Welcome

I’m Randy, a 38-year old ham living in Amersfoort, which is located about 25 miles east from Amsterdam. Licensed since aged 17 in 1997 and active on all bands from 10 meters up till 3cm tough VHF, UHF and SHF are prefered in (SSB) voice, ATV, CW and weak-signal/DIGI modes.

On the day to day job I work as Independent technical consultant specified in Linux Infrastructure  solutions. Also doing some hands-on support stuff for repeater group Hobbyscoop, the annual Ballon Fox Hunt and trying to promote HAMNET-activities with a group of ham’s throughout the country.

October 2018 NAC contest on 1296 MHz

It could be the Dutch Worked all Provences award, so many Dutch stations were QRV tonight. Amongst them some new stations, including Tonnie (PA3GLL) from Losser, which made his first QSO’s tonight on 23cm. Welcome!

In total I counted 15 Dutch stations and worked 12 of them. I didn’t really spend time on the ON4KST chat since I was busy repariring radio’s. The CQ-slave was on to generate some traffic on my frequency as Run station, which worked quite well.

Tropo propagation was okay tonight, but I expected to work more UK stations. The score: 28 QSO’s, ODX was SK7MW as always (617km) with 16 locators.

Half way VUCC award

The most difficult VUCC award to get is obviously the 144 MHz one. For 50 MHz one summer with Sporadic E should be enough to fulfill the 100 maidenhead grid locators one. For 432 MHz, 50 grids are enough, for 1296 MHz only 25 locators are required, for 2330 MHz only 10 and higher bands only 5 locators will do. For bands above 1 GHz, one active contest weekend should be enough to fulfill the requirements.

The VUCC award rules

The VUCC award rules

In total I worked about 90 maidenhead grid locators on 144 MHz. Via Logbook of the World (LoTW), 52 are confirmed. WSJT-X in combination with JT-Alert as Worked Grid Indicator is really helpful in FT8, since it will also show of the operator is using eQSL and/or LoTW to get your QSO’s confirmed fast without the hassle of sending analogue paper cards you receive after a year to the US. I wish there were more stations using LoTW, in particular on the higher bands.

October 2018 NAC contest on 432 MHz

Very good tropo conditions towards North-East. On 144 MHz I worked stations 1580km away (see this post). During the NAC, I managed to work 55 stations in 27 grid locators. ODX: SE6R (JO58RG) 779km and ended up as best Dutch station tonight. I think for the first time ever during the 432 MHz NAC.

Since the antenna was fixed to 40 degrees I did not work as many German stations . Also I didn’t see any French stations on the cluster. I hoped to work GD (Isle of Man) but almost inaudiable. The same for a GJ station from Jersey.

Monster tropo conditions

This evening there were outstanding tropo conditions. Monster tropo, as I like to call it. While running the Nordic Activity Contest on 432.190 MHz, FT8 was running aside on 144.174 MHz.
The ‘new grid’ and ‘new country’ alerts sounded when LY2J (1200km) in Lithuania was visable. We had a 2-way contact. Later on, the same alert was there for EW6X (1580km) in Belarus. We also had a 2-way contact.
My 2-meter station is running 400 Watts into a 9-elements LFA mounted at about 18 meters height. Two new DXCC on 2-meter and many more new grids this night. Let’s see what tomorrow evening brings…

Update 10-Okt: Both QSO’s are already confirmed via LoTW. Thanks!

IARU Region 1 432 and up

432 MHz: 57 QSO’s, ODX 723km
1296 MHz: 18 QSO’s, ODX 467km

Noise is becoming a problem on 432 MHz to. I ran the contest without pre-amp on 23cm. This was very noticable. On Sunday I quickly build one and used this indoor. The Icom IC-9100 is somewhat deaf.

I expected more participants from the UK and Scandinavia.

Antenna on 70cm: 19el LFA. Antenna on 23cm: 120cm dish. Power: 432 MHz was 75 Watts, power on 23cm was 120 Watts.

October 2018 NAC contest on 144 MHz

50 QSO’s, 23 Locators, ODX 706km

September 2018 NAC contest on 432 MHz

25 QSO’s. 18 Locators. ODX: SK7MW (617km).

DVB-S with ADALM PLUTO SDR

Peter (PA3PM) started to do some experiments with the ADALM SDR. This type of SDR is available for about $100 and capable of transmitting and receiving – even full-duplex – between 70 MHz and 6 GHz with a bandwidth up to 56 MHz. It’s capable to make DVB-S (and DVB-T) transmissions out of the box.

This week I’ve received my box. Within half an hour I was capable to produce an image on the PI6ATV repeater using the 1265 MHz DVB-S input and an old webcam. This is done with the native 0 dBm (1 milliWatt!) output of the SDR connected to my 120cm dish. I do have to note that there is a line of sight with the Gerbrandy tower more than 30 kilometers away.

Next is to amplify the signal using some RA18H1213G modules (18 Watt FM, 3 Watt DVB) on 23cm or some 3G modules still on stock for 13cm. And… more important, to filter the signals since the SDR will create harmonics.

B5 picture using 0 dBm over 30km+ distance

B5 picture using 0 dBm over 30km+ distance

Technical specs:

  • Separate RX and TX connector
  • 12 bits DAC/ADC
  • USB2 interface
  • 65.1 kSPS to 61.44 MSPS (200 kHz to 20 MHz signal bandwidth)
  • 325 to 4 GHz tuning range (70 MHz to 6 GHz after ‘mod’)
  • Runs Linux with an open design. 2 Second boot time.
  • 32 MB of Flash, 512 Mb of DDR3 memory
  • Only 72 parts on the board, thus cheap
  • Better RF than AD9363 specs
  • Highly linear broadband transmitter
    • Transmit (Tx) error vector magnitude (EVM): −34 dB
    • Tx noise: ≤−157 dBm/Hz noise floor
    • Tx monitor: 66 dB dynamic range with 1 dB accuracy
  • 2.4 Hz local oscillator (LO) step size
  • NO RF Shielding, NO RF Filtering. Use a low-pass filter!
  • Linux IIO interface: USB, Ethernet, Mass storage, Serial, DFU
  • Also capable to act as USB Host device
  • Very easy firmware update. Drag, drop and reboot. (and pray…)

September 2018 NAC contest on 144 MHz

Good activity. Made 57+ QSO’s in 4 hours. Tropo was okay. Not good, not bad. In total 25 locators. Up to now, the first place so far from all dutch participants, which is also the first time for me. But PA1T hasn’t upload his log and I’m sure I’ll be second afterwards. 🙂

September 2018 144 MHz contest

B-MULTI. Operators: PA3FYM and PH4X. ODX 840KM ,135 QSO’s. Problems with overheating SSPA, so running lower power.

August 2018 NAC contest on 1296 MHz

August 2018 NAC contest on 432 MHz

August 2018 NAC contest on 144 MHz

Lot’s of noise due to upcoming thunder storms. Therefor I had the idea that less stations from the UK were QRV tonight.

New amp coming in…

Today I’ve ordered a new SSPA amplifier. Now it’s for the 144 MHz band. I already bought a Gemini 180 Watt amp for 23cm in the past with the DXshop in the UK. After experiencing some issues with it, Roger (GW4WND) the owner of the shop, provided more than excellent service. And providing good service to customers pays off. The Gemini 2-500 is capable to deliver 500 Watts of power, so more than enough for the 400 Watt legal limit in the Netherlands. This new unit should line up perfectly with his brother on 23cm.

July 2018 NAC contest on 1296 MHz

Only 10 minutes in the shack before the doorbell rang and visitors arrived. No time to test-drive the new 120cm dish. Hope there will be some activity during the 1st weekend of August contest.