Sunday, May 30, 2021

Weak opening from Europe to Australia on 50 MHz - 29th May 2021

Sat 29th May 2021: It looks as if there was a weak opening from Europe to Australia on the 50 MHz with a few weak FT8 signals making it through.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
DF5VAE VK4HJ 6m FT8 15477 km 06:05:29
UT7UV VK4HJ 6m FT8 14545 km 04:18:44

SP3MM VK4CZ 6m FT8 15564 km 07:10:14
VK4CZ UT2XQ 6m FT8 14683 km 06:59:59

SP4K VK3OER 6m FT8 15383 km 05:17:41

It looks as if there was a successful FT8 contact between VK4CZ in Australia and SP3MM in Poland, a distance of about 15564kms. The signals seem to have been quiet weak and were in the range of -16dB to -20dB which is below what is audible to the human ear i.e. a cw contact would not have been possible.

As for the propagation mode, it seems likely it was multi-hop Sporadic-E with possibly eight hops required. I say 'likely' as I sometimes wonder what are the chances of getting eight Sp-E hops in a row at 50 MHz.

We still have all of June to go yet so there could be more openings on 50 MHz from Europe to Australia.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

10-milliwatt WSPR signal on 28 MHz heard in Ireland - 28th May 2021

Friday 28th May 2021: I left the radio monitoring the WSPR frequency on 28 MHz for whole day and I heard signals from all over Europe including DP0POL on the German Icebreaker ship near the north of Norway.

At the end of the day, I got an interesting e-mail from Andreas, DL2KCL about my reception of his very low power WSPR beacon during the day.

Andreas wrote... "You received a transmission from my homemade WSPR-TX on 10m. The TX puts out 10 mW directly from a Si5351A-chip. No PA. It runs from a single rechargeable D-cell with a DC/DC-converter (85 mA).

The antenna is a piece of about 2.5 m thin wire wound on a 18 cm PVC tube in resonance on 28.2 MHz. There is no additional counterpoise."

I checked back through the WSPR logs and amazingly, I had heard the 10-milliwatt signal from DL2KCL a total of 77 times during the day. The weakest signal was -27dB which is buried way in the noise. The strongest signal was -12dB which would have been just about audible to the human ear.

The photo above shows the transmit antenna which is just a quarter wave of wire wound on an 18cm PVC pipe. To hear such a low power system 77 times during the way just goes to show how good conditions must have been.

On my side, I was just using a simple CB type half wave vertical so there was no additional gain to pull in weak signals.

Analysis: The one crucial part of equation is the distance... 1075kms. During the Sporadic-E season, signals in the 1000 to 1500km range are a bit like the sweet spot on 28 MHz. 

There are a lot more openings on 28 MHz compared to the higher bands like 50 MHz and signals around 1100kms are at the very least 6dB stronger than those out around 2200kms just due to the fact they are closer.

The signals at 1100kms are also coming in around 8 degrees above the horizon which allows it to clear local obstructions at either end of the path. 

Antennas on 28 MHz will probably have more gain at 8 degrees above the horizon in comparison to say 1 or 2 degrees and a 2000km skip distance.

It just goes to show how good the 28 MHz band can be when the conditions are right.

Friday, May 28, 2021

D4VHF on Cape Verde not active on 144 MHz due to antenna damage - May 2021

In response to a recent query, one of the D4VHF team has confirmed that their 144 MHz VHF station is off air at present.

Andrea, HB9DUR writes... “I am sorry to disappoint you re. D4VHF but the station is not fully operative, especially on 2m.

Monteverde has been suffering from non stop high winds from Christmas last year till some weeks ago.

So the yagi to west is heavily damaged by strong winds, the towers as well are not in a good shape. Moreover no power amplifier is available until somebody can travel there….“

The D4VHF station on Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa has in recent years has been responsible for some of the most spectacular contacts on 144 MHz and 432 MHz to Europe and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

For the moment (May 2021), they are still active on 50 MHz and the QO-100 satellite.

First 9A to 9A contact on 40 MHz - 25th May 2021

25th May 2021: A little bit of history was made on the 40 MHz band on the 25th of May when the first contact between two stations in Croatia took place.

At 06:00 UTC, Patrik, 9A5CW and Zeljko, 9A2EY completed a successful FT8 contact on 40.680 MHz.

The distance was 24.5kms between the two stations over an obstructed path and both stations were using vertical non-resonant HF antennas.

One of the antennas was a vertical for the 60m HF band without a tuner and the radio was an ICOM IC706 Mk2.

Hopefully this will encourage more 9A stations to experiment with the band.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

3000km opening on 144 MHz between Israel and Germany - 25th May 2021

Tuesday 25th May 2021: During the major Sporadic-E opening on the 25th, many European stations made multiple contacts on the 144 MHz band. While the vast majority were in the one-hop range (<2300kms), there were a few exceptional contacts.

Jan, 4X/OM2IB in Israel (KM72JC) managed to complete two FT8 contacts with two stations in Germany during a short opening.

The two German stations were DJ9MG (08:18UTC - JO52TC - 2909kms) and DG6JF/P (08:31 - JO33QN - 3234kms).

The FT8 screen from 4X/OM2IB is shown below...

It clearly shows the two FT8 contacts as well as reception of PA0O and DL7TY. The time range of the reports is from 07:53 to 08:36 UTC, a span of roughly 43 minutes.

Propagation Mode: As outlined already, the normal maximum distance for one-hop Sporadic-E is about 2300kms. There are probably two choices to help explain how 144 MHz signals from Germany traveled the approximately 3000kms to Israel.

Theory 1) Sp-E & Tropo: In this scenario, there was one hop Sporadic-E from Germany to Turkey and then the last few hundred kms by tropo ducting over the sea to Israel. The tropo prediction map below from F5LEN certainly suggests that this might be possible.

The distance from 4X/OM2IB to the coast of Turkey is about 700kms. 

In this scenario, it's not hard to imagine a Sporadic-E hop of 2200kms going from DJ9MG is the eastern half of Germany to the southern coast of Turkey and from there via a tropo duct of about 700kms to Israel.

The problem however comes with DG6JF/P who is an additional 300kms further away at 3234kms. That can't be easily explained by a tropo extension at the eastern end of the circuit as that would require the duct to cross over a large part of the landmass of Turkey.  . 

It's possible that the Sporadic-E ionised region was higher than usual which sometime happens near the start of an opening but it seems a bit of a stretch.

Theory 2) Chordal Hop: The other possibility is that there were two active Sporadic-E regions involved and the signal bounced from one to the other before returning to the ground. This resulted in a range in excess of 3000kms.

The problem with the Chordal Hop theory is that it requires two Sporadic-E clouds to line up correctly. It would seem that it does happen at 144 MHz but how often and for how long?

In conclusion: In his Sporadic-E report, 4X/OM2IB noted..."Random and very short openings. Probably sea TROPO + Es for this distance. Doesn't look like a double Es hop."

Sometimes when you can look back at an opening, you can examine the evidence and you can determine the most likely scenario. In this 144 MHz opening between Germany and Israel, it's hard to know for sure which propagation mode was responsible. I think without further evidence, we just have to put a question mark next to it.

It does however show yet again that contacts in the region of 3000 kms are possible at 144 MHz, the same distance across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland.


1) PA0O in his blog post says he worked Istanbul in Turkey at 2150kms. This gives some additional credence to the Sp-E & Tropo theory. Link HERE

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

5900km+ opening on 70 MHz from the Canary Islands to Kazakhstan - 25th May 2021

Tuesday 25th May 2021: There was an extensive Sporadic-E opening on the VHF bands with openings all of the way up to 144 MHz. On 70 MHz, there was evidence of plenty of multi-hop Sporadic-E including the one shown above from EA8JF in the Canary Islands to UN3M in Kazakhstan, a distance of 5946kms.

The map above from the PSK Reporter website clearly shows the 3 hop zones. First hop to Spain & Portugal, second hop to the centre of Europe and the one lone triple hop to Kazakhstan.

While double hop Sporadic-E at 70 MHz is rarer than 50 MHz, it is unusual to see triple hop on the band. Sometimes this can be as much to the limited number of countries with access to the band as much as the difficultly of getting three hops at 70 MHz.

These are the reports from the PSK Reporter website for distances over 4000kms.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
UN3M EA8JF 4m FT8 5946 km 09:49:14
SP2CHY EA8WU 4m FT8 4014 km 11:53:42
YL2CP EA8/DF4UE 4m FT8 4399 km 11:40:44
YL2CA EA8/DF4UE 4m FT8 4208 km 12:24:59

It was interesting to see that EA8/DF4UE managed to hear Latvia as well.

From the Kazakhstan point of view, this is the map for UN3M...

...and for UN7MBH...

These are the combined reports for distances over 4000kms from Kazakhstan...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
UN3M EA8JF 4m FT8 5946 km 09:49:14
EA4T UN3M 4m FT8 4462 km 10:11:59
EC4TR UN3M 4m FT8 4414 km 10:12:29
UN3M EA3KE 4m FT8 4114 km 09:54:42
EA1YV UN7MBH 4m FT8 4566 km 13:53:56
UN7MBH EA1YV 4m FT8 4566 km 13:46:44
UN7MBH EA1UR 4m FT8 4468 km 07:10:12
UN7MBH EA1AF 4m FT8 4279 km 13:46:14

DX Cluster: Some of  the double hop Sporadic-E spots for 70 MHz from the day are shown below. Note the spot for EA8BPX to ES1II/8, a distance of 4537ms which is close to the maximum for double hop Sporadic-E.

Reception of the German Polar Research Ship Polarstern in the North Sea - 25th & 26th May 2021

26th May 2021: I left the radio monitoring the 28 MHz WSPR frequency for the last 24 hours and heard just over 50 stations from around Europe via Sporadic-E. One station that caught my eye was DP0POL out in the North Sea.

DP0POL is a maritime mobile station on the German research icebreaker 'Polarstern'. While the WSPR station on board is often spotted on the various HF bands, it was just unusual for me to hear it on 28 MHz.

As the map shows above, I heard it in the North Sea as it was sailing past the coast of Norway.

UTC (y-m-d) TX         txGrid RX rxGrid         MHz W SNR drift km
2021-05-25 08:16 DP0POL JO26sw EI7GL IO51tu 28.12601 5 -28 2 1061
2021-05-25 23:56 DP0POL JO19um EI7GL IO51tu 28.126065 5 -19 0 1137
2021-05-26 00:16 DP0POL JO19un EI7GL IO51tu 28.126064 5 -7 0 1140
2021-05-26 00:36 DP0POL JO19to EI7GL IO51tu 28.126064 5 -5 0 1140
2021-05-26 00:56 DP0POL JO19tq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126063 5 -4 0 1146
2021-05-26 01:16 DP0POL JO19tr EI7GL IO51tu 28.126063 5 -7 0 1150
2021-05-26 01:36 DP0POL JO19st EI7GL IO51tu 28.126063 5 -11 0 1153
2021-05-26 01:56 DP0POL JO19su EI7GL IO51tu 28.126063 5 -9 0 1156
2021-05-26 02:16 DP0POL JO19sv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126062 5 -16 0 1159

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Twitter account is 1-year old & has 500 followers

My Twitter amateur radio account is one-year old today! Even though I've been on Twitter since 2009, it was almost impossible for me to follow all of the various radio related Twitter accounts as well as following other non-radio material. 

I started the Twitter 'EI7GL' account on the 25th of May 2020 and one year later, it has recently passed the 500 followers mark!

I find that the account not only makes it easier for me to follow other radio related accounts and keep up with news but it allows me to notifies others about new posts here on the blog.

If you're on Twitter then you can follow me here...

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Solar Noise detected at 40 MHz - 22nd May 2021

Early on the morning of the 22nd of May 2021, I was listening for some aircraft scatter signals on the 40 MHz band when I noticed a sudden onset of solar noise as shown above.

This sounds just like a hissing sound but the intensity comes in waves. It's not like say interference you might get from an electrical source which is very much on or off. Solar noise is a gentle hiss that rises and falls in intensity, a bit like waves would do as they crash on a beach.

The waterfall display above shows the event starting around 06:48 UTC and finishing at 06:54 UTC. As soon as I was sure it had finished, I checked the Space Weather Prediction Center website and sure enough, there was a solar flare that matched what I had heard.

I later heard the same effect on 28 MHz while I was listening for WSPR signals and my Twitter feed had lots of tweets about solar flares and solar storms.

It seems to me that the 40 MHz band is a good choice for monitoring noise from the sun. It's high enough in frequency that it's above all of the usual F2 layer propagation and the antennas can be large enough to capture a lot of noise.

Aircraft Scatter on the 40 MHz band

 A few days ago during the Sporadic-E backscatter tests on the 40 MHz band, I noticed some curious little ticks on the waterfall display. These short lines were moving slowly downwards in frequency and lasted for about 30 seconds, a tell tale signature of aircraft scatter.

On the 21st of May, the band seemed to be quieter with less Sporadic-E about so I tried some aircraft scatter tests with both of the Irish 40 MHz beacons (EI1KNH 40.013 MHz & EI1CAH 40.016 MHz).

Both beacons are about 200kms from my location and I used the FlightRadar24 website to track the various flights. This was the strongest signal that I got...

The image above shows the carrier & CW portion of the signal appearing at about 11:06 UTC (12:06 Summer time). As the aircraft was moving at several hundred kph, there was some doppler shift in the received signal and this can be seen in the signal slowly drifting downwards in frequency.

There is a gap at around 11:07 UTC when the beacon was sending out PI4 signals and it then returns again.

This was one of the longest signals I got as the vast majority last maybe 20-30 seconds.

The image below shows what happened....

The EI1KNH beacon is about 200kms from my location. A Delta Airlines plane heading from London to Seattle crossed over the mountains to the south-west of the beacon and it reflected the signal.

While the beacon has an excellent take off to the East, it is badly blocked to the West by the local mountains. I have a pretty good take off in that direction which means I am probably close to line of sight to planes at an altitude of 35000-40000 feet (7-8kms) over the mountains near the beacon.

Despite the doppler shift, I managed to get a successful PI4 decode during this crossing and a small number of other ones.

Using the FlightRadar24 site as a reference, I could correlate a lot of the doppler tracks seen with passing aircraft near both of the beacons. Nearly all of the signals were incredibly weak and were not audible to the ear. Most of the tracks were also about 10-30 seconds in duration. 

It's also worth noting that not all passing aircraft resulted in me hearing a signal. One large airplane went right over the EI1KNH beacon and I saw nothing. Obviously the orientation of the aircraft with respect to the beacon and my location are a factor here. It needs to be close but not too close.

I also got some reflections from aircraft that were on the far side of the beacon. I got one trail from a Ryanair flight just off the coast of Wicklow and heading north for Dublin as well as tracks from trans-Atlantic aircraft passing just north of the EI1CAH beacon in the west of Ireland.

FT8: Considering how often I was seeing these little doppler tracks at 40 MHz, I suspect a lot of people are getting FT8 decodes on the 28 MHz and 50 MHz bands from stations in the 100km to 250km range via aircraft scatter without even really realising it. I often see this, I get one FT8 decode from a station and get nothing else.

Other bands: Needless to say, aircraft scatter isn't confined to the 40 MHz band. If you or a distant beacon or station are blocked by a local hill then you might see aircraft scatter on 28 MHz or any of the VHF and UHF bands.

In the tests that I carried out above, I was 200kms away from the distant beacons and aircraft and the signals were weak as a result. If you try this and the distance are much shorter then you may experience much stronger reflections and signals.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

3980km path opens up between Sweden & the Canary Islands on 144 MHz - 19th May 2021

During the Sporadic-E opening on 144 MHz on the 19th of May, many stations in western Europe made contacts in the region of 1200 to 2300kms... a pretty standard distance for one hop Sporadic-E.

One path that stood out however was that between SM6VTZ in Sweden and EA8CXN in the Canary Islands.

Although a full contact wasn't completed on this occasion, it was still a remarkable distance at approximately 3980 kms. This is the screen from SM6VTZ showing the attempted FT8 contact...

As you can see, the signal was quite weak at -18dB which is at a level below what is audible to the human ear.

Analysis: How did this happen? During the Sporadic-E opening, Chris SM6VTZ managed to work several stations in the north-west of Spain at a distance of about 2300kms. This is close to the maximum distance for one-hop Sporadic-E.

10:36 EB1B IN73DM FT8 
10:41 EA1NL IN52PJ FT8
10;44 EA8CXN IL18SK FT8 lost in QSB, 3978km
11:07 EB1DJ IN52MO SSB
11:56 EA1M IN53TI SSB
12:05 EB1A IN53TF SSB

It's very likely that the Sporadic-E signal then coupled into a tropo duct for the rest of the journey to the Canary Islands.

As the prediction mapt from F5LEN above shows, there was some good tropo from EA8CXN on the island of Tenerife to the north-west coast of Spain, a distance of about 1400 kms.

A similar combined Sporadic-E / Tropo ducting path was seen back in August of 2020 when there was an opening from the Canary Islands to Denmark, a distance of 3710kms. See previous post.

Just one observation / question. This area of ducting often occurs off the west coast of Africa and Portugal. If a combined Sporadic-E & Tropo signal can get from Sweden to the Canary Islands (3980kms), then why can't a combined Sporadic-E & Tropo signal get across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to the north-west of Spain (~3500kms)???

Some more examples of long distance 144 MHz signals can be found on my 144 MHz page.

Backscatter on 40 MHz - 19th May 2021

Wednesday 19th May 2021: The day started with a comment by Joe, EI3IX on a Facebook post that he wasn't hearing the new EI1CAH 40 MHz beacon even though he is only 64kms from it. That set me off checking why that was the case and I ended going down a rabbit hole that saw me on the 8-metre band for most of the day!

Both the EI1CAH (40.016 MHz) and the EI1KNH (40.013 MHz) beacons are about 200kms from my location with plenty of hills and mountains in the way. I listened early on the morning of the 19th and I couldn't hear either beacon although I did get a meteor burst from EI1CAH so I knew that it was still operational.

A few hours later, I tried listening again and I found I could now hear EI1CAH all of the time! What had changed? As the signal was buried in the noise with a Signal to Noise ratio of -26dB, my initial thought was that it might be tropo? However, I couldn't rule out that it may have been to Sporadic-E backscatter either.

It was only later when I saw the signal improve to -6dB over the space of a few minutes then I knew it was Sporadic-E related. While there are no doubt slight tropo enhancements at 40 MHz, large changes like this are almost certainly due to Sp-E.

Later when I checked the EI1KNH beacon near Dublin, I could that as well. At that stage, I was 100% sure it was backscatter. Lloyd, EI7HBB reports hearing both beacons by backscatter as well.

Backscatter Sporadic-E: What is it? Refer to the diagram below...

The signal from the EI1CAH beacon (TX) is being propagated forward by an intense Sporadic-E region about 100-110kms above the Earth. The signal is then being reflected off something maybe 500kms or so away... maybe a range or mountains? The signal then returns by pretty much the same path and I hear it at my location (RX).

I've heard backscatter via Sporadic-E several times before on 10m and 6m. Back in the 'old days' when everyone was on either on SSB or CW, I remember beaming South to work stations in the UK on 50 MHz.

The signals seem to have a certain characteristic in that they are pretty constant but just at a very low level. This is what I was hearing... EI1CAH was a weak but constant signal for most of the time with the occasional jump.

The truth is that backscatter is probably there all of the time during Sporadic-E openings but we're not aware of it as the signals are so weak. When there is an intense Sporadic-E with the skip distances much shorter (e.g. <700kms), signals get a LOT stronger.

Imagine a signal being reflected off a distant mountain range which is 1500kms away which is a pretty normal skip distance for Sporadic-E at 40 MHz. Now imagine the range reduces to 500kms under intense Sporadic-E like there was on the 19th of May. Obeying the inverse square law, the transmitted signal at the mountain range would appear 9.5dB stronger. But crucially, this also applies to the reflected path resulting in an additional 9.5dB enhancement. This adds up to a 19dB improvement overall in signal which is a really big jump. 

Back in the 'old days' with SSB/CW, backscatter via Sporadic-E was something that was observed on an occasional basis. Now that we have digital modes like FT8 and PI4, we are 'hearing' signals that are much much weaker.

Assumptions about Propagation: It is for me a reminder that we should always question our assumptions about a propagation mode when we hear a weak signal. Is a weak signal from someone say 200-400kms away on 28/40/50 MHz really tropo, short skip Sporadic-E or via Sporadic-E backscatter?

When we look at those FT8 or WSPR maps at the end of the day, how were we hearing all of those stations in the 200km-500km skip zone? Meteor Scatter? Tropo? Back-Scatter? I think the real picture is a lot more complicated than we assume.

Practical Application: It's all very well wondering about the propagation mode but most people will want to know what is the practical application? Imagine say you are a serious 50 MHz station and you want to work a new country which is only 400kms away and there are mountains in the way. You should never assume that just pointing your beam at a wanted station will always result in a stronger signal. If the signal is weak but constant then it may be via backscatter and you'll have to look for the direction which gives the strongest signals.


For Reference: This map from DXMaps shows the suggested maximum usable frequency (MUF) at around 12:00 UTC on the 19th of  May.

It clearly shows one area over the south of England. Note however that this map is generated by users reports and areas of Sporadic-E out over the ocean are not shown. There could be an intense area to the west of Ireland and it would go unreported.

This was the Jet Stream at the time...

Changes in the direction of the Jet Stream are associated with Sporadic-E openings.

Data: Just for my own benefit, I've kept a list of the PI4 decodes below.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Updated Beacon list for the 40 MHz and 60 MHz bands... May 2021

I have now updated the beacon list for the 40 MHz and 60 MHz bands.

If you hear them then please spot on the DXMaps website or DXSummit DX Cluster.

For more information on the 40 MHz band, go to

Monday, May 17, 2021

New 40 MHz propagation beacon in the West of Ireland - EI1CAH

17th May 2021: There is now a new 8-metre propagation beacon in the west of Ireland using the callsign EI1CAH and it is operating on 40.016 MHz. The locator square is IO53CK.

This new beacon is designed to compliment the existing EI1KNH beacon which is situated near the east coast of Ireland. While EI1KNH has a superb take off the East, it is blocked by mountains to the West. By contrast, the new EI1CAH beacon has a good take off to the West and is poor to the East.

The EI1CAH beacon runs PI4 every second minute as well as CW. Its power is approximately 25 watts and the antenna is a horizontal dipole running roughly NW/SE.

The beacon keepers are using a QRPLabs Ultimate 3 (previously used on EI0SIX) to generate the 40 MHz signal and it has a matching internal QRPLabs 6m low pass filter which was modified to cut in closer to the 8-metre band.

They are using a NXP MRF101 based power amplifier to generate the required output power.

Analysis: This new 8-metre beacon is an excellent addition to the European suite of 40 MHz beacons and will be very useful in exploring Sporadic-E and F2 propagation paths across the Atlantic.

Site Profile: The graphic below shows the elevation profile for the EI1CAH beacon site.

There are some serious hills to the East which will block off a lot of low angle propagation paths. A typical Sporadic-E signal may be down around 5 degrees which as the image shows will be blocked by the local hills.

This is the likely maximum range due to one hop Sporadic-E...

As you can see, under short skip Sp-E conditions, reception of this beacon may be possible in say the SE of England, Belgium, Netherlands, N France and the fast west of Germany. As the antenna is running NW-SE, the signal towards Spain will be poor.

What is key however is the low elevation to the West ...towards South America, the Caribbean and North America.

Under multi-hop Sporadic conditions, this 8-metre beacon will be heard across the Atlantic and the most likely people to hear it are those out around the 4000km mark in Nova Scotia and Maine. There is also the potential that it will be heard anywhere in the eastern half of the USA.

Likewise, it will reach the Caribbean at times and will certainly make it down to Brazil and Argentina.

Solar Maximum: Around the time of the Solar Maximum, there should be some East-West openings and this 8-metre beacon could be heard anywhere in the Americas.

Value of a 40 MHz beacon: The real value of this beacon is that there is a huge 20 MHz gap between the 28 MHz and 50 MHz bands. As the maximum usable frequency (MUF) for Sporadic-E and F2 propagation rises, it can be very difficult to know where exactly or how high it is.

By having a beacon at 40 MHz, it will allow serious 50 MHz stations to monitor the rising MUF and be ready for any potential 6-metre opening. 

I think this beacon will be of real value as we get close to solar maximum and North American stations are checking for a 6-metre opening to Europe.

Thanks to Tim, EI4GNB and Tony, EI7BMB in getting this beacon up and running.

For more information on the 40 MHz band, see the information on my 40 MHz page...

WSPR North-South Divide on 28 MHz - 16th May 2021

Sunday 16th May 2021: This was similar to the previous few days with plenty of Sporadic-E on 28 MHz but it was less intense. I heard 465 WSPR transmissions from 71 different station on the band.

The unusual signals on this day was the appearance of TA4/G8SCU in Turkey and TF3HZ in Iceland. 

There was some short skip to the UK as well with 15 stations heard but it didn't seem as good as previous days.

I was also reminded about one of the main issues with WSPR on 28 MHz i.e. the lack of stations in some countries.

North-South Divide: As you can see from the map above, there is a real lack of signals from the south of Europe. For example, there are hardly any WSPR signals coming from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy.

When I was monitoring the 10m WSPR band on Sunday evening, I hadn't decoded anything in over an hour. I thought the band was closed. I then switched over to FT8 and there were plenty of stations coming through from Spain, Italy and Brazil.

It really is hard to beat FT8 in terms of getting an overall idea of where the band is open to.

QRSS (Very Slow Morse): With the skip going long, I managed to get a screen grab of the QRSS signals from TF3HZ in Iceland.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

First Trans-Atlantic WSPR signal on 28 MHz - 15th May 2021

Saturday 15th May 2021: The last few days have been very good for Sporadic-E propagation with the 28 MHz band staying open for most of each day. The 15th of May started with the band being open from the previous day and finally closed for me at 22:44 UTC. I heard 685 WSPR transmissions from 94 stations during the day.

This was the first day of the 2021 season that I heard a 28 MHz WSPR Trans-Atlantic signal. I got just one decode of Vernon, VE1VDM's signal in Nova Scotia. Vernon was using a QRPLabs U3S transmitter with a 4-watt amp. His antenna was a full size Windom.

UTC (y-m-d) TX txGrid                 RX      rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2021-05-15 11:50 VE1VDM FN85ij EI7GL IO51tu 28.126127 1 -22 0 4001

There was also plenty of short skip around with 18 stations from the UK heard on the band.

UTC (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2021-05-15 11:38 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126077 5 -26 -1 177
2021-05-15 10:32 G6PSZ IO82 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126141 0.2 -23 -1 370
2021-05-15 08:48 G8CQX/A IO80jq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126048 10 -28 0 382
2021-05-15 10:28 MW0GRJ IO83kf EI7GL IO51tu 28.126042 5 -10 0 386
2021-05-15 07:52 G0EKQ IO83pi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126076 5 -24 1 417
2021-05-15 09:20 M0SDM IO92pv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126006 2 -13 0 533
2021-05-15 09:48 G8IOA IO92rp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126097 5 -9 -1 540
2021-05-15 10:02 M7SBL IO93rf EI7GL IO51tu 28.126095 0.01 -23 0 551
2021-05-15 08:28 M0GBZ IO91vv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126144 0.5 -23 0 560
2021-05-15 09:40 G4VME JO02cg EI7GL IO51tu 28.12601 0.2 -23 -1 588
2021-05-15 08:12 G8AXA JO01bi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126112 0.5 -18 -3 589
2021-05-15 00:38 G4KPX JO02dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126089 0.005 -7 1 594
2021-05-15 08:18 M0XDC JO01dq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126084 5 -6 -1 596
2021-05-15 08:18 M0PWX JO01ij EI7GL IO51tu 28.126154 2 -11 0 629
2021-05-15 09:40 G4NJJ JO02 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126075 0.2 -24 -2 640
2021-05-15 05:08 G0MBA JO01 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126049 0.2 -19 0 645
2021-05-15 05:08 G0PKT JO01mt EI7GL IO51tu 28.126061 0.2 -14 0 647
2021-05-15 05:08 G0FTD JO01mi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126118 0.2 -20 0 652
2021-05-15 09:08 GM4SJB IO88ba EI7GL IO51tu 28.126071 5 -13 0 743

EI2SBC: I managed to get two decodes from EI2SBC (Shannon Basin Radio Club) in the centre of Ireland. 
2021-05-15 11:38 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126077 5 -26 -1 177 
2021-05-15 11:58 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126078 5 -23 -4 177 

At -23dB and -26dB, the signal was really buried in the noise and at a level well below what is audible to the ear. As before, it's hard to be sure of the mode of propagation but I suspect it may have been either very short Sporadic-E or Sporadic-E back scatter.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Suggestions for getting rid of monitor interference EI4GNB

Sometimes the interference you can see on the waterfall display can come from your own monitor. In this post, Tim EI4GNB suggests some ways to reduce it.

I have been reminded of just how VGA displays can mess with radio signals. See the two waterfall displays when my radio is on 40 MHz / 8-metres. 

A) The photo above show the waterfall when the display has a refresh rate of 59 & 60 Hz.

B) The photo below shows the waterfall when the refresh rate is at 30 Hz.

Also note I have reduced the 'waterfall zero' in WSJTx to make the lines more faint, but I assure you they are strong QRM.

This only seems to be a problem with VGA + Cables, and some other ops have noted this also, fixing with more robust leads with better shields. HDMI and inbuilt laptop displays seem to avoid this.

Some people never see this, as the bands they work are not harmonically effected, but for me, it's seems to appear worst on 8m when using a refresh rate of 60 Hz or 59 Hz. I mistook it for the usual ISM stuff on 40 MHz, but it's 100% caused by my VGA display!

Screen set to 59 Hz

Screen set to 30 Hz

It's like WHACK-A-MOLE, as if you switch to a refresh rate to clean up one band, then you may see the lines again on another band. So, I have several profiles in my display control panel to switch between.

I know I should move to HDMI, but I run 4 PCs here through a KVM, sharing a monitor, keyboard and mouse between them, so that is not an option for me.

People having QRM issues on 40 MHz / 8m might want to try messing with their display settings to see if things improve.


Thanks to Tim for the above tips! Remember that interference like this may apply to any radio band. A quick way to check is to turn off your monitor for 10 seconds and then turn it back on. If your monitor is causing interference to your radio then you should see a 10 second gap in the interference lines.

Short Skip on 28 MHz - Fri 14th May 2021

Friday the 14th of May was another day where the 28 MHz band seemed to be open for nearly 21 of the 24 hours.

I left the radio on the WSPR frequency all day and heard 903 WSPR transmissions from 86 stations on 28 MHz.

The most interesting signals were again the closest ones due to very short Sporadic-E skip.

These were the WSPR stations that were heard just from England alone...

UTC (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid                          MHz     W SNR  drift  km
2021-05-14 14:54 G8CQX/A IO80jq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126063 20 -8 0 382
2021-05-14 14:52 G6GN IO81rm EI7GL IO51tu 28.12615       1 -13 0 404
2021-05-14 14:52 G3RVX IO81uj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126081     5 -15 1 423
2021-05-14 19:10 G4GVZ IO81wv EI7GL IO51tu 28.12615  5 -16 0 429
2021-05-14 13:26 G0LQI IO80sp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126175 1 -14 0 433
2021-05-14 10:48 G4ZTM IO92al EI7GL IO51tu 28.126101 1 -20 0 443
2021-05-14 15:16 G4BMC IO90es EI7GL IO51tu 28.126101 5 -16 2 484
2021-05-14 12:04 G4CUI IO93fi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126147 1 -24 0 490
2021-05-14 13:38 G4BOO IO91ij EI7GL IO51tu 28.126049 5 -17 0 491
2021-05-14 09:24 G7GXK IO90is EI7GL IO51tu 28.126015 0.2 -17 0 507
2021-05-14 10:40 M0SDM IO92pv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126008 2 -11 0 533
2021-05-14 10:36 G8IOA IO92rp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126096 5 -21 -1 540
2021-05-14 10:08 M0GBZ IO91vv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126148 0.5 -22 0 560
2021-05-14 13:28 G6JVT IO90st EI7GL IO51tu 28.126121 0.2 -18 0 562
2021-05-14 14:58 G4LRP IO91ta EI7GL IO51tu 28.126148 5 -13 1 562
2021-05-14 13:20 G4NXH IO94hu EI7GL IO51tu 28.126109 0.1 -24 0 572
2021-05-14 15:26 G4YBN JO01bs EI7GL IO51tu 28.126087 1 -19 -1 584
2021-05-14 10:10 G4VME JO02cg EI7GL IO51tu 28.126175 0.2 -21 0 588
2021-05-14 13:56 G8AXA JO01bi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126117 0.5 -20 -3 589
2021-05-14 10:22 G4KPX JO02dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126138 0.005 -24 0 594
2021-05-14 10:18 M0XDC JO01dq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126088 5 -20 -2 596
2021-05-14 20:12 G6AVK JO01ho EI7GL IO51tu 28.126149 0.5 -22 0 620
2021-05-14 15:10 G8LVK JO01in EI7GL IO51tu 28.126098 1 -19 0 626
2021-05-14 10:40 G4NJJ JO02 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126081 0.2 -19 -2 640
2021-05-14 03:08 G0MBA JO01 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126055 0.2 -27 0 645
2021-05-14 18:24 M0XYM JO01 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126108 0.2 -31 0 645
2021-05-14 03:08 G0PKT JO01mt EI7GL IO51tu 28.126066 0.2 -19 0 647
2021-05-14 13:38 G0FTD JO01mi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126121 0.2 -20 0 652

There were 9 that were under 500kms.

Friday, May 14, 2021

28MHz band stays open all day - Thurs 13th May 2021

After the aurora and disturbed conditions on Wednesday the 12th of May, the 28 MHz band opened on that evening at about 18:00 UTC. What was really unusual was that the band stayed open that night and all through Thursday the 13th of May... roughly 36 hours. This is in marked contrast to the Sporadic-E openings for the previous few weeks where the band might open at some stage during the day and then close late in the evening.

As the 28 MHz band was open all day, I left the radio monitoring the WSPR frequency for the 24 hours. I heard a total of 945 WSPR transmissions from 87 stations around Europe which is very encouraging as it looked a few week back that there was very little WSPR activity.

The map above shows what I heard. What makes it different from FT8 is that there is a wide distribution of FT8 stations spread across Europe that are trying to make contacts. WSPR however is concentrated in pockets of activity based around mainly the west of Germany, the Netherlands and the south of England.

What I found of interest was the short skip opening to the UK...

Distances of about 1000 to 2200 kms are pretty common on 28 MHz during Sporadic-E openings but the opening needs to be really intense for the skip distance to drop down to 500kms or less.

UTC (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2021-05-13 04:58 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126074 5 -27 -3 177
2021-05-13 09:38 MW0GRJ IO83kf EI7GL IO51tu 28.126038 5 -27 4 386
2021-05-13 10:10 G4SRD IO81wi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126088 10 -17 -1 435
2021-05-13 09:38 G4SDL IO83tk EI7GL IO51tu 28.126101 1 -21 1 441
2021-05-13 07:14 G4HZW IO83uh EI7GL IO51tu 28.12613 5 -20 1 442
2021-05-13 10:04 G7GXK IO90is EI7GL IO51tu 28.126099 0.2 -27 0 507
2021-05-13 10:38 2M0WHX IO75wv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126035 5 -16 0 529
2021-05-13 06:20 M0SDM IO92pv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126006 2 -26 1 533
2021-05-13 06:36 G8IOA IO92rp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126092 5 -16 -1 540
2021-05-13 06:30 M0NMA IO92sp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126077 5 -11 -1 546
2021-05-13 06:08 M0GBZ IO91vv EI7GL IO51tu 28.126143 0.5 -19 0 560
2021-05-13 09:44 G6JVT IO90st EI7GL IO51tu 28.126111 0.2 -26 -1 562
2021-05-13 10:16 G4NXH IO94hu EI7GL IO51tu 28.126101 0.1 -26 0 572
2021-05-13 06:40 G4KPX JO02dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.12607 0.005 -23 0 594
2021-05-13 06:18 M0XDC JO01dq EI7GL IO51tu 28.12607 5 -22 0 596
2021-05-13 12:28 G4EDR IO94uf EI7GL IO51tu 28.126091 5 1 2 601
2021-05-13 10:08 G3JKF JO00bs EI7GL IO51tu 28.126125 5 -27 0 603
2021-05-13 10:42 G3DVF IO95 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126179 0.2 -26 0 629
2021-05-13 08:10 G4NJJ JO02 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126076 0.2 -21 -3 640
2021-05-13 05:58 G0MBA JO01 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126046 0.2 7 0 645
2021-05-13 05:58 G0PKT JO01mt EI7GL IO51tu 28.126056 0.2 0 0 647
2021-05-13 06:38 G0FTD JO01mi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126112 0.2 -24 0 652
2021-05-13 09:34 GM1OXB IO87lp EI7GL IO51tu 28.126049 2 -6 0 729

The most unusual signal was that of EI2SBC (Shannon Basin Radio Club) which was 177kms to the north of me. I heard two WSPR transmissions...

UTC (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2021-05-13 04:58 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126074 5 -27 -3 177
2021-05-13 14:58 EI2SBC IO63dj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126078 5 -26 -3 177

Propagation mode? At 177kms, tropo is a possibility even on 28 MHz but I don't think it was. I suspect is was either very short Sporadic-E or Sporadic-E back-scatter. They were running 5 watts which is reasonably high power level for WSPR so it's difficult to be sure.

QRSS: One of the advantages of listening to WSPR is that I can see any QRSS (very slow morse) signals as well as those signals are just below the WSPR ones.

The image above shows a screen grab I took early on Thursday morning. Most of those stations in the Uk were east of London and about 650kms from me.

As an example, the signal say from G0FTD in this image is probably weaker than -20dB and in reality is buried in the noise.