Equipment Test on the ISS

September 27th, 2017

Tonight ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, aboard the International Space Station tested the amateur radio equipment in the Columbus Module.

Signal quality was better than expected, as it was a pass with quite low culmination at 48° elevation only. He could be heard well on 145.8 MHz FM as well.

Groundtrack of the ISS

The following pass at 20:44 UTC was more convenient and culminated at 62° elevation in the north. But Paolo could only be seen in the very first seconds, before he switched HamTV to blank transmission.

Windmill Scatter

August 30th, 2017

As the weather forecast promised heavy thunderstorms for today, I was looking out for scatter points on 13 cm. Pointing to eastern France, I found a heavily scattered signal of DB0UX in JN48FX in 204°.

But the sound was quite strange and rhythmic. When taking a look out of the window, I saw the dish pointing at two windmills in 1 km distance.

This kind of scatter is not very helpful, but a nice experience anyway.

Disappointing Morning / Amazing Evening

August 17th, 2017

The whole morning I monitored EA2TZ/B in IN93BF on 1296.854 MHz over a distance of 1072 km, peaking up to 30 dB. The vertical profiles of 0:00 UTC from Paris and Bordeux showed an inversion at 1000 m altitude. F6DKW from Paris was booming here, but nothing could be heard of beacons close to the path or in tests with F6CIS, IN94WL and F6AJW, IN93EK. The duct was just too high.

Tonight Paolo, IK7UXW, JN80XP, asked me in the KST chat, to give it another try. We had discussed the possibility of combined propagation with aircraft scatter and tropospheric ducting before.

The path is perfect, as there is one hop over the Alps and a plain track over the Adriatic Sea.

On Tuesday last week, while I was watching the other Paolo aboard the International Space Station via HAMTV on 13 cm, Paolo had initial QSOs in this propagation mode with Daniel, DL3IAE, in JN49DG on 23 and 13 cm. That was a great effort! So I was more than poised for a try.

Paolo has a 2 m dish and QRO, so he started calling me in CW. I heard “musical noise”, EMEers know, what I mean, with very strong bursts from time to time, lasting for some seconds. After a while we decided to try in JT65c. And from the start I could decode Paolo in most of the periods.

The better decodes always correlated with airplanes, crossing the path within a specific window soutwest of Munich defined by a path with a virtual end at the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

Most impressive was the crossing of an A380-800

At the end some bursts could be seen again (after 30 seconds)

The whole Test took almost an hour to complete, as my TX power is about 10 dB less than Paolos. It is evident that JT65 with 60 second periods is not very useful.

Paolos reference for ducting on the Adriatic Sea is IQ3ZB/B. Tonight it was at S9 + 30 dB. With good conditions it can be at S9 + 60 dB. So we agreed in continuing the tests in other  digital modes and in CW as well as on 13 cm.

NA1SS calling GB4YOTA

August 8th, 2017

Another ARISS contact with an YOTA event in England was scheduled. HAMTV should be operated by Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA. As some nice video sequences could be received on 13 cm, nothing was heard on the 2 m downlink on 145.800 MHz in FM.

G8MBU – JT65c Beacon via Aircraft Scatter

July 5th, 2017

After installation of new transverters for 23 and 13 cm with stabilized LOs a couple of months ago. I gathered some experience in using JT65C mode on EME. So I undertook a new attempt to receive and decode G8MBU via aircraft scatter today. As antenna I use a 3 m dish with a dual band ringfeed.

Path DJ5AR to G8MBU

The beacon is located at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, IO91IR37, 683 km from Mainz, JN49CV. It runs 2 W power into an omnidirectional dual alford slot antenna. The mode used is JT65c. Nominal frequency is 1296.800 MHz. To successfully decode the signal, the SSB dial should be set to 1296.7986 MHz, to get a tuning tone of 1400 Hz in WSJT.

There is a small window between the Isle of Wight and Mainz, where high flying aircraft can be “seen” from either places. But only a few airplanes cross the path within and fewer fly along the path. Reflections of G8MBU could be seen from time to time, but mostly too weak and too short to provide decodes. It took nearly 3 hours until the first decode happened at -22 dB and just some minutes later a second one appeared on the display at -21 dB:

1158 -22  4.0 1282 #* G8MBU IO90IR
1206 -21  3.9 1268 #* G8MBU IO90IR

In total I monitored G8MBU for 5 hours. The propagation conditions were normal today, no tropo at all.

VHF/UHF/SHF Contest May 2017 – Record breaking again!

May 7th, 2017

After the unexpected good result in March on 13 cm, I had a special focus on this band in May contest. Last year I marked my new record in the number of stations worked on 23 cm, this year I improved the new record from March in worked stations on 13 cm. Particularly in the last hour I had the ambition to log at least 40 Stations. So I had QSO #40 in the last 5 minutes with Detlef, DJ3AK, in JO52GJ, 322 km, using aircraft reflections on planes just 50 km from my location, elevating the dish up to 10°: Power Aircraft Scatter 😉

QSOs on 13 cm

With QSOs to Poland, Hungary and Belgium three new countries could be added to the 13 cm list. HG7F (817 km) is my new aircraft scatter ODX. Also some new grid squares could be logged.

And again: After the contest is before the contest! A lot of ideas are in my mind, what has to be improved for the next competitions!

Moon Bounce on 13 cm

April 28th, 2017

Sometimes you hear words that hurt. Especially if they are true: Some years ago I tried 13 cm EME with Dan, HB9Q, and couldn´t copy anything of him. His comment after the test: “There is no way, not to hear me!” This is frustrating.

So I forgot Moon Bounce on this band and had fun with other activities, mainly on 23 cm. But the over 30 year old equipment caused more and more problems. So I started collecting parts and modules for a new transverter system covering 23 and 13 cm. It had been finished for the last VHF/UHF/SHF contest in March and was tested with good results. In the end of March I tried EME again after 2 years of absence. On 23 cm it worked fairly, but on 13 cm the drift was a serious problem. In a test with Alex, ZS6EME, I could decode his strong Signal, but not vice versa. So I added 10 MHz Double Oven Controlled Oscillators as references to stabilize the transverters.

PY2BS in WSJT-X Wide Graph

Today I tried with Bruce, PY2BS, and heard him strong in the speaker during his prior test with Toshio, JA6AHB:     1131  -6  2.5 2305 #* JA6AHB PY2BS GG66
At this time his elevation was -1.7° and the moon still under the horizon. After the moon set in Japan, we started:

1155  -8  2.9 1184 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1157 -13  3.6 1157 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1159 -10  2.7 1137 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1200  Tx      1500 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1201 -10  3.1 1114 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1202  Tx      1500 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1203  -9  3.3 1089 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1204  Tx      1500 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1205 -10  2.9 1066 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1206  Tx      1500 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1207  -9  3.1 1043 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1208  Tx      1500 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1209  -9  2.7 1019 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1210  Tx      1400 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1211 -10  3.0  994 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1212  Tx      1400 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1213 -11  2.2  969 #* DJ5AR PY2BS GG66
1214  Tx      1400 #  PY2BS DJ5AR JN49 OOO
1215 -22 -2.5  946 #  RO
1216  Tx      1400 #  RRR
1217 -10  3.1  919 #* RR -20 DB
1218  Tx      1400 #  73 BEST -8

As he switched his RX from 2304.070 MHz to my TX frequency 2320.070 MHz at about 12:14, we completed very fast. I am very pleased now with my first initial on 13 cm, a new grid square, a new ODX, a new DXCC and a new continent! After setting up a new Initials List for 2320 MHz and writing this blog entry, I enjoy my “Radio Operators High”!

HB9BBD Beacon on 13 cm

March 22nd, 2017

The other day I had a look on Dominiques QRZ.COM page and saw, he claimed to have a beacon on 13 cm as well. The frequency seemed to be quite strange: 2308.037 MHz

It´s because the situation in Switzerland is different, than in other european countries:

  • 2300 – 2308 MHz  with special permission only
  • 2308 – 2312 MHz  License classes 1, 2 and CEPT
  • 2312 – 2400 MHz  with special permission only

My new Kuhne MKU 23 G4 transverter covers certain segements of the band. so I switched to 2304 – 2306 MHz and tried to listen on an IF around 148.037 MHz and was disappointed: nil. I expected a strong signal as the same beacon on 1296.050 MHz ist up to 40 dB above noise under normal conditions.

A weak trace can be seen at the IF of 1392.032 MHz (LO 916 MHz)

I contacted Dominique and he assured, the beacon should be on air. So I tried with the setup, I received ISEE-3 quite a time ago and monitored the path for airplanes. So after a short while, there was a trace to be seen on 2308.032 MHz. Even the keyed carrier could be heard deep in the noise, when larger aircrafts crossed or flew along the path.

Characteristic “hook” at the begin of the carrier after keying the call

So I proudly added beacon #23 to my 13 cm list.

HB9BBD/B: 2308.032 MHz, JN47GA, 1662 m. asl, PWR 8W, ERP 100W beaming north

 

March 23rd, 2017, Update

I had a second try with the MKU 23 G4 this morning and was able to receive the beacon with this gear as well on 2308.032 MHz.

Reception of Live Video from Space: Thomas Pesquet, FX0ISS

February 13th, 2017

Today another ARISS contact has been established between Thomas Pesquet, FX0ISS aboard the Intenational Space Station and Collège André Malraux, Chatelaillon-Plage, France. As expected, the onboard DATV transmitter (HamTV) was in operation.

Blank transmissions have been received earlier, but today I could receive the TV pictures for my very first time. There was a lot of fading, but I managed to record a couple of sequences.

As the pass went overhead, I lost the signal, when the ISS approached the zenith, because the rotor had to turn 180° and it is too slow to catch up the bird again (full length video here best quality from 2:50 to 4:50).

The frequency used was 2.395 GHz. The equipment installed for reception is a 3 m dish with linear polarisation, a Kuhne MKU LNC 23 converter and a TT S2-3200 DVB-S receiver card in my PC with Tutioune3200 DVB-S software by F6DZP.

 

Compilation of European VHF/UHF/SHF Activity Contests

January 16th, 2017

Most of the VHF/UHF/SHF enthusiasts will know very well about the activity contests in Europe. But there is a number of just interested radio amateurs, who would like try on these bands. They will find dates and times as well as links to the rules of certain contests in my list. If there are any monthly activity contests, not listed, please let me know.