Saturday, September 29, 2018

Comreg: Proposed Strategy for Managing the Radio Spectrum - 2019 to 2021


The following item was in the IRTS radio news recently (9th Sept 2018)...

Spectrum Strategy 2019-2021
IRTS responded to ComReg's draft Radio Spectrum Management Strategy 2019 to 2021 contained in document ComReg 18/74, which was published on 3 August 2018. The response deadline was rather short, 31 August which unfortunately made it impracticable to seek members' comments. Members will recall that it was the last spectrum strategy which provided the Irish amateur service with new opportunities in the range 30 - 70.5 MHz. The IRTS response for 2019 to 2021 includes a request for access to sub 8.3 kHz spectrum as well as spectrum above 50 GHz. Additionally some 5 MHz issues are addressed.

Concerning ITU WRC-19, IRTS has reflected the IARU position on various agenda items of interest to the amateur service (including 50-54 MHz) and has asked to be involved in national preparations for this major ITU event. Lastly IRTS requested clarification on text relating to radio astronomy experiments at the LOFAR site at Birr Castle. The full text of the IRTS submission to ComReg can be downloaded from the IRTS section of the downloads page on the Society's website. The URL is www.irts.ie/downloads

There is a fair bit in it so I had a closer look at the Comreg document and the IRTS response. I noted the following items...

Friday, September 28, 2018

One week of WSPR signals on 40 metres

For the last week, I have monitored the WSPR frequency on 7 MHz and I heard the following...


The antenna was an 80m doublet (full size dipole on 40m) only 4-7m above ground level. Plenty of wire but nothing special.

The Solar Flux has been in the high 60's which is pretty close to rock bottom.

The map shows plenty of signals from Europe and the Eastern half of the USA which is to be expected.  431 stations in total were heard in one week.

The key points for me were...

1) Hardly any signals from the Western USA and none from Japan. The more northerly path to these areas seemed closed.

2) Just one from South America. Would have expected more. Null in the antenna???

3) Signals from Australia and New Zealand are always interesting.

2018-09-27 07:36 ZL4JW RE44iw EI7GL IO51tu 7.040111 50 -24 
2018-09-22 06:58 VK7DIK QE38cu EI7GL IO51tu 7.04014 5 -20 
2018-09-28 07:36 VK3MI QF22ne EI7GL IO51tu 7.040146 5 -10

The ZL station was running 50w while the VK stations were running 5 watts. They were all heard near my sunrise which leads me to believe that they may have actually been long path?

4) These were the stations that were using less than 100 milliwatts with DL3MXG and DL2ODY on 1 mW!

2018-09-26 11:20 DL3MXG NO51 EI7GL IO51tu 7.040049 0.001 -27 
2018-09-25 05:48 DL2ODY JO71 EI7GL IO51tu 7.040093 0.001 -18 
2018-09-21 18:24 F5WK JN18hp EI7GL IO51tu 7.04017 0.005 -23 
2018-09-21 21:22 KD2NFC FN20 EI7GL IO51tu 7.040057 0.01 -12 
2018-09-24 10:32 G0MKB IO83rl EI7GL IO51tu 7.039992 0.01 -18 
2018-09-21 18:24 DL5SFB JN48om EI7GL IO51tu 7.040048 0.01 -25 
2018-09-22 11:42 F1EYG JN18ar EI7GL IO51tu 7.040082 0.01 -27 
2018-09-25 07:22 DJ7PRM JO30ns EI7GL IO51tu 7.040065 0.01 -28 
2018-09-26 13:28 M0KTM IO91 EI7GL IO51tu 7.040153 0.02 -26 
2018-09-22 14:48 ON7EN JO21ba EI7GL IO51tu 7.040035 0.05 -23 
2018-09-26 11:52 G8WVW IO81vu EI7GL IO51tu 7.040134 0.05 -23

I think I'll spend a week now listening on 40m FT8 and see how it compares.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

G3SMT works Cape Verde Islands to set new 144 MHz Tropo record

Back on the 5th of August 2018, Mark Turner EI3KD worked D4Z in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa to set a new IARU Region 1 tropo record on 144 MHz. Now less than two months later, that record has been broken again.


On Tuesday the 25th of September 2018, the marine duct from the Cape Verde Islands expended as far north as the British and Irish Isles again.

At 21:10, EI3KD managed to repeat his record distance by working D4Z on cw for a second time, a distance of 4163 kms.

At approx 21:46, GW0KZG in IO71LW in the west of Wales worked D4Z to extend the record to approx 4270 kms. It turned out to be one of the shortest held records however,

At approx 21:47, Peter Torrry G3SMT worked D4Z (HK76MU) to set a new IARU 144 MHz Region 1 record of 4431 kms. Peter's locator square is IO82KV.

DX-Cluster spots - 25th Sept 2018...
GW0KZG 144300.0 D4Z 22:12 25 Sep IO71LW HK76MU still 519 cal Cape Verde
G3SMT 144300.0 D4Z 21:46 25 Sep IO82KV HK76MU Cape Verde
GW0KZG 144300.0 D4Z 21:45 25 Sep IO71LW HK76MU 539 tks QSO Cape Verde
G7RAU 144300.0 D4Z 21:42 25 Sep IN79JX HK76MU 599+ cq, gl Cape Verde
G7RAU 144300.0 D4Z 21:18 25 Sep IN79JX HK76MU 559! wow! Cape Verde
EI3KD 144300.0 D4Z 21:11 25 Sep IO51VW HK76MU tnx! 589 cq Cape Verde

D41CV was also worked on FT8...
M0BUL-@ 144174.0 D41CV 22:28 25 Sep tnx Cape Verde
GW0KZG 144174.0 D41CV 22:27 25 Sep IO71LWHK76TC H-10,/-04 Tn Cape Verde
EI3KD 144174.0 D41CV 22:22 25 Sep IO51VW HK76MU oops call :) Cape Verde
G7RAU 144174.0 D41CV 22:19 25 Sep IN79JX HK76MU +03 FT8 GL! Cape Verde

This is the tropo prediction map for the path at the time...
Source : F5LEN

It's probably likely that the record will be extended again at some stage in the future with perhaps a contact to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Just to illustrate just how far the G3SMT - D44Z contact was, this is the equivalent distance across the Atlantic from the south-west coast of Ireland.



Links...
1) F5LEN Tropo prediction map
2) ON4KST Chat
3) Post on D4C website

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Results of the Irish DMR activity net... Mon 24th Sept 2018


The Irish DMR activity net kicked off on Talk Group 2722 on Monday the 24th of Sept 2018 with 18 callsigns active. After the roll call for the 32 Irish counties, there was a brief QSO between various parties on the net.

It should be interesting to see who is actually using this new digital mode in Ireland as the weeks go by and where exactly the pockets of activity are.

The map above shows the activity levels from the 24th and the list of calls as compiled by Steve, EI5DD can be seen below....

Monday, September 24, 2018

Results of the IRTS Autumn 2m & 70cms Counties Contest


The Irish Radio Transmitters Society 2m & 70cms Counties Contest was held on the 9th of September 2018 and the results show that there was a reasonable amount of activity. While it was pretty quiet down here in Cork on the south coast, it seems to have been busier further up the country.

On 2 metres (144-145 MHz), there were 25 contest logs submitted which showed 455 QSOs from 26 counties. The missing counties were Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim and Monaghan. In 2017, there were 18 contest logs submitted from 26 counties.

For the 70 cms contest (432-434 MHz), 19 contest logs were submitted which showed 107 contacts from 19 counties. This was the first year of an Autumn 70cms leg so there are no results from 2017. The missing counties on 70 cms were Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Donegal, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Monaghan, Tyrone and Westmeath.

The full results from both contests can be found at www.irts.ie/results

Sunday, September 23, 2018

DMR net planned for Monday evenings in Ireland


In an effort to promote activity on digital radio in Ireland and to gauge the level of interest, a new weekly net is starting on Talk Group 2722 on Monday the 24th of Sept 2018.

Extract from the IRTS news...
DMR Net Monday, 24th of September : Steve, EI5DD is planning to hold a National DMR net on Monday the 24th of September at 8:30 pm sharp on the Ireland Calling Channel TG 2722. The purpose of this initiative is to determine how many operators are now active on air and to evaluate the approximate numbers for each county including those in Northern Ireland. Each county will be called in alphabetical order. To keep the activity swift and snappy, please give Callsign, Name, County, and conclude with No Traffic.

The Call-in should only take 15 minutes maximum and there will be plenty of time to hold a free for all QSO at the end of the call ins. If sufficient interest is shown, we may hold this net on a weekly basis.

Irish results from the 2018 IOTA Contest

From the IRTS News...
IOTA Contest Results : Provisional results for the 2018 RSGB IOTA Contest have been announced. There were 2,200 entries for this contest, which took place at the end of July. East Cork Amateur Radio Group was the highest scoring station, with more than 3,700 QSOs. 23 EI and GI stations submitted logs, and their results can be seen at www.irts.ie/results which also includes a link to the complete results for all stations.


Non-DXpedition, High Power
1 EI7M EU115 Ireland 3,757 543 15,681,840

Single-Operator
Non-DXpedition, CW, Assisted, 12-hours, High Power
1 EI5KF EU115 Ireland 1,100 123 884,985

Results of the HF SSB Field Day... Sept 2018

From the IRTS News....
Contest Results : Results of SSB Field Day, which took place over the weekend of 1st and 2nd September 2018, have been published. 5 EI stations submitted logs. Band conditions were well down on previous years, with no propagation on the higher bands, so most activity was on 40 metres and 80 metres. The Contest Results page www.irts.ie/results has the details.


Award Call Sign / Name Valid
QSOs QSO Points Multipliers Total
Open Section
EI1E/P, Avondhu Radio Club 667 2,259 76 171,684
EI7T/P, Tipperary Amateur Radio Group 393 1,414 62 87,668

Restricted Section / 6 hours
EI3Z/P, Shannon Basin Radio Club 116 397 35 13,895
EI7GY/P, Joe Ryan 93 357 26 9,282
EI3CTB/P, Justin Behan 12 46 4 184

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sign of the times as US radio retailer closes...

There was a news item recently about how a store named Radio City which sells radio equipment was closing due to the owners retiring. Apparently, there is no-one interested in taking it over as a going concern.

This news item with quote appeared in the local media about it...

"Like many technologies from an earlier era, ham radio is largely made up of older men trying to come up with ways to make it appealing to a younger demographic that isn’t that interested."

https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2018/09/as-ham-radio-fades-last-mn-store-closes/

Friday, September 14, 2018

IARU Monitoring System issues August 2018 Newsletter

The August 2018 Newsletter of the IARU Monitoring System for Region 1 has just been released and it again shows the various intrusions into the radio amateur bands.

The newsletter reports that long-time broadcasters from the Horn of Africa have now moved from the 40-metre band although there are signs of increased military traffic on 7 and 14 MHz from Russia and China.

The contributor for the IRTS is Michael EI3GYB and he reports many instances of fishermen heard on the 80-metre amateur band.

The full newsletter can be seen here... http://www.iarums-r1.org/iarums/news2018/news1808.pdf

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Russia proposes to use DRM on 65.9-74.0 MHz


On the 11th of September 2018, it was reported that the Russian Federation proposes to use the digital DRM+ standard for broadcasting on the  the radio frequency bands 65.9-74 MHz and 87.5-108 MHz.

While this move may not have much of an issue here in Ireland, it has the potential of being a major source of interference to radio amateurs using the 4 metre band (70 MHz) in central and eastern Europe. As 'Secondary Users' of this part of the spectrum, radio amateurs have no choice but to live with any interference, especially during the Summer Sporadic-E season.

The 65.9 MHz to 74 MHz spectrum has been used up to now for analogue FM transmissions in Russia and some adjacent countries. Over the last 20 years, the general trend has been to close these low band VHF transmitters and move them instead to the usual 88 to 108 MHz band. It seemed as if the 65.9 to 74 MHz band might eventually close but this new digital DRM allocation will see it being put to a new use.

This highlights the fact that while extensive parts of the low band VHF spectrum were allocated to the Amateur Radio Service in Ireland, that is very unlikely to happen elsewhere in Europe.

From Google Translate...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

EI8JK works Japan on 70cms Moonbounce for an EI first


Working Japan on any band from Ireland is pretty good but what about doing it on 432 MHz? That's exactly what Tony EI8JK did on Monday the 10th of September 2018 when he worked Toshia JA6AHB by bouncing 70 cms signals off the moon!

The pair have been trying to make the contact for several weeks with Tony making small incremental improvements to his system to squeeze out every fraction of a dB. In the end, they managed to complete the contact using the JT65 mode on Monday morning during a 2-hour window to make it an EI-JA first on the UHF band.

In terms of equipment, JA6AHB was using 500 watts into a 7 metre dish while Tony was using 4 x 21 element yagis with a medium powered amplifier. His antenna system is shown below.

Tony lives on the scenic Sheeps Head peninsula in West Cork and no doubt the remote location with low noise background really helps on the VHF and UHF bands. With his current set-up and more improvements on the way, he hopes to work many more stations off the moon on 432 MHz.


Monday, September 10, 2018

48 hours on 14 MHz WSPR...

I tried out WSPR on 14 MHz last Saturday in an effort to hear a high altitude balloon in Argentina which was supposed to use it during a flight. I had no luck hearing the beacon but I left the radio on for 48 hours anyway to see what could be heard.


As can be seen, lots of signals were heard although if I have to be honest, I didn't find it that interesting. It's really no big deal to get worldwide signals on 20m.

What I did find interesting though was those stations using really low power, especially SM0FXK with 1 milliwatt!

These are the stations using 100mW or less.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

FT8 tests on 144 MHz with limited success

After reading a post on the blog of Roger G3XBM about the possibilities of FT8 on 144 MHz, I tried it out for myself. The results for me on receive on a flat band however were mediocre at best...


Like any experiment, you always learn something even if the results are poor.

The key points for me are...

1) Poor antenna..... Using an indoor Slim-Jim half wave vertical antenna in the attic doesn't cut it for weak signals on 144 MHz. It might be fine in the SE of the UK, the low countries or Germany but not here in Ireland.

2) Too far west..... I estimate the bulk of the FT8 stations on 144 MHz are at least 400 kms to the east of me. Roger had a lot more stations closer to him even from the continent.

3) Fewer planes..... With a 15 second transmission time, aircraft scatter probably plays a big part on the number of FT8 signals heard on 144 MHz. Here on the south coast of Ireland, most of the aircraft traffic is Trans-Atlantic going east-west. There would be a much higher number of planes criss-crossing over the south east of the UK with many at lower altitudes.

The results confirm what I would have kind of guessed anyway. FT8 is good but it's not that good. To operate 2m FT8 from here, I would need an external horizontal Yagi.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Frequency for new Irish beacon on 40 MHz announced...

In the September 2018 issue of Echo Ireland which is sent out to members of the IRTS, it was announced that the proposed frequency for the new Irish beacon on the 8 metre band will be 40.013 MHz.

The only amateur beacon currently on the band is OZ7IGY from Denmark on 40.071 MHz. The one on 40.050 MHz from central England seems to be off the air and was last spotted several years back.

The proposed frequency for the Irish beacon on 60 MHz will be 60.013 MHz.

GB3NGI heard on 144 MHz with an indoor antenna...

During the EI 2m activity period on Tuesday evening, I had a tune around the beacon band and used the PI4 software to see if I could see any faint signals in the waterfall. To my suprise, I could faintly see and hear GB3NGI which was 385kms away...


Considering I was just using a vertical Slim Jim in the attic of the house, I really wasn't expecting to hear anything.

I looked up the beacon website https://www.qsl.net/gb3ngi/ and found that the signals were alternating between CW and JT65b. As I had never used JT65b before, I had some trouble getting the WSJT-X programme to decode the signals.

After doing a bit of research, I changed some settings on the programme... Settings > General > Enable VHF/UHF/Microwave features and then used the settings in the graphic above. It now works ok and I can see the decoded signals.

0840 -25  1.4 1261 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f
0842 -26  1.4 1260 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f
0854 -26  1.3 1260 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f
0856 -24  1.3 1260 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f
0858 -23  1.3 1260 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f
0900 -23  1.3 1260 #* GB3NGI IO65VB          f

Thanks to G0MJI and the screenshots on his website which make things a lot clearer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Notice : IRTS 2m/70cms Counties Contest... Sun 9th Sept 2018



The IRTS 70cms and 2 metres Counties Contests, in which EI and GI counties are multipliers, take place on Sunday next, 9th September 2018. The 70cms event is at 1.00pm local time, for one hour, and this is followed by the 2 metres contest from 2.00pm to 4.00pm local time. There are separate sections in these contest for portable and fixed stations, low power and high power, as well as an FM Only section for single ops and an SWL section. The portable sections are for field-day type operations, so those entering one of the portable sections should be aware of the requirements for portable section entries in the contest rules.

See www.irts.ie/ contests for more details, which include the frequencies for these contests and the 'QSY Rule' that applies to FM QSOs.

Monday, September 3, 2018

ICQ Podcast covers Zello link to Southern Ireland Repeater Network


The ICQ podcast is one of the most popular amateur related podcasts from the UK and is usually released once a fortnight.

In this episode released on the 2nd of Sept 2018, they discussed the recent linking of the online Zello network to the Southern Ireland repeater network.

On the video below, fast forward to about 21:35 for the SIRN item and it lasts until about 29:00.



Links...
1) The ICQ podcast show notes can be seen HERE
2) Previous post on this blog about the linking of Zello to the Southern Ireland Repeater Network HERE