Saturday, June 10, 2023

Limerick 2m repeater EI2REG back on air

The Limerick repeater on 145.725 MHz is one of the oldest FM repeaters in Ireland and originally came on air back in the 1980's. It went off air back in 2018 when there were access issues with the site on Tountinna to the north-east of Limerick City.

It is now back on air from a new site which is 40kms to the south-west of Limerick city.

Info from Limerick Clare Radio Club... "The  Limerick Clare Radio Club 2m Repeater back on Air After a five year silence, the Limerick Clare Radio Club 2 metre repeater returned to air on Thursday June 2nd. The new site is located at Rooskagh East near Ardagh in West Limerick and the club is extremely to Ray Elgy EI3DQB for allowing the club to relocate the repeater to his QTH. ComReg have issued the callsign EI2REG for the new location. The frequency remains the same as it was for Tountinna. The Repeater Channel is R5. Transmission is on 145.725 MHz and it receives on 145.125 MHz. Modes are FM and C4FM. Reception reports would be appreciated by the club and can be sent to ei4lrcclub @ gmail DOT com"

The new repeater is on an elevated site which should give good local coverage of County Limerick. It is however badly screened by local hills to the west and south. Hills and mountains about 60kms away screen it from much of the rest of Ireland.

This repeater is 85kms from my elevated location near Cork City and when I listened, it was very weak and buried in the noise.

It's possible that this repeater may be heard in the western part of the UK under lift conditions but it's likely that conditions would need to be very good as opposed to a slight enhancement.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Belgium to get 40 MHz allocation

It looks as if radio amateurs in Belgium are about to get a small allocation on the 40 MHz (8m) band.

Update 21st May: This information was released by the UBA on Sunday 21st May 2023...

"After more than a year of "silent diplomacy", on 21 April UBA submitted a proposal to BIPT to gain access to a small band segment around 40 MHz in Belgium.:

The UBA proposes to grant the radio amateur service access to the frequency range 40.660 – 40.690 MHz under the following conditions:

On a secondary basis
For holders of a class A operating certificate (HAREC licence)
A power limit of 5 W ERP
A bandwidth limit of 3 kHz
On individual basis, after prior approval from BIPT
It is mandatory to keep a logbook in which all transmissions are noted

These last 2 measures allow BIPT to act quickly and adequately in the event of interference reports from other services.

At the annual UBA meeting, the chairman of the BIPT Council indicated that BIPT is in favor of our proposal. We therefore expect BIPT to hold a consultation on this shortly.

The period of this consultation is at least 1 month. Only at the end of it BIPT can,  provided that the consultation proceeds favorably for us, publish a decision granting us access this band segment.
So it will probably take a few months before we are actually allowed to transmit on the 8 meter band.
Until then, any amateur radio activity from Belgium around 40 MHz is illegal!

Analysis... This is an important development as Belgium now joins Ireland (EI), Slovenia (S5) and South Africa (ZS) with official amateur radio allocations on the 40 MHz band. 

A lot of licencing authorities will just look at their spectrum allocations and flatly refuse any amateur radio operation at 40 MHz because there is no allocation for amateur radio there. However if other countries grant limited access then it sets a precedent. It sets a case for radio amateurs in other countries to approach their relevant licencing body to grant some access.

As for the proposed allocation in Belgium, the 30 KHz wide band is inside the ISM band of 40.660 to 40.700 MHz. It's highly likely that the dominant mode will be FT8 on 40.680 MHz. Even with just 5-watts, the 8m signals from Belgium are likely to be heard all over the world next Winter as we're close to the maximum of the current solar cycle.

For more information on the 8m band, visit my 40 MHz page.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Results of the Low Band VHF Propagation Tests - Sat 13th & Sun 14th May 2023

Over the last few months, Phil EI9KP in the west of Ireland has been carrying out some low-band VHF propagation tests. On the 13th & 14th of May 2023, he had a beacon action at 32 MHz, 34 MHz and 36 MHz.

This is his report...

Local reports: EI3GYB Michael in IO53OT (30kms) reports receiving the beacon on all three frequencies, signal strength from 5/1 to 5/3 for the CW component.  He was using an ICOM IC-7200 and a horizontal V antenna.

EI3IX Joe in IO53IU (40kms) reports receiving the beacon on all three frequencies.  He was using an Icom IC-7300 and an Antron-99 antenna. 

Both would be "over the hills" from my QTH, via diffracted ground wave.

Sporadic-E reports from Europe: SWL Hugh HC02 in IM67BB (1900kms), south Portugal, on all three frequencies, with FT8 SNR from -2dB to -20dB.  A total of 95 spots over a period of 3 hours and 22 minutes. He was using an AOR AR 8000 and a 2.4m sided square loop coupled into a tunable FET preamp.

PA3GHQ Kees in JO21LT (965kms), the Netherlands, on 32Mhz with FT8 SNR from -14dB to -19dB.  He was using an Elad FDM DUO SDR and a home made dipole.  A total of 8 spots over a period of 57 minutes.  Likely via Sporadic-E.

Both are for 13/05/2023.  No EU reports were received for 14/05/2023.

Friday, May 12, 2023

EI9KP to carry out Low-Band VHF Propagation Tests on Sat 13th & Sun 14th May 2023

Back in January, February and Arpil of 2023, Phil EI9KP carried out some propagation tests on the 34 MHz band. These tests are possible because the radio amateurs in Ireland are allowed to use a large part of the low band VHF spectrum.

Jan 2023 results HERE

Feb 2023 results HERE

Apr 2023 results HERE

On Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th May 2023, EI9KP will be carrying out more propagation tests but this time on three frequencies on 32 MHz, 34 MHz & 36 MHz

His supervised 1-watt beacon will operate from 08:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC on both days. The purpose of these tests is to investigate F2 layer propagation at this point in the solar cycle. There is a possibility of some Sporadic-E propagation as well.

EI9KP writes... "Six weeks on from the last test, I will be repeating my experiment over the weekend of 13/14th May 2023, from 0800UTC till 2200UTC om both days.

Propagation may be diverse and include diffracted groundwave, tropospheric scatter, ionospheric scatter, sporadic-E and F2 layer.  The Solar Flux forecast is 160 and Kp index 2.

For this test there are three time slots:

TS    Frequency  USB dial (kHz)
[00]  32013         32012.200
[01]  34013         34012.200
[02]  36013         36012.200

Each 1-minute sequence is 2*FT8, 2*CW and a short carrier.  The beacon power is 1W.  The antenna is a vertical dipole consisting of a 33MHz feeder dipole and a 36MHz coupled dipole."

Coverage Area: Considering that the tests will be done in mid-May, the main propagation mode will likely be Sporadic-E. This should allow the signals to be heard at the 1000-2000km range in Europe. e.g. Germany, Spain, N Italy, S France & the Nordic countries.

F2 propagation may be more difficult although a key target would be the SE of the USA. The lower 32 MHz frequency is likely to be more successful than say 36 MHz for F2 layer propagation.

Antenna: The antenna that Phil is using is shown on the left.

The element on the right is a half-wave dipole for 33 MHz with an adjustable capacity hat.

The element on the left is a dipole is parasitic dipole for 36 MHz which is coupled by its proximity to the main 33 MHz dipole. The purpose of this element is to extend the VSWR bandwidth of the antenna so that it can cover from 32 MHz to 36 MHz.

The antenna is mounted on a fibreglass mast.

The coax feed is probably a little bit too close and may distort the radiation pattern somewhat but Phil reports that the VSWR is acceptable at 1.6 and below.

Reports: Reports to EI9KP on QRZ or you can leave a comment here.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

ZS6WAB 40 MHz beacon heard in Western Australia - 5th April 2023

Over the last few months, there have been plenty of long distance propagation paths reported on the 40 MHz band but nearly all involve at least one station in the northern hemisphere. In this post, we'll look at a recent East-West path in the southern hemisphere.

5th April 2023: Short wave listener Tony Mann in Perth, Australia reported reception of the ZS6WAB beacon in South Africa on 40.675 MHz. The distance was about 8320kms.

Tony Mann writes... "To my surprise the South African 8m beacon on 40.675 MHz, ZS6WAB, made an appearance here for over 2 hours after 0615 UTC. I am amazed it was detectable, and for so long here.

The receiver is an Icom IC-R75 with audio via usb mode. The beacon was first heard around 0615 UTC on a north facing 6m broadband dipole at 5m agl. When I rotated the dipole around to face east-west the signal was much stronger.  

The signal was audible for over an hour, peaked again 0645-0655 UTC and was visible on Spectrum Lab past 0800 UTC. The decoded morse revealed the callsign ZS6WAB and grid locator KG46RB. The great circle distance is 8320 km (5200 miles)."

Tony posted this video on his YouTube channel...

In response to this reception report, Willem ZS6WAB reports... "All my beacons from 40.675mhz /50.025mhz /70.025mhz /144.400mhz is beaming to Australia for the last month now. Ure report is the very first report since my antenna are turned to VK land."

I think there was a report of a VK8 station in the north of Australia hearing this beacon in the last 12-months but it wasn't really documented or reported on.

Analysis... While this opening was ongoing, Tony Mann took a screenshot from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website which shows the predicted F2 layer critical frequency. This is the frequency that is returned from the F2 layer in the ionosphere when a signal is sent straight up.

The actual maximum usable frequency (MUF) is roughly three times the critical frequency i.e. a signal at perhaps an elevation of about 5 degrees above the horizon. The map suggests a MUF of maybe 3 x 11 MHz / 12 MHz = 33-36 MHz. It's not exact but it suggests that a path in the low VHF spectrum (30-40 MHz) might be possible.

The second thing to note from the graphic above is that conditions in the ionosphere are now better in the southern hemisphere now that we have passed the equinox. 

If we consider how many good east-west paths there were in the northern hemisphere in January to March then there should be similar east-west paths on the 40 MHz over the next few months from South Africa to Australia and South America and from Australia to South America.

It really is just a case of getting more people transmitting and listening.

Link... For more information on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Results of the Low-Band VHF Propagation tests by EI9KP - 1st & 2nd April 2023

In a previous post, I outlined how Phil, EI9KP was carrying out propagation tests on 32 MHz to 36 MHz on the 1st & 2nd of April 2023.

Phil, EI9KP send on the following report... "I ran the time slot beacon test 32...36 MHz over the weekend of 1-2 April 2023, unfortunately few reports.  

F2 propagation favoured a north/south path, mainly a zone across north Africa (simulation).  SFI (Solar Flux Index) was in a trough at 125 and MUF over Ireland was very low at 25MHz, touching 28MHz by late afternoon.

I have N3IZN in California and K9MY in Illinois reporting they were listening but nothing heard. 

Michael EI3GYB reported on your blog that he could receive the beacon on all frequencies, from his QTH it would have been a diffracted ground wave.

The beacon software, hardware, dipole and band pass filter all performed without any problem.

I am planning a repeat test in about 4 to 6 weeks, hoping for higher SFE and perhaps sporadic-E."


Michael, EI3GYB is located about 30kms to the south-east of EI9KP and sends on the following report... "I monitored the beacon on both days during several hours of the days at my QTH in locator io53ot.

I used two transceivers- an ICOM IC-7200 and a YAESU FT857D. Both TRX had Windom antennas for reception.

I copied the signals on all 5 frequencies with both TRX. The signals on the Yaesu were a bit weaker than on the ICOM. The signal meter showed no bar on the Yaesu- while on the ICOM I had at least one bar, sometimes two.

33,34,35 and 36 MHz all had the same signal strengths- I'll give it a 51 on the Yaesu and a 52 on the ICOM. The signal on 32 MHz was weaker- on both TRX. I'll give it a 31 on the Yaesu and a 41 on the ICOM.

There was a noticeable fading on all 5 frequencies. Slow QSB, not too deep though."

Larry, VO1FOG in Newfoundland reports listening on both days on CW and hearing nothing. Over the last few days, I have heard the WSPR signal on 28 MHz from VE1VDM in Nova Scotia many times but this was often after 19:00 UTC. Perhaps the test beacon at 32-36 MHz was turned off a little early for the path to North America?

Paul, MI3LDO in the north-west of Ireland reports that the last decent trans-Atlantic opening at 34 MHz in his location was back on the 21st of March so perhaps the test was a little too late in the season for good east-west F2 layer propagation.

Analysis... As we're now in April, F2 layer propagation in the northern hemisphere is getting noticeably worse as we head towards the Summer. While there was plenty of propagation on 28 MHz over the weekend, it did seem to struggle to get up into the low band VHF region especially on east-west paths.

It seems like the test period was a bit late for F2 propagation and too early for the summer Sporadic-E season. Hopefully that will have changed for the next test in May when there should be plenty of Sporadic-E to Europe.

It was interesting to note that EI3GYB was getting slow fading over a short 30km path.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Opening on the 50 MHz band from Europe to Fiji - Short path or Long Path?

Andreas, SV2JAO in Greece sent on a report of his JT65 signal being heard by 3D2AG in Fiji in the Pacific on 50 MHz (6m) band on the 31st of March 2023. This then raises the question... Was it short path or long path?

The screenshot above was taken by Andreas from the PSK Reporter website just after the signal was heard. That site will always by default show the shortest path but it doesn't mean that it's correct.

3D2AG to Europe... First of all, I checked the PSK Reporter website myself and I had a look at the paths from Fiji to Europe.

As you can see from the map above, there were three stations in Europe. These were the reports in the last 24 hours...

31st March 2023...
Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
IZ8FWN 3D2AG 6m JT65 17124 km 22:02:50 -21
SV2JAO 3D2AG 6m JT65 16634 km 22:02:50 -23

1st April 2023...
3D2AG SV9CVY 6m FT8 16801 km 07:39:44 -19

Long path or Short path??? ...If it's on the higher HF bands or 50 MHz then the guide is to follow the sun. The JT65 signals from IZ8FWN in Italy and SV2JAO in Greece were heard in Fiji at 22:02 UTC UTC, the sun is now somewhere over the Pacific and the short path over Asia has been in darkness for quite a few hours. Conclusion, it's most likely long path.

The other path was from SV9CVY on Crete to Fiji at 07:39 UTC which is about 10 hours after the other reports. Now, the Pacific path is in darkness and the path over Asia is in sunlight. Conclusion, it's most likely short path.

This doesn't rule out that the path may have been skewed somewhat but we can't come to any conclusion about that with some information about the various beam headings from the respective stations.

In conclusion... I know the above will sound obvious to a lot of experienced radio amateurs but I do think there is a tendency for newer operators to just look at a map, see the line presented and take it as fact.

The reality is that PSK Reporter 'suggests' the most likely path, you have to use your own experience and knowledge to decide if it's correct. A good guide is to follow the sun and then decide if it's long path or short path.

1) Other examples of long distance paths on the 6m band can be found on my 50 MHz page.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Irish DX expedition V26EI on Antigua worked on 28 MHz - March 2023

A few weeks back, I saw a news item on the IRTS news about an upcoming Irish DX expedition to Antigua in the Caribbean. Usually, I just ignore any news items about DX but the fact it was an Irish team caught my interest.

I checked the DX Cluster a few times to see if they were on 28 MHz CW but to no avail. One day, I saw them being spotted by European stations but there was no sign of them in my location.

On the 30th of March 2023, I finally worked them.

As for whether it was a new country or not, I have no idea. I suspect not as I've worked well over 200 countries on 28 MHz and Antigua isn't that rare as far as I know.

As for the distance, it was just under 6000kms which is about right for two F2 layer hops.

According to the Proppy HF propagation website, the path seems to have been reasonably easy on 28 MHz as expected. The challenge really is getting through the pile up of stations from Europe and North America rather than just being heard.

Link:  V26EI website...

9X5RU from Rwanda worked on 28 MHz - March 2023

With the Irish V26EI expedition to Antigua now on the air, I was wondering if I could hear them? I had a look at the DX Cluster and there was no sign of them when I checked, However, I did notice that 9X5RU in Rwanda was active on CW on 28 MHz.

After a few minutes of setting up the morse key again and the various settings on the radio, I finally managed to work them after several calls.

When I wrote the contact into the logbook, I was surprised to see that my last contact on the HF bands was back in June of 2020.

It's not that I haven't been active, my radio has been decoding either FT8 or WSPR signals on 28 MHz practically every day for the last 3-years and feeding the reports up to their respective websites. It's just that I have no interest in chasing DX.

The CW contact was at 16:24 UTC on the 29th of March 2023. As can be seen from the map above, it was a 7000km north-south path and it's likely it took two F2 layer hops.

The HF propagation website Proppy predicted that my 80w signal from my half wave vertical would be above the noise in Rwanda and it looks about right.

I have no idea if Rwanda was a new country for me or not, I'm really not too bothered. I have no interest in working them on any other band or mode, I worked them on CW on 28 MHz so the box is ticked.

Using morse code is like playing a musical instruments like a guitar, if you don't practice on a regular basis then you get rusty and you get very rusty if you haven't used it in 3-years. I'll have to start using it more.

Link... 9X5RU website.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

EI9KP to carry out Low-Band VHF Propagation Tests on Sat 1st & Sun 2nd Apr 2023

Back in January and February of 2023, Phil EI9KP carried out some propagation tests on the 34 MHz band. These tests are possible because the radio amateurs in Ireland are allowed to use a large part of the low band VHF spectrum.

Jan 2023 results HERE

Feb 2023 results HERE

On Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd April 2023, EI9KP will be carrying out more propagation tests but this time on five frequencies from 32 MHz to  36 MHz

His supervised 1-watt beacon will operate from 08:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC on both days. The purpose of these tests is to investigate F2 layer propagation at this point in the solar cycle. There is a possibility of some Sporadic-E propagation as well.

EI9KP writes... "The test beacon is now a time slot beacon and can run a different frequency for each time slot, from 32MHz to 36MHz. There are 5 time slots available, being minutes [00], [01], [02], [03] and [04].  Each time slot will have the sequence: 2*FT8, 2*CW followed by a short carrier.  The time slots repeat at 5, 10, 15, etc., minutes.

The time slots and frequencies are:

TS     Frequency   USB dial (kHz)
[00]  32013         32012.200
[01]  33013         33012.200
[02]  34013         34012.200
[03]  35013         35012.200
[04]  36013         36012.200

The CW and carrier should appear at 800Hz on the waterfall and the FT8 signal a little higher.  The beacon frequency is synchronised to GPS and should have an accuracy of 1Hz or better.  The antenna is a dipole in vertical polarisation, beacon power is still 1W."

Coverage Area: Considering that the tests will be done at the very start of April, there should be some F2-layer propagation still about. If my 28 MHz WSPR reception reports are anything to go by then a key target will be the eastern half of the USA.

The key difference between this test and the previous ones is of course the lower frequency of 32 MHz. Not only is that more likely to be propagated by the F2 layer in the ionosphere but it's also likely that a lot of people may be listening with antennas designed for the 28 MHz (10m) band and they might perform better at 32 MHz as opposed to 34 MHz.

As noted earlier, the Sporadic-E season in the northern hemisphere should be starting in April and there is a possibility of some Sp-E to Europe during the tests.

Antenna: The antenna that Phil is using is shown on the left.

The element on the right is a half-wave dipole for 33 MHz with an adjustable capacity hat.

The element on the left is a dipole is parasitic dipole for 36 MHz which is coupled by its proximity to the main 33 MHz dipole. The purpose of this element is to extend the VSWR bandwidth of the antenna so that it can cover from 32 MHz to 36 MHz.

The antenna is mounted on a fibreglass mast.

The coax feed is probably a little bit too close and may distort the radiation pattern somewhat but Phil reports that the VSWR is acceptable at 1.6 and below.

Reports: Reports to EI9KP on QRZ or you can leave a comment here.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

40MHz reception reports from Bill Smith, W1-7897: 6th to 24th March 2023

Bill Smith, W1-7897 is a short wave listener in Douglas, Massachusetts in the USA. For listening on the 40 MHz band, he uses a Yaesu FT-847 with a 6-element beam for the 50 MHz band at 23ft / 7m above ground level. 

These are his reception reports for the 40 MHz band for the 6th to 24th of March 2023.

March 24: PJ4mm from 1457 to 1530UTC  high -7db  low -21db

March 23: ZR1ADI (South Africa) from 15:21 to 15:42 ranged from -18DB to 8 DB; PJ4MM worked EA7FL(not heard) at 17:02 with -1DB; all 40 mhz FT8 on 40.680 mhz.

March 22: PJ4MM noted from 15:38 UTC to 16:34 UTC  -13DB Low  3 DB High; PJ4MM worked ZR1ADI (not heard here) at 15:50 UTC; VA2CY Heard at 16:51UTC  -18DB; WM2XCC(CA) heard 19:20 to 19:25 UTC -7DB High -16 DB Low; Wm2XCC worked WM2XEJ (GA) also heard here.  All noted in FT8 Mode. 

March 20: EA1TX noted today (3/20) from 1603 to 1646UTC   -5db high and -18db low; EI2IP noted from 1826 to 1833  high -12db  Low -19db 40.680 mhz FT8. 

March 13: EI2IP noted from 1916 to 1954UTC March 13 on 40.680 Mhz FT8 high -11 low -21db.

March 9: EI2IP March 9th noted from 17:30 to 1830UTC with signals ranging from -17 to -4DB. EI2IP worked PJ4MM (not seen here) at 1759.  40.680 mhz FT8. 

March 7: EI2IP noted off and on March 7 beginning at 1301 and last noted at 1927UTC.  EI2IP worked PJ4MM (not heard here) at 1752UTC and  wm2xej at 1757, and WM2XAN at 1903.  Wm2XEJ worked CU3EJ (not heard here) at 1842. 

March 6: New station from Israel 4X1TI seen working EI2IP at 13:32 -8db on 40.680 mhz FT8. EI2IP also seen. WM2XEJ GA in all morning – very regular here. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Wellbrook Communications to cease trading in April 2023

The owner of Wellbrook Communications has announced that he is retiring at the end of April 2023 and Wellbrook Communications will cease trading.

The company was best known for its loop antenna which was very popular with short wave listeners, radio enthuasists and government and commercial entities that needed to monitor the short wave bands for whatever reason.

I think it's fair to say that they weren't the cheapest aerials but they did offer customers something that worked straight out of the box.

The website is...

40 MHz page on blog passes 30,000 pageviews

In the last few days, the 40 MHz page on the blog passed 30,000 pageviews! 

The chart above shows the monthly pageviews that the page has gotten since July of 2018. At the moment (Q1 2023), it's getting about 800 pageviews a month or roughly 25 pageviews a day.

Before I set up the page, I had wondered if it would be worth setting up a dedicated website for 40 MHz activity and my conclusion was no. A dedicated website takes a lot of work and the volume of traffic wouldn't justify it.

The analogy I like to think of is that it's like setting up a nice shop in the middle of the woods. It looks great but if there's no-one there then there's no point. It's better to have a much smaller shop in a busy shopping area with lots of people.

The blog as a whole gets over 20,000 pageviews a month and many of those visitors will see the 40 MHz by accident. The general idea is that there is enough information there to give a new visitor an idea of what the 40 MHz band is and what is happening there. The purpose of the page is just to act as a primer for anyone interested and to be a reference for related information about the band.

The 40 MHz page is still very much a 'work in progress' but I hope to improve it over time.

If you haven't seen it or would like to read more about activity on the 40 MHz band, you can see the page HERE

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Opening on the 50 MHz band from Antarctica to Europe - 21st March 2023

Tuesday 21st March 2023:
Considering it was the equinox with equal day and equal night, it seemed appropriate that there was an opening on the 50 MHz band between Antarctica and Europe.

LU1ZV is located at the Argentine Esperanza base in Antarctica. As can be seen from the map above, the FT8 beacon on 50.313 MHz was heard by several stations in the south of Europe.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
CT1FFU 6m FT8 12189 km 16:14:14 -19
EA6SX 6m FT8 12582 km 16:06:15 -19
CT1EHX 6m FT8 11974 km 16:06:14 -19
SV9CVY 6m FT8 13060 km 13:21:14 -12
IT9TYR 6m FT8 12955 km 13:21:13 -11
IT9RZR 6m FT8 12817 km 13:16:14 -17
SV2DCD 6m FT8 13425 km 13:15:14 -16
IZ8WGU 6m FT8 13029 km 13:15:14 -19
ZA/IW2JOP 6m FT8 13310 km 13:13:11 -18
SV2JAO 6m FT8 13476 km 13:08:14 -15
SV1DH 6m FT8 13299 km 13:06:14 -20

There have been plenty of long distance openings on the 50 MHz band recently but they tend to be East-West and not too far from the equator... interesting but nothing special.

What makes this unusual is that the 6m signal was coming from the polar regions. Admittedly the station is at about 63 deg S and about as far north as you can get on the Antarctic continent but it's an impressive journey all the same for a signal on the 50 MHz band to reach Europe.

Report from SV2DCD... Leonidas, SV2DCD in Greece sends the following report...

"Today, SV1DH and I copied the LU1ZV 50MHz FT8 beacon from the Esperanza Base in Antarctica. 
It is the first time for me to copy signals from Antarctica here. Beacon conditions - Antenna is a half wave sloper dipole to the north and power is 3w"

As can be seen from the screen grab above, the best signal that SV2DCD managed to get was -11dB which is a very noisy but audible signal to the human ear. These are the kind of signals that prior to the advent of FT8 would have gone unnoticed on CW or SSB.

Analysis... It looks as if the sun was pretty much at its highest point for the midpoint of this opening. It would seem to have been a multi-hop F2 layer opening. The solar flux was 152.

Thanks to Leonidas, SV2DCD for the report.

More reports on other long distance openings on the 6m band can be found on my 50 MHz page.

Addendum: Report from SV2JAO in Greece...

Friday, March 17, 2023

FM radio station WMIA in Miami on 93.9 MHz is heard in Chile - 23rd Feb 2023

This reception report is from the 23rd of February 2023 when Pipe, CE3SX / CE3SAD in Santiago, Chile managed to receive the FM radio station WMIA in Miami, Florida on 93.9 MHz

The reception took place at 21:41 local time in Chile (22nd Feb) which is 00:41 UTC (23rd Feb). This is at the right time for an evening time Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) opening.

What makes this highly unusual is the distance. It might be normal during an evening TEP opening for  FM radio stations in the north of Columbia to be heard in Chile but this time, the FM radio station was in Florida which is about 2000kms further north. 

In a previous post, I reported on how CE3SX had managed to hear FM radio stations in Jamaica in February of 2022. Florida is an extra 1000kms.

Florida is usually considered to be too far north for TEP propagation so how was the range extended to just under 6,700kms?

The first option that springs to mind was that it was an evening type TEP opening coupling into a tropo duct to the north to extend the opening to Florida. The tropo map above from F5LEN shows some tropo in the area but with the island of Cuba in the way, it's not exactly conclusive.

Is the most southern tip of Florida just close enough for TEP?

Have there been reception reports like this in the past?

And if it's possible on 93.9 MHz, what about 144 MHz from Florida to Chile? Is anyone trying?

Lots of questions...

Link... For more long distance reception reports on the FM band, see my 88-108 MHz page.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

PSKReporter website recorded 1-Billion reception reports in the last month - Q1 2023

I noticed on the 15th of March 2023, the PSKReporter website had just passed 35-Billion reception reports! 

Back on the 12th of February 2023, I had a post up about how PSKReporter had just passed 34-Billion back then. This means that the site is processing roughly 1-Billion reception reports at the moment which is a huge amount.

Obviously the vast majority of these reports are from stations using FT8 but it just goes to show how important this site is now to so many stations.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Skewed path opening on the 40 MHz band from New Zealand to England & Ireland - 13th March 2023

Monday 13th March 2023: Over the last few weeks, Paul G9PUV in the SE of England and Robbie, EI2IP in the SW of Ireland have been very active on the 40 MHz (8m) band. On the evening of the 13th of March, there was a remarkable opening when their FT8 signals were heard in New Zealand.

The map above shows the direct paths in Purple. The path from EI2IP goes over the Arctic to the west while the path from G9PUV goes east and over the far north of Russia, both highly unlikely paths at a frequency of 40 MHz.

The strange thing is that 40 MHz didn't seem to take the short path or the long path but a skewed path. A suggested path is shown above in Orange but in reality, we'll never know for sure the exact path.

Here are the reception reports from ZL1RS in New Zealand...

 Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
WM2XEJ 8m FT8 13129 km 19:47:26 7
EI2IP 8m FT8 18096 km 19:35:14 -21
G9PUV 8m FT8 18206 km 18:54:14 -17

Note that ZL1RS was hearing the the experimental US station WM2XEJ as well at about the same time.

G9PUV: The map above shows the FT8 paths for Paul, G9PUV in the evening time. Note that there was a path also open to the Caribbean about 20 mins after the opening to New Zealand. 

These are the FT8 reports...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
G9PUV EA8/DF4UE 8m FT8 2730 km 19:18:00 -13
G9PUV EA1TX 8m FT8 1086 km 19:15:41 -15
G9PUV FG8OJ 8m FT8 6618 km 19:14:14 -11
G9PUV HC02 8m FT8 1657 km 19:14:14 -17
G9PUV HI0SDR/3 8m FT8 6983 km 19:14:00 -17
EA1TX G9PUV 8m FT8 1086 km 19:13:59 -14
G9PUV K6EU 8m FT8 8704 km 19:00:14 -21
G9PUV ZL1RS 8m FT8 18206 km 18:54:14 -17

G9PUV was using a log-periodic antenna at rooftop level and was beaming 195 degrees. The actual beam heading for New Zealand may have been some bit off this.

EI2IP: The map above shows the paths for EI2IP during the evening. Again, note that there was an opening to the Caribbean and the south-east of the USA.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
FG8OJ 8m FT8 6092 km 19:52:44 -12
WW1L 8m FT8 4389 km 19:52:14 -2
K6EU 8m FT8 8152 km 19:52:12 -11
WM2XCC/JTDX 8m FT8 8244 km 19:49:58 -19
K1HTV-4 8m FT8 5390 km 19:40:45 -17
WM2XCC 8m FT8 8244 km 19:40:44 -20
PJ4MM 8m FT8 6895 km 19:39:11 -15
EA8/DF4UE 8m FT8 2676 km 19:37:00 -10
EA1TX 8m FT8 1223 km 19:36:11 -11
ZL1RS 8m FT8 18096 km 19:35:14 -21
HC02 8m FT8 1705 km 19:32:15 -11
N4WLO/3 8m FT8 6684 km 19:32:14 -17
HI0SDR/3 8m FT8 6405 km 19:32:00 -12
K5YT 8m FT8 6935 km 19:19:41 -24
HI0SDR 8m FT8 6461 km 19:06:30 -19
WM2XEJ 8m FT8 6135 km 19:06:14 -22
WP4G 8m FT8 6209 km 19:05:42 -17
N2OTO 8m FT8 6487 km 19:05:30 -8

EI2IP reports using a 4-element Yagi and was beaming at 200 degrees which is roughly pointing at South America.

WM2XEJ: It's interesting to look at the evening reports and paths for the US experimental station WM2XEJ in Georgia. You'll note that there was a path open both to ZL1RS at 19:47 UTC and to EI2IP at 19:35 UTC.

As you can see from the map above, it's not hard to imagine a situation where the path becomes skewed and then the EI to ZL path becomes possible. In that case, it's likely that the path was in the region of about 19,000kms.

Short Path or Long Path??? ...  Strictly speaking, it was probably a skewed short path for EI2IP and a skewed long path for G9PUV.  The more correct question is probably if the path was skewed or not? The more informative answer is that the path was skewed and learn from that.

Lessons: It's worth remembering that the TEP zone around the Geomagnetic Equator is likely to have a huge impact on any 40 MHz signals crossing it. I would take these points from this...

1) The date... We're in the middle of March and near the equinox.

2) The time... Roughly 18:45 to 20:00 UTC

3) Location... This applies to stations in the north of New Zealand and the NW of Europe.

4) Beam heading... Stations in New Zealand should beam at the Caribbean and stations in the UK and Ireland should beam at the South America or the Caribbean.

5) Skewed Paths.... Forget long path and short paths and direct lines on the map which can go all over the place when the other station is at the other side of the planet. 40 MHz signals are going to have a really tough time crossing over the north or south poles... look for skewed paths where the signal stays as close to the equator as possible.

6) 50 MHz... Any serious 50 MHz operators should be reading this and then trying to explore this path. If it can be done at 40 MHz then maybe 50 MHz is possible?

In conclusion: The Trans-Equatorial Propagation zone around the geomagnetic equator has a huge impact on low band VHF signals on the 40 MHz and 50 MHz bands. In the past, we only really had SSB and CW available in terms of popular modes. Now with so many stations on the one frequency using a weak signal mode like FT8, we can see signals that are buried in the noise. 

There are probably plenty of other skewed paths that are possible. The key is to get out of the fixed mindset of short path and long path and think about beaming at this TEP zone at an angle and see if a signal can propagate inside it or be bent by it.

It's likely the windows of opportunity will be short... the TEP zone ionization needs to be right and there may be sunrise or sunset peaks along the path.

It's likely that there are probably plenty more new skewed paths out there awaiting discovery.

Link... For more information on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Skewed path opening on the 50 MHz band between the S Pacific and Europe - 12th Mar 2023

12th March 2023: As we approach the equinox, there are a lot of TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation) openings between the south of Europe and South America on the 50 MHz band. As were near the peak of the solar cycle and with the solar flux up around the 150 mark, this is nothing special.

What is highly unusual however was the appearance in Europe of some stations in the South Pacific during the TEP opening!

E51WL is located on North Cook Island in the South Pacific and the 50 MHz paths are shown above. 

Things to note...

1) South America... There was an opening from E51WL to South America and was being reported by South American stations at around 23:00 UTC. At the same time, there was a TEP opening from South America to the south of Europe.

2) Direct SP... The map shows the paths on FT8 from E51WL to the south of Europe. The direct short paths travel far to the north.

3) Skewed Path... European stations were beaming towards South America when the path to E51WL was open. On KST Chat, SV1DH in Greece reports E51WL on a beam heading of 225 degrees, IW5DHN in the north of Italy reports 220 deg and IT9TYR in Sicily reports 240 deg. IW0FFK in Rome reports working E51WL at 235 deg but didn't have time to verify the beam heading.

While it's difficult to know the exact beam heading with a modest antenna at a frequency of 50 MHz, it still shows that the signal was coming from the direction of South America on a beam heading of about 240 degrees, not on the direct short path heading to the north-west. i.e. the path was skewed.

For the stations in the eastern half of the Mediterranean, the short path actually goes to the east while the long path would go down over Africa and cross the Antarctica to reach the Cook Islands. Regardless of long path or short path, the signal was at roughly 240 degrees and skewed.

Fiji to Europe... 3D2AG on the island of Fiji was also reported in the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands.

Note the direct short paths from CT1BOH in Portugal and EA5NW in Spain go over the Arctic. In reality, it was a skewed path to the south-west.

On the map above, there are several paths to EA8... the Canary Islands. I suspect that these may have been skewed to the south as well.

As for the how???.... There is a theory that the signal can get propagated westwards between the north and south boundaries of the TEP zone. Eventually the signal escapes further west where the direct path via F2 layer propagation is more favourable.

I put together a simple diagram above which shows this concept.

In Conclusion... Skewed paths like this have been reported in the past but now with so many stations using a weak signal mode like FT8 on one frequency, these skewed paths should become a lot more obvious.

The key take away point is that for very distant paths, don't always assume a signal is on the direct short path.

It would be interesting to see more stations in the Pacific exploring these skewed paths to Europe. Obviously doing it near the equinox is important as well as the time of day... around 22:00-23:00 UTC.

It might be an idea to also try a quieter frequency than 50.313 MHz and use the appropriate time slot for transmitting.

Questions, questions, questions... I wonder if there is an equivalent but longer skewed path from Europe to the South Pacific to the east rather than the west? 
Maybe 8-9pm local time for each station in the Pacific? 
A skewed long path rather than a skewed short path? 
Is it too early in the morning for 50 MHz signals in Europe?
Does it happen on the higher HF bands all the time but nobody notices or knows any better?


Signal reports for E51WL and 3D2AG are shown below.

FT8 reports (15,000kms +) for E51WL...

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Opening on the 40 MHz band between California and Europe - 9th & 10th March 2023

Over the last few weeks and months, there have been a lot of excellent openings on the 40 MHz (8m) band (reports HERE). While the really long distance paths are impressive, some of the shorter East-West paths in the same hemisphere can be equally difficult.

While there have been many 40 MHz openings from the eastern half of the USA to Europe, openings to the west coast have been largely absent. There were hints though that things were getting close. 

Paul, MI3LDO in the north-west of Ireland reported hearing CHP (California Highway Patrol) stations at 39 MHz in late February 2023. In early March, Robbie EI2IP in the south-west of Ireland reported hearing SNOTEL traffic on 40.670 MHz which is usually associated with the west coast of the United States.

On the 9th and 10th of March 2023, the elusive California to Europe opening on the 40 MHz band finally happened.

Thursday 9th March 2023: Tom, K6EU near San Francisco in California reports hearing Robbie, EI2IP and Paul, G9PUV on FT8 on 40.680 MHz.

174700 -15  0.2  495 ~  CQ EI2IP IO52      EU
174730 -15  0.2  495 ~  CQ EI2IP IO52      EU
181630 -18 -0.0 1464 ~  CQ G9PUV JO00      EU
181700 -21 -0.0 1464 ~  CQ G9PUV JO00      EU
181715 -19  0.3  502 ~  CQ EI2IP IO52      EU
181730 -18 -0.0 1464 ~  CQ G9PUV JO00      EU
181745 -15  0.1  503 ~  CQ SSB EI2IP IO52  EU
181800 -17 -0.0 1464 ~  CQ G9PUV JO00      EU
181930 -19 -0.0 1464 ~  CQ G9PUV JO00  

Chris, N3IZN near Los Angeles and who is the holder of the experimental licence WM2XCC also reported decoding EI2IP and G9PUV on 40.680 MHz.

No reports were shown on the PSK Reporter website.

Friday 10th March 2023: Conditions were very good again on the 8m band and both G9PUV and EI2IP were reported on the west coast of the USA. This time, there were reports on the PSK Reporter website.

G9PUV... The reports over 8000kms for G9PUV in the SE of England are shown below while the map is shown above.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
ZS6OB G9PUV 8m FT8 8964 km 12:17:59 1
G9PUV WM2XCC/JTDX 8m FT8 8822 km 19:02:43 -19
G9PUV ZS6WN 8m FT8 8799 km 11:28:59 -8
ZS6WN G9PUV 8m FT8 8799 km 11:24:29 -7
G9PUV K6EU 8m FT8 8704 km 19:02:12 -17

While the path to South Africa is longer in some cases, it is also easier as it's north-south. The thing to note here is how far north towards the Arctic region the signal has to travel. The maximum distance to the US was to WM2XCC near Los Angeles, a distance of about 8820kms.

EI2IP... As Robbie was about 600kms further west than G9PUV, the path to California is slightly shorter and doesn't have to travel so far to the north.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
EI2IP VK4TVL 8m FT8 15766 km 09:28:15 -13
EI2IP ZS6AYE 8m FT8 9480 km 10:43:44 -13
ZS6OB EI2IP 8m FT8 9406 km 11:29:26 -4
ZS6WN EI2IP 8m FT8 9254 km 11:06:56 -15
EI2IP ZS6WN 8m FT8 9254 km 11:04:14 -9
EI2IP HC2FG 8m FT8 8942 km 18:28:30 -24
EI2IP HC1BI 8m FT8 8681 km 15:21:11 -12
EI2IP WM2XCC/JTDX 8m FT8 8244 km 18:48:13 -17
EI2IP WM2XCC 8m FT8 8244 km 18:35:44 -17
EI2IP K6EU 8m FT8 8152 km 18:46:12 -11

As you can see from the reports above, EI2IP was heard again in the north-east of Australia. I've covered previous openings from Europe to Australia in previous posts.

Where next??? The next obvious question is if there is a path from the UK and Ireland to the NW of the USA? Up in Washington state or near Vancouver in Canada?

For stations in California, is there a path further east into Europe? The OZ7IGY beacon Denmark? S5 and 9A stations in Slovenia and Croatia?

Can stations in continental Europe hear the experimental stations on the US west coast?

Links... For more information on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page.