The french beacon F5ZBM is on air again. I found it accidentally, when looking for other french beacons. It is at a new location in JN18MN near Paris transmitting on 1,296.8475 MHz. Nice to monitor it in Mainz via aircraft scatter over a distance of 406 km!
The keying is in F1 with a very narrow spacing. Power is 10 W ERP into a slot antenna, as can be seeen at BEACONSPOT.eu
With the dish bearing eastwards tonight I mentioned the trace of a signal appearing and disappearing close to the local beacon of DF5AY. A quick look at beaconspot.eu told me, DB0TUD should be around there.
I copied DB0TUD in summer 2017 via rain scatter on 13 cm, but never on 23 cm so far.
Curious about the source of the signal after catching a “…UA…” I turned the dish to Dresden and monitored the frequency for about an hour. The mostly short appearences of the signal correlated with planes crossing the path to DB0TUD in JO61UA. After an hour or more I got a reflection containing some CW : ” …0TUD JO61…”.
Tonight I monitored OZ7IGY on 2,320.930 MHz via aircraft scatter. It was nice to see other beacons appearing shortly in the waterfall diagram.
OZ7IGY and friends in time lapse
From left to right:
2.320.900: DB0UX, JN48FX, 105 km, tropo
2,320.910: DB0XY, JN51EU, 263 km, aircraft scatter
2.320.920: DB0VC, JN54IF, 509 km, aircraft scatter
2,320.930: OZ7IGY, JN55WM, 670 km, aircraft scatter
The dish was bearing 20° to OZ7IGY. The -3 dB beamwidth is just 3.2° on 13 cm.
There was nice activity in JT9F on 23 cm tonight. It seems this mode works fine with aircraft scatter. I first worked Conrad, PA5Y in JO21VO (255 km) and Sam, G4DDK in JO02VO (540 km) via Tropo. Then logged a QSO with Neil, G4BRK in IO91HP using mainly aircraft scatter. In another test I decoded Neil, G4DBN in IO93NR (756 km) by reflections on airplanes. PA0JME and ON5KTO were calling CQ, but not replying to my calls. Instead I worked John, G4BAO in JO02cg (619 km) in an (too) easy way.
Worked stations in green, the heard ones in blue.
Anyway, it was a promising and exiting evening!
Addendum October 27th, 2017
Yesterday I logged Rien, PA0JME, Wim, ON5KTO and John, G4ZTR, also in JT9F on 23 cm.
Chatting with John, G4BAO, last night, I learned, he recently initiated a “Digifest” on the microwave bands every Wednesday. This resulted in what happened two days ago. In my opinion it´s a very good idea to have such an activity evening beside the regular contests.
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.
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.
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.
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.