Saturday, December 27, 2008

GB3RAL on 28 MHz & the Ursids Meteor Shower

On the morning of the 22nd of Dec 2008, I had a listen for meteor bursts from the GB3RAL beacon on 28.215 MHz during the Ursids meteor shower. This shower is supposed to have a number of active 'outburts' sometimes. This year, the forecast for the peak was for 07:30 UTC.

Why GB3RAL??.........I tried listening to other beacons in Europe around the 1,200 km to 1,500 km mark. Some run very low power so the refections are very weak. In addition, this distance is very good when there is any type of Sporadic-E propogation and it can be very hard at times to tell the difference between the Sp-E and meteor scatter. At least with GB3RAL at 490 kms, Sporadic-E is somewhat less likely and reflections for meteor scatter are likely to be stronger although shorter in lenght.

Equipment : As before, Kenwood transceiver on CW with a 500 Hz filter. Antenna in use was an old CB type half wave vertical.

Listening Period.........07:00 to 10:00 UTC on the 22nd of December 2008.

Results.......Plenty of pings and bursts but there was nothing spectacular. I didn't notice any particular sharp peak in activity. At best, it could be described as 'a small' increase in what be heard normally.

For the 3 hours, the level seemed to be much the same.
Between 08:00 and 09:00 UTC, I heard 9 pings and 9 bursts (10 sec x 1, 20 sec x 3, 30 sec x 3, 60 sec x 2).
Between 09:00 and 10:00 UTC, I heard 14 pings and 9 bursts (10 sec x 3, 20 sec x 3, 30 sec x 1, 60 sec x 2).

All signals were pretty weak. Note however that it was not possible to get a positive ID of the GB3RAL beacon as it's keyer is currently faulty. However, there would seem to be nothing else that it could be other than GB3RAL as there is no other beacon listed within meteor scatter range on that frequency.

From my point of view, there did not seem to be any 'outburst' in activity. Looking at the activity level plotted on the Make More Miles on VHF website, it does not seem to show much activity either. On the chart, the Geminids show up very clearly whereas the Ursids look pretty poor.

It looks as if the 2008 Ursid meteor shower was nothing special.
The next shower is the Quadrantids. These are supposed to peak at 13:00 UTC on the 3rd of Jan 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dec 22nd....Good Tropo conditions on 144 MHz from EI

Interesting to see that even at this time of year, 144 MHz can still suprise. On the 22nd of Dec 2008, there was some nice ducting of 144 MHz signals between the North coast of Spain, the West coast of France and the UK and Ireland. While most of the signals were over a marine path, perhaps the duct was somewhat elevated because plenty of 'inland' stations were getting in on the action.
For example, the EI stations in IO52 and IO53 would have hills (~400m) between them and the South coast of EI. The fact they were working so much and the DX signals were in GI as well might suggest the duct was elevated?? I know there are times when we get marine ducting here on the South coast (IO51) to the North of Spain and the DX signals don't seem to get too far North.

No sign on the cluster of any 432 MHz activity. Lack of stations??? or propogation???

The graphic above was from the excellent Make More Miles on VHF website.

Here are some of the 144 MHz reports from the DX-Cluster.
EI3GYB 144300.0 EA1FDI 52 2155 22 Dec
EA1MX 144403.0 EI2WRB/B IO62IG IN73XK 2136 22 Dec
EA1MX-@ 144403.0 EI2WRB/B IO62IG IN73XK 2136 22 Dec
EA2DR 144300.0 EI4GHB now more weak 2125 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144406.0 CT1ART IO52QQIM67 2119 22 Dec (1710 kms)
EI4GHB 144300.0 EA2DR IO52QQIN83MH 2112 22 Dec
EA2DR 144300.0 EI4GHB IO52 2110 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144310.0 F1NUM IO52QQIN88AJ 2041 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144300.0 EA1FDI IO52QQIN53TF 57 2022 22 Dec
EA1BLA 144300.0 EI8IQ 59+ IN53IO62 1947 22 Dec
F0EJW 144330.0 EI8IQ IN78VJIO62SF 57 TNX QSO 1932 22 Dec
EA1BLA 144403.0 EI2WRB 579 IN53IO62 1926 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144310.0 EA1BL IO52QQIN53UM 1908 22 Dec
EA1MX 144290.0 EI4EY IO52QP IN73XK 59 1906 22 Dec
EB5EIB 144300.0 EB3DYS 59 im98ux tr jn11 1858 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144310.0 F1MOZ IO52QQIN93RS 1823 22 Dec
F1NUM 144320.0 EI4GHB IN88AJ<>IN55QQ 1805 22 Dec
F4BWJ 144309.6 EI4GHB IN93MPIO52QQ 53/54 1801 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144310.0 F4BWJ IO52QQIN93MP 1758 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144320.0 F1NVM IO52QQIN88AN 1746 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144280.0 EA1FDI IO52QQIN53TF Still 59+!! 1715 22 Dec
EA1XT 144300.0 EI4GHB IN53(TR)IO52 CQ NO TAKERS 1620 22 Dec
EA1XT 144300.0 EI3GYB IN53(TR)IO53 CQ NO TAKERS 1619 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144300.0 EA1FDI IO52QQIN53TF 1613 22 Dec
EA1FDI 144403.0 EI2WRB 579 beacon io62ig tropo to 1553 22 Dec
EI3GYB 144300.0 EA1FDI 55 1552 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144260.0 EA1FDT IO52QQIN53TF 1520 22 Dec
F6FHP 144300.0 EI4GHB CQ 55 in IN94 1514 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144249.0 F6APE IO52QQIN97QI 1513 22 Dec
EI3GYB 144300.0 EA1XT 55 and rising 1503 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144300.0 EA1XT IO52QQIO53VK 1502 22 Dec
EA1XT 144402.8 EI2WRB IN53VK(TR)IO62IG 559 1458 22 Dec
F5BUU 144290.0 EI4GHB io52qqjn03po 1445 22 Dec
EI4GHB 144290.0 F5BUU IO52QQJN03PO 1439 22 Dec (1250 kms)
EI4GHB 144290.0 F6FHP IO52QQIN94TR 57 1433 22 Dec
F6FHP 144402.8 EI2WRB/B IO62 559 in IN94 1344 22 Dec
EA1FDI 144403.0 EI2WRB 559 beacon 1204 22 Dec
------
F0EJW 144270.0 GI6ATZ IN78VJIO74AJ Rx 55 cq cq 2110 22 Dec
EA2DR 144270.0 GI6ATZ IO74aj 5-7 in IN83 2105 22 Dec
EA2TO 144269.5 GI6ATZ IN83MBIO74AJ tnx qso 73!! 1928 22 Dec (1280 kms)
F0EJW 144270.0 GI6ATZ IN78VJIO74AJ 59 Tnx Qso 1925 22 Dec
EA2RCA 144300.0 GB3NGI/B IN83MBIO65 519 !!! wow !! 1912 22 Dec (1350 kms!!)
EA1BLA 144482.0 GB3NGI/B 599 IN53IO65 1854 22 Dec
GI6ATZ 144290.0 EA1MX IN73XKIO74AJ 1226km 1742 22 Dec
EA1XT 144481.3 GB3NGI in53vk(tr)io65vb 1452 22 Dec

Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting ready for the ARRL's LOTW....Logbook of the World program

This post is mainly for my own benefit so that I can keep track of what I have done and what I need to do.

Logbook of the World is the system used by the ARRL in the DXCC program to get electronic confirmation of contacts/qso's. If two stations upload their logs and there is a match for callsigns, date, time (30 minute window I think) and mode then each station gets a credit. There is no need to submit a QSL card to the ARRL to verify the contact if you were applying for a DXCC award.


This has 2 big advantages as far as I can see...
1) It's another method by which you can get some of the rare countries confirmed. Having had countless direct QSL cards not replied to, getting contacts confirmed electronically has obvious attractions.
2) It should/might reduce the number of incoming QSL cards. After all, if someone else works me and needs to have EI confirmed then regular LOTW users won't need to send me a QSL card.

Current status.......22nd Dec 2008
I remember looking at LOTW before but I could not remember when. I had a folder on my PC with files created in March 2005 so it was three and half years ago!
I download the current version of the programme tqsl-111.exe (the version I had was tqsl-110.exe).
Normally, you would run this programme and complete the first step which is to run TQSLCert and create a certificate request. I obviously had done this before as I have the required file (EI7GL.tq5) already in the relevant folder on my PC.


I went to the ARRL LOTW website and uploaded the certificate request. I got the following results....

Certificate request processor result:
Started processing your New Certificate Request.
For call sign: EI7GL
For DXCC Entity: IRELAND (245)
For QSOs not before: 1986-10-03 00:00:00
For QSOs not after:
Your certificate request is accepted and awaiting further processing.
You must mail in (via postal mail) supporting documentation to complete the request.
Details about what to send and where to send it can be found at:
http://www.arrl.org/lotw/
Your certificate request processing is completed.



All non-US radio amateurs are required to send in supporting documentation to obtain a certificate. As luck would have it, buried in amongst all of the packets of QSL cards I found an old envelope with all the required photocopies (passport & EI7GL licence) and I had never posted. Next step is to post it! (Posted letter 22nd Dec 08........Received password by e-mail on 5th Jan 2009)

With the current progress of updating my logbook, I probably won't be in a position to use LOTW until April 2009 at the earliest anyway so there is no mad panic.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Beacons on 28 MHz during the Geminids meteor shower...14th Dec 2008

Back in mid November, I tried a few tests listening to the beacon GB3RAL on 28 MHz during the Leonids meteor shower. For the Geminids, I repeated some of the tests but this time, tried listening for some other beacons as well.


Equipment...
Same as the last time....Kenwood transciever on CW, 500 Hz filter. Antenna....old commercial CB type end fed half wave about 4 metres above ground level. I monitored the received audio using the Sprectrum Lab audio analyzer program.

I tried listening for 4 different beacons on 28 MHz......GB3RAL (~500 kms), LA4TEN (~1,200 kms), F5ZWE (~1,300 kms) and DL0IGI (~1,500 kms). I listened at two different times on the 14th of December.....around 01:00 for GB3RAL and LA4TEN and around 09:00 for all 4 beacons.


Listening around 01:00......
GB3RAL.....I received a few bursts from this beacon. Nothing spectacular but it seemed to be there ok. Due to the fact that it has a faulty keyer, I was not able to get a positive ID. Like before, a lot more shows up on the trace than what I could hear by ear.


LA4TEN......This beacon seemed to be very good. It seemed to be nearly always there and at times, it got strong enough so that I could hear the CW by ear and make a positive ID.


Why was the LA4TEN beacon so consistent?

1) My view in that direction is excellent with no obstructions so that may have helped.
2) Is it the fact that 1,200 kms might be a much better distance for meteor scatter. Certainly for GB3RAL at 500 kms, I would expect that more intense meteor bursts might be required (more ionization) and the bursts would be of shorter duration.
3) Perhaps certain directions are better at different times during the shower??
4) Or perhaps it was the power level? LA4TEN is supposed to have an ERP of 250 watts which is very high for a beacon.
5) Of course, there is always the chance that what I heard was actually weak Sporadic-E rather than just meteor scatter propogation. It's seems unlikely at 1am in the morning in December. Considering that the peak of the shower was around this time, it was probably meteor scatter.

Listening around 09:00....
Conditions were worse. I still got a few pings from GB3RAL. I got very little from DL0IGI and F5ZWE. However, LA4TEN seemed as busy as ever! Looking at other sites, the peak was well over at this stage. In addition, the radiant point for the showers in Gemini may have set below the horizon by that time. I wonder though if the LA4 beacon at this stage was Sporadic-E or or not???



Conclusions.......
1) I need to find out what times the radiant point is above the horizon for any future shower and what the likely peak time will be.
2) The results show that meteor scater on 28 MHz is pretty impressive. Everything heard here was with an antenna with no gain.


Useful links......
International Meteor Organisation
G7IZU meteor detection page

Next shower is the Ursids on the 22nd of December.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ARRL 10 Metre Contest...13th/14th December 2008

Considering that this is the only band I am really currently active on, I was on during the 2 days of this ARRL contest to see what would pop up. At this stage of the solar cycle, the solar flux level (~70) is way too low to support direct F2 propogation from this far North in Europe (52 deg N). However, some Winter time Sporadic-E came to the rescue and there were short weak openings to F and EA from here. It's amazing that when all that activity is concentrated on one band, every propogation path becomes obvious and is spotted on the DX-Cluster. Most of the signals were weak although one French station did peak at 599+10dB. However overall, most signals were weak and CW was really the only way of working most stations.
Some observations...
1) In total over the 2 days, I worked 7 EA stations, 3 F stations and 1 S5 station. There might have been some openings to Germany as well but either I was missing or it was too weak for me to hear. The band opened up for a while to LA as well with the beacon LA4TEN in JO28 making an appearance for a while. No LA stations were heard though. In terms of DX, V51AS was heard although very weakly.

As you see from the map, the orange areas represent was worked....all Sporadic-E and about 1,000 to 1,800 kms distance. The V51 station was probably a combination of both Sporadic-E and F2 layer propogation. Sporadic-E from here (IO51) to Spain and from there probably by F2 to V51.

2) This year, the contest coincided with the peak of the Geminids meteor shower. I heard plenty of pings from beacons over the weekend and no doubt, a good few contacts made by stations in the contest may have been due to meteor scatter whether they realised it or not!

3) On a personal level, several years off the radio didn't do much for my CW!.........Oooo........very rusty ;o)

4) After I worked the S5 station, I heard Robbie, EI2IP working him. Later that night I noticed that Robbie had put up the following spot on the DX Cluster

EI2IP-@ 28000.0 EI7GL John ur cw tone is not so clear! 1215 14 Dec

So, I turned on a 2nd reciever with no antenna attached and listened to my signal on 5 watts....

di...di...di...dah.....di...di...di...dah........sounds ok........Turned up the power to 50 watts.....

ch...ch...ch...chirp.....ch...ch...ch...chirp.......Oooooo......Not so good!! :o(


It reminded me of when back in the days when the Soviet Union existed and a lot of the stations there were using home made rigs and plenty would have a chirp on cw.

How to fix my problem??? I thought at first it might be too much RF in the shack. I know I cause interference to the loudspeakers of the PC in the shack so I thought that might have something to do with it. Perhaps RF was getting into the power supply or somewhere else.

Connected up my 20 year old home brew 100 watt dummy load and tried it...

ch...ch...ch...chirp.....mmm.....no joy. Then I looked at the power supply. It's a variable power supply going from 0V to 20V with a small analogue meter to show the o/p voltage and current. Looked a bit low.......mmm......checked it with a digital volt meter.....~11 volts!

Turned it up to 13.5 volts and tried again...

di...di...di...dah...success!!...........It turned out that I must have knocked the voltage dial at some stage and the Kenwood transciever didn't like transmitting with a low voltage supply. Not only that but my max power out now has increased from 80 watts to the full 100 watts.

All from a simple spot on the cluster!....Thanks Robbie :o)

5) .....and on a final note, I found myself listening nearly all the time on the CW part of 10 metres for the duration of the contest. I listened to the SSB section for a while, heard some weak signals but to be honest, I never felt inclined to open the drawer, take the microphone out, plug it in to the rig and call someone. I wonder if I was operating just SSB only, would I just get bored of the whole radio thing again???

Sunday, December 14, 2008

EI/ON5GS/P in IO55 square QRT???

I have been checking how this expedition has been getting on over the last few days and it seemed like he was getting lots of contacts into Europe on 144 MHz via Meteor Scatter. ON5GS seems to have set up near Muckish Mountain which is shown on the map below. The location selected seems to be on the high part of a small road that goes between the mountains. It seems as if the highest point is perhaps 100 metres or so inside IO55 square!! It seems like a good spot though....about 250m asl and no major mountains blocking the horizon to the South-East.


However on Sunday, it seems like the expedition came to a halt when the antennas fell over in the wind. The winds on Sunday morning were from the North-West and this site looks like it might be very exposed in that direction.
Here are some of the comments from ON4KST chat.....

"LATEST NEWS from DXC 2008-12-14 1039 UT: <<<>>>> Heavy storm has blow over his mast. Antennas crashed. Dirk went QRT"
"well too bad for EI/ON5GS/p: I thought Dirk would make it to the end and would not join the list of blown away DXP's in IO55"
"Dirk, ON5GS, was qrv serveral days from his "berlingo" shack with 4x4el vert stacked antennas. At Dec.14 10.39UTC Anton ON6NL reported: EI/ON5GS/P is QRT! Heavy storm destroyed his antenna"

Some details of the Expedition can be found at http://www.on7kei.be/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=244 and on my earlier post.

Is he QRT for good??? ON5GS is supposed to be there until the 20th. Even if all of the antennas were destroyed, there are some radio shops within driving distance so maybe not???

Update.......(18/12/08)

Now QRT. More info on what was worked at http://www.mmmonvhf.de/showblog.php?ca=EI-ON5GS-P

Update...21:00 (14/12/08)
Back in action......but this time in IO65 square.
SP6NVN 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P io65jg jo81cj 1609 km Tnx D 2007 14 Dec
SP2MKO 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx for new loc / vy73 1959 14 Dec
F1DUZ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IN97NJ<>IO65 TNX new loc again 1957 14 Dec
DF8IK 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P io65jg-jo30 tnx 1950 14 Dec

Here are some of the other spots from the DX-cluster....(Blue=Tropo)
ON6NL 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P QRT! Storm blow antennas away 1043 14 Dec
G4ZFJ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JO01HOIO55XA 55 FSK 0929 14 Dec
F1DUZ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P WRONG frequ b4 0920 14 Dec
F1DUZ 144352.0 EI/ON5GS/P IN97NJIO55 TNX so 73 0914 14 Dec
DF0WD 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P io55xc>jo42 fsk,fb 20sec burst 0850 14 Dec
I4XCC 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx new square! #543 2248 13 Dec
PE1OPK 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JO23IO55 thnx new# Good Lu 2223 13 Dec
PA3DOL 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P Many thanks for new # 27/27 C 2148 13 Dec
HA5UK 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P jn97-io55 2061km tnx 2124 13 Dec
DK7DR 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P jn47dpio55 3min tnx 2104 13 Dec
OE3SJA 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P sorry not finish...chaos ! ! ! 2019 13 Dec
OE3SJA 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P in qso only....chaos... 2008 13 Dec
SP6NVN 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx qso 1944 13 Dec
OZ8ZS 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P CR IO55JO55 Tnx # and GL 1937 13 Dec
IZ5ILX 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JN54<> IO55 TNX QSO !! 1930 13 Dec
EA6VQ 144090.0 EI/ON5GS QRV for you. Tnx 1726 13 Dec
DF6YL 144385.0 EI/ON5PS/P tnx for new# io55jo31gl 1650 13 Dec
OH6PA 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P TNX 4 New # best 940/8 1554 13 Dec
DF4IP 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P TNX FR QSO 1252 13 Dec
DG5AAG-@ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx qso & new square 1227 13 Dec
DK1VI 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JN49HHIO55XA 26 TNX QSO 1200 13 Dec
EI5FK-@ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55XC 52/57 tropo tnx 1128 13 Dec
DF8IK 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P io55-jo30 tnx qso 1104 13 Dec
DF1SO 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55JN48 C 1800/12 tnx 1055 13 Dec
HB9DFG 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JN37SMIO55XC CR 5dB/560ms 1031 13 Dec
DJ5BV 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55JO30 good refl tnx 1012 13 Dec
DG5CST 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P gd refl. io55/jo60 gl! 0942 13 Dec
PE1GUR 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx random qso IO55<>JO22, 2142 12 Dec
PA1VW 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P Tnk new #, 140/2 2107 12 Dec
SP3IYM 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P new #188 without SMS/chat pwr 1908 12 Dec
OK1TEH 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P CR jo70-io55 #520 tnx! 1845 12 Dec
F5JNX 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P Best 780/4db tnx new # 1836 12 Dec
PA3CEE 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P MS IO55 Tnx loc. #705! 1809 12 Dec
OZ1IEP 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P new loc. 1725 12 Dec
DF2ZC 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P sri typo 1717 12 Dec
DF2ZC 144305.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55JO30RN tnx #906 1714 12 Dec
OZ1BNN 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P TU fer new grid GL. 1653 12 Dec
DL1RPL-@ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx MS QSO 73 GL 1440 12 Dec
DL1EAP 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55JO31 C tnx dirk 4new# 1159 12 Dec
SP2MKO 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx for new loc 1048 12 Dec
DG5AAG-@ 144000.0 EI/ON5GS/P 384 or 385 ??? 1031 12 Dec
ON7KEI 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P FSK441 sket elinknode 7125 0917 12 Dec
I2FAK 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JN45io55 tnx for new# 2049 11 Dec
ON4KHG 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55XAJO10 2037 11 Dec
DF6YL 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P tnx new# jo31io55 2029 11 Dec
DL1SUN 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P norm refl, c, #563 1941 11 Dec
SP6HED 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JO80ILIO55XA tnx random qs 1921 11 Dec
ES3RF 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P CR ko29IO55. 2011 km 1834 11 Dec
DH4FAJ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P JN49EXIO55XC 480/d tnx Dir 1818 11 Dec
SP2JYR 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P 1760km with 50W - Tnx Dirk ! 1755 11 Dec
PA1GYS 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P Tnx qso jo22
PA4PS 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P Tnx new# JO33ghIO55 1725 11 Dec
PA3FPQ 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P io55 tnx new #. FB refl. GL! 1657 11 Dec
PA4EME 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P CR JO20WXIO55XA tnx new # 1640 11 Dec
G4PBP 144385.0 EI/ON5GS/P MS from io55xc 1613 11 Dec
G8GXP 144370.0 EI/ON5GS/P IO55IO93 59 450KMS TNX 1610 11 Dec
G4PBP 144370.0 EI/ON5GS/P 5/5-9 tropo in io82wo 1607 11 Dec
SP6NVN 144370.0 EI/ON5GS/P io55xcjo81cj TNX 1601 11 Dec

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GB3RAL and the Leonids Meteor Shower...17th Nov 2008

This is a post that I have been meaning to put up for a while. Now that the peak of the Geminids meteor shower is coming up next weekend (13th of Dec), now seems like a good time to put it up.

During the morning of the 17th of November which was supposed to be the peak of the Leonids meteor shower, I tried listening for the GB3RAL beacon in England on 28.215 MHz.

Equipment.....Kenwood TS690s tuned to 28.215.1 MHz on CW (500 Hz filter fitted)
Antenna........Half wave 10 metre vertical at 5 metres AGL
Distance......490 kms due East from here (IO91in<->IO51tu)

As well as listening by ear to the received signals, I put the microphone from the PC next to the rig and monitored the signal with the Spectrum Lab Audio Analyzer program.

After a while, I got a few audible pings that showed on the waterfall dislay so I could see that there was something there around 500 Hz.



At 09:24, I recorded what was the start of a long 5 to 6 minute burst. As you can see above, it started suddenly and after a few minutes, it began to slowly fade away. Listening by ear, I could just about hear that there was something there yet it showed up quite clearly on the waterfall display.

From what I could hear, there was no cw. It was just a constant carrier.


However when I looked at the display closer, I could see that the signal was about 7 Hz wide before finally becoming a narrower signal. I can see from beacon lists that the GB3RAL beacon uses FSK....i.e. the carrier moves in frequency to generate the CW rather than turning on and off. I asked the beacon keeper G0MJW about this and he informed me that the keyer on the beacon has failed and a replacement is under construction.

What I heard and saw was like the beacon keyer was still working (i.e. FSK) except that the frequency shift was now a lot lower than it should be (i.e. 7 Hz instead of say 300 Hz).

Q. Was it GB3RAL that I heard? Probably likely but to be honest, until I can get a positive ID, I will never be 100% sure. I might have a listen again during the Geminids and see how it goes.

Notes...
(1) The various other lines shown on the above displays are mainly just interference generated by the PC. Even though I can't hear them, they show up quite clearly on the display.

Friday, December 5, 2008

DX-pedition to IO55 square on 144 MHz...Dec 2008

It's strange how you can find information sometimes. Last night, I started out looking at a website for 70 MHz.....found a link for information on transverters on an OZ website...then I spotted some 'most wanted locator squares' maps...and that got me onto a page about upcoming 144 MHz DX-peditions!

The above map shows the locator squares in Ireland. Some of the squares like IO51, IO63 and IO74 have a number of amateurs in them who are pretty active so are not so rare. The other ones are not so easy to catch. The squares on the Western seaboard (IO41-44) are all pretty rare while the square in the most North Western tip of Ireland (IO55) is the rarest of all. By all accounts, it is on the EU Top 10 most wanted list!

Well, it turns out that Dirk, ON5GS is going to activate the square on 144 MHz during the Geminids meteor shower in mid-December. The information from the website reads as follows...

"I will be qrv on 2m during BCC contest in IO55 (top-10 EU most wanted) using EI/ON5GS/P with 4 x 6el DK7ZB and 200w from a citro├źn berlingo-shack in donegal NW-ireland from 10-20 dec 2008. All MS skeds before and after contest and/or EME skeds during the period in moonset/moonrise are welcome on dirk_reyners_AT_hotmail.com or sms ++32477677005 or 14.345 MHz during operation. I will most possibly be qrv on ON4KST chat and DX-cluster via GPRS so you will find me there for a sked also. Please no skeds during contest. My random freq is 144.384MHz good luck may the rocks be with you (...and with me HI) Dirk Reyners ON5GS."


There is a link on the post for a website in Flemish but you can see that he is obviously doing a lot of work getting ready for the trip.

IO55......When you look at a map, it may not be the easiest of squares to activate.
1) Logistics.....anyone coming from Europe will arrive in the South East/East of the country and will have to drive all the ways to the North West corner....not an easy journey.
2) Trying to find a good location in the square.


As you can see from the map, there are a lot of mountains to the South, South-East and East. Trying to find a spot with a low horizon will be tricky. It will be interesting to see the results.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DXCC Card Checker in EI.......

Trawling back through some old IRTS news item's, I came accross this news piece which might be interest to any EI stations who have an interest in the ARRL DXCC awards.

"Dave, EI9FBB, has successfully been appointed a DXCC card checker for EI. Effective immediately, he is able to check and submit applications for ALL ‘ARRL’ awards except 160 metre and deleted countries. Also, any ‘ GI ’stations that wish to forward cards onto him are also welcome to do so. He asks that any perspective candidates adhere to the proper application format,which is clearly listed on the ARRL Web site.
This will certainly take the cost, delay and risk out of mailing your cards overseas for checking. Any enquiries can be forwarded to:“ei9fbb at oceanfree dot net”.

That certainly is a very useful service to have locally. Once I get my logbook updated and start using the Logbook of the World program, then this service is something I must really look into.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The EI 50 MHz Inactivity night....


A few weeks back while looking through the VHF section of the IRTS website, I saw a notice about the EI 50 MHz Activity Evening on the 1st Monday evening of every month. I kind of guessed that there might be nobody on but decided anyway to try and get on for it...Mon Dec 1st.

I set up a loaded quarter wave magmount on the roof of a shed during the day. It was hardly ideal in that the roof has a slope and the magmount was over at about a 30 degree angle. However, the VSWR was good and listening to the EI0SIX beacon (180 kms), putting the antenna vertical only increased the signal a bit (319 to 419).

I made a sked with Alan, EI3EBB and by 21:10, we were both on 50.135 MHz. The idea for this activity night started in Kerry so if there was going to be any activity, it might be there. I thought Alan might hear something at his place (~180m ASL) but we heard nothing for the 30 minutes or so we were on for.

I'm not sure if these activity evenings would be of much interest during the Summer months when there is plenty of activity anyway but they seem like a good idea for the long winter evenings when the band is dead.

I wonder though.......is there anyone on for these 50 MHz activity evenings? Anywhere in Ireland..??