Friday, December 14, 2018

YNOMY plans for 2019 - new expedition but no PACC

We have some nice highlights to look back on in 2018 - a year that was not especially spectacular from a HF propagation point of view. Apart from some individual activities we had two major activities as a team: PACC and HB0 WWFF expedition.

The one and only contest we participate in to win, we won for a third time in a row - beating all single TX participants. This was a nice success, a confirmation of our strategy and a reward of the effort we put in again - setting up a proper contest station for a weekend.

The biggest highlight however was our trip to HB0. It was a real pleasure to be out for a whole weekend and work many chasers out portable with two stations on the air most of the time from gorgeous locations.

Planning for 2019 we were keen to do another WWFF expedition and hopefully replicate the fun of HB0 (2018) and LX (2017). We are in the planning stages and will update our blog once we have finalised our plans. 

After some deliberation we have decided that we will not participate in PACC this year and probably for some years to come. The reason is that we do not really perceive the challenge we need to put in the effort. We have not changed our setup, so there is nothing to test and tweak and going for a fourth win in a row just is not motivating enough.
The good news is that the first place in the MOST category of PACC is now available for one of the other teams :)

We are considering entering one of the worldwide contests in a for us competitive category, for example focusing on a specific band. This is still an idea that we need to develop further (what contest, what category, etc.)

Ending with nice memories of HB0:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Looking back at a successful expedition to HB0

Last weekend we were active from seven different nature reserves in HB0 on five bands - SSB and CW. Propagation was poor on the higher bands but the weather was much better than the forecasts. We logged almost 1700 QSOs and 55 DXCC (67 DX contacts, ODX = 10,000 km into PY5).

Our award program resulted in 15 gold, 53 silver and 140 bronze awards for the almost 1100 different callsigns in our log.

A video of our experience this weekend can be found here: YNOMY on Youtube

Friday May 11 - arrival, QRM and first radio contacts
We arrived on Friday after a day driving through PA, DL and OE. Our first surprise was a couple of HB0 QSL cards in the reception area of the hotel. It turned out they were familiar with radio amateurs and had no problems whatsoever with us putting up antennas. As we planned to do some digital activity from the hotel we were pleased with this attitude towards ham radio.
However once we set up our radio station we found that there was a source of QRM in the hotel that caused signals up to 9+10dB on all bands. We were unable to locate the source, so we only made a handful of FT8 contacts. We later learned a lot of people had heard us, but we were just unable to copy them.

Our guest operator Augusto HB9TZA/I2JJR arrived later in the evening and together we went up the hill behind the hotel to do a first activity. We used HB0/PH0NO and HB0/HB9TA on 40m logging quite a few JA's with good signals.

Augusto HB9TZA working 40m near our hotel

Saturday May 12 - 4 parks with poor propagation on 20m+
We had breakfast as early as we could get it and headed off to the first park we selected during our planning. On the map it looked like we could enter the park by car but a sign told us not to do so. We decided to take a small risk by bringing all our gear into the park and then return the car. There was no path inside the reserve, so we had to build up our station in the bushes. We even managed to get the hexbeam up but it took far too much time and with the poor propagation on 20m and up, we only got a handful of contacts with it.

HBFF-0134 - operating from the jungle with an end fed wire and hexbeam
We moved on to the next park (HBFF-0127) grabbing some sandwiches on the way. The next location featured a picknick area with two picknick tables. This was an ideal location for running two stations. We set up a station on 20m and on 40m (CW and SSB) using end fed wires and band filters. Again 20m was very slow. We did not have the sporadic E conditions that really helped us the previous year during our expedition to LX.

Marcel PG8M and Marcel PD7YY @HBFF-0127
We moved on to a location on the side of a mountain, next to a high radio tower (HBFF-0123). We were curious whether this tower would cause any interference but luckily it did not. We were active on 20, 30, 40 and 60m in CW and SSB. Again 40m was the best band with most activity although 20m did pick up thanks to Es (100+ QSO on 20m).

Nice tower if would have only brought our climbing gear
It was time to get something to eat but we were eager to activate one more park. So we settled for a quick pizza and moved higher up into the mountains. We found a nice place in HBFF-0120 with a wide view and set up our stuff before it got dark. We stayed until midnight working on 40m and 80m. JA was probably behind the mountain this time as we did not hear a single JA station but we did log N2 and PY5 (odx with 10,000 km) on 40m in SSB.

Sunday May 13 - 3 more parks, raindrops and crazy pileup
Sunday morning we got up early again but lost a lot of time finding a decent operating spot. Two of the planned locations were not accessible by a large distance - too far for us to carry all our stuff. We ended up in HBFF-0060 - a small walk from a car park. By the time we started it was 9 UTC - one hour later than on Saturday.
Conditions on 20m were clearly better than the previous day. We logged 262 calls on 20m and 40m almost equally divided over these two bands. Two JA stations and one K3 made the trip.

Augusto HB9TZA on 20m @HBFF-0060

We had a quick snack and then it was time to say goodbye to our new friend and guest operator Augusto HB9TZA.

Team picture at Augusto's departure (PG8M, PD7YY, HB9TZA, PH0NO)
We moved on aiming at one more park as rain was moving in. We had to drive around to find an access route but managed to get into HBFF-0121 on a hill but in the woods. Conditions on 20m deteriorated. We logged 255 calls in total but only 75 on 20m. There were some raindrops but using a tarp we stayed dry and by the end of the activity the weather had improved.

PG8M working 20m CW @HBFF-0121
With the weather looking okay we decided we could do one more activity after dinner. We did not have any candidates left in our initial planning but looking at the map we found two candidates near our hotel. That would allow us to have dinner there and to stay out late. We checked both parks to find only one accessible - be it by a very steep climb. We decided to go for it and after a couple of climbs up and down the mountain we had all our stuff ready for operation.

PH0NO working 20m SSB @HBFF-0122
Looking back it was a great decision to go for this last park. Conditions on 20m were poor but 40m was incredible. We have all worked many pile-ups before but this one was the busiest and longest one of them all. Actually, by the time we had to go (fog had come in and we slowly got cold and wet even wearing our rain jackets) there were still people calling. Staying on 20m on the second radio all the time allowed some of the NA chasers to get us in the log as well. We got as far out as west coast US (CA).

When we left the next morning it was foggy, cold and very different from when we arrived.

View on the day of arrival
View on the departure day
In the mean time our logs are online at WWFF Logsearch (thanks to HBFF), Clublog, LotW and eQSL. Our paper cards are in print and will be sent out as soon as we have them. [UPDATE: all cards have been sent direct or via bureau]. Special awards have been generated and can be downloaded here.

It has been a great adventure with a great team. Usually stuff breaks but we got home with almost no incidents (apart from various car related issues of HB9TZA but that is a different story altogether).

Thanks all for giving us a shout!
We hope to meet you all next year for another episode of "YNOMY on expedition".

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Award and QSL from HB0 expedition

There are special HB0-FF Awards for the activity by YNOMY on May 12 & 13, 2018 for active chasers.

The award can be claimed by entering your callsign in the box below. If you gained enough points your personal award will be downloaded.

Info about the awards: click here

Special HB0-FF QSLs have been printed and sent out, direct (if requested direct) or via bureau. To check if you are in the log, enter your call here:

In the end we visited the following WWFF nature reserves:

The references on Saturday:
[1] HBFF-0134 - Balzner Rheinau
[2] HBFF-0127 - Alta Bach
[3] HBFF-0123 - Schlosswald
[4] HBFF-0120 - Saeliwald
  The references on Sunday:
  [5] HBFF-0060 - Schwabbruennen/Aescher
  [6] HBFF-0121 - Gantenstein
  [7] HBFF-0122 - Stachler Wald

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hat-trick: third time first place in PACC contest

Today the results of the PACC contest were published. It was a tighter match than last year but we again made it to the first spot in our category: multi operator / single TX using the call PG55G. 

After scoring a close second in 2015 we have now won the PACC contest three years in a row. We scored the most #QSOs and #multipliers for all single TX participants and we did this with the lowest error margin in our category.

Our score was lower than last year. We scored almost the same amount of of QSOs (-1%) but almost 9% less multipliers than last year. This was due to the high bands being far worse. In 2017 we logged  only two QSOs on 10m but quite a few on 15m. This time we logged two QSOs on 15m and none on 10m - so we lost a whole band. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

YNOMY goes HB0 (WWFF expedition)

After a pleasant experience in LX last year - as LX44FF logging 2100+ QSOs - we have decided to do another weekend dxpedition. This time we have chosen Liechtenstein HB0 as our destination and May 12 & 13 as the expedition weekend.

We will be primarily visiting WWFF nature reserves that have not been activated before. Depending on local conditions and propagations we expect to at least activate 6 and max. 8 different HBFF nature reserves over the weekend.

We will be travelling on Friday May 11 and back on Monday May 14. Depending on travel time we might start our first activity on Friday evening. We will definitely be active on Saturday May 12 and Sunday May 13 until late in the evening UTC using at least two radios simultaneously on all usable bands from 80m up (including 60m and VHF - 2m & 6m - if there is any propagation) in SSB and CW.

During this expedition we will be using both the calls HB0/PG8M and HB0/PH0NO. We will alternate between these calls when we move from park to park. 

Our gear this expedition:
  • 3x mobile radio's (FT-857 / IC-910)
  • 1x Ameritron ALS-500m
  • Folding Hexbeam
  • End fed wire antenna's
  • Inverted V wire antenna's
  • Triband yagi 2-4-6m

Location planning
We have made an activation plan for our two days. We will start on Saturday activating southern Liechtenstein (purple markers) and move to northern Liechtenstein on Sunday.
How many parks we will in the end manage to activate will depend on the conditions: propagation, weather, accessibility of the areas.

The references on Saturday:
[1] HBFF-0134 - Balzner Rheinau
[2] HBFF-0127 - Alta Bach
[3] HBFF-0123Schlosswald
[4] HBFF-0120 - Saeliwald
  The references on Sunday:
  [5] HBFF-0060 - Schwabbruennen/Aescher
  [6] HBFF-0121 - Gantenstein
  [7] HBFF-0122 - Stachler Wald

Chaser awards
As we did during our last expedition, we will make available a special award for chasers of our expedition. There will be three levels for chasers: bronze, silver & gold - depending on how many times you worked our expedition with multipliers for different parks.
We are counting on a minimum of 7 different locations we will activate. Based on that plan the awards will be available as follows:

  • Bronze: 2 parks confirmed
  • Silver: 4 parks confirmed
  • Gold: top 5 score per continent (min. 2 contacts)

The top score per continent will be calculated as follows: 4 points for every park confirmed and 2 additional points for different mode and/or band per park. The awards will be made available for download in the week after the expedition.

PG55G experiences PACC 2018

Our 5th PACC went reasonably smoothly. We had a bit of a rough start when our main CW operator - PG8M - had to leave us for the first hours of the contest to attend the funeral of an OM that died unexpectedly that week (some things are more important than contesting).

We were lucky to find Albert PA3GWC able and willing to help us out these first hours of the mixed mode contest (see previous post). The first hour however was a struggle as Albert was not used to the setup and software we use in the contest. This meant our rates were a lot lower than last year. We slowly approached last year's #QSO as we got going during the following hours however.

PG8M working CW while PD7YY is taking a power potion for the next shift 

The setup was the same as the previous years. We set up our station on a campground using only wire antennas for 160-80-40m and a wire beam (hex) for 20-15-10m. The weather was fine - no snow or heavy rains this time. We did get some storm which meant we had to lower the hexbeam during the night. Luckily by the time we needed it again in the morning the wind had died down.

Weather improved Sunday morning - hex was up again
As always we had made an operating plan based on the results of last year and QSO data we collected of the weeks preceding the contest. During the contest we used this as a guideline, checking the band conditions and band activity against it.

"Control room" - using data to guide us

The high bands were a disaster. We did not expect a lot but hoped for some opening on 15m. In the end we only worked 2 stations on 15m - like we did on 10m last year. We did not even try 10m this time.

In the end we are pleased with the results though. One band less means less multipliers but the QSO rate was good. We managed to log even a few more QSOs than in 2017 - a volume we were very pleased with then. This is even more remarkable considering our slow start.

Let's see what our error rate is and how the competitors fared. Results will be published in June...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Starting PACC 2018 as PG55G

The Dutch contest PACC has started and runs until tomorrow 12h CET. 

We have our wire antennas set up at a campsite in Gelderland (GD) and are active as PG55G. We are starting on 20m CW with guest operator PA3GWC - replacing PG8M for the first hours on CW.

Hexbeam and inverted V's for 40-80-160m
Guest operator PA3GWC with PD7YY

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Try to catch PG55G

This year YNOMY will participate in the PACC contest once more. 

We will be using the callsign PG55G again from our favourite campsite in Gelderland (GD). 

We will be using all sorts of wire antennas in our field day set-up and hope to make it into the top 3 of the MOST category again - perhaps we will be able to make it to the top position for the third time.