Tuesday, 2 December 2014

CW CQ WW Contest - 2014

I took part on the CQ WW contest on the QRP category last weekend, which was great fun. Despite of the very restrictive conditions on my QTH for antennas (sorrounded by houses), I managed to bag some new DXCCs with the favourable conditions. BY, 3V, JA, PJ, P33, 9K, A45, CN, FY, TC, RK

I also enjoyed hearing DX from all over the world. Sunday morning on 15m was unbelievable.

The G11 SDR and new auto tuner worked flawlessly, but as I have observed previously, the antenna does not work so well on 20m. What it stroke me is that stations going at very high speeds would not reply when I was sending at 24wpm but  would do when I sent at 30wpm. By Sunday, I was comfortable decoding at 28wpm.


QSO map
 
Claimed score:  52338 points, 294 QSOs, 28 zones, 115 countries. (cumulative for the 3 bands)
54 Unique DXCCs
15 hours

Equipment used:
- G11 SDR QRP - 5W - 3 bands (40-20-15m) - 100 Hz DSP filter.
- G7FEK antenna @ 7m in the garden 
- LDG RT-100 remote tuner

We will have to wait for the official scores to see the results and accuracy.
I am already planning the upgrades for next year - G11 SDR multiband filter board and Cobwebb antenna.



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

SOTA EA8/TF-002 Guajara activation

04/11/2014

QTH, Views of Teide from Guajara
We started the day before in the afternoon from La Orotava, a beautiful little town on the North of the island with lots of old Canarian architecture, after lunch at "El Cachimba", a brilliant off the beaten track place for fresh fish/seafood.

La Orotava, Casa de los balcones
 We stopped at the various viewing points and also at the visitor centre to watch a 15min video of how Teide and the volcanic islands were formed, which made the drive very enjoyable.

It is worth seeing Las Minas de San Jose, a special place with a feel as if you were in the moon.

We stopped for the night at the Parador Nacional Las Cañadas del Teide. We enjoyed the sunset at the Roques and a fabulous dinner at the Parador. Both highly recommendable.
Roques Garcia
Roques Garcia, Teide at the back
At 9.18z we set off due to the late breakfast start. The track begins with a 45min, 3.5km flat-ish section that winds around the West face of the Alto de Guajara. - marked as sendero 4.

Views of Guajara from El Parador

Good signals & maps all around
 From there there is a 30min ascent to the Collado de la Degollada via sendero 5 - 200m ascent. At the top, take sendero 15 to the right, which is about 1hr - 300m ascent to the summit.



The hike was very enjoyable, although the last 300m at 2500m with 13kg at the back were tough. Our little one slept most of the way up. Easy for him.
Once we got to the top we took some family pics and had a snack to replenish energy.

/P solar cooker (only for the braves)
 The Wx was fabulous, 22C and a slight breeze. Guajara offers the best views of Father Teide, as our local friend Damian - El Canario - calls "him".

Teide from the cairns at the summit
It was time to set up the antenna, I looked for the NE with my compass to point to EU.
The night before we had built an emergency 1/4w GP suggestion on Dom M1KTA, but decided to use my well known EFHW on a 6m travel pole I got at Decathlon and mountain tuner. With the tuner/feed point 1m off the ground and pointing NE, I sloped 6m of wire up to the top of the pole and run the 4m left vertically down the pole.

It was 12.38z by the time we started. I used the txt message service to self spot. It was challenging to get the 4 contacts for both call signs with 3 Watts due to the time of the day and terrain (rocky dessert). It did not help either that the self spot txt messages with the 2nd callsign were delivered after we had packed. It has always been very reliable in the UK. 30 and 40m were dead too.

Sea of clouds - from Guajara

The descent took us about 1h 45min, I really missed our hiking sticks as it was a little bit slippery with small loose rocks on the higher parts of the path. At 16.00z we were back the Parador.

Roques Garcia and Parador from Guajara
 
The National Park of Teide is magical. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to all the chasers.

73s de Eva EA8/M0HJV/P & Angel EA8/M0HDF/P

Sunday, 9 November 2014

7/11 - Philippines, New Caledonia & Japan from the beach - QRP DX

07/11/2014 - EA8 QRP mini-expedition last day
Location. Beach near Montana Pelada, El Medano, Tenerife - IL18rb
  
Sunset from Montana Roja, El Medano - the night before
I left the house at 6.30z. Within 5 minutes walk I was at the beach, It was still dark. I had to use a head lamp to set up the 20m band GP and station at the same place as the day before - a rocky land salient about 7m off the water. I attached the 6m pole I got at Decathlon to a conveniently located trig point.
Despite being very windy the pole did not bend that much.
The radials and nylon rope extenders got tangled again. Untying the knots took a good 10 minutes. I powered up the HB1B, dialled 14.039, the T1 SWR indicated 2:1 in bypass, pressed "Tune", set the PK+ at 22wpm and at 07.05z I was ready to start.

I used the pre-recorded CQ message in the PK+, and whilst I was waiting for the first callers to come back, I was able to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and take some photos.

Sunrise from op postion

First call in the log was HA7JQK - Alex. I asked him for a spot in the cluster, which he obliged. After working Bob YU1BM, I had a look at the RBN and sdr-cluster. I noticed FK8CE - Dom in New Caledonia down the band - I had to call 3 times but eventually he picked me up and gave me a 559 - promising morning again...

Went back to 14.039 ...At 7.26 Yutaka JH1GEX returned my call with a 599, we had a pleasant ragchew qso. I made contacts with another 4 EU stations before DU1KA - Al called me at 7.54z from the Philippines and gave me a 579.

At 8.00z, JA3EA - Ben returned my call with a very strong signal 5NN R & S. Shortly afterwards, JA5CJO and Chris G4BPO were in the log.

GP aerial detail
Well ventilated by the wind I took a short break for a snack, a stretch of the legs and a few more pics.

With the dial at 14.040 - IOTA freq centre, Tony - G4ZIB - familiar SOTA call got back to me at 8.12z.
Another 4 EU stations made it into the log when the family came to pick me up at 8.40z
A pretty good DX run and a fantastic QRP outing.

QTH


Day summary:   19 QSOs
Prefixes worked: HA7, YU1, FK8, JH1, HA9, F5, IK2, DF9, DU1, UR5x2, JA3, OK1, JA5, G4x2, ON5, DJ5, EI7

QSO map: Total mini-expedition EA8 - 48 QSOs, 25 DXCCs
Equipment
HB1B, lithium pack 12V, 3-4 Watts
20m emergency 1/4w GP (built during the holidays)
6m Decathlon pole
Picokeyer +
Elecraft T1
iPhone headphones
Short length of RG58 C/U

Equipment

72 Angel EA8/M0HDF/P

Thursday, 6 November 2014

DX QRP from EA8 Tenerife - IL18rb


I found some time to operate QRP from the beach yesterday and at dawn this morning. It was fantastic to work DX at sunrise. I worked Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan and New Caledonia, some of them via LP with the emergency Ground plane for 20m we built here.

Prefixes worked.
GA8, GB2, ON5, S52, OE7, ON4, EA1, EA2, G3, VO1, EA8, 9A4, RA4, RX3, JA1, VK8, G4, CT7, FK8, IK8, PP6, DL3, DQ0, DF6, OM3

Operating position
http://goo.gl/maps/5kuV8

I will be QRV again on 7/11 at 6.45 UTC for a couple of hours before going home and possibly later today at sunset - 17.15 UTC.









Saturday, 1 November 2014

Day 1. Benijo Beach

We arrived last night to Puerto de La Cruz. No problems with the radio equipment through Birmingham airport.

Today we have visited Playa Benijo in the Anaga Regional Park, a beautiful teasure in the North East of the island and La Laguna.

On the way back, I got a fishing rod support and 6m travel pole for the upcoming  beach operation. No chance to power up the radio though.







Wednesday, 29 October 2014

QRP "mini-expedition" in EA8 Tenerife

I will be QRV from EA8 Tenerife - IOTA AF-004 from 1-7 Nov as EA8/M0HDF/P


The plan is to activate SOTA EA8/TF-002 Guajara on 4-Nov. - alerts in place in the sotaweb page.
and fit some /P operating at dawn and in the evening around familiy activities.

From 4th in the evening -7th morning - I am planning to operate from the beach near to El Medano - IL18rb

Question mark whether I will be able to operate from 1-3 Nov as we will based at Puerto de la Cruz - IL18rj  in the North and got some plans with local friends.

Equipment is HB1B - 40/30/20m. 3-4Watts
Antennas:
Multiband EFHW and Mountain Tuner
1/4w GP for 20m (in bits in my bag)
Elecraft T1
5m travel pole


Following Dom's M1KTA advice, among other things I have packed some wire, choc block, a bit of coax and a BNC to build an emergency 1/4w GP for 20m with the 5m travel pole. Thanks to all the folks on the G-QRP who got back to me with some tips. - Colin G8TMV, Brian GM4XQJ and  Pete M3KXZ as well as the SOTA crew who provided some advice about travelling with radio equipment.


eQSL only.

Where possible I will put some updates here (blog)


Packing

More stuff

72 Angel EA8/M0HDF/P


Saturday, 25 October 2014

QTH updates: LDG RT-100 & G7FEK nested Marconi antenna

I have replaced my doublet in my back garden with a G7FEK nested Marconi antenna and a LDG RT-100 / RC-100 remote antenna tuner at my QTH.

G11 SDR QRP - EMU 0204 - RC-100 -MyDel  MP-30SW IV

Details of the G7FEK antenna can be found here

Courtesy of G7FEK

My implementation is as follows. The far end is supported by a Tecadi mast at 7.2m. The shack end is at 5.5m held by a pulley at bathroom window. The wire is oriented NE/E - SW/W.
The bottom of the vertical section is located at the base of the mast.
Tecadi mast at the west side of the garden
 I have so far only used two elevated radials of approx. 20m and 10m. They run along the garden fence at 40cm and 140cm above the ground. The antenna wire and radials are connected to a 1:1 choke balun which is connected to the LDG RT-100 via a short RG-214 jumper.
I also implemented the optional 20m radiating element which climbs along the mast.
23m of RG213 reach the shack.
The vertical elements are made with Sotabeams antenna wire and their open wire line spacers.
The horizontal wire is the mid duty antenna wire from Westlake Electronics.

I used the recently finished VK5JST aerial analyser to tune the wires for resonance on 80 & 40m before connecting it to the tuner. It took some pacience and attempts but after a couple of iterations I got in the box.

LDG RT-100 & Better QRP - balun - waterproof with liquid tape

Side view - the white wires are the elevated radials

I have earthed the RT-100 using 2x 4ft - 3/8'' earthing rods. Photo below.


3/8'' earthing rods & jubilee clamps - screwfix
 I am pleased with the new aerial system - 80,40,30,20,17,15m tune without a problem. The others I have not tried yet. I worked some DX this week P40MW, EX2F, UN3M with 10Watts of CW - which I could not hear before with the doublet.

 I left running WSPR whislt typing the post - 20-21 UTC
WSPR - 30 & 40m












Tuesday, 21 October 2014

VK5JST Aerial analyser completed

I assembled the VK5JST aerial analyser in September over a few spells of free time.
The build although not difficult requires time to figure out how to do certain jobs in the best way.

I used a drill, small metal saw and steel files to prep the box. I only had a minor issue during the calibrating phase, one of the detector diodes legs was not contacting - cold joint. Witht the help of Jim, VK5JST, the troubleshouting data and a DVM a found the issue and corrected easily. The calibration procedure is very straight forward.

I built an adapator with a BNC connector and a short lenght of RG174.

I am very pleased with the outcome. I used it to trim my new G7FEK nested Marconi antenna in the garden and check my baluns sucessfully.

I left space to extend the performance to 50MHz once I get the right choke inductor and I am also planning to fit a socket to allow to charge the batteries without openinng the box.

Here are a few pics.




Initial material invetory and cutting the box.

Assembly

Open assembly.

Side view of top cover and PCB with display


A few more close shots

PCB assembled into top cover

Batteries arrangement

Finished product

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

UK Hamfest and more VK contacts

KWe went to the UK National Hamfest on Sat 27-Nov, where we met with our friend Mike M0MTJ.

The first stop was to meet Juergen DH5AB @ Tecadi, who clarified some of the guying line requirements to push my tecadi mast in the back garden up to 8.40m. I got from him a few stainless steel carabiners, line lockers (see photo below) and good quality PL259s.

Apart from a bunch of stuff to play with wire antennas (coax, antenna wire, connectors,..), I got a new Power Supply for my shack - I am very pleased with it. This is one of the upgrades to my G11 SDR station which will support a new Linear 50Watts PA kit coming at Christmas time.

I also ordered a Remote Tuner LDG RT-100 & RC-100 controller, for my home station - no more trips to the garden to change bands!! should be here in about 10 days.


It was also good to meet Richard G3CWI from Sotabeams , Mike 2E0YYY and Graham G3ZOD @ FISTS. We had a long chat about SOTA, the recent VK land QSOs and CW.


Arriving to the Hamfest

Pavillion

On Sunday, after not much sleep I went back to Walton Hill to try to work VK again.
I had a tough start, the band was absolutely dead at 6.40z , but around 07:00z the prop openned.
TU to Ron VK3AFW, Tony VK3CAT and Rhett VK3WE .
Tony was recorded whilst getting back to me by Ignacio EA2BD with his mobile phone.




 The 3x espresso in the flask kept me going ... before I left I worked Mikel EA2CW and Marcial EABDS at EA2/BI-063 S2S on 30m.

I operated with the MTR 5W and a vertical antenna:
5.65m radiator, 2x5m elevated radials on a 10m pole
4:1 balun
4m RG213 to elecraft T1

Back at home, I used the Saisie SOTA software from Alain F6ENO to log the data for the first time - which worked very well.


Operating position


Line locker

Vertical




Sunday, 21 September 2014

G -> VK Long Path QRP SOTA Activations

13/09/2014
I decided to go up to local Walton Hill - G/CE-002 to try to work the VK land early in the morning inspired by Carolyn G6WRW, Mike 2E0YYY and others in the SOTA reflector.

I left the house at 5.05z and after 15min drive and 5min walk to the summit - I was in business by 5.45z. Temp was 12C, foggy but no wind whatsoever.
Over the last few days there has been a CME and plenty of sun activity so early in the morning the conditions were depressed..... My expectations were low!
After 45min, things started to pick up - I was following what others were doing on the summit - Mike 2E0YYY/P and Roger F5LKW/P via SOTA lite spots web on my mobile.

At 06.49z I QSYed 1 KHz up to contact Roger and made a S2S - F/CR-204.



10min later I heard VK3...VK3.... Ron VK3AFW heard my call and came back to me. I gave him a 579 - he was a good signal - 100Watts on a 4-el beam at 13m height. He gave me a 539.
Later Ron confirmed on the SOTA reflector he was beaming towards the Long Path - that is 23000Km at 250degrees from Walton Hill.

At that point signals became very loud and the band was in great shape... we exchanged 599+10 with Guru EA2IF in Pamplona - both on QRP.


Station:
MTR v2 - 30-20-17m - 5Watts
EFHW - multiband linked & Mountain Tuner set up as inv L - 9m vertical wire & 1m sloping down - 20m
band. tuner about 1m above the ground.
10m pole
Mini paddle
LIPO 3S zippy 1000mAh 25C

G/CE-002 Walton Hill -  06.15z

Station: MTR v2 ... calling CQ on beacon mode

Summary:
22 QSOs, 12 DXCC, 1 DX with VK3, 1 S2S




21/09/2014
I went back to Walton Hill early in the morning to try to work some more VKs via LP and S2S.
I started a litte bit later - 06.45z... Brilliant WX - warm and sunny. Raul, one of my friends from Laguardia in EA1, acompanied me and enjoyed some reading in the sunshine whilst I was at the key.

Views towards the South from Walton Hill

QTH
Having seen the good results that Mikel EA2CW and Marcial EA2BDS got with their dipole at 9m earlier on the week, I decided to take my homebrew 44' doublet. I used the Commander Compass app on my iPhone to aim the broadside of the doublet towards VK land. - 250deg SW/W

I started on 20m. At 06:48z, Tony VK3CAT returned my call. He gave me 33N, he was a 55N on my end.
About 15min later, Ron VK3AFW came back to me with a 55N, he was a stronger signal than the last week with the EFHW
It was a busy morning, with a lot of callers and many familiar callsigns. I did QSY to try to work Gerard F/VK2IO/P and Gerald F6HBI/P on 20m but they were on the null of the doublet and/or skip and could not hear them.

When I swapt to 30m, I rotated the doublet broadside about 20-30deg towards the North in order to aim towards NA, but I run out of space. I did not want the nylon rope to run over of the walking path as there was plenty of bike and horse riders around.
At 07.43z, Guru EA2IF/P called from EA2/NV-040 on 30m and made the only S2S of the day. 

I swapped to my HB1B to work 40m and worked a few other stations.
The band was in great shape. Andreas DL6AP/P called me from GMA DA/ND-004.
I did try to work Heinrich DL2XL/P at DM/NW-226, gut signal hr, but there was simply to many QRO chasers.

Summary: 39QSO, 2x DX to VK3 land, 1S2S SOTA, 1 GMA /P
DXCC: SP, OM, VK, G, HA, YO, I, OE, SM, OK, DL, OG, F, EA2, LA, DK, HB9, PA, ON

10m pole & 28' 800ohm /p ladder line
shack

 Station:
MTR v2 - 20,30m - 5Watts
HB1B - 40m - 4Watts
Elecraft T1 & betterqrp baluns 1:1, 4:1
44ft doublet - inv V, 28ft -800ohm ladder line 
10m pole
44' doublet with wire-winders - 288gr
Many thanks to all the chasers.

73s de Angel M0HDF