31 May 2009

Working REAL 10m DX at last!!

After calling for 15 mins I eventually worked LU1HF on 28.010MHz CW this evening by F2 or TEP. He had been calling CQ for over 15 minutes without getting a reply and then he heard my 10W to the wire halo and gave me 599. OK it was a contest exchange, so probably much weaker. I think my antenna must have quite a low angle take-off as working this station, against the rest of the world's competition, shows.This is my best 10m DX for some time at 11077kms. So who needs sunspots (the count was zero today).

A few minutes later I worked ZW5B in Brazil who got my callsign but he then lost me.

At 2138z I worked UU7J in the WPX contest.

6m Lunchbox - further thoughts

Further thoughts on the G3XBM answer to the Benton Harbor Lunchbox for 6m. Maybe it would be better to make the rig DSB instead of AM? The design is almost as easy and a VXO crystal at 25.08 or close would give some 50kHz VXO range (50.15-50.20) in a useful part of the band. Also, it would be more efficient than AM. In sporadic-E openings it would produce some DX contacts too if the power out was around 0.5 to 1W pep.

Cyprus on 10m

WPX CW contest and 10m CW quite lively. Just worked C4I (Cyprus) at 599 with QRP no problem.

29 May 2009

6m DX to the Congo

I overheard G4DEZ telling another station that he had worked the Congo on 6m CW today. This is some distance on 6m Es! G4DEZ does have an impressive station and antenna farm but this was with 100W, so no super QRO.

26 May 2009

6m Fredbox ideas

Looking at project ideas, I am beginning to think about a simple 6m AM transceiver design. The starting point would be my Fredbox design for 2m AM from many years ago. An outline spec would be: 500mW AM crystal controlled TX, simple superregen RX, built as a small modern day "Heathkit Lunchbox" style rig with an RX tuning knob and LS. Such a simple radio would be an ideal local ragchewing radio and would give coverage up to 10-15 miles with a simple vertical colinear antenna, dipole or halo.

A very good example of a 6m superregen (also regen) RX by N1TEV can be found at http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/pdf/9712039.pdf although this is more complex than I would plan to use.

25 May 2009

6m QRPP

Worked M0BXT tonight on 6m AM when Andrew was using a single transistor TX using a carbon mic to produce AM! His signal was RS58 with me at 2 miles range but modulation depth only about 5-10%. Still, it was a QSO.

Good Es tonight

Worked ZB2FK this evening at 2126z on 50.090MHz CW. I think this is a new country for me on the band. 10m was also in good shape with lots of very strong Es DX coming through from Europe and N.Africa.

23 May 2009

Microvert antenna

Many people are looking for that magic antenna that takes very little space and performs very well on HF bands. Some examples of this claim include the cross-field antenna, the EH antenna and the Miracle Whip. Now all of these have their place. I have used a Miracle Whip and it behaves as one would expect i.e. several S points down on a full sized antenna, but it communicates. Even decent DX has been worked with one (11000kms on 5W SSB) during the high sunspot years.

This week my attention has been drawn to the Microvert Antenna (see picture of an example). Is this a more realistic attempt at an efficient, small sized HF antenna? This antenna was developed by DL7PE. The radiator for 7MHz is only 1.33 metres long and the counterpoise is 8.2 metres. the 28MHz version is very small indeed. Perhaps this is worth a try? See also the Microvert Yahoo Group.

Multi-hop Es or Es+F2?

Last night, around 2100z, 10m was open to South America by what I assume was multi-hop sporadic-E or possibly Es linked to F2 at lower latitudes. There was strong Es to Spain/Portugal at the time so the latter may be more probable. Stations heard but not worked included YP4DYP, YV5EAH and YV4DYJ all on SSB. Distance is around 8000kms - which is some distance for Es alone.

22 May 2009

A QRPer's brain

Yesterday I went to get my brain MRI scanned as part of a Cambridge University research project on speech and language. The result is attached. I spent nearly 90 minutes being scanned whilst listening to various sentences.

Someone suggested the missing top part of the brain explains why I am a QRPer!

6m Es

A good opening on 6m his evening with lots of 59+ signals from southern Spain and Portugal coming through. There are supposed to be some CN8 and EA8 stations on too but not heard or worked any yet.

15 May 2009

Some Es statistics (2008)

Check out http://www.vhfdx.net/states2008.html which has some fascinating data about the extent of Es openings in Europe in the 2008 season. At times, the MUF for Es reached 250MHz. The VHF.net has a great deal of other useful data and is well worth a regular visit.

Several stations worked by Es today - LA5AKA, SM4EXP, I0KNQ and YO2QC.

Increasing sunspot activity

Sunspot number running at 18 today, a value not seen in a LONG time and solar flux in the mid 70s. Even HF conditions shown as "fair" instead of "poor". Yet more signs we are, at last, coming out of the bottom of the cycle.

13 May 2009

GMs on 10m (Es)

Two nice 10m QSOs today with 10W SSB and halo: GM8LFB and GM4JYB (in IO88HP). Usually I have to wait until later in the summer to work GMs on 10m. I was very happy when GM4JYB found me first in a minor pileup! At times the GMs were 59+20dB and would have been audible with 100mW, or even less, given a clear frequency.

12 May 2009

DXing - realtime maps

This is a useful resource from VHFDX.net to track openings on 10m and upwards into the VHF bands. A mapping system that plots recently reported QSOs. Thanks to G4ILO for pointing this out to me.

See http://www.vhfdx.net/spots/map.php

Poor Es so far?

Is it just me or is this Es season well below par so far? Very little heard on 6m so far and even on 10m the openings have been short and signal strengths not exceptional. Most stations I hear I can work, even with my wire halo and 5-10W, but there don't seem to be that many on! Tonight for example, 2 EAs and 1 CT1 heard and worked, but that's all. Later I worked SM3EAE with 5W CW.

11 May 2009

10m F2 DX

Well, last night 10m opened up a bit with PY2WAS in Sao Paulo, Brazil coming through weakly around teatime. At this time of year there are sometimes North-South openings in which part of the path is assisted by sporadic-E for the first "hop" linking then with F2 propagation further south. Last night's opening may have had a bit of this, but there was little spor-E about and that was all weakish. Earlier there was an OH8 station audible from Oulu in northern Finland and I swear he sounded auroral.

9 May 2009

Scout Regen RX kit

Hendrick's QRP Kits in the USA have just introduced a nice little regen receiver kit for beginners and more experienced hams and SWLs. The Scout is a simple 2 band regenerative receiver covering from 3.5 -11MHz. It is based on the classic design by Charles Kitchin published in QST some years ago. It is to be launched at Dayton and on sale from May 12th.

See http://www.qrpkits.com/scoutregen.html for more details.

8 May 2009

New (lower) sunspot peak predicted

NOAA has just a few minutes ago (1600z May 8th) released a new sunspot prediction with a peak of just 90 and much later than forecast before (now in 2013).

See http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/

Maybe I'll have to give 10GHz rainscatter a go after all...

Grandson time

We have two grandchildren: little Edward who is now about 2 months old and Lucien who is 18 months old. Lucien came to stay with us for the last week and this is a shot of him and I in our garden. If I recall, we were discussing something really deep and serious like the bird that had just landed on the bird table! Both grandchildren bring us such joy and being a granddad is such a wonderful thing.

DXing has to take a back seat when he is with us, but who cares too much? Now Lucien (we call him "Bou" - don't ask why) has gone back to his home in London I am a little more active on 10m and 6m again.

4 May 2009

Stations worked on 10m QRP

Pavel, UR5WCQ was a good signal, but alone, on 10m SSB at 1323z and was worked giving me a report of RS53-55.

Earlier, EA5ON/M was on 10m calling a W4 station across the pond, but I could not hear the W4.

Tuesday May 5th and nice QSO with Andy SQ9MEE in the log on 10m SSB

3 May 2009

More sporadic-E now

This evening at 1800z I turned on the 10m rig and heard EA3BOX booming in on 28.487MHz SSB. A quick call and back came a 58 to 59+ report. Yesterday I heard SM3NQM on 6m SSB, so the season has clearly started now.

1 May 2009

10m open (spor-E)

II0DIVA (special call) coming through on 10m SSB this evening. This is the first sporadic-E heard this season. Later, at 1910z, I worked IY7GM, another special call, with a 59 report received using the IC703 and the wire Homebase-10 halo. He was 58 with me.