Thursday, February 28, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz - 23rd to 28th February 2019

I have been listening on 28 MHz for the last few days on the FT8 and the pickings have been slim. Just a few signals were heard most days with no sign of anything from outside Europe.

The last time I heard a signal from outside Europe was back on the 8th of February when I heard Paraguay. February has been easily the worst month of the 2018/2019 winter season in terms of 10 metre propagation. Easily known we are at the bottom of the sunspot cycle!

Perhaps as we get closer to the equinox, things will pick up? At least we're only 6-8 weeks away from the start of the Summer Sporadic-E season.

This is what was heard over the last few days.

Sat 23rd Feb... Three signals!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

IRTS paper on the new 5 and 8 metre bands to be presented at IARU Meeting

The IARU Region 1 (Africa, Europe, Middle-East) Interim Meeting takes place April 27-28 in Vienna, Austria.

Among the many things discussed, there will be a paper from the Irish Radio Transmitters Society on the new proposed bands at 40 MHz and 60 MHz.


There probably isn't a whole lot new in it that hasn't been seen before but it does present the information to other member societies. If the new band plans are formally adopted then other countries may start looking for allocations of their own.

Extract from the document..."Next Steps : Tables 1 and 2 below are suggested band plans for most of the 5 and 8 metre spectrum granted to the amateur service in Ireland by ComReg. The plans are loosely based on the current 50–54 MHz IARU band plan and have been in the public domain since May 2018 by means of the IRTS web-site.

Concerning propagation beacons work has begun on upgrading some existing beacons and procuring beacons in the new bands. Transverters are already on the market to transvert 40-42 MHz to 28-30 MHz. Originally intended for the Italian 4 Watt “Apparati a 43 MHz” service in the 43.3000 – 43.5875 MHz band, an “international” version is freely available in the Ukraine. This 25 Watt FM transceiver for the band 42.3000 – 45.0875 MHz has a 224 channel capability and is manufactured in Korea and the Philippines.

Amateurs in the Dublin area are currently trialling both the 40 MHz transverter and
the 42 MHz FM transceiver."

Other VHF related papers to be presented at the meeting can be seen here...

Update : An Information Paper submitted by the RSGB seems to suggest additional access to 40 MHz is unlikely. See below...

Document number: VIE19 C5 INFO1
Source: RSGB – Murray Niman G6JYB, Spectrum Chair
Subject: Innovation Bands & Activities (Information Paper)
Committee(s): C5
Summary: The Information below is a short summary regarding the additional
spectrum available to UK Full Licensees and how it is used. In general:-
• All require a strong justification, conditions to avoid interference and have a
Strong Emphasis on Innovation & New Activities – not ‘More of the Same’
• They are renewable permits - not permanent allocations
• Renewal is based on regular progress reports to our regulator against the
purpose it was made available for

Previous Bands/Requests:-
• 40 MHz – One Propagation Beacon – additional access refused


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Listening to OSCAR 100

The new Geostationary satellite OSCAR 100 is now up and running and the narrow band down-link can be heard online here...

The up-link is at 2.4 GHz and the down-link is at 10 GHz.

Anytime I've listened during the last week, there has been a small number of signals on the down-link. There has been a lot of hype about this particular project although I'd wonder about how popular will it be?

The coverage footprint is shown below...

Friday, February 22, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz - 20th, 21st & 22nd Feb 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz were pretty mediocre over the last few days.

Wed 20th Feb 2019... Possibly the worst day so far in 2019. Heard one PA station from the Netherlands. That was it!

Thurs 21st Feb 2019... Forgot to make a map but these were the stations heard. Only thing of note was a weak Sporadic-E opening to the south.
111230 -14 -0.9 1749 ~  GI4SNA EA5AIH IM98
111245  -6 -0.7 2092 ~  CQ EA5GOR IM98
114900 -18 -0.0  693 ~  CQ PD1DL JO22
120200 -14  0.1 1470 ~  CQ DX 2E0JRT JO01
120600 -13  0.0 1326 ~  CQ EA7KS IM86
123215  -3 -0.1 1608 ~  CQ G0FWX IO82

Fri 22nd Feb 2019... Interesting how I heard lots of meteor bursts in the morning. Otherwise, just another few signals.

092645 -12 -0.7 1038 ~  CQ G0OYQ IO93
093945  -4 -0.2 1740 ~  CQ G0FWX IO82
101500 -17 -0.2  786 ~  CQ GW7KNF IO72
103830 -12 -0.3 1496 ~  CQ EI7HDB IO62
121630 -18 -0.7 1990 ~  CQ F1RAD JN35
132230 -19 -0.8  702 ~  CQ PD1DL JO22
134030  -8 -0.6 1534 ~  CQ DJ8QX JO31
145130 -16 -0.9 1754 ~  CQ PA8MC JO20

Solar flux was 71. Not a hint of anything outside Europe.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

40 MHz band added to DXMAPS

It looks as if the new 40 MHz or 8-metre band has just been added to the DXMAPS website.

This website which is maintained by Gabriel EA6VQ is one of the main VHF websites in Europe and is very useful for tracking Sporadic-E propagation during the Summer months.

It's probably safe to say that the vast majority of radio amateurs in Europe or the USA have no idea that there is even an allocation at 40 MHz anywhere in the world. By having it listed on a website like this, it should at least raise the bands profile somewhat.

Up to now, 40 MHz spots on the DX Clusters such as DXSUMMIT or DXWATCH have been hard to find as it's such an unusual band. Lots of people do searches for 50 MHz or 28 MHz and of course, the 40 MHz spots fail to appear in these.

It's a small step but hopefully a few more might try transmitting and listening on the band during the Summer months.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 144 MHz... 18th & 19th Feb 2019

I got a good dose of reality over the last two days listening for FT8 signals on 144 MHz! i.e. If the band is flat then I'm not going to hear much.

These were the only signals heard on the 18th of February...

114500 -12  0.1  734 ~  CQ M1MLM IO83
133015 -21 -0.2 1227 ~  CQ G1IVL IO82
134945 -18 -0.1 1799 ~  M6NVE G0OMF 73
204500 -16 -0.1 1438 ~  CQ G7RHF IO82

The 19th of February was much the same...

135715 -14 -0.2 1233 ~  CQ G1IVL IO82
154815 -17 -0.2 1792 ~  CQ G0OMF IO83
155615 -20  0.2 1338 ~  CQ G8IXN IO70
194815 -15 -0.1  748 ~  DL5KCD G4RRA -18

It would seem that the number of stations on the band is highly dependent on whether there are good conditions or not.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz - 16th & 17th Feb 2019

Another two days on 28 MHz and nothing much to get excited about.

On Saturday the 16th of February 2019, a handful of FT8 signals were heard from around Europe. Hardly a major opening.

Stations heard on the 16th of Feb...
090100 -19 -0.1 1970 ~  CQ DJ5JD JO33
092030   3 -0.1  860 ~  CQ EG2ETS IN83
115815 -10 -0.1 1230 ~  CQ 2E1RDX IO92
121045 -15  0.5 1695 ~  CQ HB9DFP JN37
124200 -16  0.0 1088 ~  CQ EA5GOR IM98
125915  -8  0.0 1635 ~  CQ ON6CQ JO11
130115 -18 -0.2  515 ~  CQ DG1RUG JO30
142300  -4 -0.3  600 ~  BEACON PD1DL
151300  -7 -0.4  598 ~  CQ PD1DL JO22

Sunday the 17th of February 2019 wasn't much better except that all of the signals seemed to come from an easterly direction.

The small number of stations seems to be a combination of a lack of propagation and the low number of stations actually using the band.

Think I might switch back to 2 metres for a while.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 144 MHz - Fri 15th Feb 2019

This was a day of two halves with plenty of signals heard on 144 MHz in the morning and hardly anything in the evening.

It's a pretty amazing map considering I'm just using a Slim Jim antenna resting up against the rafters in the attic of my house. When I look at the map and remember that this is 144 MHz, there is a bit of a 'wow' moment.

There are the stations heard...

Friday, February 15, 2019

Opening on 144 MHz - Thurs 14th Feb 2019

After several days of dire conditions on 28 MHz, I noticed a post on Facebook about a lift on 2 metres. I decided it was time for a change so I monitored 144 MHz instead for the day.

The level of activity was certainly a marked change to 28 MHz! All of those signals were heard with a simple Slim Jim vertical half-wave in the attic of my house.

It should be noted that this was a Thursday, not the weekend. I was suprised that there were so many stations on the band.

I don't have any evidence but I suspect that a LOT of guys are now using FT8 on 144 MHz with vertical aerials. I don't believe that everyone shown above is using a beam or is horizontally polarised. I suspect a lot of people are just using simple verticals and a few watts to get the most out of the band.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz - 9th, 10th & 13th Feb 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz have been dire for the last few days.

On the 13th of February, I heard one lone FT8 signal on the band after listening most of the day.

The 11th and 12th were just as bad and I didn't bother making maps.

On the Sunday, there were a few signals and it was probably due to the fact it was the weekend and people were on.

Friday, February 8, 2019

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz - 6th, 7th & 8th Feb 2019

The last three days weren't completely dead with some snippets of DX on the 10 metre band. Going in reverse order...

Friday the 8th of February 2019..... I had the 10m antenna lying on the ground for this one as I had dropped it because of high winds due to a passing storm. Amazingly, I heard Paraguay and Brazil although the PY station didn't show up on PSK reporter.

183600 -12  0.1 1308 ~  CQ F4IAA JN05
185400  -5  0.0 1455 ~  CQ CS7ANU IN51
190800 -15  0.0 2289 ~  G4HZW ZP4KFX R-02
192500 -18 -0.2  541 ~  C5YK PY5KD -06
193830 -15  0.1 2290 ~  K6NX ZP4KFX RR73
194030 -18  0.1 2291 ~  CQ ZP4KFX GG14

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Poor conditions on 28 MHz - Tues 5th Feb 2019

Since the modest opening on 28 MHz on the 24th of January 2019, conditions on the band have been pretty dire. Tuesday the 5th of February was one of the better days and that was hardly noteworthy. The FT8 signals heard are shown above.

There seems to be two factors at work. One is that we're at the bottom of the solar cycle, the solar flux is down around 70, it's February which is a month not noted for Sporadic-E and so perhaps it's no suprise that conditions are poor.

The other factor seems to be just a lack of stations on 28 MHz.

Some of the other days are shown below...