New Dutch Beacon PI7RMD

June 23, 2020

PI7RMD is on air for quite a while now on 13 cm. I already spotted it on May 3rd, 2020. Looking at the entry at beaconspot.uk wondered, why no one else sent any spots. So I had a look for it today and got some nice reflections via aircraft scatter.

PI7RMD is located in JO31AD, using a double quad antenna beaming 270° with 5W ERP. It is keying in A1A on 2320.8948 MHz (nominal 2320.895 MHz).

The IC-9700 Effect?

June 16th, 2020

It was nice to paricipate in the recent Microwave Contest on first weekend in June. There was a lot of activity despite the fact, no multi operator stations have been there as big guns. Meanwhile the claimed scores for DL are available and I was surprised by looking at the number of german participants on the 23 cm band. 174 stations sent their logs, which is much more than the total numbers of single and multi operator stations in the past years.

So I guess, it may be caused by the popularity of the new ICOM IC-9700 SDR transceiver, covering the 23 cm band.

Addendum June 17th, 2020: Pit, DK3WE, the contest manager, had a look for me at the .EDI files and found among those, who entered the equipment, 40 entries of IC-9700.

Going for the Hydrogen Line

May 31st, 2020

I have been curious about everything about the hydrogen line for quite a while. So at least I mounted a feed for 1.4 GHz in my 3 m dish, installed a LNA at the feed, as well as a Pluto SDR and SDR# with the IF-Average plugin. First steps are very promising, as I saw something, when beaming to Cassiopeia and Swan.

Cassiopeia

Swan

Due to the doppler shifted signals the lines are smeared (red marks). The spikes seen, are just interferences.

New Bands down to DC

May 7th, 2020

Yesterday I added a logarithmic periodic antenna for the range 28 to 150 MHz to my little antenna farm. So I am QRV now on the amateur bands from the highest DC band 28 MHz up to 2400 MHz.

Antennas at DJ5AR

Recently I got an IC-7300 with extended frequency range to cover the 50 MHz and 70 MHz, as well as the new Irish bands 80 MHz and 60 MHz.

So I am looking forward to have some cross band QSOs to Ireland soon!

I took down the 3 cm dish for some work on the rig. And I know, the 70 cm yagi is much too close to the new antenna, but I have been too lazy to dismount it.

Addendum May 18th, 2020

First PI4 decodes of EI1KNH in IO63VE on 40 MHz.

AirScout V1.3.3.0 released

May 3rd, 2020

The VHF/UHF/SHF contest on 2nd to 3rd of May was a good opportunity to spend a few hours trying the new AirScout version 1.3.3.0 released by Frank, DL2ALF. In principle it works like it´s predecessors, but is more stable in collecting the aircraft data. My favourite in this case is planefinder.net.

Most impressed I am by the new feature to monitor a number of paths to certain stations simultaneously! This provides more efficiency in arranging skeds, particularly in times like these, when there are a few planes only are available.

Find more details on the AirScout Site.

Side Scatter Test on 13 cm

January 22nd, 2020

Tonight I met Salvo, DK3SE, in the ON4KST chat. Salvo recently became QRV again on 13 cm. He uses a 1.8 m dish and has about 50 W at the feed. As his location is on the southern slopes of the Black Forrest, our direct path is blocked by solid rock. Even aircraft scatter is very hard to perform.
So we tried to find a reflective point at the mountain range of the Alps, but that was not very satisfying as well. Next step was to try side scatter on airplanes to the east of the Black Forrest.

Side Scatter between DK3SE and DJ5AR

We tried on a couple of planes and, as expected, on the ones, we saw the same side of the body, we received strong reflections. So we learnt, in side scatter the orientation of the plane matters! This is in opposite to the usual aircraft scatter, where the planes just have to be on the path and the bottom side of the aircraft is used as reflector.

Strange Conditions Today

January 1st, 2020

I got up quite early today and decided to check the beacons on 23 cm. When beaming to LA1UHG, there was a noticeable signal in F1 about 1 kHz above its frequency. It was easy to read it as DB0LB from the back of the dish. But it seemed, there was another faint signal right beside the spacing carrier. With the help of my SDR radio I could set very narrow filters and after a while of listening, I identified it as LA1UHG, JO59FB, 1028 km. Wow!

But the signal faded out more and more and at least it disappeared.

LA1UHG just 140 Hz below the space carrier of DB0LB

Later this morning, the dish still pointing north, I heard Kurt, OE5XBL, chatting in SSB with Rudi, OE5VRL/5, both with very strong signals on 23 cm. Expecting a huge signal, I turned the antenna to Kurt, but there was no significant increase in signal strength. I called in and the three of us were talking about the conditions and to meet for a beer at the GHz convention in Dorsten next February, when Kurt was called by Dave, G4RQI. I had tried with him earlier without any success, and so, to be honest, I was a little annoyed by this. Even, when turning the dish to the UK, I couldn´t copy anything of Dave’s transmissions, while he was working Kurt and Rudi. These were enough indications, that the inversion was at a too high altitude for me, to enter it. So I went for a long walk with my XYL in the nearby vineyards.

The inversion is at an altitude of about 1000 m (Courtesy DWD)

In the evening I performed another beacon check. It was funny to see beacons, the dish was pointing to, as well as others from the back of the dish

Dish pointing southeast: DB0UX, DB0VC, DB0AAT (from left to right)

Turning the dish, confirmed the experience I had in the the morning: Pointing southeast I saw DB0VC, JO54IF, next to DB0AAT, JN67HU. Turning the dish towards Kiel in the north, the signal of DB0VC increased just a little. Maybe, it has been reflected by a mountain range about 50 km southeast of me.

Dish pointing north: DB0UX, DB0XY, DB0VC, OZ7IGY (from left to right)

F5ZNI: Beacon #34 on 13 cm

December 29th, 2019

By performing my daily beacon check, I noticed a weak keyed carrier in between the spacing of the F1 signal of DB0UX on 2320.900 MHz. I assumed to see F6DWG/B, which I monitored around the .900 before. But it didn´t take long to find out, that the real signal (mark) was the lower carrier and after a while I learned, it was F5ZNI using reverse F1 keying. Later in the evening the signal increased due to good tropo conditions, as can be seen in the pictures. F5ZNI is the 34th beacon I received in the 13 cm (S) Band

F5ZNI and DB0UX in PowerSDR

I am always happy about new beacons, but this case is an example, why beacon coordination and using standards is most important. First of all, reverse F1 keying is always bad, as you are used to listen to the upper carrier of the signal. In case there is an unkeyed carrier in between the text, you can easily identify the mark, where to listen. But if there is text keyed nearly all the time, as F5ZNI does, it is rather time consuming until the mark is identified.

The DB0UX signal was strong and the frequency is locked to a reference, while F5ZNI is drifting a little. So it was obvious, that there was a second signal in place. If the french beacon would have been locked to 2320.900 MHz too and would use the standard A1 or F1 keying, there would have been no chance for me to monitor or even to take notice of it.

An excerpt from BEACONSPOT.UK shows the situation on 2320.900 MHz:

BeaconNominal FrequencyLocatorLast SpottedLast FrequencyStatus
F6DWG2320.900JN19BQ2019-05-312320.898Dead/lost
HG3BUC2320.900JN96CC2019-10-112320.897Operational
OZ5SHF2320.900JO45VX2019-08-242320.900Operational on spot date
DB0MJ2320.900JO31UB2019-12-292320.905Operational
ON0TB2320.900JO30BM2019-09-202320.897Dead/lost
DB0UX2320.900JN48FX2019-12-292320.900Operational on spot date
F1ZCC2320.900JN08XSUncertain - new spot required
SR1SHS2320.900JO73PG2019-12-302320.900Operational
IQ5FI2320.903JN53SR2019-12-282320.901Operational
F5ZNI2320.904JN19BQ2019-12-302320.899Operational on spot date


Depending on the location and the conditions, there will be more or less interference on 230.900 MHz

So I am urging all beacon keepers to make use of the service provided by the
IARU R1 VHF/UHF/MW Beacon Coordinator. When designing a beacon, please respect chapter 11 “Beacon Requirements” in the IARU-R1 VHF Handbook.

DB0XY back on Air

December 17th, 2019

As the beacon keeper Thomas, DL4EAU, wrote me, the DB0XY beacons in JO51EU are back on air. The frequencies are 1296.912, 2320.912 and 10368.912 MHz. All are locked to a GPS reference now.

DB0XY on 1296.912 MHz in JN49CV: A weak tropo trace, but many nice reflections on airplanes
DB0XY on 2320.912 MHz: No trace via tropo, but many reflections on planes