Saturday, May 20, 2023

Belgium to get 40 MHz allocation

It looks as if radio amateurs in Belgium are about to get a small allocation on the 40 MHz (8m) band.

Update 21st May: This information was released by the UBA on Sunday 21st May 2023...

"After more than a year of "silent diplomacy", on 21 April UBA submitted a proposal to BIPT to gain access to a small band segment around 40 MHz in Belgium.:

The UBA proposes to grant the radio amateur service access to the frequency range 40.660 – 40.690 MHz under the following conditions:

On a secondary basis
For holders of a class A operating certificate (HAREC licence)
A power limit of 5 W ERP
A bandwidth limit of 3 kHz
On individual basis, after prior approval from BIPT
It is mandatory to keep a logbook in which all transmissions are noted

These last 2 measures allow BIPT to act quickly and adequately in the event of interference reports from other services.

At the annual UBA meeting, the chairman of the BIPT Council indicated that BIPT is in favor of our proposal. We therefore expect BIPT to hold a consultation on this shortly.

The period of this consultation is at least 1 month. Only at the end of it BIPT can,  provided that the consultation proceeds favorably for us, publish a decision granting us access this band segment.
So it will probably take a few months before we are actually allowed to transmit on the 8 meter band.
Until then, any amateur radio activity from Belgium around 40 MHz is illegal!

Analysis... This is an important development as Belgium now joins Ireland (EI), Slovenia (S5) and South Africa (ZS) with official amateur radio allocations on the 40 MHz band. 

A lot of licencing authorities will just look at their spectrum allocations and flatly refuse any amateur radio operation at 40 MHz because there is no allocation for amateur radio there. However if other countries grant limited access then it sets a precedent. It sets a case for radio amateurs in other countries to approach their relevant licencing body to grant some access.

As for the proposed allocation in Belgium, the 30 KHz wide band is inside the ISM band of 40.660 to 40.700 MHz. It's highly likely that the dominant mode will be FT8 on 40.680 MHz. Even with just 5-watts, the 8m signals from Belgium are likely to be heard all over the world next Winter as we're close to the maximum of the current solar cycle.

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

Friday, May 19, 2023

Results of the Low Band VHF Propagation Tests - Sat 13th & Sun 14th May 2023

Over the last few months, Phil EI9KP in the west of Ireland has been carrying out some low-band VHF propagation tests. On the 13th & 14th of May 2023, he had a beacon action at 32 MHz, 34 MHz and 36 MHz.

This is his report...

Local reports: EI3GYB Michael in IO53OT (30kms) reports receiving the beacon on all three frequencies, signal strength from 5/1 to 5/3 for the CW component.  He was using an ICOM IC-7200 and a horizontal V antenna.

EI3IX Joe in IO53IU (40kms) reports receiving the beacon on all three frequencies.  He was using an Icom IC-7300 and an Antron-99 antenna. 

Both would be "over the hills" from my QTH, via diffracted ground wave.

Sporadic-E reports from Europe: SWL Hugh HC02 in IM67BB (1900kms), south Portugal, on all three frequencies, with FT8 SNR from -2dB to -20dB.  A total of 95 spots over a period of 3 hours and 22 minutes. He was using an AOR AR 8000 and a 2.4m sided square loop coupled into a tunable FET preamp.

PA3GHQ Kees in JO21LT (965kms), the Netherlands, on 32Mhz with FT8 SNR from -14dB to -19dB.  He was using an Elad FDM DUO SDR and a home made dipole.  A total of 8 spots over a period of 57 minutes.  Likely via Sporadic-E.

Both are for 13/05/2023.  No EU reports were received for 14/05/2023.

Friday, May 12, 2023

EI9KP to carry out Low-Band VHF Propagation Tests on Sat 13th & Sun 14th May 2023

Back in January, February and Arpil of 2023, Phil EI9KP carried out some propagation tests on the 34 MHz band. These tests are possible because the radio amateurs in Ireland are allowed to use a large part of the low band VHF spectrum.

Jan 2023 results HERE

Feb 2023 results HERE

Apr 2023 results HERE

On Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th May 2023, EI9KP will be carrying out more propagation tests but this time on three frequencies on 32 MHz, 34 MHz & 36 MHz

His supervised 1-watt beacon will operate from 08:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC on both days. The purpose of these tests is to investigate F2 layer propagation at this point in the solar cycle. There is a possibility of some Sporadic-E propagation as well.

EI9KP writes... "Six weeks on from the last test, I will be repeating my experiment over the weekend of 13/14th May 2023, from 0800UTC till 2200UTC om both days.

Propagation may be diverse and include diffracted groundwave, tropospheric scatter, ionospheric scatter, sporadic-E and F2 layer.  The Solar Flux forecast is 160 and Kp index 2.

For this test there are three time slots:

TS    Frequency  USB dial (kHz)
[00]  32013         32012.200
[01]  34013         34012.200
[02]  36013         36012.200

Each 1-minute sequence is 2*FT8, 2*CW and a short carrier.  The beacon power is 1W.  The antenna is a vertical dipole consisting of a 33MHz feeder dipole and a 36MHz coupled dipole."

Coverage Area: Considering that the tests will be done in mid-May, the main propagation mode will likely be Sporadic-E. This should allow the signals to be heard at the 1000-2000km range in Europe. e.g. Germany, Spain, N Italy, S France & the Nordic countries.

F2 propagation may be more difficult although a key target would be the SE of the USA. The lower 32 MHz frequency is likely to be more successful than say 36 MHz for F2 layer propagation.

Antenna: The antenna that Phil is using is shown on the left.

The element on the right is a half-wave dipole for 33 MHz with an adjustable capacity hat.

The element on the left is a dipole is parasitic dipole for 36 MHz which is coupled by its proximity to the main 33 MHz dipole. The purpose of this element is to extend the VSWR bandwidth of the antenna so that it can cover from 32 MHz to 36 MHz.

The antenna is mounted on a fibreglass mast.

The coax feed is probably a little bit too close and may distort the radiation pattern somewhat but Phil reports that the VSWR is acceptable at 1.6 and below.

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