M0TTB Blog
MØTTB on the air - Blog
Irregularly updated news of my exploits on the air.

My current DXCC list is 314 (Confirmed 314)
All time DXCC 316

Last 10: FT/J - Juan De Nova Island, VK0H - Heard Island, VP8G - South Georgia Is,
VP8S - South Sandwich Is, ZL9 - Auckland & Campbell Is, VK9W - Willis Is, 4U - United Nations HQ,
C2 - Nauru, TI9 - Cocos Island,  ZL7 - Chatham Is,  ZK3 - Tokelau
Click below for live weather from my QTH in Watford, Hertfordshire
Live weather from Watford

Spratly

by M0TTB - Andy on 04/10/12

14 days of mayhem ahead. To me, the name 'Spratly' always brings back thoughts of the tragedy in the early 80's, when I was in full swing as an Amateur band SWL. I always regarded Spratly as some sort of holy grail for the dx chaser, but it may not have been #1 hardest even back then... it is far from that these days, but still in the top 50 hardest.

Their signals should be good on a number of bands, it's not that tricky compared to the Pacific. Their signals were often 9 today on 20m ssb, even beating the, possibly politically inspired, jamming. As was expected the pile-up across just 5kHz was fierce, the dx code of conduct totally forgotten by so many.

I've yet to have a really good moan about the behaviour of the pile-up idiots on my blog, it's not really going to change anything if I do but I will highlight one of my main gripes about those calling into pile-up, and that is the brain dead who give their callsign twice, sometimes three times without a break to listen when calling in.

Often when the dx is listening, he will take time to pick something up and there is opportunity to give your callsign more than once, but for godness sake, listen every time you give you callsign. I've heard seemingly laudable 'G's' transgress with this, some even with the 'dx code of conduct' plastered over their qrz page. To me, if you give your callsign twice in an over, you are qrm'ing... give it once, quickly and clearly, and then listen.

Forgot to mention, received card back from Monk Apollo today for a 10m qso last year, so I finally have Mount Athos confirmed... and wraps things up for Europe.
Also had a nice package from the guys who did that splendid dxped to Marquesas last Autumn (20-10m bands), and they put in a card for a few bands I worked them on whilst they were on Tahiti.


Back from a break away

by M0TTB - Andy on 04/07/12

Back from a week away in coastal Norfolk. My new Boafeng UV-5R managed to get past my YL's custom check, and I was allowed to take it. Have to say, didn't really use it much as the mystery location of our holday was more distant from any 70cm repeaters than I had imagined. I could pick up the Norwich 2m repeater, but not access it from my location near Sea Palling. Still, a break from radio is a good thing... I suppose.

Bands have been rather lacklustre since my return, there has been bits around up to 10m, FK8CP was a nice one on 12m... for a few minues I thought it was a new one for me on 12, then I remembered that I had FK/F4BKV back in February. I did hit 200 dxcc for 2012 yesterday with J6 and XE, an XE gave me WAZ for 2012.

Finally received qsl for T2T Tuvalu from last year, which was a nice Easter bonus, and also got Montana on LoTW.

The E51M dxped has been a real disappointment, heard them once at a reasonable level on 20m ssb, but nothing since. Oddly enough a KH8 one man dxped was on 20m ssb today and was a good signal, yet at the same time E51M was further up the band and absolutely nothing.

Chinese handhelds

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/15/12

I've never been a fan of handheld transcievers... weakly signals that are more trouble than they're worth ;-) and I never really had a need to own one, especailly when they used to cost £250+. I'm not sure if I really need one now, but with the silly prices being asked for the Chinese ones, and thinking it could while away a few spare hours on a rainy day whilst on one of my frequent holidays around the U.K, I decided to throw caution to the wind and buy one.

Anyway, I now have 2 handhelds.. Initially going for a £30 (including p&p) Boafeng UV-3R+. It seemed to offer quite a few advantages over the previous offerings from this outfit, notably the drop-in desk charger and a more rugged appearance. However, whilst awaiting delivery, Boafeng released another new model for very little extra ££...and this immediately struck me as being a far better choice, notably the 4-5w output and more capable 8v Li-ion battery! So naturally I ordered one.

So along with the UV-R3+, I also have a UV-5R! I was quite pleased with the little 3R+, I programmed a few local repeaters and it seems to do all that it is supposed to do...I didn't get on with the volume control, which is has several steps, starting at unpleasantly loud and going up from that, and it's rather convuluted by having to press a button first to access volume, then rotating the stepped multi-purpose knob on top of the radio.

But then the UV-5R arrived, an this felt like a proper radio in the hand... not only that but it has a proper rotary volume control with a conventional on/off switch built in to it. Volume starts at audible, but quietly audible!
Visually it looks good, even more rugged than the 3R+, an odd illuminated display that is your choice of purple, blue or orange depending on what the radio is doing at the time ( the blue is very attractive).

Sadly the UV-5R isn't as much fun when it comes to manual programming of it's memories, totally different to the little 3R+... in fact up until today, most assumed it simply couldn't be programmed with repeater shift/offsets unless it was done via computer connection, and even then it seems a bit hit or miss.

However, salvation came on the UV-5R Yahoo group, and someone uploaded a pdf this morning explaining the manual keypad programming sequence and it works!


New qsl cards

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/11/12

As expected, excellent service from UX5UO Gennady My new qsl cards arrived on Saturday morning, spot on 3 weeks after ordering. I can't believe how little 1000 glossy cards + delivery cost. Tempted to get another batch done with an aviation theme, but I'll see how my trip to RIAT goes in July... a nice shot of the Vulcan may be an alternative to the birdy card below.


Good days - bad days

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/08/12

Some days it seems you just can't get your signal beyond the end of your road... yesterday was one of those. Fruitless calling for 3C0E on 12, 10 and a PJ7 on 20m that was so frustrating that I began to wonder if I was in his 'little black book'.

I don't even know why I decided to call the PJ7 on 20m... not my favourite band, I have PJ7 confirmed, even worked it this year on other bands. I kept telling myself, 'don't bother, spin the vfo away' but I kept coming back to try again like a moth to a lightbulb. I must have been trying for a hour on and off with absolutely no joy... even major dxpeds to rare entities I'll give up after 30-40mins. I suppose it's a subconscious case of not wanting to be beaten or having to close down the shack in a bad mood... which has happened plenty of times in the past, doors slamming and expletives aplenty. I got them in the end, but I still feel what a waste of time and effort. Oddly enough, I heard them on 17m today... I got them with one call.

3C0E also went in my log on 10 and 12m today, so I have them on 4 bands now, and that'll do me. I won't lose any sleep about not getting them on 20m.

With Annobon on 12m, I'm now 2 away from 200dxcc on that band. TK still eludes me on 12m, and JW, OJ0, 8P, OY, 9M2 are surprise omissions.


3C0E in the log

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/05/12

3C0E in my log, although their log is the one that counts! Worked on 17m yesterday (Sunday) at 18:27 with only a few calls needed, though they were a weaker signal than when they were on 12m earlier in the day.. but propagation had disappeared to the East by 18:00, so far less competition. Pressure off now, but will still try for other bands.

ARRL contest was very boring in the end, East coast dominated, and a handful from West coast, but very little of desirable states in between. As usual LoTW is over-whelmed by the uploads from a big contest and seems to be way behind. I didn't even hear anyone from KY over the weekend!

Thanks for the comment Stuart... I'm not alone ;-) It often feels as if I'm the DJ on the graveyard shift of a little local radio broadcast station... nobody is listening but you have to pretend as if you have an audience :-) Be nice to see callsigns in any comments, but no big deal.

I've had enough of HRDlog ...scrapped it all from my site, the maps weren't updating, so no point having something that's inaccurate. I pumped a fair bit of money into hrdlog.net in it's first year or two, but it has always struggled to cope with the amount of users, falling over very easily. Clublog will grow and replace it in the fullness of time.

14:00 Update. Just worked 3C0E on 15m ...before they were spotted, which makes life a touch easier!

73
Andy

3C0E and ARRL Contest

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/04/12

3C0E was nice and strong on 17m this morning, a solar flare knocked the bands a bit and he resurfaced on 12m. I didn't work him but weekend pile-ups are always murder, so fingers crossed for next week.

The band conditions haven't been great for the ARRL contest, certainly compared to last year. Very few 6,7 or 0's were heard here on 20 and 15, the big East coast contest stations dominated through-out Saturday. I did pick up some LoTW WAS credits for 20m, and the real good one was MT with a very likely chance of LoTW upload from him. So that was one major target achieved..

You really need to search a callsign on LoTW to see their last upload date to get a real idea of the chances of LoTW credit. Some have clearly not updated their LoTW account and have then been lost in the technical complexities of renewing. Others simply have all the qsl options ticked in the qrz.com profile with 'Yes', yet have never even joined LoTW. So, just because it says 'Yes' in the LoTW field on a qrz entry, is no guarantee of a credt.

Did hear a WY and he looked good for LoTW, but he was very weak, and was struggling to hear anyone and just faded into oblivion very quickly, hardly anyone worked him... he was only spotted once.

Couple of VE8's in NWT enlivened things, never had a VE8 before and had one early in the morning on 20m, and another later in the day. Interesting place.

ARRL Contest

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/03/12

I'm not a contester, and think every contest should encourage qso's between everyone, i.e. at least one point for any qso. OK so participants will probably still prefer high scoring qso's, but they won't point blank refuse to work someone. I haven't fallen foul of anyone, as I won't call if there's no point for the other guy, it's just my opinion about contests.

Anyway it's ARRL phone contest weekend. I'll see if I can pick up some LoTW WAS credits... it's amazing how many I need for 20m, albeit I'm not a 20m lover. I still need LoTW WAS (I have paper card WAS), with WY, MT and SD to get. Whether I'll get them this weekend, I don't know.

March 2nd 2012

by M0TTB - Andy on 03/02/12


Long time no blog! I decided not to bother creating an archive of 2011, but I have added a quasi blog from my site hosting company and we'll see how that goes, there is a comment feature as well.

Not a huge amount of activity recently on the bands from me... but I make sure I pick up any new dxcc that I can. The HK0NA dxped was a huge success and, as with T32C last year, it was there for almost anyone to work no matter what they use on HF. They seemed to be a huge signal no matter what band they were on, and I don't think I spent much time in the pile-up trying to work them... In fact I had them on most bands before the actual dxped officially started.

The VP6T dxped was a different matter....I only managed them on 20 and 15m, and they were never too strong. I spent quite a time (for me) trying to get them on 10m, but it just didn't happen... their signal was ok but the big wide split and not hearing anything to pick up on as far as where they were listening was often depressing. It has to be said that this wasn't a huge dxped, and it was far more orientated towards CW than phone (fair enough). The main point was that I worked them for a new one.

I was really glad to finally pick up Trevor VK0TH on Macquarie, working him in peace before anyone spotted him on 20m. We're very lucky that Macquarie has had 2 consecutive operators on it. I never made it to Kev last year, more through timing than anything, he'd often call by # and start at zero (I'm usually in favour of that!) when propagation to the U.K. wasn't good, and by the time he got back to zero he'd either gone qrt due to the usual suspects or just run out of operating time.

3C is going great guns at the moment, cracking signal and I have them on 17, 15, 12 and 10. Not sure I'll get them on 20m, they turn up on 20m when the higher bands are dead, and by that time NA is waking up and attention goes to them (again, fair enough to a large extent). Just a matter of unfortunate timing. With propagation and the higher bands picking up, 20m is the struggle, as the dxped naturally concentrate further up.. and of course we have the dqrm and general bad behavior issues more apparent on 20m than anywhere else. To be honest, once I have a new dxcc, 20m is not priority as far as band slots go, it's a last resort band and I'm not bothered with my 20m tally. Their, shorter than planned, trip toe 3C0 will be far tougher!

Now an active user of LoTW, I have finally dxcc confirmed on 5 bands...just not the right bands for 5B DXCC ;-) I currently have LoTW totals of 
222 mixed,
143 20m
134 17m
164 15m
100 12m
134 10m

What else? Ordered new batch of QSL cards, should be arriving next week from 'Mr QSL' UX5UO. Choosing a photo was very time consuming, and still not sure about my choice of European Goldfinch... but at Gennady's prices, I may simply do another batch with a different photo if I'm not keen on my original choice when it arrives. I also made sure I have qso table for 5 bands on the back.