Tuesday, 11 December 2018

FT8 WSJT-X v2.0.0 upgrade

As most FT8 users will be aware the latest version of WSJT-X v 2.0 becomes the standard version to use on December 10th, with a request to upgrade from earlier versions by January 1st 2019. With the change from the older 75 bit version to 77 bits the new version messages cannot be read by the older version, so time to upgrade.

Downloaded and installed okay. Starting it up get the message about end of life for the old versions.

There was also a pop up about a LoTW error.

Looking in the quick start guide, a fix for this

LoTW Download Errors: If you are using Windows and experience LoTW download
errors, go here https://slproweb.com/products/Win32OpenSSL.html and download the
OpenSSL installer, specifically the “Win32 OpenSSL v1.0.2p Light” version. Note that
this is the correct version even if you are running 64-bit Windows. The direct download
link is https://slproweb.com/download/Win32OpenSSL_Light-1_0_2q.exe. Run the
installer with all default options and accept the option to install into the Windows system

After installing Win32 OpenSSL v1.0.2p Light the error was gone.

Receiving okay. Seems to have a lot more colors than the old. It seems to show  CQ Zones on CQ calls.

Looking under Settings there are a heap of color options available to highlight wanted zones DXCC, Grids and other things. Still prefer JTAlert to tell me whats needed.

So how does it work? Tried a contact on 40 m with KE7W, much the same as the old version.

This version allows for longer messages, interested to see if it gets adopted for SOTA and WWFF park activations.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 725 Award

Following lots of park to park contacts during the last the VKFF activation weekend, I had worked 725 different park references, and applied for the VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 725 Award.

Thanks to all the park activators who helped me achieve this award.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

FT8DMC Award - Worked All Australia Award (WAAA)

After working VK8ZI Paula on 17 m FT8 mode was finally able to apply for the FT8DMC Worked All Australia Award (WAAA FT8). This requires FT8 QSOs with each of the main Australian States and Territories.

VK1 - Australian Capital Territory
VK2 - New South Wales
VK3 - Victoria
VK4 - Queensland
VK5 - South Australia
VK6 - Western Australia
VK7 - Tasmania
VK8 - Northern Territory.

It took me a long time to complete by contacting VK8... just not many amateurs there. Nice award.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

WWFF Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0840

For the Sunday of the VKFF Activation weekend, headed for Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0840. Parked off Athlon Drive in Farrer near a gate entrance to the park. Sign for the park.

Set up the shack just to the right of the gate in the park, using a small gum tree for support.

Got on 40 m. Disappointingly found S7 noise all over the band, probably from the nearby power
lines... I heard Mark VK4SMA/2 in VKFF-0268 Koreelah National Park, just about to pack up, so called him for a park to park. He was just above the noise so could copy him okay.

As would be here for a while decided to pack up and move up the hill to get away from the power line noise. Wandered up until finding a suitable spot to operate from, a log near a water reservoir on top of the hill. Map of both operating spots from Protected Planet.

Shack on a log. Fence nearby is for the water reservoir.

 Looking back the other way. Radio and myself on the log.

This new spot was nice and quiet on 40 m.

Got on and worked several park to parks

VK4AAC/2 Rob in VKFF-0187 Freshwater National Park
VK3FLCS/p Brett in VKFF-2071 Costerfield Nature Conservation Reserve
VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-2536 Boomi Nature Reserve
VK3ANL/p Nick in VKFF-2113 Ironbark Road Nature Conservation Reserve
VK2XSE/p Liz in VKFF-2706 Pulletop Nature Reserve
VK3FLEA /p in VKFF-0781 Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park

Spotted myself to work the park hunters

Another couple of park to parks. Nice to have some NVIS skip in to the Sydney area

VK2MG/p Alan in VKFF-1361 Munmorah State Conservation Area
VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-1881 Agnes Banks Nature Reserve

Worked a few more park hunters


A park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-2031 Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve Conservation Park


Some more park to parks

VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-2282 Bruthen Flora Reserve
VK2KNV/p Peter in VKFF-2706 Pulletop Nature Reserve with Liz VK2SXE
VK5PAS/3 Paul in VKFF-0628 Point Nepean National Park
VK1CT/p Chris in VKFF-0835 Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve

Worked another park hunter, VK3TNL. At this stage noticed some spots of rain, looked at the sky to the South West, it was dark and threatening... A look at the rain radar showed a rain shower not far away. Quickly packed up, got back to the car just as was getting heavy...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

WWFF Urambi Hills Nature Reserve VKFF-0864

Every year in Australia there is the VKFF Activation weekend, to promote WWFF park activating in Australia. This year activated the 2 remaining parks in the ACT that I have not visited before, Urambi Hills Nature Reserve on Saturday and Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve on Sunday.

For Urambi Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0864 parked off Merideth Circuit in Kambah. There is an initial pedestrian gate, then after a short walk another gate and entry to the park. Sign for the park at the start of the track up to Urambi Hill trig.

I had planned to operate at the trig, which has great views, however today was really very windy so set up near the park sign, which was in a valley with some shelter from the wind. Some walks back to the car to get all the gear, table, chair, pack with radio, squid pole and battery. Used the park sign for squid pole support.

Operating spot in the park. Map from Protected Planet

Shack on the table.

Got on 40 m. As you would expect for a parks activation weekend plenty of parks on air. Spent a while just working park to parks with the ones on first, before finding a clear spot and calling myself.

VK5KLV/p Les and VK5MSD/p Steve in VKFF-0920 Munyaroo Conservation Park
VK2QR/3 Rob in VKFF-2132 Lonsdale Nature Conservation Reserve
VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-2070 Corindhap Nature Conservation Reserve
VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-2590 Dthinna Dthinnawan Nature Reserve
VK4SOE/2 Ade and VK4FNOR/2 Steve in VKFF-0011 Bald Rock National Park
VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-2253 Ada Tall Trees Reserve Conservation Reserve

After working all parks gave park hunters a bit of a go for a while...

VK2UXO/m Peter
VK7QP Linda
VK3SQ Geoff

A few more Parks to Parks

VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-0041 Blue Mountains National Park, also SOTA summit Mt Banks
VK5FLEA/p John in VKFF-0910 Montacute Conservation Park

VK4TJ John
VK5LA Andy
VK7NWT Scott
VK2PEZ Andrew
VK1VIC/2 Tony portable at Bungendore

Another park to park

VK3ALN/p Alan in VKFF-0628 Point Nepean National Park

VK1UU Murray

Park to park with VK4AAC/p Rob in VKFF-1493 Bunyaville Conservation Park

VK2LX Grant
VK2BY Brad
VK2NNN Darren

Worked parks to parks with VK5FMAZ/2 Maria and VK5PAS/3 Paul in VKFF-2135 Main Ridge Nature Conservation Reserve. They were getting rained on so were doing a quick activation. Both good signals.

A couple more park to parks

VK5LA Andy who had left home to activate VKFF-0372 Murray River National Park
VK2XSE/p Liz and VK2KNV/p Peter in VKFF-2651 Loughnan Nature Reserve

While operating the squid pole had detelescoped a few times in the wind. As the wind was picking up even more decided to pack up and head home after 33 contacts. A park to finish off another day.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

WWFF Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918

After spending the night at Batemans Bay headed off to do another park, Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918. I had activated this park before but needed more contacts to make up the 44 needed for WWFF. The park is in 2 sections on each side of Cullendulla Creek, this time went to the Western side of the creek, near Surfside Beach. Parked at the end of a side road off Myamba Parade. Note at the end of Myamba Parade is private property with no access to the park, so need to walk around it. Sign indicating 300 m to the park.

After 300 m reached a sign explaining a bit more about the park. This is on the park boundary.

 A little further along the beach a sign for the park.

Behind the sign Cullendulla Creek walking track. If you continue to the right you can do a nice walk on a raised platform among mangroves. To avoid the crowd went to the left along the track and set up the station just off the track. Used a wooden stake for squid pole support.

Shack on the tarp.

Got on 40 m. First contact was a park to park with Paul, VK5PAS activating VKFF-1030 Finnis Conservation Park. As per the day before at Broulee Island he was using a special event call VI5LWF, , "Lest We Forget"  It is one of a number of commemorative callsigns in Australia and Europe, to commemorate the centennary of the signing of the World War I armistice on 11th November 1918. Also worked Paul under his own call.

Found a clear spot and spotted myself. Park hunters were down in signals today with lots of QSB.


Another park to park with VK4SMA/p mark in VKFF-1671 Wararba Creek Conservation Park.Weak but we could hear each other as both in radio quiet parks.

Worked a few more park hunters


Unfortunately my 4200 maH LifePO4 battery, which I had also used yesterday, decided it had had enough and I could no longer transmit. I had forgotten to take a charger to recharge it overnight. So packed up and drove back home. Need to return again to this park for the 44 contacts.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

WWFF Broulee Island Nature Reserve VKFF-2546

Stopping for the weekend with my partner at Batemans Bay, decided to activate a nearby WWFF park that had not been activated before, Broulee Island Nature Reserve VKFF-2546

Broulee Island lies off the coast near the holiday village of Broulee. Looking on Google Maps it does appear as an island

However switching to Satellite View shows there is a narrow land connection to the mainland

Looking on the web the island has had an interesting history, having an Inn built on it in 1842, and even a small town of South Broulee planned in the 1980s but never built. It has been a proper island and then joined to the mainland, and lost again over time. The current connection has been in place since the 1990s.

Parked at the end of Bayside St in the North Broulee Beach Car park.

After a short walk reached North Broulee beach. The island can be seen in the distance

The walk to the island is about a Km. Found a bit of a clearing on the Northern side of the island and set up the squid pole on a tree stump.

Shack on the grass on the tarp nearby.

Got on 40 m. Found VK5PAS, Paul on 7.144 Mhz calling from VKFF-1754 Totness Recreation Park. He was using a special event callsign VI5LWF, "Lest We Forget"  It is one of a number of commemorative callsigns in Australia and Europe, to commemorate the centennary of the signing of the World War I armistice on 11th November 1918.

Also worked Paul under his own call. Paul kindly offered me the frequency.

Usual park hunters called. As a new park fairly popular.


Most signals fairly strong but lots of QSB. As usual the short NVIS skip was missing, nothing from nearby Canberra or Sydney. Could just hear VK2IO Gerard calling me, but did not hear me reply.

Packed up after 28 contacts and walked back to the car, headed back to Batemans Bay for the evening.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

FT8DMC Award Worked All Japan Call Area 17 meters

After working some missing Japanese call areas on FT8 17 m I had completed all JA call areas for the FT8DMC WAJCA FT8 award. Stations worked

JA0EVI  2017-09-02  23:27  17M   FT8  JA0
7N4OHN  2018-04-20  08:09  17M   FT8  JA1
JA2EDG  2018-04-20  07:56  17M   FT8  JA2
JH3FGI  2018-09-15  23:45  17M   FT8  JA3
JM4WUZ  2018-05-05  22:23  17M   FT8  JA4
JA5CBU  2018-10-30  08:09  17M   FT8  JA5
JH6VXP  2018-10-30  09:06  17M   FT8  JA6
JF7RJM  2018-04-20  08:02  17M   FT8  JA7
JG8FWH  2018-10-14  05:28  17M   FT8  JA8
JA9CAC  2017-12-03  05:53  17M   FT8  JA9

Applied for the award using Ultimate AAC software and once approved by the award manager downloaded from the the EPC Awards website.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Tracking JA, VK and ZL Prefixes needed per band for Awards

The various FT8 Awards offer endorsements for achieving working all call areas on an particular band, for JA (Japan) VK (Australia) and ZL (New Zealand). After some thought devised a simple way to track what I still need.

Used the following low tech solution. In Excel made up lists of prefixes for JA, VK and ZL per band so

Printed this list out. Then, using a yellow highlight pen, crossed out the Prefixes I have worked. So at a glance can see whats still to go, and cross them out as I work them. You can of course check in the log but this takes time, this way can tell instantly what I need.

Wish 10 m would open up again and I could work JA9 :(

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Tracking Amateur Radio Blogs using Inoreader

There are lots of Amateur Radio Blogs out there and you need a way to keep track of updates to them, this is where an RSS reader is handy. In the past I used Google Reader, until Google killed it off... so switched to Feedly. This has served me well, until they restricted it to 100 feeds in the free version. As I follow far more feeds than this looked around for another RSS reader, and found Inoreader.

This has no limit on the number of feeds it can track in the free version. Migration from Feedly was simple enough, export a list of my Feeds in Feedly into an .opml file, then import them into Inoreader.

I organize my Amateur Radio feeds in folders thus. You can use your own way.

Amateur Radio Blogs Local - For VK/ZL blogs, to track local Amateur Radio Blogs.
Amateur Radio Blogs World - For Amateur Radio Blogs in the rest of the World
Amateur Radio News - The usual news sites for hams, eg ARRL, SouthGate ARC, eHam etc

As well as normal blogs I also keep track of Podcasts and Youtube Subscriptions.

A screenshot of Inoreader, showing articles in Amateur Radio Blogs World.

There is also an Android App for Inoreader, so can catch up on the news while out.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

FT8DMC Worked All New Zealand Award 20 m

I've managed to qualify for the FT8DMC WANZ (Worked All New Zealand) Award on 80 m, after some more ZL contacts recently managed to qualify on 20 m too. For the award you need ZL1 (4 QSOs), ZL2 (3 QSOs), ZL3 ( 2 QSOs) and ZL4 (1 QSO).

Here are the contacts I made for 20 m

ZL1BBW              2018-10-13  05:27  20M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1BD               2018-10-12  06:25  20M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1HX               2018-04-25  01:13  20M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1MVL              2018-10-13  03:42  20M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL2IAS              2018-10-04  08:07  20M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2TLF              2018-10-13  05:25  20M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2WD               2018-05-11  23:50  20M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL3GAV              2018-09-29  01:03  20M   FT8      ZL3   
ZL3JW               2018-09-15  01:21  20M   FT8      ZL3   
ZL4AS               2018-05-12  23:35  20M   FT8      ZL4   

Applied via the UAAC software, award approved by the Manager ZL1MVL Ian. Downloaded from the EPC website.

Friday, 5 October 2018

European Ros Club 50 Members Award

Noticed in Ultimate AAC software I had managed to contact over 50 members of the Eurobean Ros Club (ERC) so applied for the award. Downloaded from the EPC website. Here it is

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

FT8DMC Worked 200 Grids Awards

After some activity of FT8 lately managed to get to 200 Grid squares worked, and apply for the FT8DMC Grids WGA 200 Award, using Ultimate AAC software.

A breakdown of unique grids worked per band that I counted using Excel.

10 m - 13 Grids
17 m - 29 Grids
20 m - 26 Grids
30 m - 30 Grids
40 m - 84 Grids
80 m - 18 Grids

So most were on 40 m, to be expected at this part of the sunspot cycle... Still waiting for the higher bands to open up...

Here is the award.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

FT8DMC Worked All New Zealand 80 m Award

Noticed in the Ultimate AAC Award I only needed a few more ZL1s and a ZL2 to finish qualifying for the WANZ award on 80 m, so got on the band for a few days and found the required contacts.

For me New Zealand is fairly easy on 80 m, not that far away from VK1, most are very strong...
Contacts made. Note for the award you need 4 x ZL1, 3 x ZL2, 2 x ZL3 and 1 x ZL4

ZL1AIX    2018-09-18  08:19  80M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1BBW  2018-09-17  09:48  80M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1BRL   2018-09-13  08:41  80M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1RPL    2018-09-17  09:43  80M   FT8      ZL1   

ZL2AUB   2017-08-31  08:19  80M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2IAS     2018-09-18  08:42  80M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2IFB     2018-09-17  07:46  80M   FT8      ZL2   

ZL3IO       2018-08-28  08:17  80M   FT8      ZL3   
ZL3TE      2017-09-03  11:27  80M   FT8      ZL3   

ZL4AD     2017-09-01  08:15  80M   FT8      ZL4   

Applied for the award online, approved by ZL1MVL Ian and downloaded from the EPC website.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

FT8DMC Worked Prefix Award

After updating Ultimate AAC software to v2.3.2 noticed there are several new awards in the FT8DMC group, including Worked Prefix (WPX) award. This requires working 100, 500, and 1000 different callsign prefixes. As I had qualified for over 100 prefixes applied for the award. Approved by the manager 9A2AA Fawaz for download from the EPC Awards wepage.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

FT8DMC Worked Philippines Award

The FT8DMC Worked Philippines Award (WPA) requires 5 different Philipinnes stations contacts on FT8 mode to qualify. Despite being a fairly easy radio path to the North from Australia it took me some time to get the 5th, finally did it today working 4F3OM on 17 m FT8.

4F3BZ               2017-09-15  10:09  30M   FT8   
DU1AVC              2018-05-19  21:47  30M   FT8   
DU1/JH1FNS          2018-05-10  00:13  20M   FT8   
DX3H                2018-05-11  23:56  20M   FT8   
4F3OM               2018-09-09  00:41  17M   FT8   

WPA-WPA:            5/5 philippine stations

Applied for the award using the UAAC software, received confirmation available for download from the Awards Manager Hannes OE1SGU. Nice award.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

WWFF Park to Park 308 Award

Following a lot of park to park contacts recently I was eligible for the next award, for 308 park to park QSOs. Thanks to other park activators for helping me achieve this.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 700 Award

Noticed on on the WWFF Logsearch page that I've managed to get over 700 unique VKFF park referenced confirmed, so applied for the award.

Thanks to all the park activators for getting out there and activating new parks.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

WWFF Gigerline Nature Reserve VKFF-0985

With a sunny Sunday afternoon decided to activate another park, and one not too far from home. Decided to return to Gigerline Nature Reserve, VKFF-0985, as when I activated it in 2016 only made 37 contacts, so would be easy enough to complete the 44 needed for a WWFF point.

Last time I activated it was from Tharwa Sandwash picnic area. I found the bands noisy there from close by power lines, so this time set off for a different spot, Angle Crossing, at the Southern end of the park. Drove down Naas Rd, turning off onto Smiths Rd, then Angle Crossing Rd. A sign for the park before the road descends down to the crossing.

Heading East to the crossing saw a road on the left, probably for access to a power transmission line tower. The gate had a sign about no unauthorized vehicles, but nothing about walkers. Parked in front of the gate, which was not locked and walked along the road a bit, setting up the squid pole on the fence.

Operating spot on a map, from Protected Planet. Well inside the park here.

Shack on the table. Note the very dry ground, the ACT and NSW are in a drought at the moment.

Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park with VK5LOL/p Leslie in VKFF-0817 The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park. She was also in an Alara (YL) contest so gave her a contest number as well.

Spotted myself on ParksnPeaks and worked the following hunters.


Note they were all long distance, NVIS short skip missing on 40 m, yet again... So changed to 80 m to get the close by hunters. Worked the following:


All fairly strong signals, 80 m works well in the afternoon despite people thinking its only a night time band...

Saw a spot on 40 m for VK4AAC/3 Rob in VKFF-2402 Mount Warrenheip Flora Reserve so went back there. As NVIS skip not really working he was weak, 41 report and he had me 31. But made it.

Packed up and headed home.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

VKFF Activator Honour Roll 125 Award

Following my 2 weeks driving holiday to VK2 and VK4, activating a total of 28 parks, managed to qualify for the VKFF Activator Honour Roll 125 Award.

Thank you to all the park hunters who chased me at various parks, sometimes with trying HF conditions... and thanks to the volunteers who keep this award scheme running.

For overseas viewers the animal is an echidna.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

European ROS Club Awards

Noticed in an update to the awards software program UAAC the addition of a new Awards group, "European ROS Club". Seems I was eligible for several of this groups awards, as they allow contacts in any digital mode, not just ROS to count for the awards, so could use my JT65 and FT8 QSOs.

Applied by email as instructed at  http://www.europeanrosclub.com/en/darse-de-alta/
After my membership was approved received a membership certificate by email

Entered my membership number into the UAAC software User data settings. Just a word of warning, you need a leading 0 to set up UAAC properly, eg my membership number is 5 numbers 02395. After which you can apply for awards.

When approved the Awards Manager EB5AG, Manolo will send you an email, that you can download the awards from the EPC website https://epc-mc.eu You will need to log in as your membership to this site to download them.

Awards I qualified for so far:

Worked All Continents ie WAC. You only need 5, Antarctica is not needed. Endorsements for different bands, this one is for the 40 m band.

Awards for certain numbers of unique Prefix contacts, eg Bronze for 500 contacts

Awards for different numbers of countries worked. This one for 75. Paises is Spanish for countries.

Worked all States, ie WAS. I did this a few years ago on JT65