Back from TF

Time flies when you're having fun..... It is 2 weeks ago that I returned from my 9 day trip to Iceland (TF).

Iceland is an amazing country with beautiful landscapes and very nice people. I've visited great places like the Jökulsárón Glacier Lagoon, Gullfoss Waterfall and many other with amazing Lava fields and black river beds and beaches. I also had the chance to photograph some Aurora during one of the first nights after I arrived on Iceland.

It was great to visit Heimir TF1EIN, Hal TF3GC and have some great time with Seli TF3AO in Reykjavik and at the TF3IRA Club station.

As a Ham I took a rig with me, the Yaesu FT-450 and a HyEndFed wire antenna for 20 meter. Next time I'll bring antennas for more bands ;-) I had much fun on 20 meter during both the rag chewing and pile-ups.

A special QSL card is being printed at the moment and will be ready in a few weeks. You can QSL direct and via the bureau for my TF/PD3EM operation.

Not so quiet.....

It looked like it has been very quiet with my ham radio activities as you checked my website. But it has been a very busy couple of months. Just lack of time for writing updates.....

With two rigs in my shack with different microphones, speakers and a headset I disliked the continuous changing microphones and plugging them in and out. It was time to search for a good piece of equipment that was capable of connecting all together.
After comparing different brands and models it was very clear what it would be: the microHAM KM2R+. Not only it could switch between two microphones and speakers but with the build-in keyer and sound cards it could do all modes in a SO2R environment!
I redesigned the shack a little bit and made a new shelf and put some extra LED lights on the front of the top-shelf.

Well, that was two months ago and in the mean time the conditions on HF went up and I joined some contests with the new setup, not yet as SO2R but single radio. Especially 10 meter was great the last couple of weeks and I logged a bunch of new DXCCs on that band!

With all the QSOs of the past few months my stock of QSL cards had gone and I designed a new one. At the moment it's being printed by UX5UO and will arrive within the next two weeks. That means that for the last 600 QSOs I made a new card will be sent out soon.
As I'm a regional QSL manager for the Dutch QSL Bureau, I'm at the moment busy sorting about 15 kg of QSL cards that will go out to the bureau this Saturday.

Great new toy

Last Friday I received a package with a great new toy for my shack.

It's an IBM Customer Display used with cash registers in shops. The display is a VFD type with 2x20 characters and suitable for displaying much more than the amount of money you'll have to pay in shops.

The VF Display is connected via a serial cable to the PC and can be controlled via software like LCD Smartie. With that, a lot of information can be displayed, mostly related to your PC health and RSS feeds. But the information you would want to know in your shack is quite something else.

I got the display as a present from Tomas OK4BX and I'm him very thankful for this great present! Tomas wrote a Perl script for displaying live DX Cluster spots on the VF Display. And it's working great! The Perl script connects to a telnet DX Cluster and puts all the spots on the display in real time. On the first row the frequency, spotter prefix and DX callsign are displayed. The bottom row shows the comment.

The display can be viewed even from outside of my shack and gives information about the DX spots and current conditions. So even when I'm not in my shack I can react on DX spots!

More information can be found on the website of Tomas OK4BX and his father.

Dutch HAMnet wiki

At the moment I'm working on the Dutch HAMnet wiki. It's all about the design, planning and implementation of the Highspeed Amateur Network in The Netherlands.
In the mean time I'm still looking for (Dutch) Radio Amateurs to make this HAMnet project possible, so if you're interested please get in touch with me.

Check the wiki at http://hamnet.pd3em.com/

Remember that this wiki is just the beginning. A lot of work will have to be done!

HAMnet

For quite some time I'm thinking about the possibilities of HAMnet in The Netherlands. HAMnet is short for Highspeed Amateurradio Multimedia Network.
HAMnet is a data network for Radio Amateurs based on the TCP-IP protocol. You can compare it to a closed internet-like network or a mayor upgrade to the old-style packet network. This network can be used for Echolink, AX25 Packet Radio, Winlink2000, APRS, D-Star, websites and much more.
The first steps of HAMnet were taken in OE-land 5 years ago by members of the ÖVSV. A big step was made in 2009 by Bernhard OE7BKH and Markus OE7FMI with their national IP-plan and routing design with BGP. They made it possible to go beyond a small local or regional network and founded the opportunity to make HAMnet an international network.
I visited Markus and Bernard in the summer of 2009 and that was my first acquaintance with HAMnet.
I will start to do some testing on high speed wireless links. Link speeds of 150 Mbps at a distance of more than 25 kilometer should be possible without a problem.

At the moment I'm looking for other Dutch Radio Amateurs to exchange thoughts and ideas about HAMnet and how this could be established in The Netherlands.
So please get in touch with me (via the contact form or as a comment below) if you have any ideas.

CQ WW RTTY Contest

It was 2 years ago I made a QSO in RTTY and the total count of RTTY QSO's in my logbook was just under ten. So I thought it was time to put some new ones into the log.

Last weekend the CQ WW RTTY Contest was on, so chances enough to work some stations. But first I needed to setup my PC and rig to work together in this mode. With DM780, that wouldn't be a problem but for contesting I always use N1MM Logger. Luckily I previously installed MMTTY with the N1MM logging software and the only thing was to get the right "sound" to the rig and on the air. After some testing early Saturday evening everything was working well so I started to listen to different stations how the contest-behavior was and to setup my macro's the right way.

After an hour or so I was ready for the contest myself and replies on the CQ test of TF3PPN on 20 meters: QSO on my first call and in the log within 15 seconds! After the QSO I realized that my rig was still running on my testing power of 5 watts! So I turned it up to the (for me allowed) power of 25 watts and started to turn the dial.

After making some QSO's on 20 I switched to the 40 meter band and made some nice DX. I was really glad that I could log HC8/K6AW on 40m! A new one for me. On Sunday I also worked quite some stations on 20m and 40m and the best DX I worked was VK3TDX on 40 meters! That was not a one call hit but took some more time, so thanks Stephen for your patience and "good ears"!

The final score for the contest was 189 QSO's, 24 zones and 46 DXCC's worked making a total of 49.042 points.
Tonight I did all the QSL-ing and they will go out to the bureau this weekend.

Two weeks

The last two weeks where more or less filled with amateur radio, at least in my spare time after work.
I made about 500 QSO's, most of them together with Peter PD1AJJ with our special event callsign PD55RADAR.
We had great fun in it, with some nice pile-ups and nice QSO's. So thanks to all of you for the QSO's!

The first batch of PD55RADAR QSL cards will arrive back from the printer later this week. This weekend we have received the first QSL cards via the bureau and via direct. Yes, the bureau can be fast!
All QSL's we'll receive will be answered the same way (see qrz.com for details).

PD55RADAR Special Event

Peter PD1AJJ and Elmar PD3EM will be active with the special event callsign PD55RADAR between 4 - 14 september 2010.

RaDAR is short for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. This is an international concept of Radio Amateurs being able to operate anywhere under all circumstances.
The goal is to setup an Amateur Radio station quickly on remote sites anywhere using only battery power. And anywhere means not only sites reachable by car but also on locations after a few miles walk. The 5x5 concept means being able to communicate by Amateur Radio within 5 minutes after arriving with the QRP power of 5 watts maximum.

Peter and Elmar will participate in the IARU HF SSB Fieldday (september 4-5) from the Dutch polders near the famous windmills of Kinderdijk. They will use their Yaesu FT-817 which means QRP only so keep your ears open!

The rest of the period they will be operating PD55RADAR in their free-time which will mainly be during the evenings.

Radio Mail Server

Last week I wrote about the testing I did with the TNC-X and the Paclink software for connecting to a RMS Gateway. Well, that was just part one of the ideas I had.

The final goal was to setup a Radio Mail Server Gateway on VHF which is available 24/7 to EmComm primary and public secondary.
I've hooked up an old laptop with a clean install of windows to the TNC and installed the RMS Packet software. The transceiver is a Condor 4000.

With the RMS Packet software everything is connected to the Winlink 2000 system for the delivering and receiving of email.

In case of a power outage, all the equipment (including my webserver) is connected to the mains via a 3 kVA UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). That will keep everything running for about 2 hours. I still need a generator in case the power outage will last longer....

After a week long testing period my Radio Mail Server Gateway is now fully operational.
If you're in the neighborhood and want to give it a try, the Gateway is listening on 144.850 to the callsign PD3EM-10.

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