Sebatik Island OC-295 Update

Greetings from Tawau, Sabah...

John, 9M6XRO, and Steve 9M6DXX were unable to operate from Sebatik Island, OC-295, on this occasion, but we have been able to make arrangements for a 4-day DXpedition there in September. Further details to follow.

73, Steve, 9M6DXX

UR News

The UK Scout Contest Team were active in the CQ WPX CW Contest this weekend. Terry G4MKP using the new team’s contest call M9X was Single Op All Band High Power CW, and supported on the technical back room by James M0YOM and Callum M0MCX.

Here at our Latitudes Terry suffered heavily with the geo magnetic storm that affected the bands with a K5 index on Saturday. Terry reports making 2200 Qs and provisionally 3,400,000 points.

As M9X is a new call sign I will be designing and printing the new QSL card very soon for the UK Scout Contest Team.

Logs – Logs this week have been uploaded to the online log search for 9M6XRO, M9X and OY1OF.

Sebatik Island OC-295 3 - 5 June

John, 9M6XRO, and Steve, 9M6DXX, will be visiting Sebatik Island

(OC-295) from 3 to 5 June and may be active as 9M6XRO/P (CW) and 9M6DXX/P (SSB) using 100W to a simple wire antenna, although no operation is guaranteed on this occasion. The visit is in preparation for a possible DXpedition there later in the year with higher power and better antennas. OC-295 has only been activated once before, in July 2006, and remains high up the IOTA 'Most Wanted' list.
QSL both callsigns via M0URX, direct, or OQRS for Bureau or LoTW.


John and Steve tell me that this trip is very much a reconnaissance trip for a expedition possibly later in the year.

73, Steve, 9M6DXX

The Highs and Lows of Weekend DX'ing

A Saturday morning off work is a rare thing for me so when I get the chance to be by the radio at sunrise you can bet on me being there with a cup of English tea to start the day.

The past few days had seen the SFI drop to 71 after 12 consecutive spotless SSN days so when I saw the SSN edge up to 12 and the SFI up to 73 it didn’t really fill me with enthusiasm of a DX-full weekend, just hopeful of maybe a new one somewhere! The morning started quite good, some friends in Sweden each year choose an IOTA to operate from and you can bet that they will always be professional and provide something good to chase, using the call sign 7S6W and operating from Vinga Island EU-043. Sporadic E season has not started to well here in Coventry so I was not expecting to hear them when I saw 7S6W on the cluster on 14.260 MHz, but they were a solid S9 one call and they were in my log, I wished the team well and let them carry on. I tuned down the band and heard AH6S Tiff calling CQ on 14.198 MHz over the pole, now normally Hawaii creates a huge European pile up so when I heard no one reply I fumbled quickly with the footswitch and put my cup of tea down and answered his call, Tiff came straight back, just brilliant! Working Hawaii always gives me a buzz, this is what I wanted to start my Saturday.

That was about as exciting as it got that day until the evening when 17m and 20m opened up to the Caribbean and South America. J88CF Kumar in St Vincent was a great signal and that would be an all time new one for me, but the pile up was just out of control, no respect whatsoever from many of the undisciplined European operators. I was not going to join this zoo, I would rather miss a new one than get involved in bad behaviour. So I changed bands to 17m where I worked FS/N4ECW/P on St Martin Island, I am chasing yearly DXCC and this was a new one for 2010 so I was pleased to be able to work Dennis tonight. Also logged was VP5/PY2WAS Turks & Caicos Is, CP6UA Bolivia and NP2KW on the US Virgin Islands. It was getting late 2320 local time so I went back to 20m and to 14.227 MHz where Kumar J88CF was still working the pile up, but wait, listen! The EU zoo had gone, propagation by this time was moving further West and had closed to my South and East, looks like I have a clear shot at this, I “Fire up the Acom” it finishes its warm up, and I call “Mike Zero Uniform Romeo X-ray” Kumar hears me “The Mike Zero again?” I reply again and Kumar gets my full call, bang in the log number 285 for my all time DXCC. Pleased and with a big grin I tune both 20m and 17m and work a few more before I call it a night.

Sunday, another day, not much DX around again today, but ZS8M Pierre is spotted on the cluster on 20m, I listen and listen hard but no matter how much I concentrate that ESP signal is NOT going to jump out of the speaker and give me Marion Island! Pierre is still using wires and with sunspots scarce I am going to have to accept this is one that will not be in my log for a while yet. In the afternoon I got back into the shack at 3pm and 6m was showing signs of something promising. ZC4VJ Andy has been banging out CW & SSB Qs all day, it looks like I will have quite a few QSL cards coming in later this week from Andy’s weekend activity. I wait patiently until I hear his signal out of the noise, this would be a new band slot on 6m, its 30c in the shack, I can’t stand this damn heat in here. I was on 50.115 MHz, Andy was there, yes! He says listening up 5, I call, nope not this time, I call again “Hey Tim M0URX great to hear you” Yeah “Andy you are 53 thanks for the new slot” I Skype my mate G1VDP Chris and tell Chris to get on 6m, Andy says that he will send me a log update in the morning after he has had a sleep. That will be great I have lots of QSL requests to get through.

Back on the cluster I am keeping an eye on A92IO Dave in Bahrain, Dave is on 50.205 MHz listening up 5 – 10. His signal is very much in and out of the noise with the Sporadic Es today but at 5,200 Km’s this would be a great one to log! After about an hour of waiting, listening and more listening and quite a lot of calling I finally get through and Dave’s signal lifted to 53. Another new one on 6m! It has been an enjoyable weekend, thanks for the chase its been a good one!

Not staying up late tonight, I have an airport run to do at 5am so catch you tomorrow guys!

M0URX Chasing SSB DXCC 2010

I use Club Log to keep track of my yearly band slot totals and this is where M0URX stands 18/07/2010.


SSB 2010 League.
RankCallsign16080604030201715121064270TotalSlots 
1 M0URX 0 0 0 0 0 181 105 134 89 97 40 0 0 0 223 646

      
While the table below shows the total figure for the 2009 SSB League at 31/12/2009

RankCallsign16080604030201715121064270TotalSlots 
1 M0URX 1 19 0 46 0 206 108 122 37 94 31 0 7 1 229 672

Winlog32 Logging Software Development Work

A huge thank you to Colin G0CUZ author of Winlog32 logging software.

Over the past year I have been sending Colin a “Wish List” of ideas that would make Winlog32 logging software an absolute dream for QSL managers to use. Colin has put my wish list into development and has produced a QSO Label printing process that saves me literally hours on a big run of Bureau cards and makes the label printing a matter of just a couple of key strokes on the keyboard.  

Earlier versions of Winlog32 printed Single and Multi labels on two print runs which meant combining the two separate sheets of labels alphabetically on the QSL cards. This was very frustrating and very time consuming. So the first step forward was to print the Single / Multi labels together alphabetically. Job done! 

Here at the Bureau I have 55 logs, and each time I printed a label for a different DX Call sign, the label had to be over-typed “73 de M0URX TIM” or whoever’s label I was printing so the next stage was to programme the software to “grab” information from the “Station Location” file of the log information such as MYCALL MYNAME and automatically add this information to the QSO Report label for each log when I click on “Print QSL” 

This has now been improved further with MYIOTA & MYGRID to automatically add the IOTA and Grid Locator to the report label if required.

This development in the Winlog32 software is invaluable to me with sometimes thousands of QSL cards to print from up to 55 different DX’pedition logs. Thanks Colin your work is very much appreciated!

Read more: Winlog32 Logging Software Development Work

10m openings

At last today the Sporadic E conditions opened up very well here in Coventry. I opened the M0URX log at 13:27z this afternoon on 28.525 MHz calling CQ, first to reply to my call was SM7DWL Nils in Sweden, great the first spring opening to Scandinavia so I turned the beam a little higher to see what other countries I could work on 10m. I enjoy trying to work as many DXCC in a year on each band, testing propagation trying to find the limits of openings and the limits of my antenna and trying to learn more about the behaviour of propagation at different times of the year and the sunspot cycle.

I continued my “CQ 10m” with a reply from RU2FA Nick from Kaliningrad so for sure the E’s were favouring the Baltic area, just how far will the band open? Will I work a new band slot? I was beginning to feel quite excited about the opening, I had a good feeling about the band today. Keen to keep the momentum going I called CQ again, I hear a quiet reply ,did I hear that correct? UK8 ? I asked the UK8 to repeat his call sign, I dropped the antenna to 90 degrees and the signal came up nice and strong it was UK8OM Mike, I explained to Mike that this was my first 10m Q with Uzbekistan and thanked him for the reply to my CQ call and that a direct QSL was on it’s way. We chatted for a few moments before signing off and I called CQ again.

Contacts with Austria, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Denmark followed in quick fire “59” Qs and some short hop E’s too with contacts into the Netherlands just a few 100 km’s away.

I spotted A71CT Sultan on the cluster just a few KHz away from me so I spun the dial to say hello, he heard my first call, and bang in the log. Great so the band is alive now, back to ‘525 for some more CQ calls, first of course checking to see if the frequency I had left was still available.

Quite soon the E’s were moving over to North and East Europe as lots of UA6’s were calling me and also plenty of QRP stations too, it’s a great feeling to pull the 1w stations out of the noise, with E’s taking away the signal with QSB it takes some effort to get these guys in the log, but I hear their delight in his voice when I hear “yes, yes 100% you have my call” so thank you for the patience of the QRP guys!

Then two stations from Republic of Georgia called me, 4L4MG Murman & 4L1AMM Amiran wow this is great! Very weak I was hearing E?3 I tried but couldn’t get the prefix so I was not sure where to turn the beam. A DL station told me that it was EI3 so I asked everyone to stand by and not to help as I tried again to call the EI3, his signal picked up well on backscatter I got him this time it was EI3GV Brendan in Ireland. I needed Ireland for my personal challenge of working as many DXCC’s as I can in 2010. That contact was followed by MW0CND Martin in Swansea another backscatter contact. The afternoon continued well with many more countries logged. By 17:00z I had logged 130 stations on 10m from about 20 countries, not a huge amount by any means but just great fun. Thanks to all of you.

Incoming QSL Bureau

Wednesday 5th May
Something a little different on the blog this week. I will take you through a weeks work at the office with all the Bureau QSL cards to give you an insight into the work involved.  
I received a large box from the RSGB Bureau containing 3,400 QSL Via M0URX.
Status - ALL Bureau cards posted to World Bureaus 14/05/2010.
QSL cards will be sent direct to World Bureaus. A large percentage of cards are for 2007 and 2008, this shows just how far behind the RSGB Bureau is in my opinion! So if i had sent these cards back through RSGB Bureau it would be about 5 year turn around. Simply NOT acceptable is it?

3DA0OK   278 QSL cards processed - 50% of log QSL confirmed!
5B/G4MKP   6 QSL cards processed
7P8OK      107 QSL cards processed - 35% of log QSL confirmed
9M4SEB       7 QSL cards processed  
9M6DXX      94 QSL cards processed
9M6DXX/P 116 QSL cards processed  
9M6/G3OOK 30 QSL cards processed  
9M6XRO    481 QSL cards processed  
9M6XRO/P 108 QSL cards processed 
9M8Z         245 QSL cards processed 
A25OOK      61 QSL cards processed 
C91XO       169 QSL cards processed 50% of log QSL confirmed!
CY2ZT/2    116 QSL cards processed
M0URX      156 QSL cards processed
M0XXT       108 QSL cards processed  
MC0SHL    301 QSL cards processed 
MW9W      323 QSL cards processed 
OY4TN        55 QSL cards processed
V8FEO        62 QSL cards processed
XU7DXX       30 QSL cards processed
XU7XRO    142 QSL cards processed
ZC4VJ         44 QSL cards processed
ZS6.GM3OOK 30 QSL cards processed

Just 33 direct letters this week. I would normally do those daily as the letters come in but with so many bureau cards to deal with i have just processed direct today. All post has been posted 14/05/2010

Postage Costs for Direct QSL

In recent days i have received many letters with either NO postage costs with letters saying "can't find any IRCs or $$" and also letters with considerably insufficent funds to return the QSL so I have below written the costs for you to see. I consider these costs to be VERY fair so please make sure that you send the right postage costs with your QSL!

Paying by Paypal (ONLY)            OR Direct QSL By POST
2 Euros for 1 (ONE QSL ONLY!!!)
Or by post US$2 / 1 x IRC
3 Euros for up to 4 QSL cards      Or by post US$3 / 2 x IRC
5 Euros for 5 – 10 QSL cards or   Or by post US$5 / 3 x IRC
7 Euros for 11 - 20 QSL cards      Or by post US$7 / 5 x IRC

NO UK STAMPS ACCEPTED from outside UK sorry!

More details here on HOW TO QSL!  
If INSUFFICIENT funds are sent, QSL WILL be sent Via Bureau! 

VP8/O South Orkney Island DX'pedition 2011

logovp8oIn January, 2011 The Microlite Penguins DXpedition Team will be heading to the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica, one of the world's most wanted DXCC entities.  As with all trips to the planet's extremes, this DXpedition presents it's own unique set of logistic and environmental challenges. But with our experienced ship, crew and team of operators we aim to make this one of the most exciting and enjoyable DX events of the year.

For more information please visit our website:
VP8/O DX'pedition

As always, we look forward to seeing you on the bands.

73 James Brooks, 9V1YC
The Microlite Penguins DXpedition Team

Good luck to the team from United Radio QSL Bureau. US$ 50 sent to your fund. Look forward to hearing VP8/O on air in 2011.

P29CS Latest

Andy P29CS/P has returned home from his family holiday in Rabaul Island OC-008. The log is now on my online Log search and QSL cards will be overprinted for the IOTA information and sent very soon. Andy is now back on Lihir Island OC-069 and will be active in his spare time.

I am getting many emails asking for communication to Andy P29CS about QSL cards from before Jan 16 2010. The situation is this! WAIT! Please wait. Your QSL will be dealt with by Andy as soon as he can.  Please do not email me here as there is nothing i can do to help at this stage.
200 blank P29CS QSL cards are to be mailed out to Andy this week so that he can process QSL cards from before 16/01/2010. Please be patient.
M0URX is QSL Manager for P29CS for QSOs AFTER Jan 16 2010.

Email Traffic

There has been an increased amount of emails this week concerning the costs of QSL Via Bureau, who should pay? There is an example of one QSL manager who charges US$1 for up to 3 QSL cards sent Via Bureau which many find quite concerning. Should the Bureau be FREE? But free for who? This is not a new question of course just one that is getting a louder voice now as postage costs rise.

Here at my QSL Bureau it costs in excess of US$1,000 a year to send all QSL cards Via Bureau and these costs have to be met by someone. In my case it is carefully managing income from Direct QSL cards, by finding the cheapest route for sending outward QSL cards, by having a good working relationship with my QSL Printer Max which allows flexibility in printing costs and also searching for the right costs for stationary, as envelopes, inkjet labels and printer ink all add significant cost to my Bureau costs over the year.

This week the RSGB QSL Bureau also informed me that some of my clients are not able to use the Bureau as they are not members of the RSGB, this is not a problem for us as most of our Bureau cards are not routed through the RSGB but instead I send Direct to World Bureaus every 10 weeks or so.

So the truth here is that Bureau QSL costs are met jointly by those who send Direct QSL cards, and a careful management of funds saving money wherever possible. Also there are many who send donations (Thank you!) even if it is only sending an extra IRC or dollar in with the QSL it all helps keep the United Radio Bureau going to keep the QSL cards flowing around the World quickly and as efficiently as possible. Then of course we also provide some sponsorship to DX’peditions globally where we are in a position to do so. 

How can you help keep Bureau costs down? Well only by sending for Bureau cards that you actually want. For DX’peditions and many other callsigns that I manage “EMAIL REQUEST IT, DON’T SEND IT” This not only speeds up the Bureau QSL process but saves a lot of money both for the DX station AND for the World QSL Bureau’s. So before you send that QSL please spend a little time in checking with the QSL manager first. 

Post Delayed

iceland-volcano-400x257Due to the volcanic ash over British airspace there are delays in International post.

Royal Mail's International hub is based at Heathrow Airport, London where planes have been grounded the last few days. This has let to mail to and from the United Radio QSL Bureau being held up in the delays. I will now post out the P29CS and other QSL cards as soon as flights from London resume. I apologise for the delay in getting these QSL cards to you.

K4M Midway Atoll QSL

I received the K4M Midway Atoll QSL in the post this morning. That makes 284 DXCC Confirmed for M0URX.
K4M_MIDWAY013

Ofcom Return

You may remember I invited Ofcom (Office of Communications) to investigate some local QRM giving me major grief on the Amateur Bands, well the TV Masthead Preamp PSU on the house at the end of the street has now been replaced, and the drifting noise on 15m now has gone... BUT.. I quickly realised that was not the main cause. I invited Ofcom back and asked them to investigate further as I still have total wipe out S9+20 on all bands about 3 hours every evening.
Ofcom now require a test done to make sure that the interference is 6db higher than the noise floor before they can take the case on. Not easy as the noise is in the evening and Ofcom work 9-5. Luckily during the day there are sprogs on 20m and various other parts of the HF spectrum for the guys to test. Happy that i have a case they went away to DF the little sprog. Got him! A Plasma TV a few doors away! Oh no!

The field engineer comes back to tell me the bad news, however he says that the first stage is to encourage the owner to compliance. Also his Office will send out further equipment to test the field strength of the Plasma TV to prove that it exceeds regulations. He says that if asking the owner to comply does not work then they will take the action of enforcement if it is required.

On a plus side the owner of the Plasma says that they are moving house at the end of April! Bonus!!! But the Ofcom engineer says that the case will stay live even when they move as the equipment MUST be repaired or replaced.

M0XXT CQ WPX Contest Station

ShackI had the pleasure this afternoon of visiting the UK Scout Contest Team M0XXT in Dorridge near Birmingham, England. The team led by M0MCX Callum have done an extensive shack refurbishment over the last few months. CQ WPX is a great contest to check out all of the new band pass filters and antenna systems.
Pictured operating Station 1 is Simon M0VKY, Station 2 operated by Callum M0MCX with guest operator Dave VA7AM looking on.

The full team of operators: Callum M0MCX, James M0YOM, Terry G4MKP, Simon M0VKY, David VA7AM.


Tower2Pictured on the mast and other antennas on site.
Full size 2 element 40m yagi at 120ft
80m Dipole NE/SW at 145ft
80m Dipole NW/SE at 145ft
160m Dipole at 90ft
A3S at 100ft
A3S at 50ft
Megaloop at 85ft

Band conditions during the Saturday were very poor. Hopes of some good conditions failed to appear after the previous weeks encouraging sunspots prior to the contest.

QSL Via M0URX.

MC0SHL - MW9W QRV in CQ WPX "The Hex'pedition"

Once again in 2010 some of the team of Strumble Head DX & Contest Group are heading down to the farm to have some fun and maybe enter the CQ WPX Phone contest. The boys will be there from 25th March through to the 30th March 2010.

hexbeamThis year they will be testing the G3TXQ Hexbeam built by Ant, MW0JZE, that will be available for use by DX'peditions - see Ants web page for details - and the usual vertical for 40M and maybe 80M will be erected so a couple of bands may be used.  

Chris, G1VDP, will be trying his hand at RTTY and may take his 30M vertical for some fun on that band. All contacts are valid for the WAB, WFF and IOTA awards and we have a club QSL card available if requested. Chris will be looking for Japan and Asia on 17M RTTY - this is a most wanted on this band - but he will be taking calls from all callers. The only thing he asks is that the pile up behaves and does as he says or he will go QRT and no one will work him. 

Look for MC0SHL before and after CQ WPX and during the contest Chris will use MW9W.

Logs will be uploaded to LOTW each evening and QSL requests via the groups QSL manager Tim, M0URX

P29CS - QSL A Sneak Preview!

The QSL card for P29CS will soon be in print and ready to send out to you in early April. We have some more work to do to complete the design but here is a sneak preview for you. QSL Status - Letters now ready to post.
QSL-P29CS_1












QSL-P29CS-BACK

Thank you Ofcom!

For the last 6 years i have had a noise on 15m that is 25KHz wide and various sprogs of the noise on other HF Amateur bands. I have been reluctant to try to resolve the problem as I was not happy confronting neighbours when I found the problem. During the evenings when the unit is switched on it has been S9 on all Amateur Bands but when on stand by only sprogs up and down the bands.

I decided that I would contact Ofcom using the Spectrum Abuse form on their website. Within a few days I had a telephone call to discuss the problem and the man from the ministry said that he would pass it on to the Field Engineers in my area. A week later the engineer telephoned to arrange an appointment. That was today, armed with DF antenna the men went on a mission up the street. About 1 hour later they came back and told me that they had found the problem a faulty PSU on a TV masthead preamp. The owner was co-operative although confused as to why it was a problem, saying "Well it doesn't bother us!" They have agreed to have the unit replaced. Ofcom say they will follow the visit up with a letter to the owner of the equipment and make sure that a fix date is arranged. Although they can't tell the person to switch it off, so the noise is still there. I should see an end to this problem soon, so I can once again enjoy Amateur Radio from my shack. Thank you Ofcom!

In the post from EZ

Although Turkmenistan has not been on the Amateur Radio radar for some time now I was surprised to see a letter this morning from the EZ QSL Bureau PO Box 555 Asgabat 744020 TURKMENISTAN. The letter contained SWL cards from EZ8CW using his SWL call sign EZ8-001.

It would be nice one day soon to welcome them back to the World of Amateur Radio! If only! So I just want us to remember our Amateur Radio friends in Turkmenistan, currently Amateur Radio is not permitted in the country but the Radio Amateurs remain dedicated to the hobby as SWL. If you are in Turkmenistan please let me know how the Ham community is continuing in the hobby. 

I have received some great images for the P29CS QSL which is going to be a 4 sided card. The QSL will be designed as usual by ON5UR Max.

Lids On The Air

This weekend I really enjoyed some real great DX, but the operating of some Amateurs is quite unbelievable, quite shocking and in some cases quite disgusting. Something must be done! Well in an attempt to shock some of the operators concerned and make them realize that this is NOT the way to operate, some friends have set up a website called “Lids On The Air” with audio recordings of some really dreadful operating. Please visit the site let us see if we can learn from this!

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