We have put the boat back into the water. It is a 3 hour drive to the harbour in Uitwellingerga, near Sneek, Friesland, so we took the RV there and stayed a few nights. Actually, having both the boat and the camper is an ideal combination. We can hook up to our own electricity socket and enjoy the electrical floor heating in the camper during cold nights...
The boat needs a new layer of anti-fouling every year. The weather was gorgeous. Blue sky, mid-day temperatures of over 20 degrees C. So this time it was a really relaxed working session. We even had enough paint left from last year, so the usual bike ride to the paint shop in Sneek was unnecessary. Which was good, because my electrical bike (a Sparta ION M) refused to support my efforts. Again. During the 3 years I have it now the computerized electrical system broke down 4 times.
Some neighbours helped with putting the mast up. All in all we had a nice time with lots of opportunity to test the European pskmail system.
PSKmail operation from the Friesland lake area.
The harbour does have wifi, but only in the restaurant which is 200 meters from our boat. The owner of the harbour does not want to extend the system to cover the whole harbour area, so pskmail is the only way to connect to the internet. I use an inverted L consisting of 10 meters of wire, a fishing rod, and a tuner inside the camper. This works on all pskmail frequencies from 80-12 meters.
On 80 meters I could work DK4XI-8 easily with 50 Watts. Getting the mail was easy, and the wx broadcasts were received without error. DA5UWG, who is only some 100 km away was not heard at all. Even the twitter updates were relayed without problem (DK4XI-8 has server version 0.8.3).
On 30 meters S54FAA-0 was very strong during the whole day. Unfortunately S54FAA-0 only relays APRS messages, so to get full service I contacted IS0GRB-3. This station could be worked with solid signals also during the whole day. During the morning hours I could also use SM0RWO with nice signals until 9:00 UTC. After that the signal from Sweden disappeared completely. PI4TUE, 200 km away, was not heard.
In the evening of the 24th I could hear C56DL directly from the middle of the atlantic, trying to get a position beacon through. The signal was strong enough, but hardly decodeable throuhg heavy doppler and multipath. The phase of the signal on the digiscope was all over the place. Fo0r this time of the evening THOR22 would be the better mode I guess.
Summing it up, pskmail lived up to its promises. I could get and send my emails whenever I wanted, and my twitter updates and position beacons all made it into the internet. The only thing I really missed was a twitter reader for pskmail, so I could follow the updates.
I have already found the perl code to put it onto the server....
I have never had any problems with my ham radio luggage, not even when I carried 30 kg on a 20 kg ticket, like on this trip to Madeira. The return trip was quiet, boarding the plane to Lisbon on 5:45 local after an uneasy night of sleep.
I had two pieces of luggage. A trolley with the K3 and two laptops, and a sports bag with the power supplies, cables and clothes. The sports bag weighed 18 kg, the trolley with the equipment 13 kg. Check-in was quick, just at the baggage check the trolley came back out of the Xray machine. "Laptop?" said the operator, "please take out". So I took the laptop out of the trolley and put it into a container. "Any other electronics?". "Yes", I said, took the eeePC out and put it with the laptop. The trolley with the K3 then went through the machine without complaints.
The flight to Lisbon, the 5 hour wait in Lisbon and the flight to Amsterdam were quiet, with the planes not more than 25% full.
In Amsterdam the luggage from TP680 arrived at the time the passengers reached the bagage claim room, the first items were already on the belt. This phantastic service can be offered because the foot trip from the arrival terminal is half an hour.
Anyway, the bagage came out, and the sign said "all bagage unloaded" Nothing for PA0R. The next load came, from London Heathrow. No bag for PA0R. The only thing I could do was go hunting for one of the 16 handling agencies for the bagage which would take responsibility for the disaster. After another quest of half an hour I found the office, with two nice young ladies. One of them filled in a form for me, and while we were at it the other one got a telephone call that some of the bagage from TP680 had been rerouted, and was going to be at belt 7 within 5 minutes. I traveled to belt 7 and found my bag already waiting for me on belt 6. Phantastic service! It had a new hand written label, saying things like CHECKED, RECON and LHS (which means Lufthansa).
It had clearly been opened and checked thorougly, I could see that by the inproper way they had tried to repack the power supply of the K3. But nothing was damaged, I only lost an hour of time....
CQWW-CW 2008 contest summary (3X5A missing...)
Call QSOs Zones Cntry hr Score Club
Non-USA M/M HP
HC8N 13394 192 680 48 34,385,576 NCCC
CT9L 11245 577 163 48 24,798,880 RR DX
DF0HQ 9179 175 685 48 14,312,980 RR DX
Call 160m Q/Z/C 80m Q/Z/C 40m Q/Z/C 20m Q/Z/C 15m Q/Z/C 10m Q/Z/C
HC8N 1115/24/ 81 1924/32/118 3694/36/ 13 3495/40/152 2906/37/141 260/23/51
CT9L 857/23/ 76 1593/28/115 3966/36/128 2975/37/130 1812/28/107 42/11/21
DF0HQ 1200/24/ 90 2326/33/124 3010/38/169 1964/37/149 484/32/106 195/11/47
Equipment used by CT9L
160 & 10m: K2 + ACOM1000
80m: K3 + Expert-1k
40m: K3 + ACOM2000
20m: TS990 + Expert-1k
15m: K3 + HL-1.5kfx
Problems encountered with the equipment
The K2 did not work on the 15m antenna and the ACOM2000. Probably the fault was RF related. Strangely it did work with the
bandfilter switched off. The effect was that when the PTT was dropped the ACOM went to ARC fault. We decided to swap the K2 for a K3, which did not have the problem.
One of the K3's had a fault in the filter control, the DSP bandwidth could not be set. Setting to NORM resulted in a
400 Hz CW bandwidth. The same K3 also had only a 250 Hz roofing filter for CW. This is definitely too narrow to work the pileups efficiently. Fortunately signal strengths on 15 were not extreme so we made it with the 2.8 kHz roofing filter and the 400 hz DSP.
The Expert-1k is a nice, fully automatic, amplifier. The only drawback we could find was the HUGE noise made by the fan. You need noise-cancelling headphones when you have this thing sitting on the station table...
Apart from the faulty DSP control in one unit, the K3's appeared to be the right tool for the job. That was the unanimous vote of the group.
This was my first contest where Murphy was on vacation. Once we had the stations running we did not have ANY problem, by choosing the right frequency areas in the bands mutual interference was never a real problem. This was also the first time the N1MM software worked without error.
So why did we not win the contest?
I am sure we were in the wrong geographical location. VOAPROP showed duct-like propagation from 3X5A to europe. We could hear D4C and 3X5A working stations on 10 meters, while we could here none of the stations they worked. 15 meters closed 2 hours earlier on CT3 than in 3X. But I am sure considering the circumstances a third place WW is nothing to be ashamed of, just that it did not quite match our expectations. I am sure next year we will do a propagation analysis before we choose a location.
There are now 3 separate cables running from the house wiring input into the shack, carrying 3 phases of the mains. That is enough to stop the lights from flickering all the time. The crew built an extra vertical fro 10 meters. We don't know if it will be necessary, as Luis, CT3EE told us that 10 meters is dead in CT3. Further south they seem to have a better path into USA, we can hear some stations from EA8 and 3X5 running on 10, and we cannot hear the other end of the pileup. Maybe the contest will bring some propagation? We will know monday morning.At least the sun is shining at the moment!
During the contest I will be on 15 meters running 6 hour shifts together with DL3HAH.
CT9L is ready for it.
Rein CT3/PA0R/P (CS95A)
Our pre-contest station is now operating on all bands. Most of the anternnas have been fixed, only thye 40m beam needs some more tuning.
I had a nice run on 160m last night with rates over 100, and 160 soun ds completely different from last year, where we operated from EA8, in the city center of Las Palmas. There the noise from the inverted L was as hign as 10 over 9, and we were completely deaf. Now we can hear signals of S2/S3.
I also did some operating on 15 this morning, and the band sounded o.k. The signals will be quite thin this year....
The wx gets better all the time. No rain today. We are now busy to strengthen the mains wiring of the qth to accommodate the amps.
As of tomorrow morning we will be operating full power as CS95A.
The whole crew is down with the siesta. The night has been a bit rough for most, and we just had an excellent meal in the main snackbar in the village with big beers and nice red wine. Now it is very quit. DL3QQ is trying to get a winkey2 module running, and DL2AL is giving moral support. The rest of the crew, DJ7IK, DL1XX, DL1XW DJ7JC and DK3QZ are horizontally polarized. The transceivers are running, most of the antennas have been tuned to the CW band. There is some problem with the 40m antennas. Both the beam and the vertical cannot be handled by the4 acom 2000, it gives an ARC error.
With the antenna analyser the swr goes from 2.0 to 5,0, so there is still some work to do. Also the 220V distribution has not yet been changed to accomodate the 5 amplifiers...
It has stopped raining now and the sun comes through, which changes the outside rtemperature to a more normal level. We had a cold night...
Bck to work.... probably by this evening we will be running CS95A until friday nite.