Recently, when getting the WAC Award for 23 cm, I outed myself, not really being an awards collector. The other day some HAMs proudly presented the first WAE awards for FT8 only contacts on Facebook. So the question was, how far would I come with VHF and up. Surprisingly I found QSLs for 42 WAE countries and 100 band points, when checking my shoe boxes and the QSL systems in the Internet.
2018: WAE III, 100 of the 106 Band Points on 144 MHz to 2320 MHz
As electronic QSLs were involved, these had at least to be imported to the German “DARC Community Logbook”, short DCL, for the award application. It´s not my favourite, because there are problems to enter and store QSOs on the GHz bands. I asked the developer about and he mentioned, that it isn´t intended for. So I decided to interpret DCL as “Direct Current Log”. No wonder, there also was no way to delete the six embarassing shortwave QSLs, it had imported automatically.
It´s one of the rare moments in the life of a Radio Amateur, when his shack is cleared up. Beyond believe, everything was up and running 2 hours (!) before contest time. Being a kind of bewildered, I sorted the stuff on my desk. The amazing result can be admired in the photo I took hereafter.
Starting with a nice QSO with M1CRO in SSB on 23 cm, I tried the new 3 cm Equipment, mounted on the VHF/UHF pole. 1 W into a 50 cm dish should be enough to collect first experiences. Two QSOs over 100 km were entered to the log. Quite nice, but further tests showed, that the topography is not ideal to cover larger distances, without the help of e.g. tropo, aircraft or rain scatter.
QSOs on 23 cm in blue, on 13 cm in red
Then I had my focus on 1296 and 2320 MHz, as usual. At least 58 QSOs, 36 squares and 14 DXCCs on 23 cm and 32 QSOs, 25 squares and 10 DXCCs on 13 cm have been logged. ODX, as last year, was HG7F in JN97KR over 817 km on both bands. Having an easy exchange on 1296 MHz, it took us nearly 20 minutes of hard work to puzzle a QSO on 13 cm as well. I remeber, last year it was vice versa.
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
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.
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:
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!
When looking for the annual results of the Italian Activity Contest 2016 on 1296 MHz yesterday, I was really surprised, to be the winner. I haven´t expexted this, as Giorgio, IK3GHY, had a higher score in total all the time. But as he won in 2015, he was out of competition in 2016. I have to respect his success and congratulations for your extraordinary score, Giorgio!
But anyway, it was great fun to work the italian lads every 3rd Tuesday in month. Hopefully, there will be enough time to be QRV in the 2017 events. I am also looking forward to go to Italy in October, meeting friends in Venice and at the Alpe Adria meeting near Udine.
Steve, IU1EAF, will be the contest manager in 2017 and the rules have changed too (english version online now). Thank you to Alfredo, IK2FTB, for all the work in the past year.