Sunday, May 22, 2022

ICOM SHF Microwave Project for the 2.4 GHz & 5.6 GHz bands

In 2021, ICOM announced that they were developing a transceiver for the microwave bands. At the time, it seemed like a highly unusual but welcome development.

See the Addendum at the bottom of the post for updates...

In April of 2022, they announced more details. They write... "Under the theme of “ICOM SHF Project – Super High Frequency Band Challenge –”, we started to develop a new amateur radio available for use in the 2.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz bands.

Icom engineers are working hard to research and develop a number of never cleared challenges within the SHF band, such as large cable loss and higher frequency stability requirements. The ultimate goal is to bring it to the market as a new radio product. Icom is striving to bring to you a new era in fun and possibilities of an SHF band amateur radio, which to date has had high technical and equipment hurdles to overcome, and we hope to make these bands more attractive and active so that anyone can easily operate on them. We are developing an epoch-making SHF band amateur radio that no one has never imagined before."

The microwave radio is essentially a box that this designed to be fitted at the top of a mast or roof of a house. This will keep any coax losses to an absolute minimum.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Opening on the 40 MHz band between the USA and Chile - 18th May 2022

There was an interesting opening on the 18th of May 2022 when the FT8 signals from the US experimental 40 MHz station WM2XEJ in Georgia were heard by CE3SOC in Chile.

The path distance was 7562kms.

Log on the PSK Reporter website...

 Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
WLO/S32 8m FT8 561 km 20:36:26
WLO/O5 8m FT8 561 km 20:30:45
CE3SOC 8m FT8 7562 km 19:29:26
WLO/S11 8m FT8 561 km 17:00:59

With the solar flux on the increase and more openings on the higher 50 MHz band, it's probably not such a great surprise that there was an opening between North and South America at 40 MHz.

It is however nice to see more interest in the band from amateur radios stations in South America and hopefully we'll see many more reports.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Opening on the 40 MHz band between Slovenia & South America - 16th May 2022

Borut, S50B in Slovenia reports that on the 16th of May 2022, his FT8 signal on 40.680 MHz was heard for the first time in South America!

The map above shows the path from S50B to PY2XB in Brazil (~10,000kms) and LU5FF in Argentina (~11,300kms).

Borut's 40 MHz was also heard by EA8BFK in the Canary Islands (3095kms) on the 11th and the 17th of May.  I don't know if the path to EA8 was open on the 16th but it does suggest the F2 layer propagation might be reaching as high as the 40 MHz band on north-south paths on a regular basis.

As there have been reports of recent openings on the higher 50 MHz band from Europe to South America, it should be no great surprise that there was an opening on the lower 40 MHz band.

I'd suggest however that this shows how valuable the 40 MHz band is to radio amateurs and to those interested in propagation research. Signals on the 40 MHz band give an early warning of potential openings on 50 MHz as the Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF) will often be just below 50 MHz. If someone hears a 40 MHz signal then at least they know what direction an opening might be likely.

It's also good to see some of the radio amateurs in South America getting interest in the 40 MHz band. It will be interesting to see if they report on any openings to the experimental stations on the 40 MHz band in North America.


1) As always, plenty of info on my 40 MHz page.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Irish Trans-Atlantic 144 MHz beacon EI2DKH stops transmitting - May 2022

It was announced this week that the Irish trans-Atlantic 144 MHz beacon EI2DKH has ceased transmissions.

Operated on behalf of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) by Tony Baldwin, EI8JK, the EI2DKH beacon transmitted JT65B on 144.488 MHz with a CW identification on every even minute.

The beacon was established in early 2015 with the hope that the 2m signal would be heard across the North Atlantic in either Canada or the United States.

The beacon’s power output was 75 W to an array of 5 element Yagis at 60 meters above mean sea level and beaming due west from Sheeps Head in IO51dn.

As can be seen from the map, this was in the far south-west of Ireland and just over 3,000 kms from Newfoundland, Canada.

In its seven years of operating, there were no 2m reports from across the Atlantic.

In a statement on the 5th of May 2022, the beacon keeper Tony, EI8JK wrote...

"It has been pointed out that my EI2DKH beacon is perhaps not the best site. That coupled with the electricity cost for running it 24/7, I have decided to not run the Trans-Atlantic beacon this year.

If there is an EI/GI amateur with a good site on the west coast who would like to take it over, I would willingly supply the 4 antennas, splitter and pre-amp.

Sorry to disappoint.

73, Tony, EI8JK."

This project might be of interest to any individual or group who have access to a site which is near the western seaboard of Ireland and has an extremely low horizon to the west-north-west.

Friday, May 6, 2022

13,300km opening on the 50 MHz band between Costa Rica and Kuwait - 28th Apr 2022

Following on from a recent post about some long distance openings on the 50 MHz band, Charlie TI5CDA has been in contact to report on another recent opening between Central America and the Middle East.

On the 28th of April 2022, TI5CDA in Costa Rica completed a successful FT8 contact with 9K2NO in Kuwait on 50.313 MHz. The distance was in the region of 13,300 kms.

The solar flux on the day was 132. With the increasing sunspot numbers and the use of new weak signal digital modes, openings like this on the 50 MHz band are going to become increasingly more common, especially for those living in more southerly latitudes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Another 50 MHz opening to South America - Tues 3rd May 2022

I was informed that there was a pretty good opening on the evening of the 3rd of May 2022 from Ireland to South America on the 50 MHz band. The map above shows the FT8 paths from Jim, EI8GS with most of the South American stations in the region of 11,000kms.

Most of the activity seems to have been around 20:00 UTC and it's possible that the opening was due to a Sporadic-E opening to the south from Ireland which then coupled into a Trans-Equatorial Propagation opening to South America.

It's just another reminder that at the moment, the Sporadic-E and TEP seasons are overlapping. 

If you're in Europe or North America then turn those beams to the south in the afternoon and evening and look for these long distance openings.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

50 MHz openings to South Africa start as the Sporadic-E season begins - 29th Apr 2022

On the 28th of April 2022, Chris SP4K in Poland reported that there was an opening on the 50 MHz to South Africa, a distance of almost 9000kms.

Chris writes... "The 2022 6m DX Season is officially open here in KO03. Short Es linked TEP to ZS resulted in two QSOs in the log - ZS6NJ and ZS6AF".

The Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) season tends to peak around the equinox while the Sporadic-E season peaks during the Summer months.

Late April and early May can be a very good time for North-South paths as the two seasons overlap.

Explanation... For stations in Spain, Italy & Greece, they are far enough south to be able to to exploit 50 MHz TEP openings to the south of Africa. Stations further north are too far away for TEP but that changes when the Sporadic-E season starts and there is an opening to the south.

This allows northerly stations to now access the TEP zone further south. This can be seen in the map above. The usual Sporadic-E zone of signals in the 1000-2000km range are shown. For SP4K, there was an opening to the south by Greece and then onto the TEP zone over Africa.

This is the situation for all northerly stations in Europe or the USA and Canada. Late April and early May is the time to beam south and look for those openings to the southern hemisphere.

Log for SP4K...

 Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
SP4K ZS6NJ 6m FT8 8909 km 16:35:42
SP4K ZS6OB 6m FT8 8880 km 16:36:14
ZS6AF SP4K 6m FT8 8867 km 16:39:28
SP4K ZS6WN 6m FT8 8678 km 16:39:14

Friday, April 29, 2022

Opening on the 40 MHz band between England & Croatia - 28th Apr 2022

Thursday 28th April 2022: The Summer Sporadic-E season has started to get into full swing in Europe with openings being reported on the bands from 28 MHz to 70 MHz.

On the 40 MHz band, there was an opening from England to Slovenia and Croatia.

Roger, G3XBM reports hearing the FT8 signals of 9A2Y in Croatia while 9A2Y heard the FT8 test transmissions from G3XBM who was carrying out experiments with his 'Innovation and Trial' permit from Ofcom.

Receive log for G3XBM...
 Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
9A2Y 8m FT8 1567 km 16:07:57
S50B 8m FT8 1220 km 14:44:42

Quite a few stations heard the FT8 transmissions from 9A2Y and it shows the growing interest in the 40 MHz band.

Stations hearing 9A2Y...
Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G7PUV/A 8m FT8 1498 km 16:08:00
G4FTC 8m FT8 1575 km 16:07:59
G3XBM 8m FT8 1567 km 16:07:57
G0DJA 8m FT8 1716 km 16:07:56
EI9KP 8m FT8 2206 km 16:07:56
G8BQR/OWRX 8m FT8 1710 km 15:51:45
G9PUV 8m FT8 1503 km 15:48:00
ON5QRP 8m FT8 1093 km 15:47:56
G4APB 8m FT8 1527 km 15:13:12

DX-Cluster: The spots on the DX Cluster show that the Danish beacon on 40.071 MHz was heard in Croatia, France & Spain and ZG6GC from South Africa was heard in Spain.

9A3TN 40071.0 OZ7IGY/B 16:33 28 Apr JN85UH<ES>JO55 Denmark
F6HTJ-@ 40071.0 OZ7IGY/B 16:27 28 Apr JO55wn<ES>JN12kq 8m band sri Denmark
EA3ERE 40071.0 OZ7IGY/B 16:25 28 Apr JN11CX<ES>JO55WN cw pi4 -10 Denmark
S50B 40680.0 9A5CW 16:01 28 Apr cq Croatia 
S50B 40680.0 G9PUV 15:51 28 Apr England
EA3ERE 40680.0 ZS6GC 15:51 28 Apr <TEP> FT8 cq South Africa
EI9KP 40680.0 G9PUV 15:09 28 Apr IO54MB<>JO00AU FT8 -12dB England
S50B 40680.0 EI9KP 14:40 28 Apr Ireland
EI9KP 40016.0 EI1CAH 10:21 28 Apr IO54MB<>IO53CK PI4 -5dB Ireland
EI9KP 40013.0 EI1KNH 06:50 28 Apr IO54MB<>IO63VE WSPR -24dB Ireland

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Was there an 6700km opening on the 144 MHz band between Brazil and the Azores???

I was alerted recently to an unusual APRS report which suggested that there might have been an opening on the 144 MHz band between Brazil and the Azores, a distance of about 6,728kms.

This is the report from the website for CQ1PBA for the 20th of April 2022...

callsign pkts first heard - IST last heard longest (rx - tx) 
PY4CEP-14 7 2022-04-20 20:01:18 2022-04-20 20:59:59 GH60XH - HM77GS 6733.5 km 202° 

I know that Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) generally uses FM on 144.800 MHz in Europe as a beacon mode but I'm not 100% familiar with the APRS website and what all the reports mean.

I am putting this report here for others to investigate the data on the APRS website and they can come up with their own conclusions. Do a search for CQ1PBA and PY4CEP-14 and see what you think.

I suspect the reports are as a result of some sort of HF Gateway or some other reason that I don't know about. If it was a real opening on 144 MHz then Trans-Equatorial Propagation might be a possible reason but again, I think there is a simpler reason.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

18,760km opening on the 50 MHz band between Trinidad and Indonesia - 25th Apr 2022

Monday 25th April 2022: It was was interesting to see there there was an 18,760km opening on the 50 MHz band between Trinidad in the Caribbean to Indonesia. 

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
9Y4D YB1AR 6m FT8 18763 km 15:25:59
YB1BA 9Y4D 6m FT8 18673 km 15:10:27
4X1TI 9Y4D 6m FT8 10001 km 18:28:57
9Y4D 4X4DK 6m FT8 9986 km 18:33:26
9Y4D 5B4ALJ 6m FT8 9702 km 18:15:29
9Y4D SV9CVY 6m FT8 9023 km 18:32:59
9Y4D EA8RH 6m FT8 5058 km 17:25:26
9Y4D EA8TL 6m FT8 5051 km 17:33:26

With the solar flux up at 157, it looks as if the maximum usable frequency (MUF) in these southerly latitudes is reaching the 50 MHz band.

Friday, April 22, 2022

First contact on the 40 MHz band between Ireland and South Africa - 21st April 2022

A little bit of radio history was made on the 21st of April 2022 with the very first contact ever between Ireland (EI) and South Africa (ZS) on the 40 MHz band.

Phil, EI9KP in the west of Ireland managed to complete two way contacts with Jan, ZS6OB in South Africa on 40.680 MHz using the FT8 and FT4 modes, a distance of about 9,570 kms.

EI9KP writes... "For me a first band "opening" to South Africa, logged ZS6OB from 1044z till 1420z.  To my delight we managed a 2-way contact on 40.680MHz using FT8 and FT4 modes."

EI9KP was using 25-watts from an ICOM IC-7300 to a home brew 2-element Yagi for the 8m band. ZS6OB was using in the region of 30-50 watts.

2-el Yagi for the 40 MHz band used by EI9KP

Phil continues..."I could see ZS6OB making many a contact to S5 Slovenia.  At a certain moment the PSKReporter 8m map was lit up by 20 monitoring stations. For the first time I logged ZS6WAB/B on 40.675MHz CW."

This is the map showing the stations in Europe that heard ZS6OB...

It's worth noting that the 40 MHz band can act as an early warning for potential openings on the higher 50 MHz and is being used by serious 6m operators for that purpose.

Here are the FT8 reports for ZS6OB from the PSK Reporter site...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
ZS6OB S58P 8m FT8 8116 km 14:48:56
ZS6OB EA3ERE 8m FT8 8000 km 14:47:44
ZS6OB S59F 8m FT8 8104 km 14:47:44
S57A ZS6OB 8m FT8 8115 km 14:43:26
ZS6OB G7PUV/A 8m FT8 8956 km 14:42:45
ZS6OB S50B 8m FT8 8098 km 14:41:43
S50B ZS6OB 8m FT8 8098 km 14:41:26
S52O ZS6OB 8m FT8 8123 km 14:33:27
ZS6OB S57TW 8m FT8 8106 km 14:27:11
ZS6OB S52O 8m FT8 8123 km 14:25:14
ZS6OB ON5QRP 8m FT8 8687 km 14:19:42
ZS6OB HC02 8m FT8 7949 km 14:14:44
ZS6OB EI9KP 8m FT8 9573 km 14:04:44
ZS6OB G0CHE 8m FT4 8979 km 13:29:28
ZS6OB G4FTC 8m FT4 9037 km 13:28:43
G9PUV ZS6OB 8m FT4 8964 km 13:23:06
ZS6OB G9PUV 8m FT4 8964 km 13:22:59
ZS6OB G4IFX 8m FT8 9019 km 13:20:58
ZS6OB PA11605 8m FT8 9030 km 13:17:27
S58P ZS6OB 8m FT8 8116 km 13:06:44
S59F ZS6OB 8m FT8 8104 km 12:26:41
ZS6OB OK1NP 8m FT8 8534 km 12:19:59
9A2Y ZS6OB 8m FT8 7767 km 12:16:12
ZS6OB NL8992 8m FT8 8960 km 12:15:29
ZS6OB G7PUV 8m FT8 8964 km 12:15:29
ZS6OB IW4EGP 8m FT8 7933 km 12:15:29
ZS6OB DK2EA 8m FT8 8613 km 12:15:26
EI9KP ZS6OB 8m FT8 9573 km 12:13:12
F4FRQ ZS6OB 8m FT4 8451 km 12:07:06
ZS6OB F4FRQ 8m FT4 8451 km 12:01:44
ZS6OB PA5M 8m FT8 8940 km 11:59:26
ON5QRP ZS6OB 8m FT8 8687 km 11:55:12
ZS6OB G0LFF 8m FT8 8981 km 11:42:29
ZS6OB G4APB 8m FT8 9022 km 11:40:27
ZS6OB M0NYW 8m FT8 9427 km 11:37:57
ZS6OB G0DJA 8m FT8 9241 km 11:33:26
ZS6OB SM7FJE 8m FT8 9184 km 11:24:29
ZS6OB ON4IQ 8m FT8 8838 km 11:19:29

Just to note that Paul, G7PUV in the SE of England also heard ZS6OB. ZS6OB also heard the FT8 transmissions from G9PUV which is the call used by G7PUV for his experimental transmissions under his 40 MHz Innovation and Trial license.

ZS6WAB was also operating his beacon on 40.675 MHz and was reported in Europe.

Here are the 40 MHz DX-Cluster spots from the day...

EI9KP 40013.0 EI1KNH 15:46 21 Apr IO54MB<>IO63VE WSPR -24dB Ireland
EA3ERE 40680.0 ZS6OB 14:27 21 Apr <TEP> FT8 cq usa South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 48600.0 ZS6OB 14:23 21 Apr -21 db - RX South Africa
S50B 40680.0 ZS6OB 14:16 21 Apr CQ USA South Africa
EA3ERE 40680.0 ZS6OB 13:23 21 Apr <TEP> FT8 -7 South Africa
EA3ERE 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 13:22 21 Apr JN11CX<>KG46 CW 539 South Africa
ON4PS-@ 40680.0 ZS6OB 12:23 21 Apr -06 from KG44 (ft8) South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680.0 EI9JA 12:20 21 Apr -17db - RX Ireland
ON5QRP-@ 40680.0 ZS6OB 12:17 21 Apr RX -07db -FT8 South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680.0 EI9KP 12:14 21 Apr RX +10db Ireland
F4FRQ 40680.0 ZS6OB 12:13 21 Apr JN37KQ<>KG44DE ft4 +02 South Africa
F4CXO 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 12:11 21 Apr JN26PP<>KG46RB CW 579 in FT 81 South Africa
F4FRQ 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 12:04 21 Apr JN37KQ<>KG46RB CW 529 South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 12:03 21 Apr 55 - RX South Africa
F4CXO 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 11:51 21 Apr JN26PP<>KG46RB 539 QSB South Africa
EI9KP 40675.0 ZS6WAB/B 11:50 21 Apr IO54MB<ES>KG46RB CW 539 South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680.0 ZS6OB 11:36 21 Apr RX +13db South Africa
IW4EGP 40680.0 ZS6OB 11:32 21 Apr FT8 -10 CCC ZS6* South Africa
EI9KP 40680.0 ZS6OB 10:48 21 Apr IO54MB<ES>KG44DE FT8 -6dB South Africa
EI9KP 40680.0 G3XBM 10:33 21 Apr IO54MB<>JO02DG FT8 -18dB England
EI9KP 40680.0 S59F 09:28 21 Apr IO54MB<ES>JN65UU FT8 -16dB Slovenia

Propagation Mode: With the increasing solar activity, I suspect a combination of TEP and F2 layer propagation was responsible for these 40 MHz openings.

1) As always, plenty of info on my 40 MHz page.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

EI1KNH schedule for the Lyrid Meteor Shower - 20th to 25th April 2022

As an experiment, the EI1KNH beacon which is on 40.013 MHz will use the following sequence for the duration of the Lyrid meteor shower from the 20th to the 25th of April 2022.

EI1KNH MS 'LYRIDS' schedule (April 20-25 2022)

3mins past the hour, 06-24hrs msk144 & cw
6mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
6mins past the hour, 00-05hrs msk144 & cw
10mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
13mins past the hour, 00-05hrs msk144 & cw
13mins past the hour, 06-24hrs carrier, 0db to 20db of attenuation in steps
14mins past the hour, 06-24hrs wspr
16mins past the hour, 06-24hrs msk144 & cw
20mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
23mins past the hour, 06-24hrs msk144 & cw
26mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
26mins past the hour, 00-05hrs msk144 & cw
30mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
33mins past the hour, 00-05hrs msk144 & cw
33mins past the hour, 06-24hrs carrier, 0db to 20db of attenuation in steps
34mins past the hour, 06-24hrs wspr
36mins past the hour, 24hrs msk144 & cw
40mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
43mins past the hour, 06-24hrs carrier, 0db to 20db of attenuation in steps
44mins past the hour, 06-24hrs wspr
46mins past the hour, 24hrs msk144 & cw
50mins past the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw
53mins past the hour, 00-05hrs msk144 & cw
53mins past the hour, 06-24hrs carrier, 0db to 20db of attenuation in steps
54mins past the hour, 06-24hrs wspr
56mins past the hour, 06-24hrs sstv (M1) & cw
Basically, WSPR is swapped for MSK at night, RTTY is gone, FT8 remains.
On the hour, 06-24hrs ft8 & cw

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Opening across the Atlantic on the 40 MHz band - 18th Apr 2022

Sunday 18th April 2022: During the afternoon, WM2XEK in the state of Georgia in the United States was heard across the Atlantic by EA8BFK on the Canary Islands on the 40 MHz band.

WM2XEJ is one of seven stations in the USA who have experimental licenses for the 40 MHz band at present.

 Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
WLO/O5 8m FT8 561 km 17:45:45
EA8BFK 8m FT8 6508 km 17:45:30

It's likely that the mode of propagation was via the F2 layer with the maximum usable frequency (MUF) going up above 30 MHz and reaching 40 MHz. 

It's probably no accident that the opening occurred at what is a reasonably southerly latitude. The MUF over a more northerly East-West path would be have been much lower.

At the moment, there are signs of plenty of North-South openings at 40 MHz but it's the East-West ones that usually more difficult.

The solar flux on the day was 135.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Trans-Continental opening on the 40 MHz band in the USA - 14th Apr 2022

On the 14th of April 2022, there was an interesting Transcontinental opening on the 40 MHz band in the USA.

There are currently seven US radio amateurs using experimental callsigns and licenses for the 40 MHz band. Three of these... WM2XCC in California, WM2XCW in Washington State and WM2XAN in Michigan are using the WSPR digital mode and their signals were heard by W4WLO in Alabama and N2OTO in Florida.

The WSPR reports for each of the three stations are shown below...

 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2022-04-14 21:52 WM2XAN EN74oh WLO/O5 EM50vo 40.6636 100 -26 -4 1553

2022-04-14 22:14 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -9 0 3640
2022-04-14 22:02 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663492 2 -14 0 3640
2022-04-14 21:52 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -20 0 3640
2022-04-14 21:44 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -16 1 3640
2022-04-14 21:34 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -24 0 3640
2022-04-14 21:34 WM2XCC DM13ji W4WLO/S32 EM50vo 40.663489 2 -11 0 2743
2022-04-14 21:24 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663495 2 -24 0 3640
2022-04-14 21:24 WM2XCC DM13ji W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663449 2 -8 0 2743
2022-04-14 21:16 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -23 1 3640
2022-04-14 21:16 WM2XCC DM13ji W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663449 2 -3 0 2743
2022-04-14 21:08 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -11 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:58 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663492 2 -8 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:48 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663492 2 -9 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:38 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663491 2 -9 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:28 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663492 2 -12 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:20 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663493 2 -7 0 3640
2022-04-14 20:12 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663494 2 -1 0 3640

2022-04-14 21:16 WM2XCW CN88lx WLO/O5 EM50vo 40.663601 10 -20 0 3561
2022-04-14 21:16 WM2XCW CN88lx W4WLO/S32 EM50vo 40.663538 10 -27 0 3561
2022-04-14 21:06 WM2XCW CN88lx W4WLO/S32 EM50vo 40.66354 10 -17 0 3561

Some observations...

1) WM2XAN to WLO/05 (W4WLO) at 1553kms is normal enough. Some weak Sporadic-E could account for this reception report.

2) WM2XCC in California to W4WLO in Alabama and N2OTO in Florida is 2743kms and 3640kms respectively. These were the most numerous reports and are well beyond the normal 2300km limit or so for single hop Sporadic-E. In that respect, it's a very unusual opening.

3) WM2XCC in Washington state to W4LO in Alabama is 3561kms and is again an unusually long distance path.

Analysis... What caused the opening and what was the propagation mode? 

First of all, let's look at the times. The opening was at roughly 21:00 UTC which was roughly 3pm local time in the centre of the United States.

Theory 1: Double hop / Chordal hop Sporadic-E - It's possible that Sporadic-E with more than 1 hop was involved which extended the range beyond the normal 2300kms or so. Even though the Summer Sporadic-E season has started, it's still only the 14th of April. It's possible it was double hop but I think it's unlikely.

Theory 2: F2 layer propagation - The solar flux on the day was at 103 but note how the opening happened just before a major aurora.

It is often observed that there is an improvement in the upper HF bands like 28 MHz as an aurora is commencing or about to start.

At the moment, East-West paths across the USA have a maximum usable frequency (MUF) in the low VHF spectrum just above 30 MHz. I suspect the onset of the aurora caused to MUF to jump upwards and propagation via the F2 layer at 40 MHz was possible.

While we can never be 100% certain what the reason was, I think the fact the 40 MHz opening happened at the start of an aurora is significant.

In conclusion... Over the next few weeks, the Sporadic-E season will really begin to get going and I suspect there will be plenty of double hop Sp-E openings in May and June.

As the sunspot numbers improve, F2 layer openings like this will be become a lot more common and I think 40 MHz WSPR reports will be of particular value to those operating on the 50 MHz band waiting for an trans-continental opening in the United States.

Monday, April 11, 2022

12,600km opening from Europe to the Falkland Islands on the 40 MHz band - 10th April 2022

This really is an amazing reception report. Read on...

On Sunday the 10th of April 2022, Phil EI9KP was carrying out some experiments on the new 40 MHz band. 

From 09:00 to 12:00 UTC, he tried transmitting on WSPR on 40.680 MHz with the hope that some stations in England might hear the signal but to no avail.

In the afternoon, EI9KP switched to FT8 and managed to successfully decode the FT8 signal from the EI1KNH beacon near Dublin on 40.013 MHz.

After that, EI9KP sent a sequence of FT8 transmissions on 40.680 MHz. Little did he realise at the time that his VHF 40 MHz signal would reach the Falkland Islands off South America, a distance of roughly 12,600kms!

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
EI9KP VP8ADR/40 8m FT8 12602 km 14:33:14
EI1KNH EI9KP 8m FT8 210 km 14:27:11

At 14:33 UTC, Bob VP8ADR successfully decoded the FT8 signal from EI9KP using just a fan dipole resonant for 40m, 20m & 10m.

What makes it even more remarkable was that VP8ADR was only having a quick listen to the 40 MHz band after an email from Paul, G7PUV (G9PUV) informed him about his 40MHz transmission from England using his Innovation & Research licence.

It really was just good luck that Bob was listening at the same time as Phil was transmitting and the band was open at the same time.

When I first heard about this reception report, I thought surely someone has made a mistake. Someone had the wrong band setting on their software or something else. But no, both EI9KP and VP8ADR have confirmed to me that they were transmitting and receiving on the 40 MHz band.

For the record, Phil EI9KP was using 20 watts from an ICOM IC-7300 fed into a home made 40 MHz band pass filter and the antenna was a delta-loop for 40 MHz.

Analysis... My first reaction is just WOW! Who would have thought a low band VHF signal at 40 MHz would get from Europe to the Falklands in April?

Unlike other openings at 50 MHz, I suspect that this time there may have been no Sporadic-E involved. I think it's a case of F2 and possibly TEP signals extending above 30 MHz on North-South paths and actually reaching the 40 MHz band.

My first question is what other paths are open at 40 MHz that we're not even aware of? 

One thing is for sure. If a FT8 signal at 40 MHz from Europe can reach the Falkland Islands then one from the USA certainly will. It might be time for some of those US stations with experimental 40 MHz calls to send some FT8 signals to the south.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Big opening on 40 MHz between Europe and South Africa - Thurs 7th Apr 2022

Thursday 7th April 2022: There was an extensive opening on the 40 MHz band and it was great to see so many stations active. The map above shows the FT8 activity on the band.

Up to now, the only station active from South Africa seemed to be ZS6WAB so it was a pleasant surprise to see two more ZS stations operating on the 8m band.

Borut, S50B in Slovenia reports working both ZS6OB and ZS4TX bringing his total now to three South African stations worked. 

G9PUV on the south-east coast of England managed to exchange signal reports with two stations in South Africa. Even though the signals at 40 MHz were quite strong, no successful contacts were made at 50 MHz when Paul was using his amateur radio callsign G7PUV.

ZS6WAB was heard in Slovenia, Chad and Croatia.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
S58P 8m FT8 7928 km 14:59:11
TT8SN 8m FT8 4300 km 14:58:11
9A5CW 8m FT8 7848 km 14:37:28

ZS6OB was heard over a much wider area including Portugal (HC02), Slovenia, Croatia, England, Belgium, France and Hungary.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
HC02 8m FT8 7949 km 14:42:59
9A3TN 8m FT8 7983 km 14:42:59
S50B 8m FT8 8098 km 14:42:58
9A5CW 8m FT8 8033 km 14:42:58
S59F 8m FT8 8104 km 14:26:29
G0CHE 8m FT8 8979 km 14:17:14
G4EFE 8m FT8 9060 km 14:17:12
G7PUV/A 8m FT8 8956 km 14:16:45
G9PUV 8m FT8 8964 km 14:16:43
ON5CD 8m FT8 8849 km 14:07:14
G4FTC 8m FT8 9037 km 14:06:44
F5BZB 8m FT8 8196 km 14:05:44
HA2NP 8m FT8 8173 km 13:55:44

ZS4TX was heard in Greece, Slovenia, Portugal, Croatia, England, France and Hungary.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
SV1DH 8m FT8 7458 km 14:48:44
S50B 8m FT8 8415 km 14:48:43
HC02 8m FT8 8158 km 14:45:45
S59F 8m FT8 8419 km 14:45:14
9A3TN 8m FT8 8311 km 14:08:56
G9PUV 8m FT8 9243 km 14:00:13
F5BZB 8m FT8 8466 km 13:58:14
HA2NP 8m FT8 8509 km 13:57:44
9A5CW 8m FT8 8349 km 13:53:43

As can be seen from the reports about, the best conditions seemed to have been around 14:00 UTC. I suspect the opening was due to afternoon TEP with some F2 layer propagation.

Radio amateurs in South Africa first got an allocation at 40 MHz back in 2015. After some initial interest, interest seemed to fizzle out due to the small numbers and a lack of activity.

Now with the increased level of activity and interest in the 40 MHz band in Europe, some long range paths are beginning to open up.

As more stations get active on the 40 MHz band, it's likely that more people will put up dedicated antennas tuned for the 8m band resulting in better signal reports. Up to now, most were pressing their 28 MHz or 50 MHz antennas in service with limited results.

Spots from the DX-Cluster...

Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
TT8SN 40675 ZS6WAB 14:59 07 Apr 22 JK72MC<>KG46 CQ ... +32 dB South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS6WAB 14:47 07 Apr 22 +06 QSB South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS6OB 14:42 07 Apr 22 +6db South Africa
S50B 40680 ZS6OB 14:32 07 Apr 22 ssb 8m South Africa
F4CXO 40680 ZS6OB 14:32 07 Apr 22 JN26PP<>KG44DE 53 in JN26 South Africa
F4CXO 40675 ZS6WAB/B 14:14 07 Apr 22 JN26PP<>KG46RB 559 South Africa
F4DNP 40675 ZS6WAB/B 14:11 07 Apr 22 Good conditions in JN38. South Africa
EA3ERE 40675 ZS6WAB/B 14:11 07 Apr 22 JN11CX<>KG46 CW 559+ South Africa
EA3ERE 40680 ZS6OB 14:05 07 Apr 22 <ES> FT8 +24 dB cq South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS6OB 14:03 07 Apr 22 +30db South Africa
HA2NP 40680 ZS4TX 14:03 07 Apr 22 JN97SG<TEP>KG30BX 0dB HRD South Africa
HA2NP 40680 ZS6OB 14:02 07 Apr 22 JN97SG<TEP>KG44DE -10 HRD South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS4TX 14:01 07 Apr 22 QSO G9PUV South Africa
G7PUV 40675 ZS6WAB/B 13:54 07 Apr 22 JO00AU<TEP>KG46RB 599! South Africa
TT8SN 40680 S59F 13:48 07 Apr 22 JK72MC<>JN65UU +30 dB Slovenia
TT8SN 40680 ON5QRP 13:47 07 Apr 22 JK72MC<>JN29UQ +12 dB Belgium
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS6OB 13:47 07 Apr 22 QSO G9PUV South Africa
EA3ERE 40680 ZS6OB 13:44 07 Apr 22 <ES> FT8 cq South Africa
EA3ERE 40675 ZS6WAB/B 13:33 07 Apr 22 JN11CX<>KG46 CW 549 South Africa
ON5QRP-@ 40680 ZS6OB 13:11 07 Apr 22 -6 ft8 South Africa
F4CXO 40675 ZS6WAB/B 13:09 07 Apr 22 JN26PP<>KG46RB 519 South Africa

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Opening on 40 MHz between the UK and Chad - 6th Apr 2022

It looks as if there was an opening on the 40 MHz band on Tuesday the 6th of April 2022 when the FT8 signal from Paul, G9PUV (G7PUV) was heard by TT8SN in Chad.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
TT8SN 8m FT8 4518 km 14:25:11

According to the PSK Reporter website, TT8SN was hearing the signal from G9PUV at +16dB which is very strong.

G9PUV was using 25 watts into a log periodic antenna for the tests.

The strong signal strength, the distance of 4,500kms and the time suggests that this was a F2 layer opening with just one hop involved. It looks as if the North-South path from the south of England to Africa is now reaching as high as the 40 MHz band.

The solar flux on the 6th of April was 117 which is down from the recent peak of 156 a week ago.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Reception reports for the ZS6WAB beacon on 40 MHz - Q1 2022

With the recent increase in sunspot numbers and the improvement on the HF bands, there has been a lot of interest in the ZS6WAB beacon on 40.675 MHz. This beacon which usually sends a message in CW is now seen as a valuable early warning system for potential openings on the 50 MHz band between Europe and South Africa.

In the first quarter of 2022, a total of 52 stations uploaded reception reports to the DX Summit DX cluster and a map of these are shown above. Outside of Europe, there are two to note. 

a) TT8SN in Chad at about 4,300kms was most likely one F2 layer hop.

b) There was a spot on the cluster  from W3PQS in the USA but unless I hear otherwise, I think it's a mistake (not counted as part of the 52). I sent W3PQS an email but got no reply. 

Europe... This is the map for Europe in more detail...

As might be expected, the majority of the stations that heard the 40 MHz signal of ZS6WAB are located in the southern half of Europe. 

As for propagation modes, it's likely TEP was involved with some F2 layer reaching as high as 40 MHz as well on this North-South path.

It was interesting to see that the signal from South Africa managed to reach OH5ZA in Finland as well, a distance of almost 9,500kms.

Top Spotters... This is a list of the top spotters on the DX cluster broken down into the number of days they heard and reported the ZS6WAB beacon on 40 MHz. 

It's interesting to note that both DK2EA and F4CXO reported hearing the 40 MHz ZS6WAB beacon on 22 days in Q1 of 2022.

Caveat... I used the DX spots from the DX Summit cluster to compile the data for this post. It's possible there were other spots which were not on this platform but other sources of information are incomplete. I do think however it gives a reasonably accurate picture of who heard the South African beacon on the 40 MHz band.

In Conclusion... First off, it's great to see so many stations in Europe active and listening on the 40 MHz band! 

I think the reception reports of this 40 MHz beacon shows just how valuable an allocation between 28 MHz and 50 MHz can be, especially for beacons. 

It would be nice if more countries allowed one off experimental 40 MHz beacons as advocated by the IARU even if an amateur radio allocation is unlikely.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Reception reports for G9PUV on the 40 MHz band - 5th April 2022

On the 4th of April 2022, Paul G7PUV received a UK Innovation and Research License from OFCOM for the 40 MHz band.

On the 5th of April, Paul carried out some test transmissions using FT8 on 40.680 MHz with the call sign G9PUV.

The map above shows the stations that decoded the FT8 signals and the log is shown below...

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
S50B 8m FT8 1167 km 16:13:43
EI9KP 8m FT8 705 km 16:05:41
G0JHC 8m FT8 366 km 15:50:14
G4AWP 8m FT8 162 km 16:10:41
G4WSZ 8m FT8 148 km 16:10:42
G0LRD 8m FT8 138 km 18:39:41
G4APB 8m FT8 70 km 16:21:12
G0CHE 8m FT8 51 km 16:13:14
G7PUV/A 8m FT8 9 km 18:37:14

Most of the signals under 165kms were most likely tropo, it's not so obvious the mode of propagation for G0JHC, EI9KP & S50B.

Phil, EI9KP reports... "I tuned to 40.680MHz and just let it sit on FT8, to my susprise I logged UK Innovation and Research License "G9PUV".  The 'CQ' call got forwarded automatically to PSKReporter. For reception I use a Delta Loop in Horizontal Polarization."

The screen grab from Phil is shown above.

With the Sporadic-E season starting soon, there should be plenty of reports of the UK stations from across listeners across Europe.

1) For more info on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page

Thursday, March 31, 2022

RSGB statement concerning 40MHz in the UK

In a previous post, I outlined how several radio amateurs in the UK were in the process of applying for Innovation and Trial licences from OFCOM to carry out tests on the 40 MHz band. 

The RSGB have now outlined the position of OFCOM on the issue...


RSGB statement concerning 40MHz in the UK

There have been recently a number of reports of individual holders of UK Amateur licenses gaining Innovation and Trial licences from Ofcom to conduct experimental transmissions on 40MHz (8m).

Ofcom has made it very clear for several years that there was no likelihood of UK radio amateurs gaining any access to 40MHz which included NoV (Notice of Variation) to a UK amateur licence or an amateur SRP (Special Research Permit). 

The RSGB has consulted Ofcom as to the exact status of these Innovation and Trial licences. Ofcom’s reply was as follows:

“We have been approached by a couple of individuals wanting to conduct experiments in the band. Like all other research and innovation requests Ofcom receives we have put these through our Innovation and Trial licensing regime. If the coordination checks are passed, they are being issued with an Innovation and Trial licence. These are issued for up to 12 months on a non-interference, no protection and non-operational basis. 

These are not Amateur Radio Special Research Permits and licensees do not fall under the Amateur Radio licence terms and conditions. Therefore, applicants are not required to have passed an amateur exam or hold a callsign. Although we are allowing this experimentation, we would like to make it clear that we have no proposals to allow wider amateur radio access to the 40 MHz band.

Clause 9(6) of the UK amateur terms states “The Licensee may receive Messages from an overseas amateur or from an Amateur duly authorised by Ofcom on a frequency band not specified in Schedule 1 but the Licensee may only transmit on a band specified in Schedule 1 which is authorised under Clause 9(2).”

Users of 40 MHz under an Innovation and Trial (I&T) licence are not authorised under the Amateur Radio licensing regime and there is no requirement to have passed an amateur radio exam to obtain such a licence. Clause 9(6) of the Amateur licence is designed to cover additional frequencies, such as 70 MHz and 146 MHz, which are not contained in Schedule 1 of the Amateur Radio licence but Ofcom has authorised via a Notice of Variation (NoV). 

We would like to make clear that we have not duly authorised any amateur to use a frequency band not specified in Schedule 1 through this process. Reception of transmissions authorised under an I&T Licence should therefore be treated the same as those authorised under other licences that Ofcom issues such as business radio or maritime.

We would also like to make clear that I&T licences do not permit operational or commercial use. These licences are designed to support individuals and companies in carrying out research, development, testing and demonstrations of equipment. 

Therefore, the use of the 40 MHz band under this licence should be for these purposes only. The licences are granted on the basis that the user will be carrying out such research and not operating on the band in a similar way to the frequencies listed in Schedule 1 of the licence.”

Ofcom’s view is very clear. Any operation on 40MHz in the UK is not Amateur radio and therefore cross-band contacts to such stations by UK radio Amateurs operating on the bands licenced for amateur radio are not permitted.

*** RSGB Statement Ends

Just to highlight that the RSGB are just outlining the position of OFCOM so there is no point in bashing the RSGB over this.