Wednesday, June 19, 2019

QRSS signals from the UK heard on 28 MHz - June 2019

QRSS is morse code sent at very slow speeds with users decoding signals by looking at the waterfall display on a screen. A dot is normally about 3 seconds long.

Update 19th June 2019
Rather than putting up a new post, I have updated this one from a few days previous. There was some very good short skip to the UK on 28 Mhz on Wednesday the 19th of June 2019 and the QRSS signals were much stronger...

Most of these stations are using less than a watt into very basic aerials.

16th June 2019...
Conditions today on 28 MHz were very good and I noticed that I was hearing English stations to the east of London on WSPR. At roughly 600kms, this is a pretty short skip distance on 28 MHz and not that usual.

I listened on the QRSS frequency of 28.0008 MHz and recorded the following...

I think the bottom trace is from G0PKT. Above that is G6NHU. Above that I think is G0FTD. And at the top is GJ7RWT.

The audio frequency is shown at the side.

This is a map showing the locations...

The opening didn't last long before the skip went long again back to about 1000 kms and over.

Interesting to see QRSS signals via short skip. I suspect that if I hadn't been using WSPR and seen the callsign of G6NHU, I probably would have never thought to check for these signals.

Just a note of interest. When I heard G6NHU on WSPR, he had a SNR of -17dB and -20 dBd. I have no idea what the SNR of G6NHU was on QRSS but I'd guess it was about the same.

There is an active group of QRSS users at this forum...

Conditions on 28 MHz - Tues 18th June 2019

Tuesday the 18th of June 2019 was a reasonable day for Sporadic-E on 28 MHz although the skip distance did seem a bit longer than normal.

As can be seen from the map above, there is hardly anything under 1000 kms.

These are the stations heard on WSPR and nothing really special in there...

The red dots show two German stations running 50 and 10 milliwatts respectively. The orange dots are double hop Sporadic-E.

Beacons... These are the beacons heard although I only had time to do about two scans...
EI7GL C30P/B 28255.8 IO51TU ES JN02SM 1443z 18 Jun
EI7GL OZ7IGY/B 28271 IO51TU ES JO55WM 1441z 18 Jun
EI7GL F1VJT/B 28322.7 IO51TU ES JN33BC 1440z 18 Jun
EI7GL SK7GH/B 28298.1 IO51TU ES JO77BF 1438z 18 Jun
EI7GL IZ0CWW/B 28295 IO51TU ES JN61VL 1438z 18 Jun
EI7GL SK5AE/B 28290.1 IO51TU ES JO89KK 1435z 18 Jun
EI7GL OZ7IGY 28271 PI4 6 dB Q=100 1393 km 1417z 18 Jun

IZ0CWW/B near Rome was a new one I think for me and kind of ties in with the skip being long. The OZ7IGY beacon was decoded using the PI4 software programme.

These are the FT8 signals heard...

Historic Trans-Atlantic Contact made on 144 MHz from Cape Verde to Guadeloupe

A historic contact was made on Sunday the 16th June 2019 when the Atlantic was spanned for the first time on 144 MHz.

D41CV on Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa managed to work FG8OJ in Guadeloupe on 144.174 MHz using the FT8 digital mode. The distance was an incredible 3,867 kms.

To put that into context, the distance from the west coast of Ireland to Newfoundland is 3,000 kms.

See Updates Below

The map below shows the tropo prediction from F5LEN and it shows a path right across the Atlantic.

The mode of propagation was most likely marine ducting with the signal traveling in a layer near the ocean surface.

This is a screenshot from FG8OJ of the historic contact made on FT8...

D41CV was using 500 watts into stacked dipoles while FG8OJ was running 100 watts into a 14 element Yagi with a 3.7m boom.

This is the FT8 signal from D41CV as heard by FG8OJ in Guadeloupe...

D41CV later worked FG4ST who was slightly further away at 3,911 kms. This contact was even more amazing as this station in Guadeloupe was running just 50 watts into a simple vertical on FT8.

FT8 Screenshots from FG8OJ
Now that this historic contact has been made, more 144 MHz contacts across this part of the Atlantic are sure to follow.

Update : Wed 19th June 2019 20:45 UTC... This map shows the stations that have seen or heard D41CV on 144 MHz FT8 in the last 24 hours...

The orange dots on the list indicate those that have heard D41CV. It looks as if this trans-Atlantic path has been there for the best part of 48 hours.

D41CV completes on FT8 with KP4EIT at 4.392 kms and NP4BM at 4,460 kms.

Update : Tues 18th June... D41CV has now worked WP4G in Puerto Rico on FT8. WP4G was using 4 x 12 el array. This is a distance of 4,358 kms!

D41CV working WP4G on FT8 on 2 metres
Update : D41CV has also completed with FG4ST in Guadeloupe. Signal -20. 3,911 kms.

Update : D41CV has completed with FM5AN in Martinique. Distance 3872 kms. FM5AN was using 50w into a 9 el DK7ZB yagi.

Brendan Trophies... Now that the Atlantic has been crossed on two metres, a question was asked if it qualifies for the Brendan Trophies from the IRTS.

As can be seen from the rules, they are for contacts from Europe.

"The Brendan Trophies and Brendan Shields will be presented to each of the operators of the two amateur radio stations which first establish two-way communication in the relevant category between the continents of Europe and America (North or South) within the Two Metre Amateur Band. "

1) FG8OJ on Twitter
2) D4C team on Twitter
3) D4C on Facebook

Conditions on 28 MHz - Mon 17th June 2019

Monday the 17th of June 2019 was a bit of a lopsided day on 28 MHz. The band opened early in the morning with some strong signals but it fizzled out in the afternoon.

These are the FT8 stations heard...

It was one of those days that might be considered good for late April but only fair for mid June.

This is a list of stations heard on FT8...

Monday, June 17, 2019

CW Century Award - Cricket World Cup

I've been working the GB19 special event stations on air for the Cricket World Cup and finally managed to work the 100th one on CW.

It's been interesting to see how dependent the HF bands above 7 MHz are on Sporadic-E propagation.

Conditions on 28 MHz - Sun 16th June 2019

Sunday the 16th of June 2019 was one of those typical mid-Summer Sporadic-E days on 28 MHz when the band opened at about 04:00 UTC and didn't close until about 22:00 UTC.

There were plenty of strong signals on the band especially from central Europe.

The signal way off to the east was BD0AAI in China. I think when people in Europe talk about China, they think about Beijing and Shanghai in the east of the country. The thing is that China is a huge country and someone in the far west of China is closer to Poland than Shanghai, hard to believe but true. Perhaps it shouldn't be such a suprise to hear it on 28 MHz.

The one bogus spot from the USA was that of KI5BLU in Texas. He was operating a remote station in the Caribbean again and using his US call and Texas locator on FT8. I guess if he had to actually use the correct call of the country where the remote station was, all of those European contacts wouldn't count for his award hunting. See previous post.

WSPR... It's interesting monitoring the WSPR frequency on 28 MHz during the day as it gives a slightly different perspective on the band. The level of WSPR activity is way way less than FT8 so short samples of the band every so often is probably the best thing to do.

It seems as if most of the WSPR activity in Europe is from England, Netherlands and Germany. As conditions were good to Germany, I spent a good bit of time monitoring to get as many reports as possible.

This is what I heard during the day...

The red dots are some very low power stations in Germany running 50 milliwatts. DJ7PRM was running just 10 milliwatts which is pretty incredible.

The orange dots show the short skip opening to an area east of London. It was the spots on WSPR that alerted me to the short skip and got me looking for QRSS signals. See this post.

Beacons.... These were the beacons spotted...

EI7GL GB3RAL/B 28215.1 IO51TU ES IO91IN 2004z 16 Jun
EI7GL GW7HDS/B 28221.5 IO51TU ES IO81IP 1955z 16 Jun
EI7GL SR5TDM/B 28215.8 IO51TU ES KO01KX 1054z 16 Jun
EI7GL ON0RY/B 28207.1 IO51TU ES JO20CK 1052z 16 Jun
EI7GL SK7GH/B 28298.1 IO51TU ES JO77BF 1015z 16 Jun
EI7GL DB0MFI/B 28285 IO51TU ES JN58KR 1014z 16 Jun
EI7GL DF0ANN/B 28265.1 IO51TU ES JN59PL 1013z 16 Jun
EI7GL DK0TEN/B 28257.7 IO51TU ES JN47NT 1010z 16 Jun
EI7GL IW3FZQ/B 28227.2 IO51TU ES JN55VF 1008z 16 Jun
EI7GL YM7TEN/B 28225 IO51TU ES KN91RB 1007z 16 Jun
EI7GL 5B4CY/B 28220.1  IO51TU ES KM64PR 1004z 16 Jun
EI7GL IQ5MS/B 28218 IO51TU ES JN54AB 1003z 16 Jun
EI7GL DL0IGI/B 28205 IO51TU ES JN57MT 0956z 16 Jun
EI7GL OE3XAC/B 28188 IO51TU ES JN78SB 0955z 16 Jun

A few interesting ones in there.

5B4CY/B in Cyprus was double hop Sporadic-E.

YM7TEN/B in Turkey was double hop also. This is a beacon that used to be a regular via F2 propagations when we were at a higher part of the sunspot cycle. I don't remember hearing it by multi-hop Sp-E before.

GW7HDS/B at 350kms in Wales and GB3RAL/B at 490 kms in England were really short skip. I was only alerted to this opening when I saw a little cluster of stations in the SE of Wales spotted on FT8 on the PSK Reporter site. I had a quick search for the beacons and sure enough, they were there.

HF... This short skip also impacted on the lower HF bands. I worked GB19CWC and GB19ENG on 30m cw and both were 599++. On the days where there is no Sp-E, it's difficult to work into the UK from here on any band above 7 MHz.

These are the stations heard on FT8 on 28 MHz...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz - Sat 15th June 2019

Saturday the 15th of June 2019 was a reasonable day on 28 MHz with no shortage of Sporadic-E signals on the band. Lots of signals but many were weak.

The map shows the FT8 signals heard...

One unusual signal was the one from UA1PBD in the far north of Russia. The distance was 3961 kms which is double hop Sporadic-E. It looks further because of the distortions on the map the further north you go. It was also interesting because it shows a path was open to the Russian Arctic. Some Europeans worked Japan on 50 MHz so this would tie in with that.

Another 'unusual' signal was that of KI5BLU from Texas but operating remotely from a station in Maine. At least this time he was using the correct locator for Maine instead of previous times when he was operating remotely from the Caribbean and pretending to be in Texas.

PSK Reporter map showing spots for KI5BLU from at home in Texas and remotely in Maine

Beacons......These were the beacons hear, not a great haul...
EI7GL SK0CT/B 28292.2 IO51tu es JO89xk 1242z 15 Jun
EI7GL ED4YAK/B 28251.2 IO51tu es IN80fk 1234z 15 Jun
EI7GL DB0TEN/B 28245.2 IO51TU es JO42uv 1232z 15 Jun
EI7GL OY6BEC/B 28235 IO51TU ES IP62MB 1209z 15 Jun
EI7GL OZ7IGY/B 28271 IO51TU ES JO55WM 0801z 15 Jun
EI7GL SK7GH/B 28298.1 IO51TU ES JO77BF 0800z 15 Jun

WSPR...... I spent a small amount of time listening on the WSPR frequency of 28.1264 MHz.

Two interesting ones in there with ZB2TEN in Gibraltar and OZ8PZ in Denmark on 100 milliwatts.

Just two observations.

a) Even though WSPR is more sensitive than FT8, they are both weak signal modes. I tried listening a few times when the signals were low on FT8 and I heard nothing on WSPR.

b) The number of people using WSPR on 28 MHz is about one third to one quarter that of the numbers on bands like 20m, 30m and 40m.

FT8 List... These were the FT8 stations heard on 28 MHz...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Another Opening to North America on 28 MHz - Fri 14th June 2019

Friday the 14th of June 2019 started off with a weak opening into Europe on 28 MHz in the morning before going quiet in the afternoon. The best conditions were in the evening when it opened to Europe again as well as the eastern side of the United States...

Note the one signal to the east to China.

FY5KE in French Guyana was heard on WSPR.

The opening to the west seemed to be limited to the three hop limit of about 6000 kms. Note how most of the furthest signals are in a straight line.

There were the beacons heard....
EI7GL DL0IGI/B 28205 IO51TU ES JN57MT 1918z 14 Jun
EI7GL IW3FZQ/B 28227.1 IO51TU ES JN55VF 1917z 14 Jun
EI7GL DB0TEN/B 28245.3 IO51TU ES JO42UV 1916z 14 Jun
EI7GL DF0ANN/B 28265.1 IO51TU ES JN59PL 1915z 14 Jun
EI7GL OZ7IGY/B 28271 IO51TU ES JO55WM 1914z 14 Jun
EI7GL DM0AAB/B 28277.4 IO51TU ES JO54GH 1913z 14 Jun
EI7GL DB0UM/B 28279 IO51TU ES JO73CE 1912z 14 Jun
EI7GL DB0MFI/B 28285 IO51TU ES JN58KR 1911z 14 Jun

The beacon list kind of sums up the day... some of the usual ones were heard but nothing special.

Back on WSPR on 28 MHz... June 2019

WSPR is a great digital mode for digging signals out of the noise but the problem on 28 MHz is that the number of users on the band is low. FT8 has that critical mass where as WSPR doesn't.

I had thought about setting up a separate receiver and decoder for WSPR on 28 MHz but it didn't seem to be worth the effort.

One of the best things about this blog here and the blogs that I follow is the interaction between readers. People leave comments and put up posts that can spark your interest in something new or unusual.

One of the blogs that I follow is that of Jim, GM4FVM in Scotland. He mentioned in a recent post that he was using WSPR on 28 MHz. That got me thinking about WSPR again! :o)

I dug out the old manual for my radio and rediscovered how to set up the memory channels. I now have the 28 MHz FT8 frequency with all the suitable filters in memory slot '00' and the 28 MHz WSPR frequency in memory slot '01'. There is no more tuning around, I can hop between the two modes by just turning a knob.

The WSJT-X programme allows for easy switching between the two modes as well as shown below...

The upshot of all this is that I can now change from FT8 to WSPR or vice versa in less than 10 seconds.

My primary use of FT8 is to gauge what propagation conditions are like on 28 MHz and to feed those spots up to the PSK Reporter website. To do this, I don't have to have the radio parked on the FT8 frequency all of the time, just most of the time.

I already take short breaks from monitoring the 28 MHz FT8 frequency to work individual stations I see spotted on the cluster on 10m and other bands. What I am going to do now as well is to monitor the 28 MHz WSPR frequency for 10-20 minute periods when the band is open.

It's obviously not as good as listening to WSPR all of the time but at least it allows me to feed some reception reports to the WSPRnet site to let others know that they have been heard.

My first test of this was on Thursday the 13th of June 2019 when I listened for short periods...

The map shows two things...

1) The number of people using WSPR on 28 MHz is low.

2) Note the signal from Vernon VE1VDM in Canada. He was using just 375 milliwatts to a dipole!

Because of my westerly location in Europe, I was the only person to hear his signal on this side of the Atlantic. The distance was about 4,000 kms which is equivalent to two 2,000 km Sporadic-E hops. This isn't far from the maximum distance of about 4,500 kms for two hops.

These are the WSPR stations that I heard in chart form...

Time to consider 28 MHz WSPR??? .....Considering how easy it is, I would suggest that any readers of the blog considering monitoring the 28 MHz WSPR frequency as well. The more people that provide reception reports, the more useful the resource becomes.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Extra bandwidth FT8 experiment... June 2019

In a comment on a recent post, Bas PE4BAS in the Netherlands suggested I try increasing the bandwidth on FT8 to see if I could hear more signals.

For FT8, I normally have the IF bandwidth set at 2.4 kHz which is pretty standard on most rigs for SSB.

I waited until 28 MHz was wide open and I increased the bandwidth to 6 kHz. The results are shown below...

For anyone not familiar with the WSJT-X programme, this is the waterfall display.

The green horizontal lines are the 15 second time stamps. The numbers at the top show the audio frequency in Hz going from 200 Hz to 3000 Hz. The oldest signals are at the bottom and the newest are at the top.

The signals to examine here are those at about 2300 Hz and above.

From from the bottom up, you can see how I was listening with the 6 kHz filter and hearing signals from 2400 to 2600 Hz. As soon as I put in the 2.4 kHz filter, those signals pretty much disappeared. Once I opened up the filter again, they reappeared.

Some thoughts....

1) Increase your bandwidth...... It would seem to be worth using wider filters if possible. By using a 'normal' 2.4 kHz filter on SSB, you may be missing out on some signals.

2) Beware the edges..... If the band is quiet then it seems that the obvious place to be in somewhere in the middle of the audio pass band. If however the band is really busy like above then it may be worth spreading out and getting away from the crowd. However it's worth remembering that going on the example above, some people may not hear you.

3) Correct Frequency..... If you're using an older rig then make sure you are on the correct frequency. Just because your radio say 28.174.00 MHz, it's doesn't mean it's right. If you're using a 2.4 kHz filter and are slightly off frequency by 200-300 Hz then you could be missing out on even more signals.

Addendum : 
I found this guideline on the WSJT-X Help page...

Bandwidth and Frequency Setting
If your transceiver offers more than one bandwidth setting in USB mode, it may be advantageous to choose the widest one possible, up to about 5 kHz. This choice has the desirable effect of allowing the Wide Graph (waterfall and 2D spectrum) to display the conventional JT65 and JT9 sub-bands simultaneously on most HF bands. Further details are provided in the Basic Operating Tutorial. A wider displayed bandwidth may also be helpful at VHF and above, where FT8, JT4, JT65, and QRA64 signals may be found over much wider ranges of frequencies.

If you have only a standard SSB filter you won’t be able to display more than about 2.7 kHz bandwidth. Depending on the exact dial frequency setting, on HF bands you can display the full sub-band generally used for one mode.

Of course, you might prefer to concentrate on one mode at a time, setting your dial frequency to (say) 14.074 for FT8, 14.076 for JT65, or 14.078 for JT9. Present conventions have the nominal JT9 dial frequency 2 kHz higher than the JT65 dial frequency on most bands, and the FT8 frequency 2 kHz lower.

Opening to North America on 28 MHz - Thurs 13th June 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz on Thursday the 13th of June 2019 were really good with lots of strong signals on the band.

To the east, I heard BI4IIZ in China on FT8, a first for 2019. As well as hundreds of European stations, there was also a good opening to the eastern part of the United States.

The excellent conditions also resulted in a large number of beacons being heard...

EI7GL OY6BEC/B 28235.1  IO51TU ES  IP62MB 1509z 13 Jun
EI7GL DF0ANN/B 28265.1 IO51TU ES JN59PL 1307z 13 Jun
EI7GL LA9TEN/B 28214.2 IO51TU ES JP50EV 1129z 13 Jun
EI7GL DB0TEN/B 28245.3 IO51TU ES JO42UV 1126z 13 Jun
EI7GL DB0MFI/B 28285 IO51TU ES JN58HW 1123z 13 Jun
EI7GL SK7GH/B 28298.1 IO51TU ES JO77BF 0917z 13 Jun
EI7GL SK0CT/B 28292.2 IO51TU ES JO89XK 0916z 13 Jun
EI7GL DM0AAB/B 28277.4 IO51TU ES JO54GH 0915z 13 Jun
EI7GL OZ7IGY/B 28271 IO51TU ES JO55WM 0915z 13 Jun
EI7GL ED4YBA/B 28263.2 IO51TU ES IN80WC 0913z 13 Jun
EI7GL IW3FZQ/B 28227.1 IO51TU ES JN55VF 0909z 13 Jun
EI7GL F5ZEH/B 28231.1 IO51TU ES IN88VA 0820z 13 Jun
EI7GL CS3B/B 28200 IO51TU ES IM12OR 0812z 13 Jun
EI7GL ON0RY/B 28207.1 IO51TU ES JO20CK 0805z 13 Jun
EI7GL F1VJT/B 28322.6 IO51TU ES JN33CI 0803z 13 Jun
EI7GL SV6DBG/B 28269 IO51TU ES KM09KQ 0801z 13 Jun
EI7GL DK0TEN/B 28257.7 IO51TU ES JN47NT 0758z 13 Jun
EI7GL C30P/B 28255.8 IO51TU ES JN02SM 0757z 13 Jun
EI7GL ED4YAK/B 28251.1 IO51TU ES IN80FK 0756z 13 Jun
EI7GL F5ZUU/B 28241.6 IO51TU ES JN24IL 0755z 13 Jun
EI7GL GW7HDS/B 28221.6 IO51TU ES IO81IP 0752z 13 Jun
EI7GL SR5TDM/B 28215.8 IO51TU ES KO01KX 0750z 13 Jun
EI7GL GB3RAL/B 28215.1 IO51TU ES IO91IN 0746z 13 Jun
EI7GL DL0IGI/B 28205 IO51TU ES JN57MT 0744z 13 Jun
EI7GL IW1AVR/B 28177.1 IO51TU ES JN44BN 0741z 13 Jun
EI7GL ZB2TEN/B 28169.3 IO51TU ES IM76HD 0740z 13 Jun

There are a few unusual ones in there...
1) GB3RAL/B and GW7HDS/B... very short Sporadic-E skip at 490 and 350 kms respectively.

2) ED4YBA/B near Madrid was a new one for me. It is supposed to be running 5 watts to a 5/8 vertical yet it is a lot weaker than ED4YAK/B even though they are in the same grid locator square.

3) SV6DBG/B was double hop Sporadic-E.

4) F5ZEH/B in Brittany in IN88 square was short skip at about 500 kms and was last heard back on the 25th of May.

North America.... This is a map of the stations heard on FT8 on 28 MHz...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

French Guyana worked on 28 MHz - Wed 12th June 2019

Wednesday the 12th of June 2019 was a pretty good day for Sporadic-E propagation on 28 MHz will plenty of strong signals on the band.

Normally I just listen to FT8 signals on 28 MHz but on the 12th, I made two contacts on cw as well.

The first one was a cw contact with GB19IND in England at 19:02 UTC, unusual because it was short skip.

The second cw contact was with FY5KE in French Guyana in South America at 21:27 UTC. His signal was very weak with a curious rapid fading which dipped into the noise every 5 to 10 seconds.

Either the polarisation of the signal was changing rapidly or the signal was  going in and out of phase. I suspect the latter as the height of the ionosphere may have been changing rapidly due to the fact the sun was setting out over the Atlantic Ocean.

As for the rest of the day, there were loads of FT8 signals on the band...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cambodia heard on 28 MHz - Tues 11th June 2019

Tuesday the 11th of June 2019 was one of those days where there were plenty of signals on 28 MHz but for the most part, they were very weak.

The map below might suggest that it was a good day for Sporadic-E and I did actually end up hearing 439 stations in 36 countries. It's just that most of them were weak.

The one unusual one for me was XU7AKP in Cambodia who was heard at 17:38 UTC. That seemed a bit late in the day as usually any openings to SE Asia are in the morning.

Whats interesting about XU7AKP's signal is who actually heard him or more to the point, who didn't.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Opening to Indonesia on 28 MHz - Mon 10th June 2019

Monday the 10th of June 2019 was a reasonable day on 28 MHz with plenty of Sporadic-E signals on the band.

As the map shows below, I heard two stations in Indonesia as well as HH2AA in Haiti.

There were lots of strong signals from around Europe but it wasn't as good as the previous day.

These were the beacons heard...

EI7GL 28241.6 F5ZUU/B 14:14 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN24IL France
EI7GL 28271.0 OZ7IGY/B 14:11 10 Jun IO51TU ES>JO55WM Denmark
EI7GL 28277.4 DM0AAB/B 14:11 10 Jun IO51TU ES JO54GH Fed. Rep. of Germany 
EI7GL 28298.1 SK7GH/B 14:09 10 Jun IO51TU ES JO77BF Sweden
EI7GL 28322.7 F1VJT/B 14:05 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN33CI France
EI7GL 28214.2 LA9TEN/B 11:57 10 Jun IO51TU ES JP50EV Norway
EI7GL 28321.5 IZ1KXQ/B 08:42 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN35TB Italy
EI7GL 28321.7 I3GNQ/B 08:41 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN55VJ Italy
EI7GL 28285.0 DB0MFI/B 08:34 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN58HW Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28257.7 DK0TEN/B 08:32 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN47NT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28245.3 DB0TEN/B 08:31 10 Jun IO51TU ES JO42UV Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 08:29 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN55VF Italy
EI7GL 28215.8 SR5TDM/B 08:29 10 Jun IO51TU ES KO01KX Poland
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 08:27 10 Jun IO51TU ES JN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28169.3 ZB2TEN/B 08:26 10 Jun IO51TU ES IM76HD Gibraltar

There are a few interesting ones in there

IZ1KXQ/B and I3GNQ/B are the low power Italian QRSS beacons running less than a watt each.

LA9TEN/B in JP50 in Norway was a new one for me. I would have thought I should have heard this beacon more often? I wonder if it is on all the time? It was also curious how I wasn't hearing LA5TEN/B near Oslo even though it isn't that far away.

The reception of LA9TEN/B also coincided with hearing with a lot of FT8 stations in Norway, way more than the odd few.

I also heard the mystery chirpy beacon on 28.219 MHz. It was very weak but it was there when I was hearing F1VJT/B and not there when I was hearing the Italian QRSS duo. This might suggest it is coming from the JN34 / JN35 locator square area?

Overall, 687 stations in 52 countries were heard. List below...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Short Skip opening on 28 MHz - Sun 9th June 2019

Sunday the 9th of June 2019 was one of those days when 28 MHz could be called 'wide open'. There were very strong European stations on the band with openings as well to the Middle East as well as the USA.

The really unusual thing for me was the short skip.

For example, I heard these four beacons via Sporadic-E....

PI7ETE/B with its 300 milliwatt output power is an unusual one but not that rare. Likewise ON0RY/B with 5 watts to a vertical half-wave is unusual but at roughly 900 kms is reasonably regular.

It's when the skip shortens to 500 kms and I can actually hear GB3RAL/B that I know things are special. What was really unusual was that the skip went as short as 350 kms and I heard GW7HDS/B in Wales on 3 watts.

I have heard Wales via Sporadic-E before on 10 metres but it is really rare. It's one thing to decode some FT8 signal buried in the noise but when you can actually hear a decent sounding cw signal then things must be good.

As for the rest of the day, this is a map of the stations heard on 28 MHz...

There are some interesting ones in there. YI3WHR in Iraq and several others from the Middle East.
A ZD7 on St Helena in the South Atlantic. There were two openings to North America... one in the afternoon and one very late in the evening.

This is the European map in more detail...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Danish 40 MHz beacon heard in Ireland - Sun 9th June 2019

There was a good Sporadic-E opening on Sunday the 9th of June 2019 with both Phil EI9KP and myself managing to hear the OZ7IGY 40 MHz beacon in Denmark.

The distance from the beacon is about 1345 kms for Phil and 1390 kms for me.

The screenshot above is from the DXMaps website which has a special page for 40 MHz reports.

Considering the low level of activity on the 40 MHz band, this page is normally blank so it was unusual today to see two traces on it!

These are some of the spots from the DX-Cluster...

EI7GL-@ 40071.0 OZ7IGY 11:37 09 Jun PI4 -19 dB Q=44 es Denmark
EI7GL-@ 40071.0 OZ7IGY 11:26 09 Jun PI4 -14 dB Q=64 es Denmark
EI9KP 40071.0 OZ7IGY 10:53 09 Jun IO54MB ES JO55WM S9 PI4 +20dB Denmark
EI7GL-@ 40071.0 OZ7IGY 10:31 09 Jun PI4 -8 dB Q=100 (es) Denmark
EI7GL 40071.0 OZ7IGY/B 10:21 09 Jun IO51TU ES JO55WM 8m bcn Denmark
EI9KP-@ 40071.0 OZ7IGY 10:08 09 Jun PI4 20 dB Q=100 1345 km es Denmark

The PI4 in the cluster spot refers to the PI4 software which decodes the OZ7IGY signal which alternates between giving out its ID in morse and in PI4.

The amazing thing about the PI4 software is that it can hear the signal buried in the noise. When I uploaded my last spot, it was -19dB and I couldn't actually hear the signal but the PI4 software was able to dig it out of the noise.

More information about this beacon and the PI4 software can be found on the OZ7IGY website.

Over The Horizon Radar signal heard on 28 MHz - Sun 9th June 2019

Over The Horizon Radars (OTHR) are used by the military of several countries to detect planes and ships in distant locations.

While tuning across the 10 metre beacon band today, I came across an OTHR signal with a buzzing noise on 28.222 MHz. I used the FT8 waterfall display on WSJT-X to see what the signal looked like...

The Green horizontal lines are just the 15 second time stamps from the programme. What's of interest here are vertical lines which are spaced about 50 Hz apart. As you can see, it switches off at 08:44 UTC.

This is a video I found on YouTube which has a recording of the same type of signal but at a lower frequency....

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Japan heard on 28 MHz - Sat 8th June 2019

Saturday the 8th of June 2019 turned out to be an interesting day on 28 MHz with signals from Japan and the USA being heard.

The band was open since about 07:30 UTC and closed at about 17:30 UTC.

This is a map of the FT8 signals heard...

By far the most interesting signals in there are the two from Japan as the multi-hop path goes over the north of Russia.

These are the decodes from the WSJT-X programme...

080845 -18 -1.0 1846 ~  WB8VLC JA9CVY PM86
084730 -14 -0.4 1933 ~  CQ JH0EQN PM97

I actually noticed these just after I spotted them on the PSK Reporter site. My first reaction was ... are they real?... did I make a mistake?... who else is hearing them?

The answers are yes...they are real and no...I didn't make a mistake.

The really amazing thing is that for some reason, I was the only person in Europe to hear them!

After I heard JA9CVY, I checked PSK Reporter to see who had heard him in the previous 30 minutes...

As the trace shows above, he was working WB8VLC in NW Oregon and I was the only person in Europe to hear him.

I did the same for JH0EQN... again, I was the only person in Europe to hear him in those 30 minutes.

I did a check at the end of the day and I was still the only European station that heard either of them all day.

I did spot them on the cluster so that others would be aware that the path was open but I'm not sure if anyone noticed in the blizzard of spots...
EI7GL 28074.0 JH0EQN 09:02 08 Jun IO51TU PM97GI FT8 Japan
EI7GL 28074.0 JA9CVY 08:27 08 Jun IO51TU PM86CB FT8 Japan

The distance was about 9,600 kms which requires about four hops if it was Sporadic-E as expected.

Q. Why was no-one else in Europe hearing them? I'm only using a vertical half-wave although I do have an excellent take off towards Japan.

Europe.....As for Europe, there were plenty of strong signals. There were the beacons heard...

EI7GL 28301.8 PI7ETE/B 13:50 08 Jun IO51TU ES JO22QD Netherlands
EI7GL 28277.4 DM0AAB/B 13:49 08 Jun IO51TU ES JO54GH Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28188.0 OE3XAC/B 13:46 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN78SB Austria
EI7GL 28245.3 DB0TEN/B 13:44 08 Jun IO51TU ES JO42UV Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28271.0 OZ7IGY/B 13:43 08 Jun IO51TU ES JO55WM Denmark
EI7GL 28285.0 DB0MFI/B 13:42 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN58HW Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28177.1 IW1AVR/B 11:37 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN44BN Italy
EI7GL 28292.2 SK0CT/B 09:25 08 Jun IO51TU ES JO89XK Sweden
EI7GL 28285.0 DB0MFI/B 09:23 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN58HW Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28235.1 OY6BEC/B 09:21 08 Jun IO51TU ES IP62OA Faroe Islands
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 09:20 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN55VF Italy
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 09:18 08 Jun IO51TU ES JN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany

The interesting one in there is PI7ETE/B. Its power is 300 milliwatts so that means conditions must have been good and it's at about 1000 kms distance which is kind of short for Sporadic-E which suggests the MUF must have been much higher.

North America..... The short opening to North America was in the late afternoon and these three stations were heard...
KU4SD 10m FT8 6128 km 16:45:59
VE3XN 10m FT8 5265 km 15:19:14
NO8D 10m FT8 5473 km 14:48:14

KU4SD in Georgia was heard by me and stations in Spain and the south of France.
VE3XN in Ontario... I was the only person in Europe to hear him.
NO8D in Ohio was heard by many stations in Europe.

These are the stations heard on FT8...

Late opening to North America on 28 MHz - Fri 7th June 2019

After a pretty dismal start, Friday the 7th of June 2019 turned out in the end to be an interesting day for propagation on 28 MHz.

The morning was poor with just weak Sporadic-E signals being heard on the band. The afternoon was even worse with long periods of nothing but static. The late evening was different though with an opening to North America.

The map below shows the FT8 signals heard....


1) Europe...The map shows a few stations around Europe but these were really weak. It was the kind of day where if you turned on the radio, you would say that the 28 MHz band was closed. The FT8 signals were so weak that I didn't even bother scanning for beacons.

The only exception was in the late evening when an FT8 signal from Spain sounded loud. A quick scan revealed the beacon in Gibraltar...

EI7GL 28169.3 ZB2TEN/B 22:20 07 Jun IO51TU ES IM76HD Gibraltar

2) North America... The signals from North America were really weak as well and it was a suprise to see that the band had opened up to the USA when the day seemed so quiet for the most part.

A few things were unusual. I was hearing US stations at about 23:30 UTC which is about 30 minutes after midnight local time.

For many of the distant US signals, I was the only person in Europe hearing them. For example, these are the stations that heard K5TLJ in Arkansas...

The reasons for this are probably social and geographical. Social in that most people in Europe had probably turned off their radios by the late evening. Geographical in that I am probably the most westerly station listening on 28 MHz in NW Europe.

Stations heard on FT8.... USA stations in Bold

Friday, June 7, 2019

Video : High performance 70cms transverter by G4DDK

This video from the 2018 RSGB Convention shows Sam Jewell G4DDK describing his high performance 432 MHz transverter.

Description : G4DDK will be describes a 70cm transverter that can be built from scratch, with the support of a professional PCB, or from a kit. Sam describes the latest upgrades that mean that the receive converter side of the transverter has exceptional strong signal performance together with high sensitivity. The transmit converter side features high spectral purity and the ability to frequency lock the transverter for high stability makes it perfect for both digital and analogue operation.

Note that his website states that this transverter is no longer available. The video was only put up on the RSGB YouTube site on the 6th of June 2019 which is well after when the presentation was made.

G4DDK's website