Monday, 15 July 2013

M8C - Isles of Scilly EU-011, 25-30 July 2013

News of an Island activation by the Cray Valley Radio Society using the club contest callsign M8C for the IOTA contest 27/28 July from St Mary's Island EU-011, also QRV 25-30 July outside of contest period.

Six Cray Valley RS operators will be on this dxpedition to St Mary's Island these being Nobby G0VJG,  Richard G7GLW, Ian  M0UAT, Guy  G0UKN, Garo G0PZA and Chris G0FDZ. 

We will be entering the 24 hours, mixed mode CW and SSB, high power IOTA contest.  Please QSL via G4DFI.

73 Ian, M0UAT

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Japan International DX Contest 2013

While looking for a suitable CW contest to enter, I noticed the listing in the contest website, CW  JIDX Contest on 13/14th April 2013. Why would I choose this particular contest you may ask? Well the exchange was short, consisting of an RST and a Japan prefecture number (2 digits) or for the DX station their CQ zone. The official site had a list of all the 50 Japan prefectures with the corresponding callsign prefix, so I had a clue to copy the correct exchange details.

As with all contests, the key to success is in the preparation. So the first thing was to read the rules for this particular contest. The rules stated that the DX station had to make a QSO with the Japan station to score points, and other DX stations did not count towards the total score. The contest started on Saturday morning at 0700Z, and finished on Sunday at 1300Z. The bands for this contest being the usual HF contest bands 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10.  I would enter the multiband low power 100W category.

I wanted to decide which bands would be best from my QTH, so I did a point to point   analysis using the propagation prediction program VOACAP. I have VOACAP on the PC and also on my Kindle, an app called DroidProp.  Both indicated an opening with 80% circuit reliability between 0800Z and 1200Z at around 20MHz and then 70% circuit reliability 14Mhz until 2200Z. As this is a guide I decided my best chance of success would be to operate on 21Mhz in the morning and then move to 14Mhz during the afternoon and early evening. I put out a message on the CVRS and uk_hf_contesting Yahoo groups a couple of days before the contest, asking for any comments and suggestions, a few people responded.

I decided that I would operate only on the Saturday due to other commitments over the weekend. The radio hardware consisted of the FT-857D running 100W with 500Hz and 300Hz IF filters, doublet antenna at 12m height, and MFJ tuner. I was also using for the first time a Winkey CW/USB keyer, interfaced to my laptop. Software used included WinTest contesting software, telnet for cluster, and my transceiver was interfaced via the CAT output to the laptop. The CAT interface gave opportunity to use of the band plan window in WinTest, I had decided to operate only in search and pounce mode. I also had the CDXC cluster running on my laptop, so I could check the actual contacts reported during the contest, this is allowed in the rules.

I started at around 0830Z on Saturday morning on 21Mhz (15m), the Japan stations where coming in nice and loud, but with only a few making QSOs. I called back to them and initially they did not hear my call.  Later in the morning the conditions improved and I made my first QSO, then a few more until I stopped at lunchtime (1300Z). There had been many JIDX contest entries on the cluster for 21Mhz during the morning and nothing for JIDX on 14Mhz, so I considered my working plan was good so far.

I resumed at 1500Z and QSYed to the 14Mhz (20m band), some spots for 14Mhz started showing on the CDXC cluster. There was a difference on this band as the Japan stations had a lot of DX callers and some had large pill-ups. Here my problem was working the JA station with so many others DX stations.  I gradually worked all the JA stations I could hear, and with my level of Morse it was sometimes slow to comprehend the callsign and exchange.  I wrapped up at around 2000Z, 9:00pm and closed down my station having scored, according to WinTest, 180 points. This score is not a winning result only 17 QSOs, but looking at previous results for earlier years, I am expecting to make the top three in England.

Overall the contest was hard, being a novice CW operator and also my first Japan DX contest. Conditions were generally good, readability and strength of received signals very good using a 500Hz IF filter and DSP audio filtering. Improvements for next year include, vertical antenna with better takeoff, improve my CW and work a longer period of the contest.

73, Ian, M0UAT

Friday, 16 December 2011

DXSpider user manual

I am a user of the DXspider DX cluster packet node, and connect to the CDXC cluster and sometimes the G3LDI clusters here in the UK.

I found that the user manual was not available to download so I have created a PDF version of the manual from the HTML on the DXSpider Wiki site.

The link to this download is DXSpiderUserManual.pdf.

I have not changed the original documentation content but included all HTML sections in one PDF file with a table of contents included  at the beginning.  I may write an appendix to add to the end of the document with my own tips and how-to in the future.

This manual is designed to help you become familiar with the commands that DXSpider supports and to help you get the best from the program so you can enjoy working that rare DX! As DXSpider is being improved all the time, commands will be added as time goes by, so make sure you have the most up to date version of this manual.

Please let me know if this PDF has been useful and any improvements and corrections that may be required.

de M0UAT, Ian

Sunday, 11 December 2011

QRSS 30m Beacon

I have setup a 30m QRSS beacon running on 10.140Mhz at my QTH in Farningham, UK. The beacon is running CW and QRSS6 FSK and the output is approx 23dBm (200mW) into a dipole in my loft.

I would appreciate any reception reports and in particular the exact frequency that the beacon is transmitting as I may need to adjust depending on drift caused by the temperature in my loft. I may need to build a crystal oven for the VFO crystal.

I have had one reception report from SW London, with 59+, after one day operation.

Monday, 31 October 2011

SPLAT RF Signal Propagation, Loss And Terrain analysis tool

At the end of last year I wrote an article on the SPLAT software application for the Cray Valley Radio Society, this article is the PDF linked below, with enhanced images found in the PDF also linked below:

SPLAT RF Signal Propagation, Loss And Terrain analysis tool

Wrotham Propagation on 144Mhz
QTH Propagation on 144Mhz

I am a keen contester and have found that my own QTH is very limited in what can be achieved with low power and a low height glass fiber pole with my yagi antenna at 6 meters AGL. My QTH is 30m ASL and is in a deep valley with the only ground slopping away to the North. I have used this software application to predict the most useful location in the South-East to operate on VHF and UHF in the RSGB UKAC contest that are throughout the year here in the UK. As the software runs on a UNIX environment and may not be accessible to all users, it is my plan to provide this application via a web interface in the future. Keep coming back to my site for an update on this.

Please have a look at my SPLAT document, you are free to download and use for none profit organisations, but if you do us it for a club presentation then please let me know.