Saturday, June 20, 2020

EI1KNH - Update on the new Irish beacon on 60 MHz

Back in early 2018, the 60 MHz (5-metre) band was allocated to radio amateurs in Ireland (EI) on a secondary non-interference basis. Now we have news that the very first beacon on 60 MHz is operational! See updates below...

The new beacon is operational since the 16th of December 2019 and has the call EI1KNH.

It is on 60.013 MHz and runs 25 watts into a vertical folded dipole. This is currently the only 5-metre beacon operational in the world.

The new 5-metre beacon is co-sited with some of the existing Irish beacons - EI0SIX on 50 MHz, EI4RF on 70 MHz. The elevated site has a locator of IO63VE and is located about 20 kms to the south of Dublin.

An 8-metre beacon operating on 40.013 MHz from the same site became operational in May of 2020 with an output power of 40 watts.

The photo above shows the vertical folded dipole for the 60 MHz beacon and the 40 MHz vertical for the 8-metre beacon.

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Update : 20th June 2020 - FT8 replaces PI4 -  Tim, EI4GNB reports that the new configuration for the EI1KNH 5-metre beacon in FT8 - CW - Carrier, with FT8 being in the first period of every minute. There are no breaks, just 60 phases an hour non-stop. This should make it easier for people to listen for it as there is a huge user base running the FT8 and WSJT-X software.

Previously it was running PI4 which is a specialised digital mode for beacons.

If anyone hearing the beacon tunes to 60.012 MHz USB, they should see FT8 decode at 1240 Hz.

Tim writes..."It is hoped that the FT8 addition will encourage more people to check for the beacon, it being a simple task of adding the 60.012 frequency to their software's FREQUENCIES list, as ALL REGIONS and ALL MODES, then they can just quickly flip over when working ft8 on 6m to see if the MUF is rising to at least 60 MHz."

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The 60 MHz beacon transmits on the digital PI4 mode and CW. Details below...

PI4 + CW + Carrier 00111 (1st, 2nd & 3rd Minute of every 5 minutes) Synchronised Beacon Project (SBP)

The RF for the beacon is generated by an RFZero module running about 20 milliwatts (+13dBm).

This is then fed into a homebrew amplifier with an RA30H0608 PA stage generating 25 watts of RF.

This is then fed into a homebrew band pass filter before going to the vertical folded dipole.

Expected Range???..... What range might be expected from a beacon on 60 MHz? Considering it a weak signal mode, a tropo range of somewhere in the range of 200 kms might be expected. Perhaps up to 400 kms during times of high pressure.

It's important to note however that the Dublin and Wicklow mountains which are just to the west attenuate the signals in that direction. The path across to the west coast of Wales is much better.

A good guide would be the other beacons on 50 MHz and 70 MHz. If you can hear those then there is a reasonable chance of hearing the 60 MHz beacon.

Sporadic-E Range... It's certain that the 60 MHz beacon will be heard in Europe during the Sporadic-E season from late April to mid-August.

The map below shows the approximate limit of one hop Sporadic-E. It's likely that stations in the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Italy and the south of Spain should be able to hear it on a regular basis.

When conditions are really good, stations in France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway should be able to hear it.

Shorter skip than that might be a problem though. If it's is exceptional then the skip might shorten to say the Netherlands. I suspect that most of the UK will be in the skip zone for Sporadic-E.

North America???.... There is every chance that the beacon could be heard in North America via multi-hop Sporadic-E. It just needs someone over there to make the effort.

Reports... Reception reports should be sent to Tim EI4GNB. Look up EI1KNH on

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