Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three years as a licenced radio amateur

Thumbs up . . . operating the EI0W contest station down in
Thos EI2JD's QTH in Clogherhead.
I thought I should give brief mention to the fact that today marks the third anniversary of the receipt of my amateur radio licence. I received my first licence as EI8GHB on October 30th 2009. What a wonderful three years it's been. I've worked 278 DXCCs on HF, I've made lots and lots of valuable friends in the hobby, I've become a contributor to Echo Ireland magazine and even a member of the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society committee.

It really is a wonderful hobby, populated by lots of very interesting and, with hardly any exceptions, very decent and helpful operators and short wave listeners. In my first days on air I struggled to work the DX using a Kenwood 570D and a half-size G5RV which wasn't nearly high enough off the ground. The shack, and the antennas, have developed and evolved and escalated such that I am able to work the world from this humble location.

Thanks to everyone who's been there to share it with me. To all the local hams who have helped me install the antennas, and who have sold me cheap radios, and to all those around the globe with whom I have made a QSO. I recently passed the 16,000 QSO mark and continue to enjoy chatting with people all around the world.

Ours is a great hobby. There is a tremendous civic aspect to amateur radio, exemplified by local clubs holding meetings throughout the year, and by activities such as AREN (Amateur Radio Emergency Networks) which are there for times of disaster and difficulty.

Most of all, ours is a hobby of gentlemen and ladies, exemplified by the excellent attitude and operating practices and standards of the EI amateurs. Long may it last. Here's to a great future . . .

Video: Irish hams contact with Columbia in 1983

Thanks to Seamus EI4KE who spotted this great video on YouTube. It shows a contact between EI0RTS, the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society headquarter station, and the Space Shuttle Columbia back in 1983. Of course, Columbia was destroyed in an accident in February 2003 so this video is all the more poignant.

Here is more information about the video from its YouTube description:

This historic amateur radio contact took place in late 1983 when the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society set up a special station in the RTE museum in Rathmines to attempt to contact Owen Garriott aboard the shuttle Columbia. Garriott had a hand-held two-metre transceiver aboard the shuttle and, when time allowed, he would call other amateur radio stations on the ground as the shuttle passed over. Unfortunately, in 2003 the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry to the earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew aboard.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New video: St. Helena Island on 10 metres

Conditions have been fantastic on 10 metres during the past couple of weeks, and the band really came to life over the weekend for the CQWW 2012 phone contest. Here, the day after the contest, is ZD7FT, Peter on St. Helena Island, working a pile-up into Europe.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dipping in and out of CQWW contest

I spent a bit of time in the CQWW Phone contest over the weekend, but not in a major competitive way because there were other things to be done HI HI! But I enjoyed my time on the bands, where I managed to chalk up 575 QSOs over four bands. I spent about two hours on Saturday and a good deal more on Sunday notching up contacts. I concentrated on 10 metres, where I reckon I also nabbed a few new DXCC. There were some nice ones to be worked, including VP9, VP5, HI, TI, YN HK and more. Nabbed Australia on 10 metres too which is always nice.

The Icom IC-756PRO is very handy for contesting because I can record four different snatches of audio for use in CQWW. Slot 1 was "Echo India Two Kilo Charlie" for calling DX stations. Slot 2 was "Five Nine One Four" for the exchange, while slots 3 and 4 were CQ slots for when I was sitting on a frequency. 10 metres was very lively over the weekend and it was great to hear it in such good condition. Long may it last!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two very nice QSL cards in the post today

These two very nice cards arrived in the post today. They are from VK9CS, Cocos-Keeling Islands, and VK9XS, Christmas Island, which were both brand new DXCCs for me during September, just after I put the hexbeam up here. I worked VK9XS on 17m CW and 15m CW, and VK9CS on 17m and 12m CW. Absolutely thrilled to get these.

Some time on the air as EI80IRTS

The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and as a result the special callsign EI80IRTS has been on the air since January 1st. I was recently asked by Ger EI4GXB and Thos EI2JD if I would consider operating on CW as EI80IRTS.

Since I now have an interface that can key my radio, the ICOM IC-756PRO, I decided I would give it a go. Over the past three days I have logged about 700 QSOs, a great majority of which were made with just 100 watts. The higher bands have been in great shape.

Much of my time was spent on 10m and 12m, early in the mornings for Asia and Pacific and late in the evenings for North America. I have had Australia, Japan and Singapore in the log in the mornings and lots of west coast USA in the evenings. I am using N1MM logger to log the calls.

I am very happy with my rate when there is a pile-up, but with changing band conditions, it's not always possible to have a pile-up!! I was running at 32wpm, which is a bit on the hot side, but I want to get used to going along at a good pace because I want to start taking part in more CW contests.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Icom IC-756 PRO - what a beauty!

I wanted to take a striking picture of this beautiful rig which has recently been added to the shack. I hope this does it justice. I have greatly enjoyed using this rig so far. It not only looks great, but it performs brilliantly too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A good day's hunting for DX . . .

I didn't have a huge amount of time for HF activities today because I was taking part in a first aid course with the AREN North East group (Amateur Radio Emergency Network). However, the time I did allocate to HF was used wisely. I managed to get half an hour in the shack early this morning and nabbed TX5EG in French Polynesia on 20 metres CW with just 100 watts. Conditions seemed to be good to the Pacific at the time because shortly afterwards I worked ZL4PW on 12m CW, also with 100 watts. You can see what Paul's signal was like in the video below, which I made just after I had my QSO with him. The Icom is a new toy in the shack! The video was made with my Nikon D7000, and the audio was connected directly from the radio to the camera:
Shortly after that I worked another New Zealand QSO, this time it was ZL2MY on 17m CW. His name was Mike and he told me he has an Irish callsign, EI7CR. We later exchanged emails. He was very happy to hear EI, and it is a sure sign of improving conditions. New Zealand is one of the furthest places from Ireland and it's always a great pleasure to work the ZLs on HF.

Other highlights of the day include C50C The Gambia on 12m SSB, who had a booming signal, and a hefty pile-up from Europe and indeed further afield. It took me a while to work him but I eventually did. The second video below shows his signal strength just after I worked him. I worked the P29VCX dxpedition to Papua New Guinea on 20 metres side bands and then tonight on CW. I also nabbed 9J2GR in Zambia on 12m CW for a new country on that band, and then the absolute highlight of the day was working the T30PY Western Kiribati dxpedition on a second slot tonight, this time 17m CW.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A lovely old film about amateur radio

Some of you may have seen this before, but I came across this quaint old film from 1939 on YouTube. It's about amateur radio, and particular how this service can be utilised in emergency situations. Very interesting.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New cards in: Ogasawara and Minami Torishima

I am delighted to have received these two QSL cards recently. The one on the left is from JD1 Minami Torishima for our QSO on 17m CW, a brand new country for me when I worked him. On right is a card from JD1BMH in Ogasawara, another new DXCC when worked. These are both islands in the Pacific which are controlled by Japan, but count as separate DXCC.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

VK9XM Christmas Island worked on 12m SSB

This is a short video showing VK9XM on Christmas Island booming in on 12 metres SSB just after I had worked him with my first call on the hexbeam. As you can see, he was very strong here. Although Christmas Island is not a new DXCC for me, having recently bagged it as a new one, it was new for me on 12 metres.

I was delighted to break a huge pile-up this afternoon on 20m SSB to work EP3PK, Pooyan in Tehran, Iran, to get a brand new DXCC into the log, number 276!! The hexbeam is working wonders!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another new Pacific DXCC: H44PA Solomon Islands

Above is a video of my QSO this morning with Greg, H44PA, in the Solomon Islands, on 17m CW. This is another new country for me, my 275th DXCC worked and my tenth new DXCC since putting up the hexbeam. If you listen you can hear my obvious excitement at working the new one. His signal, with QSB, was up to 579 at times. Really, really thrilled with this one. There were very few people calling him, so obviously there was just good propagation between us at that moment. He had just worked a JA (Japan) station immediately before me. I think from his reaction he was pretty happy to work EI himself. I will definitely be sending a QSL card to Greg for this contact!! Cheers Greg!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

V73NS Marshall Islands QSO confirmed on LoTW

I've just checked my ARRL Logbook of the World Account and I am delighted to see that V73NS has confirmed our recent QSO on 15m CW. This is a brand new DXCC for me, never worked before.

My confirmation from V79NS
Remember that LoTW counts towards DXCC credit. It is a great service, and it's generally easy to upload your log if you use a computer log and have internet access. That brings to 229 confirmed DXCC on LoTW alone, not counting QSL cards.

In the past week I have sent cards to 5W0XT, JG8NQJ/JD1, 3D2MM/MM, XX9E, VK9CS, VK9XS, 3D2C and FK8CE. It will be a great pleasure to see many of those cards coming back!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dxpeditions and DX to be listening out for

There is lots of potential rare DX to be worked over the next while, and indeed currently. The 3D2C dxpedition on Conway Reef in the south Pacific is still in full swing and is QRT on Friday, October 5th. Meanwhile, keep an ear out for KH8, American Samoa, from where N6XT and N7CQQ have been operating on RTTY and SSB.

Tristan de Cunha is currently being activated by Rob M0VFC and has been worked in EU with relative ease.

Starting this week is 5U5U, a three-man dxpedition to Niger in Africa, led by Chris, TL0A. The three operators will be active on all bands from 160m through 6m and will be there for two weeks. The three callsigns to be used will be 5U5U, 5U6E and 5U8NK.

BY1WXD/0 is operating from Tibet, but beware that Tibet AC4, is a deleted entity and does not count for DXCC.

Later in the month, on October 16th, the T30PY dxpedition to Western Kiribati starts. T30 is Clublog's 68th most wanted DXCC. See more information on the T30PY website.