Last January the QSO BANAT Association added a 23 cm section to their VHF-UHF FT8 Activity contest, open to all digital modes. Tonight it was the 3rd round in this year and my second time in participating. In February I struggled with FT8 and some QSOs could have been much faster completed by using CW, as the one with Roberto, IK2OFO, whom I worked many times before in CW on 23 and 13 cm.
This time I tried FT4 in some skeds and was surprised by the excellent performance of this mode. Of cource I tried with Roberto and it was as fast as in CW. Later at the end of the contest I had QSOs with Andre, DL6AST, in FT4 on 23 cm and on 13 cm as well. After that we tried MSK144 and JT9f (my favourite so far) on the higher band, but without success so far.
It seems FT4 is more robust in handling the varying doppler shift and multipath propagation caused by airplane reflections compared to FT8.
Many thanks to the friends of the QSO BANAT Association for organizing this activity on 23 cm and not dedicating it to FT8 only. This opens space for experimentation, the heart of amateur radio!
After my visit to Berlin a fortnight ago, where Thomas, DC7YS, granted me massive support in assembling my 10/24 GHz duo band rig, I have been out today to give it a try in the BBT contest.
The selected location is a building in the vine yards just a little south of my home.
It has a terrace upstairs with a perfect view to the horizons.
Despite beeing an asolute newbie, I logged two QSOs. The first one I had with Martin, DL3SFB/p on the Hornisgrinde in the Black Forrest near Freiburg. Signals were just good enough to complete in SSB over 144 km. Second was Daniel, DL3IAE, near Landau, 70 km away.
Daniels signal was extremly distorted by windmills and even in CW very hard to copy.
A test with Ewald, DK2DB, in Karlsruhe was not successful, because of a pear tree obstructing him in my direction.
The grey box houses latest Kuhne transverters for 10 and 24 GHz, driven by an IC-705. Output after all the lossy semi rigid and relays is measured to 6 W on 10 GHz and 1 W on 24 GHz. The feed a dual band horn, made by Paul, W1GHZ. The size of the dish is 80 cm. Power sources are batteries of my Makita tools.
After the Test with Ewald I decided to leave, because some strong gusts came up and the dish has a quite a good wind load. As the stuff is very heavy, the tripod is too fragile to withstand the weight plus the wind.
It was nice to paricipate in the recent Microwave Contest on first weekend in June. There was a lot of activity despite the fact, no multi operator stations have been there as big guns. Meanwhile the claimed scores for DL are available and I was surprised by looking at the number of german participants on the 23 cm band. 174 stations sent their logs, which is much more than the total numbers of single and multi operator stations in the past years.
So I guess, it may be caused by the popularity of the new ICOM IC-9700 SDR transceiver, covering the 23 cm band.
Addendum June 17th, 2020: Pit, DK3WE, the contest manager, had a look for me at the .EDI files and found among those, who entered the equipment, 40 entries of IC-9700.
The VHF/UHF/SHF contest on 2nd to 3rd of May was a good opportunity to spend a few hours trying the new AirScout version 184.108.40.206 released by Frank, DL2ALF. In principle it works like it´s predecessors, but is more stable in collecting the aircraft data. My favourite in this case is planefinder.net.
Most impressed I am by the new feature to monitor a number of paths to certain stations simultaneously! This provides more efficiency in arranging skeds, particularly in times like these, when there are a few planes only are available.
The last contest, I participated, was in June 2018. There wasn´t much time for amateur radio since. So I was lucky to dive into contesting this weekend mainly on 23 and 13 cm, as usual, but had some QSOs on 2 m, 70 cm and 3 cm as well.
I am happy about 60 claimed QSOs on 23 cm and 43 on 13 cm. On 3 cm I logged 7 Stations, with OE5VRL/5 as ODX via rain scatter.
There have been some new calls on 23 cm but none on 13 cm, as I had expected. Many became QRV on 2400 MHz for QO-100, using transverters, also operable on 2320 MHz. They should learn about the exitement of DX via aircraft scatter on 13 cm.
It was a nice and not anymore expected surprise, as the postwoman had a thick envelope for me: An award for the IARU Region 1 UHF/Microwave contest in October 2017. In it´s attractive design it is an enrichment for my collection.
As can be noticed now, the fears, many Microwavers would prefer to go to the HAM RADIO fair in Friedrichshafen, were overdone. It was a nice contest and in the 23 and 13 cm sections I worked more stations than in the last contests in May and March, as well as in all previous microwave contests I participated in June before. As can be seen in the maps, my honey pot is the east.
QSOs on 23 cm in Microwave Contest June 2018
The signal levels were very strong and I managed to work HA5KDQ on 23 cm in SSB over a distance of 830 km via Aircraft Scatter (ODX). To be honest: I am sure, we would have been faster in using CW 😉
QSOs on 13 cm in Microwave Contest June 2018
Working on 13 cm was big fun and ODX was HG7F over 817 km in a quick QSO in CW (as usual). When I went to bed at night, I already had 22 QSOs on this band with an average of 457 km per QSO.
Hannes, OE3JPC, was so kind, to send an audio record of my signal on 13 cm.
First steps have been done on 3 cm. But there is a lot of potential for improvements.
So it was not really a problem to quit two hours earlier to attend a barbecue with the family.
It´s one of the rare moments in the life of a Radio Amateur, when his shack is cleared up. Beyond believe, everything was up and running 2 hours (!) before contest time. Being a kind of bewildered, I sorted the stuff on my desk. The amazing result can be admired in the photo I took hereafter.
Starting with a nice QSO with M1CRO in SSB on 23 cm, I tried the new 3 cm Equipment, mounted on the VHF/UHF pole. 1 W into a 50 cm dish should be enough to collect first experiences. Two QSOs over 100 km were entered to the log. Quite nice, but further tests showed, that the topography is not ideal to cover larger distances, without the help of e.g. tropo, aircraft or rain scatter.
QSOs on 23 cm in blue, on 13 cm in red
Then I had my focus on 1296 and 2320 MHz, as usual. At least 58 QSOs, 36 squares and 14 DXCCs on 23 cm and 32 QSOs, 25 squares and 10 DXCCs on 13 cm have been logged. ODX, as last year, was HG7F in JN97KR over 817 km on both bands. Having an easy exchange on 1296 MHz, it took us nearly 20 minutes of hard work to puzzle a QSO on 13 cm as well. I remeber, last year it was vice versa.
After the unexpected good result in March on 13 cm, I had a special focus on this band in May contest. Last year I marked my new record in the number of stations worked on 23 cm, this year I improved the new record from March in worked stations on 13 cm. Particularly in the last hour I had the ambition to log at least 40 Stations. So I had QSO #40 in the last 5 minutes with Detlef, DJ3AK, in JO52GJ, 322 km, using aircraft reflections on planes just 50 km from my location, elevating the dish up to 10°: Power Aircraft Scatter 😉
QSOs on 13 cm
With QSOs to Poland, Hungary and Belgium three new countries could be added to the 13 cm list. HG7F (817 km) is my new aircraft scatter ODX. Also some new grid squares could be logged.
And again: After the contest is before the contest! A lot of ideas are in my mind, what has to be improved for the next competitions!