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.

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