Monday, February 28, 2022

Opening to California on 28 MHz - Sun 27th Feb 2022

Sunday 27th February 2022: For the last two weeks, conditions on the 10m band seemed to be pretty mediocre with relatively few good openings to the United States. That changed on the 27th of February with a very good opening to California.

The map above shows the WSPR signals heard on 28.1246 MHz. As well as the northerly path to California, there were signals from the German Antarctic research station DP0DVN and the German Antarctic research ship DP0POL.

It's safe to say that if this map was for FT8 then there would be a LOT more signals. WSPR is a very good beacon mode but there is a lack of stations in many countries.

Beacons... These were the beacons heard in a short space of about 20 minutes.

Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country - Pwr
EI7GL 28300.0 K6FRC/B 19:13 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>CM97HP United States - 100w
EI7GL 28298.0 K5TLL/B 19:12 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>EM51GG United States - 25w
EI7GL 28244.3 KC4EOG/B 19:11 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>FM05HI United States - 4w
EI7GL 28222.5 KA4SEY/B 19:07 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>EM95VP United States - 3w
EI7GL 28222.6 N1NSP/B 19:05 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>FM17RD United States - 10w
EI7GL 28206.1 KM4NBB/B 19:04 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>EM84BM United States - 5w
EI7GL 28200.0 W6WX/B 19:01 27 Feb IO51TU<F2>CM97BD United States - 100w

The two stations in bold were in California which means that it would have been possible to work someone on CW and it wasn't just a case of weak signals buried in the noise.

The solar flux on the day was only 97 so I'm not sure why conditions were so good.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

New 40 MHz beacon in Washington State - Feb 2022

Halden Field, NR7V is one of the few US radio amateurs who managed to get a special experimental permit to operate on the 40 MHz band and was allocated the callsign WM2XCW back in the second half of 2021.

He has now announced that he has an experimental CW beacon is on the air on the 40 MHz band.

He writes..."The purposes of this beacon are:
1.  To enable detection of propagation openings on this band that would not be detected by reception of WSPR transmissions.
2.  To enable analytical measurements of such detected propagation, including
 a.  signal strength and its variations
 b.  wavelength shift and broadening during propagation

This beacon transmits on 40.6630 MHz which is about 400 Hz below the 200Hz of spectrum used at present for WSPR transmissions.

This will allow people to listen both for the new beacon and to WSPR transmissions at the same time. The same method is used for QRSS transmissions on the HF bands and is very effective.

The beacon will transmit once every 10 minutes, following its WSPR transmissions.  It sends identifying information in 18 wpm Morse code and then a carrier for 30 seconds.  The beacon location is at Point Roberts in the far north-west of Washington State and the locator square is CN88. 

The beacon uses a QRP-Labs U3S with a 10W Linear PA and the antenna is a dipole about 9m above ground level. It is orientated to favour transmission to the NW and SE.

The map above shows the location of the beacon in the NW of the United States. The lobes of the antenna are also shown going NW & SE.

Most of the reception reports are likely to come from the western half of the USA and in the region of 1000-2100 kms and the propagation mode will be Sporadic-E. At the peak of the Sp-E season in late May and all of June, there will be double hop Sp-E openings to the eastern part of the USA in the range of 2600-3500kms.

It will be very difficult to hear the beacon in Europe as it's a northerly path and it's in the null of the dipole.

There is the possibility of some very interesting openings to Japan with multi-hop Sp-E or via Sp-E & TEP to South America. The biggest challenge here is getting someone interested enough to try and listen.

As we head towards the peak of the solar cycle, some F2 openings are likely on the 40 MHz band and it will be interesting to see if the beacon is heard on the east coast of the United States.

Any reception reports should be sent to NR7V or on the DX-Maps website.

1) For more info on the 8m band, check out my 40 MHz page.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Video: How to win a VHF radio contest - Northern Black Forest Group DR9A 2017

In 2017, the Northern Black Forest Group DR9A in Germany won the multi-op section in the IARU Region 1 2m contest. This is held in September every year.

The photo above shows the 144 MHz antenna system. Lower down on the mast, there are 4 high stacks of medium gain 6-element Yagi's pointing in fixed directions every 45 degrees. At top of the mast, there is an array of 4 high gain 17-element Yagi's for when more gain in a particular direction is needed.

These are the top 20 stations in the results...

The DR9A contest station operated from the JN48EQ in the south-west corner of Germany. As you can see from the map below, it is pretty much in the centre of western Europe with stations in all directions.

The short video below gives a flavour of what the contest was like...

1) DR9A website

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Ongoing DRM tests at 86.5 MHz in Copenhagen - 2022

I came across an interesting news report recently about an Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) test that is currently taking place on 86.5 MHz in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

While several countries have DAB systems up and running, some are carrying out test in or around Band 2 (88-108 MHz) and seeing if digital DRM signals could co-exist with analogue FM signals.

The DRM test in Copenhagen started on the 13th of October 2021 and runs until the 1st of August 2022. There is an option of extending this to the 30th of August 2023.

This is a collaborative project organised by Open Channel, an independent Danish network operator in Copenhagen, with Canadian Nautel (transmitter), German RFmondial (DRM modulator & measuring instruments) & Fraunhofer IIS (Content server) and Swedish Progira (network planning).

The project is supported by Gospell, NXP, partners in Denmark and other non-DRM Consortium members like Bauer Media (supplying content) and Kathrein (antenna).

The frequency allocated is 86.5 MHz and with a bandwidth of 200 kHz, which makes room for two DRM signals. Each DRM signal has a capacity of 186.4 kbps (16QAM, CR 5/8) and accommodates three audio channels and multimedia services, so for the 200 kHz a total of six digital radio stations can thus be broadcast. Further down the line there are ambitions to involve the Öresund region (commonly known in English as the Sound, a strait which forms the Danish–Swedish border) and possibly collaborate with another FM station on the Swedish side.

The height of the antenna is 88m and the terrain elevation is 8m (more details below). In phase 1, Open Channel will test single DRM channel with 120 Watt ERP. The coverage probability for mobile reception in Greater Copenhagen is illustrated in the picture below...

The trial on the 86.5 MHz frequency has also been approved by the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency. The fact that the experiment is done a bit below the regular FM band (band II 87.5-108 MHz) is due to the fact that there is no space in this dense region. The new receivers for FM/DRM can handle 64-108 MHz.

We are working on expanding the FM band in Denmark from 85 – 87.5 MHz, so that the Danish FM band goes from 85 to 108 MHz and thereby create more space to introduce digital radio on the FM band”... says Kenneth Wenzel, project manager and director of Open Channel.

This DRM field trial offers a unique opportunity to showcase the versatility of DRM-FM by packing two DRM signals within a single FM channel allocation demonstrating optimal spectral efficiency for DRM using a Nautel VS transmitter.”... says Philipp Schmid, CTO at Nautel.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

New DRM tests on 954 kHz planned from the Czech Republic in 2022

It was announced recently that České Radiokomunikace (CRA) in the Czech Republic has obtained a license from the Czech telecoms regulator (ČTÚ) to conduct a DRM test on 954 kHz in the city of České Budějovice in the south of the country.

The transmitter will have a power of just over 3kW which means it may be heard across Europe at night. The 954 kHz is one of the medium wave frequencies where the (AM) programs ČRo Dvojka and ČRo Plus were broadcast until the end of 2021.

CRA wants to use the test, among other things, to determine the scope and energy efficiency of broadcasting in the DRM standard. Both the 16 QAM and 64 QAM, the two common modulation schemes in DRM, will be tested. The operator will use an existing Transradio medium wave transmitter into which they will integrate a digital modulator.

The DRM system has long been touted as the digital replacement for AM on the Medium Wave and Short Wave bands. In 2003 and 2006, the Czech public broadcaster ČRo conducted a series of DRM tests on medium and short wave so these new tests should be seen in that light.

DRM has gained a foothold in countries like India but the take up has been slow elsewhere in the world.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Digital SSTV signals from the International Space Station - Feb 2022

Slow Scan TV (SSTV) signals from the International Space Station (ISS) are usually transmitted on 145 MHz and on FM in an analogue format. On the 20th of February 2022, there was an experiment whereby a digital version of a SSTV signal was sent on 437 MHz instead.

The experiment was for five passes of the ISS over Europe between 05:12 UTC and 11:51 UTC.

The above image from Riccardo, IU4APB in Italy shows a montage of images that he managed to decode. Like any good experiment, there are a number of lessons to take away from it.

Path Loss... Some people noted that the digital SSTV signals on 437 MHz were a LOT weaker than the usual analogue SSTV signals on 145 MHz. This is to be expected as the path loss at 437 MHz is about 9dB higher than at 145 MHz.

The images above captured by IU4APB were with a directional Yagi on 437 MHz. Many people are using just simple vertical antennas on 145 MHz to receive the usual SSTV signals and may well be using similar low gain antennas on 437 MHz with disappointing results. Lesson - Use a directional antenna with more gain to compensate for the extra path loss.

Repeater interference... From my understanding, the SSTV signals on 145 MHz are usually 'broadcast' from the ISS. For this experiment however, the digital SSTV signals were sent via the repeater on the ISS.

While the experiment was announced beforehand, not everyone may have heard about this. Some stations may use the ISS repeater as per normal without knowing that they were causing interference to the SSTV experiment.

A lot of the Black lines in the image above and below were probably be due to this as this interference was reported.

Digital - All or Nothing... As with most digital signals, either the signal is perfect or it's not. Contrast the digital SSTV signal above and the analogue SSTV signal below...

Example of an analogue SSTV signal

With the analogue signal, noise appears as small dots and lines. With the equivalent digital signals, the small dot is replaced with a large square when the signal is too weak.

Doppler... As the signal was on 437 MHz, the doppler shift of the downlink signal was three times that experienced on 145 MHz. It's another parameter to control.

In conclusion... While the usual 145 MHz analogue SSTV transmissions have the greatest reach in terms of people being able to decode the signals, it's also a well worn path. It's good to try something different and hopefully the experiment will be repeated.

It would be good if the digital SSTV signal could be 'broadcast' on 145 MHz as opposed to via the ISS repeater. I'm not sure how feasible this is as it may require some input from the onboard astronauts.

Update: Miro, SP5GNI in Poland also reports reception of the experimental digital transmissions from the ISS and has some images at the bottom of this post HERE

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Update on UK amateur radio stations getting permission to experiment on the 40 MHz band

As of February 2022, a number of amateur stations in the UK are trying to get permission from OFCOM, the UK licensing authority to carry out experiments on the 40 MHz band.

NOV... Roger, G3XBM reports that he applied for a Amateur Radio Special Research Permit and getting a Notice Of Variation (NOV) as shown in A above. His application for this was recently turned down.

At present, some UK radio amateurs are using these NOV's to experiment with compressed digital video techniques at 146 MHz and 71 MHz.

I know there is at least one more person waiting for a reply on their application for a 40 MHz NOV although it doesn't look good at this stage.

Innovation & Trial License... The second route is to apply for a Innovation and Trial License as shown as B above. This costs at least £50 and G3XBM is currently applying for one of these.

This would seem to be similar to how the FCC in the United States recently allocated special experimental permits to seven individuals.

OFCOM... A few years ago, the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) held discussions with OFCOM about new frequencies and allocations. OFCOM were of the view that they would not allocate anything for 'more of the same'. 

In other words, they're not going to allocate new frequencies for DX-ing, contesting or just talking to someone else down the road. Their view was that radio amateurs in the UK have more than enough frequencies for this and they're probably right.

Any new permit or allocation will have to show there is a genuine need for it. Radio amateurs experimenting with modern compressed digital video techniques and getting the signal to fit inside a limited band is a good example of this.

Looking forward... It's not looking great at the moment but it would be very useful if some UK stations were allowed to use the weak signal mode WSPR on low power on the 40 MHz band on an experimental basis. They would be unlikely to cause any interference to other users if they were just given say the ISM band of 40.670 to 40.700 MHz to experiment with. 

This could be used to carry out propagation experiments as we approach the peak of the next sunspot cycle. As the solar flux increases, it's not always obvious where the maximum usable frequency is for the F2 layer of the ionosphere.

We know it's in the low VHF region but where? It's well above 28 MHz but below 50 MHz. Being able to do propagation research is where the real value of having an allocation at 40 MHz lies.

It seems likely that if an application is going to be successful then it will have to go into some detail as to how the experiments will be carried out and how any potential interference to other users can be mitigated.

Friday, February 18, 2022

40 MHz page passes 20,000 pageviews - Feb 2022

Back in April of 2018, Irish radio amateurs got access to large parts of the low VHF spectrum including an allocation at 40 MHz. At the time, there was little or no information about this part of the spectrum and what did exist, was scattered across the web.

In June of 2018, I set up a dedicated page on the blog so that it would be easier for others to find out about the band. I regularly post about 40 MHz related openings and news on the blog and I keep all of the links to each post up on the 40 MHz page.

It is now the largest resource for information about the 40 MHz / 8m amateur radio band on the web and in February of 2022, it passed 20,000 pageviews! At the moment, it's gets about 500 pageviews per month.

The problem with information on Twitter, Facebook, email forums and magazines is that the information gets forgotten very quickly. It's hard to go back and see what happened before.

The real value of a dedicated 40 MHz page is having all the information listed in one spot. If someone wants to find out about what is happening on the 40 MHz band then there is a resource there where they get up to speed relatively quickly.

The 40 MHz page can be viewed HERE

Thursday, February 17, 2022

California & Australia heard on 28 MHz - 16th Feb 2022

Wednesday 16th February 2022: There was a pretty extensive opening on the 28 MHz band with both Australia and California heard. The map above shows the 29 stations that I heard with WSPR.

If this had been with FT8 then I'd have probably heard 100+ but it's still nice to see increasing WSPR activity on the 10m band. Last year, it was pointless listening on WSPR as the conditions were poor and not many stations were on 28 MHz.

These are the top 10 stations in terms of distance and as always, nice to see four stations from Australia on 28 MHz.

 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX         rxGrid         MHz W SNR drift         km 
2022-02-16 09:02 VK3KCX/1 QF22qd EI7GL IO51tu 28.126013 50 -25 0 17449 
2022-02-16 09:22 VK2IJM QF56ni EI7GL IO51tu 28.126084 10 -16 0 17407 
2022-02-16 09:08 VK2EFM QF56oq EI7GL IO51tu 28.126073 5 -27 0 17380 
2022-02-16 09:16 VK2DVM QF56di EI7GL IO51tu 28.126083 50 -7 2 17364 
2022-02-16 09:30 HS0AJ OK03ft EI7GL IO51tu 28.126081 1 -26 0 10045 
2022-02-16 13:54 PY3FF GF49ju EI7GL IO51tu 28.126123 0.2 -29 0 10028 
2022-02-16 12:58 ZS1LCD JF95fx EI7GL IO51tu 28.126052 1 -17 1 9900 
2022-02-16 11:58 HS0ZEV OK08dh EI7GL IO51tu 28.126141 0.1 -20 0 9629 
2022-02-16 17:24 NQ6B DM12mr EI7GL IO51tu 28.126098 5 -23 -2 8334 
2022-02-16 17:24 AE7YQ DM41kx EI7GL IO51tu 28.126133 5 -14 0 8060 

The solar flux was at 103 which is down from the recent peak of 130.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Amateur TV signals from the German Antarctic Research Station DP0GVN

After hearing the German Antarctic research station, DP0GVN on 28 MHz WSPR yesterday, it reminded me of a recent story I saw about how that station is also operational on ATV (Amateur Television) on the QO-100 Geostationary satellite.

The QO-100 geostationary satellite is located over central Africa and it is allowing radio amateurs the opportunity to experiment on the microwave bands. The uplink to the satellite is just above 2.4 GHz while the downlink is just below 10.5 GHz.

The footprint of the satellite with 5 degree and 10 degree elevations is shown above. For the DP0GVN station in Antarctica, the elevation of the satellite is about 7 degrees above the horizon.

AMSAT-DL recently paid for a new antenna and radome to be installed at the station as shown above. This happened at the start of January 2022.

This is the new radome in place to protect the antenna from the harsh Antarctic weather.

This video clip from Vale, IZ5ILX in Italy dated the 31st of January 2022  shows the ATV signal from DP0GVN via the QO-100 satellite.

While I'm not that interested in Amateur TV or satellite operations, I did find this story interesting because it shows how a geostationary satellite like QO-100 is opening up a lot of possibilities for experimentation on the microwaves bands and with Amateur TV.

For someone outside the footprint like in North America, these experiments are impossible unless they live near others active on those bands or modes.

There has been a lot of talk of late about how to get more people interested in Amateur Radio. I'd suggest that experiments like this are going to appeal a lot more to a younger generation than say making SSB contacts on the HF bands which is rather dated at this stage.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

ZS6WAB beacon on 40.675 MHz heard in Europe - 4th to 11th Feb 2022

During the period of the 4th to the 11th of February 2022, quite a number of stations have reported hearing the ZS6WAB 8m beacon in South Africa on 40.675 MHz.

These are the 8m spots from the DX Maps website...

 Date & time Spotter QRG Mode DX Prop. Comments SFI A
2022-02-11 11:40:46 G7PUV (JO00AT) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 JO00AU<F2>KG46RB 539 coming up
2022-02-11 11:00:40 TT8SN (JK72MC) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 JK72MC<>KG46RB Wow, gd signal
2022-02-11 10:33:05 F5JRX (JN26AC) 40.765 CW ZS6WAB (KG46RB) Multihop Sp-E JN26AC<ES>KG46RB 519
2022-02-11 10:27:10 F4CXO (JN26PP) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN26PP<>KG46RB 529 QSB

2022-02-10 13:05:25 TT8SN (JK72MC) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 JK72MC<>KG46RB More than 1h
2022-02-10 10:28:14 F6ACU (JN38FC) 50.000 CW ZS6WAB (KG46RC) TEP 40.0675 QSB 559

2022-02-09 15:08:17 F6HTJ (JN12KQ) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP KG46rb<>JN12kq cw beacon 419 

2022-02-09 14:49:33 I0YLI (JN61HU) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN61HU<TEP>KG46RB 519 qsb
2022-02-09 14:26:08 EA3ERE (JN11CX) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN11CX<>KG46 55 qsb
2022-02-09 14:18:42 9H1TX (JM75FU) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) EP 559 
2022-02-09 12:54:11 F4CXO (JN26PP) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN26PP<>KG46RB 529 QSB
2022-02-09 12:18:55 DK2EA (JO50UF) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 JO50UF<F2>KG46RB 559 QSB

2022-02-07 14:23:55 EA3ERE (JN11CX) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN11CX<>KG46 5-5
2022-02-07 13:18:13 M0DEP (IO90CR) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 KG46<>IO90 55
2022-02-07 11:30:01 G0DJA (IO93IF) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) F2 539 IO93if 

2022-02-06 13:14:57 IZ5ILX (JN54AC) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RB) TEP JN54<>KG46RB 579 QSB!
2022-02-06 13:09:39 EA3ERE (JN11CX) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RC)  Multihop Sp-E JN11CX<ES>KG46 s8 qsb
2022-02-06 12:00:35 G7PUV (JO00AT) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RC) F2 JO00AU<F2>KG46RC S9 QSB. F2+Es
2022-02-06 14:31:47 IK0OKY (JN61ES) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB (KG46RC) TEP JN61ES<TEP>KG46RC 539 

2022-02-04 14:55:57 G7PUV (JO00AT) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RC) F2 JO00AU<F2>KG46RC 57 QSB
2022-02-04 14:57:04 EA3ERE (JN11CX) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB (KG46RC) Multihop Sp-E JN11CX<ES>KG46 cw beacon 5/
2022-02-04 12:51:51 IK5YJY (JN53PG) 40.675 CW ZS6WAB/B (KG46RC) TEP s5 qsb > jn53

It's worth noting the times of these reports. The earliest is around 10:30 UTC and the latest is around 15:00 UTC. 

That is roughly a 4-5 hour window centred on local noon when the sun is at its highest.

It was also interesting to see a report from Nicolas, TT8SN in Chad at 4,300kms. This was likely to have been one hop F2 propagation.

This is the map of the stations in Europe in more detail...


1) It's very encouraging to see so many stations listening for and reporting a beacon on the 40 MHz band!

2) Any serious 6m operator on the 50 MHz band will be always looking for sources of information be it on air or online with DX clusters or chat forums. Even if someone on 6m in Europe has no real interest in the 40 MHz band, the 8m beacon can be used to indicate that an opening to South Africa on 50 MHz may be imminent.

3) Dave, G0DJA in IO93 square in England reports hearing the beacon with a simple dipole. That is also I believe the most northerly reception report of the ZS6WAB 8m beacon to date.

It also reminded me of the perils of using the Mercator projection flat map. When Dave sent me a report, I thought that his location in IO93IF would be a good bit further away from the beacon than my location on the south coast of Ireland which is IO51TU. However in reality as can be seen from the map above which is a great circle projection, I am a little further away.

4) From the 4th to the 11th of February, the solar flux was in the range of 118 to 127.

5) It's worth remembering that all of these reports were heard by a person listening on CW. That is probably 10-15dB above what might be possible with a digital mode like FT8, Q65, WSPR or PI4.

6) This nice video shows reception of the South African beacon by Paul, G7PUV in the south-east of England on the 4th of February 2022....

Propagation Mode??... At the moment, the conditions on the 28 MHz band are reasonably good with plenty of East-West F2 layer propagation. This suggests the the F2 MUF (maximum usable frequency) on North-South paths is up above 30 MHz and into the low VHF spectrum.

Does it reach 40 MHz at the moment? I suspect it does from the south of Europe.

On some bands, you can be reasonably sure what the propagation mode is. On the 40 MHz band at the moment, can we be sure that it's all F2 layer? Is it partially or all TEP related? Is there a Sporadic-E extension at either end of the path?

It would be interesting to see if anyone could hear the beacon at around 20:00-21:00 UTC when there might be evening type TEP. If they could then that might suggest openings on the higher bands like 50 MHz and above.

It would be also interesting to see if stations in the SE of the USA could hear this 8m beacon?

1) Check out my 40 MHz page for more information about the 8m band.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Did STARLINK #1668 burning up over Spain cause an opening on 28 MHz?

The STARLINK satellite system has been in the news a lot over the last few days as a solar flare caused a large number of them to fail on a recent launch. On Thursday the 10th of February 2022, an older model #1668 reentered the atmosphere over Spain.

The approximate path of the 260kg satellite as it burnt up over Spain is shown above.

Dr. Jose M. Madiedo who has a YouTube channel wrote... "This stunning fireball was spotted from Spain on Feb. 10. It was generated as a consequence of the reentry in the atmosphere of a Starlink satellite at about 20:50 local time (equivalent to 19:50 universal time). The satellite (Starlink-1668) had a mass of 260 kg. It was launched by SpaceX on 2020 Oct. 6. A wide number of causal eyewitnesses could see the phenomenon. The reentry took place at about 23,000 km/h. This gave rise to a fireball which began at a height of around 95 km over the province of La Coruña (region of Galicia, northwest of Spain) and moved southeast, crossing the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea. It ended over Algeria."

A video of the satellite burning up is shown at the end of this post.

28 MHz???... As this satellite burnt up over Spain, it would have left a trail of ionized gas behind it which had to potential to refract radio signals.

I checked the PSKReporter website for unusual signals on 50 MHz or 144 MHz but I didn't note anything. What I did notice however on 28 MHz was that EC1CS in the NW of Spain heard several stations in the 300-700km range on FT8 in the space of a minute.

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
CT7AQS 10m FT8 304 km 19:48:45 IM69FT
CR7BAV 10m FT8 593 km 19:48:42 IM67HE
CS7AUJ 10m FT8 599 km 19:48:16 IM67XE
EA5GJ 10m FT8 706 km 19:48:15 IM97JX

Over the course of a day on 28 MHz, I'd expect to gradually hear a good few FT8 stations in the 300-700km range but what I found a bit unusual was that EC1CS heard 4 in the space of a minute at 19:48 UTC.

Was it just coincidence or was the ionized trail behind STARLINK #1668 responsible?
Was the track of the satellite too far north?

It's impossible to be certain but surely the ionized trail was capable of refracting some radio signals?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Selective TEP opening on 144 MHz from the Caribbean to South America - 9th Feb 2022

9th February 2022: There was another TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation) opening on 144 MHz between the Caribbean and South America but this time, it was a bit unusual.

As the map above shows, nearly all of the signals shown on the PSK Reporter website were from Argentina to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and the Dominican Republic. There was also some from Argentina to Puerto Rico. What was unusual was the lack of signals further east from Puerto Rico to the south of Brazil.

Usually there are two parallel TEP paths crossing the Geomagnetic Equator. For whatever reason, the eastern path to Brazil seems to have been mostly absent.

Spots on the DX Cluster show a small bit of activity from Puerto Rico to Brazil but it seems to have been at a very low level compared to the path further west.

Spotter  Freq.  DX  Time  Info  Country
NP4BM-@ 144180.0 LU2EPO 01:03 09 Feb tnks tep q65b qso Argentina
NP4BM-@ 144180.0 LW2DAF 01:01 09 Feb tnks tep q65b qso Argentina
PY5EK 144180.0 WP3DN 23:53 08 Feb Q65B -9 dB 994 Hz TNX TEP Puerto Rico

The path from PY5EK in Brazil to WP3DN in Puerto Rico was the only one I noticed on the PSK Reporter website.

As for why the western TEP path was better than the eastern TEP path???

144 MHz Report... Martin, PJ4MM in Bonaire reports working the following stations in Argentina...

2022-02-09,00:43:15,2022-02-09,00:46:31,LU2EPO,GF14FW,144.181550,Q65,+05,+03,1300,Q65 Sent: +05  Rcvd: +03,,TEP 
2022-02-09,00:47:15,2022-02-09,00:48:01,LU4DJC,GF05PO,144.181550,Q65,+06,+02,1300,Q65 Sent: +06  Rcvd: +02,,TEP
2022-02-09,00:48:30,2022-02-09,00:50:01,LU5CQC,GF05SK,144.181550,Q65,+04,+10,1300,Q65 Sent: +04  Rcvd: +10,,TEP
2022-02-09,00:51:45,2022-02-09,00:53:30,LU8EDA,GF05RJ,144.181550,Q65,-11,+05,1300,Q65 Sent: -11  Rcvd: +05,,TEP
2022-02-09,00:54:30,2022-02-09,00:55:01,LU2DPW,GF05GI,144.181550,Q65,-15,-09,1300,Q65 Sent: -15  Rcvd: -09,,TEP
2022-02-09,01:13:45,2022-02-09,01:14:31,LW2DAF,GF05RK,144.181550,Q65,+03,+00,1300,Q65 Sent: +03  Rcvd: +00,,TEP
2022-02-09,01:16:30,2022-02-09,01:21:01,LU9FVS,FF97NC,144.181550,Q65,-10,-01,1300,Q65 Sent: -10  Rcvd: -01,,TEP
2022-02-09,01:21:45,2022-02-09,01:24:01,LU5CQC,GF05SK,144.181550,Q65,+01,+03,1000,Q65 Sent: +01  Rcvd: +03,,TEP
2022-02-09,02:04:30,2022-02-09,02:07:00,LU8GMM,GG02MN,50.314400,FT8,+20,-14,35,FT8  Sent: +20  Rcvd: -14,,TEP

Most of these contacts were in the region of 5,000 kms.

For the TEP contacts with Argentina, PJ4MM was using 100-watts to a 13-element Tonna Yagi which is 13 metres above ground level.

1) More info about long distance 2m openings on my 144 MHz page.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

PJ2BR completes 5461km contact on 144 MHz with just 10-watts - 7th Feb 2022

At the moment, there seems to be an TEP opening on the 144 MHz band every evening between South America and the Caribbean area. The evening of the 6th of February was no exception with an opening just after midnight UTC on the 7th (~8pm for the stations involved on the evening of the 6th).

Brett, PJ2BR in Curacao reports working stations in Argentina with just 10-watts into a 3-element Yagi!

PJ2BR writes... "This is an unusual evening. Was able to work @LU4DJC, @LU1FAM and @LU2EPO on 2m Q65. What makes this unusual is, made the contact with 10W and a 3 element Arrow yagi! My signal was also rx’ed in Uruguay. 5461 Km on 2m 10W!"

Many people will be familiar with the Arrow dual band antenna which is often used to work the satellites.

5,461 kms on 144 MHz with just 10-watts in to a 3 element Yagi is pretty amazing. Remember that this is via Trans-Equatorial Propagation and not via some satellite passing over. 

It is also a LOT further than the 3000kms or so across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland which has never been bridged on 144 MHz.

To complete the contact, PJ2BR was using the Q65 digital mode...

In this screen shot, LU2EPO in Argentina was hearing PJ2BR at -16dB which is just below what is detectable by ear.

There are the spots from the DX-Cluster for the opening...

Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
PY2OAL 144180.0 FG8OJ 01:47 07 Feb TEP 4300 KM tnx Q65 Sent: -05 Guadeloupe
PY2SRB-@ 144180.0 FG8OJ 01:21 07 Feb Q65b CQ Guadeloupe 
PY2SRB-@ 144180.0 NP4BM 01:20 07 Feb Q65b CQ Puerto Rico
HI8GSP-@ 144180.0 LU2EPO 01:14 07 Feb Q65 TNX FOR THE CONTACT Argentina
PY5EK 144180.0 WP4KJJ 00:57 07 Feb Q65B +0 dB 1529 Hz TNX TEP Puerto Rico
PY2SRB 144180.0 WP4KJJ 00:53 07 Feb Q65B -1 dB 1555 Hz Puerto Rico
LU1FAM-@ 144180.0 PJ4GR 00:50 07 Feb Q65B Bonaire
LU1FAM-@ 144180.0 HI8CAF 00:49 07 Feb Q65b Dominican Republic
LU1FAM-@ 144180.0 PJ2BR/QRP 00:49 07 Feb q65b Curacao
WP4KJJ-@ 144180.0 PY5EK 00:49 07 Feb Brazil 
WP4KJJ-@ 144180.0 LU2EPO 00:48 07 Feb Argentina
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 PJ2BR 00:41 07 Feb TEP Q65B Curacao
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 HI8CAF 00:40 07 Feb TEP Q65B Dominican Republic
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 HI3I 00:37 07 Feb  TEP Q65B Dominican Republic
PY2SRB-@ 144180.0 WP3DN 00:31 07 Feb Q65B -8 cq Puerto Rico

1) For more examples of long distance openings on the 2m band, see my 144 MHz page.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

FM radio stations from Jamaica heard on 89 MHz & 96 MHz in Chile via TEP

Pipe, CE3SX / CE3SAD in Chile writes to say that he managed to hear two FM radio stations on 89.9 MHz and 96.1 MHz from Jamaica during a TEP opening recently.

CE3SX writes... "Stylz FM 96.1 from Port Antonio and KLAS 89.9 from Kingston, Jamaica heard in Chicureo, Santiago, Chile FF46pr Via Trans-Equatorial Propagation

Date: January 31 and February 01, 2022Hours: 21.46CEv 00.46 UTC and 22.03CEv 01.03 UTC

Maximum distance: 5,755 km"

As Pipe outlines, the distance is around 5,700kms and is approaching the maximum distance usually associated with Trans-Equatorial Propagation. 

A video clip of the reception is shown below...

Pipe also notes that regular reception TEP signals on the 88-108 MHz band from Columbia and he is using a 7-element Band 2 Yagi as designed by YU7EF.

CE3SX also notes that there are no 144 MHz stations in Columbia (HK) and Jamaica (6Y) to try on the 2m band.

As I outlined in a recent post, there are parallel paths from Brazil and Argentina to the Caribbean on 144 MHz during TEP openings and it's likely that similar paths are there further east from Chile to Columbia, Jamaica and Cuba on 2m.

1) For more examples of long distance reception reports on 88-108 MHz band, see my Band 2 page.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Good opening on 28 MHz to North America - Sat 5th Feb 2022

Saturday 5th February 2022: Over the last few weeks, there have been some good F2 openings on 28 MHz to the east but it has been poor to the west. On the 5th of February, things flipped around a bit with poor F2 conditions to the east but very good to the west.

The map above shows the WSPR signals that I heard on 28 MHz and as you can see, there are plenty of signals from North America. The two that were of special interest were the northerly path to Utah and Arizona.

It was also nice to see that some of the stations were running just 200-milliwatts. 

There was also some Sporadic-E to Europe.

The solar flux on the day was 130.

Stations running 200mW or less...
 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz                         W SNR drift km 
2022-02-05 13:52 PA0JED JO32lj EI7GL IO51tu 28.126042 0.1 -23 1 1047 
2022-02-05 14:36 PY3FF GF49ju EI7GL IO51tu 28.126111 0.2 -22 0 10028 
2022-02-05 16:00 KG4KGY EM77bc EI7GL IO51tu 28.126165 0.2 -23 0 6057 
2022-02-05 16:50 WD9EKA EM69ek EI7GL IO51tu 28.126166 0.2 -11 -2 5998 
2022-02-05 15:58 W9VW EM79 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126059 0.2 -22 0 5828 
2022-02-05 16:28 W8MV EN90fx EI7GL IO51tu 28.126113 0.2 -24 -3 5493 
2022-02-05 16:18 K3WRG FM28 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126163 0.2 -15 0 5236 
2022-02-05 15:58 N1TI FN41op EI7GL IO51tu 28.126116 0.2 -26 0 4735 
2022-02-05 08:38 5T5PA IL10lw EI7GL IO51tu 28.126111 0.2 -23 1 3519 
2022-02-05 17:12 IW4BLG JN54pi EI7GL IO51tu 28.126104 0.2 -26 -1 1674 
2022-02-05 13:50 DC7TO JO62qk EI7GL IO51tu 28.126122 0.2 -21 0 1480 
2022-02-05 14:12 DK3DUA JO61 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126109 0.2 -19 0 1467 
2022-02-05 13:08 DK2FT JO44sm EI7GL IO51tu 28.12611 0.2 -24 0 1226 
2022-02-05 14:14 DL2WB JN39 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126076 0.2 -16 -1 1110 
2022-02-05 14:48 G0PKT JO01mt EI7GL IO51tu 28.126068 0.2 -25 0 647 
2022-02-05 15:28 G0MBA JO01 EI7GL IO51tu 28.126059 0.2 -22 0 645 
2022-02-05 07:58 EI4GEB IO52rn EI7GL IO51tu 28.126 0.2 -23 3 80 

Friday, February 4, 2022

5000km mobile contact on 144 MHz SSB between Puerto Rico & Paraguay - 4th Feb 2022

This report is really pretty amazing. Jose, WP4KJJ reports that he managed to complete a SSB contact on 144.300 MHz with Juan, ZP9HTL in Paraguay while operating mobile!

Jose said that he was using an ICOM IC-7000 radio with a COMET vertical antenna on his vehicle.

He said that ZP9HTL was 5/1 on SSB.

This contact was via Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) and the distance was 5,018 kms!

It's one thing to make contacts with Yagi antennas on a mast but to complete a 5,000km+ contact from a vertical antenna on a pick up truck on 144 MHz is pretty amazing. 

Remember that the distance across the North Atlantic between Ireland and Newfoundland is 3000kms. This was 2,000kms further.

There are people operating mobile on the HF bands who would be happy with a 5000km contact but this was on 2-metres!

TEP opening on 144 MHz... It was of course part of a bigger opening as can be seen from the map below.

Most of the activity seems to have been on the Q65 mode.

DX spots from the opening are shown below...

Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
FM8QR 144300.0 PU2YMU 02:48 04 Feb TNX QSO Brazil
FM8QR 144300.0 PY2HEN 02:41 04 Feb TNZ QSO Brazil
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 HI8DL 02:35 04 Feb TEP Q65B Dominican Republic
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 PJ4EL 02:26 04 Feb TEP Q65B Bonaire
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 NP4BM 02:25 04 Feb TEP Q65B Puerto Rico
LU8FML 144180.0 HI8CAF 02:22 04 Feb Q65 -11 dB Dominican Republic
NP4BM-@ 144180.0 LU4DJC 02:21 04 Feb tnks q65b tep qso Argentina
HI8GSP-@ 144180.0 LU2DPW 02:14 04 Feb q65 tnx 73 Argentina
LU8FML 144180.0 HI8GSP 02:13 04 Feb Q65 -01 dB Dominican Republic
HI8GSP-@ 144180.0 LU8FML 02:13 04 Feb q65 tnx 73 Argentina
PY2SRB-@ 144180.0 9Y4D 02:13 04 Feb Q65b Tu -11 Trinidad & Tobago
LU8FML 144180.0 PJ4GR 02:05 04 Feb Q65 -15 dB Bonaire
PY5EK 144180.0 NP4BM 01:55 04 Feb Q65B -5 dB 800 Hz tnx tep Puerto Rico
NP4BM-@ 144180.0 PY5EK 01:55 04 Feb tnks q65b tep qso Brazil
PY5EK 144180.0 WP3DN 01:49 04 Feb Q65B -9 dB 1008 Hz Puerto Rico
PY2SRB-@ 144180.0 WP3DN 01:44 04 Feb Q65B -11 Tu Puerto Rico
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 HI8CAF 01:43 04 Feb TEP Q65B Dominican Republic
PU2KNM 144174.0 FM5CS 01:37 04 Feb SWL FT8 -1 dB 1143 Hz Martinique 
LU4DJC-@ 144180.0 PJ2BR 01:36 04 Feb TEP Q65B Curacao
WP4KJJ-@ 144300.0 ZP9HTL 01:01 04 Feb 5-1 Paraguay

Thursday, February 3, 2022

WSPR activity on the 40 MHz band in North America - January 2022

In 2021, seven US stations and one Canadian station were given experimental licenses for the 40 MHz band. Several are now active and using the WSPR beacon mode on the band.

This post covers the reception reports for each station in North America for January 2022.

Canadian experimental station CBG209: To allow the callsign to be recognised by WSPR, the callsign was reversed and 902BGC was used.

The openings for the month of January are shown above and I have listed the openings below with the reports under 200kms filtered out. I also removed multiple reports for the same station for the same opening. The power is listed as 10 watts.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz                         W SNR drift km
2022-01-15 17:32 902BGC CN89 WM2XCC DM13ji 40.663524 10 -22 0 1856

2022-01-12 05:14 902BGC CN89 W3PM EM64or 40.663509 10 -27 0 3365
2022-01-12 04:54 902BGC CN89 WB6HYD CM87xi 40.663524 10 -27 0 1351
2022-01-12 04:54 902BGC CN89 W7IV CM95qn 40.663525 10 -23 0 1560
2022-01-12 00:14 902BGC CN89 WM2XCC DM13ji 40.663522 10 -29 1 1856

2022-01-04 15:40 902BGC CN89 WM2XCC DM13ji 40.663522 10 -13 0 1856

2022-01-03 18:00 902BGC CN89 WM2XCC DM13ji 40.663521 10 -26 1 1856
2022-01-03 17:50 902BGC CN89 WB6HYD CM87xi 40.663524 10 -20 0 1351
2022-01-03 17:40 902BGC CN89 WB6HYD CM87xi 40.663524 10 -21 0 1351

2022-01-02 09:18 902BGC CN89 WM2XCC DM13ji 40.663523 10 -17 0 1856

Even though it's mid-Winter, there seemed to have been five distinct openings. Most of the signals can be accounted for by mid-Winter Sporadic-E or possibly Auroral-E propagation but the one that really sticks out is the 3365km opening to W3PM in Alabama. 

The maximum distance for one hop Sporadic-E is about 2200kms. As it occurred near the end of an opening, it was probably due to double hop / chordal hop Sporadic-E.

WM2XCW in Washington State: Just local reports for this station during the month.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2022-02-01 22:16 WM2XCW CN88 VE7NZ CN89 40.663552 10 12 0 111
2022-01-13 17:50 WM2XCW CN88 VE7SKY CN89 40.663467 10 10 0 111
2022-01-13 01:30 WM2XCW CN88 VE7RPX CN89lh 40.663531 10 -19 0 93
2022-01-12 21:00 WM2XCW CN88 VE7DH CN89nf 40.663544 10 -4 0 84
2022-01-12 20:50 WM2XCW CN88 KC7GVU CN88kb 40.663531 10 -29 0 47
2022-01-12 20:44 WM2XCW CN88 CGB209 CN89li 40.663529 10 -16 0 97

WM2XAN in Michigan: This one is listed as 100 watts.

There seem to have been four openings during the month and all the distances are typical of single hop Sporadic-E.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km mode km/W spotQ version
2022-01-17 16:30 WM2XAN EN74oh W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663449 100 -26 -4 1553

2022-01-16 01:54 WM2XAN EN74oh W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663445 100 -24 -4 1553
2022-01-15 23:44 WM2XAN EN74oh AE5LY/2 EL29hb 40.663491 100 -27 -4 1937

2022-01-12 04:02 WM2XAN EN74oh W3PM EM64or 40.663469 20 -10 -4 1079

2022-01-11 16:24 WM2XAN EN74oh WM2XEJ EM83ji 40.663485 100 -7 -3 1226
2022-01-11 06:20 WM2XAN EN74oh WM2XEJ EM83ji 40.663487 100 -22 -4 1226
2022-01-11 02:56 WM2XAN EN74 VE1PYE FN84et 40.66347 100 -18 0 1690
2022-01-10 22:14 WM2XAN EN74 N2OTO EL96wi 40.663894 0.5 -18 -4 2063

WM2XEJ in Georgia: Another listed as 100 watts although it was listed as 10 watts at times.

There seems to have been seven openings during January. Most of them are Sporadic-E but it's interesting to see several in that 300-800km region which is usually inside the Sp-E skip zone.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km mode km/W spotQ version
2022-01-23 21:30 WM2XEJ EM83ji W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663487 100 -19 0 562

2022-01-20 18:34 WM2XEJ EM83ji WM2XAN EN74oh 40.663527 100 -18 0 1226

2022-01-19 15:10 WM2XEJ EM83ji WM2XAN EN74oh 40.663524 100 -28 0 1226

2022-01-16 00:26 WM2XEJ EM83ji WM2XAN EN74oh 40.663525 100 -19 -1 1226
2022-01-15 23:52 WM2XEJ EM83ji AE5LY/2 EL29hb 40.663522 100 -18 0 1251
2022-01-15 22:56 WM2XEJ EM83ji W4WLO/S11 EM50vo 40.663477 100 -17 0 562
2022-01-15 16:32 WM2XEJ EM83ji W3PM EM64or 40.663503 100 -23 0 364

2022-01-12 17:28 WM2XEJ EM83ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663522 100 -22 0 833
2022-01-12 14:52 WM2XEJ EM83ji NI4Y EM73 40.663509 100 -28 0 171

2022-01-11 21:02 WM2XEJ EM83ji VE2UG FN35gs 40.66345 10 -25 0 1611
2022-01-11 18:20 WM2XEJ EM83ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.663456 10 -22 0 833
2022-01-11 16:08 WM2XEJ EM83ji WM2XAN EN74oh 40.663464 10 -22 -2 1226
2022-01-11 15:04 WM2XEJ EM83ji KC5LT EM86 40.663454 100 -21 1 348

2022-01-11 06:22 WM2XEJ EM83ji WM2XAN EN74oh 40.663466 10 -6 -2 1226
2022-01-11 06:04 WM2XEJ EM83 N2OTO EL96wi 40.663453 10 4 0 841

WM2XCC in California: Listed as just 2 watts this time.

It seems there were three distinct openings and all were to the cluster of receivers near Vancouver. Again, all typical Sporadic-E distances.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2022-01-11 23:16 WM2XCC DM13ji VE7DH CN89nf 40.663503 2 -25 0 1826
2022-01-11 22:38 WM2XCC DM13ji CGB209 CN89li 40.663489 2 -6 0 1843
2022-01-11 21:46 WM2XCC DM13ji VE7DH CN89nf 40.663503 2 -24 0 1826
2022-01-11 20:16 WM2XCC DM13ji VE7UTS CN89li 40.66349 2 0 0 1843

2022-01-04 15:30 WM2XCC DM13ji VA7MM/A CN89og 40.663537 2 -23 0 1829

2022-01-02 09:38 WM2XCC DM13ji VA7MM/A CN89og 40.663535 2 -22 0 1829

In conclusion: To the best of my knowledge, there is no WSPR activity in Europe at present and the guys in North America are certainly leading the way. 

Despite the fact it was January and mid-Winter, there is plenty of evidence of openings on the 40 MHz band. Once we get to May, these openings in the region of 800-2000 kms should start to become a lot more common. 

Looking through the full reports for January, most of the signals were buried in the noise and it shows the advantage of using a weak signal mode like WSPR as opposed to just plain CW. If all of these experimental stations had just CW beacons then I certainly wouldn't be writing this post as little or nothing would have been reported.

Some thoughts...
1) It would be nice if more people set up receivers for the band and listened for WSPR signals.

2) We'll have to wait and see if the remaining three experimental US calls have any interest in getting up and running on WSPR.

3) It would be great to see some WSPR activity in Europe as well. Anyone interested??

1) As always, there is plenty of information about the new 8m band on my 40 MHz page.