Move of QTH, back on 11m, nothing heard…

So this spring i moved to a new QTH where i have no issues with PLC noise. Nice clean ether and great spot to put a decent antenna. But…. when i set my radio to 27.555MHz i only hear that man i always hear and who, after 5 years of asking him, still hasn’t fixed his radio. I still hear the locals chatting, shouting and insulting each other, calling in their local language because they don’t speak radio english.

Do i really want to go back to 11 meters? Yes, i do, but only if the sun gives me some DX.


Why i am not on 11 meters anymore

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I know you haven’t heard from me in quite a while. I am still running the International 11 Meter Cluster, i am still a(n honored) member of the IRDX 11 meter section, but i am not active on 11 meter anymore myself. Why? Well, basically because of what i have been fighting against for a long time now, the PLC QRM.

Above you see an image of what is happening in my shack. This is appx. 3MHz bandwidth and the center frequency you are looking at is our famous 27.555MHz. As you can see, i have quite a bit of electronic noise in my shack. The left-hand side of the image is close to 26MHz, the right-hand side is almost 29MHz, so you can see that the noise starts from 26MHz, increases till 27.9-something and then drops off. Apparently the PLAs are properly notched for the HAM bands, but not for the CB and, obviously because this band is illegal, the 11 meter band.

I have located the source of the noise and it is caused by Telefonicas digital TV system for which the distribution box for my building is right over my head in the cabin where also the elevator motors are hosted. And instead of using fiber, as you would expect, Telefonica is using cheap home-plug adapters to get to the TVs in the flats.

There is nothing i can do about this. All according to the law and to the spanish norms, so there i am. Lucky for me the HAM bands are clear and with my 40 euro dummy-stick i can do what i want. But not on the 11 meter band.


A good radio makes a big difference

Two issues to report:

1) I got bored on 11 and 10m because “propagation was bad”. I don’t know if i got lucky, but the last week i was ONLY on 10m making lots of really nice DX contacts. Worked several new countries. So what is the cause? Propagation or the quality of the radio?

2) Regarding PLC noise, Wimo boxes and stuff like that. Check this video. This is with an idle PLA and no Wimo, just the NR from the radio itself. Amazing.

11m useless because of PLC noise. Back to 10m?

10m_bpAs you all know, after all you are following this blog, i am suffering from PLC noise in my house. This makes it virtually impossible to make any contacts on 11m. Yesterday, despite the bad conditions on 10 and 11m, i started to listen to and follow the cluster for 10 meter activity. After all, the PLA’s around me are all notched for 10m.

10 meter suprised me. My first contact was with TY1AA, Benin country. That was surprising since a lot of people were calling and, as you know, i am running very minimal conditions (12W output and a mobile antenna).

This actually motivated me to make a few more contacts. Was quite fun. There is actually something out there besides 11 meters. Although it was again the regular “EA3HOE, your 5-9, 73” it was better than nothing.

Maybe i have to start to look for a decent HF set again…

Is the radio hobby dead?

Many times i ask myself this question. “Is HAM Radio a hobby that is going to last until the next sun cycle?” Looking around on the internet i see that i am not alone in asking this question. So here is my opinion, not truth, opinion.

First of all i hear everywhere that we never had as many licensed radio operators as in the last years. More licenses have been granted than any cycle before. Fact. Great.

But…., if i listen on the radio i hear NOTHING. Now, i must say that i only operate 10 and 11 meters and listen a bit to CB. And there there is nothing. Bad propagation? Probably. But there is more.

When i go to radio meetings i only meet people that are older than i am. And i am 50 years old. Am i going to the wrong meetings? Probably. But, at least here in Spain, there are hardly any radio clubs anymore and the only meeting worthwile going to is the national radio meeting. Lots of interesting speeches, lots of second hand stuff, but mostly broken mobile phones and memory cards for PC’s nobody uses anymore.

pix_cartoon176_Ham_Lingo_Dead_BandsWhat is happening to the hobby?

  • Is it because we are using basically obsolete technology? Communication for the sake of transferring information is more effective when using mobile phones, Skype, WhatsApp, whatever.
  • Is it because it’s expensive and requires a big antenna to get into HF?
  • Is it because a certain percentage of hams are still pushing Morse code mostly because they are running out of other people who know it?
  • Is it the hams that still believe that “the wrong sort” need to kept out? I operate on both 10 and 11m and when i tell my colleague pirates they are proud of me, but when i tell my colleague HAM they dispise me.  This behavior doesn’t really create the cooperative ambient a newbie needs to get going. You will be told off unless they have a HAM license, which in theory means that you should be able to hold your own.
  • Is it that it’s overwhelmingly old people who tend to die or become incapacitated? Fact of nature. We cannot dispute that.
  • Is it because it’s time-consuming, and just gets more time-consuming as fewer people connect with fewer people? Every hobby is and should be time-consuming, no?
  • Is it because it requires the ability to talk to people, rather than talk at  them? Hello, Facebook!
  • Is it because the vast, vast majority of people under 40 simply never experienced a time when two-way radio was vital and common?
  • Is it because a lot of the people on the air are cranky, anti-social, and cliquish?
  • Is it because at the end “EA3HOE, 59” all the time gets boring?
  • Is it because the bands are more and more splattered with industrial and home electronics garbage? Regulations to keep the HAM bands free? What regulation? What are regulations without control?
  • Is it because CB, the band where everything starts, is still not free to use and experiment on? At least, here in Spain it isn’t.

I can go on and on and on. What is a fact is that on the most common local bands, 70cm, 2m, 6m, 10m, 11m i hear nothing. Well, most activity is still on 11m, but that’s probably because these pirates only have one band to go to.