Friday, July 30, 2010

SOTA Activation: Cova da Serpe (Snake's Cave)

My friend Ernesto (EA1LQ) has been from the beginning one of the main promoters of the SOTA programme in the North West of Spain (EA1). Next Sunday 1 August nearly 200 peaks will qualify for SOTA activation and Ernesto is getting ready to activate Cova da Serpe, a summit in the nearby province of Lugo, above 800m and thus worth 4 points for scoring purposes.
Ernesto has sent me some pictures of the material he has been preparing for his expedition, where he intends to use two dipoles for the 20m and 40m bands. On the first picture you can see the dipole junction he has prepared for this expedition and on the second picture you can see the mast and mount he will use to elevate the centre of the dipole.
The SOTA programme does not allow contacts from motor vehicles or the use of fossile fuels as a source of power for the rigs, which adds to the challenge of getting to the summits.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Switzerland on 12m with the FT-897 manpack

This is a video of a QSO with Swiss station HB9BTI (Peter) on the 12m band, using the same 2.4m whip of British origin.

On this video the ATU box is painted all black because I was not convinced by the finish of the paint I used for the camo version.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AO7ISH with the FT-897D manpack

This is a video of a QSO with AO7ISH (Francisco) from Huelva using my Yaesu FT-897D manpack. AO is a special event prefix authorized to EA stations to celebrate the Spanish victory of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

This day I was testing a 13W briefcase solar generator from the Chinese manufacturer Topsolar. In following videos I will show some tests with the two additional panels, making a total of 37W.

Germany (DJ3HJ)

I have just received this nice eQSL card from German station DJ3HJ (operator: Rudi) from Breisach, for a QSO on the 17m band using my Yaesu FT-897D manpack radio.
Breisach is a town with approximately 16,500 inhabitants, situated along the Rhine in the Rhine Valley, in the district Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about halfway between Freiburg and Colmar—20 kilometers away from each—and about 60 kilometers north of Basel near Kaiserstuhl. A bridge leads over the Rhine to Neuf-Brisach, Alsace.
Its name is Celtic and means breakwater. The root Breis can also be found in the French word briser meaning to break. The hill, on which Breisach came into existence was—at least when there was a flood—in the middle of the Rhine until the Rhine was straightened by the engineer Johann Gottfried Tulla in the 19th century, thus breaking its surge.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting ready for SOTA

We are approaching 1 August, the day the Summits On The Air (SOTA) programme will start in EA1 (Spain - North West). There are nearly 200 references in four regions that will be valid from next Sunday, 1 August, and other regions that will follow shortly (hopefully).
I plan on going to EA1/CR-002 (Pendella) and be active on 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m as propagation conditions permit, both on SSB and CW. You may check the HFpack calling frequencies:

  • 14342.5
  • 18157.5
  • 21437.5
  • 24977.5
  • 28327.5
  • 50162.5

I may also try some 2m FM frequencies in order to be in contact with other activators and the fellows back home, such as 145375.

Friday, July 23, 2010

70th Anniversary of the clandestine crossings from Bretagne to England (TM70TC)

This is a QSO with French special event station TM70TC using my FT-857D with a 4m whip and an FC-40 antenna tuner.

The callsign commemorates the 70th anniversary of the clandestine crossings from the French Bretagne into England.
After the call of 18 June, 1940, many men from the island of Sein departed, from June 26, on boats to the English coast of Cornwall to continue the fight against totalitarianism. One of those boats took the same route 70 years later.
Ham radio from Finistère (ED REF-29) wanted to join in this tribute and remember the work in the dark and danger of all radio operators in the Resistance to ensure contact between London and the internal forces. Many of them were arrested and lost their lives.
For this reason, on land, the special callsign TM70TC was active from 26 June to 10 July. At sea, MM station on board the Coronasia will be active during the journey into Cornwall with callsign TM70SN.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CW with an FT-897D Solar

On this video you can see a test of the Yaesu FT-897D manpack in CW on the 15m band. The manpack is operated by EA1AQ (Juan) in a QSO with German station DF2DM (operator: Bodo).

This is a great rig for CW, with its internal keyer and DBF filter. The CW paddle is made in Romania by a fellow radio amateur.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Carary Islands on 6m (EA8AQV)

This is a video of a QSO with EA8AQV on the 6m band, with my FT-897D and a 2.4m whip.

It took me until the end of the QSO to copy his complete callsign. However, in the recording you can gear it clearly from the beginning. This is probably due to ambient noise. I think that some kind of headset would help.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Canary Islands (EA8CEQ)

This is a video of a QSO with EA8CEQ (Manuel) from La Palma in the Canary Islands.

I promised him I would post this video to show how well his signals arrive in A Coruña.

FT-897D Solar - Faro de Cacilhas (CR5FC)

This is a video of a QSO with Portuguese special event station CR5FC from Faro de Cacilhas, operated by the Portuguese Navy's radio amateur group.

In this video we were operating an FT-897D with a 13W solar generator that helped extend the duration of the internal batteries. The power was 20W and the antenna was a 2.4m whip.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Solar powered FT-897D

This is a video of some tests with my FT-897D manpack in the following configuration:
  • 2.4m whip
  • FC-40 antenna tuner
  • Internal batteries
  • 13W suitcase solar generator

On this video I make a QSO with English station M0UOO/P (Richard) operating from the beach in Southampton.

The solar generator produced just enough energy to keep the battery's charge. I also had it connected to the radio for 15 minutes after I had finished operating (with the radio switched off) so I think that the batteries were fuller at the end of the day than when I started.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yaesu FT-897D Camo

This is my FT-897D with some camo paint. I am not entirely convinced about the final result, but I wanted to show you my version of camo stripes. I think this is not bad for a first test.
I will probably end up painting evarything black, but I will use another type of black paint (water based) that has a less shiny finish than this one, and also dries faster.

Zebra stripes

It was previously believed that zebras were white animals with black stripes, since some zebras have white underbellies. Embryological evidence, however, shows that the animal's background color is dark and the white stripes and bellies are additions.[1]
The stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters, and main body, with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animal. The "zebra crossing" is named after the zebra's black and white stripes.
It has been suggested that the stripes serve as visual cues and identification.[1] With each striping pattern unique to each individual, zebras can recognize one another by their stripes.
Others believe that the stripes act as a camouflage mechanism. This is accomplished in several ways. First, the vertical striping helps the zebra hide in grass. While seeming absurd at first glance, considering that grass is neither white nor black, it is supposed to be effective against the zebra's main predator, the lion, which is color blind. Theoretically, a zebra standing still in tall grass may not be noticed at all by a lion. Additionally, since zebras are herd animals, the stripes may help to confuse predators - a number of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large animal, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out any single zebra to attack.[4] A herd of zebras scattering to avoid a predator will also represent to that predator a confused mass of vertical stripes travelling in multiple directions, making it difficult for the predator to track an individual visually as it separates from its herdmates, although biologists have never observed lions appearing confused by zebra stripes.
A more recent theory, supported by experiment, posits that the disruptive colouration is also an effective means of confusing the visual system of the blood-sucking tsetse fly.[5] Alternative theories include that the stripes coincide with fat patterning beneath the skin, serving as a thermoregulatory mechanism for the zebra, and that wounds sustained disrupt the striping pattern to clearly indicate the fitness of the animal to potential mates.

Germany (DO1KRT)

This is a video of a QSO with German station DO1KRT (operator: Ralf).

DO1KRT always has a good signal, even when propagation is not good. This was probably the second QSO I had made with this station in the past month.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Operation as AN1CW

Yesterday I started operating as AN1CW. The use of special prefixes AM, AN and AO has been allowed to Spanish radio amateurs from 12 to 31 July in celebration of the Spanish victory at the FIFA World Cup that took place in South Africa.
My first QSO was on the 20m band with German station DL6SDI/P, who was operating from his father's (DL5PR, SK) QTH in Altenkirchen, near Cologne. Dieter was using an IC706Mk2 with a 3-element tri-band beam.
Today I also made a QSO with Portuguese station CT1EHI (operator: Marcos) from Faro. I don't have this country confirmed on eQSL yet, but I think I'll have to wait because Marcos doesn't use the system very much. It is funny that after 70 countries confirmed I still haven't got Portugal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Melilla (EA9IB)

This is a video of a quick QSO with EA9IB (Pedro) from Melilla.

Melilla was a Phoenician and later Punic establishment under the name of Rusadir. Later it became a part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. As centuries passed, it went through Vandal, Byzantine and Hispano-Visigothic hands. The political history is similar to that of towns in the region of the Moroccan Rif and southern Spain. Local rule passed through Amazigh, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Ummayyad, Idrisid, Hammudid, Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, and then Wattasid rulers. Melilla was part of the Kingdom of Fez when The Catholic Monarchs (Spanish: los Reyes Católicos) Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, known as Guzmán el Bueno, the 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia to take the city.
The duke sent Pedro Estopiñán who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497[2], a few years after (1492) Castile had taken control of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the last remnant of Al-Andalus.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

FT-897 Portable

Here is a picture of the Yaesu FT-897 with the FC-40 antenna tuner attached. This tuner is suitable for long wire and whip antennas.
On the pic you can see the aluminum box painted with white multipurpose primer. I haven't decided yet the colour of the final paint. The main candidates are olive green, black, o a combination of both.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Worked All Continents (WAC) certificate

I have just received my Worked All Continents certificate in the Phone modality. I made my application though the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC).
In recognition of international two-way amateur radio communication, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) issues Worked-All-Continents certificates to amateur radio stations of the world.
Qualification for the WAC award is based on an examination by the International Secretariat, or a member-society, of the IARU of QSL cards that the applicant has received from other amateur stations in each of the six continental areas of the world. All contacts must be made from the same country or separate territory within the same continental area of the world.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Testing the FT897 portable on 10m and 20m

Thsi is a video of a QSO on the 10m band with Spanish station EA7GYU (operator: Toni)from Marbella.

I also tested the automatic antenna tuner on the 20m band, and I made a QSO with German station DK3BK, who gave me a signal report of 56. I don't have the video because my camera had run out of batteries, but I got this nice eQSL to confirm the contact. I think this is a pretty remarkable result for such a short whip (2.5m) and a counterpoise wire. I will also try with slightly longer whips such as the AT-271 when I have the chance to do it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Graciosa Island, Azores (CU4/CT1FMX)

Yesterday I made a QSO with CU4/CT1FMX (Jorge) from Graciosa Island on the 20m band.
Graciosa Island (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡɾɐsiˈɔzɐ]) (literally "graceful" or "enchanting" in Portuguese) is referred to as the White Island, the northernmost of the Central Group of islands in the Azores. The ovular Portuguese island has an area of 60.84 km², a length of 10 km and a width of 7 km. It is a volcanic island, dominated by a 1.6 km wide central caldera (the Caldeira) located in the southeast.
In addition to the other islands of the Central Group, Graciosa was explored by Portuguese navigators during the first quarter of the 15th Century. Although there exists no accounts of the first sighting of the island. May 2, 1450 has frequently been referred to as the date of the islands "discovery", although there exists no documentation to support this date. Paradoxically, it is clear that in 1440, by order of Prince Henry the Navigator, cattle and swine were settled on the island in order to facilitate colonization.
Similarly, it is unclear the names of the first settlers to colonize the island, although around 1450 the first colonists were probably slaves (but formal registries did not exist at the time). The first group of settlers of note to be mentioned were led by Vasco Gil Sodré, a former resident of Montemor-o-Velho, who arrived from Terceira accompanied by his family and servants around the middle of the 1450s. It was this pioneer who inaugurated the official phase of continuous settlement on the island.

This is the video of the QSO I made using an FT-857D and a 4m whip.

Testing the portable FT-897D

I have attached the third handle to the FT-897D and installed a 3/8-24 antenna mount. These are the results of the first test, on the 12m band.

The radio is ugly but as my friend Alex says, it's nothing that a bit of paint cannot solve. Knowing his tastes, I think I know what colour he was thinking of...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ameland Island on 12m

Today I made a QSO with Dutch station PE2MC/P from Ameland Island (EU-038) on the 12m band, and I got this nice eQSL.
Ameland is a municipality and one of the West Frisian Islands off the north coast of the Netherlands. It consists mostly of sand dunes. It is the third major island of the West Frisians. It neighbours islands Terschelling to the West and Schiermonnikoog to the East. This includes the small Engelsmanplaat and Rif islands to the East.
Ameland is, counted from the west, the fourth inhabited Dutch Wadden island and belongs to the Friesland/Fryslan province. The whole island falls under one municipality, which carries the same name. The Wadden islands form the border between the North sea and the Wadden sea which lies on the south side of the island file. As of 31 December 2008, the municipality of Ameland had 3,466 inhabitants (source: CBS). The inhabitants are called Amelanders.

Iron Man

Yesterday I was working in my workshop to continue the job I had started on Sunday with the help of my friend Robi and this is was came out. As always, it is only a prototype at an early stage.
Lots of connectors are still missing on the front panel: a 3/8-24 mount or quick disconnect for the hf antenna, a female PL connector the vhf antenna, A stainless steel ground binding post...
A third handle will provide protection for the connectors and a third foot for the radio to stand with the front panel up. It will be made of solid square section aluminum like the other handles.
The case could also be lightened with some holes that would also improve the speaker sound and give access to the battery switch.
Finally, everything could be painted and the colour has not been yet decided. Suggestions are accepted...
In the beginning I said this is just a prototype and, when I look at the pictures now, I think I must be a bit masochistic, because it is really hard to bend this aluminum. I could have made the prototype with carton board or at least a thinner aluminum plate...

Monday, July 5, 2010


Yesterday I made a couple of QSOs on the 15m band while I was waiting for a sked with Alex (ON4FB) on our usual 20m frequency.
One of those was with a maritime mobile station run by Ginel (YO4RYU), who was near the port of Huelve, in Spanish waters. Ginel has got very interesting fotor on his profile, including pictures of his antenna and his cabin.
The other QSO on the 15m band was with Ukranian station UR7EP (operator: Yuri). You can see his picture on the right.
Then I had a great QSO with Alex (ON4FB) who was using an FT897 and told me about his project to make a kite antenna. Here you can see a video:

Propagation was good and if I didn't make more contacts it was only because I had a very busy afternoon working on my FT-897. I will put some pictures as they become available.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nigeria on 17m (5N7M)

Today I just made a QSO from Monte de San Pedro, but it was a good one, with 5N7M from Abuja, Nigeria.
Abuja is the capital city of the West African nation of Nigeria. It is located in the center of Nigeria in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Abuja is a planned city[2], and was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria's capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos, the previous capital. As of the 2006 census, the Federal Capital Territory has a population of 778,567.

New electronic diplomas

The increased competition in the electronic QSL market is forcing providers to take innovative steps in oder to provide a better service. is now offering new diploma options for different achievement levels, bands and modes. This is the latest diploma I have got from them.
Earlier you could only get a diploma after 25 countries (which is relatively easy) and another one at 100 countries, which is really difficult. Now you can get new diplomas at 25 country steps (25, 50, 75, 100).