Category Archives: Beacons

Chaos on 1296.942 MHz!

November 28th, 2014

2014-11-28 10_13_55-OK0el vs DB0AJA

There are good tropo conditions to the east from here for quite a while. I worked OK1MAC on November, 26th with an outstanding signal. OK0EA, SR6LHZ can be monitored constantly. I missed OK0EL on 1296.940, but solved the miracle today. The frequency shifted to .942 and the signal has been covered by DB0AJA. It´s nice to listen, how OK0EL in 526 km distance is battling against nearby DB0AJA,131 km away. As can be seen, DB0AJAs signal is accompanied by several dopplershifted reflections on airplanes.

 

It is interesting to see, that F5LENs refractive index as well as Hepburns tropo index don´t really illustrate the real conditions today. The conclusions is: Always perform a beacon check before switching off! The result may be surprising.

2014-11-29 09-00 F5LEN DJ5AR OK0EL

New 23 cm Beacon DB0XY in JO51EU

September 22nd, 2014

Jürgen, DK2AN phoned me tonight, to tell me, the new beacon DB0XY will be transmitting on 1296.910 MHz. It is located on the Bocksberg in the Harz mountains in JO51EU, about 750 m asl. The power is 10 W into a 4 times double quad, omnidirectional. The keying is in A1: callsign, locator, carrier, dashes, carrier….

In a first quick try it could be received here with 519 to 539 via tropo. When Planes crossed the path, the signal increased up to 559.

Another beacon will be installed on 13 cm soon. The intention is to provide beacons for monitoring via aircraft scatter.

Please spot any reception in the DX cluster.

Reception of ISEE-3

July 30th, 2014

For quite a while now I try to catch a signal of ISEE-3. Because of severe thunderstorms, there was no opportunity to check out yesterday. But today (July 30th, 2014) is the day to listen to this 36 year old bird.

The signal of the beacon on 2,270.414 MHz isn´t too strong, but clearly audible in the speaker. The actual distance is about 1.6 million km, the furthermost man made signal I ever received!

2014-07-30 11_30_21-HDSDRThe downlink transponder A on 2.270.4 MHz uses an antenna array with a gain of 7 dBi, a beamwidth of 12° and circular polarisation. The nominal TX power is 5 W.

The equipment I am using, is just a FUNcube Dongle Pro with a 13 cm ATV converter (LO 916 MHz, IF 1,354 MHz) and a 13 cm LNA near the 23/13 cm dual band ringfeed at my 3 m dish.

Frequency calibration is performed on ordinary 13 cm beacons like DB0UX. The dish calibration is done by optimizing sun noise on 23 cm or the levels of SIRIUS satellites on 13 cm.

The rhythmical fading of the signal seems to be caused by the space probe´s spin of 19.76 revolutions per minute.

Impressive Thunderstorm

June 10th, 2014

2014-06-09 db0aja RS
The destructive thunderstorm in the Köln/Düsseldorf area last night was intense enough to provide rainscatter even on 1.3 GHz. DB0AJA near Würzburg in JN59AS could be heard with the typical rainscatter sound when the dish was heading 325°. An awful lot of water must have been in the air. The total distance of the signal path was about 400 km (150 + 250).
2014-06-09 21_18_29-PowerSDR-DB0AJA RS

The waterfall shows the spread of the signal. DB0AJA runs 20 W output into a 16 element Flexa yagi beaming northwest.

PI7ALK via Aircraft Scatter

March 17th, 2014

One of my favourite beacons to be watched via aircraft scatter is PI7ALK in JO22IP.  The beacon is running 4 W to a 4 times stacked omnidirectional antenna as described in DJ9HOs “UHF Unterlage V” on page 1001. The design of the antenna is by DC0BV. More details and the history of the beacon can be found here.


After about a minute first reflexions can be seen. The signal is increasing in strength, until the plane reaches the midpoint of the path. While other planes join, the signal will be spread by the doppler effect.

Another strange constellation (Update)

February 6th, 2014

While performing my beacon check on December 16th, 2013 at 8:30 UTC, I stated that all beacons seemed to be at a normal level. Except, when looking for DB0FGB (JO50WB) with the dish heading 85°. There was a constant carrier of about 20 dB 15 kHz up, keying F1ZBK (JN38BP). Expecting a big signal, I turned the dish to France. But the beacon was only 15 dB with QSB, when beaming directly to it at 228°. Then I turned the dish back to 85° and noticed, that HB9EME (JN37KB) joined the party.

2013-12-16 09_30 F1ZBK HB9EME 85deg

DB0FGB, F1ZBK and HB9EME with dish heading 85°

The rain radar didn´t show anything unusual and the F5LEN Refractive index forecast for Europe promised only marginal tropo conditions for this area. Only DL7QYs Condition Index for south Germany has been on a level of 7 (1 = poor; 10 = extreme).

2013-12-16 09_00 F5LEN index

F5LEN Refractive Index

DB0FGB was a bit above normal at about 15 db with little QSB up and down. F1ZBK was constantly at 20 dB, when beaming 85° and around 15 dB with QSB heading 228° (direct). HB9EME was up to 20 dB in 85° and peaking 15 dB in fast QSB when beaming 198° (direct).

Green: Paths from Mainz to the beacons
Orange: Paths of the beacons to the area of the supposed reflection point

I checked HB9BBD, F5ZBS, F1ZBI and others, but couldn´t see any similar effects. The angle was very small. When turning the 3 m dish 5° left or right, the signals disappeared. These conditions lasted for about one hour.

Path DJ5AR to DB0FGB (by AirScout)

Topographic profile between DJ5AR and DB0FGB

The horizon in 85° is about 80 to 90 km off. A plausible explanation could be a strong troposheric duct between the beacons and a reflecting topographic formation.

Update:

In issue 2/14 the german magazine “Funkamateur” published an article by Matthias Hornsteiner, DG4MHM “Prognosekarten für troposphärische Überreichweiten” (Prediction maps for troposheric ducting). Matthias explains the basics of ducting and analyses the models, the well known refractive index maps of F5LEN and W. Hepburn are basing on.

So I had the intention, to ask him about a possibility for a reconstruction of the wheater constellation of that day. I have to thank him very much for his comprehensive answer.

As Matthias explained, the situation, shown on the map, was quite common for this, as he describes it, “anti-winter”. But it holds the possibility, that warm air might glide onto cold air at ground level. And indeed, when he reviewed the data of weather balloons launched at Stuttgart on that day, he found indications for a strong inversion in an estimated level of 400 to 600 m over south Germany. That matches!

In a distance of 200 km from here, the the topographic profile shows a formation, high enough to reach the level of this duct, as well as the mountains of the Fichtelgebirge do, where DB0FGB is located. The distances from Mainz to the area of the supposed reflection point is between 200 and 250 km. From F1ZBK and HB9EME it varies between 400 and 500 km. So the total path should have been between 600 and 750 km.

 

Strange Conditions

December 11th, 2013

It is funny to check the beacons tonight. Most remarkable are two constellations, shown below:

2013-12-11 21_59 DB0VC and DB0AAT

While looking for DB0AAT in JN67HU, DB0VC in JO54IF could be received too. When beaming to Kiel, DB0VC can be heard even on 2320 MHz. It is beacon #9 on 13 cm.

 

2013-12-11 22_23 DB0NCO beats DB0FKS

DB0NCO beats Frankenstein

From my QTH DB0NCO has the same bearing as DB0FKS. The location of DB0FKS, the  Frankenstein Castle, can be seen visually from here in a distance of 34 km. DB0NCO is 203 km away but tonight it is stronger than DB0FKS, when coming up in QSB.

Opening September 21st 2013

September 21st, 2013

While performing a last beacon check before going to bed and all local beacons were quite normal, I took notice of a weak carrier 1 kHz up of F1ZBK on 1296.855 MHz. After optimizing the antenna and using a narrow filter I heard EA2TZ in IN93BF over 1073 km for the first time ever.

2013-09-21 20-50 EA2TZ

Left signal: F1ZBK/B, right signal: EA2TZ/B

 EA2TZ/B as received by DJ5AR over 1073 km on 23 cm

After posting this information in the ON4KST chat, Matej, OK1TEH sent the phone number of EA2TO and told me that Javier is currently QRV on 23 cm from IN83. After exchange of a few SMS he came back on my CQs and we could complete a QSO: A new DXCC, a new square and a new tropo ODX of 1173 km on 23 cm!
When closing down the station I had a quick look on 70 cm. There he was again: EA2TO in SSB. We had a nice chat and for me: A new DXCC, a new square and a new ODX of 1173 km on 70 cm!

Only 2 QSOs tonight, but I am very happy with it.