Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Worked the Rotuma DXpedition - 3D2EU

It seems we had some increased band openings last night.  I was playing radio and continued to hear activity on 20m well after it has normally gone quiet. I rolled over to check out some other bands and to my pleasure ran across 3D2EU (DXpedition Station) in Rotuma on 15m.  They were working split and picked up my call fairly quickly!  I didn't realize until later that they were 7,200+ miles away! Pretty great for a band that my OCF dipole isn't made to work and 100 watts!  I'm still anxious to see how my 20m/15m/10m triband Yagi will perform.

Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets. These volcanic islands are located 646 kilometres north of Fiji. Rotuma Island itself is 13 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide, with a land area of approximately 43 square kilometres.
Although the island has been politically part of Fiji since 1881, Rotuman culture more closely resembles that of the Polynesian islands to the east. Because of their Polynesian appearance and distinctive language, Rotumans now constitute a recognizable minority group within the Republic of Fiji.

73 de KG4LST sk

QSO with 3D2EU in Rotuma

Monday, February 19, 2018

Worked the "HF Voyager" Autonomous Ocean-going Drone - KH6JF/MM

I'm still in the midst of learning about the FT8 digital mode.  A couple days ago, I was playing with FT8 on 20m and saw a CQ from KH6JF/MM.  As I learned before, the /MM designates it as a maritime mobile.  I also noted that the CQ call had a grid square of CK09.  Thinking it was a ship, I answered the CQ call with the quick FT8 exchange and logged it.

It wasn't until later on when I was looking for information about the ship I had just logged that I realized it was in fact an autonomous ocean-going drone on a mission from Hawaii to California with an on-board HF rig working digital modes.  Wow! What a surprise!

More info:

73 de KG4LST sk

HF Voyager

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Learning About the FT8 Digital Mode

I've recently been getting into PSK31.  I use DM780 in the Ham Radio Deluxe suite for this which makes for a seamless experience between QSO and logging.  At the recommendation of John (K4WCL) I've started learning about FT8.  FT8 is very different from PSK31 in many ways.  Here are some of my opinions on this new digital mode so far:

  • Fairly easy to learn.
  • Quick and easy contacts.  Great for collecting Grid Squares!
  • Relatively good DX with low power
  • Very active! It's very popular, so there is always someone to make contact with.

  • Not available in DM780. I'm using WSJT-X software for FT8.
  • WSJT-X software isn't very robust or intuitive
  • Very impersonal. QSO's are simple callsign, grid square, RST, and 73.  Nothing further is exchanged. I don't even know the name of the person I'm talking to unless I cross reference. 
  • Though logging is handled in WSJT-X and saved to an ADIF file, it's not very much fun importing the log into Ham Radio Deluxe, populating missing fields, and then sending them to QRZ, LoTW, eQSL, and HRDlog.  Having some integration between WSJT-X and Ham Radio Deluxe or the eventual addition of FT8 into DM780 is really the only way to solve this.  
In any case, I'm going to keep experimenting with it.  I think it would be a good mode for QRP or portable operation when conditions are less than perfect. But for me, phone is still my preferred mode of operation.  PSK31 is my preferred digital mode for the simple fact that you can have a keyboard to keyboard QSO or you can use Macros for quicker exchanges.  

73 de KG4LST sk

Monday, February 12, 2018

Worked an AIRBUS at 39,000 feet! - KC1CXC/AM

It seems like there is almost always some exciting DX contacts to make on the HF bands.  But sometimes I forget how exciting some of the local contacts can be as well.

The last few days have been miserably rainy.  I've noticed some intermittent SWR issues during heavy rain.  Probably just moisture in my balun, but none the less a high SWR means I'm not transmitting.  Around 8:15PM, I had been working on some stuff in the shack and decided that I'd check my SWR and see if it was back to normal.  I tuned over to 20m and to my surprise, I saw a signal on the bandscope. I checked my SWR and it was good, and then tuned over to the frequency that was showing the signal.  There, I heard a station identify as "Kilo Charlie 1 Charlie X-ray Charlie stroke Aeronautical Mobile".  I figured it was somewhat unusual to hear an operator on an airplane and I wanted to get it in the log!

I called for KC1CXC/AM and he came back instantly.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out he was on a commercial air liner flying at 39,000 feet above Atlanta!  My son (6 years old) was sitting there in awe.  They said hello to my son and then we signed and let them work other stations.  

There's always something cool going on in ham radio!  

73 de KG4LST sk



Aeronautical Mobile

Did you see that I recently worked a cruise ship via Ham Radio?

Monday, February 5, 2018

3Y0Z Bouvet Island DXpedition Aborted

Bouvet Island is an uninhabited subantarctic high island and dependency of Norway located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is said to be the most isolated and remote island on earth. It is also the 3rd most-wanted DXCC entity behind Kosovo (which I recently worked!) and North Korea.  Since it is uninhabited and difficult to get to, it hasn't been activated since 2007.

For the past 2 years, 3Y0Z which is a team of skilled DXpeditioners had been planning to go to Bouvet Island and activate the entity again.  After getting close to the island, the weather turned awful with no predicted improvement making it impossible to get to shore safely.  Then, an issue developed with one of the charter ship's engines.  The captain decided it was best to turn away and head for safety.

DX chasers all over the world (including myself) were saddened by the news that the DXpedition was being aborted.  However, we all realize that it was in the best interest and safety of all of those involved.  The 3Y0Z team says that there will be planning and schedule another attempt to activate this rare DXCC entity.

73 de KG4LST sk

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