28 August 2015

Yaesu's new HF radio, FT-410

Yaesu FT-410 seems to be the latest HF radio to surface from Japan, and from the looks of it it's the successor of FT-600 to fight the Icom IC-718 and Alinco SRT-8/9 series. It's still not FCC approved and probably still has a long way to retail, but it's nice to know what to expect in the following months.

The Yaesu FT-410 is a pretty basic radio, operating in the 30kHz-30MHz* range (160m to 10m amateur bands), 100W AM/SSB/CW, with first IF at 67.899MHz and a seconday one at 24kHz that goes directly into DSP. Judging by that arrangement, it may just be an FT-450 without FM and in another casing.

YO SOTA Marathon 2015 - the story

This was a natural evolution to the YO SOTA Tour 2014 from last year, only this time we decided to make it bigger, better, longer and harder. We added summits and regions, we increased the number of points, we got much more activators to join in and we were on the air for longer, on more bands and more modes. We got the chance to spend more time with people bound by the same passion, field-test alot of radio equipment, antennas and logging methods and give the chance to alot more chasers to log in a contact with a summit from the mountains of Romania. We were there when in cold rain at over 2000m altitude, two of our friends became the first activators in Romania to surpass the 1000 points limit at the same time, qualifying for the "Mountain Goat" status. I would call the YO SOTA Marathon 2015 a success. And this story will probably be the longest post ever on this blog.

Most of the team, at the rendez-vous between YO/MC-052 and MC-050

23 August 2015

Icom reveals first SDR, IC-7300

Saturday, August 22nd 2015, during the Tokyo Ham Fair 2015, Icom revealed their first Software Defined Radio (SDR) HF transceiver, the IC-7300, sporting HF+6m+4m coverage, 100W, touchscreen TFT display and an internal antenna tuner. More than 12 years after the SDR technology became comercially available for amateur radio and after dozens of smaller companies have used it successfully in their products - some of wich are now at the third generation SDR products, one of "the big three" amateur radio equipment manufacturers finally decided to move their technology to the 21st century, too.

07 August 2015

YO SOTA Marathon 2015 starting this wekend

The long awaited YO SOTA Marathon 2015 will be officially starting on Monday, August 10th 2015, and compared to last year we will up the stakes: from 8 to 16 summits, from 80 to 136 points, instead of 5 activators now we will have 12 activators split into 2 teams and the whole thing will last 6 days instead of 5. This should also be a chaser's delight: the summits point average is 8.5, we will be active on both SSB and CW, we will work until the last chaser and all the activations will be spotted on the cluster.

For me this will be an even larger challenge since I plan to activate 4 more summits in the weekend before the marathon starts. So expect alot of SOTA activity from Romania starting tomorrow !

For more details about the YO SOTA Marathon 2015, you can download and check out this presentation.

09 July 2015

Friedrichshafen Ham Radio 2015 (I) - the road, the city and the campsite

Friedrichshafen Ham Radio (yes, the name is not particularly creative) is the largest amateur radio convention in Europe and the second-largest in the world, marginally surpassed by the Dayton Hamfest as far as attendance goes. In 2014 it attracted about 17.000 people and even if the figures aren't out for this year yet, to the regulars it looked to be a just bit smaller. This year's (2015) edition of the Friedrichshafen Ham Radio was the 40th and was held from 26th to the 28th of June in the same place it has always been, the Messe (expo area) of Friedrichshafen, a small university city in the south of Germany, right on the North coast of Lake Constance (Bodensee).

Friedrichshafen is the home for some of Germany's iconic aviation / automotive companies, Zeppelin, Maybach, ZF (second largest automotive parts concern worldwide) and Dornier (manufacturer of bomber and fighter planes in WW II, now defunct) being based here. And thanks to the absolutely scenic geographical placement (you can easily see the majestic Alps in Switzerland and Lichtenstein on the other side of the lake), Friedrichshafen served as a resort for the german Nazi.

26 May 2015

SOTA activation: YO/EC-090 Malaia and YO/EC-093 Siriu

Oh boy, long time I didn't post anything on the blog. There have been some subjects I would've loved to write about, there is another SOTA activation report I need to get out there as well, but the work volume lately was terrible so no more blogging/ham radio/twitter. Nevertheless, this story needs to get out there fast and while it's still fresh, because it was really good.

YO/EC-090 Malaia Peak (1662m, 8 points) and YO/EC-093 Siriu Peak (1657m, 8 points) are two nearby peaks in the Siriu massif, located about halfway between the cities of Brasov and Buzau. Almost between the two peaks there is a periglacial lake called "Eagles' Lake" or "The Bottomless Lake", wich makes for a touristic attraction point in itself.

Eagles Lake seen from Malaia peak
The two names for the lake have their own associated legends; it's called "Eagles' Lake" because in the spring the eagles come down to the lake to drink it's water and get younger, also bringing their cubs by the lake to teach them how to fly. What I can tell you is that i've seen countless eagles circling the air above the lake, probably attracted by the (small) fish, snakes or frogs.

The legend associated with the "Bottomless Lake" name is even more interesting - a shepherd tired by his life decided to give it up and seek a better future for himself, throwing his crook into the lake and leaving the sheep and the places behind. One year later, while travelling the country, he saw his unmistakable hand-carved crook floating on the Danube river, instantly getting homesick and returning to his sheep.

Florin YO9IPF proposed this trip almost 4 weeks before on the SOTA ROMANIA Facebook group and it was because of me that it got delayed so much - all my weekends were full up until May 23rd. It proved to be a great choice in the end, Csaba YO6PIB had the weekend available as well (and he took a few friends with him) and Florin managed to pick up a few more local hams - veteran operators but not too familiar with the SOTA program yet: YO9GSB - Dan and YO9RAO - Mihai.

18 March 2015

SOTA activation: YO/EC-480 and YO/EC-312

YO/EC-480 (Dealul Frumos, 1048m, 6 points) and YO/EC-312 (Secaria, 1149m, 6 points) were some of the many summits I've been planning to activate for some time now, and when I told Florin YO9IPF they're part of my upcoming weekend plan he immediately agreed to come with me. The weather forecast didn't look too good but hey, we were two men on a mission and didn't plan to be stopped by a few drops of rain.

Finding Florin was fortunate, as it's pretty hard for a SOTA activator to have an activation partner: friends or girlfriends may come with you for a hike now and then, but not many have the patience to wait until you do your radio thing. Romania is not a very big country but there aren't that many activators yet (SOTA is growing very fast here though), so we definetely jump on any chance we get to do team activations.

We met near Ploiesti and in 30 minutes we were already at the base of the first summit (YO/EC-480) after passing trough the city of Comarnic. There are basically two choices if you want to get to YO/EC-480: either you choose the easier but longer route that starts from the DJ101S road, or a steeper but shorter one from DC2C. We chose the first option, the hike ahead of us looked easy and it actually was.