Sunday, August 25, 2019

New webSDR for 144 MHz now online in Cornwall, England

There was interesting item on the Southgate Amateur News recently about a new web based software defined radio (WebSDR) based at Goonhilly in Cornwall, England. What is particularly interesting about this is that it covers 144 to 146 MHz.


From the Southgate Amateur Radio News website...

***
144-146 MHz WebSDR at Goonhilly now available
AMSAT-UK and BATC have announced the availability of a new 144-146 MHz Web-based Software Defined Radio installation at Goonhilly 

This is being provided in collaboration with Goonhilly Earth Station where it is kindly hosted alongside the existing receiving equipment for the amateur radio transponders on the Qatar-Oscar-100 (QO-100 / Es’hail-2) geostationary satellite.

It shares the same Turnstile antenna that is used for the reception of the AO73, EO88 & JO97 CubeSats.

Being located in the far South West of the UK, it is anticipated the SDR will be useful for early Acquisition of Signal (AOS) of 144 MHz downlinks from amateur satellites and the International Space Station (ISS). Additionally it can be used for reception of tropospheric signals from the south – the Spanish beacon ED1ZAG on 144.403 MHz has been already been heard on the system.

The new 144 MHz band WebSDR is available at https://vhf-goonhilly.batc.org.uk/

***

Even though the turnstile antenna is omni-directional with no gain, it's the location of this webSDR that makes it interesting. Here are just a few uses...

1) RSGB News service... I used it to listen to the weekly GB2RS news on the local GB3NC repeater on 145.725 MHz.

2) Sea Path... What's unique about this site is that it is effectively on a peninsula and has the sea on three sides. This allows more distant signals to be heard rather then say a WebSDR located in the middle of England.

During a quick scan, I could heard French SSB stations as well as repeaters which were at least 200kms distant.

3) Propagation Test... Anyone with a modest Yagi antenna and say 50 watts on 144 MHz may well expect to be heard up to 500 kms away under modest conditions. The map below shows a 500 km circle around Goonhilly.

Just make a transmission and see if you can hear yourself. It will allow you to check conditions as well as any antenna improvements to your station.

It can also be done of course on FM although the range would be much less.

500 km circle around Goonhilly

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Looking ahead to conditions on 28 MHz - Sept 2019 to March 2020

As the Sporadic-E season in the northern hemisphere winds down, we'll have a quick look at what conditions might be like on 28 MHz for the next six months from September 2019 to March 2020.

Solar Cycle.... As the chart shows below, we are currently at the low point of the sunspot cycle.


The current solar flux is in the 60's and it's highly unlikely that we will see much improvement in the next six months. It may well be the second half of 2020 before we see the real start of the next cycle.

The result of all this is that for northern Europe and North America, the maximum usable frequency will struggle to get above 20 MHz and especially for East-West paths.

The prediction chart for the UK to Brazil in September of 2019 is shown below...


If we were to depend on just the Solar Flux and F2 propagation from the ionosphere then the 28 MHz band would be dead for the next few months.

Sporadic-E... While the main summer Sporadic-E season in the northern hemisphere ends in around August, there will still be occasional openings in the next six months with a slight peak around December.

These openings in themselves are unlikely to be that spectacular. The openings are likely to be in the range of 1200 to 2000 kms which are the most common openings during the summer months. We are unlikely to see any really short short skip (less than 500kms).

The main attraction of these winter Sporadic-E openings is that they can allow access to much better conditions further south.

If we take that UK to Brazil path as an example and then assume that there is one Sporadic-E hop of about 1200 kms to the south. This is what the prediction looks like for the latitude of Spain to Brazil ...


From this latitude, openings above 20 MHz are much more likely.

In Summary.... There will be plenty of openings on 28 MHz over the next six months but it will require some degree of dedication and actually spending time on the band.

If you're in the UK or northern Europe then don't expect East-West openings on 28 MHz to the USA or Japan. Think North-South. Listen for beacons or FT8 signals from Spain or Italy to see if there is suitable Sporadic-E to link to openings to Africa and South America further south.

If your interest is in 21 MHz or 24 MHz then the above largely still holds true although it will get easier the lower in frequency you go.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Baltic Way 30 Award - 19th to 25th August 2019


There are currently three stations from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on air to mark the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way protest which would lead eventually to independence for the three Baltic countries. All three would go on later to become members of the European Union.

They have been very busy on the HF bands and I worked them on CW on the HF bands for the award shown above.

Basic rules...

1. Three memorial stations with special call-signs – ES30WAY, LY30WAY and YL30WAY - will be on air from August 19, 2019 till August 25, 2019 on all HF and VHF bands.

 2. An electronic award (downloadable pdf) is offered with the following rules:

Contact all three memorial stations and acquire at least 30 points.
A contact with each memorial station gives five points per band and per mode (CW, PHONE and DIGI).

More info here... https://www.qrz.com/db/ES30WAY

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Possible tropo conditions from Cape Verde to UK at the end of next week

While checking the long term weather forecast, I noticed that there was some high pressure building off the south-west of Ireland at the second half of next week i.e. 22nd - 25th Aug 2019.

I checked the F5LEN website and sure enough, the tropo prediction shows the maritime duct off the west coast of Africa extending much further north.

For anyone active in the UK and Ireland on 144 MHz or 432 MHz, they should keep a listen out for stations from the Canary Islands (EA8) and Cape Verde Islands (D4).

As  always, a prediction doesn't mean it's going to happen but it does suggest that a path is more likely.

You can find the most up to date tropo forecasts on the F5LEN website.

Update... Fri 23rd Aug 2019...

As predicted, the band did open from England to Cape Verde.

DX Cluster spots...

G4LOH 144174.0 D41CV 21:28 22 Aug IO70JC HK76MU +3dB now tnx Cape Verde
G7RAU 144174.0 D41CV 20:27 22 Aug IN79JX HK76MU tnx, deep qsb Cape Verde

Sunday, August 11, 2019

New 432 MHz station on Cape Verde Islands raises possibility of new records being set

144 & 432 MHz Yagi antennas on Cape Verde
So far in 2019, the D4C contest team on Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa have made some pretty amazing contacts on 144 MHz. Using the call D41CV, they have worked across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, up to the UK, France and Ireland via marine tropo ducting and into Germany, Italy and Slovenia with a combined Sporadic-E / marine ducting mode.

Many of these contacts were well in excess of 4000 kms in distance. See links to posts HERE.

The D4C team have recently announced that they are now active on 432 MHz (70cms).

"We are now capable to be active on #70cm #432Mhz #uhf using a 16 El yagi "Pinocchio" model (wooden boom) home made. Transverter connected to @FlexRadioSystem 6600M driving a solid state PA running 100W seems working as we have worked on SSB loc IM66 for 3000 km dx #hamradio"

As the tropo prediction map from F5LEN shows below, a marine duct off the west coast of Africa seems to exist for long periods of time during the Summer and Autumn months.


This should allow D41CV on the Cape Verde Islands to work up to coastal stations in Spain and Portugal on 432 MHz, a distance of roughly 2,900 kms.

Potential for new records???

Before we look at the potential of D41CV setting new records, we should probably look first at what the current IARU Region 1 record for tropo on 432 MHz is.

Back on the 9th of July 2015, G4LOH in the south-west of England worked D44TS on 432 MHz CW. This was a sea path of roughly 4070 kms, an amazing distance for 70 cms.


This contact was as a result of the marine duct extending much further north so that it managed to get as far as England.

Just to show how good conditions were that day, here is video clip showing G4LOH hearing the D4C/B beacon on 432 MHz...



One important point here is that G4LOH worked D44TS where as D41CV is actually on a different island. As you can seen from the map below, Cape Verde is spread out over several different islands...


You'll also notice that D41CV is further south than D44TS.

If we now look at how far 4070 kms is from D41CV then we get this map...


This means that if anyone in Ireland, Wales or England managed to work D41CV on 432 MHz then it would be a new IARU Region 1 tropo record.

I would suggest that as long as there is a 432 MHz capable station active on Cape Verde Islands then this is probably a case of 'when' rather than 'if '.

Trans-Atlantic on 432 MHz???

It's hard to imagine a 70cms signal getting across the Atlantic but it's something that can't be discounted.

Earlier in June of 2019, there was a tropo duct across the Atlantic from Cape Verde to the Caribbean which lasted several days and allowed the propagation of 144 MHz signals.

If 144 MHz signals lasted for several days, was there a shorter period of time when 432 MHz signals would have propagated inside the marine duct?

If it were possible then this is what the 4070 km distance from D41CV looks like...


If a 432 MHz signal can travel 4070 kms from Cape Verde Islands to England then perhaps trans-Atlantic is not impossible?

There should be some interesting times in the months and years ahead as these possibilities are explored.

Links...
1) Archive from G4LOH's blog
2) IARU Region 1 tropo records for 432 MHz
3) F5LEN Tropo Forecast

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Article on 3000+ km contacts on 144 MHz by G4SWX


I recently came across this article by John, G4SWX on the possibilities of regular 3000+ km contacts on 144 MHz.

It can be viewed HERE

As outlined in the article, it does raise the intriguing possibility of being able to span the 3000km gap of the North Atlantic on 144 MHz.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

QRP-Labs sell their 8000th QCX CW Transceiver


QRP-Labs have just announced that they have sold their 8,000th QCX CW Transceiver kit on the 31st of July 2019.

The kit which sells for just $49 is a high performance single band CW transceiver and was first launched in August of 2017.

These are just some of the features...

Choice of single band, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 or 17m
Approximately 3-5W CW output (depending on supply voltage)
Class E power amplifier, transistors run cool… even with no heatsinks
7-element Low Pass Filter ensures regulatory compliance
High performance receiver with at least 50dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
200Hz CW filter with no ringing
Iambic keyer or straight key option included in the firmware
Simple Digital Signal Processing assisted CW decoder, displayed real-time on-screen
Frequency presets, VFO A/B Split operation, RIT, configurable CW Offset

More info here... http://qrp-labs.com/qcx.html

The QSX SSB model is currently under development and should prove to be even more popular.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Joe Taylor K1JT hints at next generation of digital modes

One of the huge developments in Amateur radio over the last few years have the development of digital modes like FT8. The software (WSJT-X) for these modes uses the sound card in a PC to decode and encode these digital signals.

Up to now, this approach allows it to be used with standard superhet transceivers.

In a recent short talk at the amateur radio show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Joe Taylor K1JT gave a hint of a new digital mode in the pipeline.

This will use the I and Q output of a SDR transceiver for receiving and sending the signals and over a wider bandwidth. This will be a major departure for the current suite as it will not be compatible with superhet transceivers.




Thursday, July 25, 2019

Unusual 50 MHz opening from Australia to Europe - Wed 24th July 2019

Over the last few weeks, there have been multiple openings from Europe to Japan at 50 MHz as stations make use of digital modes like FT8 to dig weak signals out of the noise. Most of these contacts are in the region of 9,000 to 10,000 kms which suggest multi-hop Sporadic-E was the likely propagation mode.

On Wednesday the 24th of July 2019, there was a very unusual opening on 50 MHz between Europe and New South Wales in SE Australia.

Here are some of the send/receive reports from PSK Reporter for the Australian stations on the 50 MHz band...

VK3ZL...

A successful FT8 contact was made between VK3ZL and EI3KD in Ireland, a distance of 17,375 kms. This seems to have been the longest contact of the day.

VK3BD...

VK3ANP...

VK3ZYC...

VK3EW...

The opening from Europe to SE Australia seemed to be from about 07:09 UTC to about 08:20 UTC.

The graphic below shows where the sun was shining at 07:30 UTC.


The opening seemed to coincide with sunset in SE Australia.

Some notes....
1) Solar..... The solar flux was way down at 67, the sunspot number was zero and there was no sign of any type of enhancement due to a flare. It's hard to imagine there was any normal type F2 propagation which might be seen around the peak of the sunspot cycle.

2) Japan..... The opening from Europe to Australia seemed to coincide with an opening from Europe to Japan. S57RR in Slovenia was on the send/receive list for five of the six VK3 stations and this is what the 6m map was like for him on the 24th...



3) Multi-hop Sporadic-E ???.... The distances worked from Europe to Australia were in the region of 16,000 to 17,400 kms. If it was simple multi-hop Sporadic E, it would require something like eight to nine hops. What are the chances of this many Sporadic-E hops? I find it hard to believe it's possible.

4) Winter..... It's worth noting that it's winter in Australia and this is not their Sporadic-E season. There seems to be no sign that the VK3 stations were hearing any other stations via Sporadic-E, just the opening to Europe.

Theory?...... Just a thought and I'm putting it out there for others to consider. Is it possible there was TEP (Transequatorial propagation) opening from SE Australia to an area SE of Japan and then became skewed via Sporadic-E? The multi-hop Sporadic-E opening from Europe also got to this region in the Pacific?


It's possible the TEP path may have been a bit more westerly from Australia to an area closer to China.

Perhaps it's grasping at straws for an explanation but I find it just as feasible as expecting 8-9 Sporadic-E hops to line up in a row at 50 MHz for the shorter direct path.

The key difference between the two paths would of course be if the beam headings for all parties were the most direct short path ones or if they were skewed. Unless someone is using a long Yagi, it may not be so obvious at 50 MHz.

All good material for debate of course but probably impossible to prove one way or the other.

Addendum : See message below from Brian, VK3BD (Added 12th Aug 2019)...

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Remarkable opening on 144 MHz from Cape Verde Islands to Germany - 23rd July 2019

On Tuesday the 23rd of July 2019, there was another remarkable opening on 144 MHz from Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa to Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France in Europe.


This is the third such opening this year on 144 MHz where there has been a maritime tropo duct from Cape Verde Islands up to the south-west coast of the Iberian peninsula and then a Sporadic-E opening from that region.

The first such mixed propagation mode was back on the 9th of June 2019 to Italy, Slovenia and Austria. The second was on the 3rd of July 2019 when three stations in Germany heard D41CV.

What was significant for the third opening however was that there was a successful FT8 contact made with DK5AI in Germany, an amazing distance of 4966 kms.


The map above shows the stations that were heard by or had heard D41CV on FT8 on 144 MHz.

While the tropo duct off the coast of Africa was probably stable, the Sporadic-E opening up into Europe seems to have come in two distinct phases.

The four German stations were around 15:08 to 15:40 UTC. The other signals were around 16:34 to 17:40 UTC.

Update : This is the log of FT8 contacts made by D41CV on the 23rd of July. Red contacts are Sp-E + tropo. Black is tropo only...


This is a screen shot of the FT8 contact between D41CV and DK5AI...


This is the tropo prediction map from F5LEN showing the maritime tropo duct up along the west coast of Africa.

Considering this is the third such opening this ear, it might be easy to take it for granted but we shouldn't. A distance of 4,966 kms on 144 MHz is really incredible.

Just for fun, lets suppose that DK5AI was able to work that distance across the Atlantic. This is how far his signal would reach...


The future...5000+ kms??... It's very likely that we haven't seen the maximum distance yet for this mixed propagation path. The marine duct off the west coast of Africa seems to exist for long periods of time so that is a significant factor. The big variable is of course the requirement for a Sporadic-E opening on 144 MHz to complete the path.

Stations in the north of Germany near Hamburg or in Denmark may well be within one Sp-E hop of the coast of Portugal. If this coincided with a marine duct to Cape Verde, contacts in the region of 5,200 kms may be possible.

Links...
1) D4C contest team on Twitter
2) F5LEN Tropo prediction for D4

Monday, July 22, 2019

IRTS Recommend Frequencies for 70 cms Hotspots

With the growth of digital modes like C4F System Fusion, D-Star and DMR, some radio amateurs have opted to set up personal hot spots so that they can access the various worldwide networks over the Internet.

These usually operate with 10 to 20 milliwatts of output power on 70cms into very small aerials a few cms long.

There have been problems reported however when users have connected large external aerials to these units and have chosen to use frequencies in the 435.000 to 438.000 MHz range. This part of the spectrum is reserved for uplinks to amateur radio satellites and some interference from hotspots has been heard.

The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) has now recommended using 434.000 and 438.800 MHz for personal hotspots.

From the IRTS News...Frequency Allocation for Digital Voice Personal Hotspots
We wish to remind all operators that the frequencies used on some personal hotspot devices have become an issue and it has become necessary to allocate specific frequencies for their use. 434.000 Mhz & 438.800 Mhz are the two frequencies recommended so we would request anyone using a personal hotspot device to consider reprogramming their unit to one of these frequencies. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A closer look at the 144 MHz opening from Cape Verde Islands to Italy - 9th June 2019

Over the last few weeks, there have been several remarkable openings on 144 MHz from Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa.

On the 16th of June 2019, there was the incredible opening from Cape Verde Islands to the Caribbean which lasted on and off for roughly five days. See previous post.... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/06/historic-trans-atlantic-contact-made-on.html

On the 29th of June 2019, the same trans-Atlantic path opened again for roughly 36 hours. See previous post... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/06/144-mhz-trans-atlantic-path-open-again.html

On the 2nd of July 2019, there was a combined Sporadic-E and tropo event which allowed signals from Cape Verde Islands to be heard in Germany. See previous post... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/07/144-mhz-path-opens-up-between-cape.html

There was however another remarkable opening on the 9th of June 2019 which wasn't well reported at the time. See map below...


Thanks to a log extract provided by the D4C team, I have been able to put together a reasonable record of what took place.

The map above shows the stations that D41CV worked on 144 MHz with the digital FT8 mode. The chart below shows their log and what was worked. The 'normal' tropo contacts are in Black. The combined Tropo Sporadic-E contacts are in Red. The reception report from OE3NFC in Austria is in Green.


Evidence - Tropo... First off, lets have a look at some of the information available from that time. This is a map of the tropo predictions on the day which indicates the likely marine ducting path from Cape Verde Islands up along the west coast of Africa to Morocco and the the south of Spain.


As can be seem from the log, D41CV managed to work two EA7 stations and CN8LI which suggests  this sea path was open..

Even though the south-west coast of Spain is some 2,800 kms distant, this marine ducting path seems to be a regular feature in this part of the world and is no great suprise at this stage.

Evidence - Sporadic-E... These are the spots from the DX Cluster showing Italian stations hearing CN8LI in Morocco by Sporadic-E at the time.


Considering the distances involved and the evidence above then it would seem likely that the Italian stations managed to catch a Sporadic-E opening on 144 MHz to an area near Morocco where the signals then entered the marine duct which extended down to Cape Verde Islands.

Some points....
1) 16... There were 16 FT8 contacts made which were via a combined marine tropo ducting - sporadic-E propagation mode.

2) N Italy... Notice how the contacts in the north of Italy are laid out in a line... typical of a Sporadic-E footprint which tends to be be long and narrow. They are also crucially far enough north so that the Sporadic-E signal from Italy lands near the water off the west of Morocco.

3) C Italy... The three Italian stations in central Italy are interesting. Notice how they are all on the coast. Perhaps they were availing of some tropo enhancement from the Mediterranean to allow the Sporadic-E signals to land near the ocean off the very southern part of Morocco.

4) S57A... The Slovene station S57A was the best DX that day with a distance of about 4,809 kms.

5) D41CV... These are the working conditions for D41CV... Sunsdrpro2 by expertsdr, 12 el yagi home brew, 500W from single LDMOS homemade (pallet from ITALAB)

6) Austria... Remarkably, D41CV was also heard by Norbert OE3NFC. Norbert was using 4 x 7el LFA at 12 metres above ground level to a Low Noise Amp & G4DDK transverter into a Flex radio. He was hearing the FT8 signals from D41CV at -17dB.

On that last point, OE3NFC in Austria was roughly 5,107 kms from Cape Verde Islands.

It's very easy to look at the figures and not actually realise just how far that distance is. To put it into context, this is what 5,000 kms looks like.

Imagine putting a 144 MHz transmitter on the west coast of Ireland and it reached this far into North America....

We can repeat the exercise by imagining there was a 144 MHz transmitter in St.John's Newfoundland and it reached this far into Europe....

In conclusion..... Overall, a remarkable set of contacts by the D41CV station. Considering how often there is a marine tropo path off the west coast of Africa, there should be more openings like this in the future.

Links...
1) D4C website
2) D4 team on Twitter

Acknowledgement : Thanks to the D4C team for providing a log extract which was the basis of this post.

Correction : 18th July 2019 - Corrected locator square for S57A from JN76TN to JN65TW.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

IRTS release statement on threat to the 2-metre band



The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) is the national organisation for radio amateurs in Ireland and is a member of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).

Recently, the French administration made a proposal to allocate the 144 to 146 MHz amateur band to the aeronautical mobile service. There have been many responses to this from individuals and groups.

This is the statement from the IRTS released on the 12th of July 2019.

Threat to the 144 – 146 MHz band

The threat
Members will be aware that a proposal has been floated by the French administration to extend existing aeronautical mobile service (AMS) allocations in Region 1 to a number of additional frequency bands, including the 144 – 146 MHz band currently allocated exclusively to the amateur service.  If accepted, this proposal would have very serious consequences for radio amateurs, given the importance of the 2 metre band for a variety of applications.  The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) and its member societies, including IRTS, will be vigorously resisting this proposal.

Allocations of the radio spectrum
Allocations of the radio spectrum are determined at World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) which are held every 4 years by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with the next conference taking place later this year (WRC-19) and another due in 2023 (WRC-23).  Planning and the co-ordination of European administrations at these conferences are carried out by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT).  IARU representatives are actively involved in the relevant CEPT groups, including those preparing for the ITU conferences.

IARU was extremely surprised when the French administration at short notice submitted a proposal to CEPT preparatory groups for WRC-19 that, subject to the results of feasibility studies, WRC-23 should consider whether additional aeronautical mobile service (AMS) allocations could be implemented in the range 144 MHz to 22.2 GHz.

If this proposal in its current form is endorsed at the next meeting of the CEPT Conference Preparatory Group (CPG) in August, it is likely that it will be submitted by CEPT to WRC-19 for consideration when WRC-19 addresses the agenda for WRC-23.  For this agenda item to be submitted to WRC-19 at least 10 of the 48 CEPT countries have to be in favour of the proposal whilst not more than 6 should oppose its submission.

Timeline
The timeline for future WRC items is much tighter than some may realise with final CEPT decisions being made during its 26-30 August 2019 CEPT CPG meeting, for those proposals that will then be submitted to ITU WRC-19 in October.  If agreed at WRC, the ITU would start work on them in November 2019 and that would continue during 2020-2023 for WRC-23.  Clearly if an item can be kept off the agenda, it can save years of significant effort and uncertainty.

Challenging situation
While the French proposal would likely not be an eviction or re-allocation of spectrum, nonetheless IARU considers it to be a serious threat to the hobby, particularly as it would present significant challenges; aeronautical applications are perhaps the most difficult of all radiocommunication services to share with, due to the altitudes and long free-space distances involved.  IARU representatives at CEPT meetings have been lobbying strongly against the French proposal insofar as it affects the key 2 metre band.  This work will continue for as long as is needed.  IARU has also asked its members societies to raise this issue with their respective administrations.

For its part, IRTS will be putting the IARU’s defence of the 144 – 146 MHz band to the officials of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and the Commission for Communications Regulation who will be representing Ireland at the forthcoming CPG and WRC.

Single voice
Amateur radio should speak with a single voice only.  Therefore it is suggested that individual amateur radio licensees should refrain from lobbying personal contacts they may have in Government departments, regulatory bodies or the EU.  Such activities could weaken the overall position of the amateur service and reduce the power and vigour of the systematic approach taken by IARU and national amateur radio societies.  This particularly applies to online petitions on the Internet which do not always provide factually correct information.

Reminder
This issue reminds us that the cost of the numerous activities to defend frequency bands used by the amateur and amateur-satellite services is covered by the funds resulting from the contributions of the IARU member societies e.g. IRTS for Ireland.  So those who have not joined or have left their country’s IARU amateur radio society should perhaps reconsider their decision.

For the amateur radio hobby to thrive, it is essential that we are represented by a strong and properly-resourced International Amateur Radio Union.  Without the support and funding from national societies to the IARU, the amateur radio community would have little influence in spectrum allocation and other relevant issues, leading to the rights and privileges gained over many years being steadily eroded through pressure from commercial interests.

Links...
1) IRTS
2) IARU Region 1

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Snapshot of WSPR activity - Sun 7th July 2019


As an experiment, I made a recording of the activity levels for each of the HF bands on the WSPRnet website on Sunday the 7th of July 2019. I took two measurements to get a better sample... one at 09:00 UTC and one at 19:00 UTC.

160m, 80m & 60m... Even though the levels on 160m and 60m are reasonably low, the wide coverage area for these bands would probably make up for this somewhat. Even on 160m, someone running 5 watts into a decent antenna may cover half of Euope.

40m, 30m, & 20m... This seems to be where most of the WSPR activity is concentrated. Lots of people transmitting and lots of people listening.

17m, 15m, 12m & 10m... On these bands, the propagation skip zones become increasingly larger especially at the higher frequencies. My own opinion is that the activity level needs to be somewhere close to 100 to make WSPR useful.

Going on this basis, the activity levels on 17m and 10m are marginal. From a European perspective, there are two issues...
a) Many of the other stations are in other continents may be well out of range.
b) A high percentage of the users are receive only.

This leaves relatively few stations to listen to.

And if 17m and 10m are marginal then 15m and 12m are very poor indeed. The number of users on 12m was 13 and 18 and again, these are spread out over different continents and some are receive only. If there are so few stations on 15m and 12m then it begs the question if WSPR on those bands is useful at all?

VHF... On the VHF bands, the number of WSPR users recorded was very low.... an average of 26 on 6m, 3 on 4m, 18 on 2m, 4 on 70 cms and 5 on 23 cms. Those activity levels are so low that it makes WSPR pretty useless unless someone is interested in monitoring the path to a particular individual.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Dutch 2m Propagation Experiment - 20th July 2019

Summary via Google Translate : 2 METRE PROPAGATION EXPERIMENT ON JULY 20, 2019 WITH PI40FL. 

A41 Flevoland calls on all radio amateurs to make radio connections on the 2 metre band on 20 July. Read on how you can make a positive contribution to this 2 metre propagation experiment.

On Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 17:00 to 19:00 UTC A41 Flevoland is organizing a 2-metre propagation experiment.

Help with this 2 metre propagation experiment
A41 Flevoland wants to collect as much data as possible and calls on all radio amateurs in the Netherlands to participate in this 2-metre propagation experiment. You can easily participate by making connections on the 2 meter band. Clublog has offered to collect the data. For this a41 Flevoland asks you to upload the log with the connections made to Clublog . 

Purpose of this 2 metre propagation experiment
The aim is to collect as much data as possible about connections made on the 2 metre band in a short period of time. It does not matter in which mode you will work and with whom you connect. Whether this is in CW, FM, SSB, DV or digimode, all connections made help in data collection.

No contest, share information and real receipt reports
This experiment is not a competition and, on the contrary, benefits from real receipt reports. So only give 59 if this is also the actual receipt report. Above all, make nice connections and share some more information than 59. This experiment is about collecting as much data as possible and not who can make the most connections or bridge the largest distance. Of course it is important that you enjoy doing this and you may rediscover VHF.

Other countries are also requested to participate
VERON invites all countries to participate in this experiment and to give it an international character. By getting all up in the air at the same time, this also increases the chance of international connections.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

EI3RCW - The Irish WSPR Receive Station

Some of the WSPR stations heard by EI3RCW on 80m
Regular users of the WSPR system may have noticed the call sign EI3RCW pops up on a lot of coverage maps. Located in the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) campus, the station uses a Funcube dongle and a Wimo 40m long wire antenna to monitor the various HF bands.

When the call sign was allocated a few years back, WIT was known as the Regional College Waterford, hence the EI3RCW call.

Funcube dongle monitoring WSPR transmissions from 80m to 10m
Long wire antenna installed at the college campus
The EI3RCW WSPR station was set up by Eoghan EI5HBB and he has it configured to hop between the various bands on a schedule throughout the day. The software used to monitor the WSPR transmissions is WSJT-X.

The screen shot below some of the WSPR stations heard on 7 MHz including the Swedish Polar Research Vessel ODEN which EI3RCW is helping to track as it makes its way from Sweden to Greenland.

Some of the WSPR stations heard by EI3RCW on 40m

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Tracking the Swedish Polar vessel Oden on WSPR


I came across an interesting blog post recently by Harry SM7PNV about the Swedish Polar Research vessel Oden. It is currently on its way from Sweden to Greenland and is sending out its location on WSPR by band hopping between the four bands... 40m, 30m, 20m and 17m.

As you can see from the map above, I heard them on 14 MHz.


The WSPR transmitter on the ship is one of Harry's commercial Zachtek products running 300 milliwatts to an end feed wire antenna.

The blog post on Harry's site is here... https://www.zachtek.com/post/zachtek-wspr-transmitter-on-board-polar-research-vessel-oden



Update : By the way, if you are tracking the ship then be sure to use the map on M0XDK's website. The map on the wsprnet website shows the ship in the wrong location.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Extreme Tropo Propagation on 144 MHz and up... by LA0BY


I came across this PDF presentation while I was browsing about propagation at 144 MHz. It was put together by Stefan LA0BY and I think anyone with an interest in two metres should find it of interest.

The PDF document can be found here... http://www.la0by.darc.de/190615_LA0BY_Tropo%20extreme.pdf

144 MHz path opens up between Cape Verde Islands and Germany - 2nd July 2019

The D41CV station on Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa continues to show new paths on 144 MHz that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

On Tuesday the 2nd of July 2019, a Sporadic-E opening from Germany to the south of Spain coincided with a marine ducting event from the coast of Spain down to Cape Verde Islands.


As the map clearly shows, D41CV was hearing and was being heard by stations in the Canary Islands, Portugal and Spain. This is as a result of a marine duct which can stay established for days at a time and the distance from Cape Verde to the south-west of the Iberian peninsula is in the region of 2,800 to 2,900 kms, an impressive distance for 144 MHz in its own right.

What was exceptional on the afternoon of the 2nd of July 2019 was that there was also a Sporadic-E opening from Spain to Germany allowing stations from there to access the marine duct.

As this screenshot from D41CV shows, he was hearing Spanish stations who were working German stations on 144 MHz FT8.


The three German stations hearing and were being heard by D41CV were DL8SCV (JN48RV - 4725kms), DL1NEO (JN59KV - 4870 kms) and DK1FG (JN59OP - 4875 kms).

The map below shows who was hearing and was being heard by each of the three German stations over a 12 hour period on the 2nd of July.


It clearly shows the Sporadic-E path that was open to Spain as well as the continuation by marine ducting to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands.

The distance from the German stations to the Canary Islands is about 3320 kms which is an incredible distance in itself.

It's the distance from the German stations to Cape Verde Islands that it truly amazing... an incredible 4,870 kms. To put that in context, that's the distance from the west coast of Ireland to New York City!

This is the tropo map from F5LEN showing the marine ducting path off the coast of Africa...


While on this occasion, it looks as if no actual contacts were made, it does show the potential of what might be achieved.

For example, if we put the put the opening of the marine duct off the south coast of Portugal then this shows the approximate limit for Sporadic-E from there...


If the marine duct were to extend up further then places like Scotland would come into range.

The big unknown in all of this is of course the requirement for a Sporadic-E opening at 144 MHz.

Part of the FT8 log for D41CV on the 2nd of July 2019...