Closing 2019 in amateur radio, time to plot the number of contacts and look back

QSO count plot up to December 2019 Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts. Months with contests are quite visible. After the peak in number of contacts in July there was first a holday and after that no big peaks in number of contacts. December 2019 jumps out a bit again due to the FT8 roundup on 8/9 December in which I made 66 contacts and later in the month the troposperic ducting allowing contacts over interesting distances in the 70 centimeter and 2 meter band added to a sprint at the end. In 2019 I made a few more contacts than in the previous record year 2017.

Looking back at my amateur radio resolutions for 2019 I think most came true.

If I look at them one by one:
  • Keep learning morse! - I'm still working on my morse, but there is measurable improvement. I have learned the full set for the Belgian CW exam and I'm working on accuracy and speed.
  • Get more countries on more HF bands in the log - More countries and more slots on HF are in the log. I also use the club station to achieve that goal. The ARRL DXCC Award shows that I'm getting somewhere.
  • Moonbounce on 2 meter - I've listened on the right frequencies to the moon on 2 meter. Nothing heard.
  • Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests - I participated in two phone contests and a number of digimode contests. No serious improvement in scores.
  • Operate HF outside - I operated HF outside. Not as much as I would like.
  • At least one satellite contact - Multiple satellite contacts have been made!
Now I have to think about 2020, but the year is still young.

No longer amazon.com associate on The Virtual Bookcase

I received a message from amazon that the site no longer qualifies as an amazon.com associate. That was no big surprise as I haven't done a lot of maintenance on the site and haven't added a lot of content in the last years.

The only serious maintenance was for the migration to the new web server where php 7.0 is the standard version. I wish to some day migrate to perl but haven't found time yet.

So I removed all amazon affiliate links I could find.

Closing 2019 in amateur radio, time to plot the number of contacts

QSO count plot up to December 2019 Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts. Months with contests are quite visible. After the peak in number of contacts in July there was first a holday and after that no big peaks in number of contacts. December 2019 jumps out a bit again due to the FT8 roundup on 8/9 December in which I made 66 contacts and later in the month the troposperic ducting allowing contacts over interesting distances in the 70 centimeter and 2 meter band added to a sprint at the end. In 2019 I made a few more contacts than in the previous record year 2017.

Looking back at my amateur radio resolutions for 2019 I think most came true.

If I look at them one by one:
  • Keep learning morse! - I'm still working on my morse, but there is measurable improvement. I have learned the full set for the Belgian CW exam and I'm working on accuracy and speed.
  • Get more countries on more HF bands in the log - More countries and more slots on HF are in the log. I also use the club station to achieve that goal. The ARRL DXCC Award shows that I'm getting somewhere.
  • Moonbounce on 2 meter - I've listened on the right frequencies to the moon on 2 meter. Nothing heard.
  • Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests - I participated in two phone contests and a number of digimode contests. No serious improvement in scores.
  • Operate HF outside - I operated HF outside. Not as much as I would like.
  • At least one satellite contact - Multiple satellite contacts have been made!
Now I have to think about 2020, but the year is still young.

New countries.. on the 70 centimeter band

I saw reports of special propagation on the 2 meter band and even on 70 centimeters today. Normally I can get something further than line of sight on 2 meter and line of sight is the hard limit on 70 centimeter. But with some propagation types it's different and signals can get further. So I tried FT8 on both bands and got Belgium, France, Germany and England in the log on 70cm and new callsigns on both bands.

Denmark still got away, I had an almost-contact with a Danish station on 70 centimeters but it stopped after the initial exchange.

This is all with the vertical antenna on the roof. I wonder what a beam or big wheel antenna for 70cm or 2meter could do.

At the same time I spun the dial on the remote HF radio so I also got some calls in the log on 20 meters.

Update: Current distance record on the 70 cm band is 803 kilometers to F8DBF in France and the first contact with Denmark has been made.

New countries.. on the 70 centimeter band

I saw reports of special propagation on the 2 meter band and even on 70 centimeters today. Normally I can get something further than line of sight on 2 meter and line of sight is the hard limit on 70 centimeter. But with some propagation types it's different and signals can get further. So I tried FT8 on both bands and got Belgium, France, Germany and England in the log on 70cm and new callsigns on both bands.

Denmark still got away, I had an almost-contact with a Danish station on 70 centimeters but it stopped after the initial exchange.

This is all with the vertical antenna on the roof. I wonder what a beam or big wheel antenna for 70cm or 2meter could do.

At the same time I spun the dial on the remote HF radio so I also got some calls in the log on 20 meters.

Update: Current distance record on the 70 cm band is 803 kilometers to F8DBF in France and the first contact with Denmark has been made.

New countries.. on 70 centimeter

I saw reports of special propagation on the 2 meter band and even on 70 centimeters today. So I tried FT8 on both bands and got Belgium, France, Germany and England in the log on 70cm and new callsigns on both bands.

Denmark still got away, I had an almost-contact with a Danish station on 70 centimeters but it stopped after the initial exchange.

This is all with the vertical antenna on the roof. I wonder what a beam or big wheel antenna for 70cm or 2meter could do.

At the same time I spun the dial on the remote HF radio so I also got some calls in the log on 20 meters.

Update: Current distance record on the 70 cm band is 803 kilometers to F8DBF in France and the first contact with Denmark has been made.

First contacts with the remote setup at a remote location

The main unit of the Kenwood TS-480SAT radio is now at a different location and the frontpanel is at home. With an OpenVPN connection between them so it's not exposed to the big bad internet.

And it's working! I currently have access to a 10/15/17/20 meter antenna and I have already heard stations I wouldn't dream of receiving at home. And the first country in SSB in the log that I only had in digital modes before: Ceuta and Melilla, the Spain enclaves in Africa.

Lag is minimal, audio is less delayed than listening to the utwente websdr to the same signal. Control works fine, so I can control the radio like I'm sitting behind it, including menu settings.

Comparing received signals on the local radio with the attic dipole and the remote radio is hell and heaven: local noise is S9+ and the remote location has almost no local noise (while still being in an urban environment) so I can hear even weak stations fine. I leave the noise blanker off most of the time because it's not needed to hear signals fine.

Not making loads and loads of contacts yet, propagation isn't cooperating very well and there aren't many people calling CQ. But when a somewhat special station calls CQ there are a lot of answers so there are numerous amateurs active. Or I guess they go to their set when they see an interesting callsign on the DX-cluster.

I also got morse keying by paddle working beforehand. Hearing the sidetone from the radio got annoying fast when doing morse at a bit of speed so the sidetone is now from the control unit and the sidetone in the radio is silent. It's still set to the same audio frequency as the sidetone in the control unit to allow for finding the zero beat frequency.

Removing an RRTYPE for a DNS name causes an expired RRSIG for that record

I kept seeing warnings about an expired signature when running named-checkzone or dnssec-signzone and it took some searching before I found the reason.

Recently I removed the records with type SPF from my zones since the recommended approach is to use TXT records with SPF data. The RRSIG records for the SPF records were left in the signed zonefile, but not updated so they expired and started to give warnings.

The SPF records were for names that had other data too which seems to trigger this. Removing a record completely (no RRTYPEs left for the name) removes all signatures.

The things in DNSSEC I haven't tested yet are a signed subzone, a ZSK rollover and a KSK rollover. Those will eventually happen too.

First tries with DNSSEC on subzones: no success

I tried adding subzones with DNSSEC by adding the DS record to the parent
zone, but in both tries I got errors from DNSViz.
Different errors even: in one case the signature on the DS record was seen
as invalid and in another case there was no signature at all. The errors are
reproducable, even after waiting for caches to empty.

Removing an RRTYPE for a DNS name causes an expired RRSIG for that record

I kept seeing warnings about an expired signature when running named-checkzone or dnssec-signzone and it took some searching before I found the reason.

Recently I removed the records with type SPF from my zones since the recommended approach is to use TXT records with SPF data. The RRSIG records for the SPF records were left in the signed zonefile, but not updated so they expired and started to give warnings.

The SPF records were for names that had a lot of other data too which seems to trigger this. Removing a record completely (no RRTYPEs left for the name) removes all signatures.

The things in DNSSEC I haven't tested yet are a signed subzone, a ZSK rollover and a KSK rollover. Those will eventually happen too.