Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Results of the 34 MHz Propagation Tests - Sat 25th & Sun 26th Feb 2023

On Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th of February 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 vertical dipole with capacitive loading.

This was the second weekend of tests on the 34 MHz band and the results of the January 2023 tests can be seen HERE

EI9KP reports... "I have collated the below information from my 34MHz beacon test on 25/26 February 2023.  The beacon 1W transmitter and the dipole in vertical polarisation worked without technical problems.

On Saturday, I got a few reception reports from the USA.  On Sunday, propagation conditions were generally poor with maximum usable frequency (MUF) reaching only 26 MHz by late afternoon, and I received no reception reports. There was an absence of tropo over Ireland and the UK and no Sporadic-E was reported.

Also, there were no reception reports from the east, conditions were not right. It was positive that HAMs and SWLs were listening out, I have a few new names in the log."

Report: As compiled by Phil with a few additions from myself ...

Saturday 25th February 2023: SF-index: 164  A-index: 6  Kp-index: 2

Absence of tropo conditions over EI/GB/Europe.
Beacon on at 0712, beacon off at 1843.
13:47 UTC. Reception report from SWL W1-7897 Bill in Douglas, MA, USA. He was using a 5 element beam for the 50 MHz band and a Yaesu FT-847 transceiver.
17:30 UTC. SWL David in Indian River City, FL, USA. He was using an Airspy R2 with a non-resonant OmniX airband antenna on the side of Rohn tower 14 metres above ground level.
17:31 UTC. K5YT Ed in Texas, USA, reported that he received the FT8 at -17dB SNR but could not hear the CW part.  He was using a 2 el. tribander Hygain TH2-MK3 and an Icom IC-7300.

Edward Johnson, K5YT writes... "I copied EI9KP on 02/25/2023 for 4 decodes using a Hygain TH2-MK3 @ 100’ and a IC7300 de K5YT EM22"

The following were listening but nothing received:

DJ0MEW Bert in Germany - JN68IE. He was using an ICOM IC-7300 and an OCF dipole 40m long.

EI8DJ Don south of Cork city on the south coast of Ireland - IO51UT.

EI7GL - Just to add I live a few kms from EI8DJ and I also heard nothing via tropo or F2 backscatter. EI9KP is about 250kms from my location.

Franz van Velzen, OE3FVU in Austria writes... "I am monitoring here (since 7.30 UTC) with 3 receivers and antennas: IC7300 with tuned SteppIr; IC-R8600 with 3 ele 6m beam and FT-847 with Gap Titan plus Tuner. Not ideal, but perhaps I copy on one of them. All report to PSK reporter: with OE3FVU/3, OE3FVU/RX and OE3FVU respectively. At this moment (08:35 UTC) no signal has been received yet."

Kees Smit in the Netherlands writes... "I am also monitoring with 3 radio’s. Elad FDM DUO SDR with HM dipole for 40 Mhz. 8 mtr. in the attic. Yaesu FT991A with Hyendfed short version 15,6 mtr. for 10/20/40 & 80 mtr. Directional west. Kenwood TS690SAT with Wellbrook ALA1530 LNP in the garden below sea level. 2 fake decoded and nothing else at the moment but still waiting on a signal."

Sunday 26th February 2023: SF-index: 152  A-index: 10  Kp-index: 3

Absence of tropo conditions over EI/GB/Europe.
Beacon on at 0730, beacon off at 1814. No reception reports.
All morning a 'wedge' in the MUF over Ireland, England to France.  Low MUF at 18-21MHz. 

The following were listening but nothing received: 

DB6LL Ham in JO43VP (near Hamburg), he was using a Yaesu FTDX101MP and a non-resonant 5/8 lambda vertical antenna for 10 metres. Decoding was on JTDX.

K5YT Ed in TX, USA.

Analysis: In contrast to the January tests, conditions for the February 2023 tests were very much subdued. The was a large aurora later on the evening of the 26th of February which shows how disturbed conditions were. 

Most of the stations listening in Europe were well inside the F2-layer skip zone and it's possible that a repeat of the test during the summer Sporadic-E season would yield much better results. 

The path to the stations in the USA was likely due to two or more hops off the F2 layer in the ionosphere.

Link: For more information tests on the 34 MHz (9m) band, check out my 40 MHz page.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

5300km TEP opening at 432 MHz reported from Curacao to Argentina - 24th Feb 2023

432 MHz TEP: In a previous post, I reported on how a signal on the 432 MHz band from Brett, PJ2BR on the island of Curacao was received by Javi, LU5FF in Argentina. The propagation mode was Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP) and the distance was 4853kms.

After it, there was some question about if it was real? Was it a false decode of the Q65 signal? Was there an issue with the software when changing bands from 144 MHz to 432 MHz? Reports of TEP signals on the 432 MHz band are extremely rare and people are right to be cautious.

Now we have a second example of a 432 MHz opening on the 24th of February 2023. This time, we have decodes of signals on both ends as well as visual evidence of a signal in the waterfall display as well as reception of a signal that could be heard.

24th February 2023: Both Brett, PJ2BR and Diego, LW2DAF report that there was a TEP opening on the 432 MHz band on the 24th of Feb 2023. The time was around 00:40 UTC which was about 8-9pm local time on the 23rd of Feb for the parties involved which is around the peak time for evening TEP openings.

On this occasion, there were decodes at both ends and the distance was around 5310kms.

I have some images below so that we have a record of this opening.

The image above is a screenshot from the PSK Reporter website showing the 432 MHz path reported on the site.

This image above is from a screenshot from PJ2BR and shows the left hand side of the WSJT-X software showing reception of LW2DAF with a signal of -18dB. You can see the mode used was Q65-30B. Note that I edited the image to make it smaller vertically to remove the blank area.

This image above is the right hand side of the screenshot. It shows the reception of LW2DAF at -18dB and then PJ2BR sending the report.

Now from Argentina. This image above shows a very weak signal in the waterfall at around 700 Hz.

This image above shows LW2DAF decoding the signal from PJ2BR with a peak of -12dB. This is significant because it was now at a level where the signal might be heard.

Diego, LW2DAF said that he saw and heard the signal on 432 MHz.

This video clip above from LW2DAF on Twitter shows the reception of the signal.

This screenshot from the video shows the Kenwood radio used by LW2DAF on 432.174 MHz.

Equipment: For this TEP test, PJ2BR was using a Kenwood TS2000 with 100-watts from a Mirage amplifier.

The antenna was shown above was a M2 22-element horizontal Yagi.

LW2DAF was using 50-watts into a horizontally polarised 18-element LFA Yagi about 21m above ground level.

Analysis: As Deigo LW2DAF noted, a visual and audible TEP signal on the 432 MHz band has now been verified. It would seem that it is now only a matter of time before someone from Argentina or Brazil completes a 432 MHz contact with someone in the Caribbean using Trans-Equatorial Propagation.

From my understanding of TEP, it's Class II as shown above as an effective duct appears on the Geomagnetic Equator.

At 432 MHz, location, distance and being at right angles to the Geomagnetic Equator are even more important than they are at 432 MHz. As Diego notes, more stations on 432 MHz are needed to try this path at 70cms. It just needs two stations to be in an optimum location and for the conditions to be right.

Link: For other examples of long distance openings on the 70cms band, see my 432 MHz page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

EI9KP to carry out 34 MHz Propagation Tests on Sat 25th & Sun 26th Feb 2023

On the 21st & 22nd of January 2023, Phil EI9KP carried out some propagation tests on the 34 MHz band - Results HERE

Now one month later, EI9KP will be carrying out test transmissions on the 34 MHz band (9m) band on Saturday the 25th & Sunday the 26th of February 2023. The beacon will operate from sunrise (07:34 UTC) to sunset (18:04 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 last time was a horizontal dipole with capacity hat loading. This time, he will be using vertical polarisation with the antenna on an insulated mast and should have a clean omni-directional pattern. 

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 at 12:00 UTC 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.

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

The image above shows the likely coverage area at 17:00 UTC. It seems good in the SE of the USA and during the January tests, the signal was heard in Florida and Texas. 

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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

40 MHz reception report from IU1DZZ in Italy - 10th to 13th February 2023

Gianfranco, IU1DZZ in the NW of Italy (JN45HK) sends on a short report about the FT8 signals that he heard on 40.680 MHz from the 10th to the 13th of February 2023.

230211_102730    40.680 Rx FT8    -17  0.3 1520 CQ G9PUV JO00
230212_104845    40.680 Rx FT8    -19  0.7 1642 CQ EI2IP IO52
230212_111530    40.680 Rx FT8    -19  0.5  856 CQ ON5QRP JN29 
230212_113315    40.680 Rx FT8    -20  0.5  960 CQ VK ZS6OB KG44
230212_114245    40.680 Rx FT8    -22  0.6 1481 CQ ZS6WAB KG46 
230212_114315    40.680 Rx FT8    -16  0.6 1641 9A5CY ZS6OB RRR
230213_140915    40.680 Rx FT8    -14  0.6  796 CQ WM2XEJ EM83

IU1DZZ was using a Flex 1500 with a multiband dipole in the attic at 15m above ground level.

Grazie Gianfranco de John, EI7GL

Monday, February 20, 2023

40 MHz band report - 19th Feb 2023

Sunday 19th February 2023:
Due to interference on 10m from the ARRL CW contest, I switched over to the 40 MHz from about noon onwards and had left the radio monitoring 40.680 MHz for the rest of the day. As shown above, I heard three new stations for me... WM2XAN in the USA, VA2CY in Canada and 4X1BG in Israel.

These are my FT8 reception reports for the day in order of distance.

 Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
WM2XAN 8m FT8 5472 km 18:01:11 -18
VA2CY 8m FT8 4426 km 17:50:26 -10
4X1BG 8m FT8 4076 km 15:14:29 -13
G9PUV 8m FT8 594 km 17:19:11 -19
EI4GNB 8m FT8 214 km 17:29:42 -18
EI4GEB 8m FT8 79 km 20:56:48 2
EI2IP 8m FT8 62 km 18:02:12 -10
EI9FVB 8m FT8 14 km 15:50:42 20

This was just a very small part of the activity on the 40 MHz band for the day with many FT8 reports exchanged across the North Atlantic and from South Africa to Europe. 

What really stood out for me was just how many stations in Europe are now listening on the 40 MHz band. The image above shows the stations in Europe reporting reception of ZS6OB on FT8.

It's worth remembering that there is no DXCC, no awards, no grid square hunting, no DX-peditions on the 40 MHz band, this is just people curious about propagation conditions on this low-VHF band.

The image above shows stations in Europe reporting reception of VA2CY in Canada on 40.680 MHz. Notice the relatively large number of stations in the UK and Ireland.

I have included a list of stations that heard VA2CY below if you want to have a look. For more information on the 8m band, have a look at my 40 MHz page.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Trans-Atlantic opening on the 40 MHz band - 18th Feb 2023

Saturday 18th February 2023: Due to some interference from a CW contest on the 10m band, I stopped monitoring WSPR signals there at 14:00 UTC and had a listen on the 40 MHz band instead.

I set the radio on 40.680 MHz and using FT8, I decoded the following signals...

Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
WM2XEJ 8m FT8 6163 km 16:08:57 -17
EI5HHB 8m FT8 229 km 14:02:57 -10
EI4GNB 8m FT8 214 km 15:32:57 -17
EI2IP 8m FT8 62 km 21:04:29 -6

WM2XEJ is located near Atlanta, Georgia and is one of the seven US stations with experimental calls for the 40 MHz band. It was my first time hearing the USA on the 40 MHz band but that is down more to my lack of monitoring, I'm sure I would probably have heard it in previous recent openings.

The path to the US station was probably via 2 x F2 layer hops. i.e. 2 x 3000kms

The other three stations were in Ireland. EI5HHB and EI4GNB are located near Dublin and about 220kms from my location. I suspect I was hearing them via F2 layer backscatter.

EI2IP is located 62kms away and I was hearing him direct.

These are the signal reports for each station (minus the many decodes of EI2IP)...

140245 -10 -0.2  703 ~  CQ EI5HHB IO63
140445 -15 -0.2  702 ~  CQ EI5HHB IO63
141815 -13 -0.2  706 ~  CQ EI5HHB IO63

153200 -17 -0.1 1806 ~  CQ EI4GNB IO63
155000 -16 -0.1 1528 ~  WM2XEJ EI4GNB -17
155030 -11 -0.1 1518 ~  WM2XEJ EI4GNB -17

160845 -17 -0.1  827 ~  CQ WM2XEJ EM83
161115 -18 -0.1  828 ~  9A5CY WM2XEJ EM83
161145 -16 -0.1  828 ~  CQ WM2XEJ EM83

EI5HHB was -10dB to -15dB and EI4GNB was -11 to -17dB. To the ear, these signals would sound very weak but audible, probably just strong enough for a marginal contact on CW.

WM2XEJ was -16dB to -18dB which is just below what is audible by ear.

Antenna... The antenna I was using for this reception report on 40 MHz was a simple CB-type vertical half-wave for 28 MHz. The take away message is that you do not need a dedicated 40 MHz antenna to listen on the band.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Opening on the 40 MHz band from Belgium to Australia - 16th Feb 2023


Over the last few days, there have reception reports of 40 MHz signals from Ireland and England being heard in Australia. On the 16th of February 2023, VK4FNQ and VK4TVL in the NE of Australia have decoded the FT8 signals of ONA4PS in Belgium.

ONA4PS is the special experimental callsign used by Pierre, ON4PS for the 40 MHz band.

Pierre writes... "I would like to thank the several nice SWL reports I got this morning, Feb. 16th 2023. Andy Musin first from West Kazakhstan, LO51RK (3201 km), next John Goldfinch, VK4FNQ from QG39EX (15229 km) and then Lloyd Baker, VK4TVL from QH30IP (15188 km), the first time that my 40 MHz signal is being heard in Australia. I really appreciate it. Pierre ONA4PS (ON4PS)"

The screenshot above from John, VK4FNQ shows reception of ONA4PS on FT8 on 40.680 MHz with a signal of -19dB. For this reception report, VK4FNQ was using an 80m dipole.

This screenshot is from Lloyd, VK4TVL showing FT8 decodes of both Paul, G9PUV in the SE of England and ONA4PS in Belgium. The strongest signal from ONA4PS seems to have been around -10dB. VK4TVL was using an off-centre fed dipole for the 80m band up about 6m.

ONA4PS (ON4PS) was using just 5-watts into a dipole as per the restrictions on his experimental licence.

Analysis... This was another fine example of the excellent conditions on the 40 MHz band at the moment as the solar flux is up around 200. 

If you examine the map at the top of the post, you'll notice that ONA4PS has a slightly more southerly route than the stations in the UK or Ireland. This is important as the further to the south-east in Europe you move, the more southerly the path becomes and the higher chance of successful paths to Australia or New Zealand.

Surely it's only a matter of time before we see some 40 MHz reception reports of European signals from the VK2/VK3 area of Australia i.e. down around Sydney & Melbourne.

Link... I keep a record of the long distance 8m openings on my 40 MHz page.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

4X1BG from Israel appears on the 40 MHz band - 15th Feb 2023

15th February 2023: I think most people were surprised when Nimrod, 4X1BG in Israel popped up on the 40 MHz (8m) band. Israel is about 4000kms from the UK and Ireland and is the ideal distance for F2 layer propagation. 4X1BG was using 100-watts into a Stepp-IR antenna.

The map above shows the paths on FT8 from 4X1BG and as you can see, two stations in the USA managed to decode the FT8 signals as well on 40.680 MHz. The distance to the US stations was just over 10,000kms.

The full list of FT8 decodes is shown at the end of this post and they show that 4X1BG decoded a lot of FT8 signals as well.

Robbie, EI2IP in the SW of Ireland completed a SSB contact on 40.670 MHz...

Full list of FT8 decodes in order of distance...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

PSK Reporter website passes 34 Billion reception reports - 12th Feb 2023

I noticed last weekend that the PSK Reporter website had just passed 34-Billion reception reports! This is now one of the most important and popular amateur radio websites in existence as a huge number of stations now automatically upload their FT8, FT4, etc reception reports on the HF and VHF bands.

This huge volume of traffic does however cause some issues and the site has been down or not functioning quite a bit recently.

Back in November of 2018, I had a post up about how the site had just passed 5-Billion reception reports then. 

40 MHz signal from G9PUV in England is heard in Australia - 13th Feb 2023

13th February 2023: Paul, G7PUV is one of the few stations in the UK with a permit to carry out experiments on the 40 MHz band. On the 13th of February, his test FT8 transmissions with the callsign G9PUV on 40.680 MHz were picked up by Lloyd, VK4TVL in the NE of Australia. The distance was an impressive 15,455 kms.

This comes just one day after signals from EI4GNB and EI2IP were also decoded by VK4TVL on the 12th of February 2023.

Analysis... With the Solar Flux up around the 200 mark, it looks as if there are now some really good long range F2 openings on the 40 MHz band between Europe and Australia. It' raises the question of whether the Europe to Australia path on the 50 MHz band would open if the Solar Flux was a little  higher?

On the 14th of February, the 40 MHz path from Europe to Australia was open again as can be seen from the decodes shown below. It would seem likely that the next likely step is for someone in the SE of Australia (VK2 & VK3) to try and decode these 40 MHz signals from Europe.

Link: For more info on the 8m band, visit my 40 MHz page.

Decodes by VL4TVL on the 40 MHz band on the 14th of February 2023

Monday, February 13, 2023

14,588km opening on the 40 MHz band from Quebec to New Zealand - 12th Feb 2023

Sunday 12th February 2023: In recent posts, I've reported on how Bob, ZL1RS in New Zealand had heard 3 of the 7 special experimental stations in the USA on the 40 MHz (8m) band as well as PJ4MM on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Reports linked from the 40 MHz page.

On the 12th of February, ZL1RS managed to decode the WSPR and FT8 signals from Bernard, VA2CY in Quebec, Canada on 40.680 MHz, a distance of 14,588 kms. Bernard was granted the experimental license CYA373 by the Canadian authorities to carry out tests on the 40 MHz band.

These are the WSPR reports...

 Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2023-02-12 21:04 VA2CY FN46lw ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681457 100 13 -4 14588
2023-02-12 20:52 VA2CY FN46lw ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681454 100 17 -4 14588
2023-02-12 20:44 VA2CY FN46lw ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681454 100 16 -3 14588
2023-02-12 20:28 VA2CY FN46lw ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681469 100 -3 -1 14588

Note the signal reports that range from -3dB to a whopping +17dB, well into the region where a comfortable SSB contact would have been possible.

When I was preparing this post, I noticed that the path was also open on the 13th of February.

2023-02-13 20:24 VA2CY FN46lw ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681467 100 -16 -4 14588

Bob also reports that he also heard several US signals as well as VA2CY on FT8 as well.

Bob, ZL1RS writes... "Some thumping signals received on 8m from VA2CY in Quebec this morning ... +17 in WSPR and +15 in FT8 !

Here are today's decodes (12th Feb) from my WSJT-X  ALL_WSPR . txt and ALL . txt files ...

15,700km opening on the 40 MHz band between Ireland and Australia - 12th Feb 2023

12th February 2023: With the solar flux just above the 200 mark, some interesting paths are beginning to appear on the 40 MHz (8m) band. On the 12th of February 2023, Lloyd, VK4TVL in the north-east of Australia received the FT8 signals on 40.680 MHz from Tim, EI4GNB and Robbie, EI2IP in Ireland.

 Txmtr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) SNR
EI2IP 8m FT8 15766 km 11:11:44 -16
EI4GNB 8m FT8 15587 km 11:00:14 -17

The signal reports of -16dB and -17dB suggest that the signals were very weak indeed and just below what is really audible to your ear. It is however stronger than what would be required for a successful FT8 contact.

Lloyd reports using an off-centre fed dipole for the 80m band up about 6-metres. No doubt with a dedicated antenna for the band, the signals would have been even stronger.

Analysis... This opening happened just after sunset in NE Australia and that no doubt was a factor in the opening. The primary mode of propagation was likely F2 with possibly some help from TEP to the north of Australia.

The distances of 15,587 kms and 15,766 kms are the longest paths that have been reported on the 40 MHz band so far for amateur radio or experimental stations. Could it go further?

The next obvious step is for someone down around Sydney & Melbourne to receive the 40 MHz DX signals. Even though it's about an additional 1000kms or so, the path is a little more southerly so the chances of success are high.

New Zealand to Europe on 40 MHz??? The problem here is that the short path and long path start getting close to the polar regions. This is especially true for stations in the UK or Ireland.

The path above shows the path from the centre of England to the north tip of New Zealand. i.e. location of ZL1RS. The path from Ireland is even worse. From the UK, the SE of England looks like the best spot i.e. G9PUV.

Perhaps a 40 MHz path from New Zealand to the OZ7IGY beacon in Denmark or the stations in Slovenia or Croatia might be more likely? The short path and long path routes certainly don't get as close to the poles.

Link: For more information on the 8m band, visit my 40 MHz page.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Signals heard on the 40 MHz band - Sun 12th Feb 2023

Sunday 12th February 2023: Due to interference from some silly RTTY contest, I had to abandon listening on the 28.1246 MHz, the frequency for WSPR signals on the 10m band. Instead, I turned my attention to the 40 MHz band and had a listen there for a change.

The signals heard on FT8 over a 2-hour period are shown above including ZS6WAB and ZS6OB from South Africa. If this was on the HF bands, I'd be thinking 'whatever' but there is something special about hearing a signal from South Africa on a VHF band. And when I say 'hear', I really mean hear. Both the South African FT8 signals were audible to my ear.

All of the signals were on FT8 although I was able to hear Robbie, EI2IP and Willem, ZS6WAB have a contact on SSB as well. ZS6WAB was quite weak with me, maybe peaking 4/1 but still very audible. Robbie by contrast is 62kms away and is audible all of the time with a 5/2 signal report.

I was a bit surprised to hear the EI4GNB. EI9KP and G9PUV was well. At 200-600kms, they're in that kind of skip zone for signals. As for the mode of propagation, I think it was F2 layer backscatter. I see a lot of debate about aircraft scatter but most of these 'close in' radio signals on the 40 MHz band during the daytime can be easily explained by F2 layer back-scatter.

To close off the reception report, I had a listen for the EI1KNH 8m beacon as well and it was easy to hear, again probably via backscatter. There was no sign of EI1CAH in the west of Ireland or of GB3MCB in Cornwall.

In conclusion: An interesting day but the takeaway message here is that I was just using a simple CB type vertical half-wave antenna for reception. As it is tuned for 28 MHz, it's performance at 40 MHz probably isn't great.

I think anyone in Europe would be able to hear these 40 MHz signals with any sort of reasonable antenna and a special dedicated 40 MHz antenna is not required.

WM2XCS/B 40 MHz beacon heard 4000kms away on the west coast of the USA - 7th to 11 Feb 2023

George, N2CG in New Jersey has one of the seven special experimental permits for the 40 MHz band -  call WM2XCS. He has a 30-watt beacon on 40.685 MHz which beams towards Europe. The following report is about recent reception of his beacon on the 8m band.

George writes... "This week I received two WM2XCS/B 40.685 MHz CW Beacon reception reports from over 2k miles away from CA and WA as follows:

Report 1 from K6YK: I've been checking 8 meters now & then to see if I hear anything.  Yesterday and the day before I heard you! Feb. 7 and 8  your beacon was in for hours! And fairly strong at times on 40.685.
2-7-23 from 1915 to at least 2200 UTC, I checked several times and there it was! 
2-8-23 I checked around 1700 UTC and it was there already, and I didn't document how long it was in.
I was listening on an IC7600, IC756proII, FT-100D, 3 element tri-band beam.  I don't have any proper antenna for 8 meters.
I'm unable to make the auto tuners in these radios to tune on 40 MHz because they won't transmit there. So it's possible the signal might have been much stronger than what I was getting.
John Lee K6YK

Report 2 from N7MWV: I was listening to the 8m band today (I decoded WM2XEJ in EM83 on FT8 at 18:24 UTC)
and found your beacon later today; Friday 2/10. I’m no longer hearing the beacon, but it was up to
a S3 to S4 at 20:49 UTC. My QTH is Rochester WA and I’m in grid square CN86lt. QRZ says we’re
2,432 miles away. My antenna is a 7 element 6m M2 at about 61ft AGL. My receiver is my ICOM 756 Pro III transceiver with the 1st RX preamp on.
John Price N7MWV"

George continues..."Like the two reception reports I received about two weeks ago from AZ and AB that I reported to you, this weeks CA and WA stations reception reports both over 2K miles away were receiving the 30 Watt beacon on the backside of the beacon's antenna (which I keep beaming towards Europe).  I believe the current SFI of over 200 and SSN at 190 is having a positive effect in the beacon being heard in the western part of US and Canada."

Addendum: In addition to the two reports above, I also found an additional report from K7RWT on the DX Cluster from the 11th of February 2023. 

K7RWT 40684 WM2XCS/B 17:53 11 Feb 23 FN30-CN85 539 United States

K7RWT is just to the south of N7MWV and the distance is again around the 4000km mark.

In conclusion: With the solar flux now up around the 200 mark, we are now seeing east-west trans-continental openings at 40 MHz across North America. The distance of about 4000kms is perfect for one F2 layer hop. 

The fact that the 8m opening is east-west as opposed to north-south just goes to show how good conditions are at the moment. Any serious 6m operators on the west coast of the USA should be looking for this 8m beacon in New Jersey as it may suggest that a trans-continental opening at 50 MHz is possible.

Link: For more information on the 8m band, look at my 40 MHz page.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

13,318km opening on the 40 MHz band from the Caribbean to New Zealand - 10th Feb 2023

10th Feb 2023: This was another good day on the 40 MHz (8m) band as shown from the map above showing the FT8 paths from Martin, PJ4MM on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean.

The 8m signal from PJ4MM went well into Europe and reached as far as Poland and Greece. The one path that caught my attention was the opening across the Pacific to New Zealand. I believe this is the first time a 40 MHz signal from the Caribbean has been heard in New Zealand.

These are the FT8 reports for PJ4MM in order of distance.

 Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
PJ4MM ZL1RS 8m FT8 13318 km 22:51:41
PJ4MM SV8CS 8m FT8 9094 km 15:43:44
PJ4MM SR4DON 8m FT8 8830 km 14:26:30
PJ4MM SP9TTG 8m FT8 8755 km 14:35:11
PJ4MM 9H1TX 8m FT8 8563 km 15:39:44
PJ4MM DG0OPK 8m FT8 8173 km 14:51:12
PJ4MM DK8NE 8m FT8 8136 km 14:50:14
PJ4MM G9PUV 8m FT8 7438 km 14:52:44
PJ4MM EI4GNB 8m FT8 7083 km 14:28:14
WM2XCC PJ4MM 8m FT8 5485 km 19:00:56
PJ4MM CE3SX 8m FT8 5080 km 20:24:43
PJ4MM WB0DBQ 8m FT8 4453 km 18:04:41
PJ4MM VO1SIX 8m FT8 4072 km 15:05:41
PJ4MM VE2BI 8m FT8 4025 km 15:59:11
PJ4MM XE2OR 8m FT8 3826 km 18:04:44
PJ4MM WW1L 8m FT8 3595 km 15:08:44
PJ4MM K5YT 8m FT8 3557 km 18:01:44
PJ4MM K2ZD 8m FT8 3348 km 14:51:11
PJ4MM N4WLO/3 8m FT8 2901 km 20:52:11
PJ4MM PJ4GR 8m FT8 10 km 22:43:41

Bob, ZL1RS mentions that his 8m Yagi is permanently fixed at about 70 degrees.  With just 3 elements, the -3dB beam width is about 70 degrees (+/-35 deg).  So it covers 040 to 110 degrees quite well. PJ4MM is at 96 degrees.

Just for reference, the solar flux on the 10th of February was back over 200.

Bob confirms that there many decodes of PJ4MM on the day and he has kindly sent on a list of decodes to me. I have them listed below for reference.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Even more Trans-Pacific openings on the 40 MHz band - 6th to 9th Feb 2023

In previous posts, I reported on some impressive 40 MHz openings across the Pacific Ocean. On the 28th of December 2022, there was a 12,000km+ opening on the 40 MHz band from California to Australia. On the 25th of January 2023, there was a 10,470km opening on the 40 MHz band from California to New Zealand.

The common element in both posts was that the station in California was WM2XCC, the experimental 40 MHz station which is operated by Chris, N3IZN. Now we have reports of two other experimental stations being heard across the Pacific.

WM2XEJ: The first report is of Bob, ZL1RS in New Zealand receiving the WSPR signal from WM2XEJ in Georgia in the USA. This is interesting not only because of the 13,129km distance but WM2XEJ is a lot further east than the previous reception reports of WM2XCC in California.

These are the WSPR reports...

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2023-02-08 23:34 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.68156 100 -18 0 13129
2023-02-08 23:40 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681561 100 -1 0 13129
2023-02-08 23:46 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681558 100 1 -1 13129
2023-02-08 23:54 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.68156 100 -1 0 13129
2023-02-09 00:08 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681558 100 -9 0 13129
2023-02-09 00:14 WM2XEJ EM83ji ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681558 100 -17 0 13129

As you can see, the signal comes out of the noise and peaks at +1dB which is strong enough for say a good CW contact. After that, it fades away again. The opening possibly coincided with a sunset in Georgia. or a sunrise in New Zealand?

The other stations shown on the map above are from the last week and show plenty of F2 propagation on the 40 MHz (8m) band.

WM2XCW: The WM2XCW experimental 40 MHz station is located in the far north of Washington state and has now been received in New Zealand. This is significant because WM2XCW is the most northerly of the US experimental stations on the 40 MHz band.

ZL1RS... Again, most of the reports are from Bob, ZL1RS on the 6th and 8th of February 2023...

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km
2023-02-06 21:48 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681533 10 3 0 11246
2023-02-06 21:58 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681533 10 -4 0 11246
2023-02-06 22:48 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681532 10 -7 0 11246
2023-02-06 22:38 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681534 10 -7 0 11246
2023-02-08 22:48 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681535 10 -10 0 11246
2023-02-08 22:58 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681535 10 -12 0 11246
2023-02-08 22:38 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681534 10 -12 0 11246
2023-02-08 22:18 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RS RF64vs 40.681532 10 -12 -1 11246

Note that while WM2XEJ in Georgia is listed as 100-watts, WM2XCW in Washington state is using a much lower 10-watts. The strong signal peaked at +3dB suggesting a weak SSB contact may have been possible.

ZL1RQ... There are several reports from Alan, ZL1RQ for WM2XCW but they are listed as being on 28 MHz. As WM2XCW only transmits on 40 MHz, it seems likely that ZL1RQ is listening on 40 MHz but his older version of WSJT-X software isn't configured for 40 MHz reports.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km version
2023-02-07 21:18 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RQ RF64 28.12616 10 -26 0 11318 2.5.2
2023-02-07 21:08 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RQ RF64 28.12616 10 -23 0 11318 2.5.2
2023-02-06 22:48 WM2XCW CN88lx ZL1RQ RF64 28.126157 10 -16 1 11318 2.5.2

There is also one report from ZLBEACON with the same frequency, short locater square and software version as ZL1RQ so I presume these were from Alan as well.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km version
2023-02-08 21:08 WM2XCW CN88lx ZLBEACON RF64 28.12616 10 -28 0 11318 2.5.2

WM2XCC: Unsurprisingly, most of the trans-Pacific 8m reception reports are for WM2XCC in California. Note that WM2XCC is using different power levels at different times.

VK4OTZ: There is one single report from VK4OTZ on the east coast of Australia on the 7th of February 2023.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km 
2023-02-07 23:38 WM2XCC DM13ji VK4OTZ QG62jo 40.681528 50 -24 1 11637 

ZL1RQ: There are several reports of WM2XCC from ZL1RQ but again, the frequency shown is 28 MHz rather than the correct 40 MHz one.

Local   (y-m-d) TX txGrid RX rxGrid MHz W SNR drift km version
2023-02-08 00:00 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126111 50 -25 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 23:56 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126111 50 -23 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 23:46 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126111 50 -11 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 23:42 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126112 50 -16 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 23:38 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126113 50 -12 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 22:56 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126113 2 -28 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 22:38 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126113 2 -21 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 22:18 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126113 2 -23 0 10550 2.5.2
2023-02-07 21:56 WM2XCC DM13ji ZL1RQ RF64 28.126113 2 -20 0 10550 2.5.2

ZL1RS: Bob has by far the most reception reports and these are shown below.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Request for more reception reports on the 40 MHz band - Feb 2023

The 8th of February 2023 was another good day on the 40 MHz band with lots of reports. Both Robbie, EI2IP in Ireland and Paul, G9PUV are active almost daily on the band and their reports are shown below.

Both EI2IP and G9PUV are looking for more reception reports on 40.680 MHz. Just try listening on that frequency with FT8 and see if you can decode anything. Just make sure you have the correct frequency set on your FT8 software.

With WSJT-X, go to File - Settings - Frequencies and change one of the unused microwave bands to 40.680 000 MHz.

An antenna tuned for 28 MHz or 40 MHz should still give reasonable reports although of course, it would be best to have a dedicated antenna for the band.

Reports for the 8th of Feb 2023...

EI2IP: The map above shows the stations that heard the FT8 signals from Robbie on 40.680 MHz. Robbie writes... "The band has been on fire these last few months, and the SWL reports are extending to Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador and well into East Coast of North America."

Robbie reports that Osmany, CO2OQ  in Havana, Cuba was using a 6M Moxon antenna and an ICOM-7300 and 50 Watts. Signal reports of +4dB and -12dB were exchanged on FT8.

G9PUV: The map above for Paul shows a similar pattern with the 8m signals reaching Cuba, Mexico and Ecuador to the west.

F14700: The FT8 signal from CO2OQ was also received by SWL Jean Trenscène, F14700 in the north of France. Jean was using a SDR Play RSP1A receiver with a D3000 discone antenna.

Analysis... The signal paths that are now being reported on the 40 MHz are reminiscent of what the 50 MHz band would be like if only the solar flux and sunspot numbers were higher.

The problem in the past was that the 28 MHz band was too far away from the 50 MHz band to warn of imminent openings. Now with the 40 MHz band, 6m operators know that the maximum usable frequency is just 10 MHz below and there is some potential of an opening.

It would be good to have more stations providing reception reports on FT8 and WSPR. 40.680 MHz in the middle of the ISM band seems to have become the default frequency in terms of activity.

Both EI2IP and G9PUV are looking for more reports from Asia, Africa, South America and the western half of the USA.

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

Heard lists... These are the stations that heard both G9PUV and EI2IP in order of distance...

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Good conditions on the 40 MHz band - Mon 6th Feb 2023

Several stations have reported good conditions on the 40 MHz band on the 6th of February 2023.

These are the FT8 paths for Paul, G9PUV / G7PUV in the SE of England.

Robbie, EI2IP in the SW of Ireland experienced similar conditions.

Martin, PJ4MM was heard by quite a number of stations across the Atlantic on the 40 MHz band. This makes a pleasant change from just a year or two ago when the number of stations listening on the band was a lot lower.

PJ4MM writes... "Today's reports 8m, everybody thanks for the reports! All ft8 except 9a5cw

Sunday, February 5, 2023

4853km TEP opening at 432 MHz reported from Curacao to Argentina - 5th Feb 2023

Brett, PJ2BR in Curacao in the Caribbean reports that on the 5th of February 2023 (01:18 UTC), his 432 MHz signal were heard by Javi, LU5FF in Argentina by Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP). The distance was 4853 kms!

This really is ground breaking news (*). It was only on the 4th of February that I put up a post about what was up to then the only 432 MHz reception report via TEP in South America and that was from 1978. I tagged PJ2BR on Twitter about the post and a few hours later, we have a second 70cms TEP report!

The Green exchange is for 144 MHz while the Yellow is for 432 MHz (*).

Proof of Concept (*)... For this TEP opening on 432 MHz, PJ2BR was using the Q65b weak signal mode. This is significant because it means that modern digital weak signal modes can be used for TEP openings at 70cms. It's not a case of there being too much doppler or spreading of the signal that only CW can be used. This would likely require a much stronger signal for a contact to be made.

For the record, here is a screen grab off the PSK Reporter website before it disappears.

Let's hope that this news will encourage more stations in the Caribbean and in South America to try to make a TEP contact on the 432 MHz.

(*) = Caveat... Someone raised the question if the reports on 432 MHz are genuine? They do after all follow some Q65 reports on 144 MHz and they wonder if it's the software generating these 70cms reports?

It's a bit like conducting a science experiment and we have one data point, not exactly the five-sigma required for a definitive conclusion. What we need are more stations in South America and the Caribbean to test the TEP path on 432 MHz. If there are no more reception reports then it raises some question mark over this new report. If there are more reports then it means this report was probably ok.

Addendum: 6th February 2023... There was another TEP 'reception report' on 432 MHz on the 6th of February 2023. This time it was from WP4KJJ in Puerto Rico to LU9FVS in Argentina.

I believe the stations involved have concerns about the software generating incorrect reports after the band has been changed.

I suspect what is required is the reception of a good old fashioned CW signal to eliminate any software issues.