Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Successful low power tests on the 40 MHz band in Australia - 29th Jan 2023

In Australia and New Zealand, anyone can use up to 1-watt ERP on a non-interference basis without a license on the 40 MHz ISM band. Hilary, VK2AZ has taken advantage of this and has been experimenting with a WSPR beacon on 40.680 MHz since the end of December 2022. 

On the 29th of January 2023, several stations heard the WSPR beacon from X/VK2AZ on 40.680 MHz. What's really amazing is that the power output was just 0.005 watts or 5-milliwatts!

VK2AZ writes... "At the end of December 2022 I decided to place a WSPR beacon on 40.680 MHz.
My beacon is an RFZero loaded with the WSPR transmitter code and a LPF (low pass filter) for 40MHz on its output. Currently it puts out about 5 milliwatts WSPR every 10 mins on 40.680 MHz using the call X/VK2AZ.

A local friend and Amateur, Michael, VK2TMC who is 8 km from me in the Blue Mountains, set up a Flex SDR and WSJT-X on 40.680 which allowed me to tune and test my setup.

The RFZero is also GPS locked. https://rfzero.net/examples/wspr-transmitter/

To my surprise, my 5 milliwatt beacon has been spotted at considerable distance. 
On 29 Jan 2023 my beacon was spotted by Peter, VK5PJ in South Australia at a distance of 1076 km and Warwick, E51WL in the North Cook Islands at a distance of 5902 km.

Just goes to show that you don't need a lot of power on these "Magic Bands". 
In an email to Bob, ZL1RS, Warwick, E51WL described it as "nice wspr frames from that VK with his flea"


For his 40 MHz propagation tests, VK2AZ is using a horizontal dipole for 40 MHz and it's broadside to Central America.

WSPR Spots from E51WL in the Cook Islands (5902kms) and VK5PJ near Adelaide...

 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2023-01-29 00:30 X/VK2AZ QF56if E51WL BI01xa 40.663511 0.005 -26 1 5902
2023-01-29 00:20 X/VK2AZ QF56if E51WL BI01xa 40.681511 0.005 -26 0 5902
2023-01-29 00:00 X/VK2AZ QF56if E51WL BI01xa 40.681513 0.005 -24 1 5902

2023-01-29 10:50 X/VK2AZ QF56if X/VK5PJ PF95 40.681565 0.005 -20 0 1084
2023-01-29 10:20 X/VK2AZ QF56if X/VK5PJ PF95 40.681559 0.005 -18 1 1084
2023-01-29 10:00 X/VK2AZ QF56if X/VK5PJ PF95 40.681539 0.005 -20 4 1084
2023-01-29 09:50 X/VK2AZ QF56if X/VK5PJ PF95 40.681514 0.005 -15 4 1084
2023-01-29 10:50 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681513 0.005 -22 1 1076
2023-01-29 10:20 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681515 0.005 -20 0 1076
2023-01-29 10:00 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681513 0.005 -25 0 1076
2023-01-29 09:50 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681514 0.005 -24 1 1076
2023-01-29 09:40 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681515 0.005 -24 0 1076
2023-01-29 09:30 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681515 0.005 -33 0 1076
2023-01-29 09:10 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681513 0.005 -25 1 1076
2023-01-29 09:00 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681513 0.005 -23 1 1076
2023-01-29 03:10 X/VK2AZ QF56if VK5PJ PF95mk 40.681515 0.005 -26 0 1076

RF Zero board

VK2AZ has been monitoring 40MHz for about a year and a half now, hoping to see some activity from around the world using an ICOM IC-7100 and a horizontal dipole for 40MHz.

As reported in this previous post, VK2AZ managed to receive the WSPR signals from WM2XCC in California on the 28th of December 2022.

Analysis... First of all... WOW! What amazing reception reports for just 5-milliwatts and at 40 MHz as well! But what about the propagation mode?

VK5PJ at 1076 kms was probably via Sporadic-E and the strongest report was -15dB which is buried in the noise. As it's the Summer Sporadic-E season in the Southern Hemisphere then that's easy to explain.

As for E51WL at 5902 kms??? If it was Sporadic-E then we have to believe that it was something like 3 x 2000km hops. I suspect F2 propagation was involved and it was something like 2 x 3000km hops.

Whichever one you want to believe, it's still amazing for just 0.005 watts.

The way forward... I have no doubt that we need more people using the WSPR beacon mode on 40.680 MHz. A lot of countries seem to allow people to transmit very low power on the 40 MHz ISM band without any special sort of licence or permit.

Wouldn't it be great to have a load of low power WSPR stations all over Europe for the Sporadic-E season? Check your local regulations.

Links... As always, there is loads of 8m information on my 40 MHz page.

Monday, January 30, 2023

40 MHz Facebook Group reaches 600 members

Over the weekend, the 600th person joined the 40 MHz and 60 MHz Group on Facebook.

While there are many platforms for sharing information, a group on Facebook works well for sharing photos, screenshots and commenting on other peoples posts.

There are plenty of posts on this group now with lots of news about the various openings and tests in the low VHF part of the spectrum. You can find the group HERE

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Long path opening on the 50 MHz band between Germany and New Zealand - 28th Jan 2023

In a previous post, I reported on how there was a short path opening on the 50 MHz band between Germany and New Zealand on the 25th of January 2023. What's better than a short path opening? A long path opening of course!

On the 28th of January 2023, there was an amazing long path opening between Europe and New Zealand on the 50 MHz band. More specifically, DK1MAX in Germany managed to complete a FT8 contact with ZL1SG in New Zealand.

DX-Cluster spots...
Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
ZL1RS 50323.0 DK1MAX 20:18 28 Jan RF64<>JN58 long path Fed. Rep. of Germany
ZL1SG-@ 50323.0 DK1MAX 20:10 28 Jan FT8 -9 Tnx Max great qso Fed. Rep. of Germany

On the PSK Reporter website, I found three European and two New Zealand stations that were involved in this long path opening. I have put in the approximate long path distances and I have recorded the signal reports that appeared on the site as well.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) Approx Signals
IV3KKW ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,000 km 20:23:11 -18dB
DK1MAX ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,100 km 20:20:41 -19dB
OE5OLL ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,200 km 19:40:41 -15dB

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
IV3KKW ZL1RS 6m FT8 22,000 km 20:27:13 -16dB
DK1MAX ZL1RS 6m FT8 22,100 km 20:03:43 -13dB

Analysis... Let's have a look at what happened. First of all the location of the stations which is important.

ZL1LG and ZL1RS have the same locator square and are located at the far north of New Zealand.

The three European stations are in roughly the same geographic location and are only about 200-300kms apart.

Opening... At the time of the long path opening, there was a path on 50 MHz between ZL1SG and South America.

At the same time, there was an opening from DK1MAX to South America.

It looks as if the two openings coupled into each other and allowed a long path at 50 MHz opening between the far north of New Zealand and a small area in Europe.

I need to stress that the location of the stations had a huge bearing on the opening. Because New Zealand is effectively on the other side of the planet from Europe, the beam heading changes drastically with a small change in location.

The geometry of the path from say the north of Germany is very different than the south of Germany. From the UK, the long path to New Zealand goes almost directly south and over the Antarctic which makes a 50 MHz path highly unlikely.

By contrast, stations to the south of DK1MAX have the possibility of long paths that are closer to the equator and more likely.

Mode of Propagation... The solar flux on the day was in the region of 150-160 but this was after coming down off a peak of around 230 about a week earlier. The path was almost certainly F2 with possibly some chordal hop involved. There may have been some TEP from Europe to South America.

In conclusion... The signals were weak for this long path opening as they were down around -13 to -19dB. If it wasn't for FT8, the opening would have gone unnoticed. It was an amazing opening and there are no doubt plenty more to come. 

1) I have put links to posts about previous long distance 6m openings up on my 50 MHz page.

Addendum: Max, DK1MAX reports... "That's a screenshot from and after the QSO with ZL1RS. We worked on 50323 as 313 was way too busy with strong EU transmitting 2nd period. Still very much excited. Thanks for the summary in the EI7GL blogspot."

Javier, LU5FF in Argentina reports paths on 50 MHz to the following stations in New Zealand...

Pipe, CE3SAD reports that during the same opening, CE6TK in Chile worked 16 ZL stations in New Zealand. In the CE3 zone of Chile, there was only one.

CE3SAD also recounts a previous long path opening way back on the 21st of April 2001. Operating as CE3SAD/2 from FF48 locator square, he managed to complete some long path contacts with VK4 stations in Australia while beaming towards Europe. The stations were located in the QH30 and QG39 locator squares and the long path distance was in the region of 27,000kms.

CE3SAD did try beaming the more direct short path to Australia but the stations disappeared. It's worth remembering that back in 2001, the dominant modes were SSB and CW and the signals had to be above or at the noise level. It's a huge difference from now when FT8 allows contacts to be made from signals that are buried in the noise.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Video: Propagation prediction for working Bouvet Island ...by OH6BG

With the 3Y0J DX-pedition to Bouvet Island coming up in February 2023, there will be no doubt be considerable interest in what propagation paths are open on the various HF bands.

Jari, OH6BG made a presentation recently on the subject to a Finnish group but the video was in Finnish. Jari has now released a shorter version of the presentation on YouTube and it can be seen below...

He writes... "This is a short video on how to find the best times and frequencies to work Bouvet, 3Y0J. I will explain two crucial prediction parameters, Signal Power and MUFday, that will determine the best openings to the island. These principles are valid for all VOACAP predictions."

This is the link mentioned in the video... https://www.voacap.com/dx/bouvet/

You can mess about with the settings there to find the optimal time for your location. I suspect though that the biggest challenge will be trying to crack the huge pile ups rather than whether the band is open or not. 

From Europe and North America on bands like 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m and 15m, the signal should be easily heard at the right time of the day.

Dxpedition website... https://www.3y0j.no/

Friday, January 27, 2023

Guest Post: WM2XCS/B 40 MHz beacon heard over 3000kms away in Arizona and Alberta ...by George, N2CG

Thanks to George, N2CG / WM2XCS for the following report on recent reception of his beacon on the 40 MHz band.

WM2XCS/B 40.685 MHz CW Beacon Heard over 2000 miles away in Arizona and Alberta!

I'm happy to report the following 40 MHz band reports concerning WM2XCS/B 40.685 MHz CW Beacon.

I recently received two reception reports (one from SE Arizona near the Mexico border and on from VE6 land near Edmonton, Alberta for my WM2XCS/B 40.685 MHz 8m experimental band CW beacon as follows:

"Here’s a report on your 40MHz beacon.  WM2XCS/B  1/21/2023  1745 UTC 40685.0 KHz  CW  RST 579  I’m using an IC7610 and 7 element LPDA (18-32 MHz) at 55’.  Nothing like a solar flux over 200 to get the MUF high!  73,  Chuck - AA6G  Hereford, AZ"

"Copied your beacon on 40.685 for quite a while around 2045z Jan 23rd, 2023.  Nice signal here in DO33gs on my 7 el 6 meter yagi.  All the best.  Grant VE6TA" 

Keep in mind that the beacon's output power is 30 Watts into a 4 element 7 dBd gain yagi at 30 feet above ground beaming ~45° from my QTH towards Europe.  So both of these stations were receiving the beacon somewhat on the backside of the beacon's antenna.  I guess the recent SFI around 200 played a helping hand with WM2XCS/B being heard over 2000 miles (3200kms) away off the back of the antenna!

73, George  WM2XCS  N2CG

10,470km opening on the 40 MHz band from California to New Zealand - 25th Jan 2023

It's always nice to see 8m reception reports from different parts of the globe and this time we have a reception report of the 40 MHz WSPR signal of WM2XCC in California by ZL1RS in New Zealand.

WM2XCC is one of the experimental licences for the 40 MHz band and is operated by Chris, N3IZN. The 2-watt WSPR signal of WM2XCC on 40.680 MHz was decoded four times by Bob, ZL1RS in New Zealand during a three and a half hour period on the 25th and 26th of January 2023.

The four reports are below, note that the times are in UTC.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km

2023-01-26 01:18 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681486 2 -29 0 10471
2023-01-26 01:00 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681486 2 -16 0 10471
2023-01-25 22:20 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681488 2 -23 0 10471
2023-01-25 21:58 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681488 2 -16 0 10471

The signals range from -16dB to -29dB which means that they were probably inaudible to the ear and were buried in the noise. The signals were still present though which means the trans-Pacific path existed.

The distance was around 10,470kms and the most likely mode of propagation was via the F2 layer in the ionosphere. At midnight UTC, the sun would have been somewhere over the centre of the Pacific and roughly half way between California and New Zealand.

Back on the 28th of December 2022, there was a similar opening from California to Australia. Link HERE

ZL1RS... For the reception report, Bob ZL1RS reports using an ICOM IC-7610 with a 3-element Yagi for the 40 MHz band at 8-metres above ground level. The antenna is fixed pointing at North America and the 4 WSPR decodes were from the second day after it was put up.

Bob notes that New Zealand regulations permit anyone to freely transmit on 40.680 MHz with 1-watt ERP as long as they don't cause interference to any paid licence system.

Side Note... When I was writing this latest trans-Pacific 8m report, I had completely forgotten about the reception report of WM2XCC in Australia at the end of December. I wrote that blog post and I had forgotten about it after a month! It just shows to me the value of generating a blog post about an unusual 8m opening and then linking to it from the 40 MHz page on the blog.

WSPR reports disappear after 5-weeks and FT8 reports disappear off the PSK Reporter website after 24 hours. How many unusual openings on the various VHF & UHF bands go unreported and unnoticed?

Addendum: Bob, ZL1RS reports... "Another opening 26/27 Jan utc:

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az Mode
 2023-01-27 00:46 WM2XCC 40.681486 -23 0 DM13ji 50 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 
 2023-01-26 23:14 WM2XCC 40.681487 -25 0 DM13ji 2 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 
 2023-01-26 22:18 WM2XCC 40.681489 -15 0 DM13ji 2 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 
 2023-01-26 21:44 WM2XCC 40.681488 -19 0 DM13ji 2 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 
 2023-01-26 21:26 WM2XCC 40.681488 -16 0 DM13ji 2 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 
 2023-01-26 21:04 WM2XCC 40.681488 -9 0 DM13ji 2 ZL1RS RF64vs 10471 230 W-2 

There would have been more except that reception here was obliterated by severe rain static for about an hour.  During that time there were 3 other partial WSPR traces (which did not decode due to the rain static), but from the timing and frequency offset, we believe it was WM2XCW (aka NR7V)."

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Opening on the 40 MHz band between California and Alaska - Jan 2023

Chris, N3IZN is located in the south of California and is the owner of the experimental callsign WM2XCC. He has been conducting tests on the 40 MHz band for over a year using the WSPR beacon mode.

Between the 20th and 25th of January 2023, his WSPR signal was heard by a number of US stations as shown on the map above and in the chart below which is listed by distance.

 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2023-01-22 17:18 WM2XCC DM13ji WW1L FN54om 40.681497 2 -22 1 4300
2023-01-24 17:36 WM2XCC DM13ji VA2CY FN46lw 40.681426 2 -16 3 4135
2023-01-25 19:38 WM2XCC DM13ji KC0IYT FN42kj 40.681554 2 -21 0 4115
2023-01-21 18:20 WM2XCC DM13ji VE2UG FN35gs 40.681498 2 -3 0 3939
2023-01-23 21:36 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681506 2 18 0 3863
2023-01-20 19:06 WM2XCC DM13ji KB2MEN FN20ok 40.681484 2 -21 0 3815
2023-01-20 19:48 WM2XCC DM13ji VE3EUR FN25dn 40.681529 2 -6 0 3763
2023-01-22 16:36 WM2XCC DM13ji N2OTO EL96wi 40.681511 2 -22 0 3640
2023-01-22 17:52 WM2XCC DM13ji WM2XEJ EM83ji 40.68149 50 8 0 3144
2023-01-22 17:12 WM2XCC DM13ji AC4TO EM70xl 40.681497 50 -15 0 3134
2023-01-22 17:50 WM2XCC DM13ji N4WLO EM50uo 40.681488 50 22 0 2736
2023-01-22 20:04 WM2XCC DM13ji VE7UTS CN89li 40.681491 50 -26 0 1843

The reception report of particular interest is from KL7HBK in Alaska. Even though there are four other reports which were further away, Alaska is of interest because it's so far to the north. This is especially true as it seems likely that the mode of propagation was F2 layer propagation.

These are all the WSPR spots from Alaska on the 23rd and the 25th of January. The signal reports range from +18dB which is very strong to -18dB which is buried in the noise and inaudible to the ear.

2023-01-25 20:42 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681507 2 -7
2023-01-25 20:22 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681507 2 15
2023-01-25 19:58 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681507 2 10
2023-01-25 19:38 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681508 2 -18

2023-01-23 21:54 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681507 2 21
2023-01-23 21:36 WM2XCC DM13ji KL7HBK BO49et 40.681506 2 18

Alaska has a reputation of being a bit of wasteland when it comes to VHF propagation so it's interesting to see 40 MHz signals propagate so far north. The solar flux at the time of the reports was around the 190 mark.

Link... For more reports and information on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page HERE

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

TEP opening on the 40 MHz band between the Caribbean and South America - 24th & 25th Jan 2023

While there have been plenty of reports of propagation on the 40 MHz (8m) band recently, there have been very few reports from South America.

Martin, PJ4MM on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean reports the following...

"This evening (24th January), I turned my antenna to the South and I received 8 reports from Chile (CE), Argentina (LU) and Brazil (PY).

Date  - Time in UTC - Reports from - Locator Square - Signal / Notes
24/01/23    23:58:00    PT9FD    GG27OR    -20dB    
        23:58:00    PU2MBY    GG47GU    solid trace    No decode, TEP distortion

25/01/23    00:07:00    LU8YD    FF51XB    -15dB           
        00:10:00    CE3VRT   FF46PI    solid trace    No decode, TEP distortion
        00:03:00    LW2DAF    GF05RK    -8dB        (-18dB on 6m)
        00:37:00    LU7FTF   FF88WI    loud audio   
        00:38:00    CE3VRT   FF46PI    -16dB       
        00:48:00    CE3SOC   FF46RJ    -14dB "

Analysis... With TEP signals, they are generally at right angles to the Geomagnetic Equator and especially at the higher VHF bands. At frequencies about 100 MHz, the paths are usually from Chile to Colombia, Argentina to Bonaire, Curacao and Puerto Rico and from the south of Brazil to the eastern part of  the Caribbean... e.g. Guadeloupe and Martinique.

On a lower frequency like 40 MHz, signals can be quite a bit off from being at right angles and still get through. Hence you can see that PJ4MM could be heard in Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

As the map above shows, most of the reports came from stations in the region of 4000 to 5,500kms which is pretty normal for TEP paths. The time was around midnight UTC which is about 9pm. 8-9pm local time is usually the time for evening TEP openings.

There have been some reports of TEP openings in South America at 144 MHz so it should be no great surprise that it was open at 40 MHz as well. It just took someone to try some tests on the 8m band.

I think it is especially welcome to see so many reports from South American stations and it will hopefully generate more interest in that part of the world in the 40 MHz (8m) band.

It would be interesting to see if the South American stations could hear some of the experimental 40 MHz stations in the USA? I think it might be possible in April when the TEP and Sporadic-E seasons overlap.

USA... Martin did also mention that he thinks there are more radio amateurs in the USA now listening on the 40 MHz band as well. These were the US stations that heard his FT8 signal on the 40 MHz in a 24 hour period.

Link... For more information on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page HERE

Addendum: 27th Jan 2023 - Martin ,PJ4MM reports... "Today again reports from LU/CE/PY and first time from Ecuador (HC). Also reports from the "Usual suspects" in the USA, and a first time report from WM2XCC in San Diego."

Reports from South America...
Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
HC2FG 8m FT8 2049 km 02:40:15
LU3HO 8m FT8 5302 km 02:39:29
CE3SX 8m FT8 5080 km 02:09:28
PU8YPL 8m FT8 2203 km 01:36:58
PP2RON 8m FT8 3833 km 01:24:29

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

18,646km opening on 50 MHz between Germany and New Zealand - 24th Jan 2023

Tuesday 24th January 2023: It looks as if there was another very short opening on the 50 MHz band but this time between Germany and New Zealand. It seems as if there was an impressive path of 18,646kms between DK6M in Germany and ZL4LV in New Zealand. 

As far as I know, both parties managed to complete a FT8 contact. The FT8 signal from the ZL station peaked at -5dB in Germany.

The first thought of course is if the path is genuine? VK3WE in the SE of Australia also heard DK6M so there was a path open to that area. See Addendum below for a report from DK6M.

PSK Reporter log...
Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
ZL4LV DK6M 6m FT8 18646 km 08:10:58
DK6M VK3WE 6m FT8 16592 km 08:59:41

SP4MPB in Poland also heard ZL4BV and was heard by DU6/PE1NSQ in the Philippines. 

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
ZL4LV SP4MPB 6m FT8 17696 km 08:38:28
SP4MPB DU6/PE1NSQ 6m FT8 9839 km 09:20:44

Analysis... So what is going on? Why the short openings on 50 MHz? 

I suspect that the propagation mode was via Chordal-Hop with the signal going from F2 layer to F2 layer without reflecting off the ground in between.

It's a bit like shining a flashlight at a series of mirrors... the more reflections then the smaller the spotlight at the far end.

It's likely that the footprint from this Chordal Hop propagation after multiple hops at 50 MHz is probably very small and it would be very easy to miss an opening. 

If it wasn't for the fact that most of the 6m stations are listening and transmitting on the one frequency with a weak signal mode like FT8, these openings wouldn't be even noticed.

The take home message is that with the solar flux up around 200 at the moment, it's a bit like a propagation lottery. You might in the right spot at the right time, you might not be. You just need to keep checking the band at the same time as previous openings and see if there is anything there.

They don't call 6-metres the 'Magic Band' for nothing.

Addendum: Here is some of the back story of the Germany to New Zealand contact thanks to Mike, DH6JL

DH6JL is the owner of the DK6M callsign and was using this to call CQ on FT8 on 6m. After 3-4 periods, he received a call from ZL4LV in New Zealand. Initially the signal was so strong (for FT8) that he thought it was someone messing about. After holding back for 2-3 more CQ periods, he answered and completed the contact. DK6M got a -4dB report and sent -8dB.

After the contact, Mike closed the JTDX software and opened MSHV and started to call ZL4LV with his own personal call (DH6JL) as this would be a new DXCC and locator.

Peter, ZL4LV had started to call CQ DX in the meantime but it was more difficult this time. After 6 to 8  periods of calling ZL4LV, he heard DH6JL and answered and the contact was completed.  DH6JL sent -5db and received -11db.

DH6JL started to call CQ DX again and noticed that ZL4SY had also heard him. ZL4SY wasn't heard by DH6JL so no contact was made. Some minutes later, PSKReporter showed me that VK3WE and VK3BD had also heard DH6JL but again, there was no sign of them in Germany.

The duration of the 50 MHz opening was approximately 20 to 25 minutes with a lot of fading (QSB) and decoding problems also when the tones were "clear" to hear.

Mike reports that he did not hear the station in the Philippines who was also involved in this opening.

Mike writes... "As a conclusion, I have to say I am more then very happy to work twice nearly to the antipode of me. This event showed me that it was worth to wait such a long time and that in Solar Cycle 25, much has happened as I expected... Mike DH6JL / DK6M"

Results of the 34 MHz Propagation Tests - Sat 21st & Sun 22nd Jan 2023

On Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd of January 2023, Phil EI9KP conducted some propagation tests on the 9m band in the low-VHF part of the spectrum. He operated a supervised beacon on 34.013 MHz for most of the daylight hours running 1-watt into a horizontal dipole with capacitive loading.

This is a report on who heard his signal over the two days.

Phil, EI9KP writes... "This 34MHz beacon experiment got people interested in listening and I am pleased to have received the reception reports below.  Also I'd like to express my thanks to Paul Logan in Co Fermanagh for twittering his followers.

Two reception reports from EI, two from Europe and to my delight a few from the USA. 

YO9FTR in Romania at 2795km received the signals on both days.  He suggested that start earlier on Day 2, in fact propagation was waiting when I switched on and he decoded the first 15 seconds of the beacon's FT8 sequence.

N2OTO in Florida is near enough twice the distance than VO1FOG in Newfoundland, on the same great circle line.

 K5YT at 6864km / 4265 miles was the greatest distance. Edward, K5YT in Texas was using a Hygain TH2-MK3 tribander @ 30m (100’) as a receive antenna.

FT8 signal received by K5YT in Texas

The USA reports suggest F2 propagation, but how many hops to FL or TX?  What about the one from CT?

YO9FTR made a long observation of the signal/SNR. This wasn't pre-arranged, however, I am thankful for the data and realised there was some pattern in it.  The resulting graph shows signal/SNR over several hours, really a nice observation of propagation.

So, I enjoyed the experiment, there's always something new to learn.

 73, Phil EI9KP"


The map at the top of the post shows the stations in the USA that heard EI9KP on the 9m band. The map below shows the stations in Europe.

EI9KP's report... Information about reception reports collated from email, 8m Groups.io, VHFSKIP groups.io, Ei7GL blog.


Beacon 34.013MHz 1W Dipole active from 10:05 till 17:15 UTC

Reception reports:

YO9FTR in the east of Romania, locator KN35XG, from 10:51 till 10:57 UTC, SNR -15 to +14 dB

N2OTO in locator EL96WI, Florida, from 13:12 till 13:19 UTC, SNR -16 to -13 dB

W1IG in locator FN31LN, Connecticut in the USA at 16:08 UTC

N4EF in locator EL98HP, Florida in the USA at 16:10 UTC using an ICOM IC-7610 with a dipole in the attic.

HB9TMC in Switzerland in locator JN46LJ, from 16:53 till 17:01 UTC

EI3GYB in locator IO53OT, over several hours during the afternoon 

Spots from PSK Reporter...
21st Jan
Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
EI9KP N4EF 9m FT8 6350 km 16:10:14
EI9KP W1IG 9m FT8 4805 km 16:08:14
EI9KP HB9TMC 9m FT8 1526 km 16:53:26
EI9KP N2OTO 9m FT8 6457 km 13:12:15


Beacon 34.013MHz 1W Dipole active from 08:43 till 17:15 UTC

Reception reports:

YO9FTR in the east of Romania, locator KN35XG, from 08:43 till 11:42 UTC, SNR -21 to +14 dB

K5YT in locator EM22NV, Texas, from 15:03  till 15:11 UTC, SNR from -18 to -7 dB.

N4EF in locator EL98HP, Florida in the USA using an ICOM IC-7610 with a dipole in the attic. FT8 reports from 14:48 to 15:13 UTC and also reports hearing the CW a few times at strength 329.

EI5IN in locator IO63HM, at 15:01 UTC, SNR -21 dB

Spots from PSK Reporter...
22nd Jan 
Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
EI9KP EI5IN 9m FT8 120 km 15:04:29
EI9KP K5YT 9m FT8 6855 km 15:49:14

If I missed any reports then let me know.

Analysis... It should be noted that the reports above are from a beacon running just 1-watt which is pretty amazing. It just goes to show how far a signal can travel via F2 layer propagation with relatively low attenuation.

Let's have a look at a propagation map.

The map above shows the predicted coverage for a 1-watt operating at 30 MHz. It's not quite 34 MHz but it's close. The solar flux was just around 200-210 for the test.

YO9FTR... For most of the daylight hours, Romania is in the ideal spot for F2 layer propagation and reception of the beacon. The reception chart from YO9FTR further up this post shows reception of the 34 MHz signal from 08:43 to 11:41 UTC.

In the 'old days' when listening just by ear, it would have appeared that the signal was in and out, missing for long periods and then strong for a while. With a weak signal mode like FT8, we can see that the signal was actually there all of the time for three hours. The software was able to decode the FT8  signal when it was buried in the noise.

HB9TMC... It's hard to know for sure what propagation mode was responsible for the reception of the beacon signal in Switzerland. It's seems a bit too close for F2 layer. Was it Sporadic-E? Backscatter? Paul, MI3LDO heard French roads control traffic on 35/36 MHz on Saturday afternoon and thinks it was almost certainly Sporadic-E.

USA... Florida seems to be in the perfect spot for reception. It's the most southerly path and it's in the right area for the second F2 hop. Texas would seem to be at the edge of the footprint.

Overall an interesting test and a very successful one considering the relatively small number of people that would have known about the transmissions. It's also worth noting that very few people have antennas for 34 MHz and most are listening on antennas tuned for other bands.

Ireland is the only country in the world as far as I know where radio amateurs can transmit at 34 MHz (9m band). It lies pretty much half way between the 10m band (28 MHz) and the experimental 8m band at 40 MHz.

For more information about other 34 MHz tests, I'll keep the posts on my 40 MHz page HERE

Monday, January 23, 2023

Fleeting opening between Europe and Australia on 50 MHz - 22nd Jan 2023

It looks as if there was a very short opening on the 50 MHz band between Europe and Australia on Sunday the 22nd of January 2023. What I found interesting was that one of the paths was from Poland to Australia which is much further north compared to the opening on the 16th of January 2023.

SP4MPB in Poland exchanged a few FT8 signals with VK3FZ in Australia and the QSO could not be completed. SP4MPB reports a maximum signal of -14dB.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
VK3FZ SP4MPB 6m FT8 15505 km 08:54:58

Earlier, there was another very short opening between Italy and Australia with VK2EFM reporting reception of the FT8 signals of IK0FTA

Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
VK2EFM 6m FT8 16255 km 08:25:42

Again, this seemed like a very short opening with just a single reception report. As far as I know, there were no other Europe - Australia paths on 6m reported.

In truth, these openings were fleeting and the signals were very weak. In previous solar cycles, openings like this wouldn't even have been noticed as people were using SSB and CW then.

Now that there are so many stations using FT8 on the same frequency, even the weakest opening on the 50 MHz band gets reported.

It's also likely to just a hint about the long distance 6m openings which are more likely to happen as we head towards the equinox.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Good opening to South Africa on the 40 MHz band - 21st Jan 2023

Saturday the 21st of January 2023 was another busy day on the 40 MHz (8m) band with plenty of activity. I picked out a few notable paths.

South Africa (ZS)... There were three ZS stations on the band... ZSWAB, ZS6OB & ZS4TX. They accounted for some of the longest paths seen on the day.

Here is a list of the longest FT8 paths as reported on the PSK Reporter website...

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
ZS6OB K9MU 8m FT8 14292 km 15:04:29
ZS6WAB WB0DBQ 8m FT8 14273 km 15:24:59
ZS6WAB K9MU 8m FT8 14252 km 15:38:59
ZS6WAB KA9CFD 8m FT8 14215 km 15:13:29
ZS6WAB N8PUM 8m FT8 13959 km 15:42:28
ZS6WAB VE3DS 8m FT8 13308 km 15:04:43
ZS4TX OH7PS 8m FT8 9927 km 11:21:29
ZS4TX EI9KP 8m FT8 9834 km 11:11:26
ZS6OB GM0SXQ 8m FT8 9671 km 11:13:26
ZS4TX EI3KD 8m FT8 9604 km 15:26:44
ZS6OB OH7PS 8m FT8 9576 km 11:17:29
ZS6OB EI9KP 8m FT8 9573 km 11:48:11
ZS6WAB MM0AMW 8m FT8 9426 km 15:21:59

This is the FT8 map for ZS6WAB as a sample...

Besides the signals from South Africa reaching North America, they extended well into Northern Europe. It's not that unusual for stations in the south of Europe to hear South African signals on the 40 MHz band but this time, there were reports from stations in Scotland.

It was interesting to see that OH7PS in Finland (KP20AF) reporting reception of both ZS4TX and ZS6OB on FT8.

Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
ZS4TX 8m FT8 9927 km 11:21:29
ZS6OB 8m FT8 9576 km 11:17:29

LA9BN in Norway (JP40CN) reports reception of ZS6WAB on the DX Cluster.

I'm not sure if the ZS stations were reported this far north before on 8m? It feels like a new barrier has been breached when we start seeing reports from the JP/KP locator squares in the north of Europe.

Mexico... XE2OR in Mexico reports reception of the Irish 8m beacon EI1CAH/B and EI2IP. XE2OR is just across the border from Texas but it's further west than recent other reports from the USA.

Trans-Continental in North America... There was also an opening on the 40 MHz band across North America.

WM2XCC is one of the experimental US 8m stations located in California.

Analysis... With the solar flux up around 210, it's probably no great surprise that the F2 layer maximum usable frequency (MUF) is reaching as high as the 40 MHz band. Most of the signals reported are probably via the F2 layer in the ionosphere but for the South African stations then there was probably some TEP (Trans-Equatorial Propagation) as well. As for how much is TEP and how much is F2 for those North-South paths???

I have included below the spots from the DX Cluster and the PSK Reporter spots.

Link... For more info on the 8m band, see my 40 MHz page... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/p/40-mhz.html

Addendum... 1) Report from Vincent, F5OIH...

Additional info... DX-Cluster spots in order of callsign...

Saturday, January 21, 2023

2022 Report for the 40-MHz OZ7IGY beacon

In this post, we'll look at the OZ7IGY beacon in Denmark which transmits on 40.071 MHz and how many times it was spotted on the DX Cluster in 2022. I have used the DXSummit.fi DX Cluster as the source of data for this post as I can check the whole of 2022 and download the spots into a spreadsheet to examine.

There may be some spots that are missing and didn't appear on the DXSummit cluster but the aim of the post is to give a general overview of the stations reporting reception of this Danish 8m beacon during 2022 and not list every single report that appeared on multiple platforms.

If anyone would like to add any additional reports for 2022 then they can leave it in the comments.

One other caveat is that I only used one DX spot per person per day for the overall numbers.

Annual Comparison... In terms of the number of DX spots for 2022, there was a total of 176 spots from 30 people for reception of the OZ7IGY beacon on 8m. This is in marked contrast to just 13 spots from 9 people in 2021 when the beacon was off the air for most of the Sporadic-E season.

The OZ7IGY beacon was on air for most of 2022 and what also helped was the growing interest in the 40 MHz band as more stations start listening. The number of report for 2022 also surpassed the previous best which was 146 spots from 16 people in 2020.

These were the top spotters of the OZ7IGY beacon in 2022 (30 in total)...

As can been seen on the map at the top of the post, nearly all of the stations heard the OZ beacon via Sporadic-E propagation. It is perhaps a little suprising that there seems to have been no reports from Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Portugal or indeed a lot of Eastern Europe.

DX Cluster... If you do hear the beacon then make sure to report it on dx-clusters like DXSummit or DXMaps as some of the other clusters ignore spots for 40 MHz as they assume they're a mistake.

More information about the OZ7IGY beacon can be found here... http://www.oz7igy.dk/

For more information on the 40 MHz band, go to this page... https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/p/40-mhz.html

Friday, January 20, 2023

EI9KP to carry out 34 MHz Propagation Tests on Sat 21st & Sun 22nd Jan 2023

Phil, EI9KP has announced that he will be carrying out test transmissions on the 34 MHz band (9m) band on Saturday the 21st & Sunday the 22nd of January 2023. The beacon will operate from 11:00 until 17:15 UTC on both days. The purpose of these tests is to investigate F2 layer propagation.

EI9KP will be transmitting on 34.013 MHz. The sequence of the beacon will be 2 x FT8, 2 x CW ID & Locator, short carrier.  The 2 x CW part is to help SWL's who do not use digital modes and also help during QSB cycles.

The beacon will be GPS disciplined with an output power of 1-watt. The antenna is a horizontal dipole with capacity hat loading.

To listen for this beacon, try 34.013 MHz CW or 34.0122 MHz USB.

Predicted Coverage Areas...

The map above shows the predicted coverage area for a 1-watt FT8 transmitter operating at 30 MHz. It's not quite 34 MHz but it's close.

It clearly shows the first F2 hop going from Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece... to the far south of Italy and perhaps the far south of Spain and Portugal. The path to the Canary Islands looks particularly good.

To the west, the first F2 hop includes Newfoundland and the recent tests confirm this. Phil writes... "Larry VO1FOG reports receiving the beacon at 12:42UTC (his email time stamp) and all the way through till sunset, which for my QTH was 16:48UTC.  F2 layer propagation.  He reports that the signal was particularly strong about half an hour before sunset, to disappear all together at sunset. He reported a similar signal peak yesterday, just before sunset."

It's possible the second F2 payer hop might reach parts of the Caribbean and the SE of the USA.

Sunset for his Phil's location is at 16:54UTC on Sat 21/01 and 16:56UTC on Sun 22/01.

Reports to EI9KP on QRZ or you can leave a comment here.

Note that it may be possible for stations in western Europe to hear the signal via backscatter. Leave your radio on 34.0122 MHz USB and see if you can get a decode of the FT8 signal.