Despite a late start and easy going operation, at least 63 QSOs filled the log for the 23 cm band. HA5KDQ from Budapest (JN97LN) became my new contest-ODX with 829 km. As can be seen in the map, the eastern directions are my favourite ones.
Thank you to all paricipants and those who had patience to complete some QSOs!
During the morning I was able to monitor GB3FM in IO91OF on 1297.050 MHz and G8MBU in IO90IR on 1296.800 MHz. Now in the afternoon F5ZCS in IN87PT on 1296.959 MHz came out of the noise with a strong signal of 549 with fast QSB. It is my 53rd beacon on 23 cm. The weather here in Mainz doesn´t look like tropo: 8/8 cloudy and wind at 40 km/h.
It´s nice to see me as #2 in IAC. To meet the lads from Italy on 23 cm every 3rd Tuesday in month is always big fun. Unfortunately I missed the August event due to my dismantled rotor. Instead I met Giorgio, IK3GHY, at the EME Conference in Venice. Also big fun to see his new amplifier for 23 cm there, wow!
Everything is up and running again. Jacek of Spid in Poland gratefully did a great job in fixing my rotor. So I expect to be present in the September-IAC.
And another Contest is over. Again I learned a lot and I am happy with the results: With a count of 82 QSOs I broke my personal record in claimed QSOs in a 23 cm contest. Since October1990 the number has been as high as 78 QSOs.
The claimed score is a little more than 30.000 points and a new personal record as well. The 82 Stations, worked on 1296 MHz, are from 12 DXCC countries and located in 41 different grid squares. Countries worked were 40 x DL, 1 x F, 3 x G, 2 x HB9, 1 x HA, 5 x I, 6 x OE, 14 x OK, 1 x OM, 1 x ON, 5 x PA and 3 x S5. In most of the QSOs aircraft scatter was an important factor. 35 contacts were done in CW. ODX, as usual, was HG7F over 817 km, still my ODX via AS. Nice was to work 3 OE5-stations around local midnight within 10 minutes: OE5VRL/5, OE5JFL and OE5RBO.
The contest is over and there are new ideas in my mind, how to improve for the next one. Even though I am using a homebrew KST-client beside the browser based one, arranging skeds in the ON4KST chat is still the bottleneck in operating the contest. I fear, many requests will disappear from the screens of many operators, before they can take notice. No reason to argue for me, instead I will continue working on my KST-client projekt.
QSOs on 1296 MHz
I had much fun in using Aircraft Scatter on 1296 MHz for most of the 58 QSOs, logged on this band. The average was 372 km/QSO and I worked 37 grids in 12 countries. And again HG7F became the ODX with a distance of 817 km. Weather was very bad and many of the contest teams weren´t able to go to their usual locations. So this time only one Station could be worked from JN99, compared to seven in July 2015.
Today PI9CAM´s QSL for the first Satellite Bounce QSO via an unmanned spacecraft done by radio amateurs arrived by mail. As we know, there have been previous commercial attempts for Satellite Bounce in the early 60s using ECHO 1 and ECHO 2 which were inflated balloons with diameters of 30 and 41 m. The initial orbits were at heights of 1500 km and 1200 km.
The theoretical radar cross section (RCS) of ECHO 1 was 700 m², but measurements by military radar stations resulted in 900 to 1000 m² in the beginning. Later, the satellite deformed and shrunk. OKEAN-O, the one we used, has a radar cross section of 18 to 20 m² but is in a much lower orbit at a height of 650 km. This leads to quite similar unit power budgets, regardless the difference in size,
Enjoy the movie “The Big Bounce” about our predecessors 55 years ago!
While ISS Bounce took Jan, PA3FXB, and me 2 months of testing and improving to succeed, Satellite Bounce was a much bigger challenge. Despite the fact, Jan and the team of PI9CAM are operating the 25 m dish of the Dwingeloo radio telescope, it took us nearly 2 years, enormous patience and scores of tests until we finally managed to receive “Rs” to complete a QSO today (December 8th, 2015). As far as we know, it is the first time ever, a two way amateur radio contact could be completed by using an unmanned spacecraft as a reflector.Above screenshot shows the position of the satellite at the end of the QSO. The Satellite rose in SSE and set in NNW. A calculative common window opened at the point, marked “O”. Local obstructions were not considered. Due to safety reasons transmissions in Dwingeloo are limited to elevations above 10°. So the AOS (acquisition of signal) happend shortly before the groundtrack of the Satellite crossed the 40th degree of latitude northwards, as soon as PI9CAM started transmissions. Sum of slant ranges (distance between ground station and satellite) was 3400 km at the beginning and 2000 km at the end of the contact.
Much of the reflections remained below the noise floor, but this one of PI9CAM, right at the beginning (14:10:10 UTC), is a nice example, of what can be received:
And vice versa DJ5AR as to be heard in Dwingeloo (14:11:00 UTC):
The used object OKEAN-O (NORAD #25860) is a joint Russian-Ukrainian Earth observation satellite, launched on July 17th, 1999 by an Ukrainian Zenit-2 carrier rocket. The satellite is in a polar orbit of about 650 km height with an inclination of 98°. The mass is 6.2 tons and the RCS (radar cross section) is figured between18 and 20 m². It has been used for research of natural resources, ecological monitoring and hazards prevention. Designed for a life time of 3 years, it is out of service now.
QSO in WSJT-X
In use by the ground stations were the 25 m radio telescope in Dwingeloo by PI9CAM with 120 W and a 3 m dish with 150 W at the feed by DJ5AR in Mainz. The mode used was digital JT9H that comes with the new WSJT-X software by Joe Taylor, K1JT. The transmit/receive periods were set to 10 seconds, working around a center frequency of 1296.300 MHz. The automated Doppler tracking (+/- 60 kHz) has been performed for the complete path on DJ5AR´s side with a homebrew tracking software. The calculative power budget during the QSO was about -154 dBm. This value is very optimistic, as it presumes the optimum reflectivity of the satellite, which depends on its orientation.
Conclusion: The main difficulties in this game are:
Selection of suitable satellites, depending on radar cross sections and slant ranges.
Compensation of the Doppler shift with a maximum rate of 600 Hz/second.
Following Jan´s (PA3FXB) suggestion, we tried the new experimental WSJT-X software. The mode, we chose was JT9 H. Also we agreed in trying full doppler compensation to be used on my side. Everything worked fine, as can be seen in the screenshot below.
Back from our holidays Jan, PA3FXB, and I had another test via ISS Bounce on 23 cm today. As I located a bug in my Doppler correction software, causing unwanted steps, it could be fixed by finding a workaround for the malfunction in compilers NOW() routine, for returning the correct time in milliseconds. So the improved Doppler correction is working smoothly as can be seen and heard in the signals received.
PA3FXB in JTMS received by DJ5AR via ISS Bounce. Center frequency was 1296.300 MHz.
We even had some kind of conversation at the end 😉
As further tests showed, the full doppler correction on my side is working very well now. This enables potential sked partners to work on a fixed frequency by just tracking the International Space Station with the antenna.
Sked requests are welcome: dj5ar (at) darc.de
Modes, successfully being used so far: CW, SSB, ISCAT, JTMS