Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Late opening to EA8 on 28 MHz - Tues 30th Apr 2019

In contrast to the last few days, Tuesday the 30th of April was really quiet on 28 MHz for the most part. In fact, it had seemed pretty remarkable earlier in the day that so few FT8 signals had been heard.

By the late evening, I had pretty much given up hope of hearing anything and I wrote up a blog post with a map to say just how quiet it had been. Needless to say after getting the post ready, the band opened to the Canary Islands!

This is the updated map...

These are the stations uploaded to PSKReporter...
IK2IQC 10m FT8 1467 km 20:44:00
EA8DFQ 10m FT8 2705 km 20:34:29
G0EHG 10m FT8 446 km 19:34:46
2E0XXO 10m FT8 551 km 19:34:46
G3TKF 10m FT8 406 km 16:29:18
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 12:04:00
DO1JTS 10m FT8 1080 km 09:35:33

The opening to the Canary Islands lasted from 20:04 to 20:36 UTC. I actually heard six EA8 stations but only one was uploaded to the PSKReporter website.

201015   9 -0.2 1274 ~  CQ AM870PT
201930  -4  0.2 1276 ~  CQ EA8DFQ IL28
201945   9  0.0 1019 ~  <...> EA8SG
202015  -3  0.0 2520 ~  <...> EA8SR IL18
202015 -22  0.2 2461 ~  <...> EA8TH IL18
203515 -14  0.0 1013 ~  EA8DER R-07

As for the mode of propagation? Multi hop Sp-E? F2? The path from Ireland to the Canary Islands was close to sunset so I wonder if that was a factor?

Examples of signals heard at 34 to 36 MHz

Thanks to Rob PE9PE for sending on the link to this video which shows what a short wave listener in Italy heard from 34 MHz to 36 MHz.

This part of the low VHF spectrum is used by many government agencies and utilities. Examples given in the comments on the video were DDE = France Highway Service and Turkish Jandarma (Military Police and Country Police).

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sporadic-E on 28 MHz - Mon 29th Apr 2019

There was a pretty modest opening on 28 MHz on Monday the 29th of April as can be seen from the map below. The main opening was from 10:30 to 14:00 UTC.

The strongest signals were from North Italy and South Germany and as can be seen from the map, there was a concentration of lines in that direction.

I did notice later that GI4SNA in Northern Ireland and GM4WJA in Scotland managed to hear South America but there was nothing heard here.

These were the beacons heard...
EI7GL 28257.8 DK0TEN/B 12:25 29 Apr IO51TUJN47NT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28285.0 DB0MFI/B 11:32 29 Apr IO51TUJN58HW Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 11:29 29 Apr IO51TUJN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28227.4 IW3FZQ/B 11:28 29 Apr IO51TUJN55VF Italy 
EI7GL 28241.7 F5ZUU/B 11:13 29 Apr IO51TUJN24IL France

The French beacon F5ZUU/B runs 5 watts to a quarter wave ground plane antenna. They have a nice website where people can leave reception reports and an automatic eqsl is then generated. Website... http://f5zuu.free.fr/

This is a list of FT8 stations heard on 28 MHz on the 29th of April 2019...

Example of Band 1 TV Tropo Signals at 66 MHz...

Someone left a comment on the blog about the early days of TV back in the 1960's and trying to receive signals from Wales in Ireland. Rather than just leave it as a comment, I turned it into a blog post as it shows the possibility of tropo propagation on the low VHF band around 60 MHz.

Band 1 TV
The first TV broadcasts in the UK used the 405 line system on Band 1 - 45 to 66 MHz. The last of these transmitters were turned off in January of 1985 in the UK.

This is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the 405-line service in Ireland to give the post some context...

Ireland's use of the 405-line system began in 1961, with the launch of Telefís Éireann, but only extended to two main transmitters and their five relays, serving the east and north of the country. This was because many people in these areas already had 405-line sets for receiving UK broadcasts from Wales or Northern Ireland. Telefís Éireann's primary standard was 625-line; it began using this in the summer of 1962, more than two years before the UK had any 625-line channels.

The last 405-line relays, in County Donegal, were turned off in 1982; the main transmitters had been shut down in 1978 to free up frequencies for RTÉ 2.


Thanks to Desmond Walsh for providing some details about his experience of receiving TV transmissions at 66 MHz from a transmitter in Wales, a distance of roughly 300 kms.

"When I was much younger I lived in southeast Co Tipperary and was eager to get BBC TV from Wales ( before TE came on the air)

There were two possible channels , 4 and 5 (in the old 405 line +modulation with AM sound 3.5 MHz lower , from memory ) Channel 5 from Wenvoe (100KW) had a much higher erp than Haverfordwest Channel 4 (0.044KW).

So I obtained a 4 element yagi for ch5 (63 to 68 MHz ?) and braved going on the roof of the 2 storey house to erect it on the chimney. Definitely would not do it now !

Reception of course varied with different signal strengths but gave about 50% reception , up to a week at a time of tropospheric signals when high pressure was around.

An annoying QRM happened at times when the French 819 line system blotted out Wenvoe but that is tropospheric reception for you!.

Channel 8 HTV (St Hilary 100KW CH7?? Band 3) came later but suffered from overlap with RTE Ch F , Mt Leinster.

These cross-channel signals were stronger in the Waterford city area , 15 miles downstream of the River Suir.

Desmond Walsh"

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sporadic-E on 28 MHz - Sun 28th Apr 2019

Like previous day, there was plenty of Sporadic-E about on 28 MHz on Sunday the 28th of April 2019. The band opened at about 07:30 UTC which seems a bit earlier than usual. The band also closed at about 14:00 UTC.

One thing I did notice was that one the Sporadic-E faded away, the propagation on the other HF bands like 17m, 15m and 12m really died as well. With the solar flux down around 70, the higher HF bands are very dependent on Sporadic-E for any propagation at the moment.

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

The propagation seemed a bit more southerly than previous days favouring the south of Germany, the north of Italy and Spain.

Only one double hop Sporadic-E signal was heard and that was in Ukraine.

There were some very weak signals later in the day but I didn't have the software running. South America? I can't be sure so I'll have to go with what I did hear for sure.

These are the beacons heard...
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 09:00 28 Apr IO51TUJN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 08:56 28 Apr IO51TUJN55VF Italy
EI7GL 28257.8 DK0TEN/B 08:55 28 Apr IO51TUJN47NT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28285.0 DB0MFI/B 08:53 28 Apr IO51TUJN58HW Fed. Rep. of Germany

A list of 200 or so stations heard on FT8 on the 28 MHz band...

PSKReporter website passes 7 Billion reception reports

I noticed today (27th Apr 2019) that the PSKReporter website has just passed seven billion reception reports!

I can see from previous posts that I had that it passed four billion around the 21st of July 2018 and five billion around the 28th of November 2018.

The vast majority of those reports are of course FT8 and it just highlights once again how popular it is.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Small opening on 28 MHz on Sat 27th Apr 2019

Saturday the 27th of April was a day when the 28 MHz band barely opened. It's easy to look at the map below and think it was a reasonable day but the vast majority of those signals were buried in the noise.

Looking at the PSKReporter website, the main Sporadic-E opening was over northern Europe centered on a region over the north of Germany and the south of Sweden. I could hear lots of weak signals and it certainly felt like I was on the edge of the opening.

In the afternoon, the only loud signals were from Iceland which were there for a few hours.

In the evening, the band opened to South America but the signals were really weak.

I listened several times during the day for beacons or other signals on the band but heard nothing.

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

The mysterious signal of KI5BLU on 28 MHz... 26th Apr 2019

Two days ago while listening to FT8 signals on 28 MHz, I heard the signal from KI5BLU in Texas... or so I thought.

On the 26th of April 2019, I saw the signal again while the band was open to South America. Note that the trace shows KI5BLU in Texas (locator square EM12). Note that I have Puerto Rico marked ...more later.

This is the traffic that I recorded on FT8 which shows KI5BLU working Ireland, Wales, England and Germany on 28 MHz...
160630  -1 -0.1 1058 ~  EI8GS KI5BLU EM12
160645  16 -0.3 1224 ~  KI5BLU EI8GS -01
160700  -2 -0.1 1056 ~  EI8GS KI5BLU R-11
160715  17 -0.3 1224 ~  KI5BLU EI8GS RR73
160730   1 -0.1 1055 ~  EI8GS KI5BLU 73
160930 -23 -0.1 1431 ~  KI5BLU MW0PPM R+03
161000 -18 -0.1 1431 ~  KI5BLU MW0PPM 73
161530 -14  0.1 1837 ~  KI5BLU G3ZQH IO92
161630 -12  0.1 1835 ~  KI5BLU G3ZQH R-01
161700 -14  0.1 1838 ~  KI5BLU G3ZQH R-03
161730 -15  0.1 1838 ~  KI5BLU G3ZQH R-03
161800 -15  0.1 1838 ~  KI5BLU G3ZQH 73
163645  -7  0.1  924 ~  DK4CF KI5BLU EM12
164400  -7  0.1  754 ~  <...> KI5BLU EM12

If this was 14 MHz or even 21 MHz, I would have thought nothing of it. But this was April at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. East-West multi-hop Sporadic-E from Ireland to Texas on 28 MHz would be unusual this early in the season.

I then checked on PSKReporter to see who was hearing KI5BLU over a three hour period...

I then selected several of those... AM70E in Spain, G4HZW, G0LUJ, 2E0XXO, G8IXN and G7KFQ in England, MU0WLV in Guernsey, EI8GS in Ireland and F5OIH in France. I then checked what they had heard over a six hour period.

All nine stations as well as myself had heard KI5BLU but had not heard a single other station on FT8 on 28 MHz from the USA.

It's safe to say that KI5BLU was not transmitting from EM12 in Texas.

Initially I thought he was using a remote station as suggested by his QRZ page.... " Elecraft K3-mini for remotehamradio.com"

After a second search on Google, I found this...
KP4/KI5BLU - Palmas - Puerto Rico 04-22-2019
Thomas, KI5BLU will be active as KP4/KI5BLU from Palmas, Puerto Rico, IOTA NA - 099.
He will operate on HF Bands. QSL via KI5BLU, LOTW, eQSL.

This would certainly tie in with the propagation paths that would seem likely to Europe on 28 MHz at the time. The problem is that he is giving out his locator on FT8 of where he lives in Texas rather than where he is in Puerto Rico. He was also not using the KP4 prefix.

This is what confuses people into believing the band is open to the USA when it's obviously not.

RTE radio service on 252 kHz to be extended

The RTE radio transmitter on 252 kHz on the long wave band has been flagged for closure for many years as there is adequate coverage on the FM VHF band around Ireland.

A sizable Irish diaspora in Britain however campaigned for the service to continue as many elderly people don't have internet access.

Located near Tullamore, it is one of the few radio stations transmitting on the long wave band. It does however suffer from a lot of interference from an Algerian radio station operating on the same frequency.

According to an Irish Times article in 2017, the service had been extended to 2019.

It now looks as if the mast is going to be upgraded and it will continue for another two years at least.

See the statement below dated Thurs 25th April 2019

More Sporadic-E on 28 MHz... Fri 26th Apr 2019

For the third day on a row, there was another good Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz. It was perhaps a little bit more patchy than previous days but there was a very good opening to South America.

This is the world map of the FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz on Friday 26th of April 2019.

The station KI5BLU shown in Texas was almost certainly not there and was giving out the wrong locator. See other post.

The opening lasted from about 09:30 UTC to as late as 22:30 UTC and the band was pretty much open for all of that time.

During the day, the coverage was more patchy than previous days. It did open to the south towards Spain but it wasn't great. It seemed much better towards the east for most of the day.

These are the beacons heard...
EI7GL 28271.0 OZ7IGY/B 15:55 26 Apr IO51TUJO55WM Denmark
EI7GL 28215.7 SR5TDM/B 14:19 26 Apr IO51TUKO01KX Poland
EI7GL 28279.0 DB0UM/B 14:14 26 Apr IO51TUJO73CE Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28235.1 OY6BEC/B 13:59 26 Apr IO51TUIP62OA Faroe Islands
EI7GL 28245.3 DB0TEN/B 12:15 26 Apr IO51TUJO42UV Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28269.0 SV6DBG/B 12:00 26 Apr IO51TUKM09KQ Greece
EI7GL 28251.1 ED4YAK/B 11:57 26 Apr IO51TUIN80FK Spain 
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 11:55 26 Apr IO51TUJN55VF Italy

The beacon in Greece was double hop.

This is a closer look of the European stations heard on FT8 on 28 MHz...

Note the yellow line showing the rough limit of one Sporadic-E hop from my location.

There was some small amount of double hop into Greece, Ukraine and Russia. The suprise opening though was towards South America and the Carribbeean.

A list of stations heard on FT8 is shown below with those over one hop distance shown in bold...

Friday, April 26, 2019

Another big Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz - Thurs 25th April 2019

There was another big Sporadic-E opening on 10-metres on Thursday the 25th of April 2019 and the band was pretty much open all the time from 08:30 UTC to 21:00 UTC.

It was pretty similar to the opening on the 24th of April except there seemed to be a bit more double hop Sporadic-E. These are the signals heard on FT8 on 28 MHz...

I have included a yellow dotted line on the map to show the extent of one hop Sporadic-E from my location on the south coast of Ireland.

As you can see, there didn't seem to be any double hop in the direction of the Baltic states of Estonis, Latvia and Lithuania. Further south though, there was double hop into the Ukraine, Russia, Romaniam Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt.

I heard one lone signal from South America although I know others in the UK heard a lot more from there. I have a large hill to my south-west which blocks low angle signals from that direction.

These are the signals from Europe in more detail. Look at the big numbers in Germany!

Germany at 1000 to 15000 kms is pretty much the ideal distance for Sporadic-E from Ireland.

Like the previous day, I missed an hour or so but I think I caught most of what was there to be heard. In total, I heard 1163 stations in 47 countries which is pretty remarkable if you consider that it's 28 MHz.

These are the beacons heard...
EI7GL 28210.7 DB0FKS/B 14:23 25 Apr IO51TUJN49IT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28265.1 DF0ANN/B 14:14 25 Apr IO51TUJN59PL Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28271.0 OZ7IGY/B 14:12 25 Apr IO51TUJO55WM Denmark
EI7GL 28277.4 DM0AAB/B 14:10 25 Apr IO51TUJO54GH Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28279.0 DB0UM/B 14:08 25 Apr IO51TUJO73CE Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28188.0 OE3XAC/B 11:42 25 Apr IO51TUJN78SB Austria 
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 10:50 25 Apr IO51TUJN55VF Italy
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 10:48 25 Apr IO51TUJN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany

FT8 signals heard on 28 MHz on the 25th of April 2019. Double hop in bold.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Big Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz - Wed 24th April 2019

After a quiet week and a half, the 10-metre band burst into life on the 24th of April with an extensive Sporadic-E opening. This is the world map of what I heard on FT8...

There were a few unusual signals in there.... Israel, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Trinidad and Texas! Also heard but not shown was a station in Cyprus.

That one from 'Texas' was a real surpise but see the explanation here.

The band seemed to open at about 10:30 UTC and lasted until about 22:00.

What was unusual was just how long the opening lasted and how extensive it was. Usually with Sporadic-E, the footprint of the opening moves around. With this one, the band just seemed to be open all over Europe.

I was in a mini pile up for the Spanish AM70 stations on CW and I could heard people all over Europe calling them. It took a bit of work to get through in the end which just goes to show how many people they were hearing at once.

This is the European map of what I heard on FT8...

The ones of interest here are those in Sicily, the end of Italy, in Crete and in Greece. These were all double hop Sporadic-E.

I wasn't listening on FT8 all day, just most of it. I probably missed maybe 1-2 hours made up of small breaks. There were probably a few extra that I could have added if I was on FT8 all day.

These are the beacons heard...

EI7GL 28277.4 DM0AAB/B 19:53 24 Apr IO51TUJO54GH Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28270.8 OZ7IGY/B 19:48 24 Apr IO51TUJO55WM Denmark
EI7GL 28298.1 SK7GH/B 19:11 24 Apr IO51TUJO77BF Sweden
EI7GL 28257.8 DK0TEN/B 19:08 24 Apr IO51TUJN47NT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28237.5 LA5TEN/B 19:06 24 Apr IO51TUJO59JP Norway
EI7GL 28207.1 ON0RY/B 19:03 24 Apr IO51TUJO20CK Belgium
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 19:01 24 Apr IO51TUJN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28241.6 F5ZUU/B 17:20 24 Apr IO51TUJN24IL France
EI7GL 28235.1 OY6BEC/B 17:16 24 Apr IO51TUIP62 Faroe Islands
EI7GL 28218.0 IQ5MS/B 17:11 24 Apr IO51TUJN54AB Italy
EI7GL 28227.1 IW3FZQ/B 15:51 24 Apr IO51TUJN55VF Italy
EI7GL 28251.1 ED4YAK/B 11:45 24 Apr IO51TUIN80FK Spain

Always nice to hear the beacon from the Faroe Islands as it's a bit unusual.

Looking through my logbook, the contact with AM70S on CW was my first contact on 28 MHz since May 2018! I guess I listen a lot! :o)

FT8 stations heard on FT8 on 28 MHz on the 24th of April 2019...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sporadic-E on 28 MHz - Tues 23rd April 2019

There were a few weak Sporadic-E signals today on 28 MHz. Now nine days since the last decent opening.

The one notable signal was that from EA8WU in the Canary Islands at 20:25 UTC and well after sunset. I'm assuming it was double hop Sporadic-E?

Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
EA8WU 10m FT8 2704 km 20:25:15
F5OHM 10m FT8 919 km 16:53:00
F5CUN 10m FT8 1109 km 16:31:44
MU0FAL 10m FT8 488 km 16:29:44
EA7DT 10m FT8 1715 km 16:26:31
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 13:14:29
PD1DL 10m FT8 921 km 13:08:18
PE5O 10m FT8 879 km 12:34:15
DO3FRH 10m FT8 1100 km 11:46:30
PD7RB 10m FT8 868 km 11:46:30
G4YBI 10m FT8 592 km 11:08:18
M0SSK 10m FT8 608 km 10:17:44
OM5CM 10m FT8 1934 km 09:55:14
DL1KFL 10m FT8 1096 km 07:42:14

On another note, the solar flux is down at 68 today which is about as low as it can go.

New FT4 protocol announced for Digital Contesting

On the 22nd of April 2019, a PDF document was released outlining the new FT4 Protocol for Digital Contesting. Link.... http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/FT4_Protocol.pdf

Key points...

1) Transmissions last for 4.48 seconds as compared to 12.64 s for FT8.

2) Works at about the same speed as RTTY for contesting.

3) For a rough comparison with RTTY, it was noted that in simulated mid-latitude moderate conditions RTTY has been shown to yield character error rates less than 10% only when SNR exceeds –1 to +4 dB, depending on the software modem in use. FT4 offers a sensitivity advantage of about 10 dB over RTTY.

4) As many as 50 stations can operate in a 3 or 4 kHz passband with little interference, even when signal strengths differ by as much as 60 dB.

5) July 15th 2019: General Availability (GA) release of WSJT-X 2.1.0 and FT4.

From the document..."FT4 is a special-purpose mode designed for rapid-fire contest QSOs. It serves this purpose very effectively, but like FT8 the mode is not useful for more extensive conversations. FT4 uses much less bandwidth than RTTY and provides reliable decoding at much lower signal levels. Stations using low power and compromise antennas can participate effectively in a contest using FT4."

It will be interesting to see how this develops and what impact it will have. Will it help kill off RTTY? Will it be used outside of contests?

The software can be downloaded here... http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

Update... See this video presentation about FT4 from Joe Taylor K1JT. The piece about FT4 starts around 14 mins...

New 434 MHz to 2.4 GHz Transmit Converter

The new OSCAR 100 satellite in geostationary orbit has a downlink in the 10 GHz band and an uplink at 2.4 GHz.

I was looking through the most recent edition of the Dutch Kingdom Amateur Radio Society  magazine and I noticed this transmit upconverter...

The price seems pretty modest for what it does although I don't know anything about its performance.

From what I understand, something like 2 watts into a 2.5-3 metre dish or 10-20 watts for a 1-1.5 metre dish is required for an SSB signal for the uplink at 2.4 GHz.

For more information, go to http://www.dxpatrol.pt/

Monday, April 22, 2019

Sporadic-E conditions on 28 MHz - Mon 22nd Apr 2019

It's been eight days since the last proper Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz on Sunday the 15th of April. The conditions on Monday the 22nd of April 2019 was pretty similar to previous days with a modest number of stations heard...

G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 15:10:02
DL1REM 10m FT8 1071 km 13:40:33
PD5FK 10m FT8 1045 km 11:52:29
PD1DL 10m FT8 921 km 11:51:59
OM5CM 10m FT8 1934 km 11:46:29
DG5TF 10m FT8 1407 km 11:45:14
F4DJK 10m FT8 1051 km 11:44:14
DO9LC 10m FT8 1039 km 11:43:00
DO9REF 10m FT8 1121 km 11:18:45
G8UBJ 10m FT8 559 km 11:13:30
MU0WLV 10m FT8 488 km 11:00:14
DO3UW 10m FT8 1044 km 10:57:45
DH2DAM 10m FT8 1082 km 10:57:16
DK0MA 10m FT8 1037 km 10:36:31
PE5O 10m FT8 879 km 10:02:06
LA3QAA 10m FT8 1462 km 09:07:01

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Poor conditions on 28 MHz on Sun 21st Apr 2019

The last seven days of this week have been pretty poor on 28 MHz and I wouldn't consider any day to be good. That is in marked contrast to last week when there was reasonable Sporadic-E on five days out of seven.

My own date to watch is always the 23rd of April. It just seems to be a day when there is often an opening on 10m and 6m. This may have something to do with the fact that the Lyrid meteor shower peaks on the 22nd of April and that meteor dust is a vital component in the formation of Sporadic-E in the following days.

This is what was heard on FT8 on 28 Mhz on Sunday the 21st of April

CS7AKZ 10m FT8 1437 km 12:21:59
EI8GS 10m FT8 7 km 12:09:15
OZ1IKY 10m FT8 1433 km 10:47:14
DK0MA 10m FT8 1037 km 10:43:46
EA4WD 10m FT8 1447 km 10:11:14
OZ1PGB 10m FT8 1270 km 10:08:22

152700 -16 -0.3 1122 ~  CQ AM70C ... Special event station in Spain.

New IARU HF beacon list coordinator

For many years, Martin Harrison, G3USF has maintained the list of Worldwide HF Beacons. Martin has now stepped down as the IARU Region 1 HF Beacon Coordinator.

The official IARU HF beacon list will now be maintained by Dennis Green, ZS4BS.

The full list of HF beacons can be seen here... https://iaruhfbeacons.wordpress.com/

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Weak opening on 28 MHz - Sat 20th Apr 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz for the last two days have been poor although Saturday seems to have been the better day.

Friday 19th April 2019... I wasn't able to monitor 28 MHz on Friday the 19th of April but looking at the PSKReporter website and what some of the regulars in the UK heard, it seems like it was pretty dead.

Saturday 20th April 2019... There were a number of FT8 signals during the day although not a great amount. The signals were pretty weak as well.

FT8 stations heard...
IZ0EGA 10m FT8 1930 km 21:15:59
F8DBF 10m FT8 477 km 20:02:32
F4IAA 10m FT8 1016 km 18:43:45
IU0MBJ 10m FT8 1925 km 18:23:59
EA8EE 10m FT8 2733 km 18:13:59
9A7JCY 10m FT8 1943 km 16:43:44
F4GEN 10m FT8 1087 km 16:34:59
DO4OW 10m FT8 1288 km 16:16:14
IZ0PMP 10m FT8 1976 km 16:15:14
PA7EY 10m FT8 899 km 16:14:14
EA5HEN 10m FT8 1616 km 16:10:29
EA4LG 10m FT8 1329 km 16:08:14
F8ZW 10m FT8 1183 km 14:12:47
PA9MD 10m FT8 936 km 11:03:29
PD1DL 10m FT8 921 km 11:02:44
EA1JAZ 10m FT8 1131 km 09:28:45

The most interesting signal was probably that of EA8EE in the Canary Islands at 2733 kms. It was most likely double hop Sporadic-E.

Looking at the PSKReporter website, it looks as if some stations in the UK were hearing South America but there was nothing here.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Another quiet day on 28 MHz... Thurs 18th April 2019

Even though I wasn't able to listen all day, I was still monitoring on and off for most of the daylight hours. This is what I heard on FT8...

F5RRS 10m FT8 1251 km 17:43:01
G4SWR 10m FT8 446 km 14:14:48
G4YBI 10m FT8 592 km 12:57:44
HA7XL 10m FT8 2034 km 12:55:14
DJ8QX 10m FT8 1058 km 11:40:59
CS7AKZ 10m FT8 1437 km 10:32:44

Looking at the logs of regulars on the band like G3XBM, GM4WJA and G0OYQ, it seems as if it was pretty dead all day.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Quiet for a third day in a row on 28 MHz - Wed 17th Apr 2019

In marked contrast to last week, this week seems to be very quiet on 28 MHz with very little Sporadic-E about. This is the third day in a row with hardly anything heard.

Stations heard on FT8...
IW3QBN 10m FT8 1757 km 12:45:17
GI4SNA 10m FT8 334 km 11:23:59
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 11:22:00

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Another quiet day on 28 MHz - Tues 16th Apr 2019

Another quiet day on 28 MHz with just a few weak signals on FT8.

DO2HEY 10m FT8 1355 km 17:07:59
OE7FMH 10m FT8 1493 km 15:01:29
S52EN 10m FT8 1803 km 14:55:29
9A2WB 10m FT8 1949 km 14:48:45
DO5OT 10m FT8 1515 km 11:10:04
IU0MBJ 10m FT8 1925 km 10:32:44
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 10:01:29
DG1PU 10m FT8 1096 km 09:47:44

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

SIGMA antennas for 43 MHz

From what I can tell, there are two main companies making antennas for the Italian 43 MHz CB market... SIRIO and SIGMA ANTENNE.

At the moment, SIGMA have three models...

GP 43
This is a basic quarter wave ground plane. Note that the gain is quoted as 2.5 dB but that is probably dBi as opposed to dBd.

This is very much a compromise antenna and is aimed at those with restricted space. It is probably slightly directional in the direction of the small radials.

This is the five-eight wave ground plane and is made for 43 MHz. It's not obvious if there is enough tubing for it to made long enough to get down to 41 MHz.

The 1:1.5 VSWR bandwidth is claimed to be 1.64 MHz at 43.440 MHz.

At the slightly lower frequency of 42.0 MHz, it might be roughly 1.6 MHz which is pretty similar to the SIRIO model with 1.4 MHz bandwidth.

I suspect that like the SIRIO, the smaller GP43 might be better in terms of surviving high winds and for general listening around the low part of the VHF spectrum (30-50 MHz).

Monday, April 15, 2019

Quiet day on 28 MHz - Mon 15th April 2019

After all the action on 28 MHz yesterday, there was very little if any Sporadic-E around on Monday the 15th of April.

Just three stations were heard...

PA7EY 10m FT8 899 km 16:13:44
DJ1AA 10m FT8 1256 km 16:04:31
MU0WLV 10m FT8 488 km 12:00:19

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Big Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz - Sun 14th Apr 2019

This was easily the biggest Sporadic-E opening of the year so far with no fewer than 224 stations logged here on FT8 on 28 MHz.

It was obvious from early this morning that there was plenty of Sporadic-E over Eastern Europe and as the morning went on, it gradually moved westward.

The main opening for me here on the south coast of Ireland was from about 11:30 to 16:00 UTC.

The two DX signals of note were ZS6S in South Africa and S01WS in Western Sahara.
ZS6S 10m FT8 9354 km 14:00:44
S01WS 10m FT8 2862 km 11:57:14

The most interesting signals for me however were those from the east of Ukraine and the south of Russia. At a distance of roughly 3,100 to 3,700 kms, these were double hop Sporadic-E signals.

Note the skip zone over the west of Ukraine and Belarus where there are no stations heard. This is the classic 'doughnut' ring which exists around every station. This is an area of about 2,300 to 3,000 kms distant where it can be very difficult to work stations. This is more pronounced on 50 MHz than 28 MHz.

Another local Jim, EI8GS was also on and managed to work into Brazil and Canary Islands. My take off in that direction is pretty poor and I heard nothing from the south-west this time out.

Is everyone on FT8???
I looked around the band a few times during the opening. I heard a few weak voices on SSB and nothing else other than a few beacons. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that in excess of 95% of all activity on 28 MHz now is on FT8.

These are the beacons I heard today...
EI7GL 28207.1 ON0RY/B 14:17 14 Apr IO51TUJO20CK Belgium
EI7GL 28257.7 DK0TEN/B 13:35 14 Apr IO51TUJN47NT Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28279.0 DB0UM/B 13:33 14 Apr IO51TUJO73CE Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28251.1 ED4YAK/B 11:48 14 Apr IO51TUIN80FK Spain

EI3RCW (Regional College Waterford) is a station that monitors WSPR signals on several of the HF bands including 28 MHz. This is what it heard today...

I suspect the receive antenna may not be great on 28 MHz but an obvious problem is the lack of stations on 10 metres using WSPR. These reports when automatically uploaded can help with sites like DXMaps that show propagation paths on 28 MHz and above.

It would be nice if more people considered using WSPR on 28 MHz for the Summer rather than down on the lower HF bands where there are more than enough stations reporting already.

50 MHz
I had a quick listen on 50 Mhz today and heard nothing. Looking at PSKReporter, I suspect the openings on 6 metres may have been short.

FT8 Stations Heard
These are the 224 stations that I heard and were uploaded to PSKReporter. Stations over 2,000kms in Bold.

RSGB presentations on Sporadic-E propagation

For anyone with an interest in the low VHF bands, Sporadic-E is the main mode of propagation during the summer months.

During the RSGB conventions of 2017 and 2018, there were presentations on the subject which are shown below. One of the take away points from the videos is the importance of the Jet Stream and how it can trigger Sporadic-E over certain points.

2018... In this presentation, Jim Bacon G3YLA gives an overview of where we are with current understanding of Sporadic E.

2017... In this presentation, Jim Bacon, G3YLA gives an outline of Sporadic-E while Chris Deacon, G4IFK talks about the polarisation of signals.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sporadic-E opening over the N of Europe on 28 MHz - Sat 13th Apr 2019

There was a reasonable Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz on Saturday the 13th of April 2019 with most of the activity centered over northern Europe. Looking at the various FT8 plots, it seemed that the centre of the Sporadic-E hot spot was over the north of Germany / South Sweden / East Denmark.

I was very much at the western fringe of this opening and some of the signals that I heard were probably coming in just above the horizon.

Some of the most eastern stations shown above are pretty close to the distance limit of about 2,300 kms for one hop Sporadic-E.

Two stations heard but not uploaded to PSK reporter were LA9AKA in Norway and EU1KY in Belarus.
121715 -17 -0.2 2221 ~  M0RTP EU1KY -04
122630 -16 -0.0  387 ~  OM8LA LA9AKA R-07

The main opening lasted roughly from 11:00 to 14:00 UTC. None of the signals were really all that strong and despite hearing at least 51 stations, I heard nothing other than FT8 signals on the band.

It looks as if some stations in the UK heard South America in the evening time but there was nothing here.

These are some of the stations heard on the 13th of April and those over 2,000 kms are in Bold.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Late opening on 28 MHz - Fri 12th Apr 2019

Unlike the last three days, Friday the 12th of April 2019 was pretty quiet on 28 MHz for most of the day.

MU0WLV 10m FT8 488 km 12:00:14
PD1DL 10m FT8 921 km 11:53:29
LA6RJA 10m FT8 1243 km 11:15:16

Also heard and not uploaded to PSKReporter
163845  -9  0.1  580 ~  CQ 2E0XXO IO93

In the late evening, there was a suprise opening to Brazil in South America.
202200  13  0.0 1150 ~  WP4PRD PY2BL GG67
202400  11  0.0  816 ~  CQ PY2BL GG67
202500   7  0.0  816 ~  WA4CEM PY2BL +15
202600   8  0.0  816 ~  NV4G PY2BL -24
204900   3 -0.1 1077 ~  KG5YEJ PY2BL GG67
205600 -19 -0.1 1310 ~  KN4PCQ PY2BL 73

Only PY2BL was heard and he was working into the USA.

Video on FT8 from the 2018 RSGB Convention

The RSGB have recently put up a video online about FT8 from their 2018 Convention.

Neil Smith, G4DBN investigates what really matters when you are aiming for the ultimate performance with FT8 and other digital modes. He demonstrates and explains the most common problems which affect the receive and transmit paths on analogue and SDR systems.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Opening to South America & Africa on 28 MHz - Thurs 11th Apr 2019

It's probably safe to say that the Summer Sporadic-E season has well and truly started with the third big opening on 28 MHz in as many days.

Thursday the 11th of April was the best of the three days this week with a total of 119 stations heard on FT8 on 28 MHz. That's pretty remarkable considering it was the early afternoon on a Thursday.

Even though I wasn't able to tune around the band that often, I didn't hear one other signal...no SSB, no CW, no beacons. Maybe I was just listening at the wrong time but it seemed unusual to hear nothing on the band after hearing 119 stations on FT8.

The DX stations heard were UW5EJX/MM off the coast of Angola, 6W/IK5BSC in Senegal, XT2AW in Burkina Faso as well as two stations in Brazil and South Africa.

These were the European stations heard...

Outside Europe highlighted below in Bold

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Conditions on 28 MHz... Wed 10th Apr 2019

There was another Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz on the 10th of April with a few interesting signals. It often felt during the day that the band was just about open. Beacons would appear on the band as the MUF rose and then disappear again.

In terms of DX, both VP8LP and VP8EME were heard on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Neither appeared on my heard list on the PSKReporter website.

143645 -12 -0.4 1889 ~  EA3AXV VP8LP RR73
143715  -6 -0.4 1889 ~  PY2UH VP8LP R+10
143945 -10  0.0  909 ~  EA3EYD VP8EME RR73
144015  -8  0.0  909 ~  OM3DX VP8EME R-19
144045  -4  0.0  908 ~  OM3DX VP8EME 73

Closer to home, there were plenty of signals from around Europe...

Good opening on 28 MHz - Tues 9th Apr 2019

As we approach the middle of April, the level of Sporadic-E level on 28 MHz seems to gradually increasing. This was certainly the case on the 9th of April 2019 when the band was open constantly for about two and a half hours.

These were the conditions for the last two days on 10-metres...

Monday 8th April 2019... A pretty poor day with just four signals heard.

075000 -17 -0.1  737 ~  CQ DX F5UJQ IN94
114115 -20 -0.7 1319 ~  CQ DJ8QX JO31
153045 -15 -0.6 1741 ~  CQ ON8DM JO10
191800 -14 -0.3 1970 ~  PY2JOS EA7DT RR73

The DL0IGI beacon was also heard but didn't last long.
EI7GL 28205.0 DL0IGI/B 12:56 08 Apr IO51TUJN57MT Fed. Rep. of Germany

Tuesday 9th April 2019... This by contrast was much better with a Sporadic-E area somewhere over the Bay of Biscay allowing really good propagation to the south from Ireland and the UK.

Some of the signals heard on FT8

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

New 40 MHz & 60 MHz Transverters on the way from Spectrum Communications

One of the big problems with the new 40 MHz (8-metre) and 60 MHz (5-metre) bands is the lack of equipment. Spectrum Communications in the UK are now looking at adding suitable transverters for each band to their range.

* * * * *

40 MHz (8-metres)...

The proposed TRC8-10sL version will transvert 40-42 MHz down to 28-30 MHz. A 5-watt drive on 10-metres will produce 25-watts on the 8-metre band.

With a standard unmodified HF transceiver capable of transmitting 28.000 to 29.700 MHz, this gives a TX range of 40.000 to 41.700 MHz on 8-metres.

60 MHz (5-metres)...

The proposed TRC5-2sL version will transvert 60-62 MHz up to 144-146 MHz.  A 5-watt drive on 2-metres will produce 25-watts on the 5-metre band.

Note that the proposed IRTS 5m band plan has most of the activity in the 58-60 MHz region rather than 60-62 MHz.

* * * * *

Each unit fully built and tested will cost £290 and this includes shipping. While this is a pretty expensive, it does represent an easy solution to get on the band with a pretty reasonable amount of power.

Link... Spectrum Communications UK

Monday, April 8, 2019

Latest prediction for the next Solar Cycle - April 2019

SOLAR CYCLE 25 PRELIMINARY FORECAST... published: Friday, April 05, 2019

The NOAA/NASA co-chaired international panel to forecast Solar Cycle 25 released a preliminary forecast for Solar Cycle 25 on April 5, 2019.

The consensus: 

Cycle 25 will be similar in size to cycle 24.  It is expected that sunspot maximum will occur no earlier than the year 2023 and no later than 2026 with a minimum peak sunspot number of 95 and a maximum of 130.

In addition, the panel expects the end of Cycle 24 and start of Cycle 25 to occur no earlier than July, 2019, and no later than September, 2020.

Please read the official NOAA press release describing the international panel's forecast at https://www.weather.gov/news/190504-sun-activity-in-solar-cycle

Sunday, April 7, 2019

28 MHz opens to South America for a third day in a row... Sun 7th Apr 2019

It was a case of three out of three today on Sunday the 7th of April as the 28 MHz band opened to South America yet again. As we are getting closer to the summer Sporadic-E season, we seem to be seeing a gradual improvement in conditions.

The signals heard on FT8 today are shown below. I'd have to say though that the signals were pretty weak. I had the radio on in the background and I didn't even notice the signals until I checked the screen.

The map of Europe in the bottom right shows who was hearing PY2BL today. There does seem to be a limit on how far north the stations were located.

These are the stations according to the PSKReporter website...
9A7JCY 10m FT8 1943 km 15:30:44
PY2BL 10m FT8 9120 km 15:14:44
G4HZW 10m FT8 439 km 15:13:29
DJ5JD 10m FT8 1070 km 15:12:44
EA7DT 10m FT8 1715 km 15:04:02
2E1RDX 10m FT8 485 km 10:26:59
DJ8QX 10m FT8 1058 km 10:08:59
DJ9PC 10m FT8 1400 km 09:53:14
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 08:27:01