-92. It was difficult to get in with 3 Watts, but managed to work 4I1DWE and JR6DI.
Last chance was at 1449 with a 22 degree eastern pass of AO-91. Heard an UA0 station, JA5OVF and we had half of a QSO, then another station, followed by 4I1DWE. That QSO went better and finally heard an YB station. Heavy QRM during the whole pass and reception was tough. Still, I had a few moments where I put in a really strong signal and even at very low elevations I could still capture a lot, despite the QRM.
All-in-all I was happy with the result, but I need to work on my setup, especially the cables, a headphone and connection to a recorder.
The Temwell PCBs finally arrived. They look great and the footprint I made is dead on. Really happy with it.
Went with JLCPCB for manufacturing and they did a good job. But SF Express really let me down this time and it took a week to get it sorted. SF Express didn't want to deliver my package due to new customs rules in Taiwan. Okay, I'm a foreigner, but I do have a residency permit and the old way of doing things still applies. They didn't think so at SF in China, so now the only way is to use the EZ Way app, which I can't.
Tested one board with my ADALM Pluto/SATSAGEN setup and it worked very well.
NooElec's package finally arrived.
With the advice from some Twitter friends I finished my first KiCAD design: a 6x2 cm PCB especially made for the Temwell helical filters I still have lying around. The images here are for a earlier version where the RF traces are still too wide. After calculating them better they were reduced to around 1.2 mm and then it was basically finished apart from caging everything with lots of vias.
I also got one more entry for the Gotcha! list: Cape-1 (K5USL) on 435.245 MHz in CW. Here is the sound clip.
Transcript: K5USL 19F00F5F500000000 E I E
Cleaning my hard drive I found this recording of ARISSat-1 from 2011. I never got to decoding the SSTV signal, but with help of QSSTV I now did, almost 9 years later. Recorded with my Kenwood HT and a cellphone.
After a day being busy with grocery shopping, a doctor visit and swimming I spent the evening playing with the PlutoSDR and SATSAGEN. Got it installed under Wine without a hitch and measured some filters. The 1090 MHz filter was clearly off due to me having mounted it in a box in totally the wrong way, but in the end I got some sort of a curve.
The Temwell 435 MHz helical filter was a bit better, but way too low in frequency, so I adjusted it and then it looked like this.....
Got the PlutoSDR working with SDRAngel today. (Pro-tip: check the squelch, maybe then you will get audio working). I got good reception of my own signal coming from my HT and also transmitting capabilities, like Morse code and voice in both FM and SSB. It's quite something different from the Airspy, but fun and I agree with Wallace.....
Dragon Boat Festival today and after swimming this morning a very lazy afternoon (because I was pooped). Only went up to the shack for the RS-44 pass and heard VK8JM calling CQ and worked him without problems. As usual: strong signals, but deep fading. Here is the MP3 of the QSO.
Put the 70cm preamp back in the tower today. After a small modification it performs as usual again, now let's hope it will keep on working in the baking sun.
The nasty interference on the 2 meter band has gone again (wonder for how long), so I got one decode from the ISS APRS transmitter, just by using the AFSK 1200) decoder that is build-in GQRX.
Can't get any better than this: NOAA-15 all the way from Borneo to Mongolia.
First QSO on AO-27, another ancient bird that came back to life. Worked E21EJC on a western pass with max EL of 15 degrees, in FM.
Yesterday afternoon, just before going to work, I noticed a sporadic E opening to Japan, but no IDs were heard. This morning was another opening, but again not lucky enough to catch any IDs.
Was checking if I could still receive APT transmissions from NOAA-18 when I noticed another sat signal on 137.8 MHz. Must have been one of the ORBcomm satellites. Have to check this out later. The signal was pretty strong. Here is some more info on decoding ORBcomm.
Trying to get my HF station back in operation. The ATU on the roof doesn't want to tune, so another thing to investigate. Used a Raspberry Pi and my IC-7200 to receive some WEFAX images, but the internal sound card of the 7200 didn't give me a clean enough signal. From the speaker was better, but today I switched to the TS-440S and the i5 PC and got some cleaner images. Unfortunately they were all slanted and I had to sit next to the PC to manually correct it. This was the best of the lot. Still work to be done to get it cleaner and less "wavier".
The SHF-Elektronik Mini-70 LNA is giving me trouble after a year of operation. Will switch on, but also off within a very short time. Investigation time, but I don't have any and I'm already so tired.
Still something fun today: a short sporadic E opening to Japan and I heard Cross FM on 78.7 from Fukuoka for a few minutes. Here is the recording.
Only one QSO today on RS-44, but a good one and with a new DXCC entity: AP2AUM from Pakistan was a not so easy catch in SSB, but he did get my call in the end, so that's number 15 on the list.
First sign of sporadic E here in Asia (at least for me): 50.075 MHz VR2SIX from Hong Kong.
Late night pass of RS-44 at 1422 AOS and I heard OH5LK and answered him. He gave me a QSL, so YEAHHHHHH, I did it. Then I found out I forgot to hit record..........so I didn't record this catch. I'm crying right now.
Luckily he confirmed our QSO via the AAR29 logbook, but I guess for this one I have to get his QSL card as confirmation. Distance between PL04PV & KP30ON is 7832 km, so again a record and I beat the one with UA1OEJ by over 700 kilometers.
Worked four RS-44 passes today and worked some regulars and first timers JA2GLJ, JL1CGT, JA1GZK, YB1TJ and R9LR. But the best pass was the last, late in the evening. When the bird appeared I immediately heard UA1OEJ and he was strong enough to work, so I did. New DXCC, because he is in European Russia and also a distance record of 7123 kilometers!!! It was all done at an elevation of between 1 and 2 degrees, and even UA1OEJ was surprised by that.
Here is a clip of the QSO.
Later on the same pass I also worked 4S7AB from Sri Lanka, so that one is also in the log.
Nice surprise tonight: the linear transponder of Huskysat-1 was activated for general use. When I saw that on Twitter it so happend that the bird was flying by from south to north. Called CQ but nobody answered until I saw JR6RMK calling CQ, so I answered him. It was a high pass, so difficult at times, but we made it. Also worked JG2TSL and both QSOs were in CW.
Here is a short clip of the QSO. It just so happened that the bird was spinning, so the quality of our signals were not that great.
It was "Satellite Sunday" with 16 QSOs in the log.
First pass of RS-44 today gave me a new DXCC: India by means of VU2LBW in SSB. Also worked Kob E21EJC and JK1AFI, the last one in CW.
Then FO-29, today working in SSB. This old bird is still going strong. Worked JH7JHX, DV2JB, HS3ANP and DU9JJY.
In the evening the SO-50 pass was not the best, but still worked E21EJC, DV2JB, JR6DI and newcomer BA4VE, who had a great signal.
Immediately after was a 7° eastern pass of RS-44. I could get in, but it was difficult (buildings, mountains and noise). No QSOs this time.
The second RS-44 pass was a high one to the west of me and it gave me another DXCC entity: UN6LN from Kazakhstan in CW loud and clear! 5713 km, so no distance record, but fantastic nonetheless. Also worked JK2XXK (SSB), JH0RNN (CW) and 9M2CQC (SSB), the last two being new contacts for me.
All-in-all a great Sunday.
Another two passes of RS-44. Went CW on the first and worked BD5EUA and JK2XXK, but the second, westerly, pass was more interesting. Heard UA1OEJ in CW and tried to work him, but he was at LOS. His grid is KP94vn and that's a distance of 7123 km between us!!!!! European Russia for the first time!!!
Still broke my personal record with a QSO with RV9CHB in MO06hs, which is 5943 km from my QTH. Later in the pass I worked DV2JB, UA0STM, HS3LSE, HS3ANP, E21EJC.
A new linear sat from the Russians: RS-44. Heard the beacon today on the first morning pass and worked E21EJC, DV2JB, JA4GVA and UA0STM in SSB on the second pass. This bird's power is 5 Watts, so very powerful, although it spins quite a bit, so lots of fading.
The beacon simply transmits the ID as "RS44". MP4
At night the first pass was to my east and I worked JA1VDJ, JR6RMK and JA3FWT, all in CW. This bird has a big enough footprint that I might be able to work Alaska and Australia, but those pesky mountains are in the way. Need to finish my portable setup, soon!
The second night pass opened with UA0ADX in CW who immediately became my distance record with 4167 km. Also worked JA7KPI, JM1CAX, HS3LSE in CW and DV2JB
and HS3LSE - again - in SSB. Heard YD0NXX at LOS.
Had some fun and worked some stations on IO-86 tonight. There was a special call active from the Philippines and John DW9ILS was the operator. We had a short QSO and he recorded it for everyone on Twitter to enjoy.
IO-86/24593/FM: first QSOs for April on the best FM sat there is. Worked YC7VVA, DX9ILX and YD8RPJ. Thank you gentlemen.
CAS-4B/15646/SSB: I don't do much SSB operations, but tonight I was too tired for CW, so SSB it was. Worked JR6DI and JS6DRQ in SSB and heard Steve JS6TMW calling CQ in CW.
Amazing what you can do with an ordinary Canon EOS 750D DLSR and the cheapest Canon 250mm zoom lens.
This was the moon that accompanied me home from a hard days work tonight. Didn't get the colors quite right, but the details you can see are fascinating!
First project made using the brake I fabricated a fortnight ago: a stomp box style control for my portable rotator. A bit rough around the edges (literally), but the learning process was fun. Have a better idea about the planning process that goes into a thing like this, now.
First test with the GSM yagi. Used a RTL-SDR+wideband preamp. Gain of the antenna about 15dB, but no signals on the waterfall. Goestools for GK-2A had high vitavg both with (img1) and w/o (img2) preamp. Probably too much local overload.
Spring has arrived in Taiwan! Our Japanese hen has laid her first egg of the season.
Falconsat-3 didn't want me for the only pass I could monitor today. It turned its butt towards me: 26 frames received only. Luckily there was no new mail.
Haven't hunted for a new satellite in a while. But tonight, for the first, just about ten past eleven (UTC) Grifex on 437.480 MHz. More than two and a half minutes between data bursts, so only two received. 9k6, so Direwolf could handle it.
Went tomb sweeping this morning in my wife's hometown in Miaoli. Pity I didn't bring my camera, so had to use my phone to capture this gorgeous swallow giving us an impromptu concert from above a Buddha image.
Bummer: my Jumbospot's 0.96" OLED display is EOL after only a month of use. The hot spot itself is still usable like nothing happened. Of course, I can use the Pi-Star's dashboard, but it was handy to look at the display while working at my desk.
Falconsat-3/71881/FM --> I guess I had my first digipeat QSO (or whaddayacallit) with JA6PL just now. We exchanged a couple of messages and then the bird disappeared for me. Used UISS, but still a lot of things to learn, like when use F5 and when F7? Still...good fun!!
CAS-4B/14815/CW Difficult pass tonight with lots of power line noise and weak signals from this bird. Still.....worked BH4PVP (1st QSO), BD5EUA and JR6DI.
EO-88/16742/CW --> Despite the huge amount of pain in my foot & leg I was able to get myself to the shack. I hardly work over EO-88, but it was flying over and I called CQ. The only other station around was.........JR6DI, our satellite beacon in East Asia. Always nice to work him. The video of the QSO is here.
Just back from the ER: beginning case of cellulitis. Two IV drips later I was well enough to go home. Added bonus: I tested negative for the Wuhan corona virus.
Total cost: US$17 and that's it. You have to love Taiwan because of this.
CAS-4B still has CW beacon problems.
CAS-4A/14751/CW local QRM and signals were not strong for this pass. Worked @JR1UIU/1 and thank for this OMs patience, because I simply couldn't get his call easily.
BTW, why is FO-29 not active when I have a Sunday off?
SO-50/92272/FM Difficult pass, but worked BD9BU, DU1AU (both for the 1st time) and JR6DI. Also heard JR3LNG, UA0SUN and an HL1 station which was drowned out.
CAS-4B seems to have some trouble as the CW beacon was only putting out a continuous carrier. The digital telemetry was also weaker than normal. Linear working as usual.
Luckily CAS-4A/14740/CW a few minutes later was trouble free. Tnx to JM1CAX and JH1JBP for the CW QSOs.
Who says space communication doesn't suffer from lousy conditions: two passes of Falconsat-3 tonight and only 25 frames received. Signals would just not come in at all, so very frustrating not to be able to fill holes and download messages.
After three days of satellite QSOs time for some good old CW on HF. Worked JS2AHG which is the 2nd call sign for JE1TRV who is SKCC member 561T. Pity I already had his number in the log. I still need 9 contacts with SKCC member for my Centurion. Who can help me?
Another busy day for the postman. Luckly E21EJC's mail came in today. He had forgotten to write the address on the envelope, but since I informed the post office about it they traced it down and were able to deliver it.
The two straight keys in use at the moment: a flame-proof CBJ26003A hooked up to my IC820H and a Chinese D117 army key hooked up to my IC7200.
SO-50/92037/FM --> Nice pass tonight with all the regulars around: JS6DRQ, JR6DI, JA3FWT, JR6RMK and new to me JR6UEK. Arigatō OM, nice to meet you.
CAS-4B/14513/CW --> "It's Friday night and the workweek's through, the boys get together for a round or two........" Non-stop CW with JA6UMJ, JH4MPR, JR6RMK, JR6DI and JA2MYA at only 5 degrees. Used 7 Watts for most of the pass, except before LOS when I really needed 40W.
CAS-4A/14513/CW --> This pass was a bit more difficult and there were some guys doing high-speed CW. Count me out, but thanks to JR6RMK and JR6DI for the slow-speed QSOs.
The postman had it busy on his first delivery after Chinese New Year: four QSL cards in the mail.
The sun is out and the bands are clean. No need for the ANC-4 today. But only 13°C and it's cold in the shack. Who said the subtropics always have warm weather. 20m is active with lots of CW. Worked BG7XWF whom I worked on AO-91 and SO-50 before. Also worked BG8TFN.
Short clip of the ANC-4 cleaning up power line noise. Little dip in the signal, but better s/n ratio. Tried a 1m vert. noise pick-up ant close to power lines, but didn't do anything.
In amateur radio you make friends for life!!!! Just had a QSO with JA1RZD, Ken from Tokyo, the first one in 2.5 yrs!!!!! As if nothing happened we went on 14107.5 kHz in Olivia 32/1000 and chatted for more than an hour, like we used to. The ANC-4 helped mitigate local QRN.
Taking a break from satellites, but not from CW. Just made a QSO with YU1XA on 40 meters. I'm in the dark, he's still in day light, but coming in a true 599. That's almost 9000 km!! Feeling the magic of HF tonight. Haven't felt that in a long time.
Always funny when people hear my name is Hans and automatically assume I speak German. But it doesn't matter, being from the Netherlands I do but not well. Thank you Frank SP6JZL for the German SSB QSO on 40m just now. 100W into a wire is not much, but it did bring us together.
I'm back on DMR! Bought a Jumbo Spot from BI7JTA (awesome service) and now using PiStar instead of the DV4mini. Works great! I programmed in TG98006 (AMSAT) and TG2045 (Technoronde in Dutch), so I'll be hanging out there for now.
IO-86/23395/FM --> Forgot to record this pass, so I'm a bit sketchy about the stations I contacted. It was only a 3.3 degree pass with sudden LOS, so no time to take notes. Worked YF3BNG, YC8FXI YC8NYJ and YG3EMH.
IO-86/23379/FM --> Always fun to work this satellite. Only a 5 degree pass, so a mere three minutes to work some stations. Thanks to: YF3BNG, YC8FXI, YC8VFB and YG3FEO (the last two being new contacts).
NOS, only US$10 a piece. Change the M-type connectors for BNC and you got yourself a nice diplexer.
They are not easy to open; quality of the hardware is mediocre. Once you get in you'll find a Diamond branded PCB.
A quick search and it seems this is the same as the Diamond MX-72D, retailing at US$ 39.95 (https://gigaparts.com/diamond-antenna-mx72d.html)
Haven't used gEDA for a long time, but you never forget, it seems. This quick schematic of the diplexer took me less than 45 minutes to make. Not sure about the values of the capacitors, just copied them from the cases. Does anybody know what values 4C, 2CO, 9C and 18J are?
Boxed up now, ready to go up the tower in line with my 2m beam.
Diplexer: USD 10
Enclosure: USD 7
Connectors: USD 3
USD 20 spent and hopefully now the few desensing problems I still had will be gone.
Some time to get on the birds today:
SO50: worked JR6DI, JS6DRQ and JA4GVA
CAS-4B: worked new one JS6TMW and JA4FVC
CAS-4A: worked JS6TMW again.
First Taiwanese sat QSO confirmed with a card.
Not much telemetry, but strong signals from Strand-1. Gotcha!
Two new ones for the Gotcha! list: 1Kuns-FP and Innosat-2.
New one for the Gotcha! list: CP-7 (DAVE).
Found the reason why the SWR of the new LFA 2 meter yagi was so bad....
Made in China and it didn't last a year. Will have to buy from RS next time.
But everything is fine now. SWR up in the mast 1:1.1, down in the shack 1:1.2. Tried EO-88 at night, but nobody around. Still good signals until almost the horizon. Worked AO-92 at around 10 at night and heard and worked BU2EP and JR6DI. Signals peaked at 30 dB over noise and got 56 DUV frames in, so the new antenna is definitely working better than the old one. I already detect an itch to build a 70 cm version as well.
Sunny and not too warm, but most important: no wind. So I put the newly build 2 meter LFA yagi in the tower today, which didn't go smoothly at all. Will have to rething how I mount the cross boom, because it doesn't slide well in the U-bolts. On top of that when I tried the new antenna in the shack I got an SWR of 1:2.4. I suspect a loose N-socket, so will have to investigate tomorrow. Luckily I have an easy week and lots of time to experiment.