Nice tool: JT-alert

Today I’ve installed a nice new tool for all JT-65 users: JT-alert, created by VK3AMA. This tool is an plug-in for the JT65-HF package and will alert you when new DXCC or unconfirmed DXCC are received. It can load the data from Ham Radio Deluxe (including the new Beta of version 6) and will play alert sounds. Now that’s a nice way to pump  your DXCC score!

You can filter by band and QSL method (post, eQSL (AG) and LoTW). Download it here.

JT-Alert

Omnirig and the Icom IC-9100

Many software uses Omnirig as gateway to ket their software communicate to the transceiver via regular CAT-commands. Among others, CW-Skimmer is one of them. Unfortunately the Icom IC-9100 isn’t supported yet and OmniRig had no possibility to enter the serial details via a GUI. Instead, for each transceiver a configuration file is needed.

I use CW-Skimmer as cluster spotter during contests. Normally via an SDR radio like the Flex-1500 but since the Icom IC-9100 is my main transceiver I wanted to use this rig to. Contacting the owner of CW-Skimmer (paid software) didn’t really help. But Googling I found a threat on a forum where someone has already created a configuration file. Thanks VK3BQ.

100 confirmed DXCC via LoTW

Yes! Today I’ve got my 100th DXCC confirmed via Logbook of The World (LoTW). It was a QSO in CW on 20 meters with T6LG in Afghanistan. Let me quickly apply for my first DXCC certificate.

T6LG_LoTW

Worked All States progress

Somewhere during the summer of last year I started to chase US states for the WAS (Worked All States) certificate. Currently I have 44 out of 50 stated worked, where 40 are confirmed via Logbook of the World. Main mode is JT65 since I can remote operate this via TeamViewer from the office. Secondary mode is CW during contests and sometimes regular Phone. Especially when there are good conditions on the 10-meter band.

Missing states are the far ones: Hawaii and Alaska. The whole West coast is worked in JT65. Some central states are missing to like Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota and Oklahoma in mid-west and Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee in mid-east. Hope to have all states worked in 2013.

Edit 13-Jan: Tennessee (10M CW), Kansas (10M DATA) and Colorado (10M DATA) are in LoTW.

Will there be 100 DXCC in 2012?

Since LoTW processing is about 10 days behind, will I make it till 100 confirmed DXCC entities this year?

Screen Shot 2012-12-23 at 16.26.48

Update: No 100 DXCC confirmed via LoTW in 2012. But I did get the eQSL.cc PFX300 certificate for working 300+ prefixes in mixed-mode.

eQSL_PFX300

Testing a new antenna

I’ve bought a Comet H422 rotary dipole to do some tests. This is a trapped V-dipole for 10, 15, 20 and 40 meters. The assembly went fast. It took me half an hour to do so. Now have to find a way to get this thing somewhat more in the sky since it picks up to much noise on only 1 feet height.

Comet H422 - Temporarily set-up on the roof only 1ft height

Comet H422 – Temporarily set-up on the roof only 1ft height

 

Ordered a new transceiver: Icom IC-9100

Though I still love my 1998 Icom IC-746 it’s getting old and more and more I’m missing the 70cm band. I sold the Flex-3000 transceiver because I could not get used to missing the main dial. Though the filtering is more than perfect (And that’s under-expressed!) it’s just not my choice of transceiver.

Today I’ve ordered an Icom IC-9100. There are many devices out there but I really like these points:

Remote operation

Spending whole day in the office behind a screen makes you want to do something else now and then when you’re sitting and have a moment where you’re waiting. When using the Flex-3000 I did log in to my shack PC to do some JT65 operations. This suited me well and I made some nice QSO’s which I normally woud not make. So this was a hard requirement. I’ve ordered the Icom RS-BA1 remote software. To bad there is no OSX client for the mac but Windows is still there as a virtual machine.

All-in-one

I’m not operating outside of home much. But if I do, I don’t want to have restrictions of taking more than one transceiver with me. The Icom IC-9100 is a nice box having HF, VHF and UHF (SHF / 23cm optional) all in one. And D-star, but that’s a nice to have. Don’t really use it /portable either.

USB support

There are still manufacturers creating equipment with serial support. Hey guys, wake up. It’s 2012. The last PC I’ve owned with native serial ports are gone since 2001. And no, I don’t like crappy USB2Serial interfaces. Those only cause delays. You don’t want to have that on your CAT interface.

Other nice to haves are satellite mode. Though i don’t have much experience with it, the last ‘satellite’ was when I’ve worked the Mir in AX25 more than 10 years back. But still, could be nice to try it once. And I’m curious how this receiver (with the 6 and 3 Khz roofing filter) will behave compared to the 1998 Icom IC-746, especially in digital modes like JT65 and good old CW during crowded contests.

Markus, the owner of Hamshop.nl called me today to tell he will ship all the equipment (that includes a new Heil ProSet-IC, a new cable for the Microham MK2 keyer and some other stuff) by the end of the week. I don’t think it will be in before the weekend, but I don’t have the time to play with it anyway. A review will come eventually.

There is one dislike and that’s the missing 4 meters band (70.000-70.500 Mhz). Though I’m not allowed to work there from home it was nice to listen over there. On the other hand I don’t have an antenne for this but a dipole for the 4 meters band is made in minutes… Maybe I could build a converter during the coming winter season…

Worked last continent: Antarctica

Last weekend I’ve worked my last continent: Antarctica. I had a CW QSO with RI1ANF on 20 meters. Oleg Sakharov (ZS1ANF) is working on the Bellingshausen station, King George Island (AN-010) and very active in his spare time. You can often work hem in CW. Low and high bands. The good thing: he is a LoTW member, my yesterday QSO is already confirmed. Give it a try when you see him appearing on the DX-cluster. It took me 5 tries and my antenna situation at home is quite poor.

Going vertical

I’m currently testing my EndFed antenna vertical, on a 40ft/12m glassfiber spiderpole. I still got the same QRM as before (S9+ on 40m, S6+ on 20m) but the first results look quite good. This is just an expiriment to see if an vertical antenna will fit my needs. I’m in doubt between the Hygain AV-640 (Cushcraft R8) and the GAP Titan DX. Lenght is not really a problem but I don’t have space for long radials.

Tonight I worked VK2CCJ on 20 meter in JT65. I was missing Australia in the DXCC list. I was missing Oceanea at all. So there is my WAC-certificate. Can’t wait for the QSL card. Let’s send this one direct. nice to know: he was using an mobile antenna!

The first impression of vertical is that the reception of signals is somewhat better. I can’t compare it by real-time switching. Hight will have to do with this, since the Endfed in horizontal polarization will only have a height of 3 meters above the tiles (which actually is a roof, not ground level, see the picture below).

Update (16-okt-2012): I’ve changed the feed-point. Where the EndFed-antenna was fed at the bottom of the vertical pole, I’ve changed the set-up to a sloper configuration, feeding the antenna at 8 meters high. The antenna picks up less noise then before and levels are acceptable now. New noise situation is S3-5 on 40 and 20 meters which is very acceptable. I’ve made the first JT65 QSO’s with the US now.

100 DXCC’s

This evening I was working JT65 on 20 meters. I noticed CE3PG online from Chile. I was missing Chile in the worked countries list, so this QSO makes DXCC100. Thanks Galdino!

Welcome Flex-3000 SDR

After playing with a Flex-1500 QRP transceiver for a while, mostly connected to my laptop when i’m not at home for some days I wanted one for home to. Something with build in antenna tuner would be nice. This weekend I noticed someone was selling his Flex-3000 transceiver. A nice clean box without the hassle of extra cabling. Good to attach it to my 27″ iMac in the living room instead of putting it in the shack on the loft.

Now the only thing left is to buy a decent common-mode choke and a Heil headset.

 

Sporadic E season started

Around half may the Sporadic E season starts. That brings a few good things for the summer months. The first one is that the 6 and 4 meter bands open. I don’t have a 4 meter transceiver but am able to transmit on the 6 meter band.

The only problem for me is that it’s not allowed for my license class in the Netherlands. The good thing is that I’m visiting Belgium (Antwerp, JO21EE).quite often so I took a saw and a 11 meter dipole and there was the dipole for the 6 meter band. Hanging on the loft under the roof – yes, indoor – I was able to make some QSO’s.

This is the first year I actually listen on 6 meters and now I know why they call it the magic band. I’ve made several QSO’s during the peak of Sporadic E with countries in Europe and noticed some hams where able to make intercontinental QSO’s with the States. Nice! I hoop to get my full-licence this year and since we will move to a new home I have to rebuild antenna’s. Let’s get ready for the 6 meter openings in 2013.

Another nice thing is that the 10 meter band opens to with sporadic E. Not for DX, but for local QSO’s thru out Europe. And i’m still missing some countries over here. With some wires attached to the dipole I just cut for the 6 meter band, I was able to work Guernsey, Corsica (in FM), and Scotland. DXCC’s where my signal normally hops over. Let’s work some more local DXCC’s on 10 meter (and 6 when I’m in Belgium).

My second certificate

When I logged into eqsl,cc, a second certificate was waiting for me. It shows up that 50 countries are confirmed by validated members. My first eQSL.cc certificate was handed out to me on March 4th, confirming 25 countries so this upgrade went fast.

Still, my goal is to get my first DXCC certificate this year using Logbook of the World (LoTW). Another one wanted is the Worked all Continents (WAC) certificate but i’m still missing Oceanië. My (JT65) signal does reach countries like Australia and New Zeeland but due to the QRM on 20 meters (S7+) I’m not able to receive them.

The DXCC counter is on 91 worked countries from which 60 are confirmed digitally via LoTW. I’m missing some easy countries like Belgium and Iceland in the list. Maybe I should make some skeds…

Half way to my first DXCC certificate

Today, when logging in to the LoTW application, I saw that I’ve reached 50 DXCC’s confirmed. Thanks to YL2QV for confirming our RTTY QSO on 20 meters. Half way there to obtain my first DXCC certificate. Still missing some ‘easy’ countries like Belgium, etc. My goal is to obtain 100 confirmed DXCC entities in LoTW before the end of 2012.

New expansion: Icom IC-92D

Today I’ve bought a second hand Icom IC-92D handheld tranceiver to discover the D-Star protocol. The local hamshop, RYS, had a trade. This set is very complete, with Icom software, bag, GPS speakermike, interface cable with the original boxes supplied. Good to see the previous owner was carefully and neatly with his equipment!

The Amsterdam D-Star repeter, PI1RYS, had good coverage for portable use in my house in Alkmaar, which is about 20 miles above Amsterdam. I work in the centre in Amsterdam ans in the office on the channel in the centre of Amsterdam – behind the Dam Square – there is good coverage too.

Now find some time to find our more about D-Star.