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)

2015-01-31 Received an image from ISS
Image received from ISS SSTV callsign RS0ISS
Image received from ISS slow scan tv at location JO22NC 2015-01-31 starting 20:47
This chance of receiving images from ISS I took it and tried to recieve one. Not everything worked as planned: recording the audio while receiving the image with qsstv failed, someone tried to transmit on the downlink frequency to contact the ISS and the image is slanted which probably means I need to calibrate qsstv and/or the soundcard.

But, it worked! An image from the international space station!

2015-01-31 World news in my amateur radio contacts
And sometimes world news gets into my amateur radio contacts, even when both sides don't really want that:
Pse QSL via LoTW,eQSLc .. please no bureau now. War here
This was in a contact with a radio amateur operator in the Donetsk region in Ukraine.

2015-01-31 Interesting interference in the 10 meter amateur band
waterfall plot of interference I had the radio and computer running checking for PSK31 signals at 28.120 MHz, the standard frequency for PSK31 in the 10 meter band. Suddenly I saw lots of carriers 5 Hz apart and very precise. I checked the websdr in twente and saw the same signal.

So I tried to make a screengrab of it and it went away. To show up at 27.120 MHz exactly the same and annoying some 27 MHz CB users.

I'm not sure what it was, my first guess was over the horizon radar which is 'famous' for interfering on HF amateur bands. Moving 1 MHz down when the HF propagation maximum frequency is dropping is also a sign of something like over the horizon radar.

2015-01-26 Upgrading a desktop system to Ubuntu 14.04 (for newer amateur radio software!)
Recently I found out I wanted the latest and greatest in some amateur radio software used on the desktop system thompson at home. So I upgraded ubuntu again. This system has run Ubuntu versions 8.04, 10.04 and 12.04, so it does show all those upgrades work!

2015-01-23 Amateur radio and geography
This evening when I had time to play with the radio the HF bands I can use were already going 'silent'. But I left the setup running om 14.070 MHz in fldigi in PSK31 mode. This is the recommended standard frequency for PSK31 in the 20 meter band, so a lot of people will try there first. I saw a CQ call from EA9BO and fldigi filled in the country as Ceuta & Melilla which I did not recognize.
Spanish autonomous cities Ceuta and Melilla
Map of Ceuta and Melilla, from Ceuta-melilla.png, Wikimedia Commons, Anarkangel
Which means one thing: a contact with a new country! I was able to answer his call after he had contacts with a few other stations and he got my signals and we had a short QSO. Afterwards I looked up Ceuta & Melilla which are the two autonomous Spanish cities that are within Morocco.

Again amateur radio learns me new things about geography! I already have looked up a number of interesting city names in eastern parts of Europe because of what I received as the cities of radio amateurs I had contacts with.

Oh and this is the first contact on the African continent.

2015-01-17 Full amateur bands when a contest is going on
Websdr view with a contest active on 20m I like using the Wide-band WebSDR in JO32KF to check the actual conditions on the HF bands and to see if there are interesting voice contacts possible. Today I had a look at the 10 meter amateur band but it has no propagation at the moment. But the 20 meter band is doing fine and as visible in the waterfall display it is busy. A look at the HF contestkalender van PG7V op de Veron site (Dutch) confirms this: the HA-DX contest International Radioamateur Short Wave Contest organized by the Hungarian Radioamateur Society is active this weekend.

I decided not to participate on 20m voice: the SWR of my attic dipole gets to high in the voice part, triggering the SWR warning on my transciever.

2015-01-11 Playing in a radio contest
Yesterday I switched on the radio for a bit and when I responded to a PSK63 CQ I received a four-digit serial number. I assumed some contest was going on and responded with serial 1001 because some contests require 4 digit serials starting at 1001. After that I found out I was right, the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest was going on. But we had other plans, so that was just one QSO.

Today I had some more time before 12:00 UTC to play with the radio, changed the contest macros a bit for this contest and tried making more contacts. In total I made 10 contacts so it's just a checklog for the others.

Contesting is more fun than I expected when I first heard about it. And contesting in digimodes has its interesting things. I made all contacts in the 10 meter band, this is becoming my favourite HF band at the moment.

2014-12-30 First HF voice (phone) contact
After a lot of digital mode contacts (QSOs) I actually talked to someone today on HF radio. I heard UR5QW calling CQ on 10 meters HF in SSB (single side band). I was trying to find interesting stations via the Websdr in Twente but I actually heard UR5QW via the radio first and answered and we had a short but understandable QSO.

Searching for interesting signals via the websdr in Twente can be frustrating: it has less local noise than I have at home, so it can be I can understand a station via the websdr but not at home.

2014-12-21 A cold try at working the SO-50 satellite
This evening there was a pass of the SO-50 amateur satellite so I wanted to give it a try again. Since the garden table is dissassembled and stored in winter I don't have a table outside to set up laptop, radio, battery and other things so I went the simple way with the directional antenna, the SO-50 channels programmed into the handheld radio and Hamsatdroid for the prediction of the pass.

I heard the satellite, but had the usual problem of understanding callsigns. I heard one callsign good enough to answer it: 2E0FKL or that's what I think I heard, I am not one hundred percent sure. He did not hear my reply.

Comparing my 3 successful amateur satellite contacts with the 264 logged HF digimode contacts shows me that satellite contacts still have a special skillset and I'm a bit out of it. Next year will bring nicer temperatures for being outside and having the laptop controlling the radio outside.

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.

Items before 2014-10-09
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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