Friday, April 30, 2021

New 8m beacon from Slovenia on 40.670 MHz

Update - 30th Apr 2021: The S55ZMS beacon has now been moved to its final destination and is on air with a full 7 watts to a Halo antenna.

Frequency: 40.670 MHz 
Call: S55ZMS 
QTH: Dolina 
Height ASL: 320m 
Antenna: Halo 
Polarization: Horizontal
Pwr: 7.00 W 
Modes: PI4 + CW 
Beacon Ops: S53M & S51FB
Status: Active
Updated: 30.04.2021

Antenna is about 3m above metal roof, abt 7m above ground.

Update - 16th Feb 2021: The S55ZMS beacon is currently under test. The power output is 4-watts into a multi-band dipole. The plan is to eventually increase this to 10 watts and to move the beacon to the S53M contest location which is situated on top of a hill. A proper 40-MHz dipole is planned for the site but its exact location on the site and its orientation hasn't been finalised.

* * *

More good news for the new 8-metre amateur radio band! A new beacon in Slovenia is now operational on 40.670 MHz.

The callsign of the beacon is S55ZMS and it has an output power of 7 watts into a dipole. The transmissions are in both CW and on PI4, a digital mode designed for beacons.

The beacon is located near Bakovci in the far eastern part of Slovenia near the border with Hungary and its locator is JN86BO.

The licensing authorities first gave permission for 8m beacons in Slovenia back in June of 1998 but not  much happened at the time. This new beacon in the 40 MHz ISM band (Industrial, Scientific & Medical) is now the third operational 8m beacon in Europe joining OZ7IGY in Denmark and EI1KNH in Ireland.

The map above shows the location of the 8m beacon in Slovenia and the distances from it. It's very likely that it will be heard around Europe during the Summer months by Sporadic-E propagation. The range is likely to be in the region of 800 to 2100 kms.

The fact that the new beacon from Slovenia is also further south than the beacons in Ireland and Denmark is also significant. As we move further into solar cycle 25 and the flux rises, there will be times when 40 MHz signals will be heard much further away in places like North & South America, Africa and Asia.

It's also highly likely that the 40 MHz signal from Slovenia will be heard in South Africa through a combination of Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) and Sporadic-E (Sp-E).

For more information on the 40 MHz band, visit this page on the blog...

S50B in Slovenia looking for South African stations on 40 MHz

Borut, S50B in Slovenia informs me in an email message that he now has a 4-element Yagi (YU7EF design) for the 40 MHz (8m) band.

During Sporadic-E openings in the Summer, S50B should have a good signal in the region of 1000 to 2200 kms around Europe. As the map shows, Borut should have a very good signal into the UK and Ireland.

S50B is especially interested in trying to make contact with stations in South Africa on the new 40 MHz band. He can be contacted via his QRZ page.

The South African ZS6WAB beacon on 40.475 MHz has already been heard by several stations in the south of Europe. See previous post.

As the map shows, the ZS6WAB is about 4000kms from the Geomagnetic Equator. Slovenia (S5) or Croatia (9A) seems to be around the same distance to the North so TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation) contacts should be possible.

40 MHz is also a band where there are even more Sporadic-E openings than 50 MHz (6m) so multi-hop Sp-E is also a possibility.

It's only a matter of time before we see the first contact between Europe and South Africa on the new 8-metre amateur band.

1) For more information on the new 8-metre band, visit my 40 MHz page

Weak opening to St Helena on 28 MHz - 29th Apr 2021


Thursday 29th April 2021: This was a reasonably quiet day with only 21 stations in 9 countries heard on FT8.

The main Sporadic-E opening was to the west of the Iberian peninsula with 11 stations heard from Spain and Portugal. Like the higher VHF bands, the Sporadic-E footprint on 28 MHz can often be quite localised with a certain area of a country being heard and nothing from the rest.

The only DX station was ZD7JC on St Helena Island in the South Atlantic. It's probably no accident that it lines up exactly with the Sporadic-E opening. 

It is probably likely that the signal from St Helena traveled to Spain/Portugal via either F2 or TEP propagation and from there to Ireland via Sp-E.

As we move into May, we can expect the big openings on 28 MHz and above to start.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

W3LPL's forecast for upcoming Solar Cycle 25 - Apr 2021

Frank Donovan, W3LPL is one of the top contesters in the USA and is a key forecaster of upcoming conditions on the HF amateur radio bands.

In a recent forecast (April 2021), he made a forecast about how good upcoming Solar Cycle 25 would be based on the Solar Flux numbers at the end of December 2021. I have put together a graphic which shows this above. The starting point for April 2021 is a solar flux index of 77 which is roughly the average for the month.

W3LPL wrote... “If the SFI persists below 90 through December 2021, then propagation should improve gradually until a solar maximum weaker than Cycle 24’s arrives in 2024.

If the SFI persists above 110 through December 2021, then propagation should improve rapidly until a solar maximum similar to Cycle 24’s arrives in 2024.

“If the SFI persists above 125 through December 2021, then propagation is likely to improve more rapidly until a solar maximum stronger than Cycle 24’s arrives in 2024.

(SFI = Solar Flux Index)

As with everything on the sun, there is always an amount of uncertainty in solar forecasts but it will be interesting to revisit this at the end of the year and see where we're at.

Opening to South America on 28 MHz - 28th Apr 2021


Wednesday 28th April 2021: This was a reasonably modest day on the 28 MHz band with 71 stations in 21 countries heard on FT8.

There was some Sporadic-E propagation to Europe with EA7GPW in the south of Spain being the last station heard at 21:44 UTC. There was also a modest opening to South America.

I didn't get a chance to do any scans of the band as I was out for a long walk for most of the day. One of the advantages of FT8 is that you can check to see what propagation conditions were like on the band without actually being there.

The solar flux on the day was 79 which is not much above what it was at sunspot minimum.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

700km+ D-STAR contact made on the 70cms UHF band across the Caribbean - Apr 2021

I came across details of this QSO recently which I thought was interesting. While long distance contacts in the region of 700kms on the 70cms UHF band are probably not that unusual in the Caribbean, this one was of interest as it was via D-STAR, a digital voice mode.

On the 18th of April 2021, Brett PJ2BR on Curacao completed a successful contact with Jose WP4KJJ on Puerto Rico on 432 MHz using D-STAR. See video below.

It's very easy to find videos or information about D-STAR being used for working through local digital repeaters or local contacts but it's unusual to see it being used for a long distance contact on the 70cms UHF band.

Weak opening on 28 MHz - Tues 27th Apr 2021

Tuesday 27th April 2021: This was one of those days where the signals seem to be buried in the noise all day with the occasional one being heard.

Just two long distance FT8 reports were uploaded to the PSK Reporter website, LU9FVS in Argentina and ZD7JC on St Helena Island.

LU9FVS 10m FT8 10718 km 18:43:33
ZD7JC 10m FT8 7542 km 18:20:44

The main Sporadic-E opening to Europe was to the south of Spain. I did one scan of the beacon band when the signals appeared modest but heard nothing.

I really got the impression that FT8 signals need to be up around S5 before any CW beacons will be heard. Whatever people think about FT8, it's a great propagation tool.

A total of 45 stations in 13 countries were heard on FT8 and uploaded to the PSK Reporter website.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Upgrade to the Irish 70 MHz beacon EI4RF - Apr 2021

The Irish 4m beacon EI4RF has now been upgraded and is now transmitting on 70.013 MHz. It was previously operating on 70.130 MHz due to the limits of the older Irish 4m band. 

It is still located to the south of Dublin in the locator square IO63VE.

It is running 25-watts into a 3-element Yagi pointing east (90 degrees). The map above shows the beam heading with the -3dB (half power) headings as well.

EI4RF: 3-element Yagi for 70 MHz

The signal for the beacon comes from a GPS locked RFzero board and it uses the following format per minute: 3 x 15 second FT8 transmission and 1 x CW transmission.

This new upgraded EI4RF beacon should prove to be a valuable propagation tool for the 70 MHz (4m) band especially as it is running 25-watts into a directional antenna with about 6dB (x4 time power) of gain. 

Anyone in England up to a distance of 500kms with a very modest station on 4m should be easily able to hear the beacon via tropo. Under enhanced tropo conditions, well equipped stations in the Netherlands at about 700-800kms might hear it.

As regards Sporadic-E, it should be very strong in the range of 1500 to 2200kms when the band is open... e.g. Poland, Baltic states, Croatia & Slovenia. During stronger openings when the MUF is higher, shorter distances down to 1000 kms may be possible... e.g. Germany.

Reception outside the -3dB points will be possible but obviously the further away from -3dB points you get, the weaker the signal.

EI4RF Site Profile: I have done up a site profile for the EI4RF site and it is shown below with the outline of the horizon.

I have included the 0 degree and 1 degree lines and I have coloured in the sea in light Blue to make it clearer.

As you can see, the beacon is on an elevated site and is looking down at the Irish Sea. Some of the mountains in the NW of Wales (90 deg) at a distance of 150kms or so are also visible. The plot clearly shows that there are no local obstructions between the -3dB points which is very good.

Outside of the main beam heading to the East, the path to the rest of Ireland is largely blocked by local hills and mountains. In the direction of Waterford (210 deg), the horizon has an elevation of about 3 degrees. In the direction of Cork (227 deg), the horizon rises to about 5 degrees. To the west, the horizon is over 7 degrees. It's highly unlikely that this beacon would be heard across the North Atlantic if there was ever some double hop Sporadic-E.

In conclusion: This beacon with its 25 watts should be easily heard in England via tropo and in eastern Europe via Sporadic-E. The inclusion of the FT8 digital mode is a welcome touch as it allows people to hear signals buried in the noise and there is already a lot of people using that mode. Any reception reports can be automatically uploaded to the PSK Reporter website to alert others of any opening.

Thanks to Tony, EI7BMB and Tim, EI4GNB who got this upgraded 4m beacon up and running.

* * * 

Other site developments: From Tim, EI4GNB...

EI0SIX had a mild tune-up, as one of the pair of antennas had gone a bit droopy, now the SWR and bandwidth are excellent. It remains 40w to a pair of loops phased.

EI1KNH on 8m has had it's monopole antenna moved to the top of the 4m mast, away from the FDP for 5m, and now has a much healthier looking lot on my VNA. No more interaction with 5m. It's happy on 40w from the NXP PA.

EI1KNH on 5m now runs FT8 for 3 periods of 15 seconds, then runs a slow CW ID and a long carrier - previously it had been looping FT8 every 15 seconds. It's PSU was toast, and was causing hash all over HF to the remote stn there, so it's temp on the same PSU as EI0SIX. No change to the chain, 25w to a folded dipole.

Modest Conditions on 28 MHz - Mon 26th Apr 2021


Monday 26th April 2021: This was a pretty modest day on the 28 MHz band with just 46 stations on FT8 in 19 countries heard.

The one surprise was VP8NO on the Falkland Islands who somehow made it through on his own. Other than that, it was Sporadic-E around Europe.

Some of the signals were quiet reasonable. I heard one German station who was S7 on the meter but when I did a scan of the beacon band, I heard nothing. It seems as if the Sp-E footprint was quite small.

The other strong signals were from Norway and Sweden and I heard two CW beacons...

EI7GL 28237.4 LA5TEN/B 11:08 26 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO59JP Norway
EI7GL 28298.0 SK7GH/B 10:34 26 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO77BF Sweden

I think I might stay monitoring FT8 on 10m until the end of the month and then move over to WSPR.

Monday, April 26, 2021

EA8CXN completes 1296 MHz contact by bouncing a signal off a cruise ship - Apr 2021

I recently read an interesting post on the website of César, EA8CXN about a 'Ship Scatter' contact on 1296 MHz (23cms)!

The map above shows the scenario. EA8CXN and EA8CSB are on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and they cannot complete a contact directly on 1296 MHz due to local mountains.

They did however manage to complete a contact by bouncing the 23cm microwave signals off a passing cruise ship which is about 60kms away! Amazing.

After initially completing a contact on FT8, they managed to complete a QSO on SSB.

EA8CXN was running 100 watts in a 1-metre dish with horizontal polarization. EA8CSB was using just 2.5 watts into a vertical Diamond X-7000.

Check out the post on EA8CXN's website for more info and to see the SSB contacts.

Quiet day on 28 MHz - Sun 25th Apr 2021


Sunday 25th April 2021: This was a pretty quiet day on the 28 MHz band with 20 stations in 9 countries heard on FT8. The poor conditions may well have been due to some geomagnetic disturbance from the sun.

The one unusual Sporadic-E opening was to Portugal with 7 stations heard from a very small geographic area.

The other unusual signals for me are those from the UK...

Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G0DLV 10m FT8 288 km 10:23:59
GI4SNA 10m FT8 334 km 20:25:29
MM0IMC 10m FT8 488 km 11:15:00
G0OYQ 10m FT8 579 km 09:03:44
MM3NRX 10m FT8 620 km 07:57:59

I think the first two are probably via tropo but I'm not sure about the signals that are 500kms and above. 

For example, I seem to hear G0OYQ near Hull nearly every day. I suspect it may be via meteor scatter and FT8 is digging out signals that are buried in the noise. How to prove it is another matter.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

12,400km+ Opening on 50 MHz from Ireland to the Falklands - 21st April 2021

As this Sporadic-E and TEP seasons overlap, it allows for some remarkable contacts to take place on the VHF bands. This is a report from Mark, EI3KD near the south coast of Ireland who managed a contact with the Falkland Islands on the 21st of April 2021.

Mark, EI3KD writes... "50MHz TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation) was very good on the 21st of April, mostly at latitudes closer to the geomagnetic equator than Ireland. However, we did have a brief opening here; I was lucky enough to complete a QSO with VP8A in the Falkland Islands (GD18BH) at about 12,464kms

I always look for TEP, especially after solar events, but I wasn't expecting that at all! VP8A was in/out here between 17:33z and 17:45z, peaking -14dB on FT8, and also seen working CE8, PY5, LU6 and EA7 (nothing from any of those here). 

Apart from him, the only other signal I decoded was one sequence from PY3KN, GF49, after VP8A had faded, at 17:54z. The "Magic Band", indeed! 73, Mark EI3KD IO51vw"

For this contact, Mark was using a 6-element LFA2 Yagi 15-metres above ground level.

Analysis: As Mark notes, Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) was the main reason for this remarkable contact but it doesn't fully explain the 12,400+km contact. It would seem likely that there was a Sporadic-E hop at the northern end of the path to Ireland and possibly also at the southern end for the final jump to the Falklands.

Prior to the use of digital modes like FT8, there were probably openings like this in the past but with signals down around -14dB, they would hand gone largely unnoticed on SSB or CW as the signals would be buried in the noise.

Opening on 28 MHz to South Africa & Europe... Sat 24th Apr 2021

Saturday 24th April 2021: This was another reasonable day on the 28 MHz band with a weak opening to South Africa and a reasonable Sporadic-E opening to Europe.

The signals to Europe were strong at times but I couldn't do a scan of the band at those times.

The one beacon I did hear was PI7BXM beacon in the Netherlands...

EI7GL 28254.0 PI7BXM/B 15:50 24 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO21WF Netherlands

The map above show the extent of the Sporadic-E opening to Europe. For the first time this year, there was a good number of signals from Finland and the Baltic states.

A total of 169 stations were heard on FT8 in 20 countries. The solar flux was down at 77.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Scientist predicts the peak of the next Solar Cycle will be one year earlier than expected

In a recent interview, Lisa Upton of Space Systems Research Corporation and co-chair of the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel said...  “The sun is performing as we expected–maybe even a little better. In 2019, the panel predicted that Solar Cycle 25 would peak in July 2025 (± 8 months) with a maximum sunspot count of 115 ± 10. The current behavior of the sun is consistent with an early onset near the beginning of our predicted range.”

The diagram above shows the new solar cycle running ahead of schedule. If it continues like this then Solar Cycle 25 may peak in 2024, a year earlier than expected.

As with all solar predictions, only time will tell how accurate they are.

Sporadic-E opening to Europe - Fri 23rd Apr 2021


Friday 23rd April 2021: This was a pretty reasonable day on the 28 MHz with a modest Sporadic-E opening to Europe. As can be seen from the map above, signals from Brazil and St Helena did mange to get through but the Sporadic-E was the main feature of the day.

As can be seen from the map, most of the signals were concentrated in one band stretching from the Netherlands to Austria. This was probably the best day so far of the 2021 Sporadic-E season.

Two signals made it through from an area near Moscow... F2 propagation? Double hop Sporadic-E? Probably Sp-E but you can never be certain on 28 MHz.

I did three scans of the band when the FT8 signals seemed reasonable and I heard two beacons...

EI7GL 28245.3 DB0TEN/B 14:18 23 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO42UV Fed. Rep. of Germany
EI7GL 28188.0 OE3XAC/B 11:38 23 Apr IO51TU<ES>JN78SB Austria

A total of 232 stations in 30 countries were heard on FT8. The Solar Flux was 84.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Guest Post: Some thoughts on VHF paths across the South Atlantic Dave, N7BHC

Dave N7BHC (Also PJ4VHF & ZR2BI) left a comment on a post recently about VHF propagation in the South Atlantic. There was so much interesting info in it that I have put it up here as a guest post. There is plenty in there as food for thought.

* * *

Back in 2007-2010, I was trying to drum up trans-Atlantic tropo ducting interest. I am very pleased to see more progress now. A contact from ZD7 (St.Helena Is) to PY (Brazil) on 144 MHz (2m) is 100% probable

I introduced John Turner at Saint FM, the local FM radio station, back in 2008-2010 to tropo ducting on the FM broadcasting band. He successfully logged many Angolan, Namibian, and Cape Town FM stations. One December he emailed that he was unsuccessful identifying an Angolan FM radio station as he had interference from a Brazilian station on the same frequency. This was using just a car radio with its whip antenna. 

Back in March 2008, ZD8I on Ascension Island reported that they sometimes heard Cape Town Marine Radio (ZSC) on 156.8 MHz FM. That is an omni antenna to an omni antenna on FM at a range of 4400 km. 

ZD8S on Ascension Island reports listening to Brazilian FM stations with indoor portable radios. 

Since then, I spent the next ten years on Bonaire as PJ4VHF. My biggest tropo ducting success across the North Atlantic was the initial reception of D4C/b on the Cape Verde Islands at a range of 4,694km. I strongly encourage any stations on ZD7 and ZD8 to be active on both 2m and 70cm

I have been studying trans-ocenic ducting for many decades (I started out as ZR2BI in East London). The South Atlantic may be the BEST location worldwide for long-haul ducting, both for range and how often the openings occur. FM vertical polarization works well bit SSB or FT8 on horizontal is even better.

Maybe someday we may be allowed to and able to travel again, and I can afford to visit ZD7 in person. Until then, all I can do is strongly encourage others. 

73, Dave N7BHC/PJ4VHF/ZR2BI dpedersen AT drasticom DOT com

Weak opening to South America on 28 MHz - 22nd Apr 2021

Thursday 22nd April 2021: This was a pretty modest day on the 28 MHz band with just a few European stations heard via either weak Sporadic-E or meteor scatter.

There was also a small opening to Brazil.

A total of 31 stations in 12 countries were heard on FT8.

The Solar Flux index was 78.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

More reception reports of the South African 40 MHz beacon in Europe - Apr 2021

Following on from my previous post about the South African 8-metre ZS6WAB beacon on 40.675 MHz being heard by SV2DCD in Greece, there are now three more reports!

IZ0BCD: Francesco, IZ0CBD in Rome, Italy report reception of the 8m ZS6WAB beacon on the 20th of April 2021.


Francesco was using a Kenwood TS2000 and a 6-element Yagi for 50 MHz and the distance was around 7500kms.

9H1TX: David, 9H1TX on the island of Malta heard the 8m beacon on the 19th of April using a 7-element Yagi for 50 MHz.


SV8CS: Spiros, SV8CS heard the South African 8m beacon also on the 19th of April 2021 using a 7-element Yagi  by I0JXX.

Video clip at this link...

Propagation Mode: As outlined in a previous post, the mode of propagation was TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation). As shown in the map above, both the beacon and the receiving stations are equidistant from the Geomagnetic Equator.


1) For more information on the 8-metre band, visit my 40 MHz page.

* * *


1st Update - 22nd Apr 2021: Info from Paulo,  CT2IWW

CT7ASY: Eduardo, CT7ASY near Lisbon heard the ZS6WAB 8m beacon on the 20th of April.

CT7ASY... " My name is Eduardo Arraia and I´m an amateur radio operator licensed as CT7ASY, in Portugal, locator IM58gv.

Whilst monitoring the 8 meter band this afternoon, I came across the ZS6WAB beacon. As you can see by the attached image, I received the following message, decoded on CWSkimmer, at about 15:41 UTC, this afternoon, on 40.674MHz: TAR de ZS6WAB DE ZS6WAB DE ZS6WAB BCN LOC K R4

I am monitoring the band with an Icom IC7300 and a Sirio GPA 40-70 ground plane vertical antenna.

Until a couple of years ago, the 40MHz band was used, in Portugal, by the fire services in a country wide repeater network.

Since all emergency and police services moved to the new TETRA UHF network, this portion of spectrum was freed up and we can monitor some beacons, from Europe. South Africa is a first, though.

Cheers and 73, Eduardo, CT7ASY"

Modest opening on 28 MHz to Brazil & Europe - Wed 21st Apr 2021


Wednesday 21st April 2021: This was a pretty reasonable day on the 28 MHz band with an opening to Brazil and to Europe.

Opening to Brazil: I have a large local hill in the direction of South America so if I hear anything then it must have been a good opening. As for the propagation mode??? I think it's impossible for anyone to state definitively what it was. It could have been...

a) 100% F2 propagation from Ireland to Brazil

b) One hop Sporadic-E to the south of me and then via F2 propagation to Brazil.

c) One hop Sporadic-E to the south of me and then via TEP propagation to Brazil.

The Brazilian signals were heard between 15:00 and 19:00 UTC. It's possible it was just one of the propagation modes above, perhaps it was a combination of them at different times. That's the thing with 28 MHz, sometimes you can never be certain as so many propagation modes overlap.

Opening to Europe: There was a modest Sporadic-E opening to Europe as can be seen from the distribution of stations above.

Overall, a total of 178 stations in 19 countries were heard. The solar flux was at 80 which was slightly higher than recent weeks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Good opening on 50 MHz as propagation modes overlap - 20th Apr 2021

Tuesday 20th April 2021: This was a really good day for DX on the 6-metre band with distances of 9000 to 12000 kms being worked on North-South paths.

The map above shows the FT8 reports for Diego, LW2DAF in Buenos Aires, Argentina in South America. As can be seen, there were a substantial number of 50 MHz signals reaching way up into the eastern half of the USA as well as some really interesting paths to the SW of Europe and the Middle East.

There has been numerous reports on social media of people reporting TEP openings on 6m. While this was true, it doesn't fully explain what might have been going on.

Analysis... On the map above, I have shown where the Geomagnetic Equator is. For TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation), the normal range for LW2DAF might be from say his location to the Caribbean. You can see a line of stations above going from the Dominican Republic to Mexico. These were likely to be 100% TEP.

Radio amateurs in the northern US states are well outside the range for TEP just like stations in northern Europe are. It's likely there was a Sporadic-E (Sp-E) opening on 50 MHz at the same time as the TEP opening and this resulted in a signal from Argentina reaching well into the USA.

What we are likely seeing is an overlap of the TEP and Sp-E seasons. The TEP season is around the equinox and is still going in April. The Sporadic-E season kicks off properly at the end of April with openings on 28 MHz and 50 MHz.

Now, it's possible that the openings were due to just multi-hop Sp-E but considering the season is is just starting, a combination of TEP + Sp-E is the more likely scenario.

What to do???.... This overlap of propagation modes won't last much longer so stations should be beaming North and South now to make the most of it. For example, someone in the NE of the USA should beam south and listen for a Sp-E opening to the Caribbean area. If that path is open then there is a chance it might link to some TEP to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Opening to Indonesia & USA on 28 MHz - Tues 20th Apr 2021

Tuesday 20th April 2021: This was an unusual day on the 28 MHz band in that it opened up to Indonesia and the USA. I haven't heard signals that far east and west in quite a while.

Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
YB2TS 10m FT8 12575 km 13:33:14
KW4SP 10m FT8 6319 km 13:26:29

As can be seen from the FT8 log above, both signals were logged at about 13:30 UTC.

YB2TS from Indonesia was heard all over Europe. KW4SP in Alabama was unusual in that he was only heard in Europe by a station in Spain and myself.

I also heard one station from Brazil but that didn't appear on the PSK Reporter website.

As for Sporadic-E, there was a weak opening to Europe as shown above. I had the radio on for the whole day and I can't really remember hearing anything loud enough to catch my attention.

In total, I heard 53 stations from 12 countries which is reasonably low. The solar flux today was at 86 which was a jump of 8 on the previous day so perhaps that was the main reason for the DX stations.

South African 8-metre beacon on 40.675 MHz heard in Greece - 19th April 2021

Following on from the report last month of the ZS6WAB 8-metre beacon being heard in Portugal, we now have news that the beacon on 40.675 MHz has been heard in the north of Greece by SV2DCD!

In a report by email, Leonidas SV2DCD informs me that he first heard the beacon on the 19th of April 2021 at 14:00 UTC and it peaked around 15:40 UTC. Leonidas was using an 8-element Yagi for 50 MHz to listen to the beacon on 8m.

You can see a video of the reception below...

As outlined in the video title, Leonidas feels that the propagation mode was TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation). I have shown the Geomagnetic Equator in the map above and it seems to be roughly equidistant from both stations.

The distance was approximately 7,220 kms.

Now that we have concrete evidence of the 8m South African beacon being heard in Europe, hopefully others will try to have a listen and report it.

Analysis... This new 40 MHz beacon could prove very useful for serious 6-metre operators in Europe checking to see if there is a propagation path to South Africa. There is quite a jump from say 28 MHz to 50 MHz where as if the band is open at 40 MHz then 50 MHz may not be far behind.


1) My previous post about the ZS6WAB beacon

2) My 40 MHz page

Monday, April 19, 2021

Very weak Sp-E opening on 28 MHz - 19th April 2021

The Sporadic-E opening on the 19th of April 2021 was a pretty weak affair with just 22 stations in 8 countries heard on 28 MHz. It's hard to claim that the band was open for 5 days in a row as this one was so weak.

One interesting signal was R7AZ at 3660 kms. Double hop Sporadic-E or one hop F2? On 10-metres, it's sometimes impossible to tell.

BBC to close another batch of Medium Wave radio transmitters in 2021

In a posting on the 14th of April 2021, the BBC announced that they were going to close the medium wave service for ten regional stations in May & June of this year. With fewer and fewer people now listening to medium wave radio, the BBC felt that the transmitter didn't offer value for money.

"As I have written about in previous blog posts, we have been closing some Medium Wave (MW) transmitters across the UK which no longer offer sufficient value for money for licence fee payers."

"A large and increasing share of radio listening in the UK - including to the BBC - is digital, and the BBC is committed to a digital future for radio. In recent years we have made significant investment in local DAB expansion, all of our local radio stations are available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds."

A total of 14 medium wave transmitters will be closed down and these are shown below...

Most of them are reasonably low power with powers between 0.5 to 2 kW. The large one is the 160 kW Radio Ulster transmitter near Belfast which would have been heard all over Europe at night. 

They also announced that four regional transmitters will be reducing their output power.

The current power levels are shown above as it's not yet clear what the new power level will be.

"In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

Radio Wales
Impacted areas including North of Snowdonia, Anglesey, Bangor, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Betws-y-Coed and Areas around Wrexham and east of Snowdonia. Still available on, FM, DAB, and online and on all TV platforms (Terrestrial, Satellite, and Cable)

Radio Gloucestershire
With areas around Stow-on-the-Wold being impacted DAB will likely be the best option for most listeners. Available on 104.7 FM around Gloucester, 95.0 FM around Stroud and 95.8 FM around Cirencester. Still available on Freeview/Youview and online (through a smart phone, computer, or smart speaker)

The BBC announced its intention to close MW transmitters back in 2011. It's likely that more will close in the years ahead.


1) Next phase of changes to some local BBC radio Medium Wave services - Apr 2021

Another Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz for the 4th day in a row - 18th April 2021

Sunday 18th April 2021: The 28 MHz band opened for the 4th day in a row with a modest Sporadic-E opening to the south of Spain and Scandinavia. 

Most of the signals from Spain were slightly long at 1600-1700kms with nothing coming from the centre of the country.

The opening to Scandinavia was unusual in that it was the first Sporadic-E opening in that direction this year. The FT8 signals were strong enough that it prompted me to do a few scans and I heard two beacons.

EI7GL 28298.0 SK7GH/B 13:06 18 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO77BF Sweden
EI7GL 28237.4 LA5TEN/B 12:25 18 Apr IO51TU<ES>JO59JP Norway

The LA5TEN beacon near Oslo is also probably one of the most consistent signals that I hear from Scandinavia so it was no real suprise to hear it first.

As the map shows above, there was some weak F2 propagation to South Africa and Brazil. 

For some reason, some of the 10m spots showed up as Grey but they were all on 28 MHz as that was the only band I monitored. Overall, I heard 93 stations in 18 countries on FT8.

The Solar Flux was at 75.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Did a VHF APRS signal cross the North Atlantic on the 17th of Apr 2021? (Spoiler-Probably not)

The Ham Radio Concepts Facebook page put this image up on Saturday the 17th of April with the comment... 'Wow! Is this a computer glitch? A transcontinental band opening on VHF?'

I've edited the image to remove the parts of the map which aren't of interest and left the important parts.

The Facebook post was put up around 17:00 UTC on Saturday the 17th of April. Other than that, we don't have any other info to go on.

Who? What? Where? When?... Other than the time stamp on the image which may not be UTC, we have no other info. Was it a 144 MHz FM APRS signal? What was heard? Who heard it? When was it heard? Is it even real?

I looked at the mennolink website but couldn't really get any further. I'm posting it here so that others can investigate if they want to.

I looked at the F5LEN tropo forecast website and it does show some enhancement in the Atlantic for large parts of the path but that in itself proves nothing.

Until such time as there is some actual real data, I'd be inclined to write it off as a non-event.




Modest Sporadic-E on 28 MHz for the 3rd day in a row - 17th April 2021


Saturday the 17th of April 2021 was the third day in a row where there was a modest Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz. The main Sp-E opening was again to the Iberian Peninsula with some F2 propagation as well to South Africa, St Helena and South America.

According to the PSK Reporter website, I heard 108 stations in 20 countries.

I think it's safe to say that the Summer Sporadic-E season for the Northern Hemisphere has started.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

That 3000km opening to the Azores on 144 MHz that didn't happen

This is a story about why you should be very careful taking unusual VHF propagation reports at face value. Someone sent me an email to say that the PSK Reporter website had shown the reception report of CU3HN in the Azore Islands by a Dutch radio amateur on 144 MHz.

At first glance, this looked like an incredible 2m reception report with a distance of just under 3000 kms. I checked the PSK Reporter website myself this morning and it said that four stations had heard CU3HN on 144 MHz!

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G8ECI 2m FT8 2635 km 22:21:44
PA3GNZ 2m FT8 2898 km 22:21:30
PA2CV 2m FT8 2969 km 22:09:15
DF8JO 2m FT8 3016 km 22:21:44

I then checked the tropo forecast from the website of Pascal, F5LEN. While there was a sign of some conditions near the Azores, it looked poor at the eastern end of the path near the Netherlands and Germany.

I then checked the PSK Reporter website to see what bands CU3HN was on by using 'All' instead of '2m' and it shows a lot of reports for 14 MHz (20m) late last night.

I sent Fábio, CU3HN an email this morning and he confirmed that he was NOT on 144 MHz last night.

So what was going on??? ...I can think of two possible reasons.

1) Someone near the Netherlands was pirating CU3HN's callsign and locator and transmitting on FT8 on 144 MHz. Maybe it's possible but I would have expected more stations to hear and report the bogus signal if that was the case.

2) Some sort of glitch in the PSK Reporter website where CU3HN was reported on the wrong band? The thing here is that some of the receive stations listed above were not reporting 20m at any stage.

I'm not 100% sure how it happened but it goes to show that you always need to be careful and question any reception report that looks out of the ordinary.

Update: See suggestion below from Kees, PA3GHQ which might be the best explanation.

"I had the same problem 2 months ago. I saw calls from Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later from Canada on 2 mtr. After some investigation the issue was on the same time when an amateur from my region calls on 2 mtr in FT8. I’ve called him by phone and we did some tests. The issue was the audio from his 40 mtr transceiver was receiving FT8 and the audio mixed with his FT8 modulation signal when his 2 mtr transceiver was transmitting. Both radio’s worked via 1 computer and when he turned the HF radio off the problem was solved. ...Best regards/ 73 Kees PA3GHQ "

Another opening on 28 MHz - Fri 16th April 2021

The 16th of April 2021 was another reasonable day on 28 MHz with 86 FT8 reports from 20 countries. There was a bit more Sporadic-E compared to the 15th with stations from plenty of German stations making an appearance in contrast to yesterday.

I also managed to hear two beacons on the band... one from Madrid and one from Gibraltar.

EI7GL 28167.4 ZB2TEN/B 14:03 16 Apr IO51TU<ES>IM76HD Gibraltar
EI7GL 28251.0 ED4YAK/B 13:58 16 Apr IO51TU<ES>IN80FK

That was my first time hearing those two beacons this year. I also heard EA8DHV on CW who was a reasonably strong signal ~559.

EI7GL 28016.0 EA8DHV 17:22 16 Apr IO51TU<>IL18UL Canary Islands

I'm not sure what the propagation mode was for the EA8 station. It's too far for one hop Sporadic-E so it either involved more than one hop OR it was from the F2 layer. That's the thing about 10-metres, sometimes you can never be 100% sure what the mode of propagation is.

Friday, April 16, 2021

VO1FN 144 MHz Trans-Atlantic Project mentioned on Radio DARC broadcast on the Short Wave Band

Radio DARC is a short program broadcast on 6.070 KHz with 100 KW on Sundays at 09:00 UTC (11:00 CEST) about amateur radio with a lot of music.

On Sunday the 18th of April 2021, the VO1FN Trans-Atlantic project on 144 MHz gets a mention in their news items at about 10 minutes in.

While the program is broadcast in German, it does raise awareness about the 'VO1FN Trans-Atlantik Projekt' among a much wider community.

Radio DARC broadcast locally via FM and DAB in Germany, Austria and Italy. It is also broadcast on 3955 kHz and 9670 kHz for an audience outside of Germany. If you hear the broadcast then you can send them a reception report.

You can find out more about Radio DARC and their transmission times here...

More information about the VO1FN Trans-Atlantic Project can be found in this previous blog post.

Thanks to Joerg, DM4DL for the above information.

Reasonable Sporadic-E opening on 28 MHz - 15th April 2021


The 15th of April 2021 was a reasonably modest day on 28 MHz with a Sporadic-E opening to the Iberian peninsula, some F2 propagation to Greece, Turkey & Israel and some F2 propagation to South Africa and South America.

In truth, the signals were never that strong with me. At one stage while the signals to the east of Spain were clearly audible to my ear, I did a scan of the band and heard nothing else. I did one careful scan of the beacon band and there wasn't a hint of a signal.

If we were relying on CW beacons to tell us the band was open then we would miss most of the weak openings. Whatever some people think about the FT8 digital mode, it is a fantastic propagation tool.

The Solar Flux on the 15th was down at 74 which is very low for F2 propagation on 10-metres.

The opening to Spain and Portugal is a sure sign that we are approaching the Summer Sporadic-E season which usually starts near the end of April every year. The openings will come in fits and starts but they will get more numerous and stronger as the weeks pass.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Android App for decoding DRM digital radio broadcasts


On the 13th of April 2021, a company named StarWaves announced the release of a new Android app called DRM SoftRadio. The app allows a user of a Software Defined Radio (SDR) to listen to any DRM digital broadcasts on an Android smartphone or tablet.

DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the global digital radio standard used for digital transmissions on medium wave and short wave in several countries. 

Some of the features...

Languages: English, German, Simplified Chinese

Convenient frequency tuning and DRM Service selection

Journaline, DRM’s advanced text application, allows to interactively browse through latest news, sports and weather updates, programme background information and schedules, distance learning/RadioSchooling text books, travel information, and much more

Free tuning to any DRM broadcast frequency

Supports all DRM frequency bands – from the former AM bands (LW/MW/SW) to the VHF bands (including the FM band), depending only on RF dongle functionality

Graphical spectrum view to check the signal on the tuned frequency

For live reception, an SDR RF dongle must be connected to the device’s USB port (with USB host functionality). The following SDR RF dongle families are currently supported, along with a range of specifically tested models:

Supported SDR receivers...

Airspy HF+ family: Airspy HF Discovery, Airspy HF+ (Dual Port). (Note: Airspy Mini and R2 are NOT supported.)

SDRplay family: SDRPlay RSP1A, SDRPlay RSPdx, SDRPlay RSPduo, SDRPlay RSP1, SDRPlay RSP2, SDRPlay RSP2pro, MSI.SDR Panadapter (Note: SDRPlay family support on Android is currently limited to the 32-bit version of this app.)

RTL-SDR family: The experimental support for RTL-SDR based RF dongles requires that you manually start the following separate tool before opening this app (on standard port ‘14423’): The app ‘SDR driver’ can be installed from the Google Play Store and other Android app stores.

Analysis... While DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) has been around as a digital radio standard since 2003, it has proved difficult to get accepted by broadcasters and the general public. Broadcasters were unwilling to use DRM due to a lack of suitable receivers and the public weren't interested because there were a lack of DRM transmissions.

That has changed of late with the introduction of DRM transmissions in the medium wave band in India. Considering its population, it is assumed that this will kick off the development of cheaper DRM receivers.

While SDR receivers are probably used more by those interested in technology and radio rather than the general public, this new app does open up DRM transmissions to a whole new audience.

The app costs in the region of €5/$5 which is very modest for most SDR users.

It is my understanding that a Windows version is being developed by the company and this should be of interest to an even wider audience.


1) StarWave news release - 13th April 2021

2) Google Play Store

3) Official DRM website