PD4KH Amateur radio - Koos van den Hout

I passed my radio amateur exam in March 2013 and I registered the callsign PD4KH (pappa delta four kilo hotel!). PD4KH on qrz.com

I am usually located around maidenhead locator: JO22NC

I like receiving and sending QSL cards. Paper cards via the QSL bureau and digital QSL cards via eQSL.cc, gallery of eQSL cards received by PD4KH.

For now this page contains just the 'hamradio' items from my homepage.


Amateur Satellites
D-Star digitale amateur radio (Nederlands)

2014-12-16 Adding my weatherstation to the APRS maps
I still had the wish to submit the Weather station Utrecht Overvecht to the APRS network to get the data on the APRS maps and maybe even added to the Citizen Weather Observer Program.

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System which allows lots of information to be automatically exchanged. The most well-known one is position reporting, but there is a lot more, including weather stations.

It wasn't very hard to get this done, I just had to find the time to do it. The trigger was the mention of a new APRS server in the Netherlands at Amsterdamse APRS server - PA4TW. I played a bit with the perl modules Ham::APRS::IS and Ham::APRS::FAP. Ham::APRS::IS is for communicating with the APRS-IS network. And Ham::APRS::FAP is for parsing APRS packets. I used this module to make very sure my outgoing packets parse correctly before actually submitting them to the network (and still making a few mistakes in the process).

I used the explanation and example at APRSWXNET information by Philip Gladstone to find out what to submit and in which format. The interesting point is that wind measurements can not be omitted, but since I don't have a working wind measuring setup I have to enter the '...' values to show that the measurement is not available. And temperatures are measured in Fahrenheit so I have to convert first from my measurements.

The current outgoing packets look like:
PD4KH-1>APRS,TCPIP*:/161010z5206.6 N\00507.1 E_.../...g...t045h91b10088http://weatherstation.idefix.net/
And now the weatherstation shows fine: PD4KH-1 weatherstation on aprs.fi and Weather stations near PD4KH-1 on findu.com. Note how aprs.fi converts to degrees Celcius and findu.com stays in Fahrenheit.

2014-12-14 N-cursus radiozendamateur in Utrecht
Bij de Veron afdeling Centrum is vanaf 5 januari 2015 weer plaats voor enkele cursisten die de "Novice" amateur radio licentie willen behalen. Voor mensen uit de buurt die nadenken om dat een keer te halen misschien het ideale goede voornemen voor 2015!

Meer informatie: N-cursus radiozendamateur Fort de Gagel start 5-01-2015.

2014-11-28 Moving the lightning strike detector to the shed
I have noticed the lightning strike detection in Weather station Utrecht Overvecht goes completely mad when I transmit on the 20 meter amateur band. With the detector being quite close to the antenna I can understand this.

The solution will be to find a place to mount the detector in the shed. It will be lower (less reception of the radio energy of the strikes) but it will also be further away from my interference.

That also means the reading of the detector will have to be done using w1retap since that is what I use on the shed weatherstation computer. I was a bit confused whether w1retap supports this counter but I found out it's based on the DS2423 counter chip which is supported in w1retap, as part of a wind speed meter in a TAI8515 weather station, but w1retap will give the count on readout and the conversion is up to the user.

2014-11-17 (#)
I recently took some pictures of the HF dipole antenna in our attic:
Attic dipole center - Koos van den Hout on flickr
Attic dipole center - Center of the 10 meter/20 meter dipole in the attic
Attic dipole ugly balun - Koos van den Hout on flickr
Attic dipole ugly balun - Ugly balun for the 10 meter/20 meter dipole in the attic
The 'real' current balun is ready, but needs different antenna connectors. It does use PL259 connectors but the surrounding weather cover means I can't secure the BNC - PL259 connector I use at the moment. Better cable and connectors are on order.

I also borrowed the antenna analyzer from the radio club and measured this antenna. It turned out the frequencies with the best SWR (1 to 1.1) are below the planned frequencies on both the 10 meter and 20 meter band. It was supposed to be at 28.120 MHz and 14.070 MHz, it turned out somewhere 26.97 MHz and 13.20 MHz. The good news is that means the antenna wires are too long and need shortening. I'll probably do that 'for real' when I have different antenna cable and connectors to use the balun.

2014-11-16 A wet roof and radio transmissions from the attic don't get along
The current rainy weather is reasonably deadly for any transmitting, given the report from Digital mode reception maps at pskreporter.info which states:
Monitoring PD4KH (last heard 20 hrs ago).
while I am quite sure I transmitted PSK31 CQs and answers more recently than that and the 10 meter band being open according to the same site.

The attic dipole is right under the roof so any rain making the roof tiles wet is probably dampening the radio signals. This may get interesting when there is snow on the roof. I imagine some raised eyebrows when there is an antenna shaped hole in the snow on the roof.

2014-11-13 Voor de buren van zendamateurs
De forumthread RTV Rijnmond: zendamateur bergschenhoek stoort hele buurt - zendamateur.com deed mij denken aan een heel goed stuk wat ik eerder tegenkwam: Voor de buren - PD5WL. Een heel leesbaar verhaal voor de buren van zendamateurs wat op een leesbare manier omgaat met antennes, radio en eventuele storing. Het blijft natuurlijk vaak gaan om vooroordelen en emotie, maar deze uitleg is open en duidelijk zonder al te technisch te worden.

Ik heb nog geen antenne op het dak, maar al wel eens interesse gehad van een buurman waarom ik soms een antenne uit het zolderraam stak. Omdat ik nu ook actief ben op HF heb ik wel mezelf in het antenneregister gezet ook al is er niks zichtbaar: mocht er ooit iemand in de buurt reden hebben om het Agentschap Telecom te benaderen over storing die misschien over HF uitzendingen gaat dan kunnen ze simpel vinden dat ik hier soms actief ben.

2014-11-07 (#)
Interesting new problem: transmitting on 20 meter PSK31 causes the lightning strike detector of the Weather station Utrecht Overvecht to go slightly mad. If you look at the graphs it seems like there was a really heavy thunderstorm last Thursday but that's just the result of trying 20 meter PSK31 all day and making 11 QSOs (radio connections). Time to move the lightning detector to a better location: in the shed with the rest of the weather station.

Update 2014-11-08: And another side-effect: I used a really cheap gimmick USB hub to hook up the radio to the workstation because I needed an extra USB port for something else. The next thing that happened was the USB chip in the serial cable to the radio (CAT interface) completely locking up on transmitting. I also hear buzzing on speakers when I transmit on 20 meters so this is a big hint I need to change some things. At least a balun for the attic dipole is on the way.

2014-10-17 (#)
This evening I tried working amateur satellites again. There was a nice ISS pass at 18:19 UTC and this time it was very easy to aim the antenna since the ISS was still illuminated by the sun so it was a bright spot in the sky. But no astronaut responded to my CQ call, not even when I remarked "I can see you!".

I also looked up some more satellites that are one-way and this included the HO-68 amateur satellite. It transmits a CW (morse code) beacon and I tried to receive and decode it. Receiving works, but I can't decode morse by ear and fldigi tries but it doesn't look like valid HO-68 telemetry format as documented in the HO-68 page above.

Update 2014-10-22: I asked PA5ABW, a very experienced CW operator to listen to the recorded audio and he helped decode the transmission above into:
And noted the groups of three letters can also be 'shortened digits' and decode to:
BJ1SA XW XW 111 000 121 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 XW XW
which as a telemetry report decodes to:
 CH1 PA Output RF Switch status: 111 PA2 works (beacon only)
 CH2 Transponder working status: 000 Beacon only
 CH3 Transponder temperature:    121 = +21 degrees
 CH4 Beacon RF Output Power:     100 = 100 mW
 CH5 and further: 000

2014-10-09 (#)
Still in the archives: another SO-50 pass recorded at 26 September 2014. Again good operating procedures, maybe some sort of locator contest was going on, since I heard several exchanges with in one go callsigns and locators. Callsigns heard: SV2KGA, S54LD, CT2GOY, S52LD, 9A3ST, SQ8RK, IW3RGK. And yes my definition of 'heard' includes listening to the announcements in the recording over and over, I did not understand them all when it happened.

2014-09-25 (#)
This week I seem to have a thing for completely missing or being unable to make use of good propagation conditions on the 10 meter band. I do use the WebSDR at Utwente to check the band. Yesterday I noticed some activity, including a Lebanese radio amateur who was very popular. Lebanon does not have a lot of active radio amateurs and other radio amateurs want to have contacts with as much countries as possible, including 'rare' ones.

I also heard some unlicensed transmitting music. With the 10 meter amateur band being in frequencies above the '27 MHz CB' band there is some 'export-only' equipment that can do both and unlicensed use of the 10 meter amateur band happens quite regularly.

Maybe I want to upgrade the HF antenna experiment to also work on the 20 meter amateur band. Working long distance (DX) is usually a lot easier on 20 meter, especially at night. There is a nice video about making contacts on 20 meter at night: The Fun Of Ham Radio DX - Making Friends Around The Globe - RadioHamGuy on Youtube.

2014-09-17 (#)
This evening I tried some amateur radio contacts in the 10 meter band in PSK31 mode. And I got lucky, there were openings to North America, which was a new country for me and new distances!

Amateur radio psk31 mode in fldigi
Amateur radio psk31 mode in fldigi
I made psk31 contacts with KR4UA at a distance of 7069 kilometer, PA3FJE at a distance of 17 kilometer and W1AW/4 in North Carolina in the USA at a distance of 5731 kilometer. W1AW is the callsign of the US Amateur Radio Relay League which is currently 'on tour' of the US to celebrate the 100 years of the ARRL.

Update 2014-09-20: Some more 10 meter PSK31 contacts on 18 September and 20 September, including IK3WHZ and IU3BSY in Italy and RA9FHM in Asiatic Russia at a distance of 3244 kilometer. And a very enthusiast S52UF in Slovenia. This contact with Slovenia was also spotted by shortwave listener NL 13562.

And KR4UA reported not having me in the logs so that contact and distance is unconfirmed.

2014-09-14 De jaarlijkse amateur radio ballonvossenjacht 2014
Vandaag heb ik weer vanaf thuis de jaarlijkse landelijke ballonvossenjacht gevolgd. Hierbij wordt een peilbaken wat radio signalen uitzend aan een helium ballon opgelaten wat uiteindelijk ergens weer neerkomt, mensen kunnen dat signaal volgen en er zijn prijzen en eeuwige roem voor de eersten die aankomen bij de plek waar het geheel neerkomt.

De ballonvossenjacht is een van de bijzondere jaarlijkse evenementen voor radioamateurs. Dit jaar werd dit evenement voor de 36e keer georganiseerd, en voor mij was het de tweede keer dat ik het geheel gevolgd heb.

Volgens mij is het in die 36 keer gegroeid tot een evenement wat multimediaal te noemen is. In ieder geval komen er allerlei aspecten van de radioamateur hobby aan te pas, zoals: Maar het evenement is eigenlijk multimediaal te noemen tegenwoordig, ook via andere wegen is het mee te beleven: Mijn complimenten aan alle mensen 'achter' het evenement wat er vast meer zijn dan op het eerste gezicht lijkt. Er was een goed strakke regie zodat via alle communicatiemiddelen tegelijk hetzelfde status bericht over de voortgang de deur uit ging. Al met al een geslaagd evenement, ook voor mij als thuis meeluisteraar!

Update 2014-09-15: Direct na afloop is de GPS data ballonvossenjacht 2014 gepubliceerd. Daar heeft Remco PA4TW een mooie google maps visualisatie ballonvossenjacht 2014 van gemaakt. En met die .gpx file en GPS Visualizer kon ik weer een hoogteprofiel ballonvossenjacht 2014 maken (afstand versus hoogte). Het profiel 'tijd versus hoogte' was een stuk minder spannend: de ballon stijgt lineair op en in de daling is de invloed van de parachute zichtbaar.

Beelden bij deze post zijn uit de PI6ATV livestream en komen van Ballonvossenjacht 2014 - PA4TW met toestemming.

2014-09-06 (#)
I had a chance Thursday to listen to a pass of the AO-7 satellite. Passes of this satellite take longer than those of the SO-50 satellite. The AO-7 satellite has an inverting transponder for SSB operation so I have to search for downlink signals. I heard some: mostly CW (morse code) but even some weak SSB. To weak to make out callsigns (for me) so this will need practising too, just like I had to learn to hear callsigns on SO-50 in FM mode.

2014-08-29 First PSK31 on HF contacts
This evening I had a bit more luck with the 10 meter band dipole I made earlier. In the log this evening: 3 PSK31 QSOs with SQ2OIC in Poland and OM1AKD in the Slovak Republic and eQSL card from EA3HCE EA3HCE in Spain.

For me the first PSK31 QSOs and the first HF contacts.

PSK31 is a data mode, so I type stuff on the keyboard. The big advantage is I can do this all remote, controlling the PC and the radio from the couch in the living room.

And EA3HCE was nice enough to confirm the QSO instantly via eQSL.cc so this is my first confirmed HF and PSK31 contact too.

2014-08-28 (#)
Tuesday evening I was at the Veron region A08 club meeting and I watched as someone else played with the radio for a while. We noticed some interesting activity on the HF bands: people making DX contacts from as far as Costa Rica mixed with people clearly having a very local contact. People working distant stations (DX) usually just want to exchange callsigns and a signal report and maybe some niceties and get on to the next contact, people having a very local contact can chat on for a while talking about the weather, their car, the upcoming visit to the dentist and other items, usually called 'ragchew'. It's very funny to hear the different styles mixed.

2014-08-25 (#)
I created the simplest possible antenna for use in the 10 meter HF bands: a dipole from recycled utp wire using some turns of coax as 'ugly balun'. I used this Wire antenna calculator to calculate the needed lengths. The choice for the 10 meter band was for a purely practical reason: this is the length I can put up under our roof easily. So I am trying PSK31 on the 10 meter band, around 28.120 MHz.

The first results the past evenings was a constant S6/S7 noise level, which leaves little space for other signals. And absolutely no response to my CQ calls.

But conditions can change, and this evening I am hearing some PSK31 traffic, and IZ3ZOW managed to copy my callsign in Italy but we couldn't make it a whole QSO. I also tried various setting for the noise reduction in the FT-857 radio to see whether that has a positive or negative influence on PSK31. I am seeing other traffic, so the 10 meter band must be opening a bit. I spotted OM0AST calling CQ from the Slovak Republic but he could not hear my signals.

Update: For me that opening didn't last longer than about 20 minutes.

2014-08-21 (#)
In a few documents about the FM transponder on the SO-50 I noticed the use of the term PL tone where I expected the term CTCSS, for example in Operating SO-50 by Howard Long, G6LVB. I started wondering about the origins of PL tone and read the explanation on Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System - en.wikipedia.org:
CTCSS is often called PL tone (for Private Line, a trademark of Motorola)

In amateur radio, the terms PL tone, PL and simply tone are still used somewhat commonly.
I'll keep calling it CTCSS.

Items before 2014-08-21
This page is created by Koos van den Hout, contact information at the end of my homepage.
Other webprojects: Weatherstation Utrecht Overvecht, Weather maps, Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites The Virtual Bookcase book reviews, webcam.idefix.net
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