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.

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...

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.

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...