Monday, May 23, 2011

Congratulations John Sluymer VE3EJ!

I was delighted to read that John, VE3EJ had been 'inducted' into the CQ Contest Hall of Hame this weekend at the Dayton Hamvention.

Here's what the citation had to say:

"The 2011 inductee to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame is John Sluymer, VE3EJ. Sluymer has been an active contester and DXer since 1973 and is a founding member and current President of Contest Club Ontario, which has grown from 16 to 250 members in less than a decade. He also holds numerous Canadian domestic and DX contest records, was named the 2006 Radio Amateur of the Year by the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC). A frequent host for single- and multi-op contest operations from his station, Sluymer is a longtime member of the CQ WW Contest Committee and a frequent speaker at hamfest forums and club meetings"

Congratulations, John! I had the genuine pleasure of getting to know John when I worked in Toronto, Canada during the late 1990s. John is everything it says there, but lots more too. He's a genuinely warm and great guy. He and his wife, Hazel have welcomed me to their house on many occasions - radio related and non radio-related! Though I've not seen John in a few years now, we run across each other on the bands from time to time and it's always great to hear from him.

Well done John !

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sporadic E on 50 and 70MHz



Over the last week, I've seen people reporting Es on 50MHz in particular, but by the time I've got home, I haven't had the energy or time to go and have a look on the bands! But this weekend has been good.

I'm particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to play as about 2 weeks ago, I got a Diamond V-2000 vertical for 50/144/433MHz up in the air. I'll do a separate post about how it's been working out on 144 and 433MHz and how I've been using it. However, this weekend was the first time I've used it in anger on 50MHz.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that 50MHz seemed to be open when I checked using the 70MHz vertical (which works on 50MHz too!). I swapped the V2000 over onto the FT-847. Over a period of a couple of hours I worked around 40 stations on 50MHz - exclusively on CW. Best DX was LZ1UQ in KN12 at around 2107km. Worked some new squares and some nice QSOs in general - and was pleased to note that the new vertical gave me a 2 or 3 S-point advantage over the old vertical (which has worked the US and Puerto Rico on 50MHz!).

During the afternoon, I kept checking 70MHz and was very pleased to find LA6MV (JO59) calling CQ and even more pleased when he was able to hear me! I also heard LA4ANA (JO59) but didn't work him. Heard the LA5VHF beacon from JO48 coming through as well. A little later, I also worked 9A2SB on 70MHz. This was using the 70MHz vertical.

There was some Es around this morning (22nd May) as well, mostly the same stations that I worked yesterday on 50MHz, but made a couple of 'new' QSOs.

The V2000 is noticeably quieter than the compromise antenna I've used before. It would be nice to have beams up for 50 and 70MHz, but given that my main interest is Es on those bands then the 'vertical approach' works out well. Incidentally, the picture makes the vertical look as if it's very close to the power line... it's not!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Opening the case on an Ascom SE-550

I was talking to Rob, G4XUT yesterday about getting the case of an Ascom SE-550 open - in order to make some adjustments to the internal squelch pot.

Rob very kindly put together a list of instructions on how to get the rig apart which I thought someone else might find of use. Thanks Rob!

To get into the Ascom:-
Assuming that the mobile bracket has already been removed.
Disconnect the rear connector by loosening the retaining screw.
Remove the Mic plug connector.
Unplug the code plug which is above the mic connector.
Remove the screw behind code plug.
Detach the front panel with is hinged on the L/H side.
Remove the 4 screws at the front and 4 screws at the rear.
Carefully pull apart the two main boards from the main housing.
Carefully re-assemble the two boards.
Replace the front panel, code plug and the mic plug.
Power up and adjust sq or whatever as required.

Simples!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Operating the May 144MHz contest from Sardinia with IS0BSR

Marco, IS0BSR/IS0, who I heard in March sent me his latest video - some images, audio and log details from the May 144MHz contest.

Hope you enjoy it.

This is a nice way of representing a contest.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WinDV - an alternative to DVAP Tool

I was looking around for some information on DSTAR repeaters and the alternatives to commercial equipment when I happened across the Dutch*Star site.

The site is entitled 'D-STAR for the rest of us' and in the words from the introduction to the site is about 'about making your own equipment for the D-STAR communications system for Amateur Radio operators, ranging from simple GMSK node adapters ("modems") to complete transceivers, repeaters and so on'

What particularly interested me was the WinDV software. It's an alternative to the well tried and tested 'DVAP Tool' by Robin AA4RC. I have to add that DVAP Tool has always worked well for me but it's always interesting and fun to try out new software.

WinDV can be downloaded here Installation is very straightforward and really consists of unzipping the file.

Configuration too was straightforward. The only 'challenge' was to find out what COM port the DVAP was resident on. My DVAP Tool configuration told me that. I plugged my callsign and the COM port (COM10, in my case) into the settings and the program came up.

One thing that I liked about WinDV compared to DVAP Tool was the ability to connect to a reflector or repeater from the software - which is perhaps quicker than fiddling around in the menus on the E92 (in my case!). You can also configure WinDV to automatically connect to a particular reflector or repeater when it starts up which is a nice touch.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I connected the software to REF001C and switched my E92 on. Reflector traffic was audible as expected and I found that I was able to transmit as expected - I had a nice QSO with KJ6MOH in Austin, Texas.

The software is described as beta, but on the basis of a few minutes 'testing' seems to work well, so if you have a DVAP, you may well be interested to try this software and see how you get on.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ridgeway Repeater Group (GB3WH/GB3TD) AGM on 11th May

It's annual general meeting time again for the Ridgeway Repeater Group (http://www.rrg.org.uk). The group looks after the GB3WH and GB3TD as well MB7UR and GB7NW in the Swindon area.

If you are close by, do come along - it would be great to see you there.

The meeting will be held at 19:30 at Thring Townsend, 6 Drakes Meadow, Penny Lane, Swindon. SN3 3LL


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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

North American 70MHz beacon WE9XUP active for Summer 2011

I was very pleased to receive the following news this morning, via Dave, WW2R from Brian, WA1ZMS. The callsign has changed this year - but with the same configuration this beacon was heard in Europe last summer - so it is well worth listening for!

"As of 12:30z on 2 May, a 4-Meter Band Radio Science E-skip Trans-Atlantic (TA) propagation beacon is QRV from the East Coast of the US. QRG is 70.005 MHz, QTH is FM07fm, CW emissions.

ERP is 3kW aimed at 60 degrees true towards Europe. This year’s parameters are identical to the previous 2010 operations but with a new call sign, WE9XUP, for 2011.

The beacon is scheduled to run 24 hours a day until 1 Sept, 2011 but must QRT sooner if there are technical or *any* QRM issues. This is a Non-Amateur beacon (just like 2010 operations) and 2-way QSOs are not permitted.

Any and all QSL/SWL reports are welcome via email to:
WA1ZMS ( at ) ARRL ( dot ) NET.

This beacon has been licensed solely with the gracious co-operation of the
Society of Broadcast Engineers (representing the TV industry, which holds the Primary 4-Meter Band spectrum allocation) here in the US -- and the FCC’s Office of Engineering Technology.

Although there is no possibility of an Amateur Allocation on the 4-Meter Band in the US in the foreseeable future (because the TV Broadcast Service is the sole allocated radio service), as the transmitter licensee I am ever grateful that this beacon could be QRV again in 2011 for propagation research -- exploring Trans- Atlantic E-Skip propagation, with the dream of a TA QSO taking place someday on the 2-meter band!

Here's hoping for many more E-skip TA reports on the 4-Meter Band this year!

73,
-Brian, WA1ZMS"

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Celebrating the Royal Wedding as GR4VXE

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that OFCOM had offered us the chance to use a special prefix to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (have you noticed how she's become Catherine recently!). The special call can be used from the date of their wedding, 29th April for 11 days.

On the day of the wedding my QSOs were all on 70MHz - but it was nice to catch up with some of the locals as I was using the special call. I was out and about a little from the mobile on both 144MHz and 433MHz too, so fun to use the call there too. Tried a few CQs on 29.600MHz FM, but no luck!

Today, I caught a little sporadic E on 50MHz this morning, so worked I0JX and I0WTD from the Rome area. Once again, tried a CQ on 70.200MHz but no luck. Also had a really nice DSTAR QSO with Gordon, G8PNN from Northumberland who I'd not spoken to for years. It was really good to catch up and hear about some of the interesting QSOs that he's been having recently - including optical ones!

This afternoon, after some pleasant 70MHz FM QSOs, I biked over to Windmill Hill taking the FT817 and whip as well as the Icom IC-E92. 28MHz was quite interesting and I was pleased to hear some African DX coming through; ZS1AX, ZS1ACH and a 5R7 (I think) all on phone. Heard a I3 working into Brazil (PP5) on CW and A61Q on 24MHz CW before switching over to VHF/UHF.

I called through GB3UK on Cleeve Hill and worked Mike, G4UXC a friend from a long way back. We were licenced around the same sort of time and it was good to work him with the special call. Last but not least, before pedalling back to Longworth was a QSO with John, G4SRE/M in Swindon. John's a great 70MHz FM enthusiast so we swapped news about the band. John's a native of South Wales and I'm hoping that I'll be able to work him on 70MHz FM from a mountain top in Wales at some point! Ought to be able to do it from here...

And this evening, I was pleased to work the Camb-Hams expedition to the Isle of Arran, GS3PYE/P on 7MHz - probably my first 7MHz SSB QSO in a couple of years!

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