|DJ2PJ - The Station|
DJ2PJ's shack, some 5 x 5 metres in size, is located in the basement of a house, built in 1972 on a small piece of land 28 metres long and 18 metres wide. The building lies in a densely populated residential area. The location is in no way a place for optimal or even near-optimal DXing.
DJ2PJ's radio equipment is arranged on two desks standing side by side in the middle of the shack. This arrangement with the station situated in the middle of the room, and not in front of a wall, was chosen to have easy access to the rear of each of the station components: for inspection and repair, measurements, insertion and replacement of cables, components, etc.
Another important feature is a second working position with complete radio equipment of its own, for VHF-activities, for testing hard- and software, for experimentation and development.
The station concept reflects the operator's conviction that amateur radio, while being a technical-communicative hobby, should always be treated as a two-legged pet: one leg being experimentation (new radio modes, new operating and technical concepts...), the other one competition (DX, contests...). Should one of these parameters be missing, amateur radio would run the risk of dissolving in the abundance of other attractive communicative applications which our modern world readily offers (PC, Internet, smartphones, tablets...). This means that, at least partially, an amateur radio station should always be in a process of change (on the basis of experimentation and optimisation) and never be seen as something static or final.
The station is technically and logistically capable of radio communication on all legal amateur-radio shortwave bands, with, at present, the exception of 160 and 6 metres.
On shortwave, the following radio modes are covered: radio telegraphy (CW), radio telephony (SSB), radio teletyping (RTTY), slow-scan television (SSTV), Hellschreiben, the different phase-shift keying modes (PSK), mainly PSK31, PSK63, PSK125 and SIM PSK, most of the multi-frequency-shift keying modes (MFSK), mainly JT9, T10 (first QSO in May 2017), FT8 (first QSO in July 2017) and JT65A, WSJT, WSPR, and PSKReporter. DJ2PJ routinely tries out new digimodes whenever they come into existence. In 2017, CW and the Digimodes were the modes most frequently operated, followed by RTTY and SSB. All other modes play a subordinate role in daily radio life, but are practised regularly to see if and how they function.
For some of the above-mentioned modes, great attention is directed to working DX, i.e. contacting stations in far-away countries and territories. Ragchew contacts are nevertheless very much and always welcome.
The picture below shows the two working positions A and B of the station:
Working position A consists of a YAESU FT-1000MP Mark-V and a veteran YAESU FT-1000D transceiver, each one delivering a power output of about 200 watts. The Mark-V is preferably used for CW, the digimodes, FSK-RTTY, and SSTV in connection with a microHAM microKEYER II (which operates an external sound card and the WinKeyer by K1EL, completed by a KENT twin-paddle). The FT-1000D (equipped with all available filters) is the working horse for mainly SSB and in some cases (e. g. contests) also CW. As the CW output of the microKEYER II has been made switchable, it can be used for both transceivers. In 2011, new filters (500 and 250 Hz) for the second and third IF had been installed to make the FT-1000MP Mark V more selective and, thus, more efficient for DJ2PJ's most-frequented modes CW and RTTY.
Working position B provides an ICOM IC-746, which, in addition to the shortwave bands, also covers 50 and 144 MHz, and a KENWOOD TS-60 all-mode 50-MHz transceiver (only used on DXpeditions). CW and FSK-RTTY is realised by another microHAM microKEYER II. Preparations have been made to use the Digimodes, especially JT65 and SIM31, also on VHF.
Working position B serves two purposes: (1) Acting as the platform for QSOs on 144 MHz and, later, also on 50 MHz; (2) acting as the platform for testing new concepts and devices, new computer programs and their updates. The idea is that testing and experimentation should in no way have any impact on the daily routine of making contacts, and making contacts no restrictive impact on experimentation. Position B should be seen as "in constant development".
As adequate switching for the PTT and ALC lines is provided, each of the three shortwave transceivers can have its RF-power amplified by a single-valve (3CX1200A7) AMERITRON AL-1200 linear, set to deliver some 600 watts output in CW and SSB or 400 watts in RTTY, while a driving power of less than 20 watts is applied. The linear amplifier is fired up, however, for less than 1% of contacts made. As for the digimodes, the power rarely exceeds 50 watts. It belongs to the station philosophy of DJ2PJ to never use any excessive power, except in extraordinary pile-up situations and the like. In the great majority of cases, the RF-signal is fed through the amplifier ("barefoot operation") and makes its way to, mostly through, a MFJ-989C Versa Tuner V which also serves as antenna selector and dummy load. Its antenna tuning facilities are only made use of should the standing-wave ratio (SWR) become critical (band edges and the like).
Antennas.DJ2PJ normally makes use of three shortwave antennas: a rotable MOSLEY CL-33M with three relatively wide-spaced trapped elements for 20, 15, and 10 metres, a HY-GAIN AV-640 vertical for all bands between 40 and 10 metres, and a simple shortened inverted vee for 80 metres. Unfortunately, the AV-640 was completely destroyed in September 2018 by a hurricane reaching wind speeds of more than 160 km/h. A new antenna will be installed not earlier than Spring 2019 which means that for the next few months activity is rather restricted.
The CL-33M (see right picture below), with its fairly good broadband characteristics, good front-to-back (F/B) ratio, and a friendly SWR throughout all three frequency bands, has found its place on a mast which rests in a special steel construction fastened to the roof truss of the house (thanks to DJ3WJ for this construction). The mast can be lowered by means of a pulley block until it stands in the first floor of the house. This makes servicing antennas on top of the mast relatively easy. The mast is secured by four strong nylon ropes.
Antenna rotation is accomplished by a CREATE RC5A-3 rotator which is equipped with a worm drive, a very robust and "silent" device (a necessity for nocturnal DX-work...).
Height above ground of the CL-33M is a little more than 13 metres. There seems to be no influence by metal house installations etc, also no RF in shack. The CL-33M is a very efficient DX-antenna, even in comparison with the wonderful KT34XA and DJ2UT-yagis I had been using over more than fifteen years.
To be able to be active on those bands not covered by the CL-33M, in July 2008 the HY-GAIN AV-640 had been erected, now in a height of about 7 metres. As mentioned above, the AV-640 was completely destroyed in September 2018 by extremely high winds.
Since autumn 2009, life on 80 metres has begun again for DJ2PJ with a shortened inverted-vee dipole "swinging" a few metres below the yagi antenna and nearly scratching roof skin. Although a very few oversea's QSOs have been made (North Africa, Western Siberia, and North America) with it, this is all but an efficient antenna. Even throughout Europe its signal is below average. The 80-metre story obviously does not find an end...
A TONNA 17-element longyagi installed above the CL-33-M yagi very efficiently covers 144 MHz . Activity on 2 metres is focused on Sporadic-E and Aurora. Only on rare occasions tropospheric contacts are made. Very probably so, in future there will be activity also on the Digimodes (JT65 and FT8).
PCs and Software
Today's amateur radio with its high technical and logistical demands is unimaginable without computers and programs. In working position A an AMD Athlon2 X3 455 (3x3.3 GHZ) (4096 MB DDR3 RAM, 500 GB HDD) PC is in use. A microKEYER II and its Urouter programme create five virtual COM ports delivering and receiving all necessary signals for communicating in the different modes, including the constant stream of radio-command signals for displaying and controlling transceiver status. The PC still works on the basis of Windows XP Professional.
At present the following communication software (always newest versions) is in use (working position A):
Other (utility) software generally used at DJ2PJ:
The PC at working position B is an AMD FX-8350 Eight-Core Processor, 16 GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD8450, 1 TB HDD. Operating System is WINDOWS 7.
As soon as they are switched on, both computers are permanently connected to the INTERNET via VDSL (>50,000 kbit/s), using a four-channel routing device (Fritz!Box 7390) for cable connection (LAN) and a 2.4 GHz WLAN channel.
A word on logging. DJ2PJ has made more than 120,000 contacts since 1954, the majority of which documented in paper logs, supported by a very safe but somehow tiring retrieval system. Even though, it was contrary to reason to subsequently type all these contacts into a computer database (which would take many months). That's why DJ2PJ still notes down his QSOs on a (individually designed) paper log, although, since 2006, he is additionally (!) using electronic logging with the very nice and simple XMLog logging program by W1ECT (see above).
My thanks to Club Log. I had finally brought myself to convert my pre-2000 paper logs (e. g. 1955-1999) to the electronic ADIF format, at least as far DX and other "system-relevant" contacts were concerned, and to join Club Log for uploading the complete log. One of the most positive experience I made in amateur radio during the last few years!
DJ2PJ's Radio Report: 2017
In 2017 1.389 QSOs were made: 803 (57.8%) in CW, 240 (17.3%) in JT65A, 106 (7.6%) in RTTY, 65 (4.7%) in SSB, 61 (4.4%) in FT8, 57 (4.1%) in JT9, 21(1.5%) in BPSK63, 13 (0.9%) in SIM31, 11 (0.8%) in T10, 8 (0.6%) in BPSK31, 3 (0.2%) in BPSK125 and 1 (0.1%) in QPSK63. As to radio-amateur modes, 2017 has been an extremely experimental year, with a main focus on the JT- and related modes. The ratio of "traditional" modes (CW, SSB, and RTTY) to the Digimodes has been 70.1% to 29.9%.
Main activity has been on 20 (468 QSOs) and 40 metres (282 QSOs), followed up by 30 (221 QSOs), 17 (120 QSOs), 15 (105 QSOs), 80 (65 QSOs), 10 (57 QSOs), 12 (53 QSOs), and 2 metres (18 QSOs).
DX-Standings as of 31st December 2017:
DXCC worked (in brackets: confirmed by QSL). As for CQ DX Award (worked and confirmed), count one more entity for all modes except MFSK, HELL, and SSTV. All figures for current entities; deleted countries are not considered.
Mixed: 339 (339) entities
SSB: 289 (288) entities
CW: 338 (338) entities
RTTY: 312 (311) entities
PSK modes: 232 (231) entities
MFSK modes: 111 (47) entities
HELL modes: 33 (21) entities
There still is everything confirmed for DXCC in mixed mode, one entity (P5, North Korea) missing in CW. There is no DXCC-membership and nothing like that intended!
IOTA confirmed by QSL:
Standings as of 31st December 2017
Africa: 71 Antarctica: 13 Asia: 118 Europe: 179 North America: 131 Oceania: 129 South America: 59
IOTA-groups all continents: 700
VHF (144 MHz) (activities only tropospheric, sporadic-E, and aurora):
Standings as of 31st December 2017
Locator fields contacted:156; confirmed: 121
DXCC (current):39 worked, 36 confirmed; DXCC (incl deleted): 42 worked, 39 confirmed
ODX (144 MHz):
Tropo:1,333 km (GIØWYJ)
Aurora:1,652 km (UA3LBO)
Sporadic-E:2,668 km (RX4CQ) [new personal best!]
Outstanding two-metre QSOs in 2017 (sporadic-E): RX4CQ (2,668 km), SV9CVY (2,104 km), UA3PTW (2,037 km), RW3WP (2,053 km), and others - TA and UA - with QRBs over 1,700 km.
|Initially published: 2005|
Last revision: 6th October 2018
©2017 by Hans-Dieter Teichmann