Saturday, March 31, 2012

Busy activation of PAFF-039

With some time on my hands I headed over to the most wanted PAFF (as all of them have been activated at least once I compiled a list of the activity level based on info by Igor EW4DX - the updated list is on this page).

PAFF-039 Fochteloërveen - North Netherlands

I found an entrance route into the park quite quickly and set up my multiband wire for 10-20-40m. This saves me time not having to take down the antenna for the different bands. With only 2 hours of time on my hands I did not want to waste any time changing bands. This meant giving up on 15 or 17m.

My extended Spieth mast set up @ PAFF-039
I started at 13:30 UTC. 10m turned out to be rather dead. The same could not be said about the 20m band.
Luciano, I5FLN was as usual the first one to call in. Propagation to Italy was not very good at that time, it improved a lot however in the next hour.

For one hour I stayed on the same frequency working 84 stations - not a quiet moment. Local conditions weren't all too strong but there was a lot of DX - 17 out of the 84, especially from the east. There were three OMs from Japan calling in with signal levels comparable to a lot of European stations. This happened to me only once before - at PAFF-014. From the west activity was not that strong with only the two familiar North-American OMs K1QS and VE5XU calling in.

When the activity seemed to slow down I switched over to 40m to enable short skip contacts. Luciano was the first one again. QRM was manageable this time while signals were rather good - a well balanced propagation. In just under one hour I worked 71 stations.

In total I worked 155 stations from 36 DXCCs in just under 2 hours of radio time. Max QRB was set by a JA7 OM to 9100km.
Manuel EA2DT, Luciano I5FLN and Narciso IZ1JMN came by on both bands. Of all contacts about 30% were new callsigns to me.

Thanks all for calling in & being patient in the pile up!
Lars, PH0NO/P

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Last new PAFF: Huitebuersterbûtenpolder

Very very poor conditions in Friesland
The last unactivated PAFF area inside the Netherlands is located in the northern province of Friesland. The people speak a different language here, hence the extraordinary name of the area (I can't pronounce it).

Normally this area is out of reach for me, but today I had an appointment in the north not too far from Friesland. I decided to use my available time in the afternoon to try and find a spot in the nature park and complete the PAFF range.

View towards the sea - a pity that it was hazy today
The area consists of low land stretching into the sea, behind a high dike. It is quite an unusual view. I was not very fortunate with the weather as it was a bit hazy - so my view was limited.

I had ordered a replacement for my Spieth mast (refer to my story of the last activation why) but that had not arrived yet so my mast was too short for 40m. Luckily I found an operating spot where I could set up my antenna sloping towards a fence. The antenna was not very high (feeding point less than 1 meter off the ground) but SWR was perfect on 20m and 40m.

No additional damages this time but I did have a challenge in the conditions. They were absolutely lousy. My propagation widget showed poor conditions on all HF bands - and it was right. This meant that I had to call a lot and had trouble to copy stations (vice versa).

In about 90 minutes of air time I worked 89 stations from 24 DXCCs. Maximum QRB was set by an OM from RV9 to 4800km - this was on 40m. On 20m the max QRB was only 3500km into 4Z.
Luciano I5FLN and Sergey RA3PCI made the trip on both bands.

The last challenge this time was my voice that was hoarse due to a cold but it kept on working all the way.

Thanks all for calling in.
Lars, PH0NO/P

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Second time PAFF-018 - Utrechtse Heuvelrug

Damaged pole: one band re-activation
With just a little time on my hands while passing PAFF-018 I decided to do a quick re-activation. I found a reasonable spot quite quickly. It was however surrounded by trees.

Zuylensteinse Bos - part of Utrechtse Heuvelrug

For some reason I opted to start with the multiband wire antenna (10-20-40). This meant extending my antenna pole to about 15m. Ofcourse I ended up in the trees with this hard to handle pole. This happend to me once before, losing a piece of wire but this time it was worse: one of the fiber glass segments of my Spieth mast broke. I was left with a considerably shorter pole and therefore did not have the opportunity to activate 40m this time.

One damaged fiber glass segment...

Conditions on 20m were so-so and unsteady. Luciano I5FLN reported both a 55 and a 59+10 in 15 minutes time. Moving around on 20m (avoiding QRM and QRN) I was active for about 70 minutes. In this time I was greeted by 72 OMs from 22 DXCCs. Max QRB was set by a UA9 OM to 5000km.

Quite surprisingly I was greeted by two OMs from Morocco. I haven't heard a station from CN before during a WFF activation and today I heard two...

Thanks all for calling in.
Lars, PH0NO/P 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Activating PAFF-034 Leende

Short activation of a new PAFF area

A customer appointment in the morning brought me close to Leende. The nature park borders on Belgium in an area I don't visit normally. With another appointment later in the afternoon I had only about 90 minutes for the activation but PAFF-034 really needed to be activated in my opinion.

The park is quite large and has a few open patches that are convenient for a portable radio station. The northern part of the park is partily accessible by car.

With the limited time available I decided to erect the wire antenna only once. This meant choosing my multi band end fed wire for 10-20-40m and attaching it to my extended Spieth mast of 15m. Luckily there was only a light breeze.

Cloudy but dry weather @ PAFF-034
At noon UTC 10m was rather dead so I started on 20m. After sending a spot to the cluster Luciano I5FLN was (as usual) the first one I could greet. The first 30 minutes on 20m were really busy with more than 60 calls logged.  I had to change frequency once due to QRM. Something that normally happens on 40m.

After 45 minutes the activity level had dropped and I was half way my available time so I changed to 40m. After the first call I was already greeted by Luciano. His spot on the cluster initiated another pileup that lasted 30 minutes. 10 minutes later activity died down so I changed back to 20m to log a few last calls before breaking up and heading north. The QRM level on 40m was very acceptable this time, allowing me to operate on one and the same frequency all the time.

In the 80 minutes of activity (lost about 10 minutes finding and changing frequencies) I logged 118 calls from 28 DXCCs. This includes 7 stations outside EU. It was too early for N-America so all DX is from the east (UA9 and UN). Max QRB was set by a RV9 station on 5000km distance.

The time of this activation is different from most of my other activations (earlier). This must be the reason why more than one third of all logged calls is from OMs I have not met before.

Thanks all for calling in.
Lars, PH0NO/P