Thursday, August 27, 2020

Trans-Atlantic opening on 144 MHz between the Canary Islands & the Caribbean - 27th Aug 2020

It looks as if there is a remarkable tropo opening in progress at the moment with EA8CXN on the Canary Islands making contact with several stations in the Caribbean on FT8 & SSB on 144 MHz!

These are some of the stations listed on the PSK Reporter website for the 27th of August 2020...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
NP4BM EA8CXN 2m FT8 5236 km 19:26:26
EA8CXN KP4EIT 2m FT8 5189 km 18:00:44
WP3DN EA8CXN 2m FT8 5158 km 20:18:59
WP4G EA8CXN 2m FT8 5153 km 20:25:11
J69DS EA8CXN 2m FT8 4850 km 22:04:14
FM5CS EA8CXN 2m FT8 4836 km 17:49:26
FG8OJ EA8CXN 2m FT8 4775 km 19:25:26

Note that EA8DEC was also heard across the Atlantic...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
EA8DEC NP4BM 2m FT8 5236 km 23:30:14

Updates further down the post...

Note the distance! Several are in excess of 5000 kms which would be a new distance record for a 144 MHz contact across the Atlantic.

Back on the 8th of April 2020, D4VHF on Cape Verde worked PJ2BR on Curacao and the distance on that occasion was about 4759 kms. It looks as if the new contact by EA8CXN to NP4BM in Puerto Rico has extended that record by roughly 500 kms.

This is the tropo map from F5LEN which shows a marine duct across the Atlantic...

Note that this opening in still in progress and there does seem to be a remote possibility of an opening from the west coast of Spain & Portugal to the Caribbean!

Here are some of the screenshots of the FT8 contacts with EA8CXN...

EA8CXN and FG8OJ...

EA8CXN and WP3DN...

* * * * *
Update - 28th of August - 13:17 UTC: The trans-Atlantic path is still open on the 28th...

This is heard/sent log for EA8CXN on the PSK reporter website...
Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
NP4BM 2m FT8 5236 km 12:45:26
KP4EIT 2m FT8 5189 km 12:42:26
WP4JCF 2m FT8 5170 km 21:46:26
WP3DN 2m FT8 5158 km 10:53:29
WP4G 2m FT8 5153 km 11:15:26
FG5GH 2m FT8 4809 km 12:09:44
FG8OJ 2m FT8 4775 km 12:47:26

Reports for EA8DEC...
Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
KP4EIT EA8DEC 2m FT8 5189 km 12:32:59
FG8OJ EA8DEC 2m FT8 4775 km 12:06:14

Reports for EA8TX...
Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
NP4BM 2m FT8 5219 km 12:54:44
KP4EIT 2m FT8 5173 km 12:57:44
WP3DN 2m FT8 5141 km 09:46:41
WP4G 2m FT8 5136 km 09:48:44

DX-Cluster spots for the 27th of August...
EA8DEC 144174.0 KP4EIT 23:56 27 Aug IL18SK TR FK68 FT8 Puerto Rico
EA8DEC 144174.0 NP4BM 23:39 27 Aug IL18SK - FK68 FT8 Puerto Rico

KP4EIT-@ 144174.0 EA8DEC 23:52 27 Aug -13 TNX Canary Islands
NP4BM-@ 144174.0 EA8CXN 19:07 27 Aug still strong Canary Islands
KP4EIT-@ 144280.0 EA8CXN 18:11 27 Aug swl 4/4 fk68 Canary Islands
NP4BM-@ 144174.0 EA8CXN 17:32 27 Aug calling cq Canary Islands
NP4BM-@ 144174.0 EA8CXN 17:10 27 Aug tnx ft8 qso tropo Canary Islands

EB1DJ 144174.0 KP4EIT 23:57 27 Aug  TR  FT8 -22 dB 1092 Hz Puerto Rico

Update - 28th August 2020 - 15:21 UTC: Alex, EB1DJ in the north-west of Spain reports that he got one single decode of the FT8 signal from KP4EIT in Puerto Rico.

EB1DJ 144174.0 KP4EIT 23:57 27 Aug TR FT8 -22dB

As you can see from the report above, the signal was pretty weak at -22dB so it was buried in the noise. It does however show the potential of the path and if the conditions are right, it may happen again.

To put this in context, the distance from NW Spain to Puerto Rico is just over 6000 kms!

Update - 28th August 2020 - 17:10 UTC: Video of the SSB contact on 144 MHz between EA8CXN on Tenerife on the Canary Islands and FM5CS in Martinque. Just remember, this is just a 4800 kms contact on 144 MHz across the Atlantic! ...

In this second video, EA8CXN completes another SSB contact with FG8OJ in Guadeloupe...

DX-Cluster spots for the 28th of August...
Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
KP4EIT-@ 144174.0 EA8CXN 19:34 28 Aug -14 thanks Cesar Canary Islands
WP4JCF 144174.0 EA8CXN 19:06 28 Aug rx -20 in kp4... Canary Islands
KP4EIT-@ 144174.0 EA8DEC 12:38 28 Aug -20 GRACIAS Canary Islands
KP4EIT-@ 144174.0 EA8TX 09:07 28 Aug SWL -12 INTO FK68 Canary Islands
KP4EIT-@ 144174.0 EA8TX 00:01 28 Aug -12 TNX Canary Islands

EA8CXN 144175.0 KP4EIT 19:33 28 Aug FK68 TR IL18 -12DB. Thanks QSO Puerto Rico
EA8TX 144174.0 KP4EIT 12:24 28 Aug hrd -2db Pse 144.260ssb Puerto Rico
EA8DEC 144174.0 FG8OJ 12:10 28 Aug IL18SK TR FK96 FT8 CQ Guadeloupe
EA8DEC 144174.0 KP4EIT 09:35 28 Aug IL18SK TR FK68 FT8 CQ Puerto Rico
EA8DEC 144174.0 WP4G 00:52 28 Aug IL18SK TR FK68 FT8 Puerto Rico

Update - 30th Aug 2020 - 09:00 UTC: EA8CXN has now put details of the opening in a post on his blog... see HERE

EA8CXN works 7 stations in the Caribbean on FT8 and 2 on SSB.
EA8DEC works 3 on FT8.

This is the sequence of events on 144 MHz....

27th Aug 2020 - 17:08 UTC: EA8CXN completes a contact on FT8 with NP4BM in Puerto Rico. Signal reports of -9dB and -13dB are exchanged. The distance was about 5243 kms which is a new record for a trans-Atlantic contact on 144 MHz

27th Aug - 17:15 UTC: EA8CXN complete a FT8 contact with FG8OJ in Guadeloupe (~4780 kms). Reports of +25dB and -2dB are exchanged.

27th Aug - 17:20 UTC: EA8CXN and FG8OJ complete a contact on SSB.

27th Aug - 17:51 UTC: EA8 CXN completes a contact on FT8 with FM5CS in Martinique (~4842 kms). Reports of -11dB and -18dB are exchanged.

27th Aug - 17:55 UTC: EA8CXN and FM5CS complete a contact on SSB.

27th Aug - 18:20 UTC: EA8CXN completes a contact on FT8 with WP3DN (5165 kms). Reports of -12dB and -17dB are exchanged.

27th Aug - 19:24 UTC: EA8CXN completes a contact on FT8 with J69DS on St.Lucia (-4856 kms). Reports of -5dB and -6dB are exchanged.

27th Aug - 23:44 UTC: EA8DEC completes a contact on FT8 with NP4BM on Puerto Rico. Reports of -11dB and -14dB are exchanged.

28th Aug - 00:08 UTC: EA8DEC completes a contact on FT8 with KP4EIT (5193 kms). Reports of -13dB and -13dB are exchanged.

28th Aug - 00:46 UTC: EA8DEC completes a contact on FT8 with WP4G (5156 kms). Reports of -14dB and -15dB are exchanged.

28th Aug - 19:33 UTC: EA8CXN completes a contact on FT8 with KP4EIT (5196 kms). Reports of -14dB and -19dB are exchanged.

28th Aug - 21:49 UTC: EA8CXN completes a contact on FT8 with WP4JCF (5176 kms). Reports of -12dB and -9dB are exchanged.

Working conditions for EA8CXN...
Antenna: 6el BigSignal Quad
FT8 transceiver: Yaesu FT-991
SSB transceiver: Icom IC-970H
Amplifier: 500W Telecom 2m HK

Update 2nd Sept 2020: Thanks to Fernando, EA8TX for supplying the following info.

EA8TX was the third station in the Canary Islands to make contacts on 144 MHz to the Caribbean. Located on the island of Tenerife, Fernando managed to complete two FT8 contacts with KP4EIT and WP4G on Puerto Rico. 

Fernando also reports that KP4EIT peaked at -1dB on FT8 but soon faded down to -12dB to -20dB where the signal remained for a long time. Fernando speculates that a SSB contact might have been possible but it would have required trying just at the peak of the strongest signal where as the signals were well into the noise for most of the time.

Fernando also decoded NP4BM but was unable to hear the more southerly stations in Guadeloupe and Mantinue due to high ground in the way.

That pretty much closes off the post for this opening as I think that gives a good idea of what happened and who worked who. If anyone has any additional information then please let me know.


144 MHz contact between Denmark & the Canary Islands exceeds 3000kms

Long distance contacts on 144 MHz that are in the region of 3000kms are always of interest as that is the distance across the North Atlantic between Ireland and Newfoundland. In this series of blog posts, I will look back at some of the 3000km plus contacts on 144 MHz during the Summer of 2020 that I haven't reported on yet.

Back on the 12th of July 2020, there was a remarkable contact made on FT8 on 144 MHz between EA8CXN in the Canary Islands and OV3T in Denmark at about 19:55 UTC.

OV3T in Denmark was using 400 watts into a 10-element Yagi for the contact. I'm not sure what EA8CXN was using.

EA8CXN gave OV3T a report of +8dB while OV3T gave EA8CXN a report of -10dB. This probably meant that CW or FT8 were the only viable modes for making a contact.

Mode of Propagation... The distance was in the region of 3710 kms which is well in excess of the usual 2300km limit for one hop Sporadic-E. So what is the likely explanation?

First off, we can look at the Hepburn prediction map for tropo for the day...

If you examine the right hand side of the map, it shows an enhanced maritime duct from the Canary Islands (EA8) to Spain and Portugal. This tropo path was confirmed earlier on the 12th when EB1DJ spotted EA8CXN on the DX  Cluster.

EB1DJ 144174 EA8CXN 10:30 13 Jul 20  TR  FT8 +4 dB 863 Hz Canary Islands

While OV3T was working EA8CXN at 19:55 UTC, another Danish station OZ1CCM worked EA1YV at about the same time which suggests a short Sporadic-E opening from Denmark to NW Spain & N Portugal.

While we can never be 100% sure of what exactly happened, this is the likely scenario....

There was an marine duct from the Canary Islands to the west coast of Spain and Portugal for most of the day. This maritime duct probably didn't get more than 100kms inland and probably didn't cross over the mountains on the Iberian peninsula.

At about 19:50 UTC, there was a short Sporadic-E opening from Denmark to NW Spain & N Portugal. The Sporadic-E signals from Denmark got coupled into the marine duct and on to the Canary Islands.

The tropo part of the path probably accounted for 1500kms of the total while the remaining 2200kms was Sporadic-E.

In conclusion... This contact yet again shows the value of the FT8 digital mode in exposing propagation paths that we didn't know were possible. 

It also shows the paradox of FT8... i.e. The problem with FT8 is that it is overcrowded because there are too many on the one frequency but it's because there are so many on the same frequency that there is a better chance of catching unusual openings.

The opening from Denmark to the Canary Islands also raises the possibility of a further extension further south to the Cape Verde Islands. The maritime duct off the west coast of Africa often extends from Cape Verde to Spain and Portugal and if that coincided with a similar Sporadic-E opening again then perhaps contacts in the region of 5,200kms might be possible.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Video on the Galway Digital Radio Network by Steve Wright, EI5DD

A recent video presentation by Steve Wright, EI5DD on the principles of DRM radio and the network in Ireland is shown below ........

If anyone in Ireland is interested in getting going on digital radio then it's worth watching to get a basic understanding of what's involved.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

New DMR repeater on 70cms proposed for Cork City

The above map shows the digital DMR repeaters across the south of Ireland. The cluster in the west gives coverage across large parts of Galway and the surrounding counties.

The main one in the south east is located on Mount Leinster, a 794-metre mountain on the border of counties Carlow & Wexford. The repeater near Clashmore in West Waterford provides coverage to parts of East Cork. It is however largely screened from Cork City.

There are now plans to get a new DMR repeater up and running near Cork City before the end of 2020.


  • An elevated site near Cork City has been identified for the repeater.
  • It will operate on the 70cms band.
  • It will be DMR only, no other modes like FM or C4FM.
  • Equipment for the project has been sourced.
  • A licence has been applied for.

The repeater should have very good coverage in Cork City and surrounding areas. It is hoped that the establishment of a new DMR repeater will encourage the adoption of this new digital mode in the area.

More info as the project progresses...

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Bogus FT8 spots from DS3SHI on 28 MHz

Nearly anyone in Europe transmitting on FT8 on 28 MHz in 2020 will have been spotted by DS3SHI who is supposed to be in South Korea. This is the FT8 coverage for a station in the UK on 10-metres on the 18th of August 2020.

The first impression is that the UK station is being heard by other stations around Europe and by DS3SHI in South Korea. However, that is not the case and the DS3SHI spots are bogus.

A search on Google will show that other stations have been caught out by this and they believed that their FT8 signal on 28 MHz was reaching South Korea.

So where is this bogus DS3SHI station???

There was a very good Sporadic-E opening in Europe on the 29th of April 2020 and I made a record of the FT8 reception map for DS3SHI on 28 MHz. 

Notice how there are so many European stations and there is nothing in China, South Korea or Japan? Another tell-tale sign that this station was not in South Korea and was located in Europe.

If we take a closer look at the map for Europe then you'll notice a large cluster in the east of Germany.

I've added in Yellow shading slowing the 'skip' zone which is largely free of stations with a doughnut of stations beyond that. From this, we can deduce that DS3SHI is in the southern part of east Germany.

So we can zoom in a bit further and you can see the concentration of stations. The centre of this concentration is somewhere west of the city of Chemnitz.

Over the Summer months, I have checked the FT8 map on 28 MHz for DS3SHI and I kept a record of the stations that were heard at 0dB or stronger. The approximate location of these are shown below with the three highest signal levels shown as well.

The whole area seems to be quite hilly so it may be possible to be close to DS3SHI but be quite weak if there was a hill in the way. However, it seems likely that this DS3SHI station is located near the small city of Zwickau.

As for why? Why is someone in Germany using a callsign (DS3SHI) and locator (PM48si) for South Korea? Is it someone using an online SDR receiver? Is DS3SHI even a real call sign? 

The FT8 spots on 28 MHz that this person generates serve no useful purpose and just misleads people. As far as I can tell, this person is only listening on 28 MHz and is not transmitting.

Hopefully if people search Google for the DS3SHI call sign in future, they will find this blog post and discover that the FT8 reports from DS3SHI are bogus.

Update - 25th Aug 2020: Just after this post appeared, it was verified that the spots from DS3SHI were coming from an IP address in Germany. All spots from DS3DHI have now been blocked from the PSK Reporter site.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Slovenian distance record on 40 MHz extended to 104 kms - 17th Aug 2020

In a recent post, I reported on the first Slovenia to Slovenia 40 MHz contact between S50B and S59F on the 9th of August 2020. The distance over an obstructed path was in the region of 20 kms.

On the 17th of August 2020, Borut S50B managed to complete a contact with Michael S5/M0MPM to extend the inter-S5 distance to 104 kms.

Michael S5/M0MPM writes.... "Borut S50B and myself (S5/M0MPM) just smashed the intra-Slovenian distance record on 8m, 40.680Mhz this morning 17/08/2020 at about 7:45 UTC. 

Mode was FT8, it took almost 9 minutes to complete. We tried Phone and CW first with no luck. I’m here in JN75px and Borut is in JN65xu, 104kms. 73s were received on both ends. 

No line of sight, it was some type of tropo or possibly aircraft scatter as I did not see even a trace of his signal for several minutes in between the decodes I’m using a FT857d which happily transmits on this freq , antenna is a half size G5RV, with tuner. 

I contacted Borut after reading the articles about 8m on your blog. Got confirmation that it is legal for class A CEPT license holders to transmit on this band (secondary user) The Irish beacon EI1KNH on 40.013 MHz was strong from midday for several hours Michael S5/M0MPM"

In a report from Borut, he reports that the ZSR (S5 amateur radio union) confirmed to him that as Michael had the correct CEPT papers, he could use the band like any other S5 station.

After confirming this, they arranged a sked on 40.680 MHz at 9:30am local time (7:30 UTC). They initially tried SSB and CW but without success. They later succeeded by making a digital FT8 contact.

S50B was running 100 watts from an ICOM IC-7100 into a dedicated SIRIO vertical for 8-metres. 

S5/M0MPM was using a Yaesu FT857D running 100w into a half-size G5RV with antenna tuner. He reports that he is 480m ASL and the antenna is about 8m high as inverted-V,

Looking at the path between Borut and Michael, there are a lot of mountains in the way and a normal tropo contact looks unlikely. Michael suggests that aircraft scatter may have been responsible which is a real possibility.

Considering that we are still close to the peak of the Perseids, then meteor scatter may be a possibility although 104 kms does seem a bit close for that mode?

Either way, it was another interesting contact on the new 8-metre band and it's welcome news to have another station active.

Review of the 2020 QSO Today Online Expo

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are no Hamfests or Amateur Radio expeditions being held anywhere in 2020. As an alternative, there was an online QSO TODAY EXPO held on the weekend of the 8th & 9th of August 2020.

Some 26,000 people registered for the event with 14,000 attending online over the weekend.

My own interest in the event was the online talks and a full list is shown below. Each one was about 30 minutes in duration and covered a wide variety of topics. Over the EXPO weekend and the following week, I've probably watched about two-thirds of the videos on offer.

When the videos were streamed live, I found the feed would fail and I'd have to re-enter the talk again. This problem didn't happen when I looked at the recordings later so I presume it was a bandwidth issue during the EXPO weekend.

The videos could be described as useful primers on subjects that you might be interested in. They certainly weren't as detailed as say some videos on YouTube but many were entertaining and interesting all the same.

Many of the talks had the slides available as a downloadable PDF which is useful to refer to after the event.

There was a Q&A session after each talk although I had no idea how to access this and I really didn't take the effort to find out.

There were commercial booths with products online as well although I didn't bother looking at these. Still, with 14,000 plus visiting the site, I'm sure plenty probably did.

I suspect that in future, we're going to see a lot more online events like this even when the COVID-19 pandemic is over. It removes the need and expense of having to travel long distances.

Maybe these online EXPO's may not have everything that a real physical EXPO has but there's a lot to be said for being able to attend from the comfort of your own home.

The videos can be viewed until the 9th of September 2020. 


List of talks...

Keynote Address: COVID-19: Amateur Radio’s Impact On Problem Solving To Create A Global Response To The Pandemic

How to Solder - Steve Johnston, WD8DAS

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Frequency problems with 28 MHz WSPR


My HF radio is monitoring the WSPR frequency of 28.1246 MHz most days and feeding the reception reports up to the WSPRnet website.

As 10 metres is the highest HF band in terms of frequency, it is also the band that is subject to the most drift.

This is illustrated in the screenshot taken above on the 16th of August 2020. You can see two signals that are outside the WSPR band which is 200 Hz wide. As might be expected, I didn't get any successful decodes from that particular two minute period.

I've checked my own reports against others and I think I am pretty much on the correct frequency.

I just thought it was a nice example of how important it is to make sure you are on the correct frequency on WSPR. If there is any doubt then you should aim to be in the centre of the WSPR band and not at its edges.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Reception of the EI1KNH beacon on 40 MHz via meteor scatter


The Irish 8-metre EI1KNH beacon on 40.013 MHz is located just to the south of Dublin and became operational in May of 2020.

Due to the nearby Dublin and Wicklow mountains, it is badly screened from the south west and even though I have a good take off in that direction, I am unable to hear it directly.

However, I tried listening for it during the Perseid meteor shower and even though I'm a bit close for meteor scatter, I thought 206 kms was far enough for it to work.

As you can see from the graphic above, I got several successful PI4 decodes on the 12th of August 2020.

The EI1KNH signal alternates between the digital PI4 mode, an identification in morse code and a carrier. The PI4 part of the transmission lasts about 24 seconds so a reasonable meteor burst is required to decode the signal. The 40 MHz band is excellent for meteor scatter so there are plenty of bursts available during major meteor showers.

The chart above shows the meteor bursts decoded on the 13th of August. Note that the signals were quite weak as they are in the range of -20dB to -26dB, below what can be heard by ear. This is probably the average signal for the duration of the 24 second PI4 transmission because I could certainly hear PI4 signals by ear at times.

Antenna... It's worth pointing out that I was only using a vertical antenna for 28 MHz for these tests. If I had a resonant antenna or a small directional beam then the results should have been even better.

If I can hear meteor burst from 206 kms away then anyone in the UK should certainly be able to hear it.

For EI1KNH, tune to 40.0122 MHz and listen on USB. For the OZ7IGY beacon in Denmark, try 40.0702 MHz USB.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Video: IRTS Contests and Licence Exams in EI EI7GY


The Mid-Ulster Amateur Radio Club are holding a series of lectures online and their most recent one was from Joe, EI7GY.

While the full video is 1 hour 44 minutes long, it can be broken down as follows...

00 to 04 mins - Introduction

04 to 34 mins - EI7GY talks about the IRTS contests and how they are organised

34 to 49 mins - Q&A session on the contest presentation

49 to 68 mins - EI7GY talks about the licence situation in Ireland (EI) and how the exams for the licence are held. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes that many people won't be aware of

68 to 104 mins - Q&A on the exam presentation. Other items like 5 MHz operation and how to reach out to more people are also discussed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Meteor Scatter signals on 143 MHz from GRAVES - the French radar system


As shown in the graphic above, the GRAVES radar system in France is used to detect satellites that go over France. The transmitter on 143.050 MHz near Dijon in the east of France runs huge power levels in the effective region of hundreds of kilowatts and reflected signals are picked up by special receiving station in a different part of the country.

One of the upsides of all this is that this 'radio curtain' over France will also interact with ionised trails of gas left by meteors as they enter the atmosphere.

On Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the far west of Scotland, there is a dedicated receiver that listens for the GRAVES signal on 143.050 MHz with a directional beam.

The online receiver with info can be found here...

I had a listen during the Perseid meteor shower and got this good example of a meteor burst...

It's worth pointing that you can listen for meteor bursts regardless of the weather. It can make for an interesting alternative when the skies are cloudy.

The best time of day is usually during the morning peak at 06:00 UTC for stations in the UK & Ireland and obviously during major meteor showers.

GRAVES transmit antenna array

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New 8m & 5m bands added to the popular PSK Reporter website...

The PSK Reporter website is used by nearly everyone on digital modes to see what is being heard by stations active on the HF and VHF bands.

Thanks to the efforts of Tim EI4GNB, the new 40 MHz (8-metres) and 60 MHz (5-metres) bands have been added to this hugely popular platform.

Tim writes...."After some emailing with Philip Gladstone, the coder behind the 'reverse beacon' system known as PSK REPORTER, it now officially supports 5m and 8m reporting and mapping, based on reports from [digital mode software] operating within the bandplan guidelines published on the IRTS website drafted by Dave Court."

Approx 40.0 to 40.7 MHz & 58.0 to 60.1 MHz

"This will mean anyone operating FT8/FT4/Digimode etc., or logging PI4 beacons, using supporting software with the 'psk reporter' option enabled, will now be correctly placed on the PSK Reporter map.

We nominated 2 new colours for this - 8m is to be Purple, and 5m is a Silver-Grey."

It's safe to say that the majority of radio amateurs in the world are still are not aware of the 8-metre and 5-metre bands. Even though this is just a small step, it will hopefully raise the profile of these two new VHF bands. 

Update: Example below of a FT8 contact between S50B and S59F on the 12th of August.

Monday, August 10, 2020

First Slovenia to Slovenia contact on 40 MHz - 9th Aug 2020

On the 9th of August 2020 at 10:14 UTC, Borut S50B and Ivo S59F managed to complete a contact on 40.680 MHz for the first contact on the new 8-metre band between two Slovenian stations.

Even though the distance between each of the stations was only about 20 kms, this was over a very poor path with a lot of high ground in the way. Signal reports of 5/3 and 5/5 were exchanged on SSB.

For this first S5 to S5 contact on 40 MHz, S59F was using an ICOM IC-7300 with 100 watts into a dual band 50 MHz / 70 MHz Yagi. It's probably safe to assume that this antenna had no gain on 40 MHz so would be no better than a dipole for the band.

S50B was also running 100 watts from an ICOM IC-7100 but into a dedicated SIRIO vertical for 8-metres.

Even though the Slovenian licencing authorities allocated a slice of spectrum at 8-metres back in 1998, it's only in 2020 that S5 stations have started up on the band. This is largely in response to the new 8-metre allocations in Ireland and Lithuania.

S50B had already worked EI4GNB and LY2YR for S5 firsts at 40 MHz so the contact with S59F was his third first for the band.

As can be seen below, the 8-metre allocation in Slovenia is from 40.660 to 40.700 MHz, the exact same as the ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) band.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Video: The history and appreciation of Morse... by GI4ONL

The Mid-Ulster Amateur Radio Club recently posted a video on their YouTube channel titled 'The history and appreciation of Morse...With Victor Mitchell GI4ONL'

The video can be broken down into three parts...

00 to 33 minutes - The first part deals with the the history of morse code and deals with the origins of terms like CQ, 73, 88, the various Q-Codes, SOS, Mayday and some terms that are still in use today on the marine bands.

33 to 47 minutes - How to learn morse code properly.

47 to 90 minutes - Questions & Answers

Thursday, August 6, 2020

New 2700km+ IARU Region-1 tropo record on 23cms between Ireland and the Canary Islands - 17th July 2020

On the 17th of July 2020, there was an opening between the Canary Islands and the UK & Ireland on the VHF & UHF bands. A remarkable contact was made on 1296 MHz between EA8CXN and EI2FG which turned out to be a new IARU Region-1 tropo record for the 23cms microwave band.

In a report on his website, Cesar EA8CXN reports that there was a good tropo opening on July 17, 2020,  between Ireland-England and the Canary Islands.

In the evening, EA8CXN completed contacts with G7RAU, G4LOH and EI20C (op. Mark, EI3KD) on 432 MHz. EI20C mentions that John, EI2FG is also active on 1296 MHz so tests begin.

G7RAU is the first to complete a successful contact on SSB on 1296.200 MHz using just 5 watts into a 56 element Yagi. G4LOH also completed a contact.

After a period of deep QSB, a successful SSB contact was completed with EI2FG on 23 cms with 5/1 and 5/4 reports exchanged. The distance was an amazing 2714 kms.

Not only was this the first ever contact between Ireland and Canary Islands on 1296 MHz but it was also a new IARU Region-1 tropo record for 23 cms.

The map above shows the limit of the new record. The old record of 2661 kms was set on the 14th of July 2017 between EA8AVI and M0VRL.

The map also suggests that there is plenty of scope for the record to be broken with sea paths further north to the west of Wales and up the Irish Sea.

Equipment... For the record SSB contact on 23 cms, EA8CXN was using 150 watts into a small parabolic dish which was 50 cms in diameter. The feed point for the dish was a 3-element horizontally polarized PCB Yagi.

EI2FG was using his EME station of 200 watts into a 3-metre parabolic dish. The feed point was Right-Hand Circular Polarization on transmit and Left-Hand CP on receive.

Propagation... The mode of propagation was via a maritime duct over the ocean.

This duct exists for long periods of the year between the Canary Islands and the western coast of Spain & Portugal and then gets extended sometimes further north to the UK and Ireland.

In conclusion.... To put this this record 2714 km contact on 1296 MHz, a microwave band into perspective, it's worth remembering that the distance across the North Atlantic from Ireland to Newfoundland is around 3000kms. 

It's also likely that the record distance could be exceeded further north to Wales or up the Irish Sea as outlined earlier. The biggest obstacle at the moment is probably the lack of stations on 23 cms.

If the D4VHF station on Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa ever became operational on 1296 MHz, the record could well be extended to about 4000 kms.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Slow Scan TV experiments from the International Space Station - 4th & 5th August 2020

On the 4th & 5th of August 2020, there will be Slow Scan TV transmissions from the International Space Station on 145.800 MHz.

See below....

MAI-75 SSTV activity planned for Aug 4 and 5, 2020

The final crew schedule for the week of Aug 3-9 was released recently and it showed a MAI-75 activity scheduled for Aug 4 and 5. This is soon after the Space X Demo-2 undock so changes to that event could impact the schedule.

This is the Moscow Aviation Institute SSTV experiment that is activate for orbital passes over Moscow, Russia. It has traditional been PD-180 or PD-120 and transmitting on 145.800 MHz.

**Update Aug. 3**
Looks like they made an adjustment to the schedule for Aug 5.
Aug 4 (12:25-18:10 UTC) is setup and day 1.
Aug 5 (08:15-18:25 UTC) is day 2 and close out of operations.

These are the passes for my location on the south coast of Ireland but they should be good for anyone in the UK or Ireland.

Tuesday 4th August 2020 (UK & Irish time which is UTC+1 hour)
15:21 to 15:27
16:57 to 17:04 (High pass)
18:34 to 18:41 (High pass)

Wednesday 5th August 2020
14:33 to 14:39
16:09 to 16:16 (High pass)
17:46 to 17:53 (High pass)

19:23 to 19:29

In a previous post HERE, I outlined how the European Space Agency had a series of video tutorials on how to decode SSTV signals from the International Space Station.

For a really simple set-up then just download the Robot36 app to your smartphone and hold it next to your 2-metre radio. See this post HERE

Updates on the ISS SSTV activity will be on this website...

Updates... I lost two images as I wasn't used to the Robot36 app on the smartphone. Lots of controls in the programme but no instructions. I finally figured out that I needed to press the 'floppy disk' symbol to save the image as a photo as soon as the image was decoded. Need to be careful with the 'Play' / 'Pause' controls as this wipes out the previous photo. I also have the volume on the radio very high to get something showing in the green control bar.

Decoded at 17:40 UTC on the 4th. Not great but it's a start

Wed 5th Aug 2020... They seemed to have updated the format with more SSTV images sent on each pass.

Weak signal with two periods where the signal dived into the noise

Another image decoded on my phone

There was another pass at 5:50pm local time and I got two more decodes...

I would probably need to spend more time adjusting volume levels with some test signals to get things right. However, it's not bad for just holding a mobile phone next to the radio.

Monday, August 3, 2020

QSO TODAY Expo Virtual Talks - Sat 8th & Sun 9th Aug 2020

Normally at Amateur Radio conventions or expos, there are a series of talks which run alongside all of the other commercial business going on. With the COVID-19 restrictions, the QSO TODAY team have put on a virtual expo instead.

What is of particular interest are the sixty or so virtual talks and there is something there for everyone. Please note that these are free.

Speakers below begin at 1500 UTC on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of August in 5 parallel tracks.  Start on the hour with Q&A following each one. More info on how to register HERE

From the organisers...

All lectures are: 
fully live interactive with speaker during the session hour
completely downloadable
collateral materials are downloadable in PDF format
everything available up to 30 days beyond the presentation

The list of sixty or so talks are shown below....

List of talks...

How to Solder - Steve Johnston WD8DAS

The History of Heath Company, the G.I. Bill, and Economics of Restoration - Paul Topolski W1SEX

21st Century Transceiver Design: The K4 High Performance Direct Sampling SDR - Eric Swartz, WA6HHQ

3D Printing Microwave Antennas - Karen Ricker KG5GAK

Saturday, August 1, 2020

FT8 Experiment on 40 MHz - 1st to 15th August 2020

Between the 1st and 15th of August 2020, LY2YR & S50B will be experimenting with FT8 on the new 8-metre band.

Gintas, LY2YR in Lithuania will be transmitting on 40.220 MHz.

Borut, S50B in Slovenia will be transmitting on 40.680 MHz.

Both stations will be using the clone programme WSJT-Z in auto-replay mode. Both stations would welcome any reception reports.

S50B and LY2YR will be available for tests with EI stations from 10:00 to 21:00 UTC.

Info from LY2YR.... "Announcement. From 08.01 to 08.15 will work two FT8 Robots (auto-replay mode WSJT-Z),  LY2YR at 40.220 MHz and  the second S50B at 40.680 MHz. For EI / S5 tests during daytime from ~10 to 21 local time, no qsl. Only to CQ calls will be answered, multiple answers will also available. CQ mode by request via the messenger."