Some changes

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Wow! Almost two years later after my last post. Has nothing changed in this time? Well, yes, there is. I only hadn’t got the time to write about it!

I will try to catch up 😉

Next posts will be about:

  • Antennas
  • DMR
  • DIY Projects

Categories: PH7GIS

WordPress training

Me, introducing myself, at the begin of the WordPress training
Me, introducing myself

It’s 7:15 on Saturday 6th October 2018 when I get in my car and drove off to pick up a fellow radio amateur in the nearby city. And together we made a 1,5-hour drive to the city of Apeldoorn (east of the Netherlands). Not to follow a training, but to give a WordPress training! (my colleague did get the training)

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FT8 – First steps


Last weeks, everything I heard was, “Have you tried FT8 yet?” or “PSK is disappearing because there is FT8!”. Well, before I can give my opinion. I needed the use it first.

FT… what??

Before I tell you what happened, first, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about.
FT8 is a digital mode used by radio amateurs. This mode was originally made for decoding weak signals. Such as Moon bouncing (send a signal to the moon, and it will be reflected by the moon and will return back to earth). Because of the distance and reflection of the moon surface, most of the signal strength will be lost before it’s back to us. The great thing about FT8 is that you won’t have to use high power (1-20w) is enough! And because the propagation is horrible at the moment, using this mode, I was able to make quickly a couple of QSOs.

Software installation

Thursday, September 13th. I installed WSJT-X, one of the applications to use FT8, to give it a go.
When you tune along the bands, you can hear FT8. It sounds like a pitch moving tone. (

The application was quickly installed and configured (I remembered the time I was installing and configuring WSPR, beaconing software, which took me several hours to get it to work! In the end, it works fine.

But FT8 was very easy, and within a minute of 5 the first QSOs appearing on my screen. Great! eh… what’s next? I didn’t know. Well, luckily they invented Youtube!
After watching some other radio amateurs, I now knew what to do. And my first qso with Rik Smith (GM7VFR – Scotland) was there. And many did follow 😉

How does it work?

You’ll get 15 seconds to transmit your information. If you’re 1-2 seconds late, it is possible your message can’t be decoded. That’s why you need to synchronize your pc time. So the clock of every FT8 user will run exactly the same. And therefore fewer mistakes should exist. But because you only get 15 seconds to transmit, most of the QSO-process is automated.

Well because, if you read the message, someone else sends. And you respond to that, you’re too late!

Where are you talking about in this QSO?
Not much exactly! Only my location, signal strength and goodbye. You could change the text but beware of the 15 seconds.

My QSO with Rik GM7VFR:

time signal offset_Hz Tone ~ Message

163430 -9 -0.0 1501 ~ CQ GM7VFR IO75
– He says: How wants to speak with me? I’m in grid square: IO75

IO75 within the black square

163445 Transmitting 14.074 MHz FT8: GM7VFR PH7GIS JO21
I answer him with my callsign (PH7GIS) and my grid square (JO21)
163600 -11 -0.0 1501 ~ PH7GIS GM7VFR -12
*) He heard me, and tells me my signal strength is -12
163615 Transmitting 14.074 MHz FT8: GM7VFR PH7GIS R-11
I answer back that his strength is -11 (this number is calculated by the software)
163630 -7 -0.0 1501 ~ PH7GIS GM7VFR RRR
He understands
163645 Transmitting 14.074 MHz FT8: GM7VFR PH7GIS 73
I answer back, thanks for this QSO (73)
163700 -3 -0.0 1500 ~ PH7GIS GM7VFR 73
He does the same, and that’s the end of the QSO!

These Qso’s will take around 1.5 minutes to complete.

This signal strength e.g. -12, what’s that?
I’m not sure at the moment, I can’t find any information on this topic.
But what I do know is that this -12 have something to do with dB. And closer to 0 is better than going lower like -12. When I find out how this works, I’ll update this post.

The verdict

Well, I do like this mode. But I’m not sure if this mode will make PSK disappear. No, I don’t think so. Also, all the other modes will be in use, next to each other. And this mode is capable of making long distance QSO without the need for high power.

Categories: Digital mode PH7GIS

International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend 2018

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Coming weekend 18 and 19 Augustus I’ll be active together with the crew of PI4VNW, in the lighthouse of the Hook of Holland during the ILLW (International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend).

I’ll mainly be active with the digital modes, like PSK and RTTY. I don’t know which band(s) yet. We are with 6 radio amateurs, on a very small footprint, so just as last year, we’ll be using band filters to minimize the risk of interfering with each other. So changing band is difficult and needs planning 😉

Next Friday (17th August) we will start installing the antennas and other gear. And Saturday from 09:00 till 22:00 LT and Sunday from 09:00 till 17:00 LT we will be trying to make as many contacts with Lighthouses and Lightships (or other amateurs) as possible at the lighthouse. Which is also open for visiting, see for more information (in Dutch only):

I’ll be taking my Icom IC7100 and longwire (80-10m) with me. And a small mobile radio to communicate within the lighthouse. especially in the period for installing the antennas.

Last year we made 270+ QSO (contacts). We hope that the conditions would be better this year. But who knows?

Categories: Uncategorized

New website and server

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Since I became a radio amateur, my website looked the same, when I became a Full license radioamateur. I only changed my header (the image at the top of the page) showhin PH7GIS instead of PD2GIS. And also the domain name has changed. The latter has never really worked that well. Although this was hardly noticeable on the site itself, this was not really pleasant behind the scenes. So all in all I decided that it was time to change all this.
I have been working on my new website since the beginning of May. I also translate the latest messages and pages to English. If you find messages or pages that are still in Dutch. Please let me know and I will translate this immediately.

Categories: PH7GIS Website

JOTA 2017

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This year I will tell my story of the JOTA 2017:
Sadly I lost all my photos due to a corrupt SD card. So no pictures this year.

Monday 16th October 2017

Monday evening, when I finished my work in Delft, I rushed back home, eating my diner really quick and back on the road to Rijen (small village next to Breda, south of Holland). To bring my antenna’s and cables, so that the scouts can start with erecting a 16 meter mast with in the top my Diamond X50 and a 25 meter HF longwire. Which will be installed as sloper. While I was there, why not helping with the JOTI? Together with a big team, we placed, connected and installed 1 server, 5 switches, 30 computers (desktop, screen, keyboard, mouse, headset) and many kilometers of network/power and other cables. See the timelapse.

(the man with the blue/light blue striped shirt, that’s me 😉 ) Read More

Categories: JOTA PH7GIS


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For the third time this year, I’ll take my Gobox on a fieldday today (Wednesday 27 September 2017). It will be a perfect day for this little outing. Not too hot or too cold, and most important, no rain!

I like planning ahead. So I search on Google Maps for a suitable place. And I found one. After packing the car I set off to go to….  West Maassluis. Maassluis is a small village within 20km from my home. (see image below).

Peter (PD2GOG) was interested to see my gobox in action, so he meets me at the chosen field. After packing my trolly (a fishing cart, see the first image of the gallery below), we walked to the site. Just a couple of minutes walking we got there. First inspecting the field, is it really possible there? And yes it was!!

When everything was ready, including starting my generator, I switched on the power to the gobox. Why is that so exciting? Well, I totally rebuild the gobox. I had some power issues, losing power to the Icom while it was (or would like to) transmitting. (I will write an article about this and the complete rebuild). But everything was working as planned.

And then…. I would start making some qso’s on 2m and 70cm. But no respond, ehmm.. is there something wrong? When Peter left, we make some contacts when he was back at his car and also one when he was driving near Vlaardingen (app. 10km).  So it was working! I think that my dual antenna (Slim Jim) was too low for a good 2m qso.

Then I switched over to HF (Icom 706mkII), because I love the digi-modes (PSK/RTTY, etc) I connected my laptop to the radio. My antenna (Buddipole) was set up for 20m. On 14.070MHz I soon saw (on screen) some qso’s going. Then someone (a Finn named Unto, OH6XB) was calling cq, I direct response to that. Doing that I noticed that my power output was low, just 2W instead of the 25W. But I was heard and Unto was coming back for me. So this was also a first for me, 2w PSK, that’s QRP, wow!! That’s was the only station how had heard me (or at least respond). After some setting tweaking, the radio was now on the 25W. I made many qso’s after that. The furthest station was in Asiatic Russia (4500km away).

After spending over 4 hours there, it was time to go home again. I must be quick or else I get stuck in the rush hour… Which I did 🙁

It was really nice to do this. And a promised me to do this more often.

A short impression of the day:

PACC 2017

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At first I wouldn’t take part in the Dutch pacc. But days before the contest, I was already active making my station ready for it. Saturday 12:00 UTC (14:00 local time) the contest was started. And also I was ready and started. In the first few minutes I made some qso’s after giving cq. After this I only answered other calls. This isn’t very productive but it trains me to listen more carefully to the available signals. Which isn’t still easy for me. For those how doesn’t know, and I’ve some hearing disability. I can hear way better with my hearing aid. But HF sounds (especially those very weak signals) are very heard to hear and to determine if it is a radio amateur or nothing. And these contests are also good to train this.

The Saturday I worked “just” 12 stations on 5 bands (10, 20, 15, 40). 

The Sunday I worked an other 15 stations which included two new dxcc (country’s). Luxembourg and Ireland. Very nice! 

Just after the contest (which was finished at 12:00 UTC on Sunday). I started calculating my score. I’m not using contest software. When I started contesting I did. But soon, I discovered that this wasn’t a convincing way of logging (although for me). Maybe it’s easy for the contest. But not when you store your QSO’s in Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD). Which I use as main logging and control software for my station. I haven’t found that application that will work with HRD and is doing the calculations for me.

After most contests I made some manual calculations to see my score and also to see how many multiplexer (this is a country, province, club, etc which will multiple the value) I worked. But that’s also not the best way to do it. So I started writing my own software, what will do exactly what I want!

In just 1 hour after the contest I already had a working prototype. Which calculated my score and multiplexers. And that directly read from the HRD  database. So it reads near realtime the qso’s and and shows me the score and multiplexers. I’m happy with it. But now comes the big challenge. Every contest is different (another way of scoring, other multiplexers, etc)

So I need to adjust it a bit so it would be easy to apply new contestrulesto the software so it will work with every contest.

I will call this work in progress.


Categories: Contest PACC PH7GIS

A new project: making an etching tank


The making of my own PCB’s is getting better and better. But etching them takes a lot of time. So I want to speed up the etching process. I watched a lot of etching video on Youtube and searched for other information. To see how other do that and what kind of equipment they use.

Soon I discovered that using an etching tank have great benefits. Such as speeding up the etch process itself. So I decided to make one myself. Buying one is too expensive and too easy, I also want to learn something.

My etching tank must contain (at least) 1 liter of sodium persulfate, a heating element and an air pump to keep the fluid moving, which speeds up the etching. Why a heating element? Well for the best result, the etching fluid must be 40-50 degrees Celsius.

Finding the right heating element wasn’t easy. A normal element for a fish tank wasn’t suitable because they aren’t warm enough. They are heating till 32 degrees Celsius (because the fishes are cooked 😉 ). In the end, I did found an element which fulfilled my needs. I ordered one via Ebay, and in just a couple of days, it arrived. This element is for 12v and is capable of delivering 80w of heat. Which should be enough for heating till 80 degree Celsius.

In my very first vlog, you will see this element working.

The plan is to make a circuit, which will measure the temperature of the fluid and switch the element on and off. But also controlling the bubble flow.

To be continued!

First real use of the GoBox

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Since some time I’m working on my mobile setup (GoBox). After some setbacks, I finally finished it mid-August 2016. However such project is never finished.

img_040813th September 2016, I was on a short break and I took the complete setup with me (see the picture on the left). And get it ready for use.

My short break was the north of the Netherlands where it is a lot quieter and has a rural character with large open fields and located close to the Wadden Sea. Which is a preserved nature area. The level of interference (QRM) was significantly less. So much less, that I began to doubt whether my radio was in good working order.

It was quiet although it was beside a road. However, this road wasn’t very busy. In the time I was there (nearly 4 hours), I saw maybe 10 to 12 cars.

When I reached this place (at 11 o’clock), the temperature was already 26C (78F). And this only rises during the day. And of course, I forgot every possible sun blocking method available. Well, say for yourself, mid-September, 26C, in the Netherlands……

Full setup

The highest temperature I saw that day was 33 degrees Celsius (91F) in the shade of my GoBox. But this was the real test if everything would survive!

After and 30 minutes, the whole setup was up and running. Including my generator which provides me of the 230v to run my laptop and GoBox.

I recently bought the Buddipole, this was also its first use. I had some trouble getting the Buddipole to work. Not because it wasn’t any good. But it was an operator error. I didn’t get any good SWR readings. Everything I did turns out even worse than it was before. Finally, I start reading the manual (I did read it at home, but forgotten the important bit) and quickly discovered that one simple cable was connected wrong. After that, it works like a charm. I change many time from band, without any problem.
I should invest in a good SWR meter, this will help me a lot.

I also get my endfed antenna out, that worked without any adjusting! But the only problem I had with it, was that I didn’t have a high tree or something like that. I hang one end to the Buddipole and the other end to a hay bale, so I created a sloper.

I still made 43 QSO’s, which were 39 digital (psk and rtty).

So a successful day, The whole setup needs some tweaks to getting it better.