Half way DXCC-Challenge

Today I noticed I’m half way the DXCC-challenge with 500 band-points. Now that I have access to the 80-meter and (limited) 160-meter band, I hope to achieve 50¬†band-points on these together before next year. Meanwhile, a worked-indicator in the Logbook shows me new countries per band. I’m still very limited with my antenne set-up (Magnetic Loop before, now Inverted-L) but it’s called the DXCC-Challenge so let the challenge come. ūüôā

Meanwhile I continue to build my portable VHF – UHF set-up to be more active on 2-meter, 70-centimeter and 23-centimeters, be it a semi-portable operation from the car on top of a hill (location still to be scouted) during the bigger contests in Europe. Not much band-points to get over here, neither easy band-points but very challenging it is!

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Building Inverted-L

I’m busy building an inverted L antenna. Going about 10 meters up and 10 meters horizontal. This gives me the possibility to work on the 80-meter and 160-meter band, using a CG-3000 tuner. I’m currently using about 2x 12 meters of wire as counterpose. This will be a bit more in the near future, but yesterday I wanted to finish quickly. First QSO’s in CW and JT65 are made on 160-meters and 80-meters.

My first QSO on the 160-meter band. Confirmed via eQSL and LoTW.

My first on the 160M band. Confirmed via eQSL and LoTW.

No more tuning every 3 kHz like I had to do with the Magnetic Loops in the past. I’ll test this setup for some weeks and compare it – in particular receiving part – with the I3VHF Magnetic Loop to see how this is picking up noise from the environment I live in.


MLA-T from the inside

Some pictures from the MLA-T Magnetic Loop Antenna. You can see the stepper motor (with 1:600 delay), the feedlines from the N (Yes, N, not PL) connectors and the extension capacitor with shunt for operations on the 160-meter band.



New antenna for PI6ATS

IMG_0491PI6ATS, a locat ATV repeater, has a new VHF-antenne. The operators used an old indoor horizontal loop / halo antenna for audio reception on 144.7625 MHz.

This wasn’t the best situation, since many people had a way stronger signal on 13cm then on VHF, if the repeater could receive a signal (1750 HZ tone) at all.

Next: HAMNET antenne beaming towards the PI2NOS tower in Hilversum so that there is internet for streaming (out or maybe even in) and/or a web-controlled audio- and video switch?

Good to see my old antenne is recycled and has a new life. I’d suggest all ham radio operators to think about their local repeaters by donating hardware or some money to keep things running.

Thanks operators, for keeping PI6ATS in/on the air.

Testing the MLA-T

The MLA-T on the front and the I3VHF Baby Loop (7-30 MHz) on a tripod in the back.

After cleaning the garage yesterday, I found the – after one year still boxed – MLA-T Magnetic Loop Antenna. Hope to have time this weekend to test things out. First thing to do is find a good point to fix the coupling loop, since this model has no gamma match like mentioned on the Wimo website.

I found a dip on the 40- and 80-meter band, but then it started to rain. Hope to find the dip for the 160-meter band later on today. Band-switching is done manually by adding or removing shunts. The tuner feeds the butterfly capacitor over coax, so a separate feeding line is not needed. The capacitor is able to handle about 100 Watt PEP. specified in the manual.

Rigol DSA815-TG Spectrum Analyzer with Tracking Generator and VSWR bridgeTuning however, is done manually by pressing the up/down keys on the controller, which makes it a bit difficult to find the resonance point without tools. I’m lucky since I have a spectrum analyzer with tracking generator and VSWR-bridge, but simpler tools like a Rigexpert analyzer are also handy. Without these, it would be way more difficult.

Now, let’s smoke¬†the soldering iron and build come cabling. If all goes planned, I’ll be QRV tonight when the low bands open. Let’s start with some JT65 and/or CW QSO’s. Hope to post some test results later on…

Click on the thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Hamnet.nl website

Since yesterday, hamnet.nl is live. This website shows the building activities of a Dutch HAMNET.


1A0C confirmed via LoTW

Most European DXCC’s are in. During the Christmas holiday I managed to work 1A0C, a new one for me. Today I’ve noticed the QSO was confirmed via LoTW. Big thanks¬†to¬†the operators for¬†activate this not-so-common DXCC.

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Building first HAMNET link

Yesterday, Mischa (PA1OKZ) and I went to the tower in Hilversum to do some maintenance on PI2NOS. We took time to mount the first HAMNET-dish directing to PI1AMS / PI1RYS in Amsterdam-West (25km). The dish is located indoor behind a window about 110 meter HAAT. The Amsterdam site will be 55 meter HAAT. Line of Sight shoud not be a problem.

The Amsterdam site wlll be connected in the first week of januari 2015. We’re quite curious about the SNR-ratio’s. The link will be tested with 1 Watts EIRP in the ISM band until a license is in. Don’t mind the sticker on the dish. That was for identifying the different links in my lab set-up at home.

pi1ams.pi2nos.ampr.orgUpdate: The Amsterdam site is connected by Peter, PA3PM. We have a link over 29km distance. Still some improvements to make, but since we’re using Wifi in the ISM bands with the reduced ISM power-levels, it’s not bad at all. The received signal is -73 dBm (S9+20 dB!), using 5 dBm transmit power on a 27 dBi dish in Hilversum ¬†(1 Watt EIRP).

HAMNET hardware is in

Last week I’ve received the first hardware to do some comparisons between several wireless links we’re going to roll out in 2015 to create a HAMNET-backbone in the Netherlands. For testing I’ve ordered a Ubiquiti Nanobeam M5 with 40mm dish (25 dBi) and a Mikrotik SXT Lite5 set. Both operate on 5 GHz only and should be capable of using the 6cm (5650-5850 MHz) band depending on the country settings.

Moving over ampr.org IP-space

Last week some Dutch hams (PA1OKZ, PA4TW, PE1CHL, PE1RJV and me, PH4X) moved over the legacy IP-space to a gateway in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Formerly announces by the University of San Diego in California, ping-times were becoming problematic since more and more repeaters with real-time applications used this tunnel.
Moving over the IP-space from San Diego to Amsterdam, ping times dramatically lowered down from 350 milliseconds to less than 10 milliseconds. A big win for DMR, D-star and Echolink to name some real-time applications.

Preparations started with a kick-off meeting in June this year. We needed to plan the migration, find a provider to do the BGP-announcement, find a way to transport the IP-feed from the provider to our current systems, etc. Having a look back, things went quite smoothly. Dutch provider XS4ALL is announcing the IP-space and delivers this in a cabinet already in use by us in the DC2 datacenter. From there, a fiber optical connection transports the IP’s to Hilversum (PI2NOS) and Utrecht (PI3UTR). From there, we are rolling out wireless links throughout the country.

Next: roll out some wireless HAMNET-links and connect more repeaters.


RSSI value on MotoTRBO

After the Hytera ‘hack’ to show the RSSI value, there is also a possibility to do this on Motorola MotoTRBO equipment. It’s quite easy. Press the left arrow 3 times followed by pressing the right arrow three times. That’s it.

Entering Hytera service menu

Some Hytera models have a hidden service menu. This will display some more information. Most useful is the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) value giving detail about the real quality of the received signal. ¬†I’ve tested this on the MD-785G, PD-785 and the X1p. Entering this menu can be done by pressing some buttons in the order displayed below.


A demonstration video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR2qz2xc3Gs]

Hytera (crossband) repeater

Take two pieces of the Hytera MD785 and build your own (crossband) repeater. No logic, just a simple cable with 4 resistors are needed. Works with FM and DMR of FM to DMR or the other way around. Keep in mind that when using a DMR-DMR repeater, audio will be converted to analog first causing a slightly extra delay and loose of quality.

Worked All States – WAS certificate


Fixing PI3ASD interference

Santino (PD8S) called me to help ¬†sorting out a problem at the new PI2ASD and PI3ASD repeaters. PI3ASD is causing interference on a TELE2 microwave link. Tough this link works on 13 GHz, the modulator has a baseband working on 140 MHz +/- bandwidth. The PI3AMS repeater is just in the middle of that band, transmitting at 145.7750 MHz. Inteferance was caused by RFI in to the coax and direct RFI into there baseband modulator. The fix was to move the antenne a few meters away from TELE2’s equipment. Too bad they used wrong frequencies they shoudn’t use and it was costing me allmost a full day of labour.