Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New High-Performance 10 watt 7 MHz SSB/CW kit from QRP-LABS?


Hans Summers G0UPL of QRP-LABS produces a range of really stunning high quality kits at very modest prices. His current QCX model which is a 5 watt mono-band CW transceiver is very popular and sells for just $49.

At the YOTA (Youngsters On The Air) construction day last weekend, the participants were building a new 7 MHz SSB and CW 10 watt transceiver from QRP-Labs...pictured above. It's very likely that this kit will be on sale in the near future.



Update...
1) The single band version has a guide price of $75.
2) The plan is to have a 10 band version (10m-160m) for a guide price of $150.
3) It is a SDR based transceiver! As it shows in the slide below, the plan is to have the performance of a high end commercial radio but at 10-20% of the cost.

With the current popularity of FT8, this rig on SSB  is likely to be a perfect match with its 10w and high stability.

Keep an eye on the QRP-Labs website... http://www.qrp-labs.com/





Monday, August 13, 2018

EI9E/P on 23cms - July 2018

A short video from Terry G0VRL showing a contact with EI9E/P during the VHF contest in July 2018. The distance was approx 257kms over mostly water.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New World Meteor Scatter Record on 144 MHz... 7th Aug 2018

It seems to be a week of new records on 144 MHz. Following on from the new Region 1 tropo record on the 5th of August 2018, a new world record for meteor scatter on 144 MHz was set on the 7th of August.


In the early hours of the 7th of August, Dieter DJ6AG (JO51eq) in Germany worked Fernando EA8TX (IL18qi) in the Canary Islands to set a new world distance record of 3428 kms. The FSK contact took several hours to complete with the final decode being received in Germany at 00:14 UTC.

001430 16.0 220 1 26 9 R!RRRR EA TX RRRR RRRR EA8TX RRRR

The new record of 3428 kms breaks the old record between EA8TJ and S50C by 51 kms.

Previous best distances by meteor scatter on 144 MHz in Region 1...

Distance record on 144 MHz Propagation : MS
Band Propagation Call a Loc Call b Loc Mode Date Distance
144 MHz MS S50C JN76JG EA8TJ IL18RJ FSK441 2013-08-12 3377
144 MHz MS EA8TJ IL18RJ PA4EME JO20WX FSK441 2013-08-12 3132
144 MHz MS GW4CQT IO81LP UW6MA KN97VE CW 1977-08-12 3101
144 MHz MS HB9FAP JN47PH EA8TX IL18QI FSK441 2014-08-14 3077
144 MHz MS HB9FAP JN47PH EA8TJ IL18RJ FSK441 2013-08-13 3069

It's very probable that there was a combination of meteor scatter and tropo involved in this record. It was probably a long meteor scatter hop of about 2,200-2,300 kms from Germany to the south coast of Portugal and marine ducting tropo from there to the Canary Islands.

Is this the maximum?

Monday, August 6, 2018

EI3KD works Cape Verde on 144 MHz to set new Region 1 DX record


On Sunday the 5th of August 2018, Mark Turner EI3KD managed to work D4Z on the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of of Africa on 144 MHz, a distance of some 4163 kms. This remarkable contact made on CW was a new record for tropo in IARU Region 1. The previous record of 4130 kms was set back in July of 2015.

The contact was made on 144.300 MHz at about 18:26 UTC at a time when the band was also open to the Canary Islands from the south of Ireland and the UK.

EI3KD RIG: 11el F9FT, only at 7m agl or so, RX mast preamp, TX 400W.

Just to an idea of just how far the new record is, if the same distance of 4163 kms was measured west of EI3KD's location then it would reach as far as Nova Scotia in Canada!

Earlier in the day, the D4C beacon on 144.436 MHz had been spotted at 08:37 UTC by GI6ATZ locator IO74AJ distance 4476km and by GM4ZJI at 16:40 locator IO86KE distance 4739km. The beacon was running just 14W into a stacked dipole array.

D4Z also worked G7RAU and G4LOH in the South-West of England on 2m SSB.

Video of D4Z working EI3KD on 144 MHz...


The mode of propagation was probably marine ducting which is a process whereby VHF and UHF signals can get trapped between the water surface and a layer in the lower atmosphere. The result is that signals can travel over quite far distances and the path from the UK and Ireland down to the Canary Islands can produce some of the longest distances in Europe. On rare occasions, the path can extend as far as the Cape Verde Islands.

Spot on the DX Summit cluster...
EI3KD 144300.0 D4Z 18:26 05 Aug IO51VW HK76MU tnx!!! 4163km Cape Verde

Previous best distances for tropo on 144 MHz for Region 1...
Band Propagation Call a Loc Call b Loc Mode Date Distance
144 MHz TR D44TS HK77KE M0VRL IO70PO SSB 2015-07-09 4130
144 MHz TR M0VRL IO70PO D44TD HK86NO SSB 2011-08-10 4106
144 MHz TR G4LOH IO70JC D44TD HK86NO CW 2007-08-04 4041
144 MHz TR EB8BRZ IL27HK YT3I KN05HP SSB 2009-06-08 3757
144 MHz TR EI5FK IO51RT RW1ZC/MM IK18PQ SSB 2005-08-15 3745

The tropo forecast below from F5LEN shows the path conditions around the time of the contact.



Links...
1) DX spots for D4Z on 144 MHZ
2) F5LEN Tropo Forecast for EI to D4
3) IARU Region 1 VHF DX records
4) EI3KD's website
5) D4C / D4Z website

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Japan heard on 28 MHz... Sun 5th Aug 2018


For the first time this summer, I have heard a Japanese station on FT8 on 28 MHz. As the map above shows, I heard JA4FKX at 08:39 UTC or 9:39am local time.

I have been monitoring the FT8 frequency on 10 metres more or less full time since early May 2018 and this is the most easterly station I have heard to date. Over the last few weeks, I have heard Thailand and Indonesia but they are more southerly paths.

The European stations that heard JA4FKX on 28 MHz today are shown below. These include MI0JST in the north of Ireland and GM4WJA in Scotland.


Other stations in Japan were also spotting JA4FKX so I presume it was genuine? I was just using the usual vertical half-wave about 5m above the ground.

I also checked the FT8 reception reports for other EI stations on 50 MHz and there doesn't seem to have been any similar opening on 6 metres.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Breakdown of amateur radio calls in the UK - July 2018

Southgate Amateur Radio News had an item today about the number of licences in the UK and how they are broken down. I had a look at the raw numbers for the nearly 88,000 licences and plotted it out as a chart.


Raw data is all very well but sometimes you need a chart to make things clearer. As can be seen, the Foundation licence accounts for the two most popular class of licence.

Foundation and Intermediate licences now account for 38.6% of all amateur radio licences in the UK.


From the Southgate ARC website...

Monday, July 30, 2018

SSTV signals received from the International Space Station... 30th July 2018

After seeing a news item on the Southgate Amateur Radio website last week, I had a try this evening at decoding signals on 145.800 MHz from the International Space Station as it passed over Europe.

This was my first time using the MMSSTV software and trying to decode Slow Scan TV signals so the images could probably be better.



Better image on the second pass...

The signals were heard with an indoor Slim Jim half-wave in the attic of the house.

The next scheduled passes that are within range of Ireland (& NW Europe) are on Tuesday 31st July... 16:59 to 17:08 UTC and 18:36 to 18:45 UTC. (Note times are UTC... Irish / British Summer time minus one hour).

For anyone on the South coast of Ireland or the UK, there is a very high pass at about 21:17 local time. Although the SSTV signals are supposed to be off at that stage, it should be a very good visual pass if the skies are clear.

Frequency : 145.800 MHz wide FM.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Presentation : "Modern QRP Rigs and the Development of the QCX CW Transceiver kit" by Hans Summers


Every year, the QRP Amateur Radio Club International hosts a QRP conference called Four Days in May (FDIM) in the United States. This year (2018), Hans Summers G0UPL of QRP-LABS made a presentation titled "Modern QRP Rigs and the Development of the QCX CW Transceiver kit".

He introduced three main themes, all based around use of the QCX CW transceiver as an example of a practical implementation and which he describes as follows :

Better architectures than the SA602 -> crystal filter -> SA602 superhet which I am calling the "cold war sandwich", since it has been around since the 1980's and heavily copied by amateurs ever since
Modern oscillators, in particular the Si5351A, which make it easy and cheap to make a crystal-locked flexible and precise oscillator
Use of microcontrollers in your projects.

The slides for the presentation are here... http://qrp-labs.com/images/news/dayton2018/seminar.pdf

The audio of the presentation can be found on the Ham Radio Workbench website.... https://www.hamradioworkbench.com/podcast/2018-qrp-arci-fdim-hans-summers-g0upl-and-dr-jack-purdum-w8tee

Listen to the podcast from 1h 20m to 2h 02m and refer to the slides during the talk.

The full 41 pages of the FDIM conference proceedings booklet from Hans Summers can be viewed here... http://qrp-labs.com/images/news/dayton2018/fdim2018.pdf

Links...
1) http://www.qrp-labs.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

70 MHz beacon from the USA heard in Portugal... 23rd July 2018


There was an interesting spot on the DX-Cluster on the 23rd of July 2018 stating that the US beacon WG2XPN/B had been heard in Portugal.

CT1HZE 70005.0 WG2XPN/B 20:16 23 Jul 519 3xEs! United States

The US beacon on 70.005 MHz is located in Virginia which is quite some distance to the south.

Freq.  Call QTH Locator Contact Antenna Watt mASL Notes
70.005 WG2XPN  Bedford, VA FM07FM WA1ZMS 3 el. 60° CW, 3 kW ERP, 15 m AGL 

At a distance of some 6088 kms, the propagation mode was probably triple hop Sporadic-E as CT1HZE suggested... i.e. 3 x 2030 kms.

This isn't the first time that the WG2XPN/2 has been heard in Europe but it's pretty remarkable all the same. Since this American 70 MHz beacon started in 2013, it has been spotted roughly 130 times on the DX Summit cluster. These are the Trans-Atlantic spots...

CT1HZE WG2XPN/B 519 3xEs!  70005 2018-07-23T20:16:18
CT1HZE WG2XPN/B 559 3x Es  70005 2015-06-27T23:25:55
CT1HZE WG2XPN/B 539 3xEs FB  70005 2014-07-05T21:34:08
CT1HZE WG2XPN/B 419 3xEs 6081km  70005 2013-07-03T20:26:02

DI2MN WG2XPN/B JN58WHFM07FM 559 QSB!!  70005 2013-07-07T17:19:56
DI2MN WG2XPN/B JN58WHFM07FM 3x / 4x Es ??  70005 2013-07-07T16:49:43

EA8/DL3GCS WG2XPN/B IL17FM07  70005 2013-07-04T12:47:33
EA8/DL3GCS WG2XPN/B IL17ATFM07FM max 529 70005 2013-07-03T19:47:42
EA8/DL3GCS WG2XPN/B IL17AT<>FM07FM max 419 70005 2013-06-30T16:24:32

IS0AWZ WG2XPN/B 419-429 in JM49NG  70005 2013-07-07T17:10:58

Only five North American stations have bothered to spot it even though it could have been heard widely across the continent over the last few years... K1SIX, N2OTO, VE1PZ, VE9AA, W5LUA, WA1ZMS

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Book : Solid State Design for the Radio Amateur available for download


While listening to old previous episodes of the Soldersmoke podcast, I heard many references to the book Solid State Design for the Radio Amateur from the ARRL. Even though the book is now a little dated, most of the theory and advice is as valid now as when it was written back in the late 1970's.

Out of curiosity I did a search on Google and found that it was available for free as a download!

Go to https://archive.org/stream/SolidStateDesignForTheRadioAmateur#page/n0

It's about 79MB in size.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

PSK Reporter passes 4 Billion reception reports


The PSK Reporter website has just passed 4 billion reception reports! Currently, the vast majority of the reports are of course due to the FT8 digital mode.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

No uploads to the PSK reporter website



I noticed yesterday that none of my FT8 reception reports on 28 MHz were appearing on the PSK Reporter website. I checked all the usual things like rebooting the PC, restarting the WSJT-X programme and checking my internet access. Despite the fact that I had plenty of signals that were being decoded by the programme, they weren't appearing on the PSK Reporter site even after waiting for some time for them to appear after restarting everything.

I checked the site and I could see that the reports from other stations were appearing fine. As far as I could tell, it just seemed to be my spots weren't appearing.

In the end, I tried un-clicking and re-clicking the 'Enable PSK Reporter Spotting' in the Settings tab and it seemed to work after that. I can't see how that would make a difference as it was ticked initially but it's working now again with all the spots being uploaded to the site. Coincidence or a fix? Not sure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

1978 Television coverage of an Irish amateur radio special event station



In 1978, Irish radio amateurs set up a special event station using the callsign EI0MFT in Clifden, Co.Galway to commemorate the first two way radio message across the Atlantic back in 1903.

"To mark this historic event, members of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society are operating a special amateur radio station from Clifden in County Galway over a two day period.

Clifden was considered an appropriate place to hold the celebration as it was the site for an early Marconi station, operational from 1907 to 1922. Marconi himself chose Clifden as the site for a radio station because, among other things, it gave the shortest wireless link with the Marconi station at Glace Bay on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada."

The Irish National Broadcaster RTE now have a short video from their archives up on their website.

It can be seen at this link... https://www.rte.ie/archives/2018/0108/931738-celebrating-marconi-achievement/

Friday, July 13, 2018

IRTS release updated band plans for 40 MHz and 60 MHz...



Back in April of 2018, the Irish Radio Transmiters Society (IRTS) announced that Irish radio amateurs had gain access to a huge swathe of the VHF spectrum from 30 to 70 MHz.

In May, they released a proposed band plan with an invitation for comments.

Based on the feedback received, the IRTS have further refined the band plan and it can be seen HERE

While the band plan covers quiet a lot of spectrum, the IRTS considers the key areas to be 40-42 MHz for the 8-metre band and 58-60 MHz for the 5-metre band.

From the document....."IRTS considers that the band most likely to be transverted to an IF of 28 – 30 MHz might be 40 – 42 MHz." ... "Similarly to 40 MHz the band most likely to be transverted to an IF of 28 – 30 MHz is considered to be 58 – 60 MHz."

They are inviting comments before the end of July 2018.

Links...
1) New proposed band plan (v6) ...link may break in time
2) Copy of new proposed band plan (V6)
3) My 40 MHz page where I keep some information

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

High altitude balloon over Cornwall heard on 434 MHz


There was a news item on Southgate Amateur Radio News recently about a balloon launch from the south of Cornwall. As it's about 200kms away from my location on the south coast of Ireland, it seemed as if it might be possible to hear the signals at 434 MHz.

I listened on 434.100 MHZ USB with my home made co-linear in the attic and sure enough, I could hear a very weak RTTY signal!

It took a while to get the FLDIGI software up and running properly as I haven't used it in many years and I was unfamiliar with the various settings. After much messing around, I got a decode like this...

*U$$1901,578,09:42:03,50.1436319,-5.4608369,29651,15,1.468*0A55

It looks like gibberish but there is data in there.

*U$$1901 seems to be the ID
578 seems to be the message number
09:42:03 is the time in UTC
50.1436319 is the latitude
-5.4608369 is the longitude
29651 is the altitude in metres
15 is the number of GPS satellites it is hearing
1.468 is the battery voltage
*0A55..?? Not sure what this is.Maybe a checksum?

As the balloon was gaining altitude, the frequency of the signal was getting lower gradually. I presume this was due to the colder temperatures? As soon as the balloon burst, the frequency went higher a lot quicker than it had gone lower on the way up. I presume this was due to the payload falling rapidly into lower warmer air before the parachute slowed it down.


As the map above shows, it was launched from Goonhilly, reached an altitude of about 37723 metres and eventually fell into the sea off the coast of Cornwall. Once the balloon was above roughly 10,000 metres, the 70cms RTTY was strong enough for me to get good decodes.

All the RTTY decodes are shown below.....

Monday, July 9, 2018

88 MHz Trans-Atlantic signals heard in Ireland - Sun 8th July 2018


This really is a remarkable catch. Paul Logan in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland managed to hear a Canadian radio station across the Atlantic at 88 MHz! While 28 MHz and 50 MHz signals are pretty common across the pond, it is extremely rare that signals of such a high frequency get across.

Using a 5 element beam and a SDR receiver, Paul managed to catch CBC radio 1 on 88.5 MHz from Newfoundland, Canada at 22:35 local time (21:35 UTC) on Sunday the 8th of July 2018.

With a distance of some 3200 kms, it is very likely that it was double hop Sporadic-E which is remarkable. It's not that common for the propagation to reach 88 MHz for one hop but to have it at 88 MHz at two spots at the right distance apart is really rare.

The video of the reception is shown below...



Paul has heard trans-Atlantic Band 2 signals in the past but it really is a rare phenomenon. This is only the fourth time Paul has heard a Canadian radio station on Band 2 (88-108 MHz) since 2003. He is the only person to have heard Band 2 signals from the USA.

The only other person to have heard a Band 2 trans-atlantic signal from North America was David Hamilton in Scotland who heard Newfoundland in 2003. Incredibly, a small number have managed to hear Band 2 stations from the Caribbean which is a more southerly path albeit further away.

Paul's website is http://band2dx.webs.com/

Big opening across the Atlantic on 28 MHz & 50 MHz...Sun 8th July 2018

There was another big opening across the Atlantic on Sunday the 8th of July with signals on 28 MHz and 50 MHz.

This is what I heard on FT8 on 28 MHz with some signals being heard into the early hours of the 9th.


The most north-westerly signal was from a station in Colorado and according to the PSK reporter website, I was the only person in Europe to hear him.

Looking at the FT8 reception reports for Tom EI4DQ, I could see 50 MHz was also open. As Tom is only a few kms east of me, it's interesting to see what he is hearing on 50 MHz compared to what I am hearing on 28 MHz.

I noticed one strange difference though.

In the afternoon, I was hardly hearing anything on 28 MHz while Tom was hearing North America on 50 MHz. This is a 15 minute snapshot of what we were both hearing at a point in the afternoon.


The difference was so great that it prompted me to check the VSWR on my 10 metre antenna to make sure everything was ok... which it was. It seems that the 28 MHz band was open from the Netherlands to USA at the time and I was in the skip zone. The conditions were fine, it was just that I was in the wrong location for the North American signals to be heard on 28 MHz.

Later in the evening, we were both hearing much the same on each respective band. A 15 minute snapshot is shown below...


It's just another reminder that you need to be careful making assumptions about propagation. Just because you don't hear something on 28 MHz, it doesn't mean the band isn't open. It could well be that you are in the skip zone for a while.

This day was also remarkable for another reason. Someone in the north of Ireland managed to pick up a Canadian radio station on 88 MHz! That was without doubt the best DX of the day.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Noctilucent clouds visible from Cork... Sat 7th July 2018


I took this photo of noctilucent clouds from my house in Cork on the south coast of Ireland at about 23:08 UTC on Sat 7th July 2018. This was just after midnight local summer time and about 130 minutes after sunset.

To the naked eye, they looked a bit like a bright cloud on the horizon and a 5 second exposure on the camera was needed to bring out the detail shown above.

My location is just below 52 degrees north so they would certainly have been visible by anyone further north. I could still see them faintly at about 00:00 UTC which was 1am local time, roughly 3 hours after sunset.

Noctilucent clouds exist at a height of about 80 kms above the earths surface, way above where normal clouds exist. Some propose that they may have a bearing on VHF propagation on paths near the poles... example... Europe to Japan on 50 MHz.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Reception of the OZ7IGY beacon on 40 MHz - Fri 6th July 2018



Both 28 MHz and 50 MHz were wide open on Friday the 6th of July 2018 with plenty of strong Sporadic-E signals on the bands. One of the best things about monitoring FT8 signals on 28 MHz is that I can get a very good idea of where the band is open to.

Since I started listening in mid-May, the 28 MHz band has been open every day but openings from Ireland to Denmark are the exception rather than the norm. Openings from Ireland to the South to Spain / Portugal or the South-East to Italy/Germany seem a lot more common.

Today was an exception and as soon as I saw FT8 spots from near Copenhagen on 28 MHz, I listened on 40.071 MHz for the OZ7IGY beacon.  As can be see from the decoded PI4 spots below, I was hearing the 40 MHz beacon from about 13:20 UTC till 21:00 UTC with some gaps.

The 40 MHz signal was never that strong although my use of an indoor 50 MHz antenna probably has a lot to do with that.

This is currently the only signal in Europe on the 40 MHz band.

OZ7IGY beacon decodes below... (Signals stronger than -10dB sigal to noise ratio in bold)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

EI DMR registrations at the end of June 2018


As of the end of June 2018, there were 126 DMR registrations allocated to EI callsigns. It had looked as if the growth in digital registrations had begun to taper off at the end of 2017 but it continued to grow in 2018.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Opening to Japan on 50 MHz...Fri 29th June 2018

I saw a note on G3XBM's blog today that 6m was open to Japan from the UK. I checked the online FT8 log of local station Tom EI4DQ on 50 MHz and sure enough, there was an opening from Ireland to Japan as well.


Several other EI stations on 50 MHz such as EI3KD and EI7BMB had similar FT8 spots to Japan.

What I found interesting was that I heard nothing like this on 28 MHz with a vertical half-wave and I was listening all day.


Usually 28 MHz is better than 50 MHz and it opens earlier and closes later. Nothing on 10m this time though.

Was the path only open to the higher frequency signals? Was it a case that beams and high power were needed to exploit this opening on 50 MHz?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Interesting opening to the USA on 10m - 27th June 2018

When I checked the PSK reporter this morning, I noticed that I had heard one lone signal on FT8 on 28 MHz from the USA overnight. It turned out to be NF3R in Pennsylvania who was heard at 2:54am local time here.


As can be seen from the chart above, NF3R was being heard all across the USA. The interesting thing is that I was the only station in Europe to hear NF3R in the early hours of the 27th.

At 5156 kms, it was probably three Sporadic-E hops across the Atlantic. I guess that's the thing with Sp-E, you can never tell when and where it will open to.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Illegal fishery buoy on the 28 MHz FT8 frequency


Anyone that uses 28 MHz on a regular basis will have heard illegal driftnet fishing buoys which give out a short carrier followed by an id in morse.

Over the last few days, I have heard one on the FT8 frequency of 28.074 MHz (USB). It is shown below in the waterfall plot as a short narrow carrier in amongst all the FT8 signals.


It is a solid carrier for about 10 seconds and is then followed by the letters E H in morse code. (Something like a 10 second dah followed by dit.....dit dit dit dit ). It transmits every 2m 30s.

I only noticed it in the last few days so I presume that it was only recently switched on.

As for the location, these are the FT8 signals I was hearing at the time....


I would guess either the western Med or out in the Atlantic but it's very difficult to know.

Links...
1) IARU Region 1 page on 28 MHz driftnet buoys

Friday, June 22, 2018

New page for 40 MHz...



At the moment, there is very little material or information on the web about any type of 40 MHz activity. As it is likely to become a new amateur band in Ireland, I have set up a page on this blog so that people can have a look at the information that I have already.

You can see it here... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/p/40-mhz.html

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Another big opening on 10m to North America... 20th June 2018

Wednesday the 20th June 2018 was another busy day of FT8 signals on 28 MHz with plenty of Sporadic-E signals being heard including China and Thailand.


Later in the day, it opened to North America. Florida with it's southerly path seems to be the location that I hear first or most often.


The real interesting ones this time though were the signals from Arizona and New Mexico.These are the first multi-hop Sporadic-E signals I have heard from that area this summer on 10m FT8.

I have also noticed that sometimes, I might be the only person hearing a station in my general area. For example, only a Spanish station and myself heard one of the Arizona stations on 10m.


I'm only using a vertical half-wave so it's not like I have any kind of huge antenna array, it's just that I am further west than the other UK and European stations.

The faded markers in the graphic above are I believe stations monitoring at the time I made the map. When the band was open, there were many others.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Opening on 28 MHz to North America... Sat 16th June 2018

There was another nice opening to North America on Saturday the 16th of June 2018 with quite a number of stations being heard on the FT8 digital mode. The signals seem to have been there at various times from about 13:00 to 23:00 UTC.


The signals were almost certainly via multi-hop Sporadic-E. If you listen to one particular station then it just looks as if the band is just open to the United States. However if you look at a plot of many stations received over time, patterns emerge.

The station in Newfoundland at about 3200 kms was probably double hop Sporadic-E... 2 x 1600 kms.

The bulk of the stations in the east of the USA at about 5,000 kms were probably triple hop... 3 x 1700 kms.

The stations in Texas, Arkanas, Louisana and Oklahoma at about 7,000kms were probably four hops... 4 x 1300 kms.

What is interesting is the skip zone going from Alabama to Missouri at about 6,500 kms. It was a bit too long for triple hop (3 x 2200) and too short for four hops (4 x 1600 kms) on this particular day.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

CEPT not in favour of 50-54 MHz Primary allocation

CEPT...The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations is meeting in Estonia from the 12th to 15th of June 2018 to discuss a wide variety of radio and technical regulatory topics.

One of the items on the agenda was whether there should be a primary allocation for radio amateurs from 50 to 54 MHz in Region 1 which includes Europe.

Sylvain Azarian F4GKR who is a member of the IARU Region 1 Executive Committee is at the meeting and is Tweeting updates.

On Thurs 14th June, he said..."CEPT countries not in favor of more than 2MHz secondary at this stage of the discussions on the 6m band. "


In a message yesterday, he said that the Swiss and French administrations had objected on the grounds of interference...




Monday, June 11, 2018

Commercial antenna for 40 MHz...


I came across this earlier on Facebook. The Italian firm Sirio manufacture vertical antennas that cover 36 to 60 MHz. The Tornado 35-42 model covers 35 MHz to 42 MHz which would tune nicely to the new 40 MHz (8 metre) band.

More info HERE

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Mount Snowdon worked on 145 MHz...


I made an interesting contact this morning when I worked Dave, GW8NZN/P on the summit of Mt.Snowdon on 145.400 MHz FM. The distance was 200 miles / 323 kms and it turned out that the mid point for the path was over the east coast of Ireland.

On my end, I was using 5w & 50w into a home made vertical antenna in the attic of my house. Dave was using 5w from a Yaesu FT60 handheld and a Moonraker MRW222 telescopic whip. Obviously being on the summit of the highest mountain of Wales at 1085m helps a lot but I thought it was an interesting contact on FM all the same.

After the contact, I came across the SOTAWATCH website which has lots of information about current and upcoming summit activations. It's worth keeping a watch on it if you want to try to make some distant contacts. The website is http://www.sotawatch.org/

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Photos from Ham Radio 2018 in Friedrichshafen, Germany

Ham Radio is a 3 day event held from 1st to 3rd June 2018 in Friedrichshafen, Germany and showcases products for amateur radio enthusiasts. It is currently the largest one in Europe.

I came across this photo gallery which gives a flavour of what the 2018 event was like.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Multi-hop Sp-E opening to the United States on 10m...3rd/4th June 2018

At the moment, I have the HF rig tuned to the FT8 digital mode frequency of 28.074 MHz more or less all the time with the reception spots being uploaded to the PSK reporter website.


On Sunday the 3rd of June, there was a very strong Sporadic-E opening to Europe. Later in the day, there was an interesting multi-hop opening to the United States. What was unusual was just how late the opening was with many of the signals being heard at 2am local time on the 4th of June.

Looking at some plots for other local stations, it looks as if 50MHz was open as well so it must have been a pretty good opening.

As it turned out, I was too busy to get near the radio but it's interesting to see just how good FT8 performs. This digital mode seems to a critical mass of users on 28 MHz that makes the mode useful for monitoring propagation where as there is an obvious shortage of stations on modes like WSPR.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Big Sporadic-E opening on 28th May 2018

Monday the 28th of May 2018 was one of those days when there was plenty of Sporadic-E signals in Europe from 28 MHz to 144 MHz. This is what I heard on FT8 on 28 MHz...


What is of particular interest here is the sheer number of stations from the UK and the Netherlands that were heard... i.e. approx 500 to 1000 kms range.

This is where monitoring FT8 signals on 28 MHz can be very useful. If you are hearing 28 MHz signals that are 500-1000 kms distant then the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) is probably much higher.

This turned out to be the case as there were Sporadic-E signals all the way up to 144 MHz. Looking at the DX cluster, there was an opening from Ireland to the south of Italy in the evening. I also came across an Italian radio station on 104.9 MHz while I was checking to see if BBC Radio 4 was coming in from Wales.

The OZ7IGY beacon on 40.071 MHz from Denmark was also in for about an hour.

As a tool for checking propagation, FT8 is proving very useful.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Multiple DAB signals heard under lift conditions

About 10 years ago in 2008 when the first trials of DAB radio (Digital Audio Broadcasting) began in Ireland, I purchased a PURE EVOKE-2XT to listen to the transmissions. This radio had the added feature that it has an aerial socket on the back which allowed me to connect a 7 element log-periodic, an old TV aerial that covers 175 to 230 MHz.


At the time, this allowed me not only to hear the local Irish DAB signal but also signals from North West Wales under very good lift conditions. From what I remember, DAB hadn't rolled out to the South of Wales or Cornwall yet in 2008.

Considering that most of the local Irish DAB signals can be heard already on Band 2 FM band, I didn't really bother with DAB for years.

I tried it out again over the last few days and the DAB signals from the UK have been really strong. Most of the signals I have heard were around 230-350 kms distant in West Wales, South Wales, Devon and Cornwall.


In total, I managed to pick up 11 different DAB muxes...

MUX Mux ID
10B 211.64 MHz Somerset
10C 214.36 MHz Devon
10D 215.07 MHz ????
11A 216.92 MHz SDL National
11B 218.64 MHz Cornwall
11D 222.06 MHz D1 National
12A 223.93 MHz Swansea SW Wales
12B 225.64 MHz BBC National DAB
12C 227.36 MHz DAB Ireland Mux1
12D 229.97 MHz Mid & West Wales
12D 229.97 MHz Plymouth

I counted at least 60 radio stations that I could listen to when conditions allowed. In contrast to FM signals from the UK which have to compete with strong local signals, the DAB signals are completely clear and the quality is excellent when the signals are strong.

With the signals up around 220 MHz, it also seems to be a good way to keep an eye on how good tropo conditions are.

The list of radio stations received via DAB is shown below...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

IRTS release proposed band plans for 40MHz and 60MHz


The Irish Radio Transmitters Society have just released their proposed band plans for the new VHF bands around 40 and 60 MHz. The following item was in the IRTS news on Sunday the 20th of May 2018....

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Spectrum News
Following a spectrum award by ComReg the entire 4m band (69.9 - 70.5 MHz) is now available to Irish licensees.

At the last IRTS Committee Meeting a sub-committee was convened to develop band plans and propagation beacons for additional spectrum included in the spectrum award.

IRTS is now consulting amateur licensees on two band plans covering 40 - 44 MHz and 54 - 69.9 MHz. More details including draft band plans can be downloaded from the IRTS website, www.irts.ie/downloads

Please send any comments as soon as possible to “newspectrum /at/ irts /dot/ ie” to arrive not later than 30th June 2018.

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At present, there is a Danish beacon on 40 MHz while the UK one is non-operational. Slovenia has an allocation for a beacon band at 40 MHz but have no beacon on this band. South Africa is the only country outside of Ireland to have a allocation for users at 40 MHz.

There is currently no active beacon on 60 MHz as the UK one is non-operational.

A copy of the proposed band plan is shown below...