VISITOR NOTE — This is a private hobby site and it's mainly designed as a landing page for all visitors coming from i.e. QRZ.COM, QRZCQ.COM, dg1gmy.darc.de, eQSL.CC, QSL.net and alike. No tracking, no ads, no nags. Just a simple CMS to provide a single point of content (and simple, streamlined content management). This site is solely targeted to (soon-to-be) ham radio operators worldwide. If you arrived here "by accident" and wonder what this is all about, you may want to check i.e. Wikipedia's record on Amateur Radio, the website of the ARRL - American Radio Relay League, RSGB - Radio Society of Great Britain or the website of the DARC - Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (in German) - just to name a few! If you still have questions, feel free to check out my contact details at the very end of this page. I'll be happy to help...!
Updated: May 17, 2021 | LoRa coverage map update & minor text updates
- OP: Michael
- LOC: JN48CS
- DARC DOK: A04 (OV Bühl)
- CITY: Sinzheim near Baden-Baden, close to river Rhine / Upper Rhine Valley, wine region, right behind the Fremersberg (SOTA DM/BW-861)
- QSL: pse eQSL or via DARC bureau
- FM simplex standby: 144.575 MHz and/or 144.325 MHz and/or 430.050 MHz (also Echolink DB0BHE-L)
- FM repeater standby: DB0XK (Kalmit) 145.700 MHz and/or F5ZCQ (Wissembourg) 145.725 MHz, also DB0ORT 438.775 MHz (FM repeater standby is quite limited)
- DMR MMDVM hotspot standby: mainly TG 26277 and TG 262709 (when at the home office and/or shack)
- DMR repeater standby via DB0BH (Bühl, 439.075 MHz), only when portable/mobile: TGs 2627, 26271, 26377
- HF standby: As of writing this I am mostly on 40m in JS8 (7.078 MHz) testing various TRX/audio/antenna/portable setups. Please see details below.
I built my first crystal radio (in one of these orange “tic tac” boxes) based on the book “Fun with electronics” (German version) and went on with further projects that drove my parents crazy ("Why do you need this long wire across the living room?"; "Why do you need another wire to the sink in the kitchen?"... :-)
I probably wouldn't be a radio amateur without this book - followed by many, many more books...
And yes, I use an ebook reader since "the early days". But I still love books. You know, these heavy things made out of paper. Paper? Yes, you know...! ;-) If you are looking for "some inspiration on the subject of paper and reading" you may want to watch i.e. The Outer Limits - S03 E05 - Stream Of Consciousness. A classic episode!
Well, things moved on and I created a strong interest in all radio and home computer related stuff in the early/mid 80s - and finally became licensed in the late 80s. I was "heavily involved" in i.e. Packet Radio in the 90s. Then mostly QRT in the 2000s (other priorities, focus moved from the technical side to the business management side; plenty of QRL projects; traveling internationally...). Occasionally QRV again in the tens... (fiddling with some homebrew stuff, early home automation etc.). Very slowly catching up again with amateur radio in ~2015-2019 (i.e. some visits to HAM RADIO fair in Friedrichshafen, some new rig purchases & mods, new QTH, some homebrew antennas, plenty of little RPi, Arduino and ESP32 projects, some RX on various bands, also playing with SDR, DMR etc.) Back again and “really radio active” since early 2020 - coincidentally all coming together just a few weeks before the 1st lockdown...!
The smaller the Pi, the bigger the fan ;-) This is one of my RPIs used for digimodes...
Based on my longer break I am still catching up with “ham life” while learning new stuff and especially new modes every day. Plenty of reading, tinkering, testing etc. I really love my RPIs (11 in total, from v1 Mod. B to v4 Mod. B and a few Zero Ws, 6 in operation, rest for testing...). Building small to midsize antennas is an ever onoing project. Yes, there is some space in my backyard. No, never enough ;-) As many other hams I connect hiking with portable operations. I mostly combine these hikes with some "unofficial" SOTA/COTA (meaning I climb up to these spots, may have some rig with me and do portable operations, but rarely participate in offical SOTA/COTA contests or similar. At least up until today.) DM/BW-861 (see picture below) is virtually next door – and plenty of similar hills are around as well. Always a nice ~2h walk!
I clearly fancy digital modes (always did - and somehow miss Packet Radio for whatever reason ;-) Prefer QRP and all types of KISS operations. Also played a lot with WSPR to learn “what’s possible with almost nothing” using my Arduinos and Raspberry Pis for RX/TX – plus some “regular rig” and various antenna setups. JS8Call is the preferred digi mode on HF as of writing this, yet I really appreciate the diversity of what ham radio is about nowadays – analog & digital. The DMR playground is great as well! And some ragchew on FM (and DMR) and elsewhere if time allows.
In early 2021 I started with LoRa APRS on 433.775 MHz. It appeared to be a "nice ham/maker project" to test reach, reactivate some buried programming skills, play again with various configurations and sensors etc. - in a nutshell: do cool stuff and learn something new.
The cheap ESP32-LoRa boards (incl. GPS and OLED displays etc). combined with i.e. some 3D printing (for cases etc.) provided a quick entry into this segment of the hobby. I started to build a number of trackers, added some more sensors (a larger WX station is W.I.P), printed and mounted trackers i.e. onto my bike and into the car and did some initial testing so far. Another piece of the puzzle is the LoRa iGATE (now operating under DG1GMY-10) to provide coverage to the region. There is not too much LoRa traffic around here so far, but it slowly seems to be catching up...!
The current LoRa iGATE coverage is a "good portion" of the nearby A5 (autobahn) and the Upper Rhine Valley/Alsace region. Based on my QTH it only covers a small portion of the autobahn and currently provides "more depth than width". See recent screenshot below. Further updates and optimization to follow.
My little shack is currently equipped with a Yaesu FT450D and FT818, plus 2 x Xiegu G90, a Yaesu FT-736R, Icom IC-2725E, Icom IC-290D, a QYT-KT-8900D and an AnyTone AT-778UV (some SHACK/RIG photos to be included here later in the year ...). One of the G90s and the FT818 are used for portable. Also own a larger number of handhelds for FM and DMR, i.e. AnyTone D878UV Plus, Tytera MD-390, Radioddity GD77 and two Radioddity/Baofeng RD-5R. Both latter ones are used for ongoing testing/working with OpenGD77/OpenRD5R. Unfortunately this great open source project "faced some GPL conflicts" and therefore all files were deleted from Github and overall development stalled in late April'21. You may want to review the OpenGD77.com forum and i.e. this post post for further details. I am very thankful to the overall project and all of its previous contributors. It provided a great DMR learning experience and a lot of fun! Unfortunately the story did not have a happy end (so far).
This is my originally planned antenna setup. Only joking - this is the radio tower on top of the Fremersberg - my backyard hill ;)
My overall antenna setup is always in a state of flux. As of Spring 2021 I use i.e. 3 x ~20m homebrew/modified 5-band EndFeds (1 x FT450, 1 x G90, 1x RPi4/OpenWebRX in various directions and in various positions around the house (L-shape, Inverted-V, SBSIAT (“straight but spans into a tree”). Did I mention that space is always an issue? ;-)) As for VHF/UHF I use commercial and homebrew groundplanes for now (some smaller beams are planned in spring...). Antennas are one of my main playgrounds, so I currently have a shelf full of purchased/modified and homebrew antennas – plus plenty of material to build more. And there is always room (yet not space :-) for improvement. Some pictures are planned to be included here for refernce - but they really hard to make due to my "invisible wires approach" ;-)
(Back to the) FUTURE
I never really asked for QSL cards in my “1st ham life”. Might be changing during the course of 2021 - even for paper copies. I only registered my eQSL.CC account in early 2021 and was stunned to see QSLs waiting in there since almost two decades... Well, that's what happens when you drop out of a tech hobby while digitalization just started to gain pace, right!? ;-)
Yet this overall change in ham radio (that I unfortunately skipped since the early 2000s) provided a larger number of new playgrounds and all the fun and educational approaches that go along with it. It's the "L³" or "triple-L" - the life long learning that makes ham radio such a great hobby. It's what brought me back to amateur radio after all the years. And talking to other OMs it seems I am in good company! ;-)
All of the above – plus something new and exciting every day...
Some of the ongoing projects in 2021
- Dedicated LoRa iGATE antenna setup (currently the iGATE is connected to an VX50N antenna via a Diamond CX310A coax switch, yet it gets disconnected from time to time when I need the X50 for something else...)
- Completion of the LoRa WX station (it's really hard to get some of the parts right now...)
- Better LoRa device fixtures for my bike and in the car...
- Removeable car antenna setup for testing (3D printed window antenna holder will do...)
- Further enhances/replacements to the DMR hotspot and repeater setup
- A set of 9 or 13 element yagis for 144/430 MHz (SSB operations, may some be contesting...)
- An additional HF vertical setup for some additional digimode and SSB testing (I may need to immolate one of the EndFeds to keep the "WAF" going ;-))
- Some additional DIY equipment (box, power supply, antennas, ATU-100 etc.) for portable operations
...and using all the stuff to be on the air ;-)
Feel free to contact me by email (callsign at "gee-mail" dot com), via the well-known ham radio platforms, or on the various bands and modes as provided in the basics section.
73, Michael — DG1GMY
Team YAGARS | Yet Another German Amateur Radio Site | Yet Another German Amateur Radio Station ;-)