Yesterday evening, May 28, the ES season 2018 for my QTH was started. Within a good hour, 2x CT and 5x EA stations found their way to the log. The signals were not very loud and could only be heard very briefly, usually not longer than a minute. Nevertheless, it was long enough for 4 new QTH Locator and an ODX of 2.098 km. More informations about this opening are here.
This event was followed by two further short ES openings on the 3rd and 4th of June.
The storm “Friederike” in mid-January 2018 had caused some serious damage to the antenna system. Unfortunately, there was no time to fix it all until now. Among other things, the rotors direction control for the VHF / UHF / SHF antennas failed and the 70cm and 23cm antennas as well as the Spiderbeam for Hf are damaged. As a result the dish for 10 GHz could also not be rotated.
So for 2m I had to use the 14 element EME antenna in the garden with only 3m height above ground and right in the middle between the noisy houses.
Despite all these problems stations from 12 Countries and 46 Squares found the way into the log. ODX with 831 km was IO2V from JN56 and the overall score some 50.000 points.
As early as 1968 I joined the DARC (Deutscher Amateur Radio Club) as a young boy together with my father. For this 50-year membership 1968 – 2018 I received a Certificate and a Golden Needle from the Head of our local Radio Club Karl-Heinz, DH8WG, during our last club meeting end of April 2018.
The last months of the 2m EME activity were marked by problems with the SSPA’s antenna relay and a mechanical failure of the vertical rotor. Unfortunately I missed some very interesting EME-DXpeditions like PJ2T, TD9FYC and CR2EME.
After the problems could be solved (many thanks to my friend Karl-Heinz DH8WG for the great work on the rotor), the German DXpedition PJ6E could be logged on Monday April 23 as a new DXCC # 69. DF7KF and DM1AC had a great signal with only one 14 element XPol antenna.
Next was the first known activation from Kosovo on 2m, Z66EME. Uwe, DG8NCO, had several technical problems and with only an 8 element antenna on his side and with a bit of patience he was still good to work – DXCC # 70 for me.
On Friday evening, April 27, 2018, 7P8Z from Lesotho was next in line. Bernie, ZS4TX had travelled there for just 2 days and worked more than 100 stations via the moon on the first evening with his 2 x 18 element horizontally polarized antennas. DXCC # 71 could be celebrated.
Unfortunately, I missed the Italian DXpedition 3B8MS to Mauritius. The team had a lot of problems with noise all the time and so only very well equipped stations could be worked from there – no chance for my small single antenna EME station.
Beeing active on 2 m since 1973 with an interruption of more than 25 years I finally completed the “144 MHz WAC – Worked All Continents” last December and received the Award today.
Many thanks to 3V8ONU (Africa, CW-Meteor Scatter 1979), K1WHS (North America, CW-EME 1982), UG6AD (Asia, Sporadic E 1989), VK5APN (Oceania, JT65-EME 2017) and PY2GN (South America, JT65-EME 2017) for making this possible.
Back in 1983, that means 35 years ago, I completed the 432 MHz WAC just with CW-contacts. Now the question is: Which band is next for WAC?
Because the weather in the last months did not allow any work on the antennas outside, so some time was left for QSO’s on the shortwave bands. Especially in FT8 mode many interesting DX stations could be reached.
Almost every day, the FT8DMC-Club launches new colorful diplomas for contacts in the FT8 digital mode. The application is made simply via the “Ultimate AAC” software. Mostly, the certificate can be downloaded after a few hours in the download center of the EPC-MC.
Yesterday the 1296 MHz EME-Project reached a new milestone: After mounting a waterprooved box with preamp and protection relais close to the Septum feed during the past days I tried to listen off the moon for the first time. I asked Dan, HB9Q, if he could transmit some minutes for me with his 10m dish. And so he did. Holding the feed out of the basements window, pointing to the moon and HB9Q was copied easily with -26 dB in JT65c mode. Whow, what a feeling! Now I’m waiting for better weather for further setups.
The weather before Christmas was quiet and suitable for maintaining antennas. So I improved the matching of my 160m inverted L-antenna to get some more DXCC entities during the days off. Conditions on Top-Band were very good at a K-index of 1 and the signals, especially from Asia, were very loud in times. The following 6 new countries have been logged: Mozambique (C93PA), Azores (CU3EQ), Mongolia (JT1CO), South Korea (HL5IVL), Taiwan (BV1AP), Mexico (XE1TD). Also four new Zones for 160m WAZ (03 / 06 / 23 / 37) and seven new US-States for the 160m WAS were worked: Arkansas (K5GO), California (K6RW), Colorado (K0RF), Michigan (K8TLC), Minnesota (K0TT), Montana (KM7W) and Utah (WA7LNW). It was interesting to see how the terminus of the greyline correlated with the higher signal strengths (see picture).
Talking about 2m I concentrated to EME during the days between Christmas and New Year. The moon was in good position with low degradation and finally 43 initial callsigns, several new WW-locator and two new DXCC entities found the way into the log. After several tries I was very happy to work Ricardo, LU7FA, on Dec. 27 for DXCC #67 and Bing, YC2MDU, on Dec. 31, 2017 for DXCC #68. It is interesting to mention that LU7FA has just 2 antennas and YC2MDU using just 400 W output. Two great belated Christmas gifts and a happy ending 2017.
Today I got the result of the 2017 “World Wide 160 Meter DX Contest CW” were I participated in the Low Power Category with just the K3 barefoot. Finally it ended up in 6th place in DL out of 84 participants and I am quite satisfied, because operation was just 50% of the total Contest time. The SSB-part endet up with ranking 19 out of 34, but that one was just for fun.
Normally CW is my favourite mode, but but from time to time I use digital modes on Hf like PSK31/PSK63 for example to complete the white spots for my DXCC-Award. Talking about HF-bands I never saw any use of JT65-modes here because for me it is much too slow compared to a nice CW contact. With the availability of the new mode FT8 things changed. The software based on a FSK 8 tone code, an occupied bandwidth of 47 Hz and a 15 second tournaround! This increased the activity dramatically and even rare DX-stations appeared and uses FT8 mode.
These days Joe, OE4VIE, has initiated the FT8-DMC Club and offer some very nice and colourful, free of charge pdf-Awards. They pushed the activity right again, not to say there is a real FT8 hype now. The WAC Award (Worked all Continents) is not a challenge at all, because it could be worked within an hour by a well equipped station. The DXCC Award is even more difficult and issued for contacts with 100 DXCC entities, like the original by ARRL.