144 MHz: International Space Station on SSTV

From December 06-08 the ISS again send SSTV pictures. The images are always transmitted in SSTV mode PD 120 on the frequency 145.800 MHz in frequency modulation. The images were decoded with the MMSSTV software. More information about amateur radio on the ISS can be found on the ARISS website.

Pictures received Dec. 07, 2017 between 17:27 – 17:32 UT

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Pictures received Dec. 08, 2017 between 16:32 – 16:42 UT
Last picture was received while ISS was between Crimea Peninsula and Caspian Sea, abt. 2.500 km away.

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Great Weekend on 144 MHz EME

Since I was not active on 144 MHz EME over the last 2 months due to vacations and other commitments, this weekend was a real goal. Conditions were excellent all weekend and Faraday was mostly cooperative.

At moonrise on Friday evening I completed a QSO with Australia, a very problematic direction from my location because of manmade noise at low elevation angels. Wayne, VK5APN, gave a new DXCC, new ODX with 15.528 km and finally the last missing continent Oceania. The second new DXCC this night was RA9CHL in the asian part of Russia.

On early Sunday morning, a QSO with the German one-man DXpedition V31EME and another new country, DXCC # 65, succeeded. Not easy to fight against so many well equipped multi-antenna-stations. Uwe, DG8NCO, did a really very good job and catched also weak signals out of the pilup.

Another highlight was a QSO with IK1FJI, Walter, who also works with only one Yagi. This completed my first 1 Yagi – 1 Yagi Moonbounce contact.

A total of more than 40 QSO’s and 38 initials were logged, a really great EME weekend. Listed details are here.
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144 MHz EME: Back in business


There was a lot of work to be done in the garden during the last weeks: No, not only mowing gras, but also a larger hole had to be excavated and filled with concrete. Then mounting a stable metal pole on it, a rotor and, of course, another antenna. An 8m long 12 element DK7ZB Yagi was the choice, 14.1 dBd gain. Not much at all for a 2m EME system, but we’ll see what’s possible. 

On Saturday afternoon everything was ready to go for the first test. The automatic tracking system worked perfect and turned the antenna exactly to the moon, who was almost in the south. Just only 30 degrees elevation and almost 2 dB additional pathloss – not very promising. Will this be enough to hear someone?

It was enough! UA4AQL was easily detected in the waterfall, calling cq in JT65 mode. One periode calling and he came back to me – whow, what a good feeling! After this initial contact, four more QSO’s followed with LZ2FO, RX1AS, OH4LA and F4DJK.

Listed details are here

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19th SP VHF/UHF/SHF EME Meeting 2017

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SP8XXN, SP6JLW, SP5QWB, SP5XMU, SP9CP, SP2IPT, SP5CCC, SQ2LX, SP2IQW, SP8UFT, SP1CNV, Kosma-son of SP6LB (left to right)

On August 18 – 20, 2017, the 19th Technical Convention and Meeting of the EME + Microwave Amateur Radio Group Poland was held in the new Hotel Morawa (JO80KG64LV) near the small town Stronie Slatskie. Stanislaw SP6ASD, SP6JLW and SP6OPN and Team organized a perfect meeting with interesting lectures and more than 100 guests.

Presentations by OK1DFC (“1 kW SSPA for 23cm”), OK1UFL/OK1FPC (“47 GHz Transvertrers”) and OK1AIY (“24 GHz Transverter”) were only some of them. Practically Zdenek, OK1DFC, shows very impressive live 10 GHz EME activity with his portable 1.8m dish setup. A Flea market and Gala dinner were also important parts of this meeting. It was a great pleasure for me to meet old and new friends. Thanks for organizing this very nice weekend!

Some more pictures and impressions are here.

Perseides 2017

Doing Meteor Scatter was always very interresting and fascinating for me. With my comeback to 2m I tried this years Perseides Meteor Shower to practice with the FSK441 software. Really fascinating to use those very short reflections with length of milliseconds. A dream compared to my first tests in the good old days back in the 70’s, using high speed cw with some 200 lpm and “brain decoding”, later HSCW (high speed cw) up to 1.000 lpm and slowdown with multispeed taperecorder.

After some confusion with split operating procedure at the beginning, 17 QSO’s and 13 new squares were logged. 2017-08_perseides-qso2017-08_perseides-map

144 MHz / 12 Element DK7ZB-Yagi by “VPA-Systems”

After more than 4 month (!!!) I received the ordered 12 element Yagi for 144 MHz (see the full story here). It’s a DK7ZB design, manufactured by “VPA-Systems” in Poland.

Transportation from Poland to Germany by DPD was within 2 days, the parcel was abt. 2m long, good wrapped and received without any damage.

At first look the antenna seems well made. Boom and support are of square-aluminium 20 x 20 x 2 mm, dipole 12 x 1 mm and elements of aluminium 10 x 2 mm. Mastclamp is for 50 mm tubes, no options. All holes are drilled correct and elements and boom parts are numbered. The box for balun and N-connector is made of hard plastic. Screws, nuts (self locked) and bolts seems V2A but not sure – we will see. Two packs with mounting material are included and assembling could be done within less than one hour.

The balun is made of two 75 Ohm teflon cables Type RG 187 (diameter 2.6 mm). The cable is specified for a power handling of 1.400 W at 400 MHz.

2017-08-06_VPA-Yagi_2To be continued …

2017 Alpe Adria Contest

Beside some other commitments I found time to give some points during todays 144 MHz Alpe Adria Contest. Conditions seems quite normal and beside others, several S5 stations were worked. Just missing all the OK2/OK3 stations, not worked one!

The final results are 31 QSO’s with abt. 15.700 points, average 491 km/QSO and todays ODX HG6Z (787 km).

2017-08-06_AlpeAdria

Experiences with “VPA-Systems.pl”

The recent 144 Mhz antenna, rear half of my old 16 el F9FT, was just a compromize and I decided to replace. After studying endless reports in the Internet a 12 element DK7ZB  was my choice:  good gain vs lenght ratio (8m / 14.4 dBd). Building or buying was the question. So I decided for buying and found VPA-Systems from Poland as an interresting source with reasonable prices. Just the balun of the antennas could manage only 200 Watts, not state of the art when thinking of modern SSPA amplifier.

vpa-systemsNow the e-mail-traffic with VPA-Systems:

March 28: I asked for high-power balun and delivery of antenna
March 28 – fast  answer: 1.500 W balun costs 10,- € more, delivery 7-10 days
March 28: I send my order
March 29: Order confirmed by VPA and I payed via PayPal
4 weeks later …
April 22: Asked about status – no response
April 24: Asked again about status – answer: “Order is under preparing but almost ready. Shipping soon”
another 3 weeks later …
May 15: Asked again about status
May 16: Answer: “The status of order No: 422 has been changed – Order ready to send”
another 3 weeks later …
June 05: Asked again about status – no response
June 08: Asked again about status – no response
June 14: Asked again about status – no response
June 15: Called on phone – no response
June 16: Send complaint / buyers protection to PayPal
Now 12 weeks are over since confirmed order
June 27: Information from PayPal: Money will return and booked same day on my bank account.
June 27: Wrote this post and sent link to VPA-Systems …
June 27: Surprise – Got an E-Mail from VPA saying that he had health-problems and excuses for delays. Also got a tracking code, parcel should be on the way. Let’s see ..
Another 5 weeks later …
July 31: No surprise – the parcel did not arrive!

August 04: What a surprise!! Antenna arrived today after more than 4 month. Parcel was sent (by tracking code) August 02, 2017 // 16:11 local time.

_____

Resume: If a dealer has problems with manufacturing, shipping or or whatever, then he must inform the customer. To consoluate again and again, make false statements and not react to mails and phonecalls is not a good and fair behavior and could not be accepted in any way!

There is absolutely NO recommendation to buy anything from VPA-Systems!

In the meantime I heard from other amateurs around Europe that VPA-Systems, owned by Lucjan Niewiedział SQ9VPA, always going the same way: promising delivery, sendig faked tracking codes aso. What an unbelievable behavior for a seller and radio amateur!

VHF Contest July 2017

Due to the bad weather, conditions during this years July-Contest 144 MHz were quite normal but with good periodes on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, especially into southeastern directions. Activity from Switzerland and Austria were good as well due to other Regional Contests there. Technically the loss of my rotors display on late Saturday night makes it very hard to find the correct directions and I always had to run upstairs and look outside to see where the antenna was pointing to. A real radio sports weekend …

All together some 62.000 points, 181 QSO’s from 50 squares and 14 DXCC are the final result. It seems that this is close to the limit without calling “cq” and just s&p (search & pound) regarding to another active HAM in the very neighbourhood.

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Graphics: green – CW // red – SSB

The Top Ten DX contacts …

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ES: Two new DXCC’s on 144 MHz

What a morning! Already around 06 UT activity on 50 MHz was very high and increased also very fast on 70 MHz. Around 07 UT MUF reached 140 MHz direction SV / TA and at 07:31 UT Kadri, TA1D/3, from the asian part of Turkey was calling cq on 144.300 very lonely . Not too strong that time but strong enough to work him for a new DXCC # 56 and new square of course. Later his signal reached 59++ and Kadri was copied here for abt. 45 minutes. At 08:07 the band opened into Greece and at 08:16 Z32KF from Macedonia was worked for DXCC # 57. All signals disappeared around 08:45 UT. Glad to talk again to Costas, SV1DH, who was my first 2 m- contact into Greece back in 1979!

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2017-06-26_144But this was not all for this day: Around 14:26 UT the band opened up to EA for just some minutes and EA1BYC from IN70DX was worked for another new square. Heard but not worked was EB1HRW (IN71PQ).